John Aloysius FitzMaurice [M.2.1]
(29 Jul 1893 - 27 Nov 1954)



Die 6ii Aug 1893, baptizavi
Joannum, filium Joannis Fitzmorris et Honoræ Mulvihill, natum Die 29 Julis 1893.
Test. Tim Fitzmorris et T. Mc'grath

[Then, in a different handwriting:]
Married Loretta Curran Aug 9 1919--Sacred Heart, Chicago (Disp. proof of Banns)

Source: Mormon film 1704692,
Item 3: Holy Family Church, Chicago IL, Baptisms 1887-1903, Vol. 5, p. 261

Note: "Test." = "Testes" (Latin) = "Witnesses".

I suggest the following translation:

On this 6th day of August 1893, I have baptized John, son of John Fitzmorris and Honora Mulvihill, born on the 29th day of July 1893. Sponsors: Tim Fitzmorris and T. McGrath.

Married Loretta Curran on August 9, 1919 in Sacred Heart Church in Chicago. (Dispensation from test by means of Banns for eligibility to marry.)

I chose the word "sponsors" because that was the word used earlier by priests in Ireland and at Old St. Patrick's Church in Chicago when they recorded baptisms in English. They did not use the term "godparents" in the official records.

The godfather, Timothy FitzMaurice [M3], was a brother of the father. The godmother, Teresa (Payne) McGrath (23 Apr 1861 - 10 Dec 1942), was a relative of the baby's future wife and was probably a parishioner of Holy Family Church. Teresa was the godmother of many children. She often took care of a new mother for about ten days after the midwife had left.

John [M.2.1] was an altar boy at Holy Family Church. Fellow altar boy (though one grade ahead) was "Bugs" Moran. John completed one year at St. Ignatius High School.

As a boy, he liked to travel. At age 10, he rode a freight train to Dubuque, Iowa. He made several similar trips to other destinations.97

He remembered seeing Buffalo Bill leading a pre-show parade down a main street of Chicago. Later, he managed to sneak into the show.97

He was a great walker. There was one period in his life when he and a friend walked the five miles to 63rd and Halsted Streets almost every evening.97 I don't recall whether they also walked back. I recall vaguely that the friend's name was something like Egan.

RESIDENCES recorded in Chicago Directories
1914 Fitzmaurice John A tel opr 9th fl 111 W Jackson bl
h 1329 Elburn av
1915 Fitzmaurice John A tel opr 9th fl 111 W Jackson bl
h 1329 Elburn av

Note: John A. [M2.1] probably moved from 1329 Elburn Ave. to 1105 S. Racine Ave. late in 1915.
1916 Fitzmaurice John A h 1329 Elburn av
1923 Fitzmaurice Jno W city firemn h 2023 S Racine av

Note: John A. FitzMaurice [M2.1] married Laura Margaret Curran (21 May 1899 - 2 Oct 1971) on 21 Jul 1919 and moved in with his new father-in-law, Thomas Curran, at 2023 S. Racine Ave. John and Laura had ten children.


On 6 Apr 1917, the Congress of the United States declared war against Germany. On 15 May 1917, My father [M2.1] enlisted in the Illinois National Guard (33rd division), presumably with the knowledge that all National Guard divisions would be called to federal Service within a few months since that was the practice in previous wars.

He was patriotic and was prepared to serve his country without reservation even when he disapproved of the national decision. His appraisal of WWI was that the only real benefit of American participation would be to preserve the British monarchy and keep King George V upon his throne. He referred to the war as "King George's War". In response, his fellow soldiers nicknamed him "King George".

On 25 Jul 1917, the 33rd Division was called to the service of the United States by order of President Wilson. On 5 Aug 1917, my father and all other members of the 33rd Division were formally discharged from the Illinois National Guard and drafted into the United States Army.

Soon after entering the service, my father was sent to Texas. This was partially for training and partially to defend the people of Texas against raids by Pancho Villa. A punitive expedition of the United States Army had withdrawn from Mexico early in 1917 without finding Villa.

I don't know when my father embarked for the "Western Front". It seems, however, that his regiment (the 7th Illinois Infantry) was engaged in almost continuous combat from 6 Aug 1918 until the war ended on 11 Nov 1918.
The 33rd Division was arriving in the British area in late May 1918. Two regiments of the 33rd Division "participated in an attack on Hamel July 4 and again on August 9 as an incident of an allied offensive against the Amiens salient. One of these regiments (apparently the 7th Illinois Infantry) took Gressaire Wood and Chipilly Bridge, capturing 700 prisoners and considerable material".

