Black Sheep?

Aunt Fran & Grandma

Frances and Helen Bowers

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Ralph Bowers











52 Ancestors in 2 Weeks  topic this week is Black Sheep in the family.

I can’t think of any ancestors that were black sheep in the traditional sense.  I have not run across any criminals or ones that have done outrages things and been banished by family.  

The closest I can come to black sheep are my grandmother, her brother, and sister.  My grandmother’s parents were divorced when she was a young child.  She grew up never knowing her father or his family.  They lived in the same small town, and she would see them from a distance.  She said the reason she never knew them was because the Bowers family thought they were better than the Reinhardt’s.  My Grandmother claimed the Bowers denied that their son, Robert, married and had children.  My grandmother told stories of how she saw her grandmother, Alexena, in the cemetery; but Alexena did not acknowledge her.  One time she saw her father walking down the street and she ran up to him and said, “I’m your daughter.”  He said, “Get away from me kid, I don’t have any children.” The Bowers were of English and Scottish descent, and the Reinhardt’s were from Germany.  Also the Bowers appear to be financially better off than the Reinhardt’s.  It also appears that the Bowers were upper class and the Reinhardt’s lower class.  Maybe the Bowers had something against Germans or maybe it was a class thing.

The story is that Robert Bowers and Eva Reinhardt ran off to Chicago to be married, however I have not been able to find a marriage record for them in Cook County Illinois.  For awhile, I wondered if they never married and that is why the Bowers denied the children were Roberts.  However after Charles Bowers died in February 1897,[1]  Robert and Eva sign a quit-claim deed over to Alexena Bowers on 26 June 1897.[2]  It lists Eva Bowers as Robert Bowers wife.[3]  Eight days earlier on 18 June 1897 Eva and Robert’s first child is born.[4]   Charles bought the two lots listed on the quit-claim deed in 1882. [5] At some point he turned the lots over to Robert and Eva.  I am wondering if he gave them as a wedding present to Robert and Eva.   After his death and after their first child is born, the property is signed over to Alexena for $1.00.  I am speculating here, but did she insist on getting the property back because of her dislike for Eva and now their newborn child?  I never found a divorce record for Robert and Eva either.  Robert died in Chicago 4 March 1913.[6]  Eva went by Eva Bowers until she died 23 December 1941.[7]  Her death certificate lists her as Eva Bowers, widow.  I believe they were married because of the quit-claim deed and her life long use of the Bower name.  I beginning to believe that they were never officially divorced.  See Quit-Claim Deed below:

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The story my grandmother told came to life for me when I read Alexena’s will.  This is proof that they did not want to acknowledge Robert’s children.  The following is a transcribed from Alexena’s will in Probate Court for proof of heirship:

On the 26th day of June 1926 R Ethel Vittum, a competent witness of lawful age produced sworn and examined on oath in open court, testified as follows, to-wit:

C. B. Chapman
Q. Your name is R. Ethelyn Vittum?
A. Yes
Q. You reside in Ottawa, Illinois?
A. Yes
Q. You are a daughter of Alexena Bowers?
A. Yes
Q. When did she die?
A. March 7, 1926
Q. Where did she die?
A. At her residence 543 Chapel Street
Q. At the time of her death was she an actual resident of the city of Ottawa, County of LaSalle, State of Illinois?
A. She was
Q. About what was her age?
A. 79 years in August
Q. She was a citizen of the United States?
A. She was
Q. Did she leave a surviving husband?
A. No
Q. What was her husband’s name?
A. Charles Bowers
Q. And about how long ago did he die?
A. I think it was about thirty years ago
Q. Was she married more than once?
A. No
Q. How many Children were born of the marriage?
A. Five
Q. What were their names?
A. Richard L. Bowers, Elizabeth A. Bowers, Robert F. Bowers, Genevieve L. Bowers, myself.
Q. R. Ethel Bowers is yourself?
A. Yes
Q. And you are residing in Ottawa, Illinois?
A. Yes
Q. Is R. L. Bowers living?
A. He is
Q. And he is living in Ottawa, Illinois?
A. In Ottawa
Q. And Elizabeth Ann Bowers is living in Ottawa?
A. Yes
Q. Is Richard Bowers living?
A. Richard and R. L. are one and the same.  You mean Robert?
Q. Robert, I should say.
A. He is dead
Q. About how long ago did he die?
A. 13 years ago, I think.
Q. And was he married?
A. I don’t know, Mr. Chapman
Q. You haven’t any knowledge so that you could testify as to whether or not he was ever married?
A. No.
Q. Do you know whether or not there are living any persons who claim to be his children?
A. There was a few years ago.
Q. And do you know there names or the names that they go by?
A. I don’t think of the name, Mr. Chapman.
Q. Let me refresh your recollection.  Do you remember whether the persons who claim to be his children are Ralph Bowers?
A. Yes Ralph is one
Q. And Helen Kaiser?
A. I don’t know the Kaiser, but I know a Helen.
Q. Helen claimed to be Helen Bowers and you don’t know whether she is now married and whether her name is Kaiser.
A. No
Q. And Frances Bowers, who also claimed –
A. I think so.
Q. And do know that she is now married and her present name is Beck?
A. I don’t know.
Q.  Were there any other parties than Ralph, Helen and Frances that claimed to be children of Robert?
A. I don’t know of any others.
Q.  Never heard of any others?
A. Never.
Q.  And in matters where the question of the heirship of Robert was raised you knew that there was proof made and these three parties were found to be children of Robert, did you?
A. Yes
Q.  And found to be the only children of Robert?
A. Yes
Q. and the other child of Alexena Bowers was what?
A. Genevieve L.
Q. And she died in infancy?
A. Yes – Oh, no –
Q. Because she was-
A. Why she died about 29 years ago.
Q. Was she ever married?
A. No.
Q. Did your mother at any time ever adopt any children?
A. No. [8]

