Obituaries from Chicago German-Language Newspapers

By |22 Jun 2013|Chicago Genealogy, German Genealogy, Hann, Obituaries, Translation|Comments Off on Obituaries from Chicago German-Language Newspapers

Today’s topic is about using and translating obituaries from Chicago German-Language newspapers. I’ve found the birthplace for Gottfried Hann (1861-1896), my great-grandfather, as I continue trying to read 19th-c. German without actually knowing any. I paid a researcher to find these obituaries at the Newberry Library and now I’m translating them myself as part of my homework for my German genealogy class. For more information about finding and using German-language newspapers, click here.

For the obituary at right from Chicago Abendpost, Samstag, den 17 October 1896, S. 4:

Obituaries from Chicago German-Language Newspapers

Chicago Abendpost, Samstag, den 17 October 1896, S. 4

Gestorben: Gottfried Hann, geboren am 2. May 1861 im Ladis, Tyrol, 35 Jahre alt. Gestorben am 17. Oktober 1896. Hinterlasst Frau und zwei kinder. Beerdigung findet statt Montag, den 19. Oktober. Nachmittags 2 Uhr. von 21 Dayton Str. Tyroler und Vorarlberger Verein Chicago. F.A. Mathis, Sekretär. Daniel Kulin, Pres.

Died: Gottfried Hann was born on 2nd May 1861 in Ladis, Tyrol, 35 years old. Died on 17th October 1896. Leaving his wife and two children. Burial will be held Monday, 19th October. 2 o’clock in the afternoon. [Funeral party leaving] from 21 Dayton Street. Tyroler and Vorarlberg Club Chicago. F.A. Mathis, Secretary Daniel Kulin, President.

(I left the Victorian hearse ad in there because it’s cool. Gottfried’s family couldn’t afford a get-up like that. In fact, he was buried in a rented grave and when they family couldn’t pay, they buried him deeper and resold the plot at Saint Boniface Cemetery in Chicago.)


For the featured image above from Der Westen (Illinois Staats-Zeitung), Sonntag, 18 Oktober 1896, S. 5:

Gegenseitiger Unterstützungsverein der Ver[brüderung?] Oesterreicher und Bayern!

Den Mitgliedern zur Nachricht dass Gottfried Hann am 17. Oktober gestorben ist. Die Beamten und betreffenden Mitglieder haben sich am Montag Nachmittag um ½ 2 Uhr im Vereinslokale zu versammeln, um dem Verstorbenen die letzte Ehre zu erweisen. 

Mutual Support Association of the Brotherhood of Austrians and Bavarians!

Message to the members that Gottfried Hann died on 17th October. The officials and concerned members on Monday afternoon at 1/2 to 2 o’clock to gather in the clubhouse, to pay their last respects to the deceased.

I’m trying to keep my puny German skills up now that Cari Thomas’s Germanic Genealogy class is over, so I thought I’d try to translate these two records that I’ve had for at least three years. Regular readers know how elusive my Austrian great-grandfather has been. A few years ago, I hired a researcher in Chicago to read German-language newspapers to try to find his obituary. As I look back now, it was both fear (of trying to read German records) and desperation (I’d tried everything else) that led to me to that point.

She succeeded in finding two obituaries and one of them had the all-important birthplace – Ladis, Tyrol, Austria. Gottfried died two months before my grandmother was born, and by the time I was born, no one in the family was quite sure of his first name. So it made me extraordinarily happy to find his birthplace.

So today’s new word is verein or club. I was reading the other day that many insurance companies got their start from immigration clubs such as these, where the modest dues each week provided small payments to families if something befell the man of the house. I hope my great-grandmother, who was about to give birth and had two children under the age of four, got some proceeds from these two organizations.

Edit: four corrections made by my teacher. Thx, Cari! Translating obituaries from Chicago German-Language newspapers – not as daunting as I’d thought.

About the Author:

Nancy Loe has an MA in American History and an MLS in Library Science and Archives. She has appeared on PBS’s American Experience, at Rootstech, SCGS Jamboree, and state and regional genealogy conferences. Her website was featured in Family Tree Magazine's “Social Media Mavericks: 40 to Follow.”