Monday, March 30, 2020

Lake View Cycling Club of Chicago in the 1890s.

The Lake View Cycling Club in front of its clubhouse at 401-403 North Orchard Street, Chicago (today, 2224-2226 North Orchard Street) in the 1890s.
I personally spoke with Mary, the owner of the 2-flat at 2222 N. Orchard that was next to the Lake View Cycling Clubhouse. Mary and her husband ran a book business out of their 2-flat called Orchard Books, Inc. They have a framed copy of the Lake View Cycling Club hanging in their foyer.

Mary told me that the new condo building was built in 1998. The 2-story Mary owns was originally built-in 1890. It's the building on the right, the 3-story condominium, was the location of the Lake View Cycling Clubhouse, which of course, was demolished. 

Mary's 2-story building was razed between August of 2018 and July of 2019.

Copyright © 2016, Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

The History of the Pittsfield Building in Chicago.

The Pittsfield Building is a 38-story skyscraper located at 55 E. Washington Street and a secondary lobby entrance at 39 N. Wabash Avenue in downtown Chicago.

In the Jewelers' Row Landmark District, the property was developed by heirs of Marshall Field and is named after Pittsfield, Massachusetts, where Marshall Field obtained his first job as a clerk in the dry goods store of "Davis & Grant" at 17 years old. The nearby Burnham Center, at the intersection of Clark Street and Washington Street, was initially named the Conway Building after Conway, Massachusetts—the birthplace of Marshall Field. Marshall Field III presented the property as a gift to the Field Museum of Natural History in honor of the museum's 50th anniversary. The museum held the property until September 1960, when the museum sold it.
The Pittsfield Building, Chicago
The Pittsfield Building on Wabash under the 'L' Elevated Loop
It was the city's tallest building at the time of its completion in 1927. Fourteen passenger elevators served the building.
The Pittsfield Building Entranceway Plaque
The Pittsfield Building Entranceway
Designed by Graham, Anderson, Probst, & White, the structure combines art deco and Gothic detailing while complying with a 1923 zoning ordinance that mandated skyscrapers' setbacks. The interior of the building features a five-story atrium, lined by balconies and shops, detailed with glowing marbles, gleaming brass, and Spanish Gothic style carvings.
The Pittsfield Building Atrium
The Pittsfield Building Atrium
The Pittsfield Building Atrium
The architecture of the Pittsfield Building was designed with two different commercial spaces. From 5 to 37, the upper floors were professional offices for lawyers, dentists, and doctors. From the basement to the 5th floor, the lower levels were for small retailers such as jewelers, restaurants, tobacco stores, and other retailers.

The lower levels were decorated in a "Spanish Gothic Revival" style with some Art Deco touches. The architectural style unmistakably recalls the 1920's, which gives you a taste of history. When you step inside, the coffered gilt elevator lobby ceilings thrum with a maze-like hexagonal pattern. The central atrium soars five floors above, crowned with a gigantic chandelier. Marble covers seemingly every spare surface in the lobby and atrium. The beauty of this space makes the Pittsfield a rental for the occasional wedding.

The first of three basement levels was a part of the arcade and housed several shops, the fabulous 
dark, wood-walled, Pittsfield Restaurant and Cocktail Lounge. They had great food, served quickly during lunch hours, and at a reasonable cost. I ate there many times.

The Barber Shop, on the 1st basement level, the owner was, at one time, the "Royal Family Barber" in London, England, and had several photographs hanging in the shop to prove it.

Mike Royko, Chicago newspaper columnist (winner of the 1972 Pulitzer Prize for commentary), was a regular for a weekly trim. I talked with Royko many times. My Dad was Royko's Optometrist. 

The effect of all the architectural ornamentation is stunning in its opulence and aesthetic appeal. Of course, that fits right into the flashy architectural approach that Marshall Field pioneered at his store.
The Pittsfield Building Brass Elevator Doors
The Pittsfield Building Ground Floor Elevator Floor Indicator
The Pittsfield Building Brass Restaurant Sign at the Staircase to the Lower Level.
Marshall Field III presented the property as a gift to the Field Museum of Natural History in honor of the museum's 50th anniversary. The museum held the property until September 1960, when the museum sold it. The building was designated as a Chicago Landmark on November 6, 2002.
The Pittsfield Building Sign to Lower Level Atrium
The Pittsfield Building Atrium Chandelier
The Pittsfield Building Elevator Foyer
Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Grebe & Co. Inc. U.S. Navy Shipyard History on the Chicago River at Belmont Avenue.

