Friday, January 29, 2016

THE MITCHELL CHOIRBOYS - Bob Mitchell

This past December I watched the movie 'The Bishop's Wife' straight through from beginning to end for the first time.  Most of you have probably seen it (and if you haven't, you should).  David Niven plays a bishop trying to raise money to build a magnificent cathedral for his flock with mixed results.  Loretta Young plays the bishop's wife.  Niven's prayers are answered when he is sent an angel (Cary Grant) named Dudley to help him along the way.  It is a cute movie with good actors and a happy ending.  And who wouldn't like an angel to help them with life's difficulties?

In one of the scenes they are trying to put together a boy's choir to sing for the Christmas services.  At the beginning there are only one or two scruffy-looking boys trying hard to sing.  Then Dudley the angel arrives and each time he waves his arms, more and more boys come in to fill the seats.  Finally all the seats are filled with boys singing beautifully and they have their choir for Christmas.  In the credits it states that the choir was cast with members of the Mitchell Boychoir.  This, of course, is the internationally famous boy's choir founded by Bob Mitchell.   I want to tell you the story of my friend Bob Mitchell and how he dedicated his life to music.  (and no, I never sang in his choir - I can't carry a tune in a paper bag). 

How did I get to meet and become friends Bob Mitchell?  Bob used to tell stories and play the piano as part of the Rudolph Valentino Memorial Service held each year on August 23rd, the anniversary of Valentino's death.  The service is held in the mausoleum at Hollywood Forever Cemetery (formerly Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery).  In later years Mitchell also played the accompaniment for the Valentino film shown on the evening of the 23rd - projected on the outside wall of the mausoleum.  The first few years I attended the service, Bob brought several boys with him who sang for the service, but toward the end Bob came by himself.  So let's see what we can find out about Bob Mitchell and his choir.

Robert Bostwick ("Bob") Mitchell was born October 12, 1912 in Sierra Madre, California to Robert E. Mitchell (1869-1933) and his wife Florence nee Bostwick (1887-1938).  Bob was an only child.  

Bob's father Robert E. Mitchell had been born in Fort Benton, Montana - he was an attorney by trade.  

Florence Bostwick Mitchell had been born in Colorado.  Florence's father Levi Bostwick and his wife Adeline had been among the pioneer families of Sierra Madre, California.

A very young Bob Mitchell with his mother

Every year during the Valentino service, Bob would relate stories of his childhood and strict upbringing.  Mitchell was the first one to say that he had no natural music talent at all.  By his own account, he came by his formidable skill as a musician with 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration.  Indeed, he pointed out, a large part of the perspiration was extracted by his mother and her switch. He began his intensive study of piano at age four, where he spent hours upon hours learning every verse of every hymn in the Episcopal Hymnal.  

“Whenever she switched me, I knew I probably deserved it,” said Mitchell, “and I am so thankful to my mother for doing that for me.”  She was pious, prim and very strict with young Mitchell, but gave him the gift that has served him all his life—the joy of music.

The 1920 US Census finds the Mitchell family at 48 W. Alegria Avenue, Sierra Madre, Pasadena Township, California.

48 W. Alegria Avenue, Sierra Madre, CA
 
At age 10, tall and mature for his age, Mitchell’s mother decided it was time for him to learn the organ so he could continue his studies of  the traditional music of the Episcopal Church. The only organ in Sierra Madre, where he grew up, was at the local parish. He and his mother met the pastor, whom he described as a “very stuffy” Englishman, to inquire if young Mitchell could practice on the church’s organ.

“No, no, no, no one may play the organ in the church, but our own organist,” Mitchell comically mimicked the condescending pastor’s English accent. His mother’s reply was as sharp and quick as her switch…“Well, a man of the cloth that would not allow a child to learn an instrument used to praise almighty God!” The pastor quickly reversed his position. "Well I suppose we must make an exception in this case,” Mitchell mimicked the pastor, “but without setting any precedents…”

Like other young people of that era, Bob Mitchell and his friends wanted to see all the latest movies.   In 1921 when he was nine years old, he asked permission to see Rudolph Valentino in 'The Sheik.'  His mother promptly forbade it.  Mitchell told us how all the mothers hated the Valentino craze because their sons were slicking back their hair with Vaseline, and it was almost impossible for them to wash the grease out of their sons' pillow-cases.

As the movies became more and more popular Bob's desire to see them grew as well. One day he came up with a plan.  Much to his delight, the organ played an integral part in this new form of entertainment. “(So) I told my mother, there’s a pipe organ [at the movie theater] and I really want to play it!”  Despite her misgivings (she considered the movies "cheap and vulgar"), his mother took 12-year-old Robert down to the Strand Theater on Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena where he was soon employed  to play Christmas carols between showings of films. On Christmas Day 1924, Mitchell was playing carols on the organ when the lights went down and a movie about the Yukon went up.  The 12-year-old kept playing, improvising a soundtrack.  Soon he was accompanying matinee shows five times a week. 

Here is a photo of thirteen year old Bob playing the organ the family had installed in their home in Sierra Madre:


Every year at the Valentino Memorial Service Bob would regale us with stories of the Valentino films he had seen while playing as an accompanist.  Bob had even seen 'A Sainted Devil' - a Valentino film presumed "lost" today.  He delightedly told us about not only seeing Rudolph Valentino on the screen while he was playing the accompaniment, but all the major stars of the silent era. 

With the arrival of talkies and Al Jolson in the 1927 film 'The Jazz Singer,' Mitchell's first silent-movie career ended when he was 16.  "My father said, 'I see they are going to have sound' " in the movies, Mitchell told CBS News in 2005. "And I said, 'Oh, that will never catch on.'. . . . But, of course, it ended the (need for an) organist right away."

During this period Bob expanded his musical horizons by singing in the St. Matthias boy's and men's choir.  After the talkies took away his theater organ job, Bob played pipe organs in churches, also training choirboys.  In 1930, at the age of eighteen, Mitchell was the youngest to be named "Fellow of the American Guild of Organists", (F.A.G.O.), the highest degree awarded organists in the United States by regular examination.

The 1930 US Census shows the Mitchell family living at 2425 Ninth Avenue in Los Angeles. 

2425 Ninth Avenue, Los Angeles

Bob's father reported that he was a lawyer for General Foods, and Bob reported his occupation as "Episcopal Church Choirmaster."

In 1932 Bob studied at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York on a piano scholarship.  In 1933, he moved to New York City where he continued his study with a scholarship at the New York College of Music.  During this time he was also a substitute organist in churches, played the piano and sang on radio station WNYC, and did nightly stints at Joe's Chateau, a popular speakeasy in Manhattan to supplement his income.

Bob's father had died in 1933, at the age of sixty four.  After his father's death, Bob decided to return to Los Angeles to look after his mother.  Bob was an only-child, so all of the responsibility for his mother fell on his shoulders.  He and his mother decided to sell their house on Ninth Avenue, and bought a house at 149 N. Gramercy Place in Los Angeles.  

