Wednesday, May 15, 2013

From Tragedy To Dare - The Doerr Family Connection

As I shared in my last post, I have been carefully examining the excellent work of the late Ruth Merner Connell who self-published a genealogy of Ellen's ancestral Merner family in 1976. The book has been an excellent resource helping me to add on to the Merner family information I had already discovered. As I have entered each fact into my genealogy database from the Merner genealogy book, I am careful to ensure that nothing is entered without a source citation. 

In addition  I have been 'auditing' the contents of the book to ensure that the facts it presents can be verified with primary source documents, something that Ruth Connell used when available but didn't always have easy access to. I am about half way through the book and have been impressed to find that about 98% of the facts it contains are accurate. Small errors occur likely due to typographical errors (the book is about 600 pages long and each paged was typed on one of those old-fashioned things called typewriters).

Among the stories that I have uncovered was that of Irene Nelda Merner, Ellen's second cousin twice removed. Irene was a great granddaughter of Ellen's 3X great grandparents Jacob Emanuel Merner (Muerner) and Susanna Schluchter. 

Irene's father Ammon Merner was a hard working machinist/moulder who worked in the town of Waterloo, Waterloo County, Ontario where Irene was born in 1890. At the age of 26, in 1916, Irene married a young man from Berlin, now Kitchener, Ontario, named Weybourne Doerr. The newlyweds settled into married life in Kitchener and in July of 1917, their little family expanded when their first child, a son they named Carl Merner Doerr, was born.

The year 1918 however brought tragedy to the family as both Irene and her husband Weybourne died, within two days of each other, as a result of the 'Spanish grippe' or pandemic flu. Carl was orphaned at just fourteen months of age and would be raised by his paternal grandparents, Charles Henry Doerr and his wife Susannah Wagner.

Grandfather Charles Doerr had established and operated a small 'grocery' store and biscuit bakery in Berlin, Ontario. Charles brought his grandson Carl into the business and began teaching him the ways of business world. In 1941, when he was just 24 years of age, Carl was forced to take over the business when his beloved grandfather died.

Carl, Ellen's third cousin once removed, continued to grow the business and in 1945, he changed the family and company name to Dare. The company is now one of the largest food companies in North America, known for Melba Toast, Viva Puffs, Bear Claws, Real Fruit Gummies, Wagon Wheels (one of my favourites as a kid), and a large variety of cookies. Carl's Dare Foods company was the first to introduce the resealable tin tie bag in 1954. Not only was Carl a great entrepreneur but he also demonstrated great philanthropy through contributions to the local symphony, hospital, conservation authority and through his foundational work in establishing the University of Waterloo.

Carl Dare/Doerr was inducted into to Waterloo Region Hall of Fame in 2008.

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