Joe Bernard

This article was written by James McDonald

Joe Bernard (BASEBALL-REFERENCE.COM)In 1909 Joe Bernard was a bookkeeper for Springfield Marine Bank in Illinois, playing baseball two or three games a week for local amateur teams and a semipro club in Gillespie, Illinois. The 27-year-old, 6-foot-1, 175-pound righthander had never played a game in the minor leagues. His chances of ever pitching in the major leagues seemed slim. Then, on August 1, St. Louis manager Roger Bresnahan invited him to try out with the Cardinals.1 A month and a half later, he was on the Robison Field mound facing the New York Giants. From the available evidence, this appearance was his tryout—and his only inning of professional baseball. Bernard was a “cup of coffee” ballplayer whose big-league career is measured in minutes. If he had been committed to a professional baseball career, he likely could have played a number of seasons in the minor leagues and perhaps the majors, but his ambitions drove him instead to become a regional amateur athletic champion in three other sports—and a wealthy financier.

Joseph Carl Bernard was born in a hospital in Springfield, Illinois, on March 24, 1882, the fourth of seven children of German immigrants Ferdinand and Margaret Bernard.2 He was baptized Karolus Josephus, but most people called him Joe or J.C. The Bernards lived in the small town of Brighton, Illinois, when Joe was born. His father was a prosperous store owner who sold musical instruments, sheet music, and eventually records and “talking machines.”3 The Bernard sons were athletic, but their parents encouraged them to pursue professional careers, sending one, Adolph, to law school and another, Emil, to medical school. Joe and his younger brother, Bill, would go into business.

In 1897, when Joe turned 15, the family moved from Brighton to Springfield, where Ferdinand opened a new music shop. After graduating from Springfield High School, Joe attended Christian Brothers College in St. Louis for two years. He made a formidable battery on the CBC baseball team with catcher Medric Boucher,4 who would play one season in the Federal League. After college, Bernard also began working as a bookkeeper for the W.S. Brewing Company in Springfield. He also kept books for a series of employers after that, including Illinois National Bank and the Illinois State Journal newspaper.

Bernard began playing semipro baseball after college and attracted enough notice by 1905 to score an opportunity to pitch against the Pittsburgh Pirates in an exhibition game in Sparta, Illinois. Backed by Sparta’s semipro town team, including a number of veteran minor-leaguers, the 23-year-old held Honus Wagner and the National League’s second-place team to one run for four innings, but Heinie Peitz’s three-run homer in the fifth broke the game open en route to a 6-0 Pirates victory.5

Business and sports often came together for Bernard. He joined a group of 21 stockholders to purchase a chain of bowling alleys in 1903.6 Although Bernard played for many local amateur baseball teams, such as the Springfield YMCA team,7 his choices reveal a knack for combining sports with business networking. He joined the Illini Country Club and played shortstop and third base for the club team against other country clubs and city teams and in the club’s annual game between married and unmarried members. These games were often followed by a dinner and dance.8 From 1905 to 1908, Joe captained a team of Springfield bank clerks, playing alongside his brother Bill, and he sometimes played beside his brother Emil for a team of Springfield doctors.9 The bankers played teams of bank clerks in nearby cities and challenged Springfield merchants, physicians, lawyers, insurance men, real estate agents, and newspapermen to meet them on the diamond, leading to the creation of the Springfield Business Men’s Baseball League in 1908.10 Bernard’s baseball career is a picture of the variety of competition available to a serious amateur ballplayer in the early 20th century.

Late in the summer of 1906, Joe joined the Gillespie Blues of the Illinois-Missouri Baseball League, who soon afterward named him the starting pitcher for an exhibition game against Springfield of the Three-I League, opposing rookie big-league pitcher Art Fromme.11 The I-M League was one of two elite semipro baseball leagues in the St. Louis area and a potential path to pro ball for players like Bernard. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch described the league as a “model incubator for young ballplayers.”12 Locals referred to the league as the Old Trolley League or just the Trolley League, after the streetcar companies that ran semipro baseball, using games to generate streetcar traffic and often constructing ballparks near rail lines.13 Before the I-M League merged with the City League in 1911, each league numbered six or eight teams. Teams played league games once or twice a week from April into October and sometimes played exhibition games, often against minor-league teams – and, occasionally, major-league clubs like the St. Louis Browns.14 Former major-leaguers peppered the two leagues’ rosters, and every year minor-league teams signed several of the leagues’ best players, who sometimes continued playing trolley ball. Gillespie, a town of 3,000, was a 50-mile train ride from the home of Joe and his brother Bill, who signed on as the Blues’ first baseman in 1907.

