testimony, leastwise the newspaper reporting it, conflicts with a detailed study
made by architect Louis Guenzel. Entering the Iroquois the morning after
the fire, Guenzel spent two weeks making lists of the configuration, size
and condition of Iroquois components, including all the doors. According
to Guenzel, the door Halpin supposedly exited from was never opened; the
western-most fire escape exit (door
#29), roughly twenty feet to the left, however, was opened. Did Halpin
try the eastern door, find it stuck, turn left, walk down the stairs, exit from
the western door and either didn't mention it or the newspaper didn't quote her
full testimony? Did Halpin adjust her story to help her boss? Did
Guenzel err in his observation or in his report?
Margaret Devine started working
in maintenance at the Iroquois Theater on December
When a coworker,
Katherine Halpin, said they could slip into
the back of the second floor balcony and take a peak
at the Mr. Bluebeard pageant, Margaret followed
When the fire broke out,
however, for some reason Margaret didn't follow
Katherine. Perhaps she ran to get her coat, or
some other possession she felt she could ill afford
to lose and became caught in the crowd.
Whatever her reasons for turning another direction
or delaying, had Margaret followed Katherine, she
would have escaped. Katherine had worked at
the theater long enough that she knew how to operate
the door latches. She went quickly to the
eastern most fire escape door (door
#31) and in minutes was
safe on the ground in Couch Place alley.
Katherine lived at 720 W.
14th St. and twenty-two year old Margaret lived at
95 Kendall St. Margaret's body was identified
by her sister, Nellie Christopher.
She was buried in the family plot in Mt. Carmel
cemetery in Hillside, Illinois.
Margaret was one of two
Iroquois maintenance workers to die in the fire.
The other was
Iroquois Theater victim was named
Margaret Devine Evans, a woman from Quincy,
Illinois, who attended the theater with her sister,
Clara Devine, and daughter, Mabel Evans.
Sometimes Clara Devine is cited as the woman who
worked at the Iroquois, but in court Katherine Halpin
testified that her companion at the Iroquois
was Margaret Devine.
That said, I am not satisfied with the information
learned about Clara Devine so cannot say that she
did not also work at the Iroquois, only that
Margaret Devine definitely did so and perished.
Notices I've found in Chicago and other newspapers
about Clara Devine do not state that she was an
Iroquois employee, only that she lived in Chicago
and was the sister of Margaret Devine Evans.
The Quincy Herald newspaper inaccurately
reported that Mabel Devine died and may also
have reported that Clara worked for the Iroquois.
I read a 1950 newspaper story about the inaccurate
1904 Quincy Herald report but have not found
the Quincy Herald story so as to verify all
that was reported.*
* I have learned to be cautious when evaluating
Iroquois stories that appeared in out of town
newspapers. So hungry was the public for news
about the Iroquois Theater fire that at least two
papers published photos said to be the Iroquois that
were of an altogether different theater. Many papers went to press with stories from victims
relatives that were based on early telegrams and
bits and pieces from other newspapers. While Chicago
newspaper reporters had the capacity, at least, to
verify their stories, some editors elsewhere instead inflated morsels into big stories.
So strong was the public interest that stories were
even published about people who were
traveling through Chicago the day of the fire and
considered going to the theater, but
did not, or who saw wagons carrying the dead passing
down the street.