Wednesday, March 28, 2012
I was recently in Wunders Cemetery on North Clark Street in Chicago. It is a small German Lutheran Cemetery between the famous Graceland Cemetery to the north and "Jewish Graceland", three small Jewish cemeteries to the south. I was looking for the grave of William Wieboldt, founder of the Wieboldt department store chain. While looking for Mr. Wieboldt's grave, I came across a small red upright gravestone that is for Charlie Koehler, a boy that died just short of the age of eleven on March 18, 1896.
I have already mentioned how I feel about the graves of children and this one was additionally interesting in that it had a poem on it in German. The poem is as follows:
KAUM FING ICH AN ZU LEBEN.
ZU MEINER ELTERN FREUD!
DA WARD MIR SCHON GEGEBEN,
DIE KRON DER HERRLICHKEIT
LIEBE ELTERN TROSTET EUCH
ICH WANDLE JETZT IN GOTTES REICH
LIEBE ELTERN GUTE NACHT
MEIN JESUS SPRACH ES IST VOLLDRAGT
Even though my maternal grandfather Jacob Kramer was born near Cologne, Germany, I don't speak German. My Mother never learned German because many times during the twentieth century it was not wise to let people hear you speaking German in the United States. Unfortunately my Mother could only count to ten in German - that was it. Because she never learned German, she could not teach it to me. Luckily I have a friend who is a native German, and she translated Charlie's poem for me:
I HAD HARDLY BEGUN TO LIVE.
TO MY PARENTS JOY
THEY LABOR FOR THE GLORY
OF THIS MAGNIFICENT TASK.
DEAR BELOVED PARENTS CONSOLE EACH OTHER
I WANDER KNOW IN GOD'S KINGDOM
DEAR BELOVED PARENTS GOOD NIGHT
MY JESUS SPOKE - IT IS FINISHED.
Unfortunately Charlie's death certificate is very hard to read but he died from Laryngitis with Bronchitis at the age of 10 years, 8 months and 22 days. He had been sick for just seven days.
May Charlie and his grieving family rest in peace.
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
I have come to the conclusion that most of the stories I tell here are going to be sad ones. There will be an occasional Lazarus Finkelstein who was hale and hearty until he died at the age of nearly 110, but those stories are the exception. This week we will return to my own family - to the story of my cousin Billy Craig's wife Suzanne who died tragically in a fire on New Years Eve 1964:
MRS. WILLIAM CRAIG PERISHES IN
NEW YEARS EVE FIRE
Mrs. Susan Craig, 30, wife of William Craig, 35, of Fox Lake, died New Year's Eve in a fire which destroyed the home of her brother, Byron Nelson, 42, of Oak Lawn. Mrs. Craig's husband is the son of Raphael Craig and a nephew of Edward Craig of Lacon.
The blaze which is thought to have been caused by a discarded cigarette, occurred at 8929 S. 49th Street, Oak Lawn. Mrs. Craig's husband suffered cuts on his hands when he smashed an upstairs window in an attempt to rescue her from the bi-level home.
Her brother and his wife, Mary Ann, 33, were seriously burned. Their daughter Diane, 11, dropped from an upper window and escaped injury.
Mrs. Craig was the daughter of Mrs. Georgina Nelson. She is survived by her husband, three children, William, Kimberly and Michael; a brother, Byron Nelson, and a sister Betty Jane Heath.
Funeral services were held at 11 A.M. Monday at the Memorial Chapel, 5200 W. 95th Street. Burial was in Oak Hill Cemetery.
Lacon (Illinois) Home Journal - January, 1965
Although Suzanne's husband William (Billy)'s injuries were not life-threatening, he died just two years later in 1967 at the age of 37, leaving three orphaned children.
Suzanne is buried in the cemetery her family helped found, Oak Hill Cemetery in Chicago.
May the souls of Suzanne Adelia Nelson Craig and her husband William, rest in peace.
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
As you can probably tell from reading this blog, I am very sentimental. I mentioned before how I photograph the gravestones of all members of the military who died in action. I also photograph most of the gravestones of children that I find. Although their stories must be sad, I feel drawn somehow to those little ones who were taken from us too soon. Such is the case when I was recently on a photographing mission in Westlawn Cemetery in Norridge. I chanced upon the following tombstone:
I knew there was a sad story here and unfortunately I was correct. Here is the writeup from the Chicago Tribune:
BOY, 9, STRUCK, KILLED LEAVING SCHOOL BUS
Jeffrey Kaiserman, 9, of 3645 Davis St., Skokie, was fatally injured yesterday when he was struck by an auto after alighting from a private school bus in front of his home, police said. He died shortly after the accident in Skokie Valley Hospital.
