Finding Great Grandpa

Finding my great-grandfather Isidor George Manfroid was a search that took me years to solve.  It seemed that sometimes he used Isidor and sometimes he used George, but not together.  Also my father knew next to nothing about his grandfather.  He knew his name was George, but he didn’t remember him except that he thought he went to his funeral when he was 3 or 4 years old.  My father thought he was born in Germany, and that his grandparents had divorced.  It was with these skimpy facts that I was finally able to find my Great Grandfather. For years I didn’t know if Isidor and George was the same person. I was pretty sure, but could not prove it until I found his marriage to my great-grandmother where he is listed as G. Isidor Manfroid.

Here is the story of Isidor George Manfroid.

Isidor (George) was born on May 22, 1855 in Siegburg, Rheinland, Pruessen to Felix Joseph Manfroid and Elisabeth Kelterbach.[1]  Isidor George Manfroid left Germany around 1877 and came to the United States.[2]  George’s occupation was an iron molder.[3] I do not know how George found his job in iron molding, or why he came to the U.S., but  he may have come due to economic conditions in Germany, or to escape being conscripted in the German military service.[4]

It seems that sometimes my great-grandfather went by George, and sometimes by Isidor.  In 1885 Isidor married Sophie Ahrens in Chicago, Illinois.[5]  In 1886 Sophie died.[6]  In 1889 George appears to be living in Cleveland, Ohio.[7]  Cleveland was the home to Mary Fiderius, her parents, and bothers, and sisters.[8]  Mary was the fist child born to Peter Fiderius and Christina Oberdoester on July 1, 1870 in Allentown, Pennsylvania.[9]  By 1878 Mary and her family were living in Cleveland, Ohio[10].  In 1889 her father, Peter, worked for the Cleveland Malleable Iron Company as a general labor.[11]  The Cleveland Iron Malleable Company was located at Platt Avenue and East 79th Street[12].  In 1890 George is listed as living on Platt Avenue and his occupation is listed as molder.[13]  I believe that he probably worked for Cleveland Malleable Iron Company too.  It is presumed that George and Mary met because they lived near each other, or her father knew George through work.  George was 14 years older than Mary, and I wonder how Mary’s parents felt about the age difference.  I don’t know George’s religion, but Mary was Catholic.[14] George and Mary were married in 1889 in Cleveland, Ohio,[15] but by December they were living in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania where their first child, Laura was born.[16]  It appears that Laura did not live long.  She does not appear in the 1900 census.[17]   Around 1892 they moved to Toledo, Ohio, and their son also named George was born January 1, 1892 in Toledo.[18]  In 1894 they are back in Cleveland,[19] in 1898 they moved back to Toledo,[20] and in 1900 they move to Chicago.[21] During the 1890’s three more children, Christina, Felix Philip, and Isidor were born.[22]  The son Isidor only lived to be two and half years old.[23]   During this time, it is presumed that George probably worked for Cleveland Malleable since they also had plants in Toledo, and Chicago.[24]  It is possible of course that he worked for another company that made iron.  After 1903 they moved again out of Chicago,[25] and I believe they may have moved to one of the Chicago suburbs. In 1901 they had another son, Arthur Anton[26] and another son Theodore was born in 1904.[27]

Sometime between 1904 and 1910 George and Mary divorced.  The exact date and reason for the divorce are not known at this time.  I believe it to be this time period because I assume they were together when the last child was born, but by 1910 the two youngest sons are not living with their mother.  Arthur is in St. Mary’s Training School in Wheeling, Illinois,[28] and Theodore is in St. Vincent’s Infant Asylum (orphanage) in Chicago.[29]  At that time their were no safety nets for single mothers, so I think she temporarily sent them to these places because she could not take care of them. I did not find either George or Mary on the 1910 census. Considering the time and Mary’s religion the only reason for divorce was the man deserting his family.  I do not know if this is the reason for the divorce, it can only be assumed.  I have been unable to find a divorce document to date.

I believe after the divorce, George moved back to Cleveland and became a barber.[30]  He lived there for a while and returned to Maywood, Illinois where he died alone and poor in January 1924.[31]  He died at Cook County Hospital in Chicago of Pancreatic Cancer.[32]  He is buried in a pauper’s grave[33] at Waldheim Cemetery (now Forest Home Cemetery) in Forest Park, Illinois.[34]

I do not know George’s personality, but knowing my father’s and Grandfather’s personality, I picture George as an introvert, and hard-working, but always poor and maybe not very lucky in life.

Copyright © 2013 Gail Grunst

[1] Birth Record for Isidor Manfroid, 23 May 1855, Siegburg, Rheinland, Pruessen; Duetschland Geburten und Taufen 1558 – 1898, Record 10442, GS Film 1057304.

