Wednesday, March 1, 2023

HE BUILT MY BOYHOOD HOME - Bernard Adam Prusener

Most of us live in many different places over the course of our lives.  My mother was unusual in that she lived her entire life in Evanston, Illinois, within about a two mile radius.  Today that is almost unheard of.  Each one of us has our own opinion of what constitutes "home."  For most people it is the place where they grew up; where they lived with their parents and siblings.  Near the end of her life as dementia was slowly taking over her brain, my mother announced one evening that she wanted to "go home."  "But you are home," I replied.  "You live here with me in the house I bought across the street from where we used to live."  "No, I want to go home - home with my mother and father and brothers and sisters."  Unfortunately that was not possible -  her parents had been dead for many years and most of her siblings were gone by this time, also.  In fact, her girlhood home, 1008 Sherman Avenue in Evanston, no longer existed - it had been condemned and razed by the City of Evanston in 1955 to expand the playground of Nichols Middle School.

No matter where I live on this earth, "home" to me will always be 1027 Harvard Terrace in Evanston:

1027 Harvard Terrace, Evanston, Illinois

I have talked about this neighborhood and its origins in a previous post:

A few years ago I decided to check into the history of my boyhood home.  I knew that most of the houses in this neighborhood were built in the early 1920s and many of them had been built by the same builders.  On a trip to the Evanston Historical Society I found an application for a permit to build a house at 1027 Harvard:

the Permit itself was issued on October 13, 1921:

The application shows a value for the house not to exceed $7,300.00 ($121,500.00 in today's funds).  Of course these figures do not include the cost of the land.  The owner's name was Bernard Prusener. What could I find out about him?  Let's take a closer look at his life.

Bernard Adam Prusener was born January 21, 1878 in Chicago to Bernard Prusener (1840-1890) and Anna Maria Catherina "Katie" Fils (1839-1900).  The last name was sometimes spelled "Prusener," sometimes "Prusner," sometimes "Pruesener," and sometimes  "PrĂ¼sener."  

Bernard Prusener and Katie Fils were both born in Nettesheim, Germany.  They married in Nettesheim on June 13, 1865, after which they emigrated to the United States, settling in Chicago.  Bernard Prusener worked for the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad but ultimately went on to own and manage a "Saloon" at 56 Fleetwood Street (now Magnolia Avenue) in Chicago.

Bernard and Katie were blessed with three children:  Gertrude Prusener/Mrs. Anthony Delfosse (1870-1941), Jacob Hubert Prusener (1873-1949), and Bernard Adam Prusener (1878-1942).  

Bernard Prusener (the father) died on December 26, 1890 in Chicago.  He was fifty years old.  He was buried in St. Boniface Cemetery in Chicago.

Bernard Adam Prusener makes his first appearance in the 1900 US Census.  The family was living at 748 (now 1529) North Ashland Avenue in Chicago.  A building built in 1998 occupies that spot today.  The family consisted of Katie Prusner (61 years old), son Bernard (22) and "Boarder" Helminia K. Prusner (32).  

There are unfortunately several things about what was reported to the census taker that don't add up.  First of all, Katie Prusner reported that she had given birth to one child, and that child was still alive in 1900.  This is obviously incorrect because Gertrude didn't die until 1941 and Jacob until 1949.  Furthermore, other than this census record, there is no record anywhere of anyone named "Helminia K. Prusner."  The census taker interviewed Katie Prusner on  June 4, 1900; she died on July 19, 1900.  Perhaps she was confused by what the census taker was asking.

On a happier note, Bernard Adam Prusener married Rose Louise Yoblonski on May 15, 1901 at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Chicago.  Rose's last name was sometimes spelled "Yoblonski,"  sometimes "Yablonski" and sometimes "Jablonski."  The groom was twenty-three years old; the bride was twenty-one.  Rose Yoblonski was born March 1, 1880 in Carmel, Pennsylvania to Francis Jablonski and Anastazia Peszkoski. 

Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Chicago

After their marriage, Bernard and Rose lived at 131 (now 2227) W. Barry Avenue in Chicago:

2227 W. Barry, Chicago

Bernard and Rose were blessed with two children:  Dorothy Prusener/Mrs. William F. Blades (1902-1966), and Harry Howard Prusener (1906-1983).  

Dorothy was born February 28, 1902 in Chicago.  She was baptized at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Chicago on March 16, 1902.  Her godparents were Laurence Lubinski and Anastasia Jablonska.

Harry was born September 25, 1906 also in Chicago.  He was also baptized at Holy Trinity on October 14, 1906.  His godparents were Jacob Prusener and Mary Gobryk.

The 1910 US Census shows the Prusener Family living at 2143 W. Barry in Chicago.  A building built in 2015 occupies that spot today.  The family consisted of "Bernhard" (32 years old), Rose (30), Dorothy (8) and Harry (3).  Bernhard and Rose said they had been married for nine years, and that it was the first marriage for both.  Bernhard said he was a "Bricklayer" in the "Building" Trade, and that he worked for himself.   He was not out of work on April 15, 1910, and that he worked for the entire year of 1909. 

By 1914 the family had moved again - this time to 3917 N. Sawyer in Chicago:

3917 N. Sawyer, Chicago

In 1917 Bernard Prusener moved his family into the two-flat building at 4431 N. Spaulding Avenue in Chicago.  

4431 N. Spaulding Avenue, Chicago

During this period, Bernard Prusener reported his occupation as "Bricklayer."

On September 12, 1918, Bernard Prusener registered for the Draft.  He reported his address as 4431 N. Spaulding, and that he was forty years old.  He was a Bricklayer for Jacob H. Prusener (his brother) at 3811 N. Lawndale in Chicago.  His nearest relative was his wife Rose, at the Spaulding address.  The Registrar reported that his Build and Height were "Medium," that his eyes were "Brown" and his hair was "Lt. Brown."  He had no impediments to his being able to serve in the military if called.

The 1920 US Census taken January 12, 1920, shows Bernard Prusener and family still living at 4431 N. Spaulding.  the family consisted of Bernard (42 years old), wife "Roes" (40), and children Dorothy (18) and Harry (13).  They owned their home, and they had a mortgage on it.  Bernard said he was a "Bricklayer" in the "House" industry.  

On November 16, 1920, Bernard and Rose's daughter Dorothy married William Frederick Blades (1884-1962) in Chicago.  The bride was eighteen; the groom was thirty-six.  

William F. Blades was born in 1884 in Sheffield, Yorkshire, England.  He emigrated to the- United States in 1909 where he reported that he was a "Mason."  In March of 1914 he returned to England to marry married Sarah Anna "Sally" Hazelwood (1889-1917) in Sheffield.  Immediately after their marriage William Blades brought his bride to Chicago.  They had one son, Wilfred Blades (1915-2002) who was born on February 20, 1915 in Chicago.  

Sadly, Sally Hazelwood Blades died September 5, 1917 in Oak Forest, Illinois.  She was 28 years old.  She was buried September 9, 1917 in Montrose Cemetery in Chicago:

I am sure that in the course of his work as a bricklayer, Bernard Prusener heard about the tremendous opportunities available for builders in South Evanston.  The North Shore Line commuter railroad was adding to their routes by building a rail extension from the Howard Street station into downtown Skokie.  The new tracks would go right through South Evanston and there would be commuter stations on Ridge Avenue, Asbury Avenue and Dodge Avenue.  It was even advertised in the local newspapers as "You Can Get Rich Here" and "Follow the "L" to Fortune."  This is from the Evanston News-Index of April 18, 1924:

1027 Harvard Terrace was the first of nine single family homes Bernard Pruesener built between 1921 and 1925 in what is now the Oakton Historic District in South Evanston.  Here are the nine houses Prusener built in chronological order:

1027 Harvard

1103 Harvard

1104 Harvard

1107 Harvard

1108 Harvard

1106 Brummel

1109 Harvard

1115 Harvard

1012 Dobson

Bernard Prusener liked the neighborhood so much he moved his family into the house he built at 1012 Dobson after it was completed.  By the way, his telephone number on Dobson was UNiversity 6125.

Now that Prusener had some experience under his belt he no longer called himself a "Bricklayer."  Starting in 1927 the Evanston Directory referred to Bernard Prusener as a "Building Contractor."

The 1930 US Census shows the Bernard Prusener family living at 1012 Dobson in Evanston.  The family consisted of Bernard (52 years old), Rose L. (50), and Harry (23).  Remember, Dorothy Prusener had gotten married in 1920.  They reported that 1012 Dobson was a house, and that they owned it.  They gave it a value of $19,000.00 ($338,000.00 in today's funds).  They did own a radio.  Bernard reverted to calling himself a "Bricklayer" but he said he "Constructed on Contract."  Rose did not report an occupation but Harry said he was an "Independent Draftsman."

Bernard Prusener's name does not show up in any of the Chicago newspapers during the 1930s.  The Great Depression had begun in 1929 and the days of rapid expansion and the building boom screeched to a halt.

Bernard Prusener's wife Rose Yoblonski died on February 18, 1940.  She was fifty-nine years old.  Here is her Death Notice from the Chicago Tribune of February 19, 1940:

Rose Prusener is buried in Ridgewood Cemetery in Des Plaines, Illinois, Section 12, Lot 2111:

You will note from her Death Notice that the Pruseners were no longer living in Evanston.  This was confirmed by the 1940 US Census.

The Census Taker arrived at the home of Bernard and Rose's son Harry on April 7, 1940.  He was living at 4721 N. Avers in Chicago:

4721 N. Avers, Chicago

The family consisted of Harry Prusener (33 years old), and Bernard (62).  Harry said he was Single, and Bernard a Widower.  Harry owned the house, which he said was worth $4,800.00 ($100,000.00 in today's funds).  Harry said he had completed four years of high school, Bernard had gone to school through the 8th grade.  Harry said his occupation was "Draftsman" for a "Building Contractor," Bernard said he was a "Mason" for a "Building Contractor."

Interestingly, both Harry and Bernard reported that they were living in the same home in 1935.  We know that Bernard and Rose were living in the house that Bernard built at 1012 Dobson in Evanston in 1930.  By 1935 they were living with their son at 4721 N. Avers.  We do not know what caused them to leave Evanston and move in with their son.  1935 was the depth of the Great Depression and things were tough all over - especially for building contractors.  Money was unavailable - nobody was building.  Maybe Bernard lost the house, maybe he sold it when he could, maybe Rose's illness caused them to give up the house and move in with Harry.  I was not able to ascertain what caused the move.

The Chicago Tribune from January 15, 1942 reported the shocking death of Bernard Prusener:

The Decatur (IL) Daily Review gives a little more information:

The building at 72 East Randolph in Chicago is still standing today:

72 East Randolph, Chicago

Here is his Death Notice from the Chicago Tribune of  January 16, 1942:

Bernard Prusener was buried next to his wife Rose at Ridgewood Cemetery:

It's interesting to note, that even though Bernard and Rose were married in a Catholic Church, and had both of their children baptized Catholics, neither of them had a Catholic funeral, nor are they buried in a Catholic Cemetery.

A tragic end for a man who created beautiful homes.  I obviously never met Bernard Prusener - he died fourteen years before I was born.  Nevertheless, I want to thank him - he built a wonderful house for a boy to grow up in.  No matter where I live, 1027 Harvard Terrace will always be "Home" to me.

May he rest in peace. 

What about 1027 Harvard Terrace?  I am happy to report that it is still standing and has not been turned into a McMansion.  Here is a recent photo:

It was lovingly renovated and is now the home for a family who bought it in 2022.  I hope they will be as happy living there as I was.

