Southeast Historical Society
Volume XIX No. 1
A Few Words From
I hope you all will have a
prosperous and happy new year!
Let me first announce our newest museum
worker, Mr. James Ostarello of the Pullman community, who also has
to be a docent in our museum on Thursdays. He has been making
familiar with the contents of our museum and the filing and cataloging
system now in place. Welcome, Jim and thanks!
This year will be the 20th anniversary
of the opening of the James P. Fitzgibbons Historical Museum.
with other stalwarts of the East Side in1976, Fitzgibbons started the
Side Historical Society, our predecessor. We remember his good
and his dedication to the community fondly.
During the past few months several
have visited our museum looking for genealogical material on their
Unfortunately we only have a limited amount of such information
The following items can be viewed during museum hours: bound
of the Daily Calumet from 1960 through 1979 plus many individual
copies of articles written for the ‘Daily Cal’ by the S.E.H. Project;
fifty copies of the James H. Bowen High School Yearbook from 1917-1999;
local telephone directories from 1898, 1915 and 1935; a 1953 Reverse
and an assortment of small local phone books from 1958 to the
If you are looking for genealogical
material, visit the Family History Center at 5200 South University
in Hyde Park. Call (773) 493-1830 for their hours of
Due to staff limitations they cannot handle mail inquiries.
Another source available to the public
is the NARA facility for the Great Lakes Region located at 7358 South
Road. Public service hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Monday
through Friday. They maintain retired records from regional
of federal agencies in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and
Wisconsin. Additional information may be found on the Internet
Still another source is the South
Genealogical and Historical Society formerly located in South
They have recently moved to Hazel Crest. Their files are of great
value to genealogists and information may be obtained at:
They are located at 3000 W. 170th Pl. in Hazel Crest,
Their telephone number is (708) 335-3340.
We hope the preceding information will
be of some help to you as you search for information for your family
Finally, can anyone loan us their home
movie showing the slag dumping on 100th Street? We would like to
copy it – at no cost to you – for our collection.
Hope to see you at our annual meeting in
Joseph A. Mulac
Newsletter Numbering Revision
We have revised the numbering system for
our newsletters to correspond to the calendar year. This
is Volume XIX Number 1. We have not missed any newsletters,
changed the numbering system.. Newsletters will continue to be
four times per year. Back issues (to December 1999) of our
are available on our web site:
Stories Feature Southeast Side
In recent weeks reporters
have used our
resources to prepare stories about topics related to the Southeast
A Chicago Tribune reporter, Bill Glauber, researched our files
information about the history of the Skyway. The story appeared
the Chicago Tribune on November 24, 2004. Kari Lyderson, a
from the Washington Post wrote a story on December 27, 2004 about the
to create a museum devoted to Chicago’s industrial history on former
Coke Plant property. The article also appeared in the Seattle
Copies of both articles may be viewed
at the Southeast Historical Museum.
The Southeast Historical
conduct its annual Membership Meeting on Saturday, March 19, 2005 in
Calumet Park Field House at 9801 Avenue G at 11 AM. All members
urged to attend and vote on the new slate of officers at this meeting.
Nominations may be made from the floor. The officers presented by
the nominating committee will be announced. Refreshments will be
served. All members are urged to be sure that their dues are up
Bowen High School
In the early 1800's the idea of
elementary school had a slow beginning on the southeast side of
This was despite the fact that other areas of the United States were
providing for higher education (meaning high school). At that
in our local history, the neighborhoods were being established by
who were primarily concerned with learning English and preparing for
The movement to establish high schools did not touch base on the
side until 1882 when the area’s earliest high school opened its doors
93rd and Houston Avenue with 14 students enrolled in a one room
This school was known as the South Chicago High School and in 1910 was
renamed the James H. Bowen High School.
