Wednesday, November 30, 2011


          For those of you who have been following the story of Charles Sherlock, in this post, I am going to discuss his father Edward Thomas Sherlock (who was my great grandfather).  

          Edward was born on January 6, 1869 in Navan, County Meath, Ireland to Bryan Sherlock and Margaret Caffrey.  I had very little information on Edward, except that he was a butcher, came to the US and lived in Chicago and then died at an early age in 1901, when my grandfather was just a baby.  Edward died of tuberculosis, which according to his death certificate he had for six months.  I did have the above photo of Edward.  I also knew my Dad’s cousin who somehow was related to us on the Sherlock side – his last name, in fact, being Sherlock.  What I didn’t know was where his branch intersected our family tree?

          I will readily admit that I am not very experienced in family history research outside of the U.S.  In fact, I am still learning how to do family history in the U.S.  But thanks to and, I was able to locate some birth record information that listed Bryan Sherlock and Margaret Caffrey as parents to Edward’s siblings.  So, I found Irish birth/baptism records for the following of Edward’s siblings – Mary (born in 1865), Bernard (born in 1867), Bridget (born in 1871), John (born in 1873) and Patrick Joseph (born in 1876).  However, none of them were my dad’s cousin’s grandfather Christopher Bartholomew Sherlock.  I couldn’t find a baptism/birth record for Christopher, but I did find 2 marriage certificates for Christopher that listed his parents as Bryan Sherlock and Margaret Caffrey.  I also found an Australian death record for a Nicholas Sherlock (also with his parents listed as Bryan Sherlock and Nicholas Sherlock) but no birth/baptism record for Nicholas.  It is puzzling to me why I can’t find a birth/baptism record for either Christopher or Nicholas.  

          I do also wonder what happened to the rest of Edward’s siblings since the only descendants I ever knew of were from Christopher.   I guess I have a lot more research to do.  Thanks to the online class on Irish Research that I took through Family Tree University, I do feel more prepared to tackle this quest to find the connecting branch of our family trees. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Go West, Young Man!

            The year is 1929, it is late spring and Charles Sherlock has recuperated from his internal injuries suffered from a car accident while on duty as a Chicago policeman.  However, Charlie won’t be returning to police work, instead he has been placed on permanent disability.  What should he do now with his young family – wife Theresa Nebgen Sherlock, and children Charles Jr. (8 years old), Eddie (2 years old) and baby Donald (born in March)?  Perhaps, California is the answer.

            He travels solo to California and to the San Francisco area in specific.  Even though he has lived his entire life in Chicago, San Francisco is too cold for him.  Perhaps, San Francisco’s weather reminded him too much of Chicago.  What is that saying (that has been attributed to Mark Twain) about “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco”?   So not appreciating San Francisco’s weather, Charlie takes a boat down to Southern California (probably the Los Angeles/Long Beach area). 

            Well, anyone who has been to Southern California after spending a winter in Chicago will easily appreciate both its weather and beauty – the moderate Mediterranean type climate and its beautiful coast with its sandy beaches and palm trees.  Charlie decides this is the place for him and his family.  He returns to Chicago and moves his family to Los Angeles.  He drives his big car across the country with baby Donald (6 months old) in a homemade hammock strung across the back seat.  They find a place to live in Redondo Beach and live there for the next 5 years until Donald is in kindergarten.  

            In 1934, Charlie moves his family to a house on Beachwood Drive in the Hollywood Hills.  By now the Great Depression has hit, but Charlie doesn’t have to worry about money like the majority of Americans do because he is living on his pension from the Chicago Police Department.  He is also being paid for being a character actor in movies.  See my first post in this blog for the story on his acting career.

            A little postscript to the story of his acting career -- on Friday night, I went to the movies to watch the film “J Edgar”, the story of J Edgar Hoover, the longtime Director of the FBI.  In the movie, there is a scene where J Edgar is watching the original “G Men” movie.  Well, who should appear up on the big screen (28 years after his death) but my Grandpa Charlie.  It was awesome seeing him up there for just a few moments with the legendary James Cagney.

            What’s up next for this blog?  Perhaps it will be my adventures in researching Charlie’s father Edward Sherlock, who died when Charlie was a year old.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Please Save Our Daddy!