Policeman John Ersfled said the boy alighted from the bus which was facing west in Davis Street, and walked around the rear of the vehicle and into the path of an eastbound auto driven by Edward Bright, 18, of 2411 Cowper Ave., Evanston.
The bus driver, Kenneth Atwater, 21, of Chapel Hill, N.C., a Northwestern University student, was charged with failure to activate the bus signals.
Chicago Tribune - October 31, 1973
Does one ever "get over" the loss of a child? I don't think so. May Jeffrey Kaiserman rest in peace.
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
I must admit that I am always curious when I come across the gravestone of a member of the military who died in action. I wonder how and where they died and always take a photo for future reference. Jewish Waldheim Cemetery in Forest Park has many buried there who made the supreme sacrifice. So naturally when I came across the large elaborate monument of Samuel Meisenberg at Gate 18 (Independent Western Star Order) I figured that there must be a story there - but little did I realize just how big a story it was. (Note: I understand that according to the family the correct spelling of their last name is "Mizenberg" but since all contemporary accounts use "Meisenberg" that's what I'll use here.)
EXPECT 100,000 AT SAMMY'S FUNERAL
Boy Scouts, Marines, Militia, Regular Army to be Represented in March
Body on Way to City
Vera Cruz Hero Will Lie in State in City Hall
The body of Samuel Meisenberg, the Ghetto boy who ran away from his home at 1425 South Racine avenue and enlisted in the Marine Corps under the name of Sammy Marten and was killed at Vera Cruz, is believed to be on its way home.
The train will be met by an escort of soldiers and a committee of aldermen and citizens who will take the body to City Hall, where it will lie in state in the council chambers. Chief Gleason will detail twelve policemen at the bier.
It is expected 100,000 citizens will march at the funeral, which it is planned to hold on Sunday. Fifty Boy Scouts from the Marks Nathan Jewish Orphans Home will take part in the procession with 6,000 members of the Independent Western Star Order and representations from other Jewish organizations. Squads of marines, militia and regulars also will march.
New Letter Received.
Meyer Meisenberg, brother of Chicago's hero, received a letter dated April 20, two days before "Sammy" was killed, and written from the "U.S.S. Prairie".
"I am getting along pretty good," he says "and hope to hear the same for you. As for my trade - wireless telegraphy - if it were not any good, as you seem to think, I would not learn it. Do you know that I will get $110 a month and do only five hour watches a day? I am getting the running of the machine down pretty fine, and as soon as I and my friend get our machines we will get promoted to positions as full wireless operators. I expected to get it April 25. Then I'll get my promotion right away. I have learned to swim pretty good."
Was Saving His Money.
There were also letters to his brother Eddie and his sister Becky. "Give my regards to pa and ma, and my best wishes for him," he says, "kiss him for me. Write soon. I am saving some money so in case I get back to the United States I can go home on furlough and buy myself a suit of clothes. Goodby to all. SAMMY."
But before Samuel Meisenberg could be laid to rest in Chicagoland he had to take a trip to New York first:
NAVY HEADS TO HONOR DEAD
Daniels and Party Steam Out to Meet Funeral Ship Montana
Reach New York Sunday
Wilson Will Deliver Eulogy at Services Monday
Washington, D.C., May 8 - With Secretary Daniels and a party of navy department officials aboard, the presidential yacht Mayflower steamed down the Potomac late night to meet at the Virginia capes the cruiser Montana which is bringing home the bodies of the American victims of the seizure of Vera Cruz. The Mayflower will reach Hampton Roads early tomorrow and soon afterward will join the Montana which tonight was steaming northward from Cape Hatteras.
The two vessels will reach New York, anchoring Sunday afternoon off the Battery, and guarded by a detachment from the Montana.
The funeral cortege will move from the Battery at 9 o'clock Monday morning and proceed to the Brooklyn navy yard. It will halt in City Hall plaza in Manhattan where schoolchildren will chant a hymn in honor of the dead.