In 1935 Ethelyn passed away[9] and in 1947 Elizabeth passed away.[10]  The only one left was Richard Bowers.  It was after the others were all gone that my grandmother got to know her Uncle Richard Lambly Bowers.  He must have been the one who gave her the pictures of the Bowers family that are now in my possession.  I have done extensive researched Charles and Alexena Bowers, and I think it would be of interest to my Grandmother to know about her father’s roots.  They seem to interest me for some reason.  What kind of people deny their own grandchildren?   By the way, my grandmother, her brother and sister did not receive any inheritance from her Grandmother.

Today with DNA tests it can be proved that my grandmother, her brother, and sister were indeed Robert’s children.  I had my DNA test done and it is a match with fourth cousins that descend from one of Charles Bowers brothers.

Copyright © 2018 Gail Grunst

  1.  Ottawa Avenue Cemetery Records: Ottawa, LaSalle County, Illinois. Record number 8539, Cemetery Card CCY-TS, Burial location OT18-7
  2. Tract Index Book, Recorder of Deeds Office, Ottawa, LaSalle County, Illinois, Book488, Page 167,  Microfilm at the LaSalle County Genealogical Guild 115 W. Glover St., Ottawa, Illinois 61350
  3. Ibid.
  4. [1] Registration State: Illinois; Registration County:  Cook; Roll 1613573; Draft board: 53. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. {database on-line}.  Provo, UT, USA;  Operation  Inc, 2005.  Original Data:  United States, Selective Service System World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cares, 1917-1918.  Washington,  D. C. :  National Archives and Record  Administration.  M1509, 4,582 rolls.  Imaged from Family  History  Library Microfilm.
  5. Tract Index Book, Recorder of Deeds Office, Ottawa, LaSalle County, Illinois, Book238, Page 137,  Microfilm at the LaSalle County Genealogical Guild 115 W. Glover St., Ottawa, Illinois 61350
  6. Certificate and Record of Death for Robert F. Bowers, March 4, 1913, Registration 1311, Department of Heath, City of Chicago, Cook, Illinois
  7. Certificate of Death for Eva Bowers;  State of Illinois, Department of Public health, Division of Vital Statistics, Springfield, Illinois, Registration Number 34633. Date of death: December 23, 1941; Place of death: County of Cook, City of Chicago.
  8. “Probate of  will of Alexena Bowers” (Proof of Heirship), 26 June 1926, LaSalle County, Illinois,  Old Estate Books,  File 1,  Box 954., LaSalle County Court House, Ottawa, Illinois. Photocopy of original in possession of this writer.
  9. Cemetery Record for Ethelyn Bowers, Ottawa Avenue Cemetery, Ottawa LaSalle, Illinois; Date of Birth, June 20, 1878, Date of Death March 14, 1935, Burial March 16, 1935; Burial location: OT, 18-7, Cemetery Card: CCY-TS, Record: #8542.
  10. Cemetery Record for Elizabeth Bowers, Ottawa Avenue Cemetery, Ottawa, LaSalle, Illinois; Date of Death January 31, 1947; Burial location OT, 18-7; Funeral Home Gladfelter; Cemetery card CCNF-noTS; Record number 10315.


Same Person Two Names

This week 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks topic is the “same name“.  When I first started genealogy back in 1979, I started with my parents and grandparents and asked them a lot of questions.  My father’s name was George, and his father’s name was George, and I was told that his father’s name was George.  Not much was know about my great-grandfather George Manfroid. In the early 1990’s I visited a Family History Center and found a man named Isidor Manfroid that was born in Germany in May 1855.  I didn’t think much about it and kept searching for a George.  Back then you inserted disks into the computer, there was no Internet yet for public use.  Below is a printout from that time period.  I even eventually wrote a note on it that said, “Wondering if this is George.  George born May 1856 in Germany according to the 1900 census.”

Manfroid Isidor (IGI)

Also on the 1900 census, he named one son Isidor and one Felix.  The Isidor in this IGI  printout’s father’s name was Felix Joseph Manfroid.  Manfroid is an uncommon name so there was not many in the index or in the phone books of Germany, France, Belgium and the United States.    As it turned out, 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 record to my great-grandmother where he is listed as G. Isidor Manfroid.

Here is the story of Isidor George Manfroid. or George Isidor Manfroid

Isidor (George) was born on May 22, 1855 in Siegburg, Rhineland, Preussen 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 first 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 Pittsburgh, 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 fthree more children, Christina, Felix Philip, and Isidor are 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 © 2018 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.

Is there a Doctor in the Family?

ytomgxzjcA while back, I wrote about my Great-Great Aunt Emma Reinhardt.  When doing research on her, I decided to search for her first husband.  There was so much information on him that I decided to write a separate post about him.  If you like you can go back and read my previous post about Aunt Emma’s two lives.  She married Dr. Frederick L. Orsinger on 2 September 1910.[1]  He was 33 years older than Emma.[2]  He had five children with his first wife, Lena, some older than Emma.[3]  His first wife Lena died in 1903.[4]  I can remember my grandmother would say with disgust in her voice, “Aunt Emma married that old Doc Orsinger.”  As a child I never questioned it.  I knew by my grandmother’s tone of voice she did not like him, but never asked any questions.  It really didn’t matter because this was long before I was born.  The Aunt Emma I knew was a kindly old woman who was now married to a very nice man.  When I went to enter her information into my family tree software, I wanted to be as accurate as possible, so I started looking for “Old Doc Orsinger”.  Well, between and Google, I came up with a lot of information.  Of course, I always would like more.  “Old Doc Orsinger” seems to be a colorful character to say the least.

