Rod Sellers
Southeast Historical Society
Southeast Side Home Page
Southeast Historical Society Introduction
SECHS Newsletter Index
 SEHS  Events / Calendar
 Chicago's Southeast Side Revisited

Take a tour of Chicago's Southeast Side
Southeast Historical Society News

April, 2003                                                                        Volume XVII No. 1


A Few Words From the President:

        My, how time flies! It is already the second quarter of 2003.
       Your society has recently been active in assisting a local group establish a steel worker memorial display at ‘The Zone,’ which was the Memorial Hall of U.S.W. of A. Local 1033. The group consists of Local 1033 retirees, the Illinois Labor History Society, Calumet Heritage Partnership and other interested community groups and individuals. It is hoped that a modest display will be in place in connection with a play about the 1937 Memorial Day Massacre to be presented by a drama club at ‘The Zone’ late in May.
       Besides participating with Rod Sellers in a tour called ‘Chicago’s Southeast Side – The Built Environment’ in conjunction with the Field Museum’s Spring 2003 Cultural Connections on May 31 I intend to continue writing my column (A Look Back) in the Southeast Chicago Observer. I wrote four articles in 2001, fourteen in 2002 and so far this year, four. The column features articles about many different subjects, from my boyhood reminiscences to histories of local parks and other institutions, and stories about local people in history, such as the first alderman of the 10th Ward.
       A current article is about the four murals painted during 1927-29 on the second floor of the Calumet Park field house. Tom Lea, who was then a student at the Art Institute of Chicago, painted some of these murals, which are representations of our early settlers meeting the area’s Native Americans. Mr. Lea became a famous painter, muralist, and historian of the West, author and World War II combat artist. He was also renowned as a painter of America’s Southwest heritage.  Mr. Tom Lea died at the age of 93 in El Paso, Texas on January 29, 2001. A friend of the George W. Bush family, he was quoted at the 2000 Republican Convention by  then-candidate Bush: “He and his wife, he said, ‘live on the east side of the mountain. It is the sunrise side, not the sunset side. It is the side to see the day that is coming, not to see the day that is gone.” Interesting, isn’t it: we, too, live on the southeast side…
       The purpose of the column is certainly not monetary gain, but a way to place our area’s history in front of the younger generation, and of course, us older’ natives and the Chicago community at large. At the end of each column I make a request for your stories for possible future publication. 
       At the museum, we hope to enlist the help of new volunteers so that perhaps we can expand our hours.
       We hope to see you all at the Installation Dinner on May 18 at Mr. D’s. 
by Joe Mulac
Our Annual Membership Meeting was held on March 22nd with 28 members attending. A unanimous vote was taken to accept the new slate of officers for 2003-2004 presented by the Nominating Committee. Officers-elect include: Joseph Mulac, President; Rod Sellers, Vice President, Gloria Novak, Recording Secretary; Annette Powell, Corresponding Secretary and Carolyn Mulac, Treasurer. Museum Curators are Frank Stanley, Ora Coon and Kaye Furmankiewicz. 
       Please take note of the enclosed announcement of the Installation Dinner to be held May 18 at Mr. D’s Villa. Keep your thoughts directed on warm weather and you will enjoy our special entertainment planned for the event. 
       Yearly membership dues are $5 and Lifetime memberships are $75.  Make sure your membership is up to date. 
by Gloria Novak
OAH Convention
       Rod Sellers attended the Organization of American Historians Convention in Memphis Tennessee from April 3-6.  He participated in a presentation entitled “New Frontiers in Digital History Instruction” and Rod’s focus was the creation of the Southeast Chicago web site ( and especially the role of our Museology students in developing the web site.  Another topic of discussion was “Interactive Teaching of History through Architecture”.  This portion of the program looked at the use of residential architecture as a tool for studying community history.  Students in the program focused on particular blocks in each community (89th and Exchange, 108th and Hoxie, 97th and Avenue H, and 131st and Brandon) and on the architecture present on those blocks.  To see the student block studies go to the web site, click on a community and then click on the link to residential architecture for each area.

