Author Archives: Gail Grunst Genealogy

About Gail Grunst Genealogy

Gail has been researching her own family since 1979. Her research has taken her back to 1800 Belgium and 1800 England. Gail has worked in a library for the last 20 years and has answered genealogy questions for patrons and helped patrons with their research. In addition to her degree in Library Media Technology, Gail has a two degree in Basic American Genealogy Research from the National Genealogy Society. She has done volunteer work for various Genealogy Societies. Gail teaches several Classes in Genealogy for the Round Lake Area Library, and would be happy to conduct a class for your organization. If interested in a class or if you would like a one-on-one consultation, please contact Gail. Please enjoy Gail's family History Blog

Remembering Grandma


Grandma KaiserI’ve been thinking about my grandmother a lot the last few days.  Maybe it is because her birthday was the other day.  Also with just having Thanksgiving, and Christmas fast approaching is a time I reflect on past holidays.  If you have read my past posts about the Bowers Family going back to 1757, then you have read about my Grandmother’s paternal side.  Grandma was born Helen Dorothy Bowers to Robert Bowers and Eva Reinhardt on December 3, 1898 in Ottawa, Illinois. Grandma was the middle child of three.  She had an older brother Ralph born in 1896 and a younger sister Frances born in 1900.  Her mother and father divorced shortly after Frances was born.  My grandmother told stories that her father had nothing to with them after the divorce.   One time her mother saw him walking down the street and pointed him out to her.  Grandma ran up to him and told him she was his daughter.  He said, “Get away from me kid, I have no children.”  His parents would not acknowledge that their son married and had children.  Grandma grew up without ever knowing her father or his family.  She was raised by a single mother back when it was frowned upon. Her mother worked as a maid and a milliner.  They stayed living in Ottawa for a while and then moved to Chicago.  Grandma’s maternal grandparents and aunts lived in Ottawa so she would stay with them for weeks at a time.  I don’t know if it was for financial reasons or not, but Grandma’s mother let her sister Frances go live with a couple in Wisconsin for a couple of years.  When she went to retrieve her, the couple didn’t want to give her back.  There was a big fight over it, but she did manage to get Frances back.

Somehow, my Grandmother grew up to be a great lady.  She married Fred Kaiser on July 16, 1923 in Chicago, Illinois. They had two children Dorothy and Russell.  They lived in Chicago until about 1936 when they bought a house and moved to Villa Park, Illinois.  Grandma and Grandpa lived in that house until 1979.  Grandma and Grandpa’s house was my second home.  We lived only a few blocks away.  Whenever I felt like it, I would just up and go to Grandma’s house.  I could easily ride my bike or walk over there.  I was always welcome and I loved her house.

I loved the smell of Grandma’s cooking and it seemed like she was always cooking.  She canned vegetables from their garden, and made jelly from the fruit that grew on their trees or grape barber.  She had a cherry tree, apple trees, and a crabapple tree.  I liked to climb the cherry tree and they hung a swing on it for me.  She had a flower bed that ran alongside her house and around the perimeter of her yard.  Grandpa helped in the garden as he loved to garden too. She loved to feed the birds and squirrels.  One squirrel that would climb up the side of the house to her kitchen window, and Grandma would open the window to hand feed peanuts to the squirrel.  Grandma had a big pantry stocked with dishes and food.  In the basement she had what she called a “fruit cellar” she had all the food she canned, plus cans of food she bought at the grocery store.

Grandma liked to sew and taught me to sew.  She had one of those old peddle sewing machines.  It took coordination to run one of those, and I never really got the hang of it.  Grandma made quilts out of old clothes.  I had one and everytime I looked at it, I would see squares that were one time my dresses or my mother’s dresses.  Grandma’s sister also sewed.  Aunt Fran did it for a living.  I never had a store bought dress until first grade.  Between Grandma and Aunt Fran I was well dressed.  Grandma also liked to crochet and her hands were always busy when she was just sitting talking or watching TV.

Grandma and Grandpa had a screened front porch where we gathered on hot summer nights.  They had no central air conditioning.  So it was the porch and a fan.  We would sit out there and talk, no TV, no radio, no phone.  Of course it was before the days of cell phones, tablets, and computers.  We actually talked to each other, and I don’t remember running out of things to talk about.  That’s when I heard many family stories that have helped me with my genealogy.  I wish I could remember more of her stories and more details about the ones I do remember.

