The Project Gutenberg EBook of Chicago's Awful Theater Horror, by Various

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Title: Chicago's Awful Theater Horror

Author: Various

Release Date: March 27, 2012 [EBook #39280]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


Produced by The Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images
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December 30th, 1903, 4 P.M.




Chicago's Awful Theater Horror





Presenting a Vivid Picture, both by Pen and Camera, of One of the Greatest
Fire Horrors of Modern Times.


Embracing a Flash-Light Sketch of the Holocaust, Detailed Narratives by Participants in the
Horror, Heroic Work of Rescuers, Reports of the Building Experts as to the Responsibility
for the Wholesale Slaughter of Women and Children, Memorable Fires of the Past, etc., etc.






Copyright, 1904, by



Mayor of Chicago.

























[Pg ix]


By the Rt. Rev. Samuel Fallows, D.D., LL.D.

When Chicago was burning, a little girl in a christian home in a neighboring city stamped her foot indignantly on the floor and said: "Why doesn't God put out the fire?"

The cry of many an agonized heart, beating in children of a larger growth, has been: "Why doesn't a God of wisdom and love prevent such an awful occurrence as the Iroquois fire?" "I have lost all faith in God," said a dear friend of mine, as its full meaning began to break upon him.

When we were carrying out the dying and the dead from that horrible darkness and choking smoke to the outer air, those of us who were wont to pray could only say, "O God have mercy! O God have mercy!"

But there must be no panic in our faculties. Reason must not desert her rightful throne. Blinded by tears, we must not in our consuming passion of resentment against the sickening catastrophe, attempt with our puny arms to strike against God. He did not cause the calamity. No responsibility for it can be rolled upon Him. God is law; and his laws had been palpably broken by human negligence and incompetency. God is love; and human greed and selfishness had violated every principle of love which "worketh no ill to his neighbor."

God cannot coerce man, as one by sheer brute force can another. The savage father may break both the body and soul of his child. Not so God, those of his children. Man must render a voluntary obedience to the Divine command. By pains and crosses and sorrows and shame he may be led to[Pg x] that surrender. But he must say with a free, princely spirit at last, "I will to do thy will O God."

It is the old problem of evil with which this terrible tragedy has brought us face to face. The generic evil, out of which all evils spring, every giant intellect of the ages has grappled with, and it has thrown them all. The question is not "Why should God permit this special evil to come to us, which has well nigh paralyzed our city and thrilled the civilized world both with horror and sympathy, but why did he create the world at all and put man upon it?" The finite cannot measure the Infinite. Imperfection belongs to the one; perfection to the other. Where there is imperfection there is always the possibility of evil.

A reverent faith will bow before the mystery and yet master it with an undaunted courage. Evil must exist if the Universe is to be. The Universe is, and it is the best possible Universe God can create. If he could have given us a better one he would not be the God we revere.

Evil is the vast, dark background against which He brings out the brightest pictures of beauty and life. From a "Paradise Lost" comes forth a "Paradise Regained" with its transcendent glory of progress, and allegiance to law and love.

"Calvary and Easter Day,
Earth's saddest day and gladdest day,
Were but one day apart."

God did not forsake his son in that supreme hour of anguish upon the Cross, when he cried out "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?" He has never forsaken his world, nor the sinning and suffering souls that are in it. "God in history," is faith's jubilant assertion. He is in its minutest incidents and in its mightiest events, "in the rocking of a baby's cradle and the shaking of a monarch's throne," in the fiery furnace of the Iroquois Theater and in the most joyous assembly of his adoring saints.

[Pg xi]God permitted this great evil in harmony with man's free will; he did not cause it. The evidence is overwhelming that human law, as well as divine law, had been consciously or unconsciously defied. Two thousand lives or more were brought together in a building professedly fire-proof, and warranted as the best, because the latest of its kind, in the city if not of the continent. It was not fire proof. The law forbade the crowding of aisles; they were filled from end to end, until almost every inch of standing room was taken up. The unusual number of exits was boasted of. Most of them were unseen or actually bolted and locked. The alleged fire proof curtain was a flimsy sham, and was resolved in almost a moment of time, into scattered fragments by the surging flames. The scenery was of the most combustible material, loaded down with paint and oil. Not a bucket of water was on the stage, and only one water stand-pipe without any hose. There never had been a fire apparatus of any kind in the balcony or the gallery. There was none in the auditorium except one small water stand pipe. There was not a fireman to answer the call for help. At no time had there been a fire drill by the employes of the theater. There were no notices posted to tell what to do in case of fire. There was no fire alarm box anywhere in the structure. Common prudence and common sense were completely set aside. Coroner Traeger in advance of the final finding of the jury, is reported to have said: "Sufficient proof has been already found to show that there was gross mismanagement and carelessness. There is no need of denial. Instead of being the safest theater in Chicago, the Iroquois was the unsafest."

But He who "maketh the wrath of man to praise him," who is ever bringing good out of evil, will overrule and is[Pg xii] already overruling this dire calamity for the well being of mankind.

As I looked upon the charred and mangled and bruised bodies of tender women and little children and once strong men; as I listened to the moans of agony, and the cry of the living, tortured ones for help and for loved friends whom they had left behind or been separated from as the fiery blast swept them onward and outward, I said in my haste, "you all are 'martyrs by the pang without the palm'." I do not say it now. Martyrs indeed they were, by the criminal neglect of recreant men. But the palm is theirs. They have saved others, themselves they could not save. Thousands, perhaps millions, will in the future be secure in their places of resort, because these went on that fateful day to their inevitable doom. Mayors, architects, fire-inspectors, managers, stage carpenters, electricians, ushers and chiefs of police in every city have had their duty burned into their inmost consciousness by this consuming fire.

Human law, which has been so flagrantly set at naught, demands punishment. The public conscience will be outraged if the guilty parties do not meet stern, inexorable justice. It is not vengeance that is sought, for "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord."

But those who are immediately responsible, have not been the only transgressors, although they must suffer for their own guilt, and also vicariously for the sins of omission by others. For we have all sinned and come short of our duty. A common blame rests upon the whole community. Many a minister has been preaching upon the fire, but has his own church, perhaps crowded to the door, been safe while his eager congregation has listened to his impassioned utterances? Suppose the unexpected had happened, and the cry of[Pg xiii] fire had been heard and bursting flames been seen, would his hearers have escaped unhurt? Not if the church doors swung inward instead of outward; not if the means of escape were not abundant; not if camp chairs blocked the passages to the street. Who then would have been responsible? The clergymen, the church officers, the janitor, with the municipal or legal authorities would have had to share the blame.

Nearly two score of our city school teachers perished in the theater. How many school buildings are in such an imperfect condition today that thousands of young lives are in constant danger? Suppose again the unexpected should happen and tragedies be enacted which might even surpass the Iroquois disaster, would the Mayor, and his subordinates and the Board of Education and the teachers be held guiltless? Yet that fearful contingency might have taken place.

It is a question seriously to be considered whether or not the great majority of the apartment buildings in Chicago have the doors of the main entrance swinging outwards. I have climbed to the fourth and fifth stories of some of these edifices in which there are dark, narrow stair cases, and all the doors swing inwards. There is not a single element of fire proofing in them. I have gone up, in open elevators, in manufactories and office buildings where scores and hundreds of persons are employed, and have never felt safe a moment while remaining in them. They are fire traps of the worst description.

There are hotels whose very construction invites the devouring flames. There are stores crowded literally with thousands of persons on special occasions, where the consequences in case of fire would eclipse by far the Iroquois holocaust. No coaxing, or pleading, or grafting, or business considerations should stand in the way both of speedy condemnation and renovation in all these cases by our city officers.

[Pg xiv]Man is greater than Mammon. The sanctity of human life must be held supreme. The body is more than raiment and the soul than the body. A new civic spirit must pervade the people as the saltness the sea. Duty must tower infinitely above self-indulgence. Law must take the place of luck.

The plain lesson for our whole country and the world is to be alert to meet the dangers which may menace human life in the home, the workshop, the manufactory, the hotel, the theater, the church. Let ample means of exit be provided and always known to audiences. The tendency to a panic is always increased when people are apprehensive of danger and believe that they are hemmed in. Fear is contagious. A crowd feels and does not reason. Self-preservation, the first law of nature, asserts itself the more vehemently when the way of escape is uncertain. Panics may not always be prevented, but their dangers will be greatly diminished if every individual knows that he may with comparative leisure get out when he wishes so to do.

In the theater let it be known that every modern contrivance has been employed to secure safety. Let the curtain be of steel and so arranged that it will have full play to work in its grooves. Let automatic sprinklers be provided. Let the firemen in costume be in plain sight. Let the policemen be in full evidence. Let the aisles always be clear. Let there be ample room between the seats, and let the seats be easily raised to afford rapid departure. Let the ushers be drilled like soldiers to keep their places and allay confusion. All these and other things of like character appeal forcibly to the reasoning powers and tend to give an audience self command.

In many of our public schools the pupils are occasionally called from their rooms, during recitation hours, and promptly[Pg xv] assembling are marched in an orderly way out of the building. This is an excellent plan.

Two marked instances of superb self-control among children in the panic at the Iroquois theater have been brought to my notice. Two little daughters of a highly esteemed friend slid down the balusters from the upper balcony and reached the main floor unhurt. One of my Sunday School teachers met a young lad she knew, leading by the hand a girl younger than himself to her home. They were sitting together when the stampede took place. "Jump on my shoulders," said the boy. Then holding her fast by her feet, he said: "Now use your fists and fight for all you're worth." Bending his head he forced his way with his conquering heroine to life. Let every safeguard that human ingenuity can devise be furnished and yet there always remains the personal element to be taken into the account. Habitual practice of self-control in daily life will help give coolness and calmness in times of peril. Keeping one's head in the ordinary things prevents its losing when the extraordinary occurs.

Samuel Fallows.




Wave of Flame Greets Audience—Few Realize Appalling Result—Drop Where They Stand—Many Heroes Are Developed—Dead Piled in Heaps—Exits Were Choked with Bodies—Survey Scene with Horror—Find Bushels of Purses.
Great Piles of Charred Bodies Found Everywhere in the Theater—Moan Inspires Workers in Mad Effort to Save—None Left Alive in Gallery—Dead and Dying Carried into Nearby Restaurant by Scores—Terrible Reality Comes to Awestricken Crowd—One Life Brought Back from Death—One Hundred Feet in Air, Police Carry Injured Across Alley—Crowds of Anxious Friends—Balcony and Gallery Cleared—Finance Committee of City Council Acts Promptly.
Heartrending Scenes Witnessed at the Undertaking Establishments—Friends and Relatives Eagerly Search for Loved Ones Missing After Theater Holocaust.
Story of How a Small Blaze Terminated in Terrible Loss—Orchestra Plays in Face of Death—Clown Proves a Hero—All Hope Lost for Gallery.
Experience of Chicago University Men—Bishop Braves Danger in Heroic Work of Rescue—Women and Four Children Suffer—Learns Children Have Escaped—Finds His Daughter—Mr. Field's Narrative—Narrow Escapes of Young and Old—Pulls Women from Mass on Floor.
Piles of Dead in the Gallery—Eddie Foy's Heroism—An Elevator Boy Hero—Two Balcony Heroes—The Musical Director's Story—Child Saves His Brother.
Account of the Fire's Origin—Were Electric Lights Turned Out?—Statement of Messrs. Davis and Powers, Managers of the Theater—First Reliable Statement as to Why the Curtain Did Not Come Down—Another Story as to Why the Curtain Did Not Lower—The Theater Fireman's Narrative—The Stage Carpenter—The Chief Electrical Inspector's Tale—One of the Comedians Speaks—About the Lights.
Robert S. Lindstrom's Suggestions—The Architect Speaks—Examination by Architectural Editor—Proposed Precautions for New York Theaters.
Horrible Sight Met the Firemen upon Entering Auditorium—The Gallery Horror—Girl's Miraculous Escape—An Account from the Boxes—Inspection After the Fire—A Young Heroine—A Narrow Escape—Finds Wife in Hospital—A Miraculous and Unconscious Escape—Little Girl's Marvelous Escape—Four Generations Represented—Daughters and Granddaughters Gone.
Mourning in Every Street—Noise Seems a Sacrilege—Mayor Asks for Silence—Merriment is Subdued—City of Mourning—Business World in Mourning.
Seven Turner Victims—Sad Scenes at Wolff Home—Pathetic Scene at Church—Bury Children and Grand-children—Five Dead in One House—Entire Family is Buried—Mrs. Fox and Three Children—Mrs. Arthur E. Hull and Children—Herbert and Agnes Lange—Sweethearts Buried at the Same Time—Five Buried in One Grave—Boys as Pallbearers—Winnetka Saddened—Mother and Daughters Buried Together—Hold Triple Funeral—Women Faint in Church—Life-Long Friends Meet in Death—Edward and Margaret Dee—Miss E. D. Mann and Niece—Ella and Edith Freckelton—Miss Frances Lehman.
The Chorus Girl—The Musical Director—The Joy of the Opening—Spendthrift Habits—Gambling, Pure and Simple—The Show on the Road—The One-Night Stand—The "Mr. Bluebeard" Company.
Mrs. Schweitzler's Story of the Burning of the Curtain—Escape of Mother and Two Small Children—Expression of the Dead—Only Survivor of Large Theater Party—All His Family Gone—A Family Party Burned—Carries Daughter's Body Home in His Arms—Sad Error in Identification—The Hanger of the Asbestos Curtain—Keepsakes of the Dead—The Scene at Thompson's Restaurant—Like a Field of Battle—Women Eager to Help—Steady Stream of Bodies—Clothing Torn to Shreds—Prayers for the Dying—Child Saved from Death by Ballet Girl—Priest Gives Absolution to Dying Fire Victims—Little Boy Thanks God for Changing His Luck—Use Placer Miner Methods—Daughter of A. H. Revell Escapes—Philadelphia Partner in Theater Horrified—All Kenosha in Mourning—Five of One Family Dead—Cooper Brothers Deeply Mourned.
Miss Charlotte Plamondon's Account of the Fire—Screams of Terror Heard—Chorus Girls Escape, Partly Clad—Foy Tries to Prevent Panic—Escape of Another Society Woman—Minneapolis Woman's Story of the Fire—Girls' Clubs Sorely Stricken.
Eddie Foy's Sworn Testimony—Describes Stage Box—Curtain Would Not Come Down—Light Near the Fire—Saw no Extinguishers—Talks of Apparatus—Only One Exit Open—Wire Across Auditorium.
New York Theaters and Schools—Crusade in Pittsburg—Washington Theater Owners Arrested—Massachusetts Theaters Investigated—Action in Milwaukee—Precautions at St. Louis—Orders Affecting Omaha Theaters—Effect Abroad—Horror Felt in London—London Theater Precautions—Present Rules for London Theaters—Curtain Often Tested—Close Watch for Fire—Tree Tells of Ruse—Fortune for Safety—W. C. Zimmerman on European Theaters—The Effect on Gay Paris—Upheaval of Berlin Theatrical World—Mr. Shaver on Berlin Theaters—Vienna Recalls a Horror of Its Own—The Netherlands and Scandinavia.
Francis Wilson Says "No Steps"—Staircases with Railings—Precautions Enforced in London—What the Chicago City Engineer Says—Opinion of a Fireproof Expert—Illuminated Exit Signs.
The First Witness—Marlowe's Experience—Musical Director's Sworn Statement—Mrs. Petry's Escape—Up Against Locked Doors—Blown into the Alley—Just Out in Time—Sporting Men Testify—An Elgin Physician's Tale—Mr. Menhard's Difficult Exit—The Theater Engineer—A School Girl's Account.
A University Student's Story—A Clergyman's Story—The Fly Man's Story—School Teacher's Thrilling Experience—Glen View Man's Experience—The Light Operator—The Jammed Theater—Gas Explosion Hours Before the Fire—Panic Among Theater Employees—An Ex-Usher's Words.
Evidence of George M. Dusenberry, Superintendent of the Theater—Purpose of the Two Iron Gates—Never Any Fire Drills—Gates Were Battered—Didn't Bother About Locked Doors.
Attorney T. D. Knight Speaks—Coroner's Work Through—Remarks by Elizabeth Haley.
Mourning and Indignation—Nothing Else so Horrible—Unfortunate Victims—Fire! Fire!—Before the Disaster—The Holocaust—The Stampede Begins—One of Stupendous Horrors—Cursed and Blasphemed—Dead Bodies Found—Suddenly and Forever Parted—The Frenzy of Friends—Too Horrible to Dwell Upon—How the Theaters Should be Built.




The Rt. Rev. Samuel Fallows wrote this prayer for Chicago on its appointed day of mourning. It is a prayer for all mourners of all creeds:

"O God, our Heavenly Father, we pray for an unshaken faith in Thy goodness as our hearts are bowed in anguish before Thee.

Come with Thy touch of healing to those who are suffering fiery pain.

Open wide the gates of Paradise to the dying.

Comfort with the infinite riches of Thy grace the bereaved and mourning ones.

Forgive and counteract all our sins of omission and commission.

All this we ask for Thy dear name and mercy's sake. Amen."




Bishop Muldoon selected as the one familiar hymn most deeply expressive of the city's mourning, "Lead, Kindly Light," which he declared should be the united song of all Chicagoans on Memorial Day.

"Lead, kindly Light, amid th' encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on;
The night is dark, and I am far from home,
Lead Thou me on.
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.

I was not ever thus, nor prayed that Thou
Shouldst lead me on;
I loved to choose and see my path; but now
Lead Thou me on.
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will: remember not past years.

So long Thy power hath blessed me, sure it still
Will lead me on
O'er moor and fen, o'er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone,
And with the morn those angel faces smile,
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile."




The following poem, written by Walter Bissinger, a boy victim of the Iroquois Theater fire, fifteen years old, was composed two years ago, in honor of the tenth anniversary of the youthful poet's uncle and aunt, Mr. and Mrs. Max Pottlitzer, of Lafayette, Ind., whose son Jack, aged ten, perished with his cousin in the terrible disaster:


Have a thought for the days that are long gone by
To the country of What-has-been,
And a thought for the ones that unseen lie
'Neath the mystic veil
Of the future pale,
As the years roll out and in.
Have a thought for the host and hostess here,
Aunt Emily and Uncle Max,
And a thought for our friends to our hearts so dear
That around us tonight
In the joyous light
Of pleasure their souls relax
Have a thought for the happy two tonight
Who have passed their tenth wedded year,
And the best of wishes, kind and bright,
Which we impart
With a loving heart
That is faithful and sincere.




From the testimony presented to us we, the jury, find the following were the causes of said fire:

Grand drapery coming in contact with electric flood or arc light, situated on iron platform on the right hand of stage, facing the auditorium.

City laws were not complied with relating to building ordinances regulating fire-alarm boxes, fire apparatus, damper or flues on and over the stage and fly galleries.

We also find a distinct violation of ordinance governing fireproofing of scenery and all woodwork on or about the stage.

Asbestos curtain totally destroyed; wholly inadequate, considering the highly inflammable nature of all stage fittings, and owing to the fact that the same was hung on wooden bottoms.

Building ordinances violated inclosing aisles on each side of lower boxes and not having any fire apparatus, dampers or signs designating exits on balcony.



Building ordinances violated regulating fire apparatus and signs designating exits on dress circle.

Building ordinances violated regulating fire apparatus and signs designating exits on balcony.

Generally the building is constructed of the best material and well planned, with the exception of the top balcony, which was built too steep and therefore difficult for people to get out of especially in case of an emergency.

We also note a serious defect in the wide stairs in extreme top east entrance leading to ladies' lavatory and gallery promenade, same being misleading, as many people mistook this for a regular exit, and, going as far as they could, were confronted with a locked door which led to a private stairway preventing many from escape and causing the loss of fifty to sixty lives.



We hold Will J. Davis, as president and general manager, principally responsible for the foregoing violations in the failure to see that the Iroquois theater was properly equipped as required by city ordinances, and that his employes were not sufficiently instructed and drilled for any and all emergencies; and we, the jury, recommend that the said Will J. Davis be held to the grand jury until discharged by due course of law.

We hold Carter H. Harrison, mayor of the city of Chicago, responsible, as he has shown a lamentable lack of force in his efforts to shirk responsibility, evidenced by testimony of Building Commissioner George Williams and Fire Marshal William H. Musham as heads of departments under the said Carter H. Harrison; following this weak course has given Chicago inefficient service, which makes such calamities as the Iroquois theater horror a menace until the public service is purged of incompetents; and we, the jury, recommend that the said Carter H. Harrison be held to the grand jury until discharged by due course of law.



We hold the said George Williams, as building commissioner, responsible for gross neglect of his duty in allowing the Iroquois Theater to open its doors to the public when the said theater was incomplete, and did not comply with the requirements of the building ordinances of the city of Chicago; and we, the jury, recommend that the said George Williams be held to the grand jury until discharged by due process of law.

We hold Edward Loughlin, as building inspector, responsible for gross neglect of duty and glaring incompetency in reporting the Iroquois theater "O. K." on a most superficial inspection; and we, the jury, recommend that the said Edward Loughlin be held to the grand jury until discharged by due course of law.

We hold William H. Musham, fire marshal, responsible for gross neglect of duty in not enforcing the city ordinances as they relate to his department, and failure to have his subordinate, William Sallers, fireman at the Iroquois Theater, report the lack of fire apparatus and appliances as required by law; and we, the jury, recommend that the said William H. Musham be held to the grand jury until discharged by due course of law.



We hold the said William Sallers, as fireman of Iroquois Theater, for gross neglect of duty in not reporting the lack of proper fire apparatus and appliances; and we, the jury, recommend that the said William Sallers be held to the grand jury until discharged by due course of law.

We hold William McMullen, electric-light operator, for gross neglect and carelessness in performance of duty; and we, the jury, recommend that the said William McMullen be held to the grand jury until discharged by due process of law.

We hold James E. Cummings, as stage carpenter and general superintendent of stage, responsible for gross carelessness and neglect of duty in not equipping the stage with proper fire apparatus and appliances; and we, the jury, recommend that the said James E. Cummings be held to the grand jury until discharged by due course of law.

From testimony presented to this jury, same shows a laxity and carelessness in city officials and their routine in transacting business, which calls for revision by the mayor and city council; and we, the jury demand immediate action on the following:



Should have classified printed lists, to be filled out by an inspector, then signed by head of department, before any public building can secure amusement license, and record kept thereof in duplicate carbon book.

All fire escapes should have separate passageways to the ground, without passing any openings in the walls.

All scenery and paraphernalia of any kind kept on the stage should be absolutely fireproof.

Asbestos curtains should be reinforced by steel curtains and held by steel cables.

There should be two electric mains entering all places of amusement, one from the front, with switchboard in box office, controlling entire auditorium and exits, and one on stage, to be used for theatrical purposes.

All city officials and employes should familiarize themselves with city ordinances as they relate to their respective departments, and pass a rigid and signed examination on same before they are given positions. This same rule should be made to apply to those holding office.



All theaters and public places should be supplied with at least two city firemen, who shall be under the direction of the fire department and paid by the proprietors of said places.

We recommend that the office and detail work of the fire department, as imposed on the fire marshal, be made a separate and distinct work from fire fighting, as it is hardly to be expected of any fire marshal to give good and efficient service in both of these branches.

Also a police officer in full uniform detailed in and about said place at each and every performance.

In testimony wherof, the said coroner and jury of this inquest have hereunto set their hands the day and year aforesaid.

L. H. Meyer, Foreman, Peter Byrnes,
J. A. Cummings, Walter D. Clingman,
John E. Finn, George W. Atkin.
John E. Traeger, Coroner.



[Pg 33]



No disaster, by flood, volcano, wreck or convulsion of nature has in recent times aroused such horror as swept over the civilized world when on December 30, 1903, a death-dealing blast of flame hurtled through the packed auditorium of the Iroquois theater, Chicago, causing the loss of nearly 600 lives of men, women and children, and injuries to unknown scores.

Strong words pale and appear meaningless when used in describing the full enormity of this disaster, which has no recent parallel save in the outbreaks of nature's irresistible forces. There have been greater losses of life by volcanoes, earthquakes and floods, but no fire horror of modern times has equaled this one, which in a brief half-hour turned a beautiful million-dollar theater into an oven piled high with corpses, some burned and mutilated and others almost unmarked in death.

Coming, as it did, in the midst of a holiday season, when the second greatest city in the United States was reveling in the gaiety of Christmas week, this sudden transformation of a playhouse filled with a pleasure-seeking throng into an inferno filled with shrieking living and mutilated dead, came as a thunderbolt from a clear sky.

It was a typical holiday matinee crowd, composed mostly of women and children, with here and there a few men. The production was the gorgeous scenic extravaganza "Mr. Bluebeard," with which the handsome new theater had been opened[Pg 34] not a month before. "Don't fail to have the children see 'Mr. Bluebeard,'" was the advertisement spread broadcast throughout the city, and the children were there in force when the scorching sheet of flame leaped from the stage into the balcony and gallery where a thousand were packed.

The building had been heralded abroad as a "fireproof structure," with more than enough exits. Ushers and five men in city uniform were in the aisles. All was apparently safety, mirth and good cheer.

Then came the transformation scene!

The auditorium and the stage were darkened for the popular song "The Pale Moonlight." Eight dashing chorus girls and eight stalwart men in showy costume strolled through the measures of the piece, bathed in a flood of dazzling light. Up in the scenes a stage electrician was directing the "spot-light" which threw the pale moonlight effect on the stage.

Suddenly there was a startled cry. Far overhead where the "spot" was shooting forth its brilliant ray of concentrated light a tiny serpentine tongue of flame crept over the inside of the proscenium drape. It was an insignificant thing, yet the horrible possibilities it entailed flashed over all in an instant. A spark from the light had communicated to the rough edge of the heavy cloth drape. Like a flash it stole across the proscenium and high up into the gridiron above.

Accustomed as they were to insignificant fire scares and trying ordeals that are seldom the lot of those who lead a less strenuous life, the people of the stage hurried silently to the task of stamping out the blaze. In the orchestra pit it could readily be seen that something was radically wrong, but the trained musicians played on.

Members of the octette cast their eyes above and saw the tiny tongue of flame growing into a whirling maelstrom of[Pg 35] fire. But it was a sight they had seen before. Surely something would happen to extinguish it. America's newest and most modern fireproof playhouse was not going to disappear before an insignificant fire in the rigging loft. So they continued to sway in sinuous steps to the rhythm of the throbbing orchestra. Their presence stilled the nervousness of the vast audience, which knew that something was wrong, but had no means of realizing what that something was.

So the gorgeously attired men and dashing, voluptuous young women danced on. The throng feasted its eyes on the moving scene of life and color, little knowing that for them it was the last dance—the dance of death!

That dance was not the only one in progress. Far above the element of death danced from curtain to curtain. The fire fiend, red and glowing with exultation, snapping and crackling in anticipation of the feast before it, grew beyond all bounds. Glowing embers and blazing sparks—crumbs from its table—began to shower upon the merry dancers, and they fell back with blanched faces and trembling limbs. Eddie Foy rushed to the front of the stage to reassure the spectators, who now realized the peril at hand and rose in their seats struggling against the impulse to fly. Others joined the comedian in his plea for calmness.

Suddenly their voices were drowned in a volley of sounds like the booming of great guns. The manila lines by which the carloads of scenery in the loft above was suspended gave way before the fire like so much paper and the great wooden batons fell like thunder bolts upon the now deserted stage.

Still the audience stood, terror bound.

"Lower the fire curtain!" came a hoarse cry.

Something shot down over the proscenium, then stopped before the great opening was closed, leaving a yawning space of[Pg 36] many feet beneath. With the dropping of the curtain a door in the rear had been opened by the performers, fleeing for their lives and battling to escape from the devouring element fast hemming them in on every side. The draft thus caused transformed the stage in one second from a dark, gloomy, smoke concealed scene of chaos into a seething volcano. With a great puff the mass of flame swept out over the auditorium, a withering blast of death. Before it the vast throng broke and fled.

Doors, windows, hallways, fire escapes—all were jammed in a moment with struggling humanity, fighting for life. Some of the doors were jammed almost instantly so that no human power could make egress possible. Behind those in front pushed the frenzied mass of humanity, Chicago's elect, the wives and children of its most prosperous business men and the flower of local society, fighting like demons incarnate. Purses, wraps, costly furs were cast aside in that mad rush. Mothers were torn from their children, husbands from their wives. No hold, however strong, could last against that awful, indescribable crush. Strong men who sought to the last to sustain their feminine companions were swept away like straws, thrown to the floor and trampled into unconsciousness in the twinkling of an eye. Women to whom the safety of their children was more than their own lives had their little ones torn from them and buried under the mighty sweep of humanity, moving onward by intuition rather than through exercise of thought to the various exits. They in turn were swept on before their wails died on their lips—some to safety, others to an unspeakably horrible death.

While some exits were jammed by fallen refugees so as to become useless, others refused to open. In the darkness that fell upon the doomed theater a struggle ensued such as was[Pg 37] never pictured in the mind of Dante in his visions of Inferno. With prayers, curses and meaningless shrieks of terror all faced their fate like rats in a trap. The darkness was illumined by a fearful light that burst from the sea of flame pouring out from the proscenium, making Dore's representations of Inferno shrink into the commonplace. Like a horizontal volcano the furnace on the stage belched forth its blast of fire, smoke, gas and withering, blighting heat. Like a wave it rolled over every portion of the vast house, dancing.

Dancing! Yes, the pillars of flame danced! To the multitude swept into eternity before the hurricane of flame and the few who were dragged out hideously disfigured and burned almost beyond all semblance of human beings it seemed indeed a dance of death.

Withering, crushing, consuming all in its path, forced on as though by the power of some mighty blow pipe, impelled by the fearful drafts that directed the fiery furnace outward into the auditorium instead of upward into the great flues constructed to meet just such an emergency, the sea of fire burned itself out. There was little or nothing in the construction of the building itself for it to feed upon, and it fell back of its own weight to the stage, where it roared and raged like some angry demon.

And those great flues that supposedly gave the palatial Iroquois increased safety! Barred and grated, battened down with heavy timbers they resisted the terrific force of the blast itself. There they remained intact the next day. Anxiety to throw open the palace of pleasure to the public before the builders had time to complete in detail their Herculean task had resulted in converting it into a veritable slaughter pen.

"Mr. Bluebeard's" chamber of horrors, lightly depicted in satire to settings of gold and color, wit and music, had evolved[Pg 38] within a few minutes into an actuality. Chamber of horrors indeed—grim, silent, smoldering and sending upon high the fearful odor of burning flesh.

Policemen and firemen, hardened to terrible sights, crept into the smoldering sepulchre only to turn back sickened by the sight that met their eyes. Tears and groans fell from them and they were unnerved as they gazed upon the scene of carnage. Some gave way and were themselves the subjects of deep concern. It was a scene to wring tears from the very stones. No words can adequately describe it.

Perhaps the best description of that quarter hour of carnage and the sense of horror when the seared, scorched sepulchre was entered for the removal of the dead and dying is found in the words of the veteran descriptive writer, Mr. Ben H. Atwell, who was present from the beginning to the end of the holocaust, and after visiting the deadly spot in the gray dawn of the following day wrote his impressions as follows:

"Where at 3:15 yesterday beauty and fashion and the happy amusement seeker thronged the palatial playhouse to fall a few moments later before a deadly blast of smoke and flame sweeping over all with irresistible force, the dawn of the last day of the passing year found confusion, chaos and an all-pervading sense of the awful. It seemed to radiate the chilling, depressing volume from the streaked, grime-covered walls and the flame-licked ceilings overhead. Against this fearful background the few grim firemen or police, moving silently about the ruins, searching for overlooked dead or abandoned property, loomed up like fitful ghosts.



"The progress of their noiseless and ghastly quest proved one circumstance survivors are too unsettled to realize. With[Pg 39] the opening of the stage door to permit the escape of the members of the 'Mr. Bluebeard' company and the breaking of the skylight above the flue-like scene loft that tops the stage, the latter was converted into a furnace through which a tremendous draft poured like a blow pipe, driving billows of flame into the faces of the terrified audience. With exits above the parquet floor simply choked up with the crushed bodies of struggling victims, who made the first rush for safety, the packed hundreds in balcony and gallery faced fire that moved them up in waves.

"With a swirl that sounded death, the thin bright sheet of fire rolled on from stage to rear wall. It fed on the rich box curtains, seized upon the sparse veneer of subdued red and green decorations spread upon wall, ceiling and balcony facings. It licked the fireproof materials below clean and rolled on with a roar. Over seat tops and plush rail cushions it sped. Then it snuffed out, having practically nothing to feed upon save the tangled mass of wood scene frames, batons and paint-soaked canvas on the stage.



"There firemen were directing streams of water that poured over the premises in great cascades in volume, aggregating many tons. A few streams were directed about the body of the house, where vagrant tongues of flame still found material on which to feed. Silence reigned—the silence of death, but none realized the appalling story behind the awful calm.

"The stampede that followed the first alarm, a struggle in which most contestants were women and children, fighting with the desperation of death, terminated with the sudden sweep of the sea of flames across the body of the house. The awful battle ended before the irresistible hand of death, which fell[Pg 40] upon contestants and those behind alike. Somehow those on the main floor managed to force their way out. Above, where the presence of narrower exits, stairways that precipitated the masses of humanity upon each other and the natural air current for the billows of flame to follow, spelled death to the occupants of the two balconies, the wave of flame, smoke and gas smote the multitude.



"Dropping where they stood, most of the victims were consumed beyond recognition. Some who were protected from contact with the flames by masses of humanity piled upon them escaped death and were dragged out later by rescuers, suffering all manner of injury. The majority, however, who beheld the indescribably terrifying spectacle of the wave of death moving upon them through the air died then and there without a moment for preparation. Few survived to tell the tale. The blood-curdling cry of mingled prayers and curses, of pleas for help and meaningless shrieks of despair died away before the roar of the fire and the silence fell that greeted the firemen upon their entry.

"Survivors describe the situation as a parallel of the condition at Martinique when a wave of gas and fire rolled down the mountain side and destroyed everything in its path. Here, however, one circumstance was reversed, for the wave of death leaped from below and smote its victims, springing from the very air beneath them.



"In a few minutes it was all over—all but the weeping. In those few minutes obscure people had evolved into heroes; staid business men drove out patrons to convert their stores[Pg 41] into temporary hospitals and morgues; others converted their trucks and delivery wagons into improvised ambulances; stocks of drugs, oils and blankets were showered upon the police to aid in relief work and a corps of physicians and surgeons sufficient to the needs of an army had organized.

"Rescues little short of miraculous were accomplished and life and limb were risked by public servants and citizens with no thought of personal consequences. Public sympathy was thoroughly aroused long before the extent of the horror was known and before the sickening report spread throughout the city that the greatest holocaust ever known in the history of theatricals had fallen upon Chicago.

"While the streets began to crowd for blocks around with weeping and heartbroken persons in mortal terror because of knowledge that loved ones had attended the performance, patrol wagons, ambulances and open wagons hurried the injured to hospitals. Before long they were called upon to perform the more grewsome task of removing the dead. In wagon loads the latter were carted away. Undertaking establishments both north, south and west of the river threw open their doors.



"Piled in windows in the angle of the stairway where the second balcony refugees were brought face to face and in a death struggle with the occupants of the first balcony, the dead covered a space fifteen or twenty feet square and nearly seven feet in depth. All were absolutely safe from the fire itself when they met death, having emerged from the theater proper into the separate building containing the foyer. In this great court there was absolutely nothing to burn and the doors were only a few feet away. There the ghastly pile lay, a mute [Pg 42]monument to the powers of terror. Above and about towered shimmering columns and facades in polished marble, whose cold and unharmed surfaces seemed to bespeak contempt for human folly. In that portion of the Iroquois structure the only physical evidences of damages were a few windows broken during the excitement.



"To that pile of dead is attributed the great loss of life within. The bodies choked up the entrance, barring the egress of those behind. Neither age nor youth, sex, quality or condition were sacred in the awful battle in the doorway. The gray and aged, rich, poor, young and those obviously invalids in life lay in a tangled mass all on an awful footing of equality in silent annihilation.

"Within and above equal terrors were encountered in what at first seemed countless victims. Lights, patience and hard work brought about some semblance of system and at last word was given that the last body had been removed from the charnel house. A large police detail surrounded the place all night and with the break of day search of the premises was renewed, none being admitted save by presentation of a written order from Chief of Police O'Neill. Fire engines pumped away removing the lake of water that flooded the basement to the depth of ten feet. As the flood was lowered it began to be apparent that the basement was free of dead.



"Searchers gazing down from the heights of the upper balcony surveyed the scene of death below with horror stamped upon their faces. Fire had left its terrifying blight in a colorless, garish monotony that suggests the burned-out crater of[Pg 43] an extinct volcano. In the wreckage, the scattered garments and purses, fragments of charred bodies and other debris strewn within thousands of bits of brilliantly colored glass, lay as they fell shattered in the fight against the flames. A few skulls were seen.



"Five bushel baskets were filled with women's purses gathered by the police. A huge pile of garments was removed to a near-by saloon, where an officer guards them pending removal to some more appropriate place. The shoes and overshoes picked up among the seats fill two barrels to overflowing.

"The fire manifested itself in the flies above the stage during the second act. The double octette was singing 'In the Pale Moonlight' when the tragedy swept mirth and music aside, to give way to a more somber and frightful performance. Confusion on the stage, panic in the auditorium, phenomenal spread of the incipient blaze, failure of the asbestos fire curtain to fall in place when lowered followed in rapid progress, with the holocaust as the climax."

But to return to the narrative of what happened immediately after the first alarm, as gathered by the collaborators of this work. There was a wild, futile dash—futile because few of the terrified participants succeeded in reaching the outer air. Persons in the rear of the theater building knew full well that a holocaust was in progress. There fire escapes and stage doors thronged with refugees, half clad and hysterical chorus girls flocking into the alley, and crackling flames leaping higher and higher from the flimsy stage and bursting from windows, told only too plainly what was in progress within. At the front, half a block distant, in Randolph street, ominous silence maintained. A mere handful of people burst out, those[Pg 44] who had occupied rear seats and pushed by the ushers who sought to restrain them and quiet their fears. Loiterers about the ornate lobby scarcely sniffed a suggestion of impending disaster before the fire apparatus began to arrive with clanging bells.

Those ushers who held back the straining, anxious spectators who sought escape at the first mild suggestion of danger—for what widespread woe are they responsible!

Mere boys of tender years and meager experience, what knew they of the awful possibilities behind the spell of excitement upon the stage? Only two weeks before there had been an incipient blaze there that had been extinguished without the knowledge of the audience.

Like all the rest of the world that now stands in shuddering wonderment, these boys scoffed at the thought of real danger in the massive pile of steel, stone and terra cotta, with its brave and shimmering veneer of glistening marble, stained glass of many hues, rich tapestries and drapings, and cold, aristocratic tints of red and old gold. And so with uplifted hands they turned back those whose sense of caution prompted them to leave at the outset. Surely disaster could not overtake the regal Iroquois in its first flush of pomp, pride and superiority. It was their sacred duty to see that no unseemly break marred the decorum established for the guidance of audiences at the Iroquois, and that duty was fully discharged.

Thus it was that the wild hegira did not begin from the front until the arrival of the fire department. Then pandemonium itself broke loose. All restraining influences from the stage had ceased. At the appearance of the all-consuming wave of flame sweeping across the auditorium the boy ushers abandoned their posts and fled for their lives, leaving the packed audience to do the same unhampered.

[Pg 45]Unhampered—not quite! Darkness descending upon the scene, doors locked against the frightened multitude, fire escapes cut off by tongues of flame and exits and stairways choked with the bodies of those who died fighting to reach safety hampered many—at least the six hundred carried out later mangled and roasted, their features and limbs twisted and distorted until little semblance to humanity remained. After the first wild dash, in which a large portion of those on the main floor escaped, the blackness of night settled upon the long marble foyer leading from Randolph street to the auditorium. It settled in a cloud of black, fire laden smoke—death in nebulous forms defying fire fighter and rescuer alike to enter the great corridor. None entered, and, more pitiful still, none came forth.

While this situation maintained in front a vastly different scene unfolded in the rear. The theater formed a great L, extending north from Randolph street to an alley and, in the rear, west to Dearborn street. This last projection, the toe of the L, was occupied by the stage, theoretically the finest in America, if not in the world. Thus the auditorium and stage occupied the extreme northern part of the structure, paralleling an alley extending on a line with Randolph street from State street to Dearborn street. This alley wall was pierced by many windows and emergency exits and was studded with fire escapes built in the form of iron galleries, and stairways hugging close to the wall leading to the alley.

To these exits and the long, grim galleries of fire escapes the herded, fire-hunted audience surged. Those who reached doors that responded to their efforts found themselves pushed along the galleries by the resistless crush behind. As was the case in front, half way to safety another stream of humanity was encountered pouring out at right angles from another portion[Pg 46] of the house. Coming together with the impact of opposing armies the two hosts of refugees gave unwilling and terrible answer to the time worn problem as to the outcome of an irresistible force encountering an immovable body. Both in front and rear great mounds of dead spelled annihilation as the answer. In front over 200 corpses piled in a twenty-foot angle of a stairway where two balcony exits merged told the terrible tale, and rendered both passages useless for egress, the dead being piled up in wall-like formation ten feet high.

In the rear an alley strewn with mangled men, women and children writhing in agony on the icy pavement, or relieved of their sufferings by death, lent eloquent corroboration to the solution of the problem.

It was in the rear that the true horror of the fire was most fully disclosed. There no towering mosaic studded walls or kindly mantle of smoke shut out the horrid sight. From its opening scene to its silent, ghastly denouement the successive details of this greatest of modern tragedies was forced upon the view to be stamped upon the memory of the unwilling beholder with an impressiveness that only death will blot out.

After the first great impact had hurled the overflow of the fire-escape gallery into the alley yawning far below, the crush of humanity swept onward, downward to where safety beckoned. When the advance guard had all but reached the precious goal, with only a few feet of iron gallery and one more stairway to traverse, the crowning horror of the day unfolded itself. Right in the path of the advancing horde a steel window shutter flew back, impelled by the terrific energy of an immeasurable volume of pent up superheated air.

The clang of the steel shutter swinging back on its hinges against the brick wall sounded the death knell of another host of victims, for in its wake came a huge tongue of lurid flame,[Pg 47] leaping on high in the ecstasy of release from its stifling furnace. Fiercely in the faces of the refugees beat this agency of death. Before its withering blast the victims fell like prairie grass before an autumn blaze. Those further back waited for no more, but precipitated themselves headlong into the alley rather than face the fiery furnace that loomed up barring the way to hope.

It would be well to draw the curtain upon this awful scene of suffering and death in the gloomy alley were it not for one circumstance that stands forth a glorious example of the heights that may be attained by the modest hero who moves about unsuspected in his daily life until calamity affords opportunity to show the stuff he is made of. High up in the building occupied by the law, dental and pharmacy schools of the Northwestern University, directly across the alley from the burning theater, a number of such men were at work. They were horny handed sons of toil—painters, paper hangers and cleaners repairing minor damage caused by an insignificant fire in the university building a few weeks before. One glance at the seething vortex of death below transformed them into heroes whose deeds would put many a man to shame whose memory is kept alive by stately column or flattering memorial tablet.

Trailing heavy planks used by them in the erection of working scaffolds, they rushed to a window in the lecture room of the law school directly opposite the exit and fire escape platform leading from the topmost balcony of the theater. By almost superhuman effort and ingenuity they raised aloft the planks, scarce long enough to span the abyss, and dropped them. The prayers of thousands below and a multitude stifling in the aperture opposite were raised that the planks might fall true. All eyes followed their course as they poised in [Pg 48]mid-air, then descended. Slow seemed their fall, a veritable period of torture, and awed silence reigned as they dropped.

Then there arose a glad cry. With a crash the great planks landed true, the free ends squarely upon the edge of the platform of the useless fire escape, the others resting firmly upon the narrow window ledge where the painters stood defying flame, smoke and torrents of burning embers and blazing sparks hurled upon them as from the crater of a volcano.

Death alley had been bridged! Across the narrow span came a volume of bedraggled humanity as though shot from a gun. A mad, screaming stream, pushed on by those behind, simply whirled across the frail support, direct from the very jaws of death, the blistering gates of hell.

Only for a moment, a brief second it seemed, the wild procession moved. Yet in that limited period scores, perhaps hundreds, poured from the seething inferno—practically all that escaped from the lofty balcony that was a moment later transformed into the death chamber of helpless hundreds. Then the wave of flame, previously described, swept over the interior of the theater, greedily searching every nook and corner as though hungry for the last victim within reach.

The last refugees to cross the narrow span, the dizzy line sharply drawn between life and death in its most terrifying aspect, staggered over with their clothing in flames, gasping, fainting with pain and terror. The workmen, students and policemen who had rushed to their assistance dashed across into the heat and smoke and dragged forth many more who had reached the platform only to fall before the deadly blast. Then the rescuers were beaten back and the fire fiend was left to claim its own.

And claim them it did, searching them out with ruminating tongues of flame. Over every inch of paint and decoration,[Pg 49] every tapestry, curtain and seat top it licked its way with insinuating eagerness. It pursued its victims beyond the confines of the theater walls, grasping in its deadly embrace those who lay across windows or prostrate on galleries and platforms. Thousands gazed on in helpless horror, watching the flames bestow a fatal caress upon many who had crept far, far from the blaze and almost into a zone of safety. With a gliding, caressing movement that made beholders' blood run cold it crept upon such victims, hovered a moment and glided on with sinuous motion and what approached a suggestion of intelligence in searching out those who fled before it. A shriek, a spasmodic movement and the victims lay still, their earthly troubles over forever.

A few minutes later, possibly not more than half an hour after the discovery of the fire, when the firemen had beaten back the flames to the raging stage another procession moved across that same plank again. It moved in silence, for it was a procession of death. The great tragedy began and ended in fifteen minutes. Its echoes may roll down as many centuries, compelling the proper safeguarding of all places of amusement, in America at least. If so, the Iroquois victims did not give up their lives in vain.

When the removal of the victims across the improvised bridge over death alley ended the tireless official in charge of that work, James Markham, secretary to Chief of Police O'Neill, had checked off 102 corpses. No attempt was made to keep count of the dead as they were removed from other portions of the theater and by other exits. The counting was done when the patrol wagons, ambulances, trucks and delivery wagons used in removing the dead deposited their ghastly loads at the morgues.

The instance cited was not an isolated example of heroism,[Pg 50] but rather merely a striking instance among scores. Police, firemen and citizens vied with each other in the work of humanity. Merchants drove out customers and threw open their business houses as temporary hospitals and morgues. Others donated great wagon loads of blankets and supplies of all kinds and the municipal government was embarrassed by the unsolicited relief funds that poured in. All manner of vehicles were given freely for the removal of dead and injured. So informal was the removal of the latter that many may have reached their homes unreported. For that reason a complete list of the injured may never be secured.

An illustration of the possibilities in that direction is found in the case of one man who wrapped the dead body of his wife in his overcoat and carried it to Evanston, many miles away, where the circumstances became known days later when a burial permit was sought. Another is the case of an injured man who revived on a dead wagon en route to a morgue and was removed by friends.

All these and other details are elaborated upon elsewhere, together with the touching story of the scores of young women employed in the production, "Mr. Bluebeard," who would have been stranded penniless in a strange city a thousand miles from home but for the prompt and noble relief afforded by Mrs. Ogden Armour.



[Pg 51]



On the heels of the firemen came the police, intent on the work of rescue. Chief O'Neill and Assistant Chief Schuettler ordered captains from a dozen stations to bring their men, and then they rushed to the theater and led the police up the stairs to the landing outside the east entrance to the first balcony.

The firemen, rushing blindly up the stairs in the dense pall of smoke, had found their path suddenly blocked by a wall of dead eight or ten feet high. They discovered many persons alive and carried them to safety. Other firemen crawled over the mass of dead and dragged their hose into the theater to fight back the flames that seemed to be crawling nearer to turn the fatal landing into a funeral pyre.

O'Neill and Schuettler immediately began carrying the dead from the balcony, while other policemen went to the gallery to begin the work there.

In the great mass of dead at the entrance to the first balcony the bodies were so terribly interwoven that it was impossible at first to take any one out.

"Look out for the living!" shouted the chief to his men. "Try to find those who are alive."

From somewhere came a faint moaning cry.

"Some one alive there, boys," came the cry. "Lively, now!"

[Pg 52]The firemen and police long struggled in vain to move the bodies.

The raging tide of humanity pouring out of the east entrance of the balcony during the panic had met the fighting, struggling crowd coming down the stairs from the third balcony at right angles. The two streams formed a whirlpool which ceased its onward progress and remained there on the landing where people stamped each other under foot in that mad circle of death.

In a short time the blockade in the fatal angle must have been complete. Then into this awful heap still plunged the contrary tides of humanity from each direction. Many tried to crawl over the top of the heap, but were drawn down to the grinding mill of death underneath. The smoke was heavy at the fatal angle, for the majority of those taken out at that point bore no marks of bruises.

Many, and especially the children, were trampled to death, but others were held as in a vise until the smoke had choked the life from their bodies.

It was toward this that the firemen directed O'Neill and Schuettler as they rushed into the theater. The smoke was still heavy and the great gilded marble foyer of the "handsomest theater in America" was somber and dark and still as a tomb, except for the whistling of the engines outside and now and then the shouting of the firemen. Water was dripping everywhere and stood inches deep on the floor and stairs.

Two flickering lanterns shed the only light by which the policemen worked, and this very fact, perhaps, made their task more horrible and gruesome, if such a thing were possible.

 [Pg 53]


All through the gallery the bodies were found. Some were those of persons who had decided to stay in their seats and not to join in the mad rush for the doors and run the risk of being trampled to death. Many of them no doubt had trusted to the cries, "There is no danger; keep your seats!"

They had stuck to their seats until, choked by the heavy smoke, they had been unable to move.

Some bodies were in a sitting position, while others had fallen forward, with the head resting on the seat in front, as though in prayer. Almost all were terribly burned.

In the aisles lay women and children who had staid in their seats until they finally were convinced that the danger was real. Then they had attempted to get to the door.

The smoke was so heavy the firemen worked with difficulty, but finally it cleared and workmen who were hastily sent by the Edison company equipped forty arc lights, which shone bravely through the smoke. With this help the firemen searched to better effect, and found bodies that in the blackness they had missed.

"Give that girl to some one else and get back there," shouted Chief Musham to a fireman. The fireman never answered but kept on with his burden.

"Hand that girl to some one else," shouted the battalion chief.

The fireman looked up. Even in the flickering light of the lantern the chief carried one could see the tears coming from the red eyes and falling down the man's blackened cheeks.

"Chief," said the fireman, "I've got a girl like this at home. I want to carry this one out."

[Pg 54]"Go ahead," said the chief. The little group working at the head of the stairs broke apart while the fireman, holding the body tightly, made his way slowly down the stairs.

One by one the dead were taken from the pile in the angle. The majority of them were women. On some faces was an expression of terrible agony, but on others was a look of calmness and serenity, and firemen sometimes found it hard to believe they were dead. Three firemen carried the body of a young woman down the stairs in a rubber blanket. She appeared alive. Her hands were clasped and held flowers. Her eyes were closed and she seemed almost to smile. She looked as though she was asleep, but it was the sleep of death.

In the dark and smoke, with the dripping water and the dead piled in heaps everywhere, the Iroquois theater had been turned into a tomb by the time the rescue parties had begun their work.



The moan that the frantic workers heard as they struggled to untangle the mass of bodies gave the police hope that many in the heap might be alive.

"We can't do it, chief," shouted one of the policemen. "We can't untangle them."

"We must take these bodies out of the way to get down to those who are alive," replied the chief. "This man here is dead; lay hold, now, boys, and pull him out."

Two big firemen caught the body by the shoulders and struggled and pulled until they had it free. Then another body was taken out, and then again the workers seemed unable to unloose the dead. Again came that terrible moan through the mass.

[Pg 55]"For God's sake, get down to that one who's alive," implored O'Neill, almost in despair.

The policemen pulled off their heavy overcoats and worked frantically at the heap. Often a body could not be moved except when the firemen and police dragged with a "yo, heave," like sailors hauling on a rope. As fast as the bodies were freed one policeman, or sometimes two or three, would stagger down the stairs with their burdens.

Over the heap of bodies crawled a fireman carrying something in his arms.

"Out of the way, men, let me out! The kid's alive."

The workers fell back and the fireman crawled over the heap and was helped out. He ran down the stairs three steps at a time to get the child to a place where help might be given before it was too late. Then other firemen from inside the theater passed out more bodies, which were handed from one policeman to another until some on the outside of the heap could take the dead and carry them downstairs.

Suddenly a policeman pulling at the heap gave a shout.

