Fredrick Leo Orsinger (1852 - 1925)

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Birthplace: Eigeltingen, Germany
Death: Died in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, United States
Occupation: Doctor and Saloon Keeper
Managed by: Jill (Harris) Malone
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Fredrick Leo Orsinger

My grandfather, Dr. Frederick Leo Orsinger arrived in Chicago at the height of the Chicago Fire that burned out of control for 3 days until rain arrived.

On an unusually warm Sunday evening, October 8, 1871, Mr. and Mrs. O'Leary had gone to bed when a friend Daniel Sullivan saw that their barn was on fire. In the next three days the fire raged out of control. Nearly 100,000 people were left homeless.

Chicago was a city of immigrants, Bohemians, Irish, and German, especially on the south side where the fire started. The first alarm was turned in at Bruno Goll's Drug store. A photograph of the store shows the name in German Gothic over the entrance:

German Apothecary.

With so many left homeless, many moved away from the city, across the plains to the west. Dr. Orsinger settled in LaSalle, Illinois, 50 miles west of the burned city. Already by 1853 Orsingers had settled there. October 2, 1876 he married Magdalene

(Lina) Simon who was born in Oberdonven, Luxembourg. Their first born was July 10, 1877: my father, Frederick George Orsinger. Four more children were born, William R, Marie, Pauline, then the last, a son Leo(Lee) Vincent born June 28, 1887. Five

children in 10 years. Leo's mother died when he was only 16. Leo's daughter, Gwendolyn Anderson told me her father changed his name from Leo to Lee because a neighbor had a little dog called Leo and he often heard her calling her dog so disliked the

name.

Between 1890 and 1897 Dr. Orsinger practiced medicine in LaSalle. Also in Ottawa and Peru, nearby towns. The youngest child, Leo attended a Polish School and served as a translator for his father's Polish patients. A long list of testimonials from

patients and a list of herbal medicines, in English, German Gothic and Latin are the only information we have about his practice.

The family moved to Chicago and his wife died there October 27, 1903 when she was only 47 years old. The doctor never remarried.

There is a photograph in the Medical Section of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. His office was on Van Buren Street near Center Street in Chicago. In the photograph he has a long black beard. He is seen doing cupping or bloodletting on two

frightened men. Each has a handlebar mustache. A human skull faces the viewer amid the many bottles of remedies on the nearby shelves and table. The cups and lancets have been donated to the Smithsonian.

In 1923 Dr. Orsinger was struck by a car in Chicago and never fully recovered. He spent his last days at the home of his son Fred at 293 Lorraine Road in Glen Ellyn, Illinois and died there peacefully at the age of 73.

I remember a story my father told that the sick man pointed to his lower abdomen and said "Tap me here." As a child, I never understood what that meant. Later, as a physician, I wonder if the old man knew he had a ruptured appendix and abscess and was

asking for it to be drained.

Florent Risser, the father-in-law of my brother Francis, died of a ruptured appendix. With today antibiotics a ruptured abscess can often be allowed to localize, and then it is drained ... or tapped!

William H. Orsinger, M.D.

Completed February 9, 1998

Listed as a doctor in the 1910 and 1917 Chicago City directories

Landed in USA on 18 JUL 1871, with his sister Cecilia on the ship Pennland (confirmed by Eigletingen/Baden emigration records) & experienced the Chicago fire.

1880 census says he was a saloon keeper.

Died of pneumonia, death cert listed occupation as physician

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Fredrick Orsinger's Timeline

1852
March 8, 1852
Eigeltingen, Germany
1871
July 18, 1871
Age 19
1876
October 2, 1876
Age 24
Lasalle County, Illinois, United States
1877
July 10, 1877
Age 25
Lasalle, Illinois, United States
1925
July 18, 1925
Age 73
Glen Ellyn, Illinois, United States
July 20, 1925
Age 73