Tuesday, October 13, 2015

GOING AWAY TO GOD - Harriet Munroe Lathrop

Of all the things one encounters when doing genealogy research, the hardest to understand is suicide. What could possibly compel someone to end their life when we know that self-preservation is the strongest of all our instincts?  Yet when tracing a family tree it is not at all unusual to encounter at least one instance of suicide, and perhaps more.

By today’s standards, Harriet A. Munroe Lathrop of Racine, Wisconsin had it all.  She was happily married to a devoted husband, she had a beautiful home and was a member of one of the “first-families” of Racine. Money had never been an issue – Harriet came from money and married money - the Lathrops were very well-to-do.  Her husband William Henry Lathrop was a noted banker and in fact the Lathrop family had been one of the founding families of Racine.
So why then, people wondered, did she choose to end her life on the evening of December 11, 1887 by walking into the Root River from the Goodrich Dock at the foot of Lake Avenue?  Before we look further into the events surrounding the death of Harriet Lathrop, let’s see what we can find out about her life.

Harriet A. Munroe was born in Shaftsbury, Vermont on June 11, 1821 to Lyman Willoughby Munroe (1792-1875) and his wife Merriam (some sources spell it Mariam, nee Barton (1797-1848).  The Munroes were farmers in Vermont.  

History does not records how they met; perhaps when William Lathrop was back in Vermont settling his father’s estate, (Hubbell Lathrop had died March 19, 1842 in Vermont,) but we do know that Harriet Munroe married William H. Lathrop in Shaftsbury, Vermont on June 22, 1842.

William Henry Lathrop was born in Manchester, Vermont on July 13, 1816 to Hubbell Lathrop (1779-1842) and Laura, nee Brownson (1786-1841).  William Lathrop started his career working on his father’s farm, then he turned to merchandising for two years.  In 1840 Lathrop sold his business interests, and with his brother Austin headed west, ending up in Racine, Wisconsin.  

By all accounts, the marriage of William and Harriet Lathrop was a happy one.  After concluding their affairs in Vermont, the newlyweds traveled back to Racine on the steamer “Chesapeake.”  They arrived on a bright Sunday in July, 1844.  As the “Chesapeake” steamed into the harbor it was met with cannons booming and people shouting.  Harriet Lathrop thought that she had been brought to a wild part of the country where the Sabbath was not observed, but she found out instead that the celebration was because the “Chesapeake” was the first steamer to enter Racine Harbor.

Mr. and Mrs. W.H. Lathrop settled into a comfortable home on the corner of Park Avenue and Sixth Street in Racine (now a commercial area). During this time, William Lathrop had maintained a 240 acre farm just beyond the Racine Rapids, which he visited on a daily basis.  But after several years of farming he had had enough, so he sold the farm and branched out into banking, grain elevators and railroads, becoming richer and more successful as the years went by.

Back on the home front, the Lathrops were blessed with a daughter, Genevieve, who was born April 1, 1843, but as so often happened in those days, young Genevieve died February 3, 1845 of the croup, just short of her third birthday.  Since it was the Lathrop’s intention to remain permanently in Racine, they purchased a plot for Genevieve in the Mound Cemetery .

The Lathrops were blessed with a son, Frank, born June 10, 1847, but their happiness was short-lived when Frank died October 3, 1847 – not even one year old.  Frank is buried next to his sister Genevieve in the Mound Cemetery in Racine.

The Lathrops did not have any more children.

The 1850 U.S. Census has the Lathrop family in Racine.  The house consisted of:  Thirty-three year old William, twenty-seven year old Harriet, Harriet’s brother, twenty-six year old Horatio B. Munroe, fifteen year old Ellen Munroe and seventeen year old Sarah Hughs from Wales; probably a servant. William Lathrop listed his occupation as “Forwarding and Commission.” 

It was not all sadness for the Lathrops.  During the winter of 1856-57, Mr. and Mrs. Lathrop visited Havana, Cuba, returning home by way of Washington, to witness the inauguration of President Buchanan.

The 1860 US Census just has William and Harriet home in Racine, along with twenty year old Emma Kirsben from Germany – a servant.  William Lathrop listed his occupation this time around as “Produce Dealing.”