"I've got her, chief!" he said. "She's alive, all right!"

"Easy there, men, easy," cried Schuettler; "but hurry and get that woman to a doctor!"

A girl, apparently 18 years old, was moaning faintly. The policeman released her from the tangled heap, and a big fireman, lifting her tenderly in his arms, hurried with her to the outside of the building.

"There must be more alive," said the chief. "Work hard, boys."

There was hardly any need to ask the men to work harder, for they were pulling and hauling as though their own lives depended on their efforts. Everybody worked.

The reporters, the only ones in the theater besides the police[Pg 56] and firemen, laid aside their pencils and note books and struggled down the wet, slippery stairs, carrying the dead. Newspaper artists threw their sketch books on the floor to jump forward and pick up the feet or head of a body that a fireman or policeman found too heavy to carry alone. Constantly now a stream of workers was passing slowly down the stairs. Usually two men supported each body, but often some giant policeman or fireman strode along with a body swung over his shoulders. Coming down the stairs was a fireman with a girl of 16 clasped in his arms.

"Isn't that girl alive?" asked the chief.

"No," shouted two or three men, who had jumped to see. "She's dead, poor thing, rest her soul," said the fireman reverently, and then he picked his way down the stairs. Half-way down the marble steps two arms suddenly clasped the fireman's neck.

He started so he missed his footing and would have fallen had not a policeman steadied him.

"She's alive, she's alive!" shouted the fireman. "Git out of the way, there, out of the way, men," and he went dashing headlong out into the open air and through the crowd to a drug store.

One child after another was taken from the heap and passed out to be carried downstairs. Some were little boys in new suits, sadly torn, and with their poor little faces wreathed in agony. On their foreheads was the seal of death.

A big fireman came crawling from the heavy smoke of the inner balcony. He carried a girl of 10 years in his arms. Her long, flaxen hair half covered the pure white face.

A gray haired man with a gash on his head apparently had fallen down the stairs. A woman's face bore the mark of a boot heel. A woman with a little boy clasped tight in her[Pg 57] arms was wedged into a corner. Her clothes were almost torn from her, and her face was bruised. The child was unmarked, as she had thrown her own body over his to protect him.

Out of the mass of bodies when the police began their work protruded one slender little white hand, clinching a pair of pearl opera glasses, which the little owner had tried to save, in spite of the fact that her own life was being crushed out of her. Watches, pocketbooks and chatelaine bags were scattered all through the pile. One man was detailed to make a bag out of a rubber coat and take care of the property that was handed to him.

While the police were working so desperately at the fatal angle, another detail of police and firemen were working on the third floor. At the main entrance of the gallery lay another heap of bodies, and there was still another at the angle of the head of the stairs leading to the floor below. Here the sight was even worse than the terrible scene presented at the landing of the first balcony.

The bodies on the landing were not burned. A jam had come there, and many had been stamped under foot and either killed outright or left to suffocate. Many of the bodies were almost stripped of clothing and bore the marks of remorseless heels.

After these had been carried out, the firemen returned again and again from the pitchy blackness of the smoke-filled galleries, dragging bodies, burned sometimes beyond recognition.



While now and then some one had been found alive in the other fatal angle, no one was rescued by searchers in the top gallery. The bodies had to be laid along the hall until the[Pg 58] merchants in State street began sending over blankets. Men from the streets came rushing up the stairs, bending under the weight of the blankets they carried on their shoulders. Soon they went back to the street again, this time carrying their blankets weighed down with a charred body.



The scenes in John R. Thompson's restaurant in Randolph street, adjoining the theater, were ghastly beyond words.

Few half hours in battle bring more of horror than the half hour that turned the cafe into a charnel house, with its tumbled heaps of corpses, its shrieks of agony from the dying, and the confusion of doctors and nurses working madly over bodies all about as they strove to bring back the spark of life.

Bodies were everywhere—piled along the walls, laid across tables, and flung down here and there—some charred beyond recognition, some only scorched, and others black from suffocation; some crushed in the rush of the panic, others but the poor, broken remains of those who leaped into death. And most of them—almost all of them—were the forms of women and children. It is estimated that more than 150 bodies were accounted for in Thompson's alone.

The continuous tramp of the detachments of police bearing in more bodies, the efforts of the doctors to restore life, and the madness of those who surged in through the police lines to ransack piles of bodies for relatives and friends, made up a scene of pandemonium of which it is hard to form a conception. There was organization of the fifty physicians and nurses who fought back death in the dying; there was organization of the police and firemen; but still the restaurant was a chaos that left the head bewildered and the heart sick.

[Pg 59]The work was too much for even the big force of doctors that had flocked there to volunteer their services. Everybody in which there was the slightest semblance of life was given over to the physicians, who with oxygen tanks and resuscitative movements sought to revive the heart beats. As soon as death was certain the body was drawn from the table and laid beneath, to give place to another. But systematic as was this effort, heaps of bodies remained which the doctors had not touched.

In a dozen instances, even when the end of the work was in sight, a hand or foot was seen to move in this or that heap. Instantly three or four doctors were bending over rolling away the dead bodies to drag forth one still warm with life. In a thrice the body was on a table and the oxygen turned on while the doctors worked with might and main to force respiration. Almost always it was in vain—life went out. Two or three were resuscitated, though it is uncertain with what chances of ultimate recovery. One of these was a Mrs. Harbaugh, who had been brought in for dead and her body tossed among the lifeless forms that ranged the walls.

When the first rush of people from the theater gave notice of the fire to persons in the street there were less than a score of patrons in the restaurant. These rushed into the street, too, while a panic spread among the waitresses and kitchen force. By this time fire company 13 was on the ground in the alley side of the theater and the police were at the front attempting to lead the audience from its peril with some semblance of order. In another minute women and children with blistered faces were dashing screaming into the street, taking refuge in the first doorways at hand.

Another minute, and every policeman knew in his heart the horror that was at hand. A patrolman dashed into Thompson's[Pg 60] and ordered the tables cleared and arranged to care for the injured. Captain Gibbons dispatched another policeman to issue a general call for physicians and a detachment to take charge of the restaurant and the first aid to be administered there. Within five minutes the first of the injured were being laid on the marble topped dining tables where the police ambulance corps were getting at work.

These steps scarcely had been taken when word came from the burning theater that the fire was under control, but that the loss of life would be appalling. Chief O'Neill hurried to the scene, sending back word as he ran that Secretary James Markham should summon doctors and ambulances from every place available. The west side district of the medical schools and hospitals was called upon to send all the volunteers possible, together with hospital equipment. One hundred students from Rush Medical College were soon on their way by street car and patrol wagon to the scene.



It was only fifteen minutes after the first tongue of flame shot out from behind the scenes that a lull came in the awful drama of death within the theater. The firemen had quenched the fire and all the living had escaped. All that remained were dead. But now the scenes within the improvised hospital and morgue rose to the height of their horror.

But for a narrow lane the length of the cafe the floor was covered with bodies or the tumbled bundles of clothing that told where a body was concealed. And over the scene of the dead rose the groans of the tortured beings who writhed upon the tables in the throes of their passing. And over the cries of the suffering rose the shouts of command of the Red Cross[Pg 61] corps—now the directions of Dr. Lydston as to attempts at resuscitation, now the megaphone shouts of Senator Clark ordering the disposition of bodies and the organization of the constantly arriving volunteer nurses.

In the narrow lane of the dead surged the policemen, bringing ever more and more forms to cord up beneath the tables. Then came the press of people, who, frantic with anxiety, had beaten back the police guard to look for loved ones in the charnel house. There was Louis Wolff, Jr., searching for two nephews and his sister. There was Postmaster Coyne, who had hurried from a meeting of the crime committee to lend his aid. There were Aldermen Minwegen and Alderman Badenoch, and besides them scores of men and women anxiously looking and looking, and nerving themselves to fear the worst.

"Have you found Miss Helen McCaughan?" shrieked a hysterical woman. "She's from the Yale apartments, and——"

"I'm looking for a Miss Errett—she's a nurse," cried another.

"My little boy—Charles Hennings—have you found him, doctor?" came from another.

From every side came the heartrending appeals, while the din was so great that no single plaint rose above the volume of sounds. And all the time the doorway was a place of frightful sights.

"O, please go back for my little girl," gasped a woman whose face and hands were a blister and whose clothing was burned to the skin. She staggered across the threshold and fell prone. Her last breath had gone out of her when two policemen snatched up the body and bore it to an operating table.

"O, where's my Annie?" screamed another woman, horribly burned, whom two policemen supported between them into the[Pg 62] restaurant. But at the word she collapsed, and, though three physicians worked over her for ten minutes, she never breathed again.



Of a sudden Dr. E. E. Vaughan saw a finger move in a mass of the dead against the far wall of the restaurant.

"Men, there's a live one in there," he cried, and, while others came running, the physician flung aside the bodies till he had uncovered a woman of middle age, terribly burned about the face, and with her outer garments a mass of charred shreds.

In a second the woman was undergoing resuscitative treatment on a table, while the oxygen streamed into her lungs. Two doctors worked her arms like pumps, while a nurse manipulated the region of the heart. At length there was a flutter of a respiration, while a doctor bending over with his stethoscope announced a heart beat just perceptible. Another minute passed and the eyelids moved, while a groan escaped the lips.

"She lives!" simply said Dr. Vaughan, as he ordered the oxygen tube removed and brandy forced between the lips. In five minutes the woman was saved from immediate death, at least, though suffering terribly from burns. She was just able to murmur that her name was Mrs. Harbaugh, but that was all that could be learned of her identity before she was taken away to a hospital.



Over a narrow, ice covered bridge made of scaffold planks, more than 100 feet above the ground the police carried more than 100 bodies from the rear stage and balcony exits of the Iroquois theater to the Northwestern University building,[Pg 63] formerly the Tremont house. The planks rested on the fire escape of the theater and on the ledge of a window in the Tremont building.

Two men who first ventured on this dangerous passageway in their efforts to reach safety, blinded by the fire and smoke, lost their footing and fell to the alley below. They were dead when picked up.

The bridge led directly into the dental school of the university, and at one time there were more than a score of charred bodies lying under blankets in the room. The dead were carried from the pile of bodies at the theater exits faster than the police could take them away in the ambulances and patrol wagons.

As soon as the police began to take the injured into the university building the classrooms were drawn upon for physicians, and in a few minutes professors and dental students gathered in the offices and stores to lend their assistance. Wounds were dressed, and in cases of less serious injury the unfortunates were sent to their homes. In other cases they were sent to hospitals.

When the smoke had cleared away the rescuers first realized the extent of the horror. From the bridge could be seen the rows of balcony and gallery seats, many occupied by a human form. Incited by the sight, the police redoubled their efforts, and heedless of the dangers of the narrow, slippery bridge, pressed close to each other as they worked.

While a dozen policemen were removing the dead from the theater, twice as many were engaged in carrying them to the patrol wagons and ambulances at the doors of the university building. All the afternoon the elevators carried down police in twos and fours carrying their burdens of dead in blankets. So fast were they carried down that many of the[Pg 64] patrol wagons held five and more bodies when they were driven away.



Behind the lines of police that guarded the passage of the dead, hundreds of anxious men and women crowded with eager questions. The rotunda of the building between 3 and 7 p. m. was thronged by those seeking knowledge of friend or relative who had been in the play. Some made their way to the third floor and looked hopelessly at the charred bodies lying there. In one corner lay the bodies of husband and wife, clasped in each other's arms. From under one sheltering blanket protruded the dainty high heeled shoes of some woman, and from the next blanket the rubber boots of a newsboy.

A Roman Catholic priest made his way into the room. He was looking for a little girl, the daughter of a parishioner.

"Have you the name of Lillian Doerr in your list?" he asked James Markham, Chief O'Neill's secretary, who was in charge of the police. Markham shook his head.

"She and another little girl named Weiskopp were with three other girls," continued the priest. "Three of the girls in the party have got home, but Lillian and the Weiskopp girl are missing. I suppose we must wait until all the bodies are identified before we can find her."

The priest's mission and its futile results were duplicated scores of times by anxious inquirers.



The rescue work went on until the balcony and gallery had been cleared of the dead, and then the police were called away. The exits were barred and the hotel building cleared of [Pg 65]visitors. While the work of rescue was going on inside the building, the streets about the entrances were thronged with thousands of curious spectators. As soon as an ambulance backed up to the entrance the crowd pressed forward to get a view of the bundles placed in the wagon. Even after this work had ended the crowds remained in the cold and darkness.

Many of the small shops and offices in the University building threw open their doors to the injured and those who had been separated from their friends. When those who had escaped by the alley exits reached Dearborn street they found the doors of the Hallwood Cash Register offices, 41 Dearborn street, open to them. L. A. Weismann, Harry Snow, Harry Dewitt, and C. J. Burnett of the office force at once prepared to care for the injured. More than fifty persons were cared for.

While these men were caring for strangers they themselves were haunted by the dread that Manager H. Ludwig of the company with his wife and two daughters were among the dead. The Ludwig family lives in Norwood Park, and the father had left the office with them early in the afternoon. At 6 o'clock he had not returned for his overcoat.



"Spare no expense," was the order given by the finance committee of the council which was in session when the extent of the disaster became known at the city hall. First to grasp the import of the news was Ald. Raynier, whose wife and four children had left him at noon to attend the matinee. With a gasp he hurried from the room to go to the scene.

"You are instructed," said Chairman Mavor to Acting Mayor McGann, "to direct the fire marshal, the chief of [Pg 66]police, and the commissioner of public works to proceed in this emergency without any restrictions as to expense. Do everything needful, spend all the money needed, and look to the council for your warrant. We will be your authority."

A telegram at once was sent to Mayor Harrison informing him of the fire and the executive returned from Oklahoma on the first train.

Acting Commissioner of Public Works Brennan sent word to Chief O'Neill and Fire Marshal Musham that the public works department was at their service.

"We want men and lanterns," Chief Musham answered.

Supt. Solon was sent to a store near the theater with an order for as many lanterns as might be needed. Supt. Doherty assembled 150 men in Randolph street and seventy wagons employed on First ward streets. They were placed at the disposal of the two chiefs.

Chief O'Neill was in the council chamber when the news arrived, hearing charges against a police officer. Lieut. Beaubien came from his office and whispered to him. The chief hurried to the fire. The trial board continued its work.

On the ground floor of the city hall the fire trial board was in executive session trying six firemen on a charge of carrying tales to insurance men against the chief.

At 3:33 o'clock the alarm rang. Chief, assistant chiefs, and accused firemen listened. Then the news of the magnitude of the fire reached headquarters. The board hurriedly adjourned and Chief Musham led accusers and accused to fight the fire.



[Pg 67]



In drays and delivery wagons they carried the dead away from the Iroquois theater ruins. The sidewalk in front of the playhouse and Thompson's restaurant was completely filled with dead bodies, when it was realized that the patrol wagons and ambulances could not remove the bodies.

Then Chief O'Neill and Coroner Traeger sent out men to stop drays and press them into service. Transfer companies were called up on telephone and asked to send wagons. Retail stores in State street sent delivery wagons.

Into these drays and wagons were piled the bodies. They lay outstretched on the sidewalk, covered with blankets. Much care in the handling was impossible. As soon as a space on the walk was made by the removal of a body two were brought down to fill it.

One of the wagons of the Dixon Transfer Company was so heavily loaded with the dead that the two big horses drawing it were unable to start the truck. Policemen and spectators put their shoulders to the wheels.

When the drays were filled and started there was a struggle to get them through the crowds, densely packed, even within the fire lines which the police had established across Randolph street at State and Dearborn streets.

Policemen with clubs preceded many of the wagons. The[Pg 68] crowds through which they forced their way were composed mostly of men who had sent wives and children to the theater and had reason to believe that one of the drays might carry members of their own families.

Eight and ten wagons at a time, half of them trucks and delivery wagons, were backed up to the curb waiting for their loads of dead.

Two policemen would seize a blanket at the corners and swing it, with its contents, up to two other men in the wagon. This would be continued until a wagonload of bodies had been handled. Then the police forced a way through the crowd and another wagon took the place.

Occasionally a body would be identified, and then efforts were made to remove it direct to the residence. Coroner Traeger discovered the wife of Patrick P. O'Donnell, president of the O'Donnell & Duer Brewing Company.

"Telephone to some undertaking establishment and have them take Mrs. O'Donnell's body home," he ordered one of his assistants. It was taken to the residence, at 4629 Woodlawn avenue.

Friends of another woman who were positive they identified the body among the dead in Thompson's were allowed by the coroner to remove it to Ford's undertaking establishment, in Thirty-fifth street.



The bodies of the fire victims were distributed among the undertaking rooms and morgues most convenient. By 8:30 o'clock 135 bodies lay on the floors in the establishment of C. H. Jordan, 14-16 East Madison street, and in the temporary annex across the alley. The first were brought in ambulances[Pg 69] and in police patrol wagons. Later all sorts of conveyances were pressed into service, and during more than two hours there was a procession of two-horse trucks, delivery wagons, and cabs, all bringing dead. It soon became evident that the capacity of the place would be exhausted and the men, who sat drinking and talking at the tables in the big ante-room in a saloon across the alley were driven out, and this also was arranged for use as a temporary morgue.

Two policemen were in charge of each load of the dead, and as soon as the first few bodies were received, they began searching for possible marks of identification. All jewelry and valuables, as well as letters, cards, and other papers were put in sealed envelopes, marked with a number corresponding with that on the tag attached to the body. When this work was completed all the envelopes were sent to police headquarters, and all inquirers after missing friends and relatives were referred to the city hall to inspect the envelopes.

The scenes in the two long rooms of the morgue in the saloon annex across the alley were so overpowering that they appeared to lose their effect. Many of the bodies last brought from the theater were sadly burned and disfigured and almost all of the faces were discolored and the clothing rumpled and wet.

The condition of many of the bodies evidenced a vain battle for life. Almost all of them were women or children, and the majority had been well dressed. Among them were several old women. The men were few. In many cases the hands were torn, as if violent efforts had been made to wrench away some obstruction.

As quickly as the work of searching the bodies was completed, the attendants stretched strips of muslin over the forms, partly hiding the pitiful horror of the sight.

[Pg 70]Persons were slow in coming to the undertakers in search of friends. Many had their first suspicion of the catastrophe when members of theater parties failed to return at the usual hour.

Among the first to arrive at Jordan's were George E. McCaughan, attorney for the Chicago & Rock Island railroad, 6565 Yale avenue, who came in search of his daughter, Helen, who had attended a theater party with other young women. A friend had been in Dearborn street when the fire started and soon after had discovered in Thompson's restaurant the body of Miss McCaughan. He attached a card bearing her name to the body, and, leaving it in the custody of a physician, went to the telephone to notify the father. When he returned to the restaurant the body already had been removed and the friend and the father searched last night without finding it.

As it grew later the crowd around the doors increased, but almost every one was turned away. It would have been impossible for persons to have passed through the long rooms for the purpose of inspecting the bodies, they were so close together. Women came weeping to the doors of the undertaking shop and beat upon the glass, only to be referred to the city hall or told "to come back in the morning."

Later it was learned that physicians would be admitted for the purpose of inspecting and identifying the dead, and many persons came accompanied by their family doctors for that purpose. Two women, who pressed by the officer at the door, sank half fainting into chairs in the outer office. They were looking for Miss Hazel J. Brown, of 94 Thirty-first street, and Miss Eloise G. Swayze, of Fifty-sixth street and Normal avenue. A single glance at the long lines of bodies stretched on the floor was enough to satisfy them. They were told to[Pg 71] return in the morning or to send their family physician to make the identification.

"The poor girls had come from the convent to spend the holiday vacation," sobbed one of the women.

During the evening the telephone bell constantly was ringing, and persons whose relatives had failed to return on time were asked for information.

"Have you found a small heart-shaped locket set with a blue stone?" would come a call over the wire, and the answer would be, "We can tell nothing about that until morning."

At Rolston's undertaking rooms were 182 bodies, lying four rows deep in the rear of 18 Adams street and three rows deep in the rear of 22 Adams street.

On the floors, tagged with the numerals of the coroner's scheme for identification, were bodies of men, women, and children awaiting identification. One was that of a little girl with yellow hair in a tangle of curls around her face. She appeared as if she slept. A silk dress of blue was spread over her and the sash of white ribbon scarcely was soiled.

Over the long lines of the dead the police hovered in the search for identifying marks and for valuables. Most of the bodies were partly covered with blankets.

Outside a big crowd surged and struggled with the police. Not till 10 o'clock were the doors opened. Then Coroner Traeger arrived, and in groups of twelve or fifteen the crowd was permitted to pass through the doors.

There was a pathetic scene at Rolston's morgue when the body of John Van Ingen, 18 years old, of Kenosha, Wis., was identified. Friends of the Van Ingen family had spent the entire evening searching at the request of Mr. and Mrs. Van Ingen, who were injured. At midnight four of the Van Ingen children, who were believed to have perished in the fire, had not[Pg 72] been accounted for. They were: Grace, 2 years old; Dottie, 5 years old; Mary, 13 years old; and Edward, 20 years old.

In the undertaking rooms of J. C. Gavin, 226 North Clark street, and Carroll Bros., 203 Wells street, forty-five bodies swathed in blankets were awaiting identification at midnight. Of the fifty-four brought to these places only nine had been identified by the hundreds of relatives and friends who filed through the rooms, and in several cases the recognition was doubtful.

An atmosphere of awe appeared to pervade the places, and no hysterical scenes followed the pointing out of the bodies. The morbid crowds usually attendant on a smaller calamity were absent, and few except those seeking missing relatives sought admission. Only one of the men, James D. Maloney, wept as he stood over the body of his dead wife.

"I can't go any further," he said. "Her sister, Tennie Peterson, who lived in Fargo, N. D., was with her, and her body probably is there," motioning to the row of blanket-covered forms, "but I can't look. I must go back to the little ones at home, now motherless."

In Inspector Campbell's office at the Chicago avenue station Sergeant Finn monotonously repeated the descriptions, as the scores of frantic seekers filled and refilled the little office. Several times he was interrupted by hysterical shrieks of women or the broken voices of men.

"Read it again, please," would be the call, and, as the description again was read off, the number of the body was taken and the relatives hurried to the undertaking rooms. The bodies of Walter B. Zeisler, 12 years old, Lee Haviland and Walter A. Austrian were partly identified from the police descriptions.

[Pg 73]The list of hospital patients also was posted in the station and aided friends in the search for injured.

Sheldon's undertaking rooms at 230 West Madison street were the scene of pathetic incidents. Forty-seven bodies, some of them with the clothing entirely burned away, and with few exceptions with features charred beyond recognition, had been taken there. Late in the night only four had been identified. The first body recognized was that of Mrs. Brindsley, of 909 Jackson boulevard, who had attended the matinee with Miss Edna Torney, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. P. Torney, 1292 Adams street. Mr. Torney could find no trace of the young woman.

Of the forty-seven bodies thirty-six were of matured women and five of men. There were bodies of six children, three boys and three girls.

Dr. J. H. Bates, of 3256 South Park avenue, was searching for the bodies of Myrtle Shabad and Ruth Elken, numbered among the missing.

There were similar scenes at all of the undertaking rooms to which bodies were taken.

"When the fire broke out I was taking tickets at the door," said E. Lovett, one of the ushers. "The crowd began to move toward the exits on the ground floor, and I rushed to the big entrance doors and threw three of them open. From there I hurried to the cigar store and called up the police and fire departments.

"When I returned I tried to get more of the doors open, but was shoved aside and told that I was crazy. The crowd acted in a most frenzied manner and no one could have held them in check. Conditions on the balconies must have been appalling. They were well filled, but the exits, had they been opened, would have proved ample for all."

[Pg 74]Michael Ohle, who was ushering on the first balcony, noticed the fire shortly after it started. He hurried to the entrances and cleared the way for the people to get out. Then, he says, he started downstairs to find out how serious the fire was. Before he could return the panic was on and he fled to the street for safety.

"Mrs. Phillipson, Phillipson—is Mrs. Phillipson here?"

That cry sounded in drug stores, cigar stores, and hotels until three little girls, Adeline, Frances, and Teresa, had found their mother, from whom they were separated in the panic. At last at the Continental hotel the call was weakly answered by a woman who lay upon a couch, more frightened than hurt. In another moment three little girls were sobbing in their mother's lap.



Friends sought for information of friends; husbands asked for word of wives; fathers and mothers sought news of sons and daughters; men and women begged to be told if there was any knowledge of their sweethearts; parents asked for children; and children fearfully told the names of missing playmates.

The early hours of the evening were marked by many sad scenes. Men would rush to the desk where the names of the missing were being compiled and asked if anything had been heard of some member of their families, then turn away and hurry out, barely waiting to be told that there would be no definite news until nearly midnight.

"Just think!" said one gray headed man, leaning on the arm of a younger man who was leading him down the stairs,[Pg 75] "I bought the matinee tickets for the children as a treat, and insisted that they take their little cousin with them."

"Have you heard anything of my daughter?" asked a woman.

"What was her name?"

"Lily. She had seats in the first balcony with some girl friends. You would know her by her brown hair. She wore a white silk shirt waist and a diamond ring I gave her for Christmas. I went to the theater, but I couldn't get near it, and they said they were still carrying out bodies."

"And her name? Who was she?"

"She was my daughter—my only one!"

The woman walked away, weeping, without giving the name, and the only response she would make to questions from those who followed her was:

"My daughter!"

Two men, with two little boys, came in. "Our wives," they said, "came to the matinee with some neighbors. They have not yet come home."

Before they could give their names a third man ran up and cried:

"I just got word the folks have been taken home in ambulances. They are alive."

The men gave a shout and were gone in an instant.

Men with children in their arms came to ask for others of the family who had become separated from them in the panic at the theater. Women, tears dampening their cheeks, hushed the chatter of their little ones while they gave the names of husbands and brothers, or told of other children who had been lost.

One man yielded to his fears at the last minute and went[Pg 76] away without asking for information or giving any name. He said:

"I went to the theater with my wife. We have only been married a year. When the rush came I was torn away from her, and the last thing I remember is of hearing her call my name. Then I was lifted off my feet and can recall nothing more except that I found myself in the street. I have been to all the hospitals and morgues, and now I am going back to the theater again."

So it went until the last dreaded news began coming in. Identifications were being made and hearts were being broken. After that time the inquiries were not for information; they were pleas to be told that a mistake had been made or that one was possible.



[Pg 77]



All but one of the 348 members of the "Bluebeard" company escaped, although many had close calls for their lives. Some of the chorus girls displayed great coolness in the face of grave peril. Eddie Foy, who had a thrilling experience, said:

"I was up in my dressing room preparing to come on for my turn in the middle of the second act when I heard an unusual commotion on the stage that I knew could not be caused by anything that was a part of the show. I hurried out of my dressing room, and as I looked I saw that the big drop curtain was on fire.

"The fire had caught from the calcium and the paint and muslin on the drop caused the flames to travel with great rapidity Everything was excitement. Everybody was running from the stage. My 6 year old son, Bryan, stood in the first entrance to the stage and my first thought naturally was to get him out. They would not let me go out over the footlights, so I picked up the boy and gave him to a man and told him to rush the boy out into the alley.

"I then rushed out to the footlights and called out to the audience, 'Keep very quiet. It is all right. Don't get excited and don't stampede. It is all right.'

"I then shouted an order into the flies, 'Drop the curtain,' and called out to the leader of the orchestra to 'play an [Pg 78]overture. Some of the musicians had left, but those that remained began to play. The leader sat there, white as a ghost, but beating his baton in the air.

"As the music started I shouted out to the audience, 'Go out slowly. Leave the theater slowly.' The audience had not yet become panic stricken, and as I shouted to them they applauded me. The next minute the whole stage seemed to be afire, and what wood there was began to crackle with a sound like a series of explosions.

"When I first came out to the footlights about 300 persons had left the theater or were leaving it. They were those who were nearest the door. Then the policemen came rushing in and tried to stem the tide towards the door.

"All this happened in fifteen seconds. Up in the flies were the young women who compose the aerial ballet. They were up there waiting to do their turn, and as I stood at the front of the stage they came rushing out. I think they all got out safely.

"The fire seemed to spread with a series of explosions. The paint on the curtains and scenery came in touch with the flames and in a second the scenery was sputtering and blazing up on all sides. The smoke was fearful and it was a case of run quickly or be smothered."

Stage Director William Carleton, who was one of the last to leave the stage when the flames and smoke drove the members of the company out, said:

"I was on the stage when the flames shot out from the switchboard on the left side. It seemed that some part of the scenery must have touched the sparks and set the fire. Soon the octette which was singing "In the Pale Moonlight," discovered the fire over their heads and in a few moments we had the curtain run down. It would not go down the full[Pg 79] length, however, leaving an opening of about five feet from the floor. Then the crowd out in front began to stampede and the lights went out. Eddie Foy, who was in his dressing room, heard the commotion, and, rushing to the front of the stage, shouted to the spectators to be calm. The warning was useless and the panic was under way before any one realized what was going on.

"Only sixteen members of the company were on the stage at the time. They remained until the flames were all about them and several had their hair singed and faces burned. Almost every one of these went out through the stage entrance on Dearborn street. In the meantime all of those who were in the dressing room had been warned and rushed out through the front entrance on Randolph street. There was no panic among the members of the company, every one seeming to know that care would result in the saving of life. Most of the members were preparing for the next number in their dressing rooms when the fire broke out, and they hurriedly secured what wraps they could and all dashed up to the stage, making their exit in safety.

"The elevator which has been used for the members of the company, in going from the upper dressing rooms to the stage, was one of the first things to go wrong, and attempts to use it were futile.

"It seems that the panic could not be averted, as the great crowd which filled the theater was unable to control itself. Two of the women fainted."

"When the fire broke out," said Lou Shean, a member of the chorus, "I was in the dressing room underneath the stage. When I reached the top of the stairs the scenery nearby was all in flames and the heat was so fierce that I could not reach the stage door leading toward Dearborn street. I returned[Pg 80] to the basement and ran down the long corridor leading toward the engine room, near which doors led to the smoking room and buffet. Both doors were locked. I began to break down the doors, assisted by other members of the company, while about seventy or eighty other members crowded against us. I succeeded in bursting open the door to the smoking room, when all made a wild rush. I was knocked down and trampled on and received painful bruises all over my body."

"I was just straightening up things in our dressing room upstairs," said Harry Meehan, a member of the chorus, who also acted as dresser for Eddie Foy and Harry Gilfoil, "when the fire started. Both Mr. Foy and Mr. Gilfoil were on the stage at the time. I opened Mr. Foy's trunk and took out his watch and chain and rushed out, leaving my own clothes behind. I was so scantily dressed that I had to borrow clothes to get back to the hotel. Mr. Gilfoil saved nothing but his overcoat."

Herbert Cawthorn, the Irish comedian who took the part of Pat Shaw in the play "Bluebeard," assisted many of the chorus girls from the stage exits in the panic.

"While the stage fireman was working in an endeavor to use the chemicals the flames suddenly swooped down and out, Eddie Foy shouted something about the asbestos curtain and the fireman attempted to use it, and the stage hands ran to his assistance, but the curtain refused to work.

"In my opinion the stage fireman might have averted the whole terrible affair if he had not become so excited. The chorus girls and everybody, to my mind, were less excited than he. There were at least 500 people behind the scenes when the fire started. I assisted many of the chorus girls from the theater."

Said C. W. Northrop, who took the part of one of [Pg 81]Bluebeard's old wives: "Many of us certainly had narrow escapes. Those who were in the dressing rooms underneath the stage at the time had more difficulty in getting out. I was in the dressing room under the stage when the fire broke out, and when I found that I could not reach the stage I tried to get out through the door connecting the extreme north end of the C shaped corridor with the smoking room. I joined other members of the company in their rush for safety, but when we reached the door we found it closed. Some of the members crawled out through a coal hole, while others broke down the locked door, through which the others made their way out."

Lolla Quinlan, one of Bluebeard's eight dancers, saved the life of one of her companions, Violet Sidney, at the peril of her own. The two girls, with five others, were in a dressing room on the fifth floor when the alarm was raised. In their haste Miss Sidney caught her foot and sank to the floor with a cry of pain. She had sprained her ankle. The others, with the exception of Miss Quinlan, fled down the stairs.

Grasping her companion around the waist Miss Quinlan dragged her down the stairs to the stage and crossed the boards during a rain of fiery brands. These two were the last to leave the stage. Miss Quinlan's right arm and hand were painfully burned and her face was scorched. Miss Sidney's face was slightly burned. Both were taken to the Continental hotel.

Herbert Dillon, musical director, at the height of the panic broke through the stage door from the orchestra side, hastily cleared away obstructions with an ax, and assisted in the escape of about eighty chorus girls who occupied ten dressing rooms under the stage.

"We were getting ready for the honey and fan scene," said[Pg 82] Miss Nina Wood, "talking and laughing, and not thinking of danger. We were so far back of the orchestra that we did not hear sounds of the panic for several moments. Then the tramping of feet came to our ears. We made our way through the smoking room and one of the narrow exits of the theater."

Miss Adele Rafter, a member of the company, was in her dressing room when the fire broke out.

"I did not wait an instant," said Miss Rafter. "I caught up a muff and boa and rushed down the stairs in my stage costume and was the first of the company to get out the back entrance. Some man kindly loaned me his overcoat and I hurried to my apartments at the Sherman house. Several of the girls followed, and we had a good crying spell together."

Miss Rafter's mother called at the hotel and spent the evening with her. Telegrams were sent to her father, who is rector of a church at Dunkirk, N. Y.

Edwin H. Price, manager of the "Mr. Bluebeard" company, was not in the building when the fire started. He said:

"I stepped out of the theater for a minute, and when I got back I saw the people rushing out and knew the stage was on fire. I helped some of the girls out of the rear entrance. With but one or two exceptions all left in stage costume.

"One young woman in the chorus, Miss McDonald, displayed unusual coolness. She remained in her dressing room and donned her entire street costume, and also carried out as much of her stage clothing as she could carry."

Quite a number of the chorus girls live in Chicago, and Mr. Price furnished cabs and sent them all to their homes.

Through some mistake it was reported that Miss Anabel Whitford, the fairy queen of the company, was dying at one of the hospitals. She was not even injured, having safely made her way out through the stage door.

[Pg 83]Miss Nellie Reed, the principal of the flying ballet, which was in place for its appearance near the top part of the stage, was so badly burned by the flames before she was able to escape that she afterward died at the county hospital. The other members of the flying ballet were not injured.

Robert Evans, one of the principals of the Bluebeard company, was in his dressing room on the fourth floor. He dived through a mass of flame and landed three stairways below. He helped a number of chorus girls to escape through the lower basement. His hands and face are burned severely. He lost all his wardrobe and personal effects.



The fire started while the double octet was singing "In the Pale Moonlight." Eddie Foy, off the stage, was making up for his "elephant" specialty.

On the audience's left—the stage right—a line of fire flashed straight up. It was followed by a noise as of an explosion. According to nearly all accounts, however, there was no real explosion, the sound being that of the fuse of the "spot" light, the light which is turned on a pivot to follow and illuminate the progress of the star across the stage.

This light caused the fire. On this all reports of the stage folk agree. As to manner, accounts differ widely. R. M. Cummings, the boy in charge of the light, said that it was short circuited.

Stage hands, as they fled from the scene, however, were heard to question one another, "Who kicked over the light?" The light belonged to the "Bluebeard" company.

The beginning of the disaster was leisurely. The stage hands had been fighting the line of wavering flame along the[Pg 84] muslin fly border for some seconds before the audience knew anything was the matter.

The fly border, made of muslin and saturated with paint, was tinder to the flames.

The stage hands grasped the long sticks used in their work. They forgot the hand grenades that are supposed to be on every stage.

"Hit it with the sticks!" was the cry. "Beat it out!" "Beat it out!"

The men struck savagely. A few yards of the border fell upon the stage and was stamped to charred fragments.

That sight was the first warning the audience had. For a second there was a hush. The singers halted in their lines; the musicians ceased to play.

Then a murmur of fear ran through the audience. There were cries from a few, followed by the breaking, rumbling sound of the first step toward the flight of panic.

At that moment a strange, grotesque figure appeared upon the stage. It wore tights, a loose upper garment, and the face was one-half made up. The man was Eddie Foy, chief comedian of the company, the clown, but the only man who kept his head.

Before he reached the center of the stage he had called out to a stage hand: "Take my boy, Bryan, there! Get him out! There by the stage way!"

The stage hand grabbed the little chap. Foy saw him dart with him to safety as he turned his head.

Freed of parental anxiety, he faced the audience.

"Keep quiet!" he shouted. "Quiet."

"Go out in order!" he shouted. "Don't get excited!"

Between exclamations he bent over toward the orchestra leader.

 [Pg 85]


"Start an overture!" he commanded. "Start anything. For God's sake play, play, play, and keep on playing."

The brave words were as bravely answered. Gillea raised his wand, and the musicians began to play. Better than any one in the theater they knew their peril. They could look slantingly up and see that the 300 sets of the "Bluebeard" scenery all were ablaze. Their faces were white, their hands trembled, but they played, and played.

Foy still stood there, alternately urging the frightened people to avoid a panic and spurring the orchestra on. One by one the musicians dropped fiddle, horn, and other instruments and stole away.



Finally the leader and Foy were left alone. Foy gave one glance upward and saw the scenery all aflame. Dropping brands fell around him, and then he fled—just in time to save his own life. The "clown" had proved himself a hero.

The curtain started to come down. It stopped, it swayed as from a heavy wind, and then it "buckled" near the center.



From that moment no power short of omnipotent could have saved the occupants of the upper gallery.

The coolness of Foy, of the orchestra leader and of other players, who begged the audience to hold itself in check, however, probably saved many lives on the parquet floor. Tumultuous panic prevailed, but the maddest of it—save in the doomed gallery—was at the outskirts of the ground floor crowd.



[Pg 86]



"If you ever saw a field of timothy grass blown flat by the wind and rain of a summer storm, that was the position of the dead at the exits of the second balcony," said Chief of Police O'Neill.

"In the rush for the stairs they had jammed in the doorway and piled ten deep; lying almost like shingles. When we got up the stairs in the dark to the front rows of the victims, some of them were alive and struggling, but so pinned down by the great weight of the dead and dying piled upon them that three strong men could not pull the unfortunate ones free.

"It was necessary first to take the dead from the top of the pile, then the rest of the bodies were lifted easily and regularly from their positions, save as their arms had intertwined and clutched.

"Nothing in my experience has ever approached the awfulness of the situation and it may be said that from the point of physical exertion, the police department has never been taxed as it has been taxed tonight. Men have been worn out simply with the carrying out of dead bodies, to say nothing of the awfulness of their burdens."

The strong hand of the chief was called into play when the dead had been removed and when the theater management appeared at the exit of the second balcony, seeking to pass the[Pg 87] uniformed police who guarded the heaps of sealskins, purses, and tangled valuables behind them. A spokesman for the management, backed up by a negro special policeman of the house, stood before the half dozen city police on guard, asking to be admitted that these valuables might be removed to the checkrooms of the theater.

"But these things are the property of the coroner," replied the chief, coming up behind the delegation.

"But the theater management wishes to make sure of the safety of these valuables," insisted the spokesman.

"The department of police is responsible," replied Chief O'Neill.



Clyde A. Blair, captain of the University of Chicago track team, and Victor S. Rice, 615 Yale avenue, a member of the team, accompanied Miss Majorie Mason, 5733 Monroe avenue, and Miss Anne Hough, 361 East Fifty-eighth street, to the matinee. They were sitting in the middle of the seventh row from the rear of the first floor. When the first flames broke through from the stage Miss Mason became alarmed. Seizing the girl, and leaving his overcoat and hat, Blair dragged her through the crush toward the door, closely followed by Rice and Miss Hough.

"The crush at the door," said Blair, "was terrific. Half of the double doors opening into the vestibule were fastened. People dashed against the glass, breaking it and forcing their way through. One woman fell down in the crowd directly in front of me. She looked up and said, 'For God's sake, don't trample on me.' I stepped around her, unable to help her up, and the crowd forced me past. I could not learn whether she was trampled over or not."

 [Pg 88]


"I was passing the theater when the panic began," said Bishop Samuel Fallows of the St. Paul's Reformed Episcopal church. "I heard the cry for volunteers and joined the men who went into the place to carry out the dead and injured. I had no idea of the extent of the disaster until I became actively engaged in the work.

"The sight when I reached the balconies was pitiful beyond description. It grew in horror as I looked over the seats. The bodies were in piles. Women had their hands over their faces as if to shield off a blow. Children lay crushed beneath their parents, as if they had been hurled to the marble floors.

"I saw the great battlefields of the civil war, but they were as nothing to this. When we began to take out the bodies we found that many of the audience had been unable to get even near the exits. Women were bent over the seats, their fingers clinched on the iron sides so strongly that they were torn and bleeding. Their faces and clothes were burned, and they must have suffered intensely.

"I ministered to all I could and some of them seemed to welcome the presence of a clergyman as it were a gift from God. There appeared to be little system in the work of rescue, but that was due, I believe, to the intense excitement."



Mrs. Anna B. Milliken, who is staying at Thompson's hotel, had four children in her charge, Felix, Jessie, Tony, and Jennie Guerrier, of 135 North Sangamon street, their ages ranging from 11 to 17 years. She and her charges[Pg 89] were in the balcony, standing against the wall, when the fire started.

"Something told me to be calm," said Mrs. Milliken. "I had passed through one dreadful experience in the Chicago fire, and, though there was a great deal of confusion, I kept the children together, telling them not to be frightened. Men and women hurried past me, shouting like wild beasts, and if I had joined them the children and I would have been trampled under foot. It was minutes before I could leave with the two younger children. The two elder are lost. What shall I tell their folks," and the poor woman began to weep. Her face, as she stood in the lobby of the Northwestern building, was blistered and swollen. The back of her dress was burned through.

"What are the names of the missing children?" inquired a physician. "They are in here," and he led the distracted woman into one of the "first aid hospitals." There Mrs. Milliken saw her two charges so swathed in bandages that they could not be recognized.



"I'm looking for two little girls—Berien is the name," shouted H. E. Osborne. "They live in Aurora."

"They've been here," answered Mr. Weisman. "They are all right and have been sent to their home in Aurora."

With a glad shout Osborne ran back to the office of the National Cash Register company, 50 State street, to inform Miss Mary Stevenson, whom the children had been visiting.

The Berien children were among the first to reach the offices of the Hallwood company after the fire broke out. By some chance they had made their way out uninjured. The story of their plight touched a stranger, who took them to a[Pg 90] railway station and bought them tickets to their home in Aurora. One was about 14 and the other about 9 years old.



One young woman, terrified but uninjured, had found her way to this office and was sitting in a frightened stupor, when an elderly man hurried in from the street.

"Have you seen—" he started to ask, and then, catching sight of the forlorn little figure, he stopped. With a glad cry, father and daughter rushed into each other's arms, and the father bore his child away. Their names were not learned.

James Sullivan of Woodstock was probably the last man who got out of the parquet uninjured. With him was George Field, also of Woodstock, and the two fought their way out together.



"We were seated in the twelfth row," said Mr. Field, "when we saw fire at the top of the proscenium arch. At the same time some sparks fell on the stage.

"Eddie Foy came out and told the audience not to be afraid, to avoid a panic, and there would be no trouble. While he was speaking, however, a burning brand fell alongside of him, and then came what looked like a huge globe of fire. The moment it struck the stage fire spread everywhere.

"The panic started at once and everybody rushed for the doors. Sullivan and I were in the rear of the fleeing mass and made our way out as best we could without getting mixed up in the panic. As long as the women and children were struggling through the straight aisles there was not so much trouble except that some of the fugitives fell to the floor and had to be helped on their feet again. At times the women[Pg 91] and children would be lying four deep on the floor of the aisles, and in several instances we had to set them on their feet before we could go further. There was not much smoke and had the aisles been straight to the entrances every one could have got out practically unhurt.

"But when it came to the turns where they focus into the lobby the poor women and children were piled up into indiscriminate heaps. The screams and cries they uttered were something terrible. It was an impossibility to allay the panic and the frightened people simply trampled on those in front of them.

"Some of the people in the orchestra chairs immediately in front of the stage must have been burned by the fire. The fire darted directly among them and the chairs began burning at once. Those on this floor far enough in the rear to escape these flames would have been all right except for the crush of the panic.

"Sullivan, who was with me, was the last man out of the orchestra chairs who was not injured. Whoever was behind us must have been suffocated or burned to death. How many there were I have no means of knowing."



One of the narrow escapes in the first rush for the open air was that of Winnie Gallagher, 11 years old, 4925 Michigan avenue. The child, who was with her mother in the third row, was left behind in the rush for safety. She climbed to the top of the seat and, stepping from one chair to another, finally reached the door. There she was nearly crushed in the crowd. At the Central police station the child was restored to her mother.

Miss Lila Hazel Coulter, of 4760 Champlain avenue, was[Pg 92] sitting with Mr. Kenneth Collins and Miss Helen Dickinson, 3637 Michigan avenue, in the eighth row in the parquet. She escaped in safety.

"I was sitting in the fifth seat from the aisle," said Miss Coulter, "but the fire, which was bursting out from both sides of the stage, had such a fascination for me."

D. W. Dimmick, of Apple River, Ill., an old man of 70, with a long, white beard, was standing in the upper gallery when the fire broke out.

"I was with a party of four," said Mr. Dimmick. "I saw small pieces of what looked like burning paper dropping down from above at the left of the curtain. At the same time small puffs of smoke seemed to shoot out into the house. A boy in the gallery near me called 'fire,' but there were plenty of people to stop him.

"'Keep quiet!' I told him. 'If you don't look out, you'll start a panic.'

"Then all of a sudden the whole front of the stage seemed to burst out in one mass of flame. Then everybody seemed to get up and start to get out of the place at once. From all over the house came shrieks and cries of 'fire,' I started at once, hugging the wall on the outside of the stairway as we went down.

"When we got down to the platform where the first balcony opens it seemed to me that people were stacked up like cordwood. There were men, women, and children in the lot. At the same time there were some people whom I thought must be actors, who came running out from somewhere in the interior of the house, and whose wigs and clothes were on fire. We tried to beat out the flames as we went along. By crowding out to the wall we managed to squeeze past the mass of people who were writhing on the floor, and practically[Pg 93] blocking the entrance so far as the people still in the gallery were concerned.



"As we got by the mass on the floor I turned and caught hold of the arms of a woman who was lying near the bottom pinned down by the weight resting on her feet. I managed to pull her out, and I think she got down in safety. One of the men with me also pulled out another woman from the heap. I tried to rescue a man who was also caught by the feet, but, although I braced myself against the stairs, I was unable to move him.

"I came in from Apple River to see the sights in Chicago, and I have seen all I can stand."

Six little girls from Evanston, in a party occupying seats in the parquet, escaped by the side entrance. In the crush they lost most of their clothing. Four of the children stayed together, the other two being for the time lost in the street. The four were Hannah Gregg, 12 years old, 1038 Sheridan road; Florence and May Lang, 14 and 13 years old, Buena Park; Beatrice Moore, 12 years old, Buena Park.



[Pg 94]



One of the heroes of the Iroquois theater fire was Peter Quinn, chief special agent of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe railroad system, who assisted in saving the lives of 100 or more of the performers. But for the prompt service of Quinn and two citizens who assisted him it is believed that most of the performers would have met the fate of the victims in the theater proper.

Mr. Quinn had attended a trial in the Criminal court and in the middle of the afternoon started for the downtown district, intending to proceed to his office. Reaching Randolph and Dearborn streets the railroad official had his attention attracted to a man who rushed from the theater bare-headed and without his coat. What followed Quinn describes as follows:

"The actions of the man and the fact that he was without coat and hat attracted my attention and I watched him through curiosity. He ran so swiftly that he collided with several pedestrians, and I saw him rush toward a policeman on the street crossing. He said something to the policeman and then I saw the bluecoat rush excitedly away. My curiosity was then aroused to such an extent that I followed the young man who ran into the alley in the rear of the theater. He disappeared there and I was about to go on my way when my attention was attracted to the door leading upon the stage.

"As I passed I heard a commotion and saw the door was[Pg 95] slightly open, and, peeping into the opening, I asked what was the trouble. Then, for the first time, I learned that the theater was on fire. A number of strangers arrived at the door about the same time.

"The players, men, women, and children, had rushed to this small trap-door for escape, got caught in a solid mass, and were so firmly wedged together that they could not move. They were banked solidly against the little door, and it could not be opened. Nearly all of the players were in their stage costumes.

"The women screamed and begged us to rescue them, and the cries of the children could be heard above the hoarse shouts of the men. I did not realize it at that moment, but it develops that the players were in the same position as the unfortunates who met death in the front end of the house.

"Had we been unable to get that trap-door open when we did every member of that struggling crowd of men, women and children, would have perished where they stood, too tightly wedged together to permit even a slight struggle against death.

"Nobody at that time had the slightest idea of the serious state of affairs. We tried to force the door open, but the crowd was banked up too tightly against it. I shouted through the opening and commanded those in the rear to step back far enough to permit the door to be opened. It was like talking to empty space, however, and for a few moments we stood there helpless and without any means to assist those in distress.

"Then came a volume of smoke, and far in the rear of the crowd we could see the illumination from the flames. I had a number of small tools in my pocket, and immediately proceeded to remove the metal attachments which held the door[Pg 96] in place. This was accomplished with some difficulty, and then we managed to force the crowd back probably an inch, but that was sufficient. The door was then permitted to drop from its place, and one by one the imprisoned players were assisted into the alley.

"They were then in scanty costumes, but were quickly assisted to places of shelter. Even when the last player and stage hand had reached the alley we could not realize the awfulness of what had happened. I walked in upon the stage and found it a seething furnace. The players had been rescued just in time. A minute later and the flames and smoke would have reached the imperiled ones, and they would have been suffocated or burned where they stood."



William ("Smiling") Corbett was one of the first to penetrate the smoke and reach the balcony and gallery of the theater where the most fearful loss of life occurred. Charley Dexter, the Boston National league player, and Frank Houseman, the old Chicago second baseman, went to his assistance.

Corbett was stopped by a fear-frenzied little woman, who begged him to save her two children.

"They're up in the gallery," she cried.

Corbett made a dash for the balcony entrance on the right.

"Don't go up there," admonished some of the firemen about; "you'll get hemmed in."

Corbett groped his way onward and upward, stumbling over bodies lying prostrate on the staircase, and finally reached the gallery entrance.

"There they were," said Corbett afterward. "Positively the most sickening spectacle I ever saw. They were piled up in bunches, in all manner of disarray. I grabbed for the[Pg 97] topmost body, a girl about 6 years old. Catching her by the wrist I felt the flesh curl up under my grasp. I hurried down with the little one, then back again, each time with the body of a child.

"I then realized that no good could come of any further effort. Everybody was stark dead. I turned away and fled. I never again want to go near the place."



Eddie Foy, leading comedian in "Mr. Bluebeard," said:

"I was in my dressing room, one tier up off the stage, when I smelled smoke. The 'Moonlight ballet' was on, and it was three minutes before the time for my entrance on the first scene of the second act.

"I looked up and immediately over me, in the left first entrance, I saw sparks and a small cloud of smoke. The members of the company and of the chorus had already started off the stage. My eldest boy, Bryan, was standing under the light bridge in the first entrance, and, taking him by the hand, I turned him over to one of the stage hands with orders to get him out of the theater. In less time than it takes to tell it, the little wreath of smoke and the tiny sparks had grown in volume. The smoke and some of the sparks had already made their way into the main part of the house, curling down and around the lower edge of the proscenium arch.

"I looked at the house through an opening, and that was enough. I tried to appear as calm as possible under the conditions, realizing what a stampede would mean. Just what I said I cannot for the life of me now recall. In effect, though, this is about it:

"'Ladies and gentlemen, there is no danger. Don't get excited. Walk out calmly.'

[Pg 98]"Between each breath, and these were coming in short, sharp gasps, I kept yelling out from the corner of my lips: 'Lower that iron curtain; drop the fire curtain!'

"The balcony and gallery were packed with women and children, and fully aware of what was in store for these hapless ones, my heart sank.

"The cracking of the timbers above increased. The smoke was growing more dense. I knew the material aloft—flimsy, dry linens, parched canvas, and paint-coated tapestries and drops.

"Without raising my voice to a pitch calculated to alarm, and yet unmistakably urgent in its appeal, I repeated: 'Get out—get out slowly.'

"The northeast corner of the fly gallery was now a furnace. Just as I made the last appeal to the balcony and the gallery a fiercely blazing ember dropped at my feet. Another, a smaller one, was caught in the draft and forced out into the theater proper.

"'Drop the fire curtain,' I shouted again, looking in vain for it to come down. I know that not a soul in the theater proper would be in danger if this was done. The switchboard was there—but no one to work it. I cried out for Carleton, our stage manager. He was gone. I called for 'Pete,' one of the electricians. He, too, was gone.

