and Clara Dreisel / Dreissel
Thirty-five year old Herman Dreisel (b.1867)
immigrated to the US from Germany in 1884. He had
until shortly before the Iroquois fire been the
assistant instructor of physical training at the
Normal Practice school in Chicago and a special
teacher in Chicago public schools. At the time of
the fire he was director of the
gymnasiums in Chicago. Herman was a graduate of the
Milwaukee Normal School of Gymnastics. In 1900,
before marrying Clara, Herman lived with his widowed
mother, Minnie Dreisel (1844-), and brother, Otto
Dreisel (1872-), who was also a teacher.
Twenty-eight year old Clara E. Peinert
Dreisel (b. 1875) was one of six children born to
Fredrick Fritz Peinert (1830-1901) and Christiane
Peinert (b.1830). Clara married Herman the day after
Christmas in 1900. She worked as a weaver in Clinton
before marriage, and as a public school teacher in
Chicago for a time after their wedding, but did not
have a teaching assignment in 1903. Reportedly she
fainted at the Iroquois and Herman was unable to
Herman and Clara probably lived on N. Robey street (Damen
Ave since 1926), and probably at 588 on N. Robey.
Some 1904 sources reported that they lived at 597 N.
Robey but Chicago city directories 1900-1903 have
Herman and his brother Otto at 588 N. Robey. A Worcester,
Massachusetts newspaper said their bodies were
identified by a Mr. Bender who was landlord of the
building where both couples lived and there was a
realtor named George A. Bender living at 588 N. Robey.
George Bender lived at 588 N. Robey back in 1887,
too, but was a policeman, then. That might explain
in part how a landlord was willing and able to gain
access to make identifications. A former policeman
would have been more familiar with procedures and
may have had contacts in the department. Another
report, however, said their bodies were identified
by someone named Max Wolff.
In some reports the bodies of
Herman and Clara were said to have been found in
each others arms; in other reports Herman’s body was
said to have been identified by a notebook in his pocket and a scrap
of Clara’s dress in his hand, and Clara's
identified by her jewelry. A January 20,
1904 newspaper reported that Herman’s body was
robbed of $350 by “ghouls”. (Thieves who robbed
the pockets of the Iroquois dead were consistently
identified by newspapers as "ghouls.")
A 1904 magazine remarked that men
as fit as Herman and James being unable to escape
from the Iroquois was an indication of how hard it
was to escape but it seems likely their escapes were
mitigated more by their effort to help their wives
escape than by their fitness.
and Clara were buried at the Woodlawn Cemetery in
Clinton, Massachusetts. A 1904 newspaper
reported they were buried in Graceland Cemetery in
Chicago but a determined descendent dug for
information and learned they were cremated at
Graceland then shipped to Massachusetts.
Ella and Emelia Mueller and
Fifty-nine year old Emelia Mueller (b.1844)
was mother to Iroquois victims, Dora Mueller Schneider
and Ella Mueller, as well as to Elsie Mueller Groth
(1874-1965) - who either did not attend the theater
or did and survived. Emelia (sometimes spelled
worked as a seamstress. Her body was identified by
Elsa / Elsie and Elsa's husband, Herman C. Groth.
A brother of James Schneider (below), Frank J.
Schneider, was married to Elizabeth "Lizzie" Groth
but it is not known if she was related to Herman C.
body, as well as that of another Iroquois victim,
Lulu Greenwald, was falsely claimed by a criminal,
John Mahnken, in an attempt to steal her jewelry.
Twenty-three year old Ella Mueller (b.1880)
was one of Emelia Mueller’s three daughters, as well
as being Dora Schneider’s
sister and Erich Weck’s girlfriend. Ella worked at a
Ella, her mother Emelia and Elsa, lived on Fifth
Ave. in Milwaukee.
Twenty-eight year old Erick / Erich / Errick Weck
was Ella Mueller’s boyfriend. In
Milwaukee he lived at 504 Garfield avenue and worked
as a furrier. My only information about this young
man comes from skimpy bits in newspapers that
reported inconsistent spellings of both his first
and last names. I was unable to find him in 1900
census reports despite searching on every imaginable
spelling and combination.
Both Ella’s and Erick’s bodies were identified by
Kate Doellingen. I expected to find her in Chicago
but instead found her in Milwaukee, the wife of a
newspaperman, Dolfee Doellingen. It is not known how
she happened to be in Chicago to make the
James and Dora Schneider
Thirty year old James Schneider (b.1874)
It was reported that James was thrown off an
unspecified staircase and elsewhere that he was
pushed over the balcony rail. His
eyes were burned out and his chest and nose were
crushed but he survived at Samaritan hospital in
agony for a day or two. He was one of six children
born to 1887 German immigrants, George (1850-) and
Margaret Schneider (b.1835) of Clinton,
Massachusetts. Upon learning of their son’s
hospitalization and severe condition George traveled
by train to Chicago for 30 hours in the vain hope of
seeing his son before he died. Back in Clinton,
James’s mother and five siblings awaited word.
James graduated from the North American Gymnastic
Union Normal school.* He taught gymnastics in
Chicago public schools and in
gymnasiums. Before moving to Chicago he lived for a
time in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
Twenty-six year old Dorothea Dora J. Mueller
Schneider (b.1877) worked as a teacher in
Milwaukee before marriage and for a time in Chicago
but was not teaching in 1903. James was unable to
get her out of the theater and she died there.
In 1904 newspapers it was reported that James and
Dora lived at 157 Roscoe Blvd and that their bodies
were identified by a grocer named Leonard Schaeffer
/Schaefer who lived at the same address. I found
Schaeffer at that Roscoe address in every city
directory from 1900 to 1904, but the Schneiders in
none of them. I have found other Iroquois victims
connected to an address that was actually that of
the person who identified the bodies. In the chaos
of the moment, transposed data is understandable.