After the Fire: the Chicago Brickmakers

Chicago in Flames
Chicago in flames: Scene at Randolph Street Bridge. Lithograph from Currier & Ives. (Image from Library of Congress Digital Collections.)

Chicago, October 8, 1871. Fire!

On the evening of Sunday, October 8, 1871, a fire breaks out in Chicago, just to the southwest of the city’s center. It had been a dry fall, and the fire quickly spread. Over the next 30 hours, the central area of the city burned, spreading across roughly 3.3 square miles of the city, leaving over 100,000 people (1/3 of the city) homeless, and about 300 people dead. Much of the city was left smoldering in ashes and rubble. The fire was known as The Great Chicago Fire, and today marks the 150th anniversary of the blaze.

In 1871, my 3rd great-grandfather, Johann Adolph Wilhelm Mueller, was a brickmaker in Lake View, and had owned his own brickyard for about six years. While it is a populous Chicago neighborhood now, at that time, Lake View was a rural township just north of Chicago city limits, with about 2,000 residents, and was known for its celery fields and emerging brickyards. Thomas Moulding had established the first brickyard in the township in 1863 on Southport Ave., and started using the clay along the Chicago River to make bricks. Very soon, others, mostly Germans like my 3rd great-grandfather, set up brickyards nearby. After the Great Chicago Fire, their bricks literally helped rebuild the ravaged city. This is the story of my brick-making ancestors. Continue reading “After the Fire: the Chicago Brickmakers”

Papa’s Centennial Birthday

Emma Medine holding Ed Drake
Emma Medine holding her son, Edwin Drake, in 1920.

This week my Papa would have turned 100 years old. My grandfather, Edwin William Drake, was born on May 2, 100 years ago in Genoa, Illinois. He was welcomed by his parents, Charles and Emma (Medine) Drake, and an older brother, Charles. He grew up on a farm near Genoa, and graduated high school during the Great Depression. He met and fell in love with my grandma, Millie Kaiser, just before she joined the WAVES during WWII. After she left the service, they were married in June 1946. They had two daughters and four grandchildren. He lived in the Genoa area for his whole life. He was a farmer, business owner, public servant, and foreman. He accomplished many things during his life, but his family was everything to him. Papa loved his family dearly, and loved to spend time with them whenever he could. Continue reading “Papa’s Centennial Birthday”

A cool day in October, 96 years ago

Today I’m remembering my Nana, who was born 96 years ago today. Continue reading “A cool day in October, 96 years ago”

Archiving Your Digital Family History Files (#4): Protect Your Digital Archive

This is part five of a five-part blog series about organizing and preserving your digital genealogy files. Read the introduction here, Step #1 here, Step #2 here, and Step #3 here.

Congratulations! You’ve made it to Step #4! You’re almost there! You’ve put so much work into creating your Digital Family History Archive, and now we’re going to protect your Archive from disaster and make sure that it remains accessible and functional for years to come. In this step, we’ll talk about backing up your archive using the rule of 3-2-1 and creating a plan for your archive in the future. This step is easy to forget, but is essential for the survival of your Archive.  Continue reading “Archiving Your Digital Family History Files (#4): Protect Your Digital Archive”

Archiving Your Digital Family History Files (#3): Preserve Your Digital Files

This is part four of a five-part blog series about organizing and preserving your digital genealogy files. Read the Introduction here and Step #1 here and Step #2 here.

Now that you have an Archive set up, and you have established an overall organizational system, it’s time to tackle those individual files. This step in the process is the most time consuming, especially as you’re getting started, but once you get used to the process, it will be much faster!

For each file that will enter your archive, you’ll need to do four things:

  1. Decide if it’s something that you need to save.
  2. Decide if you need to resave the file in a different file format.
  3. Rename the file into a standard format, and add other information to the file if needed.
  4. Move the file into its appropriate place in your new Archive.

Continue reading “Archiving Your Digital Family History Files (#3): Preserve Your Digital Files”