Friday, December 30, 2016


Everyone over a certain age has undoubtedly seen at least one Curt Teich postcard in their lives - and probably many more than one.  If you are researching historical cities, states, hotels, etc. sooner or later you will come upon a Curt Teich postcard.  They were beautiful renditions - often making a site look better than it looked in person. Here are a few examples:

So let's see what we can "dig up" about the man who singlehandedly revolutionized the postcard industry.

Curt Otto Teich was born March 23, 1877 in Greiz, Germany to Christian Teich (1843-1920) and Elise, nee Tamm (1848-1918). Curt was one of seven children born to Christian and Elise Teich. They are:

Rosa  (1871-1940)
Max Louis  (1873-1964)
Frederick Julius  (1874-1946)
Clara  (1875-1945)
Curt  (1877-1974)
Alfred H.  (1880-1931)
Ernest A.  (1882-1962)

Greiz is a village located in the state of Thuringia in east-central Germany.  When Curt was just a boy, the Teich family moved to Lobenstein, a town seventy kilometers southwest of Greiz.  Decades prior, Curt’s great-grandfather, Johann Karl Teich (1760–1845), had been granted a family seat in Lobenstein by his close friend, the Prince of Reuss.  

The Teichs boasted a long line of printers, and a family coat of arms from 1725 illustrates this trade heritage with a display of early printing tools:

Curt's father Christian was a printer, newspaper publisher, and book salesman, and his grandfather, Friederich Karl Wilhelm Teich (1819–1890), published a book of poetry and wrote articles for various periodicals. The printed word was a Teich specialty, and Curt followed in his family’s footsteps with great enthusiasm. After attending high school in Dresden until the age of fifteen, he returned to Lobenstein to work as a printer’s apprentice.

While Curt learned the ropes of the trade in Germany, his father and eldest brother Max traveled to Chicago to visit the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition.  After the fair, Max stayed in Chicago and entered the hotel business.  Some sources say that because of the opportunities he saw available in the United States, Christian encouraged his son Curt to join his brother in the US. Other sources say however, that it was after a disagreement with his father that Teich bought himself a one-way steerage ticket aboard a steamship bound to the United States, arriving in New York on April 5, 1895 without so much as a suitcase under his arm.  Here's a photo of young Curt on his way to America:

Within a few days of docking in New York, he made a humble start in business as a printer’s devil, (a multi-tasking apprentice). Although he was overqualified for the position, he readily accepted it as he needed to earn a living.

After working for a time in New York,  Curt moved to Chicago and opened his own printing firm on January 4, 1898 on 59-61 (now 1258 N.) Clybourn Avenue in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. (A retail with apartment building occupies that spot today.)   His brother Max Teich, who had by this time purchased the Wyoming Hotel and re-branded it as the Kaiserhof Hotel, was his silent business partner and provided the necessary funds for start-up costs.  Within a few years the company was incorporated.  Max owned 130 shares; Curt owned 80 shares; and their younger brother Alfred who had recently immigrated to the United States, owned 40 shares.  As the corporation paperwork reveals, the aims of Teich’s corporation were broad: “printing and lithographing, publishing, importing of art printing, manufacturing and importing of souvenir articles.”

Before he identified his niche in postcard printing, those first years were challenging. Teich describes his experience at the turn of the century: “Business conditions were poor at the time, many visitors to the Chicago World’s Fair had remained, and every profession and trade was over-crowded. [We] specialized in job, newspaper and magazine printing, competition was fierce and price cutting prevalent.  A fair living, that’s all, was the result.” Teich, however, wanted more than earning merely “a fair living.” He wanted his company to be better than the status quo and also hoped to turn a profit.

As was the case with most immigrants of that era, Curt Teich became a naturalized citizen as soon as possible, being granted his US citizenship in Chicago on November 24, 1899.  At that time he was living at 124 (now 117) W. Goethe Street.  A modern townhouse sits on that site today.

Here's a photo of Curt about the time he became an American citizen:  

The first time Curt Teich could participate in the census as a US Citizen was the census of 1900.  Teich reported that he was a "Lodger" at 124 W. Goethe Street.  He was 27 years-old and was a "Printer" by trade.

Here is Curt Teich with his extended family, about 1900:

Left to right: Back row - Ernest Teich, Curt Teich, Rosa Teich, Alfred Teich, Clara Teich, Frederick Teich, Max. L. Teich, Front row - unknown boy, Fritz Teich (Max's son), Christian Teich, Elizabeth Teich (Max's daughter), Elise Tamm Teich

In 1905, a postcard craze took hold of the nation. That same year, Curt Teich boarded a train from Chicago to St. Petersburg, Florida and then, from there, traveled another 2,500 miles by rail to the West Coast.  At each stop along the way, he disembarked, camera in hand, and photographed the businesses populating numerous small towns’ Main Streets.  These images would serve as the basis for his first large print run of illustrated postcards.  At the low price of one dollar per one thousand cards, Teich solicited an astounding $30,000 ($770,000 in today's dollars) worth of orders during this cross-country journey. Needless to say, he returned to Chicago a successful businessman with a plan: to concentrate his efforts in the postcard printing industry. Most American postcard companies of that era printed their materials abroad, but Curt Teich’s ambitions were of a different order: he wanted to print his own postcards. 

