My father, Benjamin Ricker, his family is "The Wall", married rather late in life. At 57 he was no youngster when I was born. A skipped generation! Add the familial propensity to privacy and... well you couldn't build a wider, taller, tougher wall. My dad's folks were strictly blue collar, working and living on the north side of St. Louis, MO in the last decades of the 19th and into the 20th centuries.
His mother: born Emma Sickerman in Bielefeld, Westphalia DEU in 1867 immigrated to the US in March of 1881 on the steamer Wieland. Ship's register shows her traveling alone and gives her age as 16. The age as the ships register has it, or the birth-date as I have it is in error. Fourteen or sixteen, it's a tender age to be traveling to a strange land alone! I know nothing of the Sickerman family.
Emma Sickerman, is married(?) to Joseph(?) Ricker and living in St. louis MO by 1888. My dad was born that year. She had another son, William Ricker in 1890. Joseph died(?) sometime in the 1890s. Grandmother remarried to Louis Stumpe. They had a daughter, Lillian Stumpe in 1900. I no nothing of Joseph Ricker's or Louis Stumpe's family. It seems that these folks worked at keeping off record. No marriage, no birth, no death records so far!
Dad, a 1907 St Louis City Register shows him living an address on Desterhan St, working as a waiter. Military records; his draft registration record shows an address in Massillon OH in 1917. His 1918 draft notice shows him at an address in St. Louis MO. He served in WWI, honorable discharge, purple heart. I find no other record of him until his marriage in 1938.
Mother, born Clara Ann Wuertz and her extended family, Weurtz, Collets and Harbaugh were all landed farmers south of Waterloo IL. Their histories are far more transparent. Church and county records abound. Many are buried in a church grave near their farms. Her ancestors on her mother's side trace back to Yost Harbaugh, 1835 in PA and earlier in Germany. No walls here.
Does any of this sound familiar? In general I would like to know other resources
outside of the usual governmental and church records that might be useful. In particular I would be delighted to hear from anyone who shares my ancestry.