Friday, April 24, 2015

OUR FRIEND - Harry Homer Marshall

I mentioned previously that when I am on Find a Grave photo missions I am always on the lookout for tombstones that look interesting, or stones that look like they might have a good story "under" them.  That is the case with this week's story.  I was at Memorial Park Cemetery in Skokie filling Find a Grave photo requests when I looked down and saw this tombstone:

Our Friend
Harry Homer
Nov 18, 1888     May 14, 1920

Let's see what we can "dig up" about Mr. Marshall, whose friends bought his tombstone.

Harry Homer Marshall is another one of those people who has not left much of a trail. His tombstone says that he was born on November 18, 1888 - other sources say November 18, 1887.  The names of his parents are unknown.  He always gave his birthplace as Ottawa, Iowa.  His birth is not in the Index of Iowa births for 1887 or 1888. There is another Harry Marshall who was born in Keokuk in 1888 - his life is well documented - but he is not our Harry.   

The first time he turns up is in the 1910 US Census when he is already living in Chicago - at 111 South Wood Street - now a parking lot in the shadow of the United Center.  111 S. Wood Street was a rooming house, and Harry was there as a "Lodger."  On the line after Harry's record is a record for a male, "T. Marshall" who was 18 years old.  He is probably a brother of Harry, but he disappears after this census.

Both Harry and "T" list their occupation as "Printer for a Printing Company."

The next time we hear from Harry is on June 5, 1917 when he registers for the draft.  He indicates that he is a chauffeur and lives at 1251 Argyle Street in Chicago.

1251 W. Argyle, Chicago
He lists his employer as "C.H. Pushman, 4259 Hazel Street" in Chicago.

Harry H. Marshall talked to the Census Taker for the 1920 US Census on January 5, 1920.  He is still a boarder at 1251 W. Argyle.  He lists his occupation as "Private Chauffeur."   No sign of the mysterious "T." Marshall from the 1910 census.

Harry Homer Marshall died on May 14, 1920 in Chicago.  Here is his death certificate:

He died at St. Joseph's Hospital in Chicago:

The Cause of Death was "Internal hemorrhage and shock and injuries caused by colliding with trolley pole while avoiding collision (accidental)  Town car and motorcycle."  We can pick up two other things from his death certificate:  He was an "Unemployed chauffeur," and the information for his death certificate came from his landlady, Anna Tinnerhorn. 

There was no death notice or obituary for Harry Marshall in the Chicago newspapers - in fact the accident that caused his death was not even mentioned.

Harry's funeral was May 17, 1920.  He was buried in Memorial Park Cemetery, Skokie, Illinois.  Harry Homer Marshall may not have had family around, but he was blessed to have friends who looked after him - and even made sure his grave was marked.

"Our Friend" Harry Homer Marshall - may he rest in peace.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


It is almost a cliché to talk about mobsters who were Italian Catholics, especially in Chicago, but the truth is that mobsters came from all ethnicities and faiths - even Judaism.  If you Google "Jewish Mobsters" you will get a list of 103 men of Jewish descent.  But even that list does not include a Jewish man who lived in Chicago and was known as "a Prohibition gangster involved in prostitution for the Chicago Outfit," by the name of Michael Heitler.  If you look a the simple tombstone at Gate 115 - Satinover, of Jewish Waldheim Cemetery in Forest Park, Illinois, you would never guess that lying under it was a man called the "head of the vice trust in Chicago" and "the grand old man of flesh peddling" until his mysterious death in 1931.

Like most notorious mobsters, he even had a nickname: "De Pike."  So let's see what we can "dig up" about Mike "De Pike" Heitler.

Mobsters are not known as the best record keepers and they usually put out a lot of mis-information to confuse the authorities.  The information I report here is, to the best of my knowledge, correct, but I welcome any corrections or additions my readers can provide.

Michael Heitler was born May 9, 1876 in Jablonow, Austria, to George Heitler and Molly, nee Reischer.  George and Molly Heitler had four children:  Coleman "Dutch" Heitler (1873-1946), Michael (1876-1931), Rose (1879-1946), and one more sister known only as Mrs. Fischel Blecher (1882-????).

When Michael Heitler applied for US citizenship, he said that he had come to the US in December of 1889, through the Port of New York. He listed his occupation as "cigar maker."  I was unable to find him in the 1900 US Census, but his petition for citizenship was approved on March 22, 1905.  

