Saturday, December 31, 2011


Francis Malone was born January 17, 1760 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The Malones were originally from County Westmeath in Ireland and one of Francis' ancestors was The Right Honorable Anthony Malone, Member of Parliament from Baronston in Ireland and Chancellor of the Exchequer.  The first Malone to emigrate was Francis' grandfather Edmund who came to the Colonies in the early 1700s.  Francis was 16 years old when the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia and he volunteered for the Pennsylvania Militia in April of 1777.  Because of his youth and familiarity with the area, Captain William Morrow assigned Francis to spy on the Indians, who were allies of the British in the Revolutionary War.  Francis would sneak into the woods, and after finding the Indian encampments would report the information back to his commanding officers.

In 1788 Francis married Elizabeth Rogers, and about 1800 Francis and his family went west, eventually locating in Helt Township, Vermillion County, Indiana.  Francis farmed the rich Indiana soil, and he and Elizabeth raised four children:  Rebecca, William, Samuel and Martha. In 1833 Francis was granted a US Government pension in recognition of his service in the War of Independence.  He died in Helt Township in 1841 at the age of 81.

It was known that Francis was buried in the Helts Prairie Cemetery in Hillsdale, Indiana, but over time the exact location of his grave, along with any grave marker, was lost.  In 2004, the William Henry Harrison Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution in recognition of his service made arrangements to have a new marker made for Francis Malone, and had it installed next to the flagpole in the Helts Prairie Cemetery.

I am especially proud of the contribution that Francis Malone made to the founding of our nation, because he was my 4th Great-Grandfather.

May Francis Malone, and all of our patriots, rest in peace.

Francis Malone

Group picture after the memorial dedication and memorial service in Vermillion County.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A CHRISTMAS TRAGEDY - Virginia Richdale Kerrigan

This sad story takes us all the way to Hollywood, California: 


For years I have been fascinated by the life and career of silent film star Rudolph Valentino.  In my studies about Valentino I would occasionally come across the story that Valentino used to go to the Hollywood Cemetery  to leave flowers at the crypt of a little girl he knew who had died tragically.  Further research showed that this little girl was Virginia Richdale Kerrigan, the daughter of William W. Kerrigan.  Kerrigan was the general manager of Universal Studios and the twin brother of silent film star J.W. Kerrigan.

Early in his career Valentino made movies at Universal and became captivated by the charming little girl who used to spend time at "Daddy's Studio".  Valentino loved children and one of his greatest regrets was that both of his marriages were childless.  Over time, Valentino became very close to little Virginia, and even as he became famous he still found time to take his little friend for rides in his fancy cars through the Hollywood Hills.

On the day after Christmas, 1924 Virginia and her family attended a party at a neighbor's house at 2006 Ivar Avenue in Hollywood.  It was chilly that day, as it can sometimes get in Hollywood in late December.  To take the chill out of the air, someone lit an open gas heater.  Virginia had received a new dress for Christmas and was modelling it for the partygoers.  Shortly before noon, as she laughed and twirled around the room, her dress came in contact with the gas heater and caught fire.  The flames spread rapidly to the upper part of her clothing and to her hair.  Before anyone could extinguish the flames, Virginia was badly burned around the arms, body and head.  An ambulance was called and rushed Virginia to the nearest hospital, which was Stadfield Hospital on Sunset Boulevard.  Virginia's burns were too severe, and shortly afterward she was transferred to the Hollywood Community Hospital.  Virginia fought valiantly, but the burns were too much for her little body, and she died on Saturday night, December 27, 1924.

The funeral services were held at the home of Virginia's famous uncle, J. Warren Kerrigan.  From there her body was taken to the Cathedral Mausoleum at Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery (now Hollywood Forever Cemetery) on Santa Monica Boulevard.  Virginia was laid to rest in crypt 1399.

Virginia's family relates that Rudolph Valentino was devistated by the death of his little friend Virginia, and would often visit and leave flowers at her crypt at Hollywood Memorial.

As fate would have it, less than two years later Rudolph Valentino was himself interred in the Cathedral Mausoleum, in crypt 1205, after his tragic death in New York on August 23rd, 1926.  Valentino rests just two aisles over from his little pal Virginia.

