EDHS News and Updates

News and Updates

Survivor Stories

"Survivor Story": Clara & Emma Reisner

Chicago, Illinois -- Clara and Emma Reisner boarded the Eastland and found chairs at the back of the ship near the railing. When the ship tipped so easily and smoothly, Clara did not get excited or panic. "I didn't think it was so serious," she said. "I didn't think we or anyone else would drown. I was going to grab for my purse, but Emma said, 'Forget the purse. Can't you see the boat is going down?'"

"Survivor Story": Polivka Sisters

Chicago, Illinois -- Josephine (Polivka) Engenhart (pictured right) recalls the morning she and her sisters, Mae and Anna, prepared to leave for the excursion boat that would take them across the lake to their company picnic:

"Survivor Story": Mary and Katherine O'Keeffe

Chicago, Illinois -- Mary O'Keeffe (right) and her daughter Katherine (left) were thrown into the Chicago River when the Eastland capsized on July 24, 1915. The mother and daughter were rescued by the crew of the steamer Petoskey. The newspaper photo shows the two survivors still wrapped in blankets.

"Survivor Story": Carl Nork

Chicago, Illinois -- Carl Nork left Sweden and came to America in 1912. He landed in Boston and got a job there before coming to Chicago. Once in Chicago, he started working for the Western Electric Company in the Sheet Metal Department, or the "Tin Shop" as it was known.

"Survivor Story": George Michalec

Chicago, Illinois -- George Michalec was born on March 4, 1898 in Chicago. His parents, Vaclav and Rose Michalec, came from northwestern Bohemia and settled in Chicago. Vaclav opened a business on the west side of Chicago that catered to employees of the Western Electric Company, helping the "new" Americans finance homes of their own.

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