[2] 1900 United States Census, State: Illinois, County: Cook, Township: WestTown, City: Chicago, Enumeration Dist: 293, Ward 10, Sheet 16B, Line 69

[3] Ibid.

[4] Energy of a Nation:  Immigration Resources, a project of the advocates for human rights;

[5] Marriage License & Certificate for Isidor Manfroid and Sophie Ahrens 29 August 1885; State of Illinois, County of Cook, City of Chicago, Certificate # 94849.

[6]Illinois, Marriage and Death Index, 1883 – 1889. Sophia Manfroid 3 August 1886; Cook County, Illinois, Marriage and Death Index, 1883 – 1889.

[7] Cleveland City Directory 1889 – 1890; listing for George Manfroid, 29 Carr; Occupation: Molder.

[8] Cleveland City Directory 1878, 1979, 1880, 1881, 1882,1882, 1884, 1885, 1886,1887, 1889 1890, 1891, 1892, 1893, 1894, 1895, 1896, 1897, 1898, 1899, 1900, 1901, 1902, 1903, 1904, 1905, 1906, 1907, 1908-  1908; listing for Peter Fiderius living in Cleveland, Ohio.

[9] Told to Author’s mother by Mary Fiderius Manfroid Beischer in 1947 and recorded in Author’s baby book.  In Author’s possession at 2916 Martin Drive, Spring Grove, IL.  60081

[10] Cleveland City Directory 1878 –  1908; listing for Peter Fiderius, Leonard Fiderius, Christina Fiderius & Joseph Fiderius

[11] Cleveland City Directory 1889 – Listing for Peter Fiderius, Address: Cleveland Malleable Iron Company.

[12] William Ganson Rose, Cleveland; The Making of a City  (Cleveland & New York: World Publishing Company, 1950), p. 351.

[13] Cleveland City Directory 1890 -01 – Listing for George I. Manfroid, Address: 31 Platt, Occupation: Molder.

[14] Told to Author and Author’s Mother by Mary Fiderius Manfroid Biescher between 1950 – 1960.

[15] Marriage record for G. Isidor Manfroid and Mary Fiderius, State of Ohio, CuyahogaCounty, SS., 5 February 1889.

[16] “Pennsylvania Births and Christenings, 1709 – 1950,” index, FamilySearch (https://familyserch/pal:/mm9.1.1/V2JV-3f4: Laura Manfroid, 13 December 1889.

[17] 1900 United States Census, State: Illinois, County: Cook, Township: WestTown, City: Chicago, Enumeration Dist: 293, Ward 10, Sheet 16B, Line 69

[18] Illinois State Board of Health Return of Marriage to County Clerk (DuPageCounty) for George Manfroid (son of G. Isidor Manfroid) and Helen Desens, 22 March 1919.  Birth place of George Manfroid listed at Toledo, Ohio.

[19] Cleveland City Directories 1894, 1895, 1896, 1897 list George Manfroid living at 235 Herald, Cleveland, Ohio.

[20] Toledo City Directories 1898, 1899, 1900 listed George Manfroid as living at 259 Caldonia and 255 Woodford, Toledo, Ohio.

[21].1900 United States Census, State: Illinois, County: Cook, Township: WestTown, City: Chicago, Enumeration Dist: 293, Ward 10, Sheet 16B, Line 69.

[22] Ibid.

[23] Department of Health: City of Chicago: Bureau of Vital Statistics: Undertakers Report of Death for Isidor Manfroid (Son of G. Isidor Manfroid) 12247, 22 March 1901.

[24] William Ganson Rose, Cleveland; The Making of a City  (Cleveland & New York: World Publishing Company, 1950), p. 352.

[25] Chicago City Directories 1901, 1902, 1903 listed George Manfroid as living at 1313 N. 42nd Avenue, Chicago, Illinois

[26] Certificate of Birth for Arthur Anton Manfroid, 5 January 1901, State of Illinois , Department of Public Health, Division of vital Statistics registered no 72637, Chicago, Cook County, Illinois

[27]  Texas, Deaths, 1977 – 1986 index and images, FamilySearch (, 1978 Vol 140, Sep, Certificates69501-70000,  Harris County, Image 149 of 579 for Theodore Manfroid 8 August 1978

[28] 1910 United States Census, Wheeling, Cook, Illinois; Roll T624-241, Page 21B, Enumeration District 0132; FHL microfilm 1374254.

[29] 1910 United States Census, Chicago, Ward 21, Cook, Illinois; Roll T624-264. Page 168, Enumeration District 0923; FHL microfilm 13742777.

[30]ClevelandCity Directory 1906, 1907, 1908, 1909, 1910, 1911, 1912.