Wilson to Make Only Address.
President Wilson's tribute to the valor and sacrifice of the bluejackets and marines will be the only address of the memorial services. Prayers and the benediction will be said by Chaplain William G. Cassard, U.S.N. Rabbi Wise, and the Very Rev. John P. Chadwick.
President Wilson will leave for New York by rail Sunday night and the congressional delegation will reach New York early Monday. Members of the senate committee named today are Senators Robinson, Saulsbury, O'Gorman, Vardaman, Gallinger, Kenyon, and Brady.
Lewis Gives Eulogy in Senate.
Senator James Hamilton Lewis of Illinois delivered a brief eulogy of the dead sailors and marines in the senate today.
"A United States warship is solemnly bearing to our shores the nation's dead who died at the command of duty in Mexico." he said, "These men were of the many, who from humble places in life's assignment, stepped forth to dedicate their lives to their country's need.
"In loftiness of soul, but in humility of duty, they consecrated their lives to the honor of their flag and to the glory of their nation.
"Behold them! The first four, completing the ever present mystic square, personifying the all: Daniel Haggerty, an Irishman, a descendant of those who marched with Patrick Cladburne (sic) from the south and Phil Sheridan from the north; John Schumacher, the German, the offspring of those who fought for us under Steuben; George Poinsett, of the race of those who marched with Lafayette, and Samuel Meisenberg, the Jew, the child of people without a country, but now a son claimed by a nation."
Chicago Daily Tribune - May 9, 1914
Sammy's trip to New York before he came home for the last time gave Chicago time to prepare an appropriate sendoff for him:
CHICAGO TODAY PAYS LAST HONOR TO BATTLE VICTIM
Thousands Will Line Streets for Samuel Meisenberg Funeral Cortege
Crush at City Hall
Several Women Injured in Frantic Rush to View Body Lying in State
Burial Will be at Waldheim
The Chicago marine who was killed at Vera Cruz will be buried with full military honors today. Soldiers and sailors in uniform, with bands playing, will lead part of the way from a synagogue to Waldheim Cemetery with the body of Samuel Meisenberg. The funeral procession will include hundreds of public officials and headed by Gov. Dunne, Senator Sherman and Senator Lewis and Mayor Harrison.
Countless thousands of spectators are expected to bank the line of march to the cemetery. The police are prepared to avert a repetition of the near riot which ensued as the casket lay in state in the city hall. Several women were injured in the crush.
Seldom has the police force had such throngs of struggling men, women, and children to deal with as fought for places to view the casket and the three processions yesterday. After the casket was taken from the train at the La Salle street station in the morning, it was borne to the city hall, from there to undertaking rooms at 3654 W. Twelfth street.
Services at 10 a.m. Today.
At 6 o'clock this morning the body of the dead marine will be taken from the undertaker's chapel to the Anse Kneseth Israel synagogue at Douglas Boulevard and South Homan avenue, where the services will be held at 10 o'clock.
The program includes addresses by the governor, Senators Lewis and Sherman, the mayor, and Judge Hugo Pam. The sermon will be by Rabbi E. Epstein and the prayer service by Rev. Kalman Klenovitz. A prayer will also be said by Rabbi Vezin.
The funeral procession will form at 9:30 a.m. in Ogden avenue at South California avenue. It will include more than 1,000 members of the Illinois National guard and United States marines in uniform.
Order of the Procession.
The order of the procession will be as follows:
Police Motorcycle squad.
Police on foot.
United States Naval Reserve band.
Grand Marshal Capt. Robert Y. Rhea and aide.
Firing squad of United States Marines,
led by Capt. Romberg and Capt. Miller.
Sailors from Great Lakes Training school.
Sailors of Illinois naval reserve.
Infantry, First, Second, and Seventh regiments, I.N.G.
Calvary, First regiment I.N.G.
Pall bearers and family.
Enlisted men not under arms.
Col. H.A. Greene, U.S.A. and aide.
Gov. Dunne and aide.
Senators, representatives and state officials.
Mayor Harrison and city officials.
The Chicago band.
Funeral committee in carriages.
Marks Nathan Jewish Orphans'
home band and Boy Scouts.
Fraternal organizations and representatives of congregations.
Among the organizations that will be represented in line are the Spanish War veterans, Washington Post, G.A.R.; Knights of Joseph; and the Progressive Order of the West. The last named expects to have 1,000 men in line.
