Carolina Garlisch

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Birth Date: 1855

Death Date: 1940

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Spouse:  Louis Garlisch, jr. (b. 1852 d. 1914)

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Carolina Garlisch grew up on the farms of northern Illinois. This was a life that was filled with chores and hard work. Most people would only have gone to school through the eight grade and for women even that was a stretch. Even as a young girl she would have been expected to help her mother keep house. This not only involved cooking and cleaning, but also would have involved caring for and eventually butchering the smaller animals, such as chickens and geese; sewing most of the clothes that the family wore; helping with the planting and harvesting; and many assorted projects, from making sausages from scrap to canning all the vegetables the family would eat all winter.

Carolina had some tough times over her years. She buried two of her sons, one of whom died at the age of 16 and the other at the age of 25. In 1914 she watched the world enter World War I and as a member of an exclusively German community, must have felt a little alienated. In the same year that Europe entered the First World War, she was widowed at the age of 59, although she lived on to be 85.

She was not able to maintain the farm on her own, so she moved into town and rented out the family homestead. She rented the farm to Henry Frederichs, who was a farmer and could keep up the property. However, this area, as well as the rest of country was hit by the economic collapse and the horrible weather conditions of the 1930s. The crash of the market was followed by a collapse in farming across the Great Plaines. The whole sale clearing of the prairies coupled with the environmentally careless industrial planting and the over production for the First World War and the booming years of the twenties had left the Great Plaines with over exposed top soil. With nothing left to break the winds or keep the dirt down, the top soil would dry and when a wind picked up it would blow huge dust clouds across the prairies. From Texas to the Dakotas, dust storms buried farms and small towns. While these dramatic conditions were not played out in the Chicago area, there were years of draught that was in part caused by the dust bowl further west.

The Garlisch Family Farm became a victim of this drought in 1936. With a years of below average rain fall and a heat wave in July, the family farm became a tinder box. On July 13th 1936 a spark in the barn ignited a bale of hay and the entire barn was engulfed in flames. Luckily, the neighboring farmers and two fire departments in the area responded: the Mount Prospect Volunteer Fire Department and the Des Plaines Fire Department. They were able to get almost all the animals out of the barn, although one horse returned to its stall and died. In the end, they were not able to save the barn, the chicken house, the garage, or the tool shed. They did save the house and the summer kitchen, but there was over $5,000 in losses, or $71,000 when adjusted for inflation. Luckily, a part of these costs were covered by insurance, but it was still quite a set back.

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