Let us stop and say a prayer for Virginia and her family this Christmas - they are not forgotten.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

"AND IN OUR HEARTS HE LEFT A LEAK" - Marvin Schwartz and His Sister Jeanette

Children are often buried in a separate part of the cemetery away from the adults.  Childrens' burial sections have to be the saddest part of any cemetery, as you stroll along and see so many dear lives snuffed out by disease or accident.  On another of my photo request trips to Jewish Waldheim Cemetery in Forest Park I found myself in the children's section of Gate 55 - First Roumanian Congregation.  First I saw the grave of Jeanette Schwartz, a beautiful little girl who died in 1924 of lymphosarcoma - just shy of her 10th birthday.  A sad story - but compounded by the fact that her brother Marvin was buried in the next row.  He died in 1932 at the age of 7 of meningitis.  There was so much sadness in that family that Jeanette and Marvin's parents composed a poem about it - and put the poem on the back of Marvin's tombstone. Here is their poem:

“When that dreadful sorrow
Befell our heart
We did not think that we could live
From dear Jeanette apart.
God sent an angel
To fill the empty space
It was darling Marvin
That took her place.
Like a beautiful star
He lit up our way
But to our great sorrow
He was not here to stay.
Just like his sister
He went so quick
And in our hearts
He left a leak.

May the souls of Marvin and Jeanette, and their grieving parents, rest in peace.

Jeanette Schwartz

Jeanette Schwartz

Marvin Schwartz

Marvin Schwartz

Marvin Schwartz

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


It is never a good sign when you see a tombstone where more than one person shares the same date of death.  You can be sure that something bad must have happened.  So when I saw the tombstone of  Joseph and Sarah Dorf and noticed that they both died the same day - February 12, 1928 - I knew that I would find a sad story there - and that was exactly what I found:


Flames sweeping through a home in which a Valentine party had been held only a few hours previously early yesterday took the lives of a newly married couple, the bride perishing in a vain attempt to rescue her husband.   They were Joseph Dorf, 28 years old, and his wife, Sarah, 28, of 4747 Grace Street.

With several friends and relatives the Dorfs had attended the party in the bungalow of Raymond Burke, 6078 Newburg Avenue, Norwood Park.  The party lasted until 1 o’clock when it was decided it would be too late for the guests to return home.  Dorf and his wife were given a room on the second floor.

Soon after all had retired other members of the household were awakened by the screams of Mrs. Dorf as she fled down the stairs.  Burke ran to the room and found it a mass of flames.

Then, despite the efforts of others to hold her back, Mrs. Dorf rushed back into the wall of fire.  Her body was found beside that of her husband, whom she tried to save.
Police believe that Dorf fell asleep with a lighted cigarette in his hand, which fell and ignited the bed clothing.
Chicago Daily Tribune – February 13, 1928    

The graves of Joseph and Sarah Dorf, together in death as they were in life, can be found at Jewish Waldheim Cemetery in Forest Park, Gate 109 - Ostrower #1.  May they rest in peace.  

Joseph Dorf

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


At the front part of Gate 16 (Anshe Knesses Israel #2) at Jewish Waldheim Cemetery sits an impressive monument.  The bottom of the monument carries a cryptic inscription: "At thy height thou hast fallen a victim".  What happened to Eli Daiches, the rabbi's son?  The answer can be found in the New York Times:


Eli Daiches Is Riddled by Machine-Gun Bullets 
as He Leaves Chicago Hotel.

Saw Slayers Approach.

His Skull Was Fractured and Arms Were Broken
in Attack in His Office a Year Ago.

Eli Daches, 45 years old, president of the Thomas M. Bowers Advertising Agency, was shot to death this morning by machine-gun assassins who fired a dozen bullets into him as he was riding in his automobile, driven by a chauffeur, a half block from the Sherry Hotel, where he lived.  No motive was established for the slaying.

Police were trying to connect the murder with an assault of Mr. Daiches in his Loop advertising office on the evening of Jan. 24, 1933.  At that time he said he was waiting for his wife, who at present is in Palestine.  Mr. Daiches had been attended recently by a nurse, Miss Lucille Osburn.  She and her fiancĂ©, C.J. Cronin, 30-years old, a salesman whose home is in Wichita, Kan., had breakfast with Mr. Daiches this morning in his hotel apartment, Mr. Cronin being here on a visit.

The chauffeur told police that Mr. Daiches had seen his slayers approach and apparently recognized them, whereupon he screamed, "Oh my God!"  The next instant he said the blast came from the machine-gun in the other car.

Police showed great interest in the beating of Mr. Daiches a year ago. At that time he was taken to the Passavant hospital in a critical condition.  Both his arms had been broken and he had suffered twenty-four lacerations and four skull fractures.  Three blood transfusions were performed to save his life.

Mr. Daiches told police after the attack that a man he believed to be a narcotic addict gained entrance to his office at 6 o' clock in the evening and announced he was a robber.  Then the intruder forced Mr. Daiches to stretch out on the floor, after which he struck him on the head several times with a revolver and jumped on the prostrate body.  Police believe that the motive for the attack was personal.

Mr. Daiches appearance was altered as a result of his wounds.  He was reported to have been drinking heavily recently.  He frequently was seen in night clubs, but police were unable to find that he had any particular woman companion.  His business associates reported that no difficulties had been experienced.

