3 April 2013

C is for Chicago Connection

The Chicago Connection Pt. 1

My direct line of descent comes from Hoare families who originated on the borders of Hampshire and Sussex. Over the years I have been undertaking family reconstitution on each generation to try to fill in as many gaps as I can for my direct line. As a result when investigating the family of Samuel Hoare my 2x great-grandfather I was astonished to find that after his first five children were born in London between 1862 and 1870, his sixth child Florence Ann Hoare was shown in the censuses as having been born in Chicago W, USA in approximately 1874. Five further children were again born in London from 1876 until 1880.

So did Samuel's wife Emma Winfield just pop over to Chicago between 1870 and 1876 to have a daughter and then come back or was this a failed attempt at immigration? If it was immigration for the whole Hoare family what could have encouraged them to leave their well established roots in London and move to Chicago?

The Great Chicago Fire burned from Sunday 8th October to Tuesday 10th October 1871. The fire killed hundreds and destroyed over three square miles of the city of Chicago. Although the fire was one of the largest disasters of the 19th century, the rebuilding that began helped develop Chicago as one of the most economically important American cities.

That rebuilding was undertaken by both American and migrant workers who came to Chicago for the work. Samuel Hoare was a bricklayer one of the many trades for whom work was advertised as being available in Chicago. However that advertising, often by shipping lines and passenger agencies, hawked the high wages and steady work that were supposedly the lot of all who came to the city. In Smoldering City: Chicagoans and the Great Fire, 1871-1874 (Historical Studies of Urban America), Karen Sawislak describes the tumultuous months of rebuilding that followed the fire and the difficulties that there were for foreign workers, "One grim letter from a British migrant to Chicago appeared in the Manchester Courier in late March [1872]. Noting that 'money is scarce here,' the writer reported that 100 bricklayers had left the city, 'finding it impossible to support themselves and families, board and everything else being so high". At the same time in March 1872 the Workman's Advocate was reporting that 400 bricklayers, direct from England, had landed in the city. The paper reported that by April 1872 that 25 to 30 skilled tradesmen were arriving in Chicago every day.




If you want to look into your own Chicago family history there are some excellent books on the topic. The techniques of family reconstitution are also admirably explained in Nuts and Bolts: Family History Problem Solving Through Family Reconstitution Techniques