The 1870 US Census shows fifty-one year old William H. Lathrop at home with his forty-eight year old wife Harriet, and their servant, eighteen year old Jennie Jones, a native of Wisconsin.

It has not been recorded as to when Harriet Lathrop’s health began to deteriorate, but we do know that she and Henry spent nine months in California during 1872-1873, during which Harriet’s health became partially re-established. 

Unfortunately the improvement was only temporary, and over time Harriet Lathrop’s health continued to deteriorate, as William’s fortunes grew.  He ended up with a myriad of business dealings, prospering as a grain dealer and elevator owner, real estate and railroad speculator, as well as bank director and brick manufacturer.  

William Henry Lathrop

The 1880 US Census shows sixty-three year old William H. Lathrop with his fifty-eight year old wife Harriet (their ages seem to move up and down a sliding scale), and Harriet’s forty-five year old sister Ellen Munroe Brown.  For this census, Lathrop lists his occupation as “Gentleman”, Harriet is “Keeping House” and Ellen Brown is a “Lady.”   

In 1883 the Lathrops moved into a new house William had built for them on Main Street in Racine. By the summer of 1885 Harriet’s nervous malady had deteriorated into mental derangement.  Her constantly expressed longing had been to rest by “going away to God,” and that brings us to the fateful night of December 11, 1887.   

For what happened next, I will quote from the Portrait and Biographical Album of Racine and Kenosha Counties, Wisconsin, published in 1892, “She had retired at an early hour and taken her goodnight leave of sister and nurse in the peculiarly affectionate and engaging manner habitual to her during the two and a half years of her illness.  On going to her room about nine o’clock, her husband found her apparently in a gentle sleep. Awakening at one, he missed her from his side, and alarming the household, made an unavailing search, until going to the street door, where steps were traced in the light snow along Lake Avenue to the Goodrich dock, and there ended on the verge, with marks on the snow which her garments had brushed as she made the last step into the river." 

The Oshkosh (WI) Daily Northwestern from December 13, 1887 carried the sad news:

William Henry Lathrop immediately launched a search for the body of his deceased wife.  Here's a blurb from the Oshkosh Daily Northwestern from December 20, 1887 after the search had gone on for nine days:

The search continued unabated through the cold winter months.  Even a substantial reward posted by the grieving widower made no difference.

Harriet Lathrop's body was finally discovered north of Kenosha by two boys on May 2, 1888.  Here's the story:

William H. Lathrop gladly paid the two boys $500.00 each on May 4, 1888 as reported in the Weekly Wisconsin newspaper of May 12, 1888:

Now that he had a body to bury, William Lathrop could have a funeral, which he did on the day after the body was discovered, May 3, 1888. Harriet Munroe Lathrop was laid to rest next to her children who pre-deceased her in the family plot at Mound Cemetery in Racine:

A female statue, poised in anguish above the graves of the Lathrops, speaks to the suffering upon the family:

William Henry Lathrop died January 27, 1904 in Racine.  He was eighty-seven years old.  He never remarried.

What made Harriet Lathrop decide to walk into the river on that December night so long ago?  We will never know for certain.  The approach of Christmas was just another reminder that she had lost both of her children and would spend yet another holiday childless.  It is almost 128 years since the death of Harriet Lathrop, but even now diagnosing and treating mental illness is often a guessing game.  We can only hope that Harriet Lathrop found the happiness in the next world that had eluded her in this one.

Harriet Munroe Lathrop - May she rest in peace.

Thursday, August 20, 2015


To all my loyal readers –

I have not posted anything to this blog since June 12th of this year. Several of you have been kind enough to contact me to see if everything is OK.  A couple of things have happened recently to unfortunately push Under Every Stone to the back burner.

The main reason for not posting is that there have been significant changes at work.  I work long hours and when I get home I am exhausted – too exhausted to even write any blog articles.  Over the weekends I still work on Find a Grave photo requests as well as photographing other Chicago area graves of interest, but that doesn't leave much time for blog research. 

The other reason for the delay in posting, is that the “angel” who got all the death certificates for me moved out of Chicagoland, and the replacement she recommended didn’t work out.  So you will probably not see as many death certificates in future articles of mine as you have in the past.

