Friday, September 30, 2016


I have become acquainted with some very nice people during the fourteen years I have been involved with the Find a Grave website. I have even been contacted through the site by distant cousins who I didn't know existed.  Every Find a Grave photo request I accept is a chance to "meet" someone who shares my interests in history and genealogy.  Such was the case recently when I filled a Find a Grave photo request for Alix H. who had posted a photo request for her relative Adolph Karpen, who died in 1935 and was interred in the Rosehill mausoleum. 

I had already created a Find a Grave memorial page for Adolph - I had run across his listing and photo in the wonderful book History of the Jews of Chicago edited by Hyman L. Meites and published in 1924 by the Jewish Historical Society of Illinois.  [Note: Copies of this rare book can go for as much as $1,200.00 but you can access a scanned copy for free at:]

Over time, I transferred the memorial page to Alix and she added Adolph Karpen's obituary from the Chicago Tribune.  After reading that I decided that he would be an interesting subject for this blog, so let's see what we can "dig up" about Adolph Karpen.

Adolph Karpen was born October 5, 1860 in Wongrowitz, Posen which was then part of Prussia and is now part of Poland.  His parents were Moritz Karpen (1823-1886) and Johanna, nee Cohn (1835-1902). Moritz and Johanna had nine sons:

Solomon (Sam) Karpen  (1858-1936)
Oscar Karpen  (1859-1953)
Adolph Karpen  (1860-1935)
Benjamin (Ben) Karpen  (1862-1895)
Isaac (Ike) Karpen  (1865-1918)
Michael (Mike) Karpen  (1866-1950)
Wilhelm (Will) Karpen  (1867-1915)
Leopold (Leo) Karpen  (1870-1950)
Julius Karpen  (1873-1907)

Jews in Prussia, unlike Jews in the other German areas in the early nineteenth century, were allowed to learn crafts. The Karpens had been cabinet makers there for several generations.

On April 10, 1872, emigration papers were signed by the Prussian District Court, Wongrowitz for Moritz Karpen (an established cabinet maker), Johanna (Cohn) and eight sons under the age of 12. In early June the family took a train from Wongrowitz to Poznan, Prussia to Germany.  From there they boarded a ship, crossing the North Sea to Glasgow, Scotland.  Their transatlantic travel to America began on 15 Jun 1872 on the maiden voyage of the SS 'California' (Anchor Line). For safety, each of the younger boys was tied to an older sibling.  The ship stopped at Moville, Londonderry to pick up more passengers and arrived in New York (Castle Garden) on June 29, 1872. From there the family traveled to East Lyme CT having been promised work in a woolen mill.   In 1873, the Karpens moved to Chicago to take advantage of the great opportunities offered in rebuilding the manufacturing district after its destruction in the 'Great Chicago Fire' of October, 1871.  The 1873 Chicago City Directory finds "Morris" Karpen, carpenter, living with his family at 481 N. Franklin.  

During their first year in Chicago the last of the Karpen children – their ninth son, Julius – was born. At about the same time, the Karpens severed their remaining financial ties to Wongrowitz by selling both their home and Moritz Karpen’s workshop. Moritz initially worked in a Chicago furniture factory but then started a small upholstered furniture business. Solomon (usually called “Sam” or “S.K.”) attended night school, apprenticed as an upholsterer to acquire expertise, and worked for several upholstered furniture manufacturers in Chicago and Kansas City, Missouri. He rose to the level of foreman.

When Solomon was twenty (1878), his parents started allowing him to keep his earnings. He quickly accumulated $580 (approximately $15,000 in today's funds) and decided to go into business for himself. He wanted to fulfill his elderly father’s dream of building a factory that would “combine progressive American ideas with the craftsmanship of the Old World, where building fine furniture was an art, not just an industry.”  At the time, Chicago had not yet become a center for furniture manufacturing, and the city had fewer than forty firms that produced upholstered pieces.  

Solomon Karpen's younger brother Adolph had received his early education in the grammar schools of Germany, but once in Chicago he attended the Chicago Atheneum and night schools while he worked in the daytime to help maintain himself.  In 1879 he entered the Chicago College of Pharmacy and after three years graduated with a Graduate in Pharmacy degree (PH.G.) no longer offered in the United States.   

Adolph Karpen participated in the 1880 US Census on June 5, 1880. He was nineteen years old and living as a "Boarder" with the family of druggist John G. Schar at 671 (now 2020) South Blue Island Avenue in Chicago.  Adolph listed his occupation as "Clerk in a Drug Store." 

2020 S. Blue Island Avenue, Chicago

In August 1880, after only eight years in America, Solomon Karpen founded S. Karpen & Bros., which he named after himself and his brothers – in anticipation of bringing them into the business.  Solomon opened a workshop in the basement of a building a few blocks from the family home.  Using hand tools, he and his brothers produced upholstered parlor suites and chairs, which Solomon then sold to retail furniture stores and department stores in Chicago. Oscar was the first of the Karpen brothers to join Solomon.  Oscar had already worked as a furniture gilder (a skilled craftsman who applies gold leaf to ornate furniture). Brothers Isaac and Michael were still teenagers when they joined the business.  In its first year, S. Karpen & Bros. realized profits of more than $7,000 (approximately $155,000 in today's funds), kept moving to larger workshops, and added a showroom.

After he graduated from pharmacy school in 1883, Adolph Karpen continued working as a clerk in a drug store.  

By the mid 1880s, Adolph gave up his career in pharmacy and joined his brothers in the thriving furniture business.  

On October 26, 1886, twenty six-year-old Adolph Karpen married twenty-year-old Scandinavian beauty Eugenia Wilhelmina Svensson (1866-1943) in Wheaton, Du Page County, Illinois.

Eugenia was the daughter of Zacharias Svensson and Anna Johansdotter who emigrated from Sweden.  Zacharias Svensson listed his occupation as "arbetskarl" which translates to "workman."  The Svensson family came to the US and ultimately to Chicago in 1880.

Here is a photo of Adolph Karpen from about that time:

In the 1890s, Chicago continued to grow by leaps and bounds, and S. Karpen and Bros. grew right along with it.  The Karpen brothers built a magnificent building at 187-188 (now 900-910 S.) Michigan Avenue (a mixed-use high rise building currently occupies that space).  The building contained all the offices of the Karpen firm, as well as lavish furniture showrooms.  The building itself was called "one of the most beautiful in the City of Chicago."  The Karpens were so proud of their building they used it in their advertisements.  Here is an ad from American Cabinet Maker and Upholsterer, a trade journal, in 1899:


Even though Ben Karpen had died in 1896, the family continued to include his photo right alongside the living brothers.

The 1900 US Census finds Adolph and Eugenia Karpen living in the Leland Hotel on Michigan at Jackson in Chicago:

Adolph Karpen listed his occupation as "Merchant."  Both Adolph and Eugenia were naturalized US citizens.  They had no children.

In 1902 S. Karpen & Bros., was incorporated under the laws of the State of Illinois.  Adolph Karpen was named Secretary and Treasurer of the new corporation.

The Karpen factory shown in the  advertisement above, was located at Twenty-second and Union streets in Chicago.  The factory employed seven hundred and fifty men producing quality furniture that proudly wore the name of S. Karpen & Bros.  In addition, there was a smaller factory in Brooklyn, New York. 

