Vancil, Burke - Macoupin County Illinois



Burke Vancil

Permission to use scans of the Burke Vancil glass slides given by Katherine R. Gorham and Peter Midnight. I have chosen 20 of the San Francisco earthquake and 20 of the family glass slides. Scans done by Peter Midnight [with "all rights reserved"]. Scans were arranged by Kristen Rinaker. The glass slides are remarkable capturing the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.
Katherine wrote, "Our great uncle Burke Vancil was born and raised near Modesto, IL. He became a lawyer and practiced law in Springfield, IL, around the turn of the century. He was also a photographer and we have about 400 of his glass slides. They are about a hundred years old. Some are of Washington Park in Springfield, IL; some are of his travels around the United States with his wife and some are of Modesto and Carlinville in Macoupin County."
Thank you to Anne Denby Michael with her assistance in identifying family members.


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May 6, 1906
The Journal


BURK(sic) VANCIL TELLS HIS STORY

Writes of Experiences in ‘Frisco Disaster

He and his wife spend three days in a small park before they are able to make their
way to Berkeley, where they now are located

Served on the Police Force and as “Chief” of the Fire Department.

An interesting letter telling somewhat in full the story of the destructive earthquake and
devastating flames that visited San Francisco, has been received from Burke Vancil. The
letter was received by Mrs. Phelps of Jackson street but was written for the benefit of Mr. Vancil’s other neighbors. The letter in full is as follows:

The mails and telegraph wire out here are so congested that we do not
know whether our mail and telegrams have reached you or not. The mail is now
quicker than the wires. We are expecting some letters from some of our eastern
friends in a few days.

We are here at Berkeley, a beautiful city of 25,000, across the bay from
the now desolate San Francisco. Flowers in abundance are everywhere and the
most varied, and luxurious roses abound on every wall and fence. It is a veritable Paradise as compared with the gloom across the bay.

Some of you know how hard it is for us to use a pen, but the typewriter I
had was broken in our escape so I am compelled to use a pen. You may be
interested to know something of our experiences of the 18th. We were both quite sound asleep and the first warning we had was the building swaying from side to side; plaster began to fall, furniture to topple over, windows to break and clouds of dirt filled the streets. Our room tottered so that we could hardly stand on the floor.
People in Wild Excitement.

People thronged the streets in night clothes and were wild with excitement.
The shake lasted the greater part of one minute, but it seemed much longer to me. It was not a single shake, but a repeated shake from all directions. The building creaked, timbers split, and crashed and when it finally stopped our building was right side up, but very badly wrecked and gas and water pipes leaking all through the house. We hastened to dress and started for the street. Our doors were bound and would not open. Assistance from the outside and a few blows from a water pitcher soon broke the way down and we got out. We soon saw that fires were breaking out in many places, so we packed our baggage and took it across the street to a small lawn on the east side of the post office building, thinking we could remain there until the danger was over. But the fire came nearer and nearer and we soon saw we would have to get a place of safety. Bear in mind our baggage at this time consisted of a trunk, suit case, grip, telescope full of papers, and typewriter. I tied the trunk rope to one end of the trunk for a cart loading the other pieces on top and then I got in the harness and dragged the whole load along the streets. Mrs. Vancil walked behind to keep things from falling off the trunk. In this way we made our way to Market Street, which is 120 feet wide and the “Broadway” of San Francisco. I have not time to write of the many incidents while we were at the P.O. lawn. We were there possibly an hour. The street car rails were banked up and twisted out of shape; all street pipes were pulled apart and the street in front of us had sunken four feet and was cracked across the cobble and asphalt pavement. There was a motley throng of men, women and children with such of their belongings as they could bring with them, consisting of trunks, bedding, sewing machines, canary birds and parrots. It was a time when everybody gave a helping hand to any who had more than they could manage.

Camp in a Small Park.

We remained but a short time on Market street which was full of bricks
and stone and another shock while we were there told us that we might yet be
buried in falling debris.

After inspecting a safe deposit vault on the corner and deciding to leave
some valuable papers which I had left there a day or two before, we loaded
ourselves and baggage in an express wagon, and not knowing were we were going, soon found ourselves at a small park four blocks square, where we spent three days and two nights. We fell in with a party of people who had been driven from their home on Larkin street and for the time being the only man in the party I began to plan for something to eat and a place to sleep. Shortly after locating at
this park I rented a room for a month at $12, in a house that had escaped serious
injury. We had made up our minds, however, not to occupy the room until
everything quieted down. The landlady was kind enough to let us have an old
mattress to sleep on and this supplied eleven of us the first night. I did not sleep
and by the second night I had secured another bed, and the Larkin street folks had saved a number of blankets, pillow, etc., spending almost the whole of
Wednesday night in moving bedding and provisions. Their house did not burn
until Thursday afternoon. I had, fortunately, some money in my pocket and in
addition to the provisions the Larkin street people brought, I bought deviled ham, sardines, “Force,” olives, but no bread. It was not to be had at any price. But we got along very well, and we lost no opportunity to get hold of provisions, not knowing how long we would have to stay in this park, Jefferson square. We had plenty of good water here. There was a bakery not far away, but a shortage of bakers, and a call was made for volunteers to help make bread, and many went. Remember, all this time the city was under martial law and in charge of the regular U,S, army in command of General Funston.

Acts as Fire “Chief”

I served on the police force Wednesday afternoon and was “chief” of the

fire department nearly all day Thursday. I did not handle the hose or anything of
that kind, but was ordering men around as though I was the whole thing, and they obeyed like good fellows.

There is no question but we saved three or four blocks from burning. For
some time we thought we would have to leave Jefferson square as the fire was
dangerously near and the park too small for safety. But the flames were checked
just a block away and we remained. No one who was not there has ever seen a
real fire. It was simply one mass of roaring flames, leaping to the sky out of the
large six, eight and ten-story buildings, and before it all nothing was fire-proof.
Some of the most magnificent structures were blown to atoms with powerful
charges of dynamite in hopes of checking the fire. The suffering cannot be
described. Many lives were lost, how many will never be known. Many were
burned, some killed by earthquakes, some dying from exposure, and a good many shot by soldiers for stealing. Six men were lined up in one park and shot. It is said, for looting. I am glad to say this was after we left.

In the wildest of it all many babies were born out in the parks.

Soon the provisions began to come from other cities and were distributed as rations, and Mrs. Vancil and I lined up with the rest of them in the bread line
for our little one-half loaf of bread or a few biscuits, and we were glad to get them.

Take Refuge at Berkeley

As soon as the fire had burned out so the ferry could be reached, the
announcement was made that all transportation companies, railroads, boats, etc.,
would carry passengers free to any point within the state, and soon the march
began to the ferry. One by one our family of eleven began to go. Four of us with
our baggage went from our camp Friday at 5 p.m., not knowing whither we were
going. We paid one man $10 to take us and our baggage to the ferry and shipped
for Berkeley as refugees, where we have been ever since. We shall be here
indefinitely, as our business has been very much delayed, and we do not know
how long we may have to remain.

We are thankful we have come through this calamity alive and have suffered no more. San Francisco is but a memory. Just a bit of the residence part remains. 10,000 acres, once a city, is in ashes. You must drive twenty-six miles to go around the burned area. $225,000,000 will not cover the loss. The fire was in a hundred places at once and burned four days. I used my camera frequently,
but nothing can give you any idea of the awful destruction.
 
We are both well and but for a broken typewriter and the loss of some
laundry we are no worse for our experience.



"Below is a notice printed in the local Carlinville paper on the day Uncle Burke died. It draws heavily on the longer history from the Internet. I’ve highlighted the different information."
Burke Vancil died May 3, 1925, Springfield IL, buried in Oak Ridge Cemetery, Springfield IL block 33  lot 284 range W 1/2, IL digital archives. Married Mary E. Steidley, Sept 30, 1891 in Macoupin County IL, online state archives database.