“Frederick L. Orsinger was born in Baden, Germany on 8 March 1852.  At four years old he started attending school in his native town until age 14 under the priests of the parochial school.  At age 15 he went to Austria where he studied for a year.  He later spent a year and half in school in Switzerland studying medicine in Zurich.  In 1870 he completed a course in medicine and surgery in Zurich, Switzerland, and from there went to Paris, where he studied for six months. In 1871 he came to the United States and landed in Chicago on 9 October 1871 the same day as the Chicago Fire.  He decided not to stay in Chicago because of the destruction caused by the fire.   He headed for LaSalle, Illinois where he worked in his Uncle’s bakery.  While in LaSalle he purchased a drug store and engaged in the practice of medicine.  He realized that college training in America would prove valuable to him, and studied five years at the college of physicians and surgeons in Chicago, from which he graduated.  He gained experience during a year at Cook County Hospital”.[5]  Sounds like quite a resume doesn’t it?  But then I started to find articles in periodicals about Dr. Orsinger starting about 1903.

Here are some of the articles I found:

  • The Medical News: A Weekly Journal of Medical Science Vol 83, No 1, (New York) Saturday, July 4. 1903, Pg. 274. “Injunction secured by Dr. Orsinger – Dr. Fredrick L. Orsinger has secured an injunction restraining the State Board of Health, Justice Chott and his constable from causing imprisonment or enforcing judgement of $100 and costs secured against him for violation of medical Laws.”[6]
  • Journal of the American Medical Association – Medical News Vol 44, April 1, 1905. Pg. 104 “Fined for Illegal practice – Dr. Fredrick L. Orsinger on March 24 was fined $200 for practicing without a license. The prosecution was undertaken by Chicago Board of Health.”[7]
  • The Journal of the American Medical Association Vol 44 Jan – June 1905 Pg. 1124 (Chicago: American Medical Association Press, 1905) “Sues state board – Dr. Frederick L. Orsinger, formerly of LaSalle, who claims to be a graduate of Zurich, Switzerland, 1870 and has a diploma from the eclectic institution of April 1904, has asked the state board of Health be compelled by writ of mandamus to issue him a certificate to practice medicine in the state. On March 24 the appellant was fined $200 for violation of the medical practice act.”[8]
  • Bulletin Vol 6 Numbers 1-5 January-May 1910. Dr. F. L. Orsinger Makes New Move in Fight for License. Physician Refused Permit to Practice after Failing in Examinations. Dr. Frederick Leo Orsinger’s long continued fight to be permitted to continue the practice of medicine in Illinois without a state license took a new turn yesterday, when he obtained from Judge Walker in the circuit court a temporary order prohibiting the State Board of Health from prosecuting him.  The question of dissolving the order or making it permanent will be argued today. The Order was issued upon the recommendation of Master in Chancer, Albert W. Brickwood, who according to Attorney Charles G. Hoffman, representing the State Board of Health is the attorney of record for the plaintiff in two actions recently instituted by the National Medical University against the Board.  Sues to Compel Recognition. One of these is a suit for $500,000 damages because of the Board’s refusal to recognize the University.  The other is for a writ of mandamus to compel such recognition.  According to Dr. Orsinger’s bill of complaint, he has been practicing medicine in Illinois since 1872 and is a graduate of the medical schools of Zurich, Switzerland, and of the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Chicago.  In July 1908 he secured a writ of mandamus directing the State Board to issue him a certificate entitling him to practice.  Board refuses to obey. The board refused to obey the writ, and during last February the mandamus order was vacated and the court held against Dr. Orsinger.  His appeal now is before the Appellate court. “Dr. Orsinger has twice taken the state examination,” said attorney Hoffman, “and has twice failed (Chicago Tribune April 17).  Dissolves Restraining Order.  Court Ends Temporary Injunction Granted Dr. F. L. Orsinger against State Health Board. In the circuit court yesterday Judge Walker dissolved the temporary restraining order which he issued last Friday against the State Board of Health upon the petition of Dr. Frederick Leo Orsinger.  It was held by the court that Dr. Orsinger’s fear of being prosecuted by the Board for practicing medicine without a license was not sufficient reason for issuing an injunction.  Dr. Orsinger was allowed five days in which to amend his petition (Chicago Tribune April 18).[9]
  • Illinois Medical Journal: the official organ of the Illinois State Medical Society Vol 18, July to Dec 1910. Pg. 262, George N. Krieder, M.D., editor “Dr. Fred L. Orsinger, 750 W. Congress, who is said to have fought the State Board of Health for thirty two years against taking out a license to practice medicine, was indicted by the June grand jury of Cook County on the charge of having performed an operation on Pauline Sproc, which resulted in her death.”[10]
  • June 16, 1910, Mrs. Paulina Sproc, a 35-year-old immigrant from Bohemia, died in a Chicago home from an abortion that had been performed on June 5. W.L. Orainger (F. L. Orsinger) was held by the coroner’s jury. The source document doesn’t indicate that the case ever went to trial.  George N. Krieder, M.D., editor [11]
  • March 13, 1917 – From the Chicago Police Department Homicide Records 1870 – 1930. Schofield, Mannie L. Age 33 – died from an abortion at 325 Robey St., operation performed by Fred L. Orsinger, who with F. Schofield (her husband) were held by the coroner 3/15/17.  5/8/20 Orsinger acquitted.[12]
  • X-BUTCHER, NOW DOCTOR, IS HELD FOR WOMANS DEATH. Dr. Fred L. Orsinger, who the Chicago police say, is a former butcher and an ex-convict, was held last night after the death of Mrs. Minnie L. Schofield, 325 South Robey Street Physicians at the county hospital say she died from a criminal operation and Identified Dr. Orsinger shortly before she died. Thomas F. Schotield, husband of the victim, also was held. He admitted introducing Orsinger to his wife, but denied knowing of the alleged operation. Chicago Livestock World[13]

