Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Genealogical Society to launch their book on Italian Hall family project Dec. 7 at Carnegie Museum

This memorial to the three Mihelchich children -- Paul, 5; Agnes, 7; and Elizabeth, 9 -- who perished in the Italian Hall disaster is part of the Houghton-Keweenaw County Genealogical Society project, "Family Ties: Memorials to Those Lost in the 1913 Italian Hall Tragedy," on exhibit in the Carnegie Museum in Houghton. The project has now been published in a book, Families Left Behind. A book launch and reception will be held at the Carnegie Museum from NOON to 4 P.M. on SATURDAY, DEC. 7. (Photos by Keweenaw Now)

EDITOR'S UPDATE: Please note the date and time change for this event because of inclement weather!

HOUGHTON -- Throughout this year, the Copper Country community has been commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Italian Hall disaster in a variety of ways, and the Houghton-Keweenaw County Genealogical Society (HKCGS) has been part of that effort. Early in the year, as part of its mission to assist members and non-members with family research in the local area and encourage a broader understanding and appreciation of genealogical research, HKCGS began a project to honor the victims of the disaster by researching the genealogies of their families.

This project is now on display as an exhibit at the Carnegie Museum, in Houghton, and tells the story of the devastating loss these families suffered and how it affected their lives and the community as a whole.

This photo shows part of the memorial to Lydia Johanna Luoma, age 10, who was also a victim of the Italian Hall disaster. Fortunately, her two younger sisters survived. According to the story, their father, Ivar, threw the youngest sister, Minda, who was about 4, over the crowd and out the door. A neighbor found her and took her home. The other sister, Milma, about 9, actually woke up in the morgue when the mortician began to spray the bodies with water. She was sent home alive and safe, though she retained scars from being stomped upon.

To further honor the victims of the Italian Hall disaster, HKCGS announces the completion of a 110-page commemorative book titled Families Left Behind, creating a permanent record of this project for individuals to own and helping to insure that these stories that have survived a century will continue to be preserved.

The book is the result of the contribution by many HKCGS members of untold hours spent researching and writing "memorials" of the families of the people who died at the Italian Hall tragedy on 24 December 1913. There are 49 families featured in the book, with 73 deaths, most of which were children. Many photographs are included, along with additional research added since the creation of the exhibit. More than just a collection of names, photos and dates, this project tells "the rest of the story," all of which is tragic and heartbreaking.

UPDATE: The release of Families Left Behind will be celebrated with a book launch and reception at the Carnegie Museum from NOON to 4 P.M. on SATURDAY, DEC. 7. Refreshments will be served.

The Carnegie Museum is located on the corner of Huron and Montezuma in historic downtown Houghton.

Free admission. Parking across Montezuma in City lot. Museum hours are Tuesdays and Thursdays from noon to 5 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. For more information, call 482-7140 or email history@cityofhoughton.com.

Editor's Note: See our Sept. 20, 2013, article, Carnegie Museum to hold Third Annual Night at the Museum Sept. 21, for more photos about this exhibit and others at the museum.

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