Elisabeth was born on 12 June 1897 in Schalke, Germany which is a part of Gelsenkirchen in North Rhine-Westphalia. Elisabeth was the fifth of six children, and the only daughter born to Elisabeth Barbara Nilkowski and Gerhard Linnemann. Two of those children, both named Rudolph, died in Germany. Elisabeth Barbara also had another son with her first husband who died before the baby was born.
In 1904, when Elisabeth was seven years old, her mother and five children boarded the SS Cassel in Bremen and arrived in Baltimore, Maryland on August 31st. This photo was probably taken in the year before they left Germany.
Elisabeth's father Gerhard arrived in Baltimore in December 1903. The family was meeting him in Windber, Pennsylvania. At some point over the next ten years, the family lived in Pennsylvania and West Virginia and settled in Monessen, PA around 1915.
Elisabeth (who was now Elizabeth Linneman) married Frank Friedrich Speck on 18 January 1915 in Pittsburgh. Her marriage license application states that "Lizzie" was 22 (she was 18) and that she was living in Sprigg, WV. I do not know how she and Frank met. This picture was probably taken around the time of their wedding.
Elizabeth and Frank had a daughter just nine months later. Agnes Elizabeth Speck was born on 26 September 1915 in Monessen. A son, Frank Rudolph was born on 2 May 1918. This is a picture of Elizabeth with one of her newborn children. Just six weeks after Frank's birth, Elizabeth's father Gerhard committed suicide.
The Speck family raised their children in Monessen and lived on Donner Avenue for about 20 years. Elizabeth's mother and three of her brothers lived in Monessen as well. Frank owned a moving and storage company and they were active in the community. Their travels, parties and life events were often listed in the "Locals" section of The Monessen Daily Independent.
On 7 April 1940, Elizabeth's husband Frank died suddenly of a heart attack. She continued to run Franks' moving business for a few years until she remarried. On 18 July 1942 she married Charles August Merz, also widowed, in Winchester, Virginia. She moved from Monessen to the North Side of Pittsburgh to Charles' home on Thelma Street.
Elizabeth's daughter Agnes married William Arthur (Art) Cubbage, moved to Ohio and had two children (Corky and Jeff). In 1944, not long after Jeff was born, Agnes and her boys moved to Pittsburgh to live with Elizabeth and Charles while Art was in the Navy. Agnes and her children would move back in with Elizabeth again around 1950 while Art was working in New York and living in New Jersey.
During this time, Elizabeth's son Frank married Elizabeth (Libby) O'Brien. They lived in the the same neighborhood on the North Side and eventually bought the home next to Elizabeth and Charles. In 1953, Agnes, Art, Corky and Jeff moved to New Jersey permanently.
Over the next ten years, Elizabeth and Charles would live for long periods of time in New Providence with Agnes and her family, and then return to Pittsburgh. They had a room upstairs in the Cubbage home and enjoyed being close with their grandsons. This is a picture of Elizabeth and her grandson Corky working on a tree in the yard!
On 30 June 1964, Charles Merz died in New Jersey and was buried at the Presbyterian Church Cemetery in New Providence. Less than two years later on 20 April 1966, Elizabeth died in Pittsburgh. She was buried next to her husband in New Providence. This is a picture of her (far left) at her grandson Corky's wedding in March of 1965 - one of the last pictures taken of her.