Rossow Family

William (Wilhelm) A. Rossow, Sr.
7 April 1876 – 24 July 1915

Mamie Groth Rossow
7 September 1879 – 24 July 1915

Ruth Rossow
20 June 1901 – 24 July 1915

William (Wilhelm) Rossow, Jr.
15 April 1909 – 24 July 1915

The Eastland, one of five chartered excursion boats meant to ferry employees, their families and friends from Chicago over to the Michigan City shore for the annual Western Electric Company picnic, keeled over into the Chicago River while still at dock, trapping hundreds inside its hull and leading to the deaths of 844 of the 2,500 passengers aboard at the time of the incident which became known as The Eastland Disaster.

William Sr. had worked at Western Electric for twenty years and was a foreman at the time of his death. He and his wife and two children all perished aboard the Eastland, making them one of the twenty-two families wiped out in the disaster.

William and Mamie married in January of 1901 when both were in their early twenties. Mamie had been born in Germany but William was born in Chicago. Their daughter Ruth was, too, just five months after her parents married. Eight years later, their son William Jr. was born. According to the census, the Rossows two children were the only ones they’d had.

They lived on West Walton in the Austin neighborhood on a block that seems to no longer exist (based on the houses that do, I presume it was due to some kind of post-war revamping of the area). In 1910, they and their children had been living in a rented house on Henry Street, and Mamie’s parents lived with them. The children’s bodies, when listed among the dead two days after the disaster, were listed with the Henry Street address while their father was listed at West Walton, so it seems to have been a recent move and perhaps the confusion came from different relatives identifying the bodies. Mamie was identified last, and what a terrible ordeal for their survivors it must have been to lose each one separately over the course of days.

Possibly coincidentally, William’s younger brother Frank died less than three months later at the Elgin State Hospital, a psychiatric facility. His wife never remarried and the couple are buried just behind William’s family. It’s unclear when William and Frank’s parents died or where they’re buried, but Mamie’s father died three years after his daughter and her mother died ten years after and both are buried beside their daughter’s family.

RIP Rossow family

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