her forty-eight-year-old mother, Amelia, and sister,
year old named Jessie or a fifteen-year old named Kitty,
I'll call Jessie until mystery has been
unraveled), died at the Iroquois.
They were sitting in the first row of the second floor
Amelia and Jessie had
traveled from their home in the village of Tolono in
east central Illinois to spend the holidays with
Tressie and her husband, James Danson. On
December 30, 1903 the three women went to the Mr.
Many hours later James and
two of Amelia's sons, Richard Ebert Sands and Henry Clarence
found the badly burned bodies.
All three were shipped to
either Tolono or Olney, IL for burial.
Newspaper reports were inconsistent and I have
failed to find record of their burial.
(Gravestone photos would be especially helpful.)
Helen Sands Amelia's
daughter and sister to Tressie, resigned from her teaching position in Mahomet (near
Tolono) two weeks after the fire.
Amelia T. Hoover Sands (b.
1854) was a dressmaker. According to the
1900 census she was married but the father of
her children, attorney Henry Clay Sands, that she
had married in 1875, had married another woman,
Nellie, in 1892 so either the census was in
error and she was divorced, or she had remarried an
unknown man. Am betting on divorce.
Such was the taboo about divorce that it was
common for divorcees to label themselves as
widows and widowers insted. Henry's bio suggests he
wasn't a man to do any one thing for a long
period of time, maybe including marriage.*
In 1900 Amelia lived with five of her seven
surviving children (there had been eight in
all): Tressie, Jessie, Clarence, Helen and Louie.
Richard had married and lived with his family.
The other child was Henry Clarence but that
doesn't explain Katherine. I wonder
if Katherine Sands was married to one of the
Sands boys -- Henry, Richard or Louis.
Jessie or Katherine "Kitty" M. Sands (b. 1891).
Inquest reports referred to her as Jessie, and
according to the 1900 U.S. census a girl by that
name was Amelia's daughter, but some
newspaper reports identified the third Iroquois
victim in the family as Katherine, nicknamed "Kitty."
Something is amiss.
Theresa Mae "Tressie"
(b. 1879), a milliner until marrying English immigrant, James P. Danson (1876-1947) who identified her body.
(James was born on July 4, 1876.)
By 1920 James remarried, a girl
from North Dakota, and they had a son. The
family lived in Great Falls, Montana where James
was president of Consolidated Coal Co. In
Chicago he had been associated with George G.
Pope & Co. as well as Interstate Coal & Coke
Co., C. M. Moderwell & Co., and Nelson Coal Co.
Discrepancies and addendum
* Henry Sands (1848-) was an
attorney and raised Hambletonian and Mambrino trotting
harness racing horses at his Meadow Brook farm in Olney, IL.
That much seems reliable but other things are iffy.
Some period genealogy sources have made a mish-mash
of the man's life with discrepancies like his
retiring three years before he was born. If
the dates are thrown out and just activities are
included, he was also a realtor, a circus acrobat and tightrope
walker for 20 years, was in the U.S. Secret Service
for a few months, and the first bareback rider in
auditorium days after fire
Dubois made her 2nd solo trip to the theater
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
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