Guy and Flora Hensley had four children, three girls
and a son. They lived at 2227 Broadway in
Logansport, Indiana, a city about 128 miles south of
Chicago with a population of around 22,000.
Logansport was a hub for the Pittsburg, Cincinnati,
Chicago & St. Louis Railroad (called the Panhandle)
with over 200 trains a day passing through the city.
One of the largest employers was a locomotive construction
& repair facility. The Hensleys were a railroad
family: Guy worked as the Logansport train master
for the Panhandle, his son became a railway engineer
and many of the Hensley’s friends and relatives
worked for the railroad.
Flora was the daughter of Theodore S. Kerns, a
principle in the Indiana Coal & Fuel Co. in
On December 30, 1903 Flora Hensley and two of her three
daughters rose early to board a train for Chicago.
Genevieve, age ten, might have read the Bluebeard
fairy tale to her five- year-old sister, Miriam. The Hensleys middle daughter, eight-year-old Josephine,
for some reason stayed home from the all-girls trip
to the city. Whatever the reason, the result was
that she lived to grow up and become a wife and
That evening Guy Hensley received a telegram saying
that Flora and the girls were likely Iroquois
victims. The identity of the telegram sender is
unknown but it may have been a member of the Hugh
A special Panhandle train took a group of Logansport
men to Chicago to find the Hensleys and three other
Logansport people believed to have been Iroquois
victims. (It was learned later that only four from
Logansport were at the fire, the three Hensleys and
The search party consisted of Guy Hensley, Nevance
R. Donaldson (a freight agent at the railroad),
Henry S. Tousley (a fellow train dispatcher), Edward
P. Hutton (clerk in in the railway supply office,
Oscar Vandorn Hensley (Guy’s brother), Ed McDonald,
Dr. M. A. Jordan “and others.” Hiram White of
Englewood in Chicago also joined the party –
probably when Hensley searchers visited in hopes
that the Hensleys had survived the fire with Hiram’s
wife, who was thought to have attended the theater with
Flora. The searchers learned, from Mrs. White
herself, that she and her infant had not attended
the theater after all because Flora had not called
upon her. (The details of Flora’s failed meet up
arrangements with Mrs. White are unknown but Mrs.
White surely spent the rest of her life thinking it
was fortuitous.) By then, however, the Logansport
search party’s inquiries of officials resulted in
the erroneous addition of Mrs. White’s name, and her
infant, to victim lists -- where they remain 110+
The search party members returned to the Breevort
Hotel at midnight on the 30th, not having found any
of the Hensleys. On Thursday morning, they
telegraphed Logansport for more information,
possibly clothing descriptions, and divided into two
groups to cover more ground.
found Miriam’s body first, at D. J. Horns mortuary
at 169 18th St. Flora and Genevieve’s bodies were
found the next day in different rooms at Ralston’s
Mortuary. Ralston’s handled a large proportion of
the bodies but was accidentally overlooked by the
search party until late in their efforts. Compared
with many victims, the Hensley’s bodies were not
severely damaged. It was speculated that they had
remained in their seats and died of asphyxiation.
all, the search party had visited 50 hospitals,
police stations and morgues, as well as homes of
Chicago friends of the Hensleys.
The Panhandle railway made a special train to
transport the Hensley’s back home to Logansport
where undertaking services were then provided by
Woll & Tucker, 417 Market St.Guy
Hensley said his wife and children were to visit the
family of Hugh Smith when they reached Chicago but
it is not known if that visit took place or if
members of the Hugh Smith family went to Mr.
Bluebeard. There are several Smiths in the victim
lists. The Hugh Smith family associated with the
Hensley family lived in Logansport before moving to
Private funeral services for Flora, Miriam and
Genevieve were held Sunday afternoon, Jan. 3 1904,
at the home of Flora’s parents, Theodore and Kate
Kerns on 7th St. in Logansport. The service was
conducted by two Presbyterian ministers, reverend
Walter Johnston of the Broadway Presbyterian Church
and reverend Yates Hill of the First Presbyterian
The caskets of Flora and her daughters were buried
in a common grave at Mount Hope Cemetery in
Flora Annalee Kerns Hensley (1868-1903)
theater fire fatality, mother of two Iroquois
Genevieve Hensley (1893-1903)
Frances Miriam Hensley (1898-1903)
theater fire fatality.
Guy Hensley (1860-1956)
father of Genevieve and Frances, husband of
Flora. Was not at theater.
Harold Kerns Hensley (b. 1891)
Twelve-year-old son and brother. Was not at theater.
Josephine Catherine Hensley (1895-1981)
and sister. Was
not at theater.
years after the fire
remarried in 1907 and had a daughter with his second
wife. They named the child after Flora. Harold
went to work for the railroad and Josephine married
and had a family.