You Never Know What You May Find... and Learn
By: LeRoy Blommaert
In January, 2011, I had the occasion to go to a meeting at St. Gertrude’s rectory. Along the corridor leading to the rest rooms were posters and other images of the parish’s past. Naturally, I stopped to look. One item was a copy of the school’s first graduating class photo and a list of its 10 graduates. One name stood out – Florence Weishaar. That is the same name as my best friend’s mother. Could that be her?
I called him that evening. He had no idea from what school his mother graduated. While the family on both sides were north-siders, from what he knew they all lived further south.
I was intrigued. Using the census records at the Newberry Library, I learned that she was born in 1900. That would make her 13 or 14 at the time of graduation – the right age. I was quite sure now that the St. Gertrude graduate was his mother. After all, how many girls named Florence Weishaar age 13 or 14 could there be in Chicago? Weishaar is not a common name. But I did further research and found out the name of her father. It was then a simple matter to check the 1913 Chicago City Directory and learn where he lived. It was 1332 W. Hood – in the heart of the parish. Unfortunately, the house no longer stands. It was demolished for an apartment building erected in the 1920s – one of the very few houses west of Broadway to suffer this fate.
I went on to do further research for him about the Weishaar side of his family, providing him with the name of his mother’s paternal grandfather and where he emigrated from. It was Alsace-Lorraine; the same place as his paternal great grandfather. From the 75th anniversary booklet in the EHS archives, I came across a better reproduction of the class photo. I made a copy and sent it to him. He was pleased; he didn’t have a photo of his mother when she was a young girl.