Michael Heitler's marital status remains a bit of a mystery.  There is a record showing that Michael Heitler married Rose Yonovitz in Pierce, Washington on April 14, 1906.  There is also a record from Philadelphia showing that a "Mike Hetler" married "Rosie Janowitz" in 1903.  I think this is more likely the correct record for "our" Michael and Rose because their son Charles (1904-1984) was born in Pennsylvania on July 30, 1904.

Rose Yonovitz Heitler

Just to confuse the issue even more, there is a marriage record from Cook County, Illinois from May 11, 1911 for a Michael Heitler and a "Dina Ianowitz," and some sources say that Michael Heitler married a Julie E. Siebel prior to 1930 but both Michael Heitler's death certificate and obituary say that his wife is "Rose."  If he meant to confuse us, he succeeded.  Michael and Rose also had a daughter, Mollie H. Heitler (1908-1984).

Michael Heitler never revealed the date that he started running "houses of ill repute."  Some sources say that he began during the early 1900s based out of West Madison Street.  The first mention of Heitler in the Chicago Tribune is on July 25, 1909 when his name came up as part of an investigation of mobsters who paid bribes to Chicago police officers to "look the other way."   Even at this early date, he had already earned his nickname of "De Pike".

An early photo of Michael Heitler

Heitler's nickname of "De Pike" came from his operation of the cheapest fancy houses in Illinois (he was a piker).  The price for some time with one of De Pike's girls was 50 cents and in his joint at Peoria and West Madison, (Ed: 108 Peoria Street; now 113 S. Peoria Street) he was believed to have been the first to offer sex on an assembly-line system.  De Pike sat by a cash register and had the customers lined up waiting their turn.  As a girl came downstairs with a satisfied customer, the next man in line handed De Pike 50 cents.  He gave the girl a brass check that she could later redeem for 25 cents.  The idea was to keep the traffic moving at high speed.

Here's a photo of Heitler's "Resort" on Peoria Street:

A parking lot occupies that infamous space today.

The 1910 US Census has the Heitler family living at 9146 S. Erie (now S. Baltimore) Avenue in Chicago:

9146 S. Baltimore Avenue, Chicago

Mike was 34, Rose was 27.  Here is another interesting situation:  neither of their children was listed on the census, even though both had been born by 1910.  In fact, their children were living in a boarding house at 2620 Homer Street with Grace Roche.  Perhaps Mike and Rose wanted to hide their children from the authorities, (or from their enemies) because the census reports that as of 1910 Rose had given birth to "0" children, and that "0" of them were still alive.  Mike listed his occupation as "Saloon Keeper," Rose's occupation was "Keeper of a Rooming House."  Mike's native language was German, Rose's was Yiddish.

By 1911, Mike "De Pike" Heitler had become a leading crime figure and a top lieutenant to Chicago racketeer Jacob "Mont" Tennes (subject of a future article in this blog), later driving rival Jack Zuta out of business, with then ally Jake "Greasy Thumb" Guzik (How come Jack Zuta didn't have a nickname???).

Michael Heitler

Michael Heitler operated with relative freedom from the law through the teens, and, for the most part, his bribes were generally limited to no more than passing out some brass checks for "freebies" to the police. He did have to take a few busts and convictions for white slavery now and then, but the punishments were of little consequence.

One of Heitler's mugshots:

A mugshot of Michael Heitler

However, when Johnny Torrio and then Al Capone took over control of the entire prostitution racket in Chicagoland, Heitler lost his influence with the police.

Here's a photo of Heitler on January 22, 1917 during one of his many trips to Court:

His choice was either to become an employee on Al Capone's payroll, or simply be declared "out." Heitler decided to stay in, but his situation continued to deteriorate through the 1920s.  Capone relied more and more on Harry Guzik to look after his prostitution affairs, and Heitler felt slighted over  the lack of respect for a man of his years in the field.

Itching for revenge, Heitler began "ratting" on the mob and many of Capone's affairs. He informed Judge John H. Lyle about the doings in a Capone resort called the Four Deuces.  Judge Lyle said that Heitler had told him: "They snatch guys they want information from and taken them to the cellar. They're tortured until they talk.  Then they're rubbed out. The bodies are hauled through a tunnel into a trap door opening in the back of the building.  Capone and his boys put the bodies in cars and then they're dumped out on a country road, or maybe in a clay hole or rock quarry."

