52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #14 – Brick Wall – Who Are Your Parents Johann Schuttler? (Immigrant #50 ~ Third Great Grandfather Johann Schuttler Part 1 ~)

Johann Schuttler, who are your parents?

Schuttler Wagon

My immigrant third great grandfather Johann Schuttler was born in Wachenheim, Alzey-Worms, Germany in 1829 and came to the United States in 1849 to live with his uncle Peter Schuttler, “The Great Chicago Wagon King.”


For as long as Johann’s great grandsons and other descendants have been researching their family tree, nobody has ever verified the names of Johann’s parents. Obviously, one of his parents would have to be a sibling of his uncle Peter Schuttler.

My Great Uncle John, Johann’s great grandson, began researching his family tree, including his Schuttler ancestors, in his teens. That was the early 1920s. He did not stop researching until he passed away in 1999. His cousin Frank Eckebrecht also searched for John Schuttler’s origins for decades.

There are no records for Wachenheim, Alzey-Worms retained online for researchers. But I’ll get to that…

So the search continues for Johann’s parents and my intent this week is to relate what the family lore, records, and newspaper articles in the United States tell of my wagonmaker ancestor Johann Schuttler from Wachenheim.

Please note there are two Lutheran marriage records from Chicago that say Johann Schuttler was born in Wachenheim on September 26, 1829.

In 1850, Johann first appears on an American record – the Federal Census – living in Chicago with his wagonmaking uncle Peter Schuttler, Peter Schuttler’s wife Dorothy and their three children Peter, Katharina, and Henry. He is 20 years old. According to that census, Johann had been in the United States for 1 year. His first name was already Americanized to John. Later censuses, and his voter registration also support the 1849 year as his immigration year.

His Uncle – The Great Chicago Wagon King

Peter Schuttler came to the United States as a poor young man from Wachenheim in 1834 when he was 22. He worked in Buffalo and Ohio as a wagonmaker. In the early 1840s he moved to Chicago and started a small shop. Because of Chicago’s geographic location, the wagons were an excellent place for travelers to the West to purchase their transportation.

Schuttler wagons were used by pioneers, Mormons, and eventually 49ers to head west.

I found an article in the Chicago Tribune from late summer 1861 listing the names of the Vice Presidents of the Chicago War Committee that attended a war rally at Bryan Hall with other well-respected members of the Chicago community. Peter Schuttler was one of the Vice Presidents. They discussed treasonous actions, the South, and attack on Fort Sumter, and made resolutions in support of the War Department, and they, as members of the community, native born and immigrant alike, resolved to aid in the suppression of the rebellion by volunteering for the army and aiding them with supplies. It is a fascinating read.  A perspective was given on behalf of German immigrants. I could go on and on. The article printed their speeches and resolutions. If you have a newspapers.com account and would like to read it, click here.

Army Advert

Sometime after the rally, Peter Schuttler solicited for and earned a contract with the federal government in 1861 to produce artillery trucks and supply wagons for the Grand Army of the Republic.  That contract is attributed to what made his family so wealthy. Old newspapers and old genealogical records have been more accurate regarding Peter Schuttler than basic sources like Wikipedia that are editable by anyone online.

My German-American grandmother told us that the Schuttlers made wagons for the Union Army too. She was very proud of this fact.

Maybe a history of Schuttler Wagons should be created.  I would love to read something like that.

Johann Starts a Family

On December 4, 1853, Johann married my immigrant third great grandmother Louisa Gerbing in St. Paul’s First Lutheran Church in Chicago. She was the daughter of immigrants Martha Nicolai and Johann Friedrich Gerbing.


Nine months later in late August, 1854, my second great grandmother Christine Katharina (Katy) was born. Katy later married immigrant Fritz Eckebrecht.

By 1855 John, Louisa, and Katy were living in their own dwelling in Chicago’s North Ward according to the Illinois census.

In September 1856, John and Louisa welcomed their son Charles (Karl Wilhelm) into the world. According to John’s 1890 voter registration, 1856 is also the year he became naturalized. Any such record from the courthouse in Chicago was lost in the Chicago Fire of 1871, unfortunately.

