Immigrant #47 ~ Second Great Grandfather Louis or Ludwig Fritz Kirsch, Cook ~ (52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #4: An ancestor I would like to meet)

My immigrant second great grandfather Louis Fritz Kirsch was born in Hannover, Germany in 1862 and he emigrated to the United States sometime in his teens. This week I am merging my 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks #4 entry (an ancestor I would like to meet), as I work on finishing my personal genealogy goal of telling the story of every immigrant in my tree.

Horizontal espalier pear tree

I have always wanted to meet Louis because of the mystery that surrounds him.  Louis was, at one point, the biggest brick wall I had, and because of that, I spent a lot of time trying to gather information on him to work to confirm what we were told of him by his son-in-law.  That son-in-law told tales about his own ancestry which were false.

Would I like the outcome after I met Louis and asked him the biggest question I have?

 “Are you the man in these newspaper articles?”

This is an update of my earlier post on Louis F. Kirsch, which was written over two years ago: Immigrant Ludwig Fritz Kirsch, a descendant of silver miners and a tailor’s son.  I discovered some new things concerning Louis here and his ancestors in Germany.

  1. Louis was unemployed for 35 weeks in 1909 (according to information on the 1910 Federal Census) and Louis suffered from disease of the liver for at least two years before his death in 1925.
  2. A man named Louis Kirsch was involved in unsavory business practices in Chicago according to 1909 newspaper articles.  The stories were explosive and shocking.  
  3. I was able to go another generation back on his mother’s line and found more silver miners in his father’s line.

Does number 1 correspond with what I found in the newspapers?  This was what I wrote over two years ago in my blog post, which I researched further, and I believe is needing more verification before we can say yes, that is my Louis Kirsch.

-There is an one line mention of a Louis Kirsch in the Chicago Tribune in 1910 for getting out of business with a shady policeman. Smart man. More research is needed there.

The new information I found in the newspapers, if this really turns out to be my Louis, means that I could not have been any more mistaken in that statement.  Let me stress, because files were destroyed by the powers that be for no apparent reason other than the purpose of aggravating future genealogists, it can’t be confirmed without more evidence the stories I am about to tell you about from the Chicago newspapers are actually Louis F. Kirsch, my second great grandfather.

In 1909, the state was prosecuting Officer Edward McCann for accepting grafts from “West Side Levee characters” for protection of their businesses.  The Levee was Chicago’s red-light district.  According to articles I found in the Chicago Tribune, The Daily Telegraph, and the Chicago Inter-Ocean, the following men were individuals involved in businesses in the levee and were some of it’s “characters:” Samuel “Coxey” Bloom, Louis Kirsch, and Mike “the Pike” Heitler.  The articles really did refer to them as “West Side Levee characters.” 

According to testimony printed in the newspapers, Officer McCann gave testimony during his trial that $40 was accepted by the police as protection money for a “resort” owned by Louis Kirsch and Mike “the Pike” Heitler in the Levee District. The “resort” was at the corner of Lake and Halsted streets. They also owned a “resort” at 10 N. Green Street.

Later that year in September, Bloom, Kirsch, and Heitler were indicted by a grand jury on charges of conspiracy to pay prosecution witness Morris Shatz $250.00, so he would leave town, go to Panama, and not testify against Mike Heitler and Officer Edward McCann.  

Louis Kirsch was incarcerated until his trial.  Below are some clips of articles from the Chicago Tribune from September and October, 1909.  There are many other clips I didn’t include, including the mentioning of Louis Kirsch during McCann’s trial earlier in 1909.

chicago tribune september 9, 1909

held for trial
chicago tribune, oct 22, 1909
october 22 1909 chicago tribune part2
october 21, chicago tribune

On October 22, 1909, Louis, Samuel, and Mike were acquitted:trial ends 2

The following link will take you to an article on Mike “the Pike:” Mike Heitler.

The following link will take you to an article on the brother of Samuel “Coxey:” Ike Bloom.

Note that both men were affiliated with Mont Tennes.

There is a lot of information about Mike “the Pike” available.  He was murdered by a Capone associate in 1931.  There are also several genealogy blog posts out there from his relatives involving his life and times.

I contacted the Cook County Circuit Court Archives to retrieve the criminal trial files on these three men from 1909.  The archivist told me that 1904-1925 files were destroyed for no reason and there was nothing.  I said they were from a grand jury.  He said that they were still destroyed.  I said it was involving Chicago police grafts.  He said that didn’t matter and that even the arrest records were gone.

My second great grandfather said on the 1910 census that he was out of work for 35 weeks in 1909.  I found no more articles containing his name after 1909 but I will continue searching as more papers are added to the database.

I researched any other men with this name in Chicago at the same time.  There was only one on census records.  That Louis Kirsch was too young to be involved in the type of business mentioned in the news in 1909.

So, if I did meet this ancestor, maybe I wouldn’t like what he had to tell me but I would still love to see a picture of him!


United States Federal Censuses

My previous post on Louis includes a link to this latest entry.









Immigrant #8 ~ Carl Johann Eckebrecht, Grocery Company Owner, Saddle-Maker, Carpenter, and Foreman

Immigrant Carl Johann Eckebrecht was the oldest sibling of my great great grandfather Fritz Eckebrecht.  He was born in 1844 in Schwarzburg, Germany.  Uncle John was not certain when he came to America, but with research, it has been narrowed down to about 1863.  He appears to be the first Eckebrecht in Illinois, having stated he was living in the County of Cook and State of Illinois for 29 years on his 1892 Chicago Voter Registration Record.  Therefore, Carl got here before his brother Fritz and the rest of his clan did in 1866 on the ship the Jenny.  He would have been around 19 when he arrived in America and it would have been smack dab in the middle of the Civil War.