[31] Death Certificate for George Manfroid, 22 January 1924. State of Illinois, County of Cook, City of Chicago; Registration  no. 2041.

[32] Ibid.

[33] Forest Home Cemetery Records, 863 South Des Plaines Avenue, Forest Park, Illinois; Lot 1736, Section IH.  Date of burial: 24 January 1924, 68 years 8 months, 10 days.  No Marker.  Lot owned by State of Illinois.

[34] Ibid.

Name Change

I’ve change the name of my blog from Gail Grunst Genealogy to Family Tales from Gail.  I’ve been so busy this summer that I haven’t had time to post anything.  I realized that most of my post have been about my Ancestors.  My original intent was to post how-to’s, genealogy news, and things going on in the area related to genealogy.  It has not worked out that way.

I also removed the page about classes and research.  At this time, I will not be doing classes or research for anyone.

I hope you will still follow my blog and read my family stories.  Winter should less busy for me, and I hope to publish more posts.

I hope everyone is having a great summer.  It’s hard to believe that fall is upon us.

Honoring the Father’s in my life

I wrote this post on June 18, 2011 for Father’s Day.  I am re-posting it. to honor my Dad and Grandfathers for Father’s Day coming up this Sunday. I would like to honor the fathers in my life.

First and foremost there was my Dad.  I loved my Dad very much.  He was always there for me.  He grew up during the depression and that made a great impact on his life.  I remember the stories that my dad told me about the depression.  When I hear today’s recession compared to the great depression on TV,  I cringe because today is nothing like my father described to me.  His father lost his business, then they lost their house, and they ate banana’s for Sunday dinner.  There were no safety nets like there are today for the unemployed.  Because this made such an impact on my Father he decided that his children were not going to go without.  He went without lunch for weeks and saved his lunch money to buy me a doll for Christmas.  He made me a doll house with a hand saw (he didn’t have power tools at the time).   He gave me everything he possibly could.  Not only did he give me material things, he gave me his time, attention, advice, and love.  He gave me history lessons at the dinner table.  He loved history and I learned about history and current events through dinner time discussions.  He was there for me when I got married.  He walked me down the aisle and gave me away.  He told my husband on our wedding day that if he (my husband) ever did anything to hurt me, he would have to answer to him (my father).  After we were married for several years, my father told some friends of ours that when their daughters grew up he hoped they found someone like my husband.  I picked a good man because I had a good father.  My dad died of Cancer when he was 64 years old. The other father in my live was my maternal grandfather.  I was very close to my maternal grandparents.  We lived in the same town and only a few blocks apart.  I could walk or ride my bike to Grandma and Grandpa’s house.  Grandpa was always kind to me and I could talk to Grandpa about anything.  They had a screened in front porch with a swing.  I would sit on the swing with Grandpa and talk.  He had a big beer belly and I ask him how he got it.  He would say he swallowed a watermelon seed and there was a big watermelon growing in there.  He liked baseball, beer, and  gardening.  He had a beautiful yard.  It was sad when he got old and developed Alzheimer’s disease.  Eventually he didn’t remember us.  When my children were little, Grandpa said he hoped he lived long enough that they would remember him.  He died when they were 4 and 5.  The other day my son said he remembers him.  So Grandpa got his wish. Grandpa died at 84. My other Grandfather died when I was eight years old.  I didn’t know him as well as the other one, but I do remember him.  I remember going to his house which was like a little cottage.  He also liked to garden and his yard was beautiful too.  He liked to build things and was quite good at it.  My father inherited some of his tools and I think we still have some.  He was a kind man and he reminded me a lot of my father.  He also died of Cancer when he was 64.

Copyright © 2013 Gail Grunst

Dad & Me

Grandpa & Dad

Grandpa & Me

Friday Faces From the Past

Orhpan Photo 2_NEW

I bought this picture at an antique store in Walworth, Wisconsin.  Written on the back is Donar:  Mrs. Mae Kelley, 620 W. Prairie Street, Marengo, Ill 60152.  Unid. boy, prob. Patrick fam., Marengo.  Photographer inscribed on front: Koehne, Chicago.

I did some searching for this family.  I found a Howard Patrick born about 1887 living in Marengo on the 1940 census at 520 Prairie Street, Marengo, Illinois. Continue reading

Two Grandfather’s, Two different War Experiences.

Recently I’ve been hearing that Memorial Day is only to honor those who served and died in a war.  Our family is very lucky that no one has died in a war.  Both my grandfather’s served in WWI.  My husband’s brothers served during WWII and my husband served during the Vietnam War, but never was sent to Vietnam.  My Uncle served during the Korean War, but was never sent to Korea.  So you can see we have been fortunate not to lose anyone.  However, I would still like to honor those who served today even though they were not killed in the line duty.  All now except my husband, have passed on.  Thanks to all of you for serving.

