Thirty-five year old Edyth Beder
Vallely and her only child,
eleven year old Bernice Vallely
Twenty-five year old Amy Beder
McKenna and her only child,
three year old Bernard McKenna
Beder (1837-1910), a painter by trade, and
Elizabeth "Lizzie" Kittel Beder (1842-1929) were
married in 1867. Over the next seventeen years
Elizabeth gave birth to eight children, of whom six
were still living on December 29, 1903. The
next day Jacob and Elizabeth had to endure the loss
of two of their daughters and two grandchildren at
the Iroquois Theater in Chicago.
Edyth (b. 1868) was the Beder's oldest daughter. She
married divorcee John Linton Vallely (1868-1941) in
1892. He had emigrated from Ireland to America in
1886 and was on the Grain Board of Trade at the time
of their marriage.* They had one child, Bernice Vallely, who was eleven when she went to the
Iroquois. By his first wife John also had a son,
William E. F. Vallely.
/ Amie Josephine Beder McKenna (b. 1878) of 758
South Kedzie Ave was twenty-five years old at her
death. She was married to John L. McKenna
(1874-1930) who did upholstery work. Amy was a
seamstress. Their only child was three-year old
Bernard McKenna (b.1900), one of the youngest
Iroquois victims. John McKenna identified the bodies
of his wife and son.
There was a ten-year difference in the Beder sisters'
ages and their economic circumstances were different
as well. One had married a craftsman and the other a
trader on the Chicago Board of Trade.* When Amy and Edyth made plans to spend time together at the
matinee, Elizabeth and Jacob may have felt pleased
that family bonds were stronger than age and
Amie and the children were seated at the front of
the balcony on the second floor. John
McKenna and John Vallely identified the bodies of
their wives and children. The McKenna's were
found at Gavins Funeral home, Bernard's body
virtually untouched and Amy so badly burned that her
husband could identify her body only because she'd
been brought to the morgue still holding Bernard.
Funeral services were conducted by Reverend D. F.
Fox of the California Avenue Congregational church
and burial was at Forest Home cemetery in Chicago.
years after the fire
Elizabeth moved with their son Edwin and daughter
Ruby to California where they spent the rest of
their lives. Ruby married Theodore Paulsen.
As a teenager in 1900 she had lived with Amie, John
and Bernice so keenly felt their loss. She
named her firstborn daughter Amy Bernice after her
sister and niece, and her son Donald Bernardt
Paulsen after her nephew.
Discrepancies and addendum
* Prior to his marriage to Edyth, John Vallely was a
bookkeeper and for thirty years after the fire, a
physician. In 1900 he and his brother were
fined for operating
bucket shops but the case was dismissed.
Beder was miss spelled as Beter.
Find-A-Grave entry for Ruby Beder Paulsen
incorrectly states that Amie and Edyth each lost a
daughter, rather than that Edyth lost a daughter and
Amie a son.
John may have been estranged at the time of the
Iroquois Theater fire. According to newspaper
reports after the fire, Edyth and their son Bernard
lived at 835 Sawyer but a 1903 City directory listed
Edyth as living with her parents at 697 Ogden and
working as a clerk at 1123 144 Vanburen (Chicago,
Rock Island & Pacific Railway?) while John lived on
Iroquois Theater managers
post $10,000 bonds
Dorothy Gould was 3
years old when her parents died at the Iroquois
School teacher Anna
If you have additional
info about an Iroquois victim, or find an error, I would like to
hear from you. Chaos and communication limitations of 1903
produced many errors I'm striving to correct and welcome all the help I can get. Space is provided at the
bottom of stories for comments, or