Rod Sellers
Southeast Historical Society
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Southeast Historical Society News
July, 2002                                                 Volume XVI No. 1

A Few Words From the President:

   As we were all taught, it is always proper to extend a ‘thank you’ to all who were good to you.  We had a very nice 19th Annual Installation Dinner on May 19, 2002 at Mr. D’s Villa and would like to thank everyone who attended.  A special thanks to all who worked to make it a success, especially the officers and volunteers.
     We wish to extend our gratitude to the following:  Rev. Alfredo Gundrum of St. Kevin’s Church, East Side United Methodist Church Brotherhood, 1st East Side Bank, Royal Savings Bank, Pullman Bank, Elmwood Chapel, Jim Mack of Greisel’s, Alderman John Pope, Bloom Realty, Illiana American Legion Post No. 220 and Auxiliary, Mr. & Mrs. John Novak, the family of Joseph Torres, our distinguished authors and Mr. D’s staff.  A special thanks to Ora Coon, our perennial ticket chairperson.
     Last Thursday, July 11, we attended the regular meeting of the Commission of Chicago Landmarks at 33 North LaSalle to observe the action on various landmark designations.  This meeting included the presentation of preliminary recommendations for landmark designation for the Bryn Mawr-Belle Shore Apartment Hotels, the Jewelers Row District and Hotel LaSalle Garage.  Also on the agenda was the public hearing and final recommendation on the Illinois-Indiana State Line Boundary Marker at 103rd and Avenue G.  As you know, this marker dates from 1838. 
     Back in the 1980’s, our member, Thomas Rutkowski, pointed out the condition of the marker and a movement started to correct the situation.  The marker was moved and rehabbed in 1988 by the hard work and efforts of Mr. Al Benson of Com-Ed, the East Side Chamber of Commerce, East Side Historical Society (our predecessor), local residents and our friends and neighbors across the border in Indiana.
     At the meeting an attorney for Com-Ed indicated no objection to landmark status for the marker.  The present owners of the property never replied to notices mailed to them.  A representative of the Hammond Historical Society and a spokesman from the Illinois Historical Preservation Agency indicated their approval of the recommendation.  Our Alderman, John Pope, had earlier stated his approval with a letter.  I stated our organization’s affirmative stance and thanked the Commission’s staff on such a fine presentation.  The recommendation now goes to the City Council for final action within the year.
     I also learned that on April 16, 1996, the People’s Gas South Chicago Neighborhood Store at 8935 South Commercial Avenue, built in 1925, was declared a Chicago landmark.  The Illinois-Indiana State Line Boundary Marker will then be our area’s second landmark.

Joseph M. Torres Memorial

       Upon the death of Joseph M. Torres, a long time resident of the area, his wife and children requested that memorials to Joseph (in lieu of flowers) be sent to the Southeast Historical Society to be used for general expenses.  What a grand gesture and the first of its kind.  Words cannot express our thanks for their thoughtfulness and generosity. 
 Mr. Torres always enjoyed the facilities at Calumet Park, especially the field house and our museum.  His family followed his wishes in setting up the memorial donations.  A total of $1495 has been received from family and friends.   We have also received a fine portrait of Mr. Torres which is displayed at the museum. 

Get Well Ora

Get well wishes to Ora Coon who is recovering from a fall.  Ora is our treasurer and a  most reliable museum volunteer.  She is missed a  great deal and we wish her a speedy return. 

