On December 30,
1903, thirty-six-year-old Mary took her three
children, aged seven to twelve, to see Mr. Bluebeard
at the Iroquois Theater. They were seated in the
third-floor balcony. She and the children all
identified the bodies of all four of his family
members. Gertrude's and Mary's bodies were found at
Rolston's mortuary and Amy's at Jordan's.
The Holst family is buried at Forest Home Cemetery
in Forest Park, Illinois. See
discussion below about their church and funerals.
William Martin Holst (1866-1934) and Mary Mae Ward
Holst (b.1867) and their children, Alan B. Holst
(b.1891), Gertrude F. Holst (b. 1893) and Amy W.
Holst (b. 1896) were all born in Illinois. William
and Mary Holst were married in 1890.
William worked as a stationary
engineer. In 1903 the family lived at 2088 W. Van
Buren St. in Chicago. All three Holst children
attended the Sumner elementary school. Another
Edith Mahler, may have been in the same class
with Amy Holst.
Mary's sister, Clemence Ward
(1858-1924) was married to a former police chief,
John J. Badenoch.
In the years after the fire
In 1909 William Holst
received four $750 settlements for Mary's,
Gertrude's, Amy's and Alan's deaths from Fuller
Construction, the company who built the Iroquois
Sometime after 1910, William
married Catherine Ebben (1889-1972) and they had
two daughters, Catherine Beatrice and Wilma, in
addition to Elizabeth, who at age seventeen worked
as a bookkeeper.
He continued to work as a mechanical engineer, for
the Board of Education, in 1907 assigned to the
Pastor John Hopkins wrote that Alan
Holst was a choir boy at Episcopal Church of
the Epiphany on S. Ashland but the
error-laden period book by Marshall Everett,
Chicago's Awful Theater Horror,
offers a picture of a sad scene of the Holst
family's funeral at a frame church at
Congress St. and 42nd avenue, the address of
the Calvary Presbyterian church.
In Pastor Hopkins
recollection and/or memories the family name
was misspelled as "Hoist." Scheduling conflicts with other Iroquois
victims may have led William Holst to have
services at a different church, or Hopkins
memory could be in error but another
possible discrepancy about the Holsts in the
Everett book cause me to wonder if Everette
confused the Holsts with an altogether
Everette book also has William Holst at the
theater with his wife and children, and
escaping, a six-month-old son in his arms,
while his wife and other three children
tried to reach a fire escape exit.
Poignant but untrue. According to a
descendent, William did not attend the
theater; he remained home with a fourth
Holst child. It was not a son,
however, and not six months old.
Elizabeth, born in July, 1902, was eighteen