Friday, May 22, 2015

THE GREATEST AND MOST VERSATILE WRITER IN THE SPORT OF HORSE RACING - Joseph I. Markey

If you enjoy genealogy and genealogical research you probably are also interested in history.  An interesting, and fairly easy, project you can do that combines both of these is to trace the lineage of your house.  Just like every person, every house has a lineage and a history - from the architect and builder through all of the owners up to the present time. With all of the records on the internet today, tracing the history of your house should not be too difficult - even for a beginner.  And like tracing your family tree, you never know what you may find.  Most places today require that a potential buyer be told if something notorious took place in a house that is up for sale, but that rule did not exist years ago.  

I have traced the history of the house I grew up in (which will always be "Home" to me) as well as the bungalow I owned for many years.  I was not able to uncover anyone famous or infamous who lived in either place, but there were some interesting stories nonetheless.  This week I am going to tell you the story of a man who owned my boyhood home from 1924 until his death in 1930:  Joseph I. Markey. 

Joseph Ignatius (some sources spell it "Ignacious") Markey was born April 15, 1868 in Chillicothe, Missouri to Peter Markey (1825-1889) and Margaret (1838-1925).  Peter Markey was born in Dublin, Ireland and when he came to the US, settled in Chillicothe, Missouri.  Peter was a civil engineer by trade.  Some sources say that Margaret was born in Ireland, others say Michigan, still others Mississippi.  Eventually she ended up in Chillicothe, Missouri  with Peter. 

Peter and Margaret Markey were blessed with four children:  Mary T. (1857-1932), Francis (1859-????), James A. (1861-1943) and Joseph Ignatius (1868-1930).  

At some point in his youth, Joseph Markey left his home and family in Chillicothe, Missouri and moved to Red Oak, Iowa - about 150 miles as the crow flies.  Young Joseph had always been interested in writing, so after completing his schooling, he started submitting stories as a roving reported for the Red Oak newspaper - called the Red Oak Express.  The newspaper was not really interested in the concept of a roving reporter, but circumstances far from Iowa would soon change that. 

On February 15, 1898 the battleship USS Maine sank in the harbor of Havana, Cuba.  The United States, outraged, immediately demanded that Spain surrender control of Cuba.  After diplomatic efforts failed, Spain declared war on the US on April 23, 1898.  Joseph Markey, caught up in the patriotic fervor, enlisted in the US Army on May 9, 1898, and was mustered on May 30, 1898.  Now the Red Oak Express was more than interested in Markey's services as a roving reporter - he would be their war correspondent, writing periodic letters to the editor of the paper.

Markey joined what became Company M of the 51st Iowa Infantry.  In preparation for being shipped to the Philippines, Company M was shipped to San Francisco, California. 

By early May 1898, trains began arriving in Oakland with young men from Pennsylvania and Colorado, Oregon and Kansas---all coming to form a 20,000-man expeditionary force headed by General Wesley Merritt. Welcoming parties of the Red Cross Society met the units at the San Francisco Ferry Building with food and flowers. The mostly-volunteer infantries, feted and cheered along the way, would then march up Market Street to their campsites.

Early arrivals were put up at the Presidio, but it soon became apparent that there was not enough fresh water there for the number of troops which increased exponentially as the days passed.  

A second camp was established on land provided by the Crocker Estate Company. They offered the government use of the defunct Bay District Race Track land, situated between the Presidio and Golden Gate Park. The site had enough space for 10,000 troops, with nearby city water mains available. The Army gratefully accepted, and starting on May 18, 1898 rows of white tents lined the sandy lots between today's Geary Boulevard, Fulton Street, Arguello Street and Sixth Avenue. An eventful summer for the Richmond district was about to begin.

Initially called "Camp Richmond" or "Bay District Camp" the growing encampment received the official name "Camp Merritt". Despite this honor, the eponymous commanding officer was rarely seen in the area. General Merritt roomed downtown at the Palace Hotel, and when he left his suite it was usually for soirees, parties, and balls in the city or down the peninsula at the estates of the wealthy.      

As the number of soldiers in the Richmond approached 7,000, a camp extension had to be created on James Clark Jordan's adjacent land, today's Jordan Park neighborhood. On May 28, 1898 the division hospital moved to this section, and eventually troops from Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Iowa would camp on these blocks between today's Geary Boulevard, California street, Palm and Commonwealth avenues.  This is where Joseph Markey ended up with the 51st Iowa Infantry when they arrived in San Francisco at the beginning of June, 1898.

The division hospital sadly received a lot of use. Poor sanitation and crowded conditions created a lot of illness and not a few deaths among the men in Camp Merritt. Over 150 soldiers crowded the field hospital on July 11, 1898 a number with pneumonia. 

With the sand, fog, and sickness, soldiers remembered Camp Merritt as "an unhealthy, ill-drained, wind-swept locality".  It was here that Joseph I. Markey filed his first letter home to the Red Oak Express.  Markey vowed that for all the hospitality of the locals and the delights of nearby Golden Gate Park, "We have hopes that at some time the truth will come out as to who is responsible for Camp Merritt's existence and that the guilty will not go unpunished." 

Ten men died over the summer, from measles, typhoid and other diseases. Poor sanitation and close living was the chief reason for the sickness, but the Army didn't hesitate to blame the Richmond district location "to which hucksters and immoral and depraved persons within the city had access."

Luckily Joseph Markey and the 51st Iowa shipped out to the Philippines on November 2, 1898 before the conditions at Camp Merritt had a chance to harm them.  They embarked on the transport ship "Pennsylvania."  

The regiment arrived at Manila on December 7.  Much to their surprise, the war with Spain officially ended three days later with the signing of the Treaty of Paris before Markey or his fellow soldiers even had a chance to set foot on Philippine soil. The regiment stayed aboard the Pennsylvania, being shipped to Iloilo, where it arrived on December 28th. The regiment continued to stay aboard the transport until January 31, when it arrived back at Cavite, near Manila. Finally, after being aboard ship since November 2, the men were permitted to go ashore and go into quarters on February 3, 1899.  The regiment was attached to the Second Brigade, Fourth Division of the Eighth Army Corps. It turned out they were not too late to see action after all.  The day after the men set foot on Philippine soil, the Philippine American War broke out.

Unknown to most Americans, the Spanish-American War actually consisted of two different wars.  The first was the war between Spain and the US.  When that war ended, the United States as victors gave Cuba her independence but decided to keep the Philippines as a US possession.  The Filipino people felt they were trading one absentee owner for another and so they declared war on the US at the beginning of February, 1899.  It was this second war that Markey and the 51st Iowa were involved in.

Markey's letters from the front were eagerly awaited each week by readers of the Red Oak Express and accounts were clipped from the paper and mailed all over the country as anxious families waited for word of their loved ones half a world away.