Joe was the number two pitcher for Gillespie in 1907 behind Henry Keupper, considered the top semipro ballplayer in the St. Louis area. Keupper would sign a minor-league contract with Peoria in 1908 and eventually play a season in the Federal League. The St. Louis Globe-Democrat, however, rated Bernard over Keupper. “He is a right-hander with a rangy build and a far better twirler than Keupper,” the paper stated. “He has an overhand delivery and helps it along with a good stride, giving him a lot of speed. His breaks are not phenomenal, but are sharp most of the time, and this, combined with a fast downshoot and good control, makes him an effective twirler.”15 Another sportswriter attributed Joe’s success to his delivery and the movement of his fastball: “every time Bernard pitches a fast one the sphere seems to have a ‘jump’ on it. Hitters can’t touch that ‘jump’ ball, especially when it is mixed with wide curves pitched in practically the same way.”16

Joe was also an adept fielder.17 He usually batted in the middle of the lineup and started at third base or shortstop when he wasn’t pitching, and he was one of the league’s top base stealers. Behind the dual aces, with Joe’s college teammate, Boucher, behind the plate, Gillespie was the surprise champion of the Old Trolley League in 1907.

In 1908 Joe signed with the St. Louis Orphan Boys, who won the City League pennant with Bernard splitting time between the mound and first base. In the deciding game of the championship series, Bernard started at first and then shut down the second-place Ben Millers on one hit in the final two innings to save an 8-5 victory.18

Balancing his athletic and business endeavors was tricky, however. Bernard’s memberships in social clubs like the Illini Country Club and the Knights of Columbus made demands on his time but provided him opportunities to play baseball, tennis, and golf and become friends with Springfield businessmen. Sportswriters took note when Bernard was unavailable for a trolley league game, and the St. Louis Star paid him the backhanded compliment that he had the talent to compete at a higher level if he “would try hard enough.”19 He turned down several offers from teams in the Three-I League, reportedly because “he desired to play ball for amusement rather than become a professional.”20

But if Bernard’s commitment to baseball sometimes flagged, his priorities changed for a time in 1909. Joe returned to Gillespie that year, reteaming with his younger brother and Keupper, who was splitting time between the I-M League and the Three-I League. Having added a change-up, Joe was now ranked as the league’s best pitcher. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch described Bernard’s pitching as having “great speed and a fine variety of benders”21 when the Cardinals offered him a tryout.

No evidence has surfaced that Bernard took part in any workout for the club. Sporting Life, one of the premier baseball publications of the day, did not mention him or his signing (if indeed he had a contract). Albeit unusual, Bernard would pitch in a National League game for the Cardinals as his tryout. Afterward, he could “be recalled to join the Cardinals at any time,” the Illinois State Register reported.22

Bernard did not spend time on the Cardinals’ bench before or after his audition against the Giants. Instead, he stayed sharp by playing a few games for semipro and amateur teams. But for a pitcher getting his shot to play in the majors, Bernard played in a curious mix of games, including at least one country club game at third, another game pitching for a Springfield clothing store “for the amateur championship of the city,”23 and one game on the mound for a Chautauqua in Petersburg, Illinois.24 He played just two more games for Gillespie, once as pitcher and once at third. After the Cardinals’ season ended, he returned to the I-M League, with Hyde Park, to start and win the deciding game of the St. Louis semipro interleague championship series at Sportsman’s Park.25

The pitching staff for seventh-place St. Louis was the worst in the league. It was “in poor shape” in early August when the Cardinals added another hurler, 21-year-old lefty Harry Sullivan from Saint Louis University, who’d shown promise in spring training.26 Sullivan was hit hard in his big-league debut, a relief appearance in an August 11 rout.

Nonetheless, the Cardinals delayed Bernard’s tryout until September 23, 12 games into a 15-game losing streak. After Jack Bliss pinch-hit for starting pitcher John Raleigh, with the Cardinals trailing New York 5-0 in the first game of a doubleheader, Bresnahan signaled for Bernard to start the ninth inning. Bernard struggled to throw strikes at first, even uncorking a wild pitch. The Illinois State Register later reported “that owing to the condition of his arm at that time he was unable to have any control,”27 referring perhaps to arm trouble or maybe rustiness from little recent pitching activity. Nerves may also have been a problem. Bernard walked backup catcher Art Wilson to start the inning. He struck out the opposing pitcher, Hooks Wiltse, and then walked leadoff batter Larry Doyle. Cy Seymour singled to load the bases, but Bernard settled down to retire Fred Snodgrass, Wilson holding at third. He struck out cleanup hitter Red Murray to end the inning without giving up a run.

