Newhall House FireBURNING OF THE NEWHALL HOUSE
Published by the Bleyer Bros.
Cramer, Aikens & Cramer Printers
Burning of the Newhall House
TO THE PUBLIC
In offering to the public this memorial record of the Newhall House fire, the undersigned are actuated by a desire to place in the hands of those interested a correct account of an event that has passed into the history of Milwaukee as one of the deepest sorrow. The awful spectacle, the hair-breadth escapes and horrible deaths incident to the conflagration, were fully reported by the press, but the developments necessary to correctly record the dire event were so slow of evolution, and the press records covered so many pages of newspapers that cannot be conveniently preserved, that the necessity of this volume presented itself. No criminations are printed in its pages, neither is the question of origin or the culpability of managers nor suspected incendiaries discussed, the province of the volume being only to record.
JULIUS BLEYER HERMAN BLEYER MILWAUKEE, WIS. JANUARY, 1883
Pg. 5 Burning of the Newhall house A SCENE OF HORROR
Shortly after four o'clock on the morning of the 10th day of January 1883, an alarm from Box No. 15 startled Milwaukee's Fire Department and awoke many of her citizens to witness a fire unequaled in the horror of its results by any in the history of the city. Those who were acquainted with the location of the box from which the alarm was sounded made all possible haste to reach the scene, where confirmatory flashes of light were already visible, and from whence came floating on the morning air a faint roaring sound, intermingled with cries of terror. Others went to their windows, and, looking for a moment at the first tongues of flame that shot skyward, shiveringly retired to their seductive couches, satisfied that Milwaukee's trusty firemen could cope with any conflagration that might arise within the jurisdiction of their vigilance. Had they known that the alarm was the death-knell of scores of people who were fated to be consumed with the Newhall House in the brief space of one hour, it is safe to say that no inclination to rest would have kept them from the awful spectacle. Many were so deeply wrapped in slumber that they remained in utter ignorance of the fire: a merciful Providence had spared them the horrors of the night. The smoking ruins and the crowded morgue were indisputable evidence that the hour of the fire was filled with woe unutterable.
On the record book of the Central Fire Station the following entries were made on the 10th day of January 1883:
Alarm—Box No. 439, 3:47 A. M., corner Nineteenth and Vliet Streets. Telephone Alarm—4:05 A. M., Newhall House. Alarm—Box No. 15, 4:08 A. M., Newhall House. Chief pulled in general alarm at 4:15 A. M., from Box No. 15. Location—Corner of Michigan and Broadway; six-story brick; Newhall House Association, owners; J. F. Antisdel, occupant; business, hotel.
This is the plain official record of the fire. All calls on the Fire Department are thus recoded, from the slightest blaze to the heavy conflagration.
The first alarm called Engines No. 2 and No. 5. Hook and Ladder Truck No. 3, Supply Hose No. 1, and the Chemical Engine. Chief Lippert accompanied the apparatus.
Assistant Engineer Black, who had intended to make a trip to Chicago on business, was at this time at the North-Western Railway depot, foot of Wisconsin Street, awaiting the arrival of the train from the north. By a strange dispensation of Providence the train failed to appear on schedule time, and Mr. Black, while wrestling with impatience at the delay, heard the alarm from Box No. 15. This routed all thoughts of the train and Chicago, and sent Mr. Black into a hack and the hack to the Newhall House with all possible speed.
Engine No. 1 and Hook and Ladder Truck No. 1 dashed out of the Central Station at the first alarm by telephone, and sped down Broadway towards Box 15. As the firemen left the house they could see the reflection of the fire against the buildings on the sides of Michigan Street and Broadway opposite the Newhall House. Less than two minutes were consumed in the run to the scene, and yet when the firemen reached the hotel the frightened guests had commenced to jump to the sidewalks from the upper windows, and flames were darting out through the windows on Michigan Street near the corner of Broadway.
Engine No. 1 took water from the hydrant on the corner of Michigan Street and Broadway, opposite the hotel, while Truck No. 1 stopped in front of the building and sent two hand chemical extinguishers to fight the flames, which appeared to be raging in the elevator shaft. Foreman Riemer, of Truck No. 1, accompanied the men with the extinguishers to take an observation. Water from the “Chemicals” was turned upon the fire in the elevator shaft while Foreman Meminger, of Engine No. 1, was bringing in a line of hose from his engine. Riemer seized the first opportunity to thrust his head into the shaft and looked upward. The glance was sufficient; he saw the fire burning fiercely in the shaft as far up as the third story. He immediately cried out that the building was doomed, and ordered the “chemicals” back to the truck and the men to the ladders. Foreman Meminger, of Engine No. 1, remained in the elevator entrance with his pipe men until the position became untenable. He saw little of the horror of the fire, but had a narrow escape as he was running the hose through the doorway—a frenzied jumper from above striking the pavement near by. All this, of course, took less time than the telling, as moments were precious. The fire was now roaring to the roof and darting into the hallways, filling them with smoke.
The first ladder place against the burning building was one twenty feet long, which took men from Truck No. 1 to the first balcony with a ladder twenty-four feet long. The second ladder was raised from the balcony to the third story. On these two ladders, which together reached a distance of forty-four feet, seven persons were saved from different rooms in the third story. The fourth person who escaped on these ladders was a corpulent man who could not get over the edge of the windowsill to the first round of the ladder. The firemen lifted the base of the ladder to the top of the balcony rail and by great exertion held it there until the excited man passed down over it in safety.
Work with the pair of ladders was then abandoned, and the extension ladder, with a reach of sixty-five feet, was brought into use from Truck No. 1. It was successfully sent up against the building and one man came down safely over it. An effort was then made to move the ladder over to Allen Johnson and his wife, who were standing in a window of one of their rooms, facing Broadway, imploring aid. The canvas to catch jumpers—fifteen feet square, with eight handles on each side—was also brought into use. In moving the ladder it was brought in contact with a projection of the building; the endless chain that works the extension jumped from the pinion and the upper section of the ladder came down with a crash. This hopelessly disabled it. While the first ladders were being raised, W. H. Hