Friday, December 11, 2015


The Chicago Daily Tribune from April 16, 1912 while reporting on the sinking of the RMSTitanic carried the following article:


Mrs. Ida S. Hippach and Her Daughter 
and E. G. Lewy Titanic Passengers.

Relatives Await News.

Several Former Residents Among Ocean Travelers
Probably Drowned at Sea.

Three Chicagoans were among the first class passengers on the Titanic.

They were:
Mrs. Ida S. Hippach, 7360 Sheridan road, wife of L. A. Hippach of Tyler & Hippach, glass dealers
Miss Jean Hippach, 15 years old, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. L.A. Hippach
Ervin G. Lewy, 30 years old, 3620 South Park avenue, member of the jewelry firm of Lewy Bros., 201 South State street. 

“My wife and daughter have been traveling in Europe since last January,” said Mr. Hippach, who, with his residence closed, was waiting anxiously for news at the Illinois Athletic club.  “My hope that they are saved is based on the report that the women and children were taken care of first.”

Mr. Lewy was returning from his annual buying trip to Antwerp and Amsterdam.  Two brothers, J.B. Lewy and M.D. Lewy, anxiously await the list of the rescued.  Mr. Lewy is unmarried. (Note:  Ervin Lewy did not survive.  His body, if recovered, was never identified.)

Some of the people who read that article about the Chicagoans on the Titanic might have remembered the Hippach name in connection with another tragedy, the Iroquois Theater fire of December 30, 1903. Among the victims were Robert and Archie Hippach, two of the sons of Ida Hippach and her husband Louis.  How ironic (and sad) that one mother was connected with two of the most famous disasters in modern history.  Unfortunately these two events were not the only tragedies in the life of Ida Hippach.  Before we look at what happened to Ida and her family, let’s take a closer look at Ida herself.

Ida Sophia Fischer was born in Chicago on November 24, 1866, to Edward Fischer (1829-1891), and Julia, nee Boehm (1829-1907).  Ida had a brother Edward (1863-????), and a sister, Julia (1870-????).  Ida’s father Edward Fischer was a painter by trade. 

On June 28, 1888 Ida Sophia Fischer married Louis A. Hippach at St. Stephen’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Chicago.  The bride was twenty-one; the groom was twenty-five.

Louis Albert Hippach was born January 22, 1864 in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, to Franz Joseph Hippach (1830-1908) and Magdalena, nee Everling - some sources say “Eberlin” (1833-1922).  Franz Joseph Hippach (as “Frank J. Hippach”) enlisted and fought with the Wisconsin 35th Infantry Regiment in the American Civil War.  In addition to their son Louis, Franz and Magdalena Hippach had three other sons:  Frank Joseph (1855-1928), Charles Frederick (1862-1931) and Edward Victor (1861-1925), and one daughter, Emma Melinda (1859-1955). 

When Ida Fischer married Louis Hippach in 1888, Hippach was the Vice President of Tyler & Hippach Glass Company which he founded with Albert S. Tyler.  Tyler & Hippach Glass Company was bought out by Globe Glass and Trim in 1963.   

Ida and Louis Hippach were blessed with four children; Robert Louis (1889-1903), Albert Archibald called "Archie" (1892-1903), Agnes Gertrude called "Jean" (1894-1974), and Howard Henry (1896-1914).   

The 1900 US Census found Ida Hippach and her family living at 191 (now 5845) NW Circle Avenue in the Old Norwood Park neighborhood of Chicago. 

5845 NW Circle Avenue, Chicago

Chicagoans, for the most part, are familiar with the fire that ravaged the Iroquois Theater in Chicago on December 30, 1903.  It was Christmas vacation and the schools were closed.  The Iroquois Theater, which had just opened in November presented a matinee performance of the popular Drury Lane musical Mr. Bluebeard, which had been playing at the Iroquois since opening night.  The play, a burlesque of the traditional Bluebeard folk tale, featured Dan McAvoy as Bluebeard and Eddie Foy as Sister Anne, a role that let him showcase his physical comedy skills. Attendance since opening night had been disappointing, people having been driven away by poor weather, labor unrest, and other factors.  The December 30 performance drew a much larger sellout audience.  Tickets were sold for every seat in the house, plus hundreds more for the "standing room" areas at the back of the theater. Many of the estimated 2,100–2,200 patrons attending the matinee were children. The standing room areas were so crowded that some patrons instead sat in the aisles, blocking the exits.

