Friday, June 21, 2013


When automobiles were new to this country, they were a novelty. Since each auto had to be hand made (until Henry Ford) they were expensive, and they were only owned by the rich and/or famous.  In the late 1800s-early 1900s the horse was still the preferred mode of transportation for most people.  We probably all know people who have lost their lives in car accidents; one hundred years ago death by horse accident was not uncommon.

In my father's home town of Lacon, Illinois, the only person who owned their own car was the president of the bank.  One day in the summer of 1907, Ida Craig's sister, Dora Stinger Gibbs was riding her horse past the bank president's house as he was backing his car out of the driveway.  The car backfired, the horse reared, and Dora fell off, breaking her neck.  Horses and autos have never been a good combination.

Something similar happened in the story I am going to relate this week. Readers of the Chicago Daily Tribune of June 10, 1911 saw the following story:

A tragic accident.  Let's see what we can find out about young Joseph W. Pike.

Joseph W. Pike was born in January of 1897 in Chicago to Joseph Mathew Pike (1854-????) and Saraha Pike (1871-????).  He joined his sister E.P. Pike who was born in 1894.

The 1900 Census shows the Pike family living at 1257 W. Lake Street. J.M. Pike was a building contractor.  They reported to the census taker that they had had three children, but that only two, Joseph and E.P. survive. 

By the 1910 Census, thirteen year old Joseph was living in Leyden Township and working as a farm hand.  The farm was off of Irving Park Boulevard and belonged to Joseph and Annie Jacoby (the "Joseph Joroby" of the article above). 

The article about Joseph's accident says that Joseph was an orphan, so we can assume that both J.M. and Saraha were dead before 1910. The Cook County Death Index does show that a Joseph Pike who was a bricklayer died April 9, 1902 and is buried in Rosehill Cemetery.  No mention of a Saraha Pike dying and I know that I won't be able to get any information from Rosehill, so we'll assume the newspaper account to be correct.  Also no further mention of Joseph's sister, E.P. Orphan children were not uncommon in those days, and if not taken in by relatives were often left to fend for themselves.

According to his death certificate the accident took place "on Irving Park Boul abt 1 mile East of Des Plaines River."  A bus was run by Eden Memorial Park Cemetery that would pick up mourners or potential customers and deliver them to the cemetery at 9851 W. Irving Park Road in Schiller Park:

Eden Memorial Park Cemetery

Here's what a bus of that era looked like:

At the time of the accident, Joseph was leading a horse to a water trough on Irving Park Road, about 1 mile east of the Des Plaines River. As the bus passed, the horse got spooked, Joseph fell back into the path of the bus and was killed.  

As you can see, the death certificate lists the cause of death as "Shock & injuries received by being run over by auto bus on Irving Park Boul abt 1 mile East of Des Plaines River."

I have put together a map showing all of the pertinent locations for this story.  I have marked the Eden Cemetery, the Des Plaines River, the accident site (1 mile East of river) and the location of the doctor's office where they took Joseph.  None of the distances are far today but this was over 100 years ago.  The farther west you went on Irving Park Road, the more rural things got, until all you saw were farms.  The onlookers raced to get Joseph to the doctor in time to save his life, but his injuries were so massive that I bet even today with all our First Responders and equipment, he would not have survived.

An interesting aside - where the Jacoby Farm was, is now under one of the runways at O'Hare International Airport.

Joseph was buried three days after the accident - at Eden Memorial Park Cemetery - ironically the owner of the bus that killed him.  I doubt that he had any money for a grave - perhaps Eden donated one considering the circumstances of his death.

Unfortunately if anyone put a marker on Joseph's grave, it is long gone. It took me two trips to Eden Cemetery to verify it, but Joseph Pike's grave is unmarked.  He is in Section 1, Plot 303:

So that's the story of a boy who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Were it not for the census, his death certificate and a newspaper account of his death, we would never have known that he lived.  Even his small grave in the shadow of a large old tree is unmarked.

Well, Joseph W. Pike, we have not forgotten you and your short life. We don't know alot about you, but we know that you died too soon.

May Joseph W. Pike, gone but not forgotten, rest in peace.

Friday, June 14, 2013

THE WRECK OF THE SCHOONER "STORM" - Joseph Crane Hartzell - Part II

I mentioned in my article last week about Bishop Joseph Crane Hartzell that while he was studying at the Garrett Biblical Institute in Evanston, Illinois he was involved in a rescue of survivors of the wreck of the schooner "Storm" in May of 1864.

