Special Collections and Preservation Division
Neighborhood Research History Collection
.5 linear ft., 34 photographs, 5 oversize folders
Call number: Archives_KIR
The two men central to this collection are Kircher (pronounced KEER-kur) brothers Hohannes Gerhard (1857-1915) and Julius (1859-1940). Both born near Vincennes, Indiana, they both migrated to Chicago and became pastors of the (German) Evangelical Synod of North America. This denomination continued to hold services in German through and after the first World War and its anti-German propaganda. Eventually, it merged with two similar denominations and is today known as the United Church of Christ.
Johannes Kircher was the founding pastor of Bethlehem Evangelical Church in December, 1883, in what was then the town of Lake View. Rev. Kircher was at that time a recent seminary graduate. He served no other Church, remaining pastor of Bethlehem until his death in 1915. The first organist of the young congregation was his brother Julius, then a student at Elmhurst College. Julius was succeeded by Miss Louise C. Niemann who eventually married Rev. Johannes. The name chose for the Church was Deutsche Evangelische Bethlehems Gemeinde (or, German Evangelical Bethlehem Congregation). In 1884-85, an elegant Church building was erected at the southwest corner of Diversey and Magnolia Avenue, an opulent testimony to the upper-middle-class lifestyle of the Lake View German population.
Johannes and Louise Kircher became the parents of two children, both documented in this collection: Paul (1890-1927) and Elsa Louise ((1895-1967). Mrs. Kircher survived her husband by twenty-eight years and remained active in the work of Bethlehem Church. She died in 1943 and was buried beside her husband in Eden Cemetery, Schiller Park.
Julius Kircher first studied Latin under a Danish vagabond to whom his parents had offered lodging to their southern Indiana home. From this beginning, he went on to become a student of Greek and Hebrew as well, graduating from Elmhurst College, Elmhurst, Illinois, and from Eden Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri. In 1889, he married Emma Bandow (1867-1910) and was installed as pastor of Trinity Evangelical Church at 22nd Place and Damen Avenue, in the Lower West Side neighborhood. He spent a fifty-year pastoral career at Trinity, continuing after official retirement in conducting a monthly service in German.
Julius and Emma Kircher were parents of three sons, all of whom fought
in World War I. Edward (d. 1958) became a professor at Harvard and
the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Helmut (1893-1973) married
his cousin Elsa and moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan. Armin (1894-1951) remained in the Chicago area.
After the death of Emma Kircher, Julius married in 1913 her younger sister
Lovesta, who died ten years later. After
that, Julius made his home in Oak Park with his sisters Emma Kircher and Amalia, widow of Rev. William Grotefeld who founded Bethany Evangelical Church at Cullom and Paulina Streets in the Lake View neighborhood. Julius died in 1940 and was buried with his wives in Eden Cemetery.
Kircher Family Genealogy
1. Mr. Kircher of Germany, to America, 1849. Lived in Freelandsville,
near Vincennes, Indiana. Born August 24, 18--. Died 1897-98.
2. JOHANNES GERHARD KIRCHER b. Vincenness, IN, Feb. 16, 1857, d. at 2746 Magnolia Street, Chicago, Feb. 10, 1915.
Married LOUISE CATHERINE NIEMANN (Aug 31, 1864-Feb 27, 1943). She was the daughter of Cord Henry (Oct. 20, 1838—Mar 29, 1914) and Elizabeth (July 11, 1845-Sep 20, 1915) Niemann, who were married in 1863, both of whom died at their daughter's home, 2746 Magnolia St. Pastor of Bethlehem Evangelical Church.
3. PAUL KIRCHER b. June 27, 1890 d. July 10, 1927. Lived in Montreal, Quebec.
4. Paul Kircher Jr.
4. Joanne Louise Kircher b. 1919, married Mr. Macy
4. Robert Emmerson Kircher b. 1921
3. ELSA LOUISE KIRCHER b. 1895 d. Kalamazoo, Michigan, Aug. 17, 1967. Married her first cousin, Helmuth Julius Kircher (see below). No children.
2. JULIUS KIRCHER b. Vincennes, Indiana, Nov. 15, 1859 d. Chicago, May 26, 1940. Married 1899
EMMA BANDOW of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who was b. June 1867 and d. at her home, 2009 W. 22nd Place, Chicago, Aug. 3, 1910. Julius Kircher married second, 1913, his first wife's sister,
LOVESTA BANDOW (May 15, 1873-Aug 29, 1923). Pastor of Trinity Evangelical Church.
3. EDWARD A KIRCHER d. Jan 25, 1958. Lived at Plainfield, New Jersey.
4. Charlotte Kircher m. Mr. Hoffman
4. Naomi Jane Kircher m. Mr. Weiss
4. Ann Louise Kircher
3. HELMUTH JULIUS KIRCHER b. Feb 6, 1893 d. May 4, 1973. Lived at Kalamazoo, Michigan. Married his first cousin Elsa Louise Kircher (see above). No children.
