Of twenty four Iroquois Theater
fatalities who lived in Englewood, ten were students at
Englewood High School. Seven of those were in
one theater party
hosted by Helen McCaughan.
They were members of a newly formed Theta Pi Zeta
sorority. One additional member of the
sorority, Edith Mizen, was unable to join her
friends on the theater outing.
Founded in a house in 1876,
Englewood High was located at the corner of Stewart
and 62nd street in Chicago. It grew and grew
over the years until total replacement in 1979 and
closure in 2008.
Helen McCaughan (b.1886)
Helen lived at the corner of 65th St. and 7052 Yale
Avenue in Chicago. Her body was first found at
Thompsons Restaurant by a family friend, Trumbull
White. He attached a card to the body and went
to telephone her father, George E. McCaughan
(1855-1937). Upon his return to the
restaurant, however, the body had been taken to an
unknown funeral home. They searched throughout
the night without success. Helen was found the
next day at Ryan's funeral home. Helen's
father was the attorney for the Rock Island and
Pacific Railway. Her mother was Mary Emma
McKnight McCaughan (1859-1915). She had one
older brother, Philip McCaughan (1882-1952).
George Trumbull (1869) authored
nearly 2 dozen history and disaster books and in
1903 was editor of Redbook magazine.
Helen was buried in Iowa at the
Woodland Cemetery following a funeral at the First
United Presbyterian Church in Des Moines on January
3, 1904. Her parents and brother are also
interred at Woodland.
Note: as of 4/3/2016 Find-a-Grave reports Helen's
birth year as 1881. This is a transcription
error resulting from the last number on the marker
being hidden by shadows and a leaf.
Olsen (b.1885) and Augusta Olson (b.1874)
Elvira (pictured) had turned
eighteen a month before the Iroquois Theater fire.
The Olson family lived
at 7010 Stewart. A twenty-nine
year old relative, a nurse named Augusta, reportedly lived at 218 79th St.
but there was no such address in Chicago in 1900 so the house number or street number
may have been
inaccurate. To further complicate, according
to city directories from 1900 to 1905 the only
unmarried Augusta Olson in Chicago in 1903 lived at
3712 Dearborn. Perhaps Augusta was the
woman's middle name.
Elvira was the daughter of
William A. Olson (1858-1926) and Mathilda Olson
(1859-1932), and sister of Henry A. Olson
(1884-1912) and Edward W. Olson (1883-1935).
William and the children were born in Illinois,
Matilda in Sweden. They married in 1881.
In 1903 William was a salesman for a
printing/publishing firm in Chicago, Pettibone &
Sawtell. The Olson's owned their home then but
by 1910 lived in rented rooms.
Augusta's body was found at
Jordan's funeral home and identified by Alfred Olson
and Elvira's by her brother Edward. Elvira was
buried in Graceland Cemetery with her brother and
Augusta's body was also
buried at Graceland Cemetery but her gravesite has
not yet been verified.
In the 1900 US Census
family name is misspelled as Oleson. It is
stated that they had only three children and that
all three survived then. That would be Elvira,
Edward and Henry. By the 1930s Matilda and
Edward had moved to Allegan, Michigan where Edward
became a fruit grower. Both Henry and Edward
married girls named Bessie.
Note to Olson genealogists: my
sympathies! Every third person in 1900 Chicago
was named Olson.
Florence Oxnam (b.1887)
Seventeen year old Florence
lived at 435 Englewood Avenue in Chicago. Her
body was found at Sheldon's Funeral home and
identified by Arthur J. Lee. Lee's
relationship to victim is not known.
Florence was one of seven
children born to William B. Oxnam (1847-1926) and Eliza Tink Oxnam (1850-1928).
William and Eliza immigrated to America with their
parents in the 1860s and settled in Mineral Point,
Wisconsin where they met and married.
In the years immediately after the fire William and
Eliza remained in Chicago and purchased their home
William worked as a carpenter contractor. The
Chicago Oxnams retained a close relationship with
Mineral Point, WI Oxnams. The Chicago branch
kept newspapers apprised of its vacations, weddings
and social activities.
Rosamond Schmidt (b.1885)
Eighteen year old Rosamond lived at 335 W. 61st
St. in Chicago. Her body was identified by her
father, Henry Gerhard Schmidt (1851-1935).
Henry and his brother William were the founders of a
construction company that specialized in cement and
paving. Rosamond was one of six children born
to Ohio natives, Henry and Rosina Boesel Schmidt
(1852-1931), of which five survived in 1903.
Henry and Rosina's parents were born in Germany.
Rosina's father was an Ohio state senator.
Rosalind was buried in the
German Protestant Cemetery in New Bremen, Ohio.
Her parents and siblings are interred there as well.
May Howard (b.1887)
Helen lived at 6565 Yale Avenue in Chicago.
Her body was identified by Fred R. Mitchell.
Helen was the daughter of Ohio native, Carrie B.
Vance Howard Flaacke(1863-), and the late Samuel S.
Howard. Carrie had married Theodore Flaacke
six months before the Iroquois fire. Theodore
sold advertising space in magazines.
Helen had one sibling, a sister named Mame (who
named one of her daughter after Helen). Helen
was buried in Maple Grove Cemetery in Findlay, Ohio.
Her mother and sister moved to Manhattan soon after
the fire and later to New Haven, Connecticut.
Josephine Spencer (b.1887)
Sixteen year old Josephine
lived at 7110 Princeton Avenue in Chicago. She
survived for five days at the West Side Hospital,
attended by Drs. Lovell and Davis and her parents,
George G. Spencer (1857-1928) and Anna M. Cleveland
Spencer (1857-aft1940). Josephine had three
siblings, two brothers and a sister. She was buried at Mount
Hope Cemetery where her brother, George C. Spencer
was also interred in 1923. I've not yet found
a photo of her grave marker.
Located at 1844 W. Harrison,
the West Side Hospital was a 125-bed facility
founded in 1886, its mission to train nurses.
Josephine's father was a native
of Michigan, her mother of New York but both lived
in Detroit when they
married in 1883. In 1903 George owned the
Illinois Handlebar Company, manufacturing handlebars
and other bicycle parts, including seat stems,
tubing and pedal components. In the
1890s he had worked as the Chicago-area sales
representative for manufacturers of galvanized
sheeting and nails.
Lillian "Lilly" M. Power (b.1887)
Seventeen year old Lilly lived at 442 W. 69th St. in
Chicago. Her body was found at Jordan's
funeral home and identified by C. F. Atkinson.
Atkinson may have been an employee of the funeral
home and a neighbor. He lived two blocks from
the Power family on 69th St.
Lilly was buried in Sandoval, IL, her mother's home
town. She was an only child and her grave marker at the Sandoval
Cemetery is shared with her parents, James K. Power
and Minnie Sherman Power. The marker carries the incorrect
birth year of 1897 instead of 1887. (Had Lilly
been born in 1897 she would have been six years old
when a junior at Englewood High School and not at all
the teenager pictured in 1903-4 newspaper reports.)
The grave marker may have been created after
Minnie's death in 1937 by relatives too far
removed from the early 1900s to spot the error.
Born into a large Kentucky family,
Lilly's father was raised in Missouri. In 1900 he worked
for the Bowman Dairy Company
as a milkman and in 1910 as a night watchman.
Income for Lilly's family was substantially less
than that of her fellow high school sorority
members. Minnie Power was born in West
Virginia and moved to Sandoval, Illinois with her
mother and three siblings after the 1863 death of
her father. She returned to Sandoval after
James's death in 1911 and in 1930 worked as a sales
clerk in a dry goods store.
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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