An Indiana native, fifty-one-year-old
Frances Ann Maddox Leach (b. 1853, Indiana) was one
of eight children born to Wesley Harvey Maddox and Eliza Ann
Grove. She was the widow of George Woodward Leach,
(1852-1873). George died around eighteen months
after their wedding and she did not remarry. Their only child,
a grown daughter named Estella Leach McCaslin
nicknamed "Stella," survived the Iroquois
fire with slight facial burns and told the story of their experience (top).
The pair were seated in the third floor balcony.
A large group of France's siblings at the Wayne
Hotel in Fort Wayne,** perhaps gathered for the
holidays, set out for Chicago to help Estella locate
her mother's body.
After a three-day morgue search,
finally found at the Cook County morgue,
recorded as body #7. Her
brothers, William M. Maddox and Dr. Leander E.
Maddox, identified her body by a Montpelier
merchant's name on her shoe lining, a lock of hair
and her teeth.
Her $50 in emergency fund was still
tucked in her stockings. It was guessed that
she died of suffocation rather than burns.
In 1900 and 1901 Frances lived
with Estelle and Estella's husband, John W. McCaslin
(1870-), at 5747 Drexel in Chicago. John
worked as a penmanship instructor in a business
By 1903 Frances had moved
Montpelier, a small town midway between Fort Wayne
and Indianapolis, Indiana.
Frances was buried January 5, 1904 at Woodlawn
Cemetery in Montpelier, IN.
years after the fire
Estella married twice
more, to Benjamin Melton, with whom she had a son, and
William Thornburg. In the 1920s she lived in
Harrison, Indiana, on the Indiana - Kentucky border
but by 1930 was living in the Montpelier area where
she'd grown up. As an accomplished elocution
performer Stella operated the Stella Leach McCaslin
Opera Company, performing in churches and recital
halls. In addition to Stella the company
included a soprano singer, pianist-violinist and a
spellings: Estella, Estelle, McCaslin,
McCasslin, McCasland, McCassland
siblings: Wesley Harvey Maddox II,
Collins Grove Maddox, Dr. Leander
Erastus Maddox, William McKendree
Sarah Ellen "Sadie" Maddox Shields of
Laura Belle Maddox
Markley of Keystone