Iroquois victim Susan “Susie” Isabel Clay
(1856) was forty seven years old and taught third grade at Chicago’s
Gallistel elementary school. Another Gallistel teacher,
Ellen "Ella" M. Fair,
and her sister, a retired Gallistel teacher, Maria
also died at the Iroquois but it is not known if the Fair
and Susie attended the matinee together.
In 1900 Susie leased a room from Otto and Nancy Pabst at 7700 Bond Avenue and
in 1903 was reported to live at 6409 Monroe Avenue.
A New York native, named after her mother, Susie was the daughter of Irish
immigrants, Samuel Henry Clay (1820-1873) and Susan Clay (1826-1866). She
had four siblings, Margaret Clay, Mary Clay, George Henry Clay and Elisabeth
Clay. Susie taught school for three years in Summit, New York, then taught
in Albany while a student. She graduated from the Normal School in Albany,
New York in June, 1887. Her first assignment as a degree-holding teacher was
in the little town of Rondout, N. Y.
the February, 1892 census she was listed as a
teacher living in Jefferson, NY but in 1891 was
listed in a city directory as a teacher living in
Chicago. According to the Gallistel school she did
not join their staff until 1895 or 1896 so there is
a fuzzy area in her residence and school assignment
The Gallistel school was built on Chicago’s south side at 103rd and Ewing in
1876. It was named after one-time Board of Education president, Matthew
Whenever she got to Chicago, Susie
Clay must have been a courageous woman to move so far from home and to a
city far larger than any she’d known. Albany had dwarfed her hometown but
Chicago dwarfed Albany.
Susie’s body was taken to Carroll’s mortuary in Chicago. The body was
shipped to New York and she was buried at the East Greenbush Cemetery in
Rensselaer County, New York. Her brother George, two years younger than
Susie, may have made the arrangements.
1904 newspaper report inaccurately reported Susie's age as thirty six. As her
parents were deceased, burial arrangements for Susie were made by a sibling,
who may have remembered her date of birth incorrectly by a year or two when
ordering her tombstone. I think a newspaper error is more likely, however,
than that a sibling miss remembered her birth date by a decade.
A descendent wrote
a thoughtful piece about Susie Clay.