These articles raised more questions about the doctor.  Was his complaint against the Board of Health legitimate or did the Board of Health have a legitimate complaint against the doctor?  Was he a fraud?  Did he really go to medical school in Switzerland and the College of Physicians and Surgeons (now the University of Illinois College of Medicine)? Why could he not pass the State Board Exam with his education and experience practicing Medicine?  To be fair, when Dr. Orsinger started practicing medicine no license was required.  Over the years the states started requiring licenses and raised the standards to practice medicine.  This was probably a big change for some doctors and they might not have liked being regulated.  Change is always hard and some people take it harder than others.  This also was taking away his livelihood.   “Illinois started requiring doctors to be licensed in 1877, and Medical licensing boards’ enforcement powers forced fundamental changes in medical school curriculum’s, purged unlicensed ignorant practitioners and outright frauds, reduced the number of non-medical school graduates, marginalized midwives, revoked the licenses of abortionists, and unified the best of both regular and irregular medical practitioners.”[14]   One article said he fought the Board of Health for the past 32 years, which means he started fighting the board around 1877 at the time Illinois started requiring licenses.

Two women died after he performed an abortion which was not legal at that time.  The one article calls him an ex-convict. Does that mean that he was convicted of the first woman’s death in 1910?  I have been unable to find out if he was an ex-butcher.  The 1880 Census has his occupation as a saloon keeper.[15]  The 1894 city directory lists his occupation as real estate and saloon keeper.[16]  In the 1898 and 1904 city directory he is listed as a physician.[17]  According to the 1920 Census Emma and Fred are not living together, however Emma still uses the surname Orsinger.[18]  I assume they were still married, but separated.  He died in 1923.[19]

Copyright © 2016 Gail Grunst


[1] Chicago:  Its history and Its Builders

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] “Injunction secured by Dr. Orsinger.” The Medical News: A Weekly Journal of Medical Science Vol 83, No 1, Saturday, July 4. 1903, (New York) Pg. 274.

[7] “Fined for Illegal practice.” Journal of the American Medical Association – Medical News Vol 44, April 1, 1905. Pg. 104

[8] Simmons, M.D., George H., editor, “Sues State Board.” Jama:  The Journal of the American Medical Association Vol 44, Jan – June 1905, (Chicago: American Medical Association Press, 1905) Pg. 1124.

[9] “Dr. F. L. Orsinger Makes New Move in Fight for License. Physician Refused Permit to Practice after Failing in Examinations.” Bulletin. Vol 6 Numbers 1-5 January-May 1910.

[10] Krieder, M.D., George N., editor.  “Dr. Fred L. Orsinger.” Illinois Medical Journal: the official organ of the Illinois State Medical Society Vol 18, July to Dec 1910. Pg. 262.

[11] Website: Cemeteryofchoice

[12] Chicago Police Department Homicide Records 1870 – 1930. Illinois Regional Archives Depository, Ronald Williams Library, Northwestern University, 5500 N. St. Louis Avenue, Chicago, Il 60625-4699

[13] Chicago Livestock World, 14 March 1917.

[14] Sandvick C. Enforcing Medical Licensing in Illinois: 1877-1890. The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine. 2009;82(2):67-74.

[15] 1880; Census Place: La Salle, La Salle, Illinois; Roll: 223; Family History Film: 1254223; Page: 294D; Enumeration District: 069; Image: 0110

[16] U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011.

[17] Ibid.

[18]1920; Census Place: Chicago Ward 13, Cook (Chicago), Illinois; Roll: T625_322; Page: 8B; Enumeration District: 758; Image: 281

[19] Illinois, Deaths and Stillbirths Index, 1916-1947 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011.

Letter’s from Germany to Rudolph Kaiser

Rudolph Kaiser was born to Franz Keiser and Emily Klatt in Lobsen, Posen, Prussia on 5 April 1865.[1] Emily had twin sons Theodor Julius and Albert Gustav Keiser born 29 June 1862.[2] [3] They only lived two months and few days.  Theodor died 7 September 1862[4] and Albert followed two days later on 9 September 1862.[5]  A year later, Emilie gave birth to a baby girl, Emma Auguste Keyser, born 6 September 1863.[6]  Unfortunately, Emma only lived to be little over 3 years old.  Emma died 10 October 1866[7] when Rudolph was 18 months old.  If there were other children it is not known at this time.

