52 Ancestors – Week 2018-16
By Don Taylor
Some families are difficult to research because there aren’t many records about a family in a pioneer location. Other times there are too many people with the same name in a location. Such is the case of my Aunt Barbara’s maternal grandfather, Jacob F. Wilhelm. His father was also Jacob Wilhelm and his mother was Louise. He married a Louise Lenz. There were also two other Jacob Wilhelms living in Chicago during the time of Jacob and his father. Separating them all is difficult, but I think I have it.
Research Durand 2018 – Ancestor #6
List of Grandparents
- Grandfather: Jacob Frederick Wilhelm (1875-1943
- 1st Great-grandfather: Jacob Wilhelm
Jacob Frederick Wilhelm (1875-1943)
Jacob Frederick Wilhelm was born on 1 July 1875 in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois. It appears that he was the oldest of two (known) children of Jacob and Louise Hanns (or Harrus) Wilhelm, both of whom were German immigrants. In 1870, Chicago was the fifth largest city in the United States with almost 300,000 people. When Jacob was born, Chicago was still recovering from the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The fire had left nearly 1/3 of the city’s population (100,000 people) homeless.
In the ensuing years between his birth and 1900, the population of Chicago grew to nearly 1.7 million, a growth of more than five times in 25 years. Most of these new immigrants were from Europe; however, many migrated from the eastern states also.[i]
In 1893, when Jacob was 18 years old, Chicago was host to the “World’s Columbian Exposition” (aka Chicago World’s Fair). More than 27 million people attended the fair; I have to imagine that young Jacob and his 16-year-old brother, George, had to have attended sometime during the event.
Jacob married Louise Lentz on 18 March 1903 in Chicago. Like Jacob, Louise was the daughter of German Immigrants. It was the first marriage for both of them.
Jacob and Louise had five children
- Elizabeth Born 1904, who married Harold Woolrich (or Wodrich).
- Dorothy Born 1907 who married Richard Durand.
- Edward Born 1911, (Marital status unknown)
- Robert – Born 1923, who married Merla (unknown)
- Louise – Born 1927, who married Charles Jordan
In 1910, Jacob and his wife were living at 5249 Carpenter Street with his two children and his brother George. Jacob is the foreman at a packing house.
It appears that by 1916, Jacob was working at a saloon at 5250 South Ashland Ave.[ii] By1917 Jacob had become a saloonkeeper at 2901 N. Kedzie Ave. Chicago. He lived upstairs and the saloon was downstairs.
Jacob was described as tall, with a medium build, gray eyes, and light brown hair. He was identified as having a paralyzed right arm and throat on his World War 1 draft registration, thus disqualifying him from service.
There was probably nothing as disastrous to a saloonkeeper as Prohibition, which was ratified by the states in January 1919 and took effect on January 16, 1920. The 1920 Census, which was enumerated on 1 January 1920, shows Jacob as a storekeeper of a grocery store at 2901 N. Kedzie. His saloon was converted to a grocery store which he, and presumably his wife ran. His oldest daughter, Elizabeth, was working as a stenographer, and his younger daughter, Dorothy, and his son, Edward, were attending school.
The 1930 Census indicates the family was still at 2901 N. Kedzie, however, in 1930 it was a candy shop. Living with Jacob is his wife Louise and his son Edward who was working as an office clerk. His two youngest, Robert is attending school and Lois is only 2-1/2.
By 1940, the candy store appears to have shifted back to a retail grocery store. Jacob was the Storekeeper and his wife was a clerk. Their youngest children, Robert and Lois, are still living with them and are attending school.
It appears that sometime between 1940 and 1943, Jacob and Louise moved two blocks away to 2938 N Sawyer Avenue.
Death & Burial
Jacob F. Wilhelm died on 23 June 1943 of chronic myocarditis. According to his death certificate, he was buried at Fairmount Cemetery in [Willow Springs], Palos [Township], Cook County, Illinois. Find-a-Grave did not have a memorial for Jacob Wilhelm, so I created a memorial and I have requested photos of his marker.
On his social security application with the Chicago and North Western Railroad, Jacob’s son, Edward Clarence Wilhelm, indicated that his father’s middle name was “Ferdinan.” I think this was in error. Edward’s maternal grandfather’s name was Ferdinand. I believe that Edward confused the two names. The best source I have for Jacob’s middle name is his World War I draft registration which indicates that his middle name was Frederick. Jacob saw this form, was literate and signed the registration indicating that he had verified the information and it was true.
————– Disclaimer ————–
[i] Internet – Wikipedia – History of Chicago – Immigration and population in the 19th century.
[ii] City Directory, Chicago, 1916, Page 1747 – Jacob Wilhelm – Via Fold3
- 1910 Census, Jacob Wilhelm – Chicago, Cook, IL – ED 1281, Sheet 15A, Line 79. United States Census, 1910, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MK8Q-56T : accessed 1 May 2016), Jacob Wilhelm, Chicago Ward 29, Cook, Illinois, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 1281, sheet 15A, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration); FHL microfilm 1,374,288.
- 1920 Census, Jacob Wilhelm – Chicago, Cook, ED 1677, Sheet 7B, Line 77. “United States Census, 1920,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MJQY-D31 : accessed 1 May 2016), Jacob Wilhelm, Chicago Ward 27, Cook (Chicago), Illinois, United States; citing sheet 7B, NARA microfilm publication T625 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration); FHL microfilm 1,820,340.
- 1930 Census (NARA), Ancestry.Com, 1930 Census – Jacob Wilhelm – Chicago, Cook, Illinois. Online publication – Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2002.Original data – United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Fifteenth Census.
- 1940 Census, Ancestry.Com, Jacob Wilhelm – Chicago, Cook, IL – ED 103-2026, Sheet 2B, Line 75.
- Illinois Certificate of Death – Number 18873, Jacob F. Wilhelm – Image from
- City Directory (A), Ancestry.Com, Chicago – 1917 – Page 1919 – Jacob F Wilhelm.
- Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths, 1916-1947, Family Search, Death – Jacob F. Wilhelm – 23 Jun 1943. “Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths, 1916-1947,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NQPK-RR8 : accessed 1 May 2016), Jacob F. Wilhelm, 23 Jun 1943; Public Board of Health, Archives, Springfield; FHL microfilm 1,953,885.
- Illinois, Cook County Marriages, 1871-1920, Family Search, Jacob Wilhelm & Louise Lenz – 18 Mar 1903. “Illinois, Cook County Marriages, 1871-1920,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:N7DW-2WB : accessed 1 May 2016), Jacob Wilhelm and Louise Lenz, 18 Mar 1903; citing Chicago, Cook, Illinois, 362375, Cook County Courthouse, Chicago; FHL microfilm 1,030,349.
- U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,Ancestry.Com, Jacob Fredrick Wilhelm. Registration State: Illinois; Registration County: Cook; Roll: 1613896; Draft Board: 64.