Both my grandfather’s served during WWI.  One stayed here in the United States, the other one was sent to France.  I wrote about my grandfather who was sent to France a couple of years ago on this blog.  I am reprinting it today along with my other grandfather’s story too.  Both are not the most exciting stories, but I am still proud of both of them for serving.  When any one enlists or is drafted, they don’t know what the future holds.  They both went without complaint and served their country during war time, not knowing if they would return.  That in it’s self must be scary.  So here are their stories.

Grandpa Kaiser

Grandpa Kaiser Military 2

My Grandpa Kaiser was in the Army during WWI; however he never left the United States.  Even though I knew Grandpa well, I do not know much about his military service.  I heard that he spent most of his time in Georgia.  I have lots of pictures he took during this time.  I have never sent for his military papers.  I was looking to see if I had his enlistment or discharge papers, but all I could find was an “Order of Induction into the Military Service of the United States”.  It doesn’t give much information.  It just says to report to the local board at 1950 Lawrence Ave at 10 AM of the 31st day of August 1918.[1]  By this time the war was almost over.   I did find a couple of cards with his papers.  One is a “Notice of Classification” dated 7/11/1918.  His classification was an “I-A”.[2]

I also found another card “Army Training School Certificate”[3].

The information on the card is as follows:

School: South Div. War Training

Location: 26th and Wabash Ave.

Name: Kaiser, Fredrick Rudolph.

Permanent Address:  233 Winnemac Ave., Chicago, Illinois.

Course: Auto Mechanic

Started Date:  9/1/1918

Finished Date:10/31/1918.

Trade Rating in School Course

A= Apprentice  J=Journeyman   E=Expert

Main:  Auto Mechanic Rating: A

Eng. Assem: A

Auto Elec: A

General Ratings by Three or More Instructors

5=Highest   4=High   3= Middle   2=Low  1=Lowest

Mechanical Ability:  4   3   3

Speed:                         3   3   3

Resourcefulness:       3   4   4

Personal Qualities    4   5   5

I had wondered why Grandpa entered the war so late.  Then I learned that the first registration was June 5, 1917 for men ages 21 – 31.[4]  Grandpa missed having to register by 3 months.  He turned 21 the following September.[5]  The second registration was June 5, 1918 for those men who turned 21 after June 5, 1917.[6]  This is when Grandpa registered.  His WWI draft card is dated June 5, 1918.[7]  This answered my question as to why he was drafted so late.

His draft card said he was working for the Texas Company (Texaco).[8]  Grandpa went back to work at Texaco after leaving the service, and he continued to work for them until 1961 when he retired with 46 years of service.[9]  I wish I knew more about his military service, sometime I will have to send for his records.  In the mean time, I’m proud he served in what ever capacity.  During both of the wars he was teased about his name Kaiser.  So on this Memorial Day, thank you Grandpa for serving our county.

[1]  Order of Induction into Military Service of the United States for Frederick R. Kaiser, Order Number 152, Serial Number 146.  Dated August 31, 1919.  Chicago Local Board No. 60, 1950 Lawrence Ave., Chicago, Illinois.  In possession of author.

[2] Notice of Classification for F. R. Kaiser, Order No. 152, Serial No. 146,  Dated July 11, 1918.  Chicago Local Board No. 60, 1950 Lawrence Ave., Chicago, Illinois.  In possession of author.

[3] War Department—Army Training School Certificate for Frederick R. Kaiser.  South Div. War Training, 26th and Wabash Ave., Chicago, Illinois.  In possession of author

[4] National Archives Website, World War I Draft Registration Cards M 1509 Historical Background.

[5] Baptism Certificate for Friedrick Rudolf Kaiser, baptized June 21, 1899, born September 12, 1896, Ravenswood Evangelical Church, Pensacola and Hoynes Avenues, Chicago, IL; Registry Entry #485.

[6] National Archives Website, World War I Draft Registration Cards M 1509 Historical Background.

[7]“United States, World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918”, FamilySearch ( .  Fredrick Rudolph Kaiser, 1917- 1918.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Certificate of Retirement from Active Duty with Texaco Inc. for Fred R. Kaiser, 1961 after 46 Years of Loyal Service. Signed by the Chairman of the Board of Directors, Augustus C. Long.