A shaky outing, but not a bad big-league debut. Yet over the team’s remaining 17 games, Bresnahan chose not to summon Bernard again, even though the Cardinals were so hard put for pitchers that they gave the start in the second game of the doubleheader to Harry Sullivan, who walked both men he faced and was removed. Like Bernard, that was the last time Sullivan pitched in the majors or appeared professionally.

As it developed, the Cards did not sign Bernard for the following season either. Instead, he accepted an invitation from Louisville Manager Heinie Peitz, the former Pirate catcher who had homered off him in 1905, to try out for the Class A American Association team in spring training in West Baden Springs, Indiana.28 The Colonels would consider him for the mound and first base. Bernard worked out every day at the Springfield YMCA to prepare for spring training.29 In his debut in a March 14 intrasquad game, he impressed onlookers with his fastball in two innings of work while also handling a couple of difficult fielding chances. The Louisville Courier-Journal called him “a most promising youngster.”30 But the Colonels had invested heavily in contracts with former big-league players, and at the end of camp, the team cut Bernard along with other young players invited to spring training.31

Thus ended his best opportunity at professional baseball. Joe returned to the Marine Bank and the Hyde Park team.

Hyde Park repeated as league champions behind his pitching in 1910, and in 1911 Bernard boasted the league’s best pitching record at 5-0. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch still considered him “the best semi-professional twirler in the vicinity of St. Louis,”32 and sportswriter J. Frank Lucas estimated that “Joe Bernard is certainly 80 per cent of the Hydees’ strength when pitching.”33 But Bernard’s baseball ambitions in 1911 were stalled, and so he made a big move in his business career by resigning from the bank to partner with M.A. Jones in his mortgage, real estate, and insurance agency.34 Jones & Bernard would eventually become the Bernard Investment Company, which Joe would run for the rest of his life and develop into a very profitable corporation.

Bernard was also becoming a serious tennis player and golfer. He was named Springfield city tennis champion after besting a field of 60 to win the Illini Club’s open tournament in 1910.35 In 1912, he won the Central Illinois Country Clubs Association Golf Tournament and finished second in singles play in the CICCA tennis championship, while losing in the semifinal round of doubles play.36 That same year, at age 30, Bernard took a step back from pitching to accept the captaincy of the Old Trolley League team in Mt. Olive, Illinois.37 Because league rules prohibited captains from pitching, Bernard usually played infield, pitching only occasionally. He was still 5-0 in limited appearances on the mound, but he hit only .259. Mount Olive finished in a three-way tie for first, Joe’s fourth pennant-winning team in trolley league baseball.38

No longer a star in the I-M League,39 Bernard quit baseball after 1912 to focus on business and other sports. He was Springfield’s best tennis player over the next 11 years, regularly making at least the semifinals in singles and doubles play in the CICCA tournament while often winning smaller tournaments. He won three straight CICCA singles championships from 1921 to 1923 and the doubles championship in 1923. In 1924, at age 42, he competed in the National Clay Court Tennis Championship in St. Louis, which was won by Bill Tilden (then in the middle of his run of six straight U.S. Open titles).40 Bernard won the Illini Country Club golf tournament in 1916 and was competitive in regional golf tournaments into his seventies. After his tennis career waned, he concentrated on bowling, sometimes playing in the American Bowling Congress World Series of Bowling. He frequently won state and regional tournaments in Illinois, especially as part of two-man teams, even in his fifties.41 He also competed in handball tournaments.42

On December 1, 1916, Joe bought out Jones and renamed the firm Joseph C. Bernard & Company.43 Brother Bill shortly thereafter sold the family music store to partner with Joe under the permanent name of the Bernard Investment Company. By 1921, Joe was running several insurance firms and other businesses under the company’s banner and was a member of a new bank’s board of directors. When Bill died in a grisly car accident on September 19, 1922,44 Adolph replaced him as the firm’s partner. And when Adolph died in 1931, Joe became sole owner of the company.