Joseph Markey's writing proved so popular that he decided to publish them in a book form.  In 1900 the Thomas D. Murphy Company of Red Oak Iowa published From Iowa to the Philippines - A History of Company M, Fifty-First Iowa Infantry Volunteers by Joseph I. Markey.   I was lucky enough a few years ago to be able to purchase an autographed copy:





Markey was a natural born writer and his account transports the reader to the heat, dust and sweat of tropical warfare.  If you are interested in reading Markey's book, it is available for free online:

https://books.google.com/books/about/From_Iowa_to_the_Philippines.html?id=EhEqAAAAYAAJ&hl=en

The war ended for Joseph Markey on May 26, 1899 when he was badly wounded by being shot in the right leg at San Fernando.  In August, Markey, along with other wounded members of the 51st Iowa, was shipped back to San Francisco aboard the hospital ship "Relief."  Joseph Markey was officially discharged from the US Army on August 18, 1899.  

Upon his return to Iowa while he was still convalescing from his war wounds, he was able to edit his letters and put them into book form - but that only lasted for awhile and he was still a young man - 32 in 1900.

Markey decided to move to the big city - Chicago - and got a job with The Chicago Horse Review magazine in 1901.  Within a very short time it became apparent that Joseph Markey had an eye for the horses.  Markey was one of the first to sing the praises of a standardbred trotting horse named Lou Dillon.  Markey predicted that she would become the first trotter to trot a mile in 2:00 minutes, and, in fact, she did just that at Memphis in 1903.  He was also the first to predict stardom for trotters Uhlan and Peter Manning.    

During this period, Markey often wrote under his pen name of "Marque." 

It wasn't all trotters for Joseph Markey - that is to say he found a little "filly" that turned his head.  Markey and Miss Bertha K. Sefton (1875-????) were married in Chicago on October 21, 1909.  Markey was 41; his bride was 34.

The 1910 US Census finds the newlyweds living at 5629 S. Indiana Avenue in Chicago:

5629 S. Indiana Avenue, Chicago
  
Markey listed his occupation as "Journalist for a Horse Paper"; Bertha was a stenographer.  They also had a live-in servant, 51 year old Childs E. Childs.

Joseph Markey's star as an expert on trotters kept rising through the 1910s.  In 1912 he brokered the sale of the trotting champion Harvester to Mr. C. K. G. Billings of New York City for "in excess of $50,000.00." Quite a coup for the boy from Chillicothe, Missouri.

Markey continued to be a valued contributor to the Chicago Horse Review throughout the teens and 1920s. 

By the time of the 1920 US Census, the Markeys had moved to the north side of Chicago - to 7742 N. Paulina:

7742 N. Paulina, Chicago

Joseph was a "Journalist for a Publishing Company."  Bertha was not employed, but they no longer had a live-in servant.

Joseph Markey's greatest contribution to horse racing happened in 1924. In April 1924, nomination ads for a stake with a value estimated at $50,000 appeared in The Horse Review.  Markey wrote several editorials in support of the race and John C. Bauer, the publisher, was credited with suggesting the name Hambletonian, after the great sire.

Markey's idea was made a reality by promoter Harry O. Reno of Chicago, Illinois, who assembled a managing committee of ten prominent breeders and officials. That managing committee became The Hambletonian Society. Reno, along with his brother-in-law W. M. Wright, owner of Calumet Farm, and Markey served on the original executive committee.

Three tracks (Atlanta, Ga., Kalamazoo, Mich., and Syracuse, N.Y.) submitted bids for the inaugural running of the Hambletonian Stake in August 1926. The race was awarded to the New York State Fair at Syracuse, which offered to add $8,000 to the purse. From the first edition it was the richest race in the trotting sport, a status it maintains to this day. In no small way the amount of the purse is responsible for its position as the sport's greatest prize. Because of the enthusiastic reception by breeders and owners, the 1926 purse swelled to $73,451 -- which was reported to be more than the sum total of next five richest stakes offered for 3-year-old trotters that same year. 

The race became a perennial favorite and is run to this day at the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  For his contribution to the sport, Joseph I. Markey was inducted into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 1978.

In about 1924 Joseph and Bertha Markey bought my boyhood home, at 1027 Harvard Terrace in Evanston, Illinois.  In 1921 various Chicago area home builders decided to construct a neighborhood of upscale bungalows on land that used to comprise the estate of Major Edward Harris Mulford in South Evanston.  The Markeys, living at that time at the far north end of Chicago, would certainly have seen the bungalows being built, and purchased 1027 Harvard in 1924, where they lived until Joseph Markey's death in 1930.

1027 Harvard Terrace, Evanston

The census taker for the 1930 US Census came to 1027 Harvard Terrace on April 21, 1930.  The Markeys reported that Joseph was 62 years old; Bertha was 55.  They said that 1027 Harvard was worth $16,000.00, and that they had a radio.  Bertha reported that her native language was German. Joe reported his occupation as "Writer for a Paper Publisher."       

Joseph I. Markey died at the Hines VA Hospital on June 2, 1930, after being ill for several years.  He was 62 years old.  Here is his Death Notice from the Chicago Daily Tribune of June 4, 1930:


Having been wounded in the service of his country, Markey was qualified to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery, and he was, on June 5, 1930 in Section W ENL, Site 21676:



So now you know the story of one of the owners of my boyhood home. As I said, no one famous or infamous, but a person with an interesting story nonetheless.

There are more sordid tales connected with my boyhood home – the mysterious and sudden death of the architect/builder, and the husband who plotted with unscrupulous doctors to have his wife declared insane so he could get rid of her – but those are stories for future articles in this blog.

So take some time and look into the history of your house – you may be very surprised.

The only known photo of Joseph I. Markey - from Hoof Beats Magazine, September, 1940:

Joseph I. Markey

Joseph I. Markey – Soldier, author, harness racing hall of famer – may he rest in peace.

Friday, May 15, 2015

THE VILLA VENICE - Albert "Papa" Bouche'

The public television station in Chicago sometimes runs a program called "Chicago Time Machine."  It's sort of like this blog on TV.  The host stands before a spot in Chicagoland today, and the tells you what happened there years ago - along with photos of the way it used to look.  One rainy Sunday afternoon I stumbled on an episode of Chicago Time Machine and I thought, "Now that's my kind of TV show," so I sat down to watch.

After several stories the host stood in front of a chain hotel in Wheeling, Illinois and started to tell the story of the Villa Venice restaurant and nightclub which stood on that spot from its opening in 1924 until it burned to the ground in 1967.  The host said, "The Villa Venice was owned and operated by a character called "Papa" Bouche."  He then went on to talk about the time the "Rat Pack" appeared at the Villa Venice, and  of it's mob connections, all of which happened after Papa Bouche sold the Villa Venice in 1956. 

The Villa Venice was before my time, but my parents used to fondly reminisce about evenings at the Villa Venice - and saved their most effusive praise for Papa Bouche himself, and what a wonderful host he was.  After hearing the Chicago Time Machine refer sneeringly to "a character called Papa Bouche" I decided to see what I could dig up about him and tell his story in this blog.  So sit back and I'll tell you the story of magical nights in Wheeling, Illinois and gondola rides on the Des Plaines River.

