Anna Pauline Hopfensack Neumann*
(b.1868) turned thirty five on December 29,
1903 so perhaps the theater excursion was a birthday
celebration. She took her son, ten-year-old Arthur Neumann
(b.1893), and a neighbor girl (who was
indirectly related through her sister's husband), ten-year-old Elsa H. Meyer (b.1893), to see the
extravaganza Christmas pageant Mr. Bluebeard at Chicago's
newest luxury playhouse, the Iroquois
Elsa Meyer was one of six children born to Jacob B.
Meyer (1865-1939) and Amelia A. Ackerman Meyer
(1866-1948), married in 1892. Four of the six
survived to adulthood.
Neumanns lived on Deyo Avenue in
West Grossdale, part of a cluster of three housing
developments founded by
Samuel Gross about fourteen miles southwest of
downtown Chicago. Around 1905 West Grossdale
was renamed Congress Park and today all three
developments are part of Brookfield, Illinois, home
of the famous – and wonderful! –
In 1900 the population of
the communities was under 1,200 so if they shared a
train, the Neumanns may have exchanged
Alvina, Emma and Arthur Bartlett, another West
Grossdale Deyo Avenue family who lost their lives at the
Iroquois. The Bartlett children were likely
schoolmates with Arthur Neumann and Elsa Meyer.
Published lists of 1904
reported that August J. Neumann,
identified thebodies of his wife
and son, Ann by her rings.
A descendent of the family shares that
identification was actually done by Julius Ackerman,
Anna's brother-in-law, Elsa Meyer's uncle and
another Deyo Avenue West Grossdale Avenue resident.
Arthur was identified by a Sunday School pamphlet in
are buried at Bronswood Cemetery in Oak Brook,
DuPage County, Illinois,
as are Elsa Meyer and the Bartlett victims.
August and Ann
had married in Manhattan in 1887. Besides Arthur, they had two
daughters, Helen and Polly. Helen was six
years old when her mother and brother died,
Polly fifteen. August died
three years after the fire. Helen and Polly
married and between them had six children.
Helen moved to Colorado and Polly to Missouri.
Polly's way of dealing with the loss of her mother
and little brother was to refrain from speaking of
August J. Neumann
was a bookbinder with offices in
Chicago in room #22 at 35 S. Clark, making him among
the new commuters for which the Grossdale
developments were designed. A year prior,
August had lost his business partner. Emil
Prosch and August were partners for a decade in the
Chicago Job Book Bindery (also going by Prosch &
Discrepancies and addendum
* Sometimes spelled Newman, Newmann or Neuman.
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