Rudolph came to the United States when he was 26 years old.[8]  He boarded the Ship Lahn in Bremen and landed at Castle Garden, New York on 30 April 1891.[9]  On the same boat is an Anton Springer.[10]  Could this be a brother of Wilhelmina Springer (Rudolph’s future wife)?  So far I haven’t been able to find proof.  In March of 1896 Rudolph married Wilhelmina Springer in Aurora Illinois.[11]  At the time of their marriage both Rudolph and Wilhelmina resided in Chicago, Illinois.[12]  Rudolph’s occupation is listed as brush maker.[13]  John Einsiedel and Babette Steinhauser are witnesses.[14]  I remembered my mother referring to an Aunt Barbara who lived in Aurora and that she was her grandmother’s sister.  I thought that Babette was probably Barbara (Wilhelmina’s sister). I checked it out, and found a marriage record of a Babette Springer to Joseph Steinhauser.[15]  I think John Einsiedel is a cousin to Great-Grandpa Kaiser, but not sure.  I searched and and could not find a family connection.  Of course this does not mean that there isn’t one.

Wilhelmina Springer was born on 17 December 1869 to Carl Springer and Margarete Burkhardt in Dinkelsburh.[16]  She arrived in New York aboard the Ship Lahn from Bremen on 3 August 1888.[17]   In September of 1896 a son Fredrick was born to Rudolph and Wilhelmina.[18]  In 1899 another son, Hugo, is born.[19]  Rudolph and Wilhelmina resided in Chicago, Illinois at 180 Mohawk,[20] and 2333 Winnemac,[21] and 4154 Irving Ave.[22] Hugo died during the Influenza epidemic in 1919.[23] [24] In January 1901 Rudolph declared his intention to become a citizen.[25]  On the 17th of September 1906 Rudolph became a citizen of the United States of America.[26]  Wilhelmina automatically became a citizen at the same time as Rudolph because she was his wife.[27]

I have some letters that were written in German address to my great-grandfather, Rudolph.[28]  They were found in my grandparent’s house when my mother and I were cleaning it out, after both my grandparents went to a nursing home.  My mother had a neighbor who was from Germany read them.  Apparently, they were written by children of Rudolph’s that he had in Germany.  They were not transcribed word for word, but the theme of the letters is that the daughter and son want to come to America and are wondering if their father would sponsor them.  They know he has wife and children here and do not want co cause him trouble.  The boy wrote letters from the service and wondered why he never answered them.  The neighbor that read them for my mother said, “It could be a scam, that when people wanted to come to America they would do this.”  But I tend to believe these are Rudolf’s children.  For one thing the letters are dated 1910, 1914, 1918, and 1920.  That is a long time to try to scam someone.  The time line works out too. They were born 1890 or earlier.  There is a letter from the Consulate of Switzerland in Chicago, Illinois dated August 25, 1920.  The Letter states, “We have been requested to get in touch with one Mr. Rudolf Kaiser, born April 5, 1865 at Lobson, province Posen, Germany.  Kindly acknowledge receipt of this letter at your earliest convenience, and should you be identical with this gentleman, we would ask you to call at this consulate or let us know your present address.  (our office hours are from 10 – 3, Saturdays 10 to 1 o’clock).” [29] The names of the children are Gertude Pielenz and Rudolph Pielenz.  The letter from the Switzerland consulate has the name Mrs. Ida Wiesen nee Pielinz written at the bottom. So apparently the children never took their father’s last name.  It doesn’t sound like Rudolph married their mother if they did not take his last name.   I also don’t think they would contact the Switzerland consulate if this was a scam.  There were never any family stories or rumors about this.  So I do not know if my grandfather knew about it or not.  My grandmother said that Rudolph Kaiser was a kind man; however his wife was mean and treated Rudolph badly.    I thought my grandmother just didn’t like her Mother-in-law.  Now I wonder if Wilhelmina found out that he had another family in Germany, and if that is why she wasn’t very nice to Rudolph.   If this is true, why would he leave his family in Germany and never send for them or write to them?  This is what bothers me.  I would love to know the story behind this but will probably never know.

Rudolph died on 6 January 1933 of Prostate Cancer.[30] Wilhelmina died on 6 July 1953 from Chronic Myocarditis and Arteriosclerosis.[31] Both are buried at Eden’s Cemetery in Schiller Park, Illinois.[32]

Note:  The name Rudolph is spelled Rudolf or Rudolph in places.  I tried to spell it like it was spelled in documents.  I have always spelled it Rudolph when referring to him.  Kaiser was spelled three ways Keiser, Keyser, and Kaiser.  Again I tried to spell it how it is spelled in documents.  Here in America he used Kaiser and his descendants used Kaiser

Copyright © 2016 Gail Grunst


[1] Deutschland Geburten und Taufen, 1558-1898, database,FamilySearch ( :, Rudolf Otto Keiser, 18 Apr 1865; citing ; FHL microfilm 245,514, 245,515, 245,517.

[2] Deutschland Geburten und Taufen, 1558-1898, database,FamilySearch ( : Emilie Ernstine Klatt in entry for Theodor Julius Keiser, 29 Jun 1862; citing ; FHL microfilm 245,514, 245,515, 245,517.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Deutschland Geburten und Taufen, 1558-1898, database,FamilySearch ( :, Theodor Julius Keiser, 29 Jun 1862; citing ; FHL microfilm 245,514, 245,515, 245,517.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Deutschland Geburten und Taufen, 1558-1898, database,FamilySearch ( : Emma Auguste Keyser, 06 Sep 1863; citing ; FHL microfilm 245,514, 245,515, 245,517.

[7] Ibid.

[8] United States Germans to America Index, 1850-1897, Database,FamilySearch ( : Rudolf Keiser, 30 Apr 1891; citing Germans to America Passenger Data file, 1850-1897, Ship Lahn, departed from Bremen & Southampton, arrived in New York, New York, New York, United States, NAID identifier 1746067, National Archives at College Park, Maryland.

