Thursday, October 10, 2013

Chicago Fire and Laura Voigt

Family stories always have a shred of truth...we hear that all the time in our genealogical circles. However, when we hear a story from the one who experienced it, how much of it is that "shred?" 

Laura VOIGT was born 4 April 1866, in Chicago, Illinois. She was five years old at the time of the Chicago Fire in October of 1871. Laura VOIGT married Edwin Luther BUSCHICK on 25 September 1889. 

I barely remember my grandma BUSCHICK who I affectionately called grandma BooBoo; I was six years old when she passed away 13 September 1951 at age 85. Grandma BooBoo was my peppermint grandma. She always had a star candy in her pocket to give me when I visited. I remember she was soft spoken, had white hair twirled up in a bun, and she was always smiling.
Laura Voigt Buschick 1866-1951.
Grandma had many stories of growing up in Chicago north of the Chicago River in a neighborhood that is now part of the "Mag Mile." I don't remember many stories, but parts of one has stuck with me -- she survived the Chicago Fire.

Grandma told of how her family had to quickly leave their home with very few belongings and how some Indians had led them to safety. 
Family tale: The Indians supposedly had befriended her father for when they were traveling through, they would stop at the VOIGT's for water and to rest before the next leg of their long journey to Michigan. The Indians saw the flames and came to the rescue. Grandma would add being put in a large hole and wet rugs were put over them. 
How much of a "shred of truth" is this? I have no idea, but it made for a great story to tell us grandkids. Over the years, this story was reinforced by my mom and her sisters who repeated it many times -- of course, with just a few minor adjustments each time it was told. As a kid, I never thought much of what grandma said. Then a couple years ago, Bob and I went on Chicago Genealogical Society's bus tour of the city's 1871 burn area. 

The bus took us to many significant spots around Chicago tracing the progression of the conflagration from where it started to where it ended. Along the way and at each stop, our historian/genealogist explained what was important about it and the timeframe was within those few days. It was a very interesting and informative tour.

I couldn't wait for the bus to visit the burn area on the north side of the Chicago River where my ancestors were living at the time. Both grandparents' families -- VOIGTs and BUSCHICKs -- lived in the burn area near the Water Tower and Pumping Station. The Water Works as it was called actually survived the fire and is now a landmark and symbol of survival.

We toured that area, then our bus took us north into neighborhoods where there are buildings and houses that survived and had their own historical stories. On our way back to our tour's starting place, we passed the Old (Chicago) City Cemetery a few blocks north of where my grandma lived. 

Our historian explained how people in the neighborhoods tried to escape the fire by running into the city cemetery which is now part of Lincoln Park. Some years before the fire ravaged the area, the city cemetery was cleared due to health concerns. Graves were opened and the interred were taken to other cemeteries "outside" of town. Many of the opened graves had not yet been filled in. It was in these holes people jumped to get away from the fire. Some people didn't survive this sanctuary, but many did. Hearing that, my mind flashed back to what grandma said she remembered...a large hole

Could it be my VOIGT family was one of those surviving families? I can only guess, but it does bring that shred of truth closer to being for real. They were in the right area. 

Some stories of horrendous experiences can be read about on the webpage The Great Chicago Fire & The Web of Memory.

The darken area on this left-side map is the burn area. Ward 15 is where Pearson and Rush Sts. (X) are located (green area), but the 1870 census has 16th Ward on it. This is a pre-fire map. It shows Pine St.(Michigan Ave. today) and Chicago Ave. where the Chicago Water Works is (0).

The correct address of where grandma died is 2365 Chase. It's a two flat on the corner of Chase and Western Ave. Both obits say the place of her home at the time of the Chicago Fire is Pearson St. and Michigan Ave., but in 1871, Michigan Avenue was actually Pine St. (Laura's memorial can be found on Find A Grave Memorial # 66604751.)

I found grandma's obituary/death notice pasted in the funeral book (above on the left). Funeral was held on 16 September. I don't know what newspaper these came out of. The notice on the right is from the Chicago Daily Tribune (14 September)

I checked the 1870 Federal Census in Chicago, but couldn't find what street the enumerator was on when recording the family.

