Twenty-year-olds Emily Wenderoth
and Harry Dyrenforth (1864-1938)
married on New Years eve, 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 their
three year old Harold Jr.
to diphtheria in 1888 when Emily was seven months into
her pregnancy for their second child, Ruth.
Helen came along in 1894.
Ruth Dyrenforth (b.1888)
and her sister, Helen Dyrenforth (b.1894),
were accompanied to the Iroquois Theater by the family's Swedish nanny,
Alma Josephina Erland (b.1879). Alma had immigrated to America in 1898.
Alma was the sister of Carl, Jean, Amanda and Hulda
Erland. Her funeral was held the Sunday after the
fire at C.A. Nelson's home. In Sweden the
family name was spelled Erlandsson.
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 parents home. A police officer,
Albert F. Sinsrott, found Helen's body on a
stairwell outside the auditorium. Harry made
the official identification.
Ruth and Helen were
reportedly buried in Rosehill
Cemetery in Chicago, Alma in Graceland Cemetery.
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 nephews.
Emily and Harold, nicknamed
Harry, 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.
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 stock.
Texas 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 identifed Ruth Dyrenforth's body.