Bishop Hartzell's brave efforts were likened to those who risked their lives to rescue survivors from the wreck of the Lady Elgin ("The Titanic of the Great Lakes") in September of 1860.  Anyone wishing to learn more about the Lady Elgin disaster can find a good article at

The first mention of the wreck of the "Storm" was a small article from the New York Times of May 11, 1864 entitled "Severe Storm at the West":  

"The schooner "Storm" was wrecked off Evanston.  One man was drowned - the only loss of life reported yet.  Some damage was done to buildings in the outskirts of the city, but nothing very serious."

Here's what a Great Lakes schooner of the 19th century looked like:

The rest of the story was in the Chicago Daily Tribune of May 18, 1864:


Before the memory of the late gale and its disasters shall have passed from the public mind, records should be made of the circumstances in which the survivors of the wrecked schooner "Storm" were rescued.

Early on Tuesday morning the dismantled hulk was dimly discerned floating in the lake opposite the Garrett Biblical Institute.  By means of a spy glass five men could be seen clinging to the wreck, which was ever and anon completely submerged.  The course of the wind was such as to drive the craft upon the beach a little below the village, where, as indeed along the whole shore, furious breakers were dashing without intermission.

The students and citizens gathered in groups at the water's edge, painfully, but for hours hopelessly anxious for some means of bringing the imperiled seamen to land.

Then was felt more intensely than words can express the necessity of having this place made a life-boat station.  But no life-boat was at hand. One man had already perished, and it was certain that the rest could not endure it much longer.

In this extremity, a brave young man, Mr. J.C. Hartzell, a student at the Garrett Biblical Institute, volunteered to make the effort of swimming through the surf, and towing a line to the vessel.  Being obliged to divest himself of heavy clothing, the exposure to cold was almost equal to that of drowning, but by great skill in riding the breakers and desperate efforts to overcome the power of the opposing waves, he succeeded in reaching the wreck and making fast the line, on which he and the survivors of the crew came ashore.     

The men were so benumbed with cold and so exhausted by their exposure that they required to be helped out of the water and immediate succor with warmth and stimulants, as a means of preserving life.  After being  partially warmed by fires on the shore, they were taken to the homes of some of our hospitable citizens and furnished with dry clothing and whatever they needed until they recover their strength.

This is the third instance in which students of the Biblical Institute have been instrumental in rescuing from watery graves persons who ave been wrecked in the vicinity.  For their efforts and success in  such perilous scenes, they ask neither honor nor reward from men, but if persons interested in lake navigation or in acts of humanity would furnish them with a properly fitted life-boat, as a means of more prompt and efficient action in emergencies, they would make the best possible use of it, and rejoice in being thus prepared to render humane service to the unfortunate.

Like most heroes, Joseph Hartzell did not like to talk about his historic rescue in 1864.  He seldom talked about what happened that fateful day other than to say that the exertions of his efforts caused him to be bedridden for three weeks after the rescue.  Hartzell finished his seminary studies, was ordained a minister in the Methodist Church in 1866 and took up his first of many assignments in Pekin, Illinois shortly thereafter.

Being familiar with the story of (now) Bishop J.C. Hartzell's brave rescue, noted Methodist minister and poet Rev. Dwight Williams decided to immortalize the story for all time.  In 1891 he published his poem "The Wreck of the Schooner Storm".  Out of print for years, and virtually impossible to find, I was able to locate a copy in the Henry Ossawa Tanner papers in the Archives of American Art (


The Rev. Dwight Williams
Author of “The Bridal in Eden”, “Mary at the Sepulchre”, “The Mid-Night Star”, “Rabboni” 
and other poems

Dwight Williams

Introductory Note.

In the private library of the Rev. J.C. Hartzell, D.D., of Cincinnati, Ohio, there is a copy of the New American Encyclopedia, and in each volume is a neatly printed card on which are inscribed the following words:


“Whereas, during the terrible gale of May 10th, A.D. 1864, Joseph C. Hartzell, at great personal risk made his way through the cold and violent surf of Lake Michigan to the wreck of the schooner, Storm, and assisted four men to escape from the imminent peril of their lives.

“This copy of the New American Encyclopedia was at a public meeting presented to Mr. Hartzell by the citizens of Evanston, Ills. as a token of their high appreciation of his heroic and skillful exertions in rescuing his fellow beings from danger.”

To Rev. J.C. Hartzell, D.D.

