Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Goldners of Chicago - Finding a Lost Family 2

PART 2 – Three C's (Chicago, Census and Cemeteries)
Find Part 1 of this story here . . .

Chicago is a wonderland and when I first moved here, I spend a lot of time exploring the city. I would walk the neighborhoods I lived near, explore the loop and surrounding areas, drive the boulevards and visit some of the nearer suburbs (older towns that were once farther away from the city). I sometimes thought about the Goldners and my great-grandfather, where they might have lived, the parts of the city they inhabited. This was before I had begun my family search and I wasn’t sure how to find anything more. I didn’t know much about genealogy, there was no internet and although my grandfather was still alive, he was in South Carolina and had left Chicago as a young boy some 70 years earlier. I seemed to have very few resources available to me . . . or at least that is what I thought. But I was wrong, some clues did exist.

Goldner / Ebersold / Roth residence and Cemetery locations
on the south Side of Chicago (current map)

First Bits of Information

I had begun to collect old photographs of my family and one I really liked was of Frederick Roth II in his Chicago police uniform (see Part 1). I came across it when rummaging through some of my grandmothers stuff. Besides the photograph, it would turn-out that both my grandmother and an aunt would have some additional information that grabbed my attention and pointed me in the right direction. My great-aunt (Edward Roth’s wife, Kate) had written down a small family tree that went back a few generations. It covered the Roth, Goldner and Zweifel families. Not a lot of information but a good start. I also discovered more photographs, including one of Louis Goldner, who was my great-great grandfather and even better, his funeral announcement.

The funeral announcement indicated he was buried at Oak Ridge Cemetery. As this was still before I had any real access to the internet, I had to do things the old-fashioned way, so I pulled out a map and started searching for the cemetery. I knew there were a number of cemeteries in the near west suburbs and none in Oak Park (his last address) so I concentrated on that area. I did find it and eventually made the trek to Hillside, Illinois and located the grave. Louis Goldner, his wife Annie and one son, Charles are buried in a plot right next to one of the access roads with a fairly large marker. My first real find . . . these were my baby steps as a genealogist. Other family members were interested too. I first took my mom and dad. Later, when my grandfather and step-grandmother came to Chicago, I took them. My dad’s brother (and his wife) and sister (and her daughter) have also been there. A virtual parade of descendants. Prior to us, I have a feeling that the grave had not seen a visitor since the late 1960’s.

The Next Step – the Web 
Louis Goldner
Oak Park, Illinois

I was excited by this find but not much followed. However, as time went by, my prospects for finding additional information began to improve. After a couple of years the Internet was just starting to come into play and although many of my early searches proved fruitless, I could tell that this new medium was rapidly expanding and held a great promise of more to come. I did not have the time or energy to do any old fashioned genealogical work . . . like going to courthouses and libraries and sifting through tons of documents. I needed something faster and easier and the Internet would soon fit that ticket. Early on there was not much to find but I did get a copy of the 1900 census and found various family members including Louis Goldner and family, who were still living in city at that time. I also found the Roth family in Monroe. Occasionally I would stumble across other information as well, such as a biography of Reuben Holcomb. Reuben was my great-grandfather and Grace Holcomb’s father. During this time, my interest in finding my family history was still only lukewarm and the Goldner trail was getting cold.

A number of years would go by before things would heat up again. It was not until 2007 that I started to make some real breakthroughs. This is when I got interested in the Goldners again. By this time, the internet was there. Census data and a wealth of other information had becoming readily available. One Friday afternoon, I found Louis Goldner on the web. I was randomly entering names and dates into the web browser and got a hit that read: “Louis Goldner born 1861.” I knew right away this was my Louis Goldner as I remembered his birth year as being 100 years before mine. The website was Kindred Konnections, a paysite and it would cost me $18.00 to sign-up for a month. Normally, I would avoid a pay site but here I had some real information so I bucked-up and signed-up.

In retrospect, what I found was less than overwhelming but at the time I was so desperate for information that I still got pretty excited. I found some modest information on Louis, his parents Frederick and Louise Goldner and his brothers Fred and Peter. One entry indicated that Louis Goldner’s mother, Louise was an Ebersold and the sister of Frederick Ebersold, who had been Chicago Superintendent of Police during the hay market riots. I have not been able to substantiate this but I know the entry was by a distant family member so it could very well be true. It is also interesting to note that Frederick Ebersold’s father, who died in his home of Bavaria was named Louis. I also found out that Peter and his son, another Fred had both been Chicago cops. The son Fred also served as Chief of Police of Cary, Illinois where he died of a brain hemorrhage while on the job. This is where I sensed a Goldner family / police connection that might have led Frederick Roth II to his chosen profession.

