Seventeen-year-old Tyrone Essig (b. 1886) died at Chicago's Iroquois theater
in 1903. She was the daughter of Lee Henry
Essig (1851-1923) and Amanda Elizabeth Primley Essig
(1850-1920), named after Lee's half sister, Tyrone
Tyrone was home for the Christmas
holiday when she went to the Mr. Bluebeard
matinee with her French teacher,
twenty four year old Agnes Hamilton Chapin. In her photo she appears
to be what in 1903 might have been described as a saucy
girl. If she had some attitude, it may have
been related to being a student at the Hillside
Home School in Spring Green, Wisconsin, a private school operated by the
of architect Frank Lloyd Wright,
Ellen and Jane
Coincidentally, two of Frank Lloyd Wright's sons,
eleven and thirteen year old
Lloyd, escaped from the Iroquois Theater with
their grandmother, Flora Tobin.
Lee and Amanda had lived in
Burlington, Kansas when Tyrone was born, and for a
short while in Amanda's hometown, Elkhart, Indiana, but by 1898
settled in Chicago. Lee worked as a
compounder at a chewing gum factory owned by
Amanda's brother, Jonathan Philip Primley (1851-1914).
Primley was an Elkhart, Indiana drugstore retailer
who in the mid 1880s partnered with Alfred Jones of
Grand Rapids, Michigan to produce tonics and chewing
gum. The best known patent medicine brands of
Jones and Primley Company were Primley's Iron
and Wahoo Tonic, Primley's Speedy Cure for Coughs
and Colds and Jones Glycerine Arnica Salve.
Their chewing gum brands were California Fruit and
Primley bought out Jones and moved the company to
Chicago -- the same year that William Wrigley Jr
brought his soap-making operation to Chicago and
began using chewing gum to promote soap sales. By 1899, Primley's company was one
of nine in a trust of chewing gum manufacturers
known as the American Chicle Company (that in 1914
Frank Fleers' candy-coated
Chicle referred to the primary sap/rubber ingredient
of both stick and candy coated chewing gum).
Primley sold his chewing gum holdings in 1899 and, with his brother, William
Primley, founded the Wisconsin Granite Company to produce paving blocks.
Amanda and Lee lost their first
child, two year old Elmer Essig, in 1889 and he was
buried in the Essig family plot at Grace Lawn
cemetery in Elkhart. Tyrone joined him in
1904, Amanda in 1920 and Lee in 1923.
In another coincidence, Iroquois Theater manager
Will J. Davis, was buried at the same cemetery,
as well as the parents of another Iroquois
Though Amanda Primley was six years younger than Davis, it
is almost certain the Primley and Davis families
were acquainted in this city with a population in
1900 of around 15,000 where Amanda's father was a grocer
and Davis's father owner of a dry goods store.
The five hour train ride
between Elkhart and Chicago did not prevent Tyrone
and her cousin, Mabel Primley, from getting together
now and then. The daughter of Tyrone's uncle
Worthington Primley (1861-1929), Mabel and Tyrone
were the same age. Sometimes Mabel traveled to
Chicago but in July, 1903, Tyrone and her parents
traveled to Elkhart to attend the funeral of
Amanda's mother, Sarah Hitchner Primley (1821-1903).
Amanda's father, Jacob Primley, had died in 1875.
Worthington worked for one of Elkhart's musical
instrument manufacturing companies. Buried in
Grace Lawn Cemetery with the Essigs and Will J.
Davis is Charles Gerard Conn, pioneer band
In Chicago, the Essig's
lived at 239 West 66th street, site of
Tyrone's funeral services the morning of January 2,
1904. Upon returning to Elkhart around 1920,
Lee and Amanda lived on Strong Avenue.
There were Essig families in Elkhart but I did not
find evidence they were related to Lee, whose family
was from Ohio. The Elkhart connection was
based on Amanda's family, the Primleys.