By 1907 business was so good that Teich outgrew his Clybourn building, and moved his factory to LaSalle and Ohio Streets. 

But it wasn't all work for Curt Teich.  On July 15, 1909, Curt Teich married Anna Louise, nee Niether (1889-1959).  She was the daughter of Friederich Hermann Niether and Louise Elizabeth, nee Kuhnen (1857-19047).  Friedrich Niether was a bookkeeper by trade.

Here is a photo taken on their wedding day:

1910 was a significant year for the Teich family.  Their first child, Curt Teich, Jr. was April 23, 1910, and the firm installed their first offset printing press.  Here's a photo of the proud parents with Curt Teich, Jr.:

and here's a photo of their offset printing press:

The 1910 US Census finds the Teich family living at 1834 N. Hammond (now Orleans) Street in Chicago:

1834 N. Orleans Street, Chicago

Curt and Anna said they had one child who was alive in 1910, but did not list that child on the census.  Living with them was also a servant, twenty six year-old Catherine Schmidt.

By 1910 Teich realized that he would have to move his factory again.  He moved back north, and purchased a building and adjacent vacant lot at 1733-55 W. Irving Park Road. After renovating the building, commissioning the offset press for printing postcards, and purchasing new equipment, the company moved to the new address in 1911.

Under Curt Teich's leadership, his postcard company continued to grow.  Teich is best known for its "Greetings From" postcards with their big letters, vivid colors, and bold style.  "Greetings From" postcards had originated in Germany in the 1890s, and Teich successfully imported the style to the American market after a visit in 1904.  Teich employed hundreds of traveling salesmen, who sold picture postcards to domestic residences, and encouraged business to create advertising postcards; these salesmen also photographed the businesses and worked with the owners to create an idealized image.  Here are some examples:

Curt and Anna Teich were blessed with five children all together. They are:

Curt Teich, Jr.  (1910-1980)
Walter Ernst Teich  (1912-1972)
Louise Teich Chmelik  (1913-2005)
Lawrence Edward Teich  (1918-1942)
Ralph Donald Teich  (1925-2000)

The 1920 US Census finds the Teich family living at 4712 N. Malden Street in Chicago:

4712 N. Malden Street, Chicago
The family consisted of 50 year-old Curt, 40 year-old Anna, 9 year-old Curt, Jr., 7 year-old Walter, 6 year-old Louise, and 15 month-old Lawrence.  In addition, they had two live-in maids, 24 year-old Marie Linner from W├╝rttemberg, Germany (where the Teich family had lived), and 24 year-old Amelia Koelher.  Curt reported that they owned the house free and clear, and reported his occupation as "Manufacturer of Postcards." 

In 1922, a five-story East Building was erected on the empty lot, designed by Teich's brother Frederick, an architect in Chicago.  The floors in the new building were designed to hold heavier loads than those in the existing building.  Here's a postcard of the factory with the new addition:

In 1925 the Teich family moved to the suburbs - to 535 Longwood Avenue in Glencoe, an upscale suburb of Chicago.  The house has 6 bedrooms and 7 bathrooms.  Curt Teich reported its value in 1930 at $100,000.00; in 2015 it sold for $2,400,000.00. 

535 Longwood Avenue, Glencoe, Illinois
By the time he purchased the Glencoe mansion, Curt Teich was a wealthy man - but that did not change is innate German frugality. One maid reported that  “He would occasionally do ‘spot checks’ of the kitchen vegetable peelings to make sure that they were thin, with minimal loss of the ‘good’ part of the vegetable. If the peelings were too thick, Teich would strongly reprimand the kitchen help.”

Curt Teich in the 1920s

The 1930 US Census finds the Teich family in their Glencoe home. The family consisted of 52 year-old Curt, 40 year-old Anna, and the children:  Curt Jr (19), Walter (17), Louise (16), Lawrence (11) and Ralph (4).  In addition, they had an extensive household staff: chambermaid Lavinia Roma, cook Alice Johnson, "waitress" Gertrude Leisner,  and nurse Ella Hansen.  In their coach-house at the rear of the property lived gardener Joseph Pfetzer with his family, and gardener Henry Lohman.  They told the census taker that they did have a radio, and all of them could read and write except for 4 year-old Ralph.  The Teich family had certainly come up in the world.  In 1930 only Curt Jr. worked for the family firm - as a "superintendent of lithography."

In 1938, Curt Teich declared that his #1 selling postcard was of the White House in Washington.  In second place was his postcard of Niagara Falls, and #3 was Yellowstone's Old Faithful geyser.

Curt Teich suffered two heart attacks in 1939 so he decided to turn over day to day operations to his son Curt Teich, Jr., nicknamed by brother Ralph Teich as "Little Napoleon."       

