Lost Houses of Lyndale
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Message from a Century Ago

Logan Square Preservation recently acquired an old postcard from Ebay with a view of a Logan Square street from 1908. The postcard photo is labelled "Rhein St. E of Milwaukee Ave." which is now known as Belden Avenue, not far from Lyndale Street. This row of frame houses still stands largely intact just north of the twelve-story MiCA Towers.

Belden Avenue

Belden Ave. east from Milwaukee in 1908. Postcard image courtesy Logan Square Preservation.

Unlike many other postcards in the LSP collection, this card had a message on the back which might provide enough clues to find out who sent it. The unsigned writer sent the card to her sister Miss Ella Brieske in Plymouth, Wisconsin on October 3, 1908. I was curious to see if I could find out more about her.

Card to Miss Ella Brieske

Back of card to Miss Ella Brieske, 1908

In a quick search of online newspaper archives I located an obituary for Frederika Brieske who passed away in 1920 in the town of Rhine, Wisconsin near Sheboygan. She was the mother of ten children, including a daughter named Ella and a daughter Clara who lived in Chicago. Could this be the writer of the card?

Clara Brieske's married name in the obituary was Chapp. The name sounded oddly familiar from my research into families who lived on Lyndale. Could she be related to someone who once lived on Lyndale? Looking through my files I discovered that Clara Chapp, the sister of Ella Brieske, did indeed live on Lyndale. In the 1920 census, she and her husband Harry and son Roy lived in my own house at 3058 where I sat at the computer searching for records about them!

Clara and Harry had rented an apartment at 2722 W Belden in 1910, the third house on the left in the postcard. Harry worked as a cigar maker at a cigar factory, while Clara earned extra income as a dressmaker at home. Six-year-old Roy presumably was in first grade at Goethe Elementary School two blocks east.

Clara writes on the card that she and Roy are pictured. The boy can be seen by a tree, and his mother is with several neighbors farther down the street.

Belden Ave postcard detail

Belden Ave postcard detail

Enlarged details of the 1908 Belden Ave. postcard

The Chapp family moved to Lyndale street sometime before 1918. After renting an apartment at 3058, the following censuses find them at 3061 in 1930 and 3029 in 1940. Harry rose to become president of the local Cigarmakers Union. Clara continued her business as a dressmaker. Later, during the Depression, Harry worked as a clerk at an employment office and Clara worked as a matron in a WPA school.

Roy apprenticed as a commercial artist in his teens, but later became a traveling salesman, peddling board games, greeting cards and other novelties. He worked as an entertainer at carnivals and joined the Showmen's League in 1944. In the 1950s he opened the Trader Horn novelty shop in River North, which was a sort of exotica antique shop. When he passed away in 1975, his friends sent him off with a grand jazz funeral. He was buried along with pictures of his beloved dogs at Showmens Rest in Forest Park.

Petosa Wedding

1924 Chicago Tribune portrait of Roy Chester Chapp