Eloise Gertrude Swayze
Eloise's mother, Julia "Lulu"
Bennett, tried and failed to find her fifteen year
old daughter's body the day after the fire so sent a family
friend to search the morgues. He found a badly
burned victim at Rolston's funeral home that to him seemed right and brought
but it was that of a fifty year old woman,
Leach. The body was
returned to Jordan's funeral home and the search began again, this time with
Lulu returning to the effort. Eloise's body was found and identified
at Robertson's funeral home. See newspaper
clippings below reflecting the family's difficulty.
Michigan in 1888, Eloise was the daughter of Ogden
Clark Swayze (1853-1927) and Julia Isabel Bennett
(1865-1949). She was named after her aunts, Gertrude
and Eloise Bennett.
Married in Oxford,
Michigan in June 1885, Julia was granted a divorce
from Ogden in January, 1897 for neglect and failure
to support when Eloise was nine years old. He
did not contest the divorce. Julia was at
least Ogden's second wife and there would be several
more. The wife that followed Julia died in
1901 and he married again weeks before Eloise's 1903
death. Julia remarried in 1918, to a shoe salesman, and
spent her final years in Los Angeles, California.
Julia and Ogden lived in
Michigan, as did their parents. After their divorce,
Eloise remained with her grandparents while Julia
went to Chicago to build a millinery
business. Nathaniel Wallis
Bennett (1841-1925) and Francis
Bennett (1854-1915) lived
in the village of Columbiaville,
Michigan, northeast of Flint, where
Nathaniel worked as a bookkeeper.
Julia was one of two children born to the Bennetts.
Though her legal name was Julia
Bennett Swazey, she went by her maiden name in 1903, Lulu B. Bennett.
She lived at the corner at
Normal and 56th or 5620 Normal and Park (both
addresses were published in newspapers after the
fire but the 5620 Normal Park address was given for
both Eloise Swayze and Hazel Browne). I found several addresses for her hat shop,
including the Drexel Hotel at
3968 Drexel Blvd.
Two years after Eloise's
death, her grandparents moved to South Dakota where
they remained until their deaths.
In 1914 they celebrated their 50th wedding
anniversary in Mellett, SD.
Eloise is buried with her
grandparents in the
Oxford Cemetery in Oakland, Michigan.
Story of December 31,
Story of January 3, 1904
Hazel Grace Browne
Learning so much about
Eloise Swayze makes it doubly frustrating to have learned
very little about Hazel Grace Browne. Her body was identified by
her uncle, Thomas C. Newman, husband of her aunt
Louise Klemm Newman,
and in 1903 the family lived at 94 31st street in
Chicago. (Today that address on 31st street
would give them a front row seat at soccer and
lacrosse games at Stuart Field.
Hazel (b. August, 1890) was
the daughter of
Klemme Browne (1864-1921).† Hazel had one sibling, a brother named Franklin
Hazel, Clara and Franklin were all from
Clara's father had been
Hazel is buried at Oak
Woods Cemetery in Chicago.
In the years after the fire
Hazel Browne's mother, Clara, helped Maude Jackson,
mother of Iroquois victim
Viva Jackson, to organize volunteer girls groups
for fund raising events for the Iroquois Memorial
Hospital. Her son, Franklin Browne Jr., became a
military major during WWI and Clara did volunteer
work for the war effort. Franklin became a
realtor and in the early 1920s was active in the Ku
Discrepancies and addendum
* There is uncertainty about
the girls' school. Multiple newspapers
reported that they
were both students at the St. Mary of the Woods
school in Vigo county Indiana near Terre Haute (SMOWTH) but
reported both attended St. Mary of the Woods at Notre Dame,
Indiana. Still another source split them up,
reporting that Hazel
attended the "St. Mary Convent" in South Bend, and
Eloise St. Mary of the Woods, but without specifying the city –
thereby expanding the
possible schools to dozens. The newspaper that reported
them both as students of St. Mary of the Woods in
Terre Haute was in Indianapolis, about an hour away
from the school, making that newspaper more apt to
have had a source at the school with whom to quickly
verify enrollment. Additionally, there was an
identification error involving Eloise Swayze that was
resolved when her mother identified her body and her
mother stated that Gert was a student at St Mary of
the Woods in St Marys, Indiana. One of the strongest reasons to
link them to the Terre Haute school, is
that a third girl,
Helen Bibo, who survived the Iroquois Theater
fire, was definitely a student at SMOWTH and
nothing was reported about Helen's theater
companions. It is too improbable that an
eighteen year old girl traveled from southeast
Illinois to Chicago and attend a theater matinee by
herself. There were others in her theater
party. My theory until proved otherwise is
that they were Eloise Swayze and Hazel Browne. Evidence
that Helen Bibo was a student at
St Mary of the Woods in Terre Haute is substantial:
Helen Sholem Bibo was one
of nineteen students to graduate with the SMOWTH class
Helen Bibo joined a
SMOWTH class trip to Washington, DC in
1906, one of a handful of alumni who made the
Bibo's aunt Amelia Emma Sholem graduated from
SMOWTH in 1891. Helen's grandparents,
Jacob and Jeanette Sholem, settled in Terre
Haute when they first immigrated from Germany,
later relocating a bit further west in Paris,
Illinois where Jacob and his sons built a
fortune. The family burial plot remained
in Terre Haute, in Highland Lawn Cemetery.
Nothing was reported in 1903 about
companions and for the rest of her life she made no
public reference to having been an Iroquois fire
survivor, her silence in itself possible
evidence of a connection to Swayze and Browne.
parties in which there were multiple fatalities
often went undiscovered and/or left alone by
respectful newspaper reporters.
Survivor guilt? Sadness? Kindness to
survivors of the deceased? Humility?
Adherence to propriety? Many possible
reasons; all I know is that it was common.
† An unrelated victim of the
Iroquois fire was named Clara Brown McDonald.