Joe Bernard was as eclectic a businessman as he was an athlete. The Bernard Investment Company was a combination of real estate agency, insurance agency, mortgage company, and seller of investment securities. It owned apartments, speculated in commercial and residential real estate, and bought, sold, rented, and managed thousands of acres of farmland. Joe had a talent for real estate deals. (He purchased his first home at auction in 1915 and his second house, in 1932, in a bargain mortgage settlement made possible by the Crash of 1929.) The firm not only survived the Great Depression but acquired more properties, making the former Cardinal and bookkeeper one of the richest men in Springfield.

Even before World War I, Joe’s rising status in Springfield’s business community was marked by his acceptance into the Sangamo Club, described as “a private dining club that serves Springfield’s most respected business, community, and government leaders,”45 and by several appointments as secretary-treasurer of the Illini County Club.46 He was active in his Roman Catholic parish and in the Springfield Symphony association, the Elks Club, the Knights of Columbus, and several business associations. He ran a number of fund-raising campaigns for charities. In an editorial following his death, the Illinois State Journal described him as “a man of dignity, of wealth but not ostentation, a dynamo of energy in the conduct of his business affairs” and a man of “deep humanitarianism” who made generous, often anonymous charitable contributions that “extended to the far corners of the State.”47

Bernard helped change the face of the capital city of Illinois. He was tapped to acquire the land for a major slum clearance project to construct the John Hay Homes, a large low-income government housing project built in 1940.48 He was instrumental in acquiring and constructing buildings for Catholic schools and in the selling of the Catholic diocese’s old cathedral building.50 His company purchased the St. George Building, a fixture in downtown Springfield, and moved in after remodeling and expanding the 19th-century building.

Bernard also changed the face of Springfield with his personal real estate acquisitions. After he bought a new home in 1932 at 1809 Wiggins Avenue in Woodside, now the Springfield suburb of Leland Grove, he transformed the original structure, described as “a solid box of a building” that “looked a bit ham-handed and graceless,” into a local landmark, a beautiful neoclassical mansion furnished with antiques. He also purchased eight surrounding acres and developed the properties into an upscale residential neighborhood. “Uncle Joe spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to turn [his house] into a grand home,” niece Margaret Knox McCue recalled. “I remember big black-tie events and elegant dinner parties in Uncle Joe’s dining room,” where Bernard hosted the rich and powerful of Springfield.51 Springfield resident Owsley Thunman reminisced, “When I was a little girl, I knew that Joe Bernard was a bachelor, so I decided I’d grow up and marry him just so I could live there.”52

Thunman was one of many who assumed that he was a lifelong bachelor, but, according to the 1930 census, Bernard was married for a time in the 1920s and 1930s. He and his wife apparently separated not long after their wedding.53 Joe resided in his parents’ home with his brother Bill and unmarried sisters, Martha and Nan, after their father passed away in 1914, and Martha and Nan lived with Joe all their lives. In 1933, following the death of her husband, sister Bertha and her children, Margaret and George Knox, also joined the household on Wiggins.

Joe continued to be involved in the Bernard Investment Company after he stepped down as president. He died in his home in Leland Grove54, at age 78, on September 22, 1960, one day before the 51st anniversary of his only big-league game. He was buried in Calvary Cemetery in Springfield.

Memories of his athletic youth had dimmed by then. Bernard’s obituary listed his memberships in half a dozen business and community associations but made no mention of his game with the Cardinals or his other sports accomplishments.55

Last revised: August 25, 2022 (zp)


Thanks to the librarians working in the Sangamon Valley Collection in Lincoln Library in Springfield and to Sandra Fritz of the Illinois State Library for their assistance.

This biography was reviewed by Darren Gibson and Rory Costello and checked for accuracy by members of SABR’s fact-checking team.



The author used Baseball Reference in addition to the sources in the notes. Additional sources on Bernard’s businesses include Best’s Life insurance Reports—1922 (A.M. Best Company), Cyclopedia of insurance in the United States (index Publishers, 1922), Farm Mortgage Bankers Association of America: Directory of Officers and Members (January 1922), Spectator Guide to Standard and Special insurance Contracts, Non-Forfeiture Values and Actuarial Tables Useful to the Life Underwriter (1923), and the Springfield city directories of 1902, 1906, 1907, 1909, 1911, 1915, 1917, 1921, and 1923, as well as articles and advertisements in the Illinois State Journal and Illinois State Register. These two newspapers also provided most of the background about Bernard’s tennis, golf, and bowling careers. Other sources are Find a Grave; the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield, Illinois, Sacramental Records (1882); and U.S. Census records of 1900-1940.



