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Julia Lemos (Wyszynsky)

Birthdate:
Birthplace: New York, New York, New York, United States
Death: October 04, 1923 (81)
Chicago, Cook, Illinois, United States
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Baron Eustace Wyszynski and Johanna Foster Wyszynski
Wife of Nicholas Lemos
Mother of William Lemos; Josephine Reichmann; Nicholas Lemos; Julia Lemos and Adeline Hensley
Sister of Eustace Wyszynsky

Occupation: painter, lithographer
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Julia Lemos

In 1860, Julia married Nicholas Lemos when she was 16 years old. The couple lived in Brooklyn Ward 9, District 1 in Kings, New York until approximately 1863. They had five children together, two boys and three girls. William, their eldest son, was born in New York on August 8, 1862. While her next three children, Josephine, Nicholas Jr., and Julia (the 2nd), were born in Kentucky. Josephine was born in 1864, Nicholas Jr. was born in 1866, and Julia (the 2nd) was born in 1868. Their youngest child, Adline, was born in Illinois in 1870. In Kentucky, Nicholas was a wholesale dealer and Julia worked at home raising their children and keeping house. According to a tax document, Julia and her family lived in Louisville, Kentucky in 1865. Sometime between 1870 and 1871, Julia moved to Chicago, IL with her parents and four children. It is unknown if her husband was alive during this move, but as of the Chicago Fire on October 8, 1871, she claimed to be a widow.

Julia moved on an average every four years. In 1871, she lived at 555 Wells Street in Chicago, IL, which was probably her first place of residency after she moved from Kentucky. At this location, she was living with her parents and five children until her mother grew ill and Julia was unable to care for everyone in the family. Therefore, Julia made a difficult decision to place four of her older children in Half-Orphan Asylum at 175 Burling Street of the 21st Ward, North Town in Chicago. She kept her youngest child Adline at home because she was “not a year old” (Chicago Historical Society, 2008). However, within two weeks, Julia went to the asylum to bring all of her children home. Unfortunately, she was told she had to wait until the beginning of the forthcoming week. So, Julia went home that Friday night, paid her rent for another month, and patiently waited for Monday to arrive. As she closed the shutters to their cottage, she noticed a strong wind blowing through the town. At that time, she did not realize that a fire was quickly approaching her home from the West Side of Chicago. Early the next morning, she heard noises outside of people on the street who were fleeing to the North Side from the West Side of Chicago. Julia quickly woke her parents and without much thought ran to the asylum to get her children. With some pleading, Julia was able to take her children home. They packed up two chests of belongings, some food, a mattress, and a gun. With the children in tow plus Baron’s hunting dog, the whole family headed north. Each time the family thought they were safe from the blazing fire they had to move further north. At one point, Julia’s eldest son asked if it was the “Last Day” (Murphy, 1995, p. 93). From a prairie, to a shed on a farm, and to a church, the family finally reached safety from the unmerciful fire and the welcomed rain. Unfortunately, Julia and her family had to leave their two chests behind; therefore, they believed they would lose all their possessions in the fire that seemed to chase them across the land. However, with the generosity of a policeman who buried their two chests, their valuables were safely recovered. With some help from the government that was giving free railroad passes, Julia’s family finished their escape to New York. Not long after their arrival at the New York train station, Julia was approached by the “richest man in New York,” who was helping the refugees of the Chicago Fire (Chicago Historical Society, 2008). The man gave Julia ten dollars, which was the only money she possessed at that point. Cornelius Vanderbilt was most likely the generous donor, since he had ties to the railroad; however, this is not confirmed.

After arriving in New York, Julia's family stayed with some relatives for a couple of weeks until they found a place of their own to rent. Just a few days after her flee to New York, Julia found a job as a lithographer, which allowed her to work from home. After living in New York for eighteen months, Julia and her whole family returned to Chicago. She got her old job back as a lithographer at Carqueville & Shober Lithograph establishment (Chicago Historical Society, 2008), which was renamed “The Chicago Lithographing Company” after the original structure burned down during the fire and re-opened under the new name (Amon Carter Museum, 2008). Unfortunately, there is little information available about how long she worked at this shop and what her artistic contributions were.

Art

Julia’s artistic accomplishments are unknown prior to 1871. Therefore, it is assumed that she was mainly a housewife and mother who might have painted in her own spare time. However, her experience during the Chicago Fire brought more public notice of her talent as an artist. Even though it was years after the fire, in 1912 she created a beautiful painting called “Memories of the Chicago Fire.” This piece is held at the Chicago Historical Society in Chicago, IL along with a written account of her flight to safety with her family called “My experiences of the Fire of 1871 in Chicago.” Despite her not being listed as an artist in any documents, in Julia’s bibliography after the fire, she states that she was employed as a lithographer at Shober & Carqueville Lithographing Company (Amon Carter Museum). She was employed there prior to the fire and again after returning from her flight to New York. From 1882 to 1895, she is listed in the business directories as a self-claimed artist. The locations of her places of employment vary throughout this time period. For example, at times it appears that she worked from home as an artist while other listings provide work addresses different from her place of living.

Julia’s artistic accomplishments are unknown prior to 1871. Therefore, it is assumed that she was mainly a housewife and mother who might have painted in her own spare time. However, her experience during the Chicago Fire brought more public notice of her talent as an artist. Even though it was years after the fire, in 1912 she created a beautiful painting called “Memories of the Chicago Fire.” This piece is held at the Chicago Historical Society in Chicago, IL along with a written account of her flight to safety with her family called “My experiences of the Fire of 1871 in Chicago.” Despite her not being listed as an artist in any documents, in Julia’s bibliography after the fire, she states that she was employed as a lithographer at Shober & Carqueville Lithographing Company (Amon Carter Museum). She was employed there prior to the fire and again after returning from her flight to New York. From 1882 to 1895, she is listed in the business directories as a self-claimed artist. The locations of her places of employment vary throughout this time period. For example, at times it appears that she worked from home as an artist while other listings provide work addresses different from her place of living.

Julia is mentioned in this article http://www.greatchicagofire.org/eyewitnesses There are other forms of eyewitnessing than the written narratives, though these are scarce. A few of the letters contain maps and drawings, and the memoirs of Julia Lemos, who recalled the fire decades after she experienced it, include a primitive painting as well as a narrative

Here is her full account of the fire: http://www.greatchicagofire.org/anthology-of-fire-narratives/julia-...

http://www.greatchicagofire.org/item/ichi-62293 ~• note: the assertion "that her mother was a cousin of President Martin Van Buren" is false. There is no documented blood link between the Albany vBurens and the New York vBeurens... (MMvB 2015)

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Julia Lemos's Timeline

1842
August 11, 1842
New York, New York, New York, United States
1861
August 8, 1861
New York, NY, United States
1864
March 24, 1864
Louisville, Jeferson, Kentucky, United States
1865
September 4, 1865
Kentucky, United States
1867
August 23, 1867
Kentucky, United States
1869
August 25, 1869
Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, United States
1923
October 4, 1923
Age 81
Chicago, Cook, Illinois, United States
????
Carqueville & Shober Lithograph