Friday, May 27, 2016


I'm sure most of my readers are familiar with Fortune magazine. Fortune is a multinational business magazine, published by Time Inc. and headquartered in New York City.  The publication was founded by Henry Luce in 1929. The magazine competes with Forbes in the national business magazine category.  Unlike Forbes, which has always been more of a "lace curtain" business magazine, Fortune was always more about the "nuts and bolts" of industry.  If you had picked up a copy of Fortune from March, 1940 you would see articles with titles such as "Business and Government," "West Coast Politics," "American Radiator & Standard Sanitary Corp.," "Managers of Steel," "The Aircraft Boom," "Fall and Rise of McKesson & Robbins," "The Incredible Barco," and "War on the Sea."  The cover featured "Pipelines" by Fred Chance: 

Included in the March, 1940 articles was one titled "Master Plumber," which told the story of Fred Flader from Evanston, Illinois.  Before we take a look at the Fortune article about him, let's see what we can "dig up" about Evanston Master Plumber Fred Flader.

Gottfried William ("Fred") Flader was born June 2, 1882 on a farm seven miles from Sheboygan, Wisconsin.  He was the ninth child born to Gottfried Flader (1843-1882) and Louise, nee Brehm (1851-1918). Fred's father died March 27, 1882, sixty-seven days before Fred was born, so Louise Flader decided to name the new baby boy after his deceased father.  In those days among the German-speaking natives, the surname "Flader" was pronounced "Flouder."

Having nine children to raise on a farm was not easy for Louise Flader, so she soon remarried. On September 14, 1883 Louise married Herman A. Meyer (1858-1944) in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.

Louise gave birth to thirteen children all together - nine with Gottfried Flader and four with Herman Meyer.  They are as follows:

  Born Died
Paulina L. Flader
1868 1874
Albrecht (Albert) Flader
1869 1955
Bertha Christine Flader 
1870 1933
Emil Charles Flader 
1872 1951
Hugo Gottfried Flader
1874 1899
Wilhelm (William) Flader
1876 1881
Charles Arthur Flader 
1879 1944
Louise Flader 
1880 1969
Gottfried William "Fred" Flader 
1882 1962
Adeline Meyer 
1884 ????
Tillie Meyer 
1886 ????
Herman Adolph Meyer
1887 ????
Oscar A. Meyer
1889 1939

Young Fred Flader went to the crossroads school and did chores on the farm along with his older brothers, but he did not get along with his step-father Herman Meyer, who had a terrible temper.  One winter night when Fred was 14 years old, his step-father lashed at him with a horsewhip. Fred stayed to finish his chores in the morning and the left the farm.  He walked the seven miles to town through deep snow and never went back.  In later years Fred was heard to say that "looking back, now it seems that that whip was in the hand of Providence."

Fourteen year old Fred Flader got a job with the Garton Toy Company in Sheboygan.  Five cents an hour for a twelve hour day six days a week, drilling holes in the rear ends of hobbyhorses and stuffing in flaxen tails. The Christmas hobbyhorse rush was about over, though, and when he heard that Nehrlich & Schaetzer, plumbers, were looking for a boy to help around the shop.  Fred applied for the job and got it.  He was paid $2.50 a week, and his duties were to tend the stoves and take care of the horses.

Nehrlich & Schaetzer was a small operator, and when a contract for the plumbing in a new school house came along they had to advertise in out-of-town papers for an extra plumber.  A man named Charlie Donnelson turned up from Minnesota.  He was a real plumber all right, and he staggered the small-town firm when he announced that he never plumbed without a helper - a personal helper.  The only one around the shop who even looked like a helper was fifteen-year-old Fred, and Charlie took him on.  Charlie liked young Fred and found that Fred was a fast learner.  After the school job was finished, Charlie and Fred went to a hospital job where unfortunately Charlie fell ill with the lead colic and died.  Lead colic is a symptom of lead poisoning and was an occupational hazard for those who worked with lead and lead products such and plumbers and painters.

Fred Flader was devastated at the loss of his mentor and friend.  Years later he said that Charlie had been his hero (and perhaps the father Fred never had).  Fred Flader kept a photo of Charlie's flower-draped casket on his desk all through the years until he retired.  When someone asked about the photo, Fred said "There was a man.  He was the best plumber there ever was.  Why, he could just look at a blueprint in the shop and do the job from memory - and faster than anyone I ever saw."

The 1900 US Census taken in June of that year, finds 18 year old "Freddie" Flader living with his brother Albert and Albert's family at 1509 Illinois Avenue in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.  Fred listed his occupation as "Apprentice Plumber." 

1509 Illinois Avenue, Sheboygan, Wisconsin

Later that same year Fred and his friend George Bauman set out to seek their fortunes in Chicago.  As the train went through Lake Bluff, Illinois, they saw from the window a sign saying "Men Wanted."  They got off the train at Highland Park and started to walk back.  On the way they went through Lake Forest and noticed a plumber's shop near the road.  Just on a chance Flader went in and asked for a job.  The shop belonged to John Fitzgerald, Irish and quick and not to be made a fool of by a kid from the country.  He walked around Fred and looked him up and down.  "So you're a plumber, eh?" "Yes."  "How old are you?"  "Eighteen."  "You got any kid brothers who are plumbers?"  Fred finally admitted that he was not a real plumber - just learning.  "So you're learning to be a plumber?"  Fred said that he did not want to be anything but a plumber for the rest of his life.  "What's your name?"  "Flouder."  "How do you spell that?"  "F-l-a-d-e-r."  "Well, you're Flayder here.  You're not up with those Dutchmen now."  And it has been pronounced "Flayder" ever since.

Fred Flader went to work for Fitzgerald when rich Chicagoans were beginning to build houses in the fashionable suburbs.  His first job was to help put six bathrooms into Meat Packer Louis F. Swift's house and his second job was to help install nine bathrooms (each decorated to represent a different nation) in the mansion that Carter Harrison Fitzhugh, La Salle street investment broker was building near the lakefront.  For eleven years Flader installed and repaired plumbing for Lake Forest's best.  When asked, he would recite their names with obvious pride: John T. Pirie, George B. McKinloch, A. B. Dick, Byron L. Smith, Cyrus McCormick, John Hanna, and John V. Farwell.  As he pointed out, men like these wouldn't be satisfied with the work of any but the finest plumber.

Fred Flader stopped plumbing for the rich and famous long enough to get married in 1906.  On April 28, 1906 Fred Flader married Elizabeth M. Grasser (1882-1934) in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.  They had been introduced by Fred's mentor Charlie Donnelson.

Shortly after their marriage, the newlyweds moved to Evanston, Illinois. The 1909 Evanston City Directory lists Fred Flader as a plumber with his residence at 2624 Thayer in Evanston.

2624 Thayer, Evanston

Fred and Elizabeth Flader were blessed with three children:  Calvin S. (1907-1985), Margarite  Dorothy (1910-????), and Elizabeth Louise (1916-1996).  The 1910 US Census shows the Flader family still living at 2624 Thayer in Evanston.  Fred was 27 years old and reported that he was a "Plumber in Shop."  Calvin was 3 years old and Margarite (spelled "Marguerite" here) was a newborn.

When Fred Flader registered for the draft on September 12, 1918 he listed his address as 1100 Monroe Street Evanston:

1100 Monroe Street, Evanston, Illinois

He listed his employer as "M. O'Malia, 924 Chicago Avenue, Evanston."

924 Chicago Avenue, Evanston, Illinois

In 1919 Fred was living and working in Evanston.  He had $3,000 in the bank ($2,000 of it was inheritance from his father's Civil War pension). He had worked for Fitzgerald and for half a dozen other plumbing contractors on the North Shore.  As noted above, during World War I he had worked as a journeyman for plumbing contractor Mike O'Malia in Evanston.  Flader was a good journeyman, drawing down $7.00 per day.  But now he was 37 years old and it was time for a change.

The next step up for a journeyman plumber is to become a master plumber.  A master plumber is licensed to hire journeyman plumbers to work for him, and to buy and sell plumbing equipment.  A master plumber doesn't do the actual plumbing work, he is in the business of plumbing. He prepares bids for plumbing contracts, and makes jobbing and repairing estimates.  He is a businessman, a salesman, and he no longer swings a wrench or wipes a joint.

Fred Flader presented himself and his bag of tools at city hall one morning in October, 1919, to take his master plumber's examination from the State Board of Plumbing Examiners.  The State Board was made up of one master plumber, one journeyman, and the local health director. They showed Flader blueprints that had been misdrawn deliberately.  He pointed out the errors, found a fixture without a vent pipe, a hot-water faucet on the right instead of the left side of a sink, a lavatory waste connected with a vent pipe instead of the soil stack.  He wiped a lead Y joint, keeping a big body of solder on the joint till the heat was up just right, wiping it off neatly.  He held the finished Y up to a Y drawn on the blackboard and had it fitted.  He drew a plumbing layout for an apartment building.  He was asked questions about  the building code - rules of sanitation, the overloading of sewer lines, back siphonage of water into intake lines, vents to prevent leakage of sewer gas.  He knew the answers and he passed the examination.

So, twenty-two years after Charlie Donnelson had shown him how to ream his first burr, Fred Flader became a master plumber, his own boss in the true work-up-from-nothing American tradition.  With the $3,000 he had in the bank he rented a store in a brick building at 1914 Central Street in North Evanston, and bought $2,000 worth of stock (tools, equipment, parts, fittings).  1914 Central Street is now a parking lot for a bank.  Flader bought a second-hand roll top desk that he used for the rest of his career (he wouldn't give it up), and he cut down an old Overland car to use as a truck.  He took off his overalls, gray shirt and battered hat and put on a dark business suit, white collar, tie, fedora.  He joined the Elks, the Eagles, the Optimists, the North End Men's Club, the Royal Arcanum Lodge.  And, although he was allowed to hold his journeyman's union card for a year in case he couldn't make a go as a master plumber, he joined the North Shore Master Plumbers' Association, paying a $200.00 initiation fee and $48.00 in annual dues.

The 1920 US Census showed the Flader family living at 2546 West Railroad Avenue - now Green Bay Road - in Evanston.  (A commercial building stands on that site today).  The family consisted of Fred, his wife and their children, but there had been an addition:  Elizabeth Flader had joined the family in 1916.  For the first time Fred Flader could list his occupation as "Plumber - Own Shop."

In his first year as a master plumber Fred Flader did $33,000 worth of business with a gross profit of $11,000.  By 1925 his total business was $66,000 and his gross profit $13,000.  In 1925 he bought a lot at 1918 Harrison Street in Evanston and built a brick and stone three-story building for $64,000.  The building has eight apartments and two stores.  One store is occupied by Fred Flader, Inc., and the other is rented to a laundry:

It was the Roaring Twenties and business roared for Fred Flader.  In 1927 he was awarded the contracts for thirty-one houses, regularly employed 15 journeymen, two apprentices, a truck driver and a bookkeeper; his gross income was $82,000.  Three-fourths of his income was from new contracts, one-fourth jobbing, repairing and cash sales.  His gross profit was $20,000.

That was the peak.  Flader invested in stocks and bonds, bought into National Family Stores, became a stockholder in the Commercial Savings Bank of Evanston, bought a lot at Lake Geneva on which he planned to build a summer home someday.  He also bought the lot and two houses back of his store building and remodeled the houses - one for himself and one to rent:

2513 Prairie Avenue, Evanston 

He was a rising man, a self-made American with a good business and a good future.  It wouldn't be long before he could spend his days playing golf - which has always been his symbol of complete success.

But then everything started to slip. 

In 1928 Flader's gross business slipped to $55,000 but rebounded in 1929 to $62,000.  The stock market crashed in October of 1929.  Flader's gross business slumped to $32,000 in 1930.

The 1930 US Census finds the Flader family still living at 2513 Prairie Avenue in Evanston.  47 year old Fred has changed his occupation to "Building Contractor."  Calvin is the one in the family who now wears the "Plumber" mantle.  The rest of the family is ten years older but unchanged.  They told the census taker that they owned their home and it was worth $23,000.  That was significantly more than neighboring houses, but Flader's included two houses on the one lot.  They told the census taker that they did own a radio.

As the nation went deeper and deeper into the Great Depression, Flader's gross receipts tumbled.  The low point for Flader came in 1934 when his gross business for the entire year was only $10,700 - about 1/3 of his gross from the first year he was in business.  His bank was sold and his investments tied up.  National Family Stores went to the wall; some of his tenants defaulted in their rent payments.  As if all that was not bad enough, Fred's wife Elizabeth Flader died on November 6, 1934. Money was so tight that they didn't even pay for a death notice for Elizabeth in the newspapers.  Fred was quoted later as saying that at the end of 1934 there didn't seem to be any reason to keep trying.

Elizabeth Flader was a Catholic as were the children; Fred was not.  Instead of burying her in a Catholic cemetery, he instead chose Ridgewood Cemetery in Des Plaines:

As things got worse around the country, they changed dramatically at Flader Plumbing.  Fred had to fire his truck driver and most of his journeymen; he scaled his bids down "to the last stem nut;" often he took a loss on a contract just to keep his shop going.  He worked hard to make a few dollars on odd jobs here and there.  Business picked up some - to $13,000 in 1935, $24,000 in 1936, $34,000 in 1937.  But things dropped again in 1938 when it slipped to $19,900 (only 1/3 of it from new contracts) and remained about the same for 1939.

But things brightened up for Fred Flader on July 29, 1937 when he married 42 year old Wren Coles. a stenographer for the Lutheran church.

I was not able to find a listing for Fred Flader in the 1940 US Census.  I went through every listing for Evanston's Sixth Ward and there was no listing for 2513 Prairie in Evanston, although other sources reported that Fred and his family still lived there.  In fact Fred lived at 2513 Prairie until he died, but shortly after that the two houses were razed and an apartment building (now condos) was built on the spot.

The Fortune magazine article on Fred entitled "Master Plumber" was in the March, 1940 issue as was reported at the beginning of this article. Fred was held up as an American icon: a self-made man who, although bruised by the Great Depression, was not beaten.  Things were beginning to look up slightly at the end of 1939.  In the Fortune article Fred was quoted as saying, "Give me three more good years and I'll turn the business over to Calvin and live off the rents from my building."

After reporting the history of Fred and his business, the Fortune article told the reader how Fred was facing an uncertain future:

He sits at his old roll-top desk and thumbs through the ledger.  If you're in the plumbing business you can't cut much on overhead.  You have to have a display room as a kind of advertisement even if you don't sell much stuff straight off the floor.  You have to have an office and a stock room and a big stock of fittings - washers and couplings and faucet handles and nipples and sink strainers and ground joints - in an ordinary plumbing catalogue there are some 40,000 listed parts and fittings.  You must have a workshop and tools and a truck.  A journeyman can carry his own tools in his own car, the union rules, but all other tools and fittings must be carried in the master plumber's truck. You must have a journeyman, when there is any work to be done; and if he isn't there all the time he might not be there when you needed him. It isn't just because he's his father's son that Calvin is permanently on the payroll at $13.60 a day.  Flader pays an annual license fee of $25 to the state and a fee of $5 each in Evanston, Winnetka, Wilmette, Niles Center (Skokie), and Hubbard Woods where his customers live.  He must post a bond of $15,000 in each of those towns to establish his financial responsibility. He must pay permits to the city for each installation he makes.  His overhead in 1939 was almost as high as it was in 1927.    

Regularly on Flader's payroll, in addition to Calvin, are Elmer Boller, the bookkeeper, at $30 a week and Bob Moore the apprentice, at $15. Calvin, regularly earning $68 a week, makes $3,400 a year - which is $400 more than Flader paid himself as President of Fred Flader, Inc. Flader has no personal bank account.  When he needs cash he writes a check on the company and charges it to his salary.  He carries $35,000 of life insurance.  He still owes something on the building, which belongs to him, not to the corporation.  With three good years he thinks he could pay that off, retire, and live on the rents.

Then Calvin would take his master plumber's examination and run the business.  Which would suit Calvin all right.  He is thirty-two years old, a graduate of Evanston Township High School, and he has been working with plumbing tools ever since his hand was big enough to go around a wrench handle.  He took technical courses at night at Northwestern University and Armour Institute of Technology, and served his apprenticeship in his father's shop.  He is married and rents from his father the second of two houses next to the shop.  He is serious about his work, approves of his father's plumbing mathods, wants to follow in his father's steps.  He's still a journeyman, a working plumber in overalls, but on the frequent evenings when he and his wife go over for supper at his father's house, he looks like any young businessman in a striped blue suit. 

Fred Flader's second wife Wren, whom he married in 1937, cooks a special company supper for the whole family - Calvin and his wife; Margaret and her husband, Ambrose Marley; and Elizabeth, who works as a secretary for an insurance company in Chicago and lives at home.  
Fred Flader and family

The food is good and the eight room stucco and shingle house is comfortable - though it has only one bathroom, and Flader, who has installed so many shiny cabinet sinks in other kitchens, has never had time to modernize his own.  At the table there is some discussion of a movie they all saw last week, and of the war, and of politics.  Fred Flader, who listens to speeches on the radio and reads Life and the Reader's Digest as well as Domestic Engineering and Plumbing and Heating Business, keeps up with the news.  "That Dewey - there's a man for you.  He's a fighting cock.  He's a free lance.  If we had him in the White House things would be cleaned up in a hurry."  Calvin says the depression will have to be over sometime, and in good times the d-t-u's (direct-to-you dealers) can't hold out against legitimate plumbing.  Business will get better.  

Fred Flader, sitting in an armchair by the radio, smoking a cigar, comfortable in his velvet smoking jacket, talks about retiring.  It's not time yet; not till he gets this depression licked.  He is gloomy when he thinks about the red ink on the ledger, and the seven contracts out of 150 submitted bids, and the d-t-u's.  But at the same time he is tremendously pleased with his lifework.  He can't think of anything he would change. He believes firmly that, by any logical standards, he has been a success. He is not at all ashamed to be proud of what he has done for himself and for his family - and for Plumbing."

Fred Flader lived for quite a while after this magazine article about him was published - he lived another 20+ years, dying on October 11, 1962 at the age of 80.  Here is his Death Notice from the Chicago Daily Tribune of  October 13, 1962:

He was buried next to his first wife at the Ridgewood Cemetery in Des Plaines:

The business he was so proud of continued on after his death.  Upon the death of Fred Flader, Calvin Flader became owner of Flader Plumbing & Heating Co.  In 1976, Calvin retired and his two sons took over the business.  Calvin remained a consultant until his death in 1985.  William 3rd generation, and his son, Douglas, 4th generation, are continuing the legacy of the business.  Jack, the 5th generation, is in the wings and hopefully one day will follow in the footsteps of his grandfather and father Douglas.

The Flader family was very proud of the article about Fred in the March, 1940 issue of Fortune magazine - they make mention of it even today, 75+ years after it was published, on the Flader Plumbing and Heating website.

Fred Flader - truly a Master Plumber - may he rest in peace.  

Friday, May 13, 2016


Readers of the Chicago Inter-Ocean newspaper of April 30, 1899 saw the following article on Page One:


President of Hahnemann College Drops Dead

While Performing an Operation.

Son Seizes Knife.

Under a Terrible Strain He Completes the Work

on the Patient in Time.

Victim of Heart Disease.

Veteran Physician Head of the Homeopathic School –

His Death a Great Loss to the Profession.

There was a tragic scene at Hahnemann hospital yesterday afternoon, when Dr. Reuben Ludlam, president of Hahnemann College and dean of the faculty, dropped dead while performing a delicate surgical operation, and his son, who was assisting him, was compelled, with steady nerve, to complete the operation and leave his father in other hands, not knowing if he was alive or dead.

Yikes!  Talk about an unnerving experience.  It is a tribute to Dr. Reuben Ludlam Jr., that he was able to see the operation through to completion.  Before we take another look at the death and aftermath for Dr. Reuben Ludlam, Sr., let’s take a look at his life and times.

Readers of this blog will be familiar with the name “Dr. Ludlam.”  Back on December 14, 2012, I told the story of Dr. Jacob Watson Ludlam (1807-1859), who was the first burial at Rosehill Cemetery.  Dr. Reuben Ludlam is the son of Dr. Jacob Ludlam and his wife Mary, nee Dennis (1808-1896).  Reuben Ludlam was born October 7, 1831 in Camden, New Jersey.  Reuben had seven siblings: James Dennis Ludlam (1833-1908), Jacob Watson Ludlam (1835-1912), Elizabeth Dennis Ludlam (1837-1908), Edward Mulford Porter Ludlam (1839-1907), Hannah Watson Ludlam (1841-1927), Mary Newkirk Ludlam (1842-1908), and John Lawson Ludlam (1844-1845)

Reuben Ludlam said in later years, that he could not remember a time when he hadn't wanted to be a physician.  While still a boy, he accompanied his father on his professional visits, taking the liveliest interest in the most difficult cases.  He graduated from the West Jersey Academy in Bridgeton, New Jersey with the highest honors of his class. At the age of sixteen, under the supervision of his father, he began a systematic course of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, where he received his M. D. degree in 1852,

In 1845, his father Dr. Jacob Ludlam was invited to visit Evanston, Illinois by his old friend Major Edward Harris Mulford.  Dr. Jacob Ludlam was so captivated by the town that he and his wife moved to Evanston shortly thereafter.  After Dr. Reuben Ludlam's graduation, he joined his parents in Evanston in 1853.

On October 24, 1856, Reuben Ludlam married Anna M. Porter (1832-1859) in Chicago.  Tragically, Anna Porter Ludlam died December 14, 1859 in Chicago of consumption (tuberculosis).  She was only 27 years old.

The 1860 US Census finds Reuben Ludlam living in Chicago's Second Ward, with his brother Edward, also a physician.  The 1861 City Directory for Chicago shows "Ludlam, R. & Bro." as physicians and surgeons with offices at 66 Adams Street.

On September 26, 1861 Reuben Ludlam married Harriet G. Parvin (1828-1900) in Chicago.  They were blessed with one child, Reuben Ludlam, Jr. (1865-1911).  As mentioned at the start of this article, Reuben Jr. followed his father and grandfather into the medical profession.

Shortly after Reuben Ludlam arrived in Chicago he became greatly impressed with the homeopathic theory of medicine, and finally adopted it himself.  When the Hahnemann Medical College was established in 1860 he became connected with it as a lecturer, and ultimately joined the faculty, moving from one chair to another until he became dean of the faculty, senior professor of surgical and medical gynecology.  When abdominal surgery began to develop, Dr. Ludlam took it up as one of the pioneers and gained a high reputation.  It was said that his personal practice was enormous and his income large.

In 1869, he became president of the American Institute of Homeopathy, presided at its meeting in Boston and delivered the annual oration.  He was also made president of the Chicago Academy of Medicine, the Illinois Homeopathic Medical Society and the Western Institute of Homeopathy.

The 1870 US Census finds the Ludlam family still living in Chicago's Second Ward.  The family consisted of 39 year old Reuben, a "Physician", 34 year old Harriet "Keeping House", and 4 year old Reuben Jr.  In addition there was a couple living with them, Mr. and Mrs. Emile Bradley and two domestic servants, Maggie and Thomas Burke.  The 1870 Chicago City Directory listed their address at 297 Wabash (now 410 S. Wabash.)  A parking lot occupies that space today.  The directory, also lists a medical practice consisting of Dr. Reuben Ludlam, his brother Dr. E. M. P Ludlam, and Dr. A. W. Woodward with offices at #87 Clark Street (now 121 N. Clark Street).  A high-rise office building occupies that space today.

The Great Chicago Fire was devastating to Dr. Ludlam.  Not only were his offices on North Clark street destroyed, his home on Wabash avenue was as well.  Not allowing himself to be deterred by tragedy, immediately after the fire he became a member of the medical department of the Relief and Aid Society while he rebuilt his home and office.  By the end of 1871 he had opened a new office at 231 W. Washington (now 912 W. Washington) and had moved his home to 526 Wabash (now 1101 S. Wabash).  Today there are high rise apartments at 912 W. Washington and a parking lot at 1101 S. Wabash.  In 1872 Dr. Ludlam moved his offices to 318 (now 1111) W. Washington,  (A commercial building sits on that spot today.)

When Illinois organized a state board of health in 1877 Dr. Ludlam was appointed a member,

The 1880 US Census finds the Ludlams still living at 526 Wabash Avenue.  The family consisted of Reuben Sr., his wife Harriet, and son Reuben Jr.  In addition, living with them was 23 year old William A. Barker, a physician and surgeon, servant Maggie MacDonald, and coachman Henry Hendrickson.  It was reported to the census taker that all of them could both read and write.

As is the case with many doctors, Reuben Ludlam was a voluminous writer.  For six years he was editorially connected with the North American Journal of Homeopathy of New York, and for nine years with the United States Medical and Surgical Journal of Chicago.

For seventeen years he edited "The Clinique," a monthly abstract of the work of the clinical society and of the Hahnemann Hospital.  Dr. Ludlam's greatest work was considered to be his "Clinical and Didactic Lectures on the Diseases of Women" published in 1871.  It went through at least seven updated editions and was used as a textbook in all homeopathic colleges, being accepted as an authority in this country and in Europe. Dr. Ludlam was fluent in French and so he translated a very valuable work from the French, "Lectures on Clinical Medicine," by Dr. Jousset of Paris.  Dr. Ludlam was also the author of "A Course of Clinical Lectures on Diphtheria," the first strictly medical work ever published in Chicago. Many of Dr. Ludlam's works were translated into French and German for use abroad.

In the late 1880s, Dr. Ludlam moved both his home and his office.  The new location for his home was 1823 S. Michigan Avenue (high rise apartments on that site today) and the new location for his office was 70 State Street (now 138 N. State).  There is a commercial retail building on that site today.  When you go so far back in an area like downtown Chicago that is constantly changing, it is almost impossible to encounter the original buildings on a piece of property.

For twenty-five years, from 1866 to 1891, Dr. Ludlam was Dean of Hahnemann Medical College of Chicago, presided at the meetings of its faculty and labored to his utmost for its success. Upon the death of Dr. David Sheppard Smith in 1891, Dr. Ludlam was elected president of the board of trustees, and president of the college, which positions he occupied at the time of his death.

He was a renowned lecturer and seasoned physicians as well as students just starting their careers in medicine flocked to his lectures until it became almost impossible to get a seat.  It was said of his lectures that, "Aside from qualifications in the minute and thorough acquaintance with his subject as a teacher, Dr. Ludlam is distinguished for the singular perspicuity of his thoughts, the ease with which he elucidates his points, and the force with which he impresses them on the minds of his students. His lectures are purely extemporaneous - no notes being before him - and are remarkable for their systematic and practical character.  Possessing all the ardor of a convert to homeopathy, his well balanced mind rendered his views and opinions comprehensive, liberal, peaceful, and progressive."

Here is how the Hahnemanian Monthly Magazine from June, 1899 described the final events in the life of Dr. Reuben Ludlam:

Dr. Ludlam's death, which was caused by heart disease, occurred at 5 o'clock.  The venerable surgeon had recently recovered from a long sickness, the result of a surgical operation.  The operation at the time of his death was one of the first he had attempted since his recovery.  It was a case of hysterectomy for the removal of a fibroid tumor.  The operation took place in a private  operating-room.  Dr. Ludlam was apparently in the best of health and spirits, and his hand had never been more steady nor brain more clear.  The operation was almost half completed when he uttered an exclamation of distress, the knife dropped from his nerveless fingers, and he sank unconscious into a chair.

His son, Dr. Reuben Ludlam, Jr., who was assisting him, glanced at his father, over whose face the pallor of death was gathering, then at the patient on the operating chair, and instantly took up the work where his sire had left off, while the attendants carried the venerable physician to another room and summoned Dr. Halbert and Dr. George F. Shears. They applied restoratives and did all they could, but in a few minutes the last sign of life disappeared.  Meantime his son had completed the operation with care and skill, though suffering under terrible suspense. The operation was wholly successful.  The remains of Dr. Ludlam were conveyed to his home, No. 1823 Michigan avenue.

The death of Dr. Ludlam will be learned with deepest regret throughout the country.  He stood at the head of the surgeons in the homeopathic field.  He had been connected with Hahnemann College since its establishment, thirty-nine years ago, and over 2500 physicians throughout the country have his signature upon their diplomas.  The faculty of every homeopathic college west of the Alleghenies contains professors who earned their degrees under Dr. Ludlam's tutelage, for Hahnemann is the pioneer homeopathic college of the West.  

Nor is Dr. Ludlam's fame confined to that of the teacher and the operator. He wrote several medical works of the highest standing, some of which have been  translated into French and German and widely read abroad. He was a veritable leader in the homeopathic school.  No man stood higher.  No man can fill his exact place.

To his wide circle of friends in Chicago the news of his death comes with more crushing force, for he was a man of great personality, possessing the most charming traits, well posted, a student of literature as well as of medicine, and a rare companion."

Like his father, Dr. Reuben Ludlam was buried in the Ludlam family plot in Section   of Rosehill Cemetery:

The History of Medicine and Surgery in Chicago, (Chicago, 1922) sums up the life of Dr. Ludlam this way:

"A bare recital of the positions held by Dr. Ludlam and the honors conferred upon him," says a commentator, "can give no adequate idea of the great influence exerted by him upon every one with whom he came in contact or the value of his life and teachings to the cause of homeopathy.  Tall of stature, of fine bearing, with irreproachable manners, courteous and affable in his intercourse with patients and brother practitioners, cultivated of speech, vigorous of thought, endowed with a fine literary sense, he could not be but a leader wherever he was placed. To a new sect struggling for a place, the possession of such a man was an unanswerable argument to the cry of 'knave or fool' so frequently applied to the homeopathic practitioner. His very presence at a mixed medical gathering gave dignity to the school and prevented indulgence in vituperation and his liberality of statement disarmed antagonism and builded for harmony.  He believed that homeopathy would build for itself a place not by town meetings and denunciations of an opposing system, but by the improvement of medical schools, by a proper education of its practitioners, by exemplification in the daily life of the physicians of the beneficial influence of the system and by observing the amenities of life."

Reuben Ludlam Sr., M.D.

Dr. Reuben Ludlam, Sr. - medicine was his life - may he rest in peace.

Monday, May 2, 2016


I posted my story of the horrendous accident that took place at the gates of Rosehill Cemetery on January 23, 1890 last Friday morning - April 29, 2016, and promptly forgot about it because I am working on the next story I will be featuring in my blog.

So you can imagine how shocked I was to receive the following email today, Monday, May 2:

I am the great grand daughter of Grace Taylor of your blog, Under Every Stone, The Rose Hill Horror.

I almost fell out of my chair.  But as has been the case in every instance where I have been contacted by a family member of someone featured in the blog, Grace's great granddaughter was most gracious. As it turns out, Grace did not relate the events of 1890 to members of her family - or if she did, it had not trickled down to the present generation.  Reading my blog story was the first time that Grace's descendant got the whole story of that terrible day and its aftermath.

Like so many people of that era, the way they dealt with painful situations was by not talking about them - by keeping them hidden. Years ago when I started the genealogy research of my own family my mother said, "Why are you doing this?  Let the dead rest in peace." 

Grace's great granddaughter put it this way:

"Unfortunately Grace passed away eleven years before my birth. Neither my mother nor my grandmother spoke about Grace's childhood, and both are now gone as well. I'm sorry to say, my grandmother never passed down any family stories."  

But the purpose of this blog is to save the old stories so they are not forgotten, nor are the people who lived them.  And to finally tell the stories so their families know what happened to their ancestors and sometimes to know why.

Now for a surprise.  Grace's great granddaughter mentioned in one of her emails:

"I have a photo of Charles Taylor and a couple of Grace."

I immediately asked if she would share those photos with me and allow me to post them to the blog, and luckily she said yes.

So first, here is a photo of  Chrisman Toll (Charles) Taylor (1852-1917):

Charles Taylor
and here is the little girl from that terrible day, all grown up, Grace Taylor Trendley Middeke (1881-1951):

Grace Taylor Trendley Middeke

I cannot thank Grace's great granddaughter enough for contacting me and for being willing to share her family photos.

So who knows - next time I may tell an unknown story about YOUR family!