Three juries gathered in connection with the
Iroquois Theater fire
was on Jan. 25, 1904, twenty six days after the
fire. Its members were appointed by
was the Grand Jury that began hearing evidence
on February 23, 1905, four hundred and thirteen
days after the fire.
and final jury, called for the first criminal
trial, was chosen on March 5, 1907, in
Danville, Illinois, roughly 2.5 hours from
Chicago. A thirteen-hour argument before judge
Ernesis Kimbrough by Levy Mayer, attorney for
Will J. Davis, resulted in a judge-ordered
acquittal on March 9, 1907, one thousand one
hundred and forty nine days after the fire. That
jury was sent home without hearing
In addition to trials were numerous court
filings, hearings and rulings involving twenty
attorneys, seven on the prosecution side and
thirteen for the various
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.
served as legal counsel for the Chicago Fire
Department at an annual salary of
$2,750 ($71,500 today)
from 1902 until he resigned in August, 1904when the city council refused to
increase his annual salary to $3,600.
In that capacity he conducted an
investigation of the Iroquois Theater fire
origins for the department during the first
few days after the fire. He
interviewed many of the same witnesses that
later testified during the coroner's jury
trial. Because he conducted an
investigation, and because his position was
in some other cities called "fire inspector"
he was identified as such in many 1903-4
newspapers. His title in Chicago,
however, was Fire Attorney and he was a
licensed attorney, having been admitted to
the bar in 1896. Fulkerson would
himself be grilled during the coroner's
trial, with the coroner's office questioning
his authority to hear witness testimony.
Nothing seems to have come of that line of
questioning. At the request of
coroner Traeger, Fulkerson refrained
from releasing a report of his investigation
until after the coroner's jury.
Educated in Texas and Chicago,
Fulkerson was admitted to
the bar in 1896.He was the
son of Charles and Virginia Fulkerson,
married to Jessie A. Riley, and had
five children. His appointment
was recommended by the insurance
Hogan (1859-1941) represented
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
Iroquois owners, Will J. Davis and Harry
Powers during the coroner's inquest.
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 prosecutor Barnes'
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
Rosenthal(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 assistant state
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
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
Erik Larson (soon to be interpreted in a
staring Leonardo DiCaprio. Yayyyyyy!!!!!!)
Iroquois Theater trials, Trude represented mayor
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 andCoke company headquarters
at Michigan Avenue and
Adams street, and another plot adjoining the
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 states 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.
George Tracy Buckingham
(1864- ) assisted James Barbour in preparing
witnesses for the 1907 trial that was 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
"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 le
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.
John W. Keeslar
(1864-1915) 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.
John J. Healy
(1866 - 1948) won election as state attorney
in late 1904 but lost the position 1908. In February, 1905,
Healy announced that 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, Henry Shebad. The grand
jury, however, declined to indict the syndicate
owners. In later years was in practice with
senator Charles S. Deneen. Reportedly his
career as a prosecutor ended when he ran afowl of
Chicago brewers by enforcing Sunday closing
ordinances. In 1900 he married Katherine
Andrews and the pair produced five children.
Erasmus Christopher Lindley
(1870-1957) was an assistant state attorney.
On February 10, 1905 he represented the people when
judges 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 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 and married Clara Ann Hill, one of
the eight daughters born to the railway's CEO, James
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