Line of March.
The line of march will be as follows:
Starting at Ogden and California avenues,
west to South Albany avenue,
north to West Twelfth street,
west to Independence boulevard,
south to Douglas boulevard,
east to the synagogue,
then east to Kedzie avenue,
north to the north drive of Douglas boulevard,
west to Independence boulevard,
north to Jackson boulevard.
The cortege, with the exception of the carriages, will disband there.
The carriages will proceed to Waldheim cemetery.
Crowd Waits at Station.
Meisenberg's body was brought to Chicago on the Lake Shore Limited, which arrived at 11:50 a.m. An hour before the train arrived the station was crowded with members of the reception committee and curious spectators.
The committee of seventy-five men included members of the Illinois senate, house of representatives and the city council. A separate committee representing the Independent Western Star order was also on hand.
The family of the marine was given a chance to view the casket at the station before it was placed in the hearse. With Morris Meisenberg, the father, was Mrs. Meisenberg, their daughter Rebecca, and an elder son, Meyer. Meyer had accompanied the body from New York.
Thousands Line La Salle Street.
Thousands of persons lined La Salle street from the station to the city hall. They waited patiently as the casket was carried from the train.
As the funeral procession passed, business was suspended. Bankers and clerks, brokers and office boys, streamed out of the tall office buildings and swelled the throngs on the sidewalks. Others appeared at high windows and climbed on fire escapes.
At the city hall the cortege was met by the mayor. The casket was lifted from the hearse and carried into the corridor, where it was placed in the rotunda under a catafalque, to lie in state.
Near Riot at City Hall.
Within minutes after the coffin had been placed in the rotunda of the city hall under its canopy of black and purple cloth, there came a stampede. Persons who wished to view the casket had been allowed to crowd the long corridors leading to the four streets of City Hall square. There was no semblance of order, except directly around the bier.
Suddenly there came a wild rush of spectators from the La Salle street entrance. They swept the police aside and crowded to the casket. Others from the other entrances swept forward, and for a moment the canopy rocked. There were fifty policemen in the corridors, but they were helpless.
Lieut. James Conroy sent in a riot call and in a few minutes fifty more policemen arrived on the run. They fought their way through the crowd and in fifteen minutes the lobby was cleared out.
Crush Causes Women to Faint.
Women screamed and struggled in vain to free themselves. Several of them fainted, and were carried into the city collector's office and into other offices upstairs. One woman, whose name was not obtained, carried a year old child, which was nearly crushed to death in the mob. Among those who were slightly injured were:
- Mrs. Mabel White, 1327 West Van Buren street.
- Mrs. Edna Warbeck, 3742 Cicero avenue.
- Mrs. Florence Meiger, 1412 South Halsted street.
- Miss Helen Barr, 139 South Homan avenue.
- Miss Katherine Roden, 1251 North Dearborn street.
- Mrs. Ella B. Taylor, 1725 West Adams street.
- Mrs. Charles Steeple, North Halsted street and West North avenue.
- Mrs. Anna Berkstein, 1229 Johnson street.
- Robert Hoerder, of the city collector's office.
Mrs. Morris Meisenberg, mother of the marine, was crushed and fainted. Some of the women were taken to the Iroquois Memorial hospital in police ambulances.
Five Thousand in Crowd.
It was estimated that a crowd of 5,000 persons surrounded the city hall and flooded its corridors when the rush came. After ordered was restored about the bier spectators were allowed to pass in review before the casket. In two double lines they entered the Washington street entrance and passed out into Randolph street.
An average of 140 persons passed the casket every minute for more than three hours, from a little before 1 until 4 o'clock. It was estimated that 15,000 persons bared their heads and viewed the casket while it lay in state.
The coffin was covered with two American flags, on which were placed floral pieces. At either side were ferns and palms. The active pallbearers, who carried the coffin into and out of the city hall, stood in attention before it. They were Sergeants McCoy, Eades, Neidle, Griffiths, Stone, and Shapiro of the Naval Reserve corps, commanded by Capt. R.Y. Rhea and Sergeant L. Putnam.
Doors Locked After Crush.
The doors on the La Salle street side had been locked after the stampede and no one was allowed to enter. Corporation Counsel Sexton and the commissioner of public works engaged in a dispute with an obstinate policeman, but they were forced to go around to the Washington street entrance.
