The Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife Sofie enter a car in Sarajevo, a few minutes before the assassination June 28, 1914. Courtesy Wikipedia

Saturday, June 28, marks the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the event in Europe that cascaded into World War I. To mark the centennial, the Historical Society of Forest Park will present a special program by Wheaton historian Don Sender at the historical society’s new exhibit space in First United Church of Christ.

Sender’s slideshow and lecture will cover “the tragic family of Emperor Franz Joseph, the life of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie, the assassins and their colleagues, the trial and punishments meted out to them, and the results that changed the history of Europe,” Sender’s press material said.

Forest Park had roughly 400 local men and women serving in the Armed Forces in 1918 at the end of World War I, according to Historical Society Executive Director Diane Hansen Grah. A complete list was printed in the Forest Park Review on Nov. 30, 1918, less than a month after Armistice Day (Nov. 11), which ended the war.

Hansen Grah said many early Forest Park family names appear on service lists of the time, including children from businesses along Madison Street, such as Thode’s Hall restaurant, Bartling shoe company and the Buettner department store. Also on the list are the Vogel brothers, who later started the Parichy Bloomer Girls softball team, and sons from the founding Haase and the Troost Monument families.

Veterans from WWI built the American Legion Hall at 500 Circle Avenue, Hansen Grah said. A plaque at the hall honors those who served, as well as the local casualties.

Forest Park had many German residents in 1914, including some with close relatives back in Europe. Like many Germans in Chicago, many immigrant Forest Parkers were ambivalent about the British and felt sympathy for Kaiser Wilhelm II until 1917 when the U.S. officially entered the war.

“Many German Forest Parkers sent money back home to Germany and would try to get news about what was going on with families,” Hansen Grah said. 

 The newspaper of record for many decades was the Harlem Post, written in German, which folded shortly before the Forest Park Review started up in 1917.

“The Post went under in 1917,” Hansen Grah said.

Lecturer Don Sender is a retired U.S. History teacher. He served during the Korean War as a cryptographic technician. He’s the past president of the Salt Creek Civil War Roundtable and a retired chief warrant officer in the U.S. Army Reserve.

Sender’s lecture begins at 2 p.m. at the Historical Society of Forest Park Museum, 1000 S. Elgin Ave. The cost is free for members, $5 for non-members. For more information, contact the Historical Society at 708-232-3747.

Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...