Barbara and Mary were the daughters of Katherine
Elizabeth "Kate” Crane Gartz (1865-1949) and Adolph F. Gartz
Kate was the sister of Charles S. (1826-1887) and
Richard Teller Crane (1832-1912),*** a pair of wealthy
Chicago businessmen. Her husband, Adolph, was
treasurer at the Crane Brothers Elevator company.
Richard Crane had the means to hire a private expert
to investigate the fire –
John Ripley Freeman, an
engineer for Factory Mutual Insurance.
Barbara and Mary had three siblings who did not attend
the matinee – Frederick, Gail and Gloria. In
Chicago the Gartz family lived at 4860 Kimbark Ave. in the
Kenwood area. They also owned one of four
homes at the Crane summer compound in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
named Jerseyhurst. Had Barbara and Mary
survived they would have probably been married at
Jerseyhurst, as were Gloria and Gail. They
might have gone to college and played hockey, as
The Gartz girls are buried in
Oak Hill Cemetery at Lake
Geneva, Wisconsin in the Crane family plot.
Apparently Barbara was nicknamed Bobsie. Kate and
Adolph Gartz later moved to California and had a 6th
child. Adolph died in 1930 and Kate eventually
remarried. She became a an outspoken social
activist. When her son, Alfred Jr., took his
own life in 1944, the story was omitted from Chicago
newspapers. The last belongings found at the
Iroquois Theater, a small purse with valueless
content, was tracked to the Gartz family and turned
over to Adolph Gartz on Wednesday, December 28,
1904, days short of a year after the fire.
Nothing more was reported about the contents so it
cannot with certainty be said that the purse
belonged to Barbara or Mary. It might instead
have been the property of one of Gartz's domestic
Adelheid and Elise Guthardt
were the wife and daughter of John A. Guthardt,
mother and sister of William and Henry. The
family lived at 159 W.113th St. near the corner of
Wentworth. Both John and Adelheid had
immigrated to America with their families as young
people. They married in 1884.
John He worked as a
machinist and supervisor at a cooking utensil
manufacturer. In the years after the fire he
would remarry and see the birth of a third son and
the death of his second wife. He watched
Adelheid's and his son's marry and the birth of a
granddaughter that probably reminded him of Elise.
Adelheid's body was found at
Ralston's and Elisa's at Carroll's funeral home,
both identified by John. Burial was at Mount
Greenwood Cemetery in Chicago. where
Berg family victims were also interred.
of $10,000 each were
filed on behalf of Adelheid and Elise. In 1909
they were two of thirty-five $750 settlements from
Fuller Construction, builders of the theater.
Maud was thought missing for
a time until it was discovered that she'd survived.
She went on to marry in 1909 – to William Edward
Boyes – and in 1915 became superintendent of the
Legal Aid Society. A blend of two earlier organizations, the Protective
Agency for Women and Children (with she was
associated in 1903) and
Bureau of Justice), Legal Aid Society worked to protect women and
children in the courts. In 1912 she was one of
the founding members of the National Alliance of
Legal Aid Societies.
Maud lived at 31 West Lake
St. (or at 79 Dearborn), was born in Iowa and had two brothers, Earl and
Paul. Their father's name was Walter, born in Ohio
and her mother was Lamire "Myra" D. Parcells,
b.1846. Brother Earl was born in Illinois in 1868.
According to the 1910 census, Maud and William E. Boyes,
lived then with Maud's brother, Earl, who worked as
a grocery wholesaler clerk, while William clerked in
store. Also living with them was
Maud’s mother, Myra, and a 9 year old nephew, Paul
D. Parcells jr.
In multiple newspaper
reports Mary's address was given as 4860 Kimbark -
the address of the Gartz home.
Her occupation was
stated to be a waitress and her body was identified
by a T. H. Fahey. The Gartz
family's domestic staff in 1900 included four
live-in female employees, enough to have included a
kitchen service worker. Unfortunately, there
were seven people in 1903 Chicago who could have
been T. H. Fahey.