The 1940 US Census finds the Teich family still living at 535 Longwood Avenue in Glencoe.  The family now consisted of Curt Sr. (63), Anna (50), Walter (28), Lawrence (21), and Ralph (14). The number of live-in servants has been reduced to two: house maid Lidia Huber and cook Mary Schreiber.  Gardener Joseph Pfetzer and his family were still living in the coach-house.  Curt Sr. listed his occupation as "Executive - Lithography," and Walter listed his occupation as "Salesman-Lithography."  

Business was booming at the Teich Company as World War II began and overall World War II was very profitable for the company as millions of people sent and received postcards.  In 1944 Curt Teich, Jr. declared their previous year's sales "almost unbelievable," even though their production of new cards slowed to a crawl.  During the war the Teich plant in Chicago was retooled for defense work, printing over three million maps for the invasions of Europe and Japan as the Teich family joined the ranks of other "Gold-Star" families who lost one of their family members in the war.  

The tragic news came to the family after the fall of Corregidor in 1942. The War Department told the family that Lt. Lawrence E. Teich was missing in action and presumed dead.  The final confirmation of this did not come until 1946, after the war was over.  Here is the notice from the Chicago Daily Tribune on March 31, 1946:


Lt. Lawrence E. Teich, an aviation ordnance officer listed as missing since the fall of Corregidor, has been officially declared dead by the war department.  His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Curt Teich Sr., of 535 Longwood dr., Glencoe, have been notified.  Lt. Teich was graduated from the Northwestern Military academy and from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  He subsequently was attached to his father's firm, a postcard manufacturing company at 1733 Irving Park rd., until he was called from reserve status to active duty in March, 1941.  He was a member of the 692d Ordnance division, 10th pursuit wing, in the Philippines.

Teich's body was never found so he does not have a grave, but his name is listed on the Tablet of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in the Philippines.  

Curt Teich did many different things to keep busy in his retirement, although filling out questionnaires for Who's Who was not one of them. Curt Teich was listed in Who's Who in Chicago from 1936 on, but his listing consisted of only his name, job title and home and work addresses, unlike that of his brother Max who happily provided all the information requested for his listing in Who's Who.

Curt Teich was interested in preserving the past.  Through the years he had promised the family that he would write a family history, and in 1958 when he was 80 years old he penned the "Teich Family Tree." 
Curt and Anna Teich decided in the mid-1950s that they had had enough of Chicago winters and moved to Florida, eventually buying an ocean-front home at 1000 N. Gulf Blvd., Belleair Shore, Florida.

The Chicago Daily Tribune from January 30, 1959 reported the death of Anna Teich:

Mrs. Curt Teich Sr. 

Services for Mrs. Anna L. Teich, 69, of Antioch, Lake county, and Belleair Shore, Fla., who died in her Antioch home Wednesday, will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday in the chapel at 5303 N. Western av. She was the wife of Curt Teich Sr., owner of Curt Teich Lithographers, 1733 Irving Park rd.  She was president of the North Shore auxiliary of the Addison Kinderheim home, Addison, Du Page county.  She also leaves three sons, Curt Jr., Walter, and Ralph Teich; a daughter, Mrs. Louise Chmelik; and a brother.

Anna Teich is interred in the mausoleum of Memorial Park Cemetery in Skokie, Illinois:

The Teich family finally sold the company in 1974, and the company’s name was officially changed to Curt Teich Industries. Two years later, a Chicago-based printing firm by the name of Regensteiner Publishing Enterprises bought the company. Interestingly, this firm was also started by a German immigrant who immigrated to Chicago in the late nineteenth century.

Curt Teich, Sr. passed away at the age of ninety-six in 1974.  here is his obituary from the Chicago Daily Tribune of January 16, 1974:


Curt Teich Sr., 96, late of 1000 N. Gulf Blvd., Belleair Shore, Fla., beloved husband of the late Anna; dear father of Curt Teich Jr., Louise Chmelik and Ralph D. Teich, all of Lake Forest, Ill., also the late Walter Teich of Morehead City, N.C. and Lawrence Teich; grandfather of five. Founded Curt Teich & Co., Inc., in 1898. Director of National Lithographers Assoc. and the Old Peoples Home in Forest Park. Charter life member of Greater Moose Lodge, No. 3, Mooseheart, Ill. Services Thursday, Jan. 17, 2 p.m., at Drake and Son Funeral Home, 5303 N. Western Av.  Entombment Memorial Park Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorials to the Cancer Fund will be appreciated. Visitation after 3 p.m. Wednesday. 561-6874.

He was interred next to his wife Anna in the mausoleum at Memorial Park Cemetery in Skokie:

The family had sold the company in 1974, and by 1978, the Teich name was no longer being used in conjunction with producing postcards.  The Curteichcolor process was subsequently purchased in 1980 and is still used by the John Hinde Company, an Irish firm based in Dublin with a branch in California, to print postcards, calendars, and tourist souvenirs. 