"'Does any one know how this iron curtain is worked?' I yelled at the mob of fleeing stage hands, members of the company, property men, and musicians. Not an answer.

"At the first sign of danger, after reaching the footlights, I said to Dillea, our orchestra leader:

"'An overture, Herbert, an overture.'

"Dillea—God bless him, his ranks already thinning out in the orchestra pit—struck up the 'Sleeping Beauty and the[Pg 99] Beast' overture. Of the thirty odd musicians in the pit not over half a dozen remained to follow Dillea and his baton. But the little fellow, ashen pale, his eyes glued on the raging mass of flame above, never whimpered. He kept right on, and only left his post when the flames drove him away from his leader's stand. When Dillea disappeared down the opening in the orchestra pit half of the lower floor had been emptied. This I noticed only in an aside, for my eyes were fastened on the sea of agonized, distracted little ones in the balcony and gallery."



The bottom of the elevator shaft in the doomed theater was a scene of pandemonium when the stage hands tried to get the girls out. Archie Barnard headed the chain gang and behind him were J. R. O'Mally, Arthur Hart and William Price. As soon as the women reached the floor they began to run wild, and had to be caught and tossed from one man to another. The women in the first tier of dressing rooms were the first down and they were helped out without much trouble.

On his second trip up with the elevator young Robert Smith ascended into an atmosphere that was so thick with smoke that he could not see or breathe. He found one of the girls on the sixth floor and then took on another load from the fifth. By the time he had come down with these, the flames and smoke were threatening the men in the chain. The clothing of Barnard and William Price was on fire and their hair was burning. Nevertheless they threw the girls out and waited for the third load.

This load came near not arriving. The smoke was so thick that Smith had to find the girls and drag them into the [Pg 100]elevator and by the time he had done this he was almost overcome. The elevator was burning at the place where the controller was located, and Smith had to place his left hand in the flame to start the car. The hand was badly burned, but the car was started and came down in time for the girls to receive assistance from the men who were waiting. When the last girl was out the men left the building.

Up in the gridiron, where the smoke was thickest, the four German boys who worked the aerial apparatus were caught, fully sixty feet from the stage floor, and no one had time to come to their assistance or to pay any attention to them, because there were too many other people to be saved.

At first, they did not know what to do. As the smoke became thicker and the heat more intense they moved to get out. One of them, who was some distance from his companions, was caught in the flames of one of the burning pieces of draperies, and either because he lost his presence of mind or because he could not hold out any longer, he jumped. Some of the people on the stage floor heard him fall, but he did not move and no one could help him. He could not be found after the other people escaped from the stage. His three companions climbed over the gridiron scaffolding and made their way down the stairway to safety.

"I heard the little fellow fall," said Arthur Hart, "and that is the last I knew of him. It was a long jump, and I presume that he was badly injured."

"I stuck to the car until the ropes parted," said young Smith, the elevator boy, "and then I began to get faint. Someone reached in and pulled me out just in time to save my life. The larger part of the girls were in the dressing rooms when the fire broke out, and they all tried to get out at once. A[Pg 101] great many tried to crowd into the elevator and it was hard work to keep it going. I made as many trips as I could."



A man who gave his name as Chester, with his wife and two daughters, was a hero who escaped without letting the police know who he was. This man was in the lower balcony of the theater and in the panic he succeeded in reaching the fire escape with his children and wife. After getting on the fire escape, the flames swept up and set the clothing of his wife and girls on fire. Burned himself, he fought the flame and then realizing that delay meant certain death he dropped the children to the ground, a distance of ten feet, and then dropped his wife. Then he leaped himself.

W. G. Smith of the Chicago Teaming Company, 37 Dearborn street, saw them jumping and with some of his men he picked them up and carried them into his store. This was before the fire department arrived.

When all had been taken in Smith rushed back into the alley to find the lower fire escape filled with screaming, struggling women. All were hatless and their faces were scorched by the intense heat. He shouted to them to wait a moment, as the firemen were coming, but one woman leaped as he spoke. She too was taken into Smith's store and all his patients were taken later to nearby hotels, where their injuries were attended to.

After Smith left the alley Morris Eckstrom, assistant engineer, and M. J. Tierney, engineer of the university building, ran to the rescue of the women on the fire escape. The firemen had not yet arrived, and the screams of the women with the flames creeping upon them were frightful to hear.

[Pg 102]"Jump one by one," shouted Eckstrom, "and we'll catch you."

Tierney grabbed a long blanket from the engine room, and the women, realizing it was their only chance, leaped into it. In some cases they were injured, but none was seriously hurt.

"I know we caught twenty women that way, before the flames got so terrific that none of them could reach the fire escape," said Eckstrom. "I saw a dozen women and children and some men, through the open door to the fire escape, fall back into the flames."



Musical Director Herbert Dillea of the "Mr. Bluebeard" company, who was one of the first of the members of the orchestra to see the fire, had several narrow escapes from death while he endeavored to rescue four of the chorus girls who had fainted in the passageway which leads from the armor-room to the front smoking apartment.

Dillea was nearly overcome by the thick smoke which filled the areaway, but, with the assistance of some of the stage employes, he succeeded in carrying the unconscious actresses to the street. The young women, upon reaching the fresh air, soon revived, and they were taken care of in stores until they got their street clothing.

Dillea said that several other members of the orchestra vainly endeavored to persuade some of the audience who were occupying front seats to enter the passageway, but no attention was paid to them.

In describing his experiences Dillea said:

"It was during the second verse of the 'Pale Moonlight' song that I suddenly saw a red light to my left in the proscenium arch. The moment I saw the red glare I knew there[Pg 103] was a fire, and in whispers I ordered the other members of the orchestra to play as fast as they could, as I thought the asbestos would be lowered. We had hardly begun to play when the asbestos started to come down, but right in the middle it stopped, and it remained so.

"By this time the chorus girls were shrieking with terror, as the fire brands were falling among them on the stage. As soon as the audience saw the fire brands they began to arise, but Eddie Foy ran out and begged them to remain quiet, assuring them that there was no danger. The audience paid no attention to him and the panic followed. Then I thought it was time to make our escape, and I turned to the orchestra men and told them to follow me to the passageway. While I was running through the areaway I shouted to the actresses. They ran from their rooms, and four of them fainted. It was only with the greatest difficulty they were carried out."



Willie Dee, the 12-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. W. E. Dee, who lost two children in the fire, by a presence of mind and bravery that would have been commendable in a person of mature years saved himself and a smaller brother not 7 years old.

The four children of Mr. and Mrs. Dee attended the theater on the fatal afternoon in company with their nurse, Mrs. G. H. Errett. Besides Willie, the oldest of the children, there were two twin boys, Allerton and Edward, between 6 and 7 years of age, and the baby 2½ years old. Willie was one of the first to notice the fire and called to the nurse to go out. The nurse did not grasp the situation, thinking the flames a part of the act, and hesitated. Noticing her hesitation, Willie seized the nearest one of the children, Allerton and pulled the[Pg 104] smaller boy with him down the stairs from the first balcony in which the party was seated. The two boys were unable to move fast enough to keep ahead of the crowd, although they were the first ones out. They were overtaken and both of them shoved through the doors in front, where they became separated. Willie thought his little brother lost and went home without him. The smaller boy was later picked up and taken into Thompson's restaurant, from which place he was taken home, practically uninjured.

The other twin, Edward, was killed where he sat. The nurse and baby succeeded in reaching the first landing, where they were trampled underfoot. A fireman took the baby from the nurse's arms and placed it in charge of Dr. Bridge. The doctor succeeded in resuscitating it and took it to his home at Forty-ninth street and Cottage Grove avenue, where it died early the following morning.



[Pg 105]



The real story of the origin of the fire was told by William McMullen, assistant electrician. He said: "The spot light was completely extinguished at the time of the fire. I am positive of this, because I was working on it. Three feet above my head was the flood light. I noticed the curtain swaying directly above it and suddenly a spark shot up and it was ablaze in a second."

McMullen called the attention of his assistant to the flame.

"Put the fire out," he said.

"All right," said the other man, reaching down, using his hands to put out the small flame.

"Put it out! Put it out!" shouted McMullen.

"I am! I am!" said the other, clapping the flimsy stuff between his hands.

Some of the stage hands at this moment noticed the fire.

"Look at that fire!" these called out. "Can't you see that you're on fire up there! Put it out!"

"D—— it, I am trying to," said the man who was clapping away at the burning paint impregnated muslin.

Then a flame a foot high shot up and caught the draperies above those on fire.

"Look at that other one. It's on fire," some one on the stage yelled.

"Put it out!" shouted another.

"All right," said the man on the perch. But he did not[Pg 106] clap hard enough or fast enough, and in ten seconds the flames were beyond his reach.

It was after these hand clapping attempts to extinguish the fire had proved futile that McMullen shouted a call for the asbestos curtain to be put down.

"I did not see the curtain move."



W. H. Aldridge, who was employed to operate one of the so-called calcium lights, told how the fire started.

"I was about twenty feet above the lights which were being used, having left my place to watch the performance," he said. "While I was looking down on the performers I noticed a flash of light where the electric wires connect with the calcium light. The flash seemed to be about six inches long. As I looked a curtain swayed against the flame. In a moment the loose edges of the canvas were in a blaze, which rapidly ran up the edge of the canvas and across its upper end.

"A man named McNulty was in charge of the light. Whether he accidentally broke the wire and caused the flash I do not know. The light was about twenty feet from the floor. It consisted of a 'spot' light, used to follow the principal performer, and a 'flood' light, which was used to produce the moonlight effect."



James B. Quinn, general manager of the Standard Meter company, who was present throughout the panic, said on this point: "Had the electrician who had charge of the switches for the foyer lights remained at his post long enough to have turned on the lights in the foyer there would not have been one-half the loss of life in the foyer and balcony stairs. When[Pg 107] that awful darkness fell on the house the frenzied people did not know where to turn. They had not become fully acquainted with the turns because the theater was new. I was there and assisted in removing the dead and dying, and having been connected with lighting plants all my life I know what I am talking about. We did not have an electric light turned on for two hours after the fire. It was too late then. True, we had lanterns, but they were inadequate and would not have been needed had the electrician or his assistant done their duty. When the lights were turned on it was done by outside electricians."



When the fire broke out Manager Will J. Davis of the Iroquois was attending a funeral. A telephone message was quietly whispered to him and, after hesitating a moment, Davis unostentatiously slipped on his overcoat and left the place.

Mr. Davis and Harry J. Powers later stated as follows:

"So far as we have been able to ascertain the cause or causes of the most unfortunate accident of the fire in the Iroquois, it appears that one of the scenic draperies was noticed to have ignited from some cause. It was detected before it had reached an appreciable flame, and the city fireman who is detailed and constantly on duty when the theater is open noticed it simultaneously with the electrician.

"The fireman, who was only a few feet away, immediately pulled a tube of kilfire, of which there were many hung about the stage, and threw the contents upon the blaze, which would have been more than enough, if the kilfire had been effective, to have extinguished the flame at once; but for some cause[Pg 108] inherent in the tube of kilfire it had no effect. The fireman and electrician then ordered down the asbestos curtain, and the fireman threw the contents of another tube of kilfire upon the flame, with no better result.

"The commotion thus caused excited the alarm of the audience, which immediately started for the exits, of which there are twenty-five of unusual width, all opening out, and ready to the hand of any one reaching them. The draft thus caused, it is believed, before the curtain could be entirely lowered, produced a bellying of the asbestos curtain, causing a pressure on the guides against the solid brick wall of the proscenium, thus stopping its descent.

"Every effort was made by those on the stage to pull it down, but the draft was so great, it seems, that the pressure against the proscenium wall and the friction caused thereby was so strong that they could not be overcome. The audience became panic-stricken in their efforts to reach the exits and tripped and fell over each other and blocked the way.

"The audience was promptly admonished and importuned by persons employed on the stage and in the auditorium to be calm and avoid any rush; that the exits and facilities for emptying the theater were ample to enable them all to get out without confusion.

"No expense or precaution was omitted to make the theater as fireproof as it could be made, there being nothing combustible in the construction of the house except the trimmings and furnishings of the stage and auditorium. In the building of the theater we sacrificed more space to aisles and exits than any theater in America."

 [Pg 109]


The man who gave the first reliable explanation of the failure of the "asbestos" curtain to operate properly was John C. Massoney, a carpenter, who was working as a scene shifter.

"The reflector was constructed of galvanized iron or some similar material, with a concave surface covered with quicksilver about two feet in width," he said.

"The reflector was twenty feet long and was set on end. The inner edge was attached to the stage side of the jamb of the proscenium walls with hinges. Along the inner edge, next the hinges, was a row of incandescent electric lamps.

"When the reflector was not in use it was set back in a niche in the proscenium wall, and the curtain, when lowered, passed over it. When used it was swung around to the desired position, and projected from the wall. When the reflector was in use it prevented the curtain being lowered."

"I have not ascertained whether the reflector was in use. The one on the south side of the stage was not, and from this I infer that the one on the north was not being used. If it was not in use, then somebody must have been careless."

Massoney said he was on the south side of the stage when the fire started.

"I did not see the fire start, but I saw it soon after it began," he said. "The fire was in the arch drapery curtain, which is the fourth curtain back of the 'asbestos' curtain. I saw the 'asbestos' curtain coming down soon after, but I noticed that the south end was very much lower than the north end. The south end was within four or five feet of the stage floor, while the north end was much higher.

"I ran round to the north side and up the stairs to the north[Pg 110] bridge. I found the north end of the curtain was resting on the reflector. I tried to reach the curtain to push it off the reflector, but could just touch it. I could not get hold of it. I am 5 feet 11 inches tall, and I can reach a foot above my head at least, so I figure that the north end of the curtain was nineteen or twenty feet from the floor.

"When I first reached the bridge sparks were flying in one little place near me, but before I got down I saw a great sheet of circular flame going out under the curtain into the audience room. I stayed on the bridge as long as I could trying to move the curtain. I half fell down the stairs of the bridge and got out as fast as I could."

"Why didn't you call some one to help you?"

"There was no one on the bridge when I got there and no one on duty, that I could see, on the north side of the stage."

"Was the reflector in use?"

"I do not know."

"Whose duty was it to look after the reflector?"

"I do not know."

"Did the curtain blow to pieces?"

"It seemed all right. There was no hole in it that I saw."



Joe Dougherty, the man who attempted to lower the asbestos curtain, says that the reason it stuck and would not come down was that it stuck on the arc spot light in the first entrance near the top of the proscenium arch. He was the last man to leave the fly loft and at the time he attempted to lower the asbestos curtain he was twenty feet or more above it, so that when it caught on the arc spot light he was unable to extricate it. The opening of the big double doors[Pg 111] at the rear of the stage, he says, caused such a draft that the curtain could not be raised again to free it from the obstruction.

Dougherty denies that the wire used by the flying ballet had anything to do with the obstruction of the curtain. The regular curtain was within a few inches of the asbestos sheet and had been operated a few minutes before the fire occurred. If one curtain worked the other would if the flying ballet rigging was not in the way.



W. C. Saller was the fireman employed by the theater managers to look after fire protection. He was formerly connected with the city fire department.

"I was on the floor of the stage about twenty feet from the light," he said. "The base of the light was on a bridge fifteen feet from the floor. The light was about five feet high and was within a foot and a half or two feet of the edge of the proscenium arch and close to the curtains. I saw the flame running up the edge of the curtain and ran to the bridge. I threw kilfire on the burning curtain but saw it did not stop the blaze and yelled to those below to lower the asbestos curtain. When the curtain was within fifteen feet of the stage floor the draft caused it to bulge out and stick fast. It was impossible to lower the curtain further, and after that nothing could be done to stop the fire.

"In my opinion the draft was caused by the doors opening off the stage into the alley and Dearborn street. There were no explosions except the blowing out of fuses in the electric lighting system."

Saller was severely burned about the hands and face.

 [Pg 112]


Edward Cummings, stage carpenter, and his son, R. N. Cummings, his assistant, of 1116 California avenue, testified that the fire started in the curtains at the south end of the stage. Both asserted that the draft or suction caused the asbestos curtain to stick. They said the fire spread with remarkable rapidity among the curtains, which were about two feet apart, and when the asbestos curtain stopped they said that no human agency could have prevented the disaster that followed.



Chief Electrical Inspector H. H. Hornsby of the city electrician's department declared the electric wires in the theater were in the best condition of any building in Chicago.

"The wire leading to the calcium arc light might have been broken or detached," he said. "It requires no volts of electricity to operate one of those lights. The man operating the light may have got his legs or arms entangled in the wires and broken one of them at the point of connection or he may have pulled the light too far and broken or detached the wire. The arc created would have produced intense heat and readily ignited the inflammable curtain. If the light had not been set so close to the scenery the curtain could not have blown into the arc.

"While the theater was being wired Inspector B. H. Tousley made twenty-five or thirty inspections. Though the ordinance requires only such wires as are concealed to be placed in iron conduits, in the Iroquois all wires were put in iron tubes. The switchboard was of marble, with the connecting wires behind it in iron conduits. The management seemed desirous of making the electric system the best possible and adopted every suggestion we offered to improve its safety. I[Pg 113] am satisfied there was not a better job in Chicago. I do not believe it could have been made safer.

"It is impossible to guard against a wire being broken. The wire leading from the switchboard could not be inclosed in an iron conduit. It had to be flexible to permit the light being moved around. The arc light was encased in a closed box to prevent sparks falling on the floor or being blown into the scenery. All the fusible plugs were in cartridges to prevent sparks from falling if the plugs burned out. Every precaution we could think of was taken to make the system absolutely safe."



Herbert Cawthorn, the Irish comedian, who took the part of Pat Shaw in "Mr. Bluebeard," assisted many of the chorus girls from the stage exits in the panic. After being driven from the building he made two attempts to enter his dressing room, but was driven back by the firemen, who feared lest he be overcome by the dense smoke.

With several others of the leading actors in the play Mr. Cawthorn took refuge in a store on Dearborn street after the fire. He was still in his abbreviated stage costume and was suffering considerably from the cold.

He gave a graphic description of the origin of the fire and of the panic among the stage hands and actors. He described the scene as follows:

"I was in a position to see the origin of the fire plainly, and I feel positive that it was an electric calcium light that started the fire. The calcium lights were being used to illuminate the stage in the latter part of the second act, when the song, 'In the Pale Moonlight,' was being sung.

"I was standing behind a wing on the lefthand side, which[Pg 114] would be the righthand side to the audience, when my attention was attracted above by a peculiar sputtering of what seemed to me to be one of the calciums. It appears to me that one of the calciums had flared up and the sparks ignited the lint on the curtain. Instantly I turned my attention toward the stage and saw that many of the actors and actresses had not yet discovered the blaze.

"Just then the fireman who is kept behind the scenes rushed up with some kind of a patent fire extinguisher. Instead of the stream from the apparatus striking the flames it went almost in the opposite direction. While the stage fireman was working the flames suddenly swooped down and out. Eddie Foy shouted something about the asbestos curtain, and the firemen attempted to use it and the stage hands ran to his assistance.

"The asbestos curtain refused to work, and the stage hands and players began to hurry from the theater. There was at least 500 people behind the scenes when the fire started. I assisted many of the chorus girls to get out, and some of them were only partly attired. Two of the young women in particular were naked from their waists up. They had absolutely no time to even snatch a bit of clothing to throw over their shoulders."



A dozen different stories from a dozen different people were told about the extinguishment of the electric lights. Assistant City Electrician Hyland, who was the acting head of the city's department during the absence of City Electrician Ellicott, stated:

"The switchboard controlling the electric lighting apparatus is located under the place where the fire started at the left[Pg 115] side of the stage. It was made of metal and marble and practically indestructible. The wires were led into the switchboard through iron tubes, and those tubes and wires are there yet. I visited the theater after the fire and turned on five sets of lights. Those five were in working order, but I think they controlled the lights into the foyer and halls. The lights in the theater were burned out. That I know, because when I paid my first visit to the switchboard I found the switch affecting the lights in the auditorium turned on. The terrific heat in the theater when the fire was sweeping across it must have burst the glass bulbs and may have melted the wires leading into the lights in the auditorium. How many minutes it took to explode these incandescent lights and melt the wires running to them depends entirely upon the length of time it took the theater to turn into a furnace.

"I have been told that a moonlight scene was on the stage just before the fire broke out. In such a scene it would be customary to turn off most if not all of the lights in the auditorium, so as to darken the place where the audience was and concentrate upon the stage what little light was used. Yet, the way I found the switchboard, with the circuit leading to the auditorium turned on, the knob melted off and the condition of the board showing that it could not have been tampered with since the fire, convinces me that the lights must have been on when the fire broke out, or else they were turned on after the first flames were discovered. It is hard to discover the facts even from people who were in the theater at the time it was burned. Almost every one tells a different story."



[Pg 116]



Robert S. Lindstrom, a well known Chicago architect, makes the following suggestions: "It is earnestly requested that the following suggestions be published for the benefit and warning of patrons of public places, also as an aid to city officials, architects and builders, as a possible means of averting another horror such as has been witnessed in the Iroquois theater fire.

"Every theater in Chicago is virtually a death trap set for patrons even under ordinary conditions. Barring fires and panics, the playhouses are not amply provided with exits, and are unsafe on account of overcrowding. Thereby each person attending a performance in any of Chicago's theaters does so at a risk of his own life. This also applies to all halls that are hurriedly arranged for public meetings and especially during the election campaign work and convention gatherings.

"A theater may be absolutely fire-proof, but when the seating capacity of the house has been overcrowded by reducing sizes of stairs, aisles and exits the building is really worse than a non-fire-proof building, for in the latter the smoke would have a chance to escape.

"The following suggestions will partially avert such a horror as has been witnessed at the Iroquois, which was advertised as the safest fire-proof theater in Chicago:

"All seats throughout the house should be placed far enough apart from back to back so that an open passageway running[Pg 117] from aisle to aisle shall be large enough to allow a person to get out without disturbing all the people seated in the section. In the Iroquois the seats in the gallery are so closely spaced from back to back that one cannot sit in a comfortable position at any time. All seats should be made of iron framework, with seats fixed so that danger of catching clothing on upturned edges may be averted, which in the present theater seats causes very much delay in a rush. The upholstering should be done with asbestos wool and all covering done with asbestos fire-resisting cloth.

"An aisle should be left between the orchestra and the front row of seats. Main aisles should be made so that they connect with the aisle in front, also the aisle in rear, without any obstructions, and an exit door placed at end of each aisle leading directly to the vestibule. The present system is one large door at the center so that people from the side aisles collide with those from the center aisles and no one can get out. It is also very important that the door opening, with doors open, is a trifle larger than the aisle; all seats that face on aisles to be plain to prevent clothing from catching on same.

"Carpets should be prohibited in all halls and aisles and replaced by interlocking rubber tile or some similar covering to prevent slipping in a rush.

"All steps should have safety treads, composed of steel and lead, in place of slate or marble, which becomes slippery and dangerous. Stairs to be straight without winds or turns and at every ten feet from the sidewalk there should be a landing twice as long as the width of the stairs and doors at the foot of the stairs should be a trifle larger than the stair opening.

"All balconies and galleries above the first floor should have a metal hand rail back of each row of seats securely fastened to the floor construction.

[Pg 118]"Doors should swing out; in addition to door handle threshold to have an automatic opening device so as to throw doors open in case of fire or accident. Also at each fire exit there should be in view of the audience a box containing saw and tools and plainly marked for use in case of fire, providing locks on doors fail to work. In addition an attendant should be placed at each fire exit and remain there until the house is vacated during every performance.

"Fire escapes should be made of regular stair pattern with treads eleven inches and rises seven inches, and treads provided with steel and lead composition covering and risers closed.

"Instead of sloping the ceiling toward the stage it should be made level with a cone shape toward the center and there connect with a down draft ventilator and an emergency damper controlled by a three-way switch from stage, box office and each balcony, made large enough to form a smoke flue in case of fire. Wires controlling this ventilator should run in conduit fireproofed and in addition to switch an electric emergency switch weighted with a fused link to make a contact when link breaks. Same to apply to stage, halls and stairways, except that fireproof ducts will connect halls and stairs with outer air. In addition to the ventilator every part of the house should be equipped with a system of sprinklers operated automatically by a gravity system. A large glass chandelier such as used at the Iroquois should be prohibited.

"Emergency lights in case of fire and accidents during the performance to light up the house should be placed on ceiling of main auditorium, balconies, halls and stairs and built of fire-proof boxes with wired plate-glass face. These lights should be operated on a separate system and run in fireproof[Pg 119] conduits, and controlled from the street front, also to have a fusible weighted switch on stage.

"Fire doors should be constructed of steel with wired plate-glass panels so that fire can be prevented from outside sources, but if in case of accident the lock should fail to work from the inside, the glass panel can be broken with tools that should be placed in reach and plainly marked.

"Calcium lights should be prohibited anywhere in the auditorium. The place is generally on the gallery. In the Iroquois the scenic lights were placed at the extreme top of the upper gallery, with a supporting framework that rested on the aisle floor and obstructed aisle to audience.

"Counter-weights of curtain should be made in sections with fusible link connections so that in case of fire curtain will drop of its own weight.

"Curtain should be constructed of steel framework and made rigid and run in steel guides of sufficient size to allow for expansion in case of fire. Stage floor should be four inches thick, solid, laid on concrete bed.

"A special waiting room with a special exit, entrance to same to be from main foyer, should be used especially for patrons using carriages so as to prevent the present system of blocking exits and vestibule with people waiting for carriages and preventing exit of crowd.

"On stage of every theater there should be a fire plug, also a hose long enough to reach any part of the house, to run on a reel.

"A loss of life in a panic cannot be entirely prevented, but some of the above suggestions if carried out will, at least, prevent a wholesale loss of human life.

"All theaters should be thoroughly investigated and where the slightest detail is found to conflict with the law and the[Pg 120] safety of an audience the city officials should prevent the use of such house until it has been properly constructed."



Benjamin H. Marshall, architect of the theater, received the news of the disaster in Pittsburg, Pa., and at once started for Chicago. He was stunned by the intelligence, and, speaking of it, said:

"This seems to be a calamity that has no precedent, and I can not understand how so many people were caught in the balconies unless they were stunned by the shock of an explosion. There were ample fire exits and they were available. The house could have been emptied in less than five minutes if they were all utilized. The fact that so many people were caught in the balconies would prove that they were stunned and panic-stricken by the report rather than by the fear of a fire. It is difficult for me at this time to even guess as to the cause for the great loss of life.

"I am completely upset by this disaster, more so because I have built many theaters and have studied every playhouse disaster in history to avoid errors."



Robert Craik McLean, editor of the Inland Architect, who spent some time investigating the claim that the theater was equipped with an asbestos fire curtain, said: "After a careful investigation, I am convinced that the theater was not equipped with a curtain such as is demanded by the city ordinances.

"I visited the damaged theater, but there was no sign of an asbestos curtain. Fire will not destroy asbestos, and if there was a curtain there when the holocaust occurred it had been[Pg 121] removed, and an investigation should be made to learn what became of it. If no curtain had been removed, as is claimed, I cannot understand how the claim can be set up that the theater had a fire curtain. No one denies that there was a curtain there, but had it been made of asbestos, as required by the ordinance, it would not have been destroyed by the draft of air, as is claimed by the management of the house. An asbestos curtain must have a foundation of wire or some other material, and had the Iroquois been equipped with such a drop the wire screen, at least, would be there to prove it."

"Mr. Samuel Frankenstein of the Frankenstein Calcium Light company, made the statement to me that he had had a conversation with the stage manager of the Iroquois regarding the fire drop. Mr. Frankenstein said that the stage manager told him that the Iroquois stage was not equipped with a true fire curtain. According to Mr. Frankenstein, the stage manager went further than this, and declared that there were only three theaters in Chicago equipped with real asbestos drops."



Charles H. Israels of the firm of Israels & Harder, architects of the new Hudson theater, and several of the large hotels, suggested a number of precautions which might be adopted in New York theaters. Among other things he advocated an ordinance requiring all the theater emergency exits to be used after each performance.

"Nearly every modern theater in this city," Mr. Israels said, "is adequately provided with exits, with which the audience are not familiar, and which are used so seldom that the employes are unused to having the audience pass out[Pg 122] through them. Besides the one exit ordinarily in use there are four emergency exits, and the law requires them to open either on a brick enclosed alley at the side of the theater or directly into the street.

"The people in the gallery, who are in the place of the greatest danger, would undoubtedly become thoroughly accustomed to using these outside stairways.

"The main advantage to be gained by this suggestion over all others is that it could be put into immediate operation without the spending of a single cent on the part of the owners of most of New York's playhouses.

"In a few of the theaters it might be argued that the stairways at the emergency exits were not sufficiently inclosed to allow the crowds to pass down in safety. The law now requires the stairways to be covered at the top, and covering the outside rail with heavy wire mesh raised about two feet above its present level would prevent any one from falling over the side.

"Fireproof scenery or scenery which will at least not flame, is a practical possibility now. The building code should compel the use of scenery on frames of light metal covered with canvas that has been saturated in a fireproof solution. Fireproof paint is compulsory on the woodwork behind the proscenium wall, but in painting scenery combustible paint may be used.

"The law should be most strictly enforced as to the cleaning out of rubbish beneath the stage. In a number of the theaters of New York this is done only occasionally."



[Pg 123]



Those in greatest danger through proximity to the stage did not throw their weight against the mass ahead. Not many died on the first floor, proof of the contention that some restraint existed in this section of the audience.

Women were trodden under foot near the rear; some were injured. The most at this point, however, were rescued by the determined rush of the policeman at the entrance and of the doorkeeper and his assistants.

The theater had thirty exits. All were opened before the fire reached full headway, but some had to be forced opened. Only one door at the Randolph street entrance was open, the others being locked, according, it appears, to custom.

From within and without these doors were shattered in the first two minutes after the fire broke out—by theater employes, according to one report, by the van of the fleeing multitude and the first of the rescuers from the street, according to another.

The doors to the exits on the alley side, between Randolph and Lake streets, in one or more instances, are declared by those who escaped to have been either frozen or rusted. They opened to assaults, but priceless seconds were lost.

Before this time Foy had run back across the stage and reached the alley. With him fled the members of the aerial ballet, the last of the performers to get out. The aerialists[Pg 124] owed their lives to the boy in charge of the fly elevator. They were aloft, in readiness for their flight above the heads of the audience. The elevator boy ran his cage up even with the line of fire, took them in, and brought them safely down.

As Foy and the group reached the outer doorway the stage loft collapsed and tons of fire poured over the stage.

The lights went out in the theater with this destruction of the switchboard and all stage connections. One column of flame rose and swished along the ceiling of the theater. Then this awful illumination also was swallowed up. None may paint from personal understanding that which took place in that pit of flame lit darkness. None lives to tell it.

To those still caught in the structure the light of life went out when the electric globes grew dark.

In spite of the terrible form of their destruction, it came swiftly enough to shorten pain. This at least was true of those who died in the second balcony, striving to reach the alley exits abreast of them.

Six and seven feet deep they were found, not packed in layers but jumbled and twisted in the struggle with one another.

Opposite the westernmost exit of the balcony—on the alley—was a room in the Northwestern University building (the old Tremont house) where painters were working, wiping out the traces of another fire.

They heard the sound of the detonation of the fuse; they heard the rush of feet toward the exit across the way. Out on the iron stairway came a man, pushed by a power behind, himself crazy with fear. He would have run down the iron fire escape, but flames burst out of the exit beneath and wrapped themselves around the iron ladder.

 [Pg 125]


The postures in which death was met showed how the end had come to many.

A husband and wife were locked so tightly in one another's arms that the bodies had to be taken out together. A woman had thrown her arms around a child in a vain effort to save her. Both were burned beyond recognition.

The sight of the children's bodies broke down the composure of the most restrained of the rescuers. As little form after form was brought out the tears ran down the faces of policemen, firemen and bystanders. Small hands were clenched before childish faces—fruitless attempts at protection from the scorching blast.

Most of the children could be recognized. Fate allowed that thin shadow of mercy. They fell beneath their taller companions. The flames reached them, but they were face downward, other forms were above them, and generally their features were spared.

The persons crowded off the fire escape platform, and those who jumped voluntarily by their own death saved persons on the lower floor from injury. Scores jumped from the exits at the first balcony, the first to death and injury, the ones behind to comparative safety on the thick cushion of the bodies of those who preceded them and who fell from the balcony above. Other hundreds from the main floor jumped on to the same cushion—an easy distance of six feet—without any injury.

When the firemen came they spread nets, but the nets were black, and in the gloom they could not be seen. They saved few lives—argument for the use of white nets hereafter.

[Pg 126]The chain of mishaps surrounding the catastrophe extended to the fire alarm. There was no fire alarm box in front of the theater, as at other theaters. A stage hand ran down the alley to South Water street and by word of mouth turned in a "still" alarm to No. 13. The box alarm did not follow for some precious minutes. At least four minutes were lost in this way.

Of the 900 persons seated in the first and second balconies few if any escaped without serious injury.

So fiercely the fire burned during the short time in which hundreds of lives were sacrificed that the velvet cushions of the balcony seats were burned bare.

The crowds fought so in their efforts to escape that they tore away the iron railings of the balconies, leaping upon the people below.

From 3 o'clock, when the alarm was sent in, to 7:30 o'clock, when the doors of the theater were closed, the charred, torn, and blistered bodies were carried from the building at the rate of four a minute. One hundred were taken out across the plank way.

Many blankets filled with fragments of human bodies were taken from the building.

Hundreds of bodies were taken from the building, their clothing gone, their faces charred beyond recognition. Under pretense of serving as rescuers ghouls gained entrance to the theater and robbed the dead and dying in the midst of the fire.

Men fell on their knees and prayed. Men and women cursed. A rush was made for the Randolph street exits. In their fear the crowds forgot the many side exits, and rushed for the doors at which they had entered the theater. Little boys and girls were thrown to one side by their stronger companions.

[Pg 127]Ten baskets of money and jewelry thrown in this manner were picked up from the main floor when the fire was extinguished.

Men and women tore their clothing from them. As the first rush was made for the foyer entrance to the balconies men, women and children were thrown bodily down the steps.

A few score of those nearest the doorways escaped by falling or being thrown down the stairs of the main balcony entrances.

Scores were wedged in the doorways, pinned by the force of those behind them. There in the narrow aisle at the balcony entrances they were suffocated and fell—tons of human weight.

All succeeded in leaving their seats in the first balcony. Climbing over the seats and rushing up the slanting aisles to the level aisles above, they fought their way. Those at the bottom of the mass were burned but little. The top layer of bodies was burned till they never can be identified.

Darkness shrouded the theater with its hundreds of dead when the fire was under control that the building could be entered. The firemen were forced to work in smoky darkness when they started carrying the bodies from the balconies.



James M. Strong, a Chicago board of trade clerk, the sole survivor of all the occupants of the gallery who tried to escape through the locked door, smashed with his fist a glass transom and climbed through it. Three members of his family, who followed him down the passageway, shared the fate of others. Their bodies since have been discovered, burned almost beyond recognition.

[Pg 128]"If the door hadn't been locked hundreds of persons could have saved their lives," said Strong.

The passageway, along which Strong and many now dead ran to supposed safety, led toward the front of the theater, past the top entrance to the gallery. Strong had been unable to secure seats and was standing in the rear of the gallery with his mother, Mrs. B. K. Strong, his wife, and his niece, Vera, 16 years old, of Americus, Ga. When the fire started all ran toward the nearest exit.

"The exit was crowded," said Strong. "We ran on down a passage at the side of it, followed by many others. At the end, down a short flight of steps, was a door. It was locked. In desperation I threw myself against it. I couldn't budge it. Then, standing on the top step of the little stairway, I smashed the glass above with my fist and crawled through the transom.

"When I fell on the outside I heard the screams on the other side, and, scrambling to my feet, I tried again to open the door, but couldn't. The key was not there. I ran down a stairway to the floor below, where I found a carpenter. I asked him to give me something to break down the door, and he got me a short board. I ran back with this and began pounding, but the door was too heavy to be broken.

"I scarcely know what happened afterward. Smoke was pouring over the transom and I felt myself suffocating. Alone, or with the assistance of the carpenter, I at last found myself at the bottom of the stairway opening into the lobby of the theater. From there I pushed my way to the street. Until then I didn't know I was burned."



The most miraculous escape was that of Winnie Gallagher, an 11-year-old girl, who occupied a seat with her aunt [Pg 129]almost directly under the stage. When the panic was started she jumped to her feet and after being thrown about and trampled upon and having her clothing torn from her she managed to climb over the seats and reach the street in safety. What few pieces of wearing apparel she had on at the time were in ribbons and a messenger boy, seeing her predicament, pulled off his overcoat and wrapped it around her. She went to the Central station, where she gave the police her name and asked that someone take her to her home, 4925 Michigan avenue.



The first two lower boxes on the left of the stage were occupied by a party of young women who were being entertained by Mrs. Rollin A. Keyes of Evanston, in honor of her young daughter, Miss Catherine Keyes, who was home from school in Washington for the holidays.

"We arrived at the theater shortly after the first act," said Miss Emily Plamondon of Astoria, Ore., a member of the party, in describing the fire. "As far as I could see the house was filled with women and children, who occupied seats on the first floor and in the galleries. It was about a quarter to 3 when one of the young women in the party asked Mrs. Keyes if she did not smell something burning and an instant afterward a great cloud of smoke spread across the stage and into the body of the house. Immediately we realized the danger we were in, as did all around us. Instead of a rush to the doors, the audience gazed for a moment at the stage, and as a whole the people appeared very calm, under the circumstances, and as if contemplating how they would escape.

"Again another cloud of smoke issued from the stage and several stage hands appeared, shouting at the top of their[Pg 130] voices for the people to sit down. But it was only for an instant that they obeyed, for by that time the smoke had spread through the theater and men, women and children were gasping for breath. Then a mad rush was made for the doors and for the supposed exits, but in vain. Mrs. Pearson and Mrs. Keyes commanded us to keep together by all means and just as we were leaving the boxes the theater became darkened, which, I suppose, was caused by the burning out of the electric light, and thus made our escape the harder. We plodded through the aisles until we came within about ten feet of the main entrance without encountering any violence from the panic-stricken women and children who were fighting for their lives. Then the crush became terrible and the members of our party, Mrs. Rollin A. Keyes, Mrs. Pearson, Misses Charlotte Plamondon, Catherine Keyes, Elmore of Oregon, Amelia Ormsby, Grace Hills, Josephine Eddy and Miss Elizabeth Eddy realized that it would be impossible to get to the street through that door.

"It was only a short time, however, when somebody knocked down two doors, which had been locked, and the majority of the people on the first floor escaped through them without serious injury. Miss Charlotte Plamondon, who was bruised about the face and hands, and I were the only ones in the party who escaped with our wraps. The others had their clothes torn almost from them, as they were hurrying from the burning theater.

"Before we had left the boxes the fire had spread to the first row of seats and the stage hands were endeavoring to lower the asbestos curtain. When it was about half down it became caught and the attempt to drop it was abandoned. A great gush of fire then spread to the draperies over the boxes. The people were wonderfully calm, it seemed to me, for so[Pg 131] crucial a moment and it was not until the smoke filled the house that they became frantic and screamed for help. We could hardly breathe and I believe had we been in the theater a few minutes longer we, too, would have been suffocated, as the heat and smoke were becoming unendurable. Had the exits been open and unlocked the loss of life would not have been nearly so great."

"We were seated for half an hour before the fire broke out. Our attention was first attracted by a wreath of flame, which crept slowly along the red velvet curtain. We all noticed it. So did the audience and I could see little girls and boys in the orchestra chairs point upward at the slowly moving line of flame. As the fire spread the people in the balcony and on the first floor arose to their feet as if to rush out of the place. Then Eddie Foy hurried to the front of the stage and commanded the people to be quiet, saying that if they would remain seated the danger would be averted. All the people who were then on the stage maintained remarkable presence of mind and the chorus girls endeavored to divert the attention of their auditors off the fire by going on with their parts.

"I looked over the faces of the audience and remarked how many children were present. I could see their faces filled with interest and their eyes wide open as they watched the burning curtain.

"Then I looked behind me and realized the awful consequence should the people become alarmed. The doors, except for the one through which we entered the theater, were closed and apparently fastened. Up in the balcony I could see people crowding forward in order to obtain a better view. Again the audience arose as if to flee.

"Eddie Foy again rushed on the stage and waved his arms in a gesture for the people to be seated. But just then the[Pg 132] shrill cry of a woman caused the women and children to rise to their feet, filled with a sudden and uncontrollable terror.

"'Fire!' I heard her exclaim, and in another instant the eyes of the audience were turned to the exits in the rear. The flames lighted up the stage as the light tinsel stuffs blazed up, and the scene changed from mimicry to tragedy. A confused, rumbling noise filled the theater from the pit to the dome. I knew it was the sound of a thousand people preparing to leave their seats and rush madly from the impending danger. The noise of their footsteps in the balcony was soon deadened by the cries for aid from those who were hemmed in by the struggling mass.

"On the stage the chorus girls, who had exhibited rare presence of mind, turned to flee. Many were overcome before they could stir a step. They fell to the floor and I saw the men in the cast and the stage hands lift them to their feet and carry them to the rear of the stage. By this time the scenery was a mass of flames."



Deputy Building Commissioner Stanhope with three inspectors made a thorough examination of the theater building yesterday.

"I first examined the building with respect to the safety of its walls and found them in perfect condition," said Mr. Stanhope. "They are not out of plumb an inch and are as good as they ever were. The steel structure is not injured except that portion which supported the stage. The heat has twisted some of the supports but they can be replaced at little cost. Except the backs of the seats and the floor of the stage the interior of the auditorium was not injured by the fire. The[Pg 133] carpets in the gallery, where most of the people were killed, were not even scorched."



Verma Goss is one of the young heroines of the fire. She attended the theater in a party composed of her mother, Mrs. Joseph Goss; her 5-year-old sister, Helen; Mrs. Greenwald of 536 Byron street and her young son Leroy. In the rush for the door Miss Verma caught her young sister's hand and pulled her out of the crowd and carried the child to safety. She thought her mother was following, but she and her sister were the only ones of the party who escaped.



Mrs. William Mueller, with her two children, Florence Marie, 5 years of age, and Barbara Belle, 7, occupied a seat in the parquet.

"I was not in the theater auditorium," said Mrs. Mueller. "I was in one of the waiting rooms, but was on my way to our seats. As I entered the doors somebody yelled fire. I looked up and saw the curtain ablaze. Then came the stampede. I picked up my children and ran toward the door. I was caught in the jam and it seemed that I would fail to reach it. Some man saw my plight and jumped to my assistance. He picked up Florence and threw her over the heads of the rushing people. She fell upon the pavement, but was not badly injured."



The first woman to be rescued over the temporary bridge between the theater and the Northwestern university building was Mrs. Mary Marzein of Elgin, Ill. She was severely[Pg 134] burned and lost consciousness after her rescue. A score or more suffered death on every side as she crept over the ladder. They were thrown aside and knocked down, but she clung to the ladder and escaped. She was taken to the Michael Reese hospital and did not regain consciousness until the following day. Her husband, who is an employe of the Elgin Watch Company, searched all the morgues and was making a tour of the hospitals when he found his wife.

When Mrs. Marzein recovered in the afternoon the first person she inquired for was her husband, who at that moment was being ushered into the room. Their eyes met as she was whispering his name to the nurse, and an affecting scene followed.



One of the most miraculous escapes from the fire was that of Miss Winifred Cardona. She was one of a party of four and with her friends occupied seats in the seventh row of the parquet.

"The first intimation I had of the danger was when I saw one of the chorus girls look upward and turn pale. My eyes immediately followed her glance and I saw the telltale sparks shooting about through the flies. The singing continued until the blaze broke out. Then Mr. Foy appeared and asked the audience to keep their seats, assuring them that the theater was thoroughly fireproof. We obeyed, but when we saw the seething mass behind struggling for the door we rushed from our seats. I became separated from the other girls and had not gone far before I stumbled over the prostrate body of a woman who was trampled almost beyond recognition. For an instant I thought it was all over. Then I felt someone lift me and I knew no more until I revived in the street. It was[Pg 135] the most awful experience I have ever had and I consider my escape nothing short of miraculous."



"I'm the most grateful man in all Chicago," said J. R. Thompson, who owns the restaurant. "My sister was in the theater with my two children—John, aged 9, and Ruth, aged 7. Sister got almost to the door with both of them. Then Ruthie disappeared. She told me she knew the child must be safe, but I was like a maniac. It was an hour before we found her. How it happened I didn't know, but she ran back into the theater and out under the stage, out through the stage entrance."

"Where is the little girl now?" I asked him.

"I sent her home to her mother," he said.

Only ten feet away lay the chestnut-haired girl who "was a great one to scamper."



Members of four generations of a family were turned into mourners, only one member remaining from a party of nine made up of Benjamin Moore and eight of his relatives, of whom only one, Mrs. W. S. Hanson, Hart, Mich., escaped. Following are the names of the eight victims: Mrs. Joseph Bezenek, 41 years old, West Superior, Wis., daughter of Benjamin Moore; Benjamin Moore, 72 years old, Chicago; Roland Mackay, 6 years old, Chicago, grandson of Mrs. Joseph Bezenek and great grandson of Benjamin Moore; Mrs. Benjamin Moore, 47 years old, wife of Benjamin Moore; Joseph Bezenek, 38 years old, West Superior, Wis., husband of Mrs. Bezenek and son-in-law of Benjamin Moore; Mrs. Perry[Pg 136] Moore, 33 years old, Hart, Mich., daughter-in-law of Benjamin Moore; Miss Sibyl Moore, Hart, Mich., 13 years old, daughter of Mrs. Perry Moore and granddaughter of Benjamin Moore; Miss Lucile Bond, 10 years old, daughter of George H. Bond and granddaughter of Benjamin Moore, Chicago.



Three daughters and two grandchildren, constituting the entire family of Mr. and Mrs. Morris Eger, Chicago, perished in the fire. The daughters were Miss S. Eger, who was a teacher in the Mosely school; Mrs. Marion Rice, wife of A. Rice, and Mrs. Rose Bloom, wife of Max Bloom, and the children were: Erna, the 10-year-old daughter of Mrs. Rice, and her 11-year-old brother, Ernest.

After a long search among the many morgues of the city the bodies were all identified, two of them being found there.



[Pg 137]



The New Year came to Chicago with muffled drums, two days after the calamity that threw the great metropolis into mourning.

Scarcely a sound was heard as 1904 entered.

Jan. 1—day of funerals—was received in silence. Streets were almost deserted, even downtown. Men hurried silently along the sidewalks. There were not half a dozen tin horns in the downtown district where ordinarily the blare of trumpets, screech of steam whistles, volleys of shots and the merriment of late wayfarers make the entrance of a new year a period of deafening pandemonium.

Merrymakers were quiet when in the streets and subdued even in the restaurants. Noise, except in a few scattered districts, was unknown.

It was a remarkable, spontaneous testimony to the prevalent spirit throughout the city. Mayor Harrison had asked, in an official proclamation, that there be no noise, but few of those who desisted from the usual practices of greeting the New Year knew that they had been requested to be silent.



There were mourning families in every neighborhood; crepe in every street; grief stricken relatives throughout the city; unidentified dead in the morgues, and sufferers in the hospital. The citizens did not need to be requested to be quiet.

[Pg 138]Jan. 1, 1904, meant the beginning of funerals and the burial of dead who were to have lived to take part in merrymaking.

A year before in downtown Chicago the din was an ear-splitting racket of horns, whistles, yells, songs, and exploding cannon.

A year before the downtown streets were filled with hundreds of laughing men and women, roystering parties filling the air with the uproar of tin horns and revolvers.



That night there were a messenger boy in La Salle street blowing a tin horn and a man at Wabash avenue and Harrison street. The other pedestrians looked at them as if they considered the noise a sacrilege. It was with the same feeling that they heard the blowing of the factory whistles in the few cases where the engineers forgot.

A year before the outlying districts were awakened by the firing of cannon and the shouts of people in noisy celebrations. That dread night there was nothing to keep residents awake except grief.



To insure this condition, as the only fitting one, Mayor Harrison had issued a proclamation in which he said:

"On each recurring New Year's eve annoyance has been caused the sick and infirm by the indulgence of thoughtless persons in noisy celebrations of the passage of the old year. The city authorities have at all times discouraged this practice, but now, when Chicago lies in the shadow of the greatest disaster in her history for a generation, noisemaking, whether by bells, whistles, cannon, horns or any other means, is particularly objectionable.

[Pg 139]"As mayor of Chicago I would, therefore, request all persons to refrain from this indulgence, and I would particularly ask all railway officials and all persons in control of factories, boats, and mills to direct their employes not to blow whistles between the hours of 12 and 1 o'clock tonight."

Persons not reached by this proclamation had seen the lines waiting entrance at the morgues. The few peddlers who had tin horns for sale found no buyers. This market, which in other years has been a profitable one, on Dec. 31, 1903, was dead. The venders slunk up to the building walls and, even in trying to sell, made little noise with their wares.



In such restaurants as the Auditorium Annex, the Wellington, and Rector's there were gay crowds, but the merriment was subdued. "No music" was the general rule throughout the city. At Rector's the management took down flowers which were to have decorated the restaurant and sent them to the hospitals where the injured theater victims were.

At the Annex and the Wellington the lobbies had been filled with gayly decorated tables, and this space as well as the cafes was entirely occupied. Congress street was filled with carriages and cabs for the guests at the Annex.



Even these gatherings, which were the least affected by the gloom over the city, were ghastly as compared with those of former years. There were exceptions to the general rule, but even in the places which felt the effect the least there was abundant testimony to the fact that Chicago was a city of woe.

The aspect of the downtown district was evidence that there[Pg 140] was scarcely a neighborhood in the city which had not at least one sorrowing family.

Not only was this indicated by the lack of noise on the noisiest night of the year but by the absence of lights. Many electric signs and illuminations which usually lighted up the streets had been closed, and gay, wicked, noisy Chicago was clothed with gloom such as it had never before known.

Dark and solemn as was the opening day of the new year it was no circumstance compared with the day that followed. At the suggestion of the mayor Saturday, Jan. 2, was set apart to bury the dead. The proclamation issued in that connection follows:

"Chicago, Dec. 31.—To the citizens of Chicago: Announcement is hereby made that the city hall will be closed on Saturday, Jan. 2, 1904, on account of the calamity occurring at the Iroquois theater. All business houses throughout the city are respectfully requested to shut down on that day.

"Carter H. Harrison, Mayor."

The request was generally followed, and on that mournful day the interment of the victims of the holocaust began, filling the streets with processions moving to the grave. From daybreak until evening funeral corteges moved through the streets. Church bells at noon tolled a requiem. The machinery of business was hushed in the downtown district, and long lines of carriages, preceded by hearses or plain black wagons, followed the theater victims to the grave.

In no public place, in no home was the grief of the bereft not felt. Many of the dead were taken directly from the undertaking rooms to the cemeteries and buried with simple ceremony. Before dark nearly 200 victims were borne to the[Pg 141] grave. A score were taken to railroad stations, to be followed by the mourning back to their homes.



The board of trade closed at 11 o'clock. The doors of the stock exchange were not opened. Few of the downtown mercantile houses and few of the offices were open after noon. There was little business.

It was a day of mourning, and the army of the sorrowful that for days had searched for its dead performed the last rites. At noon bells in all the church towers were rung to the rhythm of "The Dead March in Saul." Those who heard the solemn dirge stood still for the space of five minutes with bared heads. The proclamation of the mayor generally was observed. Everywhere there was gloom and no one could escape from the pall that enshrouded Chicago.

The demand for hearses was so great that the undertakers were compelled to make up schedules in which the different hours of the day were allotted to the grief-stricken.

Flags were at half-mast, while white hearses bearing the bodies of children and black hearses with the bodies of others took their way to the various churches. In some blocks three and four hearses were standing, and at the churches one cortege would wait until another moved away.

The pall seemed to pervade the air itself. Pedestrians halted on the sidewalk, and in the cold stood with bared heads while the funeral processions passed.

Children saw their parents laid away; parents followed the coffins of their child. Students just reaching manhood or womanhood were laid at rest, while relatives and companions mourned. Kindly clergymen wept as they spoke words of[Pg 142] comfort to those bereft of father, mother, brother, sister, or even of all.

Two double funerals passed through the downtown districts just as the department stores were dismissing their thousands of employes. Sisters were being taken to their last resting place, and this cortege was followed by two white hearses containing the bodies of another brother and sister. Both funeral processions went to the same depot, and all four victims were buried in the same cemetery.

The numerous funeral trains which left Chicago contained in nearly every instance more than one coffin. Hearse after hearse and carriage after carriage arrived in the blinding snow and stopped at the depots, opening an epoch of funerals that continued daily until the last victim was laid to rest.

