Mystery regarding George Mangen

My Great Grandfather, George Mangen, now 35 married with 3 children, immigrated to Chicago from Luxembourg in 1889. I have previously posted about his early years in Luxembourg, Immigration, and Marriage. George definitely drove a beer wagon. Below is a photo of George in the wagon he drove.


George Mangen in Beer Wagon circa 1903. Personal photo.

He worked for Tosetti’s Brewery and delivered bottled beer. Then, on Thursday, 7 May 1903, something happened.

George was out on his delivery route and around 9 am, he was found lying unconscious on the Calumet Electric Railway tracks, his horse and wagon were not in sight. This was on 95th street near South Park Ave. A driver for the Calumet Electric Railway company, Edward Deegan, came upon him and there were two men holding George. Edward stopped and they loaded George into the railway car and the two men took off not leaving their names and saying that “he was nothing to them”. Edward Deegan then drove George to a doctor near Burnside and Cottage Grove. From there an ambulance came and George died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.

The map below shows 95th street and South Park. The railway tracks are the dotted line. The railway man, Edward, took George to Cottage Grove and Burnside where a doctor’s office was.

George’s wife, Eva Guill, was informed of the death and was distraught. She told the police about the wagon, and they found it with the horses a few blocks away. The horses were fine but the wagon was damaged. Eva then went to the police station to get more information but was met with “scant courtesy” and told her husband died of heart disease. Eva was convinced that George was “either murdered or the wagon was struck by an electric car and left on the track to die”. The article went on to say “But the department paid no attention to her importunities and finally she went away”. That. Just. Makes. Me. Angry!!!

George was buried at St Boniface cemetery. But Eva wasn’t finished. She convinced a doctor from the Chicago Policlinic to get permission from the health department to exhume the body for a second autopsy.

The Coroner’s physician, Dr Joseph Springer concluded that “he found the liver ruptured and a large amount of blood in the abdomen. He went on to testify “that from the nature of the wounds Mangen in some manner fell from the wagon which he was driving on to the wheel and from there to the road where he was found”.

The physician from the second autopsy, Dr Maximillian Herzog, found that “five ribs were broken on the right side and that ninth rib was broken in two places. The detached piece of this rib, some six inches in length, had been driven through the lung into the liver. In addition, the vertebral column was fractured below the ninth rib. There were no external injuries except bruises on the hips”. He further stated under oath “I do not understand why Dr Springer did not mention the various fractures. His report is not one that would excite the authorities to a thorough investigation”. He went on to say that “Mangen was killed by some great force, but how is the mystery”. Dr Herzog also submitted photographs.

The inquest continued and Deputy Coroner Traeger said “we have been doing all that is possible to get to the facts” and “if anyone’s negligence caused the man’s death the guilty parties shall be brought to justice. We have nothing to hide”. That last bit is an interesting statement!

The police told Deputy Coroner Traeger that there was a woman who reportedly saw George fall from the wagon. It seems they never found the two men that were crouched over him initially seen by Edward Deegan, the electric railway driver. The drivers of the railway car that went through the area before the one driven by Deegan were subpoenaed. I have not seen their testimony but it must not have provided any help. The jury took a look at the wagon and saw the damage that Eva testified wasn’t there before he left the home that morning. The two doctors differed in their autopsy results. The coroner didn’t provide detailed information that the second physician provided. There were 14 witnesses including Eva, the coroner, 2 conductors, 1 policeman, 3 housewives, 3 motormen, 2 teamsters, and 1 bartender. The second physician is not listed.

In the end, the inquest records show the verdict from 6 jurors, was “from shock and internal hemorrhage and rupture of the liver due to external violence, and from the evidence presented we the jury are unable to determine how said external violence was received.”

The personal effects on his body listed were: Cash $5.70, Finger ring, 1 pr cuff buttons, 3 collar buttons, 1 pocket knife, 1 watch& chain, 1 memo book, name papers.

From talking with my mom who knew her grandma, Eva was not happy with the final decision as she was sure that he was killed in some manner and the fact that the paper reported that “we have nothing to hide” and how she was initially treated by the police and coroner surely didn’t set well. However, if it had been a robbery, I would think that his personal effects would have been gone and that the men that were crouched over him would have run off without helping the railway man get George into the car. Also, the horses and wagon weren’t in sight and if it had been a robbery, they would have worked faster. He must have been laying on the tracks for a little while before these men came across him. Did the horses get spooked and he somehow lost control? How did the wagon get damaged? By looking at the photo, you can see how he could have fallen onto the wheel on his right side or back and then on down to the ground. He may have then fallen on his right side or back on the tracks which could account for the broken ribs and vertebrae. There was no mention of a head injury. We will never know for sure what happened.

I would like to know if the German language newspaper covered this and if so, what was written in it. Also, is there a more detailed record from the coroners office that shows the testimony of the witnesses.

The next post will be the probate and final resting place of George Mangen.

Genealogy Line

George Mangen – Great Grandfather

Henry Mangen – Grandfather

Florence Mangen – Mother


Photo from personal files.

Chicago Daily Tribune Saturday May 9, 1903, page3.

“File:1903 Rand McNally Chicago Map.jpg.” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository. 16 Aug 2016, 08:39 UTC. 23 Dec 2018, 20:37

Chicago Daily Tribune Saturday may 16, 1903, page2.

Chicago Daily Tribune Sunday May 17, 1903, page 2.

The Inter Ocean Sunday May 17, 1903, page 3.

George Mangen Inquest papers from the Cook County Morgue Chicago, IL dated 23 May 1903.


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