Friday, August 31, 2012

DIES WITH CHILD CLASPED IN HER ARMS - Paulina Dasing Klein and Paulina Sophie Klein

Every once in awhile you come across a tombstone where you just know the story is going to tear at your heartstrings.  The very day in July of 2011 I first photographed the Frank Campbell tree tombstone (see previous post) I found this stone, also in Rosehill Cemetery:

It's never a good sign when more than one person has the same date of death.  This would often be the case when a women died in childbirth, but Paulina Klein Jr. was nineteen months old.  The death certificates for the two Paulina Kleins were not on Family Search because they were Coroner's Death Certificates.  But thanks to an angel I was able to get copies:

Paulina Klein Sr's cause of death was ruled "Suicide - From asphyxiation caused by inhaling illuminating gas with suicidal intent." Not good news - but what about Paulina Jr:

Paulina Jr's death was ruled a "Homicide - From asphyxiation caused by her mother turning on the gas."

Here's where the records get confusing.  The entry at the top of both certificates says that the bodies were found at 842 Lincoln Avenue, but that the "Place of Death" at the bottom of each certificate was listed as 932 Noble Avenue.  The newspaper account says they died where they had been living, 932 Barry.  The 1900 Census shows the Klein family living at 932 Noble Avenue.  In 1909 Chicago changed its street numbering system, and 932 Noble, 932 Barry and 842 Lincoln no longer exist as they were in 1901.  932 Noble is now 1444 Noble, an industrial building.  932 Barry is now 1430 Barry:

1430 W. Barry (former 932 Barry) Chicago
and 842 Lincoln is now 2927 Lincoln:

2927 N. Lincoln (former 842 Lincoln) Chicago

According to the Chicago Daily Tribune for September 19, 1901 here's what happened:

Turns On the Gas in Her Apartments and Dies With Child Clasped in Her Arms.

Separated from her husband and with a 19-month-old baby to care for, Mrs. Pauline Klein, 22 years old, found life too much of a burden, and yesterday morning took her life and that of her infant daughter.  Mrs. Klein lived at 932 Barry avenue, occupying two rooms.  She plugged all avenues where the odor of gas might escape and reveal her intention, and then opened the gas jets.  When discovered by the Sheffield avenue police, mother and child were dead, the latter in the arms of the former.  Mrs. Klein was married about three years ago.  Julius Klein, her husband, is said to be employed by G.F. Hummel & Co., 169 South Water street.  Friends say grief over separation from her husband, which took place about three months ago, prompted the woman's act.  She left a note charging him with causing her sorrow and saying she did not care to live any longer.  Explaining why she also took the life of the child, Mrs. Klein said in her note:  "You must excuse me because I'm taking my child with me,  But what shall the innocent child do here on earth when it has no mother and its own father disowns it?" 

A tragic story, to be sure.  Let's see what we can find out about the Klein family.

Julius Klein was born 28 August 1873 in Wurttemberg, Germany.  He was the son of Christov and Frederiche Klein.  Julius arrived in the US on November 16, 1891, landing in Philadelphia.  

Pauline Rosine Dasing was born in January of 1879, also in Wurttemberg.  She came to the US on the Saale - Bremen to New York.  She arrived on 29 May 1894.  

Julius Klein and Pauline Dasing were married on 25 March 1899 in Chicago.  They were married at the German Evangelical Zion Church by Paul Forrester, a "Minister of the Gospel".  

Their daughter, born Paula Sophie Klein, was born 6 January, 1900.

Did Julius Klein suspect from the beginning that the child might not be his?  What other reason could he have for "disowning" an infant?

We can only speculate as to the behavior of Julius and Paulina Klein during that spring and summer of 1901.  But we do know that they separated in about June of 1901 and that Paulina Sr. felt the necessity to take her and the baby's life on September 18, 1901.

Now - what about Julius - what did he do after this tragedy?  Did he swear off marriage and children and spend the rest of his life as a bachelor?  Far from it.

Julius Klein remarried on 4 October 1902, just slightly over one year after the death of his wife and daughter.  This time the wedding was in South Germantown, Wisconsin, the home town of his second bride:  Katherine (Katie), (Kate) Schneider.  Kate Schneider was born 2 May 1876 in South Germantown, Wisconsin, one of eleven children born to Phillip Schneider and Frederiche (nee Witzleb).  

We don't know when or how she met Julius, but apparently Kate was not put off by what had happened to Julius' first wife and daughter.   Julius and Kate went on to have two daughters of their own:  Laura, born in 1904, and Margareth, born 10 November 1913. 

Both Julius and Kate are long dead by now.  I was not able to pin down their exact dates of death due to the large number of entries in the Death Index for people with the names Julius and Katherine Klein.  For that matter Laura and Margareth are probably gone as well.  The purpose of this blog is not to pass judgement on the dead or the living.  As I said above, we will never know what happened between Julius and Paulina during their short time together.  But the fact remains that on September 18, 1901 Paulina felt her only choice was murder/suicide.  The only instinct stronger than self-preservation is the instinct of a mother to protect her children.  Paulina's life must have been a living hell for her to feel that her best choice was to take her life and kill her daughter.

We can only pray that Paulina Dasing Klein found the peace in death that had eluded her in life.

Mother & Child - Paulina Klein - may they rest in peace.


  1. A very sad story - but well researched and nicely posted.
    Theresa (Tangled Trees)

  2. Goodness, what a heart wrenching story. Being a mother myself to three girls, the youngest 5 months old, I cannot begin to imagine how desperate Paulina must have felt to take her own life and that of her child.

    Wonderfully researched, thank you for sharing.

    Beneath Thy Feet

  3. I just had to let you know how much I am enjoying your blog. I thought I was the only one who was fascinated by graves and the people who are buried there. I appreciate all the research you do on each one. Your writing really brings these people 'to life' for me.

  4. I often find myself wondering about the lives of people when I glance at their gravestones. Although this story had such a tragic end, you really researched it meticulously and wrote so well on it.

    I also want to thank you for photographing gravestones for Find a Grave. I searched on there for my baby brother's gravestone, although I ultimately found it on another website.

    He died when 1 day old as the result of a difficult labour. He was buried in Namibia (where we lived at the time) and we left 20 months later. It has been 37 years since his passing and I have since moved to Canada, where I have now lived for 12 years. Going back to visit his last resting place wasn't possible. But thanks to the generous efforts of another photographer like yourself, I recently found a photo of his gravestone online.

    If nobody has ever thanked you before, I just wanted to let you know that what you're doing makes a huge difference in the lives of the families connected to those tombstones. Thank you.