1 “Baker Pitches Brilliant Game,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 2, 1909: 8.

2 Bernard’s baptismal record has him baptized two days after he was born at St. Peter and Paul’s Catholic Church in Springfield.

3 Springfield (Sangamon County, Illinois) City Directory, R.K. Polk & Co., 1915: 96.

4 “Diamond Gossip,” The Dispatch (Moline, Illinois), June 19, 1908: 6.

5 “Great Batting at Exhibition Game,” Pittsburgh Post, September 14, 1905: 9; “Sparta Team Is Easily Beaten,” Pittsburgh Weekly Gazette, September 14, 1905: 9. A two-sentence item in the Illinois State Journal (Springfield), September 13, 1905: 2, stated, “Joe Bernard and Harry Watson will go to Sparta today to play with that team against the Pittsburg Pirates, who will play an exhibition game there today. Bernard will probably pitch for Sparta.” The line score in the Post article confirmed that Bernard pitched the exhibition for Sparta.

6 “Will Promote Bowling: Dodd & Starr Company Reorganizes and Others Are Taken into Concern,” Illinois State Journal, November 17, 1903: 3.

7 “Y.M.C.A. Teams to Play,” Illinois State Journal, July 28, 1909: 2.

8 “Society Men to Play Ball,” Illinois State Register, July 15, 1906: 3; “Big Game at Country Club,” Illinois State Register, June 27, 1908: 6; “Country Club Base Ball Game,” Illinois State Register, June 1, 1907: 3; “Married Men Win at Ball,” Illinois State Register, May 31, 1908: 10.

9 “Bank Clerks Ball Team,” Illinois State Register, August 2, 1905: 4; “Doctors Beat Newspaper Men,” Illinois State Register, July 13, 1907: 3.

10 “To Organize City League,” Illinois State Journal, June 7, 1908; “First Game in Business Men’s Baseball League Will Be Played Tomorrow,” Illinois State Register, June 21, 1908: 13.

11 “Springfield at Girard Today,” Illinois State Journal, October 14, 1906: 15.

12 “Rising Players in Trolley League,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 10, 1906: 9.

13 Harold Seymour, Baseball: The Early Years (New York: Oxford, 1985): 32, cited by Thomas Barthel, Baseball Barnstorming and Exhibition Games 1901-1962 (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2007): 43.

14 “The Maroons ‘Wuz Skeered,’” Belleville (Illinois) News-Advocate, October 12, 1908: 1.

15 “With Bieger in Form, Orphan Boys Win from Gillespie, 7-4,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 21, 1907: 11.

16 “Bernard Has a Great Ball,” St. Louis Star, July 21, 1910: 12.

17 “With Bieger.”

18 “Final Game Taken by Orphan Boys, 8 to 5,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 19, 1908.

19 “Bernard Has a Great Ball.”

20 “Cardinals May Get Bernard,” Illinois State Journal, September 25, 1909: 3.

21 “Baker Pitches.”

22 “Will Play for Championship,” Illinois State Register, October 3, 1909: 12. The Illinois State Journal also called Bernard’s game against the Giants “a tryout by the Cardinals” (September 25, 1909: 3).

23 “Will Play.”

24 ‘’Ball Games at Petersburg,” Illinois State Register, August 24, 1909: 1

25 “Heiné Kulage’s Hyde Parks Beat Orphan Boys for City Title, 4-1,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 25, 1909: 9.

26 “Sullivan Back to St. Louis,” Republican-Northwestern (Belvidere, Illinois), August 3, 1909: 5.

27 “Bernard to Try for Big League,” Illinois State Register, March 10, 1910: 10.

28 “Louisville Tries Out Bernard,” Illinois State Journal, March 10, 1910: 3.

29 “Bernard to Try.” 10.

30 “Peitz’s Youngsters Defeat the Regulars,” Louisville Courier-Journal, March 18, 1910: 11.

31 “Pennant Flag Is to Be Unfurled Saturday,” Louisville Courier-Journal, May 19, 1910: 42.

32 “Heiné Kulage Fears His Club Is Too Strong!” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 19, 1911: 9.

33 J. Frank Lucas, “Hydee Dandies Beat Oeschners,” St. Louis Star, May 8, 1911: 7.

34 “New Real Estate Firm,” Illinois State Journal, February 8, 1911: 3.

