Little is known of twenty-one-year-old Gertrude Falk (b.1883). Her nickname
was Gertie and she had two brothers - Jacob Falk and
Milton P. Falk (1887-1941). She was the
daughter of German or Russian immigrants, German
being most likely, the late Philip
Falk (1846-1900) and Minnie Bernauer* Falk
(1856-1898). Gertrude at one time lived in
Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, home to Philip's brother,
Arnold Falk, but the year(s) of that residence are
In 1903 she lived
with her brother Jacob, a salesman, in a first-floor rented six-room
Irene Flat apartments on Elmwood Place on Chicago's
south side and was described as a
housekeeper. It is not known if she worked for
her brother or outside their home. First- and
second-floor apartments there offered steam heat,
hot water and a gas range for $45 per month.
Their father, Philip Falk, a cigar packer, had lived
there with them until his death three years earlier. It would have
been too much space and expense for Jacob and Gertie
but I've not yet learned who shared their flat.
Jacob was an independent sales representative for
dry goods and millinery supplies.
Jacob found and identified
Gertie's body at Rolston's Undertaking.
Nothing is known of where she was seated in the
auditorium, or with whom. Her funeral was held
late in the afternoon of the Monday after the fire,
January 4, 1904, at the Falk's apartment.
The Falk family was Jewish
and burial was in the
Jewish Graceland Cemetery, one of Chicago's
In the years after the fire
Jacob and Milton Falk
each married and had children. Milton named his
first born daughter Gertrude after his sister Gertie.
She went by Chere. Chere became a librarian,
married a man named Sochon and served in the Women's
Army Corps during World War II. She had one
son, Flynn Philip Sochon.
Discrepancies and addendum
Clues for further research
I suspect the only member
of this family who consistently went by his
given name was Milton Falk. I found several
women named Minnie Falk but none were the
correct Minnie. Same with each member of
the family; nicknames proliferated.
Gertrude, Jacob and Milton
were niece and nephews of Solomon Vehon,
possibly through their mother, Minnie, being
sister of Solomon's wife. Vehon family genealogy
might provide a base on which to develop this
branch of the Falks. In 1896 Jacob and
Milton went to visit the Vehon family, then
living in Indiana.
In Gertie's funeral
newspaper notice Jacob Falk asked that New York
(city?), Cleveland and Toledo newspapers copy
the notice, so there were family members in those
cities. (A few years later Jacob married a
girl from Manhattan, Sadie Baehr.) Minnie's funeral notification
had asked newspapers in Columbus, Ohio to copy the
Several families thought to
be their father's siblings lived in Chicago.
missing 1890 census records and repetition
of the names Philip and Jacob in many
generations make researching the family