Max Walter Amann was the
first son born of Julius Amann and Marie Rieber. Julius and Marie were German immigrants, both arriving in the
United States when they were young. Julius came through the port of New York from Ludicksburg in 1875. He was only 15 years of age but he came alone. It is highly likely that he immigrated to escape the conscription of young men into the German Army. Marie came through the
port of New Orleans with her family in 1880. The ship roster lists her as only 9 years of age. Julius and Marie married when she was quite young (between 12 and 14) and they lived in San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas. Julius was quite a wheeler-dealer. His main source of income was buying horses, training them and then selling them, but he also dabbled in real estate. There are several Deed Records in Bexar and Atascosa Counties which show that he bought up land and then would sell it again shortly thereafter. It is assumed that he was speculating in the land rather than buying it to live on.
It is probable that Julius was quite a strong-willed man. It is said that he came from an aristocratic background and that he felt that many people were "beneath" him. He left Germany alone at a young age, most likely without his family's consent. It has been told that when he met Marie Rieber (later spelled Mary), he told her father that he would marry her when she was old enough, and he did. He also insisted that his children only speak German at home. In fact, his son Max retained some of his German accent throughout his life, even though he was born in Texas. Julius died at the age of 40 while breaking a horse. Marie was left with four young children and was pregnant with the fifth. She eventually moved in with her married daughter Eda (Amy) and her family. Marie lived a long life with a loving family taking care of her until her death. She is buried in the Luthern Cemetery in San Antonio.
Max was a different than his father seemed to be. He was a gentle family man who spent time with his children and grandchildren. He had a cheery smile and was gracious to all. He married Laura Helen Lee and worked as a carpenter in San Antonio in the 1920's for Wright Construction Company. He worked on many of the big buildings in the San Antonio, including the Aztec Theater and the YMCA. He made $75.00 per week. He and Helen owned a home at 837 Waverly in San Antonio where two of his sons were born in the front bedroom. However, the Great Depression descended upon the United States and one of the effects was that all new building ceased until after World War II. Out of work, Max had to look for another way to support his growing family. He agreed to work at Hamilton Dairy for room and board for his family and $75.00 per month plus a house. Not only did he provide labor for the dairy, but he used his carpentry skills to build three hay barns which still stand today. The family lived here, with the boys going to school in Poteet, Texas. After they moved back to the house on Waverly in San Antonio, Max once again started working as a carpenter during the building boom after WWII.
After their return to San Antonio, one of the major accomplishments of Max and Helen was to help to form the new Los Angeles Heights Presbyterian Church. Not only did they lend their spiritual support but Max literally built the church himself during the days and nights when he was not working. The church was a strong element in his life that lasted until his death. He died sitting on his porch, reading his newspaper. He is buried at Roselawn Cemetery.
Laura Helen Lee was the oldest girl in a family of 12 children. Although she was named after her
grandmother, Laura Scott, she was called Helen. In most of Helen's pictures,
of which there are few, she has an unsmiling visage. However, looking at
most of the Lee family pictures, the people are usually unsmiling. Possibly
this was the "style" of the era or maybe it was the "style" of the Lees. When
Helen smiled, as she often did around her grandchildren, it lit up her whole face.
One of Helen's physical characteristics was that she had very long hair past her
waist, both as a girl and as an adult. She kept her hair long and pulled
back in a bun until her death. She must have grayed very early because pictures with her first grandchild show her to be completely gray, even though she was only in her early 40's.
Helen and Max lived in the house on Waverly in San Antonio, until the Depression forced them to rent out their house and move to Poteet, Texas, so that Max and their sons could work at the Hamilton Dairy. It was here, in this small town, where they reared their sons, Max, Jr., William, and Willard. Working at the dairy was hard work, but the Amanns had never shirked hard work. The boys were popular at school, playing on the football and basketball teams, and it was a good life for them.
However, in 1935, calamity struck. Sometimes misfortune calls to remind us that financial hardships are not the worse thing that can happen. William and Max, Jr. were going into town to get haircuts for the annual end of school banquet. William was driving and Willard and Helen accompanied them. On the road ahead, William could see a car weaving back and forth, sometimes into his lane, so he pulled over as far as he could to the edge of the road to wait for the car to pass. Instead, the car ran into them. Willard broke his leg and was in the hospital for several weeks and Helen broke her hip badly. She was left with a one leg shorter than the other, and even with a built up heel, she had a pronounced limp. After getting out of the hospital, she went to convalesce with her mother and her sister in San Antonio since she needed nursing care for several months. One can only imagine the financial consequences of the accident for a family that had already struggled financially. The medical and hospital bills were probably quite onerous at a time when most people could not afford medical insurance. Helen was quite stoic. She was never heard to complain about her health or what must have been quite painful arthritis in her hip.
Helen and Max managed to bring up three sons, teaching them a strong sense of responsibility and morality, tempered with love. And even with the financial hardships that had taken place, they insisted that their boys go to college. After returning to San Antonio, Helen joined with Max in building the foundation of the Los Angeles Heights Presbyterian Church. She and Max could be seen every Sunday in the foyer of the church, greeting members and visitors alike. They both took strong leadership roles in their church and even when Helen became homebound, she would do her church's work from her bed, keeping in touch by phone. Helen died in 1992 and is buried beside Max, Sr. and their son William at Roselawn Cemetery.