Among those who passed before the catafalque was Capt. J.T. Paul of the Nebraska National Guard, who came as the representative of he governor of his state, Chief Ogallalla Fire and the wife of Chief Little Bear, Sioux Indians, brought bouquets which they laid on the casket.
In line also were cadets from military academies in uniform, members of the G.A.R., and Spanish war veterans.
Most of the persons who passed before the bier expected to catch a glimpse of the face of the dead marine, but they were disappointed, for the coffin was sealed.
Body Borne From City Hall.
The marines carried their comrade's body to the hearse, which waited in La Salle Street, at 4 o'clock. Accompanied by the Meisenberg family and members of the funeral committee, a slow procession was begun to the undertaking rooms of Weinstein & Neirman at 3654 West Twelfth street.
After the procession had turned into Twelfth street from South Halsted street it was viewed by thousands who blocked the walks, crowded the windows and sought places of vantage on the fire escapes. The spectators bared their heads as the cortege passed.
All night the coffin, draped with flags and loaded down with flowers, rested in the undertaker's chapel. Candles burned at the head, according to the Jewish custom.
A crowd estimated at 20,000 gathered about the undertaking rooms at night. Several thousand formed in line and passed through the chapel to view the body.
The crowd was thrown into excitement when boys strewed percussion caps on the street car tracks a short distance from the undertaking establishment, causing a series of explosions. Another disturbance resulted when the police arrested two men who refused to obey commands. Several women were knocked down and bruised.
Committee Accompanies Body.
The committee which accompanied the body to the undertaking rooms included Dr. George Sultan, George Weil, N.H. Bolotin, Jacob Schwartz, Paul Rissman, Paul Wittkowsky, H.M. Barnett, J. Loedner, D.T. Alexander, I. Klavans, Samuel Weinstein, and Ald. McNichols.
Resolutions on the death of Meisenberg were adopted during the day by the county board, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Dartmouth alumni, and other organizations.
Chicago Daily Tribune - May 14, 1914
Sammy's final "sendoff" from the City of Chicago took place with much fanfare on Thursday, May 14, 1914:
PAY LAST HONORS TO DEAD MARINE
Body of Meisenberg Buried At Waldheim After Impressive Ceremony.
Volleys Fired At Grave
Governor, Mayor, and Senator Lewis Speakers at Synagogue Service.
The burial of Sammy Meisenberg, the Chicago marine killed during the occupation of Vera Cruz took place yesterday afternoon at Waldheim. Standing in a drizzle of rain, a squad of marines fired three volleys over the open grave. A few handfuls of earth thumped on the coffin box. A bugler stepped forward and sounded "Taps," the last rite of a funeral service for an American soldier. The spectators turned as the last note died away and climbed into their carriages and automobiles.
Funeral Parade and Service.
The burial service was preceded by a funeral parade and service in the Anshe Keneseth Israel synagogue at Douglas Boulevard and South Homan avenue. Addresses were made by Gov. Edward F. Dunne, Mayor Harrison, Senator James Hamilton Lewis, and other state officials.
Long before daylight in the little undertaking establishment at 3654 West Twelfth street, where the body lay all night guarded by detectives, groups of sleepy eyed men and sobbing women passed silently by the casket. They came mostly from the vicinity of the Meisenberg residence at 1450 South Racine Avenue, and said they had stopped on their way to work. Hundreds of men, women and children had visited the undertaking rooms before 6 o'clock. An hour before the casket was removed from the little chapel members of the Meisenberg family entered. Rebecca, Sammy's sister, carried a large wreath of leaves and ferns. It bore a card with the inscription: "From President Wilson, Washington, D.C." It was put on the casket.
Mother of Marine Faints.
Mrs. Meisenberg, mother of Sammy, fainted and was supported by her son and daughter. The escort committee gathered up the floral offerings and stood to one side as the mother on the arm of her husband and the other relatives passed by and fell in behind the hearse. According to Jewish custom the members of the immediate family walked behind the hearse, but before two blocks had been traversed, Mrs. Meisenberg collapsed a second time, and rode the rest of the way in a carriage.
