around 1879, but childless, Eva M. Wilcox
and her husband, Charles H. Wilcox (1854-1909),
owned their home at 109 South Leavitt Street in
Chicago (near the intersection with W. Monroe). They lived in one of three flats and
rented the other two.
Eva's body was located at Buffum's funeral
home and identified by her husband.
Her funeral was held at Rogerson's funeral chapel
at 485 W. Madison in Chicago mid afternoon the Monday after
the fire. She was buried in Graceland Cemetery in
the Wilcox family plot with her mother- and
Except for the last few years of Eva's life, Charles
and Eva shared their home with Charles parents, Horatio N.
Wilcox (1804-1893) and Mary Ware Wilcox
(1815-1891). The pair lived long enough to see
their sons' names smeared in the newspaper as
pornographers and business scammers
Charles worked off and on as
a druggist and oculist, possibly even as a dentist at the end
of his life. I found no
evidence of training in any of these fields;
it was his
commercial photography ventures, however, that got him into trouble.
In 1872 Charles and his older brother, Harry T. Wilcox,
went into the crayon photography business in Chicago as the
Wilcox Bros. Over the next thirty years
the pair operated at least three companies,
sometimes simultaneously and occupying multiple offices.
Their known companies: Wilcox
Bros., C. H. Burt Company and the Great Western Art
Company. The ventures might have gone unremarked had they not captured the attention of an
enterprising Chicago Tribune reporter named
Nora Marks see below.
In the years after the fire
Nine months after the fire a $10,000 wrongful death suit was
brought on behalf of Eva against Will J. Davis and
the Iroquois Theater. Presumably it got no
further than the many other such suits.
Charles relocated to Peoria, Illinois for a time and, around six
months prior to his death, to St. Joseph, Michigan
married a woman from Canton, Illinois, Josephine Bleekman.
At death, he was buried alongside Eva. The
death record filed for him in Cook County contains
so many details that are inconsistent with
information contained in other records in his life
that if the date of death did not correspond with
the date on he and Eva's grave marker I'd suspect it
was for an altogether different person.
Perhaps there was much his bride did not
know about her husband.
This is the second time a
crayon portrait studio has come up in investigating
Iroquois people. A few years after the fire Iroquois
usher Archie Guerin would be working for his brother
Webster Guerin's crayon studio and become the
primary witness against his accused killer.
Hoosier-born Chicago Tribune
reporter Nora Marks (1863-1942) (a pen name for
Mary Eleanor "Nellie" Stackhouse, later
Eleanor Stackhouse Atkinson, journalist,
children's author, publisher and grandmother of TV
comedienne Wally Cox), went undercover to pose as a
young woman responding to a newspaper advertisement
for photographic models. (See below left.)
Marks wrote numerous investigative feature stories
for the paper 1888-1890. Her most successful book
Greyfriars Bobby in 1912 about a
terrier devoted to its master.
In 1888 Nora penned two
Chicago Trib stories (described below) featuring the questionable
business practices of the Wilcox brothers, one about
their soft porn business, the other about their
bogus free-crayon-portrait offer. It should be
noted that Wilcox Bros was not unique in selling
overpriced picture frames via a free-portrait offer. There were several such firms,
the others concentrated in NYC. For Wilcox Bros the effort to franchise
the concept ran into trouble when a customer sued.
Charles sold photographs of semi-nude models
Imagine you're a young woman struggling to make ends
meet, looking through the newspaper for a job...
Charles and his brother offered free crayon portraits –
provided you purchased an over-priced frame
Imagine you're looking through your mail...
What was Eva M Wilcox's
Where, reportedly in
1879, were Eva and Charles H. Wilcox married?
Was Charles H. Wilcox
born in New York as stated in 1880 and 1900 US
Census, or in Canada as stated on his death
What did the H stand for
in Charles' middle name?
Was Charles' mother born
in New York as stated in the 1800 Census, in
Vermont as stated in the 1900 Census or in
Ireland as stated on Charles' death certificate?
Why can't Charles be
found in US Census 1860 or 1870 living with his
Was Charles working as a
dentist at the time of his death, as stated on
his death certificate?
When, after 1895, did
Henry T. Wilcox die? Was he married?
Was his middle initial T., F., or C.? Each
appear in various records.
Did Charles and Henry's
father, Horatio Wilcox, work in his son's
photography studio as reported in 1887 Chicago
Was Charles' father the
Horatio N. Wilcox who lived in Utica, NY in