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

AN AMERICAN SUCCESS STORY - Robert Hemmington McElroy, Sr.

Several years ago I told the story of "The Most Unforgettable Woman I Ever Met - Ailzia McElroy 'Babe' Drake" (1902-2004).  Her life was so full of adventures it took me four installments to tell the whole thing.  Before you read this month's story, if you haven't read about "Babe" you should at least read the first chapter of her saga:

This month I am going to tell you the story of Babe's father, Robert Hemmington McElroy, Sr.  He was a true American success story.  He worked his way up from selling newspapers on a street corner to Vice President and Member of the Board of Directors of The Standard Oil Company.  I never met him - he died long before I came on the scene - but Babe talked about him so much through the years I felt like I knew him. 

The older I get, the more I realize just how much of an influence our parents are on each of us.  By my telling the story of the father she adored, we will understand better how Babe came to be the woman she was.

Babe's favorite portrait of her father

Robert Hemmington McElroy was born on June 13, 1877 in Chicago to James McElroy (1842-1920) and Mary Haydock (1840-1915).  His Birth Record under "Mcllroy" erroneously lists his mother's name as "Mary Bassett."  

Robert's father, James McElroy had been born in Ireland of Scots parents and came to the US in 1869 when he was twenty-seven.  James was a machinist by trade.  

Robert's mother, Mary Haydock had been born in Ireland and came to the US in 1868 when she was twenty-eight.  History does not record how James and Mary met, but they married in Chicago in 1870.  James and Mary were blessed with four children:  Margaret J./Mrs. William Snell (1870-1935), James Winfield (1873-1956), Mabel Georgianna/Mrs. Frederick Hollands (1876-1953) and Robert Hemmington (1877-1938).

I was unable to find the McElroy family in the 1880 US Census, and the 1890 US Census for Chicago is of course, lost.  

Robert H. McElroy was educated in the Chicago public school system - when he bothered to go to school.  In an interview in later years he stated, "I wasn't exactly tame when I went to school.  In fact I was called the worst boy in school at that time."

He left school altogether when he was twelve years old.  His first job was running a corner news stand.  He said, "One of my customers was a wealthy man and one day I asked him if he couldn't get me a 'decent' job.  He did - as a messenger boy at $15.00 a month for the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad."  

The day he started his "decent" job was actually his thirteenth birthday: June 13, 1890.  What were his duties?  He described it as "carrying papers from one office to another."

His talents and abilities were apparent from the start.  "Two months after I got the job I was promoted to office boy.  In the meantime I enrolled in the Chicago North Division High School at night.  I worked from 6:30 A.M. to 6:30 P.M. six days a week and every other Sunday, and studied and attended classes at night."

 In 1893 he was promoted to Tariff Clerk. 

I don't know where he found the time for courtship, but on June 7, 1897 Robert H. McElroy married Florence Queen Dascombe in Kenosha, Wisconsin.  The groom was nineteen years old; the bride was twenty.

Florence Dascombe was born September 27, 1876 in Chicago, to James Dascombe (1848-1886) and Nellie Roena Lathrop (1856-1900).  James Dascombe was a Brewery Agent by trade.  In addition to Florence, James and Nellie Lathrop had a son, John Milton Dascombe (1878-1912).  The Lathrop family was an old and distinguished Wisconsin family.  

Florence's parents James and Nellie Dascombe divorced on December 18, 1884 in Denver, Colorado where James had moved the family in 1877 to pursue more lucrative business opportunities.  Both of Florence's parents remarried.  James remained in Colorado where he died in 1886.  

Nellie Dascombe remarried in 1885 and returned to Chicago with her second husband Samuel D. Marshall, Sr., (1855-1932) and children in 1887. 

