Fifty-seven-year-old Frances “Fanny” C. Crowley
(1846-1928) and her two grown daughters, both school
teachers, twenty-three-year-old Alice M. Crowley
(1880-1959) and twenty-five-year-old Marie I.
Crowley Ennis (1878-1967), all survived the Iroquois
theater fire. Their description of their
escape, however, is puzzling. Whatever flame
surge Marie Crowley experienced was almost certainly
not the ball of fire that shot out at 3:50 pm.
That blast melted brass watch works and killed
everyone remaining in the balconies.
They spotted the fire early on and almost
immediately left their seats
in the second row at the north side of the second-floor balcony. The exit closest to their
seats was a fire escape but Marie Crowley describes
their departure as "quiet" and opening of fire
escape exits didn't meet that description. All
witness descriptions of forcing fire open escape exits involved
pounding, kicking and shouting.
Of the three exits on the south side of the balcony,
the doors were never opened at exits 32 and
at 33 a constricted stairwell resulted in a six-foot
square block of nearly one hundred bodies.
The only way the Crowley women got out that exit is
if they were some of the very first to pass through, before victims had begun to pile up on the
floor. They most probably departed instead through
exit no 28.
Crowley's lived at 1334 Dunning St. in Chicago.
Father and husband, Connecticut-born John T. Crowley
(1845-1908), was a blacksmith. Marie’s husband was
Edward Charles Ennis (1877-1944) from Canada.
1916 Alice married a chemist, James Anthony
McDonnell, and in 1910 Marie had a daughter.