The fire started when sparks from an arc light ignited a muslin curtain, probably as a result of an electrical short circuit.  The fire quickly spread, and by this time, many of the patrons on all levels were quickly attempting to flee the theater.  Some had found the fire exits hidden behind draperies on the north side of the building, but found that the exit doors were locked.  Several exit doors were finally opened by brute force, but most of the exit doors could not be opened.  Some patrons panicked, crushing or trampling others in a desperate attempt to escape from the fire.  Many were killed while trapped in dead ends or while trying to open what looked like doors with windows in but were actually only windows. 

By the time it was over, it was the deadliest theater fire and the deadliest single-building fire in United States history.  At least 602 people died as a result of the fire, but not all the deaths were reported, as some of the bodies were removed from the scene.

Two of the victims were sons of Ida and Louis Hippach, fourteen year old Robert, and eleven year old Archie.  Here are their Death Notice from the Chicago Daily Tribune of  January 3, 1904: 

At the time of the fire, the Hippach family was living at 2928 (now 6149) N. Kenmore Avenue in the Edgewater neighborhood of Chicago.  A parking lot occupies that space today.  Funeral services for the boys were held at the Episcopal Church of the Atonement in Chicago.  They were buried in the Hippach family plot in Rosehill Cemetery.

In September of 1904 Ida applied for a passport, reporting that she was traveling to Berlin, Germany for two years, and taking Gertrude (Jean) and Howard with her.  

Adding to her grief, Ida’s mother Julia died October 4, 1907.     

But, life went on for Ida Hippach.  By the 1910 US Census, the Hippachs had moved to 7360 N. Sheridan Road in Chicago.  At that time, the family consisted of Louis and Ida, daughter Gertrude (Jean) and son Howard.  A nursing home occupies that spot today.

Ida Hippach was deeply bereft over the loss of her two sons, and then her mother.  It was decided that she and Jean should take another extended European vacation starting in January of 1911.  It was thought that a further change of scenery might do them some good.  Louis Hippach couldn’t leave his business, and Howard had gotten an internship with an engineering company in North Carolina so he had no interest in joining his mother and sister.  In addition to a change of scenery they decided that Jean would study music for a time in Germany.  Louis Hippach did not want to stay in the big house on Sheridan Road by himself, so he closed up the house and moved into the Illinois Athletic Club in downtown Chicago.  

Ida and Jean Hippach finished their vacation in France and on April 10, 1912 she purchased two first class tickets in Cherbourg, France on the R.M.S. Titanic bound for New York City on her maiden voyage.

The mother and daughter boarded the Titanic in Cherbourg, France traveling first class. They later claimed they had not wanted to board the ship, not trusting a maiden voyage but White Star employees had told them that there was only one First Class cabin left, implying that everyone wanted to go on the ship.  They felt lucky to get their ticket, only to discover that the ship was only partially full.   They were in First Class cabin B-18.  Mrs. Hippach related later that "Everyone was saying Sunday evening that we were ahead of schedule and that we would break the speed records." She and her daughter were both asleep when the Titanic struck the iceberg.  Ida Hippach thought the shock of the collision was mild.  Her daughter continued sleeping until the roar of the steam escaping through the funnels woke her.  They put on their wraps and rushed out into the corridor.  They heard everybody asking, "What is that? Did you hear that?"

Ida Hippach said that she had heard someone say that they hit an iceberg, but no one was alarmed or thought there was any danger.  After all, the Titanic was unsinkable.  Mrs. Hippach decided to go out on deck because she wanted to see the iceberg as she had never seen one.  An officer, walking past, told them to return to their room.  "Ladies, go back to bed.  you'll catch cold."

They went back to their stateroom, but decided to dress and go back out into the corridor.  They were told to return to their room and get a life jacket.