Holidays were the best!  On Thanksgiving, Grandma would make a turkey dinner with all the trimmings.  She had a big dining room with a big table.  Grandpa would sit at one end and Grandma at the other end, along one side would be her sister (known to me as Aunt Fran) and Fran’s daughter, Pat, Grandma’s brother and wife (known to me as Uncle Ralph and Aunt Helen) and Aunt Helen’s sister, Martha; along the other side was Uncle Russ, Mom, Dad, me.  In later years my brother and Uncle Russ’ wife were added to our holiday dinners.  The women would be busy preparing the food, setting table, while the men sat and talked or watched TV.  After dinner the men would retire to the living room and usually fall asleep while the women cleaned up and did the dishes.  Then the adults would play cards until it was time for dessert.  On Christmas we would again go to Grandma’s for dinner.  For Christmas, Grandma would make a turkey and a goose, plus all the trimmings, and it was a repeat of Thanksgiving Day.  I can remember walking into Grandma’s house and smell that Turkey cooking.  For some reason, it never smells as good when I cook it now.  Eventually, Grandma got too old to cook and my mom took over and then I took over from my mom.  But by the time Grandma quit cooking holiday meals, her sister, and brother had passed on, so our family dinners became smaller until I married and had children.

I loved Grandma’s Christmas tree with all the old ornaments.  I still have some of them and put them on my Christmas tree every year.  I threatened my kids and grandchildren with their lives if they broke them.  Miraculously, they have lasted through the generations.  One ornament was my great-grandmother’s ornament she brought with her when she came to the U.S. from Germany.  After my kids were born, I would take them to Grandma’s house to visit.   Sometimes we would take Grandma shopping.  Whenever my kids needed something, Grandma would buy it for them.  I am glad she lived long enough to know her great-grandchildren.  She was full of love, and I could feel her love. I still feel her love to this day!  We didn’t need to say anything, but we did tell each other, “I love you” many times. It is not just the holidays that I remember, but all the other days in between that I spent with Grandma.  Grandma passed away on February 9, 1981.  And as Grandma would say, “Come good home.”


Copyright©2016 Gail Grunst


JFK Assassination: My Memories


File:John F. Kennedy, White House color photo portrait.jpg

When I was sixteen, I kept a journal.  Here is what I wrote in my journal about the assassination of President Kennedy as things happened.  Keep in mind that this is written by a sixteen year old girl.  Some of the things we know about the assassination today were not known then.  I tried to transcribe it as it was written.  We only had four channels on TV at that time and all four ran nothing but the assassination.  There was no Internet, no VCR’s, no electronic games and businesses and stores were closing.  There was not much to do except watch TV.  There was no escaping the assassination.  So here is my account of the Kennedy assassination.

It was Friday, November 22, 1963.  I went to school that day like any other day. It was raining and my hair was almost straight from the weather.  All morning long I worried about how my hair looked.  On my way to English class I stopped at the washroom to comb my hair.  I left my comb at home and this made it a terrible day.  I went to English class, and in English we were to write a detective story.  The crime I picked was murder.  I had decided on this several days before when we were told we had to write a detective story.  My story would be the “Murder of Mrs. Jones”.  Sounds real exciting doesn’t it?  Well don’t laugh because I’m not too intelligent.  Little did I know that while I was creating a rough draft of the story, that the biggest murder in the county had taken place.  It was a murder that would affect me and millions of other people.  I was not yet aware of this murder, and not many people in the school were aware of it.  Almost each person found out in their own little way.  Here is the way I found out.  On the way to the school library, a bulletin came over the intercom and said, “President Kennedy has been shot and killed.”  I just about fainted and couldn’t believe it was true.  I met my friends in the library, and we talked about this terrible thing for a while.  But since the library was a place to be quiet, we had to be quiet.  We had to study or do anything as long as we were quiet.  I opened a book of Poe’s short stories and stared at it.  I sat there thinking of our now late president.  Some kids were crying.  At that moment, I couldn’t cry.  I don’t know why, but all I do know is I couldn’t believe it. I was so shocked!  I read time after time about Lincoln’s assassination. But that was 100 years ago.  This is today, this year, this century, this is 1963 and our country. This horrible thing is true and could happen here.  I was sitting in school and all I knew was the president was shot and dead.  Suddenly, my hair didn’t matter anymore. I struggled through seventh hour not doing any work. After school, I went to meet my mother who was picking me up from school.  On the way home we talked about the assassination.  When I got home, I turned on the TV to fill me in on what had happened. The president and Mrs. Kennedy were riding through a Dallas street in an open car with the Texas Governor and his wife.  They were worried that Kennedy wouldn’t get a good response in Texas. The crowds were good.  The governor’s wife turned to the president and said, “You can’t say Dallas doesn’t love you now Mr. President.”  Just then a shot rang out and the president slumped in Mrs. Kennedy’s arms.  Another shot came and the Governor was shot.  Still another shot came and the president was shot again.  The police were holding a man they thought killed President Kennedy.  His name is Lee Harvey Oswald.  Oswald was in a building on the 5th floor and shot President Kennedy with a high power rifle.  I cried when I heard all this on TV maybe because now it seemed real.