Charles later married Delia Bolton.

In August of 1858, John and Louisa had their second daughter, Louise Elizabeth Maria (Lizzie). Louise later married Edward Fuller.

In 1860, John, Louisa, and their three children are found on the Federal Census living in Chicago, Ward 7. John’s occupation is listed as wagonmaker. In several Chicago City Directories from 1861-1869, John’s occupation is listed as sawyer or wagonmaker. It is in 1870 that he starts to be listed as Foreman, at Peter Schuttler Wagon Company in the Chicago City Directories.

By 1863, John and Louisa had welcomed a fourth child into the world. Little Loretta. The following year she contracted cholera and died on September 9, 1864. Two days later, my third great grandmother Louisa passed. On September 12, 1864, John went to Graceland Cemetery and purchased the Schuttler family plot. It was in the cemetery file from Graceland that I learned the dates and causes of death of Loretta and Louisa. I also learned more about Katy Schuttler Eckebrecht’s half-sibling and stepmother.

According to family lore, at this point in my second great grandmother’s life, because her mother had passed away, Katy went to live with her uncle Peter Schuttler. Also according to the lore was that she didn’t like living there. There is a story that she couldn’t keep her napkin on her lap or something like that. Who knows how long she lived there because by early 1865, the Great Chicago Wagon King Peter Schuttler had stepped on a rusty nail, contracted a blood infection, and passed away. His son Peter II took over the reigns of the wagon company.

Butte, Montana News

One other thing to note from family lore is that the richer Schuttlers in Chicago – I believe Peter II – would buy clothes for John’s children.

In early February, 1865, John remarried. He married German immigrant Caroline Lehman who may have been pregnant. In early April, 1865, William Frank was born. Caroline had a brother named William by the way. Whether the child was adopted or his mother was Caroline, nobody can say for sure. Take a guess, you may be correct.  Then in 1868, John and Caroline welcomed a daughter they named Caroline (Carrie).

When the Chicago Fire happened in October of 1871, John packed his family in his Schuttler wagon, left town, and they all watched the fire from the prairie. When they went home, it was considered a family miracle that their home did not burn. Sadly, Schuttler’s Wagon Company did in fact burn down so they built a newer, bigger factory.

Between 1870 up to his date of death, various Chicago City Directories listed John’s occupation as foreman, Peter Schuttler Wagon Company.


The Census Oddities Post-Louisa’s Death

The 1870 Federal Census was the first Federal Census after the death of my third great grandmother. According to the 1870 census the family was living in Chicago’s 10th Ward, and someone informed the census taker that John did not just have the occupation of foreman but he was “foreman – Peter Schuttler wagons.” They also informed the census taker that the 5 year old boy living there was named Peter. William Frank, who would have been 5 is not to be found on that census.

The same was on the 1880 census with his occupation and also for the name of the child that would be the same age as William Frank. By that point my second great grandmother was not living there, because she was married to Fritz Eckebrecht with children in 1880.

By the time of the 1900 Federal Census, all of John’s children had moved out of the house. It was just John and Caroline. It was stated to the census taker that he was born in September of 1829, that his year of immigration to the United States was 1849 and that he was a Naturalized citizen. Also, the census taker transcribed that he was unable to read, unable to write, could not speak English, and that he owned a home that was mortgaged. One more tidbit on that census was that the census taker was informed that John was married for 46 years to Caroline Lehman. He was not. He was married to her for 45 years. Also, Caroline was noted as having the ability to speak English, and was the mother of 5 children and 4 were alive. I count two.

Since John did not speak English, and I suppose with all of the Germans in Chicago he had no need to, who had been giving the information to the census takers in English since 1870? Likely his second wife?

William Frank/Peter – According to the 1865 Chicago birth index, the child born in April 1865 was named William Frank and later censuses, City Directories, death record, and his mother’s death notice referred to that individual as William Frank.

There is one more record to note for John that I found (outside the church records that will be explained in an upcoming week), as I previously mentioned, in 1890, John indicated on his voter registration that he was born in Germany and was naturalized in 1856 in the Courthouse of Cook County.