Rest assured, however, that I am still dedicated to this blog and to telling the interesting stories of these forgotten folks.  I plan to post an article this fall that I am currently finishing up.  It’s the story of Roy Cooley, the founder of the popular Cooley’s Cupboard restaurants in Evanston and the Tally-Ho restaurants in Evanston and Park Ridge. 

It is unlikely in the near future that I will be able to match my past schedule of one posting per week.  Going forward it is more likely that I will post 1-2 articles per month to the blog, so sign up to be a Follower to make sure you receive everything as it becomes available.

If you wish at any time to contact me directly, my email address is jwcraig11@comcast.net  If you reply through the blog I have no way to get back to you unless you give me your email address.  Blog owners are unable to get the email addresses of people who post replies to their blogs.

Thank you for your patience and ongoing support.  I have more great stories to tell and I will continue to keep this blog alive as time permits.

Jim Craig

Friday, June 12, 2015

BE SUNNY - Bernard E. Sunny

If you are wandering through the grounds of beautiful Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago you may happen upon this unusual monument:

Is it a monument for a person, or a suggestion for a happy lifestyle?  If it was a monument to a person, one would expect the name to read B. E. Sunny rather than B - E - Sunny.  If you look around the monument you will see this flat marker:

The style is the same on the marker:  Bernard - E - Sunny.  Let's see what we can dig up about this man and see if he lives up to his "Sunny" name.

Bernard  Edward Sunny was born May 22, 1856 in Brooklyn, New York to Irish immigrants Bernard E. Sunny (1817-1897) and his wife Margaret (1833-1904).  Bernard Sunny was a "Jr." although he seemed to have never used that designation.  Bernard Sr. and Margaret had 4 children other than Bernard Jr.:  James (1854-1889), Mary E. (1863-????), Joseph (1865-1870) and Margaret (1869-????).  Bernard Sr. was employed as a Porter for a store.  

He received his early education in the Brooklyn public schools.  In March of 1875 he came to Chicago as a telegraph operator for the Atlantic and Pacific Telegraph Company.  While there, he worked his way up to Night Manager and then to Manager of the company.  

In 1878, Bernard E. Sunny married Ellen Clifton Rhue (1856-1922) in Brooklyn.  Both the bride and the groom were twenty two years old.  Bernard and Ellen were blessed with two children:  Helen Tyler Sunny (1886-1969) and Arthur Edward Sunny (1891-1940).
In 1879  Sunny left the telegraph company to become superintendent of the Chicago Telephone Company, a predecessor to Illinois Bell Telephone.  He remained with them until 1888.

From 1888 to 1891 Bernard Sunny was the President of the Chicago Arc Light & Power Company.  In 1889 he took a position as western manager of  the Thomson-Houston Company, and because of that Sunny became a vice president of Thomson-Houston's successor, the General Electric Company.  He held this position until 1908.

As was the case with most of the titans of industry, Sunny was also a director of the World's Columbian Exposition in 1892-1893 and also president of the Intermural Railroad at the World's Fair.

The 1900 US Census showed the Sunny family living at 138 (now 1432 N.) Astor Street in Chicago.  A modern apartment building sits on that spot today.  In addition to 45 year old Bernard Sunny and 43 year old Ellen, were thirteen year old daughter Ellen, and ten year old son Arthur.  The Sunnys had a live in cook, 32 year old Margaret Meier and thirty six year old servant Elizabeth Lindinger.  Bernard Sunny did not list an occupation for himself. 

In the summer of 1900, Bernard Sunny took time out of his busy schedule to be a delegate to the Republican National Convention of 1900 in Philadelphia that re-nominated President William McKinley. 

In 1908 Bernard Sunny took the job for which he is best remembered, president of the Chicago Telephone Company which went on to become Illinois Bell Telephone.  He held the position of president until 1922, when he was elected Chairman of the Board, a position he held until 1930 when he retired.  Through his positions at Illinois Bell he was also head of the telephone systems in Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin.

In addition to his position as a director of both Illinois Bell and General Electric, Sunny also served on the boards of The First National Bank of Chicago, Public Service Company, Wilson & Company, Edison Electric Appliance Company, General Electric X-Ray Corp., International General Electric Company, the Chicago City Railway Company, the Chicago City and Connecting Railways, the Chicago Surface Lines, and the South Park Commissioners.