Cultural Institutions Project

       The Museology class has completed their year long project which was entitled “Chicago’s Southeast Side: Cultural Institutions”.  The project involved studying how various ethnic groups in the area pass on their cultural traditions to succeeding generations.  The students focused on the importance of churches in this cultural transmission.  In addition to doing a great deal of research the students reorganized the museum collection of materials on area churches, added to our web site,  conducted interviews with local church leaders, conducted a tour of area churches for the Field Museum Cultural Connections Program, and published a booklet which summarized their findings. 
      Our church collection has been made more accessible and numerous articles have been added to the folders on individual churches.  More work remains to be done in this area and we are still seeking donations of materials related to church histories, especially anniversary books.  If owners of these church anniversary books are unwilling to donate them to the museum, they may be loaned to us for copying and they will then be returned. 
      Our web site continues to grow and to receive positive comments from “visitors” to the site.  (See additional story.) 
      On May 18, students in the Museology program led a 57 seat highway coach full of visitors on a tour of the Southeast Side which focused on area churches.  The visitors began with a stop at our museum for an introduction to the area by Joe Mulac and for refreshments served by Frank Stanley, Alex Savastano, Ora Coon, Jean Stanley, and Gloria Novak.  The favorites among the refreshments were pastries from the Calumet Bakery.  The group then went on a bus tour led by students in the Museology Program  which took them through the East Side, South Deering and South Chicago.  Tour guides included Alex Pugh, Joanne Monroe, Graciela Briones, Erica Hernandez, Lauryn Wapinski, and Miguel Ramirez.  The visitors were very impressed with the knowledge and presentation skill of the students.  The churches founded by the numerous ethnic groups in the area were the highlights of the tour.  Interior tours of Annunciata Church, St. Michael’s Polish Catholic Church, and Our Lady of Guadalupe were enjoyed by all.  The day ended with an ethnic meal prepared by local caterer Neil Bosanko.  A great and educational time was had by all. 
      Another part of this project was the preparation of a booklet entitled “Chicago’s Southeast Side: Cultural Institutions A Community of Churches.”  The twenty page booklet covers the history of many of our area churches.  It includes pictures of the churches, many of which have not been seen before.  This is the third booklet produced by the Museology Class and by other students from Washington High School.  The first was a self guided driving tour of the four Southeast Chicago communities.  The second booklet was an environmental history of the Southeast Side.  All three booklets are available for purchase at the museum.  All three booklet are posted on our web site as well. 
      The final phase of the project is still being produced.  It will be a historical calendar focusing on area churches and it should be available by early fall. The funding for the year long project was provided by the Field Museum Cultural Connections Program, the Oppenheimer Family Foundation, and the Disney Creative Classroom Project. 

Lifetime Membership Dues Increase

     It was voted at our Annual Membership Meeting held on March 16, 2002 to increase Life Member dues from $50 to $75.  Yearly dues remain $5.  Are your dues paid up?  If not stop in the museum or mail your dues in. 

Requests for Information

      Any data or information on activities during the Civil War in our area would be greatly appreciated as well as pre Eisenhower political campaign buttons.  Contact Joe Mulac at the museum.
      If you have any church anniversary books you are willing to donate or loan to the museum contact Rod Sellers at the museum.

Museum News

     The museum continues to be used on a regular basis by students and professional researchers.  They are almost always amazed at the wide range of resources which we have available in our collections.  We also are visited regularly by groups and individuals who are interested in the history of this most interesting area. 
      Father Rob Charbonneau CP, who works at the Passionist Fathers Historical Archives in Union City New Jersey, visited the museum to do research fo a project which he is working on. 
      In April Chris Walley, who teaches cultural anthropology at MIT, visited the museum.  Chris, who grew up on the East Side and attended Washington High School, was doing research for a video project about the social impact of the closing of area steel mills.  Rod Sellers, Frank Stanley, and others were interviewed and we look forward to seeing the finished product when it is available. 
      On May 11,2002 Rod Sellers led a group of teachers and researchers from the Newberry Library on a tour of the museum and a tour of the Southeast Side and also of the Pullman historical area.  The group was very impressed with the materials in the museum and especially with the work that has been done by students in our Museology Program. 
     Sherri Ervin, Jeffrey Manor Branch Librarian, visited the museum near the end of May to research the history of the Jeffrey Manor community. 
      An Li, an Assistant Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences at the University of Illinois Chicago, visited the museum to do research about environmental problems in the area near Lake Calumet.  She found many of the materials collected by the students in last year’s Museology class Environmental History Project to be very useful.  Of particular interest was a study by the United States Geological Service on fill deposits in the area.  The study, which is available at the museum had maps which showed the types of fill used in the area, the dates that various areas were filled in, and the depths of various fill deposits in the Calumet area. 
      On July 11, 2002 twenty students of the drama class from East Side United Methodist Church visited the Museum.  The group along with instructors from the University of Chicago are writing a play with our area as the setting for the story.  They selected individuals from our many pictures to serve as characters in their dramatic presentation.  What an interesting idea. 
      Many groups have visited us over the years and we always welcome them to see our wonderful collections about Southeast Side history. 

Trip to Russia

      Rod Sellers, Museology Coordinator, recently returned from a trip to Moscow to attend a Bi National Digital Resources Conference.  The conference was sponsored by the Library of Congress and the Russian Federation for Internet Education.  Its purpose was to bring together teachers from the United States and from Russia who use the internet in their teaching.  Rod did a presentation which concentrated on the Southeast Side web site ( which he and his students set up and maintain. 