Newsworthy Events at Schuttler Wagons during Johann’s Tenure

The following events took place at Schuttler Wagons during Johann’s tenure.  Some of these events happened while he was the Foreman.  These events were all found in articles in the Chicago Tribune.

  • In 1858 there was a small fire at the factory.  Some wood shavings caught on fire.  It was put out before anyone was harmed.
  • The same type of fire happened in 1859 and was put out before it quickly spread.
  • In 1861 the company obtained a contract with the Grand Army of the Republic.
  • In March of 1866 another wood shavings fire happened and was put out before it spread.
  • Later that year, Schuttler wagons were used by showman P.T. Barnum at the Paris Expedition.
  • One week before the Chicago Fire of 1871, Schuttler Wagons had purchased land to go ahead with building a better, larger factory.  Talk about timing!
  • In December 1876 a worker was cleaning oil off machinery when a belt broke loose, threw him to the ceiling, and killed him instantly.
  • Labor unrest/marches of 1877 shutdown all of the factories in the factory district and notably Schuttler Wagons was one of those companies.

Johann’s Death and the Schuttler Cemetery File

On January 21, 1906, at age 76, John Schuttler passed away. His death certificate listed no parents. On January 23, 1906, his death notice ran in the Chicago Tribune and Chicago’s German language newspaper Abenpost. I have both. The notices listed his residence, age, current wife, the names of his four living children (including Frank Schuttler) and stated he was a grandfather and great grandfather, as well as the date and time of his funeral at Graceland Cemetery. (My great grandmother Caroline Eckebrecht was already married with children. Therefore, some of my grandmother’s siblings had likely met their great grandfather John Schuttler.) No parents or relatives in Germany were listed on either notice. He did not receive the type of obituary his cousin Peter Schuttler II received that took up most of one page of the Chicago Tribune.

The John Schuttler Graceland Cemetery file contained information on the death dates and causes of death for Louisa and Loretta since any other previous information regarding their deaths would have burned in the Chicago Fire of 1871. The file also contained a diagram of how the coffins were placed for burial on the Schuttler plot. The plot does not contain my ancestor Katy Schuttler Eckebrecht, nor does it contain the grave of my great grandmother Caroline Eckebrecht Leies. But my great grandmother was mentioned in the file as a living heir of John as was John’s and Louisa’s daughter Louise Schuttler Fuller. Also mentioned was John’s daughter’s Carrie.

The Schuttler plot contains the graves of Louisa, her daughter Loretta, her son Charles (d 1896), John, Caroline Lehman (d 1910), and William Frank (d 1918.)

Why did the file contain the names of the living relatives? They were mapped out in the file on pupose. After William Frank passed away, his sister Carrie had an affidavit placed in the Schuttler cemetery file as to his paternity so he could be buried in the plot next to Caroline Lehman. She was the one that mapped out my third great grandfather’s living descendants.

For me the file was a bit of a goldmine because without it, I would not have learned what happened to my third great grandmother Louisa.

This is the end of Part 1 –

The rest of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenges for April are as follows and will continue featuring Johann Schuttler:

-Week #15 Challenge is DNA – (Part 2 – Do my three DNA tests help at all? I promise to keep my Ancestry.com rant to a minimum.)

-Week #16 Challenge is Out of Place – (Part 3 – What the Mayor of Wachenheim sent me regarding Peter Schuttler’s siblings and ancestry.)

-Week #17 Challenge is At Worship – (Part 4 – Research of the people mentioned in the Lutheran Church Records in Chicago and what church records may be on Archion.de.)


Do you know who his parents really are? 



My Thüringen and Niedersachsen Surnames and Place Lists


This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Thüringen, Germany

  • SchwarzburgEckebrecht, Schutz, Grabe
  • Grossmehlra: Eckebrecht, Dorre, Hinse/Heise, Grabe
  • Clingen: Dorre
  • Hohenebra: Seebuss
  • Berka: Beckern
  • Wollersleben: Eckebrecht
  • Koerner: Koppel, Grabe
  • Rothenberg bei Neustadt: Koppel
  • Sondershausen: Koppels, Seebuss, Kronenberg.Krohnenberg, Beckern
  • Vieselbach: Gerbing/Gorbing, Engelbrecht, Wizlaber
  • Obernissa: Korner
  • Niederzimmern: Nicolai