Thus opened the year 1904 in Chicago, the stricken and desolate.



[Pg 143]



A majority of the victims of the fire were laid to rest, however, during the Sabbath succeeding the awful calamity. The main thoroughfares of the benumbed city leading north and west toward the resting places of the dead were crowded with funeral processions, sometimes four and five hearses together showing as white as the snow on the ground, bearing as they did the bodies of children.

As one funeral procession after another passed through the streets the numbers of the sorrowing at the cemeteries increased. A few hundred feet from one freshly made grave there was another and a short distance away still another that told the mourners at one funeral that others were bereaved.

The work of burying the dead began early in the morning and lasted until late in the evening. Sometimes the homes of several of the dead were grouped in a few blocks and in one instance a glance down a single street would reveal the thickly crowded carriages for half a dozen funerals that had thrown an entire neighborhood into mourning. Where hearses could not be furnished they were improvised from other kinds of vehicles and mourners who could not get cabs rode in carriages. As the night closed down on hundreds of mourning homes, in every cemetery in the city the speaking mounds of fresh earth told of the end of families broken and altogether destroyed.

 [Pg 144]


More than a thousand turners joined in the services for seven victims who were members of their societies. The Chicago Turnbezirk, the central body of the turners, had charge of the exercises. Representatives of the Aurora Turnverein, Schweitzer Turnverein, Forward Turnverein, Social Turnverein, and other turner organizations joined in the services.

The exercises were held at the Social Turner hall, Belmont avenue and Paulina street. The coffins of the victims were placed in front of the stage at the end of the hall. After the services the coffins were taken by uniformed turners through the hall to black wagons and the march to Graceland cemetery began. Three drum corps, with muffled drums, beat a funeral march.

Women turners, in their gymnasium suits, escorted the bodies of the women victims, and uniformed turners watched the coffins of the men.

Short services were held at the cemetery.



At the residence of Ludwig Wolff, 1329 Washington boulevard, the bodies of his daughter, Mrs. William M. Garn and her three children, Willie, 11, John, 7, and Harriet, 10 years old, lay. All day long until the time for the funeral services a stream of sympathizing friends poured in. A crowd of more than a thousand surrounded the house and the policemen stationed there were compelled to force a way for the caskets when they were borne to the hearses. The service was read by the Rev. William C. Dewitt of St. Andrew's church. Twelve boys acted as pallbearers for their former playfellows and followed the little white hearses to Graceland. The funeral was one of[Pg 145] the largest ever seen on the west side of the city, more than one hundred carriages being in the funeral train.



Far different in all except the grief was the funeral from the little frame church at Congress street and Forty-second avenue. Inside lay the bodies of Mrs. Mary W. Holst and her three children, Allan, 13, Gertrude, 10, and Amy, 8 years. They were in the ill fated second balcony of the theater and met death trying to reach the fire escape. Of the family only the father and a 6 months old son survive. Mrs. Holst was the sister of former Chief of Police Badenoch. Interment was at Forest Home.

The building was still gay with its Christmas decorations and a large motto, "Peace on earth, good will to men," which the Holst children had assisted in making.



Another quadruple funeral was that of the daughters and the grandchildren of Jacob and Elizabeth Beder of 697 Ogden avenue. The two women, Mrs. Edyth Vallely, 835 Sawyer avenue, and Mrs. Amy Josephine McKenna of 758 South Kedzie avenue, went to the theater accompanied by their two children, Bernice Vallely, aged 11, and Bernard McKenna, aged 3. The bodies were found after the fire by the husbands of the dead women at the morgues. The services were in charge of Rev. D. F. Fox of the California Avenue Congregational church. Interment was at Forest Home.



Memorial services were held in the afternoon for Mrs. Eva Pond, wife of Fred S. Pond, their children, Raymond, 14, Helen, 7, and Miss Grace Tuttle, sister of Mrs. Pond, at the[Pg 146] family residence, 1272 Lyman avenue. The services were conducted by the Rev. Mr. Bowles of All Saints' Episcopal church.

Miss Tuttle had been for eighteen years a teacher in the Chicago public schools. She attended the performance at the Iroquois with her sister and her sister's children, and none of them emerged alive. Mrs. Pond was the wife of Fred S. Pond, for thirty years cashier of the Deering Harvester Company, who is the only survivor of a once happy family circle. The four bodies were taken to Beloit, Wis., for burial.



None but friends attended the Beyer funeral service during the afternoon at Sheldon's undertaking rooms, for the entire family, mother, father, and child, were numbered among the Iroquois dead. Otto H. Beyer, his wife Minnie, and their 4 year old daughter Grace, were the victims. The bodies were taken to Elkader, Iowa, for burial. This was perhaps the saddest of all the sad services conducted during the day, as no relatives were present to mourn the dead.



Mrs. Emilie Hoyt Fox, daughter of William M. Hoyt, the wholesale grocer; George Sidney Fox, her 15-year-old son; Hoyt Fox, 14 years old, and Emilie Fox, 9 years old, were all buried side by side in Graceland cemetery. The funeral services were held in Graceland chapel and were conducted by Rev. Henry G. Moore of Christ Episcopal church, Winnetka.



Simple and short were the funeral services at Boydston's chapel, Forty-second place and Cottage Grove avenue, over the remains of four members of the Hull family. Mrs. Hull, the[Pg 147] mother, was the wife of Arthur E. Hull, 244 Oakwood boulevard, and attended the theater with her little daughter, Helen, and two nephews, adopted sons, Donald and Dwight. The services were directed by Rev. J. H. McDonald of the Oakland Methodist Episcopal church and consisted simply of a prayer and the reading of a poem found in the desk of Mrs. Hull, and which had evidently been clipped from some newspaper. At the conclusion of the services the caskets were carried to the Thirty-ninth street station of the Michigan Central railroad, over which they were taken to Troy, N. Y., for burial.



"We were four of the happiest mortals in all Chicago until that awful thing blasted our lives forever," sobbed Mrs. Louis Lange of 1632 Barry avenue at the close of the funeral of her only two children, Herbert Lange, 17 years old, and his sister Agnes, 14. The service was held at the Johannes Evangelical Lutheran church at Garfield avenue and Mohawk street.



While the last rites were being held for Albert Alfson in Chicago, the body of his sweetheart, Miss Margaret Love, was being buried in the cemetery at Woodstock. Two hundred persons, 125 from Woodstock, attended Alfson's funeral at 24 Keith street.



The largest funeral at Oakwoods was that of Dr. M. B. Rimes, 6331 Wentworth avenue, his wife and three children, Lloyd, Martin, and Maurice. The five from one family were buried together in one large grave.

 [Pg 148]


At the home of Ludwig Wolff, 1329 Washington boulevard the body of his daughter, Mrs. William M. Garn, and her three children, Willie, John and Harriet, lay. All day long until the time for the funeral services, a stream of sympathizing friends poured in, bearing many floral tributes to the dead. The impressive service of the Episcopal church was read by the Rev. William C. Dewitt of St. Andrew's church, of which Mrs. Garn was a member. Twelve boys acted as pallbearers to their late playfellows, and followed the little white hearses to Graceland cemetery. The funeral was one of the largest ever seen on the West Side, more than one hundred carriages being in the train.



A funeral was held which saddened the hearts of all Winnetka. The little north shore suburb lost eight of its residents in the fire, and the funeral of four of the Fox family was held yesterday. The services were conducted by the Rev. Henry G. Moore of Christ Episcopal church, Winnetka.



Three hearses carried away the bodies of Mrs. Louise Ruby and her daughters, Mrs. Ida Weimers and Mrs. Mary Feiser. The services were held at the late home of Mrs. Ruby, 838 Wilson avenue. Father F. N. Perry of the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes celebrated mass for the two daughters, who were members of his parish. The Rev. John G. Kircher of Bethlehem Evangelical church read the service for the mother.



Triple funeral services were held at the residence of Henry M. Shabad, 4041 Indiana avenue, for his two children, Myrtle,[Pg 149] aged 14 years, and Theodore, aged 12 years, and little Rose Elkan, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. N. Elkan. The three children attended the matinee together and all were killed. Rabbi Jacobson of the Thirty-fifth street synagogue conducted the service and at the conclusion referred to the Iroquois fire as one of the "greatest calamities of the age." The interment took place at Waldheim.



Attended by many grief stricken schoolmates and friends, the funeral of Robert and Archie Hippach, sons of Louis A. and Ida S. Hippach, was held at the Church of the Atonement, Kenmore and Ardmore avenues. They lived at 2928 Kenmore avenue. At the church several women fainted and had to be taken from the church.



Miss Viola Delee of 7822 Union avenue, and Miss Florence Corrigan of 218 Dearborn avenue, victims of the Iroquois theater fire, whose remains were buried, were life-long friends. They were schoolmates at St. Xavier's College, where both graduated two years ago. On the afternoon of the fire Miss Delee had arranged to meet her friend downtown and attend the matinee. It is thought they secured seats on the main floor about eight rows from the front. Their bodies were found lying some distance apart.

The body of Miss Delee showed marks that must have caused her excruciating pain. Her face was badly burned and disfigured. Miss Corrigan was burned almost beyond recognition. She was not identified until after the identity of Viola's body had been established through a card which she carried in the pocket of her dress.

[Pg 150]The funerals of two friends who had perished together in the fire met in Forest Home cemetery when Mrs. Floy Irene Olson of 835 Walnut street and Bessie M. Stafford were buried in graves not thirty feet apart. The two women had been life-long friends and were co-workers in the Warren Avenue Congregational church. Rev. Frank G. Smith conducted the services over each of the bodies.



Rev. Father Quinn of St. James' Roman Catholic church, conducted the obsequies for Edward Mansfield and Margaret Louise Dee, the children of William Dee, at the residence, 3133 Wabash avenue. The funeral procession was the largest ever seen on the south side for children, seventy-five carriages following the white hearse that bore the two white caskets.



Miss Emma D. Mann, supervisor of music in the Chicago public schools, and her niece, Olive Squires, 14 years old, were buried at Rosehill after impressive ceremonies at the Centenary Methodist Episcopal church. Miss Mann had been connected with the schools of the city for many years.



The funeral services over the remains of Ella and Edyth Freckleton, daughters of William J. Freckleton, 5632 Peoria street, were conducted by Rev. R. Keene Ryan at Boulevard hall, Fifty-fifth and Halsted streets. More than 2,000 persons were in the hall and 500 others stood in the street for hours waiting for the funeral cortege to pass on its way to Oakwoods, where interment was made.



Hundreds of pupils of the Nash school, Forty-ninth avenue and Ohio street, members of the Ridgeland fire department and[Pg 151] a delegation of employes of the Cicero and Proviso Electric Street railway attended the funeral services over the remains of Miss Frances Lehman, at the residence of her parents, 525 North Austin avenue, in the morning. Rev. Clayton Youker, pastor of the Euclid Avenue Methodist Episcopal church, officiating. Many beautiful floral tributes were sent by the teachers and the pupils of the Nash school.

And so during this Sabbath of woe, tragedies of life and death such as these, but far too numerous to be all recorded, were being enacted in all parts of the stricken city. Although nature had bestowed upon the countless mourners a day bright and clear, their spirits were dark with sorrow and for years to come their memories will revert to that time as the saddest of their lives; and those whose dear ones were not among the dead, if their natures were blessed with any sympathy whatever, were oppressed, as never before, with the heavy burden which others must bear.



[Pg 152]



Never before in the history of amusements has so excellent an opportunity been afforded to look behind the scenes of the mimic world and study the real life of the actor. To one and all, whether religionist unalterably opposed to the theater and all its ramifications, or the devotee finding life's chiefest pleasures contributed by musician and mummer, the stage looms up a mystic realm, affording more interest and comment than almost any other department of earthly effort.

When Shakespeare wrote "See the players well bestowed" in his immortal masterpiece, "Hamlet," the term player meant something very different from what it does today. In this day and age it is not only the poetic, lofty-minded and learned tragedian who is rightfully accorded the title "actor," but through time-honored custom and common usage the specialty performer, slap-stick comedian and the interesting chorus girl are recognized as members of the "profession"; and be it noted, although a sad commentary on the stage, they far outnumber those of the old, legitimate school.

So it is that in dealing with the player folk, to whom the terrifying Iroquois experience was but an incident in a long career of vicissitudes unknown to those who make up the great commercial, industrial and agricultural world, it is necessary to consider the sleek, well-groomed executive staff, the better-paid and more widely-known stellar lights of the "Mr. Bluebeard" company, the less distinguished principals, both men[Pg 153] and women, the struggling chorus boy, the saucy, piquant and greatly envied chorus girl and a small army of unheard-of yet equally important stage mechanics.

Upwards of 150 persons—a little world of their own—made up the company that found its merry-making tour brought to a sudden termination by a blast that came upon them like a visitation from the bottomless pit. What they endured, what conditions the fatal fire imposed upon them, will never be fully known or appreciated. Merry minstrels in name, but homeless, purposeless wanderers in fact, the dead sweep of the elements tore asunder their little universe and left them stranded and more purposeless still, practically penniless and among strangers, overburdened with their own woes.

With such an organization as "Mr. Bluebeard" there are to be found two or three fortunate mortals, whose powers to amuse and whose popularity with the amusement-loving public place their salaries at a figure anywhere between $150 and $300 a week. In this particular company "Eddie Foy," in private life Edward Fitzgerald, stood out preeminently as such a player. Then came more than a score of principals whose salaries will range from $60 to $150 a week, depending entirely upon ability and the extent to which fortune has favored them in casting the various parts, as the characters are known. Next in order are the less important people, who play "bits" (very unimportant parts), and who act as understudies for the principals, ready to replace them in an emergency. They are largely graduates from the chorus or comparative novices in the profession. Their compensation may be from $30 to $50 a week, according to beauty, grace and general usefulness.

All have their railroad fares paid and their baggage [Pg 154]transported at the expense of the management. They are required to furnish their own wardrobe, however, in many instances an item of no small expense.



And then—the chorus girl! No living creature excites such general curiosity, interest, and perhaps admiration and envy, as this footlight queen. She is popularly supposed to devote her time exclusively to delightful promenades with susceptible "Johnnies" in the millionaire class, automobile rides, after-the-show wine suppers and all manner and form of unconventional and soul-stirring diversions that for her more sedate and useful sister, the ordinary American girl, would mean to be ostracized socially. Hers is generally regarded as a voluptuous life of music, mirth and color, an endless, extravagant pursuit of pleasure.

To the wide, wide world her triumphs and escapades are heralded by newspaper, press agent, and the callow youth of the land, who regard themselves as "real sports" and clamor for an opportunity to provide a supper for one of the chorus at the expense of going without cigarettes for the rest of the month.

Whoever hears of the little, disorderly bunk of a room the chorus girl's salary provides her with at some cheap hotel; of her struggles for existence during the months she is out of employment almost every season; of the glass of beer and nibble of free lunch that is often her only meal during the long weeks of endless rehearsal that precede the opening of the show, when absolutely without income she lives on her scant savings, what she can borrow, and hope and anticipation of what is in store when the tour begins! For three or four weeks she rehearses morning and afternoon while the production[Pg 155] is being put in shape. No salaries are paid during that period, and it is a particularly soft-hearted manager who allows the girl carfare. Most of the day there are marches, dances and evolutions to be gone through with maddening monotony. She must remain on her feet, for chairs are few about stages, and courtesy scant so far as chorus people are concerned.

And at night, when she goes home worn with effort, there are songs to be learned, and then to be repeated over and over again in chorus the next day, to the accompaniment of a battered and expressionless piano shoved into the brightest spot on the gloomy half-dark stage, or, if there be no such thing, placed in the orchestra pit, where the musical director can enjoy the advantage of an electric light.



The musical director! What an autocrat he is! His rules are arbitrary and irrevocable. His criticism stings and burns. He is tired, overworked and under the strain of responsibility for the successful development of the aggregation of young men and women who confront him, and who appear to him weighted down with all the stupidity naturally intended for distribution among a vastly larger number of individuals. He swears, raves, coaxes as his moods change. He weeds out one here and engages a new member there. And with every change the difficulties increase. The tunes that seem so inspiring when heard from the comfort of a parquet seat grow dreary to those who are living with them hourly during this period. The "catchy" songs become so much hateful drivel and maddening nonsense, when done over and over again to the inspiring declaration of the half-crazed director that "the[Pg 156] whole bunch ought to go back to the farm, back to the dishpan."

It is a tired, world-worn, weary creature that creeps away after such a rehearsal—a woman who would be hard to recognize as the sprightly, dashing blonde in blue tights, who tosses her head saucily in the third act and sets the hearts of the youth of the one-night-stands aflame a few weeks later.



At last the chaos and confusion end, the great mass of detail is blended into a production and the stage manager begins his term of storming and fussing. The dress rehearsal is called, the shimmering silken costumes are donned and all hands are agreeably surprised to find that there really is a plot to the piece and some rhyme and reason behind the efforts of the few preceding weeks' labor. The opening is at hand.

What joy it brings to all, both those of high and low degree. Brave costumes, light, color and a mellow orchestra, in place of the old tin-pan of a piano, work great changes in their spirits. And best of all—salaries begin. To the chorus girl it means from $18 to $25 a week, and if she be particularly clever perhaps a little more. That is hers, free from all charges for transportation, baggage delivery or the furnishing or maintenance of wardrobe. She must furnish her own "make-up" of paints, powder and cosmetics, to be sure, and of this she uses no small amount; but that is a minor expense.

The opening over, the critics of the press either praise or flay the production—something that means much in determining what its future will be. For a few weeks, possibly a month or two, it remains the attraction at the theater where it had its birth. Conditions become pleasanter, yet a vast[Pg 157] amount of rehearsing continues in order to bring about improvement or make changes in the personnel of the company. Every time a girl drops out, voluntarily or otherwise, her successor must be put through the ropes in order to be able to replace her. That means all those in the same scenes must go through the dreary details again. In fact, from the time such a show opens until it closes rehearsals never really cease, the causes necessitating them being almost without number.



During the "run" in the opening house the chorus girl has a chance to live at comparatively small expense. She may pay off her small debts, if she is troubled with a conscience. What is far more important, she can replenish her threadbare street wardrobe, for it is an unwritten managerial law that all stage people must dress well both on and off the stage. So when the "run" terminates and the road tour begins, nearly all the company are pretty short financially, although they may be even with the world if they are particularly fortunate. All actors are naturally "spenders." Their mode of life compels it. With few family ties, the majority without a home, their every expense is double that of the every-day sort of a man. Their meeting place and their lounging place, whether it be for business or social reasons, is necessarily the hotel or the bar. Under those conditions it would be difficult for the most conservative to cultivate frugality or economy. And actors have never been known to injure themselves in an effort to attain either unless under stress of temporary compulsion.



Perhaps the show has made a "hit." Perhaps not. One can never tell in advance, for it is gambling, pure and simple, so[Pg 158] the oldest managers openly assert. If it proves a failure all the capital, labor and trouble has been thrown away like a flash in the pan. The actors arrive some night to find the house dark, the box-office receipts, scenery and properties seized on an attachment, and their salaries and prospects gone. What happens then with weeks, possibly months, of idleness ahead of them, can be better imagined than described. Somehow, the people struggle through and survive and bob up to face the same experience again. It is hard enough on the principals with good salaries and friends purchased through profligate expenditure of their money when all was sunshine and prosperity, but it is a worse blow to the chorus. Yet they pass through seemingly unscathed. They are used to it and know how.

But this is a dreary side of the picture, and all productions are by no means doomed to flunk; those that do not go forth upon the road with a flourish of trumpets, the glitter and glamor of carloads of courts and palaces of canvas, tinsel and papier-mache and with everyone looking forward to the rapid acquirement of a fortune. Verily, your actor is a born optimist. Were it not for ambition, hope, egotism and inherent love of publicity, notoriety and admiration, where would the stage get its recruits?



After the production has taken to the road it may still prove a "frost"—the theatrical term for failure. Then it is the same grim story, with additional discouragements. There are cold, clammy hotelkeepers whose one anxiety is to see their bills paid, and commercially inclined railroads who will transport none, not even actors, without payment in something more tangible than promises. Then comes the benefit [Pg 159]performance, the appeal to local lodges of orders the actors may be identified with and the mad scramble to induce the railroad to carry the people home "on their trunks." If they can get their baggage out of the hotels the performers usually find it possible to secure transportation by leaving their trunks with the railroads as a pawn to be released when they raise money enough to settle the bill. Surely a pleasant prospect—to go "home" penniless and without personal effects, clothing or even prospects.

And all this time where is the manager? He may have fled in desperation with the few dollars that came into his hands the preceding night, or he may be shut up in his room worse off than his employes. It all depends upon circumstances.

All shows do not meet disaster on the road, however. Yet there is always the distressing possibility to confront the actor. Many go on their glad, successful way, for a time, like "Mr. Bluebeard," piling up profits and bringing joy to the hearts of managers and owners and continued employment to the players. Yet even then all is not as roseate as might be thought from a casual glance taken from the front. There are epidemics, railroad accidents, hotel fires and all manner of emergencies to be considered, not to speak of the one-night stand.



Of all the terrors the actor faces the one-night stand is the worst. That is the technical name applied to the city or town where the company lights for a single performance as it flits across the continent. It is almost impossible to so route an attraction that its time will be placed exclusively in large cities, so they fall back on the one-night stand. Imagine the joy of leaving Chicago Sunday morning, playing at South[Pg 160] Chicago Sunday afternoon and evening, taking a train after the performance and jogging into Michigan City, Ind., with the early dawn, catching a bit of sleep during the day, playing at night and skipping out for Logansport. With the same programme at Logansport, Fort Wayne, Richmond, and Lima, Mansfield or Dayton, Ohio, the company is within striking distance of Cleveland, Cincinnati, Louisville or Indianapolis, as its bookings may elect. And that is precisely what they all do. This is a sample week. It is not an uncommon thing for a big attraction to cover two or three weeks of unbroken one-night stands, and those going to and from the Pacific coast are often compelled to play four and five, without the friendly relief of an engagement covering a week.

Truly life under these circumstances is a horror. Train-worn, broken in rest, with scarcely opportunity to unpack to change their linen, such weeks mean to the performer an existence not calculated to tempt recruits to the profession. To the principal, stopping at the best hotels and making use of sleeping cars whenever possible, it is wearing enough and a burden. To the chorus girl, it is a hideous nightmare. Out of her meager salary she must pay during such weeks from $1.25 to $1.75 a day for hotel accommodations that are far from tempting. She is driven to resort to sleepers through self-preservation at an average of $2 a night for long night trips, and her laundry and other incidental expenses mount up into startling figures. Her clothing is ruined by almost ceaseless crushing aboard trains, and unless she be thoroughly broken to such a life she is wrecked physically.

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Leader of the Flying Ballet,
killed by the fire.

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[Pg 177]When she reaches a big city again she can once more creep to bed after her work at midnight and find in unbroken hours of sleep balm for all she has passed through. She may secure a decent room at a second or third class European hotel for $6 a week and buy her meals where she chooses. If some callow youth buys them for her in consideration of the pleasure of basking in her smiles, she is that much ahead. She can live within her means in the city and save money—if she wants to. But she seldom does, and no one can blame her, for she feels that nothing save the pleasures secured by extravagance can compensate her for what she has lost—comfort, repose, dignity, social recognition, and, most of all, home.

These same conditions are experienced to a varying degree by all players save those within the sacred circle drawn by the finger of phenomenal success. That small handful with private cars, lackies and all the comforts of a portable home, is so insignificant in number that it requires no consideration here.



In the best and most prosperous organizations, such as "Mr. Bluebeard" was, life is not all sunshine and roses. To be true, its members escaped the manifold terrors of playing in the barns to be found in many large one-night stands and dressing in their stalls, dignified by the term dressing-rooms. The women were not compelled to dress and undress behind inclosures made of flimsy scenery with a sheet thrown over for additional protection. Nor did they have to live in the barn-like hotels many such towns boast. But they had their own troubles, such as they were. The chorus girls did not escape having to be thrown into involuntary contact with all classes and conditions of mankind, nor did they avoid the sharp social distinction drawn by the principals in all organizations.

Only a few weeks before the Iroquois horror they passed through a serious fire scare in the theater where they were playing in Cleveland, an experience that for the moment promised to rival the one that finally overtook them. Flames in[Pg 178] the scenery endangered their lives, but the fire was extinguished. Therefore the incident "amounted to nothing" and little or nothing was heard about it.

When the dread hour arrived at the Iroquois, the majority lost their all. It was not to be expected they would leave their jewelry and money about hotels of which they knew little. Quite naturally, they took both to their dressing-rooms. Many were on the stage when the cry of fire came, and were fortunate to escape with their lives, without thought of clothing, money or jewelry, all of which were swept away. With employment, valuables, everything gone save their hotel baggage, they were in a sorry plight, indeed. But with the optimism that only the actor knows they rejoiced in their escape from the fate that overtook little Nellie Reed and from the terrible scars and burns suffered by many of their number.

A score of their number were under arrest, held as witnesses, men and women alike. The management came to their relief to the extent of furnishing bonds that secured their temporary release. Klaw and Erlanger also furnished transportation back to New York for such as were at liberty to go. Then another obstacle arose. Few had the means to settle their hotel bills, and the proprietors of the places would not release their baggage. At this juncture relief came from outside sources. Mrs. Ogden Armour provided for the chorus girls, contributing $500 to settle their bills. That night over a hundred of the players were headed back to the great metropolis they call home, to seek new engagements, and if unsuccessful, to do the best they could. And the majority started with certain failure staring them in the face.

It was on Sunday, January 3, 1904, four days after the fire, that the members of the "Mr. Bluebeard" company turned their faces homeward, for to all players New York is "home."[Pg 179] Just before the train started a plain white box was put on board the baggage car. It contained all that was mortal of Nellie Reed, the sprightly little girl who had delighted scores of thousands by her mid-air flights from the stage at each performance.

It was her last railroad "jump." Poor little thing, still in her early teens, she closed her earthly career with the close of the show, and went back "home" with it! If the future has for her any further flights they will be of celestial character, and not through the agency of an invisible wire such as guided her above the heads of Iroquois theater audiences and which was at first thought to have interfered with the fall of the curtain and to have been directly responsible for the appalling holocaust.

It was a sad departure. Nearly 150 persons comprised the "Mr. Bluebeard" party, and nearly as many more took the trip from "The Billionaire" company, also owned by the same management. Only a day or two before the fire that closed the "Bluebeard" show death had laid its hand heavily upon "The Billionaire," playing at the Illinois theater only a few blocks distant. "The Billionaire" himself died—big, rollicking Jerome Sykes, who made famous the part "Foxy Quiller" and the opera of that name and who a few years ago made such a hit as the fat boy in "An American Beauty" that he outshone Lillian Russell, its star. Sykes contracted a cold at a Christmas celebration for the members of the two companies and when he died the production died with him.

So with the Iroquois catastrophe there were two big, obviously successful, companies wiped out of the theatrical world at one blow and without notice. The members of each had half a week's salary due; that was their all. It was promptly paid and with that and their tickets all set forth in the happy[Pg 180] possession of their baggage, many through the charity of Mrs. Armour.

All—not quite! There were two members of "The Billionaire" who did not make the last "jump," two who were in the audience at the Iroquois and perished in the maelstrom of flame and smoke. The curtain had been rung down for them forever. They, at least, would know no more of pitiful quests for engagements, of wearying rehearsal and momentary, superficial conquest. They had played their last stand.

"This is the saddest day of my life," declared one of the chorus members in the presence of the writer. "Here I am, 1,000 miles from home, no prospects of another engagement this season, and only $5 in the world."

"I have less than you," said a frail appearing girl, with tears in her eyes. "I lost my savings, $22, in the fire, and I have only $3 to go home with."

"It is the life of the stage," said a matronly wardrobe woman. "The poor girls are penniless, and if the injured were left hind it would be as charity patients. The responsibility of the managers of the show ceases when the production is closed. I know many of these girls are without sufficient money to pay for a week's lodging, and it is a sad outlook for some of them this winter."

And the wardrobe woman told the truth—it was merely a striking example, a pitiful vicissitude of "the life of the stage."



[Pg 181]



Since the time that civilized man first met with fellow man to enjoy the work of the primitive playwright, humanity has paid a toll of human life for its amusements. Oftener than history tells the tiny flicker of a tongue of flame has thrown a gay, laughing audience into a wild, struggling mob, and instead of the curtain which would have been rung down on the comedy on the stage, a pall of black smoke covered the struggles of the living and dying.

Of all the theater disasters of history, none ever occurred in America equaling the loss of life in the Iroquois fire. Only two in the history of the civilized world surpass it. There have been fires accompanied by greater loss of life, but not among theater audiences.

But the grand total of persons killed in theater holocausts is large and the saddest comment on this list is that most of the victims were from holiday audiences of women and children. Lehman's playhouse in St. Petersburg, Russia, was destroyed in Christmas week, 1836, and 700 persons lost their lives. The Ring theater, Vienna, Austria, was destroyed Dec. 8, 1881, and 875 persons lost their lives. These are the only theater holocausts whose deadliness surpasses that of the Iroquois.

To all have been the same accompaniments of panic, futile struggle and suffocation. In the last century with the introduction of the modern style of playhouse, these fatal fires have[Pg 182] increased. The annals of the stage are replete with dark pages that cause the tragedy of the mimic drama depicted behind the footlights to pale and shrivel into comparative nothingness.

Perhaps it is a fatal legacy from the time when civilized society gathered in its marble coliseums and amphitheaters to witness the mortal combats of human soldiers or the death struggles of Christians waging a vain battle against famished wild beasts. Whatever it may be, death has always stalked as the dread companion of the god of the muse and drama.

An English statistician published six years ago a list of fires at places of public entertainment in all countries in the preceding century. He showed that there had been 1,100 conflagrations, with 10,000 fatalities, and he apologized for the incompleteness of his figures. Another authority says that in the twelve years from 1876 to 1888 not less than 1,700 were killed in theater disasters in Brooklyn, Nice, Vienna, Paris, Exeter and Oporto, and that in every case nearly all the victims were dead within ten minutes from the time the smoke and flame from the stage reached the auditorium. As in the Iroquois fire, it was mainly in the balconies and galleries that death held its revels.

Fire wrought havoc at Rome in the Amphitheater in the year 14 B. C., and the Circus Maximus was similarly destroyed three times in the first century of the Christian era. Three other theaters were razed by flames in the same period, and Pompeii's was burned again almost two centuries later, but the exact loss of life is not recorded in either instance. The Greek playhouses, built of stone in open spaces, were never endangered by fire.

No theaters were built on the modern plan until in the sixteenth century in France, and not until the seventeenth did any catastrophe worthy of record occur. When Shakespeare[Pg 183] lived plays were generally produced in temporary structures, sometimes merely raised platforms in open squares, and it was after his time that scenic effects began to be amplified and the use of illuminants increased. Thus it was that dangers, both to players and auditors, were vastly increased.

In the Teatro Atarazanas, in Seville, Spain, many people were killed and injured at a fire in 1615. The first conflagration of this kind in England worth noting happened in 1672, when the Theater Royal, or Drury Lane, standing on the site of the playhouse in which "Mr. Bluebeard" was produced before it was brought to Chicago, was burned to the ground. Sixty other buildings were destroyed, but no loss of life is recorded.

Two hundred and ten people lost their lives and the whole Castle of Amalienborg, in Copenhagen, was laid in ashes in 1689 from a rocket that ignited the scenery in the opera house. Eighteen persons perished at the theater in the Kaizersgracht, Amsterdam, in 1772, and six years later the Teatro Colisseo, at Saragossa, Spain, went up in flames and seventy-seven lives were lost. The governor of the province was among the victims. Twenty players were suffocated in the burning of the Palais Royal in Paris in 1781.

In the nineteenth century there were twelve theater fires marked by great loss of life, and the first of these occurred in the United States. At Richmond, on the day after Christmas in 1811, a benefit performance of "Agnes and Raymond, or the Bleeding Nun," was being given, and the theater was filled with a wealthy and fashionable audience. The governor of Virginia, George W. Smith, ex-United States Senator Venable, and other prominent persons were in the audience and were numbered among the seventy victims. The last act was on when the careless hoisting of a stage chandelier with lighted[Pg 184] candles set fire to the scenery. Most of those killed met death in the jam at the doors.

The Lehman Theater and circus in St. Petersburg was the scene of a fire in 1836, in which 800 people perished. A stage lamp hung high ignited the roof, a panic ensued, and there was such a mad rush that most of the people slew each other trying to get out. Those not trampled to death were incinerated by the fire that rapidly enveloped the temporary wooden building.

A lighted lamp, upset in a wing, caused a stampede in the Royal Theater, Quebec, June 12, 1846, and 100 people were either burned or crushed into lifelessness. The exits were poor and the playhouse was built of combustible material. Less than a year later the Grand Ducal Theater at Carlsruhe, Baden, Germany, was destroyed by a fire, due to the careless lighting of the gas in the grand ducal box. Most of the 150 victims were suffocated. Between fifty and one hundred people met a fiery death in the Teatro degli Aquidotti at Leghorn, Italy, June 7, 1857. Fireworks were being used on the stage and a rocket set fire to the scenery.

One of the most serious fires from the standpoint of loss of life was that in the Jesuit church of Santiago, South America, in 1863. Fire broke out in the building during service. A panic started and the efforts of the priests to calm the immense crowd and lead them quietly from the edifice were vain. The few doors became jammed with a struggling mass of men, women and children. The next day 2,000 bodies were taken from the church, most of them suffocated or trampled to death.

The Brooklyn theater fire was long memorable in this country. Songs, funeral marches and poems without number were written commemorating the sad event. Vastly different from[Pg 185] the Iroquois horror, most of the victims of the Brooklyn theater were burned beyond recognition. At Greenwood cemetery in Brooklyn there now stands a marble shaft to the unidentified victims of the holocaust.

Kate Claxton was playing "The Two Orphans" at Conway's Theater in Brooklyn on the night of Dec. 5, 1876. In the last scene of the last act Miss Claxton, as Louise, the poor blind girl, had just lain down on her pallet of straw, when she saw above her in the flies a tiny flame. An actor of the name of Murdoch, on the stage with her, saw it about the same time, and was so excited that he began to stammer his lines. Miss Claxton tried to reassure him and partly succeeded.

Then the audience realized that the theater was on fire, and a movement began. The star, with Mr. Murdoch and Mrs. Farren, joined hands, walked to the footlights and begged the audience to go out in an orderly manner. "You see, we are between you and the fire," said Miss Claxton. The people were proceeding quietly, when a man's voice shouted, "It is time to be out of this," and every one seemed seized with a frenzy. The main entrance doors opened inwardly, and there was such a jam that these could not be manipulated.

The crowds from the galleries rushed down the stairways and fell or jumped headlong into the struggling mass below. Of the 1,000 people in the theater 297 perished. They were either burned, suffocated or trampled to death. The actor Murdoch was one of the victims.

That same year, 1876, a panic resulted in the Chinese theater of San Francisco from a cry of fire. A lighted cigar which someone playfully dropped into a spectator's coat pocket caused a smell of burning wool. The audience became panic stricken and rushed madly for the exits. At the time there[Pg 186] were about 900 Americans in the auditorium, and of this number one-quarter were seriously injured. The fire itself was of no consequence.

The destruction of the Ring theater at Vienna, Dec. 8, 1881, remains the greatest horror of the kind in the history of civilization. It was preceded on March 23 of the same year, by the burning of the Municipal theater in Nice, Italy, caused by an explosion of gas, and in which between 150 and 200 people perished miserably, but the magnitude of the Vienna holocaust made the world forget Nice for the time. The feast of the Immaculate Conception was being celebrated by the Viennese, and Offenbach's "Les Contes d'Hoffman," an opera bouffe, was the play. The audience numbered 2,500.

Fire was suddenly observed in the scenery, and a wild panic started. An iron curtain, designed for just such emergencies, was forgotten, and the flames, which might thus have been confined to the stage, spread furiously through the entire building. The scene was changed from light-hearted revelry, with gladsome music, to one of lurid horror.

The exits from the galleries were long and tortuous and quickly became choked. As in the Iroquois theater fire, those who had occupied the gallery seats were the ones who lost their lives. But few escaped from the galleries. The great majority of the spectators were burned beyond recognition by their nearest relatives. One hundred and fifty were so charred that they were buried in a common grave, and the city's mourning was shared by all the world.

The next fire of this nature to attract the world's attention and sympathy was the destruction of the Circus Ferroni at Berditscheff, Russian Poland. Four hundred and thirty people were killed and eighty mortally injured. Many children were crushed and suffocated in the jam, and horses and other[Pg 187] trained animals perished by the score. This was on Jan. 13, 1883, and the origin of the conflagration was traced to a stableman who smoked a cigarette while lying in a heap of straw.



The burning of the Opera Comique in Paris, May 25, 1887, was a spectacular horror. Here again an iron curtain that would have protected the audience was not lowered. The first act of "Mignon" was on, when the scenery was observed to be ablaze. The upper galleries were transformed into infernos, in which men knocked other men and women down and trampled them in their eagerness to save themselves, while the flames reached out and enveloped them all.

Many of the actors and actresses escaped only in their costumes, and some rushed nude into the streets. The scenes in the thoroughfares where men and women in tights and ball dresses and men in gorgeous theatrical robes mingled with the naked, and the dead and dying were strewn about, made a picture fantastically terrible. The official list of dead was seventy-five, but many others died from the fire's effects.

The theater at Exeter, England, burned Sept. 5, 1887, was ignited from gas lights, and so much smoke filled the edifice in a short time that near 200 were suffocated in their seats. They were found sitting there afterward, just as though they were still watching the play. This was the eleventh, and the Oporto fire the twelfth of the big conflagrations of the country. One hundred and seventy dead were taken from the ruins of the Portuguese playhouse after the flames which destroyed it on the evening of March 31, 1888, had been subdued. Many sailors and marine soldiers in the galleries used knives[Pg 188] to kill persons standing in their way, and scores of the victims were found with their throats cut.

Ten years after the Opera Comique fire occurred the greatest of all Parisian horrors, the destruction by flames of the charity bazar, May 4, 1897. Members of the nobility, and even royalty, were among the victims. All of fashionable Paris were under the roof of a temporary wooden edifice known to visitors to the exposition of 1889 as "Old Paris." The annual bazar in the interest of charity had always been one of the most imposing of the spring functions. The wealthy and distinguished, titled and modish were there in larger numbers than on any previous occasion.

The fire broke out with a suddenness that so dazed everyone that the small chance of escape from the flimsy structure was made even less. Duchesses, marquises, countesses, baronesses and grand dames joined in the mad rush for the exits. The men present are said to have acted in a particularly cowardly manner, knocking down and trampling upon women and children. The death list of more than 100 included the Duchesses d'Alencon and De St. Didier, the Marquise de Maison, and three barons, three baronesses, one count, eleven countesses, one general, five sisters of charity and one mother superior. The Duchess d'Alencon was the favorite sister of the Empress of Austria and had been a fiance of the mad King Ludwig of Bavaria. The Duchess d'Uzes was badly burned. The shock of the news and the death of his niece, the Duchess d'Alencon, accounted for the death on May 7 of the Duc d'Aumale.

The Gaiety Theater in Milwaukee on November 5, 1869, furnished more than thirty victims to the fire fiend, but only two of these were burned to death. The Central Theater in Philadelphia was destroyed April 28, 1892, and six persons[Pg 189] perished. A panic occurred at the Front Street playhouse in Baltimore December 27, 1895, among an audience composed entirely of Polish Jews. There was no fire, but a woman who had seen a bright light on the stage thought there was, and her cries caused a stampede that resulted in twenty-four deaths.

Statisticians show that theaters as a rule do not attain an old age, but that their average life in all countries is but twenty-two and three-fourths years. In the United States the average is but eleven to thirteen years, and here almost a third are destroyed before they have been built five years. More playhouses feed the flames just prior to and after than during performances, because of the added precautions of employes.

Two deadly conflagrations occurred in New York in 1900. The first the Windsor hotel fire, which resulted in the death of 80 persons. Fire broke out in the old hotel on Fifth avenue about midnight. With lightning rapidity the flames shot up the light and air shafts, filling the rooms with smoke and making them as light as day. The guests suddenly aroused from sleep became panic stricken. The fire department was unable to throw up ladders and give aid as fast as frightened faces appeared at the windows. The result was that many jumped to death. They were picked up dead and dying in the streets. Others ran from their rooms into the fire-swept hallways and were burned to death.

A short time later fire broke out one afternoon on the docks across the river from New York at Hoboken. The fire was on a pier piled high with combustible material. It burned like powder, spreading to the ocean liners tied to the pier and the efforts of the fire department were not effective in checking it. The cables which held the blazing vessels to the piers burned through and they drifted into the river, carrying fire and death among the shipping. Longshoremen unloading and[Pg 190] loading the vessels jumped in panic into the river. Others found themselves cut off from both land and water by the flames on all sides and were burned like rats in a trap. It was estimated that 300 lives were lost. Many bodies were never recovered and others were found miles down the river.

Property losses are seldom proportionate to the financial losses from fire. In the Iroquois theater fire the property loss was almost inconsequential, while at the burning of Moscow by the Russians, Sept. 4, 1812, the property loss amounted to more than $150,000,000, while no lives were lost.

Constantinople, with its squalid and crowded streets, has always been a fruitful spot for fires. They are of annual occurrence and as the Turkish fire department is a travesty, are usually of considerable magnitude. The great fire of that city was in 1729, when 12,000 houses were destroyed and 7,000 persons burned to death. Aug. 12, 1782, a three days' fire started in which 10,000 houses, 50 corn mills and 100 mosques were burned and 100 lives lost. In February of the same year, 600 houses were burned, and in June 7,000 more. Fires are the best safeguards for Constantinople's health.

Great Britain has had comparatively few fires. In 1598 one at Tiverton destroyed 400 houses and 33 lives. In 1854 50 persons were killed at Gateshead. The great fire of London raged from Sept. 2 to 6, 1666. It began in a wooden building in Pudding Lane and consumed the buildings on 436 acres, blotting out 400 streets, 13,200 houses, St. Paul's and 86 other churches, 58 halls and all public buildings, three of the city gates and four stone bridges. The property loss was $53,652,500, while only six persons were killed.

Nearly every large city of the United States has had its great fire. That of Boston was on Nov. 9 and 10, 1872. Fire[Pg 191] started at Summer and Kingston streets and 65 acres were burned over. The property loss was about $75,000,000 and there was no loss of life.

The great fire in New York began in Merchant street, Dec. 16, 1835. No lives were lost, but the property loss was $15,000,000 and 52 acres were devastated, 530 buildings being destroyed. Ten years later a much smaller fire in the same district caused the death of 35 persons.

July 9, 1850, thirty lives were lost in Philadelphia, and February 8, 1865, twenty persons were killed by another fire. Large fires in that city have almost invariably been accompanied by loss of life.

As the result of a Fourth of July celebration in 1866, nearly half of Portland, Md., was swept away by fire. The property loss was $10,000,000, but there was no loss of life. In September and October of 1871 forest fires raged in Wisconsin and Michigan. An immense territory was swept over and more than 1,000 persons lost their lives.

The greatest fire of modern times was the one which started in Chicago, October 8, 1871. A strip through the heart of the city, four miles long and a mile and a half wide, was burned over. The total loss was $196,000,000 and 250 persons lost their lives. By the fire 17,450 buildings were destroyed and 98,860 persons were made homeless. Within four years the entire burned district had been rebuilt.

Fires in Chicago attended with loss of life have been of increasing frequency in the past few years. Fire in the Henning & Speed building on Dearborn street, in 1900, caused four girls to lose their lives. Since it and before the Iroquois disaster have come: The St. Luke Sanitarium horror, 10 lives lost, 43 injured; the Doremus laundry explosion, 8 lives lost;[Pg 192] the American Glucose Sugar refinery blaze, 8 killed; Northwestern railroad boiler explosion, 8 killed, Stock Yards boiler explosion, 18 killed, and about a year ago the Lincoln hotel fire, 14 visiting stockmen suffocated.

In view of this terrible array of suffering and death, it would seem that no precaution could be too great to avert future calamities. But although human life is beyond price, it is probable that the world at large will move on very much in the same old way—an arousing and an upheaval of public sentiment for a time after the burned and maimed have been laid away, and then a gradual return of carelessness. It would seem impossible, however, that the United States could forget for many generations the Iroquois disaster, and that it must result in a final reform of all arrangements looking to the safety of theater goers.



[Pg 193]



From two women who sat within a few feet of the stage when the fire broke out in the theater, and who remained calm enough to observe the actual beginning of the holocaust, there came one of the most thrilling and significant stories of that afternoon of panic.

Mrs. Emma Schweitzler and Mrs. Eva Katherine Clapp Gibson, of Chicago, were the two women who told this story. They occupied seats in the fifth row of the orchestra circle. Mrs. Schweitzler was the last woman to walk out unassisted from the first floor. Mrs. Gibson was carried out badly burned.

"The curtain that was run down," said Mrs. Schweitzler, "was the regular drop curtain painted with the 'autumn scene,' It was the same curtain that was lowered before the show started and the same one used during the interval following the first act. No other curtain was lowered.

"As soon as the drop curtain came down it caught fire. A hole appeared at the left hand side. Then the blaze spread rapidly, and instantly a great blast of hot air came from the stage through the hole in the curtain and into the audience. Big pieces of the curtain were loosened by the terrific rush of air and were blown into the people's faces. Scores of women and children must have been burned to death by these fragments of burning grease and paint. I was in the theater until the curtain had entirely burned. It went up in the flames as if it had been paper, and did more damage than good."

[Pg 194]"So far as could be observed from the audience, the asbestos curtain was not lowered at all," said Mrs. Schweitzler. "I was particularly interested in that 'autumn-scene' curtain because I paint oil pictures myself.

"Before the show started I sat for a long time examining the painting. From our seats in the fifth row we could see every detail. The 'autumn scene' was done in heavy red and in order to get some of the effects the artist had to use great daubs of paint, smearing it on pretty thick in some places. I am certain that the backing was common canvas and if this was so it must have been covered with wax before the paint was put on. This same curtain came down after the first act, so I had plenty of time to know it.

"When the fire started my first feeling was that the stage people were acting recklessly. For several minutes the fire was no bigger than a handkerchief. A bucket of water would have saved the lives of every one. But there seemed to be no water on the stage.

"One of the stage hands first took his hand and then used a piece of plank to smother the flames. It kept spreading. After Eddie Foy had made his speech the 'autumn scene' curtain came down. 'Pull down the curtain,' was all the cry I heard. They did not say 'Pull down the asbestos curtain,' nor was there any mention of any fireproof curtain. The 'autumn scene,' with its highly inflammable paint, came down, and it was like pouring fire into the people's faces. It was a great piece of bungling—far worse than if no curtain had been lowered at all.

"It has been said that noise and panic-like screaming followed the burning of the curtain. This is absolutely not true. The whole place was almost gruesomely silent.

"Mrs. Gibson and I were half way in from the aisle and[Pg 195] had to wait for many to go out before we started. At the aisle some one stepped on Mrs. Gibson's dress and she fell to the floor. Men, women and children trampled over her, and having done all I could I started out. In the lobby I begged some men to return for Mrs. Gibson, but they said it was no use. The curtain by that time was burned up."

Mrs. Gibson, wife of Dr. Charles B. Gibson, confirmed Mrs. Schweitzler's assertions that no asbestos curtain was visible from the audience. "From the place where I fell," said Mrs. Gibson, "I crawled on hands and knees to the entrance. When I got to the rear the curtain was all burned away."



Mrs. William Mueller, Jr., 3330 Calumet avenue, who at the time was confined to her bed from injuries sustained by trying to get out of the Iroquois as the panic began and from bruises sustained by being trampled upon, tells the story that she with her two children, Florence, 5 years old, and Belle, 3 years old, occupied three seats in the second row from the back on the ground floor on the right side of the theater. The children became restless as the second act began and Mrs. Mueller took them to a retiring room.

After the children had been in the retiring room for some minutes, they wanted to go back and see the performance. Mrs. Mueller started back into the lobby to go to her seats, when she saw, in a glass, the reflection of the flames. She hurried back into the retiring room and asked for the children's wraps, saying she thought something was wrong and did not want to stay in the theater any longer. The maid in the room asked her what was the matter and Mrs. Mueller told her.

[Pg 196]"Oh, that's all right. I won't give you the things now," the maid replied. "I'll go and see what is the matter."

Mrs. Mueller demanded the children's wraps, but they were refused. Just then Mrs. Mueller thinks she must have heard the first cry of alarm and she ran to the front doors with the children. She tried one door and found it locked. Then she tried another, and that was locked. She pushed against it and then threw herself against it, trying to force it open. She does not remember seeing any employee near the outer door.

Mrs. Mueller then heard people in the audience shrieking and then she fainted. It is thought that the oldest little girl, Florence, also fainted.

As the people pushed out of the theater they trampled upon Mrs. Mueller and the child. Mrs. Mueller was horribly bruised and was either kicked in the eyes or else some one stepped on her face. It was at first feared she would lose her eyesight.

The first person carried out when the rescue began was Mrs. Mueller; she was right in front of the doors. Near her was Florence. Just before the men entered, and after every one else seemed to be out, little Belle came walking out. A man ran to her, picked her up and took her to a barber shop, where she continued to cry for her mother. The little girl, Florence, was also carried out and was taken to the same barber shop, where the two children were later found by Mr. Mueller. Mrs. Mueller was taken to the Samaritan hospital, where she was found that night.



John Maynard Harlan visited the morgue in search of the body of Mrs. F. Morton Fox and her three children, who were[Pg 197] intimate friends of Mrs. Harlan. In speaking of his experience he said:

"I was profoundly impressed by the expressions on the faces of many of the dead. Perhaps it was only a fancy, but it seemed to me that the faces of those having the higher order of intelligence showed less horror and more resignation. Some of these seemed to have passed away almost with a smile of faith, so serene were their countenances. But the faces of the less intelligent were uniformly struck with suffering to a terrible degree.

"When I found Mrs. Fox's little boy the smile of courage on his face was one of the most noble sights that I ever saw. It seemed to me that I could see the brave little fellow trying to reassure his mother and facing death with a heroism not expected of his years."



Mrs. W. F. Hanson, of Chicago, was the only member of a theater party of nine to escape. She wept as she talked of her companions and shuddered as she recalled the manner of their death.

"I cannot tell how I got out of the theater," she said. "I remember starting for one of the aisles when the panic was at its height. I was separated from my friends. We had a row of seats in the second balcony. Suddenly someone seized me and I was tossed and dragged along the aisle and I lost consciousness. When I came to my senses I was in a store across the street. Every one of my companions perished. We composed a holiday theater party and we were all related by marriage."

 [Pg 198]


Arthur E. Hull, of Chicago, who lost his entire family in the Iroquois fire, tells the following pathetic story:

"It is too terrible to contemplate. I can never go to my home again. To look at the playthings left by the children just where they put them, to see how my dear dead wife arranged all the details of her home so carefully, the very walls ring with the names of my dear dead ones. I can never go there again.

"Mrs. Hull had called the children from their play to go and see the show. They were laughing and shouting about the house in childish glee, when she, all radiant with smiles, came to tell them of the surprise she had planned for them.

"They left their toys just where they were. She fixed the things about the house a bit, and then took them with her.

"Mary, our maid, went with them. She, too, was joyous at the prospect, and a happier party never started anywhere. Everything was smiles and sunshine.

"They had planned for a day of joy, and it turned out a day of sorrow. Sorrow more deep than can be fathomed by human mind. Sorrow so acute that it is indescribable."

The party consisted of Mrs. Hull, her little daughter, Helen Muriel, her two adopted sons, Donald DeGraff and Dwight Moody, together with Mary Forbes.

The two boys had been adopted by Mr. and Mrs. Hull but three weeks before, and had lately come from Topeka, Kan., where their father, Fred J. Hull, had died.

The party was gotten up for them particularly, and it was the first and last time they were ever to witness a stage production. This was only one of a score of recorded cases where the unselfish desire to give pleasure to the young caused their death.

 [Pg 199]


Dr. Charles S. Owen, a physician and one of the most prominent men in Wheaton, died at the Chicago homeopathic hospital from injuries sustained at the Iroquois fire. On Christmas day Dr. Owen held a family reunion, and eight relatives came from Ohio to spend the holiday week. Wednesday a theater party was arranged and twelve seats were secured at the Iroquois in the front row of the first balcony. Out of the entire party of twelve Dr. Owen was the only one to escape.



It appears that Miss Blackburn had attended the matinee with her father, James Blackburn. They had seats in the first balcony. In the panic father and daughter became separated. The father escaped to the Randolph street lobby and then started back for his daughter. He found her body on the staircase horribly burned. Catching up the lifeless form and wrapping it in his overcoat, Mr. Blackburn rushed to the street and procured a cab, in which he was driven with his burden directly to the Northwestern station. He caught the first train for Glen View and had the body of his child at home in half an hour.