As Mrs. Hippach and her daughter came on deck they saw a lifeboat being lowered.  They did not get into line to board one, because they thought it would be safer on the ship rather than be in a flimsy lifeboat in the icy water.  They watched an officer trying to get people into Boats 2 and 6, noting how few people were in each as they were lowered.  Passengers talked to each other, at first saying the boat was in no danger.  Then they were told the Titanic would stay afloat for at least 24 hours and that they were safer remaining on board, confirming their earlier opinion.  Later, they were told that the Olympic was near and some ship's lights were pointed out.  As with most of the passengers, Ida Hippach had no clue that there were not enough lifeboats for everyone.   

They were walking by Lifeboat 4 as it was being loaded and John Jacob Astor told them to get in, although he said there was no danger. The lifeboat had been lowered somewhat already so Ida and her daughter had to climb through a window and into the lifeboat.  The lifeboat had gotten got a small amount of water in it and a man that Mrs. Hippach said later she thought was a third class passenger jumped into the boat (although he was probably a crew member).  The women had to help row away from the Titanic.

Looking back as she rowed away, Ida Hippach now knew the Titanic was sinking because the portholes were so near to the water.  She heard someone calling for the life boat to return to pick up more passengers, but they did not dare.  From their position, about 450 feet from the ship, they heard a "fearful explosion" and watched the Titanic split apart and sink.

They rowed away faster, expecting the suction to pull at them.  The lights all went out one by one then they all went out in a flash, except for a lantern on a mast.  Hearing the fearful cry from people in the icy water, they rowed back and were able to pick about eight men out.

Later in the morning they saw the Carpathia and they rowed about two miles to the ship.  Mrs. Hippach was taken aboard in a swinging seat. “My, but it was good to be taken aboard and nursed,” she later recounted.

Jean and Ida Hippach about the time of the Titanic disaster 

Louis Hippach and his son Howard were uncertain at first whether they were Ida and Jean had been rescued, however by April 17 the Chicago papers announced their rescue.  Howard Hippach had in internship at an engineering firm in North Carolina, and he and Mr. Hippach traveled to New York City to meet the Hippach women.  After their joyous reunion, the Hippach family arrived back in Chicago on April 21, 1912 aboard the Twentieth Century Limited.

In the 1913 Chicago Blue Book of Selected Names of Prominent Residents, Mrs. L. A. Hippach reported that her Receiving Day was "Wednesday."

Although the Titanic story had a happy ending for Ida Hippach and her daughter, tragedy was not done with the Hippach family.  On October 29, 1914 Ida's one surviving son, Howard Hippach was killed in an automobile accident outside of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin.

Howard Hippach

Here’s the story from the Lewiston (Maine) Evening Journal from May 15, 1933:

Entering or leaving Farmington on Route 4, the attention of strangers is always attracted by the attractive gate at the Howard Hippach Memorial Athletic Field.  This field, with its ornamental gates is a memorial to one of the most popular boys who ever attended the Abbot school, whose tragic death soon after graduation in 1914 is as great a mystery today as it was then.  It was the gift to the school of his father, L. A. Hippach of Chicago.

Upon his graduation, young Hippach returned to his home in Chicago, planning to enter college that fall.  One morning he left home for a ride in his big, high-powered – for those days – roadster.  With him on the spare seat rode his pet dog.  It was never possible to learn what had occurred after he drove away from home.  No one appeared to have seen him; he visited no place.

From that moment until he was found, a few hours later, dead beneath his car on Lakeside drive, the little dog standing guard over him, no trace was ever had of the route he had followed, or where he went or what he did.

Here is the Death Notice for Howard Hippach from the Chicago Daily Tribune of October 30, 1914:

Howard is buried in the family plot at Rosehill:

Howard's death left Jean Hippach as the only survivor from among Ida's four children.

The Chicago Daily Tribune from August 25, 1915 brought another tale of tragedy connected with the Hippach family:

According to the article, Jean Hippach nearly collapsed with grief over what had happened.

The 1920 US Census finds what was left of the Hippach family living at 2808 Sheridan Place in Evanston.

