Saturday, October 15, 2011

Sympathy Saturday: Monroe B. Cloos

Monroe B. Cloos was the first born son of my paternal great grandparents, George Cloos and Effie Furst Beck Cloos Roby. He was born 15 October 1895 in Shelby, Illinois, one year and one day after my grandmother, Lola Cloos, was born (she was born 14 October 1894). I actually just noticed that as I began to write this post! I wonder if his middle initial, B, was for Beck.

I do not yet know much about my grandmother's childhood or her siblings. I know some things such as where they lived in 1900, 1910, 1920 and 1930 because of the census, spouses they had, when they died, but it does appear that to date, many people still living, know little if anything about these people. From the information I currently have, only two of the five children (one being my grandmother) had children, and of those three children, two are deceased (my dad and his brother) and one is still living, but sadly, has Alzheimer's disease.

Sometime between 1900 and 1910, my great grandparents split up. I can find Effie and all five of the children on the 1910 census, but  I cannot find my great grandfather George. The story my dad told us was that George left the family to return to Germany to fight for the Kaiser, yet, I don't know if I really believe that as I've not found any documents to indicate he left the US. I also think it would be odd as from everything I can find thus far, George was very young when he came to the US from Germany, and I can find proof that he was in Illinois in 1915. But, that doesn't mean he didn't go to Germany. I haven't yet found his immigration records when he came to the US as a boy, but I did find an article about his becoming a naturalized US citizen on August 15, 1898.

So, in 1910, Effie and all of her children were living in the homes of others as either servants, domestics, or working for board. Monroe was living and working in Bremen, Cook County, Illinois, a 14 year old "hired help" on a farm owned by one George Schultz, who was a farmer. George Schultz was also born in Illinois of German parents, and in 1910 was a young farmer of 33, married with three young children.

On May 9, 1912, 16 year old Monroe died in Blue Island, Illinois, from peritonitis. The farmer, George Schultz was the informant on the death certificate. Monroe was stricken 4 days earlier and also had appendicitis. On his death certificate where it asks for father's name and mother's name, and it says "not known", yet his birth date was known, as was the correct spelling of his last name (oftentimes spelled Close). I began my search in 2009, and 97 years after his death was able to name the parents of that young man who died without his birth family. Monroe was buried on May 11, 1912 at Burr Oak Cemetery in Blue Island, Illinois.

The interesting thing about the burial is that Burr Oak Cemetery, from what I can find, is located in Alsip, IL and was founded about 1927. It was founded as an African American cemetery, and clearly founded 15 years after Monroe was buried. When I first discovered his death certificate, I thought this was his burial place, but that was before I realized the approximate date of it's origins.  Now I need to research more to see if there was an earlier Burr Oak Cemetery. The Burr Oak Cemetery in Alsip is the resting place of such notables as Emmett Till and Dinah Washington, and was the subject of scandal in 2009.

Turns out there are two Burr Oak Cemeteries in Illinois, one in Alsip, Cook County and one in Leroy Township, Boone County (approximately two hours from Alsip). Now I must really determine which Burr Oak Cemetery Monroe is buried in. Based on the circumstances, I'm quite sure he has no grave marker. I'm also thinking that he might be buried in Boone County based on dates.

I now want to list the names of George Schultz's family in the hopes that maybe a descendant might be doing a google search and find this post. My hope is that in some old family photos or records, there might actually be information and/or a picture of that young man, Monroe Cloos, that worked as a hired hand on the farm in Bremen, Cook County, Illinois, belonging to George Schultz. That young man, Monroe, all these years later, has family actually looking for him.

1910 United States Federal Census

George Schultz

Age in 1910: 33

Estimated Birth Year: 1877

Birthplace: Illinois

Relation to Head of House: Head

Father's Birth Place: Germany

Mother's Birth Place: Germany

Spouse's Name: Ricke Schultz

Home in 1910: Bremen, Cook, Illinois

Marital Status: Married

Race: White

Gender: Male

Household Members: Name Age

George Schultz 33

Ricke Schultz 29

Lillie Schultz 7

Ester Schultz 5

Hilbert Schultz 4

Monroe Close 14


  1. Great post about Monroe! Since you told me about him, I've often wondered how he died so young! Hopefully you will find the Schultz's and learn more about him. If not, he will still live on because of you! My paternal grandfather lived in Blue Island, IL when he first came over from Sweden to the US but he moved to Iowa sometime before 1900.

  2. Such a great thing that you do for him! :)