Helen E. Parris (1872-1934) and Dr. Frederick R.
Baldwin (1860-1920) married in 1893. By 1903
they had three children (Douglas, Helen and
Elizabeth) and were living in Minneapolis where
Frederick worked as a physician at the Murray Care
addictions treatment center. He later joined
the staff at the Glen Lake tuberculosis sanatorium
in Minnesota where he worked until his early death
at age sixty.
December 30, 1903 Helen was in Chicago visiting her
fifty-year-old mother, Ida
Hines Parris (1853-), and the pair went to the
Mr. Bluebeard matinee at the city's new Iroquois
Theater. Helen and her mother were seated on
the first floor within a few feet of an opened fire
escape door, making them among the least imperiled
people in the theater. It is fortunate that
she agreed to an interview with the press because it
provides a coherent description of events.
Helen and her husband's roots went deep in America's history. Helen and her mother, Ida,
were members of Daughters of the American Revolution; they
great and great-great granddaughters of John Wygant
/ Weigand who fought at Valley Forge and was at West
Point when British spy, John André was captured.
Frederick's ancestors were among early colonists in
Connecticut. Frederick's father, Rufus J.
Baldwin, was an influential attorney in Minneapolis.
Helen's parents may have been
divorced. James Parris, a photographer,
petitioned the court in Saint Paul, Minnesota for a
divorce in 1891, citing Ida's abandonment three