Jennie Dowst was six years
older than Fanny Forbush, and enjoyed a more moneyed
lifestyle that included world travel and
a fulltime domestic servant but the pair had things
in common that superseded their differences.
Both were childless in an era when it was rare.*
Their household income did not require that they
work outside the home. Both lived far away
from their parents and siblings. Both had a
husband named Charles and both lived on Hinman
Avenue in the Evanston area of Chicago, Fannie at
923 and Jennie at 927. Without children to
occupy their attention, they had more time to
cultivate a neighborly friendship but the only
substantive evidence that they did so is that they
attended the Mr. Bluebeard matinee together
and, maybe more significantly, that their husbands
chose to give them a common funeral.
Fannie Treloar Forbush
was a native of North Carolina. (b. 1866). She
married Charles W. Forbush (1866-1958) in 1891 in a
double wedding ceremony with his sister, Libbie
Forbush, and Walter Marsh, an accountant for Chicago
and Northwestern Railroad. It was Walter who
identified Fannie's body at Sheldon's funeral home. Charles Forbush
worked as a clerk at the Commercial National Bank in
Fannie was one of eight children born to William and
Julia Treloar. William Treloar, a native of England,
was a realtor in North Carolina.
A couple decades after the fire
Charles Forbush remarried and moved to San Diego.
Jennie Adelaide Wallace Dowst (b. 1865),
was the wife of Charles Dowst (1852-1919), married
in 1886. Charles was a bookkeeper in 1877 but
by 1879 had founded Dowst & Co.
Together with his brother
Samuel,* Dowst published the National Laundry
Journal. In 1893 at the Chicago Worlds
Fair Columbian Exposition, Charles saw a Linotype
machine making type and bought one for his
publishing company. He then adapted it to make
tiny metal charms for buttons and Cracker Jacks
toys. Tootsietoy dollhouse furniture and
transportation toys evolved from there.
Read a fascinating Tootsietoy timeline and good
Jenny's body was identified
by B. C. Blowney. The only relationship I
found between the Dowsts and a Blowney is that in
1877 in Waukegan, Charles Dowst's sister, Minnie
Dowst, was in a "So Long" club with B.G. Blowney,
The common funeral was held at
the Dowst home, conducted by Reverend J. A. Towle of
a Waukegan Episcopal church north of Chicago. The
minister later described having had a dream the
night of the fire in which Jennie's grieving
relatives came to him for comfort. Another
story of precognition came from a relative of
Jennie's who dreamed about a big fire in Chicago
fire several years before it happened.
It was reported that both
Jennie and Fannie were buried at the Rose Hill
Cemetery in Chicago but neither burial is confirmed.
It is odd that Jennie's grave marker is not in the
Dowst family plot.
* Online are sites stating
that Charles and Jennie had a son named Samuel but I
think they did not. According to the 1900 US Census, and
genealogical research, they had no children.
The Samuel Dowst involved with Charles in business
was his brother, Samuel Marsden Dowst (1860-1917).
The name Tootsie was a tribute to Samuel's late
daughter and Charles's niece, Catharine Hargrave
Dowst, nicknamed Toots, who died in 1905 following
an appendicitis operation on the kitchen table.
It was Samuel's son, Ted Dowst, who led the