Heitler was not being imprudent informing Judge Lyle at other times. He wrote an anonymous letter to the state attorney's office, outlining many facets of the Capone brothel operations.  Heitler's anger had clearly got the best of him if he believed that affairs in the state attorney's office were not already known by Capone.  Within a short time, Capone ordered Heitler to appear before him at his office in the Lexington Hotel. When he entered Capone's room, Heitler saw the letter he had sent the state's attorney on Capone's desk.  Capone correctly deduced that the information in it could only have come from Heitler.  Capone told him, "You're through."

Undoubtedly Heitler was marked right then for execution, but a certain etiquette was followed by the mob when they received information from their own informers inside official agencies. These sources generally emphasized they would not be a party to homicide, and thus it was not done — at least not for a while.

Heitler might even have lasted longer than he did had he not continued his troublesome letter writing. In one, he named eight Capone figures as having been involved in the plot to murder Chicago Tribune reporter Jake Lingle.  Heitler gave a copy of that letter to his daughter for safe keeping. Unfortunately, he passed another copy to the wrong parties. At the end of April, 1931 Michael Heitler disappeared.  On April 30, 1931, two boys found a charred torso in the smoldering wreckage of a house in a Chicago suburb.  Was it Heitler?

It turns out that the circumstances surrounding the death of Michael Heitler were as strange and unusual as the rest of his life.  Here's the way the Chicago Daily Tribune told the story on May 2, 1931:


With Al Capone, gangland chief, as the object of their search, armed detectives from the state's attorney's office investigating the supposed murder of Mike (De Pike) Heitler, brothel keeper, early this morning raided the Lexington Hotel at Michigan avenue and 22nd street, used frequently as Capone headquarters.

Capone was not present when the raid was made, but four of his followers were seized and taken to the state's attorney's office for questioning by Pat Roche, chief investigator.  The sensational raid, in which at least one door was smashed in by the police, was one of a series ordered by Roche.  Other raids were made on the Western hotel, Capone's Cicero headquarters, and on several cabarets in an effort to find known hoodlums and gangsters.  No gangsters were found in the Western.

"We will raid everywhere until we drive out every hoodlum from Chicago," said Investigator Roche this morning.  "This is just part of our campaign to clean up the city.  The hoodlum is getting out.  That means Capone, too, and we are now looking for him."

Find Guns in Room.

Those seized in the Lexington hotel raid are Louis Russo, brother of "Machine Gun Jack" McGurn; Phil Andrea, Fred Rossi, and Tony Capezio.  They were found in room 430.  When they failed to respond to the raps of the officers, two of the policemen smashed in the door with axes.  Search of the room revealed two new automatic pistols.

The prisoners were taken to the state's attorney's office and locked in separate rooms.  In another room officers were questioning "Dago Lawrence" Mangano, owner of a gambling house in South Halsted street.  He was seized in his home at 5529 Flournoy street.

The police also raided resorts in the area in which Heitler operated.  Four men - Tony Accardo, Lawrence Mangano, cousin of "Dago Lawrence" Mangano; Benjamin Grivane, and Don Grossman, all hoodlums - were seized in the Club Floridian,  674 West Madison street, of which West Side Frankie Pope is said to be a part owner.

Roche and the other officers declined to disclose what they learned, but it was indicated that "some one had talked," and that the raids and the effort to apprehend Capone were the result of the "talking."  Roche said it was known that there had been trouble between Mangano and Heitler.

Satisfied Heitler Was Slain.

The supposed murder of Heitler which is prompting the new war of gangsters and hoodlums, lies in the finding of a charred body in the smoldering ruins of an ice house on the estate of Spencer Otis, near Barrington.  The body was found Thursday.  Roche and the others are satisfied the victim was Heitler.  He seized documents in the Heitler home which were believed to contain evidence of politico criminal alliances.

The papers, it is believed, may disclose a murder motive.  Heitler was believed in the underworld to have been acting as a "stool pigeon" for various persons and to have been shaking down west side resorts by virtue of this.  Another theory presented to the police is that Heitler aroused the wrath of James Balcastro called by police the head of the bombers, and Mangano, in attempting to set himself up as a gang leader.

