Agnes Balkwill was a unique name when looking through the hundreds of milliners listed in the 1923 Directory of Chicago. When trying to unearth the details of the lives of Chicago milliners on Ancestry.com it often is easier when the name is unique.
The hats of Agnes youth would have looked like this:
For a fuller description of how hats changed from 1910-1920: http://www.uvm.edu/landscape/dating/clothing_and_hair/1910s_hats_women.php
In the 1900 census Agnes Balkwill, referred to as Grace, 10 years old, lives at 1611 Kedzie, at Diversy (prior to address number changes ) Edith is born Feb 1891, there is Grace, born 1889, plus parents and sibs, with little Ester only 1. Here is the info from the census as listed under her father’s name:
|Birth Date:||May 1867|
|Home in 1900:||Chicago Ward 27, Cook, Illinois|
|Relation to Head of House:||Head|
|Spouse’s Name:||Mary Balkwill|
|Father’s Birthplace:||Canada English|
|Mother’s Birthplace:||Canada, England|
|Occupation:||View on Image|
|Neighbors:||View others on page|
In the 1910 census, spelled Balkmill, Agnes, 20 yrs old, is living at 2828 Kedzie, (now the block north of Diversy) and she works for the telephone company. She is in the same house with parents and sibs. Father is 42, moulder in iron foundry, mother Marie is 41, does not work, sister Edith is 17 and a private family nurse. 2 younger sibs, one, her sister Ester. The parents came 21 years earlier. All children born in IL, and father born English Canada, mother Norway. He came 1886, she came 1887.
I am officially hooked on finding out details of Agnes life, as she lived feet away from where I lived in my youth. When she was 10 the house she lived in would have been visible outside my bedroom window. Granted I was not looking until about 1960, and the house had been replaced by a filling station, the term used for a gas station back then. The house she spent her teens, north of Diversy, was one I walked past on my way to elementary school every day. She may well have gone to the same elementary school, which is a heartwarming thought.
In the 1920 census she was living at 4711 Kedzie, with her own millinery shop. That building has been torn down. She is 30yrs old, single, born in Canada, tho other census state IL, of Norwegian parents, tho other census state father from Canada and mother from Norway. Her mother and two siblings still lived at 2828 Kedzie.
In 1940 Agnes 50, is married to Asa Chapman 53, a packer and mover, and as they were in 1930, they live at 4818 Fargo, now known as Skokie. (It was Niles, as in Niles Township, prior to part becoming Skokie.) Her divorced sister Edith Lenville is living with them, tho Edith lived in Chicago in 1935.
1950-05-08 Chicago Tribune (IL) CHAPMAN
Agnes Balkwill Chapman, beloved wife of Asa B. Chapman, dear sister of William Balkwill, Edith Linville, and Esther Van Schoyck, fond aunt of Lois Linville Reed and Lloyd Van Schoyck Jr. Funeral Monday, May 8, at 2 p.m., from funeral home, 8057 Niles Center road, Skokie, Ill. Please omit flowers.
I just drove home past that funeral home yesterday, hours before finding out all these tidbits of the life of Agnes Balkwill. Perhaps she is even buried at the cemetery at the end of my block.
If only a hat from her shop could magically appear for a photo, or a photo of Agnes came along, this trip down memory lane would be complete.