The 900-910 S. Michigan building was the principal showroom for the Karpens, but they also had showrooms in New York and Boston. For those who could not make it to one of their showrooms, they also produced catalogues of the furniture they offered.  Here is the cover from one of their catalogues:

The 1910 US Census finds Adolph and Eugenia Karpen living at 706-708 Sheridan Road in Chicago (now part of the campus of Loyola University.)  Adolph gave his occupation as "Secretary/Treasurer - Furniture Manufacturing."  

No story of the life of Adolph Karpen would be complete without mentioning his involvement with Bakelite and its creator Dr. Leo Baekeland.  Bakelite was one of the first plastics made from synthetic components.  After Baekeland had made his invention known and received the patents for it in 1910, many manufacturers rushed to take advantage of the new material's properties. Bakelite was used for its electrical nonconductivity and heat-resistant properties in electrical insulators, radio and telephone casings and such diverse products as kitchenware, jewelry, pipe stems, children's toys, and firearms. 

About the same time that Baekeland was conducting his experiments, Adolph and Sam Karpen began working with chemist L. V. Redman to find ways to improve the varnish they used on the furniture they manufactured.  In 1911, Dr. Lawrence Redman and a subsidiary of S. Karpen & Bros. had applied for the patent for Redmanol, a plastic (phenolic resin) similar to Bakelite. Having secured the patent, the Karpens founded the Redmanol Chemical Products Co., which produced Redmanol smoking pipes, cigarette holders, and products for industrial uses. The Redmanol factory was located on the campus of the Karpens’ Chicago furniture factory. In the ensuing years, Dr. Baekeland charged the Karpens with patent infringement, eventually winning. Nevertheless, through Adolph’s financial maneuvering, Redmanol Chemical Products Co. (and Condensite Company) merged with the General Bakelite Company in 1921. The Redmanol name was used into the mid-1920s, after which all products were produced under the Bakelite name.  Adolph Karpen and later Leopold Karpen were officers of the Bakelite Corporation until the company was bought by Union Carbide in 1939.

The business world was learning to never underestimate Adolph Karpen.

Although the Karpens branched out into different businesses, their primary product was still upholstered furniture.  Originally the Karpens produced and sold furniture on a wholesale basis only, but eventually they expanded the business to include direct sales of furniture to the consumer.  One way they did this was through their elaborate catalogues that showcased the furniture they produced. If you go to the link below you will be able to browse through S. Karpen & Bros. 1914 catalogue:

Here's a Karpen ad from the Ladies' Home Journal Magazine:

Although he never actively engaged in politics, Adolph Karpen had always been interested in movements for the political and civic betterment of Chicago and the State of Illinois.  In 1914 he was appointed by Governor Edward F. Dunne as a member of the Illinois Commission to the Panama-Pacific International Exposition and was made chairman of that body.  Despite the many demands on his time, both business and personal, Karpen found time to take a personal interest in the Illinois Building and exhibit at San Francisco.  He devoted much time to arranging the details of the proposed building and the exhibits placed in it.   When the fair opened, he personally made the trip to San Francisco and assisted in getting the Illinois Building into final shape for opening.  Much of the credit for Illinois' excellent showing at the Exposition went to the tireless efforts of Adolph Karpen.

On the business front, everything was going well for Adolph Karpen. On the home front, however, he was not so successful.  On July 1, 1916 Eugenia Karpen separated from her husband.  In response to questions, Mrs. Karpen said, "He tormented me until there was nothing left for me to do except leave.  We had been quarreling about a friend of his whom I refused to accept."

Eugenia Karpen

After the separation, Adolph Karpen divided his time between Chicago and New York.  I was unable to find any 1920 US Census entry for him, so the census taker must not have been able to catch him in either place.

On January 12, 1923, the Chicago Daily Tribune ran an item about Adolph Karpen:


Adolph Karpen, a member of the firm of S. Karpen & Brothers, was elected president of the Chicago Furniture Market Association yesterday.  Other officers are J. W. Caswell of Huntington, Ind., vice president; A. C. Hehn, Sheboygan, Wis., treasurer; Irving L. Brown, Chicago, secretary.   

Although Adolph and Eugenia Karpen had separated in 1916, they did not actually get divorced until 1927.  The Chicago Daily Tribune from July 17, 1927 carried the following item:


An alimony settlement of $500,000 has been arranged out of court, it was reported yesterday, to be paid by Adolph Karpen, 67 years old, secretary and treasurer of S. Karpen & Bros. Furniture company, who was divorced yesterday by Mrs. Eugenia W. Karpen of 3520 Sheridan Road.  They were married on Oct. 8, 1886, at Wheaton, Ill.

Judge George Fred Rush indicated he would grant Mrs. Karpen a decree on the grounds of desertion.  Mr. Karpen did not contest the case nor did he appear in court.  He was represented by Attorney John E. Kehoe.

Eugenia Wilhelmina Svensson Karpen died December 5, 1943 from cancer in Progresso, Texas.  She was 77 years old.

Apparently her body was shipped back to Chicago for burial, but I have been unable to find out where her grave is.

The 1930 US Census shows Adolph Karpen living at the Shoreland Hotel, 5454 South Shore Drive in Chicago.  

He was living as a "Lodger/Friend" to Otto and Mayme Kaspar and Mayme's father.  Adolph listed his occupation as "Treasurer-Furniture Manufacturer."  The rent for the apartment was $1,125.00 per month - quite a sum for 1930. 

Even at the age of 74, Adolph Karpen was actively involved with the running of the firm, as evidenced by this article from the Chicago Daily Tribune of May 20, 1934:


One of the largest furniture leases of the year was closed yesterday when S. Karpen & Brothers, furniture manufacturers since 1880, rented 18,000 square feet of space on the eighteenth floor of the Merchandise Mart.  The lessees will move at once from the Karpen building at Wabash and 8th, which they have under long term lease.

Adolph Karpen, secretary, treasurer and general manager of the company, said a thorough survey of all American furniture markets was made before signing the lease.  The firm has factories in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York.  It started in 1880 with a small wood working shop and has grown to be one of the largest producers of fine upholstered furniture in the world, according to Mr. Karpen.

T. J. Reed, general manager of the Merchandise Mart, stated that this was the sixth furniture lease closed in the last two weeks.

Adolph Karpen died on New Year's Eve, December 31, 1935 from heart disease.  Here is his Death Certificate:

He was 75 years old.  Here is his Obituary from the Chicago Daily Tribune, January 1, 1936:


In Business 55 Years; Passes at 75.

Adolph Karpen, secretary-treasurer and general manager of S. Karpen & Brothers, furniture manufacturers, died yesterday at Michael Reese hospital after a brief illness.  Mr. Karpen, who resided at the Sherry hotel, 1725 East 53rd street, was 75 years old.

He was born in Posen, Poland, and came to the United States when he was 12 years old.  He attended the public schools of Chicago, and graduated from the Chicago College of Pharmacy.

With Company Since 1880.

In 1880 he joined two of his brothers, Oscar and Salomon, in the furniture concern with which he remained for 55 years.  He branched out into other business fields, and at the time of his death was a director of Drying Systems, Inc.  He was one of the early presidents of the Chicago Furniture Manufacturers' association.  In 1923 he helped organize the Bakelite corporation of New York, in which he remained active as vice president and a director until recently.  The company maintains offices in Chicago.  He assisted in the reorganization of the Autopoint company, pencil manufacturers, with which he was connected for about a decade, part of the time as president.

