Saturday, November 26, 2011


Some cemetery mysteries will have to remain mysteries.  Take the case of Sam Gitelson.  I was in Rosemont Park Cemetery (now called Zion Gardens) in Chicago the other day fulfilling a Find a  Grave photo request.  At one point I looked down and saw the gravestone of Samuel (Sam) Gitelson.  Sam died on August 20, 1941 and his stone says "Erected By His Friends".  I figured that Sam must have been alone in the world when he died, and that his friends chipped in for his gravestone.  A little research proved me wrong.  Sam's obituary from the Chicago Daily Tribune of August 21, 1941 is as follows:

GITELSON-Samuel Gitelson of 1236 S. Harding Avenue, father of Alfred, Milton-Nathan, Adelsylvia, Anna, Rebecca, and Marjorie.  Funeral services Friday, Aug, 22, 1 p.m., at chapel, 3246 W. Jackson Boulevard.  Burial Rosemont.  Los Angeles, Cal., papers please copy.  Kedzie 2394.

If Sam had six children why did his friends have to chip in for his headstone?  This morning I decided to look Sam up in to see if there was any addtional information.  There is an Ancestral File for Sam and it has the following note:

"Sam Gitelson came to London from Globoka with a cousin about age 19 in approximately 1896. His primary language was Ukranian. He had one sister that he left behind. He felt estranged from his family and did not discuss his family with wife or children."

So he was estranged from his family in the Ukraine, but what about his wife and six children in the United States?  His wife is not mentioned in his obituary - she may have been alive or dead in 1941 - but his six children are mentioned.  Was he estranged from his children as well?  Then why mention them in his obituary?  Why did his friends erect his tombstone?  We will probably never know.  May Sam find the peace which seems to have eluded him in this life.

Samuel Sam Gitelson

1 comment:

  1. It looks like the family was together in Los Angeles in 1910 but in 1920 and 1930 his wife and children were living there alone with Rachel as head of household. That explains why the California paper was copied. Looks like she might have died in Los Angeles in 1975?

    Check out the obituary for Sarah Gitelson. Do you think Sam had relatives in Chicago or do you think that's another family?

    Keep these posts coming. They're great!