Upon the family's return to Chicago, Florence Dascombe got a job working as a nurse at the former Childrens Memorial Hospital.  I don't know whether or not she was a Registered Nurse, but she was still working at Childrens when she met young Bob McElroy.

They were an odd couple in their appearance together.  Robert McElroy stood over 6'4"; Florence was barely five feet tall.  Many years later, Robert McElroy said one of the main causes of his success was "the steadying influence of early marriage responsibilities." 

Robert McElroy continued his climb up the corporate ladder in 1898 when he was promoted to Chief Clerk, still at the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad.

Robert and Florence welcomed their first child, Robert Hemmington McElroy, Jr., (1898-1969) on April 20, 1898. 

The 1900 US Census finds the Robert McElroy family living in the Town of Lakeview, at 1526 (Now 832) W. Wrightwood Avenue:

832 W. Wrightwood, Chicago

The family consisted of Robert (22 years old), Florence (22), and Robert Jr. (2).  Florence reported that she and Robert had been married for three years and had one child, who was still alive in 1900.  Robert said he was a "Clerk in a Railway Freight Office."  

There was an addition to the family on May 6, 1902 when Florence gave birth to Ailzia Lathrop McElroy (1902-2004).  Her big brother Robert who was four years old when she was born couldn't get his tongue around "Ailzia" so he started calling her "Babe" which is what people close to her called her for the rest of her life. 

As mentioned above, by 1906, Bob McElroy had worked his way up to being the Chief Clerk in the Traffic Department of the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad.  In 1906 he left the railroad and accepted a job as Chief Tariff Clerk for the Standard Oil Company of Indiana.  He worked out of their corporate headquarters at 910 S. Michigan Avenue in Chicago.

Standard Oil of Indiana, 910 S. Michigan Av. Chicago

The 1910 US Census showed the McElroy family living at 1607 Lake Avenue in Wilmette, Illinois:

1607 Lake Avenue, Wilmette, Illinois

The family consisted of Robert H. McElroy (33 years old), Florence (30 - she was actually 33), Robert H. Jr., (11) and "Elzia" (7).  Robert Sr. and Florence stated it was the first marriage for both, that they had been married twelve years, and that they had two children, both of whom were alive in 1910.  Robert listed his occupation as "Traffic Expert" with the "Standard Oil Co."  Everyone except Babe could both read and write and they all could speak English.  Lastly, they owned their home and it did have a mortgage on it.

Babe used to say that her family moved into Wilmette "right after the Ouilmette Indians moved out."

Robert McElroy's mother, Mary Haydock McElroy died on April 2, 1915 in Chicago.  Here is her Death Notice from the Chicago Tribune of February 6, 1915:


She was buried in Forest Home Cemetery in Forest Park, Illinois in an idyllic plot right by the Des Plaines River:

In about 1915 Robert H. McElroy bought the beautiful home at 704 Sheridan Road in Wilmette:

704 Sheridan Road, Wilmette, Illinois


Babe loved growing up in this house.  Her bedroom was in the front facing Sheridan Road and she used to sit in her bedroom window watching them build the Baha'i Temple a short distance away.

In 1917 Robert McElroy was promoted to Traffic Manager for Standard Oil of Indiana.

McElroy registered for the Draft, as was required of all men of a certain age, on September 12, 1918.  He listed his address as 704 Sheridan Road in Wilmette.  He said his occupation was "Traffic Manager for the Standard Oil Company."  The Registrar described him as "Medium" height, "Medium" build, "Brown" eyes, and "Brown" hair with no physical disqualifications.

I was not able to locate Robert McElroy in the 1920 US Census.  However, he was mentioned in the newspaper when his father James McElroy died on October 23, 1920:

James McElroy was buried next to his wife in their beautiful plot at Forest Home Cemetery.