I caught an inspiration on the wing,
How otherwise, when with such magic words
My heart could not refrain from its vibrant chords,
And thus I turned aside to muse and sing,
And to thine ear and heart my tribute bring;
Great are the hours when courage undergirds
The soul with after songs and sweet rewards,
And bells of memory at will to ring;
Ah! Sacrifice can never more be loss,
How beautiful in this dark world of ours
To learn the secrets of the blessed Cross
That changes thorny crowns to fragrant flowers,
And lifts us from the billow crests that toss,
To rest and rapture in immortal bowers.


The schooner Storm lay in the swells
Upon a hidden bar,
And furious Northers swept her hulk
With broken mast and spar;
And anxious throngs upon the shore
Gazed on the wreck afar.
Through glasses seen, five shivering forms
Stood in the drenching spray
That clad them in a mail of ice
Like spectres in array,
And left them bound upon the deck
In blank and wild dismay.
They saw one fall benumbed and stiff
In white and sheeted fold,
And by his comrades laid away
Within the silent hold,
While they returned with frosted hands
And signaled in the cold.
They raised a placard on the shore,
“A life-boat on the way!”
But ah! The men could read it not,
Blinded with frozen spray,
And still the life-boat from afar
Seemed held with long delay.
“To wait the life-boat shall be death.”
Who is the hero soul
To leap the billows with a rope,
And reach the awful goal?
“Impossible!” old seamen said,
“So wild the surges roll.”
But see! A stalwart student leaps
With coat and shoes aside,
His face is shipward, and he smites
The waves unterrified,
That, shouting rise with lifted arms
To mock him and deride.
But he an expert knows their force,
And with a fencer’s stroke
He cleaves aside the awful blows
That rend yon ribs of oak,
As if the shell of battle ships
In thunder on them broke.
A fallen mast is on the waves,
Held there by tangled ropes,
If he shall reach it he is safe
The bridge of all his hopes;
But angry currents bear him down
While with the tide he copes.
To vision lost, amid the waves,
A hush is on the crowd,
As they look out in dark suspense
Far o’er the breakers loud,
While some with faces in their hands
Upon the shore are bowed.
Low words of prayer are said, and now
The rope plays out no more,
About his body tied, alas,
They fear that all is o’er;
“Draw in the rope!” some urgent said,
“And bring him to the shore.”
And still he struggles in the waves;
How long to him; how long
To those who wait upon the shore,
The eagar, anxious throng;
Was not God’s arm reached down to him
To make him doubly strong?
He wins!  his hand is on the mast!
And with an iron grip
He holds it while the surges roll,
Lest from his path he slip,
And in the intervals of waves
     Draws slowly toward the ship.
He clasps the ropes, and as he climbs
     They see him from the shore,
“He’s safe! He’s safe!” the wild shout rings
     And like an loud encore,
He hears the rapture as it swells
     Above the tempest’s roar.
There stood the captain and his men
     In ghastliness of form,
Like statues cut in ice, with stare
     From eyes whose love-light warm
In cold, remorseless masks was set,
     Imprisoned in the storm.
“God bless you,” was the first salute
From icy lips that broke;
“You are a man!” the captain said,
And lifted, as he spoke,
His stiffened hands, as if in prayer
A blessing to invoke.
And wild huzzas went up for him
  Who scorned the open throat
Of those mad waves that hungry gaped
  Upon the wreck afloat,
And crowded on like cannibals
  In wanton feast to gloat.
And he a victor lone and brave
     A soul against the swarm
Of cruisers with their flags of mist;
     What greeting glad and warm,
There were his trophies on the shore,
     The prisoners of the Storm.
When many days and months were gone,
     One day the student sat
In waiting for an out-bound train,
     Thinking of this and that,
And saw a stranger in approach
     As if with his to chat.
Of noble form and manly face,
     He spake as in surprise;
“I beg your pardon, Sir, I think
     In you I recognize
One I have seen and met before;”
     And moisture filled his eyes.
“Is not this Mr. H----?”  “It is”.
     “God bless you, Sir, ‘twas you
That brought me from the schooner Storm,
     Me and my comrades few;
I was the captain of the ship,
     You saved me and my crew.”
The captain clasped him in his arms,
     Nor thought of strangers there,
And blessed him in his grateful tears
     And breathed a low sweet prayer,
A benediction for a life
     Fit for an angel fair.

It is not by mistake that a copy of Rev. Dwight Williams' work was in the papers of Henry Ossawa Tanner.  Tanner was also a friend and admirer of Bishop Hartzell, and had known him for years.  

Henry Ossawa Tanner - 1907

Tanner's father Benjamin Tucker Tanner was also a Methodist bishop.