Niedersachsen, Germany

  • Grossen Molzen: Wizlaber
  • Hannover: Kirsch, Fehlig
  • Sankt Andreasberg: Kirsch, Kutscher, Schroder, Geselle
  • Grohnde: Fehlig, Mahlstedt, Wedekin/Widekin(sp?)
  • Borry: Fehlig
  • Marienrode: Fehlig


Louis F. Kirsch, born in Hannover in 1862

Fritz Eckebrecht, born in 1848 in Schwarzburg

Louise Gerbing, born in 1836 in Vieselbach


Thank you for visiting!


Immigrants #38 – #40 ~ Marie Louise Koppel Eckebrecht (mill owner’s daughter), Johann Quirinus Eckebrecht (baker), and Wilhelm Carl Eckebrecht (saloon keeper) ~

My 3rd great grandmother Marie Louise Koppel was born in Koerner, Thüringen, Germany in 1817 and came to the United States in 1866 with my third great grandfather  Quirinus Eckebrecht and 5 of their 6 children.  Wilhelm Carl Eckebrecht was one of these children.

Great Uncle John and his first cousin Frank Eckebrecht researched the Eckebrecht roots for decades.  Some of the information contained in this post comes from their research.  They did the hardest stuff before the internet was born.

Marie Louise Koppel

Marie Louise Koppel was born at 1:00 a.m. on August 2, 1817 in Koerner to miller Johann Christoph Koppel and Anna Dorothea Maria Grabe.  According to the good folks in the Thüringen Ancestry group on facebook, Grabe is a common surname in the areas surrounding Koerner.

I spent some time examining the microfilms for Koerner that were available from Family Search before the Latter Day Saints discontinued microfilm ordering.  I was able to locate the marriage of Marie Louise’s parents in 1816.  Anna Dorothea Maria Grabe was the daughter of Johann Christoph Grabe.  Her mother was unnamed in the available records, although an indexed record on Ancestry, transcribed by volunteers, says that her mother may have been Sophia Maria Schuts.

*I don’t have faith in indexed records on Ancestry or Family Search in which I cannot see the original document.  In this case, as with many of this line of Germans, the original record is not available to American researchers without being a member of the Latter Days Saints or at one of their computers.*

The microfilms contained the first marriage of Marie Louise’s father Johann Chrisoph Koppel and revealed that he was from Rothenberg bei Neustadt, Germany.  Which no longers exists on a map.  There is a Neustadt about 30 miles away from Koerner.

Johann Christoph Koppel owned at least two mills in 1812 Koerner when he married his first wife Anna Elisabeth Schaefer.  One was the Mahlmuhle which was a corn mill.  The second mill he owned at that time was called Lochmuhle.

In 1816 Marie Louise’s father married her mother Anna Dorothea Maria Grabe.   On that record and on the baptismal records of Marie Louise in 1817 and her siblings, he was noted as the owner of the Reithmuhle.  

There is a beautiful genealogy group on Facebook called Genealogy Translations.  A translator kindly translated Marie Louise’s baptism for me and then scanned for me a book about the history of Sondershausen area mills!

The genealogy angel in the translations group proceeded to translate the portion of the book for me on the Reithmuhle!

Reithmuhle was the new name of the Lochmuhle in Koerner. Koerner is on the River Unstrut.  The Reithmuhle is at the west end of the village on the Heuberg Hill, on Notter Creek and the mill was still there in 1900.

Remember the mills because they come up later.

I found at least 5 other Marie Louise Koppel siblings in the records for Koerner and Clingen.  I traced the Koppel line back to my 6th great grandfather Jeremias Koppel alive around 1740 in the Sondershausen area of Thüringen.  Of that information, I only know his name and estimated birth year.  I know nothing of the life of Marie Louise Koppel’s mother and her parents beyond their names as well.

Johann Quirinus Eckebrecht

Marie Louise Koppel married my third great grandfather Quirinus Eckebrecht on December 27, 1843.