When digging into someone's background you usually discover interesting facts about them and this is certainly the case with Papa Bouche.  Albert Bouche was born Abram Laurin on January 13, 1881 (some sources say 1882) in Celano, Arbuzzo, Italy.  Nothing is known of his parents but his immigration papers mention a brother, Augusto Laurini.  We do know that Abram Laurin came to the United States from Italy for the first time on August 29, 1901 a the age of twenty.   We don't know how long he stayed in the US on this trip, but we do know that he came back to the US on July 30, 1906.  At that time he reported his name as "Abramo Laurini" and his occupation as "Cook."  He was coming to live with his brother Augusto who lived at 1091 East 182nd Street in New York City.  Abramo said that he had been in the US once before - for a "Job" in 1901.

Sometime after his arrival in the US in 1906, Abram Laurin changed his name to Albert Bouche'. History does not record why Abram changed his name, but he may have thought that the more exotic name of Albert Bouche' sounded better for a restaurateur.  The newly named Albert Bouche settled in Rochester, New York, and, the story is that he became not a restaurateur, but a policeman for the City of Rochester.  (Note: Through the years Albert spelled his last name sometimes as "Bouche' " with the accent over the last "e", and sometimes as just "Bouche" without the accent.  For ease of typing, for the remainder of this story I will not use the accent unless the primary source uses it.)

There is no record of either Abram Laurin or Albert Bouche on the 1910 US Census but it was about that time that Albert made two life-altering decisions:  he got married, and he moved to Chicago.

For his bride he chose Flora Marseilles - a divorcee with a young daughter.  We'll let the new Mrs. Bouche tell the story in her own words:

"My maiden name was Flora Marseilles," she said.  "I met my first husband (Joseph) DeRepentigny, while I was attending the Notre Dame Convent in Montreal.  He forced my to elope with him to Rochester, New York, where the child (Marguerite Carmen DeRepentigny) was born. Subsequently Albert Bouche, who was then a policeman in Rochester came into my life.  I married him, and we moved to Chicago."

In fact, the first two times the name "Albert Bouche" was in the Chicago newspapers it had to do with his wife and step-daughter.  On September 3, 1912 the Chicago Tribune reported that a man named Joseph Milora tried to commit suicide because Flora would not leave Albert and marry him.

One year later on September 13, 1913 their names were in the Tribune again.  This time, Joseph DeRepentigny tried to kidnap ten year old Marguerite as she left Holy Name Cathedral Academy in Chicago. Luckily there were witnesses around, and within a short time DeRepentigny and his accomplice were captured and the girl (whom the Tribune called Marguerite Bouche) was reunited with her mother and step-father.

The Tribune did report that Albert Bouche was the proprietor of the Cafe Belvidere at 868 N. Clark at Chestnut Streets.  A parking lot occupies that space today.

The next time Albert Bouche's name was in the Chicago Tribune was on January 15, 1917, when the newspaper was reporting Bouche's arrest for refusing to observe Chicago's "Sunday Closing Rule" where restaurants could not serve liquor on Sundays.  There was a new police chief in town named Herman Schuettler and he was determined to enforce the "no liquor sold on Sunday" law.  On January 14, 1917, using eight teams of one policeman and one policewoman, Schuettler managed to close twenty-two "saloons, cafes and restaurants" and arrest their owners, bartenders, and sometimes even their waiters.  Albert Bouche was among this unlucky group.  There was no further publicity about his arrest, so Bouche probably paid the fine and that was it.

On April 19, 1917 Abram Laurin, aka Albert Bouche applied for US citizenship - and was rejected - probably due to his police record.  In fact, Albert Bouche did not become a naturalized US citizen until 1926.  

On May 27, 1917 the Chicago Tribune announced that Albert Bouche was opening a new "summer restaurant" at Clark and Lawrence in Chicago at the site of the old Rainbo Gardens.  He called it the Moulin Rouge Gardens in remembrance of the time he worked as a chef (he said) at the Moulin Rouge in Paris.  Albert Bouche sold the Moulin Rouge Gardens in 1921 in preparation for bigger ventures.

First off, he bought a parcel of land on the Des Plaines River in Wheeling and built a roadhouse he named "The House That Jack Built."  It was on Milwaukee Avenue where it crosses the river.

The House That Jack Built - Wheeling, Illinois

Then he sold the Moulin Rouge summer restaurant and instead opened the Moulin Rouge all-year-round restaurant at 416 S. Wabash in Chicago.  416 S. Wabash is also a parking lot today.

 

The Real Estate page of the Chicago Tribune of April 6, 1924 carried the following item:

 

The 1920s were good for people, and good for Albert Bouche.  People had a lot of money to spend and they liked to go out to dinner or even better, dinner and a show.  Albert Bouche already knew that "if you build it, they will come."  The Chicago Daily Tribune from June 12, 1924 announced the upcoming opening of the Villa Venice:


From the very beginning, Albert Bouche strove to make an evening at the Villa Venice an "event." He spared no expense on the exterior and interior of the restaurant and also on the shows he produced. 


He wanted the time spent at the Villa Venice to be "magical," and it was, but it was more than that. According to people I have talked to, Papa Bouche had the talent of making everyone feel that he was doing all this just for them.  He was a gracious host, greeting every guest by name if possible and went out of his way to make their evening one they would talk about for years to come. 

In the summer of 1925, Albert Bouche the showman had an idea - there were gondolas in Venice, why not gondolas at the Villa Venice?  Here's the announcement from July 25, 1925:


Yes, you could actually take a gondola ride on the Des Plaines River - complete with singing gondoliers.  The gondolas Albert Bouche bought were original antique Venetian gondolas - he had to get permission from the Italian government to take them out of Italy. 

In the early 1930s, Albert Bouche decided to branch out - he opened a second Villa Venice in Miami Beach, Florida.  Here's the first ad for it from June 9, 1932:


and later in the 1930s he opened a third Villa Venice - this one in Dallas, Texas.


Here's a program from the Villa Venice from 1933.  It will give you a good idea of what a night at Papa Bouche's meant:





Three shows each night - the first at nine, the second at midnight and the third at 2:45 a.m.!  And the midnight show was different from the other two and you were invited to stay!  Boy, those days are gone forever,,, 

Bouche's first name was Albert, but everyone called him "Papa Bouche." I don't know how this got started but the first time it appeared in print was June 17, 1942:

       
My parents always referred to "Papa Bouche" as if he were a member of the family.

Papa Bouche's restaurants may have been very successful, but his marriage was not.  He had married Flora back in about 1910 in Rochester, New York when he was a policeman.  Now he was a noted restaurateur and showman with Villa Venice nightclubs in Chicago, Miami Beach and Dallas, as well as a dinner theatre in New York City. During those days, Papa Bouche was either working or travelling.  He was constantly back and forth to Florida to Texas to New York to Chicago to keep an eye on things, and then off to Europe, Cuba or South America hunting for new talent and new ideas for his shows.  Albert and Flora's marriage was essentially over by the late 1920s, although Flora was still calling herself "Mrs Albert Bouche" as late as 1934.  I could not find any record of a divorce, but Flora seems to disappear after the mid-1930s.

