I was delighted to find my great-grandfather, Milton E. Kerr, listed in the 1892 Chicago City Directory, which is online at ChicagoAncestors.org. I've been wanting this for some time, as I knew he was living there for a few years around the time of his son's birth in 1891.
I was hoping to find out where Milton was working. Unfortunately, it appears that either this directory had no section for looking up an address to see who was located there, or else that part of the directory is not online. Hence, while I know that Milton worked at 385 W. Madison, I still do not know the name of the company he was working for.
A great timeline at Encyclopedia of Chicago served up a bit of local history for the period when Milton and Kate Pettis Kerr lived there. Kate gave birth to their son in May 1891. That year, 2,000 Chicagoans died in an epidemic of typhoid fever, and 4.300 more died of bronchitis and pneumonia. Would that have been alarming in a city of 1.1 million people? I would think so.
Telephone service began between Chicago and New York in 1892. Hard to imagine, isn't it, in these days of cell phones and Skype? And in June of that year, Chicago's first elevated railway began transporting commuters around town. Good photos in this half-minute video:
"Those who made observation runs early in the day were well repaid," noted a Tribune reporter, "for the people living on either side of the track had seemingly forgotten the warning about the start, and the passengers saw bits of domestic life usually hidden from the gaze of passing crowds."