Frank Eckebrecht had this data.  It was in my tree on Ancestry.  On Ancestry I kept getting a hint for a man named Johann Auerinus Erbeborn marrying on that same date in the same area of Germany to a lady with the same name of my third great grandmother.  These transcription indexes are done by volunteers and reviewed by two other volunteers before they are published on Ancestry.

Auerinus Erbeborn comes in second to the volunteer transcription of the ship manifest for his son Grity Eckebrecht for Fritz.  Another oldie but goodie was the transcription error from the ship manifest for Augelo Ferarco (Angelo Ferraro.)  This is why I do not trust the indexes on Ancestry, ESPECIALLY WHEN I CANNOT SEE THE ORIGINAL RECORD!  

I ordered the films the original marriage record was to be on.  I never found it.  I tried to find the baptism of their oldest child Auguste Eckebrecht to gain information on Quirinus.  I think I found it.  If I did, it was illegible.  There are no baptisms of their other children available through the Latter Day Saints.

According to Frank Eckebrecht’s research, Quirinus was born in 1816 in Grossmehlra, Schwarzburg – Sondershausen, Thüringen to Johann Heinrich Eckebrecht and Anna Elisabetha Dorre.  He had at least 5 siblings.


As you can see, Koerner and Grossmehlra are not far apart and are at the dead center of current day Germany


Frank traced this Eckebrecht line back to Wollersleben, Nordhausen, Thüringen and a Christian Eckebrecht, my 7th great grandfather, born in 1660.  He was a commoner.  Through volunteer transcribed indexed records on Ancestry, again, if they are accurate, I traced Anna Elisabetha Dorre’s line back to my sixth great grandfather named Heinrich Christoph Dorre.  Because these are only indexes, I know nothing of this line except names and dates.  Where are these original records that are only indexed?  I don’t know. They don’t seem to be microfilmed.  When will the originals appear on Ancestry for us subscribers?  Good question.

On May 25, 1866, Quirinus, Marie Louise,  and 5 of their 6 children arrived at the Port of New York on the ship the Jenny.  Here the index transcribers have Quirinus named as Oerenuos.  They sailed from Bremen on a trip that would have taken 2 and 1/2 to 3 months to sail.  The occupation of Quirinus was listed as baker.  Uncle John said they left to escape the growing power of the Kaiser.


The family’s destination was Chicago where the oldest son, Immigrant #8 ~ Carl Johann Eckebrecht, Grocery Company Owner, Saddle-Maker, Carpenter, and Foreman had already arrived.

These are the children that came in 1866 with Quirinus and Marie Louise:

Immigrant 6 Auguste Eckebrecht, domestic servant

Immigrants 21 and 22 ~ Eduard Eckebrecht of the 4th Cavalry Regiment and Heinrich Ferdinand Christoph Eckebrecht a Druggist

Immigrant #28 ~ 2nd Great Grandfather Frederick “Fritz” Eckebrecht, Carpenter and Butcher (the one that spent time with the Comanches)

Wilhelm Carl (William)

On the 1870 Census, Quirinus, Marie Louise, sons Carl Wilhelm, Henry, and Edward were living in Chicago’s 17th Ward.  Quirinus was listed as a laborer, while Marie was listed as keeping house.  Carl Wilhelm was a carpenter, Henry was a laborer, and the youngest Edward was still at school.

In the 13 years Marie Louise was alive here in the United States, she suffered from asthma, according to her death record.  She passed away in 1879 and was buried in Wunders Cemetery in Chicago.

Frank’s research data relates that she was the owner of the Rottermuhle in Germany when she passed.  My first theory is thus:  there was an American misspelling on the estate document and she may have been the owner of the Reithmuhle.  Would this mean her parents and siblings were deceased?  I cannot locate any records about them in Germany on Ancestry.

My second theory involves Quirinus.  Since he was a baker when he came here, he may have worked at a mill, maybe even Marie Louise’s father’s mill, or his father owned a mill as we have seen in Grandma’s other German mill owning ancestors, that sons and daughters of mill owners often marry each other.