Grandpa Manfroid

My grandfather, George Manfroid, served in France during WWI.  He died when I was eight years old so I never heard about his war experience in France.  All my father ever said was that his father was in France during WWI.  That was it the end of the story.  I did not think much about it until one day when I was reading his enlistment and discharge papers.  I was going to use these papers for a class that I was teaching.  I wanted to show an example of things that you might find in your possession or in the possession of a relative, and how they can be used to help you trace your ancestors.  I had read these papers before but all I really cared about back then was where he was born, date of birth, etc.  But since I knew all that I took a closer look and thought about what they said.  He was inducted on September 19, 1917 in Maywood, Illinois.  His vocation was a millwright, he was 25 years old, blue eyes, light complexion, 5 feet 10 inches tall, and single.  His character was excellent, his service honest and faithful.  He was part of the A.E.F. France, received no wounds, and was entitled to wear the Blue Service Chevron.  He was at Camp Grant, Illinois when discharged on January 19, 1919.[1] [2]

After studying the papers, I was curious as to what A.E.F. stood for and why he received the Blue Service Chevron.   I look up the A.E.F. and found it stood for American Expeditionary Forces,[3] and the Blue Service Chevron was given to soldiers who served overseas less than six months[4]  I Googled my grandfather’s name and found his name in a book titled The Official History of the Eighty-Sixth Division.  He is listed as serving in 311th Trench Mortar Battery.  According to the book he left New York Harbor on September 17, 1918 aboard the Lapland for France.  He spent his time in Vitrey and Chauvirey-le-Chatel.  The 86th division was to be sent to the Lorraine Front on November 14, 1918 with other American Divisions and thirty French Divisions to capture the Metz.  The 86th was to participate in what the supreme war council had planned as the Allies’ mightiest endeavor of the war.  But on November 11, 1918 came the news of the signing of the Armistice.  He returned to the United States on January 9, 1919 aboard the Georgia.[5]

The men prepared for a year to battle on front lines and for some this was a disappointment. I don’t know my grandfather’s feelings because nothing was ever said.  I think about the part fate played here.  If he fought and was killed, I would not be here.  We take for granted our lives and the lives of our ancestors.  But one little twist of fate could change everything.  Even though he never fought on the front lines, I am still proud that he served his country honorably and faithfully during this time.  Thank you Grandpa for your service to this country!

[1] Enlistment Record for George Manfroid, September 19, 1917, Maywood, Illinois, book 44, page 176.  In possession of author.

[2] Honorable Discharge from the United States Army for George Manfroid, January 19, 1919, Camp Grant, Illinois. Book 44, Page 175.  In possession of author.

[5] Little, John G., The Official History of the Eighty-Six Division (Chicago, Illinois, States Publication Society, 1921).

Copyright © 2013 Gail Grunst

Americana, and the icons that represent us!

Read my Son’s blog. He usually writes about photography, but it’s a little different this time after the bombings in Boston. Ienjoyed it, but then I am his mother.

1st Sense Photography


I have always been a fan of American Nostalgia, and what better way to start a blog today than talk about America. Today April 15 , 2013 We as a nation were once again attacked on our own soil. Yet we do not know whether it was a terrorist attack, or a person just trying to gain notoriety by doing something that would harm innocent people. These actions will be vindicated by our government, and its citizens. We as a people have always realized certain things keep this country together, and remembering our past is one of them. Tonight I present an image I took last summer at a car show in Gurnee, Illinois. Chevrolet is an Icon from the late 50’s and 60’s. Chevrolet represents strength in American engineering something we have always been proud of.

We as a nation have never backed down to any terrorist act, and…

View original post 361 more words

Aunt Liz’ Secret Life

Aunt Liz is the smaller one.

Aunt Liz is the smaller one.


My grandmother had three aunts, her mother’s sisters, Aunt Liz, Aunt Emma, and Aunt Agnes.  I had the privilege to know all of them, some better than others.  Today I’m writing about Aunt Liz as I think she is the most colorful one of the three or led the most secretive life.

Aunt Liz was born Elizabeth Reinhardt on February 10, 1881 in Amana, Iowa[1].  Two Years later the family moved to Ottawa, Illinois.[2]  Aunt Liz had two brothers and four sisters.[3]  Her father worked as a shoemaker and owned a shop in Ottawa.[4]

I knew Aunt Liz probably the best out of the three.  She lived in Ottawa, Illinois with family friends.  We would go down to Ottawa from Villa Park, IL several times a year to visit Aunt Liz.  My parents and grandparents were friends with the family she was living with, and I was friends with their daughter who was near my age.  I went down there for a week or two every summer to visit my friend.  Of course, Aunt Liz was there, and I would talk with her.  This was long before my interest in genealogy so we never talked about her family or her parents.  By the time I knew her she was old, and I would have never imagined that she was a sort of rebel in her youth.

