EDHS News and Updates

"The 844": Anna Fitzgerald's Family Broken

Chicago, Illinois — This week we recognize and honor the lives of the following people who were among "The 844" who died in the Eastland Disaster.

We commemorate: John J. Daly (age 24); Agnes Forlop (Mrs. John J.) Daly (26); Theresa Danda (19); Edward Danda (11); Frantisek Danek (32); Frederick Dankers, Jr. (24); Martha Adamkiewicz Darka (24); Lillian Schultz Davis (20); Earl Harvey Dawson (18); John Debnar (40); Howard John Dester (28); Caroline Mary (Mrs. John W.) DeTamble (26); Frank A. Dobberman (33); George W. Dobek (19); Anna Dolejs (20); Marie Dolejs (17); Rose Dolejs (19); Joseph Dolejs (18); William Fitzgerald, Sr. (46) and James Fitzgerald (9).

Anna Fitzgerald was aboard the Eastland with her husband William and their two sons, James (9) and Edward (5). During the chaos of the Disaster, Anna was able to cling to her youngest son, Edward, but sadly watched her husband go under and drown. Her middle son James also perished.

Anna recalled that fateful day: “The three of us were on deck, and we were thrown into the water. I seized my son, Edward, while the boat was tipping, and after we struck the water I cluck to him around the neck. We drifted toward the wharf, and I caught hold of some piling and half pulled myself up. I shoved little Edward up to some men, who reached down and grabbed him. That was the last time I saw him, but I know he was saved. I clung to some piling until some men pulled me up. My husband disappeared after I struck the water with my boy, and he was drowned for he couldn’t swim.”

Joseph and Anna’s older son, William Walter Fitzgerald, had to be at work and could not accompany his family to the picnic and excursion that day. He came to the wharf after the tragedy to identify and claim the lives of his father and younger brother. Father and son were buried at Waldheim Cemetery.

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