The Chicago City Directories listed Quirinus as a laborer in the years leading up to the 1880 Census and in the year’s after it.  In 1880, when I found him on the census indexed by an Ancestry volunteer as Kareneus, he was listed as a widower, living with his oldest son Charles (Carl), and again was listed as a laborer.  He died in 1884 and is also buried in Wunders Cemetery.

William Eckebrecht

William (Wilhelm Carl) Eckebrecht, as mentioned before, arrived here in 1866.  He was born in 1851 in Schwarzburg, Thüringen.  In 1870, as stated before, he lived with his parents and was a carpenter.

In 1874 he married another German immigrant named Maria (Mary) Wilhemine Johanna Kohlmorgen from Mecklenburg – Vorpommern.  She was the daughter of Christian Theodor Kaspar Kohlmorgen and Julie Marie Sophie Hill.

On the 1880 Census, he was working as a harness-maker.

By the mid-1890s, William was a saloon-keeper.  I found a newspaper clipping suggesting that William was in the saloon business with his brother Edward.  Unfortunately I don’t know the name of the saloon.  William passed away young in 1899 leaving behind his wife and three children:

Otto Eckebrecht, owned an engraving business m. Viola Legare

Hugo Charles Eckebrecht m. Ottilia Fischer, a Pomeranian German immigrant

Martha Eckebrecht m. Paul Emil Schultz, a Pomeranian German immigrant


Were other Eckebrechts already here before the oldest son Carl Johann Eckebrecht got here?  Were there other Koppels already here?  The Eckebrechts followed their oldest son to America, making that classic chain migration as I have seen with my other German ancestors.  Who did he follow?

I would like to research Marie Louise’s family further.  Because her father owned mills, there should be land transfer records there.  Also, to be explored is the family of the mother of Quirinus – the Dorres.  Cross your fingers records become available!

I have at least three Eckebrecht photos.  Two are from the 19th Century and one is from the 1960s.  Please email me for copies.  

Thank you to those distant Eckebrecht cousins that have sent me messages and encouraged me to keep swapping and sharing data!  I have finished posting about all of the immigrant Eckebrechts that we could find.  If I find more, I will post about them here!  For the descendants of Fritz, there will be one more post about the Multi-Faceted Man.  



Koerner baptisms and marriages via the LDS

Indexed Clingen District baptisms via Ancestry.com

Schlotheimer Kurier, Amtsblatt der Verwaltungsgemeinschaft

Indexed Selected Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials from Thuringia via Ancestry.com

Uncle John and Frank Eckebrecht

New York Passenger Lists

Chicago City Directories

Federal Censuses

Cook County Birth, Marriage, and Death Indexes



The immigrants left in this family history challenge are: some of the Italians on my paternal side, more on Louis Kirsch, all of the Gerbings (Eeeeeeee!), Martha Nicolai, and my mystery wagon-guy Johann Schuttler.











Great Grandmother Helen Kirsch Ferraro: Witness in the 1906 Chicago Murder Case of Mrs. Louise Gentry

Great Grandmother Helen Kirsch Ferraro: Witness in the 1906 Murder Case of Mrs. Louise Gentry


Helen Anne Marie Kirsch was born on September 22, 1887 in Chicago to immigrant parents Louis Fritz Kirsch and Anna Heinzen.  She had a younger brother named Albert. Before she married Carmen Ferraro and had 9 children she was part of a murder investigation that involved an international manhunt on 3 continents.

Helen was 19 when she worked as a cashier at an Italian “bootblacking” shop near the County building on Clark Street in Chicago when she had become casually acquainted with a frequent customer of the shop – Frank Constantine. According to newspaper articles at the time, the shop was apparently frequented by Italians. Frank Constantine was described in the Chicago papers as “showy type of man with his money and wore a lot of diamonds, and a man with many girlfriends.”

Frank Constantine was boarder in the home of Mr. Arthur and Louise Gentry on LaSalle Street and was always borrowing money from the Gentrys. While Mr. Gentry was at work on January 6, 1906, Frank Constantine slashed Mrs. Gentry’s throat in a motive involving money. Fleeing the scene of the crime he ran into a neighbor and asked for a hat, to help hide his identity. The neighbor ran inside to get a hat and encountered the dying Mrs. Gentry.

