On December 30, 1903, Annie
Jones took at least two young teenagers to a matinee at
Chicago's newest playhouse, the Iroquois Theater.
The attraction was an extravagant production of the
Mr. Bluebeard fairytale with elaborate lighting
and hundreds of performers in exotic costumes.
A fire broke out on stage and within a half hour
over six hundred lives were lost, including those of
Annie and the teens: twelve-year-old Margaret Buehrmann and
fourteen-year-old Warner Saville. A third boy
named Arthur Jones may also have been in the party
and survived but with serious burns.
The only verifiable relationships I’ve found between
this group of people is the large boarding house
operated by Annie and her husband, Warner Jones, and
a reported but unspecified relationship between
Annie and Warner Saville. Margaret Buehrmann's family lived
at the boarding house in 1903 and
Warner Saville was staying
presumably just over the holiday. Annie's
husband's ancestors, the Jones, dated back to the
early 1700s and included revolutionary war soldiers,
as well as an early member of the Chicago Historical
Society. In the early 1800s Warners intermingled with
Annie C. Jones (b.1862)
Ohio-born Annie C. Jones married New York native, Warner E. Jones
(1857-1915) in 1889. In one source Warner was said to be an
attorney but was more often described as a landlord
and clerk. His great great grandfather was
Ezekiel Jones who served as a drummer and sergeant
in the Continental Army.
Annie's body was found at St. Lukes hospital.
Her funeral was held on Saturday, Jan. 2, 1904.
Annie's obituary notice asked that Tacoma,
Washington papers copy the information but since I
failed to learn her maiden name, their identity
remains a mystery. That impediment also prevented my
learning the relationship between she and Warner
Saville. Annie's husband did not remarry after the fire. He
was buried in Oakwoods Cemetery in Chicago – where
Annie was probably buried too but that has not been
Margaret Buehrmann (b.1891)
Margaret was the daughter of Missouri natives, John
Henry “Otto” Buehrmann (c1850-c1918) and Mary L. Buehrmann (1855-). Mary was Otto’s second wife. His
first wife, after whom Margaret was presumably
named, was Margaret Matilda Gaither (1821-1878).
Otto was a merchant who relocated his family from
St. Louis to Chicago after 1899 and before 1903.
For a living, Otto gave lectures about merchandising
and advertising. Otto's father, Otto Sr., had been a druggist who
emigrated from Germany and in the Civil War served
as a lieutenant in the Missouri Home Guard for the
The 1910 census reported that Mary had five children,
of which only two survived to that date: Mary (b.1875) and Elizabeth Buehrmann (1887-1963).
Margaret’s body was reportedly identified by a E. K.
Robinson; the relationship between Margaret and
Robinson is not known. Margaret died in a hospital after
the fire. Her father later stated that his
daughter died of suffocation, which probably means
that she was not badly burned.
Warner E. Saville (b.1889)
was a fourteen year old student when he died at the Iroquois
Theater. His body was taken to Perrigo's Funeral
Home where it was identified by a R. C. Campbell (of
unknown relationship to Warner). The victim lived in Bourbonnais, a village in
Kankakee County, Illinois, about an hour south of
Chicago, with a population in 1903 of around six
hundred. Newspapers reported that he was
visiting the Jones and was related to Annie.
It seems more probable he was related
to Annie's husband, Warner Jones, given their shared
first name, but I was unable to find the connection.
Warner was the son of a farmer, Indiana native Charles Saville
(1846-1928), and Arkansas native, Mary Barrett /
(1853-1929). They married in 1874
and had five children. Warner's three
brothers and sister were: Joseph, Philip, Neil, and Netti.
Based on descriptions on his brothers' draft cards
it is likely Warner would have grown up to be tall,
perhaps stout, with blue eyes and brown hair.
He was buried at the Mound Grove Cemetery in
Kankakee, Illinois, where he would later be joined
by his parents and some of his siblings.
Annie and Warner's boarding
house on Fifty-third Street
had recently moved to Tuscola,
IL but were staying in one of the units in their
boarding house at 46-48 E. Fifty-third St during the 1903 holiday. In 1900, the Buehrmann
family comprised five of around thirty-two boarders
there, most of them female. Based on advertising
frequency, filling vacancies was a constant battle.
rates were offered during the winter and
advertisements during the summer
promoted close proximity
to Lake Michigan. The structure is no longer
standing and efforts to find a picture were not
successful. It was west of Washington Park, about
three miles from the lake.
In the years after the fire
Warner Jones and Warner Saville's family received
two of thirty-five $750 settlements from Fuller
Construction. Warner Jones also brought one of
the many dismissed suits against the Iroquois, for $10,000.
Margaret's sisters became involved in the arts.
Mary Buehrmann spent
time at Anna Morgan’s studios in Chicago and became
a monologist, forming the Mary Buehrmann Concert
company and briefly touring in the midwest and west
coast performing dramatic readings.
Elizabeth Buehrmann attended the Chicago Art
Institute and became a noted portrait and
advertising photographer. Collections of her work
are held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New
York and displayed at the Art Institute of Chicago’s
website. I looked through the names of her subjects
in hopes of finding images of Margaret or other
members of the Buehrmann family but found nothing
among online catalogs. The accompanying photo of the
woman with an infant was taken by Elizabeth in the
early 1900s and it seems possible the photo of
Margaret was also taken by Elizabeth, perhaps in the
early stages of her photography studies.
In some publications the name Buehrmann is spelled with
one n. The many alternate spellings of the name make
research difficult: Behrmann, Berman, Biermann,
Beerman, Baermann, Barhmann, Bearman.
Jones' age was reported as thirty-five and forty.
According to the 1900 U.S. Census she was born in
1862 so was forty-one at death.
Omaha son from Denmark
survived Iroquois Theater fire
Brother and sister Engels
Englewood High School
sorority 8 teenage girls
Gartz Guthardt and
Patterson boys and Amelia
Flute player Otto Helms
Walter Thacher was a
Weber piano salesman
Lola Kuebler was sixteen
Stoddards from Minonk,
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