Chicago Genealogical Society

News

  • 23 Apr 2018 11:30 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

     

    As the Age of Canals absorbed huge numbers of Irish and other laborers in that time, such was also true to an even greater extent in the “Age of Railroads.” Rights of way, cuts and fills, and ditches and tunnels were excavated most often by sheer muscle power. Ties were hand laid and spikes to hold the rails in place were manually hammered home. A massive infrastructure of stations, water and coaling towers, round houses, section houses and a vast array of other supporting structures were built and maintained by hand.  Rail cars were hand built of wood. Miles of wooden trestles were erected and maintained. Armies of section hands inspected and maintained many thousands of miles of track. Agents, telegraphers and signal maintainers worked to keep trains running on time. Swarms of crossing guards kept watch over street and road crossings. An almost uncountable number of clerks and office workers filled out bills of lading and handled ticket finances.  Engine wipers, oilers, hostlers, coalers, ash pan dumpers, water tenders, wick trimmers, carpenters, painters, wheel knockers, and a wide variety of blacksmiths and other metal specialists worked behind a train’s engineer, fireman, conductor, and two or three brakemen to get it over the line. Switchmen in huge numbers aligned switches to get trains to the correct destinations. Clearly, railroads were the largest employer in the nation of workers, both male and female, of any industry outside of agriculture in the 1850 – 1930 period.

    Railroad companies were meticulous record keepers. Large amounts of family history data were collected by the numerous railroad companies which spun their web of rails across the nation.  These records cover work done by millions of working men and women even up to the present day. Much of this material survives and is a potential treasure of family history data to researchers.

    You are invited to attend the Chicago Genealogical Society’s next program on Saturday, May 5, to learn about using Railroad Records in family history research Our speaker, Craig Pfannkuche, Genealogical Archivist for the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad Historical Society, will discuss the type of such records which exist, how they meet genealogical research needs and how to access them by using the archives of the Chicago and North Western Historical Society as an example.

    This FREE program will be held at the Newberry Library at 60 West Walton, Chicago, and begin at 1:30 p.m on Saturday, May 5th.

  • 12 Apr 2018 3:26 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

     

    Calvary Cemetery up in Evanston? Bohemian National Cemetery on the North side? Forest Home Cemetery in Forest Park? Queen of Heaven Cemetery out in Hillside on the edge of Cook County? Have you located the gravestone? Do you have a picture and transcription?  If not, the Chicago Genealogical Society can help!

    The Chicago Genealogical Society is offering a special gravestone photo project for members only. Let us take pictures of your family gravestones in Cook County, Illinois. Members can request up to three gravestones. Requests are due by May 31, 2018. Requests will be compiled and the cemetery with the most requests will be selected first for photographs on June 30th 9:00am – 11:00am. Other requests will be photographed as volunteers are able to complete. Depending on the number of requests received, it may not be possible for volunteers to complete every one. Also, volunteers may not be successful in finding the requested graves. If the grave is located, you will be emailed photo(s) of the grave along with a transcription and a photo of the cemetery gate and/or cemetery sign. If you mark the person as a veteran, CGS will put a small U.S. Flag beside the grave stone.

    Start reviewing your research and see what gravestones you are missing. Don’t delay! Complete the request form and send it in!

    Not a member, join CGS and see what we are all about. Join online at http://www.chicagogenealogy.org/membership-chicago-genealogical-society/or complete the membership form and mail it in.

  • 29 Mar 2018 11:30 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

     

    The Chicago Genealogical Society’s next program will be on Saturday April 7th at 1:30pm. Our program The Newberry Library:  Genealogy Collections and Tools.

    The Newberry acquires and preserves a broad array of books, manuscripts, maps, and other materials relating to the civilizations of Europe and the Americas. They focus on collecting original or primary source materials – such as manuscripts and early editions of printed books and maps – that will be preserved and made available for generations. In doing so, they aspire to enhance the great collection strengths that have been built by curators, librarians, other scholars, and donors throughout the library’s history.

