As assistant engineer to
Robert Murray at
the Iroquois, William Bain (1859-1944), probably
tended to the furnace, boilers and venting necessary
to maintaining the temperature at the theater.
At the coroner's inquest January 18, 1904 he he testified that
he did not have an engineering license, a
requirement for stationary engineers in Chicago but
possibly less so for assistants. Nonetheless, the
role of venting above the stage and in the back wall
of the auditorium would have made his testimony of
interest. He was also called to testify at the
grand jury trial February 27, 1904.
A February 22, 1903
Chicago newspaper carried a help-wanted
"JANITOR - ENGINEER'S LICENSE, PROTESTANT;
Engineering licenses were used as a way of
qualifying applicant skill and experience, as was
religion apparently a way of discriminating against
Catholics, i.e., the Irish, but it was an obstacle
Bain seemed to have overcome.
In 1900 they rented their home at 6347 Vincennes in
Chicago but ten years later had a mortgage and by
1920 the family's apartment house on Harper was paid off.
mortgages become more common in those years but were still
beyond the reach of many blue collar workers.
To own his home free and clear by his early sixties
was an accomplishment.
Scotland, William had immigrated to America in 1888,
married widow Rosa West in 1893 and their daughter
Jennie Bain (1896-1966) came along three years later. Rosa's
first husband, William Burnell, with whom she had
three children, had died in 1890 in an
electrocution accident at the lumber company where
In the years after the fire
Rosa passed in 1918 but daughter Jennie and a
stepson from Rosa's first marriage lived with
William in the 1930s and at his death.