JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen Re: Where Is The Baby? #general

Pamela Weisberger

Lois Levick writes:

"I'm looking for a suggestion as to how I can find a missing baby from
early in the 20th century. My grandmother was chased >from her home
by her husband who was wielding a knife. Inside the home were her
children. The next day her husband turned on the gas to commit
suicide, and the children died as well, except for possibly one or
two. I grew up knowing one as my Uncle Abe, who must have been in
school when this happened. Two of the children are recorded as having
died. But when my grandmother came to the US she had four children,
the youngest being an infant. I know they were all hers, because on a
subsequent Census she was asked how many children she had, and her
answer was correct counting her more recent children. Her husband's
name was Leo Pranikoff, a musician in Chicago. The children that died
were Ettel and Massie. There was Abraham, who survived, and then
there was the infant, Moses. This occurred on April 30, 1905, in
Chicago. The inquest says they are buried at Ridgelawn Cemetery, but
when I called them and spoke to them they don't even have a record of
any Pranikoff in their cemetery. I'm not sure if this is because of
suicide or not. It seemed that the records were so difficult to even
find I did not have any help. There is no further record of Moses
Pranikoff, who would have been born in 1904 in Russia. He would have
probably been about a year and a half old when he died. Even if he
was buried in his father's coffin, there should be a record of his
death in the Illinois Death Index. I found a Moses Pranikoff record
in Ohio, but the family claims they know his origins, and I believe
his age doesn't match. Does anyone have any suggestions?"

I did a search via ProQuest's historical database and there are
several versions (in different national newspapers) of the same story,
dated 30 April 1905, with no follow-ups that I can find:

One headline is "Tries to Suffocate Family: Chicago Musician Succeeds
in Killing HImself and a Child." The text goes on to explain that Leo
Pranikoff attempted to asphyxiate himself and his four children. He
and two children were found dead and the two other were "not expected
to live."

The article discusses months of quarrels with his wife and that on the
Sunday prior to the murder/suicide he drove her >from the house with a
knife. It also states that she began divorce proceedings the day
before the murder. (Interestingly, the Atlanta Constitution framed
the story differently, with the headline: "Wife Made Him Desperate.")
There don't appear to be any follow-up articles, so it is unclear
whether both children survived, or only the one that you know about,
Abe, but it appears that he was not at school at the time and was
brought to a hospital with Moses to receive medical care.

Have you tried tracing the hospital? Perhaps Moses died a few days
later and his death certificate was not properly issued or his name
was mixed up by whomever filled out the paperwork, versus the
information on the first two children who either had died on the scene
or shortly thereafter.

One interesting item is found in the Chicago Tribune -- a listing of a
burial permit issued for burying Leo Pranikoff -- "age 32, 677 Elk
Grove Ave.," who is listed as having died on April 28. (The two
others died the day later?) The permit was not requested until May
20, 1905. No doubt, the deceased children were buried right away, but
perhaps no one was willing to claim Leo's body or there were other
issues and he was buried much later. But this fact makes it doubtful
that the infant was buried in his casket.

Is it possibly the children were buried using the mother's maiden
name? Perhaps the children were buried at the Chicago cemetery
initially, but later moved elsewhere or buried using her new married
name. With graves that old, especially those of toddlers or infants,
where there wasn't much money to afford a standing headstone, there
were only small markers left in the ground, which may have been taken
over by growth, depending on the section of the cemetery where the
burial took place.

Of course, whoever you spoke to at the cemetery might not have been
looking in books that contain records this old. Worth a try
recontacting them again.

Pamela Weisberger

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