Three members of the Ellis family died at the
26 year old Charlotte "Lotta"
Ellis of Grandville, Michigan
10 year old Nancy Hansen
of Grandville, Michigan
40 year old Annie Curtis
Ellis of Racine, Wisconsin
Ellen Conklin Ellis of the Grand Rapids, Michigan
area had five children. In March,
1896 they lost their oldest daughter, forty-one-year-old Alfrettie
who lived with her husband, blacksmith, James A.
Hansen, in nearby Wyoming, MI. After
Alfrettie's death the youngest of her five children,
two-year-old Nancy Hanson, went to live with her
grandparents and nineteen-year-old aunt, Charlotte "Lotta"
/ "Lottie" Ellis. Six months later, Ellen also died, at
age sixty-one, but Nancy stayed on with Lotta and
John. Lotta worked outside the home but John
was retired and the child may have been a welcome
diversion to his grief over his wife's passing.
Bert L Ellis was the oldest of John and Ellen's
sons. In 1890 Bert had married Annie / Anna Curtis.
They lived in
Racine, Wisconsin from 1895 to 1902, where he worked
as an engineer for the Racine Water company, then in 1903 moved to Chicago and were living at 207
E. 62nd street at the time of the fire. It is
likely that Charlotte and Nancy stayed with Bert and
Annie during their visit to Chicago.
daughter of German immigrants, Anna was born in
Illinois (b.1863). Bert was a Mason and Anna
was active in the Eastern Star. A Racine newspaper described Anna
as short of stature but gregarious in nature.
Bert Ellis identified her body.
Wednesday, December 30, 1903, Lotta, Nancy and Annie
all perished at the matinee performance of Mr. Bluebeard
at Chicago's elegant new playhouse, the Iroquois theater.
body of Charlotte Ellis (b.1877) was found at
Jordan's mortuary where it was identified by her
sister in law, Alfrettie and James' daughter, Ora Hanson
(who would six years later marry Martin F. Schram), and
employer, Dr. D. R. Hammond (who may have been a
pharmacist named Dwight R. Hammond).
Ohio native John
Ellis (1831-1913), son of Jesse and Sally McMillon
Ellis, fought in the civil war and his brother,
Nathan Ellis, died in the conflict. John
served as one of Grandville, Michigan's first police
officers and in 1870 managed a hotel there, named the Jenness
(or Janess or Jeness, found various spellings but am
fairly sure it was founded by Thomas J. Jenness Jr).
The hotel burned in 1898. John lived alone in
his State street house after the deaths of Charlotte
Things to learn
What happened to
Bert (Robert? Albert?) Ellis after the fire?
Did he attend the matinee?
What was the maiden name of
Ellen Ellis Estery rather than Conklin?
Where in the theater did the
Ellis and Hansen party sit?
Was Annie Hansen, the
Racine, Wisconsin school teacher who survived the fire,
related to Jim Hansen, father of Nancy?
The name of the hotel managed
by John Ellis In Grandville, Michigan in 1870
was Janess. It would be fun to find a photo and
additional information about the hotel.
* There may have been a fourth person in the party.
Racine newspapers reported that two of Bert Ellis's
sisters died, but Bert's only sister living in 1903
other than Charlotte was Mina M. Ellis Griswold
Taylor who lived until at least 1940. The
reference to two sisters may have meant Charlotte
and, mistakenly, niece Nancy.
37 lbs of clothing
made escape more difficult
12 in Moore party of 13
Chicago police officer
lost wife and daughter at Iroquois Theater
If you have additional
info about an Iroquois victim, or find an error, I would like to
hear from you. Chaos and communication limitations of 1903
produced many errors I'm striving to correct and welcome all the help I can get. Space is provided at the
bottom of stories for comments, or
me directly. To receive email notification of new content,
let me know.
(Don't expect your inbox to fill up with emails as I rarely consider
a story to be finished. For Facebook users, following the
Facebook page will mostly accomplish the same end since mostly
completed Iroquois stories are posted there. Mostly.)