Mr. Karpen was chairman of the commission which erected the Illinois building a the Panama-Pacific exposition in San Francisco in 1915.

Funeral To Be Tomorrow.

A bronze plaque was presented to the Illinois group for its energy in completing the building in time for the exposition after a late start.

Mr. Karpen is survived by his four brothers, Solomon, Oscar, Michael, and Leo.  He was married in 1886 and divorced in 1927. He had no children.  Funeral services will be held tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. from the chapel at 936 East 47th street.

As mentioned in his obituary, at the time of his death Adolph Karpen was living in the Sherry Hotel, 1725 East 53rd Street in Chicago:

Postcard courtesy John Chuckman's Places:

Now the family had to decide where to bury Adolph.  The Karpens did not have a family plot.  The parents, Moritz and Johanna were buried in Jewish Graceland Cemetery.  Benjamin, who died in 1895 was buried at Rosehill; Julius, who died in 1907 was buried at Forest Home; William who died in Hollywood in 1915 is buried in Los Angeles; and Isaac, who died from the Spanish Influenza in 1918 is buried in the Sons and Daughters of Jacob section of Jewish Waldheim.  So for reasons lost to history, they decided to inter Adolph Karpen in the mausoleum of Rosehill Cemetery:

Here is his Death Notice from the January 1, 1936 Tribune:

Adolph Karpen - business was his life - and he was good at it - may he rest in peace. 

PS - when I wrote this story I mentioned that when Eugenia Karpen, Adolph's ex-wife, died in 1943 her body was shipped back to Chicago but I didn't know where she was buried.  Today I was in the Rosehill mausoleum looking for the crypts of the grandparents of someone who lives out of state.  I found his grandparents and photographed their crypts.  As long as I was there, I decided to photograph all the crypts in that section to add to Find a Grave at a later date.  I was going along looking through the viewfinder as I snapped the photos when all of a sudden I saw this:

There she was - interred in the Rosehill mausoleum right around the corner from the crypt of her ex-husband. She said during the divorce that he gave her no choice but to leave.  Well, she didn't end up going very far away from him after all.

Thursday, September 15, 2016


It's not every day when the death of someone from Evanston makes the front page of the New York Times - but that is exactly what happened on Saturday, November 8, 1902 when readers saw this:

Illinois Man Contracts Fatal Blood Poisoning
While Picking Flowers

Special to the New York Times

Chicago, Nov. 7. - Charles G. Ayars, for thirty years a citizen of Evanston, died from the effects of blood poisoning Thursday at Orlando, Fla., where he had made his home for a year past.  Ten days ago Mr. Ayars, who was extremely fond of flowers, was plucking roses in his garden.  A thorn pricked his thumb, and blood poisoning set in with fatal results.

Charles G. Ayars was born seventy-two years ago in Paterson, N. J. His father, James Ayars, was a well-known minister in the early days of the Methodist Church and one of the founders of Northwestern University.  Charles Ayars was educated at Rutgers College, Vermont, and came to Chicago in 1867.  

An interesting way to die - to be sure.  Let's see what else we can "dig up" about Charles Ayars and see if we can find out whether or not he ever sang for Abraham Lincoln.

Charles Gerry Ayars was born December 28, 1831 in Paterson, New Jersey (some sources say Newton, New Jersey).  His father was the Rev. James B. Ayars, Sr. (1805-1873), a minister in the Methodist Episcopal Church and a tireless worker for the temperance cause.  His mother was Harriet Amelia, nee Reed (1807-1869).

James and Harriet Ayars had five sons.  The oldest, Enoch Reed Ayars (1827-1856) was a dentist who joined Walker's expedition to Nicaragua and died of wounds he received in the Battle of Rivos in 1856.

Charles Gerry Ayars (1831-1902) is the subject of this article.

James B. Ayars, Jr. (1829-1893) was an insurance adjuster and an attorney who lived in Chicago for a time and died in Indiana in 1893.

William Henry Ayars (1840-1865) was a student at Northwestern University in Evanston when the Civil War broke out.  He enlisted, and served eighteen months in the Union Army.  He became a lieutenant of what was then called a "colored regiment" and was killed at the Battle of Petersburgh, Virginia in 1865. 

Howard B. Ayars (1839-1844) was the youngest and he died at the age of five years in 1844.

Charles G. Ayars came from an interesting family, to say the least.  Ayars received his elementary education wherever his father happened to be stationed at the time.  He finished his education at Rutgers College in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and entered the business world in 1848 when he was seventeen.  He was a clerk at several stores and spent one year with a wholesale paper house in New York.  In 1857, Charles Ayars relocated to Covington, Kentucky where he became a General Agent with the Phoenix Fire Insurance Company of Hartford, Connecticut.

In 1859 he became a resident of Cook County and engaged in farming at Evanston.

On April 25, 1859 Charles G. Ayars married Miss Margaret Fredenberg (1830-1913) of New York.  She was the daughter of William and Julia Fredenberg.  Margaret had one brother, Cornelius Fredenberg.

The 1860 US Census finds the newlyweds living with the Rev. James Ayars and family in Evanston.  Charles listed his occupation as "Farmer."  

In 1861, Charles and Margaret Ayars moved to the area known as Forest Hill, at the crossing of the Wabash and Pan Handle railroads. Today that neighborhood is in the vicinity of West 75th street and South Oakley avenue.  Charles operated a large farm in this area, producing large quantities of hay for the Chicago market.  While he lived there, Ayars served six years as the Clerk of Lake Township.

In 1867 Charles Ayars was appointed a deputy sheriff of Cook County and then of Chicago.  Around this time there was much litigation over land titles.  Many squatters had to be dispossessed, and his duties as deputy sheriff sometimes brought him exciting experiences.

The 1870 US Census finds Charles and Margaret Ayars living in Lake Township, Cook County, with the Post Office of the Union Stockyards.  He listed his occupation as "Deputy Sheriff."

In 1874 Ayars and his wife moved back to Evanston, where he was elected County Commissioner for the Evanston District.  At the expiration of his first term he was re-elected and served a total of six years in this position.

The 1880 US Census for the Village of Evanston was conducted by Philo P. Judson.  He reported that Charles and Margaret Ayars were living in the Village, with Charles' brother James, and James' wife Lucy. James Ayars was an insurance salesman; Charles was "County Commissioner."  They had one live-in servant:  20 year old Apolonia Kerrscht.

In 1883, Charles Ayars renewed his association with the Phoenix Fire Insurance Company, as state agent for Illinois, having charge of all business outside of Chicago.  He remained in the fire insurance business until late in life when his failing health forced him to give up his business activities.  

Charles and Margaret Ayars were named in the 1891 Chicago Blue Book of Selected Names of Chicago and Suburban Towns Containing the Names and Addresses of Prominent Residents.  The Blue Book reported that they were living at the Avenue House on Chicago avenue in Evanston, pre-cursor to the North Shore Hotel.

The 1900 US Census shows Charles and Margaret Ayars living at 421 Greenwood Boulevard in Evanston.  An apartment building sits on that site today.  Charles was 68, Margaret was 67.  They reported that they had no children.  Charles listed his occupation as "Fire Insurance." Strangely they said their live-in servant's name was "Minnie Ayars." They listed her as a servant, but then told the census taker that Minnie was "at school."  They said she was fourteen-years-old and that she had been born in Michigan.  

