Last Born

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Elmer Grunst

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks  topic this week is youngest.  

Elmer Grunst was the youngest of seven children born to Albert Grunst and Anna Schmerling.  Elmer was born on 28 December 1901 in Chicago, Cook, Illinois[i] and joined his siblings Alma, Albert, Walter, and Lillian at home.[ii]  Two siblings Emma and Theodore died in infancy.[iii] Elmer was baptized on 19 January 1902 at St. Markus Lutheran Church in Chicago.[iv]  His sponsors were Gustav Elend, Louis Schulz, and Augusta Genz.[v]  Sometime during 1902 they moved to Cicero, Illinois[vi] where Elmer grew up and completed two years of high school.[vii]  Elmer was too young to for WWI and too old for WWII.  He never entered the military, however all of his sons served.  Two sons served during WWII.  One was stationed in the Pacific and the other one in Africa.[viii]  After high school he went to work for the Western Electric Company Hawthorne works at Cicero Avenue and 22nd street as a draftsman where he worked his way up to supervisor, and retired from there in 1963.[ix]  In later years, he worked for the Western Electric in downtown Chicago at the Merchandise Mart and rode the train everyday from Berwyn to Chicago.[x]  Elmer belonged to the reserve police force in Berwyn, Illinois.[xi]

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Elmer at target practice for the Reserve Police of Berwyn, Illinois

In 1920 he married Alice Gorski also from Cicero, Cook, Illinois.[xii]  They had five children, Elmer Jr. born in 1921, Harry in 1922, Dorothy in 1923, Lester in 1935, and Bruce in 1941.  Elmer and Alice moved to a typical Berwyn bungalow at 3708 Kenilworth Ave, Berwyn, Cook, Illinois around 1928.  The homes were built on narrow 30’ wide lots with a narrow gangway between them.  Garages were on the alley in back.  Here they raised their five children and lived in that house until their deaths.[xiii]

Elmer liked baseball and was a devout White Sox fan.  He liked sitting on his front porch in the summer and listening to the White Sox games on the radio. He taught his sons to play baseball concentrating mainly on pitching.  He also liked to golf and bowl and was good at both sports.  Elmer liked to have his beer and a shot of whiskey everyday.  He was also fond of bakery goods which he enjoyed for breakfast.[xiv] 

The family enjoyed trips to Paw Paw, Michigan where their friends had a cottage.  Elmer and Alice also took trips to Texas, California, and Florida.  Elmer liked to take day drives and would take his youngest son with him.  It was just the two of them on rode for a day of adventure.[xv] Unfortunately, Elmer was a smoker and died of Lung Cancer on 17 March 1965 at 63 years, 2 months and 17 days.  He looked forward to retirement unfortunately, he only lived a little over a year after he retired at age 62 and some of that time was spent sick with the Cancer.  His son said that it hard for him to see his father frail, sick, and in pain.  He had always been a big, strong man who was never sick.   Alice died many years later on 9 February 1981.

Copyright © 2018 Gail Grunst

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[i] State of Illinois, Cook County, Chicago, Certificate of Birth, Registration District No. 3104, date of birth 28 December 1901.

[ii]Year: 1900; Census Place: Chicago Ward 10, Cook, Illinois; Page: 17; Enumeration District: 0288; FHL microfilm: 1240256.  Source Information:  Ancestry.com. 1900 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2004.  Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1900. T623, 1854 rolls.

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] Illinois, Chicago, Baptism Certificate for Elmer Grunst, Date of birth 28 December 1901, Date of Baptism 19 January 1902

[v] Ibid.

[vi] Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

[vii] Year: 1940; Census Place: Berwyn, Cook, Illinois; Roll: m-t0627-00772; Page: 14A; Enumeration District: 16-5. Source Information: Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1940. T627, 4,643 rolls.

[viii] Personal knowledge from Bruce Grunst (son of Elmer Grunst) as told to Gail Grunst author of this biography.

[ix] Ibid.

[x] Ibid.

[xi] Ibid.

[xii] Ancestry.com. Cook County, Illinois Marriage Indexes, 1912-1942 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.

[xiii] Personal knowledge from Bruce Grunst (son of Elmer Grunst) as told to Gail Grunst author of this biography.

[xiv] Ibid.

[xv] Ibid.

2 thoughts on “Last Born

  1. That was quite a gap between the two older children and the younger ones! That’s too bad about the smoking and cancer, but he grew up in that era where everyone smoked, it seems.

  2. Of course, I knew Bruce’s father. Quite an interesting man and I’m sorry I didn’t get to know him better. Like most kids, I missed opportunities to learn from many years of their experiences. Too often by the time we are mature enough to make those connections, age takes them away. Thanks for sharing.

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