Mrs. Lulu Bennett, Chicago, whose daughter, Gertrude Eloise Swayze, 16 years old, was a victim of the holocaust, thought she would avoid the gruesome task of making a tour of the morgues, so she asked a friend to search for her daughter's body. After visiting a number of morgues he finally found the body of a girl at Rolston's, in Adams street, which he identified as Miss Swayze. The body was conveyed to the mother's residence, but when she looked at the body she turned[Pg 200] away with a moan and said: "That is not my Gertrude; take it away, take it away. There has been some terrible mistake made."

Mrs. Bennett made a personal tour of the morgues afterward and found her daughter's body.



The asbestos curtain at the Iroquois theater was not hung in a manner satisfactory to Lyman Savage, the stage carpenter who put it up, according to a statement he made to his son, C. B. Savage, head electrician at Power's theater, a short time before his death which occurred indirectly as a result of the fire.

Mr. Savage, who lived at 1750 Wrightwood avenue and who was a stage carpenter in Chicago for twenty-five years, worked at the Iroquois theater until two weeks before the fire, when he was compelled to leave because of kidney trouble. His son ascribes his death to excitement over the Iroquois fire. That disaster was uppermost in his mind.

Mr. Savage said: "I asked my father if he hung the asbestos curtain at the Iroquois theater and he said he did. I then asked him if he hung the curtain according to his own ideas, and he replied in substance: 'No, that curtain was not hung my way, but Cummings' (the stage carpenter's) way. If you want to see a curtain hung my way you should see the curtain in a theater I worked on in Michigan last fall.'

"My father did not specify what point about the hanging of the curtain he did not approve, and I do not know what feature of the work he was not satisfied with.

"I asked my father if the curtain was hung on Manila ropes, and he said that it was not, but that it was hung on wire cables. I know that to be a fact, for I saw the cables myself.

[Pg 201]"I do not desire to shield any negligent person, but Stage Carpenter Cummings was not responsible for the lowering of the curtain only in so far as he was responsible for having some one there to lower it.

"I was on the stage when the fire broke out, having gone to the theater to see Archie Bernard, the chief electrician. The statement has been made that the lights were not thrown on in the auditorium after the fire was discovered. Just before the fire broke out Bernard was stooping down preparing to change the lights, and he had just said to me: 'I will show you how I change my lights.'

"When the fire was discovered I saw him reach down to throw a switch. Whether he threw the switch that lights the auditorium I do not know, but I do know that the fire from the draperies fell all around the switchboard and burned out the fuses. Consequently if the lights had been turned on the fact that the fuses were burned out would cause them to go out.

"The first I knew of the fire was when I heard some one behind and above me clapping his hands. I looked up and saw McMullen trying to put out the blaze with his hands. If he could have reached far enough he would have extinguished the fire. He did the best he could.

"I carried four women out of the theater and burned my hands. I stayed on the stage as long as it was possible for me to do so."



Many Chicago people spent a part of the Sabbath following the fire in the dingy little storeroom at 58 Dearborn street, where the effects and the valuables of the Iroquois theater victims are kept.

[Pg 202]The storeroom was crowded all day. The line formed at Randolph street and pushed its way to the north. A mother stepped to one of the show cases. She had lost a boy and she had come to find his effects. She was looking through the glass when she called one of the policemen to her side.

"That's it. That's my little boy's," and she pointed at a prayer book.

The policeman took it from the case.

"Yes, that's it," she murmured.

From the street came the tolling of the half hour.

"Just a week ago he started for Sunday school with it. It was a Christmas present and he took it to church for the first time."

A young man, well dressed and prosperous looking, came in and walked along the wall, gazing at the dresses and the furs. Suddenly he seized a fur boa and kissed it.

"It was her's," he cried. "May I take it with me?"

The officer told him to visit the coroner and get a certificate.

Two young men entered the place and began making flippant remarks. The officers overheard their conversation and escorted them to the threshold of the door. Two heavy boots assisted in making their exit into the street a rapid one.



John R. Thompson's restaurant at 3 o'clock in the afternoon of the fatal day was an eating-house, decked here and there with late lunchers; at 3:20 it was a hospital, with the dead and dying stretched on the marble eating tables; at 4 o'clock it was a morgue, heaped with the dead; at 7:30 it was again a restaurant, but with chairs turned on top of the tables that had been the slabs of death, with the aisles cleared of the human debris, and the scrub woman at work mopping out the relics of human[Pg 203] flesh, charred and as dust, and sweeping in pans the pieces of skulls that had lain about the mosaic floors, yet damp with the flowing length of woman's hair.

The terror, the horror, the tragedies, the martyrdom, the piercing screams of the dying, the agonized groans, the excitement of the surging mob, the hurrying back and forth of the police with their burdens of death and life that only lasted a moment, the pushing of physicians, the casting of dead about on the floors like cord wood, one on top of the other, to make room on the marble slabs of tables for the oncoming living, the cries of children, the sobbing of persons recognizing their loved one dead, or worse than dead—this unutterable horror can never be imagined, and was never known before in Chicago, not excepting the horrors of the great fire, or the martyrdom of war.



The scene presented was most horrible. It was like a battlefield where the dead are being brought to the church or the residence that has at a moment's notice been turned into a hospital. In they came, the dead and the injured, at first at the rate of one every three minutes; then faster, several at a time, until the restaurant was heaped with maimed bodies lying on the tables or the floor, with surgeons bending over them, and on the cashier's counter, with the girl there sobbing with her face hidden in her hands, afraid to look at the ghastly spectacle.

There were scores of physicians, three to each table, and they worked with vigor and earnestness and skill, but with the tears coursing down the cheeks of many a one. At first the bodies were carried into Thompson's, then they went across the street; many of them were put in ambulances and taken to[Pg 204] the emergency room for women in Marshall Field's store, and still many others of the injured—those yet able to walk—were half dragged, half carried to the offices of physicians in the Masonic temple.



Women fought and shoved and pushed their way through the crowd to get to the door of the improvised hospital, that became a morgue only too rapidly.

"I am a nurse. Let me help," said some.

"I am a mother. My boy may be dead inside. For God's sake, let me save a life," said another, a woman in middle age.

Others came in from the crowds, neither mothers nor nurses, women with the spirit of heroism who longed to serve humanity when humanity was at so low an ebb.

"She's dead," was more often than not the verdict after much work. "Next!" and the cold and stiffened form of the victim was dragged, head first, from the marble eating table, thrown quickly under the tables, and another form, perhaps that of a tiny child, took its place.



So fast came the bodies for a time that there was one steady stream of persons carried in—the still living—while without the morgue stood the ambulances waiting for their burdens. The sidewalk, muddy and crowded, was strewn with the dead, lying on blankets or else thrown down in the mud, waiting to be taken to the various morgues of the city.

There was a figure of a man—a large man with broad shoulders and dressed in black—whose entire face was burned away, only the back of the head remaining to show he had ever[Pg 205] had a head; yet below the shoulders he was untouched by the fire.

There lay women with their arms gone, or their legs, while one had one side burned off, with only the cross shoulder-bone remaining. She had worn a pink silk waist and black skirt; the fragments of the garments still clung to her like a shroud that had lain in the grave.

There was a little boy, with a shock of red-brown hair, whose tiny mouth was open in terror and whose baby hands were burned off so that his tiny wrists showed like red stumps.



There was one young girl, her garments so torn from her splendid figure that her arms and white bosom rose uncovered from the tattered and torn—not burned—shreds of her clothing, and the shreds of a turquoise-blue silk petticoat draped her limbs. She had died from suffocation—fought and struggled and died. On her finger sparkled a diamond ring, and about her slender throat was a string of pearl beads.

There was another body of a girl that several persons said they knew, yet no one could speak her name. She was beautiful in her terrible death, with a wealth of blonde hair, and staring blue eyes. She was dressed in a blue-black velvet shirt waist, with gold buttons, a mixed white and tan and gray walking skirt, with a pink silk petticoat beneath. She had died of suffocation, and, as she lay on the marble table dead, a tiny blue chatelaine watch, ticking merrily the hour, was pinned upon her breast.

The crowding, the howling, the screaming in Thompson's was so highly pitched, that no one could hear the orders of the physicians. Bedlam reigned—no order, no leader, everyone doing what he could to help. At length came the loud voice of[Pg 206] a man, and those who could hear, stopped and listened, while those at the front of the restaurant said: "Some man has gone crazy with grief."

It was State Senator Clark, who, seeing the need of an order, jumped to a table and gave one.

"Everyone get out," he cried, "and make room for the doctors. Let there be three doctors to a table and one nurse while they last."

Skillfully, cleverly, worked the looters of the dead. Rings were torn from stiffened fingers, watches, bracelets, chains, purses taken from bosoms, then out in the surging crowd of excited humanity went the thieves, lost to recognition by those who saw them loot in the terribleness of the scene.



Through the mangled mass of humanity moved a priest with a crucifix in his white hands—Father McCarthy of Holy Name Cathedral, saying the prayers for the dying—not for the dead, but to give the last words of a hope beyond. Many persons died with the words of Father McCarthy sounding like music in their ears.

"I was with the Army of the Potomac during the Civil War," said Dr. H. L. Montgomery as he worked over the dying. "I rescued 150 people during the great Chicago fire. I have seen the wreckage of explosions. But I never saw anything so grimly horrible as this."

"Will Davis is in the theater now and acting like crazy," interrupted the voice of a boy. "Can't no one speak to him?"

And out dashed all the employes of the burning theater to find Mr. Davis as he paced the destroyed gallery floor and looked at the ruin below and at the dead as they were hauled out of the debris.

[Pg 207]Little Ruth Thompson, the seven-year-old daughter of John R. Thompson, was in the fire and almost to the front exit when the mob hurled her back. The tiny child fought and was yet forced back. She climbed onto the stage, burning as it was, and worked her way to the rear door and out into the alley, then through into the scene of death and pain in her father's restaurant.

"Papa, I got out. Where's grandpa?" she cried.

There was one old man, with white beard and hair, who wept over the body of his aged wife. He was Patrick P. O'Donnell of the firm of O'Donnell & Duer.

Death, pain, tragedy—and at 7:30 o'clock the place was a restaurant again.



Left under the burning stage during the mad rush by the members of the "Mr. Bluebeard" company at the Iroquois theater fire a four-year-old girl, who appeared in the performance as one of the Japanese children, was heroically rescued by Elois Lillian, one of the ballet girls, who was the last to escape from the theater.

"I was the last to escape from under the stage," said Miss Lillian, "and as I rushed headlong through the smoke I saw the little girl screaming with fright and almost suffocated. The rest had escaped, leaving the child behind. I took the little one under my arm in a death-like grip and succeeded in getting into the aisle behind the boxes; and ran through the smoking-room and out the front door. I don't know how I managed to hold on to the struggling child, or how I came to get out the front way.

[Pg 208]"I was dressed in tights, and as soon as I reached the street ran into Thompson's, and there soon had her revived. The mother, frantic with grief, came in, and when she saw her daughter and heard my story she fell upon her knees, thanking me for saving her little girl's life."



When the Rev. F. O'Brien of the Holy Name Cathedral learned of the fire and heard that so many were dying he rushed into the Northwestern Medical University, into which many victims had been taken, to administer the last sacraments to members of the Catholic Church. Finding he was unable to attend the great number being brought in, he announced that he would give a general absolution to all the Catholics among the victims.

The scene of that last absolution beggars description. During the brief moment the priest, with uplifted hands, besought God to pardon all the frailties of his dying servants, the poor, mangled men and women seemed to realize that they were face to face with the inevitable. Though crazed with pain, they ceased to moan, and fastened their fast-dimming eyes on the priest.

When the absolution was given many of the victims, horribly burned, with the flesh of their head and face blackened, and in most cases so burned as to expose the bones, put out their hands imploringly toward the priest, for one handclasp, one word of sympathy before they passed away.

Even the stalwart policemen were affected by the touching spectacle. Another priest of the Holy Ghost order arrived shortly after, and both clergymen administered absolution,[Pg 209] remaining until the injured were removed to various hospitals and the dead to the morgues.



Warren is the ten-year-old son of former Governor Joseph K. Toole of Montana, prominent for years in national politics. In the last four months the boy has been the victim of three accidents, each of which bore serious consequences for the little fellow.

Thursday night, when he knelt down at his bedside in the Auditorium hotel to say the evening prayer which his mother had taught him, he mumbled:

"I thank you, God, that you did not let me go to the theater Wednesday afternoon. You see, if you had not delayed my mamma when she went down town shopping that day, my little brother and I would have been in the fire. I thank you, God, for changing my luck."

Warren's mamma and papa heard the prayer. Before he had reached the "Amen" both had silently bowed their heads.

"Yes, Warren, your luck has changed," said the former Governor, as he bent over his son to say "Good night."

Less than four months ago Warren was playing with a gun. The firearm exploded and the boy was seriously injured. He had not fully recovered when he fell from the top of a cart and broke his arm. Then, a few weeks ago, a dog upon whom he lavished much of his youthful affection suddenly sprang at him and bit him between the eyes. He was badly scarred, but his parents were thankful that he did not lose his sight.

On Wednesday he importuned his nurse to take him to see "Mr. Bluebeard, Jr." The nurse referred him to his father,[Pg 210] and the latter told him that he and his brother could go if his mother returned from her shopping trip in time to take them. The holiday crowds detained Mrs. Toole until quite late in the afternoon. Now little Warren is convinced that good fortune has at last deigned to smile upon him.



Methods of the California placer miner were used by the Chicago police in recovering the valuables lost in the mad rush for safety by the Iroquois theater fire victims. Big wagon loads of dirt and ashes taken from the theater floor were taken down under police guard to a basement at Lake street and Fifth avenue. There a placer mining outfit, including sieves and gold pans, had been erected and City Custodian Dewitt C. Cregier thus searched for valuables in the rubbish.



Margaret Revell, daughter of Alexander H. Revell, with her friend, Elizabeth Harris, accompanied by a maidservant, sat in the parquet of the theater, fortunately next to the aisle. At the first alarm they were swept to the door by the crowd, and were among those who got out early, escaping with only minor bruises. Mr. Revell was among the early searchers on the scene, and remained giving assistance after learning of the safety of his daughter.



The news of the terrible Chicago calamity was a severe blow to S. A. Nixon of Philadelphia, part owner of the Iroquois theater. When the news was confirmed he broke down and wept bitterly.

[Pg 211]Fred G. Nixon, son of Mr. Nixon, said: "We were at the dinner table Wednesday evening when the telephone bell rang and I answered. A newspaper man told me that the Iroquois theater in Chicago had been destroyed and many persons killed. I could not believe it and I asked: 'Are you sure it was the Iroquois?' 'Positive,' came the answer. My father had paid no attention to what I said, but the word 'Iroquois' attracted him, and as I returned to my seat he asked: 'What was that you said about the Iroquois?' 'Oh, nothing,' I replied, trying to be calm.

"But my face betrayed me. The news had paled me, and my father, suspecting something was wrong, insisted, and I told him. He refused to believe it and went to the telephone to satisfy himself. In five minutes he heard the worst. Then he collapsed and sobbed like a child. For eight hours we sat up waiting for full particulars, and at 3 o'clock Thursday morning, when father went to bed, he was almost a nervous wreck."



Next to Chicago the blow of death at the Iroquois fell heavier on Kenosha, Wis., than any of the other cities whose residents perished in the disaster. Two of the leading manufacturers of the city, Willis W. Cooper and Charles H. Cooper, and the children of Mr. and Mrs. S. H. Van Ingen were among the dead.

Kenosha was in deep mourning. Trade was practically suspended and the people gathered on the streets in little groups discussing the one topic. Four bodies were brought to the city on the evening train, and a crowd of over a thousand people gathered at the railway station, and walked in silence through the streets behind the hearses. All the bodies were[Pg 212] taken to the morgue, from which place they will be removed to the stricken homes.



The story of the wiping out of the children of H. S. Van Ingen, the former manager of the Pennsylvania Coal Company in Chicago, and a resident of Kenosha, is one of the saddest stories of the tragedy. Following the custom established years ago, Mr. and Mrs. Van Ingen and their five children, Grace, twenty-three years old; Jack, twenty; Edward L., nineteen; Margaret, fourteen; and Elizabeth, nine, had all come to Chicago for a matinee party. Schuyler, another son, the sole survivor of the children, was to join the family for a dinner and family reunion at the Wellington hotel after the matinee. The seven persons were seated in the front row of the balcony when the panic ensued, and Mr. Van Ingen, marshaling his little force, started for the exit at the aisle, but the mighty crush of people separated the parents from the children, and Mr. Van Ingen, putting his arm around Mrs. Van Ingen, carried her one way, while the children were swept the other.

The last Mr. Van Ingen saw of the children was when Jack, the oldest boy, took his little sister, Elizabeth, in his arms and shouted to his father: "You save mother and I'll look after the rest." In another moment the party, including the children, was trampled down.

Mr. and Mrs. Van Ingen started to return to the theater for the children and both of them were fearfully burned in the attempt. The bodies of the two boys were located in the evening. Margaret and Elizabeth were found the next day. Grace, the oldest daughter, and one of the best known young women of Kenosha, was identified still later. Mr. and Mrs. Van Ingen, both terribly burned, were taken to the Illinois Hospital.

 [Pg 213]


Willis Cooper was one of the best known men in Kenosha. He was the secretary of the great Twentieth Century movement in the Methodist Episcopal Church which resulted in $20,000,000 being raised for missions. He was last year the prohibition candidate for governor of Wisconsin, and was recently elected head of the lay delegation of the Wisconsin churches at the general conference of the Methodist Church. Mr. Cooper was a millionaire, and his gifts to church charities often exceeded $10,000 a year. In Kenosha he was the general manager of the Chicago Kenosha Hosiery Works, the largest stocking making plant in the world.

Charles F. Cooper, his brother, was the factory manager and general salesman of the company. He was the president of the Kenosha Manufacturers' Association, of the Kenosha Hospital Association, and the Masonic Temple Association. He was the founder of profit-sharing in the Kenosha plant, and under his direction it became known as the plant "where the life of the worker is flooded with sunshine." He was most popular with the working classes in Kenosha, and when his body was taken to the morgue hundreds of men and women stood with uncovered heads while it passed.

There occurred between the acts at the Century theater, St. Louis, on New Year's night, an unusual incident, when C. H. Congdon, of Chicago, arose from his seat and related incidents of the Iroquois theater tragedy.

He had proceeded only for a few minutes when some one in the audience began singing "Nearer, My God, to Thee," which was immediately taken up by the whole audience, the orchestra joining in with the accompaniment.



[Pg 214]



Miss Charlotte Plamondon, daughter of the vice-president of the Chicago board of education, who waited until the fire had caught in the curtains over the front box, in which she sat, before attempting to get out, related her experience at the Chicago Beach Hotel:

"I can't tell you how I escaped the awful fate of others," she said. "I only know that when the flames began to crackle over my head and dart down from the curtains of our box I leaped over the railing of the box and fell in the arms of some man. I think he was connected with the theater, for he immediately set me down in a seat and told me to be quiet for a moment.



"Then I think I lost all reason. I have a vague recollection of having been pushed up along the side aisle that runs by the boxes. It was as quiet as death for a moment. The great audience rose like a single person, but no sound escaped it until those in front were wedged in the doorway. Then a scream of terror went up that I shall never forget. It rings in my ears now. Women screamed and children cried. Men were shouting and rushing for the entrance, leaping over the prostrate forms of children and women and carrying others down with them.

[Pg 215]"Back of me, I remember, there was a sheet of flame that seemed to be gathering volume and reaching out for us. Then I forgot again, and not until the crowd surged toward the wall and caught me between it and the marble pillar did I realize what the danger was. The pain revived me. I know I was almost crushed to death, but it didn't hurt. Nothing could hurt, with the screaming, the agonizing cries of the women and children ringing in your ears.



"And then, somehow, I found myself out on the street and the dead and dying were around me. When I realized that I was out of the place and safe from the fire and crush, all my strength seemed to leave me. But the cold air braced me after a moment and I went around to the drug store, where the dead were being brought in and the poor actresses and chorus girls were coming in with scarcely anything on them.

"I never felt as I did when it dawned upon us that the theater was on fire. It seemed like a dream at first. The border curtain right near our box blew back, and I think it hit a light or something, for when it fell back into place I saw it was on fire.

"The chorus girls kept right on singing for a couple of minutes, it seemed. Then one of the stage men rushed out and shouted: 'Keep your seats.'

"Oh, the stage men behaved like heroes! As I think of it now, they conducted themselves with rare courage. I saw a couple of the girls fall down, and I knew that they were overcome."



"Just then Eddie Foy ran out on the stage, partly made up, and cried:

[Pg 216]"'My God, people, keep your seats!'

"When Foy said this I regained my senses, and when the asbestos curtain did not come down I felt that the situation was critical. The flames had taken hold of the front row of seats behind the orchestra and were creeping up the curtains over our box, when I jumped to my feet and leaped over the railing.

"I saw the children lying in heaps under our feet. Their little lives were ended, and rough feet were bruising their flesh; and such innocent children! Men leaped over the rows of prostrate forms and fought like they were mad, trying to get out of the entrance."



Mrs. A. Sorge, Jr., whose husband is a consulting engineer, with offices in the Monadnock Building, and who lives at the Chicago Beach Hotel, attended the theater in company with Dr. Jager, who is a guest of Mr. and Mrs. Sorge. They occupied a seat well down in the parquet.

"When the fire started," said Mrs. Sorge, "persons on the stage told us to keep our seats. Dr. Jager also told me to sit still, and we did until the flames began to come near us. Then we clasped hands and started for the door.

"I was not half so much afraid of the fire as I was of being crushed to death, and I tried in every way to keep out of the crush. Dr. Jager got separated from me by catching his foot in an upturned chair, but he soon found me. We later managed to get out on the street without suffering any injuries of a serious nature.

"The saddest thing I saw inside the burning building was a little girl looking for her baby sister. The two had got separated in the rush for the entrance, and it is quite likely[Pg 217] that both were killed in that crush, for it was something awful."



Mrs. Baldwin, wife of Dr. F. R. Baldwin of Minneapolis, immediately after her return from the scene of the awful Chicago catastrophe, through which she had passed, overwhelmed with the horror of the sights and sounds she had seen and heard, gave the following account:

"It was too unutterably shocking for one to realize at the time. The horror of the thing has grown upon me ever since. It fills my mind and imagination, so I can hardly think of anything else. I cannot help feeling almost ashamed to be here, safe and unharmed, while whole families were burned and crushed to death in that awful place. I cannot say how glad I am to be home and see my babies safe, when so many mothers are crying aloud in Chicago for their children to come back to them.

"At first nobody seemed to realize the awful danger. No water was used to put out the flames on the stage. It was only flimsy, gauzy scenery at first that was burning, and the people on the stage tried to tear it down and stamp it out as it fell. I heard no screams, and the people for many moments kept their seats. I did not hear the cry of 'fire.'

"But all at once a great ball of fire or sheet of flame—I don't know how to express it—shot out and the whole theater above us seemed to be full of fire. Then there was a smothered sound as of a sighing by all in the theater.

"By that time I began to realize that it was time to see what could be done about getting out. It so happened that I could not have chosen a better place from which to get out of the building. We were on the alley side, opposite the Randolph[Pg 218] street side of the building, and only two seats from the wall.

"I did not know that there was an entrance here, but all at once the doors seemed to be opened close to us. We had but to take two or three steps and then were thrown forward out of the doors by the crowd behind us. My mother, who was with me, was unhurt, and I had but a few bruises.

"One of the first things I saw as I got up was a girl lying on one of the fire escape platforms with the flames shooting over her through the window. One man, who jumped from the platform, had not taken two steps before a woman who jumped a moment later from a height of about forty feet came right down upon him, killing him upon the spot.

"The sights all about the city have been many times described, but nothing can picture those terrible scenes. In a flat just below my mother's five out of a family of six perished, leaving but one demented girl.

"Of another family living near us, only the husband and father was left, his wife and four boys and his mother all having been killed in the fire. As I passed near the theater the next day I saw a man walking up and down in front of the building muttering to himself, and every now and then he would sit upon the curb and look up at the building, breaking out into peals of laughter. He had been through the fire."



Mrs. Walter Raymer, wife of the alderman, attended the Iroquois in charge of the "F. P. C.," a club of young girls, of which her daughter was treasurer. Of the eight members only two escaped uninjured. Miss Mabel Hunter, the president, was killed; Miss Edna Hunter was taken to her residence, 85 Humboldt boulevard, severely injured; Miss Lillian Ackerman[Pg 219] was borne to the Samaritan Hospital, burned about the head and body.

Edna Hoveland was badly injured, and her little sister, who accompanied her, was burned to death. May Marks is dead. Viva Jackson, missing all Wednesday night, was found in the morning at an undertaker's rooms. The two who escaped injury were Miss Abigail Raymer, daughter of the alderman, and Miss Florence Nicholson.

The eight girls, all between sixteen and eighteen years old, had organized their little club a few weeks ago for the purpose of literary study and recreation, and the theater party was arranged by Mrs. Raymer as a surprise for the members.

The Theta Pi Zeta club of the junior class of the Englewood High School, with the exception of two members, was wiped out of existence. The club was composed of eight young women living in Englewood and Normal Park. Seven had purchased seats in the sixth row of the dress circle. What they encountered after the panic started no one knows, for of the seven only one, Miss Josephine Spencer, 7110 Princeton avenue, was saved and she was taken to the West Side Hospital terribly burned. The only member who entirely escaped was Miss Edith Mizen of 6917 Eggleston avenue, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. George K. Mizen. Her parents objected to her attending a theatrical performance.

Those who perished are Helen Howard, 6565 Yale avenue; Helen McCaughan, 6565 Yale avenue; Elvira Olson, 7010 Stewart avenue; Florence Oxnam, 435 Englewood avenue; Lillie Power, 442 West Seventieth street; and Rosamond Schmidt, 335 West Sixty-first street.



[Pg 220]



Eddie Foy, whose real name is Edwin Fitzgerald, has faced many audiences under all conditions and circumstances during his stage career of a quarter of a century, during which he rose from a street urchin to the distinction of one of America's most entertaining and unctuous comedians. Never before had such interest centered in his appearance as when on Thursday afternoon, January 7, 1904, he took the witness stand to relate under oath what he knew concerning the calamity of the preceding week.

The actor's face was a study. His deep-lined countenance, ordinarily irresistibly funny without effort on his part, took on a truly tragic aspect as he entered upon his story. His indescribable, husky voice that has made hundreds of thousands laugh with merriment, was broken; there was no suggestion of humor in it. Instead it was a wail from the tomb, the utterance of a man broken with the weight of the woe he had beheld in a few brief, fleeting moments.

The questions were propounded by Coroner Traeger and Major Lawrence Buckley, his chief deputy, and were promptly and fully answered by the comedian.

The full text, as secured through a stenographic report, follows:

Q. Will you kindly tell us, Mr. Foy, or Fitzgerald, in your own way, what transpired?

A. Well, I went to the matinee with my little boy, six years old, and I wanted to put him in the front of the theater[Pg 221] to see the show. I sent him out before the first act by the stage manager, and he took him out and brought him back and said there were no seats. I sent him downstairs and put him in a little alcove that is next to the switchboard, underneath where they claim the fire started, and where I saw the fire first.

Q. That is on what side of the stage?

A. On my right facing the audience. On the south side of the stage. The second act was on. I was in my dressing-room tying my shoes, and I heard a noise, and I didn't pay much attention to it at first. I says to myself, "Are they fighting again down there"—there was a fight there about a week or two ago; and I says, "They are fighting again." I looked out of the door and heard the buzz getting stronger and stronger, with this excitement, and I thought of my boy and I ran down the steps. I was in the middle dressing-room on the side, and I ran down screaming "Bryan." I got him at the first entrance right in front of the switchboard, and looked up and saw a fireman there. I don't know what he was doing; he was trying to put the fire out. Then the two lower borders running up the side of this canvas were burning. I grabbed my boy and rushed to the back door, and there was a lot of people trying to get out.



Q. What door?

A. The little stage door on Dearborn street.

Q. How did you find that door—was it open?

A. No. I knew where the door was.

Q. Was the door open when you got there?

A. Yes; they were breaking through it.

Q. Who?

[Pg 222]A. All of our people.

Q. Employees on the stage?

A. Not many of them. It was crowded there, and I threw my boy to a man. I says: "Take this boy out," and ran out on the footlights to the audience. When I did they were in a sort of panic, as I thought, and what I said exactly I don't remember, but this was the substance—my idea was to get the curtain down and quietly stop the stampede. I yelled, "Drop the curtain and keep up your music." I didn't want a stampede, because it was the biggest audience I ever played to of women and children. I told them to be quiet and take it easy "Don't get excited"—and they started up on this second balcony on my left to run, and I says, "Sit down; it is all right; don't get excited." And they were going that way, and I said to the policeman, "Let them out quietly," and they moved then, and I says, "Let down the curtain," and I looked up and this curtain was burning—the fringe on the edge of it.



Q. It was caught, was it?

A. It did not come down.

Q. How near to the bottom of the stage was it?

A. Three feet above my head. I would have been outside if the curtain had come down.

Q. It was lowered down after you hallooed?

A. I hallooed for it to come down.

Q. And it came down that far and then caught?

A. I did not see it come down, but it was there when I looked up.

Q. When you looked up it was caught, was it?

A. Yes, sir, it must have been caught—it didn't come down. Then when I was hallooing, I kept hallooing for the[Pg 223] curtain to come down—how many times I don't know—and talked to this man to let them out quietly, there was a sort of a cyclone; the thing was flying behind me; I felt it coming.

Q. What do you mean by a cyclone—cyclone of what?

A. It was a whirl of smoke when I looked around—the scenery had broken the slats it was nailed to; it came down behind me, and I didn't know whether to go in front or behind. The stage was covered with smoke, and it was a cold draft, and there was an explosion of some kind like you light a match and the box goes off. I didn't know whether to go front or not, so I thought of my boy—maybe the man did not take him out—so I rushed out the first thing and went back of the stage.

Q. You went out yourself, then?

A. Yes, sir, and I was looking for my boy all the way in. I wasn't sure he was out. I found him in the street.

Q. Do you know what started the fire, Mr. Fitzgerald?

A. No, sir.



Q. Was there any light of any kind near where you first saw the fire?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. What kind of a light?

A. A lens light—one that you throw spot light on people with.

Q. How close was that to the drop that was on fire?

A. That I could not tell—there were three or four drops on fire when I got there for the boy.

Q. They were all close together?

A. Yes.

Q. Too high up for anybody to reach?

[Pg 224]A. Impossible.

Q. Were there any other fires of any kind, fires or lights, near those drops or the fire, besides this drop light?

A. That was the only one I saw.

Q. Then there would not be anything else able to ignite those drops, only this light?

A. I should think so, yes.

Q. You are satisfied in your own mind that it was caused from that light.

A. That it was caused from that light.

Q. You have been playing there in the theater since "Mr. Bluebeard, Jr.," started, or since the theater opened, haven't you?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Do you know of any drill or any precautions that were taken by the management or parties in charge of the theater in emergency cases in the case of fire—that is, drilling or handling the employees as to what they should do in case of fire?

A. No. I know I couldn't smoke in the theater; the policeman was around there all the time in the dressing-rooms.



Q. Did you notice any fire extinguishers of any kind on the stage?

A. No, sir, I did not.

Q. Any appliances of any kind to be used in case of fire?

A. No. I don't think I did; there might have been.

Q. Did you notice any fire extinguishers in your dressing-room?

A. No, sir.

Q. Did you ever notice while in the theater whether there[Pg 225] was any policeman or fireman stationed on the stage or around the stage?

A. Yes, sir, there was a fireman there always on the stage.

Q. Did you ever hear while in the theater of an asbestos curtain there?

A. I cannot say that I did.

Q. Did you ever hear of a fireproof curtain there?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Did it take long for this curtain that you say was down and stuck to burn?

A. I couldn't stay there long enough to see if it was burning—it was on fire.

Q. You have had a good deal of experience in theaters?

A. Thirty-five years.

Q. Would you consider that there was as good a protection taken at the Iroquois theater as there was in the average theater throughout the country in cases of fire?

A. You mean in the construction of the theater?

Q. Not the construction, but I would say in the management, and in the furnishing of fire extinguishers and appliances to extinguish fires.

A. Well, I never took notice of the fire extinguisher. If a man would look at that stage he would naturally think they couldn't possibly have a fire without everybody getting out in front of the theater.

Q. I didn't ask you that. My question was, in your experience in traveling through the theaters in different cities, would you consider there was as good protection taken on the Iroquois stage to extinguish fire, as there was in the average theater throughout the country?

[Pg 226]A. Well, I couldn't say; I never took notice of what was on the stage to extinguish fires.

Q. Did you at any other theater?

A. Well, I have seen fire extinguishers around at times.



Q. In theaters where you have noticed these fire extinguishers, what part of the theater did you see them in?

A. Well, they were fire extinguishers like a man would put on his back, with a strap to it.

Q. Where were they?

A. On the platform in the theater.

Q. Did you notice anything of that kind at the Iroquois theater?

A. No, sir, I did not; I cannot say that I did.

Q. Now, if you did not see those appliances, you did not see them when you went in the stage entrance?

A. No, sir.

Q. You say you saw them in other stage entrances?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. You didn't see them at the Iroquois theater?

A. No, sir, not any time I was there.

Q. Did you see any hose of any kind that could be used in cases of fire?

A. I don't know whether there was any; I didn't see any.

Q. Did you know of any other fire that occurred in the theater previous to this one?

A. No, sir.

Q. You have been with the company for how long?

A. I played right along with it in Wisconsin and New York last season, and opened in Pittsburg with it and have been with it ever since.

[Pg 227]Q. Did you play at Cleveland?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. What was the date of the fire in Cleveland?

A. I don't know the date; there was a fire on the stage.

Q. Was the cause the same as at this fire?

A. No; the flies caught fire at this fire. This was on the stage. They could not get at this fire.

Q. What caused it?

A. That I don't know, sir.

Q. Did you consider it a dangerous lot of scenery to travel with, lights and scenery combined?

A. I don't know; I consider all scenery dangerous.

Q. Did you consider this dangerous?

A. No, sir.



Q. Were both of the exits on the stage open?

A. Only one door, a little door that we go through always was open when I went out.

Question by Foreman Meyer of the Jury: Mr. Foy, when you came out to the footlights to try to quiet the people and you cried for the curtain to come down, did you see the curtain come down?

A. I did not see the curtain come down. I screamed for the curtain to come down, and I told the orchestra to keep up the music, and then I addressed the audience, thinking I would get the curtain down. I would have been in front of the curtain if it came down.

Q. You said at the same time you looked around?

A. I looked around, yes, sir.

Q. What was the color of the curtain as you looked at it?

[Pg 228]A. I couldn't tell the color. It was right over my head.

Q. Could you tell from any observation at any time before that?

A. No, sir.

Question by Juror Cummings: When you counseled the audience to keep quiet were you working on the assumption that there was a fire brigade on the stage?

A. Well, my idea was to get the curtain down and stop the panic. The audience was composed of women and children.

Question by Deputy Buckley: From the time that you first heard the noise, when you were in the dressing-room until you got out, about what time elapsed?

A. Well, I have been trying to figure that out in my own mind. I don't think it was ninety seconds.



Q. Do you know, Mr. Foy, whether there was a wire extending from the stage across the auditorium to any of the balconies or any part of the theater or auditorium outside?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Where was that wire located?

A. The wire hung from the center of the auditorium to the side of the stage, to where the fire, they say, started, on my right-hand side facing the audience.

Q. Was that the side of the stage where the curtain was caught?

A. I could not say. I have been trying to fix that in my mind.

Q. You cannot say whether it was hung on the wire on the right or left hand side?

[Pg 229]A. No, sir. I should not think that it had anything to do with it.

Q. Was that stationary?

A. It hung from the front, and it was unhooked and put on the woman when she went out in the air.

Q. Did any part of it go behind the curtain?

A. Yes, it went behind the curtain, but that could not have possibly stopped it, because it would have broken it. I don't think the curtain was low enough down to touch it, because the girl is only a little girl, Miss Reed, and they had to hook it on her.

Q. About how high up was the wire?

A. Well, so that a man like the stage manager would take it off and the man that was assisting in this flying ballet would hook it on this little girl that flew out.

Q. She was killed?

A. She was killed.



[Pg 230]



Many of the members of the "Mr. Bluebeard, Jr.," company were arrested and retained as witnesses in the trial, on a charge of manslaughter, of Messrs. Davis and Powers, Building Commissioner Williams and the stage manager, electricians and carpenters especially concerned in the manipulation of the lights and curtains. On the Saturday night succeeding the fire Mayor Harrison closed all the theaters in the city, numbering thirty-seven, for a period of two weeks, or until a thorough investigation could be made as to whether they were complying with the city ordinances in every detail.

People with seat checks were turned away from the doors of the theaters. Even the fireproof Auditorium was not permitted to remain open, and Theodore Thomas and his musicians returned to their homes without playing.

Theatrical people in the dressing-rooms of the theaters took off their makeup and left. Ushers turned out the lights and the managers locked the doors. It was a condition without precedent in any large city of this or any other country—every public place of theatrical amusement closed by command, as the result of a great disaster.

And not only did the terrible calamity close every theater in Chicago, but it sent the city authorities, fire inspectors, aldermen and all, scurrying through the city, examining the big department stores and their means of escape for their thousands of employees. The alarm and inspection also extended[Pg 231] to the public schools of the city. Nor was the awful upheaval felt with startling force only at home, but like an earthquake its vibrations reached distant cities and countries. The monarchs of Europe, with the great public men of America, sent words of sympathy over the throbbing wires, those which came from Emperor William being:

"Neues Palais, Dec. 31.—To the President of the United States: Aghast at the terrible news of the catastrophe that has befallen the citizens of Chicago the empress and myself wish to convey to you how deeply we feel for the American people who have been so cruelly visited in this week of joy. Please convey expression of our sincerest sympathy to the city of Chicago. Many thanks for your kind letter. In coming years may Providence shield you and America from harm and such accidents.

"Wilhelm I. R."

Within a few days there was abundant evidence that profound sympathy had given place, in all the large cities of the world, to practical endeavors to avert like calamities.



As his first official act, Nicholas J. Hayes, who on New Year's became fire commissioner of New York, ordered an investigation of all the theaters of that city. He declared that he intended to ascertain whether the New York playhouses were so constructed and equipped as to safeguard human life in case of fire or panic.

"The protection of human life is the first and most important duty of the fire commissioner," said Mr. Hayes. "In this work no one shall hinder me from doing my full duty."

In each battalion district where a theater was located the new fire commissioner designated a competent assistant foreman as theater inspector and provided for weekly inspection of[Pg 232] theaters. These inspectors were under the supervision of a general theater inspector. One of the tests at once applied by Commissioner Hayes was to have the inspector pour gasoline on the asbestos curtain and then apply fire. Several houses were at once closed, as the curtains failed to stand the test.

City Superintendent of Schools Maxwell, of New York, also issued special fire instructions to the district superintendents and principals of schools, whom he directed to perfect fire drills and the rapid dismissal of school children under their care.



The Pittsburg department of public safety immediately began a crusade against the violation of the ordinances regarding theater construction and equipment. Managers were compelled to arrange their fire escapes, curtains and apparatus so that everything worked with facility. At the Nixon theater, at the close of a performance, the people were rapidly dismissed after a fire alarm, and ushered out into the alley exits and down fire escapes in two and one-half minutes. Other theaters were put through similar drills.



Warrants were issued for the arrest of the proprietors of three of the seven Washington theaters. Failure to comply with building regulations in making improvements resulted in the withholding of the license of one theater. The two other proprietors were arrested for failure to provide proper exit lights, fire escapes and stage stairways.



As a result of the fire Chief Rufus R. Wade, of the Massachusetts state police, at once issued orders for his inspectors[Pg 233] to make immediate and thorough inspection of every theater in the commonwealth outside of Boston. The statutes give no jurisdiction over Boston, but his orders meant that more than 100 theaters under his supervision would receive immediate attention.

The Chicago theater horror caused such a decreased attendance at Boston theaters as to mean comparatively empty houses for some time afterward. Huge areas of vacant seats were to be observed and the crowds at theater exits at 10:45 were prominent for their absence.



Spurred to action by the theater horror in Chicago, the city officials of Milwaukee, Wis., closed four theaters. The orders to darken the houses followed an investigation by the chief of the fire department. In the Academy and the Bijou, popular-priced houses, and in the two vaudeville houses, the Star and the Crystal, the chief found the "fire" curtains were made of thin canvas.



In St. Louis the commissioner of public buildings and the chief of the fire department served notice on theater managers that the provisions of the city ordinances designed to prevent fire and panic must be rigidly carried out. A new ordinance revising the building laws was at once laid before the city council. One of its new features insists on a metal skylight or fire vent over the stage. This vent must be so constructed as to open instantly and automatically. Fire Chief Swingle sent notice to the managers that all aisles must be kept cleared.

 [Pg 234]


Building Inspector Withnell ordered several radical changes in theaters and large department stores as a result of the fire. All the theaters were required to increase their exit facilities, and one theater was ordered to put in additional aisles and remove 150 rear seats in the parquet circle and balconies, which would interfere with a free exit in case of panic. Asbestos curtains were ordered into use at all the theaters.



The news of the awful calamity shocked the great cities of Europe beyond expression, and its discussion excluded even such large agitating questions as the Eastern—possible war between Japan and Russia, which might involve the entire Old World. The so-called American colonies of London, Paris and Berlin were especially shocked, many members of whom sought for news of friends and relatives who might be among the list of dead or injured. As the complete list could not be cabled for several days thereafter their suspense was, in many cases, unbearable, and scores took the first steamers for America.



Upon the receipt of the first news all local and foreign topics of interest were forgotten in London in the universal horror over the tragedy. The extra editions of the newspapers giving the latest details were eagerly bought up and newspaper placards bore in flaring type the announcement of further news from Chicago. The flags over the American steamship offices were half-masted.

The accounts of the deadly panic were read by the English people with peculiar sympathy and horror, for the pantomime[Pg 235] season was at its height and the London theaters were daily packed with women and children.

Yet certainly the first night after the news was generally known, which was Thursday, no appreciable effect was felt on the attendance of most of the London theaters. The usual number were waiting in line at the Drury Lane box office early in the evening. The vaudeville had "house full" boards prominently displayed. Still another playhouse in the Strand showed only a slight falling off in attendance, but when the actual list of dead, injured and missing was received by cable and posted in the newspaper offices, hotels and other public places, there was a very marked decrease in the number of theater goers. Later still came the detailed information called for by the fire committee of the London county council, which indicated that the Chicago theater offered better chances of escape than a number of houses in the very heart of London. This was the first step toward a thorough overhauling of the theaters of the world's metropolis.



With the story of the horror upon the pale lips of all, there was at the same time, in the minds of many of the theater goers of London, a feeling that the regulations of the lord chamberlain and the London county council reduced to a minimum the possibility of the occurrence of a similar tragedy in their midst. Nevertheless theatrical men of experience agree that, after all, the most elaborate precautions may be taken, and when the crucial moment arrives they may prove of not the slightest value.



On the programme of every theater in London is printed the following extract from rules made by the lord chamberlain:

[Pg 236]"The name of the actual responsible manager of the theater must be printed on every playbill. The public can leave the theater at the end of the performance by all exit entrance doors, which must open outward.

"Where there is a fireproof screen to the proscenium opening it must be lowered at least once during every performance, to insure it being in proper working order.

"All gangways, passages and staircases must be kept free from chairs or any other obstructions."

To guard against the possibility of a person in a moment of fright jumping from a balcony, the London county council insists on a brass railing being fixed on the tier in front of the upper circle.



His Majesty's Theater is one of the largest and best equipped theaters in London. The precautions taken there may be mentioned as representative of what many London theater managers do to protect their patrons. A big iron asbestos curtain is worked by a lever in the "prop" corner on the prompter's side. The curtain is lowered just after the audience has been seated, before the play begins, not only to test it, but to give the audience confidence. Thursday night following the Iroquois fire Beerbohm Tree, the proprietor, ordered the curtain to be lowered twice, the second time after the first act, and this will be done in the future.



Two firemen belonging to the fire department, but paid by the theater, come on duty at 7 o'clock. Every light or naked torch carried on the stage it is their duty to watch. It is the custom here, as at all theaters, to keep blankets dripping wet[Pg 237] hanging at certain points all round the stage. Cutting-away apparatus and buckets are kept in the flies.

"I have never heard of a great theater fire," said Mr. Dana, acting manager, "where trouble has been caused by flames in the front of the house. The exits in London theaters must be direct to the streets, not false exits, as I am afraid is too often the case in America. Nevertheless, when all is done, the fact remains that no one has ever invented a patent for stopping a panic."



"It is certainly the most terrible tragedy I ever heard of," said Mr. Tree, the proprietor. "It is quite easy at times to prevent a panic from the stage by a little presence of mind. I was playing once in Belfast when suddenly behind a transparency I saw a reddish blaze and guessed it was a fire, but went quietly on until a convenient pause. Then I announced to the audience that something was out of order and the curtain would descend quietly and remain down a few minutes. I assured them there was absolutely no danger. The curtain descended amid applause, and while the band played the fire was quickly smothered. The curtain rose and the play went on without a soul leaving the house.

"It is quite possible at such a time for a person to hypnotize an audience. In all cases of theater disasters it has been the panic, not the fire, that has caused the big loss of life.

"It is probable if the audience had known where the exits were the Iroquois theater might have been cleared in two minutes. I think that every night uniformed attendants should be stationed in all theaters, whose duty it should be to call out 'This way out' when the audience is leaving. I am surprised there appeared to be no outside balconies with stairways, as is[Pg 238] the case in most American theaters, which is an advantage which we have not got here."



Sidney Smith, business manager of the Drury Lane theater, where "Mr. Bluebeard, Jr.," was produced two years ago, said: "The kernel of the whole matter is that human beings will be human beings. There is no possible provision against a panic. Our theater is the only isolated one in London."



W. Carbys Zimmerman, of Chicago, the well-known architect, sailed for America on the Saturday succeeding the fire, with his wife, in a state of intense anxiety as to whether his children had been caught in the Iroquois disaster.

Mr. Zimmerman had just completed a tour of inspection of the theaters of Vienna, Paris and London. "My work in London," he said, "was interfered with by the appalling news from Chicago. I had seen only a few theaters here when I heard of the Iroquois fire. After that I had no heart to make further investigation. My observation leads me to think the Vienna theaters the safest in Europe. Many of them are quite detached from other buildings. They are splendidly furnished with exits and fire-fighting appliances. The theaters of Paris, except the best ones, are extremely dangerous.

"From what I saw in London I judge that fire in many theaters would result in great loss of life. The passages are often so narrow that two people can scarcely pass. The managers naturally put a rosy face on the matter. They pretend that the Chicago fire has not reduced their bookings, but intelligent observers know better. Immense improvements are certain to be effected in London theaters in the immediate future.

[Pg 239]"Every theater should be isolated from other structures. It should have exits all round and these should be used regularly. There should be no emergency exits whatever. The fireproof curtain should be used constantly in place of the ordinary drop curtain. All passages should be straight and wide and all scenery noncombustible. Lastly, professional fire fighters should be properly posted throughout the performance. Europe recognizes that amateur firemen are useless in a crisis."



Thousands of Parisians, both French and Americans, including all those who had friends and relatives in Chicago, eagerly scanned the list of the dead and injured in the Iroquois disaster, as it was posted at the newspaper offices and distributed throughout the hotels and public places in the city. This step greatly relieved the anxiety of many of the American colony, while at the same time it confirmed the fears of those whose friends or acquaintances were caught in the fire.

The theater managers complained at once that the Chicago catastrophe had a most damaging effect on receipts. All the popular matinees were comparatively deserted and the children's New Year pantomimes were complete failures. Cool heads pointed out that the Parisian theaters, as a rule, are better equipped against fire than those of Chicago, but without effect. The lesson of terror had seized the public.



The Berlin evening papers of the fateful day expressed horror and sympathy over the Chicago catastrophe, comparing the details with those of the Vienna and Paris theater fires. The fire department of the city announced that it would immediately make a fresh study of the protective arrangements of the local[Pg 240] theaters, so as to prevent, if possible, a disaster similar to the one at Chicago.

Directors of all the Berlin theaters were promptly summoned to police headquarters and apprised of the kaiser's demand that fire protection be made more adequate. The directors of many houses came before their audiences and publicly stated their intention to install the new facilities ordered by the kaiser. These precautions included the lowering of the iron curtain five minutes before each performance and during the intermissions; an increase in the number of firemen on and off the stage, and illuminated exit signs, incapable of extinguishment by smoke or flame. Before each performance the firemen were also to make minute inspection of the building and furnish a formal report that all was right before the curtain was raised.

The greatest bomb, however, cast into the theater world of Berlin was Emperor Wilhelm's order summarily closing the Royal Opera House until certain alterations, necessary for protection from fire and possible panic, were made. The kaiser's action attracted the attention of the whole community, which concluded that if the largest and best-equipped playhouse in Prussia was unsafe many minor establishments must be positively dangerous. Berlin, without doubt, contained a dozen music halls and other places of amusement where a fire panic would be deadly, and they followed the fate of the Royal Opera House and were closed until safeguards approved by the proper authorities were provided. In the future proprietors of Berlin theaters will also station special policemen in their houses for the sole purpose of controlling audiences in case of fire, or panic, or both. Thus did the Chicago tragedy profoundly affect one of the great theater centers of the world.

 [Pg 241]


Cornelius H. Shaver, president of the Railroad News Company of Chicago, who was in Berlin at the time of the fire, said: "Many of the theaters in Germany strike me as firetraps. Several Berliners assure me that the ushers are the only ones sure of escaping with their lives from at least three of their best houses. The auditoriums in many German theaters are 150 feet back from the street and to reach them one must journey through a labyrinth of courts, corridors and sudden turnings. In the interior the precautions against fire are excellent, including iron curtains, automatic sprinklers and squads of city firemen; but German theaters and hotels are lacking in so essential an equipment as outside fire escapes."



The catastrophe at Chicago aroused the most painful interest and the utmost sympathy everywhere in Austria, the Viennese having a keen recollection of the disaster at the Ring theater in 1881, when 875 people lost their lives. Intense anxiety prevailed in the American colony, as many doctors and musical students who form the bulk of the colony come from the Middle West of the United States.

Herr Lueger, the burgomaster of Vienna, sent a cable message to Mayor Harrison, expressing sympathy and deep condolence over the terrible catastrophe.



Upon receipt of definite news of the Iroquois theater disaster the theaters and music halls in The Hague were overhauled by the authorities. Amsterdam and Rotterdam demanded strict enforcement of the regulations against fire and new legislation looking to that end was at once put in force.

[Pg 242]In Copenhagen, Stockholm and Christiania the Danish, Swedish and Norwegian licensing authorities for public amusements caused a rigid inspection to be made of all playhouses with a view to better safeguards against fire, and that inspection is still progressing and will doubtless bear good results as in other European centers.

Enough has been said to indicate that virtually the entire hemisphere of the West has been stirred to practical action by the terrible calamity which this book records. It is not within the range of human possibility that theaters can be made absolutely perfect, any more than other human institutions, nor is it possible that the awful lesson furnished by the Iroquois theater disaster will have been forgotten before substantial improvements are made in the amusement houses of the world for the present and future protection of human life.



[Pg 243]



Clarence J. Root, of Chicago, an assistant of Prof. Cox in the weather bureau, makes the following suggestions in connection with the safe-theater agitation:

"Location—All theaters to be in buildings by themselves, like the Illinois and Iroquois. No stores or offices to be located in them. Buildings should be isolated, with wide private or public alleys or courts entirely around the rear and sides. A false wall could be built in front of the side courts where they project upon the street, thus helping the appearance of the block. These should, however, have wide arches through them.

"Construction—All buildings to be absolutely fireproof. The buildings should be built of steel, fireproof tiling, steel lathing, etc. Scenery of asbestos or aluminum would be practicable. Aluminum is light and easily handled. The seats to be upholstered in leather. The floor to be constructed of metal, cement, mosaic or composition, with thin rubber matting over them, such as is used on sleeping-car steps. Ornamental iron work can be used on boxes, front of balconies, etc. Stair railings of brass or fancy copper. The fire curtain to be of steel and asbestos both. The heavy steel would prevent any bulging from a draft.

"Exits—No steps or stairs should be used in the aisles or exits or anywhere in the theater. Easy inclines, similar to the ones in the new Pittsburg theater, should be used in the aisles,[Pg 244] the inside entrances and exits, and the outside exits, all to be covered with rubber to prevent slipping. Two or three very wide exits ought to be provided on each side of the theater, and in addition, one (say twice as wide as the aisle) at the rear end of each aisle, the hallway leading from these rear exits, if not opening outdoors, to be wide enough to accommodate the entire number of exits. These rules should apply in the balconies, also. The outside fire-escapes to be long, easy inclines, with high sides, to prevent people from jumping. Each exit to have its own independent incline, so that the crowd from the first balcony cannot block those from the upper gallery, as in the Iroquois fire. All doors to swing outward and not to be locked during the performance. They should be inspected before each play and should be so connected, electrically, that every door in the house could be thrown open instantly, merely by the touching of a button, these buttons to be located on the stage and other places convenient to the ushers and employees. Theaters should not be built 'L' shape. That was one fault of the Iroquois. The crowd naturally followed the aisles to the back of the house and then, instead of finding themselves at the outdoor exits, as in most playhouses, they had to go clear to one side of the theater. This mixed them up with the crowds from the other aisles and concentrated too many people in one place.

"Summary—A theater as described above could not burn, but a sprinkler system would do no harm. Heating and power plant in another building would prevent danger of an explosion. The aisles should be very wide and no standing room or portable chairs allowed. It may seem unnecessary in a fireproof theater to have such elaborate exits, but panics will occur from other causes than fires. A plan of the house should be printed on the cover of the program; this should plainly show[Pg 245] the exits. A description of the fireproof qualities of the theater should also be printed. This will secure the confidence of the audience, and perhaps avert a panic. In a house built and equipped, strictly in accordance with the above ideas, a fire would be impossible and a serious panic unlikely."



Francis Wilson, the well known actor, in speaking of the fire, said:

"I suppose similar scenes always will follow a sudden rush in any building crowded with men and women, but I feel strongly that theater buildings could be improved so as to reduce the danger in a stampede to a minimum. It is my opinion that there should not be a single step in a theater. The descents should be gentle inclines. That this is possible is shown by the construction of a new theater in Pittsburg, where even the gallery is reached by inclines.

"It is the thought of the many stairways that must be passed quickly, and possibly in darkness, that drives the occupants of the galleries to panic at any alarm. If they were sure of a clear pathway straight to the street half their fear would be allayed. In doing away with steps in the auditoriums of theaters the builders should not forget the actors."



Suggestion by W. B. Chamberlain, of London:

"In nearly all fires in theaters loss of life seems to be at the head of stairs. This is natural, as persons who come first to the head of the stairs, hold back, being afraid to go down quickly lest they be pushed down by those behind them. People seem to think a broad staircase safer than a narrow one. I don't think this is the case, as in a narrow one you can put[Pg 246] your hands on two sides, and go down with less fear of being thrown forward. All wide staircases should be provided with handrails, for if you have both hands on handrails you can run down quickly. If theaters were below ground you would in case of fire run up instead of down. They would be much safer for want of air to feed the flames."



According to Sir Algernon West, of London, since 1858 not a single life has been lost in a properly licensed theater building in that city, except of a fireman, who perished in the performance of duty at the Alhambra in 1882. During the few days following the Iroquois disaster, theater managers and the public praised the wisdom of the rules of the county council, whereas some of the former had been wont to find them rather irksome. In addition to the main rules about lowering the asbestos curtain once during the performance, doors opening outward, stairways and passages to be kept free, there are some other precautions which must be observed. All doors used for the purpose of exit must, if fastened during the time the public are in the building, be secured during such time only by automatic bolts only of a pattern and position approved by the council. The management must allow the public to leave by all exit doors. All gas burners within reach of the audience must be protected by glass or wire globes. All gas taps within reach of the public must be made secure.

An additional means of lighting for use in the event of the principal system being extinguished must be provided in the auditorium, corridors, passages, exits and staircases. If oil or candle lamps are used for this purpose, they must be of a pattern approved by the council, and properly secured to a noninflammable base, out of reach of the public. Such lamps[Pg 247] must be kept lighted during the whole time the public is in the premises. No mineral oil must be used in them. All hangings, curtains and draperies must be rendered noninflammable. Scenery is painted on canvas that has been first prepared with a solution recommended by the county council, to make it noninflammable. The paints used by the scenic artists contain no oils.



John Ericson, the city engineer of Chicago, has this to offer:

"A theater building should have an open space on all sides with exits and entrances leading directly out, and not, as now is mostly the case, be wedged in tight between other large buildings, with a number of exits all leading to one or two not too wide hallways which again, together with the stairways from the balconies and galleries, merge into one entrance. These halls and stairways are only too easily blocked by the frantic people in case of a panic. The aisles in most of our theaters are also too narrow and should be made considerably wider.

"The excuse that space is too valuable for such extravagance cannot hold. If the return for the capital invested in such a case does not seem sufficiently large to the investor, then rather charge a little more for the entertainment or reduce the number of playhouses so as to insure full houses, but in the name of humanity construct those that are used in such a way that calamities such as have occurred will be an impossibility.

"I am also of the opinion that perforated water pipes over the stage, into which water can be turned at a moment's notice so as to drench the whole stage if necessary, would add greatly to the safety of life and property.

"An automatic sprinkler system would probably have been[Pg 248] less effective in the case of the Iroquois fire, as great damage to life would have probably been done before such sprinklers would have been put into action."



William Clendennin, editor of the Fireproof Magazine, condemned the Iroquois Theater building as long ago as last August. Here is his opinion, which he asserts is based on a personal investigation:

"The Iroquois theater was a firetrap. The whole thing was a rush construction. It was beautiful but it was cheap. Everything but the structural members was of wood; the roller on the asbestos curtain, the pulleys, all of a cheap compromise.

"I made an investigation of the theater last August and condemned it on four different points. My condemnation was published in the August number of the Fireproof. The points are:

"1. The absence of an intake, or stage draft shaft.

"2. The exposed re-enforcement of the concrete arch.

"3. The presence of wood trim on everything.

"4. The inadequate provision of exits.

"A theater has two parts—the stage and the house or audience part. There should be a roll shutter between the two and the best sort of a curtain is a compromise. The poor stuff in the curtain at the Iroquois theater made it doubly a compromise; a great danger, a terrible trap.

"The stage may be compared to a closet. When you open a closet door the draft is outward, not inward. So when the fire started on the stage the draft pulled it toward the audience. It was a quick flame puff.

"The arch, or ceiling, was covered with a cheap concrete. The first puff of flame destroyed this. It crumbled away, [Pg 249]exposing the twisted mass of steel re-enforcement and girders, and fell on the audience. This killed many. Looking from below, the bewildered, choking and maddened crowd thought it was the result of a panic above. They believed the galleries were falling and in the rush resulting many more were killed.

"The Iroquois theater was the most-talked-of construction in the country at the time of its building. It was believed to be the expression of the most modern ideas in regard to theater building; to be about as near fireproof as one could be. My investigation satisfied me that it was one of the worst firetraps in the city. There was so much wood and so much plush and inflammable trimming about everything. The insufficient exits tell the rest of the story."



On this point T. B. Badt, a consulting electrical engineer of Chicago, writes:

"It has been stated that in the Iroquois no exit signs were over the doors, and it has been suggested that this was one of the causes of loss of life. The question arises, what would signs have been good for if the theater was thrown in darkness? The signs would not have been seen any more than the doors underneath the draperies. In order to avoid such trouble I should propose the following:

"Have over each door a transparent sign made out of metal with glass crystal letters, and have same illuminated from the outside of the building wall by means of a lantern attached on the outside, and have this lantern supplied by a source of light independent of the theater lighting system, either electric or gas. The sign would be illuminated at all times during the performance; it would not be an objection during dark scenes, because there would be practically no light thrown through[Pg 250] the glass letters to interfere with the darkness inside; at the same time the sign would stand there glaring the word 'exit,' no matter how dark the theater or how light the theater. The main point I am trying to raise is that any device which has to be operated in case of an emergency is liable to fail, but an illuminated sign that will be illuminated at all times will be there no matter what trouble may happen, because nobody can forget to light it during the excitement, as it is already lighted before the performance commences. This, in my opinion, is the keynote for all devices which are intended to prevent panics in theaters. An automatic device is dependent upon certain conditions, usually rise of temperature near the ceiling. A manually operated safety device depends upon the presence of mind and cool-headedness of a certain employee and in my opinion all these features should be eliminated. Everything should be ready for an emergency and not be dependent upon somebody or something to make it ready. All exit doors ought to be unlocked and swing open towards the outside, and this, in connection with the permanently illuminated sign above the door saying 'exit,' in my opinion, would prevent any of the calamities heretofore experienced in theater disasters."



[Pg 251]



Scores and scores of witnesses assembled in the little committee rooms and antechambers of the council hall in the great Chicago administrative building, each with his story to add to the story of horror, when the inquest over the dead began on Thursday, January 7, 1904, one week and a day after the disaster.

Some were muffled under great rolls of bandages that concealed frightful scars and burns. Others gave no outward indication of the season of terror they had passed and survived to tell the tale. Fashionable theater goers, actors, actresses and stage hands, chorus girls, belted policemen and grim firemen, all met on terms of temporary equality, forming a heterogeneous assemblage waiting the call to take the stand. One by one they were admitted to the vast council chamber where for days the inquisition continued.

Vast throngs of curious besieged the place, clamoring for opportunity to view the proceedings. None, save the favored few citizens to whom tickets were issued, municipal, county and state officials and representatives of the press, enjoyed that opportunity. To them day after day a growing tale of suffering and death was unfolded such as has not fallen upon mortal ears for half a century. It was a harrowing recital that satiated and sickened the auditors and left them faint at each adjournment.

For days preceding the opening session Coroner Traeger[Pg 252] his deputies and the six jurors had been engaged in a canvass of hospitals, undertaking establishments and morgues, viewing the dead. Nor was that ghastly work over when they entered upon the semi-judicial task of taking testimony. Ever and anon they halted the inquiry to proceed to the bedside of some victim that had died after lingering suffering. This formality was necessary before burial permits could issue. Each succeeding call brought to the jurors a shudder. Theirs was a gruesome task for the public service and they felt its burden keenly.

The trend of the statements taken were the same. Details formed the only variations. Some of the statements follow:



John C. Galvin, 1677 West Monroe street, Chicago, the first witness heard, said:

"On the day the fire occurred I stepped into the vestibule to buy tickets for the following evening. It must have been a little after half past three. As I stepped into the entrance I looked into the lobby and turned to the ticket office, and as I did so the center doors of the lobby foyer and the outside entrance doors were blown open as though by a gust of hot air. I looked into the foyer and I saw people running toward the entrance. I realized at once what the trouble was, and went to the lobby doors and tried to open the west door there, that being the nearest to me. It was locked on the inside and I couldn't do anything with it.

"Then I tried to pacify the people from rushing or crowding, tried to save the panic, but it was no use. I would judge there were probably a dozen, not more than a dozen, cleared the door before the crush came. I recollect the first person to go down seemed to be a rather stout woman, who seemed[Pg 253] to be free herself, somebody stepping on her skirt. She turned to gather up her skirts and she was borne down by the crowd, and then they piled on top of each other. I did what I could to release the jam, pulling the people from under the crowd and getting them out into the entrance, out into the street, but all the while the vestibule was filling up by those returning to help their friends, and people rushing into the street and helping to bring the crowd to. I tried to open the outside entrance door, the west door, which I found was bolted on the inside at that time. I tried to lift the bolt, but I couldn't do that.

"Then I kicked out two of the panels. I kicked the glass out of the panels, and I then returned to the west vestibule door and I kicked out the panels of these two doors, that is, the west door, and tried to take some of the people out through the openings. After we got out of the doorway I walked back into the entrance gallery and walked around, and there was a dense smoke coming from the theater.

"I was expecting a big crush in the vestibule, a much larger crush than I saw. I thought there would be a jam on that stair, but nobody came down the stairs to my recollection, not a soul. They never lived to reach it. All the time I was there I saw no one whose dress or demeanor would indicate they were policemen, firemen or attaches of the theater. I remained doing what I could to relieve the situation until driven out by the smoke. I then went across the street and watched the destruction of the theater."



James C. McGurn, 2 Rosemont street, Dorchester, Mass., known on the stage as James C. Marlowe:

"I was in the Garrick theater, a block distant, to see the[Pg 254] show. At the first alarm I hurried out and went down to the Iroquois theater entrance. I went inside and the firemen were in working at the time, getting lines of hose in there. Some of the firemen were already pouring streams through into the lobby. There was a tremendous draft there and the lobby was clear, but directly inside the door that had been opened there were dense volumes of smoke. The first thought that struck my mind, being conversant with theaters, was that there might be somebody in the house. Just then a man came in there, followed by another man, a citizen, and we were the only men in the lobby outside of the firemen. He asked for the gallery stairway and immediately after that I saw him going up the stairs to the right as you go in the lobby. He went up these stairs with his men and a fireman followed him.

"I was watching the stairs, and they were up there thirty seconds, about, when the fireman came down with the first body, a little girl, about eight years old. He shouted out to the firemen for God's sake to get up there, and all the firemen I saw in the lobby dropped everything and went up, and they weren't up there but a few seconds before they came tumbling down with bodies, and after I had remained there about three minutes more I saw dozens of bodies brought down. One fireman slipped with the body of an old lady about the fourth step and fell down on the marble floor and I helped put her into the fireman's arms. The smoke was so dense I could not see much and as I could do nothing to help any one I hurried out of the foyer."



Antonio Frosolono, 170 Seminary avenue, Chicago, musical director at the ill-fated theater:

"I was in the Iroquois theater playing at that performance[Pg 255] in the orchestra. I was not directing the performance, as the company has its own director. I was sitting sideways, facing the east door of the stage. The stage was to my left. I do not know how the fire started, only I heard a confusion.

"The 'Pale Moonlight' scene was on and sixteen people, the double octette, occupied the stage. Some of them did not sing, and some of them went out of their places. Eddie Foy came out and announced that if everybody would keep quiet everything would be all right. Then, when I turned around, the stage fireman had kicked a piece of blazing curtain down in the orchestra.

"Then the bassoon player made a terrible scramble to get out, and I think he succeeded in getting out. Then after that Mr. Dolere, the musical director for the company, went out like a shot out of a gun; he went over the stand and everything. He went under the stage. Then everybody else got out. I still sat there, because I did not see much danger to myself, as I thought, or anybody else. I saw the people when they went out, and I heard the cries, and that is what attracted my attention. I stayed there until everybody else had gone out of the orchestra. The time when I thought it was time to get out was when the bass fiddle and the 'cello got to burning.

"All were excited on the stage. Some tried to put the fire out and others ran. Some one was trying to lower the curtain, but it would not come down all the way. Of a sudden it bulged out over my head like a balloon. Then the flames began to rush out from under the curtain. I saw the people rushing out, some jumping over, hallooing and screaming; then I turned around at that instant to my right and saw that the violin and 'cello and bass fiddle had caught on fire at one of the music stands, and then I went out."

 [Pg 256]


Mrs. Josephine Petry, 6014 Morgan street:

"On Wednesday afternoon at 2:15 I went to the Iroquois theater. It was late; the performance had begun. My ticket entitled me to what I thought was the balcony, but it was at the top of the house, and when I went up there the theater was dark and the people were standing four deep behind my seat.

"It was the second act, the moonlight octette, if I am not mistaken, when I saw on the left hand side behind the proscenium arch a bright light. I kept my eyes on that, because to me it did not look right, and it got brighter all the time. Eddie Foy came right beside the proscenium arch, right where the fire was on the side, over him, and told the people they should keep their seats, there was no danger. Naturally a few got up, but they sat down again. Some people said: 'Keep your seats.' I got up and some one said beside me: 'Sit down, there is nothing the matter.' I sat down again, but the glare was getting much brighter and pieces of charred cloth were falling down, although the flames by then had not come forward. They were all behind, but you could see the light so brightly I picked up my wraps and went out.

"I went out by the same way I entered. At the lower floor about a hundred people were trying to get out. The doors were locked. When I left the charred remnants of the scenery were falling down in large chunks onto the stage, and the lights were so bright that they scared me, and I got up, but the flames had not reached the stage yet when I left, but when I got down to the exit and I turned my head there was a mass of flames behind; it was all flames, and yet I did not hear a sound."

 [Pg 257]


Ebson Ryburn, stock broker, 3449 Prairie avenue, Chicago:

"I was at the box office with the intention of purchasing tickets for the night; I went to the box office about 3:30 p. m., and when I went in there were three or four others ahead of me. Suddenly I heard some commotion on the inside and several persons rushed out, and there must have been as many as five or six, I guess, got out, and then I heard a woman cry 'Fire.' Up to that time I did not think it was anything serious. I thought probably it was a scare and I looked in through the door and I saw more coming—rushing—and I rushed over to hold the doors open, and did so for a length of time until quite a number got out, and I noticed several going to the door next to it; that is, the last door west; and then came over to this other door.

"They tried to push it open. I left where I was and went to that door and tried to force it open and could not. I saw between the two doors a bolt or a bar, and there was quite a number coming out the other door then and I saw there was no chance to come out, and I tried to open the other door opposite that leading into the street, and that door was in the same condition, locked or bolted; it was fastened; I could not get out of that door and I could not get in the other. Then there were quite a number coming out, and I noticed several men, and by that time I could see smoke, a little haze of smoke, and every one coming out seemed to be frightened, crazy-like, and so I got out myself into the street. The fire department had not yet arrived."



Mrs. James D. Pinedo, 478 North Hoyne avenue, Chicago:

"I reached the theater to attend the fatal matinee late, about[Pg 258] 2:25 o'clock. The performance was in progress and we could not secure seats, so we got standing room tickets and entered. When I reached the extreme right of the theater the people were only standing one deep. There was a space there where I could see the stage, especially the left part of the stage where the sparks started, and the curtain had just rung up for the second act, a few minutes after the chorus was singing, when I saw a man using his hands trying to put out the sparks. When I saw those few sparks I quietly turned around to see if there was any fire escape or exit on that floor in case there should be a fire, and I didn't move because I was afraid of precipitating a panic. I simply turned my head and I saw what I supposed was an exit. I couldn't tell.

"I saw drapery and naturally supposed, being a theater-goer, that it masked an exit. I turned back to the stage then, and in the meantime these sparks had changed into flames, and I put on my rubbers—I was very calm at the time—and I got ready to move out. Eddie Foy told us to be perfectly quiet and avoid a panic, and there were also some men and women in the back part of the audience who also told the people to sit down. I have never seen an audience who were saner than these women and children. They sat perfectly still I should say for at least two minutes, while those sparks changed into flames. They were perfectly calm. I think most of these women realized there were little children there. The audience was nearly packed full of children.

"Then I saw the big ball of flame come out from the stage and fall in the auditorium of the theater on the heads of those in front, and I thought, 'Now is the time to get out.' I walked quietly to what I thought was an exit, and there was a little man there before me, who had torn aside the drapery, and I saw an iron door or doors heavily bolted, and we couldn't get[Pg 259] them open. It was bolted and I heard this man ask the usher to please unlock the door, and he refused. The usher was standing there and we were frantically, of course, trying to get the door open, but it would not open, and I judge we were standing at least two minutes, probably a minute and a half—time that seemed long enough in a case like that.

"Finally the man induced this usher to try and open the door. At least they were trying to, the two of them, and I was right behind them—trying to open that door—when all of a sudden there was a rush of wind. I thought at the time it was an explosion, because I didn't know of any force powerful enough to open those iron doors, and those iron doors blew open, and blew us into the alley. Of course that is my last recollection. I was then safe."



Ella M. Churcher, 850 Washington boulevard, Chicago:

"I occupied the fourth row from the front in the top gallery, seats 42, 43 and 44, with my mother and nephew. I was sitting in the middle. A shower of sparks was the first suggestion of fire. Then the curtain was lowered and Eddie Foy stepped out. I couldn't hear his words, but his motions were to sit down and keep our seats, and we did so until I saw the red curtain that went down after the first act give away in the upper left hand corner and pieces fell, making a large opening. It was on fire.

"Then we got up and had to go about ten feet, that took us to the wall, and three steps to go up to the exit leading to the marble stairway. As we turned the last look I caught was a tongue of fire leaping to the gallery and a cloud of smoke with it, and we got the heat from it, scorching and blistering both of my[Pg 260] ears and both my nostrils and scorching my hair and chiffon boa on my neck. At that instant we stepped out on the marble stairway, right out of it, and we got down stairs safely, and then we passed out to the street."



Frank Houseman, 293 Warren avenue, Chicago:

"Dexter, the baseball player, and I dropped into the Iroquois that afternoon about 2:20 and found the house sold out with the exception of two boxes and standing room. We bought a couple of seats in an upper box and went in. The house was crowded and it was dark, for the performance was in progress. We found an usher and started up the stairway to the box. The stairway was pitch dark.

"'This is a dark stairway; this is funny they don't have a light or something here,' I said to my friend. I stumbled a couple of times going up the stairway. Finally we got to where we were seated. Well, during the intermission between the first and second acts we had a good view of the audience, being up high, and I remarked to my friend that there were a great many women and children present in event of any trouble.

"When the curtain rose for the second act, if I can remember, probably five or ten minutes after, I noticed a spark directly on the opposite side to the stage in behind. We were sitting up where we viewed the audience and it was very easy for us to distinguish the spark, and I saw a man—it looked as though he was on a pedestal of some kind; it must have been a bridge of some kind that he was standing on—working to put out the light, so I quietly said to my friend: 'Do you see those sparks over there?' He says: 'Yes; they will put that out all right.'

"Well, I instantly thought about the stairway that I had to[Pg 261] come up getting into this box, and somehow or other I could not get it out of my mind. I said: 'Well, now, I don't know; we better get down near the door—it looks pretty good—the outside.' So we finally started, and as we started out of the box I suggested that he tell the gentleman and lady that were in the box with us that they had better come on, which I understand he did. He came down the stairs.

"It was a blast of flame or fire, a sort of ball or something that appeared to me like it was a lot of scenery that was burning down, scenery or flimsy work. It burnt a great deal on the order of paper. All I thought of was the opening of that door, because the people at that time were crowding close to me and screaming and hallooing, and I don't just remember just how I got that door open, but anyway it opened and carried the crowd out. I tried to do what I could around there for the people that were being trampled on, trying to pull them out from the middle of the alley and start them on their way if they were not too badly hurt, until they began jumping off the fire escapes above, and I noticed and looked up and saw that the people were not moving.

"The flames by that time had come out of the top exits that were open, and the fire escape held all the people it could and the flames were surrounding them, and they were jumping, and those that were not pushed off jumped off. I was trying to get the people on the lower fire escape, which—I can guess at it—was probably ten or fifteen feet from the ground. We got a couple of them to jump down because it was but a little ways up; they began jumping right from overhead and of course I had to look out that no one fell on me, or would jump on me, and I could not do very much of anything, only to pull out the people being trampled upon, and[Pg 262] pull them to one side, until one man jumped on, I think, three bodies, and started to get up and go away, and was just about in a rising position when there was a lady fell on him, and he didn't move after that. It became so dangerous then that I had to get away.

"My intentions were to go around and out the same way I got in, or to get near the door, because I remarked to him when I got down stairs: 'We may have to help some of these little children here in case they don't put this out,' although I thought they would put it out. Well, there were three or four people standing along there, and when we reached the main floor just about that time the audience began to notice there was a fire.

"Previous to this time they had not seen it and they began to mumble and some of them to rise, and Mr. Foy came out and tried to quiet them by stating that it was merely a little curtain fire; that they would put it out, and to be as quiet as possible. It seemed to relieve them. A great many of them returned to their seats. I thought I could hear Mr. Foy speak to some one back in the scenery as though he was waiting for the drop curtain.

"Well, it began to look pretty bad about that time and I looked around and I saw the curtains, the first I had noticed of the exits there. I said to some one standing there, 'Where does this lead?' He says, 'Outside;' so I stayed there probably thirty seconds, when the bits of scenery and pieces of fire began to drop down all around the stage, and one or two of the girls that were on the stage at the time of the octette, fainted; well, I pushed this fellow aside, and for a moment—momentarily—looked at the lock, and it happened to be a lever that lifts up.

"I am familiar with it, as I have one in my home, and I didn't have much trouble with it, but I was kind of [Pg 263]disappointed when I opened it, because I thought it would lead outside—when I faced the iron doors. At that time there was a big blast came out from the stage."

Charles Dexter, professional baseball player:

"I met Mr. Houseman and he invited me to go to the theater with him, and we went together and we were a little bit late. We got seats in an upper box.

"The house was quite dark when we went in, and we were ushered into the right hand box, that is, to the right of the stage; I guess that is the north box, and we got to see about the last part of the first act, and just about two minutes after we came in a lady and gentleman came in and we gave them our seats; they sat directly in front of us; I took the back seat, and just as the moonlight scene came on, the octette, Mr. Houseman turned to me and said: 'Do you see that little blaze?' And I told him I did.

"He said: 'I think it is about time for us to get out of here.' I told him I thought everything would be all right; that he had better not start down stairs or say anything that would be liable to cause a panic, and he said he would go down quietly, and for me to tell the people ahead of me what to do. The stairway was so dark I tried to follow out.

"I knew he had started down the steps, and I had to wait and light a match to tell where I was going down the steps, from the box down to the first floor. I lost Mr. Houseman then; I looked for him but could not find him, and I walked around and stood very near the first box. By that time the blaze had gone up.

"Mr. Foy was on the stage telling the people to be quiet or pass out quietly. I couldn't tell exactly what he said, and I noticed the orchestra seemed inclined to leave, and I could hear him yelling to the leader to play, which he did.

[Pg 264]"They played for quite a little while; then the fire commenced dropping all around Mr. Foy, and I thought that I would get out, go out from the front door; I didn't know any other means of exit, and I started out that way. By that time the people had started out of their seats and I found that I could not get out that way very well. I thought that the best thing that I could do would be to come back and jump on the stage, hoping to get out the stage door. People were running around, and I didn't know what to do, and I ran into a crowd of little children.

"The people were running over one another. I saw some draperies hanging and I opened them. I didn't know where I was going, and I found two doors of glass or wood. I didn't stop to examine them but I opened them. I found myself up against some iron doors. I didn't know how to work them. The only thing I could see was a cross-bar, and I started to shove that up, and I couldn't shove very well, and I started to beat at it. By that time the people were pushed up against me, and I didn't know whether I would be able to get it open or not. I had all the poor little kids around me, and I beat the thing until finally it went up, and as it did of course the people behind me—we went out into the alley.

"I turned and looked back and saw a wave of fire sweeping over the whole inside of the theater."



"Dr. De Lester Sackett, Elgin, III.:

"I attended the fateful matinee performance, accompanied by my wife, my sister-in-law and my little girl. We occupied seats in the third row of the first balcony at the extreme north end of the theater, next to the alley. At the time the fire broke out we were sitting where we could look right over to[Pg 265] the extreme left of the stage, and what seemed to be a couple of limes, or an electric light; we could see sparks dropping from that sometimes. We could not see the light itself, but could see those sparks, evidently dropping from that kind of a light.

"That was my first impression upon seeing it. And instantly there was more or less excitement, and the party who played the part of "Bluebeard" came to the extreme front of the stage at our extreme left and tried to allay the excitement by making motions with his hands, keeping the orchestra playing and the girls dancing, at the same time trying to get the audience to keep quiet. He said that there was danger from excitement, but not much danger from the fire.

"There was much excitement in the immediate vicinity of my seats, with no gentlemen nearer than the three gentlemen sitting a little further to my right and back in the second section from us towards the rear were two young men; all others were women and children. There seemed to be perfect confusion and I rose to my feet and tried to quiet them, and counseled that they should not become excited; that there was more danger from a panic than there was from the fire. I never dreamed that the fire could reach us there, and we had to keep our positions in our seats, as I had counseled others to keep quiet, and it would not look very well for us to take the lead then and run, so we remained there until my wife said to me, 'Every one has left their seats, and we must get out of here.'

"I then turned and looked at the stage and saw how the fire had progressed and said to her: 'It is a race with death,' and I tried then to get my little girl, who was eleven years old, next to me. She was sitting next to the aisle. I reached beyond my wife and sister-in-law and I got my little girl and then I tried to crowd them into the aisle.

"The pressure was so great I could not get them into the[Pg 266] aisle. People crowded up the aisle so thick I could not get them in there, and I discovered the seats in our rear had been vacated. Everybody was getting to the aisle, and I told my wife our only show was over these seats, and I took my little girl and started and told them to follow me, which they did. At that time in the extreme left-hand corner back of us we could see light coming up—they had got an opening there in the rear of this balcony.

"We couldn't see any opening, but we could see the light from the opening, and then we went over the seats. I didn't look back after I started. My wife and sister-in-law followed us, and we went over the seats and out of that rear exit back of the seats to the extreme north into the alley, where we found a fire escape.

"The doors were open when we got there, but I cannot help but feel that if we had started sooner we would not have got to those doors. If we had waited longer we certainly would not have got through. My ears are still not healed from the burning they got. My nose was burned, and my sister-in-law's bandages have not been removed from her face yet, she was burned so bad, and it was all from hot air coming from that stage.

"On the first landing from the exit we went out of, evidently two ladies had turned and were coming up the fire escape, instead of going the other way, they were so confused. I told them to turn and go down. They did not until I reached them and I took hold of one lady and turned her around and started her down and pushed the shutter back against the wall—I remember that very distinctly—and then we went on down and when I got to the foot of the escape I turned my child over to my wife and went back for my sister-in-law and crowded my way up between the people by keeping to the [Pg 267]extreme outside railing, and got up probably to the first landing and found her coming down.

"It is my impression that the curtain that was lowered was burned. I know that when the party playing the part of "Bluebeard" was out there he kept those girls dancing until one of them fainted, and they lifted her up, and I thought it was the most heroic thing I ever saw, those girls remaining there with the fire dropping all about them and still dancing in an effort to quiet the audience. The draft was something fearful. It carried the fire with it. The flames came clear out over the parquet, and so much so that after I started up those steps we didn't dare to look back."



Albert A. Memhard, 750 Greenleaf avenue, Rogers Park, Chicago:

"I attended the matinee performance at the Iroquois, December 30, 1903. I was sitting in section A, the tenth seat in the first row in the first balcony or dress circle on the north side of the house, and on the right hand with reference to the stage. I was between two aisles just about the middle of the section. I was there before the orchestra started to play and saw the curtain go up before the first act and the same curtain come down and then be raised before the second act. I was in company with a theater party made up of Mr. Gurnsey, who is employed at the same store as myself, and our families. Soon after the second act started we saw, almost all of us at about the same time, sparks of fire coming from the left hand corner of the stage, perhaps eight feet from the top, but we sat still until it began to come out in flames, the flames dropping on the stage. Then we started out.

"I could not open the first exit door I reached. I then went[Pg 268] to the second exit and after some trouble I got it open by lifting up a brass lever. Then the inside doors opened, which were wood and glass. I had the iron doors to open next. I opened them by lifting a long bar. I went out on the fire escape with my friends, who were with me with the exception of my son, who had gone ahead, following the crowd. When I saw he was not with us I went back and ran almost to the top of the stairs. I brought him back. We went down the fire escape and out the alley to Dearborn street.

"The fire exits were all covered by heavy draperies that might readily be mistaken for simple decorations and were not marked or labeled in any way. Neither was there any one on hand to direct the crowd how to get out. The only light was the illumination afforded by the fire."



Robert E. Murray, 676 Jackson boulevard, Chicago, engineer at the Iroquois theater:

"I was down stairs underneath the stage when I heard some confusion about 3:30 o'clock. I rushed upstairs onto the stage and the first person I saw was the house fireman. He had some kilfyre and was trying to sprinkle it on the fire. I saw the curtain down about ten feet from the stage and I tried to jump up and grab it to pull it down, but it was out of my reach. By that time there was fire coming down so I had to get away from there. I went to the elevator and saw that the boy was making trips and bringing people down as fast as he could. When I saw he was doing his duty I went downstairs and told my fireman to shut off steam in the house and pull the fires, so as to prevent the possibility of an explosion.

 [Pg 269]


"Then some of the musicians and chorus girls came rushing through and they wanted to know which way out. There was a door in the smoking room in the basement and I opened it for them. Some went out that way. The smoke was so thick that some of them ran back. I took them to the coal hole and shoved them out of the coal hole. The smoke was getting so thick in there we could hardly stand it, so I told the fireman to take our clothes and go to the coal hole and get out. I stayed there and shut the steam off in the boilers, and was trying to get the fire out to save any boiler explosion if the fire should get too hot.

"After I thought everybody was out of there I made a trip around the dressing rooms in the basement and hallooed, 'Everybody out down here.' Then I met a girl by the name of Nellie Reed. She was up against the wall scratching it and screaming. I grabbed her and went out with her to the street. I went back to the boiler. My toolbox was there, and I grabbed the toolbox and jerked it back on the coal pile and then I crawled out of the coal hole myself into the fresh air."



Ruth Michel, school girl, 698 North Robey street, Chicago:

"I was sitting in the top balcony in the second row near the north or alley wall when the fire broke out. There were four in our party, all girls, and we reached our seats about five minutes before the performance began. The curtain went up for the second act and there was, I think, about twelve actresses on the stage. There was a green light thrown over the stage, to represent the moonlight, a greenish blue. I saw a man at the side of the stage making motions with his hands; I didn't know whether he was coming in at the wrong time or not, and then I[Pg 270] saw a spark come from above the stage. Then a spark fell down, and one of the women in our party said, 'We will get out of here,' and a man rose and said he would knock our heads off if we got out, so we sat there. Then they tried to drop a curtain and it didn't come down very far.

"Then they dropped another curtain. It came down beyond the one that got stuck, came down all the way, I think. That one caught fire right away, even before it reached the stage. Then an awful draft came and it blew the flames right out over the audience. We got out of our seats, got out of an exit all right and went out on the fire escape. I got down two or three steps and we were driven back by the flames below us. The heat came up just like a furnace and I went up two or three steps and then I got under the railing and dropped to the alley. I lit on my toes and a man caught me at the same time, so I was not hurt. The distance was the same as from the fourth story window of the building across the alley. Men in the alley called to me not to jump, but I knew I had to jump or else burn up, because the flames were coming up so right behind me."

"I am only surprised that you escaped alive to tell of it," softly commented the coroner.



[Pg 271]



Examination of Robert E. Murray, engineer of the theater, and through that fact, the man in charge of its machinery and mechanical equipment, revealed in a startling way the absolute unpreparation for fire or emergency that characterized the palatial opera house. Coroner, jury and spectators alike were stirred by the confession of absolute disregard for life evinced by the management and the certainty that no thought had been given to the possibility of a fire.

The entire fire equipment of the Iroquois as described by Murray consisted of two kilfyre tubes on the stage and one below the stage; a two inch stand pipe on the stage, two under the stage, and one near the coatroom in the front of the house. Only one of these, that in the front of the house, was equipped with hose. The kilfyre tubes were two inches in diameter and eighteen inches long. Incidentally Murray said that the ferrule along the bottom of the "asbestos" curtain was of wood, and not iron.

Questions and answers touching on these conditions, as given under oath, follow:

Q. Do you know whether the employees of the theater were at any time instructed by anybody to use these kilfyres or hose in case of fire?

A. No, sir.

Q. Was there anything on the reel of hose in the coatroom to indicate what it was there for?

[Pg 272]A. No, there was no sign on it.

Q. Was there anything there to tell you or anybody else how to use the hose in case of fire?

A. No, sir. The hose was on the reel and all you would have to do——

Q. Never mind what you would have to do. Was there anything there for anybody to know what to do?

A. No, sir.

The witness testified that when he reached the stage after attending to his engines, the "asbestos" curtain was caught part way down.

Q. No signs saying "Exits" or "This way out" or any-thing?

A. No, sir.

Q. Any fire alarm boxes that you know of in case of fire?

A. No, sir.

Q. No bells to ring in case of fire?

A. No.

Q. No appliance to call the fire department in case of fire?

A. No, not that I know of.

Q. What would you have to do in case of a fire, go out in the street for a fire alarm or fire box?

A. If I could not put it out I would run to the box or to the telephone.

Q. Do you know where the wires were that worked the ventilators, where they were located?

A. On the north side of the stage, on the proscenium wall.

Q. Who had charge of working them?

A. The people on the stage.

Q. What do you know about the skylights, how were they opened?

A. I never noticed.

 [Pg 273]

One of the Theater Managers Arrested for Manslaughter.

 [Pg 274]

Attorney for the Fire Department.

 [Pg 275]

EDDIE FOY, Leading Actor,
who told the audience to go out slowly.

 [Pg 276]

The star shows where the fire started.

 [Pg 277]


 [Pg 278]


 [Pg 279]


 [Pg 280]


 [Pg 281]


 [Pg 282]


 [Pg 283]


 [Pg 284]


Miss Schaffner, 25 years of age, had been a teacher for a number of years, and at the time she met her death was connected with the Forrestville school. She attended the matinee with two friends, one of whom was among the victims.



The ten-year-old boy who lost his life at the fire while in company with his cousins, Miss Tessie Bissinger and Walter Bissinger. Miss Bissinger only escaped. Jack's mother died six months before.

 [Pg 285]


Mrs. Bergch attended the theater with her son, who was also killed. She was terribly burned, the body being identified by her rings. She left a husband and a baby two years old.



The boy was burned beyond recognition, the body being identified by a favorite jackknife, which was found by the father in his trousers pocket.

 [Pg 286]


Mr. Hull lost his wife and three children in the fire, and took the first steps toward the arrest of the proprietors of the Iroquois Theater and the formation of the Iroquois Memorial Association.



Mr. Knight is the legal representative of Arthur E. Hull in the affairs of the Iroquois Memorial Association, organized by Mr. Hull to safeguard the interests of the fire victims and to concentrate public opinion on the question of safe theaters.

 [Pg 287]


Two nephews and adopted children of Arthur E. Hull 8 and 6 years of age who with his daughter Helen and wife were burned to death. Mr. Hull headed the movement for safe theaters.



The daughter of Arthur E. Hull made one of a little theater party organized by his wife for the amusement of the three children. All the party perished.

 [Pg 288]

One of the Theater Managers Arrested for Manslaughter.

 [Pg 289]


Equally damaging testimony was given by Fred H. Rea, 3231 South Park avenue, a student at the Northwestern University Dental School. After telling of the scenes when "death alley" was bridged by planks and ladders thrust from the school windows he told of the death jam on the fire escapes.

Rea's story was one of the most graphic told which narrated the horrors of Death's Alley, and the narrow escape of those who were fortunate enough to be rushed over the planks thrown to them from the University building. It was not only a story, but an additional evidence of the total lack of preparation for the meeting of just such an emergency.

"At the time the fire broke out I was in the Northwestern University building on the third floor in the law school," he said. "I heard something that sounded like an explosion and all the students present immediately ran to the lecture room. There we met some painters who were repairing the ceiling in the corridor. They joined us, bringing with them three planks and ladders. These planks we placed from the back window of the lecture room across to the upper landing of the gallery. One ladder was placed across from the fire escape of the lecture room to the second landing. Across the ladder, I think, only one person came, as the flames from the exit were so hot that nobody could reach it.

"Fourteen or fifteen persons came across the plank, and all but three or four were badly burned. I saw at least three persons try to pass down the fire escape from the top landing, but they were unable to do so, because at the second landing from the top the doors were not swung clear back against the wall. The doors were at right angles to the wall, and through the exit smoke was pouring and part of the time flames. Several[Pg 290] people on the upper landing deliberately climbed over the railing and dropped to the alley below.

"I saw one woman drop and strike a ladder which was placed to the fire escape and bound off into the alley. A man climbed out over and was clinging by his hands, when one of the firemen came up from below and held him until a ladder could be run up. A number of people who fell in the jam on the exit burned right there before our eyes. We could see their clothes on fire. That was on the landing of the fire escape, partly in and partly out of the exit."



The Rev. Albertus Perry, 5940 Princeton avenue, Chicago, was passing the theater when the panic started. He ran into the vestibule and thence into the foyer, where he saw men breaking open the doors. He remained but a short time, and left, overcome by the terrible sight.

"The great marble hall was filled with madmen and hysterical women fleeing for life," he declared. "The doors, of which there appeared to be several sets, were locked against them with the exception of the center door of each set. Men were beating against the steel and glass barriers and women crowded with the desperation of death stamped upon their faces. Smoke was puffing out, filling the beautiful foyer and telling in awful eloquence of the triumph of death further in. I could do nothing to relieve the situation for there was nothing within the power of mortal man to do to stop the horror. So I left, overcome by the terrible sight that had met my eyes."



Charles Sweeney, 186 North Morgan street, Chicago, "fly man" on first flying gallery, nearest point where the fire started:

"In the second act, in the 'Pale Moonlight' scene, I was[Pg 291] sitting on a bench, and there were two or three more of the boys. About ten feet from the front of the fly gallery I saw a bright light. The other boys saw it, I guess, at the same time and we ran over there. I saw a small blaze on one of the borders. I don't know exactly which one. I hallooed across the stage to Joe Dougherty. He was the man taking Seymour's place. Seymour was sick. I said, 'Down with the asbestos curtain.' Smithey and I got tarpaulins and we slapped the flame with them. We did the best we could and then it got out of our reach. It went right along the border toward the center. Then it burned and one end of it fell down, bent like. Then it blazed all over and I saw there was no possibility of doing anything. I ran upstairs to the sixth floor and hallooed to the girls. I led them down in front of me, and I kept telling them to be careful and not to have a stampede or anything of that kind, and then I came down and went outside the building."



Alice Kilroy, 67 Oregon avenue, Chicago, a Chicago school teacher:

"During the performance I stood in the upper balcony, right near the alley; a few feet from the top exit south, about the third or fourth seat from the end. I stood right back of that. When the fire first began we thought it was part of the performance and my sister said to me, very calmly, 'Even if there is no fire, let us go out in the exit.' We knew this was an exit because we had seen it opened. An usher had been out and we stepped out there.

"As soon as we stepped out the heat was intense and we saw we could not go down the steps, so we stood there on the platform of the fire escape. I tried to get in the theater again, but the people were rushing out and I could not go against the[Pg 292] mob. I saw that the mob was trying to get out of the exit, and so I had to stand right where I was. We stood there it seemed to me, about six minutes, and we knew we were burning, and there wasn't anything to do but to stay there. We couldn't go any other place. After a few minutes some water fell on us. I did not see very much because I held a collarette up to my face to protect it from the hot air, which was unutterably awful. When the water came that kind of refreshed us and dampened the fire so we could stand up for a few minutes longer, and then a plank was put from the opposite building and we went over the plank and escaped to the Northwestern University building. The crowd behind us that had been fighting and pushing so hard seemed to die away and collapse all in an instant. The scrambling and pushing ceased. This crowd was at the entrance to the door. Something happened to them and they did not have any life, because they did not push when I turned back. When I first started to go in—when I turned back—there was lots of life, then I turned and faced them, the mob going out, because it was so hot out there I thought I could go back in the theater. Part of them fell on the floor and part outside on the fire escape platform. I think I was the last to escape alive over the planks across the alley. I was terribly burned; you can see by the bandages that I don't dare to take off yet."



Walter Flentye, Glen View:

"I occupied seat 7 in section R, handy to the entrance. I think it was about half-past 3, while that octet was singing there in the pale moonlight, that I just noticed a kind of a hesitation on the part of the octet, and pretty soon I saw a few sparks begin to come down about the size of those from a [Pg 293]roman candle. They were coming down from the upper left hand corner of the stage, and pretty soon the fire began to grow more and more, and I should say that pieces of burning rags dropped down of different sizes. About that time Eddie Foy came out and tried to calm the audience. I don't just exactly remember what he said, and I kept my seat. I had no idea that there was to be anything of that kind; that the fire was to be as large as it was, and the audience down below were going out. I had a friend beside me that left. I don't remember just what I said to him. He said he was going and he went out and a little later I got up, and, without any trouble, went through the door, and I went immediately to the check room. I had checked a valise and umbrella, and at that time I had no idea of any such a fire as that. So I thought I had plenty of time and I took my valise and umbrella and set them on a settee to the left of the foyer and put on my overcoat and hat.

"When I first came out I noticed that there were a lot of women that were almost frenzied by the excitement and they were around toward the entrance, and I noticed one man carrying a woman. That was while I was going to the checkroom, and after I had put on my coat I looked and there were two women and a man that went to the door to look in, and I kind of thought the woman might rush in, so I said, 'Don't go back, it is too late now.' And they all turned around and I looked once more and by that time it looked as though there was a mass of fire belched out, and I remember seeing it catch the front seats, and after I went out and walked across the street and I talked to a policeman who stood in front of Vaughn's store and by that time about eight or ten policemen came along from down Randolph street, and shortly after the firemen came. Then for the first time I realized what a terrible[Pg 294] thing I had escaped and the true horror of the situation unfolded itself."



William Wertz, 12024 Union avenue, West Pullman, Ill.:

"I was operating a light on the rear part of the stage on the afternoon of the fire. I noticed that the actors, eight boys, were looking up toward the right hand of their places, and as soon as they did that I stepped back one or two feet, still holding my lamp in sight so as to attend to it should it go down. I looked toward the place that the people had gazed and I noticed a small blaze there upon a little platform used for throwing a light on the front of the stage. As I looked there I saw the fireman of the house, who was back on the stage, running forward hallooing, 'Lower down the curtain!' and climb up to the little platform. He had either taken a tube of kilfyre in his hand or there was one up there, as I very distinctly saw him sprinkle it on the fire. Then the man took his hands and tried to tear down the blazing pieces of scenery.

"Then I saw one drop after another go into the flame. I saw a lot of people running up to that point of the fire, others from the balcony dressing rooms come running down, and on the side of me, or close to the door were several girls becoming hysterical, excited. That was at the stage door opening onto a little bridge-like platform leading to Dearborn street. I went up to the girls and said, 'Come on, girls, get out of here as soon as possible.' I took one by the arm and put her out.

"When I came out there the girls started to run forward, and I went in again, because I was in my shirt sleeves and I wanted to take my coat and save what goods I had. As soon as I entered the stage again I heard a lot of noise and crying and calling and I went forward to that point and succeeded[Pg 295] in pulling some more of the young ladies out. Then when I got on the little bridge leading from the stage to Dearborn street, I noticed that the whole scenery was in a blaze, that it was falling down and I tried to get in again, but through the enormous heat, and I believe that the city fire people just had arrived there with the hose and pulled me back so I couldn't get in there any more.

"I know there was an asbestos curtain in the theater and that it was used. During the time I have been connected with different theaters through the country I have always looked up to the curtains, and often put my hands on them. What was called by employees in the house the asbestos curtain, and also in several theaters in Chicago, has written on it, 'asbestos curtain.' When I entered this house on several occasions before the show I saw this particular curtain hanging there, a dirty white color, and on one or two occasions, in passing by, I pushed my hand against it and it felt to me exactly like other curtains hanging in Chicago, and on which 'asbestos' is written. One, for instance, in the Grand opera house, has written on it 'asbestos,' and is the same color in the back and has the same feeling when you put your hands on it as this one in the Iroquois theater.

"It was that curtain Sallers, the house fireman, was shouting for when I heard him. The fireman said, 'Down with that curtain,' and the other voice, which I thought was Mr. Carleton's, the stage manager, said, 'For God's sake lower that curtain.' Several other voices hallooed out, 'What is the matter with the curtain? Down with the curtain.' But it didn't fall and the holocaust followed."

 [Pg 296]


The unlawful and deadly crowded condition of the theater at the time of the fire was emphasized by the testimony of Rupert D. Laughlin, 1505 Wrightwood avenue, who, although he reached the theater before the curtain went up, found the spaces behind the seats crowded and people sitting on the steps in the aisles. Laughlin and Miss Lucy Lucas, his niece, had seats in the second balcony, or gallery.

"We went into the theater about ten minutes before the orchestra come out and had some difficulty in getting into our seats," he said, "on account of the people standing in the aisles and at the back. The people were sitting on the steps.

"The steps were very steep and people occupied them quite a way down. They had to rise and stand aside to let us make our way to our seats. There was a man and a woman sitting on the step right beside our seats. At the end of the first act I went out to the foyer. I had considerable difficulty getting out. There was a great deal larger crowd in the aisles and sitting on the steps than there was when we came down first. They were strung along the aisle and there were a great many women on the steps. I went out and walked around for a while and then came back and took my seat. I had to make the women get up as I was coming down the aisle again.

"When the fire started I went right to the first exit and out on the fire escape platform. When I got to the door there were flames and a great deal of smoke coming out from a window that was near there, and we couldn't go out at that time, so we waited for a few seconds, and the fire died down. Then we went down the fire escape to the alley.

"Many other people escaped by the same means before us—at least I should judge there was, because we saw a number of hats and furs and things of that sort on the steps. There wasn't[Pg 297] anybody coming down in back or in front of us while we were going down."



That the explosion of a gas tank came near destroying the Iroquois theater a few hours previous to the performance on the opening night, about a month before, was testified to by John Bickles, 6711 Rhodes avenue. According to Bickles, a gas tank under the stage exploded with such force that flames shot over an eight-foot partition. It was only after a hard fight on the part of employes of the theater and the fact that there was little inflammable material near the fire that the flames were subdued. Bickles stated that he did not know what sort of a gas tank exploded, as he did not inquire of the other employees. At the time he was standing in a room opposite the one in which the gas tank exploded.

"The flames leaped over an eight-foot partition, but did not burn me," said Bickles. "I went on to the stage soon after the explosion and the next day was discharged by the George A. Fuller company, builders of the theater, by whom I was employed as a carpenter. There was no work was the reason. There were a number of actresses and sewing women in the theater at the time of the explosion. The first performance was to be given that evening and everybody was making ready. I was the person who fixed the wall plates for the skylights, but I never saw them after they were finished."

From Bickles' testimony it seemed the George A. Fuller company had kept a number of its men in the theater after it was occupied by the Iroquois Theater company. They were completing unfinished details. The fact of the fire, he said, was hushed up.

 [Pg 298]


Gilbert McLean, a scene shifter, at work on the stage when the fire started, told of the failure of the fire extinguisher to put out the blaze, and declared that the failure of the fire curtain to drop was due to a misunderstanding among the men in the flies who were supposed to operate it. Then men appeared not to know what was wanted and lost priceless time hesitating. McLean's story would indicate that the stage employees ran away long before the audience knew that there was danger. Speaking of the efforts of the stage fireman to put out the blaze soon after it started in the grand drapery, McLean said:

"If the extinguisher had been effective he could not have reached the fire at that time, though the part he did reach did not seem to be affected at all. Then there was a commotion, everybody was running back and forth, and I yelled as loud as I could to send the curtain. I saw the men did not understand the signal; they were signaling from the first entrance then by a bell. I could hear the bell ringing and I could see the fly men, as they called them, and saw they didn't understand. I yelled as loud as I could and they did not seem to understand me or to know why the curtain should be sent at that time, as it was not the regular time for the curtain.

"Well, the fire kept making headway towards the back of the stage. It spread rapidly right straight back. There seemed to have been a draft from the front of the theater. The show people started to go out fast, coming from the basement and from the stage and leaving the stage by the regular stage entrance. Somebody hallooed, 'She is gone. Everybody run for your lives.' I went towards the rear door then and made my way out as best I could.

"There had never been any fire drill on the stage so far as I know and I never heard any fire instructions. Many were[Pg 299] out before I left and I guess all the stage people got out some way or another. It was every man for himself then."



Willard Sayles, 382 North avenue, Chicago: "I was formerly an usher at the Iroquois theater. During my period of employment the fire escape exits at the alley side of the house were always kept locked. There was one exception. The opening night Mr. Dusenberry, the head usher, had me open the inner set, the wooden doors that concealed the big outside iron ones. The people on the aisle were complaining that it was too warm. He gave orders to the director and myself to open the wooden inner doors to the auditorium. Later on Mr. Davis came up and told me to close them and not to open them unless I got instructions from him. That was the only time I got instructions from either one of them. We had not got instructions as to what doors we were to attend to in case of fire. The only time we got instructions was the Sunday before the house opened; Mr. Dusenberry called us all down there and told us to get familiar with the house. There was no fire drill or anything of that kind."



[Pg 300]



That two iron gates, securely padlocked, across stairways in the Randolph street entrance, held scores of women and children as prisoners of death at the Iroquois theater fire horror, was the startling evidence secured on Saturday, Jan. 9, ten days after the holocaust by Fire Department Attorney Monroe Fulkerson.

In a statement under oath George M. Dusenberry, superintendent of the auditorium of the playhouse, admitted that these gates had remained locked against the frantic crowds through all the terrible rush to escape. Against these, bodies were piled high in death of those who might have gained the open air had they not been penned in by the immovable bars.

Not until the sworn statement had been secured from Dusenberry were the investigators brought to a full realization of the horrors of the imprisoned victims.