It was always known in the family that Aunt Liz had an illegitimate son, Milton. I wrote about Milton on my blog dated January 14, 2013.  Milton was born in 1900[5] and Aunt Liz kept Milton and raised him.  Unfortunately, Milton died at the young age of 17.[6]  I had heard about her son Milton, but thought OK she made a mistake so what.  I knew she married later and was married a long time, but never had any more children or so I thought.

While researching Milton, I remembered my grandmother talking about how Aunt Liz went to California to visit her daughter.  I’m not sure of time frame, but I estimate that it was around 1964 or 65.  My grandmother was shocked to learn that Aunt Liz had a daughter. Everyone who knew Aunt Liz was surprised to hear that she had a daughter.

I decided to look for information on this child.  I found that she did have another child born in 1905 in Chicago, Illinois. The father is listed as Timothy Farrell on the birth record, and she named the daughter Helen.[7]  I found this strange because Aunt Liz was married to Timothy Farrell.  So why didn’t she keep her?  Now I needed to find out when she got married to Timothy.  The search continued on, and I found she married Tim in 1920.[8]  Now my question was why did she wait until 1920 to marry Tim?  I thought maybe he was married.   I next search the census records for 1910 and he was single, I found him on the 1900 census also single.[9] [10] I found her on the 1900 and 1910 census listed as single also.[11] [12] They lived a couple of blocks apart in Ottawa.  Why did she give up this child and not marry the father when she found out she was pregnant?  She kept one child, but not the other.  I find this odd.  I don’t know if I will ever know the answer.  I continued to search for Helen Farrell.  I found her on the 1920 census living at the Mary A. Judy Industrial School for Girls in Middlefork, Vermillion, Illinois.[13]  An Internet search turned up that the school was for girls who were having a hard time adjusting to foster care or had difficult family situations.[14]  I lose Helen after that.  She probably married, but I have no idea where or to whom and there are a lot of Helen Farrell’s.

In the mean time, my son, who into photography, found a picture I had of Aunt Liz when she was 18 years old with some things I have of hers.  She is in a fancy gown standing on a winding stair case.  It looked like it had been cut out of magazine because it was on magazine type paper.  Someone had written on the photograph Elizabeth age 18. My son knew someone who was into period clothing, and asked her to date the picture.  She said it looked like it was from around 1900 and it wasn’t the kind of dress that you would wear on the street.  It was more like a theatrical dress.  Aunt Liz would have been 18 in 1899.  So this information was correct.  Maybe the picture was from a play bill. What was she doing in play?  What was the play?  What part did she play?  These questions are still unanswered.  She never said anything about being in play to me, and I don’t remember any one else in the family talking about it.

Aunt Liz in theatrical dress

Aunt Liz in theatrical dress


I kept on searching the Internet and found that a Thomas Farrell owned a theater in Ottawa, Illinois.[15]  Now things were starting to make more sense.  At first I thought this was Timothy’s brother because on the census records he had a brother Thomas.[16]  But then when I researched the Thomas Farrell who owned the theater his age didn’t match Timothy’s brother Thomas.[17] Perhaps the Thomas Farrell that owned the theater is an uncle or cousin.  I do feel that they are connected somehow. Maybe Aunt Liz knew Timothy Farrell and this helped her get a part in a play or maybe she met him because she was performing at this theater.  Maybe it was neither.

After Aunt Liz married Timothy Farrell in 1920,[18] they lived in Chicago;[19] and they were married until Timothy died in 1947.[20]  Aunt Liz died on 5 August 1966[21] and is buried in the Ottawa Avenue Cemetery in Ottawa, La Salle, Illinois along side her husband Timothy Farrell and son Milton[22]

Aunt Liz 1963 or 64

Aunt Liz 1963 or 64

Copyright © 2013 Gail Grunst

[1] Birth record for Elizabeth Reinhardt.  Iowa County Births 1880 – 1835 Index, (https//

[2] Family story that they left Amana, Iowa in 1883.  Told to author by her grandmother Helen Bower’s Kaiser in 1979.

[3] Census Record for Elizabeth Reinhardt, parent, brothers & sisters. 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry Operations Inc, 2004.  Original Data:  United States of America Bureau of the Census.  Twelfth Census of the United States 1900.  Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Record Administration, 1900. T623. 1854 rolls.

[4] Death Record for Conrad John Reinhardt 6 July 1922, Chicago, Cook, Illinois.  State of Illinois, Department of Public Health, Division of Vital Statistics, Registration number 17200.

[5] “ Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths 1916 – 1947,” index, FamilySearch ( Milton Reinhardt 28 Mar 1918: citing reference FHL microfilm 1544185

[6] “ Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths 1916 – 1947,” index, FamilySearch ( Milton Reinhardt 28 Mar 1918: citing reference FHL microfilm 1544185

[7] Birth record for Helen Farrell 29 May 1905, Illinois, Cook County Birth Certificates, 1878 – 1922.  Department of Health, City of Chicago.