In 1926, Milwaukee's former "Great Lakes Boat Building Corporation" became the "Henry C. Grebe & Co. Inc. Shipyard" and moved to Chicago. The shipyard was over eight acres on the north branch of the Chicago River at 3250 North Washtenaw Avenue, across the river from the famous Riverview Park

Before World War II, Grebe (Gree-be) produced sail yachts and powerboats for exclusive clientele.
During WWII, Grebe built various wood and steel vessels for the Navy. The yard had cranes to lift 50 tons and a complete inter-yard rail system. There was storage for 400 yachts.
During the war, the shipyard built over 56 ships, wood, and steel, for the U.S. Navy, including 21 tugboats, 4 tankers, and 28 minesweepers (aka auxiliary motor minesweepers). These vessels were used in detecting mines laid by enemy submarines, and their wooden hulls helped prevent the explosion of nearby magnetic-triggered mines. 
This is a 1943 panorama of the Grebe Shipyard, which operated from 1926 to 1994. The former Riverview Park is visible in the background of this photograph. In the foreground, several U.S. Navy vessels are under construction.
Rumor has it that Grebe built P.T. boats (small patrol boats, the most famous, PT-109, was commanded by Lieutenant John F. Kennedy). According to the Chicago Maritime Museum, which holds the Grebe archives, they never built P.T. boats.
The shipyard's existence was why moveable bridges were kept in place on the north branch of the Chicago River because the bridges needed to open to let the Grebe-built craft to Lake Michigan.
Grebe Shipyard looks east across the Chicago River. Note Riverview Park's rides, Shoot the Chutes and The Bobs roller coaster in the background, circa 1928.
The Yard Minesweeper 84 (YMS-84) was laid down on June 2, 1941, by Henry C. Grebe and Co., Chicago, IL. Launched on March 3, 1942, and was completed on May 23, 1942. The USS YMS-84 was a YMS-1 Class Auxiliary Motor Minesweeper built for the United States Navy and commissioned into service in May 1942. Notable for being the first U.S. Navy Vessel built in Illinois during the Second World War, the YMS-84 and her crew steamed down the Mississippi River to New Orleans and into the Gulf of Mexico, where she began training and convoy escort duties through early 1943.
After the war, Grebe returned his business to mostly building pleasure craft for such Chicago luminaries as Philip Wrigley and Sterling Morton of Morton Salt. They also made some powerboats for the Chicago Police Department.

When Grebe passed away in 1952, his widow Marguerite took over operations, unusual enough to merit several newspaper articles about her. As time went on, the interest in these high-end yachts waned. She ran the company until they completed their last boat in 1972. The company continued to operate at the site until 1994, providing boat maintenance and storage. The land was worth more than the business.
Today the site is occupied by the Belmont River Club townhomes.

ADDITIONAL READING: Houseboats on the Chicago River; The history of living on the river.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.

The City of Bunker Hill in Southern Illinois was Leveled by the 1948 Tornado.

Bunker Hill is in Macoupin County in southern Illinois, about 20 miles south of the county's largest town, Carlinville, and 10 miles west of Interstate 55 highway. The community of about 1,800 has seen its share of high wind in the last century.

The town was spared devastation during the tornado of 1925, which killed 540 people in southern Illinois. Bunker Hill was hit in 1928, but only a few buildings lost roofs. Then in 1958, five of the town’s half-dozen churches were either demolished or damaged by a tornado that did an estimated $250,000 ($2,241,000 today) in damages.

Then came the tornado on Friday, March 19, 1948. It killed 19 people and injured 126. Almost every structure in Bunker Hill was destroyed. Only two buildings were left standing by the tornado that arrived at 6:50 pm. With so many men recently home from World War II, comparisons to bombed-flat European cities were understandable.
Local farmers brought bulldozers and tractors to Bunker Hill to assist in the cleanup.
The storm destroyed most of the center of Bunker Hill, including all five of the town’s churches. Most of the business district was reduced to rubble, while the bandstand, a town landmark, was leveled. Another central feature of the town, a statue of Abraham Lincoln dedicated in 1904, was knocked off its pedestal.

“Our house was the only one on our street that wasn’t destroyed,” said Herman Landreth, of Bunker Hill. “Two of my sisters-in-law died in that storm. My brother, Albert, and all three of his sons had broken legs, and they had to amputate my brother’s leg.” His brother’s home and grocery store were also lost.

Wayne Heal, then a senior in high school, remembers racing into town with his father from the family farm five miles away. They were worried about Heal’s grandparents. They couldn’t get past the edge of town, because of all the bricks in the streets. “An average of three feet deep,” Heal said. “We went through about three blocks of that, altogether.” The roof of his grandparents’ home was gone. So was the entire north side of the house, Heal said. But his grandmother and grandfather were fine.