1870 Census -
Henry VOIGHT 47 Carpenter b. Baden Owned his home US Citizen
Anna 36 Keeping House b. Darmstadt
Linna 14 b. Illinois [must be Helena shortened to Lynna or Lena]
Emma 12 b. Illinois
Bertha 8 b. Illinois
Laura 4 b. Illinois
Henry 1 b. Illinois
[and Laura's grandparents]
Frederick ARNOLD 66 b. Darmstadt US Citizen
Gertrude 69
(Year: 1870; Census Place: Chicago Ward 16, Cook, Illinois; Roll: M593_209; Page: 25B; Image: 54; Family History Library Film: 545708)

Both notices said her home at the time of the fire was at Pearson St. and Michigan Ave. This would have put her home right in the path of the fire. The certificate below, shows her place of birth to be Rush and Pearson Sts. In 1943 when this was issued, would grandma have gotten that correct? That is about a block west of Pine St.... Close enough and still within the boundaries or the burn area.

Laura born to Henry and Anna (ARNOLD) VOIGT 4 Apr 1866. Place of birth was Rush and Pearson Sts., Chicago, Cook County, Illinois. This is a delayed birth certificate signed affidavit by Laura's sister Helena KAISER in October 1943. Laura was about 10 years younger than her sister.

I'll probably never know if the VOIGTs were one of the families who ran to the cemetery. How does one find the truth? If there is anyone out there who can add to this story, I would love to hear from you. I'm not the only grandchild she told this story. There must be more who can fill in some of the blanks. 

In 1871, Laura's future husband...Edwin Luther BUSCHICK, 5, lived with his family further north on Hurlbut St. which also was in the burn area. That area burned last. St. Michael's Catholic church, a historical building, is on that street, too. Hurlbut is now named Cleveland Ave. I never heard any stories of his surviving the fire.

Friday, October 4, 2013

John R. Vamplew Is Dead

A few days ago a nice surprise awaited my click on an e-mail message in my "inbox." 

VANPLEW in Garfield was the subject. My click opened the short message that gave me more, something more to help fill in a three-year time gap of questions. 
Karen...I found the notice of John's death and his obit in the Garfield Booster and thought of you....

Ed did indeed enclose two images -- a death notice and an obituary for my great-great uncle John Rouse VAMPLEW! I've been looking for an obit on him for quite a few years. John's obit was the last one I needed for my family of Garfield, Kansas. I have John's death record which was found in an old vault in an old Larned, Kansas bank.

Ed has been searching through newspapers on microfilm rolls for death notices, obituaries, and news items on the people buried in the Garfield Cemetery. He is entering memorials for these people to Find A GraveMy first contact with Ed was a few weeks before when he discovered I had a memorial for my great grandfather John PORTEOUS and thought I'd like the death notice he found on him. As it turned out, it was one I hadn't seen before either. This was a treat because it contained some information that was different from the original death notice I had. This type of treat is savored by family historians.

Like in the PORTEOUS death notice, John R. VAMPLEW's obit contained some information I hadn't previously known about either. This post is about that obit and how some questions get answered, but honestly, it might add mysteries, too.

John R. VAMPLEW sailed to America on the same ship as my great-great grandparents, William D. and Elizabeth PORTEOUS and family. Where were they between their 1875 arrival and 1878 settling in Kansas? The three-year time gap puzzles me.

I was sure they would have made their first stop in America in Lake County, Illinois where family and friends were. All were from their the county of Lincolnshire, England. If this is the case, did they stay in Lake County for those three years or go straight on to Kansas?

Of course, this time gap is between censuses which makes finding stuff more difficult. All the information I have accumulated so far points to the PORTEOUSes being in Kansas in 1878 and I believe John was with them, but according to John's obit, he wasn't there until 1880. The person giving the information probably didn't know and therefore guessed. I believe this would have been William M. PORTEOUS who was a young teen when they immigrated. He was the only family member left in Garfield. John was living with the PORTEOUSes at the time of his death.

In the 1885 Kansas State census, there is a column which asks "Where from to Kansas,..." and on the line for John Vamplew is "Illinois." That was my first clue to proving their first stop was in Lake County. Searching local directories, church records, and newspaper articles in Lake County, I haven't found anything that could give me a clear answer. 

This Garfield, Kansas newspaper obituary brings me a little closer to the proof I'm looking for.