On the night of 25 Sep 1918, the nine American divisions that were to lead the attack that would end the war were deployed between the Meuse River and the western edge of the Argonne Forest. On the right was the 3rd Corps (with the 33rd, 80th, and 4th Divisions in line). The 5th Corps (with the 79th, 37th, and 91st Divisions in line) was in the center and the 1st Corps (with the 35th, 28th, and 77th Divisions in line) on the left. After three hours of heavy artillery fire, the infantry attack started at 5:30 A.M., 26 Sep 1918, accompanied by tanks and air support.

By the end of October, the German line had been broken and the German Army was disintegrating. The war ended on 11 Nov 1918. The 3rd Corps (which included the 33rd Division) had an important part in the decisive battles between 25 Sep and 11 Nov 1918. I do not yet know the story of the 33rd Division or of the 7th Illinois Infantry for that period.

My father was assigned to a horse-mounted MP Company sometime before the fighting ended. He often escorted groups of German prisoners from the front lines to rear-area prison camps.

My father arrived back in the United States on 22 May 1919 and was honorably discharged at Chicago on 5 Jun 1919.


  • John [M.2.1] traveled to Europe on the Leviathan, a German passenger ship. The Leviathan was originally called the Vaterland.21a She was launched at Hamburg, 3 Apr. 1913, and made her first trip to the United States in 1914. When the World War broke out in that year she took refuge in New York Harbor and was interned at Hoboken, N. J. She was 907 feet 6 inches long and was rated at 54,500 gross tons. The United States took her over when it entered the World War in 1917, reconditioned her engines which had been badly damaged by her German crew, and used her to transport 110,591 American soldiers overseas.

  • My sister Loretta wrote the following in 1992:
    "All the time he was gone, he wrote mother at least weekly. He wrote beautiful letters and closed each one with 'with oceans of love and a kiss on each wave, I am yours forever John'. (I read them.)"

  • While in Germany, John [M2.1] was assigned to a horse-mounted MP Company. Although he was not trained as a cavalryman, he had apparently had enough experience with city workhorses to escort walking prisoners. John told his young children that the horse on which he had been photographed was named Jenny.

  • He often escorted groups of German prisoners from the front lines to rear area prison camps. He sometimes spoke of the occasion when his unit arrived at the rear with one extra prisoner. They concluded that the extra man was an allied agent who had infiltrated the group of prisoners in order to get information that might not be uncovered through the normal interrogation.

  • Soon after arriving in France, John was stationed in a town with some French-speaking troops from Africa. He remembered that they all carried large ceremonial knives which they would never remove from the scabbard unless they drew blood. When an American asked to see the knife, the soldier would draw it and then immediately cut his own arm to draw blood. These African soldiers would refuse to draw their knives for a Frenchman.

  • After the Armistice, my father [M.2.1] served in the Army of Occupation from 19 Dec 1918 to 30 Apr 1919. The 5th and 33rd divisions had been assigned to the occupation of Luxembourg for the purpose of guarding the line of communication between France and the American-occupied zone in Germany. During this period, the Grand Duchess of Luxembourg "bummed a cigarette" from my father while he was guarding her palace. He was unfavorably impressed and often told the story.

National Guard
STATE OF Illinois
[Picture of eagle]
To all whom it may concern:

THIS IS TO CERTIFY, That John A. Fitzmaurice
a Private of Company H of the Seventh Regiment
Infantry Illinois National Guard,
is hereby HONORABLY DISCHARGED from the NATIONAL GUARD of the UNITED STATES and of the State of
Illinois by reason of: Drafted into Federal Service August 5, 1917 at command of the President.
Said John A. Fitzmaurice was born
Chicago, in the State of Illinois, and when enlisted
23 years of age, by occupation a Clerk,
had Grey eyes, Light hair, Light complexion, and was 5 feet
6 ¼ inches in height.

Given under my hand at
Chicago, Illinois this fifth
day of August, one thousand nine hundred and Seventeen.

Daniel Moriarty
Col. 7th Ill. Inftry

Honorable Discharge from The United States Army
[Picture of Eagle]

This is to certify, That John A. Fitzmaurice
1394516, Pvt. 1 cl. 33rd Military Police Co.
for convenience of Government,
Red Cix 101 It. Ill. 1918.
Said John A. Fitzmaurice was born
Chicago, in the State of Illinois.
When enlisted he was
23 years of age and by occupation a Clerk.
He had
Grey eyes, light hair, Light complexion, and
5 feet 6 ½ inches in height.
Given under my hand at
Camp Grant Illinois this
5 day of June, one thousand nine hundred and ninteen [sic].