Starting about 1930, Albert picked up an interesting travelling companion.  Her name was Edna Olts (1898-1984) and she accompanied Albert on all of his overseas trips.  By the 1940s she had even moved into the Villa Venice and was openly living with Albert.  In fact, as late as 1947, travel documents were referring to her as "Edna Olts known as Edna Bouche."  They must have finally married in 1948 because it was reported that the IRS audited Bouche's return for 1946 and 1947 and "the returns of Bouche and his wife Edna" for 1948, 1949 and 1950.

You would think that for someone in the limelight like Papa Bouche that there would be hundreds of photos of him in existence.  The truth is, in all my research I was only able to find two - and neither one is a head-on shot.  The first one is from June of 1948 where Papa Bouche is in New York looking for 25 girls to add to his show.  It seems he had gone through all the pretty girls in Chicago:



Here's one where he's a little more "formal", and the girls are a little less...a little less...well - a little less!:



The end of an era was announced in the Tower Ticker column of the Chicago Daily Tribune on October 12, 1956:

"Aging Papa Bouche sold his Villa Venice (in Wheeling) and poof goes Chi.'s most fantastic showplace."

Yes, the Villa Venice would continue under new ownership as the "New" Villa Venice, but it just wouldn't be the same.  The dream that was the Villa Venice finally ended when it burned to the ground on March 4, 1967.

Albert Bouche had maintained a separate residence in Miami Beach, Florida for years and he ultimately lived there full time after he sold his Chicago operations.  Eventually Bouche sold all his restaurants as age and poor health began to catch up with him.

Albert Bouche died in August of 1964 in Miami Beach.  He was 83 years old.  He was buried in Fred Hunter's Hollywood Memorial Gardens East in Hollywood, Florida:

Photo Courtesy Find a Grave Volunteer JoeyC













Out of sight - out of mind.  Even after all his years as a restaurateur and showman in Chicago, the only note of the death of Papa Bouche was this mention buried in Herb Lyon's "Tower Ticker" column of  August 21, 1964:

"Albert (Papa) Bouche who ran the spectacular shows at the Villa Venice during its voom days, died in Hallandale, Fla., at 83."

After the Villa Venice burned in 1967 it was not rebuilt.  Instead, a Hilton Hotel and Allgauer's restaurant (which they have the audacity to call "Allgauer's on the Riverfront") now stand on the site.

Since I moved to Wheeling last year I often pass by the site of the Villa Venice.  And if I concentrate really hard I can hear the sound of music and laughter and the singing of the gondoliers on the Des Plaines River. Oh, the Villa Venice - how magical it must have been.

Papa Bouche' - there will never be another like him.  May he rest in peace.

Friday, May 1, 2015

THE TERRIBLE STORY OF THE SUDDEN DEATH OF - Edward Harvey

I did not know my aunt Rachel Craig (nee Harvey) very well.  She was married to my father's oldest brother Raphael Craig.  I know that my aunt suffered terribly from multiple sclerosis so to visit we had to go to them, rather than them coming to see us.  They lived way out on the south side of Chicago and in the days before expressways, going to see them was an all-day trip.  Aunt Rachel died in February of 1959 and Uncle Raph followed her in January of 1960.

It wasn't until years later when I was doing genealogy research that I found out the terrible story about the sudden death of Aunt Rachel's father, Edward Harvey.  Through ancestry.com I was contacted by Rachel's nephew Cliff Harvey and he filled me in on all the details about the Harvey family.  Before we look at the story of Edward Harvey's sudden death, let's take a look at his life.

Edward Henry Charles Harvey was born September 24, 1877 in Lacon, Illinois to Michael Henry Harvey (1851-1934) and Katherine, nee Kennedy (1858-1944).  Michael and Katherine had married in Lacon on December 24, 1876 and were blessed with two sons:  Edward (1877-1919) and William (1879-1957).

Edward shows up on the 1880 US Census as a three year old along with his parents and younger brother.  Michael Harvey indicated his occupation as "Laborer."

Sometime between 1881 and 1885 Michael and Katherine were divorced.  After the divorce Edward lived with his father in Streator, Illinois.

The 1890 US Census for this area is, of course, lost.

The 1900 US Census shows Edward living with John and Daisy Miller on their farm in Long Point in Livingston County, Illinois.  He was employed as a farmhand.

On January 7, 1905, Edward Harvey married Grace Deffenbaugh (1883-1971) in Lacon.  Edward and Grace were blessed with eight children: Jack Edward/Gail (1905-1983), Ray D. (1906-1965), Rachel (1908-1959), Carl Owen (1909-1952), Clifford Charles (1911-1993), Lowell M. (1913-1990), John (1914-1980) and Walter (1916-1974).

The 1910 US Census shows the young Harvey family living in Bennington, Illinois.  Thirty-two year old Edward, a carpenter for a house builder, twenty-three year old Grace, and the children Gale, Ray, Rachel and Carl.  They were renting their home "Lots 1, 2, 3 and 4 north of 14th Street."

That brings us up to the terrible accident that took the life of Edward Harvey.  Here is the account from the Lacon Home Journal:

EDWARD HARVEY KILLED
Met Death From Electric Wire Monday Afternoon
Sad Affair Happened About Four O'clock Just West Of Lacon Bridge.
Leaves Wife And Eight Children. 

It has been truthfully said that in the mist of life we are in death and the sudden passing of Edward Harvey of this city about four o'clock last Monday afternoon is another evidence of what an uncertain quantity is life. 

Mr. Harvey was employed with the line crew of the Public Service Company that was working on the city road west of the bridge.  Lines of wire were being changed and two long wires were tied to Edward McMahon's wagon.  He started to drag them a short distance, it being the intention to anchor them to an electric light pole so there would be no danger of them getting on the road.  The wires were being pulled over the cross arms on several electric light poles and when one of the wires was about to pass over one of these cross arms it flew up and came in contact with a live wire of the high line carrying 4,400 volts of electricity.  Mr. McMahon noticed that something was wrong, as his team became almost unmanageable.  Almost at the same time Mr. Harvey started to untie the wire from the wagon.  No sooner had he touched it than he went down like a man struck with an axe.  As usual in such cases he was unable to let loose of the fatal wire and death must have been almost instantaneous.  Mr. McMahon was only slightly shocked, due to the fact that he was sitting on a dry blanket and had on shoes with rubber soles.  The wire that caused the death of Mr. Harvey came in contact with a pole along side of the road and there were reports like the crack of a pistol while fire flew in every direction.  The right hand of the unfortunate man was burned at one place to a crisp and there was also a seared place on his neck where the wire had burned.  

Drs. Bradford and Bennington were quickly summoned and the force of the workmen of the Public Service Company worked with the stricken man for almost two hours in an attempt to revive him, but in vain.  It is probable that he was dead in a few minutes after being stricken with the fatal current.
 
No one appears to have been a fault, the accident simply was one of those sad affairs that will occasionally occur in work of this kind.
 