Mr. Daiches was born in East Prussia, the son of a rabbi.  He was educated in England, came to Chicago in 1910 and studied law.  He became vice president of the advertising agency some time later and in 1923 became its president.  One of its recently acquired accounts was that of the Royal Distilling Company, but police found there was no difficulty attributable to the acquisition of this account.

Mrs. Daiches, who is prominent socially and in club life, is interested in the Zionist and Palestine movements, the police were told.  She is the former Belle Turner of Chicago.  Her trip was in connection with those interests.  She was believed to be somewhere on the Mediterranean Sea yesterday.  She was greatly interested in Jewish art and was planning to bring back some old country art objects.
The New York Times – March 4, 1934

Narcotics, robbery, beatings, alcohol - life in the fast lane can lead to sudden death.  May the soul of Eli Daiches, the rabbi's son, rest in peace.

Eli Daiches

Saturday, November 26, 2011


Some cemetery mysteries will have to remain mysteries.  Take the case of Sam Gitelson.  I was in Rosemont Park Cemetery (now called Zion Gardens) in Chicago the other day fulfilling a Find a  Grave photo request.  At one point I looked down and saw the gravestone of Samuel (Sam) Gitelson.  Sam died on August 20, 1941 and his stone says "Erected By His Friends".  I figured that Sam must have been alone in the world when he died, and that his friends chipped in for his gravestone.  A little research proved me wrong.  Sam's obituary from the Chicago Daily Tribune of August 21, 1941 is as follows:

GITELSON-Samuel Gitelson of 1236 S. Harding Avenue, father of Alfred, Milton-Nathan, Adelsylvia, Anna, Rebecca, and Marjorie.  Funeral services Friday, Aug, 22, 1 p.m., at chapel, 3246 W. Jackson Boulevard.  Burial Rosemont.  Los Angeles, Cal., papers please copy.  Kedzie 2394.

If Sam had six children why did his friends have to chip in for his headstone?  This morning I decided to look Sam up in to see if there was any addtional information.  There is an Ancestral File for Sam and it has the following note:

"Sam Gitelson came to London from Globoka with a cousin about age 19 in approximately 1896. His primary language was Ukranian. He had one sister that he left behind. He felt estranged from his family and did not discuss his family with wife or children."

So he was estranged from his family in the Ukraine, but what about his wife and six children in the United States?  His wife is not mentioned in his obituary - she may have been alive or dead in 1941 - but his six children are mentioned.  Was he estranged from his children as well?  Then why mention them in his obituary?  Why did his friends erect his tombstone?  We will probably never know.  May Sam find the peace which seems to have eluded him in this life.

Samuel Sam Gitelson

Friday, November 18, 2011

OUR DEAR SON AND BROTHER "RUD" - Ralph C. Berkelhamer

This one speaks for itself:

Capt. Ralph C. Berkelhamer, M.C., graduate of the University of Illinois Medical School, 1939, entered the service of his country in May, 1941.  In August, 1941 he was sent to the Philippine Islands as a Battalion Surgeon with the 45th Infantry Philippine Scouts.  He was captured at the fall of Bataan, April, 1942 and was imprisoned at Camp O'Donnell and later at the Cabanatuan Prison Camp.  At Cabnanautan he served as Detachment Commander of the hospital unit.  On October 1, 1944, he sailed from Manila aboard a Japanese prison ship bound for Japan.  On October 24, 1944, the vessel was sunk by submarine action in the South China Sea over 200 miles from the Chinese coast.  He is believed to have perished in this incident.

Another young life snuffed out defending our freedom.  We must never forget the sacrifices of these brave young men and women.  Captain Ralph C. Berkelhamer's grave is at Waldheim Jewish Cemetery, Gate 265, Ziditshover Section.  May his soul rest in peace.

Capt Ralph C. Berkelhamer

Capt Ralph C. Berkelhamer

Capt Ralph C. Berkelhamer
Capt Ralph C. Berkelhamer

Saturday, November 12, 2011


People often ask me why I spend my free time in cemeteries, photographing tombstones of people I have never met and are not my relatives.  I recently stumbled upon a poem that pretty well sums it up:


Wandering among the stones I see
The stones so weathered and worn
‘Tis difficult to find the date
On which the babe was born

I stare at the stone and am struck with awe
At the life that I knew was gone
This was someone's child, a babe so sweet
With loved ones to carry on

So I take a photo for all to see
For the family that remains
An everlasting memory of
A child of God's domain

I brush the weeds back from the stone
And say a silent prayer
For the babes that had no chance to live
And for mothers everywhere

The dove calls out it's mourning song
Among the stones so still
Echoes of the woes, through time
The choirs of despair

The stone will someday perish
The flowers will be gone
But a photo now remains of this
Their memory lives on!

And so my friend, don't hesitate
To film the weathered stone
Those who live within your hearts
Are never truly gone.

