Information about thirty-year-old Martin Stern
(b. 1874) is sparse. It isn't known who went with him
to the Mr. Bluebeard matinee at the Iroquois
Theater, or where they
were seated in the auditorium. Nothing was published about his
funeral or even that he was from Wisconsin.
His Chicago address was
reported in victim lists as 1385 Congress.
City directories did not report Martin as a Chicago
resident, however, and reported only one family at
the Congress street address - widow Mary A. Lorden
and her four grown children Ella J.,
John, Joseph and Mary R. Lorden.
I found no familial
connection between Martin and the Lordens. He
might have been visiting for the holidays or
boarding while working in Chicago. He
was of an age to have been a suitor for two of the Lorden sisters: Mary R Lorden, who worked as a
collector for the Internal Revenue Service, and Ella
Julia Lorden, a teacher. I found no reports of Lorden family
members having attending the Iroquois, or indication
they were theater or music enthusiasts. (It
should be noted, however, that fewer than half the
names of surviving audience member names were
reported in newspapers so Lordens could have been
among the survivors.) That
Mr. Bluebeard was popular with teachers is evidenced by
the Iroquois Theater fire victim list having
included over forty Chicago teachers - but none
worked at the McAllister School where Mary R. Lorden
Stern boys were raised on a farm in Saukville
village, Ozaukee County, Wisconsin, north of
Milwaukee. The family farm was probably located on State
Hwy 57. Martin was the youngest of seven children
born to German immigrants Friedrick (1820-1896) and
Apollina Schardt Stern (1833-1886). Both parents had died in
the decade before the fire, as had their middle son,
Charles, but five of Martin's siblings survived to
mourn his loss: Henry, Mary, William, Adam and
appears Martin had left the family farm around 1890
and moved to Milwaukee where he found work
selling milk, presumably from a delivery wagon.
In 1896 he was joined in Milwaukee by his older
brother and his wife, Adam Stern (1866-1918) and
Louisa Schottler Stern (1893-1983), who lived
above/behind their grocery store at 598 Seventh. Martin
lived there too for a couple years, eventually
finding his own lodging, but continuing to share a
business address with Adam. Martin's name disappeared from public records after
1900 and until his death in 1903.
His body was found at the
Cook County Morgue and identified by Adam who
presumably traveled ninety miles by train from
Milwaukee to Chicago to make the identification.
Martin was buried at
Saint Mary's Cemetery in Saukville alongside his
parents. Several of his siblings would be interred
there in later years.