When she lost her life at the
Iroquois Theater fire, twenty-seven-year-old Susan* “Susie”
Marshall Biegler (b.1876) was in the 2-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 one of her brothers, Philip Biegler. The body was shipped to St. Paul Minnesota
for burial next to her mother at Oakland Cemetery.
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, 1904, during the weeks immediately after the
Iroquois Theater 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
(comparable to $15,000 in today’s money). The
coroner maintained that since Biegler was killed
with his own gun, and at close range, the wound had
to be self inflicted.
Susie’s middle name, Marshall, was in honor of
Colonel Thomas Marshall, an ancestor who
distinguished himself in the American revolution.
In the years after the fire
Cameron A. Biegler,
acting as administrator of Susie's estate, brought a
$10,000 wrongful death suit against the Iroquois.