1903, this duplex was just five years old. The
Thompson family lived in the three-bedroom two-bath unit
on the left. There was the family patriarch, Robert,
his youngest son, Vernon, Edith and her husband of
eight years, George Banshaf, Maria, his youngest
daughter, and Clarence, who was home visiting over
party from the home went to the Mr. Bluebeard
matinee at the Iroquois Theater on December 30, 1903,
and three of them did not return home.
Seventy-year-old Robert Thompson had lost his wife,
Louisa, eighteen months earlier but joined the
family outing to an afternoon matinee at Chicago's
luxurious new theater. Newspapers only
mentioned the family members who died at the
Iroquois (Robert, Clarence and George) so it is not
known if Marie, Edith or Vernon were also in the
theater party and survived.
Robert Solomon Thompson (b.1831), a Tennessean, was
married for thirty-six years to the late Louisa Cornelia Rudisill Thompson (1843-1902), with whom he had
eight children, all born in Arkansas. A retired merchant, Robert was the son
of Joseph W. Thompson and Mariah Antoinette Wynne
Twenty-two-year-old Clarence Jonas Thompson (b.1880) was a
single, traveling salesman who had recently
relocated to Kansas City, Missouri and was in
Chicago visiting for the holiday.
Thirty-five-year-old George Banshaf (b.1868) may
have immigrated from England. Since 1895 he had been
married to Robert's second-oldest daughter, Edith
Ann Thompson (1869-1950). He worked as an
Vernon Clyde Thompson (1886-1962), Robert’s
seventeen-year-old son, identified the bodies of his
father and brother. Stenographer Marie L. Thompson
(1877-1954), Robert’s twenty-three-year-old
daughter, identified the body of George Banshaf. The
family lived at 4847 Forrestville Ave. in Chicago.
the time of the fire, another Thompson son, thirty-two-year-old Robert Lee
Thompson (1871-1949), was traveling in the northwest
with his wife, Bertha Miller Thompson (1878-1920). The family knew that Robert
and Bertha were in Portland, Oregon but did not know
address. They placed an advertisement in
newspaper. Before the ad ran, however, an employee
at the Oregonian who coincidentally
had met Robert and Bertha during their brief time in
Portland, saw the incoming
advertisement, remembered the couple he'd met, and contacted Robert to inform him of
the death of his father, brother and brother in law.
In the years after the fire:
Vernon Thompson married in 1907, to Ruth E. Martin
The Thompsons and
Edith Banshaf brought wrongful death suits against
the theater owners and Fuller Construction.
Theirs were three of only thirty-five settlements
awarded from Fuller – for $750 each.
Edith Banshaf died in 1950 in New York
Robert and Bertha considered relocating to
Portland permanently but in 1910 they were back in Chicago.
In 1920 Bertha died and six years later Robert remarried.
In 1910 Marie Thompson married Stanley Makepeace.