Monday, February 27, 2012

INFLUENZA PART II: THEIR ONLY SON - Wesley Gillette Dempster

Last December I told the story of Katherine Craig Stewart who died of the Spanish Influenza,  We will never know the exact number of people who died in 1918 from the flu itself or complications from the flu but we do know that the virus did not discriminate.  Most of its victims were young, but it didn't matter whether they were rich or poor, black or white.  Several members of the same family would get sick, and some would recover while others died.  All flu deaths were tragic, but especially painful were the ones where the departed was an only child. This is the story of one of those:  Wesley Gillette Dempster.

In Unit One ("The Old Section") of the Mausoleum at Rosehill Cemetery is the John G. Shedd Chapel - a large open room with a podium at the front.  The chapel is dedicated to the memory of John Graves Shedd whose family interment room opens into the chapel.  The chapel, used for committal services in years gone by, is lined with family rooms.

In the back of the chapel, facing the Shedd room, is a family room labelled "DEMPSTER".

While not as large or elaborate as the Shedd room, it is lined with white marble and is impressive in its own way. 

The second from the top in the lineup of Dempster crypts on the south wall is simply labelled "Wesley Gillette Dempster 1900-1918".  Those two lines etched into the white marble don't begin to tell of the heartache that money, breeding and social position could not stop.

The Chicago Daily Tribune of November 22, 1918 carries the simple obituary:


Wesley Gillette Dempster, the 18 year old son of Mr. & Mrs. Charles Wesley Dempster of 1318 Astor Street, died Monday of pneumonia at Mesa, Ariz., where he was attending school.  The body will arrive this morning, and funeral services will be held at Rosehill mausoleum tomorrow.

Wesley had made application to enter an officers' training school in California and had expected to report for duty there on Dec. 1.

The father has lived in Chicago since 1882.  He is an investment broker with offices in the First National Bank Building and is Vice President of the Rosehill Cemetery Company.
Chicago Daily Tribune - November 22, 1918

Unlike Katherine Craig Stewart who was ill for fifteen days. Wesley Dempster was only ill for seven.

DEMPSTER - Wesley Gillette Dempster, 18 years of age, only son of Charles Wesley and Mary Gillette Dempster.  Nov. 18, at Mesa, Ariz., of pneumonia.  Services at Rosehill mausoleum Saturday at 3 o'clock. Friends kindly omit flowers.
Chicago Daily Tribune - November 23, 1918

How many dreams were crushed, how many hopes were dashed, how many lives were changed by the death of one young man?  By the deaths of the countless thousands who were victims of the Spanish Influenza?  We will soon look under another stone at another victim.

May the soul of Wesley Gillette Dempster and the souls of his grieving parents, rest in peace.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

HE CALLED HIS ESTATE "OAKTON" - Major Edward Harris Mulford

I have lived my entire life on Harvard Terrace in Evanston, Illinois. When I was a little boy I remember a great old mansion at the east end of the street.  We called it "The Old House" but in reality it was the home of Major Edward Mulford and the crowning touch to his 160 acre estate which he called "Oakton."  Here is a photo of Major Mulford's house just before it was torn down in 1963 to make room for Evanston's first condominium, when most people had never heard the word before.

Who was Major Edward Harris Mulford, and how did he  happen to come to Evanston, Illinois?   Here is his obituary from The Evanston Index newspaper March 9, 1878:

(Evanston Index March 09, 1878)  

Died at Five O’clock Tuesday morning March 5, Edward H. Mulford, in his eighty-sixth year.

Major Mulford, as he was familiarly called was the oldest resident of Evanston.  The death of this venerable man who was so actively and prominently identified with the early history of Chicago and Evanston and who was trusted, honored and loved by the entire community, is an event of unusual importance and a sketch of his life cannot fail to be of universal interest.

Edward H. Mulford was born in Bridgeton, Cumberland County, New Jersey June 02, 1794, and spent his early years on the farm under the guidance of religious parents.  At the early age of sixteen he taught school with marked success.  He was also a teacher in the first Sunday School established in that section of the country.  In November 1813 when in his twentieth year Mr. Mulford was married to Miss Rebecca Johnson of Salem County, with whom he lived in delightful harmony for over fifty years.  The next two or three years were spent in mercantile business in his native county with a brother-in-law.