When the Teich family sold the company, they retained all of the postcard files and other ephemera that went along with them.  They had copies of every postcard they ever printed but the purchasers were not interested in any of the old stuff - they were mainly buying the name as well as the processes that Curt Teich had patented.  As has happened so many times in the past, steps were taken to throw out all of the Teich postcard files.  Luckily at the last minute Curt Teich's son, Ralph, rescued truckloads of postcards and files from being thrown in the trash when the company closed.

The collection was first offered to the Chicago Historical Society, but they were only interested in the Chicago cards and Ralph Teich did not want to split the collection up.  The collection was finally donated to the Lake County Forest Preserve District and to "sweeten the deal" Teich also gave them a $500,000 endowment to help pay for the storage and care of the collection.   

The Lake County Forest Preserve District was the proud owner of the collection until 2016 when they donated the collection to the Newberry Library in Chicago, who they felt was better able to "expand the usership" of the collection, that now contains an estimated 3 million postcards and related materials and is considered the largest public collection in the world.  They also donated the endowment which had grown to $527,258 so the collection will now be available for collectors, fans and scholars in perpetuity thanks to the foresight of Ralph Teich who literally rescued the collection from the dumpster - and for that we should be eternally grateful.  I'm sure Curt Teich would be pleased. 

The story of Curt Teich is similar to the stories of many German immigrants who came to this country in the late 1800s (including my own grandfather.)  Teich, like so many of his peers, started his own company and by providing a quality product became very successful. Curt Teich even outshone his peers by becoming one of the most prolific postcard printers in America during the first half of the twentieth century, eventually printing up to 250 million cards annually.

Curt Teich, the Postcard King - may he rest in peace.

Friday, December 2, 2016


Anyone who has recently looked for a burial location for a Catholic in Chicago knows that several years ago the Archdiocese had all the records automated and made available at kiosks in each of its cemeteries. Originally the kiosks also printed out section maps but that never worked too well, so it was discontinued.  However, finding burial places of deceased Catholics in the Chicago area was made very easy.

Today it was announced that the LDS Church site Family Search ( has made all of the Archdiocese of Chicago cemetery records through 1989 available online at no charge (you just have to register with the site, but it's free).

The announcement describes the records this way: "Index and images of miscellaneous records of cemeteries under the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Chicago [Illinois]. The majority of the collection is comprised of burial index cards. A small percentage of the collection includes burial registers, daily burial logs and registers of cemetery lot owners. Cemeteries within the Archdiocese of Chicago are located in both Cook and Lake counties, Illinois." 

I decided to do a spot check and see what I could find.  First I looked for my father's record, and here it is:

It correctly notes that we had his grave moved in 1977 when I bought a larger plot.

Then I checked my grandfather's record:

and again, everything looks OK.

But I found something interesting when I checked my grandmother's record:

The record incorrectly lists her "home address" as 830 (G)ray Avenue in Evanston.  That was not her address - it was the address of my uncle who was the executor of her estate.  So you can't always assume that the person you are looking up actually lived at the "home address" listed in their record.

Then I decided to look for one of the records they usually don't release to the public to see if it was there - and it was.

Here's his original burial record at Mount Olivet Cemetery:

and the record that reflects that they had him moved to Mount Carmel Cemetery:

so it appears they are including some records that had previously been "secret."  

This is a tremendous tool for researchers and I am very happy these records have been made available online - and at no cost.

Now if we could just get Rosehill Cemetery to do the same with their records, I could live happily ever after.

Happy hunting!

Special thanks to Mike Kelly who brought this tremendous news to my attention.

Friday, November 25, 2016


Readers of this blog know how much I love Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago - and especially its beautiful mausoleum designed by Sidney Lovell:

Back on April 8, 2016 I wrote an article for this blog entitled Rosehill the Beautiful - 1908. 

For that article I scanned from my collection the booklet about Rosehill that the cemetery published in 1908 full of beautiful pictures of the cemetery.  In 1908 the mausoleum had not been built yet. 

I am not getting any younger so I decided it was time for me to think about where my remains would end up, and I decided that there was no better place for me than in the mausoleum I love so much. So I am now the proud owner of Niche #5 of the Hennig Chapel Unit in the Rosehill Mausoleum.  Here's a photo:

My niche is in the top row on the far right side, outlined in black in the photo above.  You will note that it is right above the plaque honoring Elmer F. Hennig and right outside the door of the Hennig Memorial Chapel.  An appropriate spot considering my admiration for Mr. Hennig.

I would, of course, have preferred a niche in one of the older sections of the mausoleum, but they have all been sold.  The Hennig Chapel niches are fairly new, so I had many niches to choose from. 

In honor of my purchase I have decided to share another piece from my Rosehill collection with you.  This is another booklet entitled Rosehill the Beautiful.  This one was published in 1924 and prominently features the mausoleum.  Here for your enjoyment is Rosehill the Beautiful - 1924:

It is interesting to read how the Rosehill Cemetery Company thought the cemetery got its name (see page 3).  No mention of Hiram Roe or any transcription error in the City Clerk's office. According to them (which was the story I always heard) Rosehill got its name from "the masses of wild roses that clustered about the wooded slopes of the hill."  Wild roses grow in profusion in the Chicago area.  I have wild rose bushes growing in my own yard (but no Hiram Roe.) 