Wm. Hendrieg
Major Infantry U.S.A.



Name: John A. Fitzmaurice Grade: Pvt 1 cl.
Enlisted or Inducted, 5/15, 1917, at Chicago Ill
Serving in
first enlistment enlistment period at date of discharge.
Prior service:
Noncommissioned officer:
Marksmanship gunner qualification or rating:
not qualified
not mounted
Battles, engagements, skirmishes, expeditions:
Somme Aug. 6th-Nov. 11, 1918.
Gressaire Wood and Chipilly Ridge 8/9/18.
Argonne Meuse 9/26/18 to 11/11/18.
Verdun 9/8/18 to 10/22/18
Frayansar Meuse 10/25/18 to 11/11/18

Knowledge of any vocation:
Wounds received in service:
Physical condition when discharged:
Typhoid prophylaxis completed:
Paratyphoid prophylaxis completed:
Married or single:
Army of Occupation 12/19/18 to 4/30/19
Signature of soldier:
John A. Fitzmaurice

Camp Grant, Ill. JUN 5, 1919
Paid in Full $81.54
including Bonus of $60.00
Act of Feb. 24, 1919
 Chas. E. Davarren
1st Lt. Infantry

Demobilization Group
S.H. Francis
Captain Quartermaster Corps


John Aloysius FitzMaurice (29 Jul 1893 - 27 Nov 1954) and Laura Margaret Curran (21 May 1899 - 2 Oct 1971) were married in a civil ceremony in Chicago on 21 Jul 1919. They were subsequently married in Sacred Heart Church on 9 Aug 1919.

During the first four years of their marriage, they lived with Laura's widower father, Thomas Curran, at 2023 S. Racine Ave. in Chicago. While at that address, their first two children were born. These were Mary FitzMaurice (May 1920 - c. Mar 1921) and Loretta FitzMaurice (b. 16 Jan 1922).

Just two doors away, at 2019 S. Racine Ave., was the eight-person extended Coyne family which included Billy Coyne (b. c. 1891), a later business partner of John. In 1920, Billy was employed as a glazier.

As long as John and Laura lived on Racine Avenue, Laura continued to keep house for her father, husband, and two younger brothers, (Charley and Tommy). She also did the cooking for the Curran Buffet--which was in the same building. It was probably during this period that John, Sr. became seriously interested in cooking.

The political climate in the Curran family was a new and exciting experience for John. He especially enjoyed the election-night vote trading. John told his son, Thomas, that the setup was quite different from what we have today. "Concession" was not merely a symbolic action; it was legally binding. After the first few votes were counted, a Republican leader might "concede" the election of a Democrat in one ward in return for the Democratic leader conceding the election of a Republican in another ward. Or the Republican leader might give the Democratic leader some patronage jobs in return for conceding an election. Thus, a Republican leader such as Tom Curran could guarantee the election of one of his important supporters by conceding the election of one or more Democrats in wards that Republicans would usually win. There was much discussion, mostly via telephone, about who the sacrificial candidates should be. Since each such trade left two candidates who felt that they had been cheated out of their election, political leaders led hazardous lives.

Shortly after he was discharged from the United States Army on 5 June 1919, John went to work as a milkman. Sometime before the census of 1 June 1920, he was hired by the Chicago Fire Department through the influence of his new father-in-law, Thomas Curran. He was hired as an "engineer" which meant that he would operate the motor-driven pumps as well as drive the fire engine (which he always called "the apparatus" -- never "the truck"). However, although he was capable of driving a team of horses, he had not yet learned how to drive a truck. Therefore, he was assigned to a fireboat until he learned how to drive.

About the time that Tom Curran remarried in 1923, John and Laura moved to a newly built, single-family house at 1218 S. Wisconsin Ave. in Berwyn IL.


John, Sr. was the cook on his shift. He enjoyed cooking and was always happy when experimenting with some new dish. We routinely ate Jewish, Polish, Italian, German, Czech, Irish, and Lithuanian dishes that most of our neighbors had never tasted. There were, of course, a few social disasters, like the time we had the head of a pig for supper on Veronica's birthday.

Although my father worked on the Chicago Fire Department for 20 years, I never saw him at a fire. Once, when I was a small boy, my Uncle Emmett took me to visit my father at the fire station. That was Engine Co. 25, then located at Canalport Avenue and Union Street (near Halsted Street). My father arranged for the Company to run a practice drill for my benefit. I didn't know it was a drill and was quite surprised. The alarm bell rang; the door went up; the fire engine with siren screeching and my father at the wheel came down the street toward me. Two firemen jumped off, hose in hand, about a hundred feet before reaching the nearest hydrant. The truck stopped at the hydrant; the firemen connected the hose, and my father was pumping water to an imaginary fire 100 feet away within 30 seconds after the alarm bell rang.

