Foltz and Middleton theater
Thirteen year old Kathleen
Middleton (b.1890) from St. Louis, Missouri had
spent four days visiting the Foltz family in
day before she was due to return home, her
host, Mary Reedy Foltz, took Kathleen and
two of Mary's three similarly aged daughters, Helen
and Alice, to the Mr. Bluebeard Christmas
pageant at Chicago's new Iroquois Theater.
All four perished.
one of five children born to John Alexander Middleton
(1856-1945), a Canadian native,
and Jean Buchanan Murray Middleton (1861-1955).
John was a general freight agent
"Frisco" system (St. Louis
San Francisco Railway) who had worked his way up
from his job in 1883 as a ticket clerk.
In addition to her parents, Kathleen was mourned by two
brothers and two sisters.**
Kathleen attended the Mary
Institute in St. Louis (a private secular school
founded by Unitarian clergyman, William Elliot,
named to memorialize his daughter, who died at age
Wabash Railroad train on which Kathleen rode to
Chicago collided with another train on route,
killing the engineer and one passenger. She chose to travel on to
Kathleen's body was
identified by a Frank C. Reilly, relationship
unknown. Her funeral was held
at the Bofinger Chapel at Christ Episcopal Church Cathedral and she was
buried at the new Wesleyan cemetery in Bel-Nor, St.
Louis. It was reported that her badly injured
remains were never viewed by her family.
One period source reported
that the Middleton and Foltz families were related
but I've not yet been able to verify that or learn
Mary Reedy Foltz (b.1862) was
the daughter of Patrick and Ann
Kilkenny Reedy. As a young woman, Mary worked
for her uncle, James W. Reedy, at his elevator
manufacturing company in Chicago. She met her
future husband, Wisconsin native Charles Oliver
"Ollie" Foltz (1863-1941), when he came in to buy an elevator
for his dry goods store in Antioch, Illinois.
They married in 1887. Four years later,
Ollie's store was lost when the Rogers block in
In 1900 Mary and
Ollie operated a cafe in
Chicago's historic Brewster
Apartment building on Park and Diversey (today's North Pine Grove)
and lived in one of the apartments. By 1903
Ollie had headed west with a case of mining fever
while Mary remained behind to manage the restaurant
at the Brewsters.
Of Mary and Ollie's four children, three survived in
1903: fifteen-year-old Alice Foltz (b.1888) and thirteen-year-old Helen (b.1890),
both of whom died with their mother at the Iroquois, and
the youngest, Katherine Caroll Foltz (1893-1982).
It is not known if Katherine escaped from the
theater or was left at home.
bodies of Mary, Helen and Alice Foltz
were identified by Mary's cousin,
John T. Reedy (1870-). John was an art
supplies salesman and lived with his well to do
aunt, Ellen Reedy.
family was buried at the Calvary Cemetery
in Evanston, IL
following services at Mt. Carmel church the Monday
following the Iroquois tragedy.
Mary's husband and surviving daughter in the years
after the fire
Foltz moved to Santa Cruz, AZ and
daughter Katherine lived with his
parents in Burlington, Wisconsin. As a young
woman Katherine Foltz
returned to Chicago and
became a nurse. While working
at Cook County hospital in 1918, she met her
future husband, army surgeon, Dr. Ralph Willy. They had
and lived for many years in South Dakota, eventually
returning to Chicago while Ralph furthered his
medical education. Mary would probably have been happy with the way Katherine's
life turned out.
Ollie lived in Los Angeles, owned a
and had remarried. His second wife,
an Irish immigrant, was a school
teacher named Honora "Nora" Dunne, with whom he
had two children, Charlie Foltz Jr.
and a daughter identified as Mary
Jane in the 1920 census and in later sources as Nancy Jane.
Two additional children did not
The marriage ended with an
annulment in 1921. Nora would remarry; Ollie
would continue having a problem with alcohol that
seems to have reoccurred several times in his life,
both before and after the Iroquois Theater fire.
By 1930 he lived in Montana Camp
(renamed Ruby and today a ghost town) near
Santa Cruz, AZ,
where he was
one of around 300 men prospecting lead and zinc.
His son, Charlie, lived with him there and worked in
a mill. Charlie Jr. left Ruby in 1938 and joined
the U.S. Marines, fighting at Iwa Jima during World
War II. After the war Charlie Jr. married, had two
children, built a sheet metal contracting business
and wrote poetry, all of which is far removed from
the Iroquois Theater fire but Ollie and Charlie
Foltz were interesting fellows:
Charlie J. Foltz Jr. in