These deadly iron gates, four to five feet high, according to Dusenberry's testimony, were quietly removed after the fire. One of the gates was at the landing of the dress circle. The other was on the stairway which led from the dress circle entrance to the landing above. At the Randolph street entrance were two grand staircases. Passage down one of these staircases was shut off completely by the iron gates.

According to Dusenberry, the gates were locked with a padlock, requiring a key to open them. It was the custom to open these gates after the intermission at the close of the second act,[Pg 301] so as to give the people an unobstructed passageway for leaving the house at the close of the play.

The exact condition made by the locked gates and the extent to which they contributed to the immense loss of life may be realized by Dusenberry's sworn testimony in detail on this point.



It was as follows:

Q. Do you recall an inspection which I made of the stairway of the second floor of that theater the next day after the fire? A. Yes, sir.

Q. And showed you two iron gates that folded up like an accordion? A. Yes, sir.

Q. Please state whether or not these two gates were locked at the time of the fire. A. Yes, sir.

Q. State where the lower one was located. A. At the landing of the dress circle.

Q. And do I understand that one side of it was solidly hinged with an iron rod and that the other side of the gate was fastened by a chain locked by a padlock? A. A small lock.

Q. The lock required a key to open it? A. Yes, sir; a small key.

Q. How high was this gate? A. I should think four or five feet.

Q. And was I correct in saying it folded up like an accordion when not in use? A. Yes, sir.

Q. Where was the other one located? A. On the stairway which led from the dress circle entrance up to the landing above.

Q. And was it secured and locked in the same manner as the other gate? A. Yes, sir.

 [Pg 302]


Q. Consider the first one; what was its function? A. In order that we could have system in handling the house.

Q. Yes; but what was it used for? A. When people were going upstairs that gate simply turned them for the balcony stairway.

Q. You are talking about the lower gate? A. Yes, sir.

Q. So, by reason of this gate, when the people started out they could have only one direction in which to leave, instead of two, as would be the case if no gate were there? A. Yes, sir.

Q. Let us consider the other gate; what was it for? A. To keep the people from going down into the dress circle, and to keep them on the regular stairway for the balcony.

Q. I believe you told me that you locked these gates yourself just before this matinee began? A. Yes, sir.

Q. That is correct, is it? A. Yes, sir.

Q. Did you ever say anything to Mr. Noonan or Mr. Powers or Mr. Davis as to the importance of having men stationed there, instead of a gate, so that in case of fire this would not be an obstruction? A. No, sir; they were always unlocked after the second intermission.

Q. In what act was that? A. At the close of the second act they would be always unlocked. They were exits.

Q. At the time this fire began and people started out, were they still locked or unlocked? A. They were locked.



Dusenberry admitted that at the time of the fire's outbreak he was descending from the top balcony after having made an inspection of the entire house. This was his custom, to see that the ushers were in their places. He said that 100 persons[Pg 303] were standing in the passageway back of the last row of seats on the first floor and about twenty-five persons occupied standing room in the rear of the first balcony, and seventy-five in the rear of the top balcony.

He admitted that he had never received any instructions from any of the owners or managers of the theater as to what to do in case of fire. He said that he had been told in a general way by Will J. Davis that he was to instruct the boys in their duties as ushers and make them familiar with the house.

There had never been any fire drills, he said. He did not know, he said, from what point or in what manner the large cylindrical ventilator over the auditorium was worked. It was because this ventilator was open and those above the stage closed that the fire was drawn into the front of the house. He said the nine exits on the north side, three of which were on each floor, were all bolted at the time of the fire; also that the nine pairs of iron shutters outside the inner doors were bolted at the time, and that he had never received orders from any one to have these unbolted while the audience was in the house.



"I found these gates in a battered condition by personal inspection, the next morning after the fire," Fire Department Attorney Fulkerson added. "I hunted up Mr. Dusenberry and took him to the place and examined him on the spot as to each minute detail. The examination was with reference to their being locked, and as to why a man had not been stationed there, in place of a gate, to direct the people.

"I called two policemen as witnesses. The reason I have kept this matter secret until now was the fact that this is the first day I have had an opportunity of examining Mr. [Pg 304]Dusenberry under oath and taking his statements in shorthand to be used in any proceeding that may follow.

"The importance of his testimony is that he is the man the theater management had put in direct control of the audience and auditorium, and the facts which he has testified to speak for themselves. Let the public draw its own conclusions.

"I wish to say, however, with reference to those iron gates that they are no part of the building or the stairway as turned over by the builders and were not a part of the plans of the same, but a feature installed by the management after the stairways were finished and accepted, and no permit was obtained from the city building department to place the gates there. They proved to be the gates of death. Until this time they have been overlooked in the general investigation and silence has been maintained by the fire department for the purpose of clinching the evidence concerning them. This was rendered necessary through the fact that those best qualified to tell of their danger gave up their lives in acquiring that knowledge. They were gathered from behind the deadly barriers and now lie in eternal silence beyond the reach of all earthly summonses and the jurisdiction of our tribunals."

Ernest Stern, 3423 South Park avenue, Chicago:

"There was nothing left in the playhouse but standing room when my sister and I arrived, so we bought tickets according that privilege and took up a position in the middle of the first balcony. We were standing there when we saw the first evidence of fire and at once ran out. We owe our lives to that fact.

"It was about the middle of the second act when I noticed the blaze on the upper left-hand corner of the stage. Those on the stage seemed to be in semi-panic. The people didn't know what to do. Then there seemed to be somebody giving [Pg 305]directions for them to put down the curtains after a burning piece of scenery or something fell on the stage. A man came out and gave instructions for them to pull down the curtain and after that we went out the door, downstairs and came to a door on the left hand side in the foyer, facing the street, and in the inner vestibule. There was a man there. He was not in uniform. He was trying to open the door, which was locked. There was a pair—two doors—and one of them was open and a great crowd was going out. This man was trying to unlock the other door and he could not do it. I broke the glass, and that wouldn't do either, so I kicked the whole door out and we escaped."



That the foyer doors, which the van of the fleeing audience found closed, were locked during the performance was the statement of Harry Weisselbach of Chicago. He was at the ticket office in the outer vestibule off Randolph street, some time before the fire and saw two men in an argument regarding the doors. They were coming out of the theater.

"That's a mean trick, to lock the doors so people can't get out," said one of the men. "They have locked the doors again," he continued, looking back at the door man. "I wonder if there is a policeman around here."

The man's companion replied that he wasn't going to bother about the matter and the two left the theater. Weisselbach went around to the Northwestern University school and was there only a short time when the fire in the theater started. His story of the fire from that viewpoint was similar to that told by Witness Fred H. Rea.



[Pg 306]



Heroes and heroines—every one of them—the members of the octette told the coroner how they sang and danced to reassure the vast audience of women and children while death lowered overhead and swept through the scene loft, a chariot of flame. Modestly they revealed the part they played in the catastrophe while billows of flame, death's red banners, menaced their lives.

Madeline Dupont, 145 Franklin avenue, New York:

"I first saw just a little bit of flame, which was on the right hand side of the first entrance on the west, the first drop of the curtain. It was just above the lamp that was reflecting on the moonlight girls. It was a calcium light. I went back and got in my place with the pale moonlight girls and the boys came out and sang their lines. Then we eight girls went on the stage—as we always did—went down to the front of the stage—and going down stage I saw the flame getting larger. Mr. Plunkett, the assistant stage manager, was in the entrance, ringing for the asbestos curtain to come down. He rang the bell until we reached the front of the stage, where we went on singing. We sang one verse of 'The Pale Moonlight' song, and then Mr. Foy came out and spoke to the audience. What he said I don't know, and then Miss Williams fainted. She was one of the 'pale moonlight' girls, and stood alongside of me. She was taken out, and then Miss Lawrence and myself were the last girls to leave the stage. I went downstairs to[Pg 307] notify the girls down in the basement in the dressing rooms. I called to them that there was a fire, and advised them to run for their lives. Nobody was coming up then. Then I went out of the regular stage door entrance."

Ethel Wynne, New York City:

"When I was about to make my exit I noticed a very small flame to the right of the stage at the first entrance. It was really above the short fellow—a little gentleman, rather—who stands on the bridge. This flame was above his head. When he noticed it he put both hands up to get the burning material—just grabbed up to get the material that was burning. But the flame was away beyond his reach.

"The calcium light is below that, and it appeared to me as though it was the side of the curtain where the curtains are drawn up, or something. The flames spread very rapidly. I remember seeing Mr. Plunkett very plainly in the first entrance and hearing bells ringing for the curtain to fall. I said to Miss Dupont and Miss Williams, 'The curtain will fall in the meantime, the bells have rung.' We went to the back to make our entrance and the bell still continued to ring. I remember very plainly that I heard some one yell, 'Drop the curtain.'

"I noticed clearly that the curtain was caught, and it must have been on our left. It came down on the right hand side. The flames were going up very rapidly. I very foolishly lost my reason and walked back to the back steps, where I had made my entrance. From there I unfortunately had to watch the awful sights that we know of. I don't know to this hour how I got out of the burning theater."

Gertrude Lawrence, 5 West 125th street, New York:

"I was the leader of the octet, and I was on the platform going to meet my partner when I first saw the flame. I went on working as usual, down to the front, and paid no more [Pg 308]attention to it because I thought it would soon be out. It was on the right hand side of the stage, above the stage. I noticed there was quite an excitement on the other side, but I went on working. I thought if there was an awful fire there would be a panic, and I thought by working I would quiet the people. Then I turned and saw the flames and went up the steps, there looking back and seeing the audience in the awful panic. Then I went out the usual stage door."

Daisy Beaute, 178 West 94th street, New York:

"I was standing in the third wing ready to go on, and I saw a flame on the left hand side, facing the audience, from the draperies above the first entrance on my right hand side. It was in the draperies clear at the top of the arch in the stage opening. We kept on dancing, but Miss Williams fainted. I ran for my life without waiting to see anything more."

Miss Edith Williams, the member of the octet who fainted on the stage, swooned again soon after she took the witness stand. Deputy Coroner Buckley had just administered the oath and asked the young woman to be seated, when she fell backwards. The fall was broken by a stenographer, and the woman saved from serious injury. She was assisted to the witness room and revived. Another witness was called.

Miss Anna Brand, another member of the octet, testified to the facts similar to those related by Miss Dupont and Miss Wynne, Miss Lawrence, Miss Beaute, Miss Richards and Miss Romaine, the remaining members testifying in a similar strain. None admitted knowing who opened the rear stage door leading to Dearborn street, the door through which came the cold blast that forced the fire into the auditorium.

"Jack" Strause, 31 West 11th street, New York:

"The octet had just made its entrance, walked four steps and danced eight, bringing the members to the center of the[Pg 309] stage, when I discovered the fire overhead at the side of the proscenium arch. My partner in the scene, a young woman, cried out that she was fainting. She braced up, however, did a few more steps and collapsed. As I stooped to pick her up I saw the curtain fall possibly six or seven feet. From that time on I observed nothing more of the progress of the fire, being engrossed in an effort to carry out the unconscious young woman. Upon reaching the big scene door at the north of the stage, a strong blast of air blew us both into the alley. The rush of air was occasioned by the falling of a partition behind me, I think. I carried the girl into a neighboring restaurant, where she revived."

Samuel Bell (Beverly Mars):

"We saw the fire start about the time we made our entrance, but continued with our 'turn,' reaching the center of the stage. The fire was spreading and large sparks and fragments of burning material were falling, but we kept on until Miss Williams fainted. I saw the people in front commence to get excited and I put up my hands and told the people to keep as quiet and move out as easily as they could and not to get excited. I looked up again and I saw the drop curtain coming down. I should call it the asbestos curtain. It came down, as near as I could judge, about six or eight feet. Then I turned to look for my partner and she had gone. I looked on the stage to see her and I could not find her. She had gone off the stage. I merely went off the stage, out of the same side I had entered—I could not say exactly which entrance—and then out of the stage door, which was wide open."

Victor Lozard, 235 Bower street, Jersey City:

"I was coming out with the boys, eight of us, at the right side. We came up and met our partners and we got down as far front as the footlights, when Miss Williams fainted, which[Pg 310] attracted my attention to some flames up at the first entrance on the right side. I then immediately turned around and helped pick Miss Williams up, and by that time my partner had left me, and I left the stage on the right side. I went up and was going to leave by the stage door, but people were going out there, and so I went over to the back drop, to the right of the stage, and there, about the middle of the stage, I was blown down or knocked down, I don't know what happened to me, and the next I knew of myself I was out in the alley. I don't know how I got there."

John J. Russell, Boston, Mass.:

"I had taken the first twelve steps of the dance when I first noticed the fire. It was in the first entrance, prompt side, about fifteen feet above the stage. The flame then was about five inches in length.

"I noticed that for about a second. I continued on with the rest of the business, and me and my partner, as I always had done in that number, went down to the footlights. When we got there we continued in the business for about three or four seconds after getting down. Then Miss Williams fainted. The flames were falling to the stage, large pieces of burning material, and seemed to create quite a little disturbance among the people in the audience. I spoke to a number and tried to quiet them.

"I told them to be seated, that everything would be all right, and to quiet down, and quite a number did. After Miss Williams fainted it attracted my attention, of course, to what was going on on the stage. I saw one of the moonlight boys pick Miss Williams up in his arms and go toward the stage entrance, other members of the octet following, except myself. I staid until they were out of sight. I left the stage by the second[Pg 311] entrance on the prompt side. I went down stairs by the stairway beside the stage elevator.

"I came back on the stage again, made one more trip down stairs, and then I came to the stage once more. I went partly up stage, toward the stage entrance, that was all in flames. I looked to the other side of the stage and that was all in flames. I went down to the footlights, crossing again across the stage, and jumped over the footlights into the auditorium and made my way out to the first exit on my left, looking into the auditorium from the stage, into the alley. The panic was on at that time and it was a dreadful sight."

The statements of the remaining members were almost identical with those quoted.



[Pg 312]



Ten days after the fire horror, while blood curdling disclosures were coming to light revealing the fate of the penned-in fire victims in a new and more ghastly aspect, and while school officials and pupils gathered to express grief for the 39 teachers and 102 pupils who were gathered in the grim harvest, an inspired movement sprang from the aftermath of woe. It was a cry for justice.

In an upper chamber in a towering sky-scraper in the heart of teeming, bustling Chicago, scores of sad visaged men and women assembled to lay aside their burden of woe and enter upon the prosecution of those whose avarice, neglect or incompetency had snuffed out all happiness and sunshine from their lives. A preliminary organization of relatives of victims of the Iroquois theater fire was effected in consequence on Saturday, January 9, for that purpose, at a meeting held in the offices of the Western Society of Engineers, in the Monadnock building.

The meeting was held in response to a call sent out by Arthur E. Hull, asking that concerted action be taken by the relatives and survivors to cause the speedy prosecution and punishment of any who were criminally responsible for the disaster and to learn those financially liable for claims. Mr. Hull lost his wife and three children in the catastrophe.

Long before 3 o'clock, the time set for the meeting, many fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters and near relatives of [Pg 313]victims began to gather. Nearly every seat was taken when the meeting was called to order. There were perhaps 125 people present, among whom over a hundred lost near and dear relatives in the fire.

Attorney W. J. Lacey announced the object of the gathering by reading the call and suggested the formation of a temporary organization. Mr. Hull was elected chairman and Edward T. Noble secretary.



Mr. Hull spoke briefly of his reason for calling the meeting.

"The last time I saw my wife and little ones," he said, "was on the morning of the fire. I did not know until late in the evening that they had perished in the flames. There are many others who have suffered as deeply as I have, on account of this horror. There are some families, perhaps, whose means of support have been wrested from them. There is suffering and sorrow throughout this great city. It is my desire that we work together in the effort to find out who the men are that are criminally and financially responsible for our terrible loss and bring them before the bar of justice.

"It was the duty of the contractors who built the Iroquois theater to see that the building was complete in every detail before turning it over to the management. This, in my opinion, establishes their responsibility. The architect may also be held responsible.

"As to the building inspector, I think he should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. It was his failure to hold the management to a strict adherence to the law that brought about the destruction of nearly 600 precious lives. We have recourse to the courts of justice. Let us stand together and see that punishment is meted out to the guilty."

 [Pg 314]


Chairman Hull then called for an expression from his attorney, Thomas D. Knight, who spoke as follows:

"Mr. Hull's object in calling this meeting is to place the responsibility where it belongs, not upon the scene shifter and the stage hand, but upon men high in authority—the management and owners of the theater. They are the men he regards as financially and criminally liable for the disaster that destroyed his family and families of many of those present here today. It was Mr. Hull who caused the arrest of Mr. Davis and Mr. Powers of the theater management, and Building Commissioner Williams. As Mr. Hull is so deeply affected by his loss he has requested me to state that it is his desire that a permanent organization be effected.

"I believe an executive committee should be appointed to ascertain just what is best to be done and do it. I would suggest also the appointment of subcommittees on civil authority, permanent organization and finance. This last committee would be an important adjunct of this organization. It should be the aim of the finance committee to learn how many families are destitute as a result of the loss of their means of support in the fire and see that they are provided for. There are plenty of men of wealth in the city today who would gladly contribute to such a worthy cause.



"As to the question of who are financially responsible the coroner's investigation has been thorough, careful and fair. The coroner's questioning has been competent and complete in every respect. It is probable that he will be able to determine just which men are to blame. Enough has been developed [Pg 315]already to prove that there was gross and culpable negligence on the part of the proprietors of that theater.

"As far as Klaw & Erlanger are concerned we have evidence connecting them already. The blaze that ignited the draperies and scenery was proved to have come from the 'spot' light, which was operated by an employee of the 'Mr. Bluebeard' company, which is owned by these men, who control the theatrical trust. If it can be shown that Mayor Harrison and other city officials by their negligence contributed to the loss, then they can also be held responsible. There is no doubt but that those who are liable can be attacked in the civil courts."



A general discussion followed, during which Miss Elizabeth Haley, residing at 419 Sixtieth place, arose and made some revelations in regard to the lack of fire protection in various public schools. She said:

"I presume the gentleman who has just spoken is an attorney and I would like to ask him if the men who allowed such criminal conditions to exist—the mayor, aldermen and city trustees—if they could not be held liable, both civilly and criminally? I am a school teacher, and I would like to know if men who time after time have completely ignored reports about the absolute absence of fire protection in school buildings are not liable?

"To my personal knowledge reports have been made month after month to them, and nothing was ever heard of them. I know of schools where there is no fire hose, no fire extinguishers, no fire apparatus of any kind, no fire alarms, no telephones, no fire escapes—not a thing that would enable the hundreds of children to save their lives in the event of a fire. And these buildings are locked at 9 o'clock, with only one exit left open. Are not the mayor, the aldermen, and the trustees directly [Pg 316]responsible for this state of things, and are they not the men who should be prosecuted along with the proprietors of that theater?

"On November 2 last, the newspapers reported that a complaint had been made before the city council that the theaters were violating the laws. That report went to a subcommittee and has never been heard of since; and a day or two later Mayor Harrison came out with a statement in which he defied criticism and declared that there was no truth in the complaints. The whole thing strikes me as a splendid lesson in civics—that we cannot shirk our duty, even as high officials."

The following committee, the majority residents of Chicago, was named to act, pending further action: J. L. McKenna, 758 South Kedzie avenue; Henry M. Shabad, 4041 Indiana avenue; J. J. Reynolds, 421 East Forty-fifth street; E. S. Frazier, Aurora, Ill.; Morris Schaffner, 578 East Forty-fifth street.

All of these men lost members of their families in the fire, Mr. McKenna losing his whole family.



[Pg 317]



More than a quarter of a century ago the prophecy was made by the Chicago Times that a terrible calamity was in store for the public on account of the lax provision made for escape from burning theaters. The prophecy was put forth in the guise of a pretended report of such a horror in the issue of that publication for February 13, 1875, and was as follows:

"Scores of houses are saddened this beautiful winter morning by the fate which overtook so many unsuspecting people in Chicago last night. The hearts of thousands will be stirred to their depths with sympathy for the unfortunates. It was a catastrophe awful in its results, yet grand in its horror. Nothing has equaled it for years; it is to be hoped that its counterpart will never be known.

"There are smoking ruins down in the heart of the city—ruins of one of the finest theaters in Chicago, which fell a prey to the devouring element last night. There are mourning households and rows of dead bodies at the morgue. There will be anxious inquiries on the lips of many persons with whom one will meet manifesting an eagerness to know whether friends were swallowed up in the flames or made good their escape.

"While it cannot be said that the catastrophe was entirely unexpected, yet it came so suddenly and so little had been done to obviate it, that its results are fearful to contemplate. For months the frequenters of the various places of amusement in Chicago had often questioned themselves whether[Pg 318] there would not come the day when in some of these buildings grisly death would stalk forth, like a thief in the night, and lay his cold hands upon the unsuspecting throng; at last the terrible moment and the horrible reality dawned.

"With all her experience in conflagrations and attendant horrors, Chicago has nothing to compare with this catastrophe. Even the fire of 1871, which swept over a vast extent of country and reduced proud and formidable looking buildings and scattered their strength to the winds, lacked the comparative loss of life which this one disaster has entailed. Property may be dissipated, but it can be recovered once more.

"Death robs us forever of our dear ones, and leaves a void which time can never fully fill.



"As we tread today upon the very heels of this latest sad event and take a comprehensive view of its details and results, no one, not even though he have no personal interest in the loss entailed, can help joining in the expression of mourning which will go up, and at the same time give vent to the already too long-suppressed feelings of indignation, which have from time to time arisen when thinking of the flimsy manner in which theaters are built, their lack of protection against fire and the inadequate means afforded inmates to escape therefrom in the event of an undue excitement that should spread a panic, ere the breaking out of a fire.

"The sympathy for the dead will be equally balanced by vigorous denunciation of the criminality of everybody who, in an official or proprietary capacity, is interested therein.



"In the history of the country there are few events that can match this one. The burning of the Richmond theater, the[Pg 319] falling of the Pemberton mill, the burning of the cotton mill at Fall River, the breaking loose of the Haydenville mill pond, with now and then of late years the engulfing of some steamer on inland lakes or the ocean, have for the time cast a great pall of mourning over the land, but they only stand in the same category with this last disaster, and can hardly rival it in swiftness of culmination or suddenness of origin.

"For the time being this will furnish the chief topic for conversation, and if the Times mistakes not, it will as well arouse the public to a complete realization of the unsafeness of theaters in general, and have the beneficial effect even in its tragic nature of moving the people to insist upon the adoption of a certain amount of safeguards against a like event in the future. The time to move in this matter is at this critical juncture, even while the charred remains of the


are lying stark upon their biers and friends are stabbed with the grief of the untimely taking off of their friends.

"In the excitement of this hour it is no time to deal in sentimental reflections. The scenes of the past night are too fresh to warrant lengthy dwelling upon the morale of the occurrence. It is sufficient that it is distinctly understood that the catastrophe was more the result of insufficient means of egress from the theater than was the primary cause of the development of the fire, although the latter, aided by the first and helped on by the panic stricken people, who from the outset appreciated the terrible position in which they were placed, augmented to a large degree the number of deaths.

"Chicago theaters as a general thing are tinder boxes into which humanity are packed by avaricious managers without any regard to their safety or thought of the imminent risk[Pg 320] which is nightly impending. Evidently their only desire is to fill the house, gather in as much money as possible, while they take no heed to the dangers which surround their patrons on every hand.

"The lesson had to be taught some time, it was inevitable; it had to be located at some one of the places of amusement, although all of them were—and those remaining are still—liable to share the same fate at any moment. If the experience of one should teach the others a little wisdom, the existing evil may perhaps be remedied, although it shall have been at the sacrifice of human life.



"The gallery was overflowing and the gate that opened to the stairway which led to the floor below, as usual, was locked, so that those who bought cheap tickets could not make their way to higher-priced sections on the lower floor. In the uppermost gallery—where the 'gods' are supposed to assemble, and from which comes much of the inspiration which upholds the ambitious actor and transports the ranting comedian and raging tragedian to the seventh heaven of bliss—in this gallery there was a motley crowd.

"They were there in large numbers, because the play had something that savored of blood; there was a broadsword combat and a murder scene. For reasons the very antitheses of these were the people downstairs drawn thither—there were love scenes and heart-burnings and statuesque posings, and artistic excellencies of varied kinds. It was a play that touched the feelings of humanity, the vulgar as well as the refined.



"The auditorium was ablaze with light, the audience were lit up with gaiety. Handsome women, richly clad, ogled one[Pg 321] another and cast coquettish glances at dashing gentlemen. Fond mothers, chaperoning blooming daughters, chatted pleasantly, while indulgent fathers, although seeking relief from the cares of the day in the charming play, found neighbors near at hand with whom to discuss sordid business or perplexing politics.



"As has been stated, the house was filled with spectators. When the premonition of the impending disaster had been given out, and after the first great thrill of horror had, for the instant, frozen the blood of every spectator and caused an involuntary check to every heart, there came quickly the manifestation of a determination to 'do or die,' to escape from the angry flames if possible. And with this determination came the positive assurance of the growing calamity, through the person of one of the actors, who but a short time previous had been playing the buffoon, setting staid people agape with amusement and turning dull care into festivity. Hastily drawing the foot of the curtain back from the proscenium pillars, he thrust his blanched countenance into view and screamed with terrified voice:

"'Hurry to the door for your lives; the stage is afire!'



"It hardly needed these words of warning to perfect the demoralization which had seized upon the terrified crowd. The stampede had already commenced; the work of death had been inaugurated.

"Those who escaped, and with whom the Times reporter had the good fortune to talk, on last evening, say that the detail of the horrors of that scene would defy description. One[Pg 322] or two of these informants were so far down in the dress circle that they saw the whole of the catastrophe and measured its horrible magnitude as best they could under the excitement that prevailed. How they escaped is more than they could tell, but they found themselves borne along, lifted and pushed forward till the door was reached, and the outside and safety gained. They describe the scene inside the theater as


"The affrighted audience, rising from their seats, began simultaneously to attempt to reach the means of egress. Timid females raised their hands to heaven, shrieked wild, despairing cries and fell to be trampled into eternity by the heels of the wild rushing throng. Mothers pleaded piteously in the tumult and the roar that their darling daughters might be spared, while they themselves were resigned to the fate which was inevitable. Stout men with muscles of iron and cheeks blanched with terror clasped wives and sweethearts to their breasts and


and piteously prayed—the one that their progress was impeded, the other to those who, like them, prayed for a safe deliverance, but who were unable to afford the slightest assistance.

"Meanwhile the flames had eaten their way to the front, and with one fell swoop licked up the combustible drop curtain, spread themselves across the proscenium and were working up towards the ceiling. Reaching this point the destroying element seemed to pause a moment as though pitying the position of the puny individuals who were fleeing its approach, and then remorselessly swept down in forked fury and pierced venom. The terror-stricken crowd felt the hot breath of the monster and surged and swayed and tried to escape its fury.

 [Pg 323]


"The corpses recovered were, as has been before stated, taken to the street, removed two blocks away from the scene of the disaster, and, for the time being, laid out upon the pavement, awaiting the recognition of friends. Fathers and mothers, who in the tumult of the stampede had become separated from children; husbands who, despite their efforts, had felt themselves torn away from wives; friends who had been


from friends; young men, who, while they had no friends to lose in the building, yet felt themselves bereft by reason of the common sympathy of the human heart; all these had, during the time preceding the recovery of the bodies, filled the streets and poured out their inconsolable grief in loudest tones. The Times reporter to whose lot fell the recording of the scenes depicted under this head hopes that it may never again be his to witness a repetition of the scene. The anguish, the frenzy, the loud wailings, the heart-broken demonstrations were, indeed, overpowering and calculated to make an impression upon even the most stony heart that will last as long as reason holds its sway.



"The silent bearers of these bodies, as they came and went, could not but be moved to tears at the reception which their burdens met. Here a charming girl, cut off in the flower of her youth and at the height of her pleasure; there a promising lad, full of hope but an hour before. Again, the silvered head of a loved mother, and soon the sturdy frame of one who had passed the heydey of youth and was beginning to enjoy the fruits of his youthful labors. There were people well known, whose sudden taking away will shock many a friend this[Pg 324] morning; and there were others, too, male and female, who, lacking friends in life, found no mourners save the full heart of a sympathetic public to regret their departure.



"But these scenes are too painful to be dwelt upon. One by one the dead were removed, some to near hotels, to await the coming dawn, when they might be taken to their late homes, and others being sent to the morgue by the police. At 2 o'clock officers were still searching, and the populace who had been drawn together by the awful catastrophe had dispersed in the main, although a few still lingered about the ruins, anxious to offer assistance where it might most be needed, while two streams of water continued to be poured into the building that every spark might be extinguished.



"Granting that the conflagration detailed never happened, it is something liable to occur at any time in this city. Newspaper accounts more sensational in headlines and more shocking in narrative are to be expected almost any morning. The above is but a suggestion of what may at any time become a reality. Theaters are so built and so crammed with inflammable materials that a fire once started in them would in an incredibly short period gain such headway that nothing under heaven could check its mad and devouring career. Furthermore, the means of exit and all other avenues of escape are so limited that a panic once inaugurated in a crowded house would bring destruction upon the heads of a large proportion of the audience. Have theater-goers in Chicago ever thought of this, as, crowded into a seat, with means of hasty exit cut off, they have sat and looked around them upon the hundreds of others similarly situated?



[Pg 325]




ADAMEK, JOHN, MRS., 40 years old, Bartlett, Ill.

ALEXANDER, LULU B., 36 years old, 3473 Washington boulevard; identified by husband, W. G. Alexander.

ALLEN, MRS. MARY S., 27 years old, 5546 Drexel boulevard.

ANDERSON, RAGNE, 39 years old, scrubwoman, Iroquois; 229 Grand avenue.

ANDREWS, HARRIET, 20 years old, West Superior, Wis.

ALEXANDER, BOYER, 8 years old, 475 Washington boulevard; body identified by his father, Dr. W. A. Alexander.

ADAMS, MRS. JOHN, Iola, Ill., identified by R. H. Ostrander.

ALDRIDGE, LUELLA M'DONALD, 792 West Monroe street.

ALFSON, ALFRED, 24 Keith street; identified by father.

ANDERSON, ANNIE, 29 years old, 2141 Jackson boulevard.

ANNEN, MARGARET, 299 Webster avenue; identified by Charles Annen.



BARRY, WILMA, 17 years old, 4330 Greenwood avenue, stepdaughter of E. P. Berry, the insurance man, was with Mrs. Barry, who escaped.

[Pg 326]

BARRY, MISS MAGGIE, 26 years old, 236 Lincoln avenue.

BARNHEISEL, CHARLES H., 3622 Michigan avenue; unknown to family that he had attended theater, and published list of dead containing name conveyed the first information to family; body identified by relatives.

BISSINGER, WALTER, 15 years old, 4934 Forrestville avenue, son of Benjamin Bissinger, real estate man; attended Howe Military academy at Lima, Ind.; was with sister, Tessie, 20 years, and cousin, Jack Pottlitzer, of Lafayette, Ind., who was killed; the sister escaped.

BURNSIDE, MRS. ESTHER, 437 West Sixty-fourth street; body identified by her son, C. W. Burnside, and the family physician, Dr. Schultz.

BYRNE, CONSILA, 16 years old, 616 West Fifteenth street; Identified by sister.

BICKFORD, GLENN, 16 years old, son of C. M. Bickford, 947 Farwell avenue, Rogers Park.

BICKFORD, HELEN, 14 years old, daughter of C. M. Bickford.

BREWSTER, MARY JULIA, 116 Thirty-first street, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. L. H. Brewster.

BRENNAN, PAUL, 608 West Fulton street; identified at Rolston's.

BAGLEY, MISS HELEN DEWEY, 18 years, 24 Madison Park; identified by J. J. Mahoney.

BARKER, ETHEL M., 27 years old, 1925 Washington boulevard; identified by father.

BATTENFIELD, MRS. D. W., 43 years old; Delaware, O.

BATTENFIELD, JOHN, 23 years old; Delaware, O.

BATTENFIELD, ROBERT, 15 years old; Delaware, O.

BATTENFIELD, RUTH, 21 years old; Delaware, O.

[Pg 327]

BESMICK, JOSEPH, West Superior, Wis.

BEYER, infant.

BIRD, MISS MARION, Iola, Ill.; identified by cousin.

BLOOM, MRS. ROSE, 3760 Indiana avenue, 30 years old.

BOEAM, PAUL, 608 West Fulton street.

BOETCHER, MRS. CHARLES, 4140 Indiana avenue.

BOICE, W. H., 5721 Rosalie court.

BOICE, Mrs. W. H., 5721 Rosalie court.

BOICE, MISS BESSIE, 15 years old, 5721 Rosalie court.

BOLTIE, HELEN, Winnetka, aged 14.

BOND, LUCILE, Hart, Mich.; identified by an aunt.

BOWMAN, MRS. JOSEPHINE, 20 Chalmers place; identified by B. F. Jenkins, a neighbor.

BOWMAN, BEATRICE M., 33 years old, 20 Chalmers place, daughter of Mrs. Josephine Bowman.

BOWMAN, LUCIEN, 14 years old, 20 Chalmers place.

BRADWELL, MISS MYRA, Windsor hotel.

BRADY, LEON, 4356 Forrestville avenue.

BROWN, HAROLD, 16 years old, 94 Thirty-first street, identified by Ella Huggins.

BUEHRMANN, MARGARET, 13 years, 46 East Fifty-third street.

BUTLER, MRS. F. S., 649 Michigan street, Evanston; suffocated by smoke in first balcony; body identified by sister.

BOTSFORD, MABEL A., 21 years old, Racine, Wis.


BERGH ARTHUR, 4926 Champlain avenue.

BOGGS, MRS. M., 6933 Princeton avenue.

BRENNAN, MARGARET, 40 years, 608 West Fulton street.

BAKER, MISS ADELAIDE, 17 years old, 4410 Ellis avenue.

[Pg 328]

BANSHEP, GEORGE, 28 years old, engineer, 4847 Forrestville avenue.

BARTESCH, WILLIAM C., 24 years old, 464 Racine avenue.

BARTLETT, ARTHUR, 6 years old, West Grossdale, Ill.

BECKER, MASON A., 3237 Groveland avenue.

BELL, MISS PET, 60 years old, 3000 Michigan avenue.

BERG, OLGA, 11 years old, 408 West One Hundred and Eleventh street; identified by father.


BERG, MRS. HELEN, 408 West One Hundred and Eleventh street.

BERG, VICTOR, 11 years old, 408 West One Hundred and Eleventh street; identified by Frank Berg, father.

BERGCH, Mrs. Annie, 30 years old, 4926 Champlain avenue.

BERRY, MISS EMMA, 19 years old, 236 Lincoln avenue.

BERRY, MRS. C. C., 56 years old, 236 Racine avenue.

BERRY, OTTO, Battle Creek, Mich., visiting at 236 Lincoln avenue.

BEUTEL, WILLIAM, 33 years old, Englewood avenue, near Halsted street.

BEYER, OTTO, 38 years old, Diversey boulevard.

BEZENACK, MRS. NELLIE, 40 years old.

BIEGLER, MISS SUSAN MARSHALL, 27 years old, 6518 Minerva avenue.

BLISS, HAROLD F., 23 years old, Racine, Wis.

BLUM, MRS. ROSE, 30 years old, 5248 Prairie avenue.

BOLTE, LINDA W., 14 years old, Lakeside, Ill.; identified by uncle, John H. Willard, 2942 Indiana avenue.

BRINSLEY, EMMA L., 29 years old, 909 Jackson boulevard.

[Pg 329]

BROWNE, HAZEL GRACE, 14 years old, South Bend, Ind.

BURKE, BERTHA, 41 years old, 511 West Monroe street; taken to Reedsville, Wis.

BUSCHWAH, LOUISE ALICE, 12 years old, 1810 Wellington avenue.

BUTLER, BENNETT, 13 years old, 649 Michigan street, Evanston.



CALDWELL, ROBERT PORTER, 15 years old, St. Louis grain dealer.


CAVILLE, ARTHUR, 24 years old, 54 Twenty-sixth street.

CHAPMAN, MISS NINA, 23 years old, Cedar Rapids, Ia.

CHRISTOPHERSON, MRS. MINNIE, 35 years old, 231 N. Harvey avenue.

CLAY, MISS SUSIE, 36 years old, 6409 Monroe avenue.

CLAYTON, JOHN V., 13 years old, 534 Morse avenue.

COGANS, MRS. MARGARETHA, 26 years old, 5904 Normal avenue.

CUMINGS, IRENE, 18 years, 5135 Madison avenue. Was with Miss Baker, 4410 Ellis avenue, who was injured. They were in the third row of the balcony.

CROCKER, MRS. LILLIE J., 3730 Lake avenue, teacher at Oakland school. She went to the theater with Mrs. Pierce and daughter, of Plainville, Mich.

CANTWELL, MRS. THOMAS, 733 West Adams street, mother of Attorney Robert E. Cantwell; identified by James Roche, a cousin.

COHN, MRS. JACOB, 222 Ogden avenue.

COPLER, LOLA, 18 years old, address not known.

[Pg 330]

CHAPMAN, BESSIE, 19 years old, Cedar Rapids, Ia., 211 Lincoln avenue; identified by her uncle, C. W. Pierson, with whom she was visiting. Was at theater with her sister Nina.

CHAPMAN, NINA, 23 years old, 211 Lincoln avenue; identified by her uncle, C. W. Pierson, Cedar Rapids, Ia.

COULTTS, R. H., 1616 Wabash avenue. Body identified by granddaughter.

CASPER, CHARLES E., Kenosha, Wis.; body identified by G. H. Curtis of Kenosha.

CURBIN, VERNON W., 10 years, 6938 Wentworth avenue. Identified by uncle, Carlos B. Hinckley.

CALDWELL, ROY A. G., supposed; identified by cards in clothing.

CLARK, E. D., 30 years old, 5432 Lexington avenue.

CHRISTIANSON, HENRIETTA, 18 years old, 445 West Sixty-fifth street; identified by W. A. Douglas.


COOPER, MRS. HELEN S., 27 years old, Lena, Ill.

COOPER, WILLIS W., Kenosha, Wis., son of Charles F. Cooper, Kenosha.

COOPER, CHARLES F., Kenosha, Wis.

CORBIN, LOUISA, 37 years old, 6938 Wentworth avenue.

CORCORAN, MISS FLORENCE, 218 Dearborn avenue; identified by brother.

CHAPIN, AGNES, 4458 Berkeley avenue.

CORBIN, NORMAN, 9 years, Peoria, Ill.; identified by Victor B. Corbin.



DEVINE, CLARA, 29 years, 259 La Salle avenue; identified by M. Reece.

[Pg 331]

DYRENFORTH, HELEN, 8 years old, daughter of Harold Dyrenforth, 832 Judson avenue, Evanston; body identified by father.

DYRENFORTH, RUTH, daughter of Harold Dyrenforth, Evanston; body identified and taken away by relatives.

DRYDEN, TAYLOR, 12 years old, 5803 Washington avenue; body identified by father.

DRYDEN, MRS. JOHN, 5803 Washington avenue, mother of Taylor; body identified by husband.

DAWSON, MRS. WILLIAM, Barrington, Ill.

DECKER, MYRON, 3237 Groveland avenue.

DELEE, VIOLA, 22 years old, daughter of the late Lieut. W. J. Delee, of Central police detail, 7822 Union avenue; body identified by M. J. Delee, her uncle.

DIFFENDORF, MRS., 45 years old, Lincoln, Ill.

DIXON, LEAH, 100 Flournoy street.

DUNLAVEY, J., 6050 Wabash avenue.

DIXON, EDNA, 9 years old, 100 Flournoy street.

DODD, MRS. J. F., 45 years old, Delaware, O.

DODD, MISS RUTH, 12 years old, Delaware, O.; identified by Dr. E. S. Coe.



DORR, LILLIAN, 16 years old, 4924 Champlain avenue.

DOWST, MRS. CHARLES, 927 Hinman avenue, Evanston; body identified by husband.

DRYCHAU, MRS. JOHN, of St. Louis.

DU VALL, MRS. ELIZABETH, 498 Fullerton avenue, 40 years old.

DU VALL, SARAH, 10 years old. South Zanesville, O.; identified by aunt.

DECKHUT, MAE, Quincy, Ill.; body identified.

[Pg 332]

DAWSON, GRACE, 5 years old, 334 Harding street; identified by her father.

DANNER, J. M., 55 years old, Burlington, Ia.; identified by his son-in-law, Harry Wunderlich, Wilson avenue and Clark street.

DAVY, MRS. ELIZABETH, 53 years old, 34 Roslyn place.

DAVY, MISS HELEN, 15 years old, 35 Roslyn place.

DAWSON, THERESA, 25 years, 10 Market avenue, Pullman; identified by husband.

DAY, MRS. SARAH, 50 years old, colored.

DECKER, KATE K., 58 years old, 3228 Groveland avenue.

DECKER, MAMIE, 33 years old, 3237 Groveland avenue.

DEE, EDDIE, 7 years old, 3133 Wabash avenue.

DEE, LOUISE, 2 years, 3133 Wabash avenue.

DEVINE, MARGARET, 22 years old, 95 Kendall street.

DICKIE, EDITH, 25 years old, school teacher, 619 Sixty-fifth place.

DIFFENDORFER, LEANDER, 16 years old, Lincoln, Ill.

DINGFELDER, WINIFRED E., 18 years old, Jonesville, Mich.

DONAHUE, MARY E., 18 years old, 1040 West Taylor street.

DOOLEY, MRS., Claremont avenue, near Ohio street.

DOTTS, MARGARET S., 32 years old, 188 North Elizabeth street; identified by husband.

DOW, FLORENCE, 17 years old, 642 West Sixtieth street.

DRAY, VICTORIA, 22 years old, Indiana avenue.

DREISEL, CLARA, 30 years old, North Robey street and Potomac avenue.

 [Pg 333]


EDWARDS, MARGERY, 14 years old, Clinton, Ia., identified by father, William Edwards; father and daughter were guests at 700 Fullerton avenue.

EBERSTEIN, FRANK B., 20 years old, 84 Twenty-sixth street, identified by his father.

EISENDRATH, MRS. S. M., 10 Crilly court.

EISENDRATH, NATALIE, 10 years old, 10 Crilly court.

EBERSTEIN, MRS. J. A., 84 Twenty-sixth street, identified by husband and sister.

ENGEL, MAURICE, 73 Dawson avenue, identified by name on charm.

ELAND, ALMA, nurse, with two children of Harold Dyrenforth, 832 Judson avenue, Evanston.

ESPER, EMIL, 31 years, 190 Osgood street.

ERNST, ROSENE, 202 Twenty-fourth place. Identified by mother.

ESTEN, ROSA, 23 years, 305 Halsted street; identified by M. Eighberg.

EBBERT, MRS. J. H., 48 years old, 5516 Marshfield avenue.

EDDUZE, HARRY, 16 years old, Mattoon.

EDWARDS, MRS. M. L., Clinton, Ia.

EGER, MRS. GUS, 3760 Indiana avenue.

EISENSTAEDT, HERBERT S., 16 years old, 4549 Forrestville avenue.

ELDRIDGE, HARRY, 17 years old, Mattoon.

ELDRIDGE, MONTEK, 18 years old, 6063 Jefferson avenue.

ELKAU, ROSE, 14 years old, 3434 South Park avenue.

ELLIS, MRS. ANNIE, 40 years old, 207 East Sixty-second street.

ENGELS, MINNIE, 36 years old, 73 Dawson avenue.

[Pg 334]

ERSIG, TYRONE, 17 years old, 239 West Sixty-sixth street.

EVANS, MATTIE, Burlington, Ia.



FAIR, MISS ELLEN, 45 years old, 7564 Bond avenue.

FALK, GERTRUDE, 20 years old, 3839 Elmwood place.

FITZGIBBON, ANNA G., 17 years old, 2954 Michigan avenue.

FLANNAGAN, THOMAS J., 24 years old, employed at Iroquois.

FOLICE, NELLIE, 22 years old, 301 Claremont avenue.

FOWLER, ELVA, 17 years, 3450 West Sixty-third place.

FRAZER, MRS. EDWARD S., Aurora, Ill.

FRIEDRICH, MRS. HELEN, 35 years old, 341 Center street.

FREER, JENNIE E. CHRISTY, 53 years old, Galesburg, Ill.

FRICKELTON, EDITH, 23 years old, 632 Peoria street.

FRICKELTON, GEORGE E., 17 years old, 5632 Peoria street.


FOX, MRS. EVELYN, Winnetka, daughter of W. M. Hoyt; was accompanied by three children, all of whom are dead; body of mother found by Graeme Stewart.

FOX, GEORGE SYDNEY, 15 years old, son of Mrs. Fox.

FOX, EMILY, 9 years old, daughter of Mrs. Fox.

FOX, HOYT, 12 years old, son of Mrs. Fox.

FRADY, MRS. E. C., 4356 Forrestville avenue.

FRADY, LEON, 4356 Forrestville avenue.

FOLTZ, MRS. C. O., 1886 Diversey boulevard.

[Pg 335]


FALKENSTEIN, GERTRUDE, identified by card in clothing.

FITZGIBBONS, JOHN J., 18 years old, 2954 Michigan avenue.

FEISER, MARY, 793 North Springfield avenue, wife of a Larrabee street patrolman.

FAHEY, MARY, 25 years old, 4860 Kimbark avenue; identified by T. H. Fahey.

FOLKE, ADA, 23 years old, Berwyn.

FORBUSCH, MRS. C. W., 35 years old, 927 Hinman avenue, Evanston; identified by W. P. Marsh.

FOLTZ, ALICE, 1886 Diversey boulevard.

FORT, PHOEBE IRENE, principal of Myra Bradwell school, 146 Thirty-sixth street.

FRACK, ODESSA, Ottawa, Ill.




GARN, MRS. FRANK WARREN, 831 West Monroe street, daughter of L. Wolff, 1319 Washington boulevard, attended the theater with her sons, Frank, 10 years old, and Willie, 9 years old. All perished. Mrs. Garn was identified by her husband.

GARN, FRANK L., 10 years old, 831 West Monroe street.

GARN, WILLIE, 9 years old, 831 West Monroe street.

GUSTAFSON, MISS ALMA, 10003 Avenue N, teacher in the John L. Marsh school at South Chicago. She attended the theater with Miss Carrie Sayre and a party of school teachers from South Chicago.

GOULD, MRS. B. E., identified by friends through jewelry.

[Pg 336]

GOULD, B. E., Elgin, Ill., clerk of the Circuit court of Kane county. Mr. Gould was accompanied to the play by his wife, who also perished.

GARTZ, HARRY, 4860 Kimbark avenue.

GARTZ, MARY DORETHEA, 4860 Kimbark avenue, 12 years old, daughter of A. F. Gartz, treasurer of the Crane company; attended theater with sister, Barbara, maid and nurse; all perished.

GARTZ, BARBARA, 4 years, 4863 Kimbark avenue; identified by Maud Purcell.

GERON, MRS. MABLE, Winnetka; body identified by her brother.

GAHAN, JOSEPHINE, 129 Twenty-fifth place.

GASS, MRS. JOSEPH, 243 Grace street.

GEARY, PAULINE, 21 years old, 4627 Indiana avenue.

GEIK, MRS. EMILE, died at St. Luke's hospital.


GRAFF, MRS. REINHOLD, Bloomington, Ill.

GRAVES, MRS. CLARA, wife of W. C. Graves, 723 East Chicago avenue; identified by sister-in-law, Lucetta Graves.

GUDELMANS, SOFIA, 327 North Ashland avenue.

GOOLSBY, MISS VERA, of Americus, Ga.; attending college in Chicago.

GERHART, BERRY, 25 years old.

GOERK, DORA, 1030 Bryan avenue, 10 years old.

GUERNI, JENNIE, 135 North Sangamon street.

GUTHARDT, MISS LIBBY, 16 years old, 159 One Hundred and Thirteenth street.



HAINSLEY, FRANCES, 5 years, Logansport, Ind.; identified by father.

[Pg 337]

HARBAUGH, MARY E., 30 years old, 6653 Harvard avenue.

HOFFEIN, MISS ADELINE J. C., 24 years old, 292 Haddon avenue.

HARTMAN, JOHN, 5705 South Halsted street.

HENNING, CHARLES, 6 years old, 5743 Prairie avenue.

HENNING, WILLIAM, 14 years old.

HENNESSY, WILLIAM, 14 years old, 4411 Calumet avenue.

HICKMAN, MRS. CHARLES, 24 years old, 4743 Calumet avenue.

HIGGINSON, JANITHE B., 2 years old, Winnetka, Ill.; identified by P. D. Sexton, 418 East Huron street.

HIPPACH, ROBERT A., 14 years old, 2928 Kenmore avenue.

HIVE, ENA M., 15 years old, 613 West Sixty-first place.

HOLLAND, JOHN H., 60 years old, 6429 Evans avenue.

HOLST, MRS. MARY W., 36 years old, 2088 Van Buren street.

HOLST, AMY, 7 years old, 2088 Van Buren street.

HOWARD, MRS. MARY E., 54 years old, Jonesville, Mich.; identified by son, Frank Howard, 3812 Prairie avenue.

HOLM, HULDA, 176 North Western avenue.

HULL, MARIANNE K., 32 years old, 244 Oakwood boulevard.

HULL, HELEN, 12 years old, 244 Oakwood boulevard.

HULL, DWIGHT, 6 years old, 244 Oakwood boulevard.

HULL, DONALD, 8 years old, 244 Oakwood boulevard.

HAYES, FRANK, 22 years old, son of Police Sergeant Dennis Hayes, Larrabee street station; identified by younger brother.

[Pg 338]

HAVELAND, LEIGH, daughter of J. P. Haveland, 31 Humboldt boulevard; body identified by father. Later father found the body of Clyde O. Thompson, Wisconsin university student, who was guest at Haveland home and had accompanied the daughter to the theater.

HUDHART, ADELAIDE, 41 years old, 159 One Hundred and Thirteenth street; identified by her husband, James Hudhart.

HIPPACH, JOHN, 8 years old, son of senior member of firm of Tyler & Hippach.

HART, MRS. NELLIE E., Atkinson, Ill.; identified by father, John English.

HUTCHINS, MISS JEANETTE, 22 years old, teacher at Winnetka; identified by brother.

HOWARD, HELEN, 16 years old, 6565 Yale avenue; was a student at Englewood High School.

HICKMAN, CHARLES, 4743 Calumet avenue; identified by Dr. H. H. Steele.

HALL, EMERY M., husband of E. Grace Hall, the Vermont, 571 East Fifty-first street.

HOLST, GERTRUDE, 12 years old, 2088 Van Buren street; identified by her father.

HRODY, MRS. ANNA, 35 years old, 1353 South Fortieth avenue.

HEWINS, DR. EMERY, Petersburg, Ind.; body identified by daughter.

HELMS, OTTO H., 77 Maple street.

HENNING, EDDIE, 14 years old, 4753 Prairie avenue.

HENSLEY, MRS. GUY, Logansport, Ind.

HENSLEY, GENEVIEVE, 8 years old, Logansport, Ind.

HEWINS, MRS. L., 20 years old, Petersburg, Ind.; identified by friends.

[Pg 339]

HENRY, MRS. G. A., 1198 Wilton avenue.

HERRON, BESSIE L., 133 Conduit street, Hammond, Ind.

HIGGINS, ROGER G., 9 years old, 419 East Huron street.

HIGGINSON, MISS JEANETTE, Winnetka; body identified by her brother.

HENNESSY, WILLIAM, 4411 Calumet avenue.



HART, MISS ELIZABETH, Sherman avenue and Dempster street, Evanston.

HERGER, BERTHA, Hammond, Ind.; identified by Thomas Weisman.

HIRSCH, MARY, 19 years old, 617 Halsted street.


HOLST, ALLAN B., 12 years old, 2088 Van Buren street; son of William M. Holst; identified by father.

HENSLEY, MARIAN, 5 years old, Logansport, daughter of G. Hensley.



IRLE, MRS. ANDREW, 32 years old, 1240 Lawrence avenue, wife of Andrew Irle, assistant superintendent of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency; body identified by name in wedding ring.



JAMES, C. D., 40 years old, Davenport, Ia.

JAMES, C. O.; identified by card in clothing.

JONES, MRS. ANNA, 46 East Fifty-third street.

JACKSON, VERA R., 19 years old, 216 Humboldt boulevard.

[Pg 340]

JONES, MRS. WARNER E., 38 years old, Tuscola, Ill.; visiting at 46 East Fifty-third street.



KOCHEMS, JACOB A., 17 years, 262 Warren avenue; identified by father.

KENNEDY, AGNES, 6528 Ross avenue, former teacher at Hendricks and Melville W. Fuller schools.



