While we are beginning to understand the scope of Edward Stratemeyer’s contributions to the massively popular books read by millions of children spanning more than 120 years, it seems fitting for Mother’s Day to remember Edward’s mother, Anna Siegel Stratemeyer.
She was born in Bremen, Germany on October 28, 1828. Her first husband was the younger of two Stratemeyer brothers, George Ernest Stratemeyer (1819-1854). They were married in New York City around 1849. Together they had three children:
1. Henry Julius Stratemeyer, Jr. (1851-1917) was named for George’s older brother and became a commissioner in New Jersey.
2. George Christian Stratemeyer (1853-1909) became an artist and left New Jersey to life in Hawaii in 1870. His principal occupation in Honolulu was as the Port Surveyor.
3. Maurice Henry Stratemeyer (1854-1920) opened a music and stationery store in Elizabeth, New Jersey. He was the leader of Stratemeyer’s Orchestra.
Around the time that Anna and George married in 1849, his older brother Henry Julius Stratemeyer (1816-1891) went west to seek his fortune in the gold fields of California. He was gone about two years and had some success there.
Upon his return he established a tobacco and cigar store near the crossing of two major railroad lines in Elizabeth, New Jersey. When Henry’s brother, George E., was dying during a cholera outbreak, he promised to take care of his wife and three sons. A couple years after George’s death, Henry married his brother’s widow and adopted the sons.
Together, Henry Sr. and Anna had three more children:
1. Louis Charles Stratemeyer (1856-1905) was a poet and music writer.
2. Anna Rebecca Stratemeyer (1859-1923) married Frederick L. Heidritter, a lumber mill owner who had a fleet of ships and named one after her.
3. Edward Stratemeyer (1862-1930) was the youngest of six children born to Anna Siegel Stratemeyer and the man we know the best.
Despite his adventures in California in his 30s, Edward’s father had become a practical man. He had settled into life as a shopkeeper and several of his sons had worked in his shop and a couple worked in their own shops as well.
By the time Edward was a teen, he had become a voracious reader and expressed a desire to earn his living from his pen. However, his father was not quite convinced, thinking that Edward might spend his time better than writing.
Fortunately, his mother was more supportive. When he considered a pen name, she gave him some invaluable help as related in a December 1917 interview in the Newark Sunday Call:
Not long after this story was sold the young Edward Stratemeyer adopted a pen name. Perhaps like many youthful writers, he preferred to hide his light under a bushel until such time as he should be assured of a steady blaze. This pen name is the one under which the “Rover Boys” series is written, “Arthur M. Winfield.” Mr. Stratemeyer’s mother suggested the Winfield and also selected the surname of Arthur as appropriate to her son’s aspirations to become an author. Mr. Stratemeyer put in the M. as the name was builded.
“‘M’ is for millions.” his mother said. “Perhaps some day you will sell a million of your books.”
Over six million copies of Mr. Stratemeyer’s books have been sold, it is estimated.
Edward ended up using this particular pen name on his most famous and best-selling series, the Rover Boys (1899-1926). In 1905, Edward lost both his closest brother and his mother. In the same year he began his Stratemeyer Literary Syndicate and the rest is, as they say, history. We can extend appreciation to not only Edward, but also his mother, Anna, who helped to make his writing career a reality and was surely watching over his success.