Friday, December 19, 2014


Readers of the Chicago Daily Tribune for August 11, 1906 saw the following horrific story:

Real Estate Dealer Victim at Englewood Station

While at Railroad Depot Waiting for Cars to Take Him to Michigan Resort, Where His Wife and Children Are, He Is Run Down in an Unknown Manner - Nephew of the Late Webster Bacheller.

Charles W. Shippey, for many years a real estate dealer in Chicago, was killed at the Englewood Union Station at 9 o'clock last night by a Pere Marquette railroad train.  He had gone there to board the train to take him to visit his wife and two children at their summer home in Rex Terrace, Mich.

The exact manner of Mr. Shippey's death is not known.  His body was found on the railway tracks east of the station after the train had left, and was taken to an undertaking shop at 6807 Wentworth avenue.

Shippey was seen first at the depot by E.J. Kohn, the baggage agent, who checked his trunk for Rex terrace.  The broker chatted about his wife and children - Raymond, 11 years old, and Webster, 9 years old - who had gone to Michigan on June 28.  he was pleased of the prospect of joining them soon.  Then Shippey went to the platform to await the train, then almost due.  No one recalls having seen him again until the train had gone and his body lay on the tracks.

Body Taken to Station.

H.G. Brassart, 1063 Garfield boulevard, and W.H. Mabee, 6456 Parnell avenue, assisted the baggageman in carrying Shippey's body to the baggage room.  The crew of the train, which was recalled to the station after the accident, was unable to throw any light upon the details of the accident.

Mr. Shippey was 47 years old, had real estate offices at 112 Clark street and lived at 4365 Lake avenue.  He was a nephew of Webster Batcheller, a wealthy retired lumber merchant, who died recently.  Mr. Batcheller left Mr. Shippey a bequest of $100,000.

A broken box, containing candy and cakes, evidently intended for his children, was found beside his body.

Charles Webster Shippey was born May 8, 1859 in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania to George Shippey (1818-1876) and Sarah Dorah nee Batcheller (1822-1903).   George Shippey was a carpenter by trade.  George and Sarah had married in 1848 in New York.  Their first three children were born in New York:  George Frank (1849-1913), Martha Florence “Mattie” (1851-1928), and Alfred (1854-????).  By the late 1850s, the Shippey family had relocated to Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, and that is where their two remaining children were born:  Charles Webster (1859-1906), and Clarence L. (1863-1871).

The 1860 US Census shows the Shippey family living in Lock Haven. Forty-two year old George lists his occupation as " Lumberman".  He is joined by thirty-seven year old Sarah, eleven year old George F., nine year old Martha, six year old Fred, and one year old Charles.

The 1870 US Census still finds the Shippeys in Lock Haven; all are ten years older, and little seven year old Clarence has joined the family. 1870 was still too early for the Shippeys to have a street address in Lock Haven, but the Census did indicate that they lived in the "Second Ward."

By the 1880 US Census, Charles Shippey has struck out on his own. He has moved to Ferrysburg, Michigan where he is working as a laborer in a saw mill.

The 1890 US Census is lost, however by 1895 Charles Shippey is living in Chicago.  On October 9, 1895, thirty-six year old Charles Webster Shippey married Miss Lulu A. Richards (1862-1941) in Chicago.  Miss Richards reported her age as thirty-three.

Charles and Lulu Shippey were blessed with two children:  a son, Webster Batcheller Shippey (1896-1981) and a daughter, Raymonde (1898-1991).

By the 1900 US Census the Shippey family is complete.  They are living at 4365 Lake Avenue (now S. Lake Park Avenue) in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago.

4365 S. Lake Park Avenue, Chicago

In addition to Charles, Lulu, Webster and Raymonde, they also have a live-in servant, twenty-one year old Jennie Anderson.  Lulu's mother, Amelia Richards was also living with them.  