KAUFFMAN, ALICE, 5 years old, Hammond, Ind.

KOCHEMS, MRS. FRANK, 262 Warren avenue; identified by husband.

KRANZ, MRS. SARAH, Racine, Wis.; died at Samaritan hospital.

KUEBLER, LOLA, 16 years old, 344 Fiftieth street.

KULAS, MRS. GEORGIANA, 349 Chestnut street; identified by Mrs. C. J. Benshaw.

KURLEY, MINNIE, 5 years old, Logansport, Ind.

KEKMAN, FRAMELLES, 525 Austin avenue.

KOUTHES, MRS. E. K., Montreal.

KWASUIEWSKI, JOHN, 25 years old, 122 Cleaver street.



LAKE, MRS. ALFRED, 60 years old, 278 Belden avenue.

LANGE, HERBERT, 16 years old, 1632 Barry avenue.

LANGE, AGNES, 14 years old, 1632 Barry avenue; body identified by her father.

LA ROSE, LAURA, 12 years, 833 N. Clark street.

LA ROSE, JOSEPHINE, 8 years old, 833 N. Clark street.

LA ROSE, MATILDA, 10 years old, 833 N. Clark street.

[Pg 341]

LEATON, FRED W., 24 years old, University of Chicago.

LEAVENWORTH, MRS. CARRIE, 45 years old, Decatur.

LEFMAN, MRS. SUSIE, 38 years old, Laporte, Ind.

LEHMAN, MISS FRANCES M., 525 North Austin avenue, Oak Park, a teacher in the H. H. Nash school.

LEMENAGER, MRS. JESSIE, 38 years old, 53 Waveland Park.

LEVENSON, ROSE, 28 years old, 268 Ogden avenue.

LONG, RYAN, 12 years old, Geneva, Ill.

LONG, HELEN, 14 years old, Geneva, Ill.

LONG, KATHERINE, 9 years old, Geneva, Ill.

LUDWIG, MISS EUGENIE, 18 years old, Norwood Park.

LASSMANN, MRS. SUSIE, Laporte, Ind.; identified by Frederick M. Burdick, a friend.

LIVINGSTON, MRS. DAISY, 271 Oakwood boulevard; body identified by her brother, T. B. Livingston.

LOWITZ, MRS. NATHAN, 274 Sheffield avenue; identified by means of ring, "Nat to Minnie."

LOWITZ, MRS. N. S., Keokuk, Ia.

LEATON, FRED W., aged 25 years, 537 East Fifty-fifth street; medical student at the University of Chicago; home at Terry, S. D.

LINDEN, ELLA, 21 years old, 4625 Lake avenue; identified by her brother, Frank Linden.

LOVE, MARGARET, Fulton street.



MAHLER, EDITH L., 8 years old, 2141 Jackson Boulevard.

MANN, MISS EMMA D., teacher of music in public schools; 1388 Washington boulevard; identified by Louis Mann, her brother.

[Pg 342]

MACKAY, ROLAND S., 6 years old, 5029 Indiana avenue.

MARTIN, HAROLD C., 14 years old, 11 Market circle.

MARTIN, ROBERT B., 12 years old, Pullman, Ill.

M'CHRISTIE, MISS ANNA, 27 years old, 6315 Lexington avenue.

M'GUNIGLE, MISS MAYME, 30 years old, New York; visiting Miss Reidy, 614 South Sawyer avenue.

MEAGLER, MISS MARIA, 656 Orchard street, a school teacher.

MEYER, ELSA, H., 10 years old, lived at Grossdale, Ill.

MILLER, HELEN, 23 years old, 369 West Huron street.

MILLS, CHARLES V., 623 Sedgwick street.

MILLS, MRS. W. A., 623 Sedgwick street.

MILLS, ISABELLA, 21 years old, 6263 Jefferson street.

MOORE, MRS. MATTIE, 33 years old, Hart, Mich.; staying with sister-in-law, Mrs. Bond, at 4123 Indiana avenue; identified by Herman Mathias, 107 Madison street.

MOSSLER, PEARLINE, 13 years old, Rensselaer, Ind.

MUIR, S. A., 35 years old, 301 Winthrop avenue; connected with the Chase Furniture Company, 1411 Michigan avenue; identified by George B. Chase, vice-president of the company.

M'CLURG, ROY, 14 years old, 5803 Superior street, Austin.

M'MILLEN, MABEL, 20 years old, 2824 North Hermitage avenue.

M'KENNA, BERNARD, 2 years old, 758 Kedzie avenue; body identified by the father.

MOLONEY, ALICE, daughter of former Attorney General Moloney, Ottawa, Ill.; body identified by her father and brother.

MARTIN, EARL, 7 years old, son of Z. E. Martin, Oak Park; body identified by father.

[Pg 343]

MUIR, MAMIE, Peoria, Ill.; identified by name on clothing.

MURRAY, CHARLES; identified by letters found in clothing.

MARKS, MISS MAY, 19 years old, 69 North Humboldt boulevard.

McCAUGHAN, HELEN, 16 years old, 6565 Yale avenue.

MEAD, MRS., 278 Belden avenue; identified from clothing.

MERRIAM, MRS. H. H., 489 Fullerton avenue; body identified by Dr. Hequenbourg.

MERRIMAN, MILDRED, daughter of W. A. Merriman, manager of George A. Fuller's.

MITCHELL, MISS DORA, 20 years old, Laporte, Ind.; identified by friends.

MYERS, ELSIE, 8 years, Grossdale, Ill.

McKEE, J. W., 64 years old; identified by Lola Lee.

MOAK, ANNA, 278 Belden avenue.

MANN, MISS EMMA D., 18 years old, 1388 Washington boulevard; identified by Louis Mann, her brother.

MATCHETTE, EMILY, 21 years old, 636 Sixtieth street.

MOOHAN, H. B., 30 years old.

MOORE, MRS. KITTIE, 45 years old, 119 West Fifty-ninth street.

MUIR, MRS. EUGENIA, 301 Winthrop avenue.

MILLER, WILLARD, 9 years old, 4919 Vincennes avenue.

McCLELLAND, JOSEPH, Harvard, Ill.; identified by uncle.

McCLURE, LAWRENCE, 230 East Superior street; identified by George, his brother.

McGILL, ELIZABETH, 12 years old, Pittsburg, Pa., guest at residence of Charles Koll, 496 Ashland avenue; identified by her mother.

McKENNA, MRS. JOHN L., 758 Kedzie avenue.

MEAD, LUCILLE, 11 years old, Berwyn.

[Pg 344]

McLAUGHLIN, WILLIAM L., nephew of Mrs. Frank W. Gunsaulus, died at 9:30 p. m., at Presbyterian hospital.

MENDEL, MRS. HERMAN, 53 years, 5555 Washington avenue; the body was shipped to Neola, Ia., for burial on Sunday; Mr. Mendel is a retired banker.

MENGER, MISS ANNIE, 222 Twenty-fourth place; identified by Elta Menzeh.

MILLS, PEARL M., 5613 Kimbark avenue; identified by Ward Mills.

MOAK, LENA, 19 years old, Watertown, Wis.; guest at 278 Belden avenue.

MOORE, BENJAMIN, 119 West Fifty-ninth street; identified by grandson.

MOORE, MISS SYBIL, Hart, Mich.; identified by letter.

MURPHY, DEWITT J., 1340 Sheffield avenue; identified by father.

MURRAY, CHARLES, 36 years old, Martinsburg, O.; identified by J. H. Dodd.

MUELLER, MRS. EMELIA, 60 years, Milwaukee; identified by daughter, Mrs. Herman Groth.

MORRIS, MABEL A., 17 years old, 5124 Dearborn street.

MULHOLLAND, JOSEPHINE, 33 years, 4409 Wabash avenue; identified by Clarke Griffith.



NEWMAN, MRS. MARY, 32 years old, housekeeper for the Rev. Father J. C. Ocenasek, pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes church.

NEWBY, MRS. LUTHER G., Drexel hotel; identified by her father.

NEWMAN, MRS. ANNA, West Grossdale; identified by her rings.

[Pg 345]

NORTON, MATTIE, Ontonagon, Mich., attending school at Academy of the Visitation, Ridge avenue and Emerson street, Evanston.

NORTON, EDITH N., Ontonagon, Mich., attending school at Academy of the Visitation, Evanston.

NEWMAN, ARTHUR, 10 years, West Grossdale.

NORRIS, MRS. LIBBIE A., 30 years old, 5124 Dearborn street.

NORRIS, MABEL, 20 years old, 5124 Dearborn street.



ORLE, MABEL M., 1240 Lawrence avenue.

OWEN, DR., Wheaton, Ill., died at the Homeopathic Hospital.

OWEN, MRS. MARY, 44 years, Wheaton.

OAKLEY, DR. ALBERT J., 40 years old, Sixty-fifth and Stewart avenue; identified by Dr. L. Phillips.

OXNAM, FLORENCE, 16 years old, 435 Englewood avenue.

OAKEY, LUCILE, 13 years old, daughter of A. J. Oakey, Sixty-fifth street and Stewart avenue.

OAKEY, MARIAN, 11 years old, Sixty-fifth street and Stewart avenue; identified by F. R. Bradford.

OLSEN, MRS. O. M., 833 Walnut street; identified by husband.

OLSON, MISS AUGUSTA, 27 years old, 218 Seventy-ninth place; identified by brother-in-law.

OWEN, WILLIAM MURRAY, 12 years old; body identified by father.

OWENS, AMY, daughter of Mrs. Owens, 6241 Kimbark avenue.

OWENS, MRS. FRANCES O., 6241 Kimbark avenue.

[Pg 346]

OLSON, ELVIRA, 18 years old, daughter of William H. Olson, 7010 Stewart avenue.



PERSINGER, HEWITT, 10 years old, 50 Florence avenue, identified by J. W. Harrison, a cousin.

PASSE, ELIZABETH, 6 years old, 552 East Forty-ninth street; identified by her father.

PAGE, CHARLES T., 6562 Stewart avenue; body identified.

PAGE, HARROLD, 6562 Stewart avenue, 12 years old.

PAULMAN, WILLIAM, 22 years old, 3738 State street.

PAYSON, RUTH, 14 years old, 1 Elizabeth street, Oak Park.

PECK, WILLIS W., 2644 North Hermitage avenue.

PIERCE, MRS. L. H., 32 years old, Plainwell, Mich.; guest at home of her brother, R. B. Carter, 3821 Lake avenue, who identified body.

POWER, MISS LILLY, 442 West Seventieth street, 21 years old.


PAGE, BERTHA, 45 years old, 6562 Stewart avenue identified by a brother.

PEASE, MRS. GRACE, wife of P. S. Pease, 6140 Ingleside avenue; body identified.

PEASE, ELIZABETH, 7 years old, daughter of P. S. Pease.

PECK, ETHEL M., 16 years old, 2042 Hermitage avenue; identified by Dr. Steele.

PELTON, MISS LILLIAN, 30 years old, Des Moines; identified by W. F. Wilson of Des Moines.

PERSINGER, MRS. FRANK, 50 Florence avenue; identified from clothing.

[Pg 347]

PINNEY, MRS. BELLE, 353 South Leavitt street.

PALMER, MRS. KATIE, 33 years old, 1141 Judson avenue, Evanston.

PALMER, RICHARD G., 14 years old, 1141 Judson avenue, Evanston.

PALMER, WILLIAM, 42 years old; salesman; 1141 Judson avenue, Evanston.

PALMER, HOWARD, 10 years old, 1141 Judson avenue, Evanston.

POLTE, LINDEN W., 14 years old, Lakeside, Ill.; body identified by John W. Willard, uncle.

PATTERSON, CRAWFORD JULIAN, 12 years old, 4467 Oakenwald avenue.

PATTERSON, WILLIAM ADDISON, 10 years old, 4467 Oakenwald avenue.

PAYNE, MRS. JAMES, 357 Garfield boulevard, 35 years.

PEASE, MRS. AUGUSTA, 55 years, 552 East Forty-ninth street.

PILAT, JOSEPHINE, 13 years old, 34 Humboldt boulevard.

POND, MRS. EVA, 1272 Lyman avenue.

POND, RAYMOND, 14 years old, 1272 Lyman avenue, Ravenswood.

POND, HELEN, 7 years old, 1272 Lyman avenue, Ravenswood.

POTTLITZER, JACK, 11 years old, Lafayette, Ind.

PRIDEMORE, EDITH S., 32 years old, Fifty-eighth and Kimbark avenue.



QUITCH, MRS. W. J., 249 North Ashland avenue.

 [Pg 348]


RATTEY, WILLIAM A., 917 North Artesian avenue, died at the county hospital from burns and internal injuries; identified by Charles J. Rattey, 980 Talman avenue, his brother.

REED, NELLIE, 66 Rush street, leader of the flying ballet in the "Mr. Bluebeard" company, died at the county hospital from burns on the body; she was identified by Hermann Schultz of New York, a member of the company.

REGENSBURG, HELEN, daughter of Samuel H. Regensburg, Vendome hotel, Sixty-second street and Monroe avenue.

REGENSBURG, HAZEL, daughter of Samuel H. Regensburg, Vendome hotel.

REIDY, ANNA, 614 South Sawyer avenue, daughter of Policeman John Reidy.

REISS, ERNEST, 11 years old, 4244 Vincennes avenue; identified by uncle.

REIDY, MARY, 614 Sawyer avenue, sister of Anna.

REIDY, NELLIE, 614 Sawyer avenue, and sister of other two women, identified by Catherine Campbell, 623 South Sawyer avenue.

REISS, ERNA, 3760 Indiana avenue.

REITER, MISS REINA, 55 years old, 3000 Michigan avenue; with Miss Reiter at the play was her sister, Miss Pet Bell, Potomac apartments.

REITER, MRS. M. S., 3000 Michigan avenue; identified by C. F. Cooper.

ROBERTSON, MINNIE, 15 years old, Park Ridge; body identified by brother.

RANKIN, MRS. MARTHA, 498 Fullerton avenue.

RANKIN, LOUISE, South Zanesville, O.

[Pg 349]

REID, COL. W. M., Waukegan, aged 70 years, formerly assessor; identified by papers in his pocket, by R. G. Lyon.

REID, MRS. W. M., Waukegan.

RICHARDSON, THE REV. H. L., 44 years old, 5737 Drexel avenue, pastor of Congregational Church in Whiting, Ind.; also student in the divinity school of the University of Chicago; was pastor of a Congregational Church in Ripon, Wis., for twelve years.

RIFE, MRS. WILLIAM, 516 East Forty-sixth street.

RIMES, DR. M. B., 6331 Wentworth avenue; attended theater with wife and three sons.

RIMES, MRS. M. B., wife of Dr. Rimes.

RIMES, MYRON, 10 years old, son of Dr. Rimes.

RIMES, THOMAS M., 7 years old, son of Dr. Rimes.

RIMES, LLOYD B., 5 years old, son of Dr. Rimes.

ROGERS, ROSE, 32 years, 1342 North Sangamon street; identified by husband.


RUBLY, MRS. LOUISE, 60 years old, 838 Wilson avenue; identified by her son, G. H. Rubly.

RADCLIFFE, ANNA, 6404 Calumet avenue.

RAYNOLDS, DORA, 18 years old, 4216 Forty-fifth street.

REIDY, ELENORA, 20 years old, 614 South Sawyer avenue.

REIDY, JOHN J., 614 South Sawyer avenue.

REISS, ERNEST, 11 years old, 4244 Vincennes avenue.

REYNOLDS, MARIE, 30 years, Sunnyside park.

ROBBINS, RUTH W., Madison, Wis.

ROETCHE, LILLIAN, 20 years old.

ROTTIE, LILLIAN, 10 years old, 7218 Lafayette avenue.

RUHLEMAN, CLARA, 63 years old, Detroit.

[Pg 350]

RUTIGAR, MRS. ELEANOR, 55 years old, 750 South Trumbull avenue.



SANDS, MRS. H. F., 40 years old, Tolona, Ill.

SANDS, KITTIE, Tolona, Ill., 15 years old, visiting Miss L. Barnett and Miss J. Dawson, 1006 West Fifty-fourth street.

SCHNEIDER, GEORGE GRINER, 20 years old, 437 Belden avenue.

SCHNEIDER, JAMES, 157 Roscoe boulevard.

SCHNEIDER, MRS. JAMES, 22 years old, 157 Roscoe boulevard.

SCHREINER, MRS. MAMIE L., 30 years old, 2183 West Monroe street.

SCHREINER, IRMA MAY, 5 years old, 2183 West Monroe street.

SECHRIST, MISS HATTIE, 2928 North Paulina street.

SECHRIST, JUNE, 8 years old, 2928 North Paulina street.

SCHAFFNER, MISS MINNIE, 25 years old, 578 Forty-fifth place; teacher in Forrestville school.

SHINNERS, MRS. ALICE, 24 years old, 4344 Oakenwald avenue.

SIMPSON, ADA, 40 years old, visiting at 537 West Sixty-fifth street, Denver.

SMITH, MISS BONNIE, 15 years old, 2177 Washington boulevard.

SMITH, RUTH M., 15 years old, 2177 Washington boulevard.

STAFFORD, BESSIE M., 1253 Wilcox avenue.

STRATMAN, RUTH, 18 years old, 421 East Forty-fifth street.

[Pg 351]

STERN, MARTIN, 1385 Congress street.

SAYRE, MISS CARRIE, of 7646 Bond avenue, school teacher in Myra Bradwell school, Windsor Park; identified by friends; she was in the party of school teachers with Miss Alma Gustafson.

SWARTZ, MISS MARJORIE, student at Washington college, Washington, D. C., 20 years old, daughter of Dr. Thomas Benton Swartz, 146 Thirty-sixth street; died at St. Luke's hospital.

SAVILLE, WARREN E., 19 years old, 46 East Fifty-third street; formerly lived at Kankakee, Ill.

SEYMORE, A. L., 758 West Lake street.

SMITH, MRS., Desplaines, Ill.

STAFFORD, MISS ROSIE, 18 years old, address not known.

STILLMAN, MISS CARRIE, daughter of Prof. Stillman of Leland Stafford university, California; was in seat in first row of first balcony.

SHERIDAN, ANDREW, 35 years old, 4155 Wentworth avenue; identified as engineer of Wabash railroad company, by F. J. Herlihy.

STODDARD, DONALD, 11 years old, Lanark, Ill.; body identified by the father, B. M. Stoddard.

SYLVESTER, ELECTRA, 30 years old, Plainview, Mo., visiting Mrs. Andrew Irle, 1240 Lawrence avenue; body identified by name on handkerchief.

SUTTEN, HARRY P., 17 years old, 1595 West Adams street.

SEGRINT, MRS. A. N., 40 years old, Paulina street and Lawrence avenue, Irving Park; identified by husband.

STEINMETZ, MRS. O. T. P., 2541 Halsted street.

STRONG, E. K., 10 Oakland Crescent.

[Pg 352]

SAWYER, MRS. J., 102 Cleaver street.

SCHMIDT, ROSAMOND, 18 years old, daughter of H. G. Schmidt, 335 West Sixty-first street.

SCHOENBECK, ANNA, 408 East Division street; identified by mother.

SCHOENBECK, ELVINA, 408 East Division street.

SCHREINER, ARLENE, 6 years old, 2183 West Monroe street; identified by relatives.

SILL, LUCILE, 7604 Union avenue, 25 years old; identified by E. S. Hall.

SMITH, MARINE, Desplaines, daughter of Mrs. Smith.

SHABAD, MYRTLE, 14 years old, 3041 Indiana avenue.

SPECHT, MRS. B., 6542 Stewart avenue.

SPECHT, MISS EVA, 6542 Stewart avenue.

SPINDLER, MRS. J. H., Lowe, Ind.; visiting sister, Mrs. E. C. Frady, 4356 Forrestville avenue.

SPINDLER, BURDETTE, Lowe, Ind., son of Mrs. J. H. Spindler.

SQUIRE, MISS OLIVE E., 914 Cuyler avenue; identified by her father.

SQUIRE, OSCAR, 7 years old, 942 Cuyler avenue; identified by father.

STARK, MRS. N. M., Des Moines, Ia.

STODDARD, ZABELLA, 27 years old, daughter of D. M. Stoddard of Minonk, Ill.; was accompanied by young brother.

STRONG, MRS. JAMES N., 23 years old, 10 Oakland Crescent.

STUDLEY, THE REV. G. H., 3139 Parnell avenue, pastor of the Asbury Methodist Episcopal church, at Thirty-first street and Parnell avenue.

SUETSCH, W. J., 33 years old, 2496 North Ashland avenue.

[Pg 353]

SUTTLER, MRS. L. J., Des Moines, Ia.

SWARTZ, IRENE, 12 years old, 143 Thirty-fifth street.

SULLIVAN, ELLA, Knoxville, Ia., body identified by L. C. Flurnit.



TAYLOR, MRS. J. M., 31 years old, 1222 Morse avenue, Rogers Park; identified by daughter-in-law, Mrs. A. Taylor, 1028 Farwell avenue, Rogers Park.

THOMPSON, CLYDE, O., Madison, Wis.; student at University of Wisconsin; Thompson had taken his fiancée, Miss Leigh Haveland, to the theater; both perished.

TAYLOR, JAMES M., 60 years, 1222 Morse avenue, Rogers Park; identified by Albert A. Taylor.

TAYLOR, REAM, 1204 Morris avenue.

TORNEY, MRS. EDNA, 28 years old; lived at Francisco avenue and Adams street.

TRASK, MRS. E. W., Ottawa, Ill.

TAYLOR, MISS FLORA, 22 years old, at St. Luke's Hospital.


THOMAS, REMINGTON HEWITT, 18 years old, 62 Woodland Park, son of Frank H. Thomas.

THONI, CLARA, 4644 Evans avenue; identified by Maud Partell.

TRASK, MRS. R. H., Ottawa, Ill.; identified at Carroll's.

TURNEY, MRS. SUSIE, 40 years old, 534 East Fiftieth street; identified by her son.

TARNEY, CARRIE, 534 East Fiftieth street.

TAYLOR, RENE MARY, 12 years, 1222 Morse avenue.

THATCHER, WALTER, 38 years old, 341 West Sixtieth place.

[Pg 354]

THOMPSON, C. J. (supposed); name on collar.

TOBIAS, FLORENCE, 1182 Flournoy street.



VALLELY, MRS. J. T., 858 Sawyer avenue.

VALLELY, BERNICE, daughter of Mrs. Vallely.

VAN INGEN, ELIZABETH,. 9 years old, Kenosha, Wis.

VAN INGEN, JOHN, Kenosha, Wis., 20 years old, famed golf player, son of H. F. Van Ingen; was at the theater with parents, three sisters, and two brothers; died at Sherman house, where he and his parents were taken.

VAN INGEN, GRACE, Kenosha, 23 years old, daughter of H. F. Van Ingen.

VAN INGEN, NED, 18 years old, son of H. F. Van Ingen, Kenosha.

VAN INGEN, MARGARET, 16 years old, daughter of H. F. Van Ingen, Kenosha.



WOLFF, HARRIET, daughter of L. Wolff, president of L. Wolff Manufacturing Company, 1319 Washington boulevard.

WACHS, MRS. ELLA, of Laporte, Ind.; body identified by her brother, F. C. Flentye.

WASHINGTON, MISS FREDA, 22 years old, 1897 Melrose street.

WEINDER, PAUL, 17 years old, 201 South Harvey avenue, Oak Park; identified by father.

WELLS, DONALD, 12 years old, 1228 Diversey boulevard.

WALDMAN, SAM, 20 years, 608 Milwaukee avenue.

WALMAN, SIMON, Austin. Identified by Edward Williams.

[Pg 355]

WASHINGTON, JOHN, 22 years old, 1847 Melrose street.

WILCOX, MRS. EVA M., 45 years old, 109 South Leavitt street.

WHITE, MRS. W. K., Washington Heights. Identified by Secretary White of the finance committee, city hall.

WHITE, MISS FLORENCE O., 22 years old, 437 West Thirty-eighth street. Identified by F. J. Shaw.

WHITE, MRS. HIRAM, and child, Logansport, Ind.

WIEMER, MRS. THOMAS, 30 years old, 838 Wilson avenue. Identified by husband.

WILLIAMS, HOWARD, 18 years old, Cornell student.

WENTON, MISS ALICE, 6241 Kimbark avenue.

WAGNER, MARY ANNA, 629 Sedgwick street.

WECK, ERICK, Milwaukee; guest of Joseph Schneider, Chicago.

WIRE, EVA, 15 years old, 613 West Sixty-first place. Identified by her uncle, E. A. Mayo.

WOOD, MRS. J., 545 West Sixty-fifth street.

WULSON, HOWARD J., 213 Halsted street Identified by E. J. Blair.

WEBBER, JOSEPH, Janesville, Wis.

WEBER, MRS. CARRIE, aged 49 years, wife of John J. Weber, 402 Garfield avenue.

WUNDERLICH, MRS. HARRY, 34 years old. Identified by her husband.

WESKOPS, IRMA, aged 15 years, 4939 Champlain avenue. Identified by brother.

WEIHERS, IDA, 1970 Kimball avenue.

WEINFELD, HANNAH, 20 years old, 3745 Wabash avenue.

WERNISH, MRS. MARY, 341 Center street.

WERSKOWSKY, MRS., 125 Sangamon street.

[Pg 356]

WINDER, BARRY, 12 years old, 201 South Harvey avenue, Oak Park.

WOLF, SADIE, 26 years old, Hammond, Ind.

WOODS, MRS. J. L., 49 years old, 437 Sixty-fifth street.



ZEISLER, WALTER B., aged 17 years, University of Chicago student, son of Dr. Joseph Zeisler, 3256 Lake Park avenue. Identified by name on watch charm.

ZIMMERMAN, MISS BESSIE, 954 St. Louis avenue, teacher in public schools, died at St. Luke's hospital.

ZIMMERMAN, MARY E., 20 years old, 841 South Turner avenue.

 [Pg 357]


Aurora, Ill.   1
Barrington, Ill.   2
Bartlett, Ill.   2
Battle Creek, Mich.   2
Berwyn, Ill.   2
Binghamton, N. Y.   1
Bloomington, Ill.   1
Brush, Colo.   1
Burlington, Iowa   1
Cedar Rapids, Iowa   3
Chicago, Ill.   300
Clinton, Iowa   2
Custer Park, Ill.   1
Davenport, Iowa   1
Decatur, Ill.   1
Decorah, Iowa   1
Delaware, O.   8
Des Moines, Iowa   5
Des Plaines, Ill.   2
Detroit, Mich.   2
Dodgeville, Ind.   1
Elgin, Ill.   2
Eola, Ill.   2
Evanston. Ill.   12
Fargo, Minn.   1
Freeport, Ill.   1
Galesburg, Ill.   1
Geneva, Ill.   3
Gibson City, Ill.   1
Glen View, Ill.   1
Granville, Mich.   2
Grossdale, Ill.   1
Hammond, Ind.   4
Hart, Mich.   3
Harvard, Ill.   2
Janesville, Wis.   1
Jonesville, Mich.   1
Kansas City, Mo.   1
Kenosha, Wis.   7
Keokuk, Iowa   1
Kirkville, Mo.   1
Knox, Ind.   1
Knoxville, Iowa   1
Lafayette, Ind.   1
Lake Geneva, Ill.   1
Lakeside, Ill.   1
Laporte, Ind.   2
Lena, Ill.   1
Lincoln, Ill.   1
Lockport, Ill.   1
Logansport, Ind.   3
Lowell, Ind.   2
Madison, Wis.   1
Madison, S. D.   1
Martinsburg, O.   2
Mattoon, Ill.   1
Milwaukee, Wis.   3
Minonk, Ill.   2
New York City   2
Norwood Park, Ill.   3
Oak Park, Ill.   5
Ontonagon, Mich.   2
Ottawa, Ill.   3
Palo Alto, Cal.   1
Petersburg, Ind.   2
Pittsburg, Pa.   1
Plainwell, Mich.   2
Quincy, Ill.   2
Racine, Wis.   3
Rensselaer, Ind.   1
Rock Island, Ill.   1
Savannah, Ill.   1
St. Louis, Mo.   3
St. Mary's, Ind.   1
Thief River Falls, Minn.   1
Tolono, Ill.   2
Washington Heights, Ill.   3
Watertown, Wis.   2
Waukegan, Ill.   3
West Grossdale, Ill.   4
West Superior, Wis.   2
Wheaton, Ill.   3
Winnetka, Ill.   8
Woodford, O.   1
Woodstock, Ill.   2
Zanesville, O.   3
Total   570

This remarkable table shows that victims of the fire were from thirteen states and eighty-six cities and towns.



[Pg 358]



All the world was startled on Sunday, February 7, 1904, just 39 days after the Iroquois theater horror, by another sickening visitation of the fire fiend. This time the devouring element fell upon the city of Baltimore and all but effaced it from the map. Millions upon millions in property were swept away, old established firms annihilated and miles of streets occupied by business houses laid waste. Fortunately this disaster was accompanied by no loss of life.

Twenty-seven hours elapsed before the conflagration was checked. Fire fighters hurried to the scene from a number of near by cities and aided the local fire department in subduing the flames. Strangely enough it was a coal yard that broke the onward sweep of the sea of fire and enabled the firemen to bring the fire under control. Even then it burned for days, feeding on the debris and wreckage that marked its early progress. The greatest danger past troops and police relieved the firemen who sought rest exhausted and maddened by the terrible ordeal through which they had passed.

History affords no parallel of the conditions in fire-swept Baltimore on the following Tuesday when its people awoke to the mighty task of reconstruction looming up before them. After having suffered a loss estimated at $125,000,000 a cry of rejoicing went up among them because of the absence of casualties. Not a life was lost in the avalanche of flame and only one person was seriously injured—Jacob Inglefritz, a volunteer fireman from York, Pa. While the hospitals were full to overflowing the injuries sustained were of a minor nature. A strange comparison with the [Pg 359]Iroquois theater fire of a month before! In that instance 600 met death and a host were seriously injured in a fire of fifteen minutes' duration confined to one building that suffered insignificant damage. Here in a fire that swept for days over the business heart of a great city not a life was lost. Such is the strange operation of providence.

Other conflagrations suffered by American cities have nothing in common with Baltimore experience. Fire destroyed 674 buildings in New York on Dec. 26, 1835, causing a property loss of $17,000,000 without causing loss of life. Thirty-six years later Chicago burned, wiping out 17,450 buildings and 250 lives and entailing a loss estimated at $200,000,000. The following year, 1872, fire laid waste 65 acres of property in Boston, causing a property loss of $80,000,000 and killing fourteen persons. The partial destruction of Ottawa and Hull, Canada, April 26, 1900, inflicted a loss of $17,000,000 and brought death to seven. On June 30 of the same year the North German Lloyd dock fire in Hoboken, N. J., cost 150 lives and $7,000,000 in property. Jacksonville, Fla., lost $10,000,000 through a visitation of fire that swept through an area 13 blocks wide and two miles long. The last in the list was the Paterson, N. J., fire of Feb. 8, 1902, which destroyed 75 buildings valued at $18,000,000.

As fire and water have ever been recognized as the most potent agencies of death and destruction it will readily appear that seared, scorched Baltimore was fortunate indeed in the absence of casualties. On the calm of a restful Sabbath, marred only by the presence of a high wind, the consuming storm broke upon the doomed city. To that wind and the presence of hundreds of old fashioned highly inflammable structures nestling among the sky scrapers may be attributed the indescribably rapid spread of the flames.

The start of the fire was in the basement of Hurst & Co.'s wholesale dry goods house. After burning for about ten minutes there was a loud report from the interior of the building as the gasoline tank used for the engine in the building[Pg 360] exploded. Instantly the immense structure collapsed, sending destruction to adjacent buildings in all directions and causing the fire to be beyond control of the firemen.

Spreading throughout the wholesale section, the fire burned out every wholesale house of note in the city, swept along through the Baltimore and Fayette street retail sections, destroyed all the prominent office buildings, leveled banks and brokerage offices, as well as the Chamber of Commerce and Stock Exchange, in the financial section, then sped on through the wholesale and export trade sections centering about Exchange place. It finally stopped at Jones falls, a creek that runs through Baltimore, but swept along the creek to the lumber district and the docks.

As soon as the threatening character of the fire was realized appeals were sent broadcast for help and desperate measures were adopted to prevent the spread of the flames. To gain that end huge buildings were leveled through the agency of dynamite. Eleven fire engines and crews were hurried from New York by a fast special train and they joined in the battle early and fought like demons until exhausted. Philadelphia, Wilmington, Washington, Frederick, Md., Westminster, Md., and York, Pa., each sent brave contingents of men with an equipment of apparatus to reinforce the desperate firemen of Baltimore.

The first attempt at dynamiting was in the large building of Armstrong, Cator & Co., but it failed to collapse and attention was turned to the building at the southwest corner of Charles and German streets, where six charges of dynamite, each charge containing 100 pounds, were exploded. The tremendous force of the explosion tore out the massive granite columns that supported the building and left it with apparently almost no support, but the walls failed to collapse and stood until the flames had crossed Charles street and were eating into the block between Charles and Light streets.

Meantime the fire had been communicated to the row of buildings on South Charles street, between German and Lombard streets, and all those places, occupied principally by[Pg 361] wholesale produce and grain dealers, were in flames. Before midnight the Carrollton hotel was in flames and the fire was sweeping toward Calvert street with irresistible fury.

It was a terrible Sunday afternoon and night! People forgot their usual devotions at church to pack their most valued possessions ready for flight. Men of wealth left their families and firesides to join in the work of suppressing the flames. Women prepared to flee with their valuables before the wave of fire they momentarily expected to roll down upon them. Wealth and employment were disappearing under the advance of the fiery element and gloom, fear and dark forebodings settled down upon the doomed municipality. But there was neither sleep nor rest for man, woman or child.

Firemen working on the south side had succeeded in checking the flames at Lombard street and, as the wind was blowing from the northwest, there was no danger of it spreading farther in that direction. The western limit had also been reached at Howard street and the danger was confined to the east and north.

The progress of the flames toward the north had in the meantime been so rapid as to be simply appalling. From structure to structure they flew, licking up the massive buildings as if they were composed of paper. In the block between German and Baltimore streets they flew along and almost before it could be realized the buildings along Baltimore street were blazing from roof to basement.

For a time it was hoped the fire could be kept from crossing the north side of Baltimore street and the firemen made a desperate effort to prevent it. The effort was useless, however, and soon the tall, narrow building of Mullin's hotel began to dart out tongues of flame and the remainder of the buildings between Sharp and Liberty streets were ablaze and the fire was marching north. The flames flew rapidly from place to place and soon the entire south side of Fayette street was in their grasp. Down Fayette to Charles they swept and in a short space of time the building occupied by Putts & Co. was doomed.

[Pg 362]Seeing that nothing could save it, it was decided to destroy the building with dynamite in the hope of preventing the fire from crossing Charles street. The explosion was successful in accomplishing the object as the entire corner collapsed instantly. This had, apparently, no effect upon the progress of the fire, for almost before the sound of the falling walls had died away the building on the east side of Charles street began to blaze, and it was evident the block between Charles and St. Paul streets were doomed.

In a desperate but futile effort to prevent the fire going further to the east building after building was dynamited in this block, but it was all of no avail and the fire swept steadily onward.

The Daily Record building was soon in flames and not many minutes later the fire had leaped over St. Paul street and the lofty and massive Calvert building began to emit smoke and flame. The Equitable building, just over a narrow alley, quickly followed and these two immense buildings gave forth a glare that lighted the city for miles around.

It was thought that the fire could be prevented from crossing to the north side of Fayette street and here again a desperate stand was made by the firemen. Again it was useless and soon the large building of Hall, Headlington & Co., on the northwest corner of Charles and Fayette streets, was blazing brightly. With scarcely a pause the fire leaped across to the east side of Charles street and enveloped the handsome building of the Union Trust company, while at the same time the large buildings to the west of Hall, Headlington & Co., occupied by Wise Bros. & Oppenheim, Oberndorf & Co., were aflame throughout.

Down Fayette street to the east the flames swept, and soon the new courthouse was ablaze. The fire area then extended along Liberty street north to Fayette, east to Charles, north to Lexington, south on Charles to Baltimore street, east on Baltimore to Holliday and from there in spots to Center Market space.

When it was seen the courthouse could not be saved the[Pg 363] court records were all removed to the northern police station, two miles and half away. The Continental Trust building, a thirteen-story structure, caught at the tenth floor and was totally destroyed after burning like a great torch. The private bank of Alexander Brown, located at Baltimore and Calvert streets, in the very heart of the fire district, a one story stone structure, miraculously escaped annihilation, the surviving building out of a great spread of two square miles of costly structures that caught the early morning sun that fateful day. Sunrise that disclosed naught save ruin, chaos and confusion.

Thus raged the warfare of man against a relentless hungry element for 27 hours. It was 11:40 Sunday morning when the fire started. At 2:40 Monday afternoon the joyful news was spread that the allied fire departments had the flames within control. Hotels, banks, business houses, factories—in fact everything in the heart of the city was swept away. All the local newspapers save one were destroyed, the street car systems were without power to operate and the lighting facilities were sadly crippled. Towering ruins loomed up on every hand, swaying in the breeze and jeopardizing life. And still the countless fires in the burned district raged on, illuminating the heavens and clouding the atmosphere with dense smoke against which myriads of sparks twinkled like miniature stars.

The last places to go before the fire started to burn itself out, were the icehouse and coal yard of the American Ice company. The coal yard, which spread out about 200 yards south of the icehouse, was the means of staying the march of the flames on the south and Jones falls on the east. The Norfolk wharf of the Baltimore steam-packet company, which was stocked with barrels of resin and other miscellaneous merchandise, was destroyed before the ice company's plant was reached.

At 10 o'clock Monday the fire was reported under control, but a little later the flames were sweeping along the harbor and river men began taking their vessels rapidly out into the[Pg 364] middle of the stream. There were about seventy-five of these vessels and they were hastily anchored down the bay. The buildings of the Standard Oil company and the Buckman Fruit company along the water front were soon in flames. This renewal of the energy of the fire continued until well along into the afternoon of the second day.

Following is a partial list of the principal buildings destroyed in the baptism of fire or by dynamite in an effort to stay the flames:

The courthouse, loss, $4,000,000

The postoffice, $1,000,000

Equitable building, twelve stories, $1,135,000

Union Trust Company building, 11 stories, $1,000,000

Continental Trust building, 16 stories, $1,125,000

Baltimore & Ohio general offices, $1,125,000

Calvert building, $1,125,000

Hopkins bank.

Holliday Street theater.

Guardian Trust building.

Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone company.

Maryland Trust company.

Alexander Brown Banking company.

Bell Telephone building.

Custom house.

Western Union building.

National Exchange bank.

United States Express office.

Mercantile Trust building.

Baltimore American.

Baltimore Herald.

Baltimore Sun.

Baltimore Evening News.

Baltimore Record.

John E. Hurst, dry goods, $1,500,000.

William Koch Importing company, $150,000.

Daniel Miller company, dry goods, $1,500,000.

Dixon & Bartlett company, shoes, $175,000.

[Pg 365]Joyner, Wilse & Co., hats and caps, $100,000.

Spragins, Buck & Co., shoes, $125,000.

Cohen-Adler Shoe company, $125,000.

L. S. Fitman, women's wrappers; Jacob R. Seligman, paper, and Nathan Rosen, women's cloaks, $100,000.

Morton, Samuels & Co., boots and shoes, and Strauss Bros., storage, $100,000.

Bates Rubber company, $135,000.

Guggenheimer, Wells & Co., lithographers and printers, $125,000.

M. Friedman & Sons, clothing, and F. Schleunes, clothing, $150,000.

Schwarzkopf Toy company, $100,000.

National Exchange bank, building and contents, $125,000.

S. Lowman & Co., clothing, $125,000.

John E. Hurst & Co., storage, $150,000.

Lawrence & Gould Shoe company and Bates Hat company, $125,000.

S. Ginsberg & Co., clothing, $125,000.

Winkelmann & Brown Drug company, $125,000.

R. M. Sutton & Co., dry goods, $1,500,000.

Chesapeake Shoe company, $100,000.

S. F. & A. F. Miller, clothing manufacturers, $150,000.

S. Halle Sons, boots and shoes, $100,000.

Strauss Bros., dry goods, $250,000.

A. C. Meyer & Co., patent medicines, $150,000.

Strauss, Eiseman & Co., shirt manufacturers, $150,000.

North Bros. & Strauss, $150,000.

McDonald & Fisher, wholesale paper, $100,000.

Wiley, Bruster & Co., dry goods, and F. W. & E. Dammam, cloth, $125,000.

Henry Oppenheimer & Co., clothing, and Van Sant, Jacobs & Co., shirts, $175,000.

Lewis Lauer & Co., shirts, $100,000.

Champion Shoe Manufacturing company and Driggs, Currin & Co., shoes, $100,000.

Mendels Bros., women's wrappers, $125,000.

[Pg 366]Blankenberg, Gehrmann & Co., notions, $125,000.

Leo Keene & Co., women's cloaks, and Henry Pretzfelder & Co., boots and shoes, $125,000.

Peter Rohe & Son, harness manufacturers, $125,000.

James Roberts Manufacturing company, plumbers' supplies, $100,000.

R. J. Anderf & Co., boots and shoes, and James Robertson Manufacturing company, storage, $100,000.

L. Grief & Bros., clothing, $150,000.

Maas & Kemper, embroidery and laces, $125,000.

Within 72 hours of the start of the fire the people of Baltimore were giving thought to reconstruction. After an investigation it was announced that the vaults of the Continental Trust company, which contained securities to the value of $200,000,000, were intact and that most of the great bank and safety deposit vaults escaped destruction. To relieve banks and citizens from the embarrassment of financial transactions the next ten days were declared legal holidays in the commonwealth of Maryland.

Mayor McLane reflected local public sentiment when he sent out the following declaration to the world at large:

"Baltimore will now enter undaunted into the task of resurrection. A greater and more beautiful city will rise from the ruins and we shall make of this calamity a future blessing. We are staggered by the terrible blow, but we are not discouraged, and every energy of the city as a municipality and its citizens as private individuals will be devoted to a rehabilitation that will not only prove the stuff we are made of but be a monument to the American spirit."

With the exception of the Baltimore World all the local newspapers suffered the loss of their plants, moved their staffs to Washington and issued editions regularly from there devoted to Baltimore news. The World, published in the thick of the ruin and desolation, gave voice to its sentiment in the following editorial:

"God be merciful unto those who suffered from the awful calamity that swept down on Baltimore.

[Pg 367]"Tongue fails; pen is inadequate and refuses to comprehend the extent of the disaster that has overtaken us. We have heard of awful calamities to others; in fancied security we have looked on in sympathy while others have suffered. Now the pain, the anxiety, the suffering is ours and we stand appalled, unable to realize the immensity of the terrible affair.

"The World is the only newspaper office in the city that is standing. Once it was on fire and was saved only by the earnest, valiant and courageous work of the World employes and the goodness of God. To our suffering contemporaries we extend the greatest sympathy and to the hundreds of other sufferers also. For those thousands who are thrown out of work in the dead of winter, with sorrow and suffering staring them in the face, our heart throbs with a feeling that we cannot express. All we can say is, 'God help them.'"

Local and national military authorities took immediate charge of the situation to prevent looting and disorder, possible because of the vast sums of money in the various safes and vaults scattered about in the ruins. Recognition of the disaster came from the nation in another practical form. A bill was promptly and appropriately introduced in Washington by Representative Martin Emerich of Illinois reciting the destruction by fire in preamble and then continuing:

Whereas, The fire has so crippled the merchants and business interests in the City of Baltimore that they are unable adequately and properly to provide and care for the many who are rendered homeless and penniless by this calamity, and

Whereas, The City of Baltimore and its people are probably unable in the face of the unlooked for catastrophe to provide proper means for effectually checking the fire and promptly to remove the embers and debris; and

Whereas, The same, while remaining, are constantly a menace to the safety of many citizens, it is enacted that the Secretary of the Treasury be authorized and directed to pay upon the order of the City Council of Baltimore, certified by the Mayor of the city, to any designated authority of[Pg 368] said city, any necessary sum of money not exceeding the sum of $1,000,000 out of any money in the treasury of the United States not otherwise appropriated, to be used for the purpose of providing shelter for those rendered homeless by the said fire, and also to be used for the purpose of clearing the streets and localities devastated by the fire and in order to render the city available for the use of residents and others as speedily as possible.

The bill was referred to the committee on appropriations.

Two days after the fire insurance men estimated the loss at $125,000,000 and the insurance carried at $90,000,000.

For the thousands of clerks and other employes whose positions are gone forever there seemed to be nothing before them but to move to other cities.

In the work of rebuilding came employment for another army, but it offered no avenue of escape to those whose doom was sounded by the explosions of dynamite and the crash of falling walls. Few of the men were fitted for the heavy labor of the building trades.

Baltimore's great wholesale houses and wharf district have been ruined—not irrevocably, but to such an extent that the fear grips the heart of every Baltimore business man that the city may be unable to recover from it for many years.

Amid ruins still hot and smoking Baltimore began its resurrection and made known its determination to rise, Phoenix-like, through its own efforts, by politely, yet firmly declining proffers of help that poured in from all sides. The blow that befell Baltimore aroused an intense civic pride that found expression in an effort to work out its own salvation. In declining financial assistance Mayor McLane was actuated by the spirit shown by the Chamber of Commerce, Stock Exchange and practically every local commercial body, which came forward with offers of all the money needed by the city for immediate use. It was decided that should the Herculean task prove too great for the municipality there would still be ample time to seek outside assistance.

While heavily armed soldiers marched about the blistering[Pg 369] ruins with stately tread holding back those who only a few hours before had fought the police to save their valuables at the risk of their lives, the latter—energetic business men—were already preparing to re-open their establishments. Old buildings, long unused, private residences near the business section, in fact, every available structure to be secured blossomed forth within 24 hours with crudely lettered signs on board or cloth announcing that within was the temporary office of a firm. The names on some of these signs were those that rank high in the financial and commercial circles of the world, and in these temporary offices men who for years have known only mahogany desks worked on cheap tables and plain boards.

One of the surprises of the fire was the discovery after the excitement was over that two financial concerns whose homes were directly in the path of the flames escaped practically unharmed. These were the Mercantile Trust company and Brown Brothers' Bank. The escape of these buildings was due to their lack of height. They do not exceed four stories, and as they were surrounded by lofty structures the flames swept over them.

Unconcealed joy greeted the discovery and the information that millions upon millions in securities in various vaults escaped destruction, whereas all was at first believed to have been swept away. Practically all of the vaults and strong rooms and safes of the financial concerns whose buildings were destroyed were found unhurt. A tremendous loss in securities had been anticipated at first, and when vault after vault yielded up its treasures unharmed the joy of the guardians was boundless.

From one trust company's safes alone papers to the amount of more than $200,000,000 were recovered. Merchants and their assistants, smoke soiled and begrimed and hollow-eyed from anxiety and loss of sleep, worked like laborers in the smoking ruins to uncover their safes, and in nearly every instance they were rewarded by intact contents.

 [Pg 370]


Mrs. Melms was before her marriage an Athens (O.) girl and was a great favorite there. For a number of years she conducted a millinery store in that place, her maiden name being Blanche Cornell.



Mrs. Boettcher was the wife of Charles F. Boettcher, a butcher on the south side. She was the only one of the family who perished in the fire.

 [Pg 371]


Miss Crocker was for seventeen years a teacher of the higher grades in the Oakland school, coming to Chicago from Princeton, Ill. She attended the theater with a friend, Mrs. L. H. Pierce, and little girl of Plainville, Mich. All were lost.



Mrs. Steinmetz was fifty-one years of age and the wife of O. T. P. Steinmetz. She was born in Galena, Ill., her maiden name being Emma Garner.

 [Pg 372]


This victim of the Iroquois fire, 28 years of age, was a Russian by birth, and left a husband and two children. The latter were girls, four and two years of age, respectively.



A Russian girl, only eighteen years of age. She was one of only three or four of that nationality to lose her life in the disaster.

 [Pg 373]


Daughter of Mr. and Mrs. George R. Bond, and granddaughter of Benjamin Moore, ten years of age. Her mother did not attend the matinee and her father was absent in Nome, Alaska, where he holds a government position.



Daughter of Mrs. Perry Moore, 13 years old, who also perished in the fire, and granddaughter of Benjamin Moore. At the time of the calamity her father was on his way home from Nome, Alaska.

 [Pg 374]


The three children of William Dee attended the matinee with their nurse. Louise was two years of age and the two boys, twins, Edward Mansfield and Samuel Allerton Dee, were seven years old. Eddie (the boy to the right of the group) and his baby sister were killed. Samuel escaped, but the nurse was found badly mangled, burned and unconscious.



The child of William Dee, who was killed with her brother at the Iroquois fire. She was not burned, but is supposed to have been suffocated or died of shock and exposure.

 [Pg 375]


Wife of Wm. H. Hoist, and daughter of ex-Chief of Police Badenoch, who, with her three children, Allan, Gertrude and Amy, perished in the fire. She was identified by her husband by means of her wedding ring and a diamond ring.



Gertrude was ten years of age and with her younger sister, Amy, and her older brother, Allan, was a pupil of the Sumner school. All were burned in the fire. The picture was taken some time ago when she was a flower girl at a wedding.

 [Pg 376]


The daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Wm. H. Holst. Amy was seven years of age and a pupil of the Sumner School. She, with her mother, brother and sister, was a victim of the fire.



The mother of Mrs. Sidonic (Herman) Fellman, who was burned in the fire with her son-in-law and his mother.

 [Pg 377]


Mr. and Mrs. Fellman attended the matinee with their little girl, twelve years of age, and their mothers. All except Mrs. Fellman and her daughter perished.



The mother of Mr. Herman Fellman, who, with her son and Mrs. Herman Fellman's mother, were victims of the fire.

 [Pg 378]


Mr. Decker, who, with his wife and daughter, perished in the fire, was a prosperous real estate dealer, 65 years of age. He had a particular horror of fire and seldom attended a theater. Only one member of the family survives, a daughter and bride of a few months, Mrs. Blanche D. Kinsey, wife of Carl D. Kinsey, of the Chicago Beach Hotel.



Daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Myron A. Decker, who, with her parents, met her death in the fire. She was thirty-three years of age.

 [Pg 379]


Mrs. Brennan was the wife of P. G. Brennan, connected with the stereotyping department of the "Chicago American." Before marriage she was Miss Maria Hogan. Mrs. Brennan and her boy were lost.



Jimmy Brennan, as he was generally known, was the son of Mr. and Mrs. P. G. Brennan, and, with his mother, was burned in the fire. He was eleven years of age, sturdy and bright.

 [Pg 380]


Mrs. Eisendrath attended the matinee with her talented little daughter, Natalie. When identified they were found locked in each other's arms.



Mrs. S. M. Eisendrath and her daughter, Natalie, ten years of age, were both lost in the fire. They were in the first balcony and were smothered and crushed. Natalie was a bright child and an especial favorite in church entertainments.

 [Pg 381]


Mrs. Reynolds, her daughter, sister and sister's two boys attended the theater together. When entering the auditorium she remarked: "What a death-trap!" Soon afterward she and her little daughter were burned. Her sister and boys escaped.



The daughter of Mrs. Reynolds who perished with her mother in the theater disaster was only seven years of age. Both were burned beyond recognition.

 [Pg 382]


Myrtle and her brother Theodore, attending the grammar grades, were at the matinee with a girl friend, Rose Elkan. They all met death in the fire.



Theodore was a bright boy, eleven years of age, and, as stated, formed one of the merry party of three which met their fate on that terrible afternoon.

 [Pg 383]


Mrs. Dixon attended the matinee with her two daughters, 15 and 9 years of age respectively, all being lost in the fire. She was the wife of A. Z. Dixon, a well known West Side grocer.


421 E. 45TH ST., CHICAGO.

Dora attended the fateful matinee in company with her mother and her cousin, Ruth Stratman, of Dodgeville, Wis. Both the girls were burned to death. Mrs. Reynolds being the first to cross the plank to the university building.

 [Pg 384]


The daughter of Mr. and Mrs. A. Z. Dixon, fifteen years of age, who with her mother and younger sister, was burned to death in the Iroquois theater fire.



The younger daughter of Mr. and Mrs. A. Z. Dixon, 9 years old, who with her mother and sister, lost her life in the holocaust.

 [Pg 385]


The son of Benjamin Bissinger, the real estate man. The boy had an unusual poetic gift. He attended the theater with his cousin and sister, Miss Tessie. The latter only was saved.



Who was in the gallery and made a heroic but unsuccessful attempt to save her brother, Walter Bissinger, the Boy Poet of Illinois, and her cousin, Jack Pottlitzer, of Lafayette, Ind.

End of Project Gutenberg's Chicago's Awful Theater Horror, by Various


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