I am pleased to say that I have noted significant improvement in recent trips to Rosehill.  There is a new manager at the cemetery and he has made the office much more people-friendly.  They will gladly look up a grave location for you now - at no charge. 

Rosehill will probably never again reach the heights it knew during Elmer Hennig's tenure, but I am pleased to see that they are back on the right track.

Hopefully my niche will not be occupied for some time to come, but it's always better to be prepared.  As they say, "Hope for the best, plan for the worst."

Friday, October 28, 2016


I really enjoy working on this blog.  I love doing the research - digging through old records looking for information or reading old newspaper and magazine articles trying to "flesh out" the subjects of my stories.  But most I all I love working on this blog because it brings me in contact with people who I never would have encountered otherwise.  This week's subject is a perfect example of that.  His name is Lew Sarett (1888-1954) and he was called "the poet of the wilderness."  It is highly doubtful that I would have ever encountered Lew Sarett in the normal course of my life but with this article of all that has changed.  So let's sit back and relax and see what we can "dig up" about the man who wrote these lines:

Lew Sarett

A lonely lake, a lonely shore,
A lone pine leaning on the moon;
All night the water-beating wings
Of a solitary loon.

With mournful wail from dusk to dawn
He gibbered at the taunting stars, —
A hermit-soul gone raving mad,
And beating at his bars.

Lew Sarett was born Lewis Zaratzsky on May 16, 1888 in Chicago. He was the only child of Rudolph Zaratzsky (1865-1925) and Jeanette, nee Bloch (1871-1948).  His parents had immigrated to the US about 1880 - Rudolph from Poland and Jeanette from Lithuania. Rudolph was a clothing cutter by trade.  

The family moved in 1895 to Marquette, Michigan, where young Lew Sarett first began to acquire his knowledge and love of the outdoors and of wild animals. Around 1900 Sarett and his mother returned to Chicago while his father continued to look for work. In 1902 the family was reunited and moved to Benton Harbor, Michigan, where Sarett graduated from Benton Harbor High School in 1907 as a champion orator, debater, athlete and scholar.

The 1910 US Census (April 28, 1910) finds "Lewis Seratsky" living in Chicago as a "Boarder" at 4347 West Congress Street.  (That address is now a vacant lot.)  He was living with Aron Jacobus and family. Lewis listed his occupation as "Cutter in the Tailoring Business," (same occupation as his father Rudolph).  Surprisingly, Lewis told the census taker that he had been born in Russia, and that he came to the US in 1898.

Sarett started his higher education at the University of Michigan  in Benton Harbor (1907-1908).  In 1909 he was a sophomore transfer to Beloit College in Beloit, Wisconsin.  During a colorful campus career there he was known as Lew R. Saretsky.  

At Beloit he was a member of Delta Sigma Rho, honorary speech fraternity, and of the Turtle Mound, senior men's group.  He was outstanding as a cheerleader in the days when sports were having a big revival of interest on the Beloit campus.  As a cheerleader, he participated in Beloit's first homecoming ceremonies of 1910. 

Lew Saretsky, Cheerleader

During these years, known as 'Swat,' Sarett participated in athletics and won honors in oratory.  He won the Rice Prize for extemporaneous speaking at the 1910 commencement, and he won the Wisconsin State Oratorical Championship in two successive years.  His prize-wining orations were “The Slavonic Offering to the American” in 1910 and “Poland's Offering to the American” in 1911.  Around 1911, he formally changed his surname to Sarett.

After graduating from Beloit (Class of 1911), he attended Harvard Law School (1911-1912) and the University of Illinois Law School (LL.B. 1916).  

In 1913 Lew Sarett accepted a position on the faculty of the University of Illinois in Champaign, Illinois.  He was an Assistant Professor of Public Speaking for the 1913-1914 academic year and an Assistant Professor of  English starting in 1914.  During this period, Sarett lived at 504 E. Chalmers Street in Champaign.  A parking lot occupies that space today.

For a time he lived among the Chippewa Indians of the Lake Superior region, was adopted by them and given the name "Lone Caribou." When Sarett was not teaching, he served as a part-time ranger in National Parks in Montana and Wyoming and as a wilderness guide in northern Minnesota and Canada. 

On June 17, 1914 Lew R. Sarett married Margaret H. Minen (1893-1941) in St. Joseph, Michigan.  Margaret H. Minen was born Margaret Helen Husted on June 17, 1893 in Marengo, Illinois to Harry Brooks Husted (1865-1931) and Helen Bryan, nee Osgood (1869-1910).  Harry Husted was a bookkeeper by trade who went on to own a paint factory in Chicago.

Before she married Lew Sarett, Margaret had been married to George Edgar Mizen (1889-1942).  They were married July 24, 1911 in Kane County, Illinois.  The marriage ended in divorce.  

