I’ve already written in detail about the murder of John A. Becker in 1917 in Chicago.
But my main purpose in researching him was to try and see if I could find out what he was like as a person. I still have a ways to go. But here’s what I’ve found so far.
Continue reading “Getting to know John Becker”
How is it that the war once known as “The Great War” has become the forgotten war?
Many disparate interests have gradually gotten me to think about World War I over the past few years. For example:
- Two of my favorite authors both fought in WWI: J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis.
- John Becker, my triple-great-uncle, would have served in the Navy during the war, if he hadn’t been murdered.
- The city of Ferguson has a monument in January-Wabash Park to honor its citizens who seved in WWI.
Everything I’ve ever read indicates just how horrible a conflict it was. Tolkien fought in the Battle of the Somme and later caught trench fever. He admitted that some scenes in the “Lord of the Rings,” like the Dead Marshes, were drawn from his experince in northern France. The imagery of these scenes is vivid and repugnant. I can’t imagine how awful the real war must have been.
There is just one living American WWI verteran left: 107-year-old Frank Buckles. I learned this from a recent article in Newsweek, The War We Forgot.
When Buckles dies, another pivotal moment in American history will slip into the ether. Most folks probably wouldn’t realize it. We have no national monument to the veterans of WWI.
I don’t know what, if anything, can be done about it. But it’s something that weighs on my mind.
If you want to learn about how I found the John Becker story, or if you’re interested in what methods I have used to trace the Becker family tree, please keep reading.
Continue reading “The story behind the story”
Ninety years ago, a sailor was found dead in Chicago, bloodied but still warm. His name was John Andrew Becker and he was my great-great-great-uncle.
As I mentioned in a previous entry, I have uncovered many names as I have fleshed out parts of the family tree, but it has at times been hard to learn about them as individuals. In the case of John Becker, the murder generated newspaper stories, military reports, police files, coroner’s inquests, and much more. This tragedy has offered a chance to learn more about a person in the family, and the people connected to him (for good or ill) at the time of his death.
What follows is my re-telling of John Becker’s murder based on reading many newspaper reports, a transcript of the Cook County coroner’s inquest board, John Becker’s military personnel file, various death certificates, and other material.
In coming days I will also write about the process of discovering this story for anyone who’s interested.
Continue reading “The murder of John Becker”