Court Judge Jesse Holdom ruled that Chicago was not liable for
failure of city inspectors to prevent the Iroquois
Theater from opening. Holdom's ruling was
based on a $15,000 suit against the city brought by Eva
Catherine Clapp Gibson for a spinal injury and
broken arm. Hers was one of sixty such
Iroquois Theater suits pending at the time of his
It was asserted that Chicago
would be bankrupted by an estimated
dollars in such damage suits. Holdom's ruling was
upheld on December 30, 1904, one year after the
disaster, by circuit court judge Charles M. Walker.
in court as the last person to leave the balcony
was not injured. She
testified that she had paid particular attention to
the painted curtain because she was an oil artist so
had especial interest in the colors. Emma was
the wife of wholesale clothing merchant, Abe
Schweitzer, married c.1890.
Eva Katherine Clapp Mink Gibson
(1854/57-1916) was an author who lived at the North
Shore Hotel with her husband. She was the
daughter of Henry and Ann Ely Clapp and wife of
professor of inorganic chemistry, Dr. Charles B.
Gibson (1854-1947).** It was a second marriage
for both Eva and Charles. Her first husband to
Tilghman H. Mink had ended in
divorce and a lawsuit over alimony.
Most of Eva's
books were published from 1884 to 1902.
Future, A Lucky Mishap, Mismated,
A Dark Secret and
A Woman's Triumph)
(Red Rose Land)
books, (Zauberlinda the Wise Witch)
Anthem of the Free,
Our Old Commander)
Judge Jesse Holdom
son of William Eliza Merritt Holdom, emigrated to
America in 1868 as a seventeen year old. He was
admitted to the bar in 1873 at age twenty-two. He
was appointed to the superior court in 1898 by
Illinois governor Joseph W. Fifer. Like Iroquois
Will J. Davis and his defense attorneys
Levy Mayer and
Holdom was a collector of rare books.
Judge Charles M. Walker
joined the circuit court in June, 1903 after serving
two terms as an alderman for the twenty-fourth ward and as mayor Carter Harrison's
corporation counsel from 1894 to 1903. In 1908 Walker was
elected chief justice of the circuit court and
served for the remainder of his life. The
chief justice position was then assumed by
Robert E. Crowe who was Albert Barne's
co-counsel during Iroquois Theater trials.
As a boy, the family cook in the Walker household
was Nancy Green who would go on to become one of
three models used in Aunt Jemima pancake
advertising. In addition to his judicial
activities, Walker was a proponent for promoting
Chicago's Lake Michigan beaches.
reported Emma's last name as Schweitzler but Schweitzer was used in the city directories
for many years so is probably correct.
** Given that
Chicago's population was around two million in 1903
the paths of people impacted by the Iroquois Theater
crossed in the years before and after. In 1897
Dr. Charles Gibson was called to testify in a
notorious 1897 trial involving a sausage
manufacturer named Luetgert accused of killing his
wife and disposing of her remains in a cooking vat.
Gibson was called upon to give an opinion as to
whether slimy residue removed from the vat was human
flesh or that of another animal. At that same
Henry Norris, one of many Chicago policeman who
participated in the investigation and whose
testimony was important enough that the prosecution
brought him back to work for the department after a
dismissal. Henry's wife and daughter would die
at the Iroquois Theater.