3. ARMIN MARTIN KIRCHER b. Nov 4, 1894 d. Mar 5, 1951. Lived at Oak Park and later Mendota, Illinois. Married Isabella E. (1891-June 26, 1962) who died in California.
4. Gertrude Jean Kircher m. Mr. Stafford
5. Robert Stafford
5. Nancy Stafford
2. AMALIA KIRCHER b. Mar 21, 1863 d. at her home, 4529 N. Greenview, Chicago, June 3, 1947.
Married WILLIAM GROTEFELD (May 3, 1864-Nov 2, 1934), pastor of Bethany Evangelical Church, Paulina and Cullom Streets, Chicago.
3. HERBERT GROTEFELD d. ca. 1950
3. WILLIAM GROTEFELD lived near Vincennes, Indiana.
3. OSWALD GROTEFELD b. 1894 d. 1974, buried Rose Hill Cemetery, Chicago.
3. ALMA GROTEFELD b. 1896 Married Mr. Vanderhof and moved to California.
3. THEODORE GROTEFELD d. ca. 1980, buried Clarendon Hills, Illinois.
3. ANNA GROTEFELD d. ca. 1935/36 Married Mr. Mandel.
2. EMMA KIRCHER b. 1865 d. at her Mozart Street, Chicago, residence, Feb. 2, 1955. Unmarried.
2. JOHN KIRCHER There were other children of the immigrant Mr. Kircher whose names are not known in this collection, but who appear in photo #1.9.
Birth and death dates are taken from the records of Eden Cemetery, Schiller Park, Illinois. There are, in addition, two other Kirchers buried at Eden, who may be children of either Johannes or Julius: Rudolph b. Mar 26, 1898 d. Apr 21, 1908; Walter b. June 11, 1901 d. Feb 20, 1902.
This collection consists of an initial accession and one supplement. It's strengths lie primarily in church history (Evangelical Synod of North America) and family history. It consists of manuscript material, Oversize materials, and photographs. Three Chicago view books and two general Chicago history titles have been transferred to the Book Collection; see separation record note below for a listing of these books and Oversize materials.
This supplement consists of one Church bulletin from Bethany Evangelical, which Church was pastored by Amalia Kircher's husband, William Grotefeld, and copies of three books authored by Julius Kircher. See also Separation Record below: three Julius Kircher titles cataloged for the Book Collection, copies of which are part of this Supplement.
The following materials have been removed to the location given:
Biographical Material:Kircher, Helmuth Julius. Baptismal Oversize 1
certificate. Chicago. 1893 Mar 21. Kircher, Helmuth Julius. Confirmation Oversize 2
certificate. Trinity Evangelical Church. Chicago. 1907 Mar 24.
Kircher, Johannes Gerhard. Confirm-
certificate. Bethel Church, Freelandsville, Knox Co., Indiana. 1873 Apr 6.
Kircher, Johannes Gerhard. Photo
as member of Chicago Vice Commission. The Chicago Daily Tribune, 1910 Mar 16, p. 17 (first page of section II).
Engraving by Max Miller, 1945.
16 x 12 ¾ inches. Chicago. View book, 14 pp. No publisher, NHRC—CCW 41:26
no date [c.1893?].
Chicago. View book, 13 pp. First view
NHRC—CCW 41:10 has in lower right corner, "Ward Brothers
Ph.-V. Columbus, Ohio, U. S. A. 1893"
Report of the Commissioners and a History
Book Collection of Lincoln Park. Chicago: Published by the
Commissioners, 1899. Softbound.
The New Chicago Album. View book, 12 pp.
Chicago: L. Schick, 1892.
The Story of Chicago Told in Pictures. From
Book Collection the Log Cabin to the World's Fair.
Chicago: F. P. Kenkel, 1893. Bound with: A Week in Chicago. Chicago: Rand McNally & Co., 1893.
"A Yard of the National Game." Photo-poster
NHRC Photo File: of Chicago Cubs baseball team.
Chicago: Chicago City- E. T. Johnson & Co., 1908. 14 ½ x 48 inches. Wide Collection
Kircher, Julius, Emma.
Chicago: Julius Kircher, 1911. PS3521 .I637 E4 1911
Kircher, Julius, Evening Echoes, a volume
of lyrics. Chicago: 1930 PS3521 .I637 E8 1930
Kircher, Julius, Stille Stunden.
Chicago: 1914. PS3521 .I637 S7 1914
Two stereoscope pictures, World's
WCE Photos 2.65, 2.66
Ravenswood-Lake View Community Collection
6:1-4 Bethany Evangelical Church (pastored by William Grotefeld)
6:5 Bethlehem Evangelical Church(pastored by Johannes Kircher)
Lower West Side Community Collection
1:4-7 Trinity Evangelical Church (pastored by Julius Kircher)
Internal evidence suggests that this material was assembled by the cousin-spouses, Helmuth and Elsa Kircher. This would explain the presence of Helmuth's fraternity and sports team photos and Elsa's diary. It would also explain the good documentation on the families of Julius and Johannes Kircher but nearly total lack of information about their siblings. The history of the collection between the Helmuth Kircher's death in 1973 and its appearance in the holdings of Special Collections in 1988 is unclear.
