Newspaper reporters were in such a rush to milk
public sympathy that they issued inaccurate reports
about the Decker family.
One Chicago newspaper reported:
"A triple funeral was held at
noon from 3237 Groveland avenue, when Myron H.
Decker, Mrs. Maime Decker, and their daughter Mamie
were laid at rest in Rosehill. When the coffins were
taken to the residence Alice, 8 years old, the
youngest and only member of the family spared,
could not realize her loss and cried continually for
"papa" and "mamma."
It was correct that Myron and
Kate Decker and their daughter, Mayme (sometimes
spelled Maime) perished at the Iroquois and that a
triple funeral was held on January 2, 1904. The
sorrowful eight year old daughter and sister left behind,
however, supposedly named Alice, was actually named
Blanche, was twenty two years old and had married
two months before the fire. Misspelled names were
understandable given the circumstances but the story
about little girl Alice seems to have been made up
Sixty-five year old Myron Abbot Decker (b.1837) was
born in the Lima, NY area, as were his parents,
Henry (1795-1866) and Martha Mather Decker
(1799-1851). His mother died when he was fourteen
years old. He had an older brother named Henry, a
lawyer, with whom Myron lived while attending law
school at Genesee College 1853-1856, who would
eventually became Myron’s partner in a Chicago law
practice, Decker & Decker.
Myron passed the bar in
1860 and after practicing in Lima for two years
accepted a position with the U.S. Treasury. He
relocated to Washington, D.C. where he remained
throughout the civil war. While with the Treasury
department he worked in resolving property disputes
over lumber acreage and spent time in Wisconsin
where he met and married his wife in 1869. A year
later their first daughter, Mayme, was born and he left the Treasury
to set up a law practice in Chicago. The paint
on his shingle was barely dry when the great Chicago
fire destroyed his office and law library.
His brother Henry Decker joined the firm in
1873. In 1875 ill health forced early retirement
and Myron and Katie spent three years traveling in
Europe, returning in 1879. Their second
daughter, daughter, Blanche, was born the following
By 1903 Myron had retired from the practice of law
altogether and concentrated on his real estate
holdings. Myron’s body was found at Buffum
& Perrigo mortuary.
Sixty year old Catherine "Katie" “Kittie” K. Knox
Decker (b.1844) born in Missouri; her parents, Mary
Ann Knox and Thomas M. Knox, emigrated from Ireland
and settled in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area where
Thomas would build a successful law practice and
become a judge. Katie had an older sister,
Mary Ann Knox, and four younger brothers, Thomas M.
Knox Jr., John Knox, Richard Knox and Sydney Knox.
Despite the family's prosperity, Katie Decker was not a society matron;
the only news I found about her in newspapers was a
blurb about Blanche's 16th birthday party, another
announcing Blanche's engagement and a story about an 1884
lawsuit. Katie sued her mother, Mary A. Knox, over
handling of Thomas's father’s estate.
Thirty-three-year-old Mamie / Mayme K. Decker (b.1870) was
born in Wisconsin. Her body was found at Sheldon
Mortuary. It is not known if she traveled in Europe
with her parents 1875-1878. The only thing I
could find about the woman on the web, aside from
stories about the Iroquois, was that she and her
mother were active in the Ivanhoe Literary Society
in 1900 and performed in a couple comedies.
Surviving daughter, Blanche
Blanche Gertrude Decker (b.1880, Illinois) was not
an eight year old mop top when she lost her family
at the Iroquois, but she was a brand new
She had married Carl DeElmo Kinsey (1879-1947) on
Nov. 3, 1903.
Blanche and Carl had at least one child, a son named
after Blanche's father, Myron Decker Kinsey (1905-1969).
Her husband, Carl,
was a noted pipe organ instructor in Chicago and
served as an organist at the First Congregational
Church of Oak Park (which in 1975 joined with the
First Presbyterian Church of Oak Park to form the
First United Church of Oak Park). The marriage ended
in scandal in 1916 when Carl preferred a sportier
wife. (He actually said that to Blanch in the
divorce proceedings.) I've not been able to learn
when Blanch died; she was still alive in 1923.
The Myron A. Decker family lived at 3237 Groveland
Ave in Chicago in 1903. The family's burial
plot is in Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago.