Toddler loses both
Husband and wife, Ben and Pearl Gould, seated in the
third floor balcony, died at the Iroquois. They left
behind a three-year-old daughter, Dorothy. The
Gould’s had celebrated their ninth wedding
anniversary on Christmas day, five days before the
Benjamin Eli Gould (b. 1870) was thirty-three years
old and Pearl Cranston Gould (b. 1871) was thirty-two. They married in 1896 and lived in Elgin, Illinois where Ben worked
as a circuit court clerk. They had lived with Ben’s
parents when Dorothy was an infant but by 1903 had
their own home at 221 Grove Avenue in Elgin.
Pearl was one of six children born to John E.
Cranston (1839-1885) and Elizabeth D. Taylor
Cranston (c.1845-). She was born in Livingston,
Michigan. Newspapers after the fire
reported that Pearl jumped from a balcony to the
floor below and suffered a fractured skull.
Ben’s parents raised Dorothy after the fire. They
were Leander Johnson Gould Jr. (1842-1931) and
Delilah / Delila “Jane” Morgan Gould (1846-1928). In
1900 they had built a large new home at 479 Laurel,
at the corner of Laurel and Percy streets in Elgin.
(It is one of the few homes of Iroquois victims and
survivors still standing.)
Ben’s parents were among dozens who brought a
wrongful death suit against Klaw & Erlanger.
In 1910 Delilah
worked as a pastry chef and Leander received a
military pension from his service to the Union army
with the 13th Wisconsin infantry during the civil
war. Leander had enlisted in Troy, Wisconsin in 1861
and mustered out four years later as a sergeant.
Leander Gould was
active in the GAR in Elgin. Fortunately, Leander
outlived his siblings by a couple decades and he and
Delilah were able to provide for Dorothy
from high school Dorothy worked as a milliner. In
1921, she married a former high school classmate,
Dudley Weaver Nish (1899-1970) – who also had a
sister named Dorothy Nish who lived all her life in
Elgin. Dudley became an insurance agent. The pair
had two daughters and a son. Dorothy’s grandmother
Delilah passed in 1928 and in 1930, at age
Leander lived with Dorothy and her family.
Thanks to an assist from
Elgin Area Historical Society & Museum I learned
that daughter Dorothy died in 1969, after a lengthy
It is interesting to note that Dorothy was involved
in thespians during high school. Too young to have
clear memories of her parents, her only knowledge of
them was through stories told by her grandparents
and photographs. Her parents had been young, in love
and had adored their little Dot...but no matter how
nicely the story started, for a child growing up
with it, the hideous ending included a mother so
badly burned and injured that her body could not be
identified except by her jewelry and a father that
was trampled to death. On a stage, Dorothy must have
thought about Ben and Pearl when she looked out at
laughing and applauding audiences. Perhaps it helped
her create a mental picture of her parents not as
they were at death but as the happy couple they were
during the hour before.