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Posts Tagged ‘Tubercular Basal Meningitis’

In April I shared that I had found an Ancestry hint on my great-grandmother Margarethe Klein’s Ancestry page. The hint directed me to the index of the birth of a little boy in 1906. George Joseph Klein was born 21 August 1906 in Chicago. I had never heard about this brother of my grandmother, and I don’t think my father or uncle had known about him either.

At the time, I quickly did a search for a death record and found the index. George passed away 22 March 1909.

I didn’t believe that I could get a copy of his death certificate because of Covid-19. However, my 2nd cousin who I have met through genealogy managed to obtain the copy. What he found made me so teary for George. This is one of the saddest situations I’ve encountered.

When George was born, his brother Frank, Jr. was ten years old. His three sisters were teenagers. The family must have been thrilled to have another boy that his older sisters could dote upon.

This certificate says George was over three years old, but I don’t see that from his birth and death dates. Death date: 22 March 1909 as I mention above and as it is on the certificate. Birth date: 21 August 1906. That is only two years old, by my count. Two years, seven months.

But what killed George? According to this death certificate he died from Tubercular Basal Meningitis, a horrible disease. The symptoms include headaches, behavioral changes, fever, a stiff neck, and vomiting. Look how long George was in the hospital: One year and four months! Imagine being sick with those symptoms for that long–and only being a toddler! That breaks my heart. You have to wonder how he got this disease at such a young age.

Then the most heartbreaking fact on this certificate of all: he died without the names of his parents listed and in an orphanage.

So how did George end up in an orphanage? This is what my cousin and I believe happened. Tuberculosis is a highly contagious disease. With four other healthy children living in the home, no doubt the parents wanted to protect them and would need to quarantine George. Also, it is possible that his symptoms made it difficult to care for him–especially because this disease affects the brain. His mother Margarethe wasn’t a nurse. The nuns at the orphanage hospital would have been skilled at caring for a sick child, and they probably had the facilities for quarantining contagious patients.

Did this mean that Frank Sr. and Margarethe couldn’t see their son once they turned him over to the sisters at Angel Guardian Orphan Asylum? That I don’t know. What I know is that George effectively died an orphan. The pain must have been terrible for the family. Perhaps that is why they never talked about George.

George is buried in Saint Boniface Cemetery, and I have put in a request on Findagrave for a photo of his grave.

What was Angel Guardian Orphan Asylum like?

Angel Guardian Orphan Asylum

First line: The charitable care initiative that would become Angel Guardian Orphanage illustrates how immigrant German religious women were able to succeed in America. The Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ (PHJC), an order of German sisters newly arrived in the United States, mentored and inspired other German immigrants through their work at the German Catholic Orphanage of the Holy Guardian Angels, which would later be known more simply as Angel Guardian Orphanage. This asylum existed in West Ridge for over 100 years. The orphanage’s founding and its first 35 years of existence set the stage for its later development into a major mission for the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ and a source of pride for Chicago’s German Catholic community.

Archdiocese of Chicago Archives

First line: Angel Guardian Orphanage began as an alternative to the separate boys and girls orphanages that the diocese of Chicago operated to ensure the health, faith, and cultural heritage of German children.

Loyola University Chicago–link through image

 

What happened to the orphanage?
Today, most of the cottages are gone, Misericordia Heart of Mercy occupies the old A.G.O. grounds.  Misericordia cares for children and adults with mild to profound developmental disabilities.  If you would like to take a tour of what is left of A.G.O., Misericordia has always been very accommodating when it comes to allowing formers to visit.  History of Misericordia

from Angel Guardian Orphanage Alumni

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