Constantine didn’t wait for a hat. He ran down the street and hailed a cab. Helen just happened to be going to dinner and stepped outside to see Constantine drive away in the cab and remarked to her friend that “Mr. Constantine must be leaving town.”

The neighbor of the Gentry’s rang the police.  Even though the police were stationed on street corners leaving the city, and at the train station to look for Constantine, he was able to hawk one of his diamonds for cash, purchase a new hat and disappear. With the help of his mother he was hidden in Brooklyn.

Great grandmother Helen and several other witnesses identified Frank Constantine as the murderer. A grand jury indicted him.

A nationwide manhunt ensued for anyone having an “Italian/Jewish face,” and a trademark gold tooth like that of Frank Constantine’s, according to news articles from those days. Illinois newpapers detail country-wide witnesses giving false leads, false arrests, including a story of a local priest that feared he gave the murderer $5 when he was just trying to help a stranger on the road.

In actuality Constantine was probably not even in the area anymore. Local Chicago headlines joked “You may be arrested for murder today…” because of the number of false arrests around Chicago.

In July, 1906 while visiting a sweetheart near Poughkeepsie, NY, Frank Constantine was apprehended by the local Sheriff. Assistant Chicago Police Chief Schuettler, purportedly a friend of the Kirsch family, as the Tribune made it seem, because Schuettler and Kirsch were both German, had hidden Helen’s identity from the press.  They had been calling her Helen Schrieber for months. Assistant Chief Schuettler sent Helen “Schrieber” to Poughkeepsie alone to identify him.

Unfortunately, the press ended up discovering Helen’s true identity while she was there, because she dropped a receipt for a prescription in her hotel in Poughkeepsie. The Chicago press went to the Kirsch’s home and pestered Helen’s family. The following is an excerpt from The Chicago Tribune dated July 27, 1906 in which her mother Annie Heinzen Kirsch gives a statement:



Click on the excerpt to make it bigger and easier for reading.

The Kirsches ended up leaving their home in the care of a neighbor to stay on the other side of the Chicago while the press surrounding Constantine’s capture calmed down.

Positive he was who she thought he was, Helen identified him as Frank Constantine. The next day she sent a telegram to Chicago authorities stating: “There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the man under arrest here is the man who killed Mrs. Gentry. I know Frank Constantine too well to be mistaken. It is he.” (The Inter-Ocean, July 27, 1906.)

Authorities were prepared to bring him back to Chicago until his roommate at the Gentry house gave him an alibi. Constantine was released. His mother sent him back to her hometown in Italy anyway. There was even a story that Constantine’s mother had him kidnapped to Europe to keep him safe during the previous year.

Meanwhile, new evidence came to light in an older, similar murder in Colorado. Chicago police finally decided to re-apprehend Constantine when a man that had been on a ship with him while they traveled between Europe and America came forward saying he confessed to the murder of Mrs. Gentry.

Over a year after the murder of Mrs. Louise Gentry, and after Constantine had travelled between three continents spending time in Italy and Argentina with the help of his mother, a girl he had loved and left in Brooklyn gave him up to the police. Constantine was apprehended on the docks minutes before he could board a ship to Italy with a ticket his mother had bought for him.

Assistant Chief Schuettler went to NY to bring him back to Chicago himself. The case had gained so much nationwide attention that passengers on the train Schuettler and Constantine boarded in New York to head to Chicago asked for Costantine’s autograph! He refused.

After several more delays, Constantine trial’s started in September, 1907. Helen was one of the witnesses to testify as to the identity of the killer. Constantine took the stand and testified on his own behalf saying Mrs. Gentry committed suicide because she was in love with him and he was leaving. According to newspaper articles, testimony proved the wounds were too severe to be self-inflicted.

The actual criminal case file has since been destroyed by Cook County so no transcript of this case exists. After 2 and ½ hours of jury deliberations, Constantine was found guilty. In 1908 he committed suicide in prison according to this New York Daily News Article.

Helen probably met Carmen around the middle of 1907, based on the photo dated in August of 1907 that she gave to him. It is possible it was at the shoe shine shop frequented by Italians…



The New York Daily News

Chicago Birth, Marriage, and Death Indexes