Wigman Family

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At home with the Wigmans

January 26, 2013 12:17 am

4-Gwendolen August 1892 rs.jpg Undated photo

Gwendolen Wigman

17-Dorothy 1915 High School Graduation Pic rs.jpg

Dorothy Wigman 1915 Graduation Picture

Donald and dorothy on front porch.jpg

Donald and Dorothy on the front porch 1902

By Marylynne Pitz / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

In March 1896, William Henry Wigman and his wife, Gwendolen, moved into their elegant Queen Anne-style home in Carrick. A highly skilled carpenter and successful businessman, Mr. Wigman owned a South Side lumber company that had been co-founded by his father, also named William. He designed the spacious home and was involved in its construction. Two years later, Mrs. Wigman, a teacher of Welsh ancestry, gave birth at home to the couple's first child, Dorothy. The baby received gifts such as dresses trimmed in lace, a golden ring, a set of gold pins, a silver mug, a bank book with $5, a fancy rattle and a gold spoon.

Mrs. Wigman's detailed diaries, kept for three years, chronicle the close-knit family's lives and the growth of their daughter and son. At 4 months of age, Dorothy Wigman was fingering the family's piano and organ. At 5 months, she accompanied her parents on a two-week summer stay in a cabin in the the mountains at Point View, Blair County.

As her second birthday approached, Dorothy loved to dance near the piano while her father played a song called "Nellie Bly." That early childhood passion blossomed into a career. Dorothy Wigman began teaching music at Taylor Allderdice High School in 1931 and also sang in the Mendelsohn Choir.

Her brother, Donald Prosser Wigman, was born in 1901. Mrs. Wigman wrote that her newborn son "is a great fellow for catching cold when the weather changes. Dr. Martin said he was as good as a barometer."

For his first Christmas, Donald Wigman received a bank book with $5, a white dress, a drum, a pair of silver mugs, a pair of booties and a white petticoat. On his first birthday, he received a wagon. He went on to work in the marketing department of Pure Oil Co.

When Mr. Wigman played the organ or piano, his children liked to sing and dance in the front parlor. When the children were older, they learned how to shoot rifles by aiming at muskrats and groundhogs. In the summer, the Wigmans decamped to Chautauqua, a summer retreat in western New York.

In her Nov. 23, 1902, entry, Mrs. Wigman wrote that Dorothy could sing "God Is Always Near Me," while her father played the organ. "Has a very sweet voice," Mrs. Wigman wrote.

With the coming of World War I, anti-German sentiment ran high in the United States and the Wigmans fell on hard times. The family left the house in 1917, taking records, diaries and photographs as well a bronze statue that adorned the newel post in the front staircase. Today, that bronze statue belongs to Kitty Martin, the daughter of Donald Prosser Wigman, who grew up in the house. It may have originally been used as a gas lamp.

Mrs. Martin, who lives in Minneapolis, never knew her grandfather, the lumber mill owner, because he died in 1930. But she treasures all of the family heirlooms, including a miniature sewing machine her Aunt Dorothy used to make doll clothes.

Marylynne Pitz: mpitz@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1648.

First Published January 26, 2013 12:00 am

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More Photos From the collection of Katherine Martin, William Wigman's granddaughter

8-Unknown Date repaired rs.jpg - The Wigman House date of photo unknown

1-Christmas circac 1904 rs.jpgChristmas circ. 1904

1-Wall Hanging - seen in Christmas Pix to left of tree rs.jpg Wall hanging seen to the left of the Christmas tree photo.

2-Christmas circa 1904 rs.jpg Christmas Tree circ. 1904

1-Front Proch July 4, 1898 rs.jpg Front Porch 1898 looking toward [Brownsville Road] southbound

1-Decoration Day Wigman Lumber Company Wagon rs.jpg Decoration Day William Wigman Lumber Company wagon outside the front of the house.

2-Front Porch pix dated on the back(1) rs.jpg Back of photo above with date

1-Wigman Family circa 1905 rs.jpg Wigman Family 1905

Katherine (Wigman) Martin writes:

The Wigman family picturing Caroline and William Wigman with their grown children: Back row, left to right: Edward Ahlers (b. 11/5/79) - note, I'm assuming this is Edward because he was the youngest and looks the youngest in this picture; Harry Frederick (b. 9/16/2873); William Henry Wigman - my grandfather (b. 6/15/1869); Anna - note, I do not have any information on her as to birth date, but she is referenced in some family notes: Front row, left to right: Caroline Logemann Wigman (b. 10/22/1839, Provence of Prussian, Germany); Caroline Harriett (b. 2/11/78); William Wigman (b. 7/16/1832 - Provence of Hanover, Germany - note he was named William Henry Wigman, but he dropped the Henry at some point when living in PIttsburgh.

2-Newel Post Statue rs.jpg Bronze statue which used to be on the Newel post stairway

4-Newel Post Statue rs.jpg Back side of the statue

3-Newel Post Statue rs.jpg Side view of the statue

6-Base of Statue Showing Ferrand Name rs.jpg Base of statue illustrating the Ferrand name.

2-WHW 1891 rs.jpg Son William H. Wigman 1891

3-Decoration Day 1899(1) rs.jpg Taking a break in the hammock under the apple tree after Decoration Day 1899

4-Dated Back of Hammock Pic(1) rs.jpg - Cousin Ruth Wigman in the arms of her "big" cousin Dorothy Jean Wigman

3-Decoration Day - view from tower porch(1) rs.jpg View from front tower Decoration Day

3-Don's Room & Chrystal Set - 1916 rs.jpg - Donald's Chrystal Radio set he was forced to dismantle during WWI

3-Dorothy at front porch @ 1902-004 rs.jpg - Dorothy at front porch 1902

4-Decoration Day(1) rs.jpg - Decoration Day on Brownsville Road

5-Donald 1903(1) rs.jpg - Donald 1903

5-Father of WHW Article April 1892 rs.jpg - Newspaper article about William Wigman the father of William H. Wigman dated 1892

5-WHW 1893 rs.jpg - William H. Wigman 1893

6-Donald 1904(1) rs.jpg - Donald 1904

6-Dorothy and Donald @ 1904 rs.jpg - Donald and Dorothy on front porch 1904

6-Pres. Teddy Roosevelt rs.jpg - Teddy Roosevelt on Brownsville Road 1904

7-Circa 1905 rs.jpg - Front porch circ. 1905

7-Dorothy Sept 1898 rs.jpg - Dorothy September 1898

7-Fire Tongs from Carrick House rs.jpg - Fireplace tongs from the Wigman House

8-William Wigman circa 1900-002 rs.jpg - William Wigman 1902

9-Caroline Wigman circa 1900 rs.jpg - Caroline Wigman, wife of William Wigman 1900

7-Wm Wigman 1904 WH's Father rs.jpg - William Wigman father of William H. Wigman 1904

8-Decoration Day Parade rs.jpg - View of the Decoration Day parade from the front balcony

9-Quartz Clock from Carrick House rs.jpg - Quartz Clock from the original house

9-Wigman Lumber Company Card rs.jpg - Wigman Lumber Company card