149 N. Gramercy Place, Los Angeles

When you compare the two houses, you'll see why they did what they did.  The house on 9th Avenue is approx. 2,282 square feet.  It has 3 bedrooms, but only one bathroom.  The house on Gramercy is slightly smaller overall at approx. 2,428 square feet.  It has four bedrooms but it also has three full bathrooms. Rooms for rent are much more attractive if the landlord can offer each roomer their own private bathroom.  Let's face it, nobody likes to share a bathroom.  Jobs in music are not known for paying high salaries, so Bob and his mother decided that by buying a house where rooms could be rented, they could supplement Bob's income with the rental income from the rooms if need be.  Remember, this was the era before Social Security, so Bob's mother had to rely solely on the money Bob's father left her after he died.        

In 1934, Bob founded "The Mitchell Choirboys." The choir would ultimately appear in over one hundred motion picture performances.  In addition to films, the choir also performed in thousands of radio and television broadcasts. 

Bob's beloved mother died in 1938 at the age of fifty-one.  So by the time of the 1940 US Census, Bob was by  himself.  As stated above, he was living at 149 N. Gramercy Place in Los Angeles.  Bob had a housekeeper, sixty-one year old Edna Davis, and he was renting out two rooms to help supplement his income.  His tenants were twenty-two year old David Street, a musician with a dance orchestra, and twenty-eight year old Elon Bixby, a teacher in a "Private School."  Interestingly, all three, Edna, David and Elon told the census taker that they had been living at that same address in 1935.

On December 6, 1941, the day before Pearl Harbor, Warner Brothers released 'Forty Boys and a Song' as part of their Music Masters series. The ten minute short follows Bob and the boys through a usual day of musical instruction in the morning and regular classes and recreation the rest of the time. 'Forty Boys and a Song' was nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Short Subject - One Reel category.

Then, as we all know, World War II intervened.  Bob did a tour of duty in the Pacific with the Naval Reserve.  Here's a photo of Bob taken at that time:

Bob Mitchell, USNR

During Bob's time in the military he managed to use his musical skills. He played keyboards for the Armed Forces Radio Orchestra under the direction of Meredith Willson.  Here he is playing the organ for the Armed Forces Radio Service:


After the war, Bob returned to the music scene in Los Angeles as a very busy musician, and with his choir, and even found the time to be an honor student at Cal State L.A., receiving a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music Education.

Mitchell was staff pianist-organist on Los Angeles stations KMTR, KEHE, KHJ, and KFI-KECA. He either appeared or played the organ for such early TV shows as "Ladies' Day", "Parlor Party", "Engineer Bill", "The Jack LaLanne Show", and "Art Linkletter's House Party."

In December of 1949 Bob was honored with an episode of Ralph Edwards' "This Is Your Life," recognizing Bob's contributions to music.

In 1954 Bob Mitchell decided to establish his own school for his choirboys, employing one full-time accredited teacher.  The boys received four hours of academic instruction and three hours of musical instruction daily.  Mitchell modeled the academic training on his own experience as a student at the Pasadena School of Tutoring.  There, headmaster George Arthur Mortimer accepted students of any age and work was adapted to individual needs.  At Mitchell’s school, even after the teacher’s salary and other expenses were deducted from the choir’s earnings, each boy netted around $550 per year. Ironically, the rise in union scale wages throughout the 1940s and into the 1950s resulted in a gradual decline in the choir’s size from thirty-three to eight members. (Mitchell recalls that this was dependent on recording and traveling factors only; usually the group consisted of around thirty boys.) By the mid-1950s, when film and radio producers began to request as few as six boys, Mitchell set a minimum call of eight; six, he felt, was too few to create the proper blend of voices.

Through the years, Bob and his choir did two European tours, and one around-the-world tour.  The Mitchell Choirboys gave two command performances in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome - one for Pope Pius XII in 1957 and one for Pope John XXIII in 1959.

In 1962, when the new baseball stadium at Chavez Ravine opened for all the Dodger and Angel games, he was chosen as organist - making him the only 'player' in baseball ever to play for both major leagues at the same time.

In the 1980s Bob was asked to appear at the Valentino Memorial Services by his friend Bud Testa who hosted the services during that era.

In later years, Mitchell was called to play organ accompaniments at the Silent Movie Theater in Hollywood, where (even at 90) he was heard several times a month.  Because he began pipe organ so young, it is possible that he was the last living active theater organist.

Bob Mitchell had hob-nobbed with princes and popes, but he did not let in change him.  He always minimized his talent or credited it to hard work, but Bob's talent was truly great - and like most truly great men his humility shone through.  When he looked at you with those piercing eyes you felt like he was truly interested in what you had to say.  And one of the signs of his great talent - whether he was playing for the Valentino Service or a film at the Silent Movie Theater, he never used a piece of sheet music - he just played.  

In the twilight of his life, Bob could afford to look back at all he had accomplished.  He outlived fifty of his choirboys but was contacted daily by many of his living alumni.  In the 1990s things were much more open then they had been years ago, so a newspaper reporter finally asked the question many had wondered about.  When the reporter asked the never-married Bob if he was gay, his eyes twinkled as he replied, "My dear, I'm as gay as a garden party," but went on to say that he always looked each of his choirboys directly in the eyes, and never "southward" - and there was never a hint of scandal about either Bob Mitchell or his choir.

Bob Mitchell slipped away to direct the Heavenly Choir on the afternoon of July 4, 2009.  He was just short of his ninety-seventh birthday.  Bob is interred at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery:

  
I haven't been to Hollywood recently, but the next time I am there, one of the first places I will go will be to the crypt of Bob Mitchell.


Bob Mitchell - musician extraordinaire - may he rest in peace.


Besides the aforementioned 'Forty Boys and a Song' (Warner Bros.), his other screen appearances include 'The Demi-bride' (MGM),  'College Scandal' (Paramount), 'Blondie in Society' (Columbia),  'The Thorn Birds' (Feature for Television),  and 'All Night Long'  (Universal).

Honors

Just some of Bob's many awards and honors include:

Member of the Study of a Thousand Gifted California Children by Dr. Lewis Terman of Stanford University.

Silver Medal personally awarded at the Royal Palace in Monte Carlo by Prince Ranier and Princess Grace of Monaco.

Silver Beaver Medal, the highest honor awarded scoutmasters by the Boy Scouts of America.

Acclaimed a Knight of Malta with a medal from the American Melkite Archimandrite.

Honorary Tile Plaque in the Amphitheater of Temple Ahavat Shalom, Northridge, California.

Received the "Pro Papa et Ecclesia" Certificate from Pope John-Paul II.

Friday, January 15, 2016

TWO DIFFERENT NEWSPAPERS REPORT THE SAME STORY: Arthur and Walter Butler

On August 19, 1895, two brothers, Arthur and Walter Butler of Evanston, Illinois drowned in Lake Michigan.  The tragedy was, of course reported by the Chicago newspapers.  In this article I am going to take a look at how the incident was reported by two of the major Chicago daily newspapers of the time:  The Chicago Daily Tribune and The Chicago Inter-Ocean (I have always loved that name for a newspaper).  It is amazing how differently the newspapers reported the story. 