Lew and Margaret Sarett were blessed with two children:  Lewis Hastings Sarett (1917-1999), and Helen Osgood Sarett (1926-2007). Lewis H. Sarett became quite famous in his own right. He was the first chemist to synthesize cortisone. It was a feat of remarkable complexity involving nearly 40 chemical steps from desoxycholic acid and was achieved during World War II as a chemist in the Merck Research Laboratories.  This synthesis and subsequent improvements of it ultimately led to cortisone’s use in treating rheumatoid arthritis and was the first of Sarett’s many contributions to medicine during a 40-year career at Merck.  When he retired in 1982 he was senior vice-president for science and technology.  He had been a key contributor to Merck’s growth, and in later years Sarett was an influential industry spokesman for U.S. science policy. 

Sarett the elder has always dabbled with poetry, but he took it a step further in 1918 by starting to have some of his poems published. "Beat Against Me No Longer" was published in Others - a Magazine of the New Verse, "The Last Portage" in Argosy of May 24, 1919, and "The Granite Mountain" in Reedy's Mirror.  Here is "Beat Against Me No Longer":

 A Chippewa Love Song
Ai-yee! my Yellow-Bird-Woman,
My ne-ne -- moosh, ai-yee! my Loved-One,
Be not afraid of my eyes!
Beat against me no longer;
Come! Come with a yielding of limbs.
Ai-yee! woman, woman,
Trembling there in the teepee
Like the doe in the season of rutting,
Why foolishly fearest thou me?
Beat against me no longer!
Be not afraid of my eyes!
Cast the strange doubts from thy bosom!
Be not as the flat-breasted squaw-sich
Who feels the first womanly yearnings
And hides, by the law of our people,
Alone three sleeps in the forest;
Be not as that brooding young maiden
Who wanders forlorn in the cedars,
And slumbers with troubled dreams,
To awaken suddenly, fearing
The hot throbbing blood in her bosom,
The strange eager life in her limbs.
Ai-yee! foolish one, woman,
Cast the strange fears from thy heart!
Wash the red shame from thy face!
Be not afraid of my glances!

Be as the young silver birch
In the Moon-of-the-Green-Growing-Grasses --
Who sings with the thrill of the sap
As it leaps to the south wind's caresses;
Who yields her rain-swollen buds
To the kiss of the sun with glad dancing.
Be as the cool tranquil moon
Who flings off her silver-blue blanket
To bare her white breast to the pine;
Who walks through the many-eyed night
In her gleaming white nudeness
With proud eyes that will not look down.
Be as the sun in her glory,
Who dances across the blue day,
And flings her red soul, fierce-burning,
Into the arms of the twilight.
Ai-yee! foolish one, woman,
Be as the sun and the moon!
Cast the strange doubts from thy bosom!
Wash the red shame from thy face!
Thou art a woman, a woman!
Beat against me no longer!
Be not afraid of my eyes!

The 1920 US Census finds the Sarett family living at 111 E. Springfield in Champaign:

111 East Springfield, Champaign, IL

Lew Sarett listed his occupation as "Teacher at the University of Illinois."  Lew was 31, Margaret was 26, and Lew Jr. was 2.

In 1920 Sarett achieved another milestone: he published his first book of poetry.  It was called Many, Many Moons, a Book of Wilderness Poems, and was published by Henry Holt and Company:

The book contained "Poems of the Indians and of the Northwoods in which they live."  From the dust jacket: "For ten years Lew Sarett worked in the North Country among the Indians as a guide and woodsman. Out of the tall timber of the land of K'cheegamee he came with his book, Many Many Moons".  The book contained an introduction by another famous poet, Carl Sandburg, a friend of Sarett's.  

It was about this time that Sarett also began a lifelong career of public speaking, spending many summers on the lyceum and chautauqua circuits, in the employ of such agencies as the Redpath Bureau and the J.B. Pond Lyceum Bureau.  Although his first important lecture, “Stranger at the Gates,” dealt with the urban immigrant experience, Sarett soon developed a reputation and repertoire as an interpreter of the American wilderness.  Sarett described many of his performances as “lecture-recitals,” reflecting their combination of prose and poetry. For such popular lectures as “The Children God Forgot” Sarett took the stage in full American Indian dress; on other occasions, he appeared in the hiking boots and heavy plaid jacket of a woodsman.  In 1921 Sarett, billed as “the poet of the wilderness,” shared the platform with his friend Carl Sandburg, “the poet of the city.” 

In 1922 Lew Sarett accepted a position as a professor in the School of Speech at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.  The Sarett family rented an apartment at 201 Ridge Avenue:

201 Ridge Avenue, Evanston, IL
In 1921 he served briefly as an advisory editor of Poetry magazine and won Poetry's Levinson Poetry Prize; he won the Poetry Society of America's annual prize in 1925. 

Also in 1921, Adventure Magazine published one of Sarett's poems entitled "Sweetwater Range" in their Mid-August issue.