Clara Thoni †
The evidence to support that
seventeen year old Clara Thoni was employed
by the Gartz family is not iron clad but seems
probable, chiefly because her body was identified by
another woman described as a nurse employed by the
Gartz family – Maud Parcells (see information about
Maud at left).
Clara was described as a
nurse who lived at 4644 Evans Avenue - and also that
she was from Lake Geneva, Illinois. I'll wade
you through what I've learned about Clara so far and
will update this if/when more information is
Residence - There is not a
city in Illinois named Lake Geneva but the Gartz/Crane
family had a summer home in Lake Geneva,
Wisconsin so that could explain the connection
to a Lake Geneva. Alternatively, the Gartz
home was located in the Kenwood area of Chicago
on Lake Michigan and the Thoni family was from
Switzerland, possibly Lake Geneva there.
Much room for communication errors if the Thoni
sisters were not fluent in English. The
primary language in Switzerland is French.
The 1903 Chicago city directory reported
unmarried sisters from Switzerland, dressmakers
both, forty-six-year-old Eliza and forty-year-old-Emma Thoni living at the Evans Ave address.
If an unemployed minor when the directory was
compiled, Clara would not have been listed so
her omission in the directory does not indicate
whether or not she lived there.
Relationships - The age
difference between Clara and the two Thoni
sisters on Evans Ave makes it unlikely they were
Clara's sisters but I've failed to learn whether
Clara was their niece or cousin. They had
a third sister, Bertha, who in 1903 was thirty
one years old and two brothers, Theo and
Charles. At thirty four and married for
only seven years, Theo, the first of the family
to locate in Iowa, was not the father of a
seventeen year old daughter. (Bertha,
Eliza and Emma all joined Theo in Iowa by 1910
and by 1930 Bertha's family settled in Eugene,
Oregon.) Nothing is known about Charles
Thoni. The siblings cited here were
possibly the children of Michael and Elizabeth
Millen Thoni. Possibly Clara was the
daughter of Michael Thoni's brother, name
unknown, probably born c.1835 in Switzerland.
Occupation – in 1903 the
term "nurse" was used to describe babysitters as
well as medical caretakers. Clara
wasn't old enough to have attended nursing
school so was more probably a babysitter for the Gartz children. At the Gartz home in
Chicago in 1900 were four live-in domestic
servants in their late twenties and thirties,
none from Switzerland, so Clara was not typical
of Gartz domestic employees at their Chicago
home but was perhaps hired as a more
youthful childcare person for the
summer at Lake Geneva, then kept on and brought
back to Chicago in the fall.
four homes at Jerseyhurst. Kate and
Adolph Gartz's home there, built in 1887 as
their wedding gift from her parents, was named
Glen Mary (today named Woodwind).
Family patriarch, Charles Crane, is known to
have urged his sisters and children to master
foreign languages. If Clara spoke French,
which seems likely, Kate Crane Gartz may have
welcomed the opportunity for early exposure to
the language for Barbara and Mary.
Discrepancies and addendum
Need pictures of all
Did Adelheid teach Elise
along with the Gartz children?
verification of Clara Thoni's employment,
* Newspapers in 1903/4
misspelled the name Guthardt as Hoptfelt, Hudhart,
Goodhart and Goodheart, and described Adelheid as an aunt
to the Gartz children. It was reported that
her body was identified by a husband named James
instead of John and miss spelled her surname as
Adelaide. Elise's name was reported as Liddy,
Libby or Lidya.
** On one
report Maud Parcells was listed as a fatality but in
most reports she was named as the individual who
identified Barbara’s body, as well as that of
another Iroquois Theater fire victim, Clara Emma
*** Three months prior to the Iroquois fire
Crane Sr. became engaged to a young ingénue from
Lake Geneva, Emily Hutchinson. Crane had been
married twice before.
† There were many spellings and
versions of Clara's name. Emma Clara, Clara
Emma, Emma and Clara. Thoin, Thoni, Thoeny,
Toyne, Thonie and Thoui.
A relative at the address on Evans street was named