As a musician, Louis von der Mehden led bands at the Presidio and was first cellist with the San Francisco orchestra for eight years. After the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, his family moved to New York City where Louis was steadily employed as a cellist or conductor with theatrical or commercial bands. Through his life he also composed, arranged and orchestrated the music of others. In the early 1900’s he was working full time in recording with well known companies including Columbia, Lyraphone and the Victor Talking Machine Company, either playing cello or conducting. Click the Victor record label below to hear “Through the Panamal Canal”, one of numerous J. Louis von der Mehden compositions filed in the U.S. Library of Congress.
In 1911, the von der Mehdens purchased property on Essex Road in Old Saybrook, Connecticut, where they built a house. Until 1926, they retained their apartment in New York City, where Susan was a representative at a toy manufacturing company, and the house in Connecticut. Susan’s position was terminated in 1925 and they moved permanently to Old Saybrook. When Louis and Susan finally retired to Old Saybrook, Louis continued his music by teaching private music lessons to local residents and playing the piano himself. They spent much of their time gardening, their passion. Louis was also active in the local Republican party.
J. Louis von der Mehden, Jr. died 27 August 1954,in Middlesex Memorial Hospital and was buried in Cypress Cemetery. Susan von der Mehden died on 20 June 1955. The von der Mehdens are buried adjacent to Nathaniel and Susanna Lynde, under the same tulip tree close to the cemetery’s newly expanded Section 9 at the south end of the property (Nathaniel’s tablet is seen to the left rear of the Von Der Mehden monument). For more information on the von der Mehdens, one can review the J. Louis von der Mehdens papers located at the Thomas J. Dodd Center in Storrs, Connecticut.