In 1903 forty-two year old
Clara (b.1861) and Frank Ludlow Donaldson
(1857-1915) had been married for seventeen years.
They had no children. Frank worked as
chief at Western Union in Chicago. He began
his thirty-five year career with Western Union in
1880 as a twenty-two year old in Wabash, Indiana.
The day after the Iroquois
Theater fire, it was estimated that over 5,000
messages moved in and out of the Western Union
offices in Chicago as relatives inquired about the
status of victims and family members were
notified. Like any system when pushed to its
limits, transmission problems may have surfaced of a
kind Frank Donaldson usually dealt with.
It is not known who went with
Clara to the afternoon Mr. Bluebeard matinee
on December 30, 1903. 1st-day newspaper lists
included an H. Donaldson but the name disappeared on
subsequent lists and was not included in the
coroner's inquest list.
Clara's body was located at the
county morgue and identified by her husband.
Her brother, Harry Brown, traveled from Ohio to
escort Clara's body back to Cincinnati, Ohio for
burial. The funeral was conducted the
Sunday after the fire by reverend D. Ira Lambert of
the Presbyterian church. A quartette sang
"Abide With Me" and "Lead, Kindly Light."