29 October 2012

Sophia Elizabeth (Pitts) Fiegenbaum

1859 — 1939


Mrs. Sophia Fiegenbaum,
Physician's Widow, Dies

An illness precipitated by grief over the death of her husband, Dr. J. H. Fiegenbaum, brought death Monday to Mrs. Sophia Fiegenbaum, 80.  Mrs. Fiegenbaum died at 3:15 p. m., at her home, 625 Henry street.

A native of Alton, she was born Aug. 27, 1859, a daughter of Isabelle Pringle Pitts and Samuel Pitts, at the hotel of William Pitts.  A member of one of the old families here, her grandfather, William Pitts, was host to Abraham Lincoln when he stopped in Alton at time of the Lincoln-Douglas debate.  The hotel, then one of the foremost and finest in Alton, is still in use but known today as the Lincoln Hotel.

She was the last one of five children born to Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Pitts who survived.  In her youth she had shown artistic talent and had been recognized for her ability by Paul Harney, the artist, by being permitted to teach an overflow class of his.

Mrs. Fiegenbaum was one of the oldest members of First Presbyterian Church where her father, Samuel Pitts, for many years was an elder and had assisted in the laying of the cornerstone of the present church when it was built.  She had been a member of First Presbyterian since about the age of 15 and all of her life had been active in work of the women's organizations.  Her church membership covered a period of 65 years.

Mrs. Fiegenbaum, during her eighty years of residence in Alton, was widely known.  She belonged to a family which had been distinguished for their fine character and their activity in promoting welfare of worth-while institutions.  Particularly had the family been identified with First Presbyterian Church.  Mrs. Fiegenbaum's grandfather was a contemporary of Elijah P. Lovejoy and other men who took a prominent part in the early-day events in Alton.  Until her advancing age made it necessary for her to be less regular, she had been deeply interested in the work of the Presbyterian Church and was still an attendant at services when she was able to do so.

Mrs. Fiegenbaum was known for her gracious hospitality in her home.  Of a cheerful disposition, she had a large number of good friends, even among those much younger than she.  She enjoyed continuing in younger generations the family friendships she had held with the older ones.  She had the ability, an inherited one in her family, it seemed, to grow old gracefully, maintaining friendships to the end.

She was married Sept. 11, 1889, to Dr. Fiegenbaum, a young physician at that time, just getting a start in the medical practice in Alton and whose father was pastor of what is now Grace Methodist Church.  Death of Dr. Fiegenbaum Feb. 26, 1938, had been a shock that Mrs. Fiegenbaum had been unable to overcome and the decline in her health had become more and more apparent since his death.  The couple had looked forward to observance of their golden wedding, the date of which was last September.

Dr. and Mrs. Fiegenbaum were parents of two children, Harry Pitts Fiegenbaum, who died in infancy, and Mrs. Harvey Fiegenbaum Harris, who survives.  She also leaves three grandchildren, Margaret, Warren and Richard Harris.

Funeral services will be held Wednesday at 3 p. m. at the residence with the Rev. E. J. Vance, pastor of First Presbyterian Church, officiating.  The body was moved this afternoon from the Morrow-Cutforth funeral home to the residence, where friends may call.  Burial will be in the Fiegenbaum family lot in City cemetery.

Source: Alton Evening Telegraph (Alton, Illinois); Tuesday, 31 October 1939; page 2, column 4.

Brief Genealogy

Sophie Elizabeth Pitts's family

Julius Henry Fiegenbaum's family

Fiegenbaum - Pitts family

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