On May 2, 1904, four months
after the Iroquois Theater fire, twenty-one-year-old
Sophia was walking along Randolph St in Chicago,
passing by the Iroquois Theater. A sign fell off a
building onto her head, knocking her unconscious,
cutting her scalp and injuring her back. The wording
or location of the sign is unknown but one of the
two signs on either side of the front door is a
possibility (circled in red on above image.
Alternatively, a new sign
proclaiming the Iroquois Theater's new name could
have been installed improperly.
A consortium of Patrick F. Shea, Louis Behman,
Richard Hyde of New
York and Harry Davis of Pittsburg had purchased the
structure two weeks before Sophia's mishap, around
April 16, 1904. The new theater was to be named
"Hyde & Beahman's Music Hall. Though architect Benjamin Marshall had
drawn plans, a $100,000 remodeling project to
convert it to a vaudeville house had not yet begun.
Reopening was projected for autumn, 1904.
German-born Sophia was the
youngest daughter of seven surviving children born
to John and Therese / Theresa Merena Botzler Baumel
(1841-1925): Maria, Joseph, Elizabeth, Hans, Carrie
and Ferdinand. Sophia had emigrated from
Germany as a seven year old in 1891 aboard the Normannia,
making the trip with her older brother, Joseph.*
Her mother and three siblings had crossed the year
before and other siblings prior to that. By
1900 Therese was widowed; possibly John Baumel died
before the family left Germany. By 1910
Theresa was purchasing and occupied a 3-unit home
built in 1907 at 4229 N. Kedzie with three of her
grown children, including Sophia.
As an adult Sophia worked at
the Shay, Smith & Co printing company as a press feeder.
Her other fifteen minutes of fame had come in
October, 1903 when a union organizer threatened her
with violence and public excoriation for working as
reported about the cause of her Sophie's early death. She was
buried in St. Boniface Cemetery in Chicago.
Theresa would live to see seven of her children die.
Discrepancies and addendum
story gave Sophia's name as Sophie but in all
records her name was given as Sophia.
* As a new immigrant
Joseph worked as a musician for a time, later
becoming a saloon/restaurant owner. He
committed suicide in 1932 after a period of ill