Friday, February 28, 2014

TOO MUCH SNOW CAN KILL YOU - William Andrews Merigold

I have mentioned in several recent postings that this year Chicago has had an especially harsh winter.  Since mid-December we have been hit with one snowstorm after another with little relief.  People keep saying that "we have never had a worse winter."  That's not true - Chicago has had many horrible winters through the years.  Although children and dogs love the snow, too much of it can prove deadly to humans.

When I was researching the story on W.D. Kerfoot I happened upon the story of his partner, William A. Merigold who died just one week after Kerfoot in 1918.  The Chicago Daily Tribune of January 13, 1918 carried the following story:

W.A. Merigold, Real Estate Man, Victim of Fight With Snow

William A. Merigold, one of Chicago's representative real estate dealers, died yesterday afternoon.  His death was a direct result of exposure and exhaustion caused while attempting to reach his Lake Park Avenue residence through the storm.

Mr. Merigold had been at his downtown office during the day, attending to business, and started home shortly after 4 o'clock.  Apparently he had been in excellent health.  He took a Cottage Grove avenue surface car, alighting at Thirty-seventh street.  The Merigold residence is at 3984 Lake Park avenue, at the edge of the lake.  The streets in the vicinity were exposed to the hardest effects of the blizzard, and were choked with the drifted snow.

Falls Into House and Dies.

Through the banks Mr. Merigold fought his way to his home.  He managed to stumble up the steps.  The door was opened for him and he fell inside and died almost instantly.  Heart trouble, brought on by the exertion of the battle he had made through the snow, was given as the cause of death by Dr. Gilbert White who lives in the same block with the Merigolds and who was summoned at once.

Before we finish the article about the death of William Merigold, let's see what we can "dig up" about his life.

William Andrews Merigold was born May 19, 1850 in Port Dalhousie, Ontario, Canada, the son of William Merigold (1808-1886) and Ann Elisa, nee Chisholm (1812-1883).  He had an older sister, Mary Elisa (1841-1902), an older brother, James Austin (1840-1908) and perhaps two other siblings who died in infancy.  William Merigold the elder was a dry goods merchant by trade.

In 1859 the Merigold family left Canada to settle in St. Louis, Missouri. They then moved to Amboy, Illinois, and ultimately to Chicago in 1861. From an early age young William Merigold's family saw that he had a head for business, so in 1862 when he was twelve years old, he was placed for two years in the business office of William M. Ross in Chicago.  After his time with Ross, young Merigold spent two years working in the offices of the Chicago Tribune newspaper.  In 1866 William Merigold took a job in the real estate office of William D. Kerfoot, so that he could learn the business from a master.

He was all things to Mr. Kerfoot:  clerk, book-keeper, salesman, draftsman, abstract examiner, and appraiser.  In 1871 his talents and contribution to the business were acknowledged, and he was made a partner - at the ripe old age of twenty-one.

For the story of the Kerfoot firm's activities during and after the Great Chicago Fire of October, 1871, you can read my article about William D. Kerfoot:

In 1886, William Merigold decided to strike out on his own, and opened his own real estate firm at 183 LaSalle Street.  Here's the announcement from the Chicago Daily Tribune of January 1, 1887:

Before too long, Merigold's name was connected with every choice piece of real estate in Chicago and the suburbs.  His business expanded so quickly that he soon had to move to larger quarters at 156-158 LaSalle Street to make room for the forty real estate salesmen and clerks he had on his payroll.  

Here's an ad touting the "Merigold Subdivision" on Chicago's west side:

and another for his suburban holdings from the Chicago Daily Tribune in the 1880s:

He negotiated the purchase by Marshall Field of the land where the Field store sits to this day and by 1890 was able to report his offices handled the transfer of properties approaching $1,000,000.00 per year.

It was not all work for William Merigold. On September 3, 1874 he married Miss Emma Louise Smith in Chicago.  Emma Smith Merigold (1853-1938) was the daughter of Sheldon Smith (1825-1903) and Cornelia Parthenia, nee Casey (1821-1912).

William and Emma Merigold were blessed with four children: Maud Susan Kerfoot Merigold (1875-1956), Emma Louise Merigold (1880-????), William Andrews Merigold (1881-1930), and Arthur Sheldon Merigold (1886-1963).

When asked by "The Book of Chicagoans" (1911) to list his major accomplishments he stated:  "Interested in the purchase or sale of many important business properties including the purchase of the entire Washington Street and Wabash Avenue frontage for Marshall Field, sold Handel Music Hall, negotiated 99 year lease of northwest corner of State and Adams Streets and Kennedy Furniture Store on Wabash Ave., sold Frederick Fisher his holdings on Wabash Ave., Henry Shuttler his holdings on Wabash Ave., and properties on State, Madison, Michigan, etc.  Manager of properties of PFW Peck Estate, Stewart Building, Counselman Building, Marine Building, Irwin Building, Green Building, long time agent for all E.J. Lehman's holdings, agent Shuttler & Hotz buildings, located The Fair Store at State & Adams Streets, did the second largest subdivision business in Chicago prior to 1893, Valuer of properties for loans for large corporations, estates and individual owners.  Was one of three organizers and first Secretary of the Chicago Real Estate Board.   

Like W.D. Kerfoot who died just one week before him, William Merigold stayed active in Chicago Real Estate matters up until his death. Whereas Mr. Kerfoot died of complications of old age at the age of 80, Mr. Merigold was struck down at the age of 67, as a consequence of his struggle to get home during a terrible Chicago snowstorm.  Here is William Merigold's Death Certificate.  The official cause of death was "Organic Heart Disease":

Here is his death notice from the Chicago Daily Tribune of  January 15, 1918:

Like his friend W.D. Kerfoot, William Merigold was buried in Graceland Cemetery.  And also like Kerfoot, Merigold's grave marker is very unassuming:

No elaborate Potter Palmer type monuments for these two titans of real estate.

William A. Merigold, like his one-time partner  W.D. Kerfoot spent his whole life immersed in Chicago real estate.  Like Kerfoot, Merigold bounced back after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 realizing that the private ownership of land is one of the bedrocks upon which this country was founded.  But unlike Kerfoot who died of old age, Merigold attempted to fight a Chicago snowstorm - and lost.    

William Andrews Merigold - may he rest in peace.

No comments:

Post a Comment