On the morning of December 30,
1903, Lucy Mead probably felt blessed. Her
husband, Clayton, was doing so well in his career as
a druggist that they owned their home at 3301
Elliott Avenue in
village in Cicero township southwest of Chicago with
population then of around 5,000. Ten-year-old
Lucile and six-year-old Walter were both in school, giving Lucy more time with baby Gertie.
Little Lucile may have
been so excited the night before that she had a hard
time falling to sleep. She and her uncle Theo,
Lucy's brother, were going into
the city on the train to see a fairy
tale play. An elaborate production by Klaw and
Erlanger, Mr. Bluebeard was being offered by
Chicago's newest luxury
theater, the Iroquois on Randolph Street.
They were going to the play with Ada
Folke, her former nursemaid. According to
newspapers, there would be hundreds of performers,
dazzling costumes and dancers flying through the air on wires!
The bodies of Ada,
Lucile and Theodore Roberts
were found and
identified by Ada's brother,
Charles D. Folke,*
and Clayton B. Mead,
Lucy's husband. Ada and
Lucile's bodies were found at Jordan's Funeral
Home; the location of Theodore's body was not
Ada E. Folke (b.1882)
was only ten years older than
Lucile Mead (b.1893)
so when Ada worked as a live-in nursemaid for the
Meads in 1900 she may have seemed more like a seventeen-year-old big sister to Lucile. By 1903 Ada had become a
telephone operator and lived elsewhere but she and
Lucile were still close.
Folke emigrated to
America from Sweden in 1892
with her parents, Carl
J. Folke (1857-) and the late Kristina Folke. Like
her younger brother, Carl Folke Jr. (1884-1922), who left school
at fifteen to work as an office boy, Ada left school early
and became a domestic servant, later getting a job
as a telephone operator. Carl Folke Jr. lived with his father
and Annie Odell Folke (1861-) whom their father had
married in 1884 after the death of their mother.
A Swedish immigrant who came to America in 1892,
Carl Folke's hard work had paid off. He owned
his home on Carroll Street in Berwyn and was a
valued clerk at a dry goods store there. He
and Annie had a five-year-old daughter, Edna.
Clayton B. Mead (1866-1937)
got his PH.G degree in pharmacy from the University
of Illinois and operated a drug store throughout his
life. Both he
and his wife, Lucy D. Roberts Mead (1865-1960), were
natives of Ohio. They married in 1893. His drug store in Berwyn may have been on
the corner of Elliott and Windsor, possibly with the family living upstairs.
Theodore C. Roberts (b. 1859)
Theodore Roberts was a farmer and coal dealer in
Woodford, Ohio. He
had traveled to Chicago to spend time with Lucy and her
family over the 1903 holiday. According to the
1900 U.S. Census, Theo and Lucy's sister, Mary Roberts
Carr, along with her husband and children, lived
with him in Townsend, Ohio south of Sandusky.
A passel of Laylin and Roberts kinfolks lived in
Norwalk and Townsend.
Reportedly Ada and Lucile were
both buried at Forest Home Cemetery in Forest Park,
Illinois but I was only able to find Lucile's
grave marker there. Theodore Roberts was
buried at the Woodlawn Cemetery in Norwalk, Ohio.
In the years after the fire
In the years after the fire,
co-owned a drugstore
and was a director of the Lyons
State Bank in Berwyn. Walter Mead also owned a
drugstore, with his mother, on
Quincy & 5th in
Maywood, Illinois in Cook county.
He and Lucille's mother continued to work at the
drugstore until at least her 89th year. Ada's
younger brother Carl suffered disability from his
Discrepancies and addendum
I hope to find a photo of
Lucille Mead but suspect one of Ada
Folke won't turn up.
The newspaper notice might be the only clue as to
Lewis C. Laylin, an Ohio state representative,
Secretary of State in Ohio from 1901 to 1907, was
Lucy and Theodore's uncle and their maternal
grandfather, John Laylin, fought in the American
* Charles D.
Folke was the reported name and I first thought it was a clerical
error that should have read Carl D. Folke, but
Charles was also the name reported in 1897 city
directories so perhaps Carl went by Charles to avoid
confusion with his father. A
first-day newspaper list miss-spelled Ada's name as
raised a city
Fire alarms at Iroquois Theater
Givin sisters of Des
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