Mary Etta Steidley Vancil died Nov 4, 1930, 66yrs 1m 7ds, carcinoma of the liver, buried
block 33  lot 284 range W 1/4, Oak Ridge Cemetery, Springfield IL, died at home 225 East Jackson Street.

BURKE VANCIL DIES AFTER A SHORT ILLNESS

Was Prominent in Masonic and Civic Affairs of the City for Years

Burke Vancil, local attorney, business man, secretary of the Kiwanis club and very active in other civic and fraternal affairs, died at 10 o’clock this morning at his home, 225 East Jackson Street, of angina pectoris.

Although he has been suffering with the heart disease for a year, he was not taken seriously ill until Friday night while participating in Masonic lodge work in the lodge temple. He was remove from there to his home in an ambulance and was believed improving Saturday and Sunday.
 
He suffered a relapse early today and sank steadily until the end. Mrs. Vancil and Dr. C.A. Frazee, the family physician, were at his beside throughout his last minutes.

Mr. Vancil was born on a farm near Modesto, in the northern part of Macoupin County, Ill., on March 28, 1863. The family is of Pennsylvania Dutch (or Holland) origin, the maternal ancestry being of Irish descent. The name was originally "Wenzel," afterwards "Wensel," and finally "Vancil."

Imri B. Vancil, father of Burke, was born in Union county and died in Macoupin in 1907. His mother died only a short time ago.

Imri Vancil was one of the extensive farmers, prominent and substantial citizens of North Palmyra township, Macoupin County, where he owned and operated an estate of 1,160 acres of land.  

The boyhood of Burke Vancil was spent upon his father's farm. He went to Blackburn University, at Carlinville, Ill., from which he was graduated in 1886. He came to Springfield in November, 1887, and began the study of law in the office of Orendorff & Patton.

In 1889, the degree of LL. B. was conferred upon him by the Illinois Wesleyan
University at Bloomington, Ill. Following his admission to the bar in May 1889, Mr. Vancil became the junior member of the firm of Dikis & Vancil, of Springfield, but in May, 1890, the year following the forming of the partnership, Hugh F. Dikis died, and
Mr. Vancil formed an association with the late Judge Charles P Kane. The two attorneys were never partners, although the had offices at the same place.

Mr. Vancil is a member of the bar of the District Court the Circuit Court, the Circuit Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of the United States, as well as a member of the bar of the Supreme Court of this State. He practiced law actively up until about ten years ago when his various business and faming interests took up practically all of his time.

Mr. Vancil has never aspired to public office, preferring to exert his influence as a private individual. Politically, he is a Democrat. In April, 1910, however he was elected by an overwhelming vote of Democrats and Republicans to the office of Assessor, becoming an unwilling candidate for the office only the day before the primary election. While in this office he installed the Summers system of assessing real estate which has been practiced ever since.

Mr Vancil was a strong Mason, belonging to practically every branch in the city.
Was was also a thirty-third degree member. He was a member of the St. Paul’s
lodge No. 500 A.F.&A.M.; the Springfield chapter No. 1 of the R.A.S.M. of which he retired only last year as high priest; he was secretary of the Springfield council of the R.A.S.M. at the time of his death. He also belonged to the Elwood commandary No. 618 of the Knights Templar and was commander; the Springfield Consistory, coordinated bodies of the A.A.S.R. and a member of the Ansar temple, A.A.O.N.N.S.

Mr. Vancil was also a member of the local Elks’ Lodge, of which he was past exalted ruler. He was awarded the 25 year jewel in the Odd Fellows’ lodge and was strongly connected with the activities in the Knights of Pythias lodges. He was a member of the Illini Country Club.


