The Frau Erica Project
Muellers in America:
The first 155 years


From left: Adelheid (Lal) Mueller, Bertha Mueller, Adelheid Schumm, Ellen Mueller, and Edna Schumm. Bertha was Enno Mueller’s daughter, cousin to Lal and Ellen. (From archives of Kathy Waldschmidt Miller)

Adelheid Schumm, entrepreneur

Among the cousins, Adelheid Schumm was something of a legend. Her millinery shop in LaPorte, Indiana, was well worth the drive — a trip her Mueller cousins from Chicago (Adelheid Nickel, Ellen Waldschmidt, Norma Grams and others) made from time to time for “cousin lunches.”

Adelheid Schumm was born into comfortable circumstances. Her father, Louis Schumm Jr., was heir to a successful sash and door company in Laporte, Indiana, and the Schumm family prospered. At one point, the family archives note, the Schumm family owned three automobiles. That changed dramatically when the Great Depression hit. The Schumms lost nearly everything. It was Adelheid, in her 30s at the time, who kept the family afloat.

Louis and Mimi recognized Adelheid’s talent for fashion and design. At some point, Louis retrofitted the family garage so that their daughter could follow her interests and talents and open a millinery shop.

Adelheid made a great success of it. Her hats were worn all over the world. Eight of them were worn by guests at the coronation of King George VI in London on May 12, 1937. Mrs. Vladimir Horowitz visited Adelheid’s shop to buy her hats when her husband’s concert tours took him to Chicago.

When the Depression hit and the sash and door business failed, Adelheid used her business as collateral to take out a federal loan so that the family could keep its home. Her business continued to prosper, and she was able to repay the loan.

In 1970, Adelheid organized a thrift shop at St. John’s Lutheran Church in La Porte, Indiana. The shop continues today as a volunteer operation, gathering, sorting and donating clothing and household goods to the needy or to people who have had house fires.