2808 Sheridan Place, Evanston

Jean no longer lived at home - she had married Hjalmar Unander-Scharin on January 3, 1920, at the Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago.  At the Sheridan Road address were Louis Hippach, aged fifty-five, and Ida, aged fifty, along with servants Emma and Herman Bunzli and chauffeur Theodore Boychuz and his wife Mary.  Louis Hippach reported that he owned the home free and clear, and that his occupation was "Wholesale Merchant of Glass."

In 1921 Louis Hippach applied for a passport to travel all through the Far-East ("China, Japan, Burma, Philippine Islands, Hawaiian Islands, Samoa and Korea") on behalf of Tyler & Hippach.  Ida Hippach did not accompany her husband.

Ida Hippach also did not accompany her husband when he sailed to Cherbourg, France in 1928, or to Key West, Florida in 1930, or to San Diego, California in 1930 or to San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1932. One may have thought that after her 1912 trip that Ida Hippach was through with sailing, but that was not the case.  As early as August of 1913 Ida sailed to Hamburg, Germany and back to New York on the S. S. Imperator, without incident.  Traveling in the summertime, the chances of encountering an iceberg were extremely unlikely.

Don't think, however, that while Louis Hippach was traveling the world, Ida was passing the time by staying at home. During her married life she managed at least one trip to Europe per year, supplemented by trips to Hawaii, Cuba, etc.

The 1930 US Census shows Louis and Ida Hippach still living at 2808 Sheridan Place in Evanston. Louis indicates his occupation as "Merchant in the Glass Industry."  In addition to Louis and Ida, there is their maid Elizabeth Swanson and a Lodger named Syesuke Takalaski from Japan. Louis reported his home worth $125,000.00, and said that they did own a radio.

Jean Hippach Unander-Scharin sued her husband for divorce on June 4, 1930, charging infidelity and asking for custody of their three children.

Louis Hippach suffered a heart attack on May 29, 1935 at his home in Evanston.  He was admitted to Passavant Hospital in Chicago where he died on May 30, 1935 as a consequence of his heart attack. He was seventy-one years old.  Here is his death certificate, and a later certificate correcting his date of birth and age:

Here's his Death Notice from the Chicago Daily Tribune, June 1, 1935:

and his obituary from June 2, 1935:

Louis was buried alongside his three sons in the family plot at Rosehill Cemetery. 

Louis Hippach

By the time of the 1940 US Census, the house at 2808 Sheridan Place in Evanston was full again. In addition to seventy-one year old Ida, there was her daughter Jean Scharin, Jean's children, eighteen year old Howard, fourteen year old Jean and ten year old Louise, nurses Barbara Bruck, Marie Peterson and Minerva Prescott, and servants Sarah Lundi and Frances Sauer. Paul Holmgren was living in the coach-house.

Ida Sophia Fischer Hippach died at home on September 22, 1940 of complications from a stroke.  She was seventy-two years old.  Here is her Death Certificate:

Ida had died September 22, 1940 and was buried the very next day, September 23, 1940 - unusual for a family that was not Jewish.

Here is her Obituary from the Chicago Daily Tribune of September 23, 1940:

and her Death Notice from the same day:

She was laid to rest next to her husband and three sons at the family plot in Rosehill:

People who are not well-to-do may take a look at Ida Hippach and envy her.  She was married to a rich and successful man, she had a beautiful home, beautiful children and plenty of money to travel or spend her time any way she wanted to.  And yet upon a closer look, Ida Hippach's life is not so attractive after all.  Yes, she had money, but as we can see from her life story, money does not shield a person from tragedy and loss.  On the other hand, someone once said, "Money doesn't buy happiness, but it sure makes misery a lot easier to live with."

Ida Sophia Fischer Hippach - a woman who lost two sons in the Iroquois Theater fire and then sailed on the Titanic - may she rest in peace.

1 comment:

  1. Truly amazing the number of newsworthy events that one family can have a connection to. Thank you as always for bringing this story to life. When you walk through a cemetery, all one sees is grave markers and not all the stories and events that they have experienced.