When she lost her life at the
Iroquois Theater fire, twenty seven year old Susan* “Susie”
Marshall Biegler (b.1876) was in the two-year training
program at the Normal Practice School, a city-run
teacher’s college. Her official status was that of
She lived at 6518 Minerva Ave in Chicago with her widowed father, Charles Biegler
(1850-1919), and five siblings – a younger sister
named Marion and four brothers, Cameron, John,
Philip and Harold. Also living with the family was
Susie’s aunt, Dr. Alberta Virginia McClung
Charles Augustus Biegler of New York and Mary
Elizabeth McClung Biegler (1852-1887) of Kentucky
had met and married in Ramsey, Minnesota in 1873.
After Mary’s early death at age 35, Charles and the
children moved to Chicago where he worked as a
realtor and insurance agent. In 1900, three of the
Biegler children were in school, including Susie.
Two worked as clerks for the Electric company. One
was a lawyer.
Susie’s body was identified by her brother, Philip
Biegler. The body was shipped to Saint Paul Minnesota
for services at her grandmother's home and burial next to her mother at Oakland Cemetery.
Susie’s middle name, Marshall, was in honor of
Colonel Thomas Marshall, an ancestor who
distinguished himself in the American revolution.
months after the Iroquois fire, John Biegler, the
brother closest in age to Susie, was found dead from
a bullet wound to the head by a gun he’d purchased
in January in the weeks immediately after the fire. The coroner
and police insisted he’d been overcome with “suicide
mania” and dismissed the family’s belief that John was
murdered. He had married one week before his
death, in a large, formal wedding, and a delayed
honeymoon was scheduled in the days ahead. No
evidence was found to support either suicide or
homicide as the cause of death. His bride denied any
marital problems and his bank account held $500
($15,000 when adjusted for inflation). The
coroner maintained that since Biegler was killed
with his own gun, and at close range, the wound had
to be self inflicted. Dr. Scarpetta
should have been there.
* An early McClung genealogy book reported the name
as Sarah but Susan was used on the 1900 census
report and “Susie” was reported on employment lists.