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                                       JACOB CONRAD
                                         Biography
                                    Cook County, Illinois

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Information contributed for use in Cook County ILGenWeb by
        Sherri Hessick, added May 2001.



JACOB CONRAD

Source: Album of Genealogy and Biography, Cook County,
Illinois with Portraits 3rd ed. revised and extended
(Chicago: Calumet Book & Engraving Co., 1895), pp. 88-89

JACOB CONRAD.  the spirit of heroism sometimes slumbers
within the breasts of people who would be least suspected of
possessing it.  Few persons can realize, when acquiring an
accomplishment, in what way it may become useful to
themselves or others, and no one can foresee at what moment
the Almighty may require the exercise of the gifts which He
has bestowed upon them.  Some sudden catastrophe or unusual
circumstance is often necessary to arouse the latent powers
of individuals, which might otherwise never have been called
into action.  The opportunity does not often find an
individual ready to grasp it, however, and all due honor and
reverence should be meted out to him who proves himself
equal to the great emergency which is unexpectedly thrust
upon him.

Jacob Conrad was born in Schwarzenbach, province of
Oldenburg, Germany, April 22, 1838, and died in Winnetka,
April 15, 1894.  His parents, Matthias and Elizabeth (Zar)
Conrad, were natives of the same place as himself.  In 1851
they left the Fatherland and came to the United States.
They first settled in Chicago, but finally located upon a
farm at Niles Center, Cook County.  Here the father died at
the age of eighty-one years, the mother having previously
passed away at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Mary Rose, in
Chicago.  After her death Mr. Conrad was married a second
time, this union being with Mrs. Hammer, who yet survives.
She is the mother of Mrs. Frances Conrad, wife of M. C.
Conrad.  Matthias Conrad was the father of two sons and
three daughters, as follows:  Jacob, the subject proper of
this notice; Mrs. Katie Schmidt, Mrs. Mary Rose, Mrs.
Elizabeth Johnson and Matt C. Conrad.

Jacob Conrad was about thirteen years old when the family
came to America.  While a young man he was engaged in
lumbering, and during his dangerous logging and rafting
operations he became an expert swimmer, and this
accomplishment was destined to be of incalculable benefit to
himself and his fellow-beings.  His first independent
business venture was that of a merchant, and he became the
first dealer in meats at Winnetka.  His last occupation was
that of a dealer in hay.  In all his business affairs he
aimed to do exact justice to all, and he became widely known
through his veracity and unswerving integrity.  He was a
devout member of the Catholic Church, and politically was an
independent Democrat.  He filled many local offices,
including that of Township Supervisor, and enjoyed the
highest respect of his fellow-citizens.  His habits were
plain and his dress simple, and few would recognize a hero
in so plain a garb.  However, all that constitutes valor and
heroism was locked in his faithful heart, and he was
destined to save the lives of many people.  His name ought
to go down to posterity, and the memory of his daring deeds
be an everlasting, precious heirloom to his descendants.
The name of the “Lady Elgin” brings many sad recollections
to thousands of people along Lake Michigan, and her
collision with another vessel and immediate wrecking is
fresh in the minds of the citizens of Winnetka.  the
collision took place Friday, September 7, 1860, and the
steamer, which was bound on an excursion from Milwaukee to
Chicago, went to pieces in a heavy sea.  On that memorable
morning Mr. Conrad had come from his father’s home at Niles
Center to attend communion and mass at the Gross Point
Catholic Church.  As he had fasted from the night before, he
was hardly in a physical condition to perform the work which
Providence had mapped out for him.   While still at church,
word was received at that place that a boat had gone down
and many people were battling with the waves.  Mr. Conrad
jumped into a wagon and rapidly rode towards the shore near
the scene of the disaster, where considerable wreckage had
already drifted upon the beach.  He saw at a glance that
unless help was extended to those in the water they would
never reach shore, as the waves, which were running very
high, would throw them back again into the sea.  He procured
a long rope, said to have been a new clothesline, and
fastening the same under his arms, he swam into the water,
and grasping those who were still alive, was drawn to shore
by willing hands and immediately taken good care of.  As
soon as he was able, he would return to the water and rescue
another victim, and these excursions were continued until
late in the afternoon, though he received no nourishment
during all this time.  He rescued twenty-eight people in
all, the first being a colored man, who thanked him
profusely for his delivery.  Many stirring incidents and
heart-rending scenes occurred that day.  One in particular
made a lasting impression on the mind of Mr. Conrad.  A
woman wearing hoopskirts came near him, and he grasped the
skirts and had almost succeeded in bringing her to the
beach, when an immense wave wrenched the woman away, leaving
only a part of the broken skirt in his hands.  She arose to
the surface with another wave, but out of his reach, and,
throwing up her hands, she exclaimed, “O Lord, do take me!”
and when next seen she was dead.  That cry went through the
hero’s heart like a knife, but it nerved him to continue his
daring deeds till no more people could be seen afloat on the
waves.

Mr. Conrad was married, in Cook County, to Mary Stuben, a
native of Germany.  She survives him and has been the mother
of five children, of whom the following reached maturity:
Peter, Jacob (deceased), Louis C., Minnie and Mary.  Of
these, Louis C. was born November 27, 1873, in Winnetka. He
was married, at Gross Point, to Miss Anna M. Brandl.  They
have one son, Joseph J. Conrad.
		




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