           It is Christmas Eve 1928 and Charles Jr. (7 years old) and Eddie (2 years old) are hanging their stockings and praying that their daddy, Charles Zola Sherlock, who is lying in a hospital bed at Lutheran Memorial Hospital (in Chicago), will get the transfusions he needs to live.  This Christmas won’t be the same for these two little boys and their mother Theresa Nebgen Sherlock, who is 6 months pregnant with her 3rd son.  Now, Charles’ fate may be in the hands of his fellow policemen who are donating blood to save his life.  How did this all happen?
          Charles “Tiny Tim” Sherlock, 28 years old, was a detective at the East Chicago Avenue Station in Chicago..  He was the smallest policeman on the force and therefore went by the nickname “Tiny Tim”.  This was during the time that Al Capone terrorized the streets of Chicago.  While on duty on July 17, 1928, a speeding taxi cab struck the detective squad car, in which Charles was riding, and injured Charles.  After a few weeks of recovering from his injuries, Charles went back to work at his police job. 
          Months later in December, Charles was rushed to the hospital with internal hemorrhaging.  He was losing blood fast and needed transfusions to save his life.  Many of his fellow police officers offered to donate blood but only four of them had the right type.  Walter Casey, Charles’ old partner for 5 years from when he served at the North Robey Street Station donated 2 pints of blood – one on Saturday and then another 1 two days later.  Another police officer from that same station, Edward Mendenhall also donated a pint of blood. After 3 pints of blood, Charles was finally on the long road to recovery. 
          In March of 1929, the family would return to the hospital but this time it would be a very happy occasion – the cesarean section birth of their 3rd son Donald Joseph Sherlock (my father).  

Monday, November 14, 2011

Charles Zola Sherlock -- More on His Childhood Years

          In 1906, after Charlie’s return from Ireland and before his grandmother’s death, Charlie’s mother Bridget Chambers Sherlock remarried after being a widow for 5 years.  Bridget married Joseph Francis Gary, a man who was 13 years her junior and who worked as a laborer at the Pipe Company. 
          Charles’ death of his maternal grandmother in February 2, 1908 was only the beginning of more tragic times for Charlie (who was also known as Zola) and his family.  A mere six weeks later, Charlie’s older brother Edmund Bernard Sherlock died on 14 March 1908 at the age of 10 years old after suffering from acute bronchitis for only one day and from weeklong cold.  Edmund was buried at Calvary Cemetery in Chicago on St. Patrick’s Day.
A few months after Edmund’s death, Charlie’s mother Bridget got pregnant – whether it was purposely done to wipe away the grief of Edmund’s death, whether she thought Charlie needed a sibling or whether she wanted to have a child with her husband Joseph, no one will ever know. Bridget gave birth to a daughter, Anna Margrette Gary, on February 13, 1909.  I am sure it must have been a wonderful Valentine’s Day that year for the entire family.   The joy was short-lived however, due to the death of baby Anna almost 7 months later on September 6, 1909.  Poor baby Anna died of infantile atrophy and inanition due to gastroenteritis. 

At this point, you may be wondering when would Charlie and his family’s luck change.  The luck of the Irish was definitely not on their side! Is there more heartbreak in store for Charlie, Bridget and Joseph? Well, three years later, Bridget would give birth once again in the month of February – this time on February 29th, 1912.   Joseph Thomas Gary was a leap year and day baby. I remember how Grandpa Charlie always made a big deal of Uncle Joe being born on February 29th and how in 1964, Uncle Joe had only celebrated 13 birthdays when he was really 52 years old.  Uncle Joe is sitting in the front row in the center in the above photo.
After discovering the story of Grandpa Charlie’s childhood, I felt like I finally understood him.  He was always a tough guy with lots of wild stories, but now I understood that he was a SURVIVOR.  How does one carry on with their life when almost everyone you know dies around you?  Does it make you think that you must be special – that there is some specific reason why you are alive and your brothers and sister and father aren’t?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Charles Zola Sherlock -- His Early Childhood