Off to the Races

The new Goldner information along with a breakthrough in Grace Holcomb’s family sparked a new interest in my family history. I always had an interest, now I was developing a passion. For the Goldners, I now looked to the United States Census. When I get a bead on someone, I like to go right to the census and gather that information. It gives me a good overview of the family and a firm foundation for further research. For the Frederick I and Louise (Ebersold) Goldner family, including children Frederick II, Louis and Peter, I pulled a total of 14 records stretching from 1860 to 1930. The census records themselves, led to other finds. It turns out that Frederick Goldner I and Louise (Ebersold) Goldner were divorced by 1880. In that census, I found Frederick living near Detroit with a Charles Goldner and listed as a border. My grandfather had told me that he thought Louis was a professional baseball player and came from Michigan to play baseball in Chicago (before the big leagues existed). It turns out that Louis was born in Chicago but he may still have played baseball and the Michigan connection does seem to be real. I also found Peter Ebersold and family on the same census page as Frederick Goldner and family, meaning they lived very close to each other (brother – sister connection . . . a coincidence? seems unlikely).

Frederick Goldner, the
brother of Louis.
There were two Goldners in the Dearborn/Detroit Michigan area, Charles and Henry. Whether they were all related is not known for sure but all hailed from Germany and seemed to have arrived between the 1850 and 1860 census. It is certain that Frederick and Charles were related and probably brothers. The census information gave me a general outline of the family in Chicago. In a nutshell, what I found was three sons of Frederick Goldner and Louise (Ebersold) Goldner that each raised a family and lived out their lives in Chicago. By the early 1900’s, there were quite a few Goldner cousins around the city and a few in the suburbs. I also found some information about the wives of these brothers, including Louis’s wife Anne Pazel. I found three census records for the Pazels. Her father was also named Louis, her mother was Mary and she had a sister Louise and brother Charles. As is typical, especially with the German families, there are a number of generations with the same name. In this case, many named Frederick, quite a few Louis/Louise, a few Charles and a number with Anne/Annie. While this can certainly make things confusing, I also find it quite compelling as it hints at the importance of family and tradition.

Obituaries and Cemetery Treks

By this time, I had a pretty good handle on the Goldners of Chicago. Not a lot of in-depth personal information or stories but at least a good amount of data of names and dates. The latest chapter in this research saga (though probably not the final one) came when I uncovered some obituaries of the family. Primarily from the Chicago Tribune and occasionally from other local papers these were of interest as they would verify family members, married names of daughters and also list burial places. I have many cemetery records and grave photographs of various family members. It is not often, however, that I can physically visit the cemeteries. Since the Goldners lived in Chicago, here was an opportunity to do just that. Visiting a library and looking at microfilm would give me this information but even better, I found that had added some obituary data bases. I found 12 obituaries which included the three Goldner brothers, their wives and some of their children. I am still missing a few and have not found obituary or burial information on Frederick Goldner I or Louise (Ebersold) Goldner. Still this was a great amount of new information. I visited four cemeteries where I documented and photographed the graves of the 12 family members and spouses.

The obituaries also yielded some interesting new information. For example: Frederick Goldner II was hit by a train, an apparent suicide. He was married to Annie (yes another Annie) Phillips/Mandel who was a widow and had children from her first marriage. He was dead by 1925 and sadly, was preceded in death by his daughter who died at the age of 20 of diphtheria. Mother Annie, on the other hand, lived until the age of 100 (died in 1964) and was a fixture on Charles Street, on the southwest side, where she spent 93 years, having lived on that block since coming to Chicago with her parents at the age of 7. This kind of information is priceless and forms a real connection to my ancestors and my past. I also found that Peter Goldner, the cop, was divorced and his buried alone at Forest Home Cemetery. Though I located the grave, he has no marker. Also the Frederick Goldner (son of Peter) who was also a cop, is buried at Woodlawn Cemetery, which is just a few blocks from my home and a place I drive by regularly.