That was largely a matter of luck. Nothing fell on them, and a 2-by-6 board that went through a kitchen window and embedded itself in a wall missed everyone. “It went in deep enough that it was suspended there, like you’d driven a nail,” Heal recalled. “If that had caught anybody, it would have taken their head off.”
The military, Red Cross, and Salvation Army were reportedly serving 1,000 people a day in Bunker Hill.
Outside of town, twenty-one-year-old Lester Lawson heard the approach of the storm and tried to look out for his young family. “The windows were rattling, and my wife and I were worried about our little daughter, in the next room,” recalled Lawson. “It was a bad windstorm, but we didn’t lose that much. Nothing was blown over, where we were at.” But the alarm sounded quickly. “We had one of those old phones that I called a ‘hoof-and-holler’ phone, the ones with a hand crank,” said Lawson. “It was a party line, with six or seven other people on it with you. 

“It rang ten times, which I’d never heard before,” recalled Lawson. “It meant there was an emergency. I answered, and was told that Bunker Hill had been blown apart by a tornado, and they needed all the help they could get.” Lawson, who operated a trucking business, and a friend drove into town in a two-ton truck to help out. “We got as far as the old railroad crossing at the north side of town, and the road was blocked,” he said. “So we walked up to town, about two blocks or so. “We started looking for people that needed help, and we found one person who needed a hospital,” he continued. “We made a stretcher out of two-by-fours, and carried him up to Main Street, which runs east-west out of town, where an ambulance could get to him.”
The Meissner School stands in contrast to its surroundings, one of the few buildings that survived relatively unharmed after the tornado that ripped through Bunker Hill.
Carolyn Scroggins was working as a clerk in St. Louis when she heard the news and jumped on a bus. “On the way home, the traffic was just car after car after car, going very slowly all the way to Bunker Hill,” Scroggins said. “People were going there for sightseeing. It took us nearly all day before we finally got home to Bunker Hill.” Her future husband, Glenn, had already started helping with cleanup, despite a piece of glass in his eye. “He got his clothes on, he says in about three seconds, then started uptown,” Scroggins said. “As he went uptown, there was a lady lying in the middle of the street without any clothes on, so he covered her with his raincoat.” The woman was dead, Scroggins said. But others were more fortunate.

North of town, there was this group of Amish people from the Arthur area, who set up camp. Each day, they’d come into town and bring meals and worked to help in the cleanup. They were there every day for at least a month.

On Palm Sunday, March 21, sightseers in Bunker Hill were so numerous that bumper-to-bumper traffic was reported for ten miles.
In the disaster’s wake, the townfolk began wondering about an infant girl found alive in the debris of a demolished house. Her mother, father, brother, and sister were all dead, leaving her alone in the world at just 6 months old. The family had lived in Bunker Hill for fewer than five years and wasn’t well known.

“I bet you that’s been one of the most-asked questions: Whatever happened to her?” Scroggins said. Scroggins got her answer when someone from the local library called her: "There’s a woman here who says she was a baby when the tornado hit, and she wants to see pictures." Scroggins, who was president of the Bunker Hill Historical Society, knew exactly who the librarian was talking about.

“Oh my goodness!’” Scroggins said. We ran to the museum. The woman had been taken in by an aunt and raised in southern Illinois. “She was a delightful person,” Scroggins said. “She was like a ray of sunshine.”

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

The History of 16-inch Softball Began in Chicago, Illinois.

The softball game started in Chicago on Thanksgiving 1887 at the "Farragut Boat Club" when Yale and Harvard Alumni wrapped up a boxing glove and hit the “ball” with a broomstick. Those men formalized the indoor game, and eventually, the game was played outdoors. The parks and school grounds were small in Chicago, so the ball had to be larger to stay in the park.
Indoor Baseball (softball), 1905.
Note the 2 to 2½ inch thick wooden dowel that's about 35" long for a bat.
The 16″ ball became the size of choice and game of choice during the Great Depression since only a bat and a ball was needed. No-glove 16" softball has also been famous in Chicago alone since the 1920s.

Chicago is well known for many reasons  its architecture, museums, beautiful open lakefront, rich social and political history, blues music, a storied professional sports history, and diverse ethnic mix. There is a unique sport, though, one that’s been played by thousands of men and women for generations for both fun and glory for over eight decades, a game that is truly unique to Chicago — 16-inch softball.
A 1920s Official 16-inch League Softball.
1920s Manufacturer Stamp.
Chicago softball is played barehanded with gnarled fingers and knuckles that tell stories of errors and victories in games long past. It’s safe to say that most Chicagoans have played the game in school, at a picnic, and Sunday pick-up games in Chicagoland parks or in league play. 

