Thirteen-year-old Ethel Barker and a friend,
eighteen-year-old Florence T.
Harris (1884-), were said to be neighborhood playmates.
(It was common in 1903 for young teenagers to be
referred to as though small children but in this
case newspapers did not know Florence's given name
so probably not her age, thus assumed she was around
thirteen like Ethel.)
Florence came home from the Iroquois Theater; Ethel
did not. One newspaper story the day after the fire
reversed their names but a burial permit was issued
for Ethel M. Barker and none was issued for
Ethel M. Barker (b.1890) was the daughter of an
English immigrant Harry J. Barker (b.1850) and a
Maryland native, Agnes Barker. Ethel attended the
George W. Tilton Elementary school in Chicago.
Besides her parents Ethel left behind an older
brother, Herbert Barker (b.1883) and a grandmother, Harry’s widowed mother, Alice Barker (b.1836
England), who lived with the family at 1925
Washington Blvd. in Chicago. Ethel's father worked
as a supervisor at Plamondon Manufacturing.*
Charlotte Plamondon, the daughter of Harry's
employer, Charles A. Plamondon, was also at the
Iroquois with nine friends but there were no reports
tying Ethel and Florence to the
Plamondon theater party.
Harris’s father, William C. Harris (1858-), also worked at Plamondon,
as a foreman. The Harris family lived at 1910
Washington Blvd. Florence was one of two
children born to William and Clara D'Ailman Harris
(1862-1940), the other having died sometime prior to
Ethel Barker's funeral was held on Saturday, Jan 2, 1904
and burial was at Forest Home Cemetery.
In the years after
Ethel’s mother died during the seven years after the
fire, and her brother married. Florence's
mother moved to San Francisco.
Discrepancies and addendum
to the newspaper error noted above, the Marshall Everett book
incorrectly reported Ethel's age as twenty-seven.
The Harris girl may have been
Dosia Harris (1890-), daughter of William Harris who
lived at 346 23rd street, four miles from the Barker
A Bertha Harris escaped from
the second floor balcony. She was a native of
Lena, Illinois and probably not this Harris.
* Three years before the
Iroquois fire, Harry's brother John went missing and
they searched everywhere for him. Seven weeks later
his body was found with a suicide note confirming
the family’s suspicion that he could no longer
endure the pain of a chronic stomach ailment.