Forty-eight-year-old Louisa F. Lander Abstein
(1855-1908) testified at the coroner's trial in
attended the Mr. Bluebeard matinee with an
unidentified companion and was sitting in the third-floor balcony. They responded quickly upon seeing
fire on the stage and ran to an exit, with a crowd
Louisa was knocked down a flight of stairs by the
crowd, a tumble that gave her an advantage of a few
feet and seconds in which to regain her footing and
race to the front exit.
Nothing was reported about whether or not her
companion also escaped.
A native of Buffalo, New York, Louisa was the widow
of German emigrant, Peter Abstein (1838-1900), and
the mother of three children – Walter, George and
A year after her harrowing
Iroquois experience, Louisa suffered the loss of her
youngest son, George. Three years later,
twelve-year-old Gladys was orphaned when Louisa
died too. Gladys went to live with her brother
Walter's family where she attended the Saint Francis
Xavier Catholic School. The family moved to
Montana in later years, where Gladys married Leslie MacFarland. She and her husband lived in
Chicago until her death in 1969. Leslie
followed her a year later.
Peter Abstein was a grocer in the 1880s and by 1900
was a dealer in coal machinery. They owned
their home in the village of
Thornton, IL, twenty-five miles south of Chicago.
In the late 1890s he was president of the Thornton
township school board and may have participated in
discussions about the Thornton high school erected
Peter died after being hit by a Chicago and Eastern
Illinois passenger train when crossing the tracks in