16-inch was a perfect game for Chicago’s small neighborhood ball fields and cinder-covered school playgrounds. The ball didn’t travel as far as the smaller 12" and 14" softballs. And the absence of gloves benefited everyone in the tough economic times of the 1930s. Teams had only to chip in 10¢ a man for a new ball, and women took to the sport because it was less dangerous than a regular baseball. The sport was all the more appealing due to its being organized by families, community, and ethnic backgrounds at first. Then teams were sponsored by the companies its players worked for — a tradition that is still largely followed today.

The game of softball is enjoyed by millions of people around the world. This sport, for all ages, is played with different size diameter balls and with and without gloves. In Chicago, the most prevalent game played is slow pitch 16″ softball with no gloves. Many who have played different brands of softball feel 16″ is the best game of softball because it demands that every fielder play defense (anyone can catch a ball with a glove) well or become a team liability. Offense play is like baseball; few runs are due to home runs, and it’s basically hit’em where they ain’t, and moving runners is a normal strategy. It’s a great game with a unique history.

The first national championship was played at the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago thanks to the sponsorship of William Randolph Hearst. Due to the fact most teams that entered the tournament all played with different rules and size balls, they finally agreed to play with a 14″ ball. Future City titles would be played at Wrigley Field.

Because of the game’s popularity shown at that event, 16″ no glove softball took on a professional level when Harry Hanin started the "Windy City League" the next year in 1934 and lasted into the 1950s. Teams had their own stadiums and charged admission. They attracted thousands of people each night. Remember, there was no TV and only two racetracks. These teams and players infamous represented their areas, but gambling was the real game outside the lines. They often attracted over 10,000 each night and had more attendance than at the Cubs and/or Sox games that day. 

During the Chicago softball craze, teams played in these neighborhood baseball and softball (12" & 16") parks:
  • Admiral Stadium at River Road between Rand & Golf Roads in Des Plaines.
  • American Giants Park at 39th and Wentworth in Chicago.
  • Bidwell Stadium at 1975 E 75th St. in Chicago.
  • Gill Stadium at 1107 E 87th St. in Chicago.
  • Hilburn Stadium 5500 N Wolcott in Chicago.
  • Lane Stadium next to Riverview Park was at Western and Addison in Chicago.
  • Mills Stadium at 4600 W. Lake Street in Chicago.
  • Parichy Memorial Stadium at Harrison and Harlem in Forest Park.
  • Rock-Ola Stadium at 4200 N Central Ave in Chicago.
  • Shewbridge Field at 74th St and Aberdeen St. in Chicago.
  • Sparta Stadium at Kostner and 21st Street in Chicago.
  • Spencer Coals Park at 4200 N. Central Avenue in Chicago.
  • Stagg Field at the University of Chicago. (Originally named Marshall Field)
  • North Town Currency Stadium (Thillens Stadium) at Devon and Kedzie in Chicago.
Thillens was originally named "North Town Currency Stadium."
Click to read my story about meeting Ray Rayner at Thillens Stadium.
Parichy Memorial Stadium, Forest Park, IL.
Most all the semi-professional parks were lighted for night play, and a considerable portion of the attendance was reported on evenings during the week and were frequently doubleheaders. The usual Saturday and Sunday games were frequently tripleheaders.

Many of the visiting men's teams feature unusual costumes such as clown uniforms, grass skirts, and natural beards to inject color into the game. In addition, such novelties as playing the game on mules are introduced occasionally. 

Many weekend games began with the women's teams. "Bloomer Girls" baseball teams barnstormed the United States from the 1890s to 1934, playing local town, semi-pro, and minor league men's teams. They traveled across the country, across states, and town-to-town by rail, bringing their own fences, tents, and grandstands with them, and their schedules were grueling. In 1903, the Boston Bloomer Girls played and won 28 games in 26 days. Over the July Fourth weekend of that year alone, they played six games in five different towns in Oklahoma.

Then came the "All-American Girls Professional Baseball League" (AAGPBL), a professional women's baseball league founded by Philip K. Wrigley from 1943 to 1954. The women's initial tryouts were held at Chicago's Wrigley Field. In the first season, the league played a hybrid game of baseball and softball using a 12-inch ball. The AAGPBL was the forerunner of women's professional league sports in the United States. Over 600 women played in the league, which consisted of eventually 10 teams located in the American Midwest. In 1948, league attendance peaked at over 900,000 spectators. The most successful team, the Rockford Peaches, won a league-best four championships. The 1992 motion picture "A League of Their Own" is a mostly fictionalized account of its early days and stars.
Lane Stadium, (Lane Tech College Prep H.S.), Western and Addison, Chicago.
In 1973 the local 16-inch ASA Commissioner felt that out of state teams could not compete with Illinois because they were used to playing with gloves in 12″ and 14″ play. He was right. He attracted 13 out-of-state teams for a new league. The gloves never made a difference in the score, and Chicago teams still dominated the national tournaments. Because of that, fewer out of states teams played the game seriously other than in the Midwest. The one state with an excellent program was Iowa, and their patience paid off in 1995 when the "Carpet Country Rollers" won the only title in ASA history by a team not from Chicago. They did it in the last inning, scoring 3 runs with two outs and winning by one run. What an upset!

No glove softball is still played by all Chicagoans, and the best of the best have played Forest Park’s No Glove Nationals in front of thousands of fans for 5 decades, without a doubt the premier event each year. A few of the best leagues have been played at Clarendon Park, Portage Park, James Park in Evanston, and Mt.Prospect Park in the Northside and Washington Park, Clyde, Oak Lawn, and Kelly Park on the Southside.

When former President Jimmy Carter, a softball enthusiast, was presented with a 16-inch softball during a 1998 Chicago visit, the unfamiliar object fascinated him. It's not surprising that he had never seen one before because although thousands of games of 16-inch softball fill Chicago's parks every summer Sunday, President Cater only knew about 12" softballs.

Many ASA Nationals have been played out of Illinois, usually in Iowa. In 2004 both the Major and ASA Nationals were played in Arizona and attracted the most states to compete in 20 years. In fact, in Phoenix, they have held the "Avnet Business to Business Classic" since 2003, reaching 30 plus teams and even getting some title games on television for both the co-ed and men’s divisions.
The sport has traveled to different cities due to Chicagoans moving, but the reality is when men and women play 16-inch ball, they realize it takes more skill, is safer, less time to play, and is more fun than 12-inch softball. Critics of the 12-inch game say that “anyone can catch a ball with a glove." Those games take too long because the scores are too high, and people are getting hurt.

ALTERNATIVE: Who and where 'softball' was invented.
A lieutenant with the Minneapolis, Minnesota Fire Department, Lewis Rober was pushing 40 and perhaps getting a little flabby. So in 1895, he devised a sporting alternative to keep himself and his fellow firefighters fit between runs. Rober is widely considered the founding father of softball — at least the outdoor version of the game now enjoyed by 40 million people. He took the basics of baseball, shrank the field, and used a cushy ball pitched underhand. With no gloves needed and less time required, the recreational version of baseball took off. 
This photo was taken around 1995; outside the "16-Inch Softball Hall of Fame" was this stone and brass "Farragut Boathouse Monument," commemorating the birth of softball in Chicago in 1887. It was originally placed at 31st Street and Lake Park Avenue in Chicago but is currently in storage with the city. A new 16-Inch Softball Hall of Fame opened in Forest Park in 2009.
Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.

[1] Robert Rae Jr. (c.1853-1920) was born in Philadelphia and came to Chicago with his parents in 1860. The son of a prominent lawyer, he was educated in Chicago's public schools and entered the office of architect Henry Lord Gay in about 1872. Two years later, he was appointed assistant chief engineer of the Chicago & South Atlantic Railroad, a position he held for several years before starting his own architectural office in Chicago in about 1880. Rae's practice focused on small-scale commercial buildings and residences in eclectic historical styles.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

The Amazing Life of Chicagoan, Thomas Cusack, Billboard Baron and Illinois' 4th district U.S. Congressman.

Thomas Cusack
Illinois Political Directory, 1899.
Thomas Cusack of Chicago was born in Kilrush, County Clare, Ireland, on October 5, 1858, and died in Oak Park, Illinois on November 19, 1926. He was a pioneer and entrepreneur in the outdoor advertising industry and a politician, serving as a Democratic U.S. Representative from Illinois' 4th District from 1899 to 1901. In 1905, he resided at 393 Ashland Boulevard (810 S. Ashland Avenue, today) in Chicago.

Cusack immigrated with his family to New York City from Ireland in 1861 when he was a young boy. Shortly after the move, his parents died, leaving Thomas and his younger brother orphaned. 

Thomas was raised by relatives in Chicago, where he received his education and learned how to paint, a skill that would ultimately make him a very wealthy man.

