One the daughter of a policeman,
the other the daughter of a racketeer,
Viola Delee and Florence R. G. Corcoran attended St.
Xavier’s College together and were lifelong friends.
Florence graduated in 1900 and Viola in 1902.
On Dec 30, 1903 they died together at the Iroquois
Viola T. Delee (b. 1883)
Twenty year old Viola was the
daughter of Irish immigrants, Katharine “Kate”
McCormick Delee (b. 1855) and the late Chicago
police lieutenant William J. Delee (1854-1901).
William immigrated to America in 1872 and Katherine
Newspapers and books of 1904 reported the name
spelling as “Delee,” as did the burial permit issued
by the coroner’s office. In the 1900 census,
however, the name was mistakenly spelled as “Deely.”
Viola was the youngest of three daughters born to
Kate and William during their twenty-five year
marriage before William’s early death. Katharine /
Kathryn A. Delee, who became a school teacher, was
born in 1880 and Louise Gertrude Delee in 1881. At
twenty-three, in 1908, Louise married Albert J. Lowry.
Katherine is believed to have married a man named Schleuter and moved to California. She passed in
Viola’s body was said to have been badly burned and
mutilated. Her remains were identified by her uncle,
Michael John Delee (1859-1906).
Her funeral was held on January 2, 1904 at the
family’s home at 7822 Union Avenue in Chicago, with
high mass said at St. Leo’s. Viola’s obituary said
she was buried at Mount Olivet; other reports said
she was buried at Forest Home Cemetery in Forest
Park, IL. Perhaps she was buried in Illinois
originally but today her ashes are interned in
California with those of her parents in the Abbey of
the Psalms Sanctuary of Hope at the Hollywood
Forever Cemetery. Daughter Katherine may have had
her parent's and sister’s ashes moved to California.
I found no evidence that Kate remarried but she did
adopt a little girl named Annie four years after Viola’s death.
See story below of that child’s inheritance of a
small fortune in 1907.
Genevive Florence "Flossie" Corcoran (b. 1882)
Twenty-two year old “Flossie”
lived at 218 Dearborn avenue. Her
brother verified the identify of her remains when a
card in Viola’s pocket confirmed the family’s fear
that the girls attended the matinee together.
Flossie's last name was inaccurately reported as
Corrigan in some early reports. She was the
daughter of Alabama native, Theresa R. McIntire
Corcoran, and Michael J. Corcoran. Her father
was one of Chicago's scallywags. As a co-owner
of two Clark Street saloons with well known boxing
promoter Charles E. "Parson" Davies, as co-owner in
the Hatch House hotel at Wells and Kinzie with his
brother, John T. Corcoran, and as an ever helpful
accomplice to Democratic politicians in the 20th
ward, if there was a fight or an election that
needed fixing, Michael J. Corcoran was the man to
The Gambler King of Clark Street: Michael C.
McDonald and the Rise of Chicago's Democratic
Machine, author Richard Lindberg describes the
Corcoran brothers and their Hatch House:
"John T. Corcoran and his brother Michael, both
zealous, two-fisted, Twentieth Ward Democratic
organizers, bought the place in 1859 and spruced it
up to the tune of $25,000. They rented rooms in this
'handsome and commodious; hotel, 134 of them, many
with running water, for $2.00 a day, while at the
same time, they carried out acts of voter
intimidation that became legendary."
much more in Lindberg's book about Chicago's
Corcoran brothers. Have added to my want-to-read
1904 newspaper reports said that Florence was the
Corcoran's only child but other's reported her body
was identified by a brother (and others said by her
father). According to the census, in 1900
Florence was one of three children in her parent's
twenty-four year marriage; that seems the most
credible of the choices. Her body was taken to
Rolston’s Mortuary and funeral services were held at
the Church of the Holy Name on Saturday, January 2,
1904, with burial at Forest Home Cemetery in Forest
1/15/1904 Chicago Tribune reported a
requiem mass was to be said at St. Xavier's
church the next day for the three Xavier
student alumni who died at the Iroquois,
naming Corcoran, Delee and a Lillian Doen. A
person named Doen did not appear on any
Iroquois victim lists but there was a
teenage victim named Lillian Doerr,
presumably the same girl.
Kate's adoptive daughter four years after Iroquois fire
Inter Ocean Newspaper,
December 28, 1907
“Girl Who Is
Reassuming Her Real Name to Get $50,000 Legacy
Divided Between Pleasure's Call and Desire to
“Although it may be several months before the
actual cash Is deposited to her credit in the
bank, Miss Annie Delee, the heiress who is
changing her name to Drnek through the courts
for the purpose of qualifying for a $50,000
legacy, has not foregone the joy of anticipation
of spending it.
“Miss Delee is the adopted daughter of Mrs.
William J. Delee, 606 Dearborn Avenue. Her name
was Drnek before she was adopted by Mrs. Delee
seven years ago. Recently she was informed that
she was heiress to an estate of $50,000 in
Bohemia. In order to get the estate she was
obliged to take the name Drnek again. She will
continue, however, to be a member of the Delee
family, and will spend her money In Chicago. In
the first place, she is going to spend a certain
amount of it for things to be worn by herself
and her foster sisters, the Misses Louise and
Katherine Delee. Of course, they all have things
to wear at present, but no woman, even
authorities on the feminine say, ever reaches
the stage where other things to wear are not
appropriate and welcome.
“Automobile or Charity
Then she may buy an automobile. It will be that,
she says, or some form of charity work. Miss
Delee has not forgotten that it was through
charity that she came to the home where she now
lives, and she desires to help other children as
she was helped. Her foster sisters did not know
whether they would go in for charity with her.
They were sure that they would go in the
automobile with her, however, in case she got
Stage property reduced to
glass chips to avoid import duties
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