30, 1903, three teenaged friends went to a matinee
at Chicago's newest playhouse, the Iroquois Theater.
On the stage was a performance of Mr. Bluebeard,
an extravagant pantomime of an old fairy tale. It had
originally been produced at the Drury Lane Theater in London.
American theatrical company, Klaw and Erlanger, purchased the
costumes and sets for production in the United States. I
played on Broadway early in 1903 and went on the road in
September. It had opened in Chicago at the Iroquois on
November 23, 1903. Just after the start of Act II a fire
broke out on stage and quickly spread out into the auditorium.
Two of the girls, Ruth Green and Helen Burdick (1890-?), survived but Lola Kuebler did not.
Lola B. Kuebler (b. 1887) was
the daughter of George J. Kuebler (1862-1921) and
Effie Ford Kuebler (1866-1939), married in 1886, and
sister of Georgie Kuebler Jr. Before moving to
Chicago and taking up law, George owned the Golden
Eagle clothing store in Oshkosh. The family
lived at 724 E. Fiftieth Street in Chicago.
reported that Lola was not burned and showed so
little evidence of injury that doctors worked over
her for some time in hopes of reviving her but her
respiratory injuries were too severe.
Lola's funeral was held on
January 2, 1904. She was reportedly buried at
Oak Woods Cemetery in Chicago.
Helen "Nellie" Burdick was
the daughter of William S. Burdick and Maria L.
Beveridge Burdick. As an adult she married,
divorced (but kept her married name and labeled
herself a widow) and became a teacher at a private
school in Detroit.
In the years after the fire
In 1909 the Kuebler family
received one of thirty-five $750 settlements
from the Fuller Corporation, the company who built
the Iroquois Theater.
In 1911 a robber broke into
the Kuebler home and stole an inexpensive ring that
had belonged to Lola and that she'd been wearing
when she died.
When the thief read in the
newspaper about the ring belonging to the dead girl
he mailed it back to Mrs. Kuebler.
During World War I George
Jr. served as a lieutenant in a field artillery
regiment with the American expeditionary forces.
Effie Eventually divorced Lola's father, attorney
George J. Kuebler, citing extreme and repeated
cruelty. Their son, George Kuebler Jr., lived with
his mother. George Sr. moved to the Chicago
Athletic Club and became engaged to Della
Crowder-Miller, a musician and author of renown in
the Cautauqua circuit.
In March of 1921 George fell, or was pushed or
jumped, from the tenth floor window of his office on
LaSalle Street. He had a pistol in his pocket
when he died, with an empty shell but the condition
of the body made it impossible to determine if he'd
Said to be wealthy, George was involved in several
companies, of which at least two were in fiscal
disarray, and his girlfriend said people were
hounding him. Friends and relatives said he
was happy and would not have killed himself but
others said he had been suicidal in the past. Other
people in his building reported that they heard no
gunshots. There were scratches on the window sill
that the police thought may have been his as he
desperately tried to stop his fall. The
coroner eventually ruled the death as accidental.
Effie moved back to
Oshkosh and lived with her sister.
Discrepancies and addendum
reported that Lola was a student at the Willard
School but her age suggests that was a reporting
* A Wisconsin
newspaper referred to Lola as Margaret and some
Chicago newspapers referred to her as Leola.
Her name may actually have been Luella, after her
aunt Luella Ford. Effie and Luella lived
together in the 1930s, suggesting the sisters were close.