James Harvey Bowen was a young entrepreneur interested in
the industrial development of the area. Bowen was the chairman of
the Republican State Central Committee who made arrangements for the
funeral in Illinois. Bowen and others founded the Calumet and
Canal and Dock Company in 1870. This resulted in improvements to
the Calumet River, draining and filling of swamps, construction of
docks, and railroad bridges. Factories were established mostly
the Calumet River and Bowen was instrumental in the opening of the
first steel mill, the Joseph H. Brown Mill (later Wisconsin Steel) in
For his interest and contributions to the southeast side of Chicago,
residents deemed it important to change the name of the South Chicago
School to James H. Bowen High School.
Bowen High School remains in South Chicago, a cultural and
institution serving today’s youth only in a different scenario.
was divided into four “small schools” in 2002 under the auspices
of the Chicago High School Redesign Initiative. Each “small
focuses on a specific educational program. The four schools at
are: Chicago Discovery Academy; BEST or Bowen Environmental
Team; Global Visions Academy; and the New Millennium School of
The four schools are funded by the Chicago Board of Education and
supplemental funds from the Bill and Melanie Gates Fund. Each
school has an enrollment of about 400 students, is staffed by certified
teachers, and has its own principal.
The Southeast Historical Museum has numerous materials related
to Bowen High School. We have an original photo of the 1909
graduation class of the South Chicago High School. Drop in and
you may discover one of your relatives.
Article by Gloria Novak
Aside from genealogists and reporters we
continue to receive requests for historical information from numerous
Many of the requests come via e-mail and our web site. Some are
other are not. We respond to all inquiries.
One recent request from England asked
about a company located at 9226 S. Burley. The company was
to have made Rocket Car Wash equipment. We were able to find
that revealed a laundry at that location in the 1930's and 1950's but
unable to find anything about a car wash equipment maker. Can you
Another request asked about a brewery located
on the northeast corner of 106th and Torrence. Alex Savastano
the brewery but was not sure when it closed. Most who were asked
about the site remembered a Standard Oil gas station and a tavern /
house next door. Can you help?
An e-mail questioned the opening date
of Washington School per our web site. We were able to track the
information down and were even sent a copy of an article from the Daily
Calumet which showed the first elementary students who entered the
Some of the confusion about Washington comes from the fact that the
opened as an experimental k-12 (elementary and high school combined)
with one principal. The cornerstone was laid in 1956, 72 high
students and 433 elementary students opened the school in February
and 50 students first graduated from the high school in February 1960
the Chicago Public Schools were still doing mid year
A request for Gallistel graduation photos from the late 20's resulted
a 1928 class photo being sent via e-mail. Unfortunately the
did not include the individual being sought.
Other requests sought U. S. Steel
records, Daily Calumets, Hegewisch News, and the Wrapped in Steel
video. By the way, we have access to some new technology which
us to make DVDs from videotapes. We have transferred our VHS
of “Wrapped in Steel” and “Aerial Views of the Calumet” to DVD
A researcher with a special interest in
crime is looking for anyone who remembers what went on in the first
of the twentieth century and who would be willing to be interviewed
organized crime. If you are interested in being interviewed
Rod Sellers at the museum.
A genealogist wanted to know what county
Saint Francis De Sales was located in. We had no problem with
We hope you can help with the above
Interesting individuals and
to visit our museum and be amazed at the wonders within. Since
last newsletter we have hosted teachers and students from Our Lady of
Middle School. In November three large groups from the Art
of Chicago visited the Southeast Side and our museum. They also
interested in seeing the murals on the second floor of the Field
Tour guide Bill Hinchliff made a generous donation to our museum.
We had many visitors during the Lake Shore Model Railroad Club open
in early November. Recently a professor from Northeastern
University (the university which hosts our web site) visited us in
for a course he plans to teach in fall of 2005. The course will
about the Calumet River.
We are planning on hosting the “Gypsy
Museum Group” on February 3 and a parent field trip on April 21 for the
Cultural Connections Program of the Field Museum.