The torso was found early Thursday after the ice house had been seen in flames by Mrs. Hattie Gannusch, 60 years old, who lives in the neighborhood.  She called the police and reported having seen three men, whom she believed to be gangsters, in the vicinity the afternoon before the fire. Police found a bridge of teeth with two crowns and a false tooth near the body, which was charred so as to preclude positive identification.

Yesterday morning Attorney Ben Cohen appeared before Judge John Prystalski in the Criminal court to ask a continuance of a perjury charge against Heitler.  He said his client had been missing since Wednesday.  A vagrancy charge was continued of Wednesday in the Municipal court on the same grounds.

Find Car Used by Heitler.

At the same time Chief of Police Willias Mac Clay of Itasca, 15 miles from Barrington, reported the finding of a partly burned car, which Heitler had borrowed from Miss Emily Mulcher, for whom he was reported to have maintained a home in Berwyn for 23 years.  A gun with six discharged cartridges was found in the rear seat of the car.  The cartridges are believed to have been exploded by the heat of flames.

Roche, Cohen, and Coleman (Dutch) Heitler, brother of "Mike De Pike," viewed the torso as Coroner Bundesen began a search for Heitler's dentist in an effort to identify his teeth.  Coleman Heitler said he was convinced that the body was that of his brother.  The weight of the body was estimated at 200 pounds and the height at 5 feet 8 inches - approximately the build of Heitler.

Brother is Questioned.

Roche returned to his office, where he questioned the brother, who declared Heitler had been threatened recently.  Coleman Heitler's wife was also questioned, but she denied that she knew "Mike De Pike."

Miss Mulcher put Roche on the track of the records, which were seized in the Heitler home at 2020 Humboldt boulevard.  She also assisted in the efforts at identification by explaining that Heitler had two plates of false teeth, which he obtained 18 years ago.  Roche believed he might also have had a bridge.

Wife's Story Puzzling.

A puzzling circumstance in the investigation was the declaration of Heitler's wife that she had seen him yesterday morning.  Mrs. Heitler was traced by Roche from the Humboldt boulevard home to an apartment at 1901 Kimball avenue.  She said Heitler had driven away from home at 9 o' clock in the morning but had not told her where he was going.

The body was buried yesterday afternoon in the Evergreen Cemetery by Ray Willmering, a mortician of Barrington.  There was no ritual, and no mourners were present to watch the $15 coffin lowered into a grave.  Late last night Coleman Heitler asked that it be exhumed so that it might be given a better burial.   

As it mentions in the article above, Michael Heitler was originally buried in a simple grave at Evergreen Cemetery in Evergreen Park, Illinois.   On June 7, 1931, Michael Heitler's family had his body disinterred from its grave in Evergreen Cemetery and had it re-interred at Jewish Waldheim Cemetery in Forest Park, Illinois at Gate #115 - Satinover:

Here's his death notice from the Tribune:

So now you know at least part of the story of Mike "De Pike" Heitler.  It is probably safe to say that no one knows the whole story.

Michael Heitler

May he rest in peace.

Note:  All of the vintage photos were provided by Heitler relative Sharon Johnson who said of her infamous cousin, "(the family) rarely spoke of him because of his taboo lifestyle, even though it was told that he was the one who paid for most of his relatives to come to the United States." Thanks to Sharon for the photos and the information.

Friday, April 17, 2015


Frequent readers of this blog know how much I enjoy doing genealogy research.  To be better able to do this research, I have been a subscriber to for years.  I started my subscription with ancestry way back when the ability to do genealogy research online was just beginning.  In fact, I started out subscribing to both and because different sites gave you access to different records.  I have always been a big booster for  I have pointed out to people that years ago genealogy research meant going to libraries and slowly spooling through rolls and rolls of microfilm and that gave you access to millions of genealogy records from all over the world - all in the comfort of your own home.  Recently two Mormon missionaries came to my door and I told them how grateful I was to the LDS Church for spending millions of dollars and sending researchers to all corners of the earth to transcribe and digitize genealogy records.  I have always said that the LDS Church is the best thing that ever happened to genealogy.   

You readers also know how much I enjoy Find a Grave.  I spend every weekend, weather permitting, in cemeteries taking photos of graves and posting those photos to Find a Grave.  As of today I have posted over sixteen thousand photos to Find a Grave.  Unlike many people I was thrilled when bought Find a Grave because I felt that it gave Find a Grave a better financial foundation and the security that came from being part of the ancestry family.

