Twenty-two-year-old Oregon native, Elizabeth
"Lizzie" Hart (b.1881), had left her parents and
siblings in Portland, Oregon in 1901 to pursue an
education and career in Chicago while living
with her older brother, Charles S. Hart.
Charles had graduated from Northwestern's dental
school and was building a practice in Evanston, a
By 1903 their younger sister, Caroline, nicknamed Carrie, joined them in
Charles took his role of big
brother seriously. In July, 1903
Chicago and Portland newspapers carried a story of
Carrie having eloped with one of his
former fellow dental classmates, Ambrose
er,* because she grew impatient
waiting for her brother's approval of their
romance. While Charles and Lizzie Hart were
visiting their parents in Oregon, Carrie and Ambrose
went to Holland, Michigan and married.
In January, 1904 a
newspaper reporter interviewing the youngest Hart
daughter, eighteen year old Jennie, reported her
speculation that Lizzie might
have been engaged at the time of her death.
According to Jennie Lizzie had for
a time been courted by
a wealthy man twice her age. When
Lizzie broke off the relationship.
By 1903 Lizzie was working
as a stenographer and bookkeeper in an insurance
office, earning $65 per month. She lived
with her brother, Charles, his wife, Lila Morton
Hart, her sister, Carrie Hart Fisher and Carrie's
husband, Ambrose Fisher, at 805 Dempster
Street in Evanston.
From Jennie we learn what
Elizabeth received as Christmas gifts five days
before her death
a diamond brooch, gold bracelet,
hand-painted glovebox and fur boa.
December 30, 1903 Lizzie and a friend, possibly named
Mattie Martin, attended an afternoon matinee of
Mr. Bluebeard at Chicago's newest playhouse, the
Iroquois Theater. Relatives knew they were seated in
the second floor balcony so either the tickets were
purchased in advance or someone in Lizzie's party
survived to provide information to her family.
Elizabeth's body was
identified by Charles. In an interview with a
Portland newspaper Jenny said Lizzie and Charles
were such dear companions that people who did not
know better mistook them for
Lizzie's funeral was held the
Saturday after the fire with services
conducted by Congregational minister, Dr. J. F. Loba.
Elizabeth was reportedly buried at Rosehill cemetery in
Chicago. Nancy Hart Liebe, the oldest
Hart daughter, traveled to Chicago for the funeral.
Charles, Lizzie, Jennie and
Carrie were four of six
children born to European
immigrants, woodworker Edward and Jane
of Portland, Oregon. Edward was born in England, Jane
in Scotland. According to Jennie, Lizzie had planned
visit to Oregon during the 1905 Lewis and Clark
years after the fire
Charles and his wife had a
daughter; Carrie and Ambrose had a son.
Charles bought a fruit farm in Texas but Chicago
remained he and Lila's home until late in their lives when
they moved to Wisconsin.
Besides the Oregon connection (two Thompson
relatives were in Portland at the time of the fire),
there is Clarence Davis. Clarence was a
seventeen year old black houseman, thought by his
mother to be employed by an A. J. Thompson at 805 Dempster in Evanston – the Hart family's address.
Clarence's name is not included in inquest records
but did appear on newspaper victim lists and his
mother, Dora Shacklett, traveled to Chicago to learn
of his condition and/or claim the body. I
found her in the 1910 census reporting only
one child, still living, so Clarence
probably survived the Iroquois Theater yet
there remains the possibility that he one
time worked for a Thompson and lived at the
same address as the Harts.
Thompsons lived at the Dempster address in 1903.
Assuming the present day structure was there in
1903, the three story building with several ground
floor store fronts and apartments on the second and
third floor would accommodate several apartments in
addition to the one occupied by the five Harts.
1903 city directories reveal that the ground level
storefronts were occupied by the Westricher Grocery,
French Laundry, North Shore Creamery and the
Leffingwell Drug Store. Upstairs apartments
were occupied by the Harts, Harry and Madge Mark,
Jessie Peterson another. No Thompsons. I
also checked nearby addresses on Dempster, from 1900
to 1905. No Thompsons. So either Clarence's
mother, or the recording newspaper reporter, got his
address wrong, or the name of his employer, or
Thompson moved in an out of 805 Dempster
after publication of the 1903 city directory
and before the 1904 edition was published.
Discrepancies and addendum
There was an Iroquois
Nellie Hart but she was n
related to Lizzie.
* For some reason 1903
newspapers reported Carrie's new husband's name as
"Edwin L. Fisher" rather than Ambrose T. Fisher. I
spent a crazy amount of time failing to find any
other evidence of a marriage between Carrie and an
Edwin or Edward and am 99% certain Carrie married an
Ambrose. Maybe releasing the name Edwin was a
prank of some sort between college buddies, Charles
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