Bishop Hartzell and his wife were early supporters of the artistic career of Tanner.  One time, they went so far as to buy every unsold painting from a show Tanner was putting on, so that Tanner could have the money to go to Europe for further study.

Tanner's copy of "The Wreck of the Schooner Storm" is covered with pencil doodles and sketches.  It's possible that Tanner was toying with the idea of a painting of Bishop Hartzell saving the men of the "Storm". This idea went nowhere, because the portrait Tanner ended up doing of Bishop Hartzell was dramatic, but  very conventional: 

Bishop J.C. Hartzell by Henry Ossawa Tanner - 1902

The loss of the Lady Elgin and the Storm were largely forgotten until 1907.  It was at a dinner at the White House that the stories of the rescues were brought to the attention of President Theodore Roosevelt by David D. Thompson, editor of the Northwestern Christian Advocate. Thompson felt, and Roosevelt agreed that Congressional medals should be awarded to Bishop Charles H. Fowler, Bishop Joseph C. Hartzell and Edward Spencer.  There was some opposition to this because so much time had passed since the rescues, and I could not find any evidence that the medals were ever awarded.

The loss of the Lady Elgin and the Storm were just two of the many incidents of shipwrecks off of Evanston during the nineteenth century. After each wreck there was a call for something to be done about the hazardous conditions of Lake Michigan along the Evanston shoreline. Despite repeated loss of life, the Grosse Pointe lighthouse was not built until 1873 and the life-boat station was not built at Northwestern until 1876.

Ferdinand Cowle Inglehart, in his article "Bishop Hartzell and His Work in Africa" (1909) sums up the story about Hartzell and the wreck of the "Storm" this way:  "This signal act of bravery on the part of the young student was a prophecy of the heroic leader who was to bless two continents; who for twelve years has struggled against stormy seas, savages, fevers, and all forms of danger, with a self-abandonment truly sublime, in a burning passion to rescue the millions of his fellowmen from mental, social, and moral shipwreck."

"And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishermen.

 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men."

Joseph Crane Hartzell - a "Fisher of Men" - May he rest in peace.

Friday, June 7, 2013


Evanston, Illinois used to be a staunchly Methodist city.  Founded by Methodists, as was Northwestern University, many of the streets of Evanston were named after famous Methodists:  Asbury, Dempster, Foster, Hamlin, Haven, Hinman, Judson, Simpson and Wesley, to name a few.  So when I happened upon the graves of Bishop Joseph Crane Hartzell (1842-1928) and his wife Jennie Culver Hartzell (1844-1916) in Rosehill Cemetery, I recognized their name as being the same as another Evanston street.

I assumed that having been a Methodist bishop at an interesting time in American history that there were probably a few good stories buried under his tombstone and I was right. 

Joseph Crane Hartzell was born in Moline, Illinois on June 1, 1842. His parents were Michael Bash Hartzell (1810-1898) and Nancy Worman Stauffer (1817-1909).  He joined his brother John Wesley Hartzell (1838-1906) in the family.  Later there would be another son, Harry Frank Hartzell (1859-1909).  The Hartzell family were ardent Methodists, and Joseph decided at a young age to attend seminary. In 1862, Hartzell received his B. A. from Wesleyan University. He went on to receive a B. D. from Garrett Biblical Institute in Evanston, Illinois.

In 1864, while a student in Evanston, he rescued, in the face of grave danger, four survivors of a schooner wreck near the shore of Lake Michigan.  A vessel went ashore, by the name of "Storm", opposite the university building.  This was several years after the wreck of the Lady Elgin.   The vessel came ashore about a mile below, opposite South Evanston, on the evening of May 9th.  The masts were gone, and the five men on board the vessels were nearly frozen.  Early in the morning of May 10th, after seeing the foundering vessel and its crew hanging on for their lives, Hartzell took a rope to the vessel and helped the men off. Local residents built up fires on the shore, took blankets down to warm the survivors, gave them provisions, and the lives were saved of all but one.  Hartzell was able to accomplish this feat because he had been accustomed to practice swimming in the breakers after storms as a part of his physical exercises.  In recognition of this heroic feat, the citizens of Evanston presented him with a full set of the New American Encyclopedia, and subsequently Congress recognized his act of heroism as well.

He was ordained for the Methodist ministry in 1866, and his first pastoral charge was at Pekin, Ill.  In November of 1869, he married Miss Jane Culver in Chicago.

