Walter Edward Quermann was born at home in St. Louis, Missouri on May 10, 1897, according to the Missouri Birth Records at Ancestry.com. In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census he was the third of four sons born to Herman and Mary. His father was a photographer and of German descent; his mother was Canadian, English-seaking. The family lived in St. Louis at 1447 Chamber Street.
The family remained in St. Louis in 1910 but at 4016 Palm Street. Quermann was a fine arts major in college. The Bulletin of Washington University, St. Louis, Fifty-seventh Annual Catalogue, March 1914 listed him on page 385. It is not known if he graduated. He signed his World War I draft card on June 5, 1918. He lived at home with his parents and was employed at the Barnes Crosby Engraving Company. His description was medium height, slender build with gray eyes and brown hair. In 1920 the family was at the same address but without the oldest son. Quermann was an artist at a stationery company.
He and his younger brother, a chemical engineer, lived with their parents at the same address, according to the 1930 census. Quermann was an artist for a daily paper. His cousin, Ruth E. Williams, was a member of the household. The Gould’s St. Louis, Missouri, City Directory, 1930 listing said he was a Post-Dispatch artist who resided at 2944 Dodler. The start date for his strip, Toy Talkies, has not been determined but an entry in the Catalogue of Copyright Entries, Part 1, Group 2, Pamphlets, etc. 1931, New Series, Volume 28, No. 11, page 1508 has a date for late 1931: “Quermann (Walter) Toy talkies. (St. Louis Post Dispatch) © Nov. 1. 1931; 1 c. Oct. 29; A 36052; St. Louis post dispatch, St. Louis. 42385”. In 1934 the strip was retitled Hickory Hollow Folks and continued until 1955.(A watermarked image of the strip, from the Billy Ireland Library and Cartoon Museum, can be viewed here.)
He has not been found in the 1940 census. Quermann married Ruth Evelyn Williams on November 6, 1953 in Shelby County, Tennessee. The marriage license can be viewed at the Shelby County Register of Deeds. (It takes several seconds to load the list of names before you can scroll down to his name.) Quermann passed away on March 2, 1956. The Seattle Daily Times reported his death on March 4.
Comic-Strip Artist Dies
St. Louis, March 3.—(AP)—Walter Quermann, St. Louis Post-Dispatch staff artist and creator of the Sunday comic strip, “Hickory Hollow Folks,” died yesterday at Jewish Hospital after suffering a heart attack. He was 58.
The St. Louis Public Library has information about Quermann at the Central Library.
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