The 1910 US Census has the Sunny family living at 4933 S. Woodlawn Avenue in Chicago:

4933 S. Woodlawn, Chicago

In addition to the Sunny family, there are now three live-in servants: twenty nine year old Wilhelmina Rosch and a married couple, William and Katharine Gaine.  William was thirty eight; Katharine was forty two.  This time, Bernard Sunny listed his occupation as "President of a Telephone Company."     

1920 US Census shows the Sunnys still at 4933 S. Woodlawn. Bernard and  Ellen are now "empty-nesters."  Helen and Arthur Sunny have grown up and moved out.  In addition to Bernard and Ellen there are two live-in servants:  thirty two year old Nora Marrin and forty nine year old Bertha George.  Bernard still lists his occupation as "President of a Telephone Company."   

In 1922 an event took place that literally shook Bernard E. Sunny to his core.  Sunny and his wife had decided to build a home at 4913 S. Kimbark Avenue in Chicago:

4913 S. Kimbark, Chicago

Mrs. Sunny was in poor health, so it was decided that she should go to Italy where the temperate climate might help in her recovery.  Readers of the Chicago Daily Tribune from October 28, 1922 saw this frightening story:

Luckily no one was in the house at the time of the blast.  All of the damage was eventually repaired and Bernard and Ellen Sunny took up residence in their fancy new home on Kimbark.

B. E. Sunny in 1922

Ellen Sunny's health continued to deteriorate and she died in Chicago on December 27, 1922.  She was 66 years old.  Here is her obituary from the Chicago Daily Tribune of December 29, 1922:

Here is her Death Notice:

She was buried in the family plot at Rosehill Cemetery:

Bernard Sunny felt is was his civic responsibility to participate in organizations that added to the betterment of life for all citizens.  Even with all his other business and family responsibilities, he still had time to be the President of the Civic Federation of Chicago, President of the Trustees of the Illinois Eastern Hospital for the Insane, President of the Police Pension Fund, Member of the Visitation Committee for the Juvenile Court, Commissioner to select a site for the State House for Delinquent and Dependent Boys, Trustee of the Illinois Manual Training School for Boys, Trustee of the School for Delinquent Girls, President of the Board of the Central Church of Chicago, Trustee of the Chicago Sunday Evening Club, Trustee of the Carson Long Institute of New Bloomfield, Pennsylvania, Trustee of the Armour Institute of Technology, Director of the Chicago Boys Club and the Boys Clubs of America, a Fellow of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, a member of the Western Society of Engineers, Director of the Art Institute of Chicago, Director of the Field Museum of Natural History, Director of the Chicago Historical Society and on the Executive Committee of the American Red Cross.  

Even with all his responsibilities, life must have been lonely for Bernard Sunny.  His wife had died, his children were grown and married - he was all alone in a crowd.  It was no surprise, therefore, when the Chicago Daily Tribune from January 18, 1925 announced the marriage of B.E. Sunny:

Although Bernard E. Sunny officially retired when he turned 65 in 1921, he retained the majority of his Board of Director positions, including Illinois Bell and the other telephone companies and General Electric.  But as the years began to catch up with him he started thinking about his legacy - how he would be remembered after his days on earth were complete.  Sunny was a typical engineer - he thought in concrete - literally and figuratively.  In 1928 it was announced that Mr. and Mrs. Bernard Sunny were donating $400,000.00 to the University of Chicago - specifically for the construction of a gymnasium on the campus.  

Here is an architect's rendering of the gymnasium:

 Here's a photo of Sunny laying the cornerstone on April 15, 1929:

Here is the finished product:

I am pleased to report that the Sunny Gymnasium is still in use today, almost 100 years later.

B. E. Sunny also made a significant contribution to the Armour Institute (now Illinois Institute of Technology) which awarded him a Doctorate in Engineering.

Bernard's son Arthur died suddenly in Bronx, New York on June 5, 1940. He died of encephalitis (sleeping sickness).  He was 48 years old.  He was brought back to Chicago and buried next to his mother in Rosehill.

Bernard E. Sunny died October 5, 1943 at his home in Chicago.  He was 87.  Sunny had remained active right up until the end of his life.  His obituary reported that he was still going into his Loop office daily until ten days before he died, and he maintained a keen interest in civic affairs, philanthropy, and the corporations of which he was a director.  Here is his Death Certificate:

Here is his Death Notice from the Chicago Daily Tribune of October 6, 1943:

Sunny was buried next to his first wife in the family plot in Rosehill Cemetery.

