Friday, October 10, 2014


About two years ago I photographed a large number of the graves in Section 111 - Lomzer, at Jewish Waldheim Cemetery in Forest Park, Illinois.  I posted all the photos to Find a Grave, creating memorial pages when necessary.  One of the pages I created was for Joseph Stein, a nine year old boy who died in 1929.  Nothing about his gravestone indicated anything unusual about his death, and I just assumed that he had probably died from some disease.  Although childhood mortality rates in the US are down significantly from where they once were, the fact remains that children still do die from disease.  I posted the photos to the page I created and forgot all about it.

Recently I was contacted by Find a Grave member "dm wms" who made the following suggestion about me memorial page for Joseph Stein:
"Hello, I found this in an old newspaper and thought you might like to add it to the memorial.


Chicago, April 19. -

Two youths who frequently were seen loitering about the John Marshal high and grade schools were ordered arrested today after several school children had been questioned concerning the death a week ago of Joseph Stein, 9, another pupil of the school.  The boy died shortly after telling his parents that he had been beaten by older boys.

The Jacksonville Daily Journal; Jacksonville, Illinois.

April 20, 1929; Page Five"

So it looks like Joseph Stein did not die from disease after all - he was killed by bullies. 

The Chicago Daily Tribune from April 13, 1929 carried the following story:


Fillmore street police and the coroner's office last night began an investigation into the death of Joseph Stein, 9 years old, 319 South Kedzie avenue, a pupil in the John Marshall Elementary school, at 3250 Adams street.  Joseph died in his home yesterday afternoon, complaining that his head hurt because "the boys pushed me down."

George A. Beers, principal of the school, said he would make inquiry among his 4,000 pupils on Monday in an effort to learn who was responsible for the boy's injury.  Joseph was unable to name any of the boys who pushed him, according to his father, Paul Stein.  The father said his son fainted a few minutes after he entered the house and remained unconscious until his death.

When the boy collapsed, Stein summoned physicians, who in turn called in a fire department inhalator squad.  The firemen worked for an hour to save the child's life, but their efforts were in vain.

People think that bullying is a recent phenomenon, but bullies have always been around - they certainly were around when I was in school. Before we get back to the stories surrounding young Joseph's death, let's see what else we can discover about the Steins:

Joseph Stein was born January 28, 1920 in Chicago to Paul Stein (1893-????) and Florence, nee Poncher (1896-1973).  Paul was an immigrant from Russia, but Florence was born here in Illinois.  They married in Chicago on January 25, 1915.  Paul and Florence Stein ultimately had four children:  Joseph (1920-1929), Leona (1915-1997), William (b. 1925), and Jean (b. 1932).  Paul Stein owned a retail ladies clothing store.

I was unable to locate the 1920 US Census for the Stein family - that would be the only one Joseph was alive for, but when he died the family was living at 319 S. Kedzie Avenue in Chicago.  There is now a parking lot at 319 S. Kedzie.

Here is a picture of the John Marshall School at about the time Joseph Stein attended:

The April 14, 1929 issue of the Chicago Daily Tribune carried a follow-up story:


The inquest into the death of 9 year old Joseph Stein, 319 S. Kedzie avenue, pupil of the John Marshall Elementary school, Kedzie and Adams street, who was alleged to have been beaten fatally by other pupils of the school, was continued yesterday until April 19.  The boy returned from school and told his father that he had bumped into other boys and fallen,  He fainted and died without regaining consciousness.

The Warren avenue police were asked to make an investigation by deputy coroner Jacob A. Schewell, and Mrs. Mary M. Abbe, assistant principal in charge of the elementary classes.  She questioned several pupils but could not learn whether the lad had been beaten by bigger boys or had merely stumbled and fallen.  The parents, however, said that the boy had been slugged by others and that they hold those in charge of the school responsible for his death.

There was another follow-up article in the April 20th Tribune:


Two youths, who are said to be friends of a girl student at the John Marshall High school, were being sought last night in connection with the death of Joseph Stein, 9 years old. 319 S. Kedzie avenue, a pupil at the Marshall Elementary school, who died a week ago in injuries believed to have been suffered when he was thrown down by the older boys.

The search was started when Gertrude Stein, 10 years old, 3300 Warren avenue, also a pupil at the school but not a relative of the dead boy, testified at the inquest yesterday of hearing a group of girls discussing the youths who are alleged to have caused Joseph's death. She said she did not know the boys' names, but added that they came to the school to meet a girl who she only knew as Corey.

Here is the death certificate for Joseph Stein with the results of the Inquest:

The cause of death was listed as:  "Shock & hemorrhage following traumatic laceration of the anterior branch of the left middle meningeal artery and vein due to external violence."

Unfortunately, I could find nothing further about the sudden death of Joseph Stein - no story of an arrest of the "two youths" - nothing further at all in the Chicago Tribune archives.  Perhaps they were never able to capture the youths who had assaulted Joseph.  Joseph had either been unable or unwilling to name his attackers, and apparently no other witnesses came forward.  If anyone has any additional information about the aftermath of this crime, please contact me.

We will not forget Joseph Stein - his young life taken by bullies, and now thanks to the miracle of the internet, Joseph and his story will be available for all.

Joseph Stein - gone but not forgotten - may he rest in peace.  

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