The parade proper started at South California and Ogden avenues. First came a squad of motorcycle policemen, who cleared the streets. Then came the mounted police, a platoon of policemen, band, commander of escort, aids, firing squad, infantry, blue jackets from the navy, cavalry, clergy, and the hearse, guarded by the pallbearers and followed by members of the family.
Then came enlisted men not under arms, and Col. Greene of the United States army and his aids.
Orphans Wave Flags at Cortege.
As the procession passed the Marks Nathan Jewish Orphans' home at 1550 Albany avenue 800 children of the orphanage stood in front and waved flags. A band of 200 Boy Scouts from the orphanage in uniform fell in behind the procession.
A block further on Gov. Dunne and his staff were standing on the porch of the Orthodox Jewish Home for the Aged. With the governor were Col. Edwin Romberg, Col. M.R. Kelly, and Col. J.K. Simm. They entered a taxicab as the hearse passed and followed behind the Meisenberg family.
As the cortege neared the synagogue the police had difficulty in keeping back the crowd that had gathered in the streets. Spectators jammed the entrance to the edifice and reluctantly withdrew when force was threatened by the police. Those in the streets surged back and forth, and Miss Eva Cartabbi and Miss Alma Kiesel were injured. Ambulances stationed at the synagogue for just such an emergency carried them to their homes.
The casket was halted in front of the biema. Those given seats were the governor, the mayor, Senator Lewis, Congressman A.J. Sabath, Judge Hugo Pam, Judge Marcus Cavanaugh, Judge Thomas S. Scully, Col. F. Romberg, Attorney Elijah N. Zoline, Sheriff Michael Zimmer, Coroner Peter M. Hoffman, State Senator Samuel Ettelson, Col. Milton J. Foreman, Ald. John Toman, Rabbi E. Epstein, B. Horwich, chairman of the funeral arrangements committee, and M. Salk, president of the synagogue.
Mr. Horwich was introduced by Mr. Salk and delivered a brief address in which he compared the conditions of the Jews in Russia to those of Jews in America. He then introduced Cantor Milkowski, who went to the balcony to lead the choir.
Extends Sympathy to Chicago.
The funeral sermon was delivered by Rabbi Epstein, who introduced the mayor. The latter extended the sympathy of Chicago to members of the Meisenberg family.
"While this foreign boy was giving his life for his country", he said, "our representatives in congress were fighting about the immigration bill, some of them wanting to exclude foreigners who could not pass the literacy test. If that test had been in force we would not have had this boy, Samuel Meisenberg, to die for us."
The mayor was followed by Gov. Dunne. "All honor to the dead and the race from which he sprung," said the governor. "As he died, cheerfully and proudly, so will other men of that same race, in the crises yet to come, prove their fidelity to this nation and its policies."
Choir Takes Up Sad Chant.
The choir in the balcony took up the low, sad chant of "Eil Mone Rachamin" in honor of the heroes of Vera Cruz. Mrs. Meisenberg fainted again and had to be carried from the building.
Congressman Sabath spoke briefly and was followed by Judge Pam, after which Rabbi Rappeoport offered prayer. Mrs. Meisenberg was led back to her seat. Senator Lewis was the last speaker. His address was applauded.
"To Samuel Meisenberg fate gave humble birth," he said. "His country gave him opportunity. He gave service to his country that gives glory to his people and honor to his nation. For future history of his existence it shall be sufficient to inscribe on his tombstone: "Samuel Meisenberg, born a Jew, lived an American, died a patriot."
The marine pallbearers stepped forward and lifted the coffin from its resting place. A hush fell upon the crowd without as the stalwart marines placed their burden reverently in the hearse. Then the cortege moved.
The grave was close to the entrance to the cemetery. An area had been roped off for the ceremonies. Two moving picture camera men were mounted on a coffin box, another was on the roof of the grave diggers' cottage, and still another was hooked over the top of a fence.
Help Hold Back Crowds.
City officials and lodge representatives formed a square and helped hold back the crowds who had broken through the guard ropes. As the body was lowered into the grave more eulogies were spoken.
Chicago Daily Tribune - May 15, 1914
So, after much fanfare, young Samuel Meisenberg was laid to rest a hero. Is that the end of the story? Not quite:
BROTHER HALTS SHAFT EXERCISES TO MEISENBERG
Charges Organization Uses Marine's Death As Means of Advertising
Makes 'Scene' At Dedication
Five hundred men and women gathered in Waldheim cemetery yesterday to honor the memory of Samuel Meisenberg the Chicago marine who was killed in the battle of Vera Cruz two years ago.