[8] “Illinois cook county Marriages 1871 – 1920” index. FamilySearch (  Timothy Farrell and Elizabeth Reinhardt 4 October 1920.

[9] “United States Census, 1910,” index and images, FamilySearch (, Timothy Farrell in the household of Elizabeth Farrell (sister).  Ottawa Ward 5, La Salle, Illinois; citing sheet 14A, Family 291, NARA Microfilm publication T624, FHL microfilm 1374314.

[10] “United States Census 1900,” index and images, FamilySearch(, Timothy Farrell in entry for James Farrell, 1900.  United States Census 1900, Illinois, LaSalle, ED 77 Ottawa Township, OttawaCity Ward 5, Image 6 of 34

[11] 1900 Census entry for Elizabeth Reinhardt. 1900 Untied States Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations  Inc, 2004.  Original Data:  United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900.  Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1900. T623 of 1854 rolls.

[12] 1910 Census entry for Elizabeth Reinhardt. Year: 1910; Census Place: Ottawa Ward 5, LaSalle, Illinois; Roll T624_301; Page: 11 A; Enumeration District: 0129; Image: ; FHL microfilm 1374314.

[13] 1920 Census entry for Helen Farrell ; Middlefork, Vermillion, Illinois; Roll T625 412; Page 14A; Enumeration District: 194; Image: 418. 1920 Untied States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2010.  Images reproduced by FamilySearch

[14] Mary A. Judy Industrial School for Girls.

[15] Ottawa Illinois in 1900; Ottawa, Illinois; E. A. Nattinger Thomas Farrell, page 122.  Reprint by the LaSalle County Illinois Genealogical Guild. 1995 Google books

[16] “United States Census 1900,” index and images, FamilySearch(, Timothy Farrell in entry for James Farrell, 1900.  United States Census 1900, Illinois, LaSalle, ED 77 Ottawa Township, OttawaCity Ward 5, Image 6 of 34

[17] 1900 United States Census entry for Thomas Farrell. Year: 1900; Census Place:  Ottawa Ward 2, LaSalle, Illinois; Roll 317; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 0074; FHL microfilm: 1240317. 1900 United States Federal Cencus [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc, 2004

[18] “Illinois, Cook County Marriages, 1871 – 1929” Index, FamilySearch ( Timothy and Elizabeth Reinhardt, 04 Oct 1920.

[19] 1940 United States Census entry for Timothy and Elizabeth Farrell.  Year: 1940; Census Place:  Chicago, Cook, Illinois; Roll: T627 947; Page 15 A; Enumeration District:  103-865.  1940 United States Federal Census [database on-line].  Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2012.

[20] “Illinois, Death and Stillbirths, 1916 – 1947” index, FamilySearch (Https:// Timothy J. Farrell 21 May 1947.

[21] Death record for Elizabeth Farrell. Cook County, Illinois Death Index 1908 – 1988 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2008.

[22] Personal knowledge of author from being at funeral in 1966 and visiting graves whenever I am in Ottawa, Illinois.

An Ordinary Life

The other day, I was having a conversation with a friend about family stories.  She told me that her grandmother had written her life story.  I thought that was so neat, and wished just one of my ancestor’s had written their life story or kept a diary.  She stated that she couldn’t do this because her life is just ordinary, and therefore, she had nothing to write about.  I told her that isn’t true.  Everyone thinks their life is ordinary, but there is plenty to write about.

Just think about it, our kids don’t know what it was like to grow up in the 50’s, 60’s let alone our grandchildren or their children someday.  Think how nice that would be for them to read about your ordinary life in the 50’s.  They don’t know about some of the things that we had in our lives or didn’t have in our lives.  Tell them about the milkman coming and your mother leaving empty bottles for him to pick up with a note in the empty bottle for what she wanted next.  My mother would put the money she owed him in an envelope and put it in the empty bottle with it sticking up enough that he could get it out.  We didn’t have two cars so we would walk to the A & P.  My kids never heard of an A & P or a National Food Store.  One day I mentioned a dime store to my grandson and he said, “What’s a dime store?” I had to explain that it was like a dollar store today.  Actually, I think the dime stores were better.  What about soda fountains in drug stores, you don’t see those around now.  The library was actually a library where you went for books and were told to be quiet.  Now it’s not just for books, but for videos, video games, Cd’s, computer, Internet, programs, etc., and your not told to be quiet.  Television was new then too, just black and white, a tiny screen, and 3 or 4 stations.  I remember thinking that Milton Berle was my Uncle because my dad always said it was time for “Uncle Milty”.   I found out he wasn’t my uncle when I asked my mother why we never saw him and why he was never at grandma’s on holidays.  What about going to the dime store for penny candy?  Where I lived there were little mom and pop stores in almost every neighborhood.  My mom sent me to one near us with a note that she wanted some napkins.  I was about eight years old and I thought I was old enough to buy napkins without a note.  I argued with my mom that I didn’t need a note.  She said, “Just give Eleanor the note.”  When I got there, I asked for napkins and did not give her the note.  When I got home and gave my mother the napkins, she said to me, “You did not give Eleanor the note did you?”  I shook my head no.  What she really wanted was Kotex.  When my brother was little, he found the box of Kotex and thought they were bandages.  He played doctor or Veterinarian with the family dog and bandaged up the dog with Kotex.  My mom would send me to the store with a note for cigarettes. You can’t do that today! Write about your friends, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and first boyfriend. Write about holiday traditions, birthday parties, picnics, your house, and your room.  You could write about how you met your spouse and your wedding day.  I could go on and on, but this gives you an idea about the ordinary things you can write about.  Just stop and think about your life, and it will help you recall the funny and sad events in your life.

