fifteen-year-old theater goer,
even in 1903, would have been a student,
but Minnie Robinson (born c.1888) was described as
an "attendant." Had she been older that might have
meant she was a nurse but
given her age it is more likely she worked
in a less responsible occupation, perhaps
Iroquois as an attendant in one of the ladies rooms,
or assisting performers, or as a domestic servant or childcare provider,
accompanying one of the many families with children
at the matinee.As a day laborer her father's
earnings would have been thin for a family of
nine* so Minnie may have worked to help
support her family. Further evidence
that the family was struggling financially is that
one of Minnie's sisters, twelve year old Florence,
was living with her grandparents in 1900 and a
brother, William, and sister, Florence, each left school around age fourteen.
Better times were ahead for the Robinsons but Minnie
didn't live to see them.
In 1900 The Robinsons lived in the Edgewater
area in north Chicago, which was part of Lake View,
Ward 26. Her body was found at Gavins
Funeral Home and identified by her
seventeen-year-old brother, William C. Robinson
(1886-1968), who by 1903 had relocated to
Park Ridge, Illinois, Maine
Township, northwest of Chicago where he would
become a prominent retail merchant.
In reports by newspapers
outside Illinois, Minnie's last name was given as
Robertson but in Chicago newspapers, and on her
death certificate, it was given as Robinson. Other
family members used the name Robinson on legal
documents for decades after the fire.
In the 1900 U.S. Census
there was only one Minnie Robinson (and no Minnie
Robertson) of the right age. She was the daughter of
Thomas Robinson (1861-1930) and Hester Langdon
In addition to William, Minnie had
four siblings: Thomas Jr., Harry, Florence and
Ester. A seventh child died prior to Minnie. Her parents were
Thomas from the Niagara Falls area of
Canada and Hester from
Minnie was probably buried
in the City of Maine Cemetery in Park Ridge, IL but
this has not yet been confirmed.
In the years after the
By 1910 Hester reported
her marital status as widowed but her death
reported she was divorced and she no longer
lived with Thomas in 1910.
Curiously, from at least 1910 until her death
owned the Park Ridge Hotel on South Prospect
valued at $30,000,
inflation adjusted to just
under a half million today. It is not known how the
widow or ex wife of a day laborer
acquire a hotel. Son William's store building
in Park Ridge had already become a community meeting
place so possibly he helped her start the hotel.
However she came to own the business, for a girl who
came to America as a servant –
in 1880 aboard the
ship, Devon –
Hester did well for herself.
William "Bill" Robinson
was the first in the family to relocate to Park
Ridge, IL. He operated a candy store and ice
cream parlor at 12 Prospect, the city's main street.
The building, known as "Robinsons Hall"
(later called "Clark's Hall") was also
used as a town meeting place and Masonic hall in the
early 1900s. The St. Luke's Lutheran church
services were held there for the first four years. Bill was joined in Park Ridge by
his mother and siblings around 1910 when the
community's population was around 2,000. Park
Ridge's most famous resident: Hillary Rodham
In 1922 William Robinson
founded an ice company
with Frank Tilman and Robert
C. McGregor, The Ridge Ice Company.
Brother Harry worked for
William at the candy/ice cream store.
married Lillian Stege and they had a daughter, Fern.
His sister, Florence Robinson, age thirteen when
Minnie died at the Iroquois, married Lillian's
brother, Gus Stege.
A fire in the early 1950s
gutted William's ice cream parlor.
*According to the
1900 census Hester gave birth to four children, all
still living then, but in the 1910 census she
reported she had given birth to seven children, of
which five still lived. I
dug diligently to confirm the 1900 and 1910 census
reports were for the same Hester Robinson but
was unable to verify an explanation for the
discrepancy in reporting. I suspect there was a misunderstanding of the
information requested in the 1900 census and the reported
four living children referred to the four children
then living at that address. I
believe the correct number of Hester's children was seven
and that another child died, in addition to Minnie,
probably between 1900 and 1910.
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