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Eastland Disaster Victims Buried in the 19th Ward

 The Eastland disaster on July 24, 1915, left 844 people dead. One hundred years later, 16 of the victims lay buried in five cemeteries throughout the 19th Ward.
The Eastland disaster on July 24, 1915, left 844 people dead. One hundred years later, 16 of the victims lay buried in five cemeteries throughout the 19th Ward.
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MOUNT GREENWOOD — The Eastland Disaster claimed the lives of 844 people on Saturday, July 24, 1915, and 16 of the victims are buried within the 19th Ward.

Friday will mark a century since the worst shipping accident on the Great Lakes, and it's worth noting that the final resting place for a handful of the victims can be found in five cemeteries on the far Southwest Side, according to the Eastland Disaster Historical Society.

Ted Wachholz, executive director of the historical society, said the list of victims and their final resting places is the result of years of research. Sources of the information include the coroner's list, obituaries, death records, newspaper articles and information from the American Red Cross.

"The victim list we have on our website is almost 100 percent," Wachholz said on Thursday.

Three cemeteries in Mount Greenwood have plots for the victims of the Eastland Disaster. St. Casimir Catholic Cemetery at 4401 W. 111th St. has four victims buried there. Mount Greenwood Cemetery at 2900 W. 111th St. has one victim, and Mount Olivet Cemetery at 2755 W 111th St. is home to dozen victims of the fatal accident.

Mount Hope Cemetery at 11500 S. Fairfield Ave. in Morgan Park has two plots for victims of the Eastland as does Oak Hill Cemetery at 2755 W 111th St. in Morgan Park, according to the historical society's website.

Known as the "Speed Queen of the Great Lakes," the S.S. Eastland was one of five boats assigned to take Western Electric Co. employees, families and their friends across Lake Michigan for a corporate picnic in Michigan City, Ind.

The Eastland was docked downtown at the Clark Street Bridge when the ship rolled over with more than 2,500 passengers and crew members on board. Victims of the fatal accident included 228 teenagers and 58 infants and young children, according to the historical society.

Christian Vogel, 25, worked as a factory hand at Western Electric. He died in the accident and was originally buried in a single grave at Mount Greenwood Cemetery. He was transferred to a family plot later that same year, cemetery records indicate.

Mount Greenwood and Morgan Park were popular burial sites around the turn of the century. The cemeteries were conveniently located close to railroad and streetcar lines. The sandy soil was also ideal for digging and land was cheap on the farthest reaches of Chicago, according to Paula Everett, president of Mount Greenwood Cemetery.

Charles Zitt, 23, worked as a machinist for Western Electric. He and his twin brother, Bill, were planning to take their fiancees, Elizabeth Mueller and Sophie Heine, to the employee picnic, according to the historical society.

The morning of the picnic, Bill Zitt and Sophie Heine were running late and missed boarding the Eastland. Charles Zitt planned to play baseball and boarded on time. Minutes later, he died.

Mueller had fatefully decided to take the second boat. She never married after the accident but remained close to the Zitt family. She even served as the maid of honor at Edna Zitt's wedding — Charles and Bill's sister.

Bill Zitt married Sophie Heine and they had one child.

Charles Zitt is buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery, according to the historical society.

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