Of the three Harbaugh sisters who attended the Mr.
Bluebeard matinee at the Iroquois Theater, one died
at the theater, one was revived at J. Thompson
restaurant to spend eight days at the Samaritan
hospital before dying and one recovered from her
injuries after six weeks at St. Luke's hospital and
lived, turbulently, until 1956.
They were the Harbaugh girls, three of five children
born to Isaac William Harbaugh (1841-1884) and
Emeline “Emma” Neiswender (1844-1914).
Isaac and Emma each came from large Ohio families.
Isaac’s three years of service as a farrier in the
Union army (Company F 3rd Regiment of the Ohio
Volunteer Cavalry) ended in 1864 and they married
two years later. Isaac went to work as a blacksmith.
Harriet, nicknamed Hatty / Hattie, came along in
1868, Mary Emma in 1873, Kate Roselle in 1877 and
Frederick in 1881. According to the 1910 census
there was a
fifth Harbaugh child, name unknown, presumed to
have died without reaching adulthood.
Harriet was born in West Salem, Ohio south of
Cleveland but the other children were born in
Plainfield, Illinois southwest of Chicago.
In 1882 when Fred was a year old, Emma lost her
father, Joseph Neiswender. Worse misery came two
years later when Isaac died and Emma found herself a
widow with three minor children. Somehow Emma got
along and moved her family a bit south to the larger
town of Joliet, IL
Mary and Harriet became teachers and in 1895 Emma
remarried. Widower John Corlett (1832-1908), native
of England, had five children from his first
marriage, all surviving when he and Emma married. In
1896 Harriet attended the Cottage College at
Northwestern University in Evanston and Mary was
assigned to the Henderson school.
Girls as adults
In mid 1901 Rose married businessman Llewellyn
Clarence Stafford (1874-1939), honeymooning with a
trip to the worlds fair in Buffalo, NY. In 1902 Fred
graduated from Joliet High School. Harriet
went to work as a
private teacher for the Frank S. Greenleaf family
in Savanna, Illinois where she taught the fifteen- and
seventeen-year old Greenleaf sons at the family's beautiful
new Greenleaf mansion, Hillcrest.
In December 1903, Fred was in college, Mary was
assigned to the O'Toole elementary school, Rose was
married, Harriet was working in Savanna and Emma was
eight years into her second marriage.
Harbaugh girls made plans to get together over the
Christmas holidays. Harriet traveled north to
stay with her mother, sister Mary, brother Fred and
stepfather at 615 Oneida in Joliet.
Day of Iroquois Theater fire
The morning of December 30, 1903 Mary and Harriet
traveled to Rose's house in Rogers park, then the
three women traveled to see a matinee of
the newest Klaw and Erlanger Christmas extravaganza,
hours later Mary was dead at Gavins mortuary and
both Harriet and Rose were at hospitals fighting for
Harriet got to the
Samaritan hospital by way of the Thompsons
restaurant next to the Iroquois where she'd been
laid in a pile of the dead, soon headed to a morgue.
Though unconscious, she moved a finger and the sign
of life was noticed. She regained
consciousness long enough to supply her last name
then was rerouted to a hospital.
Rose was at
St. Luke's hospital with burns and a fractured skull
after falling from a second floor fire escape and
landing head first in Couch Place alley. The
only second floor fire escape door that was opened
was the lowest one, not a great enough distance for
a somersault after a feet-first jump and she
wouldn't have dove headfirst intentionally.
Being pushed over the railing by the crowd behind
her, however, could have resulted in a headfirst
fall. Rose's husband Llewellyn found and
identified Mary's body and Harriet. Eight days
later Harriet succumbed to her injuries. Rose
would remain at St. Luke for six weeks.
Years after the fire
1908 Emma once again became a
widow when John Corlett died
1913 Rose's husband abandoned
her, fearing insanity (his, not her's)
1914 Emma died
1915 Rose was awarded divorce
1917 Frederick Harbaugh moved
1918 Fred married Florence
Wilson and had three children 1919-1926
1918-1929 Rose and
Llewellyn continued living together despite
divorce. Not known if they remarried, if
he went mad, but they eventually divorced
1930 Rose moved to Denver and
worked as maid in a private household
1934 El Paso, CO Rose married
widow John Lehman 1856-1945, a photographic
printmaker for Nast Photography in Denver.
John twenty-one years older than Rose
1935 Rose and John moved to
1945 John Lehman died
1956 Rose died in Pueblo, CO
and was buried with John in
an unmarked grave