First, we will look at the story as reported by the Chicago Daily Tribune on August 20, 1895:

FOUR ARE DROWNED
Two Boys, a Man and a Girl Perish in Lake Michigan.
Victims of the Accidents Were Swimming - Arthur and Walter Butler, Brothers, Lose Their Lives at Evanston - Florence Millard of Highland Park is Carried Down by the Undertow - Thomas Walsh, a Laborer, Drowns on the South Side in the Presence of Many.

Four persons were drowned in Lake Michigan yesterday.  Two boys, a young girl, and a man were victims of the accidents.

The Dead.

BUTLER, Arthur H., 19 years old, No. 944 Sherman avenue, Evanston.
BUTLER, Walter, 17 years old, No. 944 Sherman avenue, Evanston.
MILLARD, Florence, 13 years old,  Highland Park.
WALSH, Thomas, 35 years old, No. 3145 S. Canal street.

Arthur H. and Walter Butler, brothers, were drowned at Evanston.  The boys had gone in swimming.  Walter was carried beyond his depth by the undercurrent and Arthur went in to save him and both went down together.  Their bodies were discovered two hours later.

The boys were sons of Joseph H. Butler, No. 944 Sherman avenue, and clerked in their father’s grocery store in Main street, South Evanston.  Hundreds of people lined the shore while the search for the bodies was going on.  An inquest will be held at Palmer’s morgue, Chicago avenue, this morning, where the bodies were taken. 

A younger brother accompanied the Butler boys to the lake and remained on shore while they went in swimming.  As soon as he realized his brothers were drowning he jumped into the delivery wagon in which they had gone to the lake and drove at breakneck speed for the South Evanston Police Station.  Policeman Johnson saw the wagon coming.  Thinking it was a runaway he ran out and stopped it.  

The frightened boy told him breathlessly that his two brothers were drowning and the policeman got in and drove to the lake.  The life-saving station was notified and the members of the crew hastened to the rescue on their bicycles.  A systematic search was begun, the men taking hold of hands and wading back and forth through the water.

At 1:50 Walter Butler was found 250 feet south of where the accident occurred.  Although he had been in the water oven an hour Capt. Lawson and his crew went hard to work to resuscitate the young man.  They had been at work half an hour when Dr. Kauffman arrived and pronounced him dead.

An hour after the recovery of the first body Benjamin Spencer, No. 1031 Judson avenue, found Arthur’s body 500 feet south of where he had been drowned.

The Tribune article went on to report the circumstances of the drowning of Florence Millard and Thomas Walsh, but for purposes of this article, we will just look at the Butlers.

The loss of the Butler brothers was a terrible tragedy to be sure – one brother drowned trying to save another brother who also drowned. 

Before we take a look at this same incident as reported by the Chicago Inter-Ocean, let’s see what we can find out about the Butler family of South Evanston, Illinois:

The boys' father was Joseph H. Butler (1843-1911), as mentioned in the article.  Joseph Harris Butler was born July 17, 1843 in Kingston, Surrey, England to John Butler (1812-1886), and Mary, nee Harris (1812-1892).  Joseph Butler came to the US in 1865.

The boys’ mother was Annie, nee Woodman (1844-1923), born September 2, 1844 in Devonshire, England.  She came to the US in 1858.  

Somewhere along the way Joseph Butler met Annie Woodman and they were married in 1866.  In addition to the three boys mentioned in the article, the Butlers were also parents to five daughters.  Here is the lineup of the Butler children:

Emily M. Butler                 1868-1945
Anna May Butler               1869-1947
Alice M. Butler                  1872-1917
Arthur H. Butler                 1876-1895
Walter J. Butler                  1877-1895
Ralph W. Butler                 1879-????
Bertha Elizabeth Butler      1882-????
Caroline Eva Butler            1885-1930

All of the Butler children were born in Illinois, except Annie, who was born in London, Ontario, Canada.  History does not explain how this came to be.

The first US Census after Joseph and Anna’s marriage in 1866 was the 1870 US Census.  The Butler family was living in Chicago’s Thirteenth Ward.  They reported twenty seven year old Joseph as a “Clerk in a Grocery Warehouse," twenty three year old Anna was “Keeping House,” and their children: two year old Emily, and one year old Annie.  Living with them was twenty five year old William Butler, twenty three year old Elizabeth Butler, and fourteen year old Charles Walduck.

By the 1880 US Census, the Butlers were living in the Village of South Evanston, Illinois.  Joseph was a “Salesman”, Anna was still “Keeping House” and by now the children were Annie, Alice, Arthur, Walter, and six month old Ralph who was referred to as “Baby Butler.”

The 1890 Census for Evanston is unfortunately lost, however we do have Evanston City Directories from that era, and the directories mirror the growth and changes as South Evanston, and then the City of Evanston grows and matures.  Here is how the directories list the Butler grocery business and the Butler family home from 1882-1895:

1882  (Village of South Evanston)
Grocer:  Lincoln Av., SWC Railroad Tracks
Residence:  ES Chicago Av., S. of Lincoln Av.

1883  (Village of South Evanston)
Grocer:  Lincoln Av., W of Chicago Av.
Residence:  ES Chicago Av., S. of Lincoln Av.

1884  (Village of South Evanston)
Grocer:  SS Lincoln Av., W. of Chicago Av.
Residence:  ES Chicago Av., 2d S. of Lincoln Av.

1886  (Village of South Evanston)
Grocer:  Ducat Block
Residence:  Benson Av., SWC Lee

1888  (Village of South Evanston)
Grocer:  Lincoln AV. NWC Railroad Av.
Residence:  Benson Av., SWC Lee

1889  (Village of South Evanston)
Grocer:  Lincoln av., NWC Custer Av.
Residence:  Benson Av., SWC Lee

1890  (Village of South Evanston)
Grocer:  NS Lincoln Av., 1st W. Railroad Av.
Residence:  Benson Av., SWC Lee

1891  (Village of South Evanston)
Grocer:  701 Lincoln
Residence:  300 Benson Av.

1892  (City of Evanston)
Grocer:  701 Lincoln
Residence:  300 Benson Av,

1893  (City of Evanston)
Grocer:  Evanston Av.
Residence:   300 Benson Av.

1894  (City of Evanston)
Grocer:  701 Main
Residence:  944 Benson Av.

1895  (City of Evanston)
Grocer:  701 Main
Residence:  944 Sherman Av.  (This is actually a mistake - Benson Avenue was changed to Elmwood, not Sherman).   Later directories correct this error).

That brings us to that fateful day of Monday, August 19, 1895.  The weather forecast was typical for a Chicago day in August: clear and windy, 85 degrees.  A perfect day for swimming in Lake Michigan.

Here's the Chicago Inter-Ocean's description of what happened to  the Butler brothers:

DIED IN EACH OTHER'S ARMS
Brothers, Venturing Too Far in the Surf, Drowned at South Evanston

Arthur Butler, aged 19 years, and Walter, his brother, aged 17 years, lost their lives yesterday afternoon in Lake Michigan, off the shore of South Evanston.  The tragedy occurred in the presence of Raelbe (sic) Butler, a third brother, two years younger than Walter.

