Litz Family History:
From Russia to Winnipeg

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Robert LITZ-Immigrant to Businessman, Litz Construction, and the Children

 

 ROBERT LITZ

 Robert Litz was born in Lomza Poland (Russia at the time) on October 13/25, 1879 (date differential due to both Julian and Gregorian Calendars).  His mother was Wilhelmina Litz born around 1854, an unmarried illiterate worker. See figure 1, and following translation.  Also good to note here is there are letters that are interchangeable in Russian/Polish/German, there is no V in the Polish language,  W is pronounced V, and L with a slash through it is pronounced W, and in Russian a B is a W and a P is an R, and G and H are often interchangeable; ergo Vilgelmina is Wilhelmina.  In our family, and others from similar areas and of that earlier generation V and W are also used similarly, I.E.; Valter, Havaii, and sorry but I cannot explain Mancoower!!

 Figure 1: this is a microfilmed copy of the original entry in the church books from Lomza

 

 

Done in Lomzha on October 15/27, 1879, at 12 noon. Here appeared Vilgelmina Litz, unmarried, a worker, living in Lomzha, 25 years old, in the presence of Mikhail Bartnik, a church attendant, 24 years old, and Fedor Ludvig, a low rank [serviceman] of the Belozersk infantry regiment, living in Lomzha, 22 years old, and brought an illegitimate infant, male, and represented that he was born in Lomzha on October 13/25 of this year at 7 in the evening, of herself. At the Holy Baptism administered today, the said infant has been given a name of Robert, and the godparents were aforementioned Mikhail Bartnik and Sofia Ludvig. This statement has been read to the representor and witnesses, and signed by the witnesses but not by the representor who is illiterate. 

Mikhail Bartnik          Fedor Ludvig

  Fedor Ludvig                                minister          

                                                                                                                                

1879

ii

no. 39

Lomzha

 

 

The translation is a little confusing.  It says the church attendant is Mikhail Bartnik and Fedor Ludvig  is the low rank serviceman, yet the signature shows Ludvig above the word minister. If the Minister/church attendant Bartnik and Sofia Ludwig are the God Parents, is Sofia a midwife? Fedor's mother/wife/sister? and who is Fedor and what is his role here??

Any previously mentioned occurrences in Robert’s life between his birth and subsequent marriage and immigration is by word of mouth and at this point in time, unverifiable.

Robert married Hulda Kroening in Zhitomir in 1903 as declared on his reapplication for Canadian Citizenship papers that were lost.  He does however on this application give his place of birth as Zhitomir, which is contrary to his 1940 registration, and birth record.  See figure 2 and 3.

  

Figure 2 

 Figure 3

Soon after they left Russia and made their way to Rotterdam. There they boarded a ship for Grimsby, England.  They probably traveled by train to Liverpool for their journey to Canada aboard the Ship Bavarian. Figures 4 and 5.

 I should note that a few years ago I looked at the Rotterdam passenger lists on microfiche for the year 1903 and I am sure I saw a record for a Mr and Mrs Litz and infant.  When I went to copy this entry I couldn’t find it again.  There were hundreds of pages and I went back to them numerous times but to no avail.  I may have originally misread the entry on first look, but nonetheless, without it I cannot be 100% certain. There was so much talk about a son Rudolph who died at sea that you would think it had to be true.  If in fact it is, and what I saw was really there, then his death at sea would have been after Rotterdam and before the their departure in Liverpool.

 Figure 4

 Figure 5

 

 After their arrival in Canada, they settled in Winnipeg and lived in Railway housing at 640 Logan Ave.  August was born here.  Figure 6 is 1906 census page.

 Figure 6

 

 

Sometime prior to 1911 they had moved to 460 Magnus Avenue.  They lived here until around June of 1914, when they moved to Beausejour during the War years. See figure 7 and figure 8, 1911 census page lines 17-22. (Note the name discrepancy.  The Litz family is down as Leads, and the other family living in the home is marked Litz.  This could be a language issue with the enumerator. Add to this that is says the family is Catholic when they are Lutheran.

 Also note, Richard should be on this census but isn’t.  There is a Rachel and Emma.

