In the "Odd
coincidences" department, this family's story
involves a woman named Byrd and one nicknamed
30, 1903, a Chicago mother, twenty-nine year old Birdie Dryden,
hosted an afternoon theater party for her twelve-year-old son, a teenaged visitor from St. Louis and
herself. A few hours later, Birdie's husband, John Dryden,
identified the body of his wife and son while an
uncle traveled to Chicago from St. Louis to identify Robert Caldwell's body.
The Caldwell boy was
identified by a custom engraving on a watch
given to him for
Taylor Dryden (b. 1869), nicknamed Birdie,
was one of four children born to Judge
William Roley Taylor (1823-1903,
dying four months before Iroquois fire) and Susan
Garrard Peers Taylor (1834-1925). In
1890 Birdie married John Dryden Jr. (1865-1932)
and a year later gave birth to their only child,
Taylor Dryden (b.1891).
The Dryden family moved to Chicago from Farmington,
MO in 1902 or 1903. In Chicago, twelve-year-old Taylor Dryden attended the Ray
elementary school on 57th and Monroe (today's
Kenwood) in Hyde Park. (See
At the time of Birdie and
John's marriage, John (also known as
Jack) was in business with Birdie's father, Judge
William Taylor. The judge had previously owned
a 1,250-acre mine known as the Taylor Mine that he
sold to the Doe Run Lead Company. He then
purchased 1,295 acres in Flat River near Farmington,
MO area and John Dryden drilled a 200-ft shaft.
When ore was found, they formed the Flat River
Lead Mining Company, capitalized with $350,000 ($9
million adjusted for inflation). Though Taylor was the majority
shareholder, Dryden had a small piece and was an
officer in the new company, as well as the general
manager. They hired one hundred men, built processing
facilities, housing and two company towns, Leadville
and Taylor Place. In 1898, when water in the mine
became a costly problem, Judge Taylor sold the property to St. Louis
Smelting and Refining (sometimes called "the
National") who sank a new, deeper shaft.
Sometime thereafter, John Dryden and his family
moved to Chicago where he worked as a salesman for
Hibbard, Spencer, Bartlett & Co. hardware.
1903 was a year John Dryden
wouldn't forget. He lost his wife, only child
and business partner. I could not find him in
the years immediately after the fire but genealogy
information indicates he remarried, had a daughter and spent
his final years in New York City, NY.
Fifteen year old Robert Porter Caldwell (b.
1888) lived at 4368 Morgan St. in St. Louis. He was
the son of widow, Lucy Byrd Teasdale Caldwell
(1859-1927) and the late Thomas Wilkens Caldwell. He had one sibling, an older
sister named Anna Lou
Robert, Lucy and Anna lived
with Lucy's prosperous brother, Charles H. Teasdale (1853-1908).
(Charles was a second generation participant in his
father's grain trading company, J. H. Teasdale
Commission, and an investor in a variety of other
produce and mining companies. A month before
the fire, Charles acquired another one hundred feet on
Morgan St. in St. Louis, adjacent to his house, from
his brother, John Edward Teasdale.) Also
living in the
large home was Lucy's
sister and her husband, Louisa and William B.
Harrison. William was the uncle who
traveled to Chicago to identify Robert's body.
Funeral services for Robert
Caldwell were conducted by Rev. Dr. W. J.
Williamson of the Third Baptist Church in St. Louis.
Robert was then interred at the Bellefontaine Cemetery.
Robert Cotton, Clayton Teasdale, Elmer Neville,
Dwight Hurlburt, Harry VanCleave, William Goodloe,
Ralph Wind and Archie Summerville were pallbearers.
Other than their common St.
Louis origins, and Charles Teasdale's involvement,
like John Dryden, in Missouri zinc / lead mining,
the connection between the
Taylor-Dryden-Caldwell-Teasdale families is not
known. Perhaps a St. Louis historian or
genealogist will find this page and be able to offer
Robert's older sister Anna
Caldwell later married William B.
Moody and spent much of her life in Denver, CO.
Another person named Roy
Caldwell was included in some lists as a victim but
a death certificate was not issued for him and his
name was not included on subsequent victim lists.