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.
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.
- 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.
- A man named Louis Kirsch was involved in unsavory business practices in Chicago according to 1909 newspaper articles. The stories were explosive and shocking.
- 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.
On October 22, 1909, Louis, Samuel, and Mike were acquitted:
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 newspapers.com 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.