Thirty-eight-year-old Harriet Emily Andrew (b. 1865)
was a native of Wisconsin who worked as a nurse and
lived at 943 W. Superior street in Chicago.* On
December 30, 1903 she lost her life at an afternoon
matinee of Mr. Bluebeard at the Iroquois
theater in Chicago.
Harriet was one of eight children born to Martha E.
Bettinger Andrew (1825-c.1905) and the late Edmond J.
Andrew (1812-1893). Of her siblings, six outlived
Harriet. Edmond had been a
prominent businessman in
Brooklyn, Wisconsin, dealing in produce,
hardware and windmills. Her brother
Wallace W. Andrew was a Wisconsin state assemblyman.
Together with two other Andrew brothers he operated
the Duplex Manufacturing Company in Superior, WI.
Harriet attended the theater with a friend, name
unknown, who survived the fire. Afterward, the
friend reported that Harriet used her coat to cover
her friend's body and protect her from flames.
According to the U.S. Census that year, in 1900
Harriet worked as a nurse at 1044 Monroe St. Her
employer was Dr. Louis Thexton (1865-).** Her fellow
nurses included Grace E. Ward (1870-), Minnie
Chapman (1868-), Susie Steele (1869-), Melvina
Therein (1885-) and Bertha E. Bason (1876-).
Also employed at the hospital was a cook, Mary Cook
(1867-), and her son, Monroe Cook (1899-), a
servant, Anna Dehlin (1880-), an engineer painter,
Henry Wille (1854-), and a janitor Alfred Andrus
(1867), and students, Fred E. Slayton (1876-) and
Claudius West (1874-). Any or none of these could
have accompanied Harriet to the Iroquois.
Wisconsin newspaper reported that Hattie was head
nurse at a Clark St. hospital. There were two
hospitals located on Clark St. in Chicago, both
specializing in maternity patients.
Harriet’s body was identified by
thirty-one-year-old surgeon, Dr. Daniel A. Orth
(1872-1945), 764 W. Chicago Avenue. Orth was in
1913 associated with St. Mary's Hospital but it is
not known if that association existed in 1903 when
he was possibly an employer or coworker of
Harriet's. Orth was also a native of
Wisconsin, creating yet another possible connection
between he and Harriet. He had married
Marguerite Cadden in 1899 and in 1903 the pair had
an infant daughter. Daniel and Marguerite
became avid horsemen in their later years.
Harriet was buried near her father in the Mount Hope Cemetery in
Her mother Martha joined them there two years later.
Discrepancies and addendum
* Or at
403 Ontario. Newspaper reports differed from
city directories. Also, it is a bit too
coincidental that prior to her move to Chicago she
lived in Superior, Wisconsin. Transcription
errors could have turned her home in Superior to her
home address on Superior St.
** There may be a connection
between Harriet and another nurse who lost her life
at the Iroquois -
Sadie Cook. Sadie worked at a hospital on
Park Avenue that was also operated by Dr. Louis
Coincidentally a bride by the
same name, Harriet Andrews Palmer, came within
moments of attending the matinee. She and her
new husband, Charles L. Palmer, were in Chicago on
their honeymoon. On a whim the newlyweds
decided to see Mr. Bluebeard and purchased
tickets. As they walked to the theater they
passed a cousin of Harriet's not seen for many years
and joined him for hot chocolate at a State St.
confectionary to catch up on each others lives.
They became absorbed in the conversation and decided
to pass on the theater. They were still at the
restaurant when word arrived about the Iroquois
Theater fire. There were many such near-miss
stories reported in 1903/4 newspapers.