Bessie Herron and William Paulman were engaged to be
married. For their matinee theater
outing on Wednesday, December
30,1903 their chaperone was William's
twenty-five-year-old Harry Paulman.*
Bessie L. Herron
was one of twenty Iroquois Theater fire victims from
Hammond, Indiana. For her parents, however, she was
the fourth daughter 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.
Left at home after the fire was eighteen year old James and seven year
old Frances. James married and
produced the only two grandchildren Frank and Maria
would know before their deaths. He named his oldest
daughter Bessie, after his sister.
Her body was found at
Ryan's Funeral Home and identified by
James. It was reported that she'd been trampled
and crushed. Bessie was buried in the Monan Cemetery
in Monan, Indiana.
Franklin (1852-1914) and
Maria** Ginn Herron (1856-1913) 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
body was identified by Fred Paulman, either
his father or brother, based in part on a track and
field medal found in his pocket. Will and his
brother Harry were shot putters on the Chicago
Will was laid alongside his younger sister, Louisa,
at the Oak Woods cemetery in Chicago. They
would be joined there by their parents and brothers.
William was one of
children born to
German immigrants, Frederich (1844-
and Louisa Sander Paulmann
(1850-1927), in 1903 married
for thirty-one years.In
an odd coincidence, like the Herron's, the
Paulmann's also lost a daughter in 1901.
Their only daughter, Louisa was fourteen at death.
From Harry Paulman's
(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
moved to Chicago and adopted a boy, 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
Frances was the only Herron girl to see her sixtieth
Harry Paulman married, a
girl named, coincidentally, 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 all drivers to be licensed – an
idea applauded by Harry himself a year later as a way to reduce
auto accidents in the city. The Kroskowski
family sued Paulman for $20,000 (inflation adjusted
to over a half million). Suit results not
* 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
up shot put.
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