Twenty-three-year-old Harold "Harry" S. Bliss (b.
of Racine, Wisconsin, Harold was a senior at the Chicago College
of Dental Surgery.† He had graduated from the
Racine High School in 1900 and gone to work for the gas
company and Knight & Peck Realtors before entering dental school
in the fall of 1901. He became a member of Psi
Omega Kappa fraternity.
one of four children born to
Massachusetts natives, Cornelia Packard Bliss (1850-1932) and the late George Bliss (1845-1896),
who had been a bookkeeper (and may have served as
the city clerk in Racine 1894-1896).
In the 1900 U.S. Census Cornelia Bliss described
herself as a capitalist. That probably means
she was a shopkeeper, but a self-proclaimed
lady capitalist in 1900 was ahead of her time. She owned her home at
724 Lake Avenue in Racine.
Harry's body was identified by W. H. Raymond,
of unknown relationship to Harry. His watch and fob
were recovered and returned to his mother.
January 18, 1904, the Chicago College of Dental
Surgery held a memorial service for Harry, attended
by several hundred of his former classmates.
The Racine community lost three
of its citizens to the Iroquois Theater fire,
Harold Bliss and
Mabel Botsford. A
fourth Iroquois patron, Clara Hanson, a school
teacher, survived. A former Racine resident,
Annie Ellis, was also among the fatalities.
Twenty-one-year-old Mabel Anita Botsford (b.1882)
traveled to Chicago for the Mr. Bluebeard
performance, probably with the Kranz's.
She was the only child of Wisconsin natives, Oliver
F. "Ollie" Botsford (1855-) and Julia A. Hough Botsford (1857-1939). Oliver
owned a combination book, stationery and sporting
goods store at 534 Main Street on the Monument
Square in Racine: Botsford & Wooster. The Botsford
family lived at 732 Park Avenue in Racine and
maintained a summer home in Dover on Eagle Lake, WI
west of Racine. Harry, Mabel and another
couple spent a week there the summer of 1903, with a
chaperone, of course.
William and Sarah Kranz, the Botsfords were members
of the Universalist Church with pastor
Dr. Albert Cotton Grier (1864-1941). In
1902 Mabel played the organ there for the wedding of
a friend, while Harold served as an usher.
of the Iroquois fire arrived in Racine, Ollie
Botsford and Herbert Jilson, brother-in-law of
William Krantz, immediately boarded a train for
Chicago, about a three-hour ride. They arrived
in time to begin searching Chicago hospitals and
morgues before they closed for the night. They
found Sarah and William Kranz at hospitals, Sarah
deceased after an agonizing death around 11:00 pm
and William with badly burned but survivable
injuries to his face and shoulders. Doctor's
predicted a four- to five-day hospital stay. Botsford
and Jilson renewed their search for Mabel the next
Racine, friends and relatives gathered around to
support Mabel's mother throughout the night.
In the morning, others from Racine traveled to
Chicago to assist in the search effort.
for the shoes by which she was identified, Mabel's
clothing was burned away and her body damaged beyond recognition.
Her jewelry was recovered and returned to her
closed-casket funeral was held at 1:00 pm on
Saturday, January 2, 1904, at her parent's home.
Burial was in Mount Cemetery in Racine. Pallbearers were John Harding, A. Terry, E. E. Scott,
Halley Knopke, L. Daggett and Julius Anderson.