Robert and Florence McElroy were shocked when their daughter eloped on Valentine's Day 1921:

She married Philip Francis Harper, son of French-Canadian lumber magnate Edward Harper.  The bride was eighteen; the groom was twenty-one.  When I told Babe's story I commented on her father's reaction to her elopement:

Robert McElroy, Sr. lamented that his only daughter would not have the big church wedding he had always planned.  "And what about all those gifts I have given to everyone's children over all these years?" the pragmatic Scotsman asked.  "This was my only chance to tap them for a generous gift in return."

Babe's brother, Robert H. McElroy, Jr. married in the more conventional manner when he wed Mabel Ruth Van Ness (1898-1959) on December 31, 1921.

Years later I was talking to Oscar Isberian, noted oriental rug merchant in Evanston who had gone to school with Babe and Robert.  He told me "Ruth McElroy was the most beautiful woman I have ever seen."

1922 was a banner year for Robert McElroy.  On May 24, 1922 McElroy was elected to the Board of Directors of the Standard Oil Company of Indiana.  He was forty-four years old.  Newspapers reported his promotion along with his new salary of $30,000 per year ($536,000 in today's dollars). 

They also reported the Horatio Alger-like tale of McElroy's rise to the top:

Upon his promotion to Director at Standard Oil the New York Times did an in-depth interview with McElroy that was printed in its Sunday edition on July 2, 1922.  I am reproducing it here because I think it gives you a good look into the kind of man Robert McElroy was:

With both Babe and Robert, Jr., married it was natural that grandchildren would come along for Bob and Florence McElroy.

Babe and her first husband Philip Harper had two children:  Philip Harper (1921-1921) and Florence Dascombe Harper/Mrs. George Wurster (1923-2011).

Robert McElroy, Jr. and Ruth had a daughter, Ruth Valerie McElroy/Mrs. Joseph Hunley (1929-2004).

Robert McElroy's career took another jump in 1927 when on March 3 he was promoted to Vice President in charge of Transportation.  What did this entail?  McElroy supervised the transportation annually of 25 million barrels of gasoline, 6 million barrels of refined oil, besides lubricating oils, specialties, asphalt and road oils, and the payment of $40 million a year in railroad freight rates.  He got a nice raise in pay, too.  His new salary was $54,900 per year ($1.189 million in today's dollars).

Robert McElroy at the time of his promotion

Babe said her father travelled to work the same way every day:  He took the street car into downtown Wilmette where he caught the train that took him to downtown Chicago.  That might have been appropriate for his past life, but his new responsibilities required him to be transported in a manner befitting his station.  It was not something he would do willingly, but after his promotion, the frugal Scotsman was finally talked into ordering a 1927 Lincoln Model L Seven-Passenger Berline:

When the car went to auction in 2013 here is how it was described:  A Lincoln limousine befit(ting) a stately man of wealth and good bearing, which described Robert H. McElroy, a partner and vice-president in John D. Rockefeller's immensely profitable Standard Oil Company.  McElroy's Model L seven-passenger Berline, a factory-bodied example of what he took delivery in 1927, came equipped with all the luxuries of a good life.  The rear seat was appointed as nicely as a living room sofa, with all surrounding windows equipped with window shades drawn by silk rope pulls.  Commands to the chauffeur were issued through an intercom system, state-of-the-art in the late-1920s.  At the time of its purchase it was the most expensive car that could be had on the market, selling for the princely sum of $5,950.00 in 1927 ($102,000 in today's dollars).  The price of McElroy's limousine was a full $400 more than the most expensive Rolls Royce.

They even put his monogram on the car door so everyone would know it was his:

I can report that the frugal McElroy never employed a chauffeur - he enjoyed driving the magnificent machine himself.  But most days he still took the train downtown to work.

The 1930 US Census finds the McElroys still living in their beautiful home on Sheridan Road in Wilmette.  The family consisted of Robert (52 years old), Florence (51), and daughter "Alzia Drake" (28).  Florence McElroy told the census taker that "Alzia" was divorced, and did not give her age at first marriage.  True, Babe had been divorced from Philip Harper in 1928 but had married T.H. Drake on January 20, 1930 in Chicago.