The county coroner came over Tuesday and held an inquest at the Lenz Undertaking establishment were the body was taken after all hope of revival had been abandoned.  A verdict of accidental death was returned by the jury, which was composed of the following: Louie Lenz, Foreman, John Shafer, John Ludke, Turner Black, Ralph Jenkins and Frank Lewis.
 
Edward Henry Harvey was born in Lacon on September 25, 1877, being a son of Mr. and Mrs. Michael Harvey.  He had lived the greater part of his life in Lacon, altho he sent a part of his earlier years in Streator with his father, his parents having separated.  He was married in this city on January 07, 1905, to Grace Deffenbaugh.  There were born to them eight children, all of whom with the wife survive him.  He is also survived by his parents, his father living in Manville, near Streator, and his mother, now Mrs. George Finkenbinder, of this city, and also one brother, William Harvey.  The children are seven boys and one girl, Gail, Ray, Rachel, Carl, Clifford, Lowell, John and Walter.  There are also one half brother and two half sisters living in Streator.
 
The funeral was held yesterday at the residence at 2 o'clock, Rev. L. M. Thompson officiating, and the interment made in Lacon Cemetery.

Here is Edward's tombstone in the Lacon City Cemetery:



So that's the terrible story of the sudden death of my Aunt Rachel's father, Edward Harvey - struck down in the prime of life leaving a widow and eight(!) children. 

Edward Harvey

Edward Harvey - May he rest in peace.

Friday, April 24, 2015

OUR FRIEND - Harry Homer Marshall

I mentioned previously that when I am on Find a Grave photo missions I am always on the lookout for tombstones that look interesting, or stones that look like they might have a good story "under" them.  That is the case with this week's story.  I was at Memorial Park Cemetery in Skokie filling Find a Grave photo requests when I looked down and saw this tombstone:


Our Friend
Harry Homer
Marshall
Nov 18, 1888     May 14, 1920

Let's see what we can "dig up" about Mr. Marshall, whose friends bought his tombstone.

Harry Homer Marshall is another one of those people who has not left much of a trail. His tombstone says that he was born on November 18, 1888 - other sources say November 18, 1887.  The names of his parents are unknown.  He always gave his birthplace as Ottawa, Iowa.  His birth is not in the Index of Iowa births for 1887 or 1888.  There is another Harry Marshall who was born in Keokuk in 1888 - his life is well documented - but he is not our Harry.   

The first time he turns up is in the 1910 US Census when he is already living in Chicago - at 111 South Wood Street - now a parking lot in the shadow of the United Center.  111 S. Wood Street was a rooming house, and Harry was there as a "Lodger."  On the line after Harry's record is a record for a male, "T. Marshall" who was 18 years old.  He is probably a brother of Harry, but he disappears after this census.

Both Harry and "T" list their occupation as "Printer for a Printing Company."

The next time we hear from Harry is on June 5, 1917 when he registers for the draft.  He indicates that he is a chauffeur and lives at 1251 Argyle Street in Chicago.

1251 W. Argyle, Chicago
 
He lists his employer as "C.H. Pushman, 4259 Hazel Street" in Chicago.

Harry H. Marshall talked to the Census Taker for the 1920 US Census on January 5, 1920.  He is still a boarder at 1251 W. Argyle.  He lists his occupation as "Private Chauffeur."   No sign of the mysterious "T." Marshall from the 1910 census.

Harry Homer Marshall died on May 14, 1920 in Chicago.  Here is his death certificate:



















He died at St. Joseph's Hospital in Chicago:


The Cause of Death was "Internal hemorrhage and shock and injuries caused by colliding with trolley pole while avoiding collision (accidental)  Town car and motorcycle."  We can pick up two other things from his death certificate:  He was an "Unemployed chauffeur," and the information for his death certificate came from his landlady, Anna Tinnerhorn. 

There was no death notice or obituary for Harry Marshall in the Chicago newspapers - in fact the accident that caused his death was not even mentioned.

Harry's funeral was May 17, 1920.  He was buried in Memorial Park Cemetery, Skokie, Illinois.  Harry Homer Marshall may not have had family around, but he was blessed to have friends who looked after him - and even made sure his grave was marked.

"Our Friend" Harry Homer Marshall - may he rest in peace.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

HEAD OF THE VICE TRUST IN CHICAGO - Michael Heitler

It is almost a cliché to talk about mobsters who were Italian Catholics, especially in Chicago, but the truth is that mobsters came from all ethnicities and faiths - even Judaism.  If you Google "Jewish Mobsters" you will get a list of 103 men of Jewish descent.  But even that list does not include a Jewish man who lived in Chicago and was known as "a Prohibition gangster involved in prostitution for the Chicago Outfit," by the name of Michael Heitler.  If you look a the simple tombstone at Gate 115 - Satinover, of Jewish Waldheim Cemetery in Forest Park, Illinois, you would never guess that lying under it was a man called the "head of the vice trust in Chicago" and "the grand old man of flesh peddling" until his mysterious death in 1931.


Like most notorious mobsters, he even had a nickname: "De Pike."  So let's see what we can "dig up" about Mike "De Pike" Heitler.

Mobsters are not known as the best record keepers and they usually put out a lot of mis-information to confuse the authorities.  The information I report here is, to the best of my knowledge, correct, but I welcome any corrections or additions my readers can provide.

Michael Heitler was born May 9, 1876 in Jablonow, Austria, to George Heitler and Molly, nee Reischer.  George and Molly Heitler had four children:  Coleman "Dutch" Heitler (1873-1946), Michael (1876-1931), Rose (1879-1946), and one more sister known only as Mrs. Fischel Blecher (1882-????).

When Michael Heitler applied for US citizenship, he said that he had come to the US in December of 1889, through the Port of New York.  He listed his occupation as "cigar maker."  I was unable to find him in the 1900 US Census, but his petition for citizenship was approved on March 22, 1905.  

Michael Heitler's marital status remains a bit of a mystery.  There is a record showing that Michael Heitler married Rose Yonovitz in Pierce, Washington on April 14, 1906.  There is also a record from Philadelphia showing that a "Mike Hetler" married "Rosie Janowitz" in 1903.  I think this is more likely the correct record for "our" Michael and Rose because their son Charles (1904-1984) was born in Pennsylvania on July 30, 1904.

Rose Yonovitz Heitler

Just to confuse the issue even more, there is a marriage record from Cook County, Illinois from May 11, 1911 for a Michael Heitler and a "Dina Ianowitz," and some sources say that Michael Heitler married a Julie E. Siebel prior to 1930 but both Michael Heitler's death certificate and obituary say that his wife is "Rose."  If he meant to confuse us, he succeeded.  Michael and Rose also had a daughter, Mollie H. Heitler (1908-1984).

Michael Heitler never revealed the date that he started running "houses of ill repute."  Some sources say that he began during the early 1900s based out of West Madison Street.  The first mention of Heitler in the Chicago Tribune is on July 25, 1909 when his name came up as part of an investigation of mobsters who paid bribes to Chicago police officers to "look the other way."   Even at this early date, he had already earned his nickname of "De Pike".