Gratitude is due to the staff of Eden Cemetery, Schiller Park, which graciously provided biographical data on the Kirchers, and to Jerome Grotefeld, grandson of Amalia Kircher Grotefeld, who assisted in identification of several photographs.
[N.B. Information uncovered since the above was written indicates that the Kircher Collection was a gift to The Chicago Public Library from the Kalamazoo Public Museum in 1974. It had been bequest to the Museum from the estate of Helmuth Kircher.]
Processed by Galen R. Wilson, December 22, 1988.
The Kircher Family Papers are available to the public for research in the Special Collections and Preservation Division Reading Room on the 9th floor of the Chicago Public Library's Harold Washington Library Center, 400 South State Street, Chicago, Illinois, 60605. The collection does not circulate, although photocopy and photoreproduction services are available depending upon the condition of the original materials. First time patrons to Special Collections must present photo identification and complete a Reader Registration Form. Telephone inquiries on this collection and other Special Collections holdings can be directed to (312) 747-4875.
1. Bismarck, Otto von (1815-1898)—Memorial service program, Chicago;
2. Kircher, Elsa Louise (1895-1967)—Diary; 1913
3. Kircher, Johannes Gerhard (1857-1915)—Autograph album, 1879-1883
4. Kircher, Johannes Gerhard (1857-1915)—Funeral program; 1915
5. Kircher, Julius (1859-1940)—Newspaper sketch; 1939
6. Kircher, Louise C. Nieman (1864-1943)—Choir ribbons; n.d.
7. Eden Cemetery (Schiller Park)—Advertisement, program, rule book; 1939-41, n.d.
8. Bethlehem Evangelical—50th Anniversary booklet; 1933
9. Bethlehem Evangelical—65th Anniversary booklet; 1948
10. Bethlehem United Church of Christ—75th Anniversary booklet; 1958
11. Bethlehem Evangelical—Memorabilia (ribbon, 1903; tray, 1906)
12. Francis W. Parker School—The Recorder—vol. 8, no. 5; 1912
13. Bethany Evangelical Church—Bulletin; 1914
14. Kircher, Julius, Emma (1911) two copies
15. Kircher, Julius, Evening Echoes (1930)and Stille Stunden (1925)
16. Block, E. F., ALS (in German) to Julius Kircher, Sidney, IL, 1892 Oct 24
1.1 Berkshire Papers Inc., 1946 (Oversize)
1.2 Bethlehem Evangelical, 1905 (Also 1.3, 1.4)
1.5 Mettmann, Germany, 1910 (Postcard)
Portraits and family photos
1.6 Bandow, Mr. and Mrs., c. 1875-80
1.7 Bandow, Helen E.
1.8 Fife, Robert and Joan, 1933
1.9 Kircher family, 1897
1.10 Kircher, Helmuth Julius (1893-1973), 1911
1.11 Kircher, Joanne Louise (1919- ) Also 1.12 – 1.18
1.19 Kircher, Johannes Gerhard (1857-1915) Also 1.20, 1.21
1.22 Kircher, Johannes Gerhard and Louise Niemann, c. 1910
1.23 Kircher, Julius (1859-1940) Also 1.24 – 1.29
1.30 Kircher, Louise Christine Niemann (1864-1942), c. 1874 (Oversize)
1.31 Kircher, Louise C. Niemann with 12 children (Sunday School?)
1.32 Kircher, Naomi Jane
1.33 Kircher, Naomi Jane and Charlotte
1.34 Kircher, Paul (1890-1927)
1.35 Kircher, Paul and family
1.36 Kircher, Paul Jr., Joanne and Robert E.
1.37 Kircher, Robert Emerson (1921- ) Also 1.38
1.39 Grotefeld, William and Amalia and family, c. 1902
1.40 Grotefeld family, c. 1912
1.41 Kircher, --------
1.42 Unidentified family
1.43 Unidentified large group )Johannes G. Kircher identifiable)
1.44 Unidentified family with bicycles
1.45 Unidentified men (Also 1.46, 1.47)
1.48 Unidentified women (Also 1.49)
1.50 Kircher, Elsa Louise (1895-1967) Also 1.51
1.52 Unidentified elderly couple
1.53 Molinari, Grace Radtke, c. 1924
1.54 Niemann, Cord Henry (1838-1914)
1.55 Niemann, Cord Henry and Elizabeth (1845-1915) Also 1.56
1.57 Francis W. Parker School
1.58 University of Illinois (fraternity?)
1.59 Unidentified athletic team, wearing "C" on jerseys, 1911