The President unconscious from the first bullet was in Mrs. Kennedy’s arms and her pink suit was splattered with blood.  We saw Vice President Johnson take the presidential oath on the presidential plane with his wife on one side and Mrs. Kennedy on the other side.  They arrived at the airport in Washington DC. and an ambulance met them to take the presidents body to the hospital.  Attorney General Robert Kenned was there to meet Mrs. Kennedy.  They got into the ambulance and went to the hospital.  The president’s body was taken to the White House during the night.

I think it is just terrible that a young man’s life can be taken so horribly.  The president, 46 years old, using his life in such a useful way.  I feel sorry for Mrs. Kennedy only 34 and her two young children, Caroline to be 6 next Wednesday and John Jr. to be 3 on Monday, the day of the funeral.

Friday night I entertained myself by baking a cake and cutting my hair.  I went to bed that night trying to forget about the horrible thing that had happened that day. How do you forget the assassination of the President of the United States?  You just don’t that’s all.  I finally got to sleep and woke up Saturday morning wishing it was a dream.

By Saturday night they said they clinched the case.  Lee Oswald assassinated President John F. Kennedy.  By the way Governor of Texas lived but was seriously injured.   My friend, Ginny, and I sat in my house and read the early edition of the Sunday paper.  After Ginny left, I broke up something terrible.  I cried and I cried over again.

I said all kinds of things about Oswald perhaps is shouldn’t have said.  They said that he wanted to get citizenship in Russia and after not being able to obtain it, he got a government loan for he and his Russian wife to come to the United States.  I wondered out loud what in the world was wrong with our government for letting people like this back into the United States.  Oswald gave papers out about communism and Cuba and Castro.  If all this was so wonderful, why didn’t he stay in Russia or Cuba, probably because they didn’t want him.  It isn’t fair that because some goof who wants to be a communist decides to pull his trigger finger that our president is dead.

In the 1960 election I wasn’t for Kennedy.  My parents were for Nixon and since I lived in a republican town most of my friends were for Nixon, and I was too.  One man made a record called First Family.  The record was goofy and hilarious. I enjoyed it tremendously.  Right now I don’t know that I will ever play it again. One thing I didn’t realize was that in the 3 years Kennedy had been president was how much I had come to respect him.

I went to bed Saturday night dead tired and went right to sleep.  Not having any idea of course what the next two days would bring.

Sunday morning I got up not wanting to turn on the TV.  I knew what would be on and I just couldn’t bear to hear it.  I could never explain how depressed this assassination depressed me.  I felt like something had died in me.  My heart felt broken and I just couldn’t bring myself to believe it was true.  I have never lived through anything so horrible in my entire life.

I don’t know what time it was when we turned on TV,  but when we did finally turn it on they were talking about another shooting.  Then the announcer said that the accused assassin of President Kennedy was shot.  They didn’t yet have the name of the man that did it.  The police were holding and questioning the man that shot Oswald.   A little while later the announcer said they have the name of the man that shot Oswald.  The man’s name is Jack Rubinstein.  He goes by Ruby and owns a night club and runs another on in Dallas, Texas.

For the next two hours we didn’t hear anything about the Oswald shooting because they were taking President Kennedy’s body from the White House to the Capital Building.  The president’s body is to lie in state in the rotunda of the Capital Building.