That brings us up to the fateful day of August 10, 1906.  As he left for the train station on that Friday, Charles Shippey was a happy man.  He had a successful real estate business, a beautiful wife and two adoring children, and he was leaving hot, humid Chicago to go to his summer home in Rex Terrace, Michigan for rest and relaxation with his beloved family.  But there was more - Charles Shippey had recently received word that his uncle, lumberman Webster Batcheller had left him a bequest of $100,000.00.  Yes, all seemed right with the world of Charles Webster Shippey when he arrived at the Englewood train station.

What happened???  At first, no one knew.  Shippey had been seen at the station visiting with various people; then his body was seen down the tracks after the train went by.  Shippey had been a well known figure - the story of his death was carried by newspapers all over the country with everyone venturing their own opinion as to what must have been the cause.  One out-of-town paper even reported that Shippey was dragged under the train because he refused to let go of a fishing rod.  Speculation was rife.

It wasn't until August 13, 1906, that the mystery was solved.  It was reported in the Chicago Daily Tribune:

Here is his Death Notice from the Tribune of August 13, 1906:

Here is his Death Certificate:

Here is what the Coroner said was the cause of death:

From shock and injuries received caused by being struck and knocked down by the Pilot Train of Pere Marquette RR Cos. Engine #381 drawing passenger train #9 and being run over by one or more cars of said train while said train was east bound on the Track #2 belonging to the Penn. RR Co. at a point in front of said station on August 10, AD 1906 at 8:57 p.m.

But the mystery does not end there.  Just where is Charles Shippey buried?  It would not seem to be a mystery.  His Death Certificate lists the "Place of Burial" as "Grand Haven."  About the time that Charles left home in 1875, his parents and siblings moved to Grand Haven, Michigan.  When Charles' father George Shippey died in 1876 the family was living in Grand Haven, and George was buried there, in Lake Forest Cemetery.  The family bought a cemetery plot and erected a monument to George Shippey there:

The Death Notice for Charles Shippey that was in the Tribune says "Burial at Grand Haven, Michigan".  Find a Grave has him in Grand Haven, and we all know that Find a Grave is never wrong (!!!).  The Grand Haven Daily Tribune on August 13, 1906 carried the following story:

Charles Shippey Will be Buried Here.

The remains of Charles Shippey, who was killed by a Pere Marquette train in Chicago last Friday night [Aug. 10, 1906] will be interred in Lake Forest cemetery, Grand Haven. This decision was duly made by his widow and the funeral will be held Tuesday [Aug. 14, 1906] at 10 a. m. from the old homestead of the family on Washington street, adjoining the Congregational church, now occupied by Mr. Shippey's sister, Mrs. Mattie Slayton.

Undertaker John J. Boer is making arrangements for the funeral. The pallbearers are picked from old time friends of the deceased in Grand Haven and will be the following gentlemen: Fred A. Hutty, Wm. H. Loutit, James P. Armstead, N. Robbins, Stephen L. Munroe and Charles Boyden.

Mr. Shippey's father and mother and brother Fred are buried in Lake Forest and his remains will be laid away in the same lot.

The article is correct about the other members of the Shippey family, for the most part.  Thanks to Find a Grave photo volunteer "Dark Shadows" we see the grave of George Shippey (above).  It is also marked with this stone:

and here is Sarah:

Mattie and her husband are there:

but no sign of Charles.  Was he there in an unmarked grave?  Unlikely.  Was he moved?  More likely.  On a recent Find a Grave photo trip to Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago, guess who I found?

It was in front of this impressive family monument:

The inscription is:

That Best Portion of a Good Man's Life
His Little Nameless Unremembered Acts of Kindness
and of Love

Buried in this plot are Charles, Lulu, Webster and Raymonde.

What happened?  I would venture a guess that as the years passed Lulu realized that she had little connection with Grand Haven, Michigan and decided to have her beloved husband's body moved back to Chicago where she could easily visit if she wished.

Normally I could ask in the cemetery office when the body of Charles Shippey had been interred, but this is Rosehill so I know that is not an option. 

Charles Webster Shippey whose charmed life ended abruptly while crossing train tracks - may he rest in peace.

No comments:

Post a Comment