35 “Illini Club Cup Goes to Bernard,” Illinois State Journal, July 9, 1910: 3.

36 “Decatur Tennis Men Win Title,” Illinois State Journal, July 13, 1912: 4.

37 “Maroons to Play Double Header with Mt. Olive Sunday,” Belleville (Illinois) Daily Advocate, June 22, 1912: 5.

38 Mt. Olive would have won the league championship outright, but a win with Bernard as pitcher in the second game of a doubleheader was disallowed because he had acted as captain in the first game (“Awarded Game on Protest,” Belleville News-Democrat, July 6, 1912: 5).

39 Mt. Olive’s star in 1912 was I-M League batting champion Jack Roche, who signed with the Browns following the season and would play three seasons with the Cardinals (“Jack Roche,” Baseball Reference,

40 “Weather and Baseball Hold Up Schedule in Church League Tennis,” Illinois State Register, June 29, 1924: 35; “Bill Tilden Defeats Harvey Snodgrass in Clay Singles Finals,” St. Louis Star, July 15, 1924.

41 “Three Records Go by Boards in Elks Bowling Program,” Illinois State Register, March 17, 1925: 11; “Bowling Scores,” Illinois State Journal, May 6, 1925: 13; “Trio of Local Pin Teams to Roll in A.B.C.,” Illinois State Register, March 7, 1926: 21.

42 Four Basketball Games Scheduled,” Illinois State Journal, February 10, 1913: 7.

43 “Dissolution of Partnership,” Illinois State Register, February 8, 1917: 11.

44 “W.E. Bernard Killed in Car Crash; C.W.H. Schuck Hurt,” Illinois State Register, September 19, 1922: 1.

45 “In Memoriam: Joe Bernard,” Cardinal Sauce, September 19, 1917,

46 “Merriam Assumes Duties,” Illinois State Journal, February 26, 1916: 3.

47 “Mr. Bernard Lived the Virtue of Charity,” Illinois State Journal, September 29, 1960: 10.

48 “Appointed to Buy Housing Grounds,” Illinois State Journal, November 16, 1939: 4; “$2,800,000 Housing Project to Start Soon,” Illinois State Register (Springfield), August 27, 1939: 17; “John Hay Homes,” History of Sangamon County, Illinois, October 22, 2013,

50 “Cathedral High Asks Converse School Building,” Illinois State Journal, March 7, 1940: 1; “City to Buy Old Cathedral Site,” Illinois State Register, January 9, 1950: 1; “Blessed Sacrament Parishioners Pledge $520,000 for New School and Convent,” Illinois State Journal. October 26, 1956.

51 Julie Cellini, “The Story of 1809 Wiggins,” State Journal-Register (Springfield), November 19, 2000: 19; Julie Cellini, “Old Home, New Life,” State Journal-Register, October 20, 2002: 17-18.

52 Cellini, “Story.”

53 An April 17, 1923, item in the Illinois State Register: 17, reported, “Mrs. R.V. Prather, 903 South Seventh Street, and Mrs. Joseph Bernard, 1600 South Sixth street [sic], are spending several days at Hot Springs, Ark.” But the 1930 census and Springfield city directories (including the 1923 edition) never listed Bernard’s wife as a resident at any of his addresses, at 1600 S. 6th Street, 1023 N. 6th Street, or 1809 Wiggins. There is no record of a marriage in the Catholic Diocese of Springfield records, and Bernard’s wife is not mentioned again in the Springfield papers. No available source gives her first name. Adding to the confusion, the 1940 census reported Bernard as single, not divorced or widowed. Though little can be stated with certitude about Bernard’s marital status, the sources together may suggest that he was married in a ceremony outside Springfield around 1923, but his wife lived with him only briefly, and the couple got a quiet annulment in the early 1930s.

54 Per his obituary, “Joseph C. Bernard, 78, of 1809 Wiggins Ave., died at 7 p.m. Thursday at the residence” (in Leland Grove). It is common, informal practice in the area to talk about Leland Grove as part of Springfield (though someone living in Leland Grove will almost always object).

55 “Joseph Bernard Succumbs at 78,” Illinois State Journal, September 23, 1960: 35.

Full Name

Joseph Carl Bernard


March 24, 1882 at Brighton, IL (USA)


September 22, 1960 at Springfield, IL (USA)

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