About this time, Charles Ayars' health was failing, and he decided to get out of the harsh Chicago winters and spend his remaining winters in Florida, and that's where he was when the news of his death came across the wires, as related at the beginning of this article.  

Here's his Obituary from the Evanston Index from Saturday, November 8, 1902:

Charles G. Ayars

In the death of Charles G. Ayars at Orlando, Fla., Thursday, Evanston lost a citizen who had long been prominent in social and political life. Mr. Ayars had been in poor health for some time and had been spending his winters in Florida for several years.  He had been quite unwell for some time but his immediate taking off was caused by blood poisoning resulting from his hand being pricked by a thorn while plucking roses in a garden.  His body will arrive here Sunday and will be placed in a vault until Mrs. Ayars arrives which will not be for some days.  At that time funeral services will be held.

Charles G. Ayars was born seventy-two years ago in Patterson, N. J. He was the son of James Ayars, one of the well known ministers of the Methodist church.  He was educated at Rutger's college and came to Evanston in 1859.  In 1861 he removed to Lake township where he remained for ten years engaged in farming.  While residing in the town of Lake he held the positions of town clerk, and he was deputy-sheriff of Cook County from 1866 to 1874.  He returned to Evanston in 1871 and has made his home here ever since.  In 1875 he was elected county commissioner and held the position until 1881.  Mr. Ayars was in the fire insurance business for many years until poor health compelled him to give up active business life.  Mr. Ayars was a man who was always highly respected.  He was of spotless character.  Mr. Ayars was a strikingly handsome man and his genial temper and kindly ways made him friends all through life.  

He was a member of the masonic fraternity and valued his masonic ties very highly.

Mrs. Ayars who survives him was Miss Margaret Fredenburgh, and comes from one of the oldest New York families.

Mrs. Ayars had her husband's body brought back from Florida to Chicago, where it was interred in Rosehill Cemetery. 

From the Evanston Index, November 15, 1902:

Charles Gerry Ayars

The funeral services of the late Charles Gerry Ayars will be held at 3 o'clock tomorrow afternoon at the new chapel in the Rose Hill cemetery.  The services will be conducted by Evans lodge, Evanston commandery acting as an escort.  Rev. Dr. Milton S. Terry and Rev. Dr. William Macafee will assist.

What about the tale that Charles Ayars sang for Abraham Lincoln?  Did it really happen, or is it apocryphal, as so many stories about Lincoln are.

For the "rest of the story" we turn to a book entitled Abraham Lincoln's Visit to Evanston in 1860 published by Evanston's City National Bank and written by Josiah Seymour Currey, the then president of the Evanston Historical Society.   

Currey relates that Lincoln was invited to visit Evanston by his old friend Julius White who later went on to become a general in the Union Army.  At the time of Lincoln's visit, Mr. White was a member of the Chicago Board of Trade and was harbor master.  He had a home at the northwest corner of  Ridge avenue and Church street.  

Lincoln was not thrilled about a visit to Evanston.  Noted sculptor Leonard Volk (a past subject of this blog) was after Lincoln to sit for a bust of him Volk wanted to carve.  Volk later said that Lincoln told him, “I'd rather come and sit to you for the bust than go there and meet a lot of college professors and others, all strangers to me.” When Lincoln tried to beg off of the visit, Julius White wouldn't hear of it saying that all the guests for the engagement would be disappointed.

Lincoln came to Evanston on Thursday, April 5, 1860, more than three years before Evanston was officially incorporated as a city and six weeks before Lincoln was nominated to run for President of the United States.  

Lincoln was brought from Chicago to Evanston by Harvey B. Hurd, who had been designated to act as his escort.  Upon his arrival in Evanston, Lincoln was taken for a carriage ride around town by Julius White. After the ride they returned to White's house where a general invitation had been extended to the people to come in the evening and shake hands with the distinguished visitor.  The house was soon filled with visitors and Lincoln stood in front of the fireplace in the drawing room and conversed with the people as they arrived.  Lincoln was soon drawn outside by residents on the home’s front lawn, who had taken to “blowing horns, singing and shouting” and, eventually, calling for the famed orator to make a speech.  Although he had originally not wanted to make the visit, Lincoln was enough of a politician that he was quickly able to charm the crowd.  The Evanston Index reported that “He stood shaking hands with admiring friends while a stream of wit and humor, and story and laughter, came bubbling up from the great soul within."

At one point Lincoln and the assembled citizens were serenaded by a local quartet.  The particulars were related by Henry A. Pearsons, who attended the event:

"A really good quartet, led by our long-time friend and fellow citizen Charles G. Ayars, called for Lincoln's special commendation.  I recall how (Lincoln) put his arms around Ayars' shoulders and said: "Young man, I wish I could sing as well as you. Unfortunately I only know two tunes, one is "Old Hundred," and the other isn't.' "   

So now you know the story of the Evanstonian who sang for Abraham Lincoln on Lincoln's only visit to Evanston in 1860.

Charles G. Ayars - he really did sing for Lincoln - may he rest in peace.   

Special thanks to Mr. Mike Kelly for bringing this interesting Evanstonian to my attention.    

Thursday, August 25, 2016

EVANSTON'S ALMOST MAYOR - Frank Wheelock Gerould

I have mentioned in previous articles for this blog that I check eBay on a regular basis for items about Evanston.  You never know what people have in their basements or attics but you do know that eventually most of it will end up on eBay.

Recently someone on eBay was selling several bound volumes of City of Evanston Improvement Bonds:

Note that this bond is signed in the lower left corner by William Collin Levere, the subject of another article on this blog. 

These were bonds issued by the City of Evanston to raise the money for infrastructure projects like roads, street lighting, sewers, etc.  The volumes on eBay were from the late 1800s and early 1900s and were signed by Evanston mayors  Thomas Bates, James Patten and John Barker.  But one of the bonds was signed by F.W. Gerould as Mayor Pro-Tem on August 21, 1902:

That would have been during the term of Mayor James A. Patten, Evanston's legendary "Wheat King." Apparently the Evanston Historical Society decided that they didn't need these volumes any more in their collection and sold them to a Chicago rare book dealer. 

I know a lot about Evanston history but I had never come across the name F.W. Gerould before.  So I thought I would do some research and see if he would be an interesting subject for this blog - and he was.    

F.W. Gerould was born Francis Wheelock Gerould on January 13, 1854 in East Smithfield, Pennsylvania to Marcus Botsford Gerould (1818-1895) and Mary E., nee Bingham (1860-1901).  Marcus Gerould was originally a merchant by trade but in middle age he tried his hand at being a cattle broker.  Marcus and Mary were blessed with three children:  Leslie Bingham Gerould (1846-1924), Francis Wheelock Gerould (1854-1918) and Marcus James Gerould (1861-1889).

In 1856 the Gerould family moved to Ogle, Illinois.  The 1860 US Census finds the Gerould family still living in Ogle.  Marcus Gerould reported his occupation as "Clerk."  The family consisted of Marcus and Mary, 12-year-old Leslie and 6-year-old Francis. The family reported that they owned real estate worth $800.00, and personalty worth $50.00.

