Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Czachorowskys | From Prussia to Chicago: Bernard Czachorowsky

The Czachorowskys are a conundrum. They seem to simply 'appear' in Chicago around 1868. Claiming to be from Prussia I have yet to determine their actual origins. Or their point of entry into the United States. Or why they chose Chicago. As I set out to research one family I discovered others. Curiosity getting the best of me, this turned into the study of five Czachorowsky families living in Chicago c. 1870.  It is my hope with this series to make some discoveries to either link these families together, or prove they are not related. This is a real-time research project, I have not worked on this cluster before. I plan to share my discoveries and my frustrations in hopes that more eyes on the evidence will result in some sound conclusions. Join me as I explore these families, maybe we'll make some discoveries together!

his life and times

I first found what appears to be Bernard on a ships manifest, leaving Naumburg, Prussia bound for America, November 14, 1856.

He arrived in New York December 31, 1856.

He proceeded to 'go missing' until 1870 when he reappeared in Chicago living in the 8th Ward with a woman named Mena; who was 12 years his junior. He claimed to be from Poland. Still haven't figured out who Mena was, she seems to never be heard from again - could be a wife, could be a sister?

He is also listed in the City Directory for the first time in 1870, which means he would have been in Chicago at least as early as 1869 to have supplied information to be published for the annual directory. 

Bernard seemed to come and go throughout the years. Always a carpenter by trade.

He was involved in a pretty big lawsuit with the Chicago Driving Park corporation in 1885. The park refused to pay so he took it to the Superior Court in 1891. As we learned in this post, Bernard lived for a time almost across the street from the Driving Park. He may have been more involved with the corporation, or he may have fallen for the allure of gambling........

Between 1892 and 1897 Bernard 'went missing' again. One can speculate that he finally won his lawsuit. He reappeared in 1898, still at the same address he'd lived at more or less consistently since he first arrived in Chicago in 1870. I suspect this was a rooming house, searching the City Directories by address reveal more than one unrelated person living at the address, along with Bernard, throughout the years.

In 1900 he is found living with his [presumed] brother Anton. He is listed as a widow. And we learned that he was born in August of 1832. In Germany? This will remain a mystery - the Prussian borders were changing frequently, Berlin was the capitol, which became part of the new German Empire in 1871. By 1918 Prussia ceased to exist.

That is the last time Bernard appeared anywhere on record.

His death came in 1915. December 16th. He was 83. His death certificate tells a sad end to a long, perhaps difficult life.

He died in the Oak Forest Infirmary, a poorhouse, of lobar pneumonia. His previous address was listed as 3129 S Halstead, Chicago. His burial took place January 5th 1916. Perhaps the delay was a search for family to claim the body?

He was laid to rest at St Gabriel Cemetery - in an unmarked grave - taking all of his secrets with him.

An article printed in the Chicago Tribune in 1991 tells the tale of St Gabriel:

Patch Of Land Near Cicero Ave. Has More To It Than Meets Eye
May 31, 1991|By Ronald Koziol.

 "The weathered bronze statue in the middle of the lot seems distinctly out of place off busy Cicero Avenue near Interstate Highway 57. Patches of purple and white wildflowers dot both sides of a gravel road leading to the nondescript land.
 Few passing motorists are aware that the 15-acre tract at 164th Street in Oak Forest is St. Gabriel`s Cemetery, first opened in 1913 by the Franciscan fathers.
 And fewer know that what appears to be an undeveloped plot is the burial ground for 7,312 Catholics, most of whom were destitute or declared mentally ill and abandoned by their families to die in county homes early in the century.
 Although thousands of flowers are placed on graves regularly at other cemeteries in the Chicago area, not one could be found at St. Gabriel`s a few days after Memorial Day. The last burial there took place more than 11 years ago.
 No markers identify graves, and only the statue of St. Francis of Assisi looks over the land directly south of Cook County`s Oak Forest Hospital. The passing years have covered the gravesites with a shifting landscape that obscures any signs that the property is a cemetery.
 ``It was a potter`s field for Catholics who died in the old Oak Forest infirmary,`` said an employee of Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Chicago, where many charity cases are now buried for the Chicago Archdiocese.
 St. Gabriel`s probably will never again be used for burials, said Dolores Vendl, spokeswoman for the Archdiocesan Catholic Cemeteries.
 But don`t look for condos or a new subdivision to spring up there. Because the land is consecrated by the church, it will always remain a burial place, said a diocesan official.
 To expedite burials years ago, concrete vaults were set in rows in the ground and covered with dirt until needed. Several empty crypts remain in the ground.
 Despite the graves` lack of markers or gravestones, cemetery officials said they can pinpoint the plots of the people buried there since it was opened. But in the past 13 years, only one family has sought the remains of a long-lost relative for removal to another location.
 Contributions from relatives averaged about $9 a month during the early 1950s, but they stopped almost 30 years ago as families died off.
 For 40 years, from its opening until 1953, St. Gabriel`s was run by priests from nearby St. Roch`s friary, who conducted simple funeral rites for the dead.
 The archdiocese, which operates 41 cemeteries in the Chicago area, took over St. Gabriel`s from the Franciscans in 1953 when the order could no longer maintain it."

Rest In Peace Bernard

......until next time!

©2017 Anne Faulkner -, All Rights Reserved

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