The Chicago Commons was founded by German immigrants.
Participation by the Italian Guerrieri family may have resulted in part from
Ralph Guerrieri's employer, Ernest Kruetgen, who was active in Chicago's German
immigrant community. The sixth girl from right is Rosia Guerrieri, thought
to be a cousin, daughter of Nick Guerrieri.
At least four
of their children attended the Mr. Bluebeard
matinee at the Iroquois Theater on December 30,
1903 with Anna B. Milliken (relationship to
Guerrieri family not known). Two were badly injured and one died at
Magdalena Guerrieri (1860- ) and Giovanni "John"
Guerrieri (1853- ) married in 1884 and emigrated
from the Brindisi area in southern Italy to America
in 1890. Magdalena gave birth to nine children but
by 1910 only four survived. In 1903 the family
lived at 135 North Sangamon in Chicago, about four
blocks away from the Iroquois Theater.
In the Guerrieri Iroquois Theater fire party:
Anna B. Millikin (or
Eleven-year-old Vingenzia "Jennie "Guerrieri (b.
Raphael Felix "Ralph" Guerrieri (1886-1956),
Survivor ten-year-old Anthony
"Tony" Guerrieri (1893-1960 ), survivor
Seven-year-old Celestina "Jessie" Guerrieri (1896-1972),
Raphael were both seriously injured at the Iroquois and
taken to St. Lukes hospital. Jennie, reportedly found
suffocated beneath a pile of other
bodies, was identified by her older brother, Michael Guerrieri. She was buried in Chicago's Calvary
Ralph Guerrieri's ears and hands were badly burned while
trying to save his siblings, his hands remaining crippled enough that it was cited as a disability on
his WWI draft registration over a decade after the
fire. He was nevertheless able
to work as a commercial artist and did so from at
least 1910 to 1930. In 1917 he worked for the Ernest
J. Kreutgen Engraving company at 626 Federal Street.
(Kreutgen would go on to become the Chicago
According to his WWI draft registration Ralph had black hair, blue eyes and was stout. In his early
forties he married a woman named Mary. A
descendent reports that he wore his hair long
throughout his life so as to cover the burns on his
As an adult
Tony Guerrieri worked off and on in the garment industry,
sometimes as a tailor, other times as a cutter.
He also tried his hand at sales, working for a
confectionary company. He married and had a
daughter named Madelyn Virginia Guerrieri
Guerrieri married Nicholas Colucci and they had two sons,
Victor and John.
Anna B. Millikin (or Milliken)
was staying at the Thompson's Hotel at 151 Dearborn
street. The building was owned by John R.
Thompson of Thompsons diners. Newspapers and
the Marshall disaster book published an
inaccurate description of
the Guerrieri party experience, identified as a
quotation from Millikin, that she was likely
dismayed to read.
I spent some time trying to
learn if this Anna Millikin was the same Anna who
was the wife of Decatur, IL banker and businessman
James Millikin (1827-1909), who founded Millikin
University but found nothing to suggest it was the
same woman. Perhaps a Millikin University
history enthusiast has information.
It is likely the
story above, that appeared in the newspaper and in the Marshall disaster book, came
from an inaccurate story by a third party. Mrs. Milliken certainly knew
that one of the older two children, Jennie Guerrieri, was dead and one of
the youngest, Jessie, was injured. She did not gather after the fire with
all the members of their theater party.
was named after
Moses Montefiore (1784-1885), a Jewish Italian
philanthropist. For the last eighty-plus years the Montefiore school in Chicago has been
associated with truants and misfits.
Prior to 1934, however, it was an
neighborhood elementary school. It was
created in 1871 and originally occupied the
former Washington school structure at the
corner of Sangamon and Grand (previously
known as Indiana Ave). The structure
had become vacant when the Washington School
was moved to a new structure on Morgan
Street. In 1882, the Montefiore
School was rebuilt, on the same
Sangamon-Grand site, at a cost of $37,233.80
to seat 746 students. Seating capacity
was increased and, by 1903, one of its 1,000
students included Jennie
In 1906 the Ashburne Elementary school was
built on 14th Street and operated there
until 1934 when the structure was renamed
Montefiore School and became a facility for
chronic truants. In 1960 that
structure was torn down to make room for the
Dan Ryan Expressway and a new Montefiore
School, operated until 2014, was built on