Iroquois Theater fire attorneys and judges
Some counselors and judges are discussed elsewhere on
site. This page includes links to those discussions and highlights
individuals below with less prominent roles.
(listed alphabetically by last name)
by last name).
Illinois is one of seven U.S. states in
which prosecution is conducted by
"state's attorneys" (known as "district
attorneys" in other states). It is
an elected position. The state
attorney appoints/hires assistant
attorneys. Fewer than twenty
state attorneys have been elected to
the position in Cook County over the
last 125 years. Today Cook
County's it is the second largest
prosecution office in the U.S.)
Thomas D. Knight
represented seven family members (below)
alphabetically by last name)
J. Calhoun (1847-1916) joined the defense in February, 1907
and briefly addressed the court on March 7, 1907.
In 1897 information provided
by Calhoun to president McKinley contributed to the
president's decision to enter the Spanish-American
war. In later years president Taft appointed
Calhoun ambassador to China.
five Mr. Bluebeard
stage workers who were arraigned with a
group of twenty during the first few days
after the fire. Hogan persuaded the
court to reduce their bail from $5,000 to
$4,000. They were scheduled to testify
on January 11, 1904.
Hogan's legal career began in
St. Louis. He relocated to Chicago in 1886,
joining his father and brother in the Hogan & Hogan
firm. He was the son of Michael and Delia
Hynes (1843-1915) represented
Will J. Davis and
Powers during the coroner's inquest.
Hynes emigrated from
Ireland with his parents in 1851. He
married Jennie Way in 1871. They did not
have children. He came to Chicago in
1875 after a
career in Arkansas combining journalism,
publishing, politics and law.
Moran Jr. (1873-1922) was one in
a herd of defense attorneys on hand in September, 1904
venue change petition before
judge Kersten. He helped dispute
contention that a venue change was not
with the brains of a chicken will dispute
the statement that this community is
prejudiced against these
Moran was in practice with Levy Mayer.
He was the son of a judge and was an influential
(1836-1911) joined William
Hynes in representing Iroquois manager Will J.
Davis in the coroner's trial and in counseling (coaching,
said deputy coroner
Buckley) Iroquois Theater employees
prior to their testimony. After serving in the
American Civil War Perce had settled in Natchez,
Mississippi prior to relocating to Chicago.
Iroquois Theater manager Will J.
Davis lived in Natchez during some of those same
years, working for the US Revenue Service.
Though their time in Natchez did not coincide, the
bond of that common experience surely contributed to
their Davis' comfort level with Perce's counsel.
(1866-1934) participated in
venue change petition before judge
Kersten, arguing against state prosecutor
Barnes contention that the collection of 150
prejudice affidavits required more advance
notice and scrutiny. Rosenthal would
in a few years become famous for his defense
of Standard Oil of New Jersey in a Sherman
anti-trust suit, saving them from a $29
million fine. In later years he
represented other well known corporations,
including Hart, Schaffner & Marx and
numerous railroads. Rosenthal was the
son of Sampson and Mina Cahn Rosenthal.
In 1897 he married Virginia Moses.
Sprogle (1855-1917) was an
attorney in Chicago for seven years, assigned to
grand jury work at an annual salary of $3,300.
He resigned in November, 1903 to go into private
practice. Sprogle represented
Iroquois fireman Sallers in early 1904 trial activity and participated in
the September, 1904
venue change petition before judge Kersten.
Sprogle retired from the practice of law several
times in his life but was called back to serve three
Edgar Bronson Tolman (1859-1947)
native of British India,
Tolman located in Chicago in 1868,
graduating from the University of Chicago
and passing the bar in 1882. Distinguished
himself in the Spanish-American war at the
campaign of Santiago. Appointed attorney to
Chicago in 1901. He provided legal
counsel to the city council in Jan, 1904
when the city's fire ordinances were
Alfred S. Trude
connection with the Iroquois Theater trials Trude
was on the side of the defense, with
Clarence Darrow, but in the case for which he is best
remembered, that of the murder of Chicago mayor
Carter Harrison Sr in 1893, Trude
represented the Harrison family in the prosecution. Despite Clarence Darrow's insanity defense, Trude assisted in
hanging Harrison's slayer, Patrick
Prendergast. Trude received a postcard
from Prendergast and is referenced in the
The Devil in the White City book by by
Iroquois Theater trials, Trude represented
Carter Harrison in January, 1904 and was part of a
March, 1905 team seeking a venue change.
left behind an estate valued at $2 million,
including, "a half
interest in the land on which the City Hall
Square building rests, a half interest in
another plot in the heart of the LaSalle
street financial district, part of the land
beneath the Peoples Gas Light and
Coke company head quarters
at Michigan Avenue and
Adams street, and another plot adjoining the
assistant state attorney who
prepared witnesses for the March, 1907 trial.
His effort was for naught because the defendant was
acquitted without testimony from a single witness.
Barbour was optimistic enough, however, that on
Friday, March 9, he sent word to thirty-five
witnesses that had been sent home when Mayer began
his thirteen-hour argument on Wednesday, March 7,
that they should return on Monday, March 11, 1907.
Barbour had been appointed assistant state attorney
by Charles S. Deneen, in January, 1904. During
his term in office he prosecuted dozens of
murder cases and was a prosecuting attorney in the
Barbour later served two terms as a republican state
senator from the 6th district.
Francis "Frank Preston Blair III (1856-1914),
assistant state attorney, co-chaired the
prosecution with Albert Barnes during the
special grand jury in February, 1904.
He and his wife, Florence Price Blair,
Missouri natives both, had one child.
