Twenty-year-old Bessie L. Herron
was one of twenty Iroquois Theater fire victims from
Hammond, Indiana. For her parents, she was
the fourth child they had to bury.
Two of Frank
and Maria Herron's girls had died
as toddlers, then two years before the
Iroquois fire they lost twenty-five-year-old Cora.
After the fire,
only eighteen-year-old James and seven-year-old Frances
trampled and crushed
body was found at
Ryan's Funeral Home and identified by
in the Monan Cemetery
in Monan, Indiana.
Franklin (1852-1914) and
Maria† Ginn Herron (1856-1913)
had married in 1873.
Frank was a native of Ohio and Maria of Indiana. In
Hammond, the Herron family owned their home at 123
Condit St. (Today a parking lot.)
Frank worked as a government meat
inspector in 1903, later going to work for
pioneer meat wholesaler, H. G. Hammond.
Twenty-two-year-old William A.
Paulman (b. 1881) worked
as a pattern maker and lived at 3738 State Street in
Chicago, also the location of his father's
Fred Paulman, either
William's father or brother,
identified his body, based in part on a track-and-field medal found in his pocket. Will and his
brother Harry were shotputters on the Chicago YMCA
The family buried
Will alongside his younger sister, Louisa,
in the family plot at the Oak Woods Cemetery in Chicago.
William was one of
children born to
German immigrants, Frederich (1844-1934)
and Louisa Sander Paulmann
(1850-1927), in 1903 married
for thirty-one years. In
an odd coincidence the Paulmann's, like the
Herron's, had also lost a child in 1901,
fourteen-year-old Louisa, their only daughter.
(1874-1930) WWI draft card comes a clue about
William's possible appearance. Harry described
himself as tall, stout and with brown eyes and hair.
During his 1898 Track and Field season, Chicago
newspapers described Harry as "fat" and in need of
weight loss to get into condition.
years after the fire
In the years
after the Iroquois Theater fire, Frank and Maria
Herron moved to Chicago and adopted Richard Sparrow,
the son of one of Frank's cousins. Frank and Maria
each passed before
Frances, their youngest daughter,
married and produced the daughter in
the accompanying picture.
Frances was the only Herron girl to see her sixtieth
married and produced the only two
grandchildren Frank and Maria
would know before their deaths. He named
his oldest daughter Bessie, after his
Harry Paulman married a
girl coincidentally named Bessie. He owned
Pierce-Arrow auto dealerships in Chicago, St. Paul
and Minnesota for a decade or so and later went into real
estate. Fred Sr. retired from the barbershop by
1910. Fred Jr. went to work selling cars for
Harry for a time but eventually followed in his
father's footsteps and took up barbering. In
1914 Harry's Bessie lost control of her electric car, drove
onto the sidewalk and killed a sixteen-month-old
baby in a carriage. The coroner's jury only
censured her but recommended Chicago pass an
ordinance requiring licensing of all drivers – an
idea applauded by Harry himself a year later as a way to reduce
auto accidents in the city. The
family sued Paulman for $20,000 (inflation-adjusted
to over a half million). Suit results were not
Discrepancies and addendum
* In one list
Harry was inaccurately reported as a victim.
The name Paulman was sometimes spelled with one n, sometimes with two.
Sometimes spelled Mariah.
‡ Harry also played center for the Chicago
Athletic Association until 1897 injuries in a game
against Yale forced him to give up football and take