Published March 10, 1921 in the Garfield Booster. This is an inside page; there is no date, but on the left column, the paper says it is “PUBLISHED EVERY THURSDAY” which would have been the 10th since March 5 was a Saturday in 1921… he was buried on that “Sunday afternoon” which would be the 6th. 
John R. Vamplew 
John R. Vamplew was born in Lincolnshire, England, August 17, 1850, departed this life Mar. 5, 1921, aged 70 years, 6 months and 16 days.
When a young man he came to America and lived for several years in the state of Illinois. In 1880 he came to Kansas and settled in the community near Garfield and has made this his home continuously ever since that time.
He made two visits to the old home in England. 
He has two sisters and one brother who still reside in the old home town in Englaad [sic], one brother and one sister who live in Ill.
He was a member of the state church in Ehgland [sic].
The suffering of his last days was much relieved by the kindly ministries of neighbors and friends. The funeral was held Sunday afternoon from the home conducted by Rev. R.L. Cecil, pastor of the M.E.Church, and the body laid to rest in the Garfield cemetery.
First of all, this obit actually spelled John's surname as it was most commonly found in England. That was a bit of a surprise since the surname of his brothers who were in Lake County was being spelled VAN PLEW! Seeing VAMPLEW spelling, I couldn't have been more thrilled.

Checking my family tree program, I had entered John's birth event as 17 Oct 1850 and (baptized 20 Oct). The obituary states August 17 and that he "departed this life" at "aged 70 years, 6 months and 16 days." Which should be trusted? Where did I get that month? Did I read my original source wrong? 

%@#%! I don't seem to have a source reference for that event in my data -- lesson learned: make sure you have a source! I probably entered this when I was first starting out and didn't know any better. Of all the images I have of family records, this is the one I don't have either! I'm finding out it has been awhile since I entered data into John's card.  

I picked up and checked the VAMPLEW diary I acquired a few years ago. Sure enough, John Rouse VAMPLEW was recorded as born 17 Aug 1850! That does it... I'm changing my entry and sourcing it! I did make a note about the October date just in case August is wrong. I have also added him and this scenario to my "get" list for my next trip to Family History Library in Salt Lake City. doesn't have a record on the website.

Putting that aside, here is the "treat" in this obit: John "lived for several years in the state of Illinois. In 1880 he came to Kansas...." 

How sweet is that? Mystery solved? Could this be the answer for that time gap? Well, not so fast. That only helps. I should dig deeper into records for any sign of John's employment and employer (starting in Lake County). He must have worked in Illinois during those three years in order to save money to buy land outside of Garfield

His uncle John ROUSE or brother-in-law John PORTEOUS would have helped him find work. They were well established in the community. I'm sure the PORTEOUSes and the VAMPLEWs who immigrated to Lake County, Illinois in 1875 were not well off. Back in England they were agricultural laborers or in John's case an Ag Servant / indoors (1871 census). How much money could they have saved over and above their passage when they were in Lincolnshire?

Revisiting a copy of John's land patent for acreage in Pawnee County, Kansas, I noticed the date was 1889. I don't know of any other deed or patent earlier than that. This would suggest he purchased land well after coming to Kansas. So what was he doing those nine years he was in Kansas? 

I remembered an article I had copied out of the Larned, Kansas, Tiller & Toiler newspaper, published October 24, 1947 during one of my research trips to the Garfield area over five years ago. It was about John working on the Santa Fe railroad. To my surprise, I actually found the photocopy in the VAMPLEW binder where it belonged.

According to "Senator E.E. Frizell's Story of Early Days in Pawnee, County"
"In 1878 and the spring of 1879 I worked on the Santa Fe section for one dollar a day. When I worked under the supervision of Mike Sweeny, replacing light steel with heavier between Great Bend and Kinsley I received on dollar and ten cents a day. We were paid once a month from the back end of a pay car that made a regular trip for this purpose. John Van Plew worked on the section with me."  
This accounting of him in 1878 and 1879 contradicts the 1880 date in the obit. This would make the year John was there coincide with when W.D. PORTEOUS and family was in Garfield.

At a dollar a long would it have taken John to save enough to buy land and when did he do it? I do have a few mortgage documents with later dates for him so I presume he probably had enough money for a down payment and then had to get the mortgages. This land adventure needs more looking into, but now I can honestly say John was in the Garfield area prior to 1880.

One other thing I have been curious about -- what church did the PORTEOUS family and John VAMPLEW belong to in Garfield? Knowing that would give me another trail to follow up on for "fleshing out the bones" of my family's life in Kansas. This obit gives me the opportunity. The last paragraph it says the pastor who performed John's funeral was of the M.E. Church. In Lincolnshire John belonged to the Church of England, but in Garfield he was part of the Methodist Church? 

My first thought was they all belonged to the Congregational Church, but nobody in Garfield knows where the church records were deposited after the church disbanded in 1959. I have inquired numerous times to various people and places. Nothing turns up, only speculation to lead me to no answers.

So what about those three years?