In 1922 Henry Holt and Company published another volume of Sarett's poetry.  This one was called The Box of God:

These poems reflect life among the Chippewa.  Contents: Part I The Box Of God -- Broken Bird ,- Whistling Wings, and Talking Waters.  Part II - Green Altars -- Wind In The Pine, Teton Mountain, Mesa-mist, The Red Dragoon, Dust, Sweetwater Range, Leave Me To My Own, Marching Pines, Yellow Moon, Timber-line Ceda, Whooping Crane, Let Me Flower As I Will, October Snow, Indian Summer, Drouth, Fisher Of Stars, Alkali Pool, Old Oak, and Look For Me.  Part III Red Gods -- Thunderdrums, The Drummers Sing, Double-Bear Dances, Jumping-river Dances, Ghost-wolf Dances, Iron-wind Dances, The Drummers Sing, Indian Sleep-Song, To A Dead Pembina Warrior, Medals And Holes, Fire-bender Talks, and Maple-Sugar Chant. The book concludes with an Appendix and this Explanatory Note: "The following supplementary notes concerning the poems of Indian theme in Part 3, Red Gods, may prove helpful to the reader who is unfamiliar with the American Indian by providing for the poems a background of Indian legends, customs, and traditions."

Some reviewers mistakenly identified Sarett as an American Indian.

As more and more of Sarett's work was published, he gained a reputation as a noted orator, and professor of English and Public Speaking.  He also served as an adviser on Indian affairs to the Department of the Interior.

In 1924, Sarett had another of his poems, "Frail Beauty" published. It appeared in Everybody's Magazine, in their November, 1924 issue.

Henry Holt and Company published another collection of Sarett's poetry in 1925.  This one was called Slow Smoke:  

Reviewers said that Slow Smoke was a book that revealed Sarett's increase in technique and wider outlook upon life.  Here's the review from the South Dakota Library Bulletin:

Sarett, Lew - Slow Smoke. Holt, $1.50.

The new collection of poems by Lew Sarett contains some more of his delightful out-of-door verses.  In this you will find "Four little foxes" which the author gave on his program at the Sioux City meeting last fall.  The book also contains "Colloquy with a coyote" with its prolonged howl which sent shivers up and down our spines. Animals, bits of scenery, and Indians catch the attention of this nature lover, and he expresses his emotions in fanciful verses which will elude anyone not in sympathy with the same things.  

In the mid 1920s Seratt found himself becoming more and more disheartened with city life.  Finally, he worked out an arrangement with Northwestern whereby he would return to Evanston three months of each year; the other nine months he lived in wilderness surroundings.

He talked about his state of mind and the arrangement he worked out with Northwestern in this article from the Ironwood (Michigan) Daily Globe from July 7, 1926:  

Can’t Really Live in City; Poet Finds Haven in Forest

Chicago – “A civilization that makes a man unable to live with himself and his family, unable to find contentment in simple, wholesome home life close to the soil, that makes a man dependent on an artificial, hectic jazz life outside of his home – a civilization like that is tragically defective somewhere.”

That short statement sums up the creed of Law Sarett, poet, scholar and woodsman. It is the creed that made his life as professor at Northwestern University seem barren, cramped and unreal to him, so that last winter he abruptly gave up and went to look for a wilderness haven.

In Virgin Forests. 

He has found what he was looking for.  This summer he is going to build a home for himself, his wife and their son in the little town of Laona, up in the Virgin forests of Forest county, Wisconsin.  There they will and try to regain their vigor by getting close to the earth.

Behind them Sarett will leave the cultivated secure life of Evanston, university town on the edge of Chicago.  The only connecting link will be his professorship in the School of Speech. Three months each year he will return to Evanston to teach.  The rest of the time will find him in the north woods, where the wind rustles the pine branches and the suns glints off the copper surface of winding rivers.

Not for Everyone. 

When Sarett announced his intention of moving to the woods, a Chicago business man who knew him told him:  “It may be all right for you, Sarett, but the average man would die if he had to do that.  He needs many contacts – luncheon clubs, cabarets, lodges and social events. The average man hasn’t the ability to live by and within himself; he doesn’t want to.  He has grown dependent on artificial life outside his home.”

“And that,” replied Sarett, “proves my point.  It is a worse indictment of modern civilization than I have ever voiced.

“What are we here for? To make money, so were can buy things that will make us want still more money?  To spend our days working and our nights dancing?  To live in apartments, one home piled on top of another?  Perhaps.

Fishing Too. 

“But I think the enduring things are simpler things; wholesome home life, the enjoyment of our families, playing and wrestling with our youngsters, sitting by open fires with good books and a plate of apples nearby, rambling in October woods, casting trout flies over pools.

“I think it is more important that a man grow within himself than that he have many lodge pins to wear on his coat.  And to grow inside, you have to be alone much of the time.

“Of course, I don’t mean that every family should move into the country.  But I do think that this would be a more beautiful, healthy and more Christian world if every one of us went into the woods some part of every year.  I think every man ought to live in closer touch with nature, ought to commune somehow and sometime with the spirit that makes itself manifest there in bird and tree and waterfall.

What the Town Gives. 

“These things are so much more accessible if you live in a small town.  You can live on the edge of a village, in natural surroundings.  You can live in a house – and that is wonderful, after a period of apartment dwelling.  You can go hunting, and go fishing an hour or two in the evening after work; you can go camping, or have a cottage for week-ends at some lake.