The 1870 US Census finds that the Gerould family has moved to Rockford, Illinois where Marcus reported his occupation as "Cattle Broker."  Leslie Gerould had moved out on his own, so the family now consisted of Marcus and Mary, 17-year-old Francis and 9-year-old Marcus.  Mary's 65-year-old mother Electa Bingham was living with them, and they also had a "Domestic Servant" 19-year-old Lottie Lundbery.  Francis told the census taker that his occupation was "Clerk in a Shoe Store."   

During this period Gerould spent five years with the "Rockford Rifles" of the Illinois National Guard.  By the time of his discharge, he had worked his way up to Second Lieutenant.

In 1878, 24 year old Francis (now called "Frank") moved to Chicago and accepted a position with A.(lbert) G.(oodwill) Spalding & Bros., the noted sporting goods company.  He would spend his entire career with Spalding - a total of 40 years.

I was not able to locate F. W. Gerould on the 1880 U.S. Census.  

On September 1, 1881 Frank Gerould married Mary Sophia Avery (1860-1901) in Chicago.  

Mary Sophia Avery was born in February of 1860 in Belvidere, Illinois to William Dickey Avery (1835-1916), and Fannie Elizabeth, nee Hale (1837-1895).  W. D. Avery was in the advertising business.

Both Frank Gerould and Mary Avery came from distinguished families who could trace their lineage back to men who fought in America's War for Independence.

Frank and Mary Gerould were blessed with five children: Helen Louise Gerould (1890-1979), Frank Avery Gerould (1893-1968), Alice Adele Gerould (1895-1896), Walter Blakeslee Gerould (1898-1967), and Leslie B. Gerould (1901-????).

After they were first married, Frank and Mary Gerould lived at 15 Lane Place (now 2020 N. Orleans Street) in Chicago:

2020 N. Orleans Street, Chicago

In the Chicago directories of this era, Frank Gerould described himself as a "Manager for A. G. Spalding & Bros."

From his earliest years, Frank Gerould was an avid cyclist and in 1890 was elected President of the Lincoln Cycling Club in Chicago.

In the midst of success and prosperity, grief entered the Gerould house as well.  Little Alice Adele Gerould died on June 8, 1896, less than one year old.  The Gerould family bought a beautiful family plot along the road in Section 112 of Rosehill Cemetery, in the shade of a beautiful old tree, and that is where they buried little Alice.

1896 also brought new beginnings for the Geroulds.  With a growing family, the Gerould family left Chicago and purchased a home at 1200 Judson in Evanston:

1200 Judson, Evanston

Frank Gerould was now settling down.  He had a beautiful home and a beautiful family.  He decided it was time to give something back to his community, so in 1899 after First Ward Alderman Daniel A. Mudge announced that he would not be running for reelection, Gerould announced that he would be a candidate to fill the vacant seat. As it turned out, Gerould ran unopposed  and so in the election held April 18, 1899, he was elected with 358 votes.     

The 1900 US Census finds the Gerould family in their home at 1200 Judson.  The family consisted of 46-year-old Frank, 40-year-old Mary, 10-year-old Helen, 6-year-old Frank, and 1-year-old Walter.  In addition, Frank's mother Mary was living with them, as was Frank's brother Leslie B. Gerould.  Rounding off the census listing were their two servants, 21-year-old Ida Olson, and 23-year-old Anna Bier. 

Others looked at Frank Gerould and saw a man of growing influence in the community, as well as the business world.  In 1900 Gerould was asked to join the Board of Directors of the State National Bank of Evanston, a position he would hold for the rest of his life.

Tragedy was to fall on the Gerould household when Mary Avery Gerould died on March 12, 1901 from heart disease.  Here is her death notice from the Chicago Daily Tribune of March 14, 1901:  

The Evanston Index from Saturday, March 16, 1901 had a nice obituary for Mrs Gerould:


Mrs. Mary Avery Gerould, wife of F. W. Gerould, 1200 Judson avenue, passed away early Tuesday morning after a very short illness of heart disease.  Mrs. Gerould had been out of health for several months, but not until last Sunday evening was she seriously ill.  She had recently visited her old home in Belvidere, returning from there less than two weeks before the death occurred.

Mrs. Gerould was born in Belvidere 41 years ago. Her parents were Mr. and Mrs. William Avery and her father is living in Evanston at the home of his son, Sidney Avery, 1430 Benson avenue.  Mrs. Gerould was educated at the public schools and high school of Belvidere and was married to Frank W. Gerould in 1881.  They made their home in Chicago until five years ago, when they removed to Evanston.  Mr. Gerould was elected to the city council two years ago and will close a successful term next month.

While living in Chicago, Mrs. Gerould was a member of the Fulton Avenue Presbyterian church, and since coming to Evanston has been connected with the First Presbyterian  church.  She was a member of the Evanston Woman's club and of the University guild. Surviving her besides her husband, brother and father, are three children - Helen, Frank and Walter - and a sister, Mrs. George Blakesley of Kansas City.

The funeral services were held Thursday at 2 o'clock at the family residence.  Rev. J. H. Boyd of the First Presbyterian church officiated, and music was furnished by the church choir.  The pallbearers were J. H. Andrews, O. T. Eastman, H. R. Ross, Dwight Jackson, T. P. Stanwood, A. B. Jones, A. E. Dunn, E. F. Pierce.  Interment took place at Rose Hill.

The following resolutions were adopted by the Evanston city council at a special meeting held Wednesday evening, and a committee consisting of Alderman Underwood, Barker and Curran were elected to represent the council at the funeral.

"Whereas, A member of this council, who is known to the people of Evanston for his wise and untiring devotion to their interests, and who enjoys the cordial friendship and loyalty of all who have been associated with him in public office, has suddenly been called to experience an irretrievable loss.

"And Whereas, Though we appreciate that no words of ours can in any degree alleviate his sorrow, we still desire to make known to our bereaved associate the deep and abiding sympathy we feel for him in his affliction.  Now therefore be it

"Resolved, That this council in its own behalf and in behalf of the several officers and employes of the city of Evanston, hereby extend to Frank W. Gerould, alderman of the First ward of this city, the earnest and sincere assurance that his grief and bereavement are to them a cause of personal and heartfelt sorrow, and be it further 

"Resolved, that an engrossed copy of this resolution, with the signatures of the mayor and city clerk, be delivered to our friend and colleague."

Mary Gerould was buried in the family plot at Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago, joining little Alice Adele, who died five years previously. 

In those days, Evanston has two alderman for each ward, and each was elected for a two year term.  Alderman Frank Gerould ran for reelection unopposed, and in the election held April 16, 1901 he was reelected, this time with 347 votes.

As I mentioned at the start of this article, I came across City of Evanston Improvement Bonds from 1902 which were signed by F. W. Gerould as Mayor Pro Tem. 

First, let's look at exactly what a "Mayor Pro Tem" is.  The Section of the Evanston City Code entitled "Mayor Pro Tem," provides:

If a temporary absence or disability of the mayor incapacitates him from the performance of his duties but does not create a vacancy in the office, the city council shall elect one of its members to act as mayor pro tem.  The mayor pro tem, during this absence or disability, shall perform the duties and possess all the rights and powers of the mayor. No additional salary or compensation shall be paid the mayor pro tem for acting as mayor pro tem; and

The Evanston City Council Rules further define the role of a Mayor Pro Tem: "'Mayor pro tem' is a member of the City Council, who is elected by the Council to perform the duties and possesses all the rights and powers of the Mayor if a temporary absence or disability of the Mayor prevents the performance of Mayoral duties, but does not create a vacancy in the office."  

