"A family tree can wither if nobody tends its roots."


Blown Up In Beer Tank

by  Phyllis Zeck

Beer Winkofsky

Postcard courtesy of J. Chuckman

That was the headline for a newspaper article published in the Chicago Tribune dated 28 Dec 1897. Three men were in the accident including Theodore Winkofske. Theodore was my 2nd great uncle and the brother of my paternal great grandfather Charles Peter Winkofske. Theodore was a contractor working with two of his employees cleaning five 1,200 gallon beer vats for the Independent Brewing Assoc. on North Halsted St in Chicago. 

The men were putting a coat of varnish on the interior of the beer vats. Theodore accidentally struck his incandescent light against the iron. The bulb was shattered and the enamel exploded. Theodore was thrown through a manhole and was killed instantly.  His two employees, Louis Imme and Leonard Schaller, were badly burned and could not be rescued until the fire subsided. Click here for the article from the Chicago Tribune Archive (which was found at Newspapers.com) and read the story in depth.

Theodore was only 24 years old when he died. He was married to Louise Scheel and they had two sons, Edward Ludwig Michael and Gustave.


One Response to Blown Up In Beer Tank

  1. 1 year ago by Edward

    Hi Phyllis – Just came across this. Theodore was my great, great grand father. His son, Edward, was my great-grandfather and the first of five Edwards – all first born sons – of which I am the fourth. We spell our name Winkofsky. I have not spent any time looking at genealogy – but the change in spelling is interesting to me. Hope all is well. E


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