A short story about My Mother, Ottilie Audrey Lieberknecht
Ottilie Audrey was born September 20, 1908, in Jersey City, New Jersey to Florence Sarah Wenzel and William Carl Jacob Dickhaut Lieberknecht. Dickhaut was William’s father’s name, and Lieberknecht was his stepfather’s name. William went by “Lieb” and that was what Florence called him.
When Ottilie was about two years old her mother and father had traveled to Detroit, Michigan where her father was working in a print shop. That was in 1910. By 1916 they had traveled south and had ended up in El Paso, Texas where William’s half-brother Henry Lieberknecht was living. William found a job in a print shop because he had learned the trade of printing with his stepfather George Lieberknecht in Omaha, Nebraska. In 1918 William and Florence had sent little Ottilie Audrey on a train by herself to stay with her grandmother in Oxnard, California. There were some newspaper articles written about Ottilie when she was living with her grandmother in Oxnard; one said that she had traveled by herself from El Paso, Texas, and another reported she had pneumonia.
In 1917 in Los Angeles Ottilie’s grandmother, Annie Sarah Taylor Wenzel, had remarried and was living with a man in Oxnard, California whose name was Thomas Adams. Thomas Adams was a photographer and together with Annie they ran a boarding house. By 1920 William and Florence with their youngest daughter, Barbara, had just arrived from El Paso, Texas, and were living in the boarding house with Ottilie, Annie, and her husband Thomas.
In 1920 William and Florence with Ottilie Audrey and Barbara had settled in Santa Barbara. William was working at The News-Press along with Florence who was a proofreader. By that time Ottilie was 12 years old. Also in 1920, the family moved to another location in Santa Barbara on Palm Ave.
William traveled a lot and was away from home much of the time. This upset Florence and they soon parted and went their separate ways. Next door to the Liebs, who had moved to Palm Avenue, a Scotsman named David McLean was living and took up a friendship with Florence. They married in 1926 in Ventura. Ottilie and Barbara virtually grew up without a father in their early formative years, but their stepfather, David McLean, stepped in and became a steady influence in the girls’ lives.
In high school, five-foot Ottilie was pictured in the 1924 Santa Barbara High School yearbook as the basketball captain. Ottilie did not finish high school and instead went to business school where she learned typing, shorthand, and other office skills. She worked for a while at Seaside Oil Company as a clerk. Here she met her future husband, Philip Jones.
Ottilie was interested in acting. She was in several local stage plays but never as the featured star or character. She was a watercolor artist, and two watercolor paintings and pencil sketches reside with her daughter, Dorothy.
When Ottilie was 21 in 1929, she inherited a house and adjoining lot on Clearview Road from a co-worker of Florence’s at the News-Press. This man must have been very enamored with Audrey as the words in his Will indicated.
Shortly after making his Will, he committed suicide in the garage by hanging. He had left all his possessions to Audrey in the house, including a Victrola, and he willed his car to Florence. His brass ship’s clock now lives with Philip Conway Hirschberg.
When she married Philip Jones in 1930, she was an independent woman and owned her own home debt-free. It was around this time that she decided to use the first name “Audrey” and discarded the Ottilie name given to her by her father who had named her after his mother, Ottilie Schultz Dickhaut Lieberknecht.
Audrey worked as a legal secretary for 25 years in Santa Barbara. In 1950, Audrey, having divorced Philip, sold the house on Clearview Road and built a new house on La Colina Road. In 1953, she married Homer Golden and moved the daughters, Phyllis and Dee Dee (Dorothy), to Fresno where Homer worked at Standard Oil Company. Audrey and Philip, and Homer and his wife, Marghuerita, had been friends when Philip and Homer worked at Seaside Oil Co. in Santa Barbara. The two families were close at that time.
That is the short version of the life of Ottilie Audrey Lieberknecht by her daughter, Dorothy (Dee Dee) Jones Oksner.