This Just In – New Information

As I was finishing up this article, I came across more Goldner information. Thinking about the family and writing the article rekindled some curiosity so I spent a few minutes here and there searching the web for any new information. I came across an 1876 Chicago City Directory. It contained the address of Frederick Goldner I and the Ebersold brothers. For those of you who know something about Chicago history, you know that many of the street names have been changed. It turned out that Frederick Goldner lived on a street with a name that no longer exists. To find the exact location of these 19 century residences, I next found an 1880 map of Chicago. This is a very good map with all the streets, an index and it was scalable so I could really zoom in. Having found one city directory, I thought maybe there were more out there. Sure enough, I found others and specifically searched through the 1910 and 1923 editions. These led me to find the address of the Frederick Roth / Louise Goldner family as well as the three Goldner brothers, Louis, Frederick II and Peter. Some of these addresses still have buildings on them. It is unclear if these are the same homes lived in by my ancestors but it is plausible.

This new information really gives me a good sense of where the first few generations lived and a pattern of settlement. It turns out that most of the family lived on the near south and near west side of Chicago along a corridor that centered on Roosevelt Road. The first generation lived farther east with Frederick Ebersold just east of the Chicago River and Frederick Goldner not far away and just west of the river. Peter Ebersold was a bit farther west and a little north. The next generation saw Louis Goldner north of Roosevelt in Lawndale and farther west than his parents. Peter Goldner was right around the corner. Frederick Goldner II was the exception, he settled in far southwest Beverly which was the childhood home of his wife. With the third generation, Frederick Roth II was yet a little farther west but still in Lawndale (getting close to Cicero). Later, Louis would head to Oak Park, once again, moving west along the Roosevelt corridor.

The Search Never Ends

Louise Goldner
There is still material to be found about this Goldner family and I have no doubt that I will come across the information sometime in the future. Yet I can’t help but feel that I have uncovered a great deal already. As a boy, I knew that my great-grandmother was named Goldner, that she was from Chicago and that she had some brothers and sisters. That was about the extent of my knowledge of this family. Through this search, I have discovered her parents, grand-parents, aunts, uncles and cousins and in that sense, I have discovered the family . . . the Goldner family of Chicago is no longer lost.

I did not start out on a quest to find information solely on the Goldner family of Chicago; it was just another part of my greater family search. I did however, have a keen interest in finding out more about this family because of my Dad’s strong relationship with his grandparents. In that sense, the data I have accumulated over the last few years has broaden my knowledge and given me new insights into this branch of the family. I feel that I have brought them back into the fold, so to speak, and they have been re-united with the rest of the clan. There is still more to be found and I hope that it will be forthcoming but until them, I am grateful to have uncovered this lost family.


  1. Update,

    In late October of 2012, a Goldner connection was made - thanks to these posts. The connection was from the family of Frederick Goldner, brother of Louis and Peter. Lots of new information.

    1. Hi Bruce!

      I'm Sue Osborn (aged72), a descendant of Peter Goldner and his wife, and I live in Columbia, MD. My cousin Karen Kallas, who lives in Schaumburg, IL, is also a Goldner descendant. She sent me the link to your blog tonight. It looks absolutely fabulous, but I'll have to check it out more carefully tomorrow. It's almost midnight here, and I have an early appointment tommorrow.

      BUT I wanted to let you know righy away ....that I inherited some truly amazing Goldner/Mueller photos from my late parents, Marion and Ray Osborn (from Skokie, IL). One is of our family's South Side Chicago saloon with all the family members who worked there standing out front in Victorian-era dress. Another is of Peter Goldner in his Chicago police uniform, which is very similar – or identical – to your ancestor's police uniform. Also a photo of Peter's son, Fred, as a child and another of him as an adult. Fred also was a policeman in Cary, IL, late in life. And I have a photo of Fred's sister, Edna. in her wedding dress – absolutely beautiful!

      If you give me your e-mail address, I'll send you the JPEG files (or PDF's if you prefer) that I made when I scanned our original family photos. I can't handle Facebook and I can't blog, but if you have an e-mail address, I can send you the scans of these photos if you'd like to have them.

      Geneology is very cool, isn't it?

      Congrats on your great blog!
      Sue Osborn
      Landline: 410-730-2253

    2. I Sue,

      I am so glad you contacted me, I have made a few Goldner connections since I first started this blog and that has been great but I still long for more information and especially photos. I hope you will be able to send me some of those. I would also be happy to send you some I have from both Fred and Louis Goldner's Family. I will be in-touch.