Some recently published books
of interest to our members. In November Arcadia Publishing (the
that published our two Southeast Side books) released Along the
River by Cynthia Ogorek. This pictorial history covers
Calumet River system in Indiana, the suburbs, and Southeast
It features some photographs from the Southeast Historical Museum and
available for sale at the museum.
by Indiana University Press and written by Kenneth Schoon tells the
of the Calumet region from a geological, geographical, and historical
It includes numerous interesting maps, diagrams, and photos, some from
Although not specifically targeting
the Southeast Side, the Encyclopedia of Chicago has
entries relating to our area. Published by the University of
Press, the book includes articles about the Calumet region, the four
of the Southeast Side, steel and labor and more. It is rich in
maps, photos and graphics. Although a little on the expensive
(list price of $65) it is a must read for anyone interested in Chicago
A little searching on the internet or old
fashioned comparison shopping should make all of these books available
for less than the list price.
New Web Site
See Calumet Park Coast Guard Station web site at:
Oral History Projects
The SE Historical Society
with numerous organizations in the interest of sharing the story of our
community’s history. See our schedule of upcoming events for some
of these collaborations. Two more partnerships involve oral
We are currently working with the Hegewisch
Veterans Organization to interview WWII veterans and civilians.
are following the format of the Veterans History Project currently
conducted by the Library of Congress. Web site for this project
http://www.loc.gov/folklife/vets/ Plans are to send copies of
conducted to the Library of Congress and to retain copies of the
for our collections. Thus far five fascinating interviews have
conducted. We have spoken with two veterans of the bombing
in Europe, a navy veteran who was on a destroyer at Leyte, Iwo Jima and
Okinawa and whose ship was hit by a Kamikaze plane, a GI who was
during the Battle of the Bulge, and an infantry vet who landed in
shortly after D-Day. More interviews are scheduled.
We are partnering with the Metropolitan
Family Services on an intergenerational oral history project to
former steel workers about their experiences in area steel mills.
The “Successful Aging in Caring Communities” project is funded by a
Community Trust grant It will involve high school students
interviews with former steel workers. Two training sessions for
students will be conducted at the SE Historical Museum in January and
will begin in February.
Any WWII veterans or former steel
who are interested in being interviewed for either oral history project
should contact the SE Historical Museum or Rod Sellers
We will also be working on an oral history
project for Grandparents Day at Gallistel School and the theme of our
field trip for the Cultural Connections Program is using oral history
preserve family history.
In one of our future
newsletters we would
like to explore the topic of neighborhood legends and lore. Every
neighborhood has stories that are passed on from generation to
often without verification.. Among such stories on the SE Side
be things like: A. Lincoln and family swimming at Wolf Lake; Al
and the “Mob”; Walt Whitman editor of the Daily Calumet; the Potawatomi
princess who prevented Fort Dearborn from being on the Calumet
If you are aware of any of the above or any other similar stories
SE Historical Society Calendar
January 27, 2005 Thursday 7:00 pm - 9:00
Calumet Environmental History Workshop
A “show and tell” for teachers, researchers, and environmentalists
interested in the region’s diverse ecology. Hands on
and interaction utilizing the SE Historical Museum’s unique
History Collection. Workshop will take place at the SE Historical
located in the Calumet Park Fieldhouse at 9801 S. Avenue G.
Space. $5 donation (optional) Call 773-646-0436.
March 19, 2005 Saturday 11:00 am Southeast
The Southeast Historical Society will conduct its annual Membership
Meeting on Saturday, March 19, 2005 in the Calumet Park Fieldhouse at
Avenue G at 11 AM. All members are urged to attend and vote on
new slate of officers at this meeting. Nominations may be made from the
floor. The officers presented by the nominating committee will be
announced. Refreshments will be served.
April 16, 2005 Saturday 10:00 am - 12:30 pm
Learn the Cinderella story of the SE Side - how industrial behemoths
and toxic areas developed side by side with some of the best wetland
natural areas in the country. Narrated by an environmentalist and
a local historian the tour starts at the Calumet Park Fieldhouse at
S. Avenue G. $10 per person. Call 773-646-0436 for info.
April 30, 2005 Saturday 10:00 am - 12:00 pm Calumet
Join Rod Sellers and Friend of the Parks for this informative tour
beginning at the Calumet Park Fieldhouse. Highlights include
Landing, the heliport, Coast Guard Station, and the State Line Boundary
Marker. Be prepared to walk a few miles. Call 312-857-2757
for information or to register.