Other than this dramatic
account, newspapers did not report
anything more about the death of fifty-three-year-old Minnie Holmes. The body was taken to
Minnie was the nickname of Myra Knight (b.1849), a
Constantine, Michigan native who married John Holmes
(1849-c.1914). They had three children: John
Willis Holmes(1875-1971), Dorothy "Daisy" Holmes
(1877-1937) and Earl Frank Holmes (1880-1941), the
twenty-three-year-old who waited in the lobby at the
hospital for word of his mother's condition.
In 1903, Minnie's son, Earl, worked as a day laborer, earning
less than $500 annually. His father, John, worked as a wagon team driver, with
annual earnings under $600. Proportionate to income,
funerals in 1903 were less
costly than today, in part because there
were fewer legally mandated requirements, such as
embalming. Nonetheless, a $40 casket, $20 headstone
and medical expenses would have required nearly a
weeks pay for John, during a time when there was no
credit with which to buy food or pay rent.
Minnie Knight Holmes did not attend the theater by herself but her
companions are unknown. If they were her children, a
strong possibility, nothing was reported about their
John and Minnie were
Midwesterners, John from Indiana and Minnie from
Michigan. All their children were born in Illinois.
Prior to working as a driver, John worked in some
capacity at an ice company, as a farm worker and a
day laborer, and in 1905 as a superintendent at the
Armour plant in Chicago. Minnie grew up in
Constantine, Michigan. Her mother was a native of
Canada and her father was from Maryland.
In January, 1905,
Earl Holmes, age twenty four,
eloped with seventeen year old Nellie M.
Keller of South
Bend, Indiana. She worked at the John C.
Barrett company in Fort Wayne and was the
niece of the mayor of South Bend, Indiana.
Nellie and Earl had one child but the marriage did
Between them, Minnie's children produced a half
offspring, only one of them born in time for Minnie
to know her. Daisy's daughter, Margaret Cole, had just turned five when her grandmother
died from her Iroquois Theater injuries. In an odd
coincidence, Margaret herself would die fifty-six
years to the day after her grandmother, on December