B - E - Sunny

According to newspaper accounts, B. E. Sunny left an estate of $768,313.00.  50% was left to the University of Chicago and the Illinois Institute of Technology for scholarships, and the remainder was left to his wife, daughter and other relatives.

B - E - Sunny - Engineer, Businessman, Philanthropist - may he rest in peace.
Note:  Subsequent to publishing this article, several readers wanted to know where the other members of the Sunny family are buried.
The Sunny plot at Rosehill contains the following:
From left to right:
India Waelchli Sunny:  Second wife of Arthur E. Sunny
Arthur Edward Sunny:  Son of Bernard and Ellen Sunny
Ellen Clifton Rhue Sunny:  First wife of Bernard E. Sunny
Bernard Edward Sunny
Emma Holmes Holland Sunny:  Second wife of Bernard E. Sunny.
Bernard and Ellen's daughter Helen Tyler Sunny McKibbin and her husband George Baldwin McKibbin are also buried at Rosehill, but not in the Sunny family plot. 

Friday, May 29, 2015


I have mentioned before in this blog that I have had a lifelong fascination with silent film superstar Rudolph Valentino.  As the years passed and I learned more about Valentino's life and work I began to branch out and started doing research on his family, friends and coworkers. From the first time I saw her dance with Valentino in 'The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse' (Metro-1921) I became a fan of Beatriz Dominguez.  What was her story?  How did she come to do the tango with one of the most famous dancers of all time?  And what caused her sudden death in 1921 at the age of 24?  Let's see  what we can "dig up".

Beatriz (some sources have Americanized it to "Beatrice") Dominguez was born in San Bernardino, California (not Mexico as many sources indicate) on September 6, 1896 to Tirso Dominguez (????-????) and Beatriz  nee Valencia (1860-1931).  Within the family Beatriz the mother was called "Petra" to differentiate her from Beatriz the daughter.  Beatriz the daughter had four sisters:  Cecelia (1883-1946), Maria Elena (1885-1948), Lola (1889-1959), and Inez (1893-1981). Beatriz' ancestors on her mother's side were from Sevilla in Spain.

As her sisters did, Beatriz received her education at the Sacred Heart Convent School in Los Angeles. Her family would have preferred that she pursue a professional career as a doctor or a lawyer, but from the very start Beatriz felt that her calling was to be a dancer. 

She was said to have danced professionally from the age of 14 as a dancer for the Mission Inn in Riverside, California.

The first mention in the press of Beatriz Dominguez dancing was in the The Riverside (CA) Daily Press that described a 1914 New Year’s Eve appearance by Dominguez as part of the formal opening of the Mission Inn’s Spanish Art Gallery.

This was followed by an article stating that Mission Inn officials sought to put her under contract for the entire performing arts season.  She danced La Jota with partner, Professor Raphael Valverde to the music of La Madre del Cordero. Later that season, she danced solo to the Espana Waltz and the classic Manzanillo.

Dominguez said she was taught authentic Spanish dance by her mother, Petra, who was taught the 1840-style by her grandmother.  She told Riverside reporters in 1914 that she provided the Mission Inn audience with genuine Spanish dances.  “Back in 1840, they were popular with the Spanish people and I hope that my interpretations tonight will meet with the approval of the guests of the hotel.”

Her younger sister Inez had a short-lived career dancing in films, and she suggested that Beatriz might be able to achieve the success that had eluded her.  In late 1913 and early 1914 Beatriz had credited roles in two Vitagraph shorts:  'The Masked Dancer', and 'The Sea Gull.'

Having gained popularity with the public through her dancing at the Mission Inn, she was a natural choice to dance at the Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Diego in 1915-1916.  Her dancing was such a draw, that an image of her was put on one of the posters advertising the fair:

She was billed as "La Bella Sevilla" and as before she danced the classic La Jota.  After seeing Beatriz dance, Theodore Roosevelt said she was “California’s sweetheart—fairest dancing daughter of the dons.”

While performing in San Diego, she was said to have had an uncredited role in the Douglas Fairbanks film, 'The Americano' (Fine Arts-1916). After the exposition, Beatriz returned to dancing in vaudeville.

