EDHS News and Updates

"The 844": Anna Brenner's Story

Chicago, Illinois — This week we commemorate and celebrate the lives of the following people who were among "The 844" who died nearly 100 years ago in the Eastland Disaster.

We honor the lives of: Florence Begitschke (age 18); Agnes Behrendt (22), Gertrude Behrendt (17); William Belmonti (19); Anna Belsky (19); Anna Benes (20); Anna Benik (21); Samuel Benn (37); Leroy David Bennett (21); David G. Benson (25); Gertrud (Mrs. Gustav O.) Berg (35), Irene Berg (1); Myrtle J. Berglund (12); David A. Bergman (22); Harry D. Bergquist (15); and Anna Brenner (18).

Anna Brenner was a passenger on the Eastland, the guest of her cousin and Western Electric employee, Catherine Heiser. Catherine’s boyfriend also accompanied the two cousins. The three were standing at the rail when the Eastland rolled into the Chicago River, and all three went into the river. Anna and Catherine’s boyfriend could swim, but Catherine could not.

Bystanders along the wharf threw wooden crates into the water in an attempt to help those struggling in the water stay afloat. Sadly, the good intentions of these onlookers were met with more tragedy. Anna and her cousin’s boyfriend were struck in the head by these crates and both drowned. Catherine, the only one of the three who could not swim, was saved.

Anna’s father, Albert Brenner, had to identify the body of his daughter Anna. She was brought in her coffin to her home on Bell Avenue for the wake – it was her 18th birthday.

70% of the Eastland Disaster's victims were under the age of 25, just like Anna. Learn more about the passengers who boarded the Eastland on that fateful day in 1915. 

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