The three boys, who are the sons of J.H. Butler, a grocer doing business on Main street, South Evanston, had driven in their father's delivery wagon to the lake shore.  When the party reached the foot of Rinn street the boys alighted and commenced trying to see how near they could venture to the waves, which were rolling quite high, without getting wet.  Becoming bolder, Walter finally waded into the water, and was soon followed by his eldest brother, Arthur.  They had been out but a short time when a huge breaker approached Walter, who was the farthest from shore, knocking him off his feet.  The boy screamed for help, and Arthur, hearing his cries, made a heroic effort to rescue him.  By the time Arthur had struggled to where Walter had fallen, the latter had only sufficient consciousness to clasp his brother about the neck, and in doing so, dragged his would-be rescuer beneath the waves.

During the brief struggle, Raelbe had been sitting upon a pier close at hand.  He saw his brothers floundering in the water but was powerless to aid them.  In despair he rushed toward the shore, screaming loudly for assistance.  His cries were heard by Ben Spencer, of No. 1631 Judson street, who chanced to be in the vicinity at the time.  W.P. Kay, of the life saving crew, stationed at Evanston, also observed the boys' distress and hastened to the rescue, but by the time the men had arrived upon the scene both brothers were drowned.

Kay waded out, and after some trouble, succeeded in recovering the body of Walter, and Spencer looked after that of the other young man.  The remains were conveyed to C.W. Palmer's undertaking room, and Raelbe carried the sad intelligence to his parents.

It was the same story, but it was reported vastly different by the two major newspapers. 

Later that week the newspapers reported that the Coroner's Jury brought in a verdict of accidental death and recommended that the police station at South Evanston be supplied with a life-saving outfit.

After the Coroner's jury had reached their verdict the bodies of the two Butler brothers were released for burial.

Arthur and Walter Butler were buried in an unmarked grave in Section 119 of Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago.  It is a large plot but the only grave in the plot to be marked is that of their sister, Alice Butler Newman.
  

The boys' father, Joseph Butler died in Evanston on November 5, 1911 at the age of sixty eight.  Their mother, Annie Woodman Butler followed him on November 14, 1923.  She was seventy nine years old.  They are both buried in unmarked graves next to their sons in Section 112 of Rosehill Cemetery.  

So now you know the story of Arthur and Walter Butler who lost their lives in Lake Michigan on a warm sunny day in August of 1895.  They may have been all but forgotten, and even lie in an unmarked grave but despite that, we remember them here.  

Arthur and Walter Butler - may they rest in peace.   

Thursday, December 24, 2015

THE HIPPACH MEMORIAL CHAPEL - Frank and Lena Hippach

When I was doing the research for the recent article on Ida Hippach I wrote for this blog, I kept running into references to the “Hippach Memorial Chapel.”  I had never heard of it and I knew that neither Ida nor her husband Louis nor their children were interred in the Hippach Memorial Chapel – they are all resting at Rosehill Cemetery.  Since I was running into references to the chapel more and more frequently I decided to look into it further, and determined that it would make a good story for the blog, like the earlier story I did on the May Memorial Chapel in Chicago’s Rosehill Cemetery.

The “News About the Neighbors” column in the Chicago Daily Tribune from March 4, 1928 carried the following item:

In the Green Ridge Cemetery at Butterfield and Roosevelt Roads, stands a new chapel, said to be the most artistic of its kind in Cook county.  It was erected by Louis A. Hippach, of 2808 Sheridan place, Evanston, as a memorial to his father and mother, and his friends estimate he expended $200,000 on it.  The ceiling is covered with original works of art.

Before we take a closer look at the magnificent chapel Louis Hippach had built to honor his parents, let’s take a closer look at who they were.

Louis Hippach’s father was christened Franz Josef Hippach shortly after his birth on March 5, 1830 at Simonswolde, Hannover, Germany.  His father was also named Franz Josef Hippach (1807-1835).  Louis’ mother was Catherine, nee Schultis (1810-1838).   Franz the younger came to the US in 1852, settling in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.  He was farmer by trade.

Louis’ mother was christened Magdalena Everling (some sources say “Eberlin”).  She was born January 17, 1833 in Buweiler (near Trier) Germany.  Her parents were John Everling and Mary, nee Gern.  John Everling was also a farmer.  Magdalena Everling came to the US with her family in 1843, settling in Lamartine, Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin.           

Franz (now Frank) Hippach and Magdalena (now Lena) Everling were married in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin on February 5, 1855.  They were blessed with five children:  Frank Joseph Jr (1855-1928), Charles Frederick (1857-1931), Emma Melinda (1859-1955), Edward Victor (1861-1925), and Louis Albert (1864-1935).

The 1855 Wisconsin State Census (June 1, 1855) shows the family living in Lamartine, Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin.  It does not give a lot of information but does indicate that there were four people living in the house: two white males and two white females, and that all four were foreign born.  So, Frank and Lena were living with another couple – perhaps his or her parents.

The next census is the US Census of 1860.  The Hippach family is still living in Lamartine, Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin.  The family is composed of thirty year old Frank born in Germany, his wife twenty-seven year old “Helena” born in “Prussia”, four year old Frank, three year old Charles F., and one year old “Emily”.  The children were all correctly reported as having been born in Wisconsin.  Frank reported his occupation as “Farmer” and said that he had real estate worth $400 and personalty worth $200.      

Frank Hippach was a “gung-ho” American, as most immigrants are, so he watched with interest the events surrounding the Civil War in the United States.  It was thought by many that the Civil War (or as it was known then “The War of the Rebellion”) would be short, but the opposite turned out to be true.  As the war dragged through 1863 Frank decided he had to act.  On February 26, 1864 Frank J. Hippach enlisted in the United States Army – specifically as a private in the 35th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry.  History does not record how Lena Hippach, at home with four children and one newborn (Louis was born January 22, 1864) felt about Frank’s decision to enlist, but there were no more new babies in the Hippach family after the war was over. 

The Wisconsin 35th came into the war later than some of the other regiments, so as a result did not see as much action.   Here, from the Regimental History of the 35th is a recap of their service:

SERVICE.--Duty at Port Hudson, La., until June 27, 1864. Moved to Morganza, La., June 27, and duty there until July 24. Moved to St. Charles, Ark., July 24, and duty there until August 6. Return to Morganza August 6-12. Expedition to Simsport October 1-10. Moved to Devall's Bluff, Ark., October 11-18. To Brownsville November 9, and guard Memphis & Little Rock Railroad until December 12. Moved to Devall's Bluff December 12, and duty there until February 7, 1865. Moved to Algiers, La., February 7, thence to Mobile Point, Ala., February 22. Campaign against Mobile and its defenses March 17-April 12. Siege of Spanish Fort and Fort Blakely March 26-April 8. Assault on and capture of Fort Blakely April 9. Occupation of Mobile April 12. March to Mcintosh Bluff April 13-26. Moved to Mobile May 9, and duty there until June 1. Moved to Brazos Santiago, Texas, June 1-8, thence to Clarksville June 20, and to Brownsville August 2. Duty at Brownsville until March, 1866. Mustered out March 15, 1866.