Because I have been such a fan of, the story I am going to tell you really bothers me. Through the years people have said that was all about the money and I quickly replied that my monthly ancestry subscription price was a bargain.  Where else could I get access to millions of records for less than $35.00 per month? However my recent experience with leads me to believe that the critics may have been right.  I'll tell you the story and you can draw your own conclusions. 

All the way back in 1964, my sister Patricia married Bill Friedner.  I know that Bill's ancestors were originally from Sweden and I had added Bill and as many of his family members I could find to my family tree on  Recently I received an email through ancestry from Friedner relatives in Sweden who were trying to re-establish contacts with the Friedners in the United States.   I put them in touch with Bill and both sides were very happy to reestablish the contacts and trade information and photos.  Then one day, Bill's cousin Eva from Sweden told me that she had found a "lost" Friedner relation on Find a Grave. His name was John Friedner.  It had originally been Johann Friedner, but he changed it to John after he came to the United States.  The Find a Grave page said that John Friedner had died in 1972, and was buried in a military cemetery on Long Island, in New York State.

Eva asked me what I knew about John and I had to reply that I knew nothing about him. Subsequently Eva asked Bill what he knew about John, and Bill said he had never heard of him.  So Eva and I were both excited that we had found a missing branch of the family tree.  

Eva and I both added John to our tree and using the "shaking leaf" prompts on ancestry were able to add some information about John, but not much.  Eva asked me if I knew anything about John's marriages or divorce and I asked her where she heard about that.  She told me that at the bottom of John's Find a Grave page was an advertisement "Sponsored by Ancestry" that indicated 1 Death Certificate, 2 Birth Certificates, 2 Marriage Certificates and 1 Divorce Certificate for John Friedner.

I'm sure you've all seen these ads at the bottom of the Find a Grave pages but I never paid any attention to them until now.  I clicked on the link and it took me to the website. According to ancestry, to get access to these records I needed to upgrade my membership to the World Explorer Plus membership for an additional $10.00 per month.  I looked at the differences in the membership and decided that the additional records I would get, justified the additional expense and besides, I would also get access to those records for John Friedner. So, I upgraded my membership and paid the additional monthly fee. With my new membership firmly in hand I clicked on the link at the bottom of John Friedner's Find a Grave page.  The link took me to the ancestry website where it told me that to access these records I would have to upgrade to the World Explorer Plus membership.  Well, I had already done that, and still couldn't get to those records.  The ancestry website told me that if there were any problems I could call them at 1-800-ancestry, so after work yesterday I called them.

After being kept on hold for a while I finally reached a very courteous young-sounding gentleman who asked me what my problem was.  I told him the whole story and said that even though I had upgraded my membership I still did not have access to the John Friedner records. He asked me if I was familiar with the ancestry card catalog which listed all the records that ancestry had, and I told him I was, but that the Find a Grave page had actual links that you could click on to access particular records for a particular person.  It was then that he told me that was actually not the case.  The links at the bottom of the page were not actual links to actual records - you had to search through ancestry to find the particular records that may, or may not, actually be on the site.  He went on to tell me that sometimes the records had to be purchased through Vital Check, but that sometimes you had to prove that you were related to the person whose records you were requesting.

No, I told him, the links represented that if you upgraded your ancestry membership you would have access to particular records for a particular person - and that even the number of appropriate records was listed on the link.  He told me that he was very sorry, but that was not the case. He said they had other complaints about this, but all the link did was take you to ancestry where if you upgraded, and searched through the ancestry records, you may (or may not) find the records that were listed on the Find a Grave page.

I couldn't believe it - this was false advertising at the least and actually bordered on being a scam - ancestry offered you something that may, or may not, exist.  He again said he was very, very sorry but that was the way it was set up.  He said that he would pass along my concerns, and hoped that senior management at ancestry would do something about these ads, that could be, he admitted, misleading.

I was horrified.  I told him that others said that ancestry was in it only for the $$$ but that I naively responded that no, they were in it for the research.  I told him that in the past I had been a major cheerleader for ancestry but that might change, now that I found out about this.  I asked to speak to "someone in authority" who I could talk to about this. He put me on hold for quite a while, and when he came back he said he told the managers my concerns, and that they were sorry but were not interested in talking to me about it.  He again apologized and said that he would pass my concerns along again, and hope that something would be done.

I could not fault the young man on the phone - he was just a customer service rep - he had nothing to do about the way the business was run, but he was very apologetic.