          I remember Grandpa Charlie telling the story of how when he was about to be punished for misbehaving that he would ask his mother (Bridget Elizabeth Chambers Sherlock), “Are you going to punish your only living child?”  Now, I thought that was rather strange but then again Grandpa Charlie was the family’s originator of the 2% rule (stories only needed to be 2% true – yeah, that legend has carried on even until today). 
          I started researching Charles Sherlock and his mother Bridget Elizabeth Chambers and his father Edward Thomas Sherlock in the 1900 US Census.  Since Charles was born on July 9th of that year, he wouldn’t appear in the census.  I did find both Bridget (although, she was listed under the name Elizabeth B, probably due to the fact that Edward also had a sister named Bridget) and Edward Sherlock, as well as their child, Edmund, who was 1 years old.  In the 1900 census, one of the questions that was posed was “You are the mother of how many children?”   Bridget answered, “2 children”.  When asked, “what is the number of children living now”, she answered, “One.”   Well, a look into the old family bible lists “,  Edward and Thomas” as siblings of Charles. Further research showed that Edmund Bernard Sherlock and Thomas Gordon Sherlock were twins and were born in November 1897Luckily, I found the death certificate for Thomas Gordon Sherlock, which showed that he died before his first birthday on Oct. 17, 1898 from meningitis with dysentery as a contributing cause for his death.
 Then Grandpa Charlie was born on July 9, 1900.  Grandpa’s father Edward Thomas Sherlock died on December 9, 1901 when Grandpa was only 17 months old. His death certificate says he died of phthisis (which is a word that means tuberculosis).  According to his death certificate, he had this disease for 6 months. It also said that catarrh of the stomach was a contributing cause of death.  Edward was a butcher and the family lore was that he caught the disease through his work, but we will never know exactly how he caught this disease.
In 1905, when Grandpa Charlie was about 5 years old, his mother Bridget (I’m calling her by that name since that is what he called her by) braved the open seas and took her two sons to Ireland, probably to visit her homeland and family but also to bring her mother back with her to America.  Grandpa Charlie’s maternal grandfather Thomas Chambers died in 1889. 
Can you imagine at the age of 5 years old (kindergarten age in our time) spending 6 weeks each way on a ship on the rough seas (and we are not talking about cruise ship here)?  So, Ann Kilroy Chambers (grandmother to Grandpa Charlie) came back to Chicago and lived with them until her death on February 2, 1908.  The cause of her death is listed as gastritis and a contributing cause was debility from starving because of the gastritis.   
I am thinking I need to stop here with all this cheerful news and continue on with this story in the next post, but just imagine this early childhood of Charlie Sherlock and how this would affect him for the rest of his life!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Charles Zola Sherlock -- My Grandpa, the Actor

            As a child, I remember seeing the “movie still” photos of Grandpa Charlie with some famous actors (John Wayne and Cary Grant to name a few) on his dining room wall.  I thought it was just perhaps a hobby for him, some way to pass the time since he was on disability from the Chicago police department after an accident in the line of duty.  But years after he died in 1983, I decided to research online to find a listing of the movies he had acted in.  Expecting perhaps to find a list of say 20 or so, I was shocked to find the extensive listing included 302 movies, spanning the years from 1932 to 1965.  Someone must not have been listing to his stories as a child and I began to think “it must be me!”
            I read not only the name of the movie and the names of the leading actor/actress but also what was Grandpa Charlie’s role.  Whose job is it to watch old movies and prepare lists of everyone in the movie, including the very tiny roles that aren’t even in the screen credits?  Well, I am very grateful that someone did because now I have that valuable (at least to me) information.  Charlie typically played small roles (often times uncredited) as either a policeman (probably drew from his real life experiences), a reporter, a bartender or a cab driver. He also played the Boston umpire in the 1951 “Angels in the Outfield” movie.  Knowing Grandpa, though, I am sure that he probably enjoyed just as much playing the criminal types as a gangster or a henchman.
            It’s rainy outside and a perfect day to stay inside and watch an old movie; of course it will be one of Grandpa Charlie’s!  Now, what should I watch – the classic “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (he played a reporter) or the 1951 “Superman” (he was a worker at the Daily Planet) or that crime thriller “Strangers on a Train” (he was a cop)?  The popcorn is cooking and where are those bonbons?   For a complete listing of Charles Sherlock’s movie, go to