On January 3, 1904, the first Sunday after the
Iroquois Theater fire, many Chicago church goers
heard about the fire from the pulpit. The
tie-ins: greedy businessmen, corrupt politicians
and Satan-led entertainment seekers. At
least twenty-nine pastors addressed the fire
One such sermon was delivered by Rev. William Alfred Bartlett, DD,
(1858-1931), pastor at the Second Congregational
Church (originally named Ridgeland Congregational*
and in 1918 given the name it has today, Pilgrim Congregational
The church was founded in 1874 at 460 Lake Street
when there were fewer than 1,000 residents in
Chicago's Oak Park area. Construction was completed in 1900, three years
before the Iroquois Theater fire. Bartlett
was its first pastor, serving from 1889 to 1917.
William Bartlett was a Chicago native,
born in the years when his father, Samuel
Colcord Bartlett, served as pastor of the New
England Church in Chicago, then on the teaching
staff at Chicago Theological Seminary.
In 1877 the family moved east where Samuel
became the eighth president of Dartmouth and
William attended the university. He
received his BA in 1882 and in 1885 received his
Divinity degree from Hartford Theological
After graduation, Bartlett returned to Chicago
for a decade, serving as pastor of three Chicago
churches, including the Ridgeland
Congregational/Second Congregational. He
eventually left Chicago for Maine. Before
leaving Chicago, Bartlett became active in the
Temperance movement and led a group that sued
Chicago officials. Their legal efforts
failed but are credited with contributing to the
pressure that led to Illinois ratifying the 18th
Constitutional Amendment in 1919.
For a lengthy biography see pages 108-111
of William A. Bartlett in
Maine: A History.
* Bartlett's church was designed by Patton
& Fisher as a 72 x 97 structure with a 52 x 52
auditorium, a lecture room, gallery and seating
capacity for 530 people. It was built of black
artisan lime stone with pressed brick trimmings.
The bell turret was wood, finished in Georgia
pine. Building cost estimate at start of
Awash in Bartletts
The name Bartlett appears
frequently in reference to the Iroquois fire:
Bartlett was the maiden name of Iroquois
theater co-owner, and wife of manager
Will J. Davis,
Bartlett Davis. For publicity purposes, celebrity
contralto Jessie always included her maiden name.
Prosperous and influential Chicago
industrialist, Adolphus C. Bartlett, wrote to the AFL to object to
reports of bad behavior by striking livery drivers immediately
after the fire. Adolphus's brother, Frederick Clay
Bartlett, created murals in Chicago city council chambers.
William Alfred Bartlett, pastor at
Congregational church, was one of many Chicago ministers who
addressed the fire in their first sermon after the fire.
Among the victims were people from a village
west of Chicago, Bartlett, Illinois.
A hardware store that donated lanterns and
supplies to the Iroquois rescue effort was named Hibbard,
Spencer, Bartlett & Co.
Illinois Cooper and Steinmetz
4 of 8 in Lakeside party
and Moloney families
Emma Geik died two days
before her wedding
Frank Hayes was twenty
Ed Schreiner family wiped
Mother and son Kochems
John R. Thompson
restaurant Iroquois Theater fire scene
Daisy Beaute played Zara
If you have additional
info about an Iroquois victim, or find an error, I would like to
hear from you. Chaos and communication limitations of 1903
produced many errors I'm striving to correct and welcome all the help I can get. Space is provided at the
bottom of stories for comments, or