Below text from:
Historical encyclopedia of Illinois (Volume v.2 :2) (page 161 of 180) Author Newton Bateman
http://www.ebooksread.com/authors-eng/newton-bateman.shtml


VANCIL, Burke, was born on a farm near Modesto, In the northern part of Macoupin County, Ill., on March 28, 1863. The family is of Pennsylvania Dutch (or Holland) origin, the maternal ancestry being of Irish descent. The name was originally "Wenzel," afterwards "Wensel," and finally "Vancil." A well preserved family record shows that John Wensel and Maria Brerathin were married on May 17, 1768, and that to them were born eleven children, of whom Tobias was the first, and the great-grandfather of Burke Vancil. He was born February 13, 1769. Edmund C. Vancil. his son, was born in Virginia in 1799, and died in Macoupin County, December 31, 1891. Imri B. Vancil, father of  Burke Vancil, was born in Union County, Ill., October 15. 1825, and died in Macoupin County, Ill., March 23, 1907. He left surviving him Elizabeth S. (Rice) Vancil, his wife, who now resides in Modesto. Ill., and four children Burke Vancil, of Springfield; Effie. wife of George F. Jordan, of Carlinville, Ill.; Ollie, wife of Lewis Rinaker. of Chicago, and Ida, wife of Leonard G. Brown, of Modesto.

Edmund C. Vancil, the grandfather, was taken to Muhlenberg County, Ky., by his father, Tobias Vancil, in 1801, who at a later date settled on the Mud River in Logan County, Ky. Thereafter, Edmund C. Vancil located in Jackson County. Ill. There he met Mary Byars, who was born in Kentucky in 1804, and had accompanied her father to Jackson County in 1808. In 1827, Edmund C. Vancil left Jackson County and in the same winter located in Macoupin County, north of Virden ; in the following spring, he settled in North Palmyra Township, near the present town of Modesto, which was then a part of Greene County. He possessed a cash capital of $100.00 and entered SO acres of land in section 4. There have been but two conveyances of the property since the patent was obtained from the United States, and then only from father to son, the property remaining in the family. The old home still stands as it did when occupied by Edmund C. Vaucil and Mary Byars Vancil. Here they spent nearly all of their more than sixty-five years of wedded life. Here the wife died in 1889, aged eighty-seven years, he surviving until December 31, 1891, when in his ninety-third year. For many years this was one of the finest homes in that part of the state.
Most of the lumber used in its building was obtained from the native woods nearby. Very little sawed lumber was used, and this was gotten out by hand. The home is now owned by Burke Vancil.

In the winter of 1844-45, Edmund C. Vancil and his son, Imri B. Vancil, went to Texas for the purpose of entering or buying land, believing- that they would find a better prospect than could be found in the undeveloped prairies of  Illinois. They soon returned, however, satisfied to remain in Illinois. Prior to this time Professor Turner, of Illinois College at Jacksonville, Ill., had experimented somewhat with various thorny trees and plants in an effort to produce a successful hedge fence. While in Texas, Mr. Vancil and his son saw the "Osage Orange" or "Bois d'Arc," a native tree of that part of the country and obtained some seed which they brought to Illinois. From this small handful of seed was propagated and developed by Professor Turner the first osage hedge fence, which, in later years and prior to the introduction of  the wire fence, came into general use throughout this and adjoining states.

