Monday, February 13, 2012

GGF Gus Zeller (1858 - 1927)

My GGF, my Grandmother's Dad, was Gustav Zeller (3 FEB 1858, Frostburg MD - 3 DEC 1927, Frostburg MD.) He owned barbershops in Western Maryland that enjoyed success and allowed his family an affluent lifestyle by the standards of the time. He taught some of the sons and his son-in-law, my Grandfather Kelly, the barbering trade. He even had a small barber shop in the back of his house. His son Gus Jr. took over the barber shops when Gus Sr. retired.

Reportedly, he had a barber shop at 14 East Main Street that burned on December 14, 1917. Then he opened another one at 35 East Main Street making it bigger and better that the old one.

This photo documented the arrival of the trolley to Frostburg, MD from Cumberland.
That's GGF in his snappy white barber frock with his hand to head (signaling hair?)
on the lower step of the trolley. Smart PR!
GGF Gus Zeller was a real promoter of his business, never missing a trick to get mentioned in the most widely read local newspaper of the day, The Frostburg Mining Journal (the FMJ). The dominant job of the town was coal mining and the men put his barber shops to good use.

Today the The Frostburg Mining Journal is housed in the Ort Library on the campus of Frostburg State University, and has many mentions of GGF Zeller. Here are a small handful of them.

2/8/1896: Gus Wm. Zeller received a few days ago 68 fancy fish - silver and gold. Almost 20 were sent to his pond up the pike, 40 remaining here. (Note: they were put in a fish tank in his shop's front window.)

8/29/1896: "Stolen Pigeons", Seven pigeons were stolen by boys from Gus Wm. Zeller last Sunday. When the boys ascertained that Gus had a clue to their identity, they let the pigeons go. Two of them returned to Gus and some of the others flew to Hoffman, their first home. They belong to two branches of the pigeon family - the "Tumblers" and "Rattleshirts".

8/21/1897: "A Pretty Place" (Six paragraphs on the remodeling of Gus' barbershop in the Betz building.) "Quite impressive!"

12/23/1897: "Pretty Windows" (Two paragraphs on the windows of Gus' barbershop, including a large fish tank in one window and a rare stuffed white owl in the other.)

6/17/1899: One morning very recently, GW Zeller had the occasion to be up during the early hours. Standing inside his back yard he heard someone brush the fence going up the alley. Looking over, he saw a man with a pack on his back trotting low toward Union Street. Gus fired his pistol over the fellow's head. The chickens in the sack made a loud outcry and the fellow yelled, "Oh My God." He held on to the chickens. However Gus followed to Union Street. A man coming up saw Gus with a lantern and gun, took to his heels also and neither has been seen since. Gus was about to ask him to help catch the fellow with the sack but the Union Street early bird gave him no chance.

Grandma was the only girl and the apple of her father's eye. When she married, he even built her a separate kitchen onto the house so that she and Ma wouldn't lock horns over kitchen duties! Grandma Kelly was born and died in that house.

My Grandma Helen Zeller (Kelly) as a young girl,
all decked out and ready to have her picture made!
One of these days soon I've really got to dig more deeply into this branch of the family and see what pops up! GGF's parents, Charles and Anna Mary Zeller lived in Frostburg until 1884 when they moved to Chicago. Charles was a confectioner... and Anna Mary a diabetic! Many details of this branch and their family history escapes us in the present generation after the senior Zellers moved.

 Here he is, well coiffed... and look at the mustache!

No comments:

Post a Comment