They took the late president’s body from the White House for the last time and put it on a caisson.   Behind the caisson rode Mrs. Kennedy and the president’s two brothers in a black limousine.  A few blocks before they reached the capital building, Mrs. Kennedy, Attorney General Robert Kennedy and Senator Edward Kennedy walked behind the caisson to the Capital building.  Inside the Capital Building Mrs. Kenned and the Kennedy Family stood there along with other people while some men gave speeches.  Mrs. Kennedy stood there with John Jr. on one side and Caroline on the other side.  I praise her very much for keeping her children with her and no one else.  John got restless and they had to take him out, but what three year old wouldn’t get restless.  Caroline stood there like a little angel.  When all these men finished talking, Mrs. Kennedy and the children walked out and family followed.  They say people were lined up for five miles to view the president’s body.

Sunday night I talked to my friends Ginny and Carla on the phone, and I finally did my homework, part of it anyway.  I was in no mood for recopying “The Murder of Mrs. Jones”.  I was wondering if we were going to have school on Monday.  President Johnson declared Monday a National Day of Mourning.  I finally found out no school on Monday.  Everything was closing on Monday.  Since Friday, there have been no entertaining programs on TV and no advertisements all in respect for President Kennedy.  I don’t think I mentioned that Oswald died almost to the minute that President Kennedy died on Friday.

Monday was finally here and I got up and watched the funeral.  First they took the President Kennedy to the White House.  At the White House Mrs. Kennedy, Robert and Edward Kennedy got out of the car and walked behind the caisson to the church.  Behind the Kennedy’s, President Johnson and his family and dignitaries from other countries walked. They were surrounded by Secret Service men.  It looked like the Secret Service wasn’t taking any chances.  Oswald broke through the tightest barrier of Secret Service Men.  When the president is on parade, they check the street sewers and man hole covers for bombs, they check the buildings and the people along the parade route.  They check people who have made threats and lock them up while the President is in town if it is necessary.  If the president is going to dinner, they check the food, waiters, and guests. They memorize a 1000 page book of faces so they can pick people out of a crowd.  If they know the bullets are coming they are to throw themselves in front of the president and take the bullets meant for the president. If they don’t think the pay is worth it or don’t want to give up their life they can go into fifteen other branches of the Secret Service.  If any of these men knew that the bullets were coming, there is no doubt they would have done what was necessary.  Oswald had a high power rifle that released bullet faster than any human could move.

When they got to the church everyone filed in and they brought the casket into the church.  They had low mass.  Nixon the former vice president and Kennedy’s challenger in the 1960 election was there, and also former presidents Eisenhower and Truman.  They left the church and went to Arlington National Cemetery.  The president is getting a hero’s grave.  He got a Purple Heart during World War II for his performance when his P.T. boat was bombed.  When he was a senator he was hospitalized for an old back injury he received while playing football at Harvard.  While he was in the hospital, he wrote a book Profiles in Courage for which he won a Pulitzer Prize in 1957.  When they got to Arlington National Cemetery, Cardinal Cushing went through some religious things I don’t understand.  Speeches were made and the band struck up the National Anthem.  Jets flew over, one for each state, and then the presidential plane flew over alone.  Cardinal Cushing said a prayer and then there was a 21 gun salute.  The flag that was over the coffin for the past four days was folded and presented to Mrs. Kennedy.  Mrs. Kennedy stepped forward and lit the eternal flame.  She left and the family followed.  Each person then stepped up to the grave and paid their respects to the late President Kennedy.

Well, it was all over now.  Mrs. Kennedy went through it with great dignity.  She realized that being the wife of a President all eyes were on her.  She knew it would go down in history books.  She did her duties with dignity and gave everyone the spirit they needed.

I know I will never forget this as long as I live.  This tragedy will bring tears to my eyes and emptiness in my heart for a long time.  I will always respect and remember President John Fitzgerald Kennedy 35th President of the United States, 1917-1963, assassinated November 22, 1963.

Copyright © 2013 Gail Grunst

Cubs Win 2016 World Series!!!


