Stories of those left behind

HOUGHTON – The names of the seventy-three people who died in the Italian Hall disaster have been well-documented. Less known is what happened to their families over the next century.

The Houghton-Keweenaw County Genealogical Society has spent the year researching the families and presenting the results to the public – first with an exhibit at the Carnegie Museum in Houghton, and now with a book.

The museum held a launch party Saturday for the 110-page book, “Families Left Behind,” which expands on the family histories put together for the “Family Ties” exhibit.

HKCGS started the work on the histories about a year ago, said member Avis West. Response to the exhibit was uniformly positive.

“We had so many people say, ‘You’re going to put these into a book, aren’t you?” said Avis West.

The 73 dead came from 49 families. The Genealogical Society tracked down the descendants for information.

“The families have been really helpful, even though they’re two generations away,” said member Ruth Gleckler.

West said to iron out discrepancies in the names, they went to court records, mining company records, and the families, some of whom had changed the spelling of their names since 1913.

West said the exhibit and book help flesh out the tales of the victims and their families.

“We thought it was important people be remembered and not forgotten, not just on a list,” she said.

Copies of the book are available at the Carnegie Museum. West said the Genealogical Society is also talking with other local sites.