One of the stories we discovered during the preparation of the exhibit, Chicago, Europe, and the Great War, was that of Eleanor Ogden West.
Eleanor Ogden West was born 18 September 1892 in Pittsfield Massachusetts to Frederick T. West, a prominent insurance executive, and Anna Sheldon Ogden, daughter of Mahlon Dickerson Ogden. Eleanor was 5’3” with hazel eyes, dark brown hair and a fair complexion.
Frequently mentioned in the society columns, Eleanor was a close friend of Miss Margaret Meeker and other young ladies with deep Chicago roots. In 1915, Eleanor was among the society women who started the Lafayette fund and assembled kits of personal items for the French soldiers. By 1917 she was involved with the Women’s War Registry.
Eleanor applied for her first passport (although she had made several previous trips abroad) on 3 June 1918. Her intent was to leave for France from New York on or about 30 June 1918 to work for the American Fund for French Wounded. On December 30, she was slightly injured when a mine exploded and damaged the car she was riding in.
Upon her return from France, she married Perry Melville Shepard (from another old Chicago family) at her parents’ summer residence in Pittsfield on 18 September 1920. By 1930, the couple had two children and resided in Geneva, Ontario, New York. In 1956, they relocated to Sarasota, Florida, where Eleanor died 8 March 1970. Lt. Col. Perry M. Shepard fought in both World War I and II. He died in 1964.
Related Newberry holdings:
Kirkland, Caroline. Chicago yesterdays; a sheaf of reminiscences. Chicago Daughaday and Company, 1919. Includes reminiscences by Anna S. Ogden West. Call No. F 8962 .4597. Also available on Google Books.
Shepard, Perry Melville. Family tree of Eleanor Ogden West (Mrs. Perry M. Shepard) her sister and brother, with lineages of their mother and father … Geneva, N.Y. [s.n.], 1939. Call No. folio E 7 .W5204.