Thirteen year old Aimee Wile (1890-1963) of La Porte, Indiana went to Chicago, probably accompanied
by her mother, Nannie H. Wile, and perhaps other
Wile family members from LaPorte, to visit Wile family
While there they went with two Chicago cousins
to the Mr. Bluebeard matinee at
Chicago's newest luxury playhouse, the Iroquois
theater. The cousins were eleven-year-old Ruth
Wile and her older brother, twelve-year-old Harold
Early in the second act, Aimee was first to notice fire on
the stage and insisted
they leave the theater immediately. It is not known where
they were seated in the auditorium or the names of
adults who accompanied the teens. In the
immediate aftermath, Aimee's alertness and
persistence were credited with saving their lives.
Bound by their fathers and
German immigrants, Simon Wile
Jacob Wile (1828-1896) were two of ten children born
to Isak Weil and Rosalina Federman Weil of Bavaria.
The brothers emigrated from Germany around 1847 and settled
in La Porte about five years later when the
community had existed for around twenty years.
While raising large families, Jacob founded a
bank served as rabbi, and Simon operated a grocery. Both
Simon and Jacob contributed much to the founding of LaPorte
county and to its small Jewish community. Their sons, cousins Joseph Wile
(1861-1921) and Jacob B. Wile (1864-1895), were
about the same age and grew up together in La Porte
during the years when there were around 6,500
residents. They were the sons of big fish in a
very small pond. It seems probable Jacob and
Joseph remained close as adults, and their wives and
children, friendly, even when later separated by
Around 1870 Jacob relocated to Chicago
to build an insurance agency while Simon
remained in LaPorte, serving in various
public offices and engaged in manufacturing (Fox Woolen Mills) and real estate,
as well as insurance.
In Chicago, Joseph Wile
followed his father into the insurance industry.
He married Ida
Davidson (1865-1947) in 1890 and they had two children
(the cousins who went to the Iroquois Theater with Aimee):
Harold D. Wile (1891-1923) and Ruth J. Wile
(1892-1983). The family lived in the Kenwood
area at 4413 Ellis Ave.
Back in LaPorte, Jacob Wile
married Nannie Hammon (1864-1948) in 1887 and Aimee,
their only child, was born three years later.
After Jacob's death, when Aimee was five years old,
she and her mother lived with her grandfather Simon
Avenue. Two uncles and two aunts lived there
as well but Aimee was the only child. Her
father's death and growing up surrounded by adults
might have contributed to Aimee having the
independence that gave her the gumption to confront
others in her theater party when her instincts said
their lives depended upon fleeing.
In the years after the fire
Aimee and her mother moved to Chicago in 1909,
living a few blocks from Harold and Ruth on Ellis
Avenue. She worked for a time as a
stenographer for a correspondence school. In
1910 she married Fredrick Graham Moloney (1862-1941) and
they had one child, daughter Mary
Jane Moloney (1913-2003). Mary Jane's eventual husband was the
son of a former Illinois attorney general.
Ruth went on to become an active high school
student, participating in basketball, swimming and
baseball, as well as the glee club and editing the
year book. She married attorney Sylvanus G. Levy (1880-1971) and had
three children, Joan, Ruth and Mary.
Harold in high school was on the debate team and
played baseball and football. As an adult he followed his father into insurance
married Adelle Frankel Wile (1894-1981) and had one
child, Richard. Harold died in 1923 after his
automobile lurched forward as he was cranking it
(while in gear, inside his garage), knocking him
over and running over his leg. He died from
complications of the leg injury. Son Richard
was two years old.
Discrepancies and addendum
* In various documents the Wile name was spelled as
Weil, Well, Wiles, Wiley, Wiler, even Wall. I
suspect the correct spelling was Weil, that it was
pronounced as While.
In the 1900 U.S. Census
Aimee's name was recorded as Annie but for the rest
of her life her name was reported and recorded as