German immigrants, thirty-one-year-old Emil Nicholas Epsen (b.1872) and his twenty-three year old
sister,* Rosie Espen
(b.1877), lived with
their parents at 305 Osgood Street in Chicago.
(With street name and address changes it would
eventually be designated as 2338 Kenmore –
today part of the DePaul University campus, at the
site of the Richardson library.)
Emil and Rosa
two of four children born to Moses "Mo" Espen (1844-1917) and Dora
(1842-1934). Moses and Dora were married in 1870 and
the family immigrated to America in 1883 (in
other Census records the family
reported the year of immigration as 1895).
On Wednesday, December 30, 1903
Emil and Rosa attended a
matinee at Chicago's elegant new playhouse, the
Iroquois Theater. It is not known where they
were seated but both were lost in the fire that day.
Rosa's body was identified by
Samuel M. Eichberg and W
A. Mentzer and Emil's by William Lederer.
The double funeral, attended by
four hundred friends and relatives, was held in the
chapel at Furth & Company funeral home at the corner
of Thirty-Fifth and Grand.
The service, conducted by
Schreiber, included portions in
Hebrew, English and German.
Emil and Rosie were reportedly buried in Waldheim Jewish Cemetery in Forest Park, Illinois
(though it has yet be substantiated with grave
served as Master in his Ancient Free and Accepted
Masonic lodge No. 437 in 1903, the twenty-fifth man
to occupy the position since the group's founding in
1864. He was
to have received a "Past Masters" medallion
from the group on Monday evening
January 4, 1904. The awards program
was postponed so members could instead attend his
funeral. Also present were members of the Eastern
Star. The lodge celebrated its 150th
anniversary in 2015.
Espen was a wholesale clothing representative with
offices at 630 W. Madison. Son Emil
founded and around 1900 sold his
to go to work as a buyer for
The Fair department store.
The two oldest Espen girls, Sophia and Jenny,
worked at The Fair as clerks then.
after the fire
Six months before the
Iroquois Theater fire Mo and Dora announced the
engagement of their middle daughter, Sophia,
whose wedding took place three months after the
fire. Sophia Espen Marblestone
(1876-1914) would have three children, naming
first-born daughter after Rosie.
Sophia passed in 1914, and Mo
followed in 1917. Dora
moved in with her last surviving child and her
family, Jennie Espen Eichen (1875-1941), with whom
she lived for the rest of her years.
Discrepancies and addendum
One period report had Emil
as husband and wife and another as uncle and
niece; all other
newspaper reports, as well as the 1900 U.S.
Census and genealogical research, report them
brother and sister. Rosie was also
referred to as Rose and Rosa.
Hope to find photos of Emil