“All you have to do is stay in tune with the song of the flicker, the voice of the wind, he call of the fields that lie close to the little towns,  And yet so many of us scamper to the city to run with the pack!”    

Lew Sarett circa 1930

In Laona, he lived on East Mill Street in what is now known as the N. MacRae house, which he rented for $25.00 per month.  That's where we find him in the 1930 US Census.  The household consisted of 41 year-old Lew, a "Professor of English at Northwestern University," 36 year-old Margaret, 12 year-old Lew Jr., 4 year-old Helen, and a live-in servant from Denmark, 48 year-old Alvia Schultz.  

Lew Sarett continued this arrangement until 1932 when he moved back to suburban Chicago - Highland Park, Illinois.  

Just before he moved back to Illinois, Sarett published his fourth volume of poetry, Wings Against the Moon:

In addition to the regular binding shown above, Wings Against the Moon was also sold in a publishers 'designer' binding by the Monastery Hill Bindery consisting of three quarter crushed morocco with inlays of light green and black depicting a goose in flight:

Sarett was quoted as saying that Wings Against the Moon was "largely a Wisconsin book."  The Wisconsin Library Bulletin said, "...not specifically perhaps, but many of the poems were inspired by the region in Northern Wisconsin where he now lives."

In addition to his poetry, Sarett also had the reputation of  being one of the nation’s authorities in the field of speech.  In 1932 he published his first non-poetry volume Personal Power Through Speech.

Through the 1930s Sarett kept busy with teaching at Northwestern, writing and appearing on the lecture circuit.  He also developed a great interest in horticulture.  During his lifetime he produced six new varieties of dahlia, each of which won many awards. 

As his first speech textbook became widely used in the academic world, he decided to write another volume.  Modern Speeches on Basic Issues was published in 1939.

The 1940 US Census found the Sarett family still living in Highland Park, in a house they owned at 1732 South Green Bay Road.  A shopping mall occupies that space today.  Sarett valued the home at $25,000.00.  He listed his occupation as "Professor - University."  The family consisted of  51 year-old Lew, 46 year-old Margaret, 22 year-old Lew Jr., and 13 year-old Helen Osgood Sarett.

In 1941 Lew Sarett published his fourth and final book of poetry.  It was called Collected Poems of Lew Sarett which contained a foreword by his friend Carl Sandburg:

Here's one of the poems it contained.  This one is called "To a Grove of Silver Birches:"


Good morning, lovely ladies! I've never seen
You half so fair - I swear;
How beautiful your gowns of apple-green!
and the ribbons in your hair!

What rapture do you await? What coming Swain?
Such rustling of petticoats!
Such wagging of heads and prinking in the rain!
such fluttering at your throats!

Dear winsome vessels, your flurry is no whim.
I know you sly design;
And why the sap goes pulsing up each limb
Sparkling as apple wine.

O ladies, trick you in your gala-best;
For out of the ardent South,
Young April comes with a passion in his breast,

And a kiss upon his mouth.

Margaret Husted Sarett died on February 27, 1941.   

Margaret Sarett was buried in Memorial Park cemetery in Skokie, Illinois.

Two years later, on March 13, 1943, Sarett married Juliet Barker, a voice teacher with a graduate degree from the Northwestern University School of Speech (1924); she died from ovarian cancer on November 7, 1945.  Here is her Death Certificate:

Her Death Notice and Obituary appeared in the Chicago Daily Tribune on November 8, 1945:

Like Margaret Sarett before her, Juliet Sarett was buried in Memorial Park Cemetery in Skokie.

In 1946 Lew Sarett he married Alma E. Johnson, who had received her M.A. (1938) and Ph.D. (1942) degrees from Northwestern. Alma Johnson Sarett (Anderson), a professor of speech at the University of Florida, died in 1982.

Here's an advertisement that Sarett's agent put together to help the public become more familiar with Sarett and his work:

In his later years, in addition to his lectures, Lew Seratt continued to write for the lucrative textbook industry.  He published Speech: A High School Course in 1943 and Basic Principals of Speech in 1946.

In 1950 Seratt was granted a three-year leave of absence because of poor health, and at the end of this leave he retired.  Upon his retirement, Northwestern University established the Lew Sarett Chair of Speech.  From 1951-1954 Sarett was Visiting Professor of Speech at the University of Florida.  He died on August 17, 1954 in Gainesville, Florida, after a series of heart attacks.  He was 66 years-old.  Here's his obituary from the Chicago Daily Tribune from August 18, 1954:

Lew Sarett was buried in the Evergreen Cemetery in Gainesville, Florida:

Buried alongside him is his third wife Alma, who died in 1982.

Lew Sarett was described by Carl Sandburg as one of the nation’s most perceptive poets.  In addition, Sarett was considered one of the nation’s authorities in the field of speech.  

Here's a photo of Sarett taken by noted Evanston photographer J.D. Toloff:

Lew Sarett - Poet of the Wilderness - may he rest in peace.