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The Gerlachs

The 1920 and 1930 censuses enumerated Ann Gerlach’s husband, John Gerlach Jr., as the head of the household at 851 Beech Avenue. He had been born in Pennsylvania and was a son of German immigrants. In 1920, he was 38 years old and his occupation was listed as auto transportation. Records of the 1930 census list him as a broker in stocks and bonds.
Anna Gerlach, 39 in 1920, had been born in Pennsylvania like her parents. The Gerlach children were then Lawrence, 14, John E., 12, Crescentia, 11, Maria, nine, Anna, seven and Claude, four. The 1930 census, taken three and a half years after Ann Gerlach’s death, recorded four of the children still living at home: John E., 22, a laborer doing odd jobs, Marie, 20, with no occupation, Anna, 16, a department store saleswoman and Claude, 15.

The 1930 census indicates that the Gerlach family owned a “radio set,” like many middle class families, and that 851 Beech Avenue had an estimated value of $12,000. In 1940, as a result of the Great Depression’s effect on property values, the house’s estimated value was $8,000.

John Gerlach Jr. no longer lived at 851 Beech Avenue in 1940, having conveyed his interest in the house to his children in 1931. Records of the 1940 census list John E. Gerlach, 31, as the head of the household. He was employed as a Pittsburgh firefighter, and had worked 40 hours in the week before the census. In 1939 he had worked all 52 weeks, and earned $1,000. His wife Loretta, 29, and a Pennsylvania native, had no occupation. The couple had a son, Bernard, who was two years old. Claude Gerlach, 23, also still lived in the house. He was a college senior who was not working or seeking work at the time of the census, and had not worked in 1939.

The 1940 census was the first to collect information on educational levels. Census records show that John E. Gerlach had completed two years of college and Loretta Gerlach was a high school graduate.

The 1940 census is the last census that provides information on occupants of 851 Beech Avenue. Manuscript census records are withheld from public view for 72 years, to protect the privacy of persons who were enumerated.

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