Three teenaged cousins lost their lives at the
Iroquois Theater. Ruth
Payson was fifteen. Brother and sister
and Glenn Bickford were sixteen and seventeen.
Gertrude Payson (b.1888) lived on Elizabeth Court in Oak Park, IL. She
was a high school sophomore but may have gone to a
private school because her name was not included in
the list of public school Iroquois victims. She was
the daughter of Kate "Kitty" Louise Bickford Payson
and Edward Payson (1855-1938). Edward Payson
was president of the Payson Company, a thirty year
of casters and hardware for doors and windows.
The Payson brand is still on the market and its
vintage products are sought after by collectors and
Ruth had three sisters: Grace, Isabel and Edith.
Ruth's funeral was held at the Third Congregational
Church on Forest Street in Oak Park (completed in
April, 1903). After the fire, the family moved to Traverse City, Michigan
where they lived on Sixth St. At age
Edward's occupation was reported as gardener.
Daughter Edith married in the 1950s but in 1940 she
still lived with her parents, working as a public
An Iroquois Theater fire survivor, Alice Prescott,
sat next to the Payson and Bickfords. Before
escaping from the theater, she overheard Glenn
Bickford saying to his sister, Helen, "Never mind,
sister. Don't be afraid. Everything will be all
Glenn Bickford (b.1886) and Helen Bickford (b.1887) lived at
947 Farwell Ave in Chicago and attended the Lake
View High School. They were the children
of Canadian immigrants, Charles Bickford and Harriet Bickford
of Rogers Park in Chicago. Charles Bickford
was a lumber dealer.
Services for Helen and Glen were held in the chapel
at the Grace Land cemetery on Saturday morning after
Glen and Helen had a younger
sister, Cornelia, who did not attend the theater.