Throughout the summer of 1903, Edward O'Loughlin* stopped by to watch
the construction of the Iroquois Theater on Randolph
On November 23, 1903, the afternoon of the theater's premier
performance, he and Julius Lenses, a fellow inspector from the Chicago
building department, went through the
theater. Edward gave a verbal report to his boss,
Chicago Building Commissioner George Williams, that the
Iroquois was "OK."
"OK" would haunt him for the rest of his life.
weeks later, the Iroquois burned, killing over 600
Seven days later, the coroner's inquest began.
Not reported in Chicago newspapers relative to
events in the life of a prime disaster defendant:
day later, Edward's wife died. He and Maggie
had been married for twenty-nine years and she had born nine
of his children, of which seven were living, six of
them with Edward, the youngest nine
Seventeen days later, the coroner's jury ruled that
Edward should be held over for a grand jury trial.
To stay out of jail he had to post $2,000 bail.
His bond was signed by William H. Jung,† and
alderman John Powers
Twenty-eight days later, he was one of two indicted
for neglect of duty.
Thirty days later, his son died. Edward
Loughlin Jr. was nineteen years old.
April 8, 1906, Edward died at age fifty-one, without seeing a
resolution to the charges against him.
When testifying in the
Iroquois inquest, January 14, 1904, Loughlin said
that his report that the Iroquois was "OK" referred
only to the structure, not to fire preparedness. The
prosecution forced him to reluctantly acknowledge
that his report was probably assumed to apply to
both construction and equipment.
Newspapers, particularly those who took a strong
stance against the city's Democrat mayor,
characterized Loughlin's testimony as evasive and
blame-shifting. No evidence was brought forward
connecting Loughlin to graft.
Edward Francis O'Loughlin
(1855-1906) was a Brooklyn, New York native. He married
Irish immigrant Margaret "Maggie" Ryan Loughlin
(1856-1904) in 1874. She had come to America in
Edward, Maggie and Edward Jr. were buried in Mt.