So that's my story.  I won't be cancelling my ancestry membership - I still need access to the records they do provide, and I will continue to do my Find a Grave photography on the weekends but I have to say that I am very, very disappointed with and the way they do business.

I ended my call with the rep by reminding him that was owned by the LDS Church, and that the Church was better than this. For a Christian Church, they were conducting business in a very non-Christian manner.

Caveat Emptor - Let the buyer beware.

I Stand Corrected:  It has been brought to my attention that is not owned directly by the LDS Church.  It is a privately owned corporation whose original founders were members of the LDS Church.  So I will revise the last paragraph as follows:

For members of a Christian Church, they were conducting business in a very non-Christian manner.  

Friday, April 10, 2015


The winter of 2014-2015 was a difficult one for Chicagoland.  Some years when we have had a mild winter I could continue Find a Grave photography almost non-stop; this year was not one of them.  So when the weather forecast for Saturday April 4 was for clear and sunny skies, I grabbed my Find a Grave photo request list and took off.  My first stop was Memorial Park Cemetery in Skokie, and it was there I found an interesting tombstone.  I was searching in Section B for a grave that turned out to be unmarked, but as I was looking I saw this tombstone:

It's a little heard to read, but here's what it says:

May 1, 1914
Age 36 Years

1st Burial Memorial Park

What a great find for a graver!  I had written previously about Dr. Jacob W. Ludlam, who was the first burial at Rosehill Cemetery on July 12, 1859, and now I had stumbled on the first burial at Memorial Park.  Before we see what we can "dig up" about Alexander Guneshoff, let's take a look at the cemetery itself.

In 1914 when the cemetery that would become Memorial Park was being laid out, the major Catholic Cemetery for the North Shore was Calvary Cemetery in Evanston.  But Calvary had been in use since 1859 and was quickly filling up.  All Saints Catholic Cemetery in Des Plaines would not be consecrated until 1923.  It had been said that the Catholic Bishop was looking for land for another cemetery in the northern suburbs so when a plot of land in Niles township was put up for sale, the local Catholic pastor quickly signed a purchase contract for the land in the name of the Catholic Bishop of Chicago.  There were other parties interested in the land, so time was of the essence and the pastor took a chance by committing the archdiocese without getting the bishop's permission first.  But the pastor felt that when all the facts were known, he would be praised for his quick thinking and resourcefulness.  That was not the case.  
The then archbishop of Chicago, George Mundelein was very upset that the priest had committed the archdiocese on his own initiative without clearing it first with the chancery.  We'll never know the whole story, but Mundelein said that under no circumstances would the Niles township land be developed as a Catholic cemetery, and would, in fact be resold as soon as possible.  There is a small item in the real estate section of the Chicago Daily Tribune from March 5, 1914 that reported that on February 16, 1914 the Catholic Bishop of Chicago sold the land to the Central Cemetery Company of Illinois.  According to the Secretary of State of Illinois, the Central Cemetery Company was organized April 17, 1913 with $150,000 of capital stock.  That is how the cemetery that is now Memorial Park went from a proposed Catholic cemetery to a non-sectarian cemetery which it remains, to this day.

Now, what about Alexander Guneshoff?  Unfortunately I was not able to find out much about him at all.  In fact, if it wasn't for his death record, there would be no proof that a man named Alexander Guneshoff had ever existed - in Cook County or anywhere else.

Here is his death record from the Cook County, Illinois, Deaths Index, 1878-1922:

Name:Alexander Guneshoff
Event Type:Death
Event Date:01 May 1914
Event Place:, Cook, Illinois, United States
Address:714 N. Clark St.
Marital Status:Married
Birth Year (Estimated):1878
Burial Date:06 May 1914
Burial Place:Central Cemetery C.
Father's Name:A.Kcof Guneshoff
Father's Birthplace:Kygel Chocchoc
Mother's Name:Sandrews
Mother's Birthplace:Russia

Unfortunately this record brings up more questions than it answers.  The record points out that Alexander Guneshoff was married (although it does not give his wife's name), but it does list names for his parents.  The Death Index record though, having been transcribed from old hand-written records, could possibly be incorrect depending on the legibility of the handwriting on the original record.