“After I left San Diego,” Beatriz recalled, “and had danced at the Mission Inn in Riverside—I wished to act.  I called at some of the studios and did not say that I was the premiere dancer at Balboa Park (San Diego).  I simply registered as ‘La Bella Sevilla.’  Mr. O. H. Davis, who was a vice-president of the Exposition, was appointed general manager of Universal.  One day, when I called there, he suggested that I use my own name, because directors were rather afraid to employ a dancer because they reasoned that she could not act.  I was baptized ‘Beatriz,’ but at the studios they have turned that into the American ‘Beatrice.’”

She returned to films in 1919.  Carl Laemmle, the founder of Universal saw her and considered her “an exceptional motion picture type”.  She appeared in 'The Light of Victory,' 'The Sundown Trail', and the short 'The Wild Westerner' all for Universal.

She continued working for Universal in 1920 and appeared in the short 'Hair Trigger Stuff,' as well as Rex Ingram's 'Under Crimson Skies.'  She also was cast in an Art Acord serial 'The Moon Riders.'

Beatriz became one of the first Hispanic actresses to receive screen billing and to be mentioned in the trade press.

In late 1920 she appeared in another Art Acord serial 'The Fire Cat' but it was during this time that Beatriz Dominguez had the role for which she is most remembered today:  dancing the tango with Rudolph Valentino in 'The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse' (Metro-1921).  The trade papers announced: "Beatrice Dominguez, a Spanish dancer, has been engaged to play in the Metro production of The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, which Rex Ingram is directing."  The ironic thing is, although this is the role for with Beatriz is best remembered, her name does not appear in the credits.

I have often been asked what is my favorite Rudolph Valentino film. My first choice would be 'The Sheik' because that was the first Valentino film I ever saw, but overall I would have to say that my favorite is 'The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse'.  This film has everything: war, romance, betrayal, love, death, a screenplay by June Mathis and Valentino dancing with Beatriz Dominguez.  If you have never seen it, you should. It is readily available today on DVD and it is well worth your time.  It is truly a spectacular film.  It cost an estimated $800,000 to film (in 1921 dollars) and grossed over nine million dollars!

Watching a clip from a film is like taking a comment out of context, but here is a clip of Beatriz Dominguez dancing the tango with Rudolph Valentino in 'The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse:'


The 1920 US Census (January, 1920) shows Beatriz Dominguez living at 415 N. Fremont Avenue in Los Angeles.  The family told the census taker that Beatriz was 19 years old and had been born in Mexico.  Her occupation was listed as "Actress in Motion Pictures."  She was living with her mother Beatrice who was 58 years old and a widow, sister Inez, who was 25 and a film developer and 8 year old Louis Garcia.  The Da Vinci apartments are currently being built on that spot today.

Later in 1920, Beatriz and her family bought a home at 2522 Elsinore Street in Los Angeles:

2522 Elsinore Street, Los Angeles

In December of 1920 Beatrice appeared in the prologue to 'The Mark of Zorro' starring Douglas Fairbanks during its seven week run at the Mission Theater.

In February of 1921, Beatriz started work on another Art Acord serial, 'The White Horseman' (Universal-1921).  During filming, Beatriz collapsed with a ruptured appendix and was rushed to the Clara Barton Hospital at 447 South Olive Street.

It was thought that Beatriz was out of danger but several days later peritonitis set in and it was necessary to perform a second operation. Beatriz Dominguez died from the complications of the operation on February 27, 1921. She was 24. One week later, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse opened in New York City to rave reviews and made Rudolph Valentino a star, in part because of his tango with Beatriz.

The wake for Beatriz Dominguez was held at her home at 2522 Elsinore Street.  The funeral Mass was held at the Plaza Church in old Los Angeles:

Plaza Church, Los Angeles

Here is her obituary from the Los Angeles Times of February 28, 1921:

Ironically, Rudolph Valentino would die from the same thing (peritonitis from a ruptured appendix) five years later.

Beatriz Dominguez is buried in Calvary Cemetery, Los Angeles - Section A, Tier 5:


Here's my favorite photo of Beatriz from October 7, 1916 in Los Angeles:

Beatriz Dominguez - Oh, how she danced...may she rest in peace.

Friday, May 22, 2015


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:


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.