61 years ago -December 1, 1958

There are no words to describe the horror of the Chicago’s worst  school fire. We should never forget the 92 children and 3 nuns who perished in this awful disaster.  So  with all due respect to their memory,  I offer a link to my  post a year ago.Sized_FrontPg

https://chicagoandcookcountycemeteries.com/2018/11/30/never-witnessed-a-sight-so-terrible/

 

 

“Never witnessed a sight so terrible”

 

 

office1At 2:42PM on December 1, 1958 on the sixth floor of Chicago’s City Hall, William Bingham,  the senior alarm operator within the Chicago Fire Alarm Office took a phone call from  rectory housekeeper Nora Maloney.

 

joker3Immediately, the loudspeaker at the firehouse at 3700 West Huron crackled with: “Engine 85 , truck 35, Squad 6, Battalion 18, Patrol 7, a still alarm , 3820 Iowa, 3-8-2-0 Iowa”. 3700 huron2

 

 

Those first firetrucks arrived within three minutes, despite that the fire was actually around the corner at 909 N. Avers.

In the meantime the fire alarm office received a second  telephone call from Barbara Glowacki, the owner of a candy store who used the private telephone in her apartment behind the store to say she sees flames. Fifteen more phone calls soon followed.

A school was on fire! Continue reading ““Never witnessed a sight so terrible””

When Chicago Cried

 

 

94264528-fa26-4ff4-9c4c-5d7114246c7eIt was July 24th  and for Willie Novotny age 7,  school was out for the summer. On that cool and damp Saturday morning, Willie woke up well before dawn, much too excited to sleep. His nine year old sister Mamie, (sometimes called Minnie) woke up soon after. Willie quickly dressed in his Sunday-best clothes and came to the breakfast table. Their mother Agnes, age 35, likely prepared a traditional Czech breakfast of dumplings and eggs, dark rye bread, maybe  a rohlík yeast roll with butter and jelly or maybe on a good day,  a slice of salami or cheese. Their father, James (Vaclav),   born Ponedraz Bohemia,  also age 35 was the last to the table for his morning hot cup of coffee. He looked forward to spending a rare and wonderful day with his family.

5527About 6:00 am,  the family of four would likely have left their house at 5527 West 24th Place in a blue-collar working class neighborhood of Czech’s and Polish. About 10 minutes later, and less than a half mile walk, they would have entered the Metropolitan West Side Elevated, 56th Avenue Station at about  2126 S. 56th Avenue (now Central Avenue).station

 

They  never returned home. Continue reading “When Chicago Cried”

Airplanes and Cemeteries don’t mix!

They just don’t play well together.  On two separate occasions both an airplane and a helicopter  crashed into Forest Home Cemetery in Forest Park .  Another airplane went down into St. Casimir’s cemetery.

Over the years, there have been numerous airplane vs. cemetery crashes in other areas as well.

Hillside Cemetery, Alberta Canada
Hillside Cemetery, Alberta Canada

In 1927 in Lincoln Nebraska, two died in a cemetery crash.  In 1928, an airplane crashed into a cemetery between Burbank and North Hollywood California. Another in 1950 in Mt. Olive Il.  In 1955 a plane crashed into Forest Cemetery near Circleville Ohio. Two died in a cemetery near St. Louis in 1968. Eastlawn Cemetery near Bloomington Illinois had a plane crash into a graveyard in 1972. In 1999 a plane crashed into Mt. Ararat Cemetery in Farmingdale New York. 2006 Hillside Cemetery, Alberta Canada, Holy Cross Cemetery in Butte Montana, a jet plane in 2009. And many more.

schoppe Long before O’Hare Airport, the Orchard Place was the site of three cemeteries, which later were simply deemed “in the way” for airplanes. Only one still remains on airport property. The other two were removed in the name of progress.

With early aviation in Chicago, we had landing fields, airdromes,  flying fields,  aerodromes, Airmail stations, and aviation fields. The pilots were a daring bunch of daredevils with airplane races,  some even known to have been rum running between Detroit and Chicago. Many pilots, however, died in crashes, some into cemeteries. Continue reading “Airplanes and Cemeteries don’t mix!”

Oct. 9-12, 1871: 117 Unclaimed and Unknown in the morgue

On a very somber note, there were as many as 300 deaths between October 7-10 as a result of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.city-cem-fire

In addition, on October 8, 1871 a massive forest fire began in and around Peshtigo, Wisconsin. It was the deadliest wildfire in American history, with estimated deaths of around 1,500 people, possibly as many as 2,500.

Shortly after the Chicago Fire:

:“The dead bodies were gathered up as soon as possible by the coroner and given interment at the county burying-ground”

Reference: book -” Chicago and the great Conflagration”

I would like to focus on these 117 souls who died in Chicago and were determined at the time to be either unknown or unclaimed,  taken to a temporary morgue on Milwaukee Avenue.

Days later, the Cook County Coroner then brought them out to the County ground, later known as the old grounds section of Cook County Cemetery at Dunning for burial. On today’s map the old grounds of the cemetery where the Chicago Fire victims rest, is located just northwest of the intersection of Irving Park Road (4000 north) and Narragansett Avenue (6400 west).
septamtrak 079

The Read Zone Memorial Park marks only a portion of the “old grounds”. fire_victims_450vA bronze plaque remembers those 117 victims.  The “new grounds” of 5.7 acres, opened in 1890 and is located on and near Oak Park avenue, just west of Irving Park. See www.cookcountycemetery.com and a free searchable database of some 8,000 of the 38,000 buried there.

 

“The loss of life in the fire was estimated as not less than three hundred, and the bodies of the dead, as far as they could be found, were put in the county burial ground”

Reference: J. Seymour Currer Volume two, 1912

Continue reading “Oct. 9-12, 1871: 117 Unclaimed and Unknown in the morgue”

October 8, 1871: The Cow was Framed!

It was a dark tinder-dry Sunday night in Chicago,  having  seen no rain for many weeks. A brisk southwest wind was blowing.

olearys_cowThere was this cow in the barn at 137 DeKoven (later renumbered to 558 DeKoven). She was blamed for starting the Great Chicago Fire.

 

 

 

Continue reading “October 8, 1871: The Cow was Framed!”