spent all night looking for the bodies of his
daughters. Kathryn's body was found at Horan's funeral home and
identified by Dr. Alfred Wheelock Young.†
Helen's body was found at Rolston's and Marian's at
Horan's funeral homes, both identified by their
cousin Mary Long's husband, Edward P. Luthardt.
An F. H. Blackman was also cited as among those
searching for the Long children, relationship to
family unknown. Possibly he was Francis H.
Blackman, a doctor in Geneva, IL.
Mother went on an
was an hour's train ride from Chicago so the family
might have come into the city for the day, or might
have planned to be there for several days.
Since an office tenant of the Auditorium hotel, Dr.
Alfred W. Young, participated in the search for the
girl's bodies, the family may have been staying at
the Auditorium while visiting relatives in Chicago
over the holidays. Both parents had relatives
living in Chicago. Helen's sister, Martha
T. Welch taught at the Brown School on Warren Avenue
and Mary Luthardt, grown daughter of James' brother, Robert,
lived with her family in Chicago.
Helen Long saw to her girls
seating at the theater then left to do a bit of
shopping, with instructions to meet outside the
theater in a few hours. As word of the fire
swept stores throughout Chicago, she rushed to the
theater but was unable to enter the structure.
Initially the crowd surging from the theater was
impenetrable; soon the entrances were guarded by
police who kept frantic relatives from entering.
Funeral and burial
The Long girls funeral was held mid afternoon at
Graceland cemetery chapel on Tuesday, January 5,
1904 and burial was in the family plot at the Oak
Hill Cemetery in Geneva, IL. They would be
joined there by their parents, aunts and uncles in
the years that followed.
Long and Welch families
roots were deep in Kane County
Married in 1889, the Longs lived at 403 S. Fourth
St. in Geneva, near the intersection with Fulton St.
Geneva is a small town about forty miles
west of Chicago. Ancestors of both the Long
and Welch families were among the early residents of
the community and
were prominent in its history.
The Long family
Daughter - Helen Long 1889-1903
Daughter - Marian Patra Long 1891-1903
Daughter - Kathryn Long 1894-1903
Father - James Carr Long 1843-1933
Mother - Helen Medora Welch Long 1854-1927
James had served for three
months in the 69th Illinois Infantry during the
American Civil War, guarding Confederacy prisoners
at Camp Douglas in Chicago. He was the second
generation owner of a family grocery and dry goods
store in Geneva, his father having relocated to the
city from Maine in 1855. James' sister, Elizabeth
Long, was also a principle in the business and for a
time the store was named E. H. Long in an attempt to
attract women shoppers. The primary Long
store, located at 301 W. State in Geneva, IL, at the northwest corner of State and
Third, is presently occupied by Perlman Fine Jewelry
but has passed through many owners over the years,
including Filbert Drug store and Erday's clothing.
A Kentucky native, the girl's
mother, Helen Welch Long, was a Suffragette
sympathizer and active in women's clubs in Geneva,
speaking and writing about issues she cared about,
among them road construction, interurban cars and
pure food. Helen was the daughter of an author
and university professor, Rodney Welch, and Abby F.
Stevens Welch. At her death in 1927, a portion of Helen's
estate went to purchase furnishings for the
Children's Room at the Geneva, IL library where she
had served on the board. As a school board
member Helen promoted kindergarten as a necessary
part of a public school education and training for girls that put
more emphasis on practical skills to prepare
them for earning a living and/or helping their
husband's do the same. With her progressive
views it would have been interesting to see what
paths Helen's daughters chose had they lived.
In the years after the fire
In October, 1905 James
was called as a possible juror in the first damage
suit for the fire. The exact courtroom dialogue that
ensued is unknown. Though many newspapers were
quick to cover the story that a father of Iroquois
victims had been called for jury duty, nearly every
paper gave a different account of the questions and
answers. The only certainty is that after it was learned during
venire that he lost family members in the
disaster, he was excused .
James retired and sold his interests in the Geneva dry
girl's deaths were noted in James' obituary but not
Fourteen years after the Iroquois Theater fire, in
May, 1917, Susan F. Long, eighty-one-year-old sister
to James Long and aunt to his three lost daughters, died
from burns suffered during a kitchen fire.
Susan's apron caught fire while baking and she was
severely burned from knee to hip, one hand burned to