Norine Hanna “Nora” Baker Boettcher
October 1871 – 30 December 1903
This is the second and final article about victims of the Iroquois Theater Fire buried at Concordia. Please see the previous entry for an overview of the fire and links for more information.
Nora was born in Virginia to a Canadian-born father and a Virginia-born mother. She was the eldest of eleven children, most of whom survived childhood (it’s unclear but I think eight). The family moved to Chicago around 1875, and there Nora grew up and met Charles Boettcher.
The couple married in 1898 and in 1900, they were living with two of Charles’s brothers. They had no children prior to Nora’s death.
From the newspaper reports, it appears that Nora died at the scene of the fire. Her place of identification is Rolston’s which was either a morgue or used as one for the disaster. The largest number of victims were taken to that location with fifteen other locations — hospitals, morgues, and emergency morgues — listed in the Inter Ocean’s January 1st coverage. (The Inter Ocean also lists William Beutel with his last name misspelled as an identified casuality just a few lines above Nora, and lists his wife as being a patient at Presbyterian Hospital).
A probate record from March 1904 seems to indicate Nora’s family (an agent’s name is on the paperwork, but presumably this would be for Charles) received some kind of settlement. About a month later, the same person filed a lawsuit on her estate’s behalf for $10K though it’s unclear if that was ever settled. It’s possible that the initial probate filing involved a life insurance settlement.
In 1910, Charles was living on his own as a lodger, but he remarried in 1912 to Maud Fenno Guest (who listed herself as widowed but may have been divorced). Maud had one son, but he was an adult by the time she remarried. He and Charles must have gotten along well, however, because Charles was living with Walter and his family in 1930, several months after Maud passed away in 1929.
After Maud’s passing, Charles lived another 30 years and did not marry again. He remained close with his brothers for the rest of their lives, and it was his surviving brother Frank who was mentioned in his obituary in 1959.
Nora’s parents would lose another daughter in 1912. They had been living with Jeanette and her husband and children per the 1910 census, but in 1920, father William was living with daughter Agnes and her family while mother Rebecca was living with son William Jr., his family, and Jeanette’s two surviving children. It’s unclear if Jeanette’s husband also had passed away in the interim or simply could not deal with the children on his own. The two branches of the family were still living near each other in the same city ward but not apparently in the same building or on the same block.
Nora, Maud, and Charles are buried together in Section 7, a very quiet, very pretty area of the cemetery.
Please visit my Instagram for any questions or comments on this post!