Regiment lost during service 2 Enlisted men killed and 3 Officers and 271 Enlisted men by disease. Total 276.

Frank Hippach mustered out on March 15, 1866 with the rest of the Wisconsin 35th.  He was not wounded in the traditional way, but during his Service he developed a severe case of rheumatism, which he suffered with for the rest of his life.

I was unable to locate the Hippach family in the 1870 US Census, but by 1880 there were some developments worth noting.  The 1880 US Census finds that the Frank Hippach family has broken up and was spread all over the US.  Frank Hippach Sr. is homesteading in Cedar County, Nebraska.  He told the census taker that he was divorced.  I could not find Lena Hippach in the 1880 census at all. Frank Jr. is farming with his father in Nebraska.  Charles is in Milwaukee, working as a clerk in a grocery, Emma is a dressmaker in Chicago and Edward is living in Ruby City Colorado where he is a miner.  I could not find Louis Hippach anywhere in the 1880 US Census.

Frank Hippach Sr's sojourn in Nebraska didn’t last long, because by the end of 1880 he was claiming to be permanently disabled as a result of the rheumatism he caught while in the Army.  On May 25, 1884 he was admitted to the North-Western Branch of the National Home for Disabled Soldiers and granted a pension of $20.00 per month.

 
There are two interesting facts from Frank Hippach's records at the Home:  his marital status was listed as "Married and Parted" and his religious affiliation is listed as "Catholic."  This is the first mention of Catholicism for any member of the extended Hippach family.

The 1890 US Census is lost, but the 1900 US Census does reveal a few things.  Frank, of course, is still in the  National Home for Disabled Soldiers (where he will remain until his death).  Lena (and Charles) are living with Emma (now Mrs. Charles West) at 4348 Grand Boulevard in Chicago. A trucking company occupies that plot today.  Emma's husband is a dentist.  Lena Hippach told the census taker that she was a "Widow", and further that she had given birth to only one child, and that one child was still alive in 1900 - although she was living with two of her children at the time.  This is just another example of why I do not put too much trust in genealogy data taken from the census.  People lied, or mis-stated the facts, to the census takers all the time.  Charles Hippach lists his occupation as "Foreman."

Frank Hippach Sr died in the hospital at the National Home for Disabled Soldiers on February 29, 1908.  The Cause of Death was listed as "Broncho Pneumonia with Acute Cardiac Dilatation."  His body was released to S.F. Peacock & Sons Undertakers for shipment to Chicago. Frank Hippach's personal effects, including 95 cents in cash, was "shipped April 2, 1908 to Magdalena Hippach, 111 North Clinton Street, Chicago, Ills., widow."

Even though Frank Hippach had lived most of his adult life in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, the family decided to bring him back to Chicago for burial – but where to bury him?  When two of Louis Hippach’s sons died tragically in the Iroquois Theater fire of 1903, the decision was made to bury them in Chicago’s Rosehill Cemetery, but ultimately the family decided to bury Frank in Forest Home Cemetery in suburban Forest Park.  This was an unusual choice if Frank was a Catholic, because Chicago had a large and diverse number of Catholic cemeteries, but Forest Home was very popular with the German speaking population of Chicagoland.  Perhaps Louis had already conceived of the idea to have a suitable memorial built at a later date after Lena’s death, and thought the burial at Forest Home would be temporary.

Lena Hippach might have been separated from Frank when he died, but that did not stop her from applying for his Civil War Widow’s Pension on October 24, 1908.  An application was filed but no certificate was issued, so it appears that Lena’s claim was denied.

The 1910 US Census shows seventy eight year old Lena Hippach still living with her daughter Emma and family in the West home at 4248 Grand Boulevard in Chicago.

Magdalena Everling Hippach died May 14, 1922 in Chicago.  She was eighty nine years old.  Here is her Death Notice from the Chicago Daily Tribune of May 15, 1922:     


Her Death Record indicated that like her late husband, Lena Hippach would be buried at Forest Home Cemetery.

History does not record exactly when Louis Hippach decided to have a chapel built to honor his late parents.  It could have been after his father died in 1908, or after his mother died in 1922, but the fact is that he did decide to have a chapel built in their memory.  We know that Louis' two sons who died in the Iroquois Theater fire were buried at Rosehill Cemetery on Chicago's north side, as was his third son Howard who died in an auto accident in 1914.  Perhaps when Louis was at Rosehill he had seen the magnificent chapel that Anna May had built there to honor her late husband Horatio N. May in 1899.  You can read more about that here:

http://undereverystone.blogspot.com/2013/10/the-man-who-had-chapel-named-for-him.html

But Rosehill did not need another chapel, so Louis had to look around Chicagoland to see what would be a suitable spot for his parents' memorial chapel.  Louis' wife Ida's parents (Fischer) were buried at Wunders Cemetery in Chicago.  Wunder's Cemetery is too small for a free-standing chapel.  Graceland also had one chapel and no room (or need) for another.  If Louis' father Francis had been Catholic as indicated, Louis could have erected a chapel in one of Chicagoland's many Catholic Cemeteries but then it would have to be dedicated to a saint or other figure from religion - not Frank and Ida Hippach.

How about Forest Home Cemetery, where they had originally been buried?  It certainly was big enough for a free-standing chapel, but perhaps Louis didn't like Forest Home - or Forest Home's management had not jumped at the idea of a memorial chapel.  Soon Louis Hippach began to realize that he would have to go out of the city to find a suitable cemetery - maybe even outside of Cook County.  After an extensive survey, he ended up with Green Ridge Cemetery in (then) unincorporated DuPage County, Illinois.  Green Ridge had been started in the 1920s and at that time it's location was considered "way out in the country" although these days the city has caught up with it.  It is now called Chapel Hill Gardens West Cemetery and is located at 17W201 Roosevelt Road in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois. Chapel Hill Gardens West is now owned by Service Corporation International, but in the mid-1920s it was privately owned, and the owners could not have been more pleased that Louis chose to build his chapel at Green Ridge.    

Now the next step - who to choose for an architect?   Louis Hippach did not have to look too far to find someone suitable.  He chose Arthur Woltersdorf, who he had previously chosen to design the Howard Hippach Memorial Field at the Abbott School in Maine as a memorial to his son who was tragically killed in an auto accident shortly after graduation in 1914.  In addition, to provide sculptures for the chapel, Hippach hired Richard W. Bock, a one-time collaborator with Frank Lloyd Wright.  Before we move on to the chapel itself, let's take a minute to take a quick look at the chapel's architect and sculptor.

The architect, Arthur F. Woltersdorf was born in Chicago in 1870. He attended public schools in Chicago, and later took a course in architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After returning to Chicago in 1894, he became established as a partner in the firm of Woltersdorf and Bernhard.  During this time the firm designed one of the most unusual buildings in the city, the Tree Studios on the east side of State Street,  between Ohio and Ontario Sts.  It became the nucleus of an artists' colony.

