In 1917 the United States was deeply worried about the European turmoil, and it was a trying time for our young men as they were registering for the draft that was taking place. Then came the news in early 1917 that Russia had attacked the German allied Central Powers on the Eastern Front.
February 1917, back in Highland, saw Joseph Walter purchase the interest of Louis Klaus in the livery stable, which was originally a part of the Western Hotel, which was then the O. Gruenenfelder Livery Stable and Feed, located in the alley between 6th and 8th streets. The firm name was changed to “Trost & Walter.”
I was wondering where World War I soldier Nelson Walter fit into this family. The first place I looked was in “Pass In Review,” by Allan C. Huber. He listed Pvt. Nelson F. Walter as the 22-year-old-son of Mr. and Mrs. William C. Walter. But I couldn’t find William C. in the 19 pages of Sebastian C. Walter’s genealogy by Roy Worstell.
Then, on the second time through the genealogy, on page 3, I spotted Nelson’s name, with his father’s name listed as Carlus Wilhelm Walter, 1870-1955. So Carlus Wilhelm Walter later became William C. Walter. Many names were “English-ized” or first and second names reversed, which sure slows down the genealogy looker.
Nelson Frank Walter was with the 91st Division, serving on the Belgium front, starting in Oct. 28, 1918, and just before the war ended, he was wounded by a high explosive. Shrapnel struck him in the right cheek. He recovered and served in the Army of Occupation. He was discharged April 29, 1919.
Nelson Walter married Leona Meyer on Aug. 24, 1920. They had five sons, Cletus, Raymond, Warren, Russell and Melvin; and one daughter, Bernice Walter (Mrs. Al) Wellen.
Earlier in evening, I was reading Warren Walter’s obituary. He passed away earlier this month, on Thursday, Feb. 2, at age 91. He was buried Friday, Feb. 10 at St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery in Highland.
In the obituary, I found out that Nelson’s oldest son, Cletus Walter, and Warren Walter, started Walter’s Garage on East Broadway in 1947. Warren continued to own the garage until 1984, with his brother Raymond, who died in 2013.
Cletus Walter and his wife, Johanna, purchased Buzzie’s Drive-in at 418 Walnut St. from Floyd “Buzzie” Nungesser. They were still running the Walter’s Drive-in and had expanded by 1966. (The Walters’ twin daughters, who were waitresses in the restaurant, went when my wife, Lorna, and I were lay chaperons for St. Paul High School senior class trip to Washington, D.C., and New York City in ’66.)
Cletus died in 1969. The business was later purchased by Guy and Vickie Matthews, who later called it V-Gee’s.
Warren Walter had written 12 pages in 2001, which he called, “As I Recall,” telling the story of the Nelson Walter family. I’m using Warren’s information to cover some of the highlights.
Nelson Walter was wounded in World War I. He returned to Highland in April 1919… In 1920, he married Leona Meyer, and they rented a 100-acre farm on Buckeye Road, near Sugar Creek… Warren, who was born in 1926, had two older brothers and a sister and two younger brothers. He had a lot of fond memories of the Buckeye farm in the 1930s.
“Mom’s great homemade bread, Dad’s special treat, making a freezer of ice cream and Dad’s World War I buddies, Alvin Frey, Edmund Matter Jr. and Edgar Hoffman, added to their visits… The Fourth of July was always memorable, listening to Dad’s wartime stories, his Purple Heart, then parade and fireworks,” Warren remembered.
They moved to the Bruno Tschannen farm on St. Rose Road in March 1937.
Warren went all 12 years to St. Paul grade and high school, ending in June 1944. A wartime aeronautics course was added, which lead to the first time he was in the air as a Navy recruit. Years later, he got his private pilot’s license. Warren was an aviation machinist in the Navy, maintaining the Douglas DC-3. He was discharged in 1946 and met a beautiful girl, Ione, whom he married in 1950.
His brother, Cletus, wanted to start an auto repair shop in 1947. That’s when they built the Walter’s Garage.
A solid family man, a trustee of St. Paul Church, always a friend with a smile, I give Warren Walter my first “Tip of the Hat” award for 2017.