Helena Kautenberger Friedrichs (b.1869) lost her
life at the Iroquois Theater, along with Mary Wermich, who was reported to be Helena's sister.
Helena was the wife of Michael
Louis Friedrichs (1863-1924), married in 1889.
Louis owned a small saloon at 347 Center street in
Chicago. Like many small, family owned retail
businesses, the saloon was as much home as their
residence. Louis, therefore, who had
identified their bodies, declared it was fitting for
their funerals to be at the saloon. Mary's
funeral was held on Monday, January 3, 1904 and
Helena's the following day. The caskets
were placed on the bar, the walls draped in black
with lavender ribbons. Three of Helena's eight
children helped decorate the saloon. The
oldest of Helena's and Michael's eight children,
three sons and five daughters, was eleven, the
youngest not yet a year old.
Helena was buried in St. Boniface cemetery
in Chicago. Her husband identified her body.
Helena was he daughter of Heinrich (1829-1904) and
Helena Kautenberger (1830-1915). In the years
after the Iroquois Theater fire Michael and Helena's
children married and produced many offspring.
The coroner's inquest records
for fire victims includes a twenty year old Iroquois
victim named Mary Wermich. In a newspaper
story it was reported that she lived in Springfield,
where she was buried, and was Helena's sister,
making her surname Kautenberger. I could not
find evidence, however, of her birth or existence in
the Kautenberger household, nor of a marriage, nor
of her existence in Springfield, IL or Springfield,
WI. Helena's husband remarked that it was
fitting for the sisters funerals to be held at his
saloon because they had spent a lot of time there.
That would seem to conflict with her living in
Springfield unless, perhaps, Mary's time spent at
the saloon was prior to a move to Springfield.
Michael Friedrichs did not have a sister named Mary
so they were not sisters inlaw. Perhaps a
newspaper reporter was told the women were like
sisters but in writing the story he left out the
Mary's body was identified by
nineteen-year-old Anna Appel, the unmarried oldest
daughter of German immigrant, Martha H. Appel.
The Appel family lived 1361 Rockwell street.
At sixteen Anna was working as a "nurse girl."