Friday, February 1, 2013

ONE MAN'S FAMILY - Christian F.W. Behl - Part Two

Last week I told you about the Christian Behl family, whose graves I had come across in Rosehill Cemetery. I told you about Christian's first wife Mary, and children Frank, Wilhelm, Oskar, James, Mari, Edmund, Charlie, Elizabeth and Isabella.  I also told you that there was more to the story - and here it is:

Mary was Christian Behl's first wife.  She died on July 2, 1871. Christian remarried on August 18, 1872 in Chicago to Hermine Ernestine Selle:

You couldn't blame Christian for remarrying - he still had children to raise.  Jumping ahead, I found out that Christian died on August 30, 1923 at the age of 90 and was buried not with his first wife and children in Rosehill, but in Forest Home-Waldheim Cemetery (not to be confused with Jewish Waldheim down the street) in River Grove, Illinois.

Hermine Selle Behl died December 20, 1929 at the age of 86.  She is also buried at Forest Home Cemetery.  When I went out to Forest Home Cemetery to photograph Christian and Hermine's graves I was in for a shock - next to them is the gravestone of their daughters Hedwig (Harriet) and Martha Adelie who died within one day of each other in 1887!

Both died from diphtheria.

To try to help us visualize everything that happened to the Christian Behl family and when, I have put together what I call the Christian Behl Family Chronography:

Christian Behl was the father of thirteen children (that we know about). He had three children (Wihelm, Frank, Charlie) with his first wife Mary and ten children (Oskar, James, Elizabeth, Mari, Harriet, Eddie, Martha Adeile, Walter, Isabella, Alfred) with his second wife Hermine.  Thirteen children, and yet from the obituaries of Christian and Hermine it appears that only two of their children - Walter and Alfred - survived to adulthood. 

Here's Christian Behl's obituary from The Chicago Daily Tribune of August 30, 1923:

4522 W. Van Buren Street, Chicago

and Hermine Behl's obituary from The Chicago Daily Tribune of December 20, 1929:

5516 W. Van Buren Street, Chicago

The two sons who did survive to adulthood each lived to an old age. Alfred Behl died in 1958 at the age of 67 and Walter Behl died in 1960 at the age of 78.  They are both buried (but not together) in Oakridge-Glenoaks Cemetery in Hillside.  

That is the story of one man's family:  Christian Frederick William Behl. The departed members of his family rest at Rosehill, Forest Home and Oakridge-Glenoaks.  His family lives on through the children and grandchildren of Alfred and Walter.  Because of the great strides medical science has made, we tend to forget that 100 years ago one of the leading causes of death for women in the United States was "Complications from childbirth" and the infant mortality rate in the United States was 10%: 100 deaths per 1000 live births!

One hundred years ago it was not unusual to lose an infant or child to disease, but Christian Behl lost ten children through illness and disease, and one to an accident, leaving only two children to survive to adulthood.  Life was hard in the old days, and the spectre of death was always around the corner.

"The Young Girl and Death" c. 1906 by Marianne Stokes

May Christian Behl and all of his family, rest in peace.

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