Wow, the Cubs won the World Series after 108 years.  The Cubs are in my DNA.  My grandfather and father were life-long Cub fans.  I inherited their love for the Cubs, and I am also a life-long Cub fan.  My father watched the Cubs or listened to them on radio every chance he got.  When I was growing up they played mostly afternoon games.  He would get home from work around 3 pm and turn on the Cubs.  He took me to my first Cub game when I was five years old.  I don’t remember much about it and didn’t understand the game.  I was only interested in the vendors.  But as I got a little older that all changed.  He taught me all about the game.  He also taught me how to throw, catch, and bat a baseball.  Back when I was young there was no organized baseball for girls.  So I only played in neighborhood games and at school.  But it helped me to learn the game.  I would go to my grandparent’s house, and grandpa would have the game on too.  Needless to say I grew up with the Cubs.  I was just coming of age in 1969 when the Cubs were in first place most of the season, but blew it and ended up in second place.  I went to a game once a week when they were in town.  My brother and I would stand outside Wrigley after the game by the door the players came out of and walk across the street to their cars.  We would get autographs and take pictures.  We even made a trip to St. Louis to watch them play the Cardinals.  We stayed in the same hotel and got to meet some of the players in the lobby of the hotel.  We rode a bus from the hotel to the ball park with some of the player’s families.   A couple of years later I got married and started a family.  I could no longer go every week to a Cub game, but we did go a few times a year.  I have two boys and they grew up with baseball in their blood too.  They went to the rally yesterday and took my grandson.   My grandson is 14 and a Cub fan too.  He is now the fifth generation of Cub fans in our family.  When they won the pennant, I cried that they finally made it into the World Series, and when they won it, I cried again.  I thought of all the years my father never got to see this.  He did see them go to the World Series in 1945 but never win one.  My grandfather would have been 10 in 1908. I don’t know if he was a Cub fan at 10 or if he got to see them play in the World Series since there was no TV or radio.  But what really broke my heart was that my brother never got to see it.  He lived and died and he never saw them win a Pennant or World Series.  I can picture all three of them cheering for the Cubs from heaven.  I want to be able to share this with them and hear them cheer and shout with joy.  I’m thrilled that the Cubs finally did it and there is no more waiting till next year.  Too bad it took 108 years and so many fans like my grandfather, father and brother never got to see it.  Go Cubs Go, see you next year!

Randy Hundley, Cubs Catcher  1969


Copyright © 2016 Gail Grunst

Is there a Doctor in the Family?


ytomgxzjcA while back, I wrote about my Great-Great Aunt Emma Reinhardt.  When doing research on her, I decided to search for her first husband.  There was so much information on him that I decided to write a separate post about him.  If you like you can go back and read my previous post about Aunt Emma’s two lives.  She married Dr. Frederick L. Orsinger on 2 September 1910.[1]  He was 33 years older than Emma.[2]  He had five children with his first wife, Lena, some older than Emma.[3]  His first wife Lena died in 1903.[4]  I can remember my grandmother would say with disgust in her voice, “Aunt Emma married that old Doc Orsinger.”  As a child I never questioned it.  I knew by my grandmother’s tone of voice she did not like him, but never asked any questions.  It really didn’t matter because this was long before I was born.  The Aunt Emma I knew was a kindly old woman who was now married to a very nice man.  When I went to enter her information into my family tree software, I wanted to be as accurate as possible, so I started looking for “Old Doc Orsinger”.  Well, between and Google, I came up with a lot of information.  Of course, I always would like more.  “Old Doc Orsinger” seems to be a colorful character to say the least.

“Frederick L. Orsinger was born in Baden, Germany on 8 March 1852.  At four years old he started attending school in his native town until age 14 under the priests of the parochial school.  At age 15 he went to Austria where he studied for a year.  He later spent a year and half in school in Switzerland studying medicine in Zurich.  In 1870 he completed a course in medicine and surgery in Zurich, Switzerland, and from there went to Paris, where he studied for six months. In 1871 he came to the United States and landed in Chicago on 9 October 1871 the same day as the Chicago Fire.  He decided not to stay in Chicago because of the destruction caused by the fire.   He headed for LaSalle, Illinois where he worked in his Uncle’s bakery.  While in LaSalle he purchased a drug store and engaged in the practice of medicine.  He realized that college training in America would prove valuable to him, and studied five years at the college of physicians and surgeons in Chicago, from which he graduated.  He gained experience during a year at Cook County Hospital”.[5]  Sounds like quite a resume doesn’t it?  But then I started to find articles in periodicals about Dr. Orsinger starting about 1903.