    The Newberry has been collecting genealogy and local history materials since 1887. Staff at the Genealogy and Local History desk can help you explore the Newberry’s rich collections of family histories; local histories; censuses, probate, deed, court, tax, and cemetery records; military rosters; periodicals; genealogical guides; and reference works.

    Our Speaker, Matt Rutherford, MLIS, is Curator of Genealogy and Local History at the Newberry. In addition to managing the Newberry’s renowned genealogy collection, Matt has also answered thousands of questions on a wide range of genealogy topics. He has spoken at the Illinois State Genealogical Society and the Conference on Illinois History, as well as several local genealogy societies, including the North Suburban Genealogical Society, the Genealogical Forum of Elmhurst, and the Illinois St. Andrew Society. In addition, Matt teaches seminars on a variety of genealogy topics, including beginning genealogy, researching at the Newberry, researching pre-fire Chicago, adoption searches, non-population census schedules, the history of the federal census, and the Social Security Death Index. He is the co-author of A Bibliography of African American History at the Newberry Library (2005).

    This FREE program will be held at the Newberry Library at 60 West Walton, Chicago, and begin at 1:30 p.m.

  • 8 Mar 2018 3:29 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

     

    The Chicago Genealogical Society announces a special gravestone photo project for members only. Let us take pictures of your family gravestones in Cook County, Illinois. Members can request up to three gravestones. Requests are due by May 31, 2018. Requests will be compiled and the cemetery with the most requests will be selected first for photographs on June 30th 9:00am – 11:00am. Other requests will be photographed as volunteers are able to complete. Depending on the number of requests received, it may not be possible for volunteers to complete every one. Also, volunteers may not be successful in finding the requested graves. If the grave is located, you will be emailed photo(s) of the grave along with a transcription and a photo of the cemetery gate and/or cemetery sign. If you mark the person as a veteran, CGS will put a small U.S. Flag beside the grave stone.

    Start reviewing your research and see what gravestones you are missing. Don’t delay! Complete the request form and send it in!

    Not a member, join CGS and see what we are all about. Join online at http://www.chicagogenealogy.org/membership-chicago-genealogical-society/or complete the membership form and mail it in.

  • 23 Feb 2018 3:31 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

     

    Our next program is March 3rd and we are on the road. We will be visiting the South Suburban Genealogical and Historical Society (SSGHS) at Hazel Crest Municipal Center, 3000 West 170th Place, Hazel Crest, and having a joint program. Enter the door by the flagpole. The meeting will be held in the Village Boardroom. Program, tour and research time are all free. Society’s website http://ssghs.org/wp/

    10:00am – “Show and Tell” program. Bring an item of your ancestors or a special document you have found and would like to share. Or come and hear what other people have found. It could help break down your brick wall.

    11:00am – Tour of the Society’s non-circulating library with many regional sources and learn about the Pullman Collection. The SSGHS was organized in 1968 and focuses on south Cook and east Will Counties. 

    11:30am – Stay and research in the library. Open until 4:00pm.

    Hope to see you on March 3rd!

  • 12 Feb 2018 11:30 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

     If you follow our CGS Blog, you probably know that since 2014 several CGS Members have volunteered their research expertise to the charitable foundation Purple Hearts Reunited (“PHR”) that rescues lost purple heart medals and returns them to the veteran and/or family.  On Wednesday, February 7, 2018, PHR’s founder, Major Zachariah Fike, and CGS Board Member and PHR Valor Research Director, Marsha Peterson-Maass, returned a WWII veteran’s lost purple heart medal to his great-nephew in Chicago’s West Loop.  Please join us in thanking our CGS Members’ considerable efforts in helping many families to welcome lost valor back into their family.  PHR’s tribute to this veteran follows.

    Welcome home WWII hero Sergeant Frank R. Owens!

    Frank was born in Tampico, Illinois in 1922 to parents John Henry and Myrtle A. (Rasmussen) Owens.