Southeast Historical Society News

       We were sorry to hear of Gloria Van’s passing.  A southeast-sider who was a famous songstress who sang the “good old” songs. 
       The Gayety Candy Shop, where many of us took our dates, is on the move again.  From Commercial Avenue to the Landings and now to Ridge Road in Lansing.  What wonderful memories!  Good Luck to Jim and Lee Flessor in their new location. 
       Congratulations to Diane Kralj who along with other members of our historical society pushed for a new “state of the art” library on the East Side.  Library manager Richard McLelland has shown us the layout plans and they are splendid.  The area on 106th Street (the former site of the medical building) is under construction now and we look forward to a 2004 opening.  Wouldn’t Jim Vodak be proud? 
       Thanks to the efforts of police officer Harold Handley and other the Nativity scene is proudly displayed each Christmas at the Daley Center.  You will recall the ruckus over the appearance a few years back. 
       Look forward to a permanent display about the steel industry in the “Zone” at 117th and Avenue O.  The memory of Wisconsin Steel, Republic Steel, 
U. S. Steel, John Moore Company and others from the era when steel was king during the boom years of our area will never be forgotten. 
by Frank Stanley
Museum News Items
       Jennifer Hartz, a cataloger for the U. S. Newspaper Project, headquartered locally at the Chicago Historical Society (CHS), visited the museum recently.  The project is an attempt to locate, catalog, and eventually microfilm local newspapers across the country.  Our museum recently obtained a bound volume of Daily Calumets from January to June of 1902.  They were donated by Steve Katich who has donated numerous interesting items over the years.  These issues of the Daily Calumet are not part of the CHS Daily Calumet collection and therefore CHS is extremely interested in microfilming these newspapers which by the way are in very poor condition.  The CHS has the Daily Calumets on microfilm between 1903 and 1937 and has other bound volumes from 1940 to 1987.  We also hold other dates of the Daily Calumet which are not part of the current holdings of the CHS.  Jennifer was also very interested in our collection of the Hegewisch News and other local newspapers which have been published in our area especially since the Hegewisch News and the Daily Calumet have ceased publication.  Our collections include bound volumes of most of the Daily Calumets  published between 1960 and 1979 and other bound volumes between 1984 and 1987.  We also have a large collection of the Hegewisch News from 1950 to August 1989 when the original owners were bought out and the newspaper underwent a series of ownership, name, and circulation changes.  During that confusing period some of the papers which were published by the successors to the Hegewisch News were the East Side News, the Hegewisch Herald, the East Side times, the Calumet Journal, and the Trumpeter.  Other publishers produced the Hispanic Times, Neighborhood News, and Southeast Chicago Observer.  Only the Observer is still published on a regular basis.  Our museum has the only collection of many of these papers and the U. S. Newspaper Project is very interested in this collection.  Jennifer and Rod Sellers worked together to update our catalog of local papers and also to chronicle the numerous name changes which occurred.  It is hoped, as money becomes available, that the project will microfilm these local newspapers and that we at the Southeast Historical Museum would be able to obtain copies of the microfilms.   In our discussions with Jennifer we have raised the question as to whether our museum could obtain other microfilms of Daily Calumets which have already been microfilmed and are held by CHS.  Our newspaper collections may be viewed during regular museum hours.  Come in and see these historical treasures. 
       A wide range of researchers and other folks use our historical materials on a regular basis.  An Li, an Assistant Professor in Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences from the University of Illinois at Chicago, visited the museum looking for information about the environmental history of the Lake Calumet region.  She used materials and information developed by students in the Museology program for a very technical research paper published in the Journal of Environmental Science and Technology.  Ken Schoon, Associate Dean of the School of Education at Indiana University Northwest, visited the museum and obtained several photos which will appear in a book about the Calumet area which will be released soon. 
       Len Kurdek of the Polish Museum of America sent a copy of the sheet music for the “Steel Mills Polka”.  He had previously sent the lyrics for the song in addition to other materials described in our last newsletter (January, 2003).  He also sent a translation of the lyrics.  Visit the museum to see these materials.
 Chicago police officer David Evans is doing research on old Chicago police stations and visited the museum recently.  He was elated to find a photograph of the 16th Precinct station which was located on 106th and Avenue M in a building that still stands on the southwest corner of the intersection.  He provided us with a xerox copy of the station that was located on 101st and Ewing across the street from St. Francis De Sales High School.  He was looking for information and a photograph of a local police station located on 143th and Erie Avenue (now Baltimore Avenue) in Hegewisch in about 1900.  Does anyone have any information or materials on this station?  Contact museum personnel if so. 
 We welcome donations of historical materials related to the history of the southeast side of Chicago and its people and institutions. 