During the 1920s Mr. Walter­sdorf wrote extensively on the theory and practice of his profession . Many of his columns were printed in Chicago newspapers.  He also wrote a book, titled Living Architecture.

In addition to the Tree Studios, among the buildings he designed in Chicago are St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran church, the Mirador office building, and the Woodlawn branch of the Chicago Public Library.

Woltersdorf served as president of the Illinois Society of Architects and was a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects. He died in 1948 and is buried in Forest Home Cemetery.  He has a very unusual tombstone, which coincidentally was designed by Richard W. Bock: 


Sculptor Richard W. Bock was born in Shloppen, West Prussia on July 16, 1865.  At the age of 4, he emigrated to Chicago.  Bock studied at the Mechanic's Institute of Chicago and privately with Frederick Almenraeder.  Both, later, worked at North Western Terra Cotta.  By 1885 he was with Herter Brothers in New York.  Bock studied in Berlin at Kaiserliche, Konigliche Kunstgewerbe Museum, where he formed a lasting friendship with Karl Bitter.  He continued to Paris 1890 where he studied in Falguire's Studio at the Ecole des Arts.  Classmates included Bella Pratt, Hermon MacNeil, and John Flanagan.  His career included work with Solon Beman at the Columbian Exposition; with Louis Sullivan at the Auditorium Theater and the Schiller Building; with Dwight Perkins at the Omaha Exposition and with Frank Lloyd Wright at Midway Gardens.  He died on June 29, 1949 and is interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Glendale, California.

Richard Bock

Now back to the chapel itself.  Here is a description of the chapel and its adornments:  



The chapel presents a plain high-pitched roof, the walls are of fitted various-sized blocks of sandstone, the windows are of Gothic design in leaded amber colored glass.  The main feature is a square tower with a porte-cochere connecting it with the building at the main entrance.   Here Bock placed a memorial urn, bronze, five and one half feet tall, which holds a record of the important world events of the 1920s, including eight panels showing man from the cradle to the grave and a row of portrait heads of the world's great philosophers and religious prophets.




On the urn are found relief heads of Christ, Mohammed, Moses, Buddha, Shiva, Thor, Zeus, and Isis. A most "catholic" array of religious figures. Under these heads are representations of Maternity and Childhood, Education, Labor, Enlightenment, Love and Life, Harvest, Old Age Victorious, and Parting of the Thread of Life. 

Below the urn are three basins from which water flows in cascades from one to another representing the River of Life.  According to Bock, it took over a year to complete this one sculpture alone. 

The tower terminates at the top with over life sized figures resting their arms on the cornice - one depicting a bearded male philosopher, one a hooded female figure, one a shepherd, and one a young maiden. 




 


On the interior, the exposed black walnut beams of the chapel terminate in corbels, four on each side, which are carved with figures holding shields to represent different ages. The ceiling and the wall over the altar are adorned with murals. Flanking the altar mural are bronze tablets depicting kneeling angels holding wreaths.


Outside the rear of the chapel are the graves of Louis Hippach's parents adorned at the foot with a figure of Hermes, shaped in an obelisk, with the suggestion of wings and other symbolic designs representing life.






Here are some of Arthur Woltersdorf's original architectural drawings for the chapel:










Here is a photo from the Chicago Daily Tribune of the dedication of the chapel on September 30, 1928:
 

At first I thought it was strange that Louis Hippach's parents, Frank and Lena Hippach, are not interred inside the chapel - they are buried in the ground in a plot behind the chapel.  One writer noted that he almost lost his mind trying to find Frank and Lena's tombs inside the chapel.  He recounted that as he looked around the inside, he did not see any sarcophagi, so he thought they may have been buried under the floor, as is sometimes done in churches in Europe.  He went over the place with a fine-toothed comb to no avail, then almost literally stumbled over the graves as he was taking pictures around the outside of the chapel.

But as I was thinking about this, I realized that it was perhaps not strange at all.  After all, Horatio and Anna May are not interred inside the May Chapel at Rosehill; their graves are in a plot of ground outside the east wall of the chapel.

As mentioned above, the Hippach Memorial Chapel is located in a cemetery now called  Chapel Hill Gardens West in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois, owned by SCI.  They are justly proud of  this beautiful work of art, and it features prominently in their advertisements.  In 2007, the cemetery refurbished the chapel, restoring it to its former glory.
 

In addition, I understand that they have added several banks of cremation niches inside the chapel, so it is possible to have this magnificent chapel as the final resting place for you and your family.  Whoever thought of that idea deserves a gold star!  I wish Rosehill would do something similar with the May Chapel.  I would love to be interred there, as I'm sure many others would as well.

So now you know the story of a son's gift to Chicagoland in appreciation of his parents.  Thanks to the generosity of Louis Hippach, the magnificent work of art that is his memorial to his parents will be enjoyed by countless thousands for years to come.



May Frank and Lena Hippach rest in peace.

Friday, December 11, 2015

LOSES 2 IN IROQUOIS THEATRE FIRE THEN SAILS ON TITANIC - Ida S. Hippach


The Chicago Daily Tribune from April 16, 1912 while reporting on the sinking of the RMS Titanic carried the following article:

3 CHICAGOANS ON SUNKEN STEAMER
Mrs. Ida S. Hippach and Her Daughter and E. G. Lewy Titanic Passengers.
Relatives Await News.
Several Former Residents Among Ocean Travelers Probably Drowned at Sea.

Three Chicagoans were among the first class passengers on the Titanic.

They were:
Mrs. Ida S. Hippach, 7360 Sheridan road, wife of L. A. Hippach of Tyler & Hippach, glass dealers
Miss Jean Hippach, 15 years old, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. L.A. Hippach
Ervin G. Lewy, 30 years old, 3620 South Park avenue, member of the jewelry firm of Lewy Bros., 201 South State street. 

“My wife and daughter have been traveling in Europe since last January,” said Mr. Hippach, who, with his residence closed, was waiting anxiously for news at the Illinois Athletic club.  “My hope that they are saved is based on the report that the women and children were taken care of first.”

Mr. Lewy was returning from his annual buying trip to Antwerp and Amsterdam.  Two brothers, J.B. Lewy and M.D. Lewy, anxiously await the list of the rescued.  Mr. Lewy is unmarried. (Note:  Ervin Lewy did not survive.  His body, if recovered, was never identified.)

Some of the people who read that article about the Chicagoans on the Titanic might have remembered the Hippach name in connection with another tragedy, the Iroquois Theater fire of December 30, 1903. Among the victims were Robert and Archie Hippach, two of the sons of Ida Hippach and her husband Louis.  How ironic (and sad) that one mother was connected with two of the most famous disasters in modern history.  Unfortunately these two events were not the only tragedies in the life of Ida Hippach.  Before we look at what happened to Ida and her family, let’s take a closer look at Ida herself.