When the Evanston City Council met at their regular meeting on July 1, 1902, Alderman Gerould moved that when the Council adjourns Tuesday evening July 8 it adjourn not to meet in regular session until Tuesday evening, September 9, 1902.  The motion passed unanimously.

When the Council met again on July 8, 1902, Mayor Patten asked the Council to elect a Mayor pro-tem.  After a spring and early summer of frantic trading of wheat futures, Patten had planned to take a vacation to Colorado to relax.  Patten knew that there would be financial matters that had to be addressed in his absence, so it made sense to have Alderman Gerould elected Mayor pro tem, since in addition to being alderman, Gerould was the Chairman of the Finance Committee of the Evanston City Council.  Today, when a mayor pro tem is needed, the sitting alderman with the most seniority is elected.  In 1902, any sitting alderman could be elected. 

The minutes of the Council meeting from July 8, 1902, reported that Alderman Frederick Arnd nominated Alderman Gerould to be mayor pro tem, in Mayor Patten's absence.  The nomination was seconded by Alderman Frank R. Seelye and carried.  Voting aye, were Alderman Frederick Arnd (1st), Clarendon B. Eyer (2nd), James P. Grier (2nd), Frank R. Seelye (3rd), John T. Barker (3rd), James Lill (4th), Peter Schimberg (4th), Charles M. Schindler (5th), John C. Schuett (5th), George L. Wallace (6th), John W. Branch (6th), John M. Curran (7th) and Frank B. Dyche (7th).  No alderman voted nay.  Of course, since this directly affected him, Alderman Gerould did not vote.     

At that same City Council meeting of July 8, 1902, Alderman Gerould, for the Finance Committee, presented and moved the adoption of the following resolution:

"WHEREAS, This Council will adjourn at this meeting not to meet again in regular session until Tuesday, September 9, 1902;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Mayor or Mayor pro tem, and City Comptroller be, and they are hereby authorized to draw and issue warrants for all pay-rolls and bills for the various departments, together with bonds and warrants for the contractors' partial estimates on public improvements, for the months of July, and August, 1902, that may be presented, duly approved and certified by the proper officers and chairmen of the respective committees and Chairman of the Auditing Committee, and to report back to the Council at the first meeting to be held in September next."  The Resolution passed unanimously.  

So, Alderman F.W. Gerould, as Mayor pro tem in Mayor Patten's absence, had the approval to execute the Public Improvement Bonds I mentioned at the start of this article.

The Evanston Index newspaper from December 20, 1902 carried the following headline:

Will Not Stand for Re-Election Next Spring.

What did this mean for Frank Gerould?  Having had a taste of Evanston political life, he decided to set his sights higher.  The Chicago Daily Tribune from December 23, 1902 contained the following story:

Two Avowed Candidates, George Gouch and Ald. Gerould,
and Others Mentioned as Possibilities

With two avowed candidates for the office of mayor and several possibilities, Evanston's mayoralty campaign will be lively. Following Mayor (James A.) Patten's statement that he would not be a candidate Ald. Gerould announced his candidacy.  Gouch was Mayor Patten's opponent in the last election.  O. H. Mann, Evanston's first mayor, and L. L. Smith of South Evanston are mentioned as possibilities.   

The election was to be held April 21, 1903, so Alderman Gerould had plenty of time to put his campaign together.

The Evanston Index, in its edition of January 31, 1903 seemed to know who they thought would be a good mayor:


Among the men toward whom the citizens are turning when the mayoralty question comes up these days is Alderman Frank W. Gerould of the First ward.  He has been one of the strong men of the council since his advent into that body several years ago, and his record during the last two years as chairman of the finance committee has been altogether creditable to him and of decided benefit to the municipality.  No measure can go through the council but it is subjected to the test of his keen mind.  Evanston has always been noted among American cities for the able men whose services its common council is able to command, but it is the general consensus of opinion that our city has never had the services of a man which were given more freely or unselfishly bestowed than those of the subject of this sketch.  In his hands the best interests of the city will be safe, and the city will have an executive of whom it may be proud. 

But then as now, politics is never dull.  On March 3, 1903, out of the blue, Third Ward alderman John T. Barker, announced that he, too, would be a candidate for mayor in the upcoming election. Barker said that he would present himself as a candidate to the Republican city convention to be held on March 7th.  Barker said that he currently had the endorsement of nine of the thirteen Republican aldermen. Mayor Patten said that he would remain neutral, because he had been a close friend of both Barker and Gerould for many years.
The Chicago Inter-Ocean newspaper told the result in their Sunday March 8, 1903 edition:

Nominated by Evanston Republicans in Convention.

Alderman John T. Barker was nominated for mayor of Evanston yesterday to succeed Mayor James A. Patten.  Alderman Frank Gerould, Barker's only competitor in the primaries on Friday, did not allow his name to be presented to the convention, and his thirteen delegates voted for Barker.  

After organizing the convention by making George P. Merrick chairman, F. S. Seelye nominated Alderman Barker and George P. Englehard of the Gerould forces seconded the nomination.  After securing the nomination, Mr. Barker made a speech thanking the delegates and promising if elected to uphold Republican principles. 

What happened?  Why did Frank Gerould withdraw his name at the last minute?  Did he sense that he could not win against the Barker forces, so it would be better to withdraw before the vote? Unfortunately for us, history does not record why Gerould made this momentous decision.  

Gerould was convinced instead to stand for reelection to his current post as alderman of the First Ward.  He had an opponent this time - steamfitter George H. Laing, but in the election of April 21, 1903, Gerould was re-elected with 274 votes for him, and just 22 votes for Laing.

In the 1905 Evanston civic elections, Frank Gerould was easily re-elected.  His opponent this time was the Socialist candidate George Michaelini, who owned a fruit store in Evanston.  The final vote tally was Gerould 162, Michaelini 24. 

Gerould told friends through the years that he ultimately wanted to run again for Mayor of Evanston.  The 1907 civic election seemed to be the right time.  Mayor John Barker announced that he would not seek reelection.  The only other man in the race was the marginally popular Evanston chief of police Col. Albert S. Frost. Gerould announced his candidacy in late 1906.  He was so sure of victory this time, that he announced that he would not be running for reelection as Alderman of the First Ward.  It was all or nothing for Gerould in 1907. 

The Chicago Daily Tribune said on January 19, 1907 that Gerould "is looked upon by many as the logical successor to Mayor Barker, and is the chief opponent of Col. Frost." 

Victory seemed assured for Frank Gerould this time.  The Chicago Inter-Ocean newspaper quoted Gerould on January 31, 1907 as saying, "I am confident of election."

But victory eluded Frank Gerould yet again.  The following appeared in the Evanston Index newspaper from March 16, 1907: 


Evanston, March 15, 1907
To the Citizens of Evanston:

I feel it is only fair to make a statement regarding the withdrawal of my name from nomination as a candidate for the office of mayor.