For years, Mr. Mulford had cherished the idea that he might sometime see something of the world beyond his native state, especially the wonderful falls of Niagara.  Accordingly, in 1819 he and his brother-in-law mounted their horses and started for the far off country beyond Philadelphia.  Reaching the Wyoming Valley they concluded to return, and not until four years later did Mr. Mulford attain his heart’s desire and view the great natural wonder, Niagara Falls.  At Little Falls, the entire population of the neighborhood were celebrating the completion to that point of that grand internal improvement, the Erie Canal, laughed at by many in those days as “Clinton’s Ditch”.  At the invitation of Mr. Henry Seymour, Acting Commissioner, Mr. Mulford joined the party which made the first trip on the canal then just opened for twenty-two miles, from Little Falls to Utica.  Gov. DeWitt Clinton, William L. Marcy and Col. Livingston were among the distinguished men who were prominent on that occasion.  At Rochester he was offered land in what is now the central part of the city at $14 an acre, and at Buffalo Creek he had urged upon him thirty acres of land for $1500 which has since been valued at $15,000,000.  At Niagara he was induced to take a horse-back ride across the wilderness of Ohio.  For two days he did not meet a single human being.  Returning, he rode on the same faithful horse through a part of West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.  His arrival home safe after such a trip was the talk of the country road and he was greeted almost as one risen from the dead.

His desire for pioneer life was now so thoroughly aroused that nothing in the old beaten track satisfied him.  Almost immediately he began to make preparation for locating in the beautiful country in the neighborhood of Niagara.  Finally, in 1823 he removed to Fredonia, Chataqua County, New York with his brother-in-law where they purchased farms.  In 1825 Mr. M. removed to the village and engaged in merchandising.  Here he became an officer of the 169th NY Infantry and acquired the title of Major, by which he was known through life.  In that year a grand reception was tendered to Gen. Lafayette and it was Mr. Mulford’s pleasant duty to walk arm-in-arm with Lafayette while reviewing the militia.  The reception speech on this occasion was made by Rev. David Brown, whose daughter Miss Brown is known to all Evanstonians.  Mr. Mulford resided in Fredonia for 13 years.  Though primarily engaged as a merchant he interested himself in public affairs and was at different times in Washington conversing with such men as John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, Henry Clay, and others.

Animated by the same spirit of enterprise that took him to Western New York, Mr. Mulford in June 1835 came with his wife and younger children to Chicago where his two sons had previously settled.  The Village of Chicago then boasted 2400 inhabitants.  Mr. Mulford and his sons established the first jewelry store started in Chicago.  He was present at the first government payment to the Indians under the Black Hawk Treaty and he was one of the only fifteen FreeMasons the town could produce who assisted in burying Col. Owen with Masonic honors. 

He was one of the three commissioners appointed to appraise the damages to property condemned for the use of the old Galena Railroad, the first ever built into Chicago.  Through his efforts and influence the land on which the Chamber of Commerce now stands was donated to the First Baptist Church by the legislature.  Always an ardent lover of nature when he reached Chicago he felt he must have a home in the country.  Within a few weeks he happened to strike an Indian trail and following it up he found the place that subsequently became his home.  He located a claim and in the spring of ’39 removed to Oakton, as he named it, where he resided for nearly forty years.  For the first ten years the family regularly attended church in Chicago, leaving home at 8 o’clock for the morning service.  Through all those early years, Mr. Mulford was the leading spirit of the country north of Chicago.  He was the first Justice of the Peace in Cook County, an office which in those days meant much.  Everybody came to him for advice.  He solemnized all the marriages, and made out all the business papers in the neighborhood.  In consequence of his great influence, his aid was constantly sought by the Chicago politicians.  Many lawyers who have since become prominent practiced before Justice Mulford.  Among others, Thomas Hoyne, who tried his first case before him.  One reason why the old settlers always honored Mr. M. so highly was because they remembered how he always strove to reconcile litigants and to have all disputes settled amicably. 

In 1863, Mr. and Mrs. Mulford, who had lived lovingly and happily for fifty years, celebrated their golden wedding, when a large company of prominent people gathered at Oakton.  Mr. Mulford lived to see descendants to the fourth generation gather around him, and survived all the members of his family except one daughter Mrs. Gibbs and retained his faculties to the last to a remarkable degree, although his health had been poor for many years.  The published statement is untrue that his health was impaired by the dastardly attack made on him several months ago by burglars, though physically feeble, he had never been more willing and eager to see his friends than during the past year.  At 84 he could declaim as well as when a boy.  One who met him for the first time last summer writes: “He was remarkable in many respects and I am thankful to be able to place him in the circle of dear friends that has made life brighter.  Mr. M. was baptized in Lake Michigan in ’37 and has ever since been an honored and useful member of the Baptist Church, being at the time of his death a deacon, in the First Baptist Church of Evanston, which he, with a few others, organized.  His life was filled with good works, and his memory will be cherished by all who enjoyed his acquaintance.