    He served with the now-famous 109th Infantry Regiment, 28th Infantry Division that among other things, helped in the liberation of Paris in August 1944 and fought in the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944.

    The 109th Infantry paid with human life and blood as they won battle honors at Normandy, Northern France, Ardennes-Alsace, the Rhineland and Central Europe and they were honored with the Luxemburg Croix de Guerre and the French Croix de Guerre for action at Colmar.

    Frank received two Purple Hearts during his service and was unfortunately killed in action on 16 December 1944 at Bastogne. He is buried in the Luxembourg American Cemetery.

    After welcoming this valor back into the family, Frank’s great-nephew said,

    “In a world where we’re all seemingly against each other for one reason or the other, this makes me believe in good people doing good things for each again.  We need this right now.”

  • 1 Feb 2018 3:35 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

     

    The Chicago Genealogical Society will be having their February program this Saturday, February 3rd. We are meeting at the Swedish American Museum, 5211 North Clark Street in Chicago at 1:30pm. Our speaker will be Karen Stanbary, CG. DNA test results are so much more than ethnicity pie charts. Using real-life case examples, Karen will explore the practical applicability of DNA tests to everyday genealogical problems. This program is FREE.

    Karen Stanbary, CG, holds the Certified Genealogist credential. She lectures locally and nationally on the use of DNA test results in genealogical problem-solving, always within the framework of the Genealogical Proof Standard. She is a Trustee for the Board for Certification of Genealogists and chairs that organization's Genetic Genealogy Standards committee.

    Join us at the Swedish American Museum, 5211 North Clark, Chicago at 1:30pm for this program. Our program is free and there is complimentary parking at Foster and Ashland museum parking lot, Pay to Park on both Foster and Clark or CTA Foster Bus 92 and Clark bus 22. Check out the museum’s website for more details on the location and transportation. http://swedishamericanmuseum.org/2.0/

    You may wish to come early and visit their outstanding exhibit “The Dream of America: Swedish Immigration” which follows immigrants from the journey to the new world to building a life and community in Chicago. Note: exhibit fee is Adults $4; Children/students/seniors $3. The museum is open 11:00am to 4:00pm on February 3.

    Hope to see you Saturday!

  • 29 Nov 2017 3:40 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Chicago Genealogical Society invites you to attend our first Saturday of the month program this Saturday, December 2nd. Our speaker will be Dominic A. Pacyga, author of “Slaughter House: Chicago's Union Stock Yard and The World It Made.”

    Chicago Stock Yard and Transit Co was the meatpacking district in Chicago for more than a century. It opened 152 years ago on 25 December 1865 and was operated by a group of railroad companies.  

    Slaughterhouse tells the story of the Union Stock Yard, chronicling the rise and fall of an industrial district that, for better or worse, served as the public face of Chicago for decades. Dominic A. Pacyga is a guide like no other—he grew up in the shadow of the stockyards, spent summers in their hog house and cattle yards, and maintains a long-standing connection with the working-class neighborhoods around them. Pacyga takes you through the packinghouses as only an insider can, covering the rough and toxic life inside the plants and their lasting effects on the world outside. He shows how the yards shaped the surrounding neighborhoods and controlled the livelihoods of thousands of families.

    Dominic A. Pacyga is professor of history in the Department of Humanities, History, and Social Sciences at Columbia College Chicago. He is the 2014 Mieczyslaw Haiman Award winner for exceptional and sustained contribution to the study of Polish-Americans. He has authored or coauthored six books concerning Chicago’s history. Slaughterhouse being his newest book in 2015.

    The program will be at the Newberry Library, 60 West Walton, Chicago, and begin at 1:30 p.m. The program is free.

    We hope you can join us!

  • 1 Nov 2017 3:42 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Chicago Genealogical Society invites you to attend our first Saturday of the month program this Saturday, November 4th. Our speaker will be David L. Keller, author of “The Story of Camp Douglas, Chicago's Forgotten Civil War Prison.”

