In the East Side Cemetery in Elkader, Iowa
are the graves of a family of three who lost their
lives in the 1903 Iroquois Theater fire in Chicago.
A joint funeral was held in Chicago at Sheldon's
Undertaking for Otto H. Beyer, his wife, Minnie, and
their four-year-old daughter, Grace afternoon of Jan 4, 1904, at Sheldon's undertaking
in Chicago. The Chicago Gastronomic Benevolent
Association, of which Otto was a member and
director, paid his funeral expenses.
The remains of twenty-nine-year-old Otto H. “Henry”
Beyer (b.1874), a native of Germany, his thirty-two-year-old
wife, Wilhelmina "Minnie" W. Meisiner Beyer (b.1871) and their
four-year-old daughter, Grace Beyer (b.1899), were
shipped to Iowa.
Then, as now, fewer than 2,000 people lived in
Elkader. The loss of an entire family must have been
had immigrated to America from Germany in 1893 and
married Minnie, an Iowa native, in 1896. Grace was one of two
children born to the couple but the other did not
Minnie was the youngest
daughter of eight children born to Edward and
of Boardman, Iowa.
family lived at 1040 Diversey Blvd in
Chicago. The information about the entire family
dying comes from 1904 Chicago newspapers and a 1916
book, History of Clayton County Iowa.
J. Kluehe of 269 Sheffield Ave found and identified
Otto's body at Jordan's Undertaking. Minnie's body was found at Rolston's
Undertaking and identified by her brother, Fred Meisner (1863-), who also identified the body of
Chicago newspaper reported there were no family
members at the Beyer funerals, it is possible but
unlikely that Minnie's brother Fred came to the city
to identify the bodies then left before their
funerals and without escorting the remains to Iowa.
Discrepancies and addendum
newspaper reported inaccurately that the Beyers were
buried in Calvary Cemetery.
newspaper included an Alexander Beyer in victim
lists. There was no death certificate issued for a person by
this name and 1903 Chicago city directories do not
include an Alexander Beyer.
newspapers listed a "Beyer infant" as a victim,
presumably referring to four-year-old Grace Beyer.