Lillian Davis

Lillian “Eliza” Schultz Davis
9 September 1894 – 24 July 1915

The Eastland, one of five chartered excursion boats meant to ferry employees, their families and friends from Chicago over to the Michigan City shore for the annual Western Electric Company picnic, keeled over into the Chicago River while still at dock, trapping hundreds inside its hull and leading to the deaths of 844 of the 2,500 passengers aboard at the time of the incident which became known as The Eastland Disaster.

Lillian had only been married for eight months (to the six-years-older John Davis) when she died, and had been supporting her unemployed husband and helping support her widowed mother and younger siblings by working at Western Electric. She had previously worked at an ice cream parlor alongside her sister Elsie.

Her mother accompanied her to the picnic that day but was saved. The Chicago Tribune obituary doesn’t specify if her husband was also along, and at this point he disappears into history, his name too common and the information about him findable via his brief marriage to Lillian unhelpful. They shared no census year and no children.

No probate records come up for Lillian, though that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a settlement; however it’s likely if there was one, it would have gone to her husband.

There is no headstone marking Lillian’s grave. lists her younger brother Rudolph Jr. as also being buried in the same lot, and though their records do not include section and lot information, it seems likely Lillian’s parents Rudolph Sr. (1857 – 1910) and Marie (nee Jarchow, 1864 – 1939) are also on the same lot. It’s possible Rudolph’s widow Victoria, who is also buried at Concordia, is there with them. Victoria outlived not only her husband by 54 years (in 1997 having never remarried), but, sadly, both of their children and two of her grandchildren as well.

Whether there ever were any markers on this lot is a mystery even the office might not be able to answer due to the haphazard record-keeping early in the last century. It is in an area with some older trees so that’s also a possible explanation.

Lillian’s parents were both immigrants but they met and married in Chicago. Lillian had nine siblings, six surviving to adulthood, but with the exception of herself, Rudolph Jr., and their youngest sister Clara, all of the others are buried in Catholic cemeteries. As their parents are also at Concordia, this is a really curious thing! I have come across families with members in both types of cemeteries but rarely has the split been so dramatic — it’s usually one who has perhaps married outside the family’s faith in those other instances.

In 1910, recently widowed, Marie lived with all of her children except her first-born, son August, the oldest of the children still at home only 20. By 1920, she was living with just two of her children (Rudolph Jr., and youngest Clara), and by 1930, with the now-married Clara and her family.

August, the oldest of the siblings died in 1923, just eight years after Lillian. Marie died in 1939, outliving the rest of her children, but not by much in the case of all but her youngest two children (Ernest died in 1940, Rudolph Jr. in 1943, and Elsie in 1944).

Youngest son Arthur lived to be 78, dying in 1977. Clara lived to be 89 (d. 1994) and is the only Lutheran sibling not buried at Concordia (she is at St. Luke’s in the city).

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