In 1875, at the age of 17, Cusack established his own sign painting business, the Thomas Cusack Company, in Chicago, with only a paint pot and brush and his remarkable personality as assets.
The business consisted in painting advertising signs on the sides of buildings in a small way. Gradually, he took to building billboards of his own, and leasing suitable walls and other locations for outdoor advertisements, making him a pioneer in advertising.
Thomas Cusack and Company
The business soon grew to be very profitable, leasing over 100,000 billboards and advertising spaces and turning Cusack into a prosperous and influential Chicagoan.
Wilson Distilling Company’s advertisement on a Madison and Wabash
building in 1895. Produced by the Thomas Cusack Co.
Billboards on Park Row (11th St.) on the east side of Michigan Ave., Chicago, 1910.
In addition to business savvy, Cusack had a strong sense of civic duty. In 1890, Hempstead Washburne, Mayor of Chicago, appointed the "billboard baron" to a seat on the city's school board. Cusack's fervent support of public education drew the attention of Progressive Party Illinois Governor John P. Altgeld, who invited Cusack to serve on his general staff.

In 1898, Cusack was elected to his first and only term in the United States Congress from the 4th District of Illinois (1899-1901). After his term, Cusack decided to return his attention primarily to his outdoor advertising business, which had grown considerably in size to more than one hundred offices and was producing an annual revenue of over $20 million. 
Thomas Cusack and Company, 15th and Throop Streets, Chicago.
Cusack was well-known for his fair labor practices and amicable relationships with his employees and was most proud of the fact that, in a city known for labor strikes, his workers never walked off the job.
Thomas Cusack and Company Offices in New York, NY.
In his day as a sign painter, Cusack remembered getting $8 a week in wages. By the time he sold his business to a New York banking syndicate in 1924, he was paying his workers $10 to $15 a day.
A Ghost sign - Marigold Margarine on Lincoln Ave and Lawrence, Chicago.
Thomas Cusack Co.
A Ghost Sign - Location Unknown - Thomas Cusack Co.
At the pinnacle of his success in business, Thomas Cusack bought the entire unincorporated town of Cascade, Colorado which is 5 miles as the birds fly to the east and about 15 miles of trail travel to get to the Ute Pass in the Rocky Mountains. In the 1920s he hired architects and contractors to build a plush mansion nestled in the Ute Pass, which he named "Marigreen Pines" in memory of his wife, Mary Greene Cusack
Marigreen Pines, at the Ute Pass in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.
Having lived through the Great Chicago Fire in 1871 and experienced so many early losses in his life, Cusack built Marigreen Pines out of brick, marble, and concrete to safeguard his family from harm. Marigreen Pines became a much-loved mountain home for Cusack and his family, where he routinely and graciously hosted many friends and relatives, engaging them in lively conversation and debate.

Thomas Cusack died on November 19, 1926, at the age of 68. He is buried in Calvary Cemetery in Evanston, Illinois. 

In 1979, Cusack's last surviving daughter, Anne Cusack, donated Marigreen Pines in Ute Pass, Colorado, to the Congregation of Holy Cross to serve as their novitiate (a place housing religious novices).
Thomas Cusack Co. Example, Year and Location Unknown.
Thomas Cusack Co. Example, Year and Location Unknown.
Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Local Chicago Area Baseball Leagues and Parks in 1905.

It was thought by many of those close to the heart of baseball that at the close of the 1904 season, the game had reached a point from which improvement would be almost impossible and the growth if any, but small.

During the winter, however, various things happened both to baseball and other sports, the former showing that plans were being laid for more extensive campaigns by the managers, while in the latter, notably horse racing, a decided retrograde movement was seen and the first meeting of the Inter-City Association proved that baseball this year was to prove even better this year than last. Already last season's records for the number of games played on a single Sunday have been passed, although Spring has hardly arrived, while a gain has been made both in the number and the personnel of the players engaged in Saturday baseball in the ranks of the amateur leagues. 

Two distinct movements, out of the ordinary, are noticeable this year, the first being the number of new parks which are being fenced in at the desirable locations all over Chicago, nearly all of which are proving money makers right from the start, while the second movement is the rapid rise of many of the smaller baseball clubs into the semi-professional ranks. 

The first of these movements, that of the building of baseball parks, is directly traceable to the enormous success scored by West End Park, the grounds at Forty-eighth Avenue and West Madison Street, where the crowds went in droves almost on the opening day and have continued ever since. When Gunther Park was opened almost at the end of last year, at the corners of Ashland, Leland Avenues and North Clark Street, it capped the success of the West End Athletic Association, and the rival managers of the grounds have been in friendly argument ever since as to which is drawing the most people.