Author:  Jan Miller - used with permission

With thanks to fellow graver Baxter Fite who first made the poem known to me, to Geraldine Humes who directed me to Jan Miller as the poem's author - and especially to Jan Miller who graciously allowed me to use her poem on my blog.

Monday, November 7, 2011


I was at Irving Park Boulevard Cemetery in Chicago today filling a Find a Grave photo request.  While hunting for the gravestone I was supposed to photograph I came across the grave of PFC Robert Uttley who died on July 4, 1942.  I was sure that he had died in combat, but the Chicago Tribune archives had another story:


Pvt. First Class Robert Uttley, 20, who arrived in Chicago Thursday on leave from Fort Ord, Cal., drowned in Beverly Lake, four miles east of Dundee on Higgins Road where he was attending a picnic.  Uttley was a son of Mrs. Addie Khalar, 2915 Warren Boulevard.  His body was recovered.
Chicago Daily Tribune - July 5, 1942

Losing her son so close to home must have been even harder for his mother to take than if he had died in battle.  PFC Robert Uttley's grave is in the Highland Section of the Irving Park Boulevard Cemetery, Chicago.  May his soul rest in peace.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Many of the gravestones at Jewish Waldheim Cemetery in Forest Park have photos on them.  The gravestone for Burton Harris, however, had something else.  It has the obituary his classmates wrote for him after his untimely death.  Here's what they wrote:

BURTON HARRIS:  Born 1930, Died 1943

     Burton Harris, popular student of 309 died early on the morning of May 13.  He was thrown from his bicycle the previous night by an automobile.
     Even after his death, Burton will long be remembered by his many friends and relatives as an all around American boy and a real pal.  The entire school is grieved by his death.  As we go on through the years growing up and getting old we will always remember him as we saw him last, a healthy youngster full of high spirits and laughter.
     To Mr. and Mrs. Harris the pupils of his classes send their deepest sympathy.                                                                                                              Burton's Classmates

What a wonderful testimonial.  It is no wonder that Burton's parents wanted it added to his tombstone.  Burton's grave can be found at Gate 289 - Saroka Bessarabia.  May Burton Harris' soul rest in peace. 

Burton Harris

Burton Harris

Burton Harris

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

THE HERO OF THE FAVORITE - William A. Hofnauer

After reading about the heroic actions of William Hofnauer in helping rescue over forty persons from the sunken excursion ship the Favorite (see previous post), I decided to try to find where he was buried.  After some research I found William Hofnauer, his wife Lillian and their daughter Doris Hofnauer Kehm (Hofnauer's yacht was named the "Doris") in the mausoleum of Rosehill Cemetery on the lower level.  Here is his obituary and photos of his crypt:


William A. Hofnauer, 68, of 1200 Lake Shore dr., president of the Chicago Waste company, cotton waste processors, died yesterday in Grant hospital. In 1927, he and the three crewmen of his yacht, the Doris, a 185 footer, rescued forty persons from the lake when an excursion boat, the Favorite, foundered during a squall. Mr. Hofnauer received a citation from the city council and a gold police star. Mr. Hofnauer is survived by his widow, Lillian. Services will be held at 2 p.m. tomorrow in the chapel at 25 E. Erie st.
Chicago Daily Tribune - June 7, 1956

May the Hofnauers, and all the victims of the Favorite, rest in peace.

Monday, October 17, 2011


Most everyone is aware of the terrible disaster of the Eastland, a ship which turned over in the Chicago River in July of 1915.  Over 800 people died that day.  But I had never heard of the disaster of the Favorite, an excursion boat which capsized in Lake Michigan in July of 1927 killing twenty-six people, mostly women and children.  One day, while photographing graves in Jewish Waldheim Cemetery in Forest Park, I came upon the grave of two of the victims of the Favorite:  Celia Polen and her daughter Rose.   Here is the sad tale:


Storm Comes Up Suddenly.

Women and Children Struggle in Water After Craft Capsizes.

Yachtsman to the Rescue

Wealthy Chicagoan and Companions Save Many
Fighting for Life.

Weissmueller Gets Bodies.

Noted Swimmer, Diving With Brother, Brings Up 8

From Underneath Vessel.

CHICAGO, July 28 - With lightning flashing and thunder crashing, at least twenty-six excursionists, the majority of them women and children, were drowned in Lake Michigan this afternoon when the small power excursion boat Favorite capsized in a terrific squall.  One boy is still missing.

When derricks raised the vessel from the lake bottom just before midnight seven bodies were found in a cabin and the engine room.