The funeral services were held at the family residence at Oakton Thursday Noon and were attended by a large company of mourning friends from Evanston and Chicago.  The exercises were conducted by Rev. Dr. Burroughs of Chicago, and Rev. F.L. Chapell.  A long procession followed the remains to Rose Hill.  The exercises at the grave were conducted by Rev. Dr. Bannister.

Major Mulford obtained the 160 acres which comprised Oakton in 1843 from the United States Government.  The government had gotten the land from the Indians as part of the Second Treaty of Chicago in 1833 which took place after the Blackhawk Indian War of 1832.  Here is a copy of the land grant for 160 acres to Major Mulford signed by the president at that time, John Tyler:

Here is a plat that I drew that shows how the 160 acres were laid out:

As stated in his obituary, Major Mulford died on March 5, 1878 of "Enteritis".  He had been ill only nine days.  

Major Mulford's funeral took place on Thursday March 7, 1878.  It started at Noon with a service at the Mulford home, then the procession walked slowly down the High Ridge Road to Rosehill Cemetery where Major Mulford was laid to rest in section F next to his beloved Rebecca, who had died in 1873.

Major Edward Harris Mulford

Edward Harris Mulford - Soldier, Merchant, Lawyer, Justice of the Peace and Evanston Pioneer.  May he rest in peace.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

INCENDIARISM IS SUSPECTED - Harry, Lottie and Bessie Iglowitz

Back on October 8, 2011 I told the story of Meyer Iglowitz who tragically drowned in Michigan in August of 1913.  Meyer's death was not the first tragedy to strike the Iglowitz family (nor would it be the last).  Meyer Iglowitz was from the part of the family who were jewelers.  Today we will look at a tragedy that struck the part of the Iglowitz family who were cigar makers.

Babies Are Tossed to Street and Caught in Spectator's Coat - Incendiarism Is Suspected

Four lives were lost early yesterday in a fire in a tenement building 1336 South Sangamon street. There were several narrow escapes and exciting rescues.  Traces of incendiarism were seen.

The dead:
    HARRY EGALOVITCH, 24 years old, rear of third floor, suffocated and burned.
    MRS. LOTTIE EGALOVITCH, 21 years old, suffocated.
    BESSIE EGALOVITCH, 6 months old, suffocated.
    SAMUEL ALPERT, 24 years old, a boarder in the Egalovitch flat, suffocated and burned.

Police from the Maxwell street station who hurried to the blaze were called upon to protect Samuel Goldstein and Harry Lasky, owners of the building from violence.

The tossing of two infants to an improvised net and the spectacular escape of a 354 pound woman were interesting features. (!!!)
Chicago Daily Tribune - September 26, 1911

The fire took place at about 2:30 AM on the morning of September 25, 1911.  The Iglowitz family, being devout Jews, insisted on a speedy burial (see Meyer Iglowitz story) and all three were buried the very next day September 26, 1911 even before the Coroner's Inquest - meaning that all three were buried without even a signed death certificate.

The Coroner's Inquest took place on October 4, 1911 and at that time the cause of death for all three was "Shock and asphyxiation due to burns of body sustained in a burning building."

Harry, Lottie and Bessie Iglowitz were all buried at Gate 57 (Anshe Luknik) in Section 4, Row 20, Graves 1(b), 2 and 3.  Their tombstone was provided by Woodmen of the World, a fraternal benefit society who's motto was "No Woodmen shall rest in an unmarked grave."  Apparently this motto only applies to the Woodman himself, because Lottie and Bessie are not mentioned on the tombstone. 

May the souls of Harry, Lottie and Bessie Iglowitz rest in peace.

That may have been the end of the story for Harry, Bessie and Lottie Iglowitz, but not for Samuel Goldstein and Harry Lasky:

Judge Kavanagh Says Newspaper Story of  Incendiary Fire Was Correct and Damage Verdict Is Denied

In directing a verdict of "not guilty" in a $10,000 suit against the Chicago Journal company yesterday Judge Marcus Kavanagh of the Superior court stated from the bench that no libel could be charged where a newspaper stated the truth, despite any inference that might be drawn from the article or story.