Whatever the case, I was not able to find even one other record for Alexander Guneshoff, or his wife or his parents, or for anyone with the last name of Guneshoff.  I tried all sorts of alternate spelling for the last name.  The death record lists an addresss: 714 N. Clark Street.  I checked the 1910 US Census for that address - no Guneshoff family members listed.  No Guneshoff listed in the Chicago Directory for 1914 or any other year.  No Guneshoff in the Chicago Tribune archives.  No Guneshoff in  It's almost as if they never existed - except for that one tombstone.

So for now this will have to remain one of my "brick walls."  If any of you genealogy wizards out there dig up anything about the Guneshoff family, let me know.  But until then, it's a mystery to me.

Alexander Guneshoff - first burial at Memorial Park - may he rest in peace.

Friday, April 3, 2015


In my blog entry from December 20, 2011 I told the story of Katharine Craig Stewart, member of a renowned Evanston family who died from the Spanish influenza on October 22, 1918 at the age of fifteen years and eight months.  When I wrote the story I only was able to feature photos of her crypt at the Rosehill mausoleum, as well as her death certificate - I was unable to find any photos of Katharine.  Recently I came in contact with an extended relative of Katharine and I was thrilled to find that he not only had one photo of Katharine, he had several - and he was willing to share them with me, and allow them to be used in the blog.  I think it adds so much to a story to have at least one photo of the person whose story is being told.  So, updated with photos and some other material I was able to "dig up", here is the updated story of Katharine Craig Stewart:

The Spanish influenza struck terror in the hearts of everyone who encountered it.  Said to have been brought back from Spain by the soldiers coming home from World War I, this "flu" struck down the young and healthy.  According to Wikipedia, "Influenza may have killed as many as 25 million people in its first 25 weeks. Older estimates say it killed 40–50 million people, while current estimates say 50—100 million people worldwide were killed. This pandemic has been described as "the greatest medical holocaust in history" and may have killed more people than the Black Death.  It is said that this flu killed more people in 24 weeks than AIDS has killed in 24 years, more in a year than the Black Death killed in a century."

Illinois was not immune.  It is estimated that over 8,500 people died just in the City of Chicago.  Entire sections of cemeteries are dedicated to Spanish flu victims.  Over time I will relate the stories of several of the victims of the Spanish flu, but I will start with the story of one close to home, in Evanston, Illinois:  


Katharine Craig Stewart was only 15 years old when she caught the flu in October of 1918.  She had been born February 22, 1903 in Chicago to George Craig Stewart (1879-1940) and Mary Gertrude, nee Clyde (1877-1960).  Katharine came from an illustrious family.  Her father, the Rt. Rev. George Craig Stewart was the VI Episcopal Bishop of Chicago.

+George Craig Stewart

Bishop Stewart was said to have been one of the greatest preachers ever produced by the Episcopal Church.  When I asked my mother (a life-long resident of Evanston) about him, her reply was "Everyone knew Bishop Stewart.  It didn't matter whether you were an Episcopalian or not."  Katharine's mother's family the Clydes, were an illustrious Scots-American family.

The 1910 US Census shows seven year old Katharine living with her family at 414 Greenleaf Street in Evanston:

414 Greenleaf Street, Evanston

Her father listed his occupation as "Rector of a Church."  Stewart had been called to be rector of St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Evanston in 1904.  In addition to her parents, Katharine had two brothers:  John Clyde Stewart (1907-1970) and George Craig Stewart, Jr. (1910-1965).

Katharine started feeling ill on October 7, 1918 and was dead fifteen days later on October 22, 1918. Public assemblies, including wakes and funerals had been forbidden to try to slow the spread of the disease.  In fact, Katharine's father was not even in the United States when she died. Bishop Stewart was in Europe ministering the the soldiers at the front. Katharine died at 7:12 PM on Tuesday evening the 22nd and was interred less than two days later on Thursday the 24th. The cause of death for her was "Influenza with Pneumonia," as it was with so many others.

Her obituary in the Chicago Tribune of October 23rd said that the funeral notice would be "later":

Now that we have photos, let's look at the young girl who was snatched from our midst by the flu.

Katharine on the phone - 1915

A studious Katharine - 1915

Love that grin! Katharine - 1915
A sad story - but just one of thousands in Chicagoland from the scourge of the Spanish influenza.  Katharine Craig Stewart is interred in Unit A ("the old section") of the Mausoleum in Rosehill Cemetery, Chicago.  May Katharine, her dear parents and siblings rest in peace.