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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,

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?

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.

[Illustration: HARRY J. POWERS, One of the Theater Managers Arrested for

[Illustration: MONROE FULKERSON, Attorney for the Fire Department.]

[Illustration: EDDIE FOY, Leading Actor, who told the audience to go out

[Illustration: SCENE ON THE STAGE WHEN THE FIRE STARTED. The star shows
where the fire started.]





[Illustration: CARTING AWAY THE DEAD.]




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.]


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


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.]


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.]

[Illustration: WILL J. DAVIS, One of the Theater Managers Arrested for


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

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 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


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 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 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 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 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 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

"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."


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 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

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.


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

"There had never been any fire drill on the stage so far as I know and I
never heard any fire instructions. Many were 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."



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

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