EDHS News and Updates

"The 844": The Loss of the Ehrhardts

Chicago, Illinois — This week EDHS honors the lives of the following victims who were among "The 844" who perished in the Eastland Disaster.

We honor: Marie Ceciorski (age 24); Bessie Cepak (19); Mary Ceranek (17); Frank Cerney (16); Michael Gallagher Chamberlain (28); Katherine Chartoir (22); Emily Chellburg (age unknown); Pauline Chittuse (18); Jenny Chmela (20); George Cholke (19); Frieda Christiansen (20); Josephine Cifrik (20); Vaslav Cihak (34); William Clark (20), Alice B. (Mrs. William) Clark (19), Alice Clark (9 months); Clara C. Ehrhardt (32), and Frederic J. Ehrhardt (31).

Frederic and Clara Ehrhardt took their two young children, Raymond (10) and Ione (6), for a day of family fun at the Western Electric excursion and picnic. Frederic’s brother, Henry, also accompanied the family aboard the Eastland on July 24, 1915. When the Eastland capsized into the Chicago River, Henry was there to help his niece and nephew to safety. The tragedy, however, claimed both the lives of Frederic and Clara.

The Ehrhardts became one of 19 families that were left parentless by the Disaster. After the tragedy, young Raymond and Ione were taken in by their aunt, Tillie Jensen, who was Clara’s sister. The orphaned children stayed with the Jensens for two years until financial hardships caused the family to part; Ione remained with Tillie Jensen’s family in Chicago while Raymond was moved to the German Lutheran Evangelical Orphanage in Addison, Illinois where he stayed until adulthood.

The Eastland Disaster sadly broke apart the Ehrhardt family, separating father and mother from son and daughter forever. And even though Raymond and Ione did not grow up together during their latter years, the tragedy did not break them apart — as brother and sister they remained close throughout their lives.

The photo above shows Henry Ehrhardt standing next to Raymond and Ione outside their mother's and father's funeral. The straw hat that Uncle Henry is holding is the same hat he wore on the day of the Disaster.

Frederic and Clara rest at Mount Olive Cemetery in Chicago, Illinois.

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