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The Charles Wilbur Aldrich family understood the importance of religious training as their children came to them.  Bert and Emma’s religious backgrounds were varied.  Emma had been baptized Catholic as a child but later some of her family converted to the Spiritualist Church.  The Aldrich family seemed to mainly have a Baptist and Methodist background.  Bert and Emma were married in the M.E. Church of De Pere, Wisconsin (probably Methodist Episcopal, as the Brown County marriage certificate says Episcopal and the cradle roll cards say M.E. or Methodist.)  Shown here is the certificate of enrollment for Estella, their second child, in the De Pere M.E. Church.  She received birthday cards each year from the cradle roll teachers.  The picture below shows Estella during this period of time, about age two or three.

TOP:  This was the grade school that Estella Aldrich went to in West De Pere, Wisconsin.

BOTTOM:  Here is a precious look inside of Estella’s kindergarten classroom (about 1910).  She is sitting behind the block tower at right, center.  They had a piano for music, an indoor teeter-totter for physical activity, building blocks for manual dexterity and quite an abundance of pictures on the walls.  Perhaps the lines on the floor were used for games or other kinds of activities.  And the teacher had a helper!

Estella was always a shy child, the kind that can so easily be overlooked and lost in the shuffle of a large family.  Her father, Bert, realized this and decided he wanted to do something special for her.  He came home with a large doll, just for her.  She was so excited that she started jumping and singing for joy.  She ran over to her Grandma Aldrich’s house to show her sister, Alma, singing all the way.  Her dad used to sing this song to her:

I’ve a Dear Little Dolly

I’ve a dear little dolly and her eyes are bright blue.

She can open and shut them, and she smiles at me, too.

In the morning I dress her, and she goes out to play.

She’s the best little dolly at the close of the day.

Go to sleep my baby.  Close your eyes so blue.

Soon will come the sandman bringing dreams to you.

ABOVE:  Estella Aldrich (center) is holding her beloved dolly, with Cecil on the left and Harold on the right.

Stella and Alma Play Together

Alma was Stella’s older sister by over a year.  Above is a letter that Estella wrote to her father.  It is not dated but appears to be when she was just learning to write in cursive handwriting.  She was having a hard time with her “P’s”as in “papa” and “played”.  If she was in the third grade this would have been 1913 or 1914 when she was about 9 years old.  Her father died about a year later in June of 1915 right after she had completed the 4th grade.  She had just turned 10 less than a month before his death.  The above letter shows her strong attachment to both her father and the new doll that he had given her.  Perhaps he had made the go-cart for her because she seemed to have treasured it also.  We can get a glimpse into the lives of the two little sisters as they played with their dishes and dollies together in the summer.  Bert was visiting his half-sister, Celia (Hill) Cole.