and forever Stanford red
Stillman's were Stanford University loyalists. John
Maxson Stillman (1852-1923) a New York native, was
Stanford's first chemistry professor and department
head, as well as serving as acting president for a
time. His brother, Stanley Stillman (1861-1934), was
professor of surgery at the school. His twin daughters, Cara and Minna, born in
1880, graduated from Stanford and as an adult Minna
worked at the school library for decades. Daughter Dorothy's
husband was the university's Catholic chaplain.
Other than a family trip to England in 1899, and a
fateful few weeks in Chicago, the family spent all
their lives in Palo Alta.
The two girls were active in the Kappa Alpha Theta
sorority at Stanford and Cara was vice president of the campus
Women’s League. They graduated in the spring of
1903, Cara with a BA in history and Minna with a BA
That fall Cara and Minna traveled
east to spend a
year in Chicago with their aunt, their father’s half sister,
Amy Stillman Mulligan (1863-1957), wife of former
Redlands, California resident and electrician, Edward
Howell Mulligan. Amy had grown up on the Stillman
Ranch and vinyards, later site of the University of
Redlands. Cara and Minna's father and aunt Amy were the
children of Jacob David Babcock Stillman. John M.
Stillman had been born to Jacob's first wife,
Caroline Beal Maxson (1822-1852), and Amy to his second
wife, Mary Gavitt Wells Stillman (1833-1923).
When Cara and Minna traveled off to Chicago,
remaining in California with their father was their
mother, Emma E. Rodolph Stillman (1855-1936) and
younger sister, Dorothy Stillman (1888-1972).
On December 30, Amy Mulligan and Cara Stillman
attended the fateful afternoon matinee of Mr.
Bluebeard at Chicago's newest playhouse, the
Cara and Amy had seats in the second floor balcony.
Like most parties in the theater, they became
separated during the chaos.
Amy made it to the fire exit
but when she looked back for Cara, could not see
her. She fought her way back through
the frantic crowd into the auditorium but still
could not find Cara. Badly burned on
the face, neck and arms, Amy was forced to exit the
theater without knowing if Cara had escaped.
Cara's body was identified
the day after the fire by
her uncle, Amy's husband, Edward H. Mulligan, at
Moran's funeral home. Her father, John M. Stillman,
traveled from California to Chicago to bring his
daughter’s body home. Funeral services were held
January 9 at the Stillman home on Alvarado Row.
In the years after the fire
Minna Stillman did not marry. She went
to work in the library at Stanford U. and became head
of the documents department. In Stanford archives is
her diary in which she describes the family’s trip
to England in 1899 and the 1906 San Francisco
earthquake. Unfortunately, the diary is not
available online. Minna
continued working at the school after her
retirement, in the graduate school of business. She
was involved in various university organizations and
events. She died in 1974 and was buried in Colma
California at the Cypress Lawn Memorial Park. Seems likely Cara was buried there too.
Dorothy Stillman, Cara and Minna’s younger sister,
married Robert Duryea in 1914. Robert became the
Catholic chaplain at Stanford. He and Dorothy had
By 1910 Amy and Edward
Mulligan had returned to California, living in the
San Bernardino and Pasadena areas, where they later
cared for Amy's then widowed mother, Mary Gavett
Hathaway Wells Stillman. At ninety-four Amy
would find herself alone, widowed and childless,
living in Redlands, CA. The Mulligans were
buried in the Stillman family plot in Hillside
In 1966 and again in 1976 the
Stillman Foundation donated $10,000 (roughly $80,000
and $45,000 today) to the Redlands California
Discrepancies and addendum
* Hundreds of newspaper reports and
books would later report that Cara's twin, Minna,
was at the Iroquois too, and survived, but a 1964
Stanford graduate who spoke with Minna before her
death reported to the Stanford magazine that Minna
said she had not attended the Iroquois at all.
(Thank you, Camille Hanlon of Waterford, CT, for
correcting this bit of history.)