Fifty-five-year-old Eliza Johnson (1848-1917), wife
of James G. Johnson, was one of those who survived
the Iroquois Theater fire by crawling from the third
floor gallery fire exit over to Northwestern University
on a plank stretched sixty feet above Couch Place
Eliza’s burns and condition were severe
enough that as she lay at St. Luke's hospital
recovering, family and physicians concealed from her
three of her four children and two of her
grandchildren did not survive the fire. She did not
know that her sons in law searched for three days
before finding the bodies of her daughters and two young grandsons, at four different
funeral homes. She did not know that a train
carried the five bodies to Lowell, Indiana where
they were picked up by five hearses and that over
600 guests attended a funeral service conducted by
Rev. D.D. Hoagland of the Methodist Church.
At Eliza's death in 1917 her husband wrote a
Iroquois Theater fatalities:
Lillian Johnson Frady
(b.1874) and her ten-year-old-son,
(b.1893). Their bodies were found at
Sheldon's and Carroll's funeral homes.
Lillian and Leon were the wife and son of Edgar
C. Frady. Lillian was Eliza Johnson's
youngest daughter. A year before the fire
she lost another child. The Frady's lived
at 4356 Forestville Ave.
Jennie E. Johnson Rife (b.1875)
was the wife of William Rife, chief plumber at the Palmer House.
She was Eliza Johnson's middle daughter and had
a fifteen-month-old child at home. The Rife's lived at 516 E. 46th St.
Johnson Spindler (b.1871) and her
nine year old son,
Burdett Spindler (b. 1894). The
third wife and son of John H. Spindler
(1861-1921), they were visiting from Valparaiso,
Indiana, staying with the Frady's. Eliza
was Eliza Johnson's oldest daughter.
Etta's body was found at Jordan's funeral home
and Burdett's at Carroll's. In the years
after the fire John Spindler remarried and had
three more children.
After Lillian Johnson Frady (b.1873) and her son,
Leon Frady (b.1894) died at the Iroquois Theatre,
widow/father, Edgar Charles Frady (1870-1923)
remarried in 1905, to Dorothy “Dolly” C. Thompson
(b.1872), sister of John R. Thompson (wealthy
Chicago restaurateur who owned the diner next to the
Iroquois and whose children survived the fire).
Edgar and Dolly had two children, of which one
survived. The marriage was troubled, however, and in
1922, while vacationing in Miami, fifty-two-year-old Edgar
shot his fifty-year-old wife three times, then slashed
his throat. With her dying breaths, Dolly said
they had argued all night with Edgar accusing her of
infidelity, then scuffled over the gun. (Edgar had
himself been named in a lawsuit by a husband who
accused him of luring away the man’s wife with
promises of an automobile.)
Edgar’s throat slashing failed and he survived for
eleven months with multiple health problems. Some people
attributed his violence to a 1903 concussion. Edgar
founded several businesses, including Strohber piano
factory, a picture frame manufacturing company and a
grocery store. At death he was
president of the Chicago dealership for Cole Motor
Car of Indianapolis.
Need photos of Spindlers and