There are a couple of people missing here.  First of all, where was Babe's husband?  It was during the Great Depression - perhaps Drake had remained in Reno to keep his job as a telegrapher with the railroad that he had been doing when he and Babe met.  But where was Babe's six year old daughter Florence?  Babe would not have left her with her step-father in Nevada.  She was not with Philip Harper, her biological father.  Babe would never have allowed Florence to live with him.  I suspect that for whatever reason, Florence McElroy didn't want to mention her granddaughter to the census taker at all - so she didn't.  I never met Babe's mother, but everyone who knew her told me she was an "unusual" woman.

Florence Dascombe McElroy

She did tell the census taker that they owned their home, which she estimated was worth $40,000 ($715,000 today) and they did own a radio set.  She said her husband's job was "Vice President" of an "Oil Company."  

I mentioned earlier in this article that Robert McElroy had been a big man.  He stood over six feet four inches tall and weighed well over 200 lbs.  In about 1937 he started losing weight unexpectedly.  In addition he reported that he had no energy and it was a struggle just to find the energy to get out of bed in the morning.  After running extensive tests he was told the diagnosis:  Cancer of the Liver - inoperable.  His doctor was the beloved Evanston physician Joseph D. Croft.  

Babe and her mother dealt with McElroy's illness in different ways.  Babe sat by her father's hospital bedside for days on end, furiously knitting as she watched him wasting away.  She said that by the time her father died she had hand-knitted blankets for almost everyone on the hospital staff who had taken care of her father.  

Florence McElroy, on the other hand, went about her life as if nothing was wrong - nothing had changed.  She rarely visited her husband in the hospital.

Robert Hemmington McElroy died in Evanston Hospital June 25, 1938.  He was sixty-one years old, and weighed less than one hundred lbs. when he died.  The Cause of Death was liver cancer with the contributing factor of heart failure.  He had requested that he be cremated, and had picked out a magnificent urn to house his ashes.  However his widow didn't want to do that, and had his body buried in a casket and a vault in the conventional manner.  Perhaps Florence Dascombe McElroy's High-Church Episcopalian upbringing would not allow her to have her husband cremated as had been his wish.

Florence McElroy purchased ten graves in Section S of Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago.  When asked why she had purchased so many graves so responded that "she did not want to be near anybody."  

Robert McElroy's death of course was covered by all the major newspapers.  Here is a sampling:

From the Chicago Tribune - June 27, 1938


From the Tulsa (OK) World - June 28, 1938

His Death Notice from the Chicago Tribune - June 27, 1938:

The newspapers even reported the details of his funeral.  From the Munster (IN) Times - June 28, 1938:

As mentioned, he was buried in Lot 277, section S of Rosehill Cemetery underneath a beautiful Vermont Marble monument:

Robert Hemmington McElroy, Sr. - from newspaper boy to corporate giant - may he rest in peace.

The rest of the story:

Florence Dascombe McElroy stayed in the house on Sheridan Road in Wilmette until she was in her late 80s, at which time she took an apartment on the lakefront in Chicago.  She died on August 22, 1967 at the age of 90.

Robert Hemmington McElroy, Jr. worked his way up to become a Vice President of the Pure Oil Company.  He died on October 23, 1969 at the age of  71.

Ailzia "Babe" McElroy Drake died October 28, 2004 at the age of 102.  Her father had asked her to be buried next to him when her time came, and she was.

Florence McElroy never learned how to drive.  After Robert McElroy's death she had his 1927 Lincoln put up on blocks in the garage behind 704 Sheridan Road where it remained until she sold the house in Wilmette in the mid 1960s. 

Here is the house at 704 Sheridan Road in Wilmette when the McElroys lived there:

In 2022 it was subjected to a gut rehab.  Here's what it looks like today:

The first time I saw it after the "rehab" I was so shocked I almost drove off the road.   There oughta be a law...