Forty-two year old William
T. Palmer (b. 1863) and his thirty-three year old
wife, Katie O. Maize Palmer (b. 1864), took their two sons, ten-year old Howard
Palmer (b. 1894) and fourteen-year old Richard G.
Palmer (b. 1889) to the Mr. Bluebeard matinee. The entire family
of four perished.
William Palmer was a
traveling salesman who worked for the Benedict &
Burnham Brass & Copper Company division of American
Tube Works of Boston (brass pipes), working the
territory west of the Alleghenies. The
Palmers lived at 1141 Judson Avenue in Chicago.
Prior to 1901 the family
lived on the corner of Lafayette and Butler streets
in Fort Wayne, Indiana. William then worked
for the S. F. Bowser Mfg. Company (oil storage
tanks) and the boys attended the Hanna elementary
school at the corner of Hanna and Wallace streets
(rebuilt in 1904 East Williams and Lafayette).
old Howard's was one of the last of Iroquois victims bodies to be
identified, by a necktie that had been given to him
as a Christmas present from his mother. The
delay in his identification resulted from a mistake
in the identification.
Reverend John Boyd (pastor of
First Presbyterian Church in Evanston 1895-1907)
organized friends and relatives of the Palmers and
set about finding their bodies. After a day of
searching, the group found William's and Richard's
bodies at Rolston's funeral home and Kate and
Howard's bodies at Jordan's. Katie's brothers, Frank and
William Maize, identified the four bodies. A
memorial service was held at the Presbyterian
The bodies of the Palmer family
were at the morgue awaiting transport to
Philadelphia for burial when the Palmer's attorney,
Joseph Whitfield, received a letter from relatives
of another family who perished at the Iroquois
Theater, the Hennings, inquiring if there was any chance the
Palmer's had the wrong boy's body.
After a long and fruitless
search for eight year old Jimmy Hennings body, his
family had obtained a list of victims Jimmy's age
from the Chicago coroner's office and sent letters
to each family.
The Palmer family attorney
invited the Hennings to examine the body thought to
be Howard Palmer. The Henning family dentist
positively identified the body as that of
James "Jimmy" Henning Jr. who had died with his
three brothers at the Iroquois.
The task of identifying the
bodies of their four sons, and seeing to their
funeral arrangements and burial fell on James
Henning Sr. because his wife, the boy's mother,
remained in the hospital struggling for life.
How conflicting it must have been for him to feel
celebratory about finding the last body of his sons.
Emily Henning died from smoke inhalation injuries on
February 8, 1904.
The Whitfield law firm then
hired a private detective to find Howard Palmer's
body and identification was made by Joseph H.
Whitfield and the family dentist.
Howard Palmer was one of two
body mix-ups among Iroquois victims, the other
A newspaper reported that
William Palmer's estate totaled $23,000 but did not
give details. Another story referenced a
$5,000 life insurance policy on Katie.
William Palmer was one of ten
children born to Richard and Margaret Palmer of
Katie was the daughter of
James Maize and Caroline "Carrie" Cox Maize.
In 1900 Carrie, widowed, lived with Katie and
William in Fort Wayne. It is not known if she
lived with them in Chicago.