Frank graduated from West Point, following a
family tradition of military achievement and
political involvement. His ancestry
included a veteran of the American
Revolution and his father was an American
Civil War major general – who
ran as vice president in 1868 with Horatio
Seymour in a failed presidential campaign
against Ulysses S. Grant.
Frank's grandfather was a journalist and
advisor to president Lincoln. Two
weeks before the grand jury opened, Frank's
brother, James Blair, died in Florida.
Pointing at Will J.
Davis, Buckingham addressed the court:
"Frame us a
ship as beautiful as any that ever sailed
the seas. Invite the 1,600 to come aboard.
Sail on tonight over the seas of death, and
you, Mr. Captain, without any life
preservers. Is not that master responsible
before God and man?
George Tracy Buckingham
assistant state attorney who helped
James Barbour prepare
witnesses for the 1907 criminal trial aborted by
acquittal of the defendant. Buckingham did
have the opportunity to deliver an impassioned
final plea to
judge Kimbrough, on the evening of
March 8, 1907, that was later praised by the judge.
"It was not the construction of
the Iroquois theater, your honor, that caused the
bitter sacrifice of 596 lives in the fire. It was
not the plans. It was the failure of the manager to
carry on the business in a legitimate
manner. It was his failure to provide the first
necessities for the safety of life demanded by the
city of Chicago."
In the years after the
Iroquois trial, Buckingham became a corporate
defense attorney, defending railroads, packing
houses and fisheries.
Charles S. Deneen
(1863 - 1940) state attorney 1896-1904, supervisor of assistant
state attorneys involved in Iroquois cases,
James Barbour, etc.
Deneen was running for governor in 1904 so had minimal
involvement in Iroquois case. Twenty
years later served as a U.S. senator from
John J. Healy
(1866 - 1948) states attorney 1904-1908, succeeding
Charles Deneen. In February, 1905,
Healy announced he was going to prosecute Klaw
& Erlanger theater trust for its role in the
Iroquois Theater disaster, assisted by a father of
one of the victims,
jury, however, declined to indict the syndicate
owners. In 1906 Healy tried to thwart Levy
Mayer's venue-change petition for Will J. Davis'
manslaughter trial (the second such petition,
the first petition having been voided when the
first indictment was quashed). Healy
argued that affidavits submitted by the defense were
signed by people who had not read the contents
and that another county should not have to incur the
$50,000 cost for the trial.
In later years Healy was in practice with
senator and former boss, Charles S. Deneen. Reportedly his
career as a prosecutor was ended when he ran afoul of
Chicago brewers by enforcing Sunday closing
ordinances. In 1900 he married Katherine
Andrews and the pair produced five children.
John W. Keeslar
(1864-1915) assistant state attorney who helped James Barbour and
prepare dozens of prosecution witnesses. The
witnesses traveled from Chicago to Danville on
Wednesday, March 7, 1907 and were then sent home
when Levy Mayer began his successful thirteen-hour
argument that Chicago's building ordinances were
illegal and not enforceable.
Keeslar, a Danville resident,
was married to Effie Sandusky and they had a
daughter named Nellie.
(1863-1938) - attorney in private practice. Represented the seven family members
John McKenna and
James Jackson, and was a co-founder of the
Iroquois Memorial Association. A Kentucky
native and graduate of Williams College, a democrat
turned republican, former Cook County assistant
state attorney, son of Moses and Martha Knight,
husband of Helen Whitaker Fowle Knight, father of
World War I ace pilot "Dewey"
Thomas Duerson Knight jr and future campaign
manager for 1920 presidential contender Frank
Lowden, Knight represented Chicago labor unions in
Chicago's early 1900s.
Erasmus Christopher Lindley
(1870-1957) was an assistant state attorney.
On February 10, 1905 he represented the people when
Theodore Green and Kersten quashed the indictment
against Will J. Davis. A month later Lindley
was on hand to protest against a change of venue for
Davis' manslaughter trial.
Lindley was an 1895
graduate of the University of Michigan
in Ann Arbor and served in the US Navy
during the Spanish American war. He began practicing
law in Chicago in 1896 and was appointed
assistant state attorney when Howard O. Sprogle
resigned in November, 1903. Note: the 1900 US
Census reported that Lindley was born in Kansas but
a bio at the time of his appointment to assistant
state attorney reported that he was born in Indiana.
Based on genealogy information found about his
Quaker parents, Osmon and Achsah Wilson Lindley, I
am pretty sure he was born in Indiana and around
age eight, after the death of his father, moved to
Kansas with his mother and three of his twelve
siblings. Some period sources had his name as Erastus but most used Erasmus; for business purposes
he went by E. C. Lindley. His mother
reported it as Erasmus in the 1880 US census so I'm
going with that. He left Chicago around 1916
when he became general counsel for the Great
Northern Railway, then a corporate vice president, and married Clara Ann Hill, one of
the eight daughters born to the railway's CEO, James
Lindley left the prosecutor's
office to become counsel of the Sanitation Board.
June, 1906 as assistant state attorney,
went with John Healy, state attorney, before judge
Ben M. Smith to counter defense attorney
Mayer's petition for a venue change in Will J.
Davis' manslaughter trial. Olson and Healy had
inherited the case from his predecessor,
Erasamus C. Lindley, who had
inherited it from
Albert Barnes. Mayer outmaneuvered the
State, producing three times the number of
affidavits demonstrating Davis could not receive a
fair trial in Chicago.
Harry was married to
Bernice Miller and they had three children. In
the October '06 election he won a seat as justice in Chicago's municipal
Iroquois Theater grand
Hull family of 4 perished
Fulkerson and Rothmann looked after city
Other discussions you might find interesting