Monday, January 20, 2020

January 20, 1936 -- John Jacob Glessner Dies

John Jacob Glessner
January 20, 1936 – John Jacob Glessner dies in his home at 1800 Prairie Avenue at the age of 93.  Glessner was born January 26, 1843 in Zanesville, Ohio.  At the age of 20 he moved to Springfield, Ohio to take a position with a farm implement company, Warder, Child and Co. and within five years was a junior partner in the firm.  In 1870 he and his wife, Frances, whom he married in 1870, moved to Chicago where Glessner established a sales office for the company.  By the end of the decade he was a full partner in the firm, renamed Warder, Bushnell and Glessner.  Nearing the age of 60, Glessner orchestrated a merger of the company with McCormick, Deering, Plano Manufacturing and the Milwaukee Harvester Company to form International Harvester for which he served as chairman of the executive committee.  Although active in civic affairs, Glessner is today best known for the 17,000-square foot home that he commissioned Boston architect Henry Hobson Richardson to design for the family.  Finished in 1887, the Glessner House website describes the impressive mansion in this way, “Designed during the Gilded Age, when America’s newly rich industrialists were living in modern-day castles, Glessner House represents architect Henry Hobson Richardson’s response to the Glessners’ desire for a simple, comfortable home that retained the ‘cozy’ feeling of their previous home on West Washington Street.”  []

Henry Augustus Garfield
January 20, 1918 – At the stroke of midnight the city begins the first of a series of ten consecutive Mondays in which the heating of businesses is forbidden.  Although meat markets and stores that sell food will be exempted from the ban, all department stores will be closed.  High schools are open although grade schools will be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.  The prohibition is issued by the head of the Federal Fuel Administration, Harry Augustus Garfield, in response to a nation-wide shortage of coal that is the result of a massive transportation logjam on the east coast.  The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that many saloons obey the letter of the law although not the spirit of it.  “Bartenders wearing overcoats, sweaters, and gloves bustled about setting ‘em up for the chilled patrons, who also kept bundled up while they were partaking of the drinks the government had ruled were not to be dispensed,” the Tribune reports. [Chicago Daily Tribune, January 21, 1918] M. J. McCarthy, the secretary of the Liquor Dealers’ Protective Association, says, “I regret that we were not able to impress upon them that it is the feeling of the fuel administration that no liquor should be sold at all.  The Liquor Dealers’ Protective association does not believe in obeying the letter and violating the spirit of the law.” It is estimated that 200,000 men and women will be out of work on the heatless Mondays with a resulting loss in income totaling $3,500,000.  The cost of violating the law is steep – a fine of $5,000, imprisonment of two years, or both, with each infraction of the law counting as a separate violation. 

January 20, 1955 – Mayor Martin H. Kennelly digs the first shovel of dirt, and the construction of the northwest highway begins.  The shovel is the same one used by late Chicago Mayor Edward Kelly in 1938 when he kicked off construction of the State Street subway.  The northwest highway ceremony takes place at 740 West Adams Street where the Consolidated Construction Company will build a $425,499 bridge to carry Adams Street traffic over the new expressway.  The highway, which will begin at the new Congress Street expressway and head northwest to O'Hare Field, is expected to cost $139 million.  The expressway will be officially opened on November 5, 1960.  A week after President John F. Kennedy is assassinated on November 22, 1963 the Chicago City Council votes unanimously to rename the expressway in honor of the late president.  The above photo shows the opening of the expressway on November 5, 1960.  Illinois Governor William G. Stratton presides as Mayor Richard J. Daley on his left and Cook County Board President Dan Ryan on his right look on.

January 20, 1944 – Mrs. Adele Born Williams dies in St. Luke’s Hospital after being shot a night earlier in her room at the Drake Hotel.  Williams is the 58-year-old wife of Frank Starr Williams, an attaché of the United States State Department, posted in Washington, D. C.  She entered her eighth-floor apartment at the hotel with her daughter, Mrs. Patricia Goodbody, almost immediately encountering a woman who was “gray haired, about 50 years old, and wore a black Persian lamb coat, and flowers or red trimming in her hair or hat.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, January 21, 1944] Investigators picture the murderess as “a little cunning, a little savage, and probably a little mute … she uttered no word, no cry as she opened fire on her defenseless victim.”  There were four shots, fired at such close range that the flame from the weapon seared the victim’s face and left hand.  Two witnesses hear the gunfire and see the fleeing woman who fired the weapon.  “I opened the door as I heard the shots,” Chester P. Brewster, general manager of the K-D Tool Manufacturing Company of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, says.  “As I did so, a woman brushed by me, then a few seconds later there was a scream and a woman, whom I now know as Mrs. Goodbody, came out of apartment 836 screaming, ‘Do something, do something!  My mother’s been shot!’”  An intensive investigation would drag on for months, with twist after bizarre twist intriguing Chicagoans. No one was ever prosecuted for the crime, and the case remains unsolved.

January 20, 1909 -- Over 50 laborers perish in the intermediate crib of the George W. Jackson tunnel building company, 1.5 miles from the Chicago shore at Seventy-First Street as it is engulfed in fire. There are only a few windows in the structure, which served as a base in the tunnel building effort to supply the south side of the city with fresh water. Men fight one another to jump into the freezing lake waters in order to escape the flames. Survivors say some men even jumped down the 180-foot shaft connecting the crib with the tunnel under construction. Some make for shore; one man with one eye dangling from its socket is rescued clinging to an aerial tramway connecting the crib to shore. The tug T. T. Mumford, tied up at Sixty-Eighth Street, makes for the scene as quickly as it can in the ice-choked lake, arriving to find naked men, awoken from their sleep, clinging to ice floes and shouting for help from the water. The tug manages to pick up over 40 survivors, dropping the less grievously injured off at the Sixty-Eighth Street crib before continuing to shore with the most severe cases. In the meantime fireboats arrive to find the crib totally ablaze. As the day wears on it is clear the death toll will be high. Not a single body that is recovered is identifiable. 45 victims are buried in Mount Greenwood Cemetery.

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