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William Ellsworth "El" Helfrich
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Birth: Jan. 25, 1901
Schuylkill County
Pennsylvania, USA
Death: Jan. 23, 1964
Washoe County
Nevada, USA

His name was William but he was called "El", an abbreviated version of his middle name, Ellsworth. Ellsworth Helfrich was the first son of William and Cora Ellen Helfrich, and brother to my grandma, Melva, and his sister Grace, and brother Harold (aka Hans). He also had a little brother, Claud, who died at 10 months old.

El doesn't leave a trail of much substance. He may be seen with his parents and siblings on the 1910 census in McAdoo, age 9. In 1920 he is 18 and at home with his parents in Allentown, the city to which his family had moved. At the time of this census he was an assembler of motors. His mother would die that year in October, and his father married once more in 1924. By 1930 El is down in Philadelphia, living with his mother's sister, his aunt Della (nee Schollenberger) Woertz (who had also hosted his sister, my grandma for some time after their mom died). The last I can find of Ellsworth is on the 1940 census where he is a single man living as a lodger in Easton, PA, working as a salesman of wholesale candy.

"Uncle El" was something of a mystery to my living family. He was suspected to have had issues with alcohol and gambling. He left Pennsylvania and went out west and was purportedly working as a cook when he died. No one alive seemed sure where he was; the consensus seems to be Las Vegas, or maybe Reno. These cities are between 400 and 500 miles from each other, so this memory sheds no light on the county of El's passing which would have been Clark or Washoe respectively. I did find a 1955 newspaper mention of a tax refund being due to a man in Reno with his name. His obituary appeared in the Allentown Morning Call on February 3, 1964. I have not had opportunity to go retrieve it at the library to see if it mentions where he died.

His brother Harold had Ellsworth cremated in Nevada, and the ashes sent back home for burial. Ellsworth shares a plot with his baby brother Claud. It's a strange sharing. You have a child less than a year old whose burial place was moved when his family relocated, sharing space with his wandering, worldly big brother. One innocent, one not, both well-traveled in their way.

To the best of anyone's knowledge, Ellsworth never married and had no children. There is a vague recollection from one of my mother's cousins that my grandma (Ellsworth's sister) got a call from El's female companion at the time to tell her that El had died, and apparently my grandma had had her brother Harold take it from there.

What I find interesting is two-fold; perhaps you don't tell a child about uncles like El, but I never heard about him until I was far into adulthood, and I wonder how it is he never came up before. The other thing is that with my mom's cousin remembering that my grandma got the call when El died, it suggests that my grandma had retained a relationship with El after he left.

If your paramour dies and his family is far away, and you need to call them but don't know them, back then you'd have used an operator to find people in town with your honey's last name and hope one was related, or you'd have tried to remember his brother's first name. Still, El's lady called my grandma, who was no longer a Helfrich since she'd married. That certainly suggests that El's poor startled companion must have known my grandma or her name on some level. Whether she actually had spoken earlier with my grandma or just picked my grandma's name off an envelope of a sent letter, clearly grandma and El had stayed in touch. Sad as the story is, I am glad to think El still had family who cared, and I'm proud of my grandma for not having cut him out of her life despite his problems and having moved far away.

Why did he go to Reno after a lifetime in Pennsylvania? Maybe because it was the then-capital of gambling and a happening town. See here. 
Family links: 
  William H Helfrich (1867 - 1939)
  Cora Ellen Schollenberger Helfrich (1874 - 1920)
  Grace Myrtle Helfrich Peters (1900 - 1989)*
  William Ellsworth Helfrich (1901 - 1964)
  Harold Henry Helfrich (1902 - 1982)*
  Melva Ellen Helfrich Ettinger (1903 - 1977)*
  Claud M. Helfrich (1911 - 1912)*
  Claud Morton Helfrich (1911 - 1912)*
*Calculated relationship
Greenwood Cemetery
Lehigh County
Pennsylvania, USA
Plot: Same row as sister Melva Helfrich Ettinger, across road, behind large Ritter stone.
Created by: sr/ks
Record added: Oct 28, 2008
Find A Grave Memorial# 30938232
William Ellsworth El Helfrich
Added by: sr/ks
William Ellsworth El Helfrich
Added by: sr/ks
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- Diane Miller
 Added: Jan. 25, 2014

- Maja
 Added: Jan. 25, 2014

- Diane Miller
 Added: Jan. 23, 2014
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