Write about the historical events that happened in your life time.  For me it is the assassination of President Kennedy, first man in space, first man to orbit the earth, first man on the moon, Vietnam War, the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy.  I lived through these things and many more.  My kids and grand kids only read about them in history books.  Wouldn’t it be nice for them to read about what we were doing when these things happened, what we thought about them, and how these events affected us?  I have started my life story, and I hope this inspires you to start writing your life story too.

I always enjoy reading her blog and her grandmother’s journal entries. Interesting to read what someone was doing 100 years ago. This is a must read blog!

A Hundred Years Ago

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Wednesday, February 26, 1913:  We practiced tonight.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Grandma was referring to play practice. She had the role of Chloe, the servant, in the class play.

Here’s my best guess as to what Grandma’s schedule looked like on this date a hundred years ago:

  1. It was probably still dark when Grandma got  up and dressed in work clothes.
  2. Went to the barn to feed and milk the cows.
  3. Came back to the house, ate a quick breakfast, and changed into school clothes.
  4. Walked 1 1/2 miles to  McEwensville.
  5. Attended school.
  6. Walked 1 1/2 miles home after school.
  7. Grabbed a quick snack—and changed  into work clothes.
  8. Went to the barn to do the evening chores (clean the cow stalls, feed cows, milk cows). She may have also fed the chickens and gathered eggs.
  9. Went back…

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Remembering Riverview

File:The Midway Riverview Park Chicago 1909.JPG

Postcard photo of the Midway at Riverview Park, Chicago circa 1909.

This media file is in the public domain in the United States. This applies to U.S. works where the copyright has expired, often because its first publication occurred prior to January 1, 1923. See this page for further explanation.

Today there are amusement parks through out the country with extreme rides.  They are great, and I have enjoyed visiting several of them.  When I was growing up the amusement park of the time in Chicago was Riverview. Going to Riverview was the big treat of the summer.  It was family tradition to go to Riverview.  It opened on 1908 so my grandparents and parents went when they were young.  I usually managed to go several times each summer.  I believe we spent around $5.00 to go.  They charged by the ride.  You paid only for the rides you went on.  They ran anywhere from 5 cents to 25 cents.

My father took me on my first roller coaster ride (the Greyhound) when I was five years old.  After that I went on the Blue Steak,  Fireball, Comet, and Bobs. The roller coasters were my favorite ride.  You could ride them again and again without getting off.  You just paid the attendant and rode again.  I remember going with my cousin and her boyfriend.  She didn’t like riding roller coasters so her boyfriend and I rode all of them several times in a row.  I went with my parents, girl friends, cousin, and aunt throughout the summer.

My aunt took me on the Bobs roller coaster the first time and on the parachutes the first time too.  I also liked the Chute to Chutes (a water ride).  They had the usual rides Tilt-a-whirl, Whip, Merry-go-round, and Ferris wheel.  Some of my other favorites were the Water Bug, Boomerang, Caterpillar, Tunnel-of-love, Bumper Cars, Train, Riverboat, Wild Mouse coaster.   There was a fun house called Aladdin’s Castle, arcades, and a freak show. There were many more rides and other things to do.

Unless you grew up in or near Chicago and went to Riverview you won’t understand its charm. It was torn down in 1967 with little notice to the public.  Everyone missed their last chance to go one more time.  A few weeks ago a friend sent me a link to the best Riverview site.  This site describes Riverview better than I ever could.  Plus there are pictures and videos.  If you are a Riverview fan go to this site and enjoy the memories.  If not, go there anyway and see what you missed!

Copyright © 2013 Gail Grunst