Imri B. Vancil was one of the extensive farmers, prominent and substantial citizens of North Palmyra township, Macoupin County, where he owned and operated an estate of 1,160 acres of land. He was given excellent educational opportunities by his father, and attended school in Jacksonville, spending two years in the Illinois College. In the winter of 1847-48 he attended medical lectures in Cincinnati. After his return, he operated a saw mill in Palmyra township until 1850, when he joined the great exodus to California with a four mule team, reaching Sacramento after a three months' journey from St. Joseph. Mo., on August 13, 1850.
At first he engaged in mining, but later turned his attention to trade and remained in the state for two years, returning via Nicaragua, Gulf of Mexico and New York. His father then gave him a farm of 240 acres and on this he resided until he retired to the town of Modesto, where he resided until his death. He took an active part in politics and was the first supervisor of  North Palmyra township, an office he held for seven years, serving through the famous "Court House Fight." then he resigned, but at a later date was prevailed upon to again assume its duties and he served three years longer. He also served several years as Township Treasurer and for some years was one of the School Trustees. In all these offices he had an intelligent conception of their duties and performed them faithfully. On April 4, 1860, Mr. Vancil married Elizabeth S. Rice, a daughter of Thomas B. Rice, who came to Illinois from Virginia in 1836 and was long a prominent citizen of Medora, Ill.
The boyhood of Burke Vancil was spent upon his father's Macoupin County farm, where he learned to till the soil and the foundation of his character was laid by a good mother. From this country home he went to Blackburn University, at Carlinville. Ill., from which he was graduated in 1886. He came to Springfield in November, 1887, and began the study of law in the office of Orendorff & Patton. In 1889, the degree of  LL. B. was conferred upon him by the Illinois Wesleyan University, of Bloomington, Ill. Following his admission to the bar in May, 1889, Mr. Vancil became the junior member of the firm of Dikis & Vancil, of Springfield, but in May, 1890. the year following the forming of the partnership, Hugh F. Dikis died, and since then Mr. Vancil has continued alone. His office associate at the present time is Judge Charles P. Kane. Mr. Vancil is a member of the bar of the District Court, the Circuit Court, the Circuit Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of the United States, as well as a member of the bar of the Supreme Court of this State. In addition to his law practice and farming interests, Mr. Vancil is connected with several business enterprises in Springfield.

Mr. Vancil has never aspired to public office, preferring to exert his influence as a private individual. Politically, he is a Democrat. In April, 1910, however, he was elected by an overwhelming vote of Democrats and Republicans to the office of Assessor, becoming an unwilling candidate for the office only the day before the primary election. He belongs to the Masonic fraternity in all its branches, including the Commandery and Consistory. He is also a member of the B. P. O. Elks, the Odd Fellows and Knights of Pythias. His religious connections are with the Presbyterian Church. Socially he is a member of the Illini Country Club of  Springfield. Mr. Vancil is an excellent lawyer, able and learned. His wide legal knowledge has been ripened by experience and he pursues his profession quietly, enthusiastically and industriously, bringing to it the highest intellectual qualities of character, which give him an enviable repxitation and earn for him his conspicuous success.

On September 30. 1891. Mr. Vancil was united in marriage, at Carlinville. Ill., with Mary E. Steidley, of that place. They have no children. Mrs. Vancil comes from an old and highly esteemed family which resided for many years at the suburban home just west of Carlinville. She was the daughter of John S. Steidley and Sarah Elizabeth (Wright) Steidley, both of whom are deceased. The maternal grandparents of Mrs. Vancil were William Wright and Sarah B. Wright, well known residents of Carlinville, and for many years prominently connected with business interests of that vicinity. She has four brothers, William A. Steidley, residing in Denver. Colo.. Solomon F. Steidley, residing In Carlinville, James B. Steidley, residing in Kansas City, Kan., and Alex. B. Steidley, residing in Oakland, Calif. Her sisters are Laura Rosella, now deceased, wife of Xerxes X. Crum ; Florence I., wife of H. F. Valentine, now deceased, and Harriet G., wife of Judge Robert B. Shirley. Mrs. Valentine and Mrs. Shirley both reside in Carlinville. Mrs. Vancil is a member of several religious and social organizations in Springfield and has a wide circle of friends and acquaintances. She is a member of the Presbyterian Church and the Illini Country Club. Mr. and Mrs. Vancil have travelled extensively in the west, visiting all the principal points of interest, including the Yosemite Valley, Grand Canyon in Arizona, Yellowstone National Park, etc. They were in the great San Francisco earthquake and fire on April 18, 1906, and for many days thereafter were believed to have been lost. They now reside at number 225 East Jackson Street, where they have lived since 1893.

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