[9] United States Germans to America Index, 1850-1897, database,FamilySearch ( : accessed 1 June 2016), Anton Springer, 30 Apr 1891; citing Germans to America Passenger Data file, 1850-1897, Ship Lahn, departed from Bremen & Southampton, arrived in New York, New York, New York, United States, NAID identifier 1746067, National Archives at College Park, Maryland.

[10] Illinois, Kane County, Marriage License and Return no 10271, Kaiser-Springer 1896, County Clerk’s Office, Geneva.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Illinois State Archives, “Illinois Statewide Marriage Index 1763 – 1900,” database, Illinois Statewide Marriage Index ( accessed 1 June 2016, entry for Babette Springer, 3 October 1895,  Kane County, License no. 00010043.

[15] Illinois, Kane County, Marriage License and Return no 10271, Kaiser-Springer 1896, County Clerk’s Office, Geneva.

[16] Ibid.

[17] “New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1891,” database with images,FamilySearch ( : accessed 1 June 2016), Minna Springer, 1888; citing NARA microfilm publication M237 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm .

[18] Illinois, Cook County, Return of a Birth No. 9055, Rudolph Frederick Kaiser, 12 September 1896, Vital Statistics Department, County Clerk’s Office, Chicago.

[19] United States, Selective Service System. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917 – 1918. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records AdministrationM1509, 4,582 rolls, Image from Family History Library microfilm.

[20] 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, 1854 rolls.

[21] Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920. (NARA microfilm publication T625, 2076 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C

[22] Illinois, Cook County, Standard Certificate of Death no. 605, Rudolph Kaiser, 6 January 1933, County Clerk’s Office, Chicago.

[23] Illinois, Cook County, Standard Certificate of Death no.11951, Hugo Kaiser, 11 April 1919., County Clerk’s Office, Chicago

[24] Influenza Encyclopedia ( Produced by the University of Michigan Center for the History of Medicine and Michigan Publishing, University of Michigan Library, “The American Influenza Epidemic of 1918 -1919.”

[25] Illinois, Cook County Circuit Court, Chicago, Naturalization Record 1906, LDS 1024-633 Vols. 100-102, Rudolph Kaiser, Roll 102, Page37.

[26] Ibid.

[27] National Archives Website ( Prologue Magazine, Summer 1998, Vol. 30, No. 2, Smith, Marion L., Any woman who is now or may hereafter be married . . .” Women and Naturalization, ca. 1802-1940.

[28] Letters written in German to Rudolf Kaiser from Rudolf Pieling, Gertude Pieling, and Ida Wiesen  nee pieling, dated 1910, 1914, 1918, and 1920.  Letters are in the possession of Abigail Grunst, Rudolph Kaiser’s great-granddaughter.

[29] Illinois, Chicago; Consulate of Switzerland in charge of German Interests; dated 22 August 1920, Journal no. 5318/20.  Letter in possession of Abigail Grunst, Rudolph Kaiser’s great-granddaughter.

[30] Illinois, Cook County, Standard Certificate of Death no. 605, Rudolph Kaiser, 6 January 1933, County Clerk’s Office, Chicago.

[31] Illinois, Cook County, Medical Certificate of Death No. 49, Wilhelmina Kaiser, 6 July 1953, Forest Park, German Old Peoples Home.

[32] Eden’s Cemetery, 9851 Irving Park Road, Schiller Park, Illinois, Kaiser Lot 139, Section 7.  Personal knowledge by Author Abigail Grunst.  Visited the cemetery and graves many times.

Great-Grandmother Eva

Eva Bowers

Eva Bowers

Today I’m honoring my great-grandmother Eva Reinhardt.  Eva was born in Heidelberg, Baden, Germany to Johann Konrad Reinhardt and Anna Maria Schwebler on February 14, 1877. [1] Eva came to the United States when she was almost two years old.[2]  Her brother John was born on the boat.[3]  Her first home in the United States was in Amana, Iowa.[4]  They spent a few years in Amana and then moved to Ottawa, Illinois where Eva grew up with her brothers and sisters.[5]  I’ve already written about her sisters, Emma, Liz, and Agnes.  It seems that all of them lived interesting lives.  Eva grew into a young woman and sometime around 1896 she married Robert Bowers also of Ottawa, Illinois.[6]  The family story is that Robert and Eva ran off to Chicago to be married.  I have never been able to find a marriage record for them in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois. According to family stories, Robert’s family never accepted Eva as his wife or acknowledged that any of the children were Roberts.  I started to wonder if they were ever really married and that is why Robert’s family didn’t want anything to do with Eva or their children.  However, when Robert’s father died, Robert and Eva as his wife signed a quit-claim deed to a piece of property to Robert’s mother.[7]  I was told that if they were not married, Eva would not need to sign the quit-claim deed.  Perhaps they were married somewhere other than Chicago.  Robert and Eva had three children, Ralph born in 1897,[8] Helen in 1898[9] and Frances in 1900. [10]  Shortly after Frances was born Robert left Eva.  Again family stories say they were divorced, however I have never found divorce records for them.  In 1900 Eva was on her own and had to make a living for her and her three kids.  According to the 1900 census she and two of her children are boarding with Enoch and Anna Lindstrom and her occupation is Milliner.[11]  One of the children missing is my grandmother, and I haven’t been able to figure out where my grandmother was living.  I checked the logical place with her maternal grandparents and she is not with them.  I remember my Aunt Fran talking about how her mother sent her to live with some people in Wisconsin and when her mother went to get her back, the people didn’t want to give her back.  I don’t remember Aunt Fran’s age when this happened, but Aunt Fran said she loved these people and didn’t remember her mother anymore.  So she didn’t want to leave them, however Eva got her back.  Maybe she sent my grandmother, Helen, to live with someone before she sent Frances to live with someone else.  I’m sure financially things were hard as there was no welfare or food stamps for single mothers in those days.  Sometime later she moved to Chicago where she took in boarders and was a dressmaker.  They moved to Oklahoma for a while and were in Oklahoma when it became a state.[12]  Eventually they came back to Chicago.  According to my grandmother, Eva married a man by the name of Andrew Schmidt.  He was supposed to be a doctor.  I have not found evidence of this marriage either.  Unfortunately, when my grandmother told these stories I was young and not into genealogy so I didn’t ask questions.  Now I wish I had dates of this supposed marriage.  They divorced too, however Eva didn’t use the surname Schmidt.  Eva went by the surname Bowers until the day she died.  She managed to support her children and they all adored her.  She died in 1941 and according to her death certificate she was widowed[13]  I never knew her, but not only did her children adore her so did her grandchildren.  I have some quilts she made and some candle stick holders that belonged to her.   I hope one day to find answers to questions that linger about her mysterious marriages and divorces.