A monument, donated by the Independent Western Star Order, was to be dedicated by officials of the organization. As the hour for the services drew near several of those gathered about the flag draped grave evidently were a bit nervous. Congressman A.J. Sabath, Judge Joseph Sabath, L.B. Loebner, and William A. Jonesi were scheduled to make memorial addresses, but none of them appeared to join the little group around the monument, and and the expectant audience began to wonder.
Push Way Through Crowd.
They were not kept waiting long. Shortly before the exercises were to begin there was a stir at the edge of the crowd and an angry young man pushed his way through, followed by a shrinking old woman and a bent, gray bearded man. They were the dead sailor's brother, Edward Meisenberg, and his father and mother.
Edward plunged forward dramatically and held up his hand.
"I demand that there be no public demonstration here" he shouted. "This is just an advertising scheme arranged by the Independent Western Star. I've served in the United States navy myself and I'm going to stop this thing if I have to fight to do it."
"Shame! An outrage! What is it?" came from the crowd, but young Meisenberg paid no attention. He turned on N.T. Brenner, a former grand master of the order, I. Shapiro, its secretary, and Joseph Schwartz, chairman of the cemetery committee.
Clears Decks For Action.
"Here; hold this!" he muttered in an aside to his mother, handing her his watch and preparing evidently for any eventuality.
"Now," he resumed, "your order made an offer to my father and mother. You said you would collect money, use half of it for this monument, and turn the other half over to them. You have collected $1,400, but you haven't given father and mother a penny!
"You are dedicating this monument today, and you didn't even invite us to be present here. Every member of this order received an invitation. The first we knew of this affair was when we read about it in a newspaper yesterday.
"You are not going to use my brother's body for an advertising scheme. We are here to stop it, and you may as well tell these people to go home."
Statement By Secretary.
Shapiro, the secretary, mopped his brow, though it was a cool afternoon, and stepped forward hurriedly.
"These charges are false - all false!" he announced to the astonished crowd. "We offered a $500 lot and a monument. Meisenberg's body is in its grave and the monument stands here, completed. Now the family demands $1,000 from our order or a written guarantee that it will be paid.
"We promised no such thing. We collected $800, and it has been spent. The relatives---"
"There'll be no dedication here!" interposed young Meisenberg angrily.
"He's right," returned Shapiro. "This dedication will not take place."
And the crowd, still wondering, melted away.
Chicago Daily Tribune - September 25, 1916
Nothing further is mentioned about the dispute, but things must have been worked out, because a beautiful monument stands today in Waldheim Cemetery to Sammy Meisenberg, and his parents, Morris and Gussie are buried right beside him.
But today's hero is tomorrow's forgotten man as evidenced by this article from twenty years after Sammy's death:
SAM MEISENBERG JUST NAME NOW, BUT 20 YRS. AGO -
Recalls Stirring Event in Mexican Crisis.
Twenty years ago yesterday Samuel Meisenberg, a young member of the Marine corps who had been reared on the Chicago west side, was buried after a great public funeral. He had been killed three weeks before in the capture of Vera Cruz by an American naval expedition.
The anniversary passed unnoticed in Chicago. Memories of the stirring Mexican crisis have been blurred by the greater events of the world war.
Chicago Daily Tribune - May 14, 1934
Sadly, I would bet that of the millions of people who live in the Chicago area, only a handful would have ever heard of Sammy Meisenberg, and the thousands who lined the streets for Sammy's funeral are probably in their own graves today. But that does not minimize Sammy's sacrifice. Struck down in the bloom of youth, he never had a chance to experience all this country had to offer him. Let us never forget the sacrifices of all the brave men and women who have given their lives for our freedom.
And may Sammy Meisenberg, "born a Jew, lived an American, died a Patriot" and his dear family rest in peace.
Sammy's impressive monument, as well as the graves of his parents, are right inside Gate 18 - Independent Western Star Order, at Waldheim Jewish Cemetery in Forest Park.
Photographs of Sammy's funeral can be viewed on the Chicago Daily News Archive at the Chicago History Museum: http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/S?ammem/cdn:@field(SUBJ+@od1(Samuel+Meisenberg+funeral,+Chicago,+Ill+,+1914+))