Emil Ziervogel

9 September 1884 – 24 July 1915

This is the latest in my series on The Eastland Disaster which focuses on the victims buried at Concordia Cemetery in Forest Park, Illinois, and their families.

Obituary from Chicago Tribune, July 31, 1915 edition
ZIERVOGEL — Emil, 30 years old, 2812 S. Keeler-av., a foreman, is survived by his widow, Mrs. Bertha Ziervogel, and three children, Clarence, Eleanora, and Lorraine. The funeral was held from residence to the Evangelical Lutheran Grace church and burial was at Concordia.

Emil was born in Chicago and was the oldest son of seven surviving children (of nine) of his German immigrant parents, Herman and Bertha Riskowski Ziervogel.

Emil married Bertha Willer — also a Chicago-born child of immigrants — in 1908, and in 1909, their first child, Clarence, was born. Two years later, daughter Eleanora was born, and three years after that, in 1914, their youngest, Lorraine, was born.

All the children were very young when their father died, but Bertha — only 27 when she was widowed — never remarried and raised the children on her own.

In 1920, her younger sister Lydia was living with the family, on presumes to help her sister support the children. She worked outside the home while Bertha worked as a tailor out of her home.

The house they were living in was listed as paid-for, and was the same address as the home listed in Emil’s obituary (2812 S Keeler Av) — a rare case where the house is still standing today.

Though the modern siding detracts from its charm, it appears to be (or to have been) a two-flat. Whether Emil had been able to pay off their mortgage and buy the house before his death while working for Western Electric or if Bertha was able to do so with some kind of settlement, from 1920 on, she owned the house and rented out the other flat.

She continued to work in tailoring, according to the census data we have through 1940, though it appears that in later years she found work at a tailor shop outside the home.

In 1940, Lorraine and her husband were living in the other flat while Eleanora still lived with her mother.

Eleanora married a bit late at almost 40 and doesn’t appear to have had any children, but all three children survived to good old ages, Clarence and Eleanora living into their 70s and Lorraine into her 80s and dying in Florida where she’d moved after her husband’s death.

Emil worked as a storekeeper at Western Electric. His obituary gives no details of the day, and one wonders if Bertha and/or any of the children had accompanied him that day. The picnic was advertised as a day for friends and family so it wouldn’t be surprising if they’d all gone along.

Whatever the case, all survived but Emil, but I think he’d be glad to know his family endured. Bertha was interred beside her husband sixty-one years after his death and both daughters are buried nearby. Clarence died in 1980 and may also be at Concordia, but I couldn’t find any citations listing the cemetery where he was laid to rest.

RIP Ziervogels

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