Twenty-year-old Nellie Olive Padgitt
had been married for a year and was two weeks
twenty-first birthday. With limited means for
dress up apparel, she wore her wedding dress to an
afternoon matinee in Chicago's elegant new Iroquois
Theater. She knew that in a few months, as her
pregnancy advanced, the dress would no longer fit.
In 1900 a seventeen year old
Nellie had been living away from her hometown in
Barry, Illinois with her father's sister, Martha
Ellen Padgitt Grant (1845-1910),† and cousin George
Walter Grant (1867-1937), a jeweler, in Chicago.
Martha, who went by her middle name, was not living
with her husband, William Grant (1828-1915), in
1900. William was running a saw mill in
Richwood with his brother James while Ellen rented a
home on Ada street in Chicago and let rooms to four
One of Ellen's boarders was
thirty year old Francis "Frank" H. Folice
(1869-1936) who operated a large railway depot news
stand for Union News, the division of the American
News Company that for many years monopolized
newspapers in the railroad industry.
On December 22, 1902, just
shy of her twentieth birthday, Nellie married Frank
and the pair set up housekeeping at 301 Claremont
Avenue. (In 1909 the street address was changed
to 508. May have been an apartment above a
It is not yet known where
Nellie was seated in the auditorium, or with whom
(though it may have been her husband).
Her body was located at Jordan's funeral
home and identified by Frank. She was cremated at
Hillside and her remains buried at Mount Carmel
Cemetery without a grave marker.‡
was the second oldest of fifteen children
born to John W. Padgitt (1855-1928)
and Florence Eva Harnsher Padgitt (1861-1937).
The family home was at 181 Rodgers street in
Barry, Illinois. Barry is a tiny burg in
west central Illinois, the nearest city of size
being Mark Twain's Hannibal, Missouri.
worked as a section foreman for the Wabash, St.
Louis and Pacific Railroad when he and Florence
married in 1880. Both were residents then of
is not known why Nellie left Barry, IL to live with her
aunt Ellen in Chicago. Another of her sisters
was said to have been "farmed out" to work as a
domestic servant so perhaps Nellie's role in her
aunt Ellen's household was part niece and part
employee. Other Padgitt children went to live
with older siblings in Chicago when they came of
age. Nellie may have left Barry, IL skipping
and grinning. She left behind ten
siblings under age ten. If she had confided as
such to her aunt, Ellen would have understood
because she was one of ten children herself.
On the other hand, Ellen having just one child may
not have been a choice and she may have envied her
brother's large family.
After John death Florence
Padgitt moved in with one of her daughters is Des
unhappy life after the fire
Folice was the son of Phillip and Margaret Reed
Folice of New York. He remarried four years
after the Iroquois Theater fire, to a woman with a
twelve year old son by a prior marriage. By
1920, at age fifty five, he was one of over two
inmates in the insane asylum in Ogdensburg, NY, St.
Lawrence State Hospital. He was out of the
facility for a time in October, 1925, living in
Ogdensburg, when his widowed mother came for a
visit. She died while staying at his home and
by 1930 he was again a hospital inmate. He died there of a
heart attack after seventeen years at the facility.
I found nothing in newspapers to hint at the reason
for his committal. He lived with his brother
for a few years prior.
Discrepancies and addendum
In 1894 a fire that
destroyed half the businesses and several homes in
Nellie's hometown, Barry, IL, started at the
Hollembeak Opera House. The population of
Barry, during Nellie's childhood and today is around
1,300 with fewer than 550 households.
Nellie was counted twice in
the 1900 U.S. Census - once as a resident of her
aunt's home in Chicago and a second time as a
resident of her parent's home in Barry, Illinois.
described as twenty-one years old and twenty-two
years old in 1903 and 1904 newspapers, in multiple
1900 census reports and on her marriage license
Nellie's birthday was given as January,1883, making
her twenty years old at the time of her death.
Padgitt was sometimes spelled Padgett and Padget.
† In 1900 US
Census recorder's handwriting for "Grant" looks like
Nellie appears twice in Find-A-Grave - once in Mt.
Caramel Cemetery where she was reportedly cremated
and buried without a grave marker and again as a
member of John William Padgitt's family in an
unspecified cemetery. Her parents are buried
in Acacia Park Cemetery in Chicago.
Party of 7 Fox Higginson
Eddie Foy at the Iroquois
Fulkerson and Rothmann looked after city
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