Anna E. McChristie (b. 1862) lived at 6315 or 6321 Lexington
in Chicago. Her age was
given as thirty-five in some Iroquois death lists and twenty-seven
in others but she was probably forty-one. She attended the
theater with two other unnamed women who may not
have survived and/or may not have known her date of
In 1900 Anna
worked as a maid, employer unknown. By 1903
she worked as a dressmaker. Dressmakers in
1903 worked out of their homes, in department stores
and in factories. It is not known where Anna
worked. Womens clothing made up only 25% of
ready-to-wear garments and most middle class
homemakers made the clothing for their families. The
wealthy hired dressmakers and at least one of Anna's
cousin's was in a position to contract for her
services. Hope she was so lucky.
Sweat shops were a horror.
Anna was the daughter of the late Thomas and Mary
Thompson McChristy of New York. She had lived in
Chicago from at least 1880 to 1902 with her great aunt and
uncle, Mary and John Willson. She had two surviving
siblings back in New York.
Anna's great uncle John was a carpenter but one
of he and Mary's daughters married a wealthy
successful banker and may have contributed to her
mother's upkeep after his death because in 1900 Mary
was able to afford a domestic servant.
Mary Willson died a
year prior to the Iroquois Theater fire and it is
likely Anna was renting a room on Lexinton. Anna's
cousins, the Mary and John Willson's children and
grandchildren, lived in Chicago and Rock Island and
might have become involved in Anna's funeral and
Anna's body was identified by
Dr. Howard Steere* who was affiliated with the
Hering Emergency Hospital at 3832 Rhodes. I found no
other references to the Hering facility or Dr.
conjunction with Iroquois victims so it is not
likely that Anna was taken to his hospital. If
he was one of the many physicians and nurses who
came to the Iroquois to volunteer their services,
how did identify Anna? Perhaps she carried
something on her person or in her purse.
Presumably one or more of her theater companions
reported her as missing.
Discrepancies and addendum
* In 1914 at age thirty-seven
Steere was murdered by a patient, thirty-year-old
Polish immigrant Anton Truskowski, a window washer at the Palmer House. Left
weakened after a hernia operation by Steere, despite
three months of treatment totaling $435 in charges
($11,000 today, about the average price of hernia
surgery today), Truskowski put two shots in Steer's
gut and one in his own heart. Steere remained
conscious long enough to point to Truskowski as the
shooter. Steere's partner, Dr. Sprafka, described Truskowki as a
"half wit anarchist" whom they had charged half price.
At the time Steer was married with two sons under
four years of age. Steere had studied
medicine in Herrick, North Dakota and began
practicing medicine in 1896.