Thursday, October 17, 2013

Those Thursday Places: Spruce Street

Real Estate has been on my mind lately and reminds me of a real estate opportunity that offered a genealogical twist. Several years ago I had attended a luncheon where my mother’s best friend offered the comment, “Your Grandmother’s house is for sale.”

Mom’s friend, Grace, lived close to my paternal grandparents’ home. After considering what her comment I realized that I would love to see my Grandma’s house just one more time. I took a drive by Grandma’s Spruce Street home only to discover it wasn’t for sale! Instead, just two doors down, my maternal great grandparent’s home was for sale! I quickly made an appointment for a showing.

Now for a bit of history . . .

William and Julia Danker, married 4 April 1896, were general farmers in the rural community of Riverview just south of O’Hare International Airport. They raised their only child (my grandmother), Henrietta, on their Touhy Avenue farm. Sometime between 1910 and 1920 William and Julia made the move to Spruce Street where they remained for many years. I have yet to check on the Spruce Street property transfers and it is something I definitely must do to understand relationship of the house story and my family story.

William, Henrietta and Julia Danker

Great Grandfather William Danker died 7 September 1939. His death record confirms Des Plaines (formerly Riverview) as his place of residence; which is the location of his Spruce Street home. At the time of the 1940 census Julia lived with Henrietta’s family in Chicago most likely a result of William’s death.

It is unknown exactly where Julia lived during the 1940s and 1950s. Did she remain with her daughter’s family in Chicago? Did she return to her Spruce Street home in Des Plaines? 

Julia’s 1949 death and Henrietta’s husband, William Dollen, 1950 death caused Henrietta and her two children to move back to her parents’ Spruce Street home. Curiosity is killing me. Did Henrietta inherit the Spruce Street house? Probate and property records should answer the question of home ownership. Now there is one more research project for me!

The Dollen Family now lived in the Danker house a mere two doors down from my paternal grandparents and their four handsome sons. Love was in the air on Spruce Street for my Mother swept her front porch clean just long enough to catch my father’s eye.

Mom and Dad were married and had their wedding reception in the Danker/Dollen Spruce Street home. Nine months later I arrived and spent my early months of life in that same Danker/Dollen Spruce Street home.

It was quite a treat to walk through my first childhood home that housed four generations of my Mother’s family all because of the comment, “Your Grandmother’s house is for sale!”

The Living Room

The porch my mother swept clean has been enclosed.

A small alcove that may have been my nursery.

The second floor with original flooring and walls.

Kitchen & Pantry

My very tall and happy real estate broker.


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