The victims of the disaster, all being Chicagoans, except where noted, were as follows:

ABERNATHY, Robert, 4,Evanston
ABERNATHY, Charles, Jr., 3, Evanston
BERNDT, Mrs. Amanda
ERICKSON, Robert, 6
FENTON, Mrs. May, 46
FENTON, Vincent, 10
HENDRICK, Mrs. Fanny, 40
HENDRICK, Mary Jeanette, 6
HOLMES, Mrs. Fanny, Berwin
KOUTNEC, Harry, 7, Elmwood Park
KOUTNEC, Mrs. Olga, 38
MURRAY, George
MURRAY, Margaret, 8
PARENTI, Mrs. Mabel, 23
PARENTI, Anthony, 8 months old
POLEN, Mrs. Cecilia, 38
POZNER, Nathan, 40
POZNER, Bessie, 9
RESNICK, Mrs. Sarah, 24
RESNICK, Bernard, 5
SCHLAUDER, Eileen, 5
YOUNG, Mrs. Clara, 34
YOUNG, Lois, 5
Unidentified girl, 8  (subsequently identified by her father as Rose Polen)

Citera, Michael, 7

Tonight several official inquiries were begun.  Coroner Oscar Wolff impaneled a jury of business men who tomorrow will conduct an inquest.  State’s Attorney Robert E. Crowe and Police Chief Hughes directed separate inquiries.

All the passengers, numbering seventy-five, were cast into the water when the craft turned over.  The greater part of them were mothers and young children, some of them babes in arms, who had sought a trip on the lake to escape one of the city’s hottest days.

The disaster was plainly observable, from the Municipal Pier and from North Avenue beach were hundreds had gathered for bathing.  Sailing and power boats near the spot and others who put out at once from shore hastened to the rescue.

William Hofnauer, a wealthy yachtsman, and his guests and crew were among the first to reach the scene and pick up as many as the could of those still afloat.

The Favorite was a two-decked, sixty-four foot gasoline power boat plying between Lincoln Park and the Municipal Pier, three miles away.  At 3:30 o’clock, loaded with her cargo of children and their holiday-bent mothers, the craft shoved off from the pier at Fullerton avenue in Lincoln Park.

Bright sunshine played down upon them and the cooling breeze was a welcome relief to the sweltering passengers.   As the boat moved toward the Municipal Pier, running about a mile from shore, dark clouds appeared and the wind whipped up high waves.

Lightning flashed and then the thunder crashed .  In that moment of squall, almost attaining cyclonic proportions, a burst of rain struck the boat.

Terrified, the passengers on the shore side ran to the opposite rail and huddled there away from the storm.  Children clung whimpering to their mothers, and the latter, still unaware of real danger, comforted them.

The rush to this side caused the craft to list heavily.  The wind increased, adding to the list.

As the boat careened, a wave rose nearly to the rail.  The wave receded, then another came, and this one engulfed the lower deck and flooded the craft with water. 

Immediately while the cries of the children and the frantic screams of their mothers resounded, the Favorite toppled over, hurling its human freight into the water. 

Children and mothers were torn apart as all sought wildly to save themselves.  Some clung to the boat and were drowned.  Some were caught in the boat’s gear and were drowned.  Some, flung out and unable to swim, drowned.  The surface of the water was alive with those who could swim, many of them children paddling bravely, not knowing where to swim to, but just keeping above the water. 

Still the rain beat down in torrents, and the thunder and lightning crashed and added to the horror and distress.  Mr. Hofnauer, who lives at 1,540 Lake Shore Drive, and is President of the Chicago Waste Company,  was cruising in his yacht, the Doris.  With him was James O’Brien, his secretary; his captain, Christ Carlson, and a guest, Warren Corning of Wilmette.  They were bound for Corning’s home. 

When the squall hit them Mr. Hofnauer saw the Favorite was in distress.  Then a burst of lightning showed the Favorite capsizing.  Mr. Hofnauer ordered Captain Carlson to put on all speed and make for the overturned craft. 

As the Doris reached the capsized craft, lines were thrown to her and fastened.  Mr. Hofnauer jumped aboard the Favorite and pushed the survivors up to O’Brien.  Mr. Corning, President of the Warren Corning Company,  took charge of the life lines. 

“Aboard the Favorite there was pandemonium,” Mr. Hofnauer said.  “They were mostly women and children.  Everyone was shouting and weeping and tugging at each other.  ‘Save my child.’  ‘Save my mother.’  ‘Save my father.’  That’s all we heard.

“Some of them tore at each other and ripped away clothing in their frantic efforts to get aboard the Doris.  Others couldn’t be persuaded to leave the sinking hulk until they found their relatives.  We had to fight with many and carry them by force.  Most of them were children. 

The men were so exhausted from fright and being in the water that they couldn’t help us at all.  After forty-five minutes we knew there was no hope for those between decks, so we cut away and started for shore, leaving Captain Olson the only live man on the sunken boat. 

“Then we had a near panic.  With a crying, frightened, and hysterical and half-drowned crowd packed on the decks and stuffed like sardines in the cabin, the Doris settled in the water and listed until we were in danger of capsizing.  With the help of a young priest and a couple of other survivors who weren’t quite crazy, we got them to all stand still and came on safely.”