Ida Sophia Fischer was born in Chicago on November 24, 1866, to Edward Fischer (1829-1891), and Julia, nee Boehm (1829-1907).  Ida had a brother Edward (1863-????), and a sister, Julia (1870-????).  Ida’s father Edward Fischer was a painter by trade. 

On June 28, 1888 Ida Sophia Fischer married Louis A. Hippach at St. Stephen’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Chicago.  The bride was twenty-one; the groom was twenty-five.

Louis Albert Hippach was born January 22, 1864 in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, to Franz Joseph Hippach (1830-1908) and Magdalena, nee Everling - some sources say “Eberlin” (1833-1922).  Franz Joseph Hippach (as “Frank J. Hippach”) enlisted and fought with the Wisconsin 35th Infantry Regiment in the American Civil War.  In addition to their son Louis, Franz and Magdalena Hippach had three other sons:  Frank Joseph (1855-1928), Charles Frederick (1862-1931) and Edward Victor (1861-1925), and one daughter, Emma Melinda (1859-1955). 

When Ida Fischer married Louis Hippach in 1888, Hippach was the Vice President of Tyler & Hippach Glass Company which he founded with Albert S. Tyler.  Tyler & Hippach Glass Company was bought out by Globe Glass and Trim in 1963.   

Ida and Louis Hippach were blessed with four children; Robert Louis (1889-1903), Albert Archibald called "Archie" (1892-1903), Agnes Gertrude called "Jean" (1894-1974), and Howard Henry (1896-1914).   

The 1900 US Census found Ida Hippach and her family living at 191 (now 5845) NW Circle Avenue in the Old Norwood Park neighborhood of Chicago. 

5845 NW Circle Avenue, Chicago

Chicagoans, for the most part, are familiar with the fire that ravaged the Iroquois Theater in Chicago on December 30, 1903.  It was Christmas vacation and the schools were closed.  The Iroquois Theater, which had just opened in November presented a matinee performance of the popular Drury Lane musical Mr. Bluebeard, which had been playing at the Iroquois since opening night.  The play, a burlesque of the traditional Bluebeard folk tale, featured Dan McAvoy as Bluebeard and Eddie Foy as Sister Anne, a role that let him showcase his physical comedy skills. Attendance since opening night had been disappointing, people having been driven away by poor weather, labor unrest, and other factors.  The December 30 performance drew a much larger sellout audience.  Tickets were sold for every seat in the house, plus hundreds more for the "standing room" areas at the back of the theater.  Many of the estimated 2,100–2,200 patrons attending the matinee were children.  The standing room areas were so crowded that some patrons instead sat in the aisles, blocking the exits.

The fire started when sparks from an arc light ignited a muslin curtain, probably as a result of an electrical short circuit.  The fire quickly spread, and by this time, many of the patrons on all levels were quickly attempting to flee the theater.  Some had found the fire exits hidden behind draperies on the north side of the building, but found that the exit doors were locked.  Several exit doors were finally opened by brute force, but most of the exit doors could not be opened.  Some patrons panicked, crushing or trampling others in a desperate attempt to escape from the fire.  Many were killed while trapped in dead ends or while trying to open what looked like doors with windows in but were actually only windows. 

By the time it was over, it was the deadliest theater fire and the deadliest single-building fire in United States history.  At least 602 people died as a result of the fire, but not all the deaths were reported, as some of the bodies were removed from the scene.

Two of the victims were sons of Ida and Louis Hippach, fourteen year old Robert, and eleven year old Archie.  Here are their Death Notice from the Chicago Daily Tribune of  January 3, 1904: 


At the time of the fire, the Hippach family was living at 2928 (now 6149) N. Kenmore Avenue in the Edgewater neighborhood of Chicago.  A parking lot occupies that space today.  Funeral services for the boys were held at the Episcopal Church of the Atonement in Chicago.  They were buried in the Hippach family plot in Rosehill Cemetery.



In September of 1904 Ida applied for a passport, reporting that she was traveling to Berlin, Germany for two years, and taking Gertrude (Jean) and Howard with her.  

Adding to her grief, Ida’s mother Julia died October 4, 1907.     

But, life went on for Ida Hippach.  By the 1910 US Census, the Hippachs had moved to 7360 N. Sheridan Road in Chicago.  At that time, the family consisted of Louis and Ida, daughter Gertrude (Jean) and son Howard.  A nursing home occupies that spot today.


Ida Hippach was deeply bereft over the loss of her two sons, and then her mother.  It was decided that she and Jean should take another extended European vacation starting in January of 1911.  It was thought that a further change of scenery might do them some good.  Louis Hippach couldn’t leave his business, and Howard had gotten an internship with an engineering company in North Carolina so he had no interest in joining his mother and sister.  In addition to a change of scenery they decided that Jean would study music for a time in Germany.  Louis Hippach did not want to stay in the big house on Sheridan Road by himself, so he closed up the house and moved into the Illinois Athletic Club in downtown Chicago.  



Ida and Jean Hippach finished their vacation in France and on April 10, 1912 she purchased two first class tickets in Cherbourg, France on the R.M.S. Titanic bound for New York City on her maiden voyage.

The mother and daughter boarded the Titanic in Cherbourg, France traveling first class. They later claimed they had not wanted to board the ship, not trusting a maiden voyage but White Star employees had told them that there was only one First Class cabin left, implying that everyone wanted to go on the ship.  They felt lucky to get their ticket, only to discover that the ship was only partially full.   They were in First Class cabin B-18.  Mrs. Hippach related later that "Everyone was saying Sunday evening that we were ahead of schedule and that we would break the speed records." She and her daughter were both asleep when the Titanic struck the iceberg.  Ida Hippach thought the shock of the collision was mild.  Her daughter continued sleeping until the roar of the steam escaping through the funnels woke her.  They put on their wraps and rushed out into the corridor.  They heard everybody asking, "What is that? Did you hear that?"

Ida Hippach said that she had heard someone say that they hit an iceberg, but no one was alarmed or thought there was any danger.  After all, the Titanic was unsinkable.  Mrs. Hippach decided to go out on deck because she wanted to see the iceberg as she had never seen one.  An officer, walking past, told them to return to their room.  "Ladies, go back to bed.  you'll catch cold."

They went back to their stateroom, but decided to dress and go back out into the corridor.  They were told to return to their room and get a life jacket.

As Mrs. Hippach and her daughter came on deck they saw a lifeboat being lowered.  They did not get into line to board one, because they thought it would be safer on the ship rather than be in a flimsy lifeboat in the icy water.  They watched an officer trying to get people into Boats 2 and 6, noting how few people were in each as they were lowered.  Passengers talked to each other, at first saying the boat was in no danger.  Then they were told the Titanic would stay afloat for at least 24 hours and that they were safer remaining on board, confirming their earlier opinion.  Later, they were told that the Olympic was near and some ship's lights were pointed out.  As with most of the passengers, Ida Hippach had no clue that there were not enough lifeboats for everyone.   