Quilt made by Eva

Quilt made by Eva

Another quilt made by Eva

Another quilt made by Eva


[1] Certificate of Death for Eva Bowers;  State of Illinois, Department of Public health, Division of Vital Statistics, Springfield, Illinois, Registration Number 34633. Date of death: December 23, 1941; Place of death: County of Cook, City of Chicago.

[2] Ira A. Glazier and P. William Filbry, ed., Germans to America: List of passengers arriving at U.S. ports, Volume 34 October 1878 – December 1879; ( Wilmington, Delaware, Scholarly Resources,1993), Page 106.

[3] Ibid

[4] Conrad Reinhardt household, 1880 U. S. Census, Amana, Iowa; Roll 345; Family History Film 1254345; page 146D; Enumeration District 201; Image 0155.

[5] From family stories told to this author.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Quit-claim deed record from Robert Bowers and Eva Bowers, his wife to Alexena Bowers, City of Ottawa, County of LaSalle, state of Illinois; deed book 448, page 167.  LaSalle County Illinois Genealogical Guild collection.

[8] Eva Bowers household, 1900 U. S. Federal  Census, LaSalle County, Ottawa township, ED 76, line 37, page 6, dwelling 557, fmily124, National Archives film publication T623, roll 317.

[9] Delayed Record of Birth for Helen Bowers, State of Illinois, Department of Public Health, Division of Vital Statics, LaSalle County, City of Ottawa, State of Illinois, Date of Birth: December 3, 1898, Dated August  7, 1957.

[10] Eva Bowers household, 1900 U. S. Federal  Census, LaSalle County, Ottawa township, ED 76, line 37, page 6, dwelling 557, fmily124, National Archives film publication T623, roll 317.

[11] Eva Bowers household, 1900 U. S. Federal  Census, LaSalle County, Ottawa township, ED 76, line 37, page 6, dwelling 557, fmily124, National Archives film publication T623, roll 317.

[12] Story told to this author by Helen Bowers Kaiser.

[13] Certificate of Death for Eva Bowers;  State of Illinois, Department of Public health, Division of Vital Statistics, Springfield, Illinois, Registration Number 34633. Date of death: December 23, 1941; Place of death: County of Cook, City of Chicago.

Copyright ©2015 Gail Grunst

Aunt Emma’s Two Lives

Emma age 19

Emma age 19

My grandmother had three Aunt’s, Aunt Emma, Aunt Liz, and Aunt Agnes.  Each one had an interesting life.  I wrote about Aunt Liz in my blog dated 4/13/2013.  Today I am writing about Aunt Emma.

Emma Reinhardt was born on June 6, 1885 in Illinois.,[1] [2]  Emma was raised in Ottawa, LaSalle, Illinois along with her two brothers and four sisters.  Not much is known about Emma’s early life.  In 1910 at age 25 she married Dr. Fredrick L. Orsinger[3] who was 33 years her senior.[4]  He had been married before and had five children with his first wife who died in 1903.[5]

Fredrick L. Orsinger came to the United States from Germany in 1871.  He arrived in Chicago on the same day as the Chicago Fire.  He decided not to stay in Chicago at this time and went to LaSalle, Illinois to work in his Uncle’s bakery.  He later opened a pharmacy in LaSalle and practiced medicine.  He studied medicine and surgery in Zurich, Switzerland and Paris, France.   He later spent five years studying medicine at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Chicago, and later had a years experience working at Cook County Hospital. [6]   He had quite a colorful life too.  I am not going to write about it at this time as I would like to concentrate on Emma’s life.  I will write about his life in more detail at another time.

My grandmother had told me that the Reinhardt’s and Orsinger’s were friends.  I know there was an Orsinger’s Bakery in Ottawa.  I don’t know if they had another one in LaSalle or if the source is wrong about the location of the bakery.  However, Emma would have not been born yet when he came to LaSalle County.  By the time she was old enough to get married he was living in Chicago.  So how they got together is unknown.  I’m guessing that they knew each other because the families were friends.  I still can’t help but wonder how her family felt about the age difference, and how his children felt as some were older than Emma.  My grandmother would say with disgust in her voice, “Aunt Emma married old Doc Orsinger.”  They lived in Chicago and he practice medicine in Chicago. Dr. Orsinger died in 1925.[7]

In 1933 Emma married Iber Mataway in Chicago.[8]  He was from Iran and changed his name when he was naturalized from Isaac Abraham to Iabry Abraham Mataway.[9]  They must have led a quiet life.  I can’t find them in many records.  He was 12 years her junior.[10]  She went from some way older than her to someone quite a bit younger than her.

