December 30, 1903, the day before New Years eve, two sisters, Barbara and Emma, set out with their
three children, for a theater matinee at
Chicago's luxurious new theater, the Iroquois. Playing was Mr.
Klaw & Erlanger extravaganza with
hundreds of performers, including exotic costumes
and aerial acts. In terms of a pleasant
holiday outing for three children, it should have
been perfect. Instead, a horrific fire
took the lives of six hundred people, including Barbara and
her daughter Emma, with
Joseph and Emma Kienzle suffering burns.
Upon entering the auditorium
Barbara remarked that it looked like a deathtrap, a
comment that became the theme for Nat Brandt's 2003
Chicago Death Trap: The Iroquois Theatre Fire.
The Reynolds and Kienzle party of five was seated in
the fifth row of the second floor balcony.
Stang Reynolds (b.1875), twenty-eight-year-old
Josephine Reynolds (b.1896), seven-year-old
Stang Kienzle (1868-1918), thirty-five-year-old
Kienzle (1894-1969), nine-year-old survivor
Kienzle (1891-1977), twelve-year-old injured
In 1903 Barbara and William
Reynolds had been married for eight years.
Emma was their only child. At the
Ravenswood school* she went by her middle name,
Josephine. William worked in the railway industry
and Barbara was a homemaker. The family lived in now-gone
rented housing on
William's parents were from
England. He and Barbara, like
Emma, were born in Illinois.
Named after her mother,
Barbara was the youngest of nine children born to
German immigrants, Barbara Popp Stang (1836-1918) and Joseph Stang
(1834-1916), a saloon keeper and realtor. She was the
eighth child they would see die before their deaths.
(In January, 1916, at age eighty one, with his wife Barbara an invalid,
Joseph Stang succeeded in his third suicide attempt,
diving out a hospital window. Read the
newspaper account below. His wife lived two
Emma Reynolds was named after Barbara's older
sister, Emma Kienzle, wife of William F. Kienzle (1855-1932), a hardware dealer from
Michigan. The Kienzles had two boys – George
and Joseph – and
lived lived on N. Paulina St. in Chicago, near the
Ravenswood School, as did Barbara and Emma's parents,
Joseph and Barbara Stang.
Barbara's body was located
early on at Ryan's funeral home and identified by
her husband. William Reynold's search through hospitals and
morgues for Emma's body went on for three long days.
Funeral services were held the
Monday morning after the fire at the Reynold's home.
The cemetery was not named but they may have been
buried in the Stang plot at Graceland Cemetery in
* Built in 1873 on N. Paulina St
in Chicago, Ravenswood School is one of the oldest
schools in Chicago. It has been expanded and
remodeled many times over the years. The
Ravenswood suburb was annexed to Chicago in 1889.
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