Friday, March 22, 2013

ACROSS THE MILES - William Benezet Bogert

In the old days people either stayed in the same general area where they were born, or they moved half way around the world looking for a better life.  These days it is much more common for people to move around.  Years ago, families bought large cemetery plots figuring that the family would all be buried together.  A perfect example is one of my relatives who bought ten graves in Rosehill Cemetery in 1938.  Four of the graves have been used, but, other than me, there is nobody left in Chicago.  The six remaining graves will probably never be used.  One of the attendants at Rosehill told me that a few years ago Rosehill went searching for heirs to repurchase and resell unused graves, but the task turned out to be almost impossible.

This week I will tell the story of a family, some of whom are buried here in Lake Forest, Illinois, and others in the same immediate family who are buried in Cismont, Virginia.

I have mentioned before that I often search ebay for items pertaining to Evanston, Illinois.  The other night I came upon an unusual item:

The listing said:

Antique Photo - William Benezet Bogert.  One of 77 photos from an album of members of the Class of 1882 of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.  I believe the photos were taken in 1878 when the class entered Brown.

William Benezet Bogert, Ph.B., Commission merchant, firm of Wright, Bogert & Co., Chicago, Ill.  Member of Chicago Board of Trade; Committee on Arbitration 1891-1892; Committee of Appeals 1893-1894; Board of Directors 1897-99; Chairman Executive Committee 1898-99.  Address:  1818 Sheridan Road, Evanston, Illinois.

Unfortunately where 1818 Sheridan Road stood is now a vacant lot that is part of Northwestern University:

1818-1820 Sheridan Road, Evanston, Illinois
I thought there would probably be an interesting story here and I was right.

William Benezet Bogert was born October 2, 1860 in Providence, Rhode Island.  He was one of four sons born to Theodore Parker Bogert (1830-1885) and his wife Sarah Bull Wilken (1833-1906).  His brothers are Francis Nelson (b. 1855), James (b. 1859) and Theodore Peacock (b. 1862).  William Bogert was a direct descendant of Captain William Jackson who fought in the Revolutionary War in Col. Clinton's New Windsor Regiment.

As we found out from the ebay listing William Bogert graduated from Brown University in 1882 with a Bachelor in Philosophy degree.  According to his obituary, after he graduated from Brown he was in the cotton manufacturing business for three years in Taftville, Connecticut.  In 1885 he relocated to Chicago as a member of the firm of Carington, Patten & Co.  On June 29, 1887, twenty-six year old William Benezet Bogert married twenty-five year old Ella Loomis in Evanston:

They were married at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Evanston by the rector, The Rev. Richard Haymans.

and by 1890 they were living in their home at 1818 Sheridan Road.

William and Ella had three children:  William Benezet Bogert, Jr. (1888-1930), Theodore Loomis Bogert (1889-1968) and Frances Hoyt Bogert (1892-1985).

Ella Loomis Bogert died on Christmas Day, 1909 in Evanston.

She died from exhaustion caused by empyemia.  Empyema may have a number of causes but is most frequently a complication of pneumonia.

From the Chicago Daily Tribune of December 26, 1909:

BOGERT - Ella Loomis Bogert, wife of William Benezet Bogert, at Evanston, Dec. 25.  Illinois.  Funeral from her late residence, 1818 Sheridan road, Evanston, Tuesday, Dec. 28 at 1:30 p.m.  Interment private.
The family decided to buy a cemetery plot in the Lake Forest Cemetery overlooking Lake Michigan and buried Ella there:

Photo: Rommy Lopat

A little more than five years after the death of Ella Bogert, fifty-three year old William Bogert married forty-seven year old Caroline Wood of Louisville, Kentucky on January 7, 1914.  This was Miss Wood's first marriage.

William Bogert retired from his firm Bogert, Maltby & Co. in 1916.  He decided to go back east and he bought a farm on Keswick Road in Abermarle County, Virginia where he lived with his wife and son Theodore, a tobacco broker and daughter Frances, active in relief work during and after World War I.  William Bogert spent his retirement as a breeder of pure-bred Hereford cattle and half-bred hunters, some of which were Madison Square Garden winners.

On February 21, 1930 William Benezet Bogert, Jr died.  He alone of his immediate family still lived in the Midwest.  Since the family had purchased a large plot at Lake Forest Cemetery when Ella died in 1909, it was natural that William Jr. would want to be buried there as well, and he was.

 Photo: Rommy Lopat
Here is the order William Jr's wife put in for his military headstone:

And here is the finished product:

Photo: Rommy Lopat

After the death of William Benezet Bogert, Jr., there were no longer any members of the immediate family living in the Chicago area - they had all reloacted to Virginia.

The next person in the immediate family to die was William Benezet Bogert, Sr's second wife Caroline Wood Bogert, who died February 9, 1947 at the age of  80.  So what to do now? There were still unused graves in the Lake Forest Cemetery in Illinois where his first wife and son are buried, but Caroline had no connection to Illinois - she had been raised in Louisville, Kentucky.  Even though there was a large cemetery plot in Illinois it made no sense to bring Caroline back to Chicago for burial.  William Bogert, Sr. bought another large cemetery plot - this one in the picturesque and historic Grace Episcopal Church Cemetery in Cismont, Virginia. It was here that Caroline Wood Bogert was laid to rest:

Photo: Dylan and Ciana

Here is the plot that William Bogert, Sr. bought in Virginia:

Photo: Dylan and Ciana

The next family member to die was William Bogert, Sr.  He died in the afternoon of  February 21, 1948 at "Ben-Coolyn Farm", his home in Virginia.  He was 87.  His death merited notices both in the New York Times:

and the Chicago Daily Tribune:

Even though the family now owned two large cemetery plots - one in Lake Forest, Illinois and the other in Cismont, Virginia, I am sure they never seriously considered bringing William back to Illinois.  He was buried next to Caroline in the plot in Virginia: 

Photo:  Dylan and Ciana

William and Caroline Bogert were joined by his son Theodore in 1968:

Photo: Dylan and Ciana

Photo: Dylan and Ciana
and his daughter Francis in 1985:

Photo: Dylan and Ciana

So there you have it - a family whose burials are separated by almost 800 miles.  The Bogert family owns a large cemetery plot in Lake Forest, Illinois and at Grace Church, Cismont, Virginia.  It is interesting to note that the Grace Church Cemetery rules are that the ownership of any grave reverts to the church if unused for fifty years.  Secular cemeteries might want to add that to their charters as well.  

May William Benezet Bogert, the Illinois Bogerts, and the Virginia Bogerts, rest in peace.


  1. Wow. He's kinda cute if you can get past the beard. Compared to the fact that most photographs of this day are sort of awkward and look more like mugshots.

  2. This was very cool for me as I am researching this family. My name is David Jackson and I am a distant cousin of William Benezet Bogart, Sr., through his mother's mother, Isabella (Jackson) Wilken.

    1. I am William benezets great gran daughter . My name is Susan Loomis wyatt and Ella was my great grandmother. Have been to the Cismont virginia plot many times

  3. Interestingly, William's wedding gift to Ella ended up in a jewelry store in NJ.