Calumet Biodiversity Blitz

     Join the scientists who will come to our region to find as many species as possible in a 24 hour period.  Observe scientists engaged in an actual biological inventory.  Join special tour of Eggers Woods, Wolf Lake and Powderhorn Lake.  Attend short presentations by experts on birds, mammals, fishes and fungi.  Learn how you can become involved in the Calumet Stewardship Initiative.  The Calumet Biodiversity Blitz will occur from 2:00 PM, Friday, August 23 to 2:00 PM, Saturday, August 24 and will be held at the William W. Powers State Recreation Area (Wolf Lake State Park).  For more information contact or call the Field Museum Bioblitz Hotline at 312-665-7450. 
So many species, so little time!
E-mail Contacts
     Our web site ( continues to generate interest and questions from internet users from across the country and even from other countries.  These are some comments received via e-mail:

 “I grew up in Hegewisch and now live in Dalton, Georgia and was wondering if you have any photos of the old lighthouse on Baltimore Avenue.  My grandfather owned it for a while.”

 “I am trying to locate any pictures or information (cemeteries or schools) on the area where my family would have lived (10041 Avenue L around the turn of the century).  I know they lived close to Lake Michigan as my father ice skated on the lake” from Spokane Washington.

 “I was just browsing the web and came across this site.  I set the East Side Monument picture as the background to my computer.  It’s awesome!  What a neat project! I’m going to share this site with my parents.  I sent it to most of my friends.”

 “As I searched the internet on information about Hegewisch I came across the SEHM web site.  I am from Denmark and I’m collecting material for a book on old time boxers of Danish origin.  Oscar Matthew Nelson - winning the world lightweight championship as Battling Nelson - grew up in Hegewisch.”

 “To Washington High School students:  As a graduate of Washington HS, it was great to see this site and also to see that the students are doing such a great job.  Keep it up.”  J___ K___
Class of 64.

 “This is a great site.  A friend from California sent it to me....we’re very proud of the work that you’re doing history wise.  My friend in California and I share many fond memories of the East Side.”

 “To the kids at Washington High School, you did a good job....I moved out of the East Side in 1956, I still remember a lot of things about it.  Hope the kids at Washington keep up the work.”  (Tampa Bay)

 “Is it you who put together all those wonderful writeups on the East Side?  They are FASCINATING!  I was born in 1930 and lived on the East Side from 1930 to 1942.  I attended St. Francis De Sales School.  Many of my family worked at Wisconsin Steel.  This is just great stuff.  Thank you so much. ....By the way the community used to buy and read the Daily Calumet which was a wonderful community newspaper.”

 “I am a teacher at Gallistel Language Academy and a student at Chicago State.  I am working on a research paper for a class I am taking.  I have really found the information on your web site to be helpful and I thank you for all the work you have obviously done”

 “First, I want to say what a great page you and your team had put together on the history of Southeast Chicago.  I just spent a Sunday afternoon driving through the city streets and to see this page with so much history will bring me back.  I am looking for information concerning the filming of the movie “The Blues Brothers.”  ( 

 “I just visited your interesting website about South East Chicago and have a question for you.  I have been researching our families for over 20 years and recently concentrated on my grandma and her first husband who came to South Chicago in 1891 for him to work on the Exposition as a carpenter.”

 “Here I am in Roswell, New Mexico enjoying a tour of the place where I and my husband grew up, the Southeast Side of Chicago.  We would like to congratulate the students who participated in this project for having done a fine job.  Best wishes to all from the Land of Enchantment.”

 “I would like to let you know how much I have enjoyed this site.  Having grown up in Jeffrey Manor and attended Bowen High School, this has a lot of sentimental value. “

 ”I would like to compliment you on the Southeast Side Tour website.  My family has roots in South Chicago going back to 1900.  My grandmother lived in South Chicago for over 90 years.  She lived in numerous apartments in a five block area.  I grew up on 87th and Escanaba and attended Immaculate Conception grade school.  I worked at Goldblatt’s Department store and United States Steel.  I have very fond memories of growing up in South Chicago and no matter where I live now I feel great pride in having lived and worked in that part of the city”

Teachers' Center
National Endowment for the Humanities
Illinois University