I believe Emma is Aunt Velma, as Albert says that Emma was her name.  There is a date discrepancy, the other plausible explanation is this Emma died, and another child was renamed Emma.  Also, could Rachel be Richard, another language issue?

 Figure 7

 

Figure 8

 

In 1916 the family is in Whitemouth, Manitoba, (13,11,E), where they moved during the war. Their name is written at Sitz, instead of Litz. To make it even more interesting, Robert is counted twice as he is also registered as being a roomer at  465 Magnus Avenue in Winnipeg with a family named  Rudolph Dien, a Hungarian Sculptor, and his family. The Litz home at 460 Magnus is being lived in by a Russian family, Morris and Sarah Schwartz, and their children, Charlie, Willie and Louis.

 

From 1916 census
 

From 1916 census

Ron (well its Karl actually) was born in Winnipeg in April 1914 was baptized at Zion Lutheran in Beausejour in June.  Walter the next born was born in Beausejour as was Alice.  There is no baptismal record in Beausejour for either of them at Zion Lutheran Church. 

 After the war the family moved back to 460 Magnus Avenue.  Robert and Hulda remained there until their move to 990 Alverstone Avenue, after the children were grown.

Robert after he retired continued to live at 900 Alverstone, until his health started to fail.  He spent his last years at Park Manor Nursing Home where he died in 1970.  He is buried at Chapel Lawn Cemetery in Winnipeg.                                                                                      

                                                                              

                                                                                           

 

 



 

 

 

[1] I believe this is actually Grabowitz, unfortunately there are 3 of them and I have yet to discern which if any is correct.

[2] This will be Poland today, Austro Hungarian Empire then

[3] Opa said he only had a dollar when he arrived.  I find this difficult to swallow.  There was money to Bribe the border guard, pay the Rabbi, he supposedly worked before getting his passage, and then there is the question of possible ill gotten gains from his extra curricular activities in the Lumber Camp, then he arrived in Winnipeg, got a room and bought a wheelbarrow! I think something is missing here, don’t you?

[4] Don’t know if this is a fact but is sure makes for good story telling….again from Uncle Albert

 

R Litz and Sons, The Business

There were over 500 articles and ads in the Winnipeg Free Press starting in the 1920’s to the 1960’s, and NO, I didn’t look at all of them, but instead tried to capture the ones that gave some substance to the history of the family and family business.

The first pictures,  directly below are from an old Company Photo Album that my dad Ron had.

Early Days R Litz and Sons

 

The family business began with a Wheelbarrow in 1904.  There is little advertising in the early years, but later, the ads became very prolific.  After WWI, advertising really began in earnest, and then continued.  The business continued to flourish, but at sometime during its existence, Robert took on a partner, Roman H. Smith.  This partnership ended in 1919, see Figure 9.  Was this partnership necessary because of the War?  

Figure 9

   The only things I was able to find out about Roman Smith were he was a Russian German, born in Poland in 1884, came to Canada in 1906, lived at 304 Bushnell in 1906 as a boarder, listed as a labourer, in 1911 he was married to Helen M Rempel and lived at 626 Home St, listed as a house mover working on his own, and in 1916, he was still on Home Street, had a daughter Eleanore (listed as 13 years?) andhe is still listed as a house mover.  His 1960 Obit says he died 16 Oct 1960, resided at 45 Westgate and is buried at Chapel Lawn.

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

Figure 10

   

 It would appear he continued to operate this business out of the residence at 460 Magnus Avenue as the ads from 1921  and 1938 below indicate. Figure 10  and 11.

 

 

 

Figure 11

                                                                                 

 

Figure 12

 

The first mention that I could find of the sons in ads was in a1931 Christmas ad, figure 12.

 

 

 

 

 


Figure 13.

 

 

Violet Berft nee Litz had this great picture of the “boys” from 1942

Left to right; Gordon, Albert, William, Ron, Fred, Richard, August and Robert.

 

 

There is an ad for the sale of a Saw Mill from 1934 by August Litz, its interesting that the address is 1070 Logan Ave, Figure 14.  When did this happen.

Figure 14

There is an ad for the sale of a Saw Mill from 1934 by August Litz, its interesting that the address is 1070 Logan Ave, Figure 14.  When did this happen.

 

 

Starting in or around 1934 building permits were taken out on a several different residential properties. Figure 15 Selkirk Ave 1934, Figure 16 for Anderson Ave in 1936 and Figure 17  Mulvey Ave 1936.  There are probably other properties that were purchased by the company for the sons and daughters as they became adults, but this is speculation on my part.  I know my parents after they were married lived on Belmont Avenue until the house on Winnipeg Avenue was built. 

 Figure 15  and    Figure 16     
                            

               

                                  

 
 

 Figure 17

 

 Figure 18

 

 

Figure 18 at left,  February 12,1938 article shows August in a rather precarious position.  The article does not state which brother or the name of passer-by who came to his rescue. It does make me think that this was the first straw to his eventual move to California. 

Something curious happened in 1939, which maybe the Uncles can explain or know about, but this was news to me, another partner for Litz Construction or a new business altogether, see Figure 19

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Figure 19

 

Who is ROE, and what’s this patent stuff….Did Robert invent something and patent it? I have not found any other mentions for Litz and Roe other than this one. However, after sharing this information with family, I have received from Gene (cousin's grandson) information from the US Patent office with information on this patent...Thank you Gene for taking an interest and looking stuff up. What I have learned about Roe is this: John Alexander Roe was a contractor who in 1922 lived and operated  at 347 Salter Street. He died 16  Sep 1965 in Winnipeg, his residence at the time was 61 Bannerman. His daughter's (Dr. Bernadine Roe (Restall) obit states her father was the original contractor of the Tabernacle Baptist Church on Bannerman.

Figure 20

 

In 1947, Figure 20 shows a purchase for McPhillips Street, Figure 21 looks like they landed a big job. Christmas greetings in Figure 22

 Figure 21

   

                                                                              

      

 

 

 

 

Figure 22   

 

 

  
                       

                                                                                                              

Figure 23 , 1947 is the building permit for property on Winnipeg Avenue. Gee I used to live there, and Gordon and family lived next door.  Is this why they needed the 10 labourers in figure 21?

Figure 23 


 As previously noted there were 7 sons and all involved in the family business at one time or another.  There were also 2 daughters.  Following is little information on the offspring.

August Litz

                                       

The first child born in Canada was August on the 5th of February 1904. He was Baptized at Trinity Lutheran Church.  His sponsors (God Parents) were Louise Kroening and Ludwig Tober. (this has just raised another question...Who is Louise Kroening and is she related.  Is this the Louise who came over with Ferdinand Kroening?  Who Is Ludwig Tober and what is his relationship to the family...or is all of this just a coincidence?  I think not...Louise I'm sure is related. 

He is present in the 1906, 1911, 1916 Census'. He worked for his father at the Family Business. 

He married Linda Remple, daughter of Heinrich Remple and Mary Hiebert. They had 2 children in Winnipeg. The family moved to California in the 1950's, and owned and operated Litz Overhead Doors in Anaheim.

August died 27 Oct 1994 in Anaheim.


  

 

                                                                                                          

 

Richard Litz

 Richard was born in Winnipeg around 21 Nov 1907 or 1908.  The discrepancy is that he doesn't appear to be registed at birth, but some years later when he was an adult.

He married Elsie Frieda  Brendt, daughter of Walter Behrendt and Frieda Guttermuth,  in Beausejour 21 Jun 1929. The resided in Winnipeg and had 1 child.

He worked for the Company until his retirement. He and Elsie spent their summers at their cottage at Breezy Point.

Richard died in Winnipeg 20 Nov 1991 and is buried in Beausejour Cemetery.

 

 

 

Emma (Velma) Litz DeFehr

    

 

Alfred (Fred) Litz

Alfred Litz was born in Winnipeg on 18 Feb 1912. He married Mary, had 2 children and lived most of his adult life in Vancouver and Vicitoria, BC.  He died in Victoria.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ronald Reinhart (Karl) Litz

  Ronald Reinhart Litz was born Karl Litz in Winnipeg on April 4, 1914.  He was baptized Reinhart Litz in Jun of that year at Zion Lutheran Church in Beausejour.  All his life he was known as Ron, probably from anglicizing Reiny, which his family called him.    He married May Linnea Hanson, daughter of Einar Hanson and Jenny Wahlgren.  She was working at the Bank on Logan and Arlington which did the banking for the company.  Dad apparently saw her at a bus stop and offered her a ride home, and they were married 2 weeks later at Calvary Temple.

