Julius Johannpeter (1875-1961)

     Julius “Uncle Jules” Johannpeter was born in St. Charles, MO on March 5, 1875 to recent German immigrants Frederick William Johannpeter and Johanna Johannpeter nee Grieve.  “Uncle Jules” was seven years older than his sister Caroline Leah “Lee” Johannpeter, my great grandmother.

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Johannpeter Family – Uncle Jules is probably one of the men in the back.

     When Lee’s husband William Ellis died in 1917, Lee had the challenge of raising her two-year-old son Gilbert as a single mother.  Uncle Jules stepped in as a surrogate father to Grandpa, who would live with the family off and on.  Uncle Jules died almost a decade before I was born but I felt like I knew him from all Grandpa’s stories.

      Uncle Jules married Bertha Hoorst.  Uncle Jules and Aunt Bertha would have five children as Uncle Jules built his carpentry business.  Uncle Jules was a second generation carpenter, who owned a successful carpentry business.  Uncle Jules owned both his home at 5039 Thrush Avenue and a carpentry shop.

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Great Grandma and Grandpa Ellis

     Grandpa told me stories during the Great Depression of unemployed men walking the streets of St. Louis begging for a meal.  Grandpa said, “Aunt Bertha never let any of these men leave hungry.”  Instead of developing a hoarder’s mentality, Uncle Jules and Aunt Bertha helped out other St. Louisans in need.

     Uncle Jules was not above playing a prank.  When Grandpa started working after Prohibition had been repealed, he came home to find Uncle Jules with several bandages on his face.  At the time, my grandfather was a powerful 6’04” man.

     Uncle Jules told Grandpa he had been drinking at the local tavern, when a young tough came in and beat up the 60-year-old Uncle Jules.

     Grandpa started heading out the door to clean out the place, when Uncle Jules grabbed his arm and said, “Hold on, son.”  He peeled away the bandages to reveal he did not have any injuries.  Grandpa laughed as he realize his uncle had pulled a prank on him.

     Uncle Jules life was not without its challenges.  In 1921, he discovered the body of younger brother Herman.  Despondent over the early death of his wife from a heart attack in 1916 and his mother in 1920, Herman shot himself in the head during September 1921.

     The biggest tragedy for Uncle Jules would come on October 22, 1952, when his beloved wife Bertha died from a heart attack.  Uncle Jules suffered with the loss of his spouse.  Suffering from Alzheimer’s disease in November 1955, the 80-year-old Uncle Jules lived at the Penn Nursing Home for the remainder of his life.

     Mom remembered Grandpa used to get depressed after seeing Uncle Jules in the home.  Towards the end of his life, he did not remember anyone.  We believe Grandpa’s strong desire not to die in a nursing home or hospital resulted from Uncle Jules’ illness.

     Uncle Jules passed away from heart disease and a stroke on November 12, 1961.  Senile confusion was a contributing cause.  Uncle Jules was buried with Aunt Bertha at St. Peter’s cemetery.

     Uncle Jules long life involved family, laughter, stories, tragedies but ultimately a successful life.  He made a powerful impression on the men in the Johannpeter family including his nephew, who he treated like a son.  There are not enough Uncle Jules in the world.

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