Twenty-four-year-old Hulda Holm* of
Chicago and twenty-one-year-old
Hansen, a high school teacher from Gibson City,
Illinois, lost their lives at the Iroquois Theater
in Chicago on December 30, 1903.
Hulda Edith Holm b. 1879
at 176 N. Western Avenue in Chicago, at the corner
of Lake St. The structure is now gone but the family
probably lived above her father's drapery and
Her body was found at
Carroll's funeral home and identified by her
brother-in-law, Percy E. Douglas, husband of her
older sister, Eva
from a pin bearing her name.
Hulda's funeral was held
at noon on January 3 and her body was interred next
to her father's at Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago.
She was the daughter of
Cecilia Pearson Holm (1839-1920) and the late Ludwig
A. Holm (1838-1903). Ludwig,
who worked as a cabinet maker
as a young man, and went on to become a drapery upholsterer
of several decades in Chicago, had passed away eight
months before the Iroquois fire.
Ludwig and Cecelia Holm
were Swedish immigrants who had married in 1870, the
same year they emigrated. Cecelia gave birth to four
children, of which only Hulda and Eva, both born in
Illinois, survived as of 1900. Ludwig and Cecelia
owned their home, no small feat on
a 1903 tradesman's income.
In the years after the
Holm's sister Eva
married a dentist named Percy
E. Douglas and helped him found and operate a resort
motel in Paw Paw, Michigan, Douglas View.
After his death she married
Eva in her later years.
A newspaper a
month after the fire reported that Anna Hanson's
mother, Annetta, soldiered on during the immediate
time of the fire but then lost her mind with grief
and was being treated by a physician. The
family may have moved to Michigan for a few years
but returned to Gibson. At the end of her life
Annetta lived in Kankakee, IL. Brother Oscar
worked for the railroad, served in World War I and
never married. Esther married a fellow named
Indra and had three daughters, including May Elsie
Anna "Annie" B.
In a victim list
published the day after the fire, a
twenty-three-year-old Miss Nina Hansen was included,
her residence given as the same as Hulda Holm's.A
death certificate was not issued for a Nina Hansen
but one was for a twenty-one-year-old Anna B. Hanson
of Gibson City.The relationship
between the women is not known but they were
probably family members.
The Hanson family dentist,
Dr. William A. Hoover, traveled to Chicago with Anna's father
to help identify her badly burned body.
Identification was made on the basis of her teeth,
recently purchased shoes from the George Bloom store
and her rings.
Dr. Hoover was more than
Gibson's most prominent dentist. In 1900 he
and his wife, Laura Howver Hoover, had also been
Anna's employers and she may have still lived with
them at the time of her death. The Hansons
were a family of modest means and Anna worked for
the Hoovers as a servant while attending school.
At that time the Hoovers had one child, daughter
Sibyl, but later adopted another daughter.
It's not hard to imagine that the Hoovers may have
played a mentoring role to help Anna become a
teacher in the city's fledgling high school.
Anna's parents were
immigrants, having emigrated from Sweden in 1881.
They were Nels† Hanson
(1848-) and Annette Frederickson Hanson
She was one of four children, all
living prior to her death. At home were
siblings Oscar and Esther.
Anna was buried in the Drummer Township‡ Cemetery in
Gibson City, Illinois following a service on
Tuesday, January 5, 1904 at the Presbyterian Church
in Gibson. In her obituary Anna was described
as a very beautiful young woman.
Gibson City, Illinois was
a small city about two hours southwest of Chicago,
with a population in 1903 about the same as it is
today - around 3,000. It got its first phone
system the year of the fire.
Discrepancies and addendum
1900 U.S. Census the last name was spelled "Holmes"
but in several decades in city directories was
spelled "Holm." In some early victim lists Hulda's
name was stated as Hilda.
† Also spelled Nelson, Nils and Neils.
‡ Drummer Township was
named after the hunting dog of one of the area's
If you have additional
info about an Iroquois victim, or find an error, I would like to
hear from you. Chaos and communication limitations of 1903
produced many errors I'm striving to correct and welcome all the help I can get. Space is provided at the
bottom of stories for comments, or
me directly. To receive email notification of new content,
let me know.
(Don't expect your inbox to fill up with emails as I rarely consider
a story to be finished. For Facebook users, following the
Facebook page will mostly accomplish the same end since mostly
completed Iroquois stories are posted there. Mostly.)