party of four
were lucky to escape from the second floor balcony
at the Iroquois Theater.
Seventeen-year-old Jessie M.
Dillon (1886-1911), her
father, fifty-six-year-old Frank Dillon, and two brothers, nineteen year-old Frederick
Dillon (1883-1965) and nine-year-old
Haradon "Harry" Dillon
(1894-1931), were sitting
in the second floor balcony in the Iroquois Theater.
Jessie was first in her
party to see the fire and called it to the attention
of her father and brother. They shushed her, saying
it was part of the performance. Many in the audience
made that mistake in the early minutes of the fire.
When the entire curtain was
blazing, her father picked her up in his arms,
Frederick picked up Harry, and the foursome headed
for the exit.
Among the last to escape that balcony,
the Dillons did not
encounter a problem until reaching the front lobby
where two of nine doors were locked.
The crush of the crowd pushed Jessie through one of
the doors into the vestibule.
The Dillon family owned
their home at 416 West Seventieth Place
in the Englewood area and the children probably attended
School. Francis "Frank" Marion Dillon (1847-1943), a
mail agent, and his wife, Alice Experience Merrill
Dillon (1854-1941) had married in 1879. All the
family members were Illinois natives. Francis
and Alice's eldest son, twenty-two year old Edgar,
did not attend the theater with the family.
In the years after the fire
Fred Dillon married, had
two children and became a light house inspector in
South Carolina. He served in the Coast Guard
during both World War I and World War II and is
buried in the National Cemetery in Arlington.
Jessie married in 1909 and
died two years later at age twenty-three.