Tag Archives: Tamie Dehler

a note from my Dreiser files

 

 

addresses of the Dreiser family

 

I have a note in my Dreiser files: “summer 1884 / TD’s mother moves family to apt found by Theresa in Chicago at West Madison and Throop St.”

I do not recall the exact source of this information.

This note promoted me to review what is known — as far as I can determine — about the movements of Dreiser’s family.

I spent a lot of time some time ago in the New York Public Library poring through Chicago city directories on microfilm. City directories are a valuable resource for genealogists. And, Tamie Dehler, who has written genealogical articles about Terre Haute and the Dreiser family, shared valuable information from local city directories with me.

See the attached Word document (above).

 

posted by Roger W. Smith

    March 2022

Roger W. Smith, “Dreiser’s Nephew Carl”

 

‘Dreiser’s nephew Carl’

This post is in the form of a downloadable Word document (above).

 

'Dawn' - first typescript - Chapter XLII, pg. 13

Theodore Dreiser, “Dawn,” first typescript, Chapter XLII, pg. 13

 

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Abstract

 

This article focuses on Theodore Dreiser’s nephew Carl Dresser, who was born out of wedlock in 1886 to Dreiser’s sister Cacilia (Sylvia) Dreiser. The article provides hitherto unknown details about Sylvia’s affair with Carl’s father — the pseudonymous “Don Ashley” — when Theodore Dreiser, his sister Sylvia, and other siblings were living in Warsaw, Indiana with their mother, as recounted by Dreiser, with some major modifications of facts, in his autobiographical work Dawn.

I have discovered the identity of Carl’s father and confirmed details of Carl’s death. It was “known” on scant evidence that he was a suicide. It has been said, which is inaccurate, that Carl died in his teens. I have found Carl’s death record, as well as his birth record.

Dreiser’s sister Sylvia abandoned Carl and did not raise him; he was raised by Dreiser’s parents and also by his aunt Mame (Theodore Dreiser’s sister) and her husband. As an unwanted child, Carl had a difficult life. Many details have remained sketchy or were never investigated by Dreiser biographers; there is scant mention of Carl in Dreiser biographies.

The story of Sylvia’s affair and pregnancy, a scandal at the time, is worth investigating, since Dreiser saw it as not insignificant in his family history and as contributing to ideas about sex and morality he had as a teenager — he used it as the subject matter of two chapters in Dawn. And, the story of Carl’s birth and his short, unhappy life throws some light on characters in Dreiser’s An American Tragedy and, to a lesser extent, in his novel Jennie Gerhardt.

 

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Theodore Dreiser, “The Return of the Genius,” Chicago Sunday Globe. October 23, 1892 (under byline Carl Dreiser)

Theodore Dreiser, ‘The Return of the Genius.’

 

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132 West 15th Street, NYC

+ 132 West 15th Street, Manhattan; photo by Roger W. Smith, May 2020. Carl Dreiser was born at this address, in the apartment of Theodore Dreiser’s sister, Emma, in 1886.

Carl's building

53 West Erie Street, Chicago; where Carl Dresser lived at the time of his death; photo by Tamie Dehler

 

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Addendum, August 16, 2020:

I received an email from Professor Emeritus Thomas Kranidas today which called my attention to something I had overlooked (italics): “Dreiser was surely influenced by memory of Carl’s bellhop days. And Carl was tragically influenced by Dreiser’s portrayal of Hurstwood’s suicide in “Sister Carrie.”

Note that Carl Dresser (as detailed in my essay ) died from “Asphixiation by illuminating gas.”

 

— posted by Roger W.  Smith

   May 2020; updated August 2020

photos of the birthplaces of Theodore Dreiser and his brother Paul, Terre Haute, IN

 

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The birthplace of songwriter Paul Dresser (1857-1906); he was Theodore Dreiser’s older brother. The house has been renovated and was moved from its original location in Terre Haute to a site in the same town on the banks of the Wabash River. Photo by Roger W. Smith.

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Paul Dresser Birthplace, Fairbanks Park, Terre Haute, IN; photo by Roger W. Smith

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sculpture honoring songwriter Paul Dresser, created by Teresa Clark; Fairbanks Park, Terre Haute, IN; photo by Roger W. Smith

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sculpture honoring Paul Dresser; photo by Roger W. Smith

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“Here is a picture of the house in Terre Haute, Indiana, where the Dreisers lived from 1872 to 1877. Its address was 203 S. 12th Street, and it was located on the southwest corner of that intersection. Some say Theodore was born here. Others say he was born at 523 S. 9th Street. Edward Dreiser was definitely born here. This house was torn down about 2011. The date of this photo is unknown.” Comment by Tamie Dehler. Photo courtesy Ms. Dehler.

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“This was taken just a few years before the house was torn down in 2011. I lived just a few blocks from this home from 1978 to 1989. It had these cedar shingles on it at that time and was surrounded by a pretty white picket fence. I was aware that it was a Dreiser house during most of that period when I lived nearby and I always wondered why the city did not get a historical marker erected in the yard.” Comment by Tamie Dehler. Photo courtesy Ms. Dehler.

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“Here is a bird’s eye view of the property, taken from a real estate site for Vigo county. This photo is, I assume, from google earth and it is dated April 2008.” Comment by Tamie Dehler. Photo courtesy of Ms. Dehler.

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“This is a drawing of the home made by artist Franklin Booth, date unknown. The printed caption across the bottom of this print says ‘Franklin’s impression of my birthplace.’ I believe that caption is attributed to Theodore Dreiser.” Comment by Tamie Dehler. Photo courtesy of Ms. Dehler.

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

   March 2017

Tamie Dehler on the history of the Dreiser family, Terre Haute Tribune-Star

 

Dreiser family, Tribune Star

 

In 2013, Tamie Dehler, a journalist based in Terre Haute, Indiana with expertise in genealogy, published a series of six articles in the Terre Haute Tribune-Star about the genealogy of Theodore Dreiser and his family, including many facts hitherto undiscovered.

Ms. Dehler’s articles are concise, packed with information, fascinating, and very well researched. They are groundbreaking from a biographical standpoint.

I am of the belief that any one of the three Dreiser biographers since Robert Elias, Dreiser’s first biographer, would have been very pleased to have had these articles at hand. The articles reveal a great deal, for example, about Dreiser’s siblings, whom Dreiser biographers have found difficult to trace.

The articles are attached here in the form of a downloadable PDF file. They are as follows:

October 27, 2013
“GENEALOGY: Father of Dreiser brothers was Terre Haute spinner”

November 2, 2013
“GENEALOGY: Paul Jr. was the eldest of the Dreiser children”

November 9, 2013
“GENEALOGY: Dresser’s fall in 20th century from wealthy to bankrupt”

November 17, 2013
“GENEALOGY: A little about the lives of the non-famous Dreiser children”

November. 23, 2013
“GENEALOGY: Continuing to Look at records of Dreiser siblings”

November 30, 2013
“GENEALOGY: Theodore Dreiser born in 1871 in Terre Haute”

 

The articles are posted courtesy of the Tribune-Star Publishing Company, Terre Haute, Indiana.

 

— posted by Roger W. Smith

   February 2016