Here are some of the articles I found:

  • The Medical News: A Weekly Journal of Medical Science Vol 83, No 1, (New York) Saturday, July 4. 1903, Pg. 274. “Injunction secured by Dr. Orsinger – Dr. Fredrick L. Orsinger has secured an injunction restraining the State Board of Health, Justice Chott and his constable from causing imprisonment or enforcing judgement of $100 and costs secured against him for violation of medical Laws.”[6]
  • Journal of the American Medical Association – Medical News Vol 44, April 1, 1905. Pg. 104 “Fined for Illegal practice – Dr. Fredrick L. Orsinger on March 24 was fined $200 for practicing without a license. The prosecution was undertaken by Chicago Board of Health.”[7]
  • The Journal of the American Medical Association Vol 44 Jan – June 1905 Pg. 1124 (Chicago: American Medical Association Press, 1905) “Sues state board – Dr. Frederick L. Orsinger, formerly of LaSalle, who claims to be a graduate of Zurich, Switzerland, 1870 and has a diploma from the eclectic institution of April 1904, has asked the state board of Health be compelled by writ of mandamus to issue him a certificate to practice medicine in the state. On March 24 the appellant was fined $200 for violation of the medical practice act.”[8]
  • Bulletin Vol 6 Numbers 1-5 January-May 1910. Dr. F. L. Orsinger Makes New Move in Fight for License. Physician Refused Permit to Practice after Failing in Examinations. Dr. Frederick Leo Orsinger’s long continued fight to be permitted to continue the practice of medicine in Illinois without a state license took a new turn yesterday, when he obtained from Judge Walker in the circuit court a temporary order prohibiting the State Board of Health from prosecuting him.  The question of dissolving the order or making it permanent will be argued today. The Order was issued upon the recommendation of Master in Chancer, Albert W. Brickwood, who according to Attorney Charles G. Hoffman, representing the State Board of Health is the attorney of record for the plaintiff in two actions recently instituted by the National Medical University against the Board.  Sues to Compel Recognition. One of these is a suit for $500,000 damages because of the Board’s refusal to recognize the University.  The other is for a writ of mandamus to compel such recognition.  According to Dr. Orsinger’s bill of complaint, he has been practicing medicine in Illinois since 1872 and is a graduate of the medical schools of Zurich, Switzerland, and of the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Chicago.  In July 1908 he secured a writ of mandamus directing the State Board to issue him a certificate entitling him to practice.  Board refuses to obey. The board refused to obey the writ, and during last February the mandamus order was vacated and the court held against Dr. Orsinger.  His appeal now is before the Appellate court. “Dr. Orsinger has twice taken the state examination,” said attorney Hoffman, “and has twice failed (Chicago Tribune April 17).  Dissolves Restraining Order.  Court Ends Temporary Injunction Granted Dr. F. L. Orsinger against State Health Board. In the circuit court yesterday Judge Walker dissolved the temporary restraining order which he issued last Friday against the State Board of Health upon the petition of Dr. Frederick Leo Orsinger.  It was held by the court that Dr. Orsinger’s fear of being prosecuted by the Board for practicing medicine without a license was not sufficient reason for issuing an injunction.  Dr. Orsinger was allowed five days in which to amend his petition (Chicago Tribune April 18).[9]
  • Illinois Medical Journal: the official organ of the Illinois State Medical Society Vol 18, July to Dec 1910. Pg. 262, George N. Krieder, M.D., editor “Dr. Fred L. Orsinger, 750 W. Congress, who is said to have fought the State Board of Health for thirty two years against taking out a license to practice medicine, was indicted by the June grand jury of Cook County on the charge of having performed an operation on Pauline Sproc, which resulted in her death.”[10]
  • June 16, 1910, Mrs. Paulina Sproc, a 35-year-old immigrant from Bohemia, died in a Chicago home from an abortion that had been performed on June 5. W.L. Orainger (F. L. Orsinger) was held by the coroner’s jury. The source document doesn’t indicate that the case ever went to trial.  George N. Krieder, M.D., editor [11]
  • March 13, 1917 – From the Chicago Police Department Homicide Records 1870 – 1930. Schofield, Mannie L. Age 33 – died from an abortion at 325 Robey St., operation performed by Fred L. Orsinger, who with F. Schofield (her husband) were held by the coroner 3/15/17.  5/8/20 Orsinger acquitted.[12]
  • X-BUTCHER, NOW DOCTOR, IS HELD FOR WOMANS DEATH. Dr. Fred L. Orsinger, who the Chicago police say, is a former butcher and an ex-convict, was held last night after the death of Mrs. Minnie L. Schofield, 325 South Robey Street Physicians at the county hospital say she died from a criminal operation and Identified Dr. Orsinger shortly before she died. Thomas F. Schotield, husband of the victim, also was held. He admitted introducing Orsinger to his wife, but denied knowing of the alleged operation. Chicago Livestock World[13]