The Hartzells were blessed with five children:  Joseph Culver Hartzell (1870-1936), John Wesley Hartzell (1873-1873), Jennie Culver Hartzell (1874-1875), Morton Culver Hartzell (1876-1916) and Robert  Culver Hartzell (1879-1933).

In February, 1870, Hartzell was transferred to New Orleans and for three years was pastor of St. Charles Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church in that city.  For nine succeeding years he was superintendent of church, educational, and editorial work in New Orleans, and largely directed the evangelistic and educational work of his church throughout the Southwest.  In 1873 he founded the "Southwestern Christian Advocate", which later was made an official organ of the church, a weekly publication of extensive influence.  The twelve years from 1870 to 1882 covered a most important period in the reconstruction era throughout the South, and Hartzell exerted his influence in favor of the newly freed slaves as well as the rights of free blacks by serving two terms as Corresponding Secretary of the Freedmen's Aid and Southern Education Society.

But Hartzell's greatest works were still before him.  

When the retirement of Bishop William Taylor made necessary a successor, the 1896 General Conference of the Methodist Church elected Joseph Hartzell Missionary Bishop for Africa.  For the next four years, Bishop Hartzell traveled 70,000 miles performing the duties of his office.  He presided over four Annual Sessions of the Liberia Annual Conference.  On July 9, 1897 he organized the Congo Mission Conference.  He also laid the foundations of the Mission in New and Old Mutare in present day Zimbabwe.  He received, as donations from the British South Africa Company, valuable lots in New Mutare. These came with appropriations of funds for the maintenance of a school among Europeans, and a tract of several thousand acres with twelve buildings (worth over $100,000 at that time) at Old Mutare, for the establishment of an industrial Mission.  The school established by Bishop Hartzell over one hundred years ago, still exists and fulfills Hartzell's dream of "a place of education for people from all over the continent." 

Bishop Hartzell by Henry Ossawa Tanner  (1902)

Bishop Hartzell held the first sessions of the East Central Africa and West Central Africa Mission Conferences, where were each formed in 1901 from the Congo Mission Conference. He dedicated the St. Andrew's M.E. Church 20 September 1903, the first Methodist Episcopal Church erected for the use of white people in Africa. In the spring of 1910, Bishop Hartzell organized the American Mission in North Africa.
Bishop Joseph C. Hartzell - 1906

At one time when a crisis arose with Germany over Liberia, in which Bishop Hartzell was especially interested, he was made the republic's special envoy to the United States and England, and, as the result of consultations with President McKinley and Lord Salisbury, a joint diplomatic note was addressed to Germany which settled the difficulty. For his service in this regard, Bishop Hartzell was made a Knight Commander of the Order for the Redemption of Africa by the Republic of Liberia.

The year 1916 was the year that Bishop Hartzell, aged 74, retired.  He made his home in Blue Ash, Ohio.  It also proved to be a year of great sorrow and trials for him.  His beloved wife for over 46 years, Jennie Culver Hartzell died on January 27, 1916.

While grieving for his wife, he received notification that his son, Morton, who had been fighting tuberculosis for nearly eight years, was dying. He rushed as best as he could to Morton's bedside in Chicago.  Morton lived long enough for his father to arrive, dying on February 17, 1916, his 40th birthday.

The bad news continued for the Hartzell family in 1916, as another son, Dr. Joseph Culver Hartzell, went through a bitter divorce.

Bishop Hartzell remained active and healthy in his retirement. In 1920, at the age of 78, Bishop Hartzell dedicated the Morton Culver Hartzell Social Center, built and named in honor of his son at the Park South Avenue Methodist Church in Chicago. Park Church was largely an African American congregation with more than 3000 members.

Retirement did not stop his literary contributions.  In 1923 he published "Methodism and the Negro in the United States" in the Journal of Negro History.  Anyone wishing to read Bishop Hartzell's article can find it here:

Some time after 1920 Bishop Hartzell moved to Cincinnati, Ohio to live with his son Dr. Joseph Hartzell.

The Chicago Daily Tribune of September 7, 1928 brought sad news to the fans and friends of Bishop Hartzell (and there were many):

He was buried in the family plot at Rosehill beside his beloved Jennie:

It is sad that a man who had devoted his life to the service of mankind should be struck down by street thugs.

Bishop Joseph Crane Hartzell (1842-1928)

Joseph C. Hartzell - Bishop, Humanitarian, Husband, Father - may he rest in peace.

Next week I will tell more about the wreck of the schooner "Storm" and Bishop Hartzell's heroic rescue of its crew off of Evanston, Illinois.