On December 30, 1903
Millie Lowitz and her sister in law, Rae Lowitz, attended an
afternoon matinee of Klaw & Erlanger's
Mr. Bluebeard pantomime at Chicago's newest luxury
playhouse, the Iroquois Theater. It is not known where in
the theater they were seated but it was almost certainly in the
2nd or 3rd floor balcony. When a fire broke out on stage
and spread to the audience, Millie would be among the 600 deaths
in America's worst theater fire. Rae was thought to be missing
or dead and her name appeared on early death lists, but she
Twenty-two-year-old Mildred "Millie" Heinemann
Hennemann Lowitz (b. 1881), sometimes called Minna
and Minnie, lived in Keokuk, Iowa.
She was in Chicago visiting her parents and siblings
over the 1903 holidays.
Her body was identified by her husband, Nathan S.
Lowitz (1877-1959), by the engraving on her ring,
"Nat to Minnie." The pair had married eighteen
months earlier. Nathan had followed in his father's
footsteps into retail and operated a department
store in Keokuk. (In 1922 it was converted to
exclusively sell garments.)
Millie was a Chicago girl, one of four children born
to German immigrants Nathan Heinemann (1850-1923) and
Johanna Pfaelzer Heinemann (1851-1920). Her funeral
was held the morning of Monday, Jan 4, 1904 at her
parents home in Chicago at 274 Sheffield Ave. She
was buried in the German Waldheim Cemetery, known
today as Forest Home Cemetery, in Forest Park, IL.
The service may have been performed by Dr.
Hirschberg of Chicago who had married the couple. He
was the rabbi of the North Chicago Hebrew
Congregation on Clark and Wells streets, around 1909
Rachel Rae Lowitz
(1880-1977), sister of Millie's husband, Nathan S.
Lowitz, grew up in Keokuk, Iowa with eight siblings
and remained there until at least 1900 but some time
thereafter moved to Chicago, possibly before the
fire. Rae never married. She lived with her sisters
most of her life. Rachel and Nathan were the
children of Samuel Lowitz (1845-1910) and Malvina
Gehr Lowitz (1853-1937). Samuel Lowitz had in 1877
succeeded his brother Nathan (namesake of son Nathan
S. Lowitz) in a clothing store in Keokuk and spent
the next forty years building it into what was
reported to have been the largest clothing store in
The population of Keokuk
in 1903 was around 14,000, a bit more than it is
today. The city is located in the far southeastern
tip of Iowa, about three hours northwest of St.
Louis, two hours from Davenport Peoria.
In the years after the
In November, 1905 Nathan
remarried, to Lucile F. Aaron (1881-1933) of Alexandria,
Louisiana with whom he had three children. After
Lucile's death he married Maude Kohn (1891-1980).
Discrepancies and addendum
three men named Nathan in this story. Nathan
Lowitz, husband of Iroquois fatality Millie
Heinemann Lowitz, his uncle and namesake, Nathan
Lowitz, and Nathan Heinemann, Millie's father.
There was also another man named Nathan Heinemann
living in Chicago, the wealthy founder of Wausau
Wisconsin Telephone Company. The Nathan
Heinemann of this story, Millie's father, was a
picture framer who in later years became a life
Iroquois victims from Keokuk were
Clara De Vine and Mattie Evans.
* One 1st-day death list
included the name of a Rae/Roe/Ray and R. A. Lowitz.
There were several spelling variations of Heinemann