I regret exceedingly that changes in business responsibilities and duties arising after my petitions were circulated compelled me to take such action, but in justice to the citizens of Evanston, to myself, and to my business. I could not decide otherwise.  I would not undertake any responsibility that I might be obliged to neglect, and it would have been impossible for me to have performed the duties of mayor, in the event of my election - of which I was absolutely confident - and also to carry the new responsibilities in my business.   

I appreciate very much the good words spoken by my friends, and the hundreds of endorsements of my candidacy, and the ticket which I had the honor to lead.  It has been a pleasure for me to serve as alderman during the past eight years, believing as I do, that every man should help so far as he can, in all public affairs.  I had an ambition to round out my little public service by being elected mayor of this beautiful city, but duty to my business compelled me to sacrifice that ambition.

I hope my friends will vote for the candidates for the other city offices who are on the ticket from which I have withdrawn, viz:

Mr. John P. Hahn, for city clerk.
Mr. Frank H. Seelye, for city treasurer.
Mr. George N. Woodley, for city attorney.
Mr. John H. Guilliams, for supervisor.

Mr. Joseph E. Paden has been persuaded to become an independent candidate for mayor.  I consider him splendidly qualified by training and experience to fulfill the duties of that office and I shall vote for him and do all I can to help elect him, and would appreciate it if all who intended to vote for me would cast a ballot for him.

Frank W. Gerould 

Why did Frank Gerould withdraw from the mayoral race - again? Like his withdrawal in 1903, we may never know the true reason. However, Gerould must have had a guardian angel looking after him.  When he decided to withdraw from the mayoral contest he could not have known the catastrophe that was waiting for him right around the corner.  The Chicago Daily Tribune from March 25, 1907 reported the following:


Flames Consume $350,000 Worth of Sporting Goods

as Athletic Season Is About to Open.

Car Lines Are Blocked.

Thousands of Sunday Strollers Watch the Blaze

From Side-walk and Elevated Station.

Fire in the store of A. G. Spalding & Bros. yesterday afternoon destroyed goods said to be worth $350,000, just at the opening of the baseball season.  Loss on the stock was total.

The building, at 147 and 149 Wabash avenue, is practically in ruins. It was valued at $50,000.  It was a five story structure, erected shortly after the great fire.

Traffic on the Cottage Grove and Indiana avenue lines was tied up completely during more than two hours.  Thousands of patrons of the lines were delayed.  The tie-up of the surface cars resulted in a heavy increase in the business of the South Side Elevated road. 

There was no interruption of traffic on the elevated, but the trains could not be seen as they plunged through the dense smoke until they emerged on the north and south, their windows filled with scared looking passengers.

The cars in State street were blocked for a time, due to a lead of hose which the fire- men stretched across the tracks at Monroe street.  This obstacle to traffic was remedied quickly by the traction company’s repair gang, who placed skids over the hose, thereby giving the cars an opportunity to move without Interfering with the work of the firemen.

A big crowd of spectators viewed the fire from the platform of the elevated road at Madison street and Wabash avenue.

Blaze Starts in Basement.

The fire started in the basement of the store shortly after 4 o’clock and during the remaining two hours of daylight, while the firemen battled with the flames, it afforded a spectacle for thousands of people.

The Windsor-Clifton hotel was separated, from the burning structure by the fireproof Church building, but the guests there were thrown into panic by the nearness of the blaze.  A telephone girl remained at her post during the panic and called each guest from the thirty rooms in the threatened portion of the Windsor-Clifton.

For a time, it was feared the dry goods store of Carson. Pirie, Scott & Co., in close proximity to the burning building, was in danger, but It became evident after an hour’s work that the fire would be restricted to the old building, flanked on both sides by stout fire walls, and fought in the front and rear by tons of water from twenty lines of hose. After a three hours' fight the fire was under control, it burned for several hours afterward.

Smoke Drives Firemen Back.

At 4:30 o’clock in the afternoon fire insurance patrol No. 1 and engine company No. 82 raced to the fire in response to a still alarm, that came from an automatic sprinkling device in the basement of the sporting goods establishment.  Smoke was pouring then from every window of the building.

Patrol No. 1 reached the fire first and Assistant Driver Pewersdorf was the first man to break into the front door.  As soon as the door was opened there was an explosion that carried Pewersdorf off his feet and threw him against the door.  An artery of one of his wrists was severed and he suffered considerably from loss of blood.  He was taken away in a police ambulance.

Two minutes after the first two companies arrived an alarm was sent from the fire box of engine No. 82 and this was followed promptly by a 2-11 and ten minutes later by a 4-11.  A special alarm was sent out at 5 o’clock and the streets were filled with smoking, coughing engines, hose wagons, and scores of rubber coated fire fighters, with Chief Moran in general charge.

The flames were fiercest in the rear of the basement in the north corner.  Several fire- men advanced close to them, but were driven back by the smoke and heat. Lines of hose with their nozzles almost on a level with the street deluged the basement, but could not prevent the flames from spreading to the upper floors in the rear, by means of the elevator shaft.

Origin of Fire a Mystery.

D. W. Gilien, reporter for the fire Insurance patrol, who was one of the first to arrive, sent a telephone message to Manager F. W. Gerould, who was at his home in Evanston.  Mr. Gerould arrived a little after 5 o’clock.  He found Assistant Manager C. S. Lincoln already there.

"I was in the store at 12 o clock," said Mr. Lincoln. " I have no Idea how the fire started."

Mr. Gerould said he could not understand the cause of the tire.  It was suggested that there had been powder in the basement.

"We have not carried any firearms, cartridges, or explosives in stock for several years," the manager said.  "The loss will be a serious one for the firm, as this is the opening of the outdoor sporting season, and we had just laid in a large stock of baseball goods, tennis, and golf supplies.  I have engaged temporary headquarters at 84 Wabash avenue."

A. G. Spalding, who had been in Chicago last week, left on Saturday for his winter home in Pasadena.

Telephone Girl Shows Pluck.

Miss Elizabeth Jordan was the heroine in the Windsor-Clifton hotel and to a consider- able extent she averted a panic.  She is the telephone operator in the hotel, and she stuck to her post when the smoke came pouring in through the open windows, filling the main floor.  She called up each of the thirty rooms in the threatened northeast portion of the structure and sent this message over the wire;

“You are wanted in the hotel office by a friend."

Some astonished guests assembled a few seconds later.  Meanwhile James Webster, leader of the Roanoke cafe orchestra, who had been asleep in a corner room, awoke, saw the smoke. and ran through the corridors excitedly yelling “Fire!"

The basement of De Jonghe's cafe, next to the Windsor Clifton, was flooded with a foot of water and the rooms were filled with smoke. Most of the rooms had been engaged for dinner parties and it became necessary to cancel all these engagements. The proprietor estimated the loss by smoke damage to his fixtures, not to mention the loss of business at over $500.

The Roanoke cafe, under the Windsor-Clifton. was obliged to suspend business on account of the heavy smoke. 

There is no way that Gerould could have taken on the duties of mayor of Evanston when all of his time would be needed to restock for the baseball season and rebuild the damaged building.  His decision to withdraw from the race seems in hindsight to have been providential.   

Frank Gerould's hard work and loyalty to the Spalding Brothers was rewarded when in 1909 they announced his promotion to Third Vice President.  Ultimately he would hold the position of Vice President and Western General Manager of A. G. Spalding and Bros., and of allied corporations., the Spalding Manufacturing Company and A. G. Spalding and Bros. Manufacturing Company.  