Other managers viewed with surprise the wonderful success of these two parks and it was not very long before reports began to flow in of other grounds being fenced in and grandstands going up. With careful management, there should be no reason why every one of these new parks should not pay handsomely on the investment and incidentally, the game benefited by their existence. 

As for the second state of things, the increase in the number of semi-professional teams, the term semi-professional being applied to those teams which play games for either a percentage of the receipts received from paid admissions or a stated guarantee for the appearance of the team, the growth was fully expected. The building of so many new parks, over a dozen first-class ones coming under this head, has taken that number of teams off the traveling circuit and increased the number of grounds by just that number. This created a condition where a traveling team had more chance of getting a good game than the home team had and the better of the amateur teams have moved up a notch in consequence and are now traveling the circuit. Two years ago there were less than a dozen teams of the class of Manager Ollinger's Aurora team, Manager Niesen's Gunthers, Manager Lynam's West Ends, or the traveling teams, such as the Spaldings, Athletics, Marquettes, South Chicagos, All Chicagos, and half a dozen others. This year fully twenty teams are capable of putting up a stiff argument with any of the teams named.

Chicago Area Baseball Parks:
  • Ashland Park at 35th Street and Ashland Avenue.
  • Auburn Park at 79th Street and Wentworth Avenue.
  • Gainer & Koehler Park at Southport Avenue and Marianna Street (Schubert Avenue today).
  • Grosse Clothiers' Park at Elston and Western Avenues.
  • Gunther Park at Clark Street, Leland and Ashland Avenues.
  • Hot Corn Park at 42nd Street and Milwaukee Avenue? 
  • Logan Square Ball Park (Cal's Ball Park) at Milwaukee and Diversey Avenues.
  • Metropolitan Park at 69th Street and Ashland Avenue.
  • Normal Athletic Association at 60th and Green Streets (Loomis Blvd., today).
  • Northwest Ball Park at Ogden and Central Avenues.
  • Washington Park at 69th and Halstead Streets.
  • West End Baseball Park at Madison and 48th Avenue, Hillside.
  • White Rock Park at Ogden Avenue and 14th Street (now a Union Pacific RR Yard).
Logan Square Ball Park (Cal's Ball Park) at Milwaukee and Diversey Avenues. (Owner: Jimmy “Nixey” Callahan)
Logan Square Ball Park (Cal's Ball Park) at Milwaukee and Diversey Avenues.
Local Chicagoland Amateur and Semi-Professional Leagues:
There were four categories of Leagues; A General League, Business League, Secret Societies League, and a Church League. 
  • American Association
  • Chicago Bankers' League
  • Bible Class League
  • Central League
  • City League
  • Commercial League
  • Episocal Athletic League
  • Grocers' League
  • Gunthers Beat Kankakee
  • Knights of Columbus League
  • Mercantile League
  • Northwest League
  • Packers' League
  • South Side League
  • Three I League
  • Western League
This is a complete list of the 300+ freelance Chicago area teams, not counting any of the clubs in the regular leagues which then makes over 600 in the Inter-City Association on June 1, 1905. This was the first time that any baseball organization in the country had ever published such a list:

American Steel & Wire
Anderson & Lind
Anheuser Busch
Apollo A. C.
Anson's Colts
Argos Club
Arlington Heights
Armitage Victors
Armour & Co.
Arrow A. C.
Athletics Baseball Team
1) Ball; 2) F.McGurn; 3) Geo. McGurn; 4) Koukalik; 5) Ryan; 6) Ginger; 7) Andrews; 8) Hughes; 9) Scanlan; 10) Parker; 11) Black
August Dombrows
Austin A. C.
Austin B. B.
Austin Colts
Baer Bros. & Prodie
Belmont Rockets
Benson & Rixon
Benson & Rixon's Greens
Berry Athletics
Berry Candy
Big Fours
Blaine A. C.
Bloomer Girls
Blue Island
Boehn Professionals
Boyce, The A. C.
Buckeye Consolidated A. A.
Buena Parks
Buffalo A. C.
Bush Temple B. B.
C. N. W. & J.
Calumbia Giants
Calumet A. C.
Canton, ILL
Central A. C.
Central Park P. A.
Chicago & Alton
Chicago & Northwestern
Chicago Americans
Chicago Brights
Chicago Dents
Chicago Edgars
Chicago Firemen, № 45
Chicago Grays
Chicago Heights
Chicago Letter Carriers
Chicago Maroons
Chicago Pastimes
Chicago Reserves
Chicago Telephone
Chicago Union Giants
Ciaremont A. C.
Clinton, la.
Columbus Brew B. B.
Conkey, H. B.
Corpus Christi
Crown Brew. B. B.
Darnen Council
Delmar P. Club.
DesPlaines Stars
Doda Reds
Douglass Parks
Earle Park
El Cathelos
Eleventh Presly
Elgin, Ill.
Elmhurst Reds
Elmore A. C.
Emer's Pets
Englewood Blues
Englewood Men's Club
Eureka A. C.
Felix Colts
Felix. J. R.
Fortune Topaz
Fowler, Ind.
Frankfort, Ill.
Friend A. C.
Fuller & Fuller
Gainer & Koehler
Galesburg, Ill.
Gano Unions
Garfield A. C.
Glen Ellyn
Golden Rods
Gordon A. C.
Grand Crossing Tack Co.
Grosse Clothiers
Gulds, J. P.
Gunther Baseball Team
1) Keely; 2) Riley; 3) Ransome; 4) McGiblin; 5) Pedroes; 6) Lyons; 7) Zangerle; 8) Bergman; 9) Stellman; 10) LeJeune
Hamilton A. C.
Hamler Boiler & Tank
Harrison A. C.
Henn & Gabler
Highland Park Browns
Highland Park Crescents
Holy Cross A. C.
Home Clothing Co.
Hot Corns
Hot Shots
Humniell's Pride
Hyde Park A. C.
Illinois Glass
Illinois Steel Co.
Jefferson Grays
Joliet Standards
Kalamazoo White Sox
Kankakee Browns
Kankakee, Jrs.
Kaspers, J. V.
Keeley Malts
Kenosha Central Parks
Kewanee, Ill.
Kid Hermans
Kiper, L., & Sons
La Salle Tigers
La Salle, Ill.
Lafayette Council
Lake View B. B.
Leland Giants
Leo XIII. Council
Log Cabins
Logan & Bryant
Logan Squares
Lowell, Ind.
Lyon & Healey
Malt Marrows
Maplewood B. B.
Marquettes Baseball Team
1) Holmes; 2) Katoll; 3) Knolls; 4) Conrad; 5) Wells; 6) Keary, Mgr; 7) Hughes; 8) Hayes; 9) Lange; 10) Ebert; 11) "Dot" Ebert, Mascot
Marquettes "Ligts"
McHale's B. B.
Midley Colts
Monroe A. C.
Mont Clare's
Morgan & Wright
Morgan A. C.
Morrill Park
Morris B. B.
Morton Grove
National Life B. B.
North Ends of Blue Island
North Stars
Oak A. C.
Oak Leas
Our Flags
Owls, The
Park Manors
Park Ridge Reserves
Pauley's Colts
People's Gas Lights
Peter Hands
Ping Pongs
Portland B. B.
Princeton A. C.
Pullman Lakesides
Pullmans, The
Pyness A. C.
Ravens, The
Red Sox
Reliance A. C.
Renns A. C.
Rhodes A. C.
River Forest
Rogers Parks
Roseland Eclipse
Royal A. C.
Royal Arcanums
Royal Social A. C.
S & S
San Topels
Sanbergs, N. J.
Seneca A. C.
Settlement A. C.
Shamrock A. C.
Simmons Mfg. Co.
Sioux Valley A. C.
So. Chicago O'Donnells
South Chicago
South End Imp. & A. C
Spaulding Baseball Team
1) Graber; 2) Fish; 3) Meier; 4) "Skel" Roach, Coach; 5) McKee; 7) Burton; 8) Welch, Mgr; 9) Vance; 10) Hill; 11) Cass, Mascot; 12) Cassiboine
Span A. C.
St. Clement B. B.
Standard Maroons
Stem Clothiers
Stiles Club
Stoney Islands
Streator Reds, Streator, Ill.
Superior B. B.
Swenson's Kids
Thistle A. C
Tiowanda Club
Troy A. C.
Union Leader A. C.
Van Burens
Vordas, Pilsen's
Wabash A. C.
Washington A. C.
Waukegan, Ill.
Weber & Reinberg
Webers, B. F.
Webster Colts
Webster Playground
Wentworth Grays
West Chicago, Ill.
West Ends
West End Baseball Team
1) Kernan; 2) Armbruster; 3) Munch; 4) Fenton; 5) Gertenrich; 6) O'Grady; 7) Lynam, Mgr; 8) Hassett; 9) Hertel; 10) Martin, Mascot; 11) Murphy; 12) Hawkins
Wheaton, Ill.
White City A. C.
White Eagles
White Giants
White Rocks
White Sox
White Stars
Whitey Citys
Winchester A. C.
Winston A. C.
Woodlawn Presley Team
Woodstock, Ill.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.