    Built in 1861 Chicago, Camp Douglas was the largest Union Army prisoner-of-war camp for Confederate soldiers taken prisoner during the American Civil War. The book was written from the 19th Century mind-set and 20/20 hind sight. Camp life is told through the diaries, journals, and letters of prisoners from the camp. It was described as “80 acres of hell”. Don’t miss this compelling story. 

    David Keller is a long time resident of Chicago and an amateur historian. Retired since 2002, he devotes much of his time to volunteer activities including the Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago History Museum and American Youth Soccer Organization. David’s interest in Camp Douglas comes from his interest in the Civil War, Civil War Prison Camps and 19th century Chicago history. The founder of the Camp Douglas Restoration Foundation http://www.campdouglas.org/, Mr. Keller is in demand as a speaker on the Civil War and Camp Douglas and has written two books, The Story of Camp Douglas, Chicago’s Forgotten Civil War Prison and Robert Anderson Bagby, Civil War Diary (Annotated) 1863-1865.

    The program will be at the Newberry Library, 60 West Walton, Chicago, and begin at 1:30 p.m. The program is free.

    We hope you can join us!

  • 25 Sep 2017 3:45 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    PELTZER’S 1872 ATLAS OF CHICAGO

    Chicago property records are a superb place to find family history data. In those records, a researcher can find information about when a family member purchased property, the economic condition of the family, legal actions concerning the family, sales to, possibly, other family members, pre-1917 death information (filing of probates), and, occasionally, evidence of criminal activity. Those interested in researching such records from after 1871 can find the “grantor-grantee” (seller-buyer) records at the office of the Cook County Recorder of Deeds.

    To access such records, one needs to have a LEGAL address for the property (for example – Lot 3, Block 9 of Benson’s subdivision of Weber’s addition to Chicago in Section 16 of Town 43 North, Range 14 East of the 3rd PM). To find such an address, one needs to consult a property either the modern Sidwelll maps

    (Chicago Public Library, 4th floor) or an older property atlas.

    A magnificent property atlas of Chicago in 1872 is now readily available for at home researchers of Chicago and Chicago family history researchers. Following the destruction of Chicago property records (with the exception of those held by the Chicago Title Company) by the 1871 Chicago Fire, a good mapping of city property lines was sorely needed. Otto Peltzer, a German immigrant who came to Chicago in 1853 and, beginning as a draftsman in the Cook County Recorder’s Office, rose to become Chief of Maps at the Recorder’s office between 1860 and 1876, decided to use his own personal collection of data to produce those much needed maps.

    The result of his work was the “PELTZER’S ATLAS OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO” which he published in 1872. This set contains beautifully done maps showing each piece of property in the city, as well as lot numbers, subdivision legal descriptions, and exquisitely drawn maps of all of the parks in the city. The maps in the set show all streets and alleys using the NAMES OF THE STREETS AS THEY WERE NAMED IN 1872! Railroads and station sites are also drawn on the maps.

    A “World Cat” search brings up only three sites where this atlas set can be viewed: the Newberry Library, the University of Illinois Chicago, and the University of Illinois Champaign. Peltzer ordered the printing of only 100 copies of his atlas set (selling in 1872 for $400 each or about $8,000 today). They are an extremely rare atlas set.

    The Chicago & North Western (Railroad) Historical Society owned a set of those maps but had them auctioned off to help with the raising funds for an enlarged and permanent C&NW Historical Society railroad archives on the property of the Illinois Railway Museum in Union, IL. The staff at the archives of the Chicago & North Western Historical Society (www.cnwhs.org) scanned all the pages in each of the four volumes before sending the set to auction.

    For those with a strong interest in Chicago history and genealogy, a copy of this atlas is an essential part of one’s Chicago collection. The Chicago & North Western Historical Society is selling a disc containing all four volumes of the Peltzer atlas.

    To learn more and to order, visit http://www.cnwhs.org/shopping/


Chicago Genealogical Society is a 501(c)6 non-profit organization.  Address: PO Box 1160, Chicago, IL  60690-1160

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