Pocket Watch

In Attire
Front of Pocket Watch
Front of Pocket Watch

In the early 1900’s my great-grandfather, William Rinehart Gerth, immigrated from Germany to Chicago. He took a job as a cable car driver and met his soon-to-be wife, Eltha. While living in Illinois, William purchased a pocket watch with his initials W.R.G proudly engraved on the back. But as Chicago started shutting down its cable cars, William was forced to move further west to San Diego with his family where he would spend the rest of his working days as a school custodian to support his family of seven. That said, he rarely shared stories with his children, especially after his third stroke left him with a non fluent form of aphasia. My grandpa told very few stories as well but this pocket watch was always one of his most cherished possessions as it was the only physical reminder he had of his father. The fact that William’s pocket watch, and the history behind it, has been retained throughout these past generations is something I’m very grateful for. Since my grandpa and everyone else in his family has passed, this story is one of the few there are in my family. And while today my great-grandfather is only present in photo, his work ethic was instilled in his son and later, my mom. My mom has always been my role model and this family history has given me insight into where her dedication and perseverance originate. It is this work ethic passed down through my family that I am most proud of.

Place(s): Germany, Chicago, San Diego

– Madalyn Stewart

Relationship:  Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more