These articles raised more questions about the doctor.  Was his complaint against the Board of Health legitimate or did the Board of Health have a legitimate complaint against the doctor?  Was he a fraud?  Did he really go to medical school in Switzerland and the College of Physicians and Surgeons (now the University of Illinois College of Medicine)? Why could he not pass the State Board Exam with his education and experience practicing Medicine?  To be fair, when Dr. Orsinger started practicing medicine no license was required.  Over the years the states started requiring licenses and raised the standards to practice medicine.  This was probably a big change for some doctors and they might not have liked being regulated.  Change is always hard and some people take it harder than others.  This also was taking away his livelihood.   “Illinois started requiring doctors to be licensed in 1877, and Medical licensing boards’ enforcement powers forced fundamental changes in medical school curriculum’s, purged unlicensed ignorant practitioners and outright frauds, reduced the number of non-medical school graduates, marginalized midwives, revoked the licenses of abortionists, and unified the best of both regular and irregular medical practitioners.”[14]   One article said he fought the Board of Health for the past 32 years, which means he started fighting the board around 1877 at the time Illinois started requiring licenses.

Two women died after he performed an abortion which was not legal at that time.  The one article calls him an ex-convict. Does that mean that he was convicted of the first woman’s death in 1910?  I have been unable to find out if he was an ex-butcher.  The 1880 Census has his occupation as a saloon keeper.[15]  The 1894 city directory lists his occupation as real estate and saloon keeper.[16]  In the 1898 and 1904 city directory he is listed as a physician.[17]  According to the 1920 Census Emma and Fred are not living together, however Emma still uses the surname Orsinger.[18]  I assume they were still married, but separated.  He died in 1923.[19]

Copyright © 2016 Gail Grunst


[1] Chicago:  Its history and Its Builders

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] “Injunction secured by Dr. Orsinger.” The Medical News: A Weekly Journal of Medical Science Vol 83, No 1, Saturday, July 4. 1903, (New York) Pg. 274.

[7] “Fined for Illegal practice.” Journal of the American Medical Association – Medical News Vol 44, April 1, 1905. Pg. 104

[8] Simmons, M.D., George H., editor, “Sues State Board.” Jama:  The Journal of the American Medical Association Vol 44, Jan – June 1905, (Chicago: American Medical Association Press, 1905) Pg. 1124.

[9] “Dr. F. L. Orsinger Makes New Move in Fight for License. Physician Refused Permit to Practice after Failing in Examinations.” Bulletin. Vol 6 Numbers 1-5 January-May 1910.

[10] Krieder, M.D., George N., editor.  “Dr. Fred L. Orsinger.” Illinois Medical Journal: the official organ of the Illinois State Medical Society Vol 18, July to Dec 1910. Pg. 262.

[11] Website: Cemeteryofchoice

[12] Chicago Police Department Homicide Records 1870 – 1930. Illinois Regional Archives Depository, Ronald Williams Library, Northwestern University, 5500 N. St. Louis Avenue, Chicago, Il 60625-4699

[13] Chicago Livestock World, 14 March 1917.

[14] Sandvick C. Enforcing Medical Licensing in Illinois: 1877-1890. The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine. 2009;82(2):67-74.

[15] 1880; Census Place: La Salle, La Salle, Illinois; Roll: 223; Family History Film: 1254223; Page: 294D; Enumeration District: 069; Image: 0110

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

[17] Ibid.

[18]1920; Census Place: Chicago Ward 13, Cook (Chicago), Illinois; Roll: T625_322; Page: 8B; Enumeration District: 758; Image: 281

[19] Illinois, Deaths and Stillbirths Index, 1916-1947 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011.

September Book Review: Golden Age



Read September’s book review of the Golden Age by Jane Smiley on the book review page.  The Golden Age was the last book in a trilogy.  All three books Some Luck, Early Warning and Golden Age are a must read.