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Nana and granddaughters


Sitting in the picture above with her only two grandchildren is Borghild Amelia Aanstad, one of the last remaining survivors of the Eastland Disaster. Borghild, whose nickname was "Bobbie" and was known to family and friends as "Nana," married Leonard G. Decker, Sr. on June 3, 1922, was widowed in 1965, and then in 1979 married her childhood pal Ernest O. Carlson. It was Ernie who, many years earlier when they were only young children, taught Nana how to swim. Nana was a 13 year old on board the Eastland when it rolled into the Chicago River. On the starboard side but thrown into the water nonetheless, Nana was a very capable swimmer (thanks to Ernie Carlson) and was able to keep her head above water with help from her Uncle Olaf Ness. Nana went to be with God in heaven on August 2, 1991, just a few days after celebrating her 90th birthday with her family and her friends.

The Eastland Disaster Historical Society is a charitable organization formed by the two granddaughters of Borghild Amelia Decker Carlson (nee Aanstad). We formed this organization because we felt that even though it was a moment filled with heartbreak and sorrow, the Eastland Disaster was a significant part of our nation's history. And not only that but it was a significant part that was being lost in history with each passing generation. As evidence of this feeling, notice how different the major newspaper headlines read between those printed in 1915 and those 75 years later in 1990.

Chicago Tribune, July 25, 1915
''Eastland tragedy worst in history of Chicago.''

''An unparalleled tragedy.''

''The most colossal tragedy of Chicago's history.''

Daily Herald, July 25, 1990

''There were no observances Tuesday to commemorate the Eastland disaster.''

''It is a tragedy lost in history.''

The purpose of the Eastland Disaster Historical Society is twofold. First, to provide education and information regarding the Eastland Disaster to ensure its place in history for future generations.  And second, to commemorate those families whose lives were affected by the Eastland Disaster.

Our society is governed by our Board of Trustees, with assistance from our National Advisory Council.

Eastland Disaster Historical Society
PO Box 2013
Arlington Heights, IL 60006-2013
1-877-865-6295 (fax)

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Please direct questions and comments to the Eastland Disaster Historical Society at info@eastlanddisaster.org.
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