On December 30, 1903, sixty-nine-year-old retired widow Adolph Weber (1834-1910) and
his youngest daughter, twelve-year-old Leona Weber
(c1888-1972), attended an afternoon matinee of
Mr. Bluebeard at Chicago's newest luxury playhouse, the
Iroquois Theater. When a fire broke out on stage and
spread to the auditorium, they were among the lucky survivors
who escaped. Adolph was badly burned and Leona, burned and
bruised, spent a brief time in the Samaritan Hospital.
Adolph and his parents were born in Hungary and
immigrated to America in 1862. In 1903 he
lived with his two sons, three daughters and two of
their spouses at 4233 Prairie in Chicago, a
still-standing ten-room beauty in the Grand Blvd
area, built in 1898. His wife, the late Fannie
Weber, had passed in 1895.
Adolph was the son of Abraham
and Fannie Fischel Weber. His late wife was also
named Fannie, Fannie Kahn (1844-1895). Before retirement he'd been a tailor, liquor merchant and
president of Calumet Furniture.
In the years after the fire
In mid-1909, six years after
the fire, Adolph and Leona filed suit against Marc Klaw and Abraham Erlanger, seeking $10,000 in
damages for Adolph and $25,000 for Leona.
Nothing more was reported about their suits but it
is unlikely they prevailed given that dozens of
others were dismissed in the Federal Court.
Adolph died the following
year, seven years before Leona's marriage.
His obituary reported that
he had been a charter member of the
David Fish Lodge #130 of the Independent Order of
(I.O.B.B.) as well as a
member of the Austrian-Hungary Benevolent Society.†
Furniture was the family business
Adolph Weber was president
of Calumet furniture at the time of his death in
1910. Another of his daughters, Clara
Weber, in 1899 married Joseph
Greenwald* who built the General Furniture Company in
Chicago. (Brother Emanuel Weber, also married
a Greenwald.) Leona's later husband, Henry
would eventually work for Joseph in his furniture
company and Adolph's son, Edward, rose to become a
vice president at General Furniture before going out
on his own in 1935.‡ General Furniture grew by 1933 to twelve large stores,
promoted as "Chicago's Greatest Chain of Furniture
Stores." The Greenwald's prosperity
led in 1922 to a 14-room mansion in Kenwood. In
1941, following the early death of Joseph B.
Greenwald in 1929, and Clara in 1940, their
children sold the chain to a company outside
In 1917 at
age twenty-nine, in services held at her sister
Leona married Henry Baum of Kansas City, MO.
A year later, their only child was born, Marjorie Lee
Baum (pictured above). Henry
died at age fifty-nine, and Leona spent the last three decades of
her life as a widow. At her death, only one of
her seven siblings survived.
Discrepancies and addendum
Newspaper reports immediately
after the fire confused names, addresses and
relationships between Adoph and Leona Weber with
another pair of victims -
John and Carrie Weber. 1904
newspapers reported that Adolph's wounds came as he
tried to save his wife. Adolph's wife Fannie
had been gone for eight years in 1903 and I found no
evidence of his having remarried. The story
was therefore about John
Weber trying to rescue his wife, Carrie, or Adolph
Weber, trying to rescue his daughter, Leona.
Initially, some Chicago
newspapers reported that Adolph and/or Leona lived
at non-existent addresses on Cortland and Courtland
streets but later reports had them at their actual
address at the time, 4233 Prairie.
Some early newspapers
incorrectly reported Leona's age as sixteen.
To be learned:
More about Calumet Furniture.
A fire Calumet Furniture in June 1895, destroyed $20k of the firm's inventory,
along with six other businesses in/near the building
on 92nd street at the corner of Houston. It is
not known if Adolph was involved with the company
then. In the spring of 1912 a structure at the
same intersection, known as the Bacon Block, on the
southeast corner, was purchased by General Furniture
for $60,000 and became the site of one of its
stores. The structure included Bacon's Hall,
site for club events, church services and other
south Chicago gatherings.
* These Greenwald's do not appear to have
been related to another family of Iroquois victims,
Joseph Greenwald family.
† The David Fish Lodge was
organized in 1869 as the Jonathan Lodge; the name
later changed in honor of charter member, David
Fish. The membership in 1910 was around 400.
‡ In 1935, Edward Weber
formed the Weber-Kushen furniture Company by
purchasing the Edward Zagel Furniture Company,
located at 6201 S. Halsted at the corner of 62nd
street. A second store opened in 1939.
In the 1940s, he brought together nine other Chicago
stores to form the Style Crest Association, a buyers
and Susie Turney
and Carrington families
Emma Domann was twenty
one years old and worked as a domestic servant
Other discussions you might find interesting