The plaintiff was Harry Lasky, 1348 South Sangamon street, part owner of a building at 1336 South Sangamon street, where four persons lost their lives in a fire.  Lasky's partner, Samuel Goldstein, is plaintiff in a similar suit yet to be tried.

In his declaration and testimony Lasky asserted that the newspaper's description of the fire, which bore the headline, "Firebugs Kill Four; Five Arrested," was such as to charge him with the "infamous crime of conspiracy to defraud an insurance company by setting fire to a building."

"The owners of the building, Samuel Goldstein and Harry Lasky, were arrested on orders of Battalion Chief Michael Kerwin and put in the sweatbox by the Maxwell street police," was the paragraph cited by the declaration.

"I find from the evidence that the story told the truth," Judge Kavanagh said.  "Therefore there can be no charge of libel.  If an inference is drawn from the facts as related, the newspaper is not responsible. These men were not charged with being guilty and there is no legal basis for the suit."

"I have no doubt this fire was of incendiary origin.  Even the stairways were set afire with benzine and human beings were not the culprits.  It was the work of fiends, for whom the death penalty would not be any too severe."

The costs were placed against the plaintiff.
Chicago Daily Tribune - February 6, 1914.

I could not find anything more about either Mr. Goldstein or Mr. Lasky, so I don't know whether they were ever charged with any crime, or for that matter paid any penalty.  Samuel Goldstein has faded into the mists of time.  The events of 1911 must have changed Harry Lasky, however, because his death record from January, 1941 lists his occupation as "Tailor".  

Even 1336 S. Sangamon Street - the scene of the "crime" no longer exists.  It was razed in the 1950s to make way for the University of Chicago Circle Campus.  Where the building once stood is now the Physical Education building.

Harry Iglowitz - Lottie Iglowitz - Bessie Iglowitz - Samuel Alpert - Samuel Goldstein - Harry Lasky - all gone, but not forgotten.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

IT WAS NOT MEANT TO BE - William W. Lewis

Last fall, on a beautiful late-autumn day I left work early and went out to Jewish Waldheim Cemetery to fulfill some Find A Grave photo requests (good excuse!).  Part of the enjoyment of an old, historic cemetery is to just wander and take in all of the beauty, not only of the day and of the grounds, but also the beauty of the monuments and the works of art decorating the graves of departed loved ones.  In my wanderings I spotted a family mausoleum off by itself that said "Lewis".

As I peered through the glass in the front doors it was almost like looking at a photograph of a well-dressed, well-groomed young man of days gone by.


The image was of twenty-one year old William W. Lewis.  William was born August 1, 1901, and unfortunately died on October 20, 1922.  

I could not locate a death notice or obituary for William, but I was able to uncover a copy of his death certificate:

From the death certificate I found that William had been on this earth 21 years, 1 month and 29 days.  He was single, and was a shoe salesman at Mandel Brothers, a well-known (at that time) department store.  His father Sam Lewis and his mother Rose Pearlman Lewis were both born in Russia, but William was a born-and-bred American.  William died of lobar pneumonia, complicated by acute myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle). 

Sam and Rose Lewis traveled a long way from Russia to Chicago to make a better life for themselves and their children.  I'm sure that like all parents they wanted all of their children, but especially William, their first-born to have a long and happy life and give them lots of grandchildren.  Unfortunately for William Lewis, dead at twenty-one, it was not meant to be.

The Lewis family mausoleum can be found at Gate 47 - B'nai Abraham Zion - at Jewish Waldheim Cemetery in Forest Park.  May William, and all of the Lewis family, rest in peace.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


It has been said that the most beautiful word in the English language is "Mother".  Anyone who has lost their own Mother knows that her passing leaves a void that no one else can fill.  Hospice workers say that the most frequent person called for as we depart this life is "Mother".  We may love, admire and respect our fathers, but there is only one "Mother".  That was certainly the case with the family of Miriam Mandel.  Instead of just putting her photo on her heart-shaped tombstone, they also put a poem they wrote about her - in English and Hebrew.  Here's the English version:

"Pal, loyal and respected
Mother, whose love was reflected,
Benevolent soul, and heart so pure,
Of each disturbed, or seeking cure,
Our sorrow is fearful,
Our eyes are tearful,
Our hearts broken with grief
Since you were brought to the grave,
From our memory you won't depart
Till from life we part.
Rest in peace
In divine bliss
Mother dear, and wife beloved."

Miriam Mandel's grave is at Gate 37 - Progressive Order of the West at Jewish Waldheim Cemetery in Forest Park.  May her soul, and the souls of all our Mothers, rest in peace.