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Charles Weeghman

Charles H. Weeghman
Born March 12, 1874[1]
Richmond, Indiana[1]
Died November 1, 1938(1938-11-01) (aged 64)[2][3]
Chicago, Illinois[4]
Occupation Restaurateur, Owner of the Chicago Whales and Chicago Cubs
Spouse(s) Bessie Webb (?-1920), Carol Osmund (1922-1938)
Children Dorothy McDonough
Parent(s) August
Charlie Weeghman (left) at the groundbreaking ceremony for Weeghman Park, March 4, 1914. Note the shovels in the background.

Charles H. ("Lucky Charlie") Weeghman (March 12, 1874– November 1, 1938) was one of the founders of the short-lived Federal League (1914–1915). He had made a fortune in an early type of fast-food franchises in the Chicago area.[5]

Weeghman worked for Charlie King as a waiter for $10 a week. King quickly promoted Weeghman who eventually open his own lunch counter in Chicago.[6] King, who would have been Weeghman's main rival, died the day Weeghman's first restaurant opened.[7] Serving only cold sandwiches, his diners would eat at one-armed school tables so Weeghman could fit more chairs into the restaurant.[1] At one point, Weeghman owned fifteen of these diners, with the one located at Madison and Dearborn serving 35,000 people each day.[6] His net worth was estimated at $8,000,000.[4]

In 1911, Weeghman made an unsuccessful attempt to purchase a controlling interest in the St. Louis Cardinals. Cardinals owner Helene Hathaway Britton had recently inherited the team upon the death of her uncle, Stanley Robison, but she refused Weeghman's offer of $350,000 for the club, eventually selling the team to Sam Breadon in 1917.[8]

Weeghman founded the Chicago Whales and built a new steel-and-concrete ballpark, Weeghman Park, for them to play in. He leased the land, the former site of the Theological Seminary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, from Edward Archambault, for 99 years at a cost of $16,000 per year. Weeghman's lease forbade the use of the land for "immoral or illegal purposes."[6] Weeghman chose the site, in part, because of the proximity of the 'L' tracks.[6] After the Federal League folded, Weeghman merged the Whales with the Chicago Cubs, emerging as the older club's majority owner. He then moved the Cubs from wooden West Side Park to Weeghman Park.

On August 16, 1921, Weeghman sponsored the first statewide rally of the Ku Klux Klan on his property in Lake Zurich, Illinois. The rally may have drawn more than 12,000 people and saw the initiation of more than 2,000 new Klan members.[4][9]

His lunch counter chain lost favor with the public, and Weeghman was forced to sell more and more of his stock in the Cubs to chewing gum magnate William Wrigley, Jr. to raise money. By 1918, Weeghman had sold his remaining stake to Wrigley, and was out of the picture altogether. The Wrigley family would control the Cubs for the next six decades before selling out to the Tribune Company. This also led to the name change from Weeghman Park to Cubs Park, and later, Wrigley Field.

Weeghman also lost control of his restaurant business, with his brother, Albert, taking over.[10] Following his losses, Weeghman moved to New York, where he unsuccessfully tried to start over in the restaurant business.[4]

Personal life

Weeghman met his first wife, Bessie Webb, when she worked at his first lunch room as a cashier. In 1913, they had a daughter, Dorothy.[11] Weeghman's wife filed for divorce on February 27, 1920, claiming Weeghman had been intimate with at least one other woman.[5] In 1922, two years after he divorced his first wife, Weeghman eloped to East St. Louis with Carol Osmund, who was 29 years old at the time of their wedding.[12] Osmund and Weeghman remained married until he suffered a fatal stroke on November 1, 1938.[3]

References

  1. ^ a b c Mears, Patrick E. (Spring 2005). "The Federal League Challenges the Reserve Clause". Elysian Fields Quarterly. Retrieved 2010-04-29. 
  2. ^ "Widow of Former Cubs' Owner Dies in Atlanta". Chicago Tribune (Chicago, IL: Chicago Tribune). 1963-05-17. 
  3. ^ a b Pietrusza, David (2003). Rothstein: The Life, Times, and Murder of the Criminal Genius Who Fixed the 1919 World Series. New York, NY: Carroll & Graf. p. 385.  
  4. ^ a b c d Oakley, Andy (1996-09-26). "Boys in the Hoods". Chicago Reader (Chicago, IL). Retrieved 2010-04-29. 
  5. ^ a b "Mrs. Weeghman Would Divorce "Lucky Charlie"". Chicago Tribune (Chicago, IL: Chicago Tribune). 1920-02-28. 
  6. ^ a b c d Snyder, John (2005). Cubs Journal: Year by Year and Day by Day with the Chicago Cubs Since 1876. Cincinnati, OH: Emmis Books. pp. 189–90.  
  7. ^ Shapiro, Michael (2009-06-16). "The Devil and Charlie Weeghman". Chicago Tribune (Chicago, IL: Chicago Tribune). 
  8. ^ Andy, Handy (1911-04-11). "Charles Weeghman Back from St. Louis Unsuccessful in Mission". Chicago Tribune (Chicago, IL: Chicago Tribune). 
  9. ^ "Equal Rights League Opens War on Klan". Chicago Defender (Chicago, IL). 1921-09-03. 
  10. ^ "A. Weeghman, Former Cafe Owner, Dies". Chicago Tribune (Chicago, IL: Chicago Tribune). 1935-04-26. 
  11. ^ "Dorothy Weeghman, Daughter of Former Cafe Magnate, Weds". Chicago Tribune (Chicago, IL: Chicago Tribune). 1936-01-31. 
  12. ^ "C.H. Weeghman Elopes with a Chicago Woman". Chicago Tribune (Chicago, IL: Chicago Tribune). 1922-02-16. 

External links

  • Jack Bales, “Weeghman and Wrigley," WrigleyIvy.com.
Preceded by
Charles Phelps Taft
Owner of the Chicago Cubs
1916 — 1918
Succeeded by
William Wrigley, Jr.
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