Ruth and Helen were accompanied to the theater by
the family's Swedish nanny, Alma Josephina Erland.
Alma had immigrated to America in 1898. She was the
sister of Carl, Jean, Amanda, and Hulda Erland.* Her
funeral was held the Sunday after the fire at C.A.
The evening of the Iroquois fire, Ruth and Helen's
cousin, thirty-one-year-old Arthur Dyrenforth
(1871-1920), found Ruth's body at Rolston's funeral
home and took her to her parent's home. A police
found Helen's body on a stairwell outside the
auditorium, the second of only two victim
identifications known to have been made at the
theater. Harry made the official identification.
Ruth and Helen were reportedly buried in Rosehill
Cemetery in Chicago; Alma was buried in Graceland
The girls' parents, Emily and Harold "Harry"
Dyrenforth came from large Midwestern families. In
an odd coincidence, each of their fathers was named
Julius. Emily's widowed father was a bookkeeper, and
Julius Dyrenforth co-founded the Dyrenforth Business
College in Chicago.
They had lost their three-year-old son, Harold Jr.,
to diphtheria in 1888 when Emily was seven months
into her pregnancy for their second child, Ruth.
Helen came along in 1894.
Harry liked to tell the story that his father, an
emigrant from Germany, organized the first promenade
concert in Chicago, performed by an orchestra of
fellow refugees from the 1848 German revolution.
Another family legend involved Harry's brother,
Robert G. Dyrenforth. In Harry's mind, Robert proved
that concussion in clouds could produce rain. In
1891 and 1892 experiments, Dyrenforth shot
explosives from a cannon into the skies above Texas.
No rain appeared, and Robert became a laughing
Monthly magazine carried a fun story about rainmaker
Dyrenforth by S.C. Gwynne.
George was one of Harry's four brothers who became
patent attorneys, as well as some of their sons,
including Arthur, the nephew who identified Ruth
In the years after the fire
Two weeks after the fire, Harold and Emily left for
an extended European tour. In the years that
followed, they became involved in various clubs,
Harry served as an alderman, started a new insurance
company, and they cared for grown nieces and
Emily Wenderoth (1864-1838) and Harry Dyrenforth
(1864-1938) had married on New Year's eve in 1884.
Fifty-four years later, they died within weeks of
one another. At their deaths, they left behind a
nice home in Evanston, with an active life of
friends, family, clubs, and travel. Harry's
fifty-three-year career as a life insurance broker
provided a comfortable lifestyle but couldn't return