Heitler's nickname of "De Pike" came from his operation of the cheapest fancy houses in Illinois (he was a piker).  The price for some time with one of De Pike's girls was 50 cents and in his joint at Peoria and West Madison, he was believed to have been the first to offer sex on an assembly-line system.  De Pike sat by a cash register and had the customers lined up waiting their turn.  As a girl came downstairs with a satisfied customer, the next man in line handed De Pike 50 cents.  He gave the girl a brass check that she could later redeem for 25 cents.  The idea was to keep the traffic moving at high speed.

The 1910 US Census has the Heitler family living at 9146 S. Erie (now S. Baltimore) Avenue in Chicago:

9146 S. Baltimore Avenue, Chicago

Mike was 34, Rose was 27.  Here is another interesting situation:  neither of their children was listed on the census, even though both had been born by 1910.  In fact, their children were living in a boarding house at 2620 Homer Street with Grace Roche.  Perhaps Mike and Rose wanted to hide their children from the authorities, (or from their enemies) because the census reports that as of 1910 Rose had given birth to "0" children, and that "0" of them were still alive.  Mike listed his occupation as "Saloon Keeper," Rose's occupation was "Keeper of a Rooming House."  Mike's native language was German, Rose's was Yiddish.

By 1911, Mike "De Pike" Heitler had become a leading crime figure and a top lieutenant to Chicago racketeer Jacob "Mont" Tennes (subject of a future article in this blog), later driving rival Jack Zuta out of business, with then ally Jake "Greasy Thumb" Guzik (How come Jack Zuta didn't have a nickname???).

Michael Heitler operated with relative freedom from the law through the teens, and, for the most part, his bribes were generally limited to no more than passing out some brass checks for "freebies" to the police. He did have to take a few busts and convictions for white slavery now and then, but the punishments were of little consequence.  However, when Johnny Torrio and then Al Capone took over control of the entire prostitution racket in Chicagoland, Heitler lost his influence with the police.

His choice was either to become an employee on Al Capone's payroll, or simply be declared "out." Heitler decided to stay in, but his situation continued to deteriorate through the 1920s.  Capone relied more and more on Harry Guzik to look after his prostitution affairs, and Heitler felt slighted over  the lack of respect for a man of his years in the field.

Itching for revenge, Heitler began "ratting" on the mob and many of Capone's affairs. He informed Judge John H. Lyle about the doings in a Capone resort called the Four Deuces.  Judge Lyle said that Heitler had told him: "They snatch guys they want information from and taken them to the cellar. They're tortured until they talk.  Then they're rubbed out. The bodies are hauled through a tunnel into a trap door opening in the back of the building.  Capone and his boys put the bodies in cars and then they're dumped out on a country road, or maybe in a clay hole or rock quarry."

Heitler was not being imprudent informing Judge Lyle at other times. He wrote an anonymous letter to the state attorney's office, outlining many facets of the Capone brothel operations.  Heitler's anger had clearly got the best of him if he believed that affairs in the state attorney's office were not already known by Capone.  Within a short time, Capone ordered Heitler to appear before him at his office in the Lexington Hotel. When he entered Capone's room, Heitler saw the letter he had sent the state's attorney on Capone's desk.  Capone correctly deduced that the information in it could only have come from Heitler.  Capone told him, "You're through."

Undoubtedly Heitler was marked right then for execution, but a certain etiquette was followed by the mob when they received information from their own informers inside official agencies. These sources generally emphasized they would not be a party to homicide, and thus it was not done — at least not for a while.

Heitler might even have lasted longer than he did had he not continued his troublesome letter writing. In one, he named eight Capone figures as having been involved in the plot to murder Chicago Tribune reporter Jake Lingle.  Heitler gave a copy of that letter to his daughter for safe keeping. Unfortunately, he passed another copy to the wrong parties. At the end of April, 1931 Michael Heitler disappeared.  On April 30, 1931, two boys found a charred torso in the smoldering wreckage of a house in a Chicago suburb.  Was it Heitler?

It turns out that the circumstances surrounding the death of Michael Heitler were as strange and unusual as the rest of his life.  Here's the way the Chicago Daily Tribune told the story on May 2, 1931:

RAID GANGDOM FOR 'SLAYERS' OF MIKE HEITLER

With Al Capone, gangland chief, as the object of their search, armed detectives from the state's attorney's office investigating the supposed murder of Mike (De Pike) Heitler, brothel keeper, early this morning raided the Lexington Hotel at Michigan avenue and 22nd street, used frequently as Capone headquarters.

Capone was not present when the raid was made, but four of his followers were seized and taken to the state's attorney's office for questioning by Pat Roche, chief investigator.  The sensational raid, in which at least one door was smashed in by the police, was one of a series ordered by Roche.  Other raids were made on the Western hotel, Capone's Cicero headquarters, and on several cabarets in an effort to find known hoodlums and gangsters.  No gangsters were found in the Western.

"We will raid everywhere until we drive out every hoodlum from Chicago," said Investigator Roche this morning.  "This is just part of our campaign to clean up the city.  The hoodlum is getting out.  That means Capone, too, and we are now looking for him."

Find Guns in Room.

Those seized in the Lexington hotel raid are Louis Russo, brother of "Machine Gun Jack" McGurn; Phil Andrea, Fred Rossi, and Tony Capezio.  They were found in room 430.  When they failed to respond to the raps of the officers, two of the policemen smashed in the door with axes.  Search of the room revealed two new automatic pistols.

The prisoners were taken to the state's attorney's office and locked in separate rooms.  In another room officers were questioning "Dago Lawrence" Mangano, owner of a gambling house in South Halsted street.  He was seized in his home at 5529 Flournoy street.

The police also raided resorts in the area in which Heitler operated.  Four men - Tony Accardo, Lawrence Mangano, cousin of "Dago Lawrence" Mangano; Benjamin Grivane, and Don Grossman, all hoodlums - were seized in the Club Floridian,  674 West Madison street, of which West Side Frankie Pope is said to be a part owner.

Roche and the other officers declined to disclose what they learned, but it was indicated that "some one had talked," and that the raids and the effort to apprehend Capone were the result of the "talking."  Roche said it was known that there had been trouble between Mangano and Heitler.

Satisfied Heitler Was Slain.

The supposed murder of Heitler which is prompting the new war of gangsters and hoodlums, lies in the finding of a charred body in the smoldering ruins of an ice house on the estate of Spencer Otis, near Barrington.  The body was found Thursday.  Roche and the others are satisfied the victim was Heitler.  He seized documents in the Heitler home which were believed to contain evidence of politico criminal alliances.

The papers, it is believed, may disclose a murder motive.  Heitler was believed in the underworld to have been acting as a "stool pigeon" for various persons and to have been shaking down west side resorts by virtue of this.  Another theory presented to the police is that Heitler aroused the wrath of James Balcastro called by police the head of the bombers, and Mangano, in attempting to set himself up as a gang leader.

The torso was found early Thursday after the ice house had been seen in flames by Mrs. Hattie Gannusch, 60 years old, who lives in the neighborhood.  She called the police and reported having seen three men, whom she believed to be gangsters, in the vicinity the afternoon before the fire. Police found a bridge of teeth with two crowns and a false tooth near the body, which was charred so as to preclude positive identification.

Yesterday morning Attorney Ben Cohen appeared before Judge John Prystalski in the Criminal court to ask a continuance of a perjury charge against Heitler.  He said his client had been missing since Wednesday.  A vagrancy charge was continued of Wednesday in the Municipal court on the same grounds.

Find Car Used by Heitler.

At the same time Chief of Police Willias Mac Clay of Itasca, 15 miles from Barrington, reported the finding of a partly burned car, which Heitler had borrowed from Miss Emily Mulcher, for whom he was reported to have maintained a home in Berwyn for 23 years.  A gun with six discharged cartridges was found in the rear seat of the car.  The cartridges are believed to have been exploded by the heat of flames.

Roche, Cohen, and Coleman (Dutch) Heitler, brother of "Mike De Pike," viewed the torso as Coroner Bundesen began a search for Heitler's dentist in an effort to identify his teeth.  Coleman Heitler said he was convinced that the body was that of his brother.  The weight of the body was estimated at 200 pounds and the height at 5 feet 8 inches - approximately the build of Heitler.

Brother is Questioned.

Roche returned to his office, where he questioned the brother, who declared Heitler had been threatened recently.  Coleman Heitler's wife was also questioned, but she denied that she knew "Mike De Pike."

Miss Mulcher put Roche on the track of the records, which were seized in the Heitler home at 2020 Humboldt boulevard.  She also assisted in the efforts at identification by explaining that Heitler had two plates of false teeth, which he obtained 18 years ago.  Roche believed he might also have had a bridge.

Wife's Story Puzzling.

A puzzling circumstance in the investigation was the declaration of Heitler's wife that she had seen him yesterday morning.  Mrs. Heitler was traced by Roche from the Humboldt boulevard home to an apartment at 1901 Kimball avenue.  She said Heitler had driven away from home at 9 o' clock in the morning but had not told her where he was going.

The body was buried yesterday afternoon in the Evergreen Cemetery by Ray Willmering, a mortician of Barrington.  There was no ritual, and no mourners were present to watch the $15 coffin lowered into a grave.  Late last night Coleman Heitler asked that it be exhumed so that it might be given a better burial.   



As it mentions in the article above, Michael Heitler was originally buried in a simple grave at Evergreen Cemetery in Evergreen Park, Illinois.   On June 7, 1931, Michael Heitler's family had his body disinterred from its grave in Evergreen Cemetery and had it re-interred at Jewish Waldheim Cemetery in Forest Park, Illinois at Gate #115 - Satinover:


Here's his death notice from the Tribune:


So now you know at least part of the story of Mike "De Pike" Heitler.  It is probably safe to say that no one knows the whole story.

Michael Heitler

May he rest in peace.

Friday, April 17, 2015

A FEW WORDS ABOUT - ancestry.com

Frequent readers of this blog know how much I enjoy doing genealogy research.  To be better able to do this research, I have been a subscriber to ancestry.com for years.  I started my subscription with ancestry way back when the ability to do genealogy research online was just beginning.  In fact, I started out subscribing to both ancestry.com and genealogy.com because different sites gave you access to different records.  I have always been a big booster for ancestry.com.  I have pointed out to people that years ago genealogy research meant going to libraries and slowly spooling through rolls and rolls of microfilm and that ancestry.com gave you access to millions of genealogy records from all over the world - all in the comfort of your own home.  Recently two Mormon missionaries came to my door and I told them how grateful I was to the LDS Church for spending millions of dollars and sending researchers to all corners of the earth to transcribe and digitize genealogy records.  I have always said that the LDS Church is the best thing that ever happened to genealogy.   

You readers also know how much I enjoy Find a Grave.  I spend every weekend, weather permitting, in cemeteries taking photos of graves and posting those photos to Find a Grave.  As of today I have posted over sixteen thousand photos to Find a Grave.  Unlike many people I was thrilled when ancestry.com bought Find a Grave because I felt that it gave Find a Grave a better financial foundation and the security that came from being part of the ancestry family.

Because I have been such a fan of ancestry.com, the story I am going to tell you really bothers me. Through the years people have said that ancestry.com was all about the money and I quickly replied that my monthly ancestry subscription price was a bargain.  Where else could I get access to millions of records for less than $35.00 per month? However my recent experience with ancestry.com leads me to believe that the critics may have been right.  I'll tell you the story and you can draw your own conclusions. 

All the way back in 1964, my sister Patricia married Bill Friedner.  I know that Bill's ancestors were originally from Sweden and I had added Bill and as many of his family members I could find to my family tree on ancestry.com.  Recently I received an email through ancestry from Friedner relatives in Sweden who were trying to re-establish contacts with the Friedners in the United States.   I put them in touch with Bill and both sides were very happy to reestablish the contacts and trade information and photos.  Then one day, Bill's cousin Eva from Sweden told me that she had found a "lost" Friedner relation on Find a Grave. His name was John Friedner.  It had originally been Johann Friedner, but he changed it to John after he came to the United States.  The Find a Grave page said that John Friedner had died in 1972, and was buried in a military cemetery on Long Island, in New York State.



Eva asked me what I knew about John and I had to reply that I knew nothing about him. Subsequently Eva asked Bill what he knew about John, and Bill said he had never heard of him.  So Eva and I were both excited that we had found a missing branch of the family tree.  

Eva and I both added John to our tree and using the "shaking leaf" prompts on ancestry were able to add some information about John, but not much.  Eva asked me if I knew anything about John's marriages or divorce and I asked her where she heard about that.  She told me that at the bottom of John's Find a Grave page was an advertisement "Sponsored by Ancestry" that indicated 1 Death Certificate, 2 Birth Certificates, 2 Marriage Certificates and 1 Divorce Certificate for John Friedner.


I'm sure you've all seen these ads at the bottom of the Find a Grave pages but I never paid any attention to them until now.  I clicked on the link and it took me to the ancestry.com website. According to ancestry, to get access to these records I needed to upgrade my membership to the World Explorer Plus membership for an additional $10.00 per month.  I looked at the differences in the membership and decided that the additional records I would get, justified the additional expense and besides, I would also get access to those records for John Friedner.  So, I upgraded my membership and paid the additional monthly fee.  With my new membership firmly in hand I clicked on the link at the bottom of John Friedner's Find a Grave page.  The link took me to the ancestry website where it told me that to access these records I would have to upgrade to the World Explorer Plus membership.  Well, I had already done that, and still couldn't get to those records.  The ancestry website told me that if there were any problems I could call them at 1-800-ancestry, so after work yesterday I called them.