Ron and May had 3 children, their eldest, Randy died at 11 years of age.

He worked for his father at the yard, also drove a bus, spent time in Toronto, and branched out on his own, forming his own company, Litron on St James Street with a partner, Sam Kare.  They then sold the company several years later, and dad formed Lively Movers on Logan and King Edward. Health and injuries forced him into early retirement.

They spent many winters in Anaheim, CA visiting with siblings August and Linda, Alice and Jack, and nieces and nephews.   

Living most of their married lives on Winnipeg Avenue, with summers at the family cottage in Breezy Point, then in the Swedish Seniors Apartments at Vasa Lund in Winnipeg, they finally settled in Sidney BC where dad died in 1997. 

Elsie (Alice) Litz Busch

 Alice was born in Beausejour on 1 May 1915. She married Jacob Busch, son of Fredrich Busch and Anna Elizabeth Kolln.  They had 2 children, and in 1950 moved with the Family to Anaheim, California. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walter Litz


The story of Walter is a sad one.  He left home traveling to BC, and then was killed returning home. Figure 24 is the notice of his death from the Free Press and Figure 25 is the outcome of the Coroners Inquest.   

  Figure 24 

                                                                      

        Figure 25    

   

                                                            

  

Figure 26  Walter’s Obituary from the Mennonitisch Rundschau Paper and translation.

  June 20, 1934

Mennonitische Rundschau

Translation: 

Life story of Walter Litz

Walter Litz, son of Bro. and Sis. Robert Litz, 460 Magnus Ave., Winnipeg, left the parental home about 4 weeks ago without the knowledge of his parents to discover more of the world. The first news of his whereabouts came from Vancouver B.C. It was here that he probably spent the most time of his absence because from here he sent the most letters. He was staying with people from the Salvation Army by the name of Rain and he repeatedly told his parents in his letters not to worry about him at home, that he was doing well. On Saturday, June 9th he left Vancouver to board a freight train for a ride home. About 200 miles east of Vancouver, close by Ashcroft, while he was sitting on top of the freight car, he hit his head on the coal Shute. He fell off the car onto the track and one of the wheels of the freight car ran over one of his legs almost completely severing it from his body. He lived and was fully conscious for a whole hour. However, he died on the way to the hospital.

  Walter was born Sept. 17th, 1918 in Beausejour, Man. He died at 11:00am Sunday, June 10th 1934. He was 15 years, 8 months and 23 days old. He attended Strathcona School and even made it to 7th grade. According to the reports from his teacher he was a quiet and good boy. The same was said by his parents and siblings.

  His parents remarked that lately he spoke a lot about being saved. One late evening he came to his Dad and asked him “ is it true what the Bible says that all a man has to do is believe in the Lord Jesus and he is saved”, which his father said it was. As his father asked why he wanted to know he said: “It is a good thing to know all these things.” Every once in a while you could catch him reading the Bible. His belongings that were taken from his pockets and sent to his parents also included the Gospel of John.

  Also in the letters he sent you could tell that he was also pondering this very important subject.

In a letter his parents received after his death he had included a photograph of himself with the comment that at home they didn’t have a picture of him. He ended his letter by saying: God bless you all.

We hope that the Lord has taken him in and shown him great mercy. It will be up to the Lord. 

 

 

 

 Figure 27 is a file from the Russian Auswanter Microfilm.

 

                                                                                                       

 

Figure 28

I have located one picture with Walter,Figure 28.  He is standing beside his older brother Ron, behind his younger brothers William, Albert and Gordon, whose attention is obviously focused on something else.  As Walter died at age 15, this picture must have been taken within a year or two of his death.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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William Litz

 William Litz was born in Winnipeg on 25 Aug 1923.  He served in WWII, met his wife Jessie Jenkins while stationed in England. They had 2 children. He worked for the family business until retirement, when he immigrated to Fresno CA, then Honolulu, HI, where he died 11 Oct 1999.

 

 

 

 

 

Albert Litz

 

 

 

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Lawrence Gordon Litz

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