Mr. Hofnauer is a close friend of Mayor Thompson. 

“Captain Olson of the Favorite isn’t to blame”, Mr. Hofnauer said.  “We had a more seaworthy boat, and for five minutes we didn’t know whether we could weather the gale ourselves.”

The stories of O’Brien and Captain Carlson coincided with that told by Mr. Hofnauer. 

“They were all yelling ’Save me, save me’” O’Brien said.  “I crawled into the pilot’s cabin and pulled out two women and three kids who were half drowned and lugged them to the Doris.  There was another in the pilot’s cabin that I couldn’t get at until too late.  I had to leave the body there.”

“The body of a woman was caught between decks and a man and a young boy were tearing at it. 

“Let that alone and come aboard before you’re drowned!” I shouted.         

“Mother, mother”, wailed the boy, “Mother, don’t you hear?”

The man said “That’s my wife.  Oh, save her, save her!  Can’t somebody do something?”

“We worked awhile and got the woman’s body loose.  She was dead but they both clung to her and tried to pump the water out of her, all the time wailing ‘Mother’”.

Those rescued and the bodies taken from the water were hurried to shore at the Municipal Pier, at the Oak Street and North Avenue beaches and at Fullerton Avenue.  The Fire Department rushed to the scene every inhalator squad with oxygen machines and by prompt action saved many victims. 

Four women and seven children, all unconscious, were the first to be taken to the Municipal Pier.  All the children were resuscitated, some of them having been good swimmers and needing only warmth and stimulation to revive them.  One of the women, Mrs. Cora Bordensen, was revived and later taken to the Presbyterian Hospital.  The three other women were dead, an hour of work with oxygen machines failing to revive them.  The bodies were taken to an undertaking establishment, where three others had already been laid out.

There were ten more victims in another undertaking place, of whom five were identified.  An additional body in another morgue accounted for seventeen dead. 

As soon as news of the disaster was broadcast over the city, hundreds of relatives whose kin had gone holiday-making and had not returned started to search for them, and soon a fearful tour of the undertaking establishments had begun. 

The gruesome mission reminded policemen of similar scenes enacted twelve years ago last Sunday when the Eastland tipped over in the Chicago River, carrying hundreds to their death. 

News of the boat’s fate attracted thousands of Chicagoans to the lake shore.  A huge crowd gathered at North Avenue  to watch the rescuers bringing in bodies.  Others lined the shore from Fullerton Avenue south to the Municipal Pier.  Traffic became so dense that no motion was possible around the North Avenue zone and mounted policemen were summoned to clear the street and enable ambulances and fire squads to make their way.

Investigations to determine the cause of the disaster were started by a dozen departments.

Captain Arthur Olson, commander of the Favorite, with his chief engineer, George Jones, and three deck hands, was taken into custody and examined by the police.

Noted swimmers joined the rescuers and were taken to the scene in speed boats.  Among them were John Weissmueller, noted aquatic champion, and his brother, Peter, who dived repeatedly for bodies.  John alone brought up eight bodies.

There was one lifeboat on the craft, and three children made their way to shore in it.

Katherine Olson, ten years old, daughter of the captain, was on the boat selling candy.  Rescuers took her to the pier, where she gave as clear an account as any of the mishaps.

“The weather was fine when we started”, she began, “and it was to me just another trip in the hundreds I have taken.

“Then suddenly the terrible storm broke, and it was so strong that the waves got awfully high.  Then the rain came down in buckets, it seemed, and everybody on the shore of the boat ran to the other side. 

“The boat began to tip, and the kids were crying, and I was scared plenty myself.  I saw one big wave come almost into the boat, but it went back.  Then another one came and went over us all.

“I don’t remember the rest clearly.  There was a lot of terrible howling.  I fell into the lake, and felt the bottom with my feet; then I paddled my way up and managed to swim around until someone picked me up.”

L.B. Hendricks, of Sterling, Ill., had sat down on the shore to watch his wife and two children take the excursion trip.

He saw the storm rise and then, in the lightning flashed, saw the boat capsize.  Distracted, he paced the shore waiting for the first rescue craft to reach the shore.  When it did, the bodies of his wife, Mrs. Fannie Hendricks, and the children, Murray, seven years old,  and Mary, ten years old, were lying on the deck.  Hendricks, crazed by grief, collapsed.

Seven members of the Berndt family were on the Favorite.  Four are believed to have been drowned.  Before she plunged into Lake Michigan Mrs. Berndt threw her five-year-old daughter, Lois Lorraine, into the water.

“I have heart trouble”, said the mother, “and to avoid dragging my baby down if I should collapse in the water I kept away from her.  I knew she could swim, and after we both struck the water I saw her swimming without any panic.  I knew my duty was to keep away from her and to keep my mouth shut.  I asked some men in a rowboat to pull us into their boat, but they refused.  Finally they threw us a rope.”