After being kept on hold for a while I finally reached a very courteous young-sounding gentleman who asked me what my problem was.  I told him the whole story and said that even though I had upgraded my membership I still did not have access to the John Friedner records.  He asked me if I was familiar with the ancestry card catalog which listed all the records that ancestry had, and I told him I was, but that the Find a Grave page had actual links that you could click on to access particular records for a particular person.  It was then that he told me that was actually not the case.  The links at the bottom of the page were not actual links to actual records - you had to search through ancestry to find the particular records that may, or may not, actually be on the ancestry.com site.  He went on to tell me that sometimes the records had to be purchased through Vital Check, but that sometimes you had to prove that you were related to the person whose records you were requesting.

No, I told him, the links represented that if you upgraded your ancestry membership you would have access to particular records for a particular person - and that even the number of appropriate records was listed on the link.  He told me that he was very sorry, but that was not the case. He said they had other complaints about this, but all the link did was take you to ancestry where if you upgraded, and searched through the ancestry records, you may (or may not) find the records that were listed on the Find a Grave page.

I couldn't believe it - this was false advertising at the least and actually bordered on being a scam - ancestry offered you something that may, or may not, exist.  He again said he was very, very sorry but that was the way it was set up.  He said that he would pass along my concerns, and hoped that senior management at ancestry would do something about these ads, that could be, he admitted, misleading.

I was horrified.  I told him that others said that ancestry was in it only for the $$$ but that I naively responded that no, they were in it for the research.  I told him that in the past I had been a major cheerleader for ancestry but that might change, now that I found out about this.  I asked to speak to "someone in authority" who I could talk to about this.  He put me on hold for quite a while, and when he came back he said he told the managers my concerns, and that they were sorry but were not interested in talking to me about it.  He again apologized and said that he would pass my concerns along again, and hope that something would be done.

I could not fault the young man on the phone - he was just a customer service rep - he had nothing to do about the way the business was run, but he was very apologetic.

So that's my story.  I won't be cancelling my ancestry membership - I still need access to the records they do provide, and I will continue to do my Find a Grave photography on the weekends but I have to say that I am very, very disappointed with ancestry.com and the way they do business.

I ended my call with the rep by reminding him that ancestry.com was owned by the LDS Church, and that the Church was better than this.  For a Christian Church, they were conducting business in a very non-Christian manner.

Caveat Emptor - Let the buyer beware.

I Stand Corrected:  It has been brought to my attention that ancestry.com is not owned directly by the LDS Church.  It is a privately owned corporation whose original founders were members of the LDS Church.  So I will revise the last paragraph as follows:

For members of a Christian Church, they were conducting business in a very non-Christian manner.  

Friday, April 10, 2015

THE FIRST BURIAL AT MEMORIAL PARK CEMETERY - Alexander Guneshoff

The winter of 2014-2015 was a difficult one for Chicagoland.  Some years when we have had a mild winter I could continue Find a Grave photography almost non-stop; this year was not one of them.  So when the weather forecast for Saturday April 4 was for clear and sunny skies, I grabbed my Find a Grave photo request list and took off.  My first stop was Memorial Park Cemetery in Skokie, and it was there I found an interesting tombstone.  I was searching in Section B for a grave that turned out to be unmarked, but as I was looking I saw this tombstone:


It's a little heard to read, but here's what it says:

ALEXANDER GUNESHOFF
May 1, 1914
Age 36 Years

1st Burial Memorial Park

What a great find for a graver!  I had written previously about Dr. Jacob W. Ludlam, who was the first burial at Rosehill Cemetery on July 12, 1859, and now I had stumbled on the first burial at Memorial Park.  Before we see what we can "dig up" about Alexander Guneshoff, let's take a look at the cemetery itself.

In 1914 when the cemetery that would become Memorial Park was being laid out, the major Catholic Cemetery for the North Shore was Calvary Cemetery in Evanston.  But Calvary had been in use since 1859 and was quickly filling up.  All Saints Catholic Cemetery in Des Plaines would not be consecrated until 1923.  It had been said that the Catholic Bishop was looking for land for another cemetery in the northern suburbs so when a plot of land in Niles township was put up for sale, the local Catholic pastor quickly signed a purchase contract for the land in the name of the Catholic Bishop of Chicago.  There were other parties interested in the land, so time was of the essence and the pastor took a chance by committing the archdiocese without getting the bishop's permission first.  But the pastor felt that when all the facts were known, he would be praised for his quick thinking and resourcefulness.  That was not the case.  
 
The then archbishop of Chicago, George Mundelein was very upset that the priest had committed the archdiocese on his own initiative without clearing it first with the chancery.  We'll never know the whole story, but Mundelein said that under no circumstances would the Niles township land be developed as a Catholic cemetery, and would, in fact be resold as soon as possible.  There is a small item in the real estate section of the Chicago Daily Tribune from March 5, 1914 that reported that on February 16, 1914 the Catholic Bishop of Chicago sold the land to the Central Cemetery Company of Illinois.  According to the Secretary of State of Illinois, the Central Cemetery Company was organized April 17, 1913 with $150,000 of capital stock.  That is how the cemetery that is now Memorial Park went from a proposed Catholic cemetery to a non-sectarian cemetery which it remains, to this day.

Now, what about Alexander Guneshoff?  Unfortunately I was not able to find out much about him at all.  In fact, if it wasn't for his death record, there would be no proof that a man named Alexander Guneshoff had ever existed - in Cook County or anywhere else.

Here is his death record from the Cook County, Illinois, Deaths Index, 1878-1922:

Name:Alexander Guneshoff
Event Type:Death
Event Date:01 May 1914
Event Place:, Cook, Illinois, United States
Address:714 N. Clark St.
Gender:Male
Age:36
Marital Status:Married
Ethnicity:American
Race:White
Occupation:laborer
Birth Year (Estimated):1878
Birthplace:Russia
Burial Date:06 May 1914
Burial Place:Central Cemetery C.
Father's Name:A.Kcof Guneshoff
Father's Birthplace:Kygel Chocchoc
Mother's Name:Sandrews
Mother's Birthplace:Russia

Unfortunately this record brings up more questions than it answers.  The record points out that Alexander Guneshoff was married (although it does not give his wife's name), but it does list names for his parents.  The Death Index record though, having been transcribed from old hand-written records, could possibly be incorrect depending on the legibility of the handwriting on the original record.

Whatever the case, I was not able to find even one other record for Alexander Guneshoff, or his wife or his parents, or for anyone with the last name of Guneshoff.  I tried all sorts of alternate spelling for the last name.  The death record lists an addresss: 714 N. Clark Street.  I checked the 1910 US Census for that address - no Guneshoff family members listed.  No Guneshoff listed in the Chicago Directory for 1914 or any other year.  No Guneshoff in the Chicago Tribune archives.  No Guneshoff in jewishgen.com.  It's almost as if they never existed - except for that one tombstone.

So for now this will have to remain one of my "brick walls."  If any of you genealogy wizards out there dig up anything about the Guneshoff family, let me know.  But until then, it's a mystery to me.

Alexander Guneshoff - first burial at Memorial Park - may he rest in peace.