The 1910 US Census showed Frank Gerould still living at 1200 Judson in Evanston.  The family consisted of Frank, daughter Helen, and sons Frank, Walter and Leslie.  In addition there was a live-in housekeeper Florence Patrick, and servants Mary Barrett and Margaret Holton. Frank Gerould listed his occupation as "Manufacturer or Sporting Goods."  

Tired of living the life of a widower, on June 28, 1911 Frank Gerould married his housekeeper Florence E. Patrick (1857-1931) in Evanston. The groom said his age was 57 - and he was 57; the bride said her age was 48 - she was 53.

The Chicago Inter Ocean newspaper reported the nuptials on June 29, 1911:

Miss Florence E. Patrick and Frank W. Gerould were married yesterday at Mr. Gerould's residence, 1200 Judson avenue, Evanston. It was a very quiet wedding, as there were no guests except the family and no attendants.  Mr. and Mrs. Gerould have gone East on their honeymoon.

Frank Gerould was very proud to see his name on the list of Directors when the State Bank opened its new quarters in 1914. Here's the announcement from the Lake Shore News of Friday November 27, 1914:

In 1914, when Frank Gerould turned 60, he officially retired from Spalding, but remained as a trusted advisor.  He remained on the Board of the State Bank of Evanston for the rest of his life.

About this time, Frank and Florence Gerould realized that the Gerould homestead at 1200 Judson was too big for them.  It was a house for a growing family, and their family was shrinking as Frank's children married and moved out on their own.  In 1917 they made the decision to sell the house on Judson, and they rented an apartment at 802 Forest Avenue in Evanston:

802 Forest Avenue, Evanston

They rented their apartment on Forest - this was long before the era of condominiums and as my father used to say, "who would want to buy an apartment?"

Frank Gerould enjoyed his retirement.  He stayed active with his memberships in Chicago area clubs: the Union League Club, the Evanston Country Club, the Glen View Country Club, and his life membership in the Chicago Athletic Club.  He was an avid golfer, and kept up his cycling as well.

On Saturday June 8, 1918, sixty four-year-old Frank W. Gerould was a happy man. His son Frank Avery Gerould was set to be married that evening to Miss Mary Katherine Taylor of Kenilworth. Young Frank had graduated from Cornell University ('15 AB) and had received has commission as a second lieutenant at Fort Sheridan.  He was stationed at that time at Camp Grant, near Rockford, Illinois.  

On Saturday morning, Gerould traveled to downtown Chicago to purchase wedding gifts for the happy couple.  As he was eating lunch at the Union League Club he was stricken with a paralyzing stroke.  We'll take the next part of the story from the Evanston News-Index from Monday June 10, 1918:


Prominent Evanston Resident and Former Alderman
Stricken While Selecting Wedding Gifts.

Dies at Union League.

Was Member of City Council for Eight Years - Head of Spalding & Bros.

Stricken by paralysis almost at the hour of his son's wedding, Frank W. Gerould, for many years president (sic) of A. G. Spalding & Bros. and prominent citizen and former alderman from the First ward, passed away at 1:40 this afternoon at the Union League club in Chicago.

Sons at Bedside.

His two sons and his married daughter were at his bedside.  Mrs. Gerould remained at the family home, 802 Forest avenue, too ill from the shock of her husband's sudden illness to journey to Chicago.  She was notified by telephone the minute he passed away.

Mr. Gerould went to Chicago Saturday to purchase gifts for his son's wedding.  The paralytic stroke came while he was eating lunch at the Union League club.

Wedding Was Saturday.

The wedding uniting Lieut. Frank A. Gerould and Miss Katherine Taylor, was performed at the home of the bride's parents in Kenilworth.  The principals wished to postpone the event when they received word of Mr.l Gerould's condition, but they were advised by the stricken man's physician to proceed.  Lieut. Gerould had only a four days' leave, and the physician informed him that his father would probably remain the same for several days.

Mr. Gerould was with Spalding brothers for forty years.

He was elected alderman to represent the First ward in 1899 and served for eight years.

He was a member of many clubs.

The News-Index from the next day, Tuesday, June 11, 1918 gave the particulars about Frank Gerould's funeral:


Funeral Services for Frank Wheelock Gerould, who died of paralysis at the Union League club in Chicago yesterday afternoon, will be held tomorrow afternoon at 2:30 o'clock at the First Presbyterian Church. The Rev. David Hugh Jones will officiate.

Burial, which will be private, will be at Rosehill cemetery.

Director of Bank.

Mr. Gerould, at the time of his death, was a director of the State Bank of Evanston, having been on its board for eighteen years.  In point of service, he was one of the bank's oldest directors, and was considered one of its most valued men.

He had been an alderman from the First ward of Evanston for eight years, from 1899 to 1908, and was vice president of A. G. Spalding & Brothers.

Active pall bearers for the services tomorrow will be Daniel B. McCarthy, Robert L. Welsh, Douglas H. Tweedie, William B. Kinkel, G. H. Hamacher and Clarence S. Lincoln, all of Spalding Brothers.

Honorary Pall Bearers.

Among the honorary pall bearers will be James A. Patten, David R. Forgan, M. C. Armour, Harry P. Pearsons, Joseph E. Paden, Charles L. Bartlett, Judge Martin M. Gridley, John T. Barker, George H. Tomlinson, George Olmsted, Wilfred F. Beardsley, C. H. Cowper, F. B. Dyche, Keith Spalding, W. F. Hynes, John E. Wilder, George P. Merrick, George C. Lazear, Arthur B. Jones, J. Walter Spalding, Julian W. Curtis, H. J. Wallingford, William A. Dyche, F. J. Scheidenhelm, Harrison B. Riley, Frank M. Elliot, W. W. Buchanan, George M. Ludlow, Frank H. Armstrong, Irwin Rew, C. B. Cleveland, Henry Taylor Jr., Frank H. Burt, L. Wilbur Messer, and Frank S. Shaw.

[NOTE:  Gerould’s funeral was a “who’s who” of Evanston politics.  His honorary pallbearers included the then-Evanston Mayor (Harry P. Pearsons) and five past or future Evanston mayors: (James A. Patten, Joseph E. Paden, Charles H. Bartlett, John T. Barker and William A. Dyche).  Also in attendance was Evanston Township High School principal Wilfred Fitch Beardsley.   I wish I could have attended.]

Mr. Gerould was stricken with paralysis while he was in Chicago for the purpose of buying gifts for the wedding of his son, Lieut. Frank A. Gerould of Camp Grant, to Miss Mary Katherine Taylor of Kenilworth.

Because it was feared that Mr. Gerould might continue in his serious condition for days, the wedding ceremony was performed as had been planned on Saturday afternoon.  

Frank Gerould was buried next to his first wife and daughter in the plot at Rosehill Cemetery. 

So now you know the story of the man who was almost the mayor of Evanston - twice. Even though Frank Gerould never achieved the mayor's office, he spent his life in service to the citizens of Evanston, and for that we should be grateful.

Frank Wheelock Gerould

May he rest in peace.

And what about those books of bonds on ebay?  Well, I bought them, of course.  Did you really think I would let relics like these get away?

Special thanks to Mr. Mike Kelly, who graciously provided much of the research for this article.