The earliest actual record I could find of Carl or Charles was in 1867, where he is listed in the Chicago City directory as Charles and he works at Eckebrecht & Company as a grocer.  This appears to be his own grocery company.  Next, from what was also noted on the Chicago Voter Registration listing of 1892, Charles stated he was naturalized in the Circuit Court of Cook County on September 7, 1868.

In the 1870 Federal Census he was living with his parents Quirinus and Louise and three of his younger siblings and was working as a carpenter. Around this time, Fritz was migrated through the Post-War south picking crops, and making his way to Texas, where he ended up being taken to live with Comanches.

Charles is either in the back center or the man on the far right

In the 1874 and 1875 Chicago City Directories, Charles is listed under the Heading for Harness and Saddle Makers.  He was married by this point to another German immigrant Bertha Rohrbach.  Their first child Minnie, or likely, Wilhelmina, was born.  By 1882, according to the City Directory, he is back to being a carpenter.

Charles may be the man in the back with the mustache.  Can anyone verify or refute this?

In 1896 and in 1897, a few years before he died in 1900, his occupation was listed as Foreman in the City Directory.   He died in 1900 and is buried in Rose Hill Cemetery.

Charles had four children with Bertha: Minnie, Henry Charles, Anna, and Oscar Christian.

As you can see, Charles Eckebrecht’s Record of Administration references his wife, son Henry, and brother-in-law Charles Wolter (Augusta Eckebrecht’s husband).

Cook County Probate Records on

Charles Eckebrecht’s Children (Fritz’s Nieces and Nephews) and Their Descendants

Minnie Eckebrecht died in 1902.  Charles’ youngest son Oscar never married and worked at the Post Office as a clerk.  Daughter Anna married an English immigrant from London – Walter Smith.  It appears he entered America through Canada making the ethnicity of Anna’s child Harold Albert a Canadian in the Cook County Birth Index.  I question that reference on Ancestry though.  Walter was a type setting salesman according to the Federal Censuses.  Their son Harold Albert married Vera Lindsay and they had 3 children.  Harold was a copywriter at a publishing company.

This leaves us with the other son of Charles and Bertha – Henry Charles Eckebrecht, one of the most colorful descendants of any immigrant in the Eckebrecht line.  Henry Charles married another native of Chicago and German-American Mamie Schmidt.  She too was the daughter of German immigrants.  They had two children: Henry Charles Jr., who was struck and killed by an automobile driven by Ernest Keg at the age of 5, and Wilbur Mont Eckebrecht.  Pay attention to Wilbur’s middle name because it comes up later.

Wilbur Mont Eckebrecht married Gladys Florence Schweitzer.  They had a son that may still be alive so I will refrain from naming him.  He was elected President of the Illinois State Florist’s Assocation in 1969.  I have several photos of him from  Please email me if you would like to see them.

More on Henry Charles Eckebrecht (Fritz’s Nephew)

Henry Eckebrecht was in a kind of real estate business.  I did find newspaper references to real estate transfers.  One of the transfers was made in 1914 to Peter Tennes, the son of Jacob Mont Tennes, or just Mont Tennes.  That was not the only reference to Henry’s name to Mont Tennes in the Chicago newspapers.  Have you heard of Mont Tennes, Chicago King of Gamblers?  No?  Well then please google him or check out this well-referenced story by another blogger: Jacob Mont Tennes.  Mont Tennes ran a news bureau and a country-wide gambling circuit prior to the takeover of the Chicago underworld by Capone’s gang.  One of Mont’s associates was Big Jim O’Leary, grandson of the Mrs. O’Leary, of the Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow fame.  Mont Tennes was the son of German immigrants like Henry.

Henry was a bookkeeper of sorts for Mont Tennes and clients would visit Henry at their real estate office where money was taken.  Let me point out that Henry, nor Mont were ever convicted of any crime.  Don’t be surprised about this gambling business either because I found many references to Fritz’s brothers and nephews in the paper advertising bettings on sporting events, namely basesball, or winning at gambling on baseball in the Chicago newspapers.  Gambling wasn’t a crime.  Mont was important enough to this family of Eckebrechts for Henry to give the middle name to his son. 

Now in 1916, the future baseball Commissioner Landis was the Federal Judge that was called to oversee the Federal Grand Jury empaneled to investigate Mont’s news bureau. Rolling eyes. Henry testified and a portion of his testimony was in the October 3, 1916 Chicago Tribune below.  The first three clippings are taken exactly as they were printed in the paper but had to be clipped that way for easier reading.


Did you see who Mont’s lawyer was?  Clarence Darrow!


This last section was at the end of the article for that day:


Henry was in several other articles regarding the testimony.  Yes, that is THE Clarence Darrow.  Nothing came of the grand jury investigation.  In the 1920 Census, Henry is still listed as working as a bookkeeper at a real estate company.  By 1940 he was running his own business selling seeds and bulbs.  Perhaps his florist grandon was a part of the business…

Final thoughts:

What did Charles do for the first 4 years in America before I found him in the City Directory with his own business named after him?  No, I didn’t find him on any Civil War draft records, unless they spelled his last name wrong.  Coming here at 18 or 19 without the rest of his family had to have been courageous.  I imagine he wrote home to his family in Germany to tell them about Chicago.  If he hadn’t come first, maybe the rest of his family, and his brother Fritz would not have come here at all. 


Federal Censuses

Chicago City Directories

Chicago Voter Registration

Chicago Birth, Marriage, and Death Indexes

Cook County Probate Records

Social Security Death Index


Frank Eckebrecht’s Research

Uncle John’s Research

Numerous Online Articles regarding Mont Tennes

Next immigrants: Two completely different great grandfathers