I’ve had a hard time finding them on any census records.  I do know they lived on a farm in Wisconsin.  I also know they lived in an apartment in Chicago, Illinois.  My mother loved Aunt Emma and she would stay with her sometimes in Chicago and on the farm in Wisconsin when she was young.  I believe they lived in Chicago, then moved to the farm in Wisconsin, and then moved back to Chicago.

I have a letter that Emma wrote to her sister Liz.   I will try to transcribe it as written with mistakes and all. 

Sat Mch. 1 – 1947 

Dear Eliz,

            Just a few lines, as we are trying to get ready to go to Saxon to shop.  We got your package yesterday.  Everything was swell.  And thanks so much.  So what do I owe you for groceries.  The shirts will come in handy this summer at laying time. Even good enough to go to town in as you don’t have to dress up so much around here.  Gosh, I’ve been rushing around, the oil man came first thing this morning, I was just about out of bed.  Iber was milking, then I had to look after him.  By the time he filled all the tanks and checked them, Iber came in for breakfast, and now I just got thru with the dishes, milk pails, and strainers.  Iber has been hauling hay everyday.  He got 4 or 5 tons of hay very cheap, but has to haul it himself.  It keeps a person busy, but it isn’t bad.  Well, I don’t know if you can say March came in like a loin or not.  It was quite warm this morning, but now it has turned a little cooler and is snowing that fine snow.  So I hope it doesn’t get too bad until we get back at least.  Well, I was so surprised at that article of Fred Orsinger.  It was funny, I opened the box and I thought it was just some paper you stuck in for a filler.  Then a couple of hours later, I was straightening everything up, so I looked again and was looking at the man with the alligator.  And, I said to myself that man reminds me of Doc.  He combs his hair just like he did.  So I threw it in with the rest of the papers.  When Iber came in he happened to see it, and asked me what he was doing with an alligator.  I said oh I don’t know let me see.  Well, when I read it, I started to laugh.  No wonder he minded me of Doc.  That was so funny.  He is quite a big shot.  Gosh he is getting old.  I figured he would be about 70. 

I suppose you received my last letter.  I too wish poor Tim could at least be able to go into the other room.  I may be down sometime in the middle of April if nothing happens.  Then he had better get up or I’ll pull him out of bed.  I hope Mrs. Fox is home by morn, poor soul.  I suppose she feels quite alone since he is gone.  Is she going to stay there in the apartment.  Have you heard yet from Mark.  Iber says to tell Tim to keep his chin up.

I do wish Iber could make a trip to Chicago.  Well, we’ll see how things turn up.  He needs a change.  I feel guilty when I go all the time.  I guess Clara is going to stay in her apt. for a while.  Well, if I have forgotten anything I’ll write it next time.  I must get ready.  Iber is almost thru shaving. 

Love to you both and God Bless you as ever.  Emma & Iber 

The Fred Orsinger she mentions in the letter is the son of her late husband.  I am posting the original letter here.

Letter from Aunt Emma 2

Letter from Aunt Emma 3

Letter from Aunt Emma 1Letter from Aunt Emma 4

I remember visiting Aunt Emma a couple of times in her apartment in Chicago.  She made a doll bed for me out of a wooden cigar box.  I wish I had a picture of it.  She painted it white and it had a headboard.  The legs were cloths pins (the old fashioned wood ones) cut down so only the top curved part was used for the legs.  She made a little mattress and pillows.  She made a blanket and crocheted a bedspread for it.  I loved it and had it for a long time.  I found instructions for making one on the Internet, and also found pictures, but none that looked as good as mine.  Mostly what I remember of Aunt Emma was a very nice old lady and the doll bed.

I think the first half of her life was probably more eventful than the last half.  Being married to “Old Doc Orsinger” must have been very eventful from some of the things I have read about him.  Like I said, that is for another time.  The second half of her life being married to Iber, her life was quiet.  Reading the letter, her life was just about the ordinary every day things like the weather, washing dishes, milk pails and strainers.  The exciting time was going to town.  I wish I knew more about her life.  As far as I know, she never had any children to carry on her legacy.  I hope I helped a little to carry on her legacy today.

Aunt Emma, my mom, Aunt Liz 1943

Aunt Emma, my mom, Aunt Liz 1943

Emma died on August 18, 1956, and Iber died in 1974.

Copyright © 2013 Gail Grunst

[1] Emma Reinhart’s birth date June 6 came from Helen Kaiser’s (her niece) date book.

[2] 1900 United State Census entry for Emma Reinhardt.  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 1854 rolls. 1900 United States Federal Census.  [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA:  Ancestry Operations, Inc.,2004.

[3] Joseph Seymour Curry, Chicago: its history and its builders, a century of marvelous growth, volume 4 (Chicago:  The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1912), Pgs. 624 – 628. Digitized by Google.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Find-a-grave website at

[8]  Cook County, Illinois Marriage Index, 1920 – 1960  [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2008.

[9] Naturalization Record for Iabry Abraham Mataway name chanced at naturalization from Isaac Abraham. US Naturalization Record Indexes, 1791 – 1992 (Indexed in World Archive Project) [database on-line].  Provo, UT, USA:  Ancestry Operations, Inc., 2010.  Original data: Selected U.S. Naturalization Records.  WashingtonD.C.: National Archives and Records Administration.

[10] Ibid.

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