       Remember when it was CURTAINS for you and the household as part of spring-cleaning in April? Many of us can reflect back to the painstaking chore of shaking out the curtains and using products such as American Family Soap, Little Boy Blue Bluing and Argo Starch for the finishing touches. Then enlisting the man of the house to set up the curtain stretchers for the exact measurements of the curtains. And then came the pinning of the curtain to the wooden stretcher and the sticking of bleeding fingers into the hundreds of pins. Most homes had basements for the curtains to dry and then there were times with warmer weather we would set up in the back yard. But there was another problem that would arise when a second batch of sheers came out of the soap bath and starch to discover the size was not the same as those on the curtain rack. It would start all over again readjusting the stretchers to accommodate the new size. So when we say, “Remember the good old days” we might remember the curtain stretcher. For those too young to recall, come down to the Museum – we have several stretchers but no one to work at the chore. 
by  Gloria Novak 
Cyberspace News 
       Much of our work goes on behind the scenes and some of it even in “cyber space”.  Because of our web site we get numerous “hits” and are often contacted by e-mail from locations across the country and even, in fact, from across the globe.  These e-mail contacts include comments about the web site, requests for information, and even offer us the opportunity for information, materials, and new members. 
       We were made aware of a new web site which has photos from the Chicago Daily News taken between 1902 and 1933.  The URL is:  The site is a collaborative effort of the Chicago Historical Society and the Library of Congress.  Most of the photos are not from this area but there are some interesting local photographs posted on the site.  The search engine on the site is fairly easy to use and you can find photos on the following items of local interest: Battling Nelson; 98th and 99th Street Beaches; 95th Street Bridge;  Drake Fountain; Leopold - Loeb murder of Bobby Franks and the search for the body at Wolf Lake; ice harvesting on Wolf Lake and Lake Calumet; and many others.  A Danish web master who has a web site ( about Battling Nelson and other Danish boxers was particular interested. 
       There is also a web site about the history of public transportation in the city of Chicago which has interesting information and photos ( about early public transportation routes in the area.  Many of you remember the “Number 5" trolley but do you remember what its route was?  Do you remember the number and route of the Hegewisch trolley?  Do you know why the current South Chicago bus route is the #30?  Do you remember the names of the companies that provided service to this area before the CTA came into existence in 1947? 
       A former resident Margyie Wesson, now living in California asks via e-mail  “I was born and raised in Hegewisch, would like to know how many of my school classmates are still with us.  Graduated from Henry Clay in 1941.”  Margyie intends to become a life member of the SE Historical Society and has an 86 year old aunt who still lives in Hegewisch. 
       We received an e-mail contact from the husband of a Zirngibl descendant.  He sent a copy of an 1895 court case involving the grave site and purchased a copy of Chicago’s Southeast Side Revisited in addition to enrolling his wife as a member of our historical society. 
       Richard McLelland new Branch Manager of the Vodak Eastside Library and member of the Southeast Historical Society presented a series of programs at local libraries focusing on Jean Baptiste Dusable, Chicago’s first permanent settler.  The program discussed Jean Baptiste Dusable’s role in the fur trade, the founding of Chicago and his relationship to the prominent Indian tribes in the area.  Further information about Native Americans in the area is available at
  One e-mail contact from Sacramento California says, “My mom was born in Chicago in 1928 at 8535 Burley Avenue.  I have some photos of her and my grandparents from that era.  My grandparents moved back to Mexico 4 years later.  My mom said that it was a largely Polish neighborhood....”
 Another e-mailer writes, “I visited the Southeast Historical Society’s museum today (4/06/2003) and found a large amount of items of interest.  Joe Mulac and Alex Savastano were very helpful in pointing out several items.  I am searching for anything pertaining to the Chicago Shipbuilding Company / American Shipbuilding Company located at 101st and the Calumet River....”

Teachers' Center
National Endowment for the Humanities
Illinois University