First trip to the big city
Eighteen-year-old Winifred Dingfelder was a high school senior in 1903.
She traveled by train from her tiny hometown in
Jonesville, Michigan to visit the Howard family and
see Chicago for the first time.
Ten childbirths, one grandchild
Fifty-four-year-old Mary Howard was widowed and lived with five of her
sons, aged fourteen to twenty-six. Mary had
given birth to ten children. In 1903 six were
living. One, Charles, had married and in 1901
produced the only grandchild Mary would know.
The child's name was Grace.
On Wednesday, December 30,
1903, Mary took Winifred to the Mr. Bluebeard
matinee at Chicago's elegant new theater, the
Iroquois. The bustling city must have been
amazing to Winifred. Mary could appreciate the
girl's feelings. She too was a Jonesville girl and no
doubt remembered her first glimpse of Chicago.
I wonder if Mary had some
matchmaking in mind. She had five boys and
there were four Dingfelder girls, with the small
town values Mary had grown up with.
Whatever hopes and dreams
Mary and Winifred had, by 3:50 pm that afternoon
they came to an end. Thirty hours later, the
bodies of both women were in Jonesville awaiting
funeral arrangements and burial at the Sunset View
Both suffered slight face
burns and died of suffocation. It was reported
that Winifred's clothing was not charred.
At some time prior to 1903
Winifred lived in Newton, Kansas. I failed to find the Frederick Dingfelder family
living in Kansas.
Fred Dingfelder worked as a supervisor for a
carriage manufacturer, possibly J. J. Deal & Son,
Jonesville’s largest carriage producer.
He identified his daughter's body at Jordan's mortuary.
By 1920 Fred and Alice moved to Los Angeles where Fred was working for an
auto manufacturer. He and Alice were buried
alongside Winifred in Jonesville.
The Dingfelder family
- Frederick Dingfelder (1854-1923) carriage
maker, son of Frederick and Barbara Dingfelder,
had three sisters
- Alice Overton Clark Dingfelder (1857-1946)
daughter of Henry and Lois Clark, in 1940,
widowed, lived with Zaidee and her husband in
Kansas City, MO
- Zaidee Louise Dingfelder (1883-1981)
graduated from the University of Michigan,
married William Thomas Moffat, had two children,
became a school teacher
- Winnifred Elizabeth Dingfelder (1885-1903)
Iroquois Theater victim
- Marjorie Alice Dingfelder (1887-1988)
married Ralph Monroe Powers and had six children
- Gladys Clark Dingfelder (1891-1973)
graduated from Oberlin Conservatory of Music in
1913 and married Mark Oscar Ward
The Howard family
Some of the Howard boys were born in Jonesville,
some in Chicago. It seems the family moved to
Chicago around 1874.
Sydney C. Howard (1882-1882)
Frank Howard (1882-)
lamp tester, identified his mother's body
Ernest W. Howard
married a Jonesville girl, Loraine Burnett
B. Howard (1889-1952),
married Cora E. Rodlam (1893-1965) and had two
- Mary Elizabeth Gaige Howard (1848-1903) Iroquois Theater
- Frederick Witter Howard (1945-1898), Mary's
husband, a druggist, married in 1869, in 1880 a glass salesman in Chicago,
unknown whether he sold flat glass or bottles
- Llewellyn G "Louie" Howard (1871- 1882)
- Charles Howard (1874-1944)
married Mabel Haminet, had two daughters
Jonesville is a small town
on the southern Michigan border with just
under 900 households as of 2010. In 2014 it
graduated from a
village to a city.
A bit of Jonesville, MI history.