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


On June 10, 2007, the four Nickel boys paid a visit to Hermann Hedder’s coal and wood lot at 403 West Chicago Avenue, now a paved parking lot. Mark took the photo.

Hermann Hedder, purveyor of wood and coal

Hermann did not own a lumber yard. He sold wood and coal for fuel. He appears to have been a prosperous businessman but had a difficult life. His first wife and three of his five children died — two in infancy, one at age seven.

Hermann Hedder
The studio name and mounting board are identical to a photograph of his wife Louise, but Hermann’s image is not as well preserved. A handwritten note on the reverse side puts Hermann’s age at 43.

Hermann Hedder was the son of John George Hedder and Anna Marie Inhelmann of Oldendorf. He emigrated from Germany to avoid compulsory military conscription, arriving in Chicago around the start of the American Civil War. Family tradition says Hermann narrowly avoided service in the Union Army but that his younger brother Peter was not so lucky and died in a Confederate prison.

The part about Peter dying is certainly wrong. In the archives is a letter of condolence from Peter to Hermann, postmarked October 15, 1883, at Amlinghausen, Germany. (It is possible that Peter emigrated, fought in the Civil War, and returned to Germany. The archives have no records either way.)

Hermann was in the fuel business, owning a wood and coal service in Chicago with his office and yard at 403 West Chicago Avenue. (The site remains an empty lot, now paved over for parking cars.) His first wife, Louise Schnacke (B: August 10, 1851), died in childbirth on May 25, 1875. The child, a daughter named Louise, died two months later.

Hedder was a member at St. John’s Mayfair, where Christian Luecke was a schoolteacher. Luecke introduced Hedder to his niece Louise, daughter of Ludwig Luecke, a farmer at Howard’s Grove near Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Hermann and Louise were married. They lived on Bickerdike Street and had four children: Helen (Oma Mueller), Hedwig (died of diptheria at age 7), Louis (died in infancy), and Paul.

Hermann’s business apparently prospered. He had a number of employees, two of whom wrote a letter of condolence and eulogy to Louise when Hermann died. There are several stock certificates in the archives, now worthless, that indicate he was an investor in German businesses around Chicago (Tageblatt Publishing Company, Western Planing and Manufacturing Company, the latter certificates signed by one Wilhelm Schumacher). Louise, who outlived him by almost eight years, lived comfortably in her own home near Humboldt Park. On her death in 1905, Helen and Paul received substantial inheritances.