Tuesday, February 14, 2012

INCENDIARISM IS SUSPECTED - Harry, Lottie and Bessie Iglowitz

Back on October 8, 2011 I told the story of Meyer Iglowitz who tragically drowned in Michigan in August of 1913.  Meyer's death was not the first tragedy to strike the Iglowitz family (nor would it be the last).  Meyer Iglowitz was from the part of the family who were jewelers.  Today we will look at a tragedy that struck the part of the Iglowitz family who were cigar makers.

Babies Are Tossed to Street and Caught in Spectator's Coat - Incendiarism Is Suspected

Four lives were lost early yesterday in a fire in a tenement building 1336 South Sangamon street. There were several narrow escapes and exciting rescues.  Traces of incendiarism were seen.

The dead:

    HARRY EGALOVITCH, 24 years old, rear of third floor, suffocated and burned.
    MRS. LOTTIE EGALOVITCH, 21 years old, suffocated.
    BESSIE EGALOVITCH, 6 months old, suffocated.
    SAMUEL ALPERT, 24 years old, a boarder in the Egalovitch flat, suffocated and burned.

Police from the Maxwell street station who hurried to the blaze were called upon to protect Samuel Goldstein and Harry Lasky, owners of the building from violence.

The tossing of two infants to an improvised net and the spectacular escape of a 354 pound woman were interesting features. (!!!)
Chicago Daily Tribune - September 26, 1911

The fire took place at about 2:30 AM on the morning of September 25, 1911.  The Iglowitz family, being devout Jews, insisted on a speedy burial (see Meyer Iglowitz story) and all three were buried the very next day September 26, 1911 even before the Coroner's Inquest - meaning that all three were buried without even a signed death certificate.

The Coroner's Inquest took place on October 4, 1911 and at that time the cause of death for all three was "Shock and asphyxiation due to burns of body sustained in a burning building."

Harry, Lottie and Bessie Iglowitz were all buried at Gate 57 (Anshe Luknik) in Section 4, Row 20, Graves 1(b), 2 and 3.  Their tombstone was provided by Woodmen of the World, a fraternal benefit society who's motto was "No Woodmen shall rest in an unmarked grave."  Apparently this motto only applies to the Woodman himself, because Lottie and Bessie are not mentioned on the tombstone. 

May the souls of Harry, Lottie and Bessie Iglowitz rest in peace.

That may have been the end of the story for Harry, Bessie and Lottie Iglowitz, but not for Samuel Goldstein and Harry Lasky:

Judge Kavanagh Says Newspaper Story of  Incendiary Fire Was Correct and Damage Verdict Is Denied

In directing a verdict of "not guilty" in a $10,000 suit against the Chicago Journal company yesterday Judge Marcus Kavanagh of the Superior court stated from the bench that no libel could be charged where a newspaper stated the truth, despite any inference that might be drawn from the article or story.

The plaintiff was Harry Lasky, 1348 South Sangamon street, part owner of a building at 1336 South Sangamon street, where four persons lost their lives in a fire.  Lasky's partner, Samuel Goldstein, is plaintiff in a similar suit yet to be tried.

In his declaration and testimony Lasky asserted that the newspaper's description of the fire, which bore the headline, "Firebugs Kill Four; Five Arrested," was such as to charge him with the "infamous crime of conspiracy to defraud an insurance company by setting fire to a building."

"The owners of the building, Samuel Goldstein and Harry Lasky, were arrested on orders of Battalion Chief Michael Kerwin and put in the sweatbox by the Maxwell street police," was the paragraph cited by the declaration.

"I find from the evidence that the story told the truth," Judge Kavanagh said.  "Therefore there can be no charge of libel.  If an inference is drawn from the facts as related, the newspaper is not responsible. These men were not charged with being guilty and there is no legal basis for the suit."

"I have no doubt this fire was of incendiary origin.  Even the stairways were set afire with benzine and human beings were not the culprits.  It was the work of fiends, for whom the death penalty would not be any too severe."

The costs were placed against the plaintiff.
Chicago Daily Tribune - February 6, 1914.

I could not find anything more about either Mr. Goldstein or Mr. Lasky, so I don't know whether they were ever charged with any crime, or for that matter paid any penalty.  Samuel Goldstein has faded into the mists of time.  The events of 1911 must have changed Harry Lasky, however, because his death record from January, 1941 lists his occupation as "Tailor".  

Even 1336 S. Sangamon Street - the scene of the "crime" no longer exists.  It was razed in the 1950s to make way for the University of Chicago Circle Campus.  Where the building once stood is now the Physical Education building.

Harry Iglowitz - Lottie Iglowitz - Bessie Iglowitz - Samuel Alpert - Samuel Goldstein - Harry Lasky - all gone, but not forgotten.

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