They were walking by Lifeboat 4 as it was being loaded and John Jacob Astor told them to get in, although he said there was no danger.  The lifeboat had been lowered somewhat already so Ida and her daughter had to climb through a window and into the lifeboat.  The lifeboat had gotten got a small amount of water in it and a man that Mrs. Hippach said later she thought was a third class passenger jumped into the boat (although he was probably a crew member).  The women had to help row away from the Titanic.

Looking back as she rowed away, Ida Hippach now knew the Titanic was sinking because the portholes were so near to the water.  She heard someone calling for the life boat to return to pick up more passengers, but they did not dare.  From their position, about 450 feet from the ship, they heard a "fearful explosion" and watched the Titanic split apart and sink.

They rowed away faster, expecting the suction to pull at them.  The lights all went out one by one then they all went out in a flash, except for a lantern on a mast.  Hearing the fearful cry from people in the icy water, they rowed back and were able to pick about eight men out.

Later in the morning they saw the Carpathia and they rowed about two miles to the ship.  Mrs. Hippach was taken aboard in a swinging seat. “My, but it was good to be taken aboard and nursed,” she later recounted.

Jean and Ida Hippach about the time of the Titanic disaster 

Louis Hippach and his son Howard were uncertain at first whether they were Ida and Jean had been rescued, however by April 17 the Chicago papers announced their rescue.  Howard Hippach had in internship at an engineering firm in North Carolina, and he and Mr. Hippach traveled to New York City to meet the Hippach women.  After their joyous reunion, the Hippach family arrived back in Chicago on April 21, 1912 aboard the Twentieth Century Limited.

In the 1913 Chicago Blue Book of Selected Names of Prominent Residents, Mrs. L. A. Hippach reported that her Receiving Day was "Wednesday."

Although the Titanic story had a happy ending for Ida Hippach and her daughter, tragedy was not done with the Hippach family.  On October 29, 1914 Ida's one surviving son, Howard Hippach was killed in an automobile accident outside of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.

Howard Hippach

Here’s the story from the Lewiston (Maine) Evening Journal from May 15, 1933:

Entering or leaving Farmington on Route 4, the attention of strangers is always attracted by the attractive gate at the Howard Hippach Memorial Athletic Field.  This field, with its ornamental gates is a memorial to one of the most popular boys who ever attended the Abbot school, whose tragic death soon after graduation in 1914 is as great a mystery today as it was then.  It was the gift to the school of his father, L. A. Hippach of Chicago.

Upon his graduation, young Hippach returned to his home in Chicago, planning to enter college that fall.  One morning he left home for a ride in his big, high-powered – for those days – roadster.  With him on the spare seat rode his pet dog.  It was never possible to learn what had occurred after he drove away from home.  No one appeared to have seen him; he visited no place.

From that moment until he was found, a few hours later, dead beneath his car on Lakeside drive, the little dog standing guard over him, no trace was ever had of the route he had followed, or where he went or what he did.

Here is the Death Notice for Howard Hippach from the Chicago Daily Tribune of October 30, 1914:


Howard is buried in the family plot at Rosehill:


Howard's death left Jean Hippach as the only survivor from among Ida's four children.

The Chicago Daily Tribune from August 25, 1915 brought another tale of tragedy connected with the Hippach family:


According to the article, Jean Hippach nearly collapsed with grief over what had happened.

The 1920 US Census finds what was left of the Hippach family living at 2808 Sheridan Place in Evanston.

2808 Sheridan Place, Evanston

Jean no longer lived at home - she had married Hjalmar Unander-Scharin on January 3, 1920, at the Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago.  At the Sheridan Road address were Louis Hippach, aged fifty-five, and Ida, aged fifty, along with servants Emma and Herman Bunzli and chauffeur Theodore Boychuz and his wife Mary.  Louis Hippach reported that he owned the home free and clear, and that his occupation was "Wholesale Merchant of Glass."

In 1921 Louis Hippach applied for a passport to travel all through the Far-East ("China, Japan, Burma, Philippine Islands, Hawaiian Islands, Samoa and Korea") on behalf of Tyler & Hippach.  Ida Hippach did not accompany her husband.

Ida Hippach also did not accompany her husband when he sailed to Cherbourg, France in 1928, or to Key West, Florida in 1930, or to San Diego, California in 1930 or to San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1932. One may have thought that after her 1912 trip that Ida Hippach was through with sailing, but that was not the case.  As early as August of 1913 Ida sailed to Hamburg, Germany and back to New York on the S. S. Imperator, without incident.  Traveling in the summertime, the chances of encountering an iceberg were extremely unlikely.

Don't think, however, that while Louis Hippach was traveling the world, Ida was passing the time by staying at home. During her married life she managed at least one trip to Europe per year, supplemented by trips to Hawaii, Cuba, etc.

The 1930 US Census shows Louis and Ida Hippach still living at 2808 Sheridan Place in Evanston. Louis indicates his occupation as "Merchant in the Glass Industry."  In addition to Louis and Ida, there is their maid Elizabeth Swanson and a Lodger named Syesuke Takalaski from Japan. Louis reported his home worth $125,000.00, and said that they did own a radio.

Jean Hippach Unander-Scharin sued her husband for divorce on June 4, 1930, charging infidelity and asking for custody of their three children.

Louis Hippach suffered a heart attack on May 29, 1935 at his home in Evanston.  He was admitted to Passavant Hospital in Chicago where he died on May 30, 1935 as a consequence of his heart attack. He was seventy-one years old.  Here is his death certificate, and a later certificate correcting his date of birth and age:




Here's his Death Notice from the Chicago Daily Tribune, June 1, 1935:


and his obituary from June 2, 1935:


Louis was buried alongside his three sons in the family plot at Rosehill Cemetery. 



Louis Hippach
By the time of the 1940 US Census, the house at 2808 Sheridan Place in Evanston was full again. In addition to seventy-one year old Ida, there was her daughter Jean Scharin, Jean's children, eighteen year old Howard, fourteen year old Jean and ten year old Louise, nurses Barbara Bruck, Marie Peterson and Minerva Prescott, and servants Sarah Lundi and Frances Sauer. Paul Holmgren was living in the coach-house.

Ida Sophia Fischer Hippach died at home on September 22, 1940 of complications from a stroke.  She was seventy-two years old.  Here is her Death Certificate:








Ida had died September 22, 1940 and was buried the very next day, September 23, 1940 - unusual for a family that was not Jewish.

Here is her Obituary from the Chicago Daily Tribune of September 23, 1940:


and her Death Notice from the same day:


She was laid to rest next to her husband and three sons at the family plot in Rosehill:



People who are not well-to-do may take a look at Ida Hippach and envy her.  She was married to a rich and successful man, she had a beautiful home, beautiful children and plenty of money to travel or spend her time any way she wanted to.  And yet upon a closer look, Ida Hippach's life is not so attractive after all.  Yes, she had money, but as we can see from her life story, money does not shield a person from tragedy and loss.  On the other hand, someone once said, "Money doesn't buy happiness, but it sure makes misery a lot easier to live with."

Ida Sophia Fischer Hippach - a woman who lost two sons in the Iroquois Theater fire and then sailed on the Titanic - may she rest in peace.