Captain John F. Hansen, head of the local board of United States Steamship Inspectors, will start an investigation of the condition of the Favorite preceding the accident.  So far as his records go, he said tonight, the boat was regularly inspected and in good condition.  Its carrying capacity was 160 passengers and no charge was made that it was overloaded.

Captain Olson and his crew were still being examined at a late hour by Police Chief Hughes and several Assistant State’s Attorneys at the State’s Attorney Office.  Their early investigation tended to exonerate the captain of any blame since the boat had been proclaimed safe by Federal inspectors and was said to have its full quota of life preservers and other life saving equipment.

Charles T. Abernathy, an employee of the Public Service Company, declared that four of five life preservers which he seized and attempted to place around his wife’s waist had straps which had rotted and broke when he sought to fasten them.  Two Abernathy children, Robert, 4 years old, and Buddy, 3, were drowned.
The New York Times - July 29, 1927

Rose Polen

Rose Polen

Celia Polen and her daughter Rose, are buried at Gate 97 - Congregation Anshe Chodorkov.  May the souls of Celia and Rose, and all of the victims of the Favorite, rest in peace.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


Meyer Iglowitz was the 20 year old son of Herman and Fannie Iglowitz of Chicago.  Herman was a well known jeweler with a store on Roosevelt Road.  On August 18, 1913 Meyer traveled to the Michigan side of Lake Michigan with his friends for a day of fun but unfortunately Meyer did not come back alive.  Since the Iglowitz family were Orthodox Jews an autopsy was forbidden - plus they had to get Meyer's body back to Chicago for burial as soon as possible.  Pressure was put on the coroner of Ganges Township, Michigan who finally gave up and wrote "Death was evidently due to drowning - He was dead when I saw him first." on Meyer's death certificate. 

Meyer H Iglowitz

Meyer H Iglowitz

Meyer and his family were member of Anshe Knesses Israel synagogue ("The Russiche Shul") on Douglas Boulevard and actually lived right across the street, so Meyer's grave can be found in Waldheim Cemetery at Gate 25 - Anshe Knesses Israel #2.  May he rest in peace.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

PRIEST KILLED - 2 FRIENDS HURT - Rev. Raphael Ashenden

Fr. Raphael Ashenden was a rising star in the Archdiocese of Chicago in the 1920s.  He was one of the  founders, along with the great Bishop Bernard J. Sheil, of the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO).  Who know how far he would have risen in the Church - but God had other plans...


The Rev. R. J. Ashenden, head of the Catholic Youth organization, 30 North La Salle street, was fatally injured last night and two friends escaped with slight injuries when the car in which they were returning to Chicago from as Boy Scout meeting in Techny, Ill., collided with another car.

Father Ashenden, who was 38 years old and resided at 2060 Roosevelt road, suffered a skull fracture and internal injuries, which resulted in his death at 1:15 a.m. at the St. Francis hospital, Evanston. His companions were Casey Jones, 5430 Crystal street, and William Campbell, an attorney at 175 West Jackson boulevard. Northbrook police arrested the other driver, Hans Boulokka, 55 years old, of Northbrook.

This death and four others raised the Cook county motor toll for the year to 150.
Chicago Daily Tribune - February 11, 1931

Fr. Raphael Ashenden is buried in the Priests Circle of Calvary Cemetery in Evanston, Illinois.  May he rest in peace. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

MOTHER GIVES ALARM - Anna-Nathan-Dave Koplovitz

From the sacred grounds of Jewish Waldheim Cemetery comes a story almost too horrible to contemplate:

Fatal Fire in Humble West Side Home of Benjamin Kaplan

Two children were burned to death, a girl 4 years old and a boy 6 years old, and a third child, a girl about 10 years old, was burned perhaps fatally in a fire early this morning in a two story brick building at 1104 West Fourteenth street.

Benjamin Kapovitz, a peddler, is the father of the children.

The dead children are Nathan, 6, and David, 4 years of age. Annie, 10, was probably fatally burned.

Mother Gives Alarm

The family occupied the first floor in the rear of the building, which is of brick construction. The whole rear of the building was in flames when the mother ran into the street screaming and gave the alarm.

Pedestrians attracted to the scene by her cries carried the children to the street.

The younger girl was dead when carried out and the boy died while being taken to the county hospital. Efforts were made there to save the life of the third child. The bodies of the dead children are at the county morgue.

They were burned to death in their beds. The mother rescued her nursing baby.

Others Driven Out

Chief Michael Merwin of the seventh battalion with engine companies Nos. 18 and 6, answered the single alarm of fire sent in and quickly got the flames under control.
Chicago Daily Tribune, January 23, 1916

Anna, Nathan and Dave are buried together in Gate 19 - Gomle Chesed Shel Emeth.  May they rest in peace.

Anna Koplovitz

Nathan Koplovitz

Dave Koplovitz

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


A sad story to remind us that money doesn't buy happiness:


Mrs. Florence Hill, 50, Leaps From Her 5th Av. Apartment
After Leaving Note to Boy.

She Had Large Fortune.

Ill, She Writes of ‘Agony’ in Messages – 
Divorced Husband to Fight for Custody of Lad.

Mrs. Florence B. Hill, 50 years old, reputed possessor of a fortune of $1,000,00 and daughter of the late George M. Hill, Chicago publisher, committed suicide early yesterday, the police said, by leaping from her ninth-floor apartment at 1212 Fifth Avenue, near 102nd Street, into a rear court-yard. 

Notes addressed to Curtis, her 8-year-old son, and to friends indicated that Mr. Hill had been despondent over illness.  The body was found at 5:30 A.M. by Fred Kearns, the building fireman.  An ambulance physician, summoned immediately said the woman had been dead several hours.

The boy, who was to return soon to his class at the Peekskill Military Academy was asleep in the three-room apartment when detectives of the East 104th Street station arrived.  Bewildered at the intrusion, he protested against being awakened.  He was told that his mother had become ill and had been taken to a hospital.

The police found the following note addressed to the boy:  “Oh, Curtis!  I am in such agony I can’t go on.  Please strive on always to be a fine young man, and the only way is to follow your Bible and seek your God.  I know this may seem strange to you, but mother is unable to write and tell you how much I am suffering.  So love and blessing, Mother.”

Another note was addressed to “Dear Anne Murch,” a friend living on the floor below in the same building.  It said:
“Will you take care of Curtis until my cousin, William Himmel, arrives?  There is a bag of jewelry in the silver pitcher in the dining room which is for my Aunt Nellie.  I am in such mental torture I can’t go on.  Much love to you.  Florence.”

Mr. Himmel, notified of his cousin’s death, arrived by plane from Chicago last night and immediately took charge of the funeral arrangements.  He said that burial would be in Rosehill Cemetery, in Chicago.
In other notes Mrs. Hill asked the police to communicate with Mrs. Harold Conover at the Hotel; Croydon and with Mrs. George H. Payne at 145 West Fifty-fifth Street, both friends.

Mrs. Murch was not reached and Mrs. Conover, who had known Mrs. Hill for twenty years, took the boy to her apartment.  She said her friend had passed August with relatives in Chicago and had returned last week.  A few days ago she visited a physician concerning her illness, from which she had been suffering for several months.  Mrs. Conover said Mrs. Hill might have been alarmed by the physician’s diagnosis of her condition.

The silver and boxes yielded more than 200 pieces of jewelry and twenty shares of stock.  Mrs. Conover said she believed the jewelry was worth about $25,000 and that Mrs. Hill had even more valuable jewelry in a safe deposit box.  The jewelry included watches, brooches, eighteen bracelets, fifty-five pairs of earrings, lockets, fifty-eight strings of beads, thirty-one rings and many other articles.

A legal fight over custody of the boy was indicated last night.  Mrs. Conover said she understood that Mr. Himmel was his guardian, but Chicago dispatched reported that Mrs. Hill’s second husband, Curt von Puttkamer, whom she divorced, intended to start legal proceedings to gain custody.

Asked about the likelihood of a suit for guardianship, Mr. Himmel said he knew nothing of Mr. von Puttkamer’s plans.  He would not comment on what action, if any, he contemplated to carry out the guardianship.

Mrs. Conover said her friend had inherited most of her fortune from her mother, who died about two years ago, when mother and daughter were living in Forest Hills.  Mrs. Hill came to this city five years ago.

Mrs. Hill sued Mr. Puttkamer for separate maintenance in 1928, charging he had abducted their son and had attempted to get $25,000 for his return.  Later Mrs. Hill won a divorce on the ground her husband was habitually drunk and she received custody of the boy.

Mr. Puttkamer announced through his attorney in Chicago yesterday that court action would be begun if Mr. Himmel insisted on keeping the boy.  Benjamin Ehrlich, the attorney, said that in addition to a $750,000 trust fund Mrs. Hill had real estate holdings that brought her fortune up to $1,000,000.

The Hill fortune was built up by George M. Hill, who conducted a publishing and advertising concern.  Mr. Himmel, who is the son of the aunt mentioned in the note to Mrs. Murch, is an officer of the White Book House, a Chicago publishing concern.

Mrs. Hill’s first marriage was with John Cuneo, millionaire head of the Cuneo Press.  When she divorced him in 1926 it was reported she received a substantial settlement, according to Chicago dispatches.
New York Times –Sep. 12, 1935

Florence Hill is interred in the Hill Family Room in the mausoleum in Rosehill Cemetery, Chicago. May she rest in peace.

Florence B. Hill

Florence B. Hill