My father alternated 24 hours on duty and 24 hours off duty, with an extra day off every 2 weeks. He called the extra day off a Kelly because it was introduced by Mayor Kelly.

My father worked with a busy Company. He often arrived at work (at 8 am) and found that the Company was at a fire. He then changed to his work clothes and took a streetcar to the fire where he relieved his "partner" on the other shift.

My father often arrived at home exhausted because he had been at a fire most of the night. Only once do I remember his coming home in the middle of the day. There was a huge fire at the stockyards. As was customary on the Chicago Fire Department, they attacked the fire aggressively. They moved directly to the most severe part of the fire. Suddenly, the fire spread and my father's Company, along with several other engine companies, was completely surrounded by the fire. It took several hours before they were freed from this trap. Meanwhile, they continued to attack the fire, stopping frequently to soak each other with water in order to provide some relief from the heat. From time to time the flames reached one of the fire trucks and the other engine companies turned their hoses on that truck until the danger subsided. When the fire was over, my father came home in a taxi. Although I was very young, the sight of my father getting out of a taxi told me that something important was happening. Then I saw that he was wearing boots and his heavy waterproof work pants with heavy duty suspenders. This was without precedent. I knew it must be a momentous occasion. Fortunately, there was no injury. My mother covered his eyes with gauze soaked in Boric acid to relieve the effects of the smoke. Within a day or two, he was back to work.

After serving 20 years on the Chicago Fire Department, our father retired circa 1949. The photo above was probably taken circa 1952. In the back row are John's wife, Laura, and his daughter Veronica. In the center row are his daughter Dolores, John himself, and his sister, Sister Mary Veronica. In the front row are Dolores's oldest sons, John and Jerry.

Our father died at home (6413 West Roosevelt Road, Berwyn, Illinois) from cancer of the esophagus at about 2 am on the weekend after Thanksgiving in 1954 (age 61). He had been a heavy smoker for many years. He almost always rolled his own cigarettes using Bull Durham tobacco.


Before 1932, my father rented a cottage somewhere on a lake each Summer. There was at least one summer near Momence IL, at least two summers on Gage's Lake, and at least one summer on Gray's Lake. One of my earliest memories is walking alongside of a highway with my Uncle Emmett to meet my father as he drove up to the cottage on alternate days.

All that I remember of our stay at Momence is that we crossed the line into Indiana to visit a farm to look at the goats and buy some goat milk. So far as I know, that was the only time that I left the State of Illinois until I joined the U.S. Marine Corps at age 17.

During the 20's and 30's, the farmers of Illinois still pronounced English words in a way quite different from what I heard in the cities. Although my parents could converse quite easily with the farmers, I always had difficulty following the conversation. I recall vaguely that I had extra difficulty in the Momence region. In retrospect, I think that some of the farmers around Momence spoke with a combination of an Illinois farmer's accent and a French accent.

One year we rented a farmhouse at Gray's Lake. The farmer lived nearby and continued to operate his dairy farm while we were living there. It was here that a cow stepped on the face of my sister Loretta. Fortunately, the cow's foot slipped off her face before the cow put any weight on it.
During our summer at the farm our cousin, Edward Healey, stayed with us for a while. I still carry a mental image of Ed Healey, my sister Loretta, and myself walking barefoot along a yellow dirt road between two cornfields. It was a hot sunny day and we stopped occasionally to rest in the shade of widely separated trees along that road.

Our summer on the farm was a happy era in my father's life. He was a highly social person. There was a steady stream of visitors with numerous card games (probably pinochle) and much beer. The beer was probably Meister Bräu. My father seemed to be especially compatible with his brother-in-law, Ray Curran.


My father was employed by the Chicago Fire Department all through the Depression. Yet he suffered along with most other people. Altogether, the City of Chicago withheld nine months wages that were never paid.

With a large family, a heavy mortgage, a substantial reduction in income, and no wealthy father-in-law to turn to, John began to moonlight. Together with his friend, Billy Coyne, he "had a book" in a saloon operated by his brother-in-law, Ray Curran The venture was a loser and soon folded.


When asked about her father, his daughter Veronica said that he had three important rules:

  1. No clothes on Christmas. No matter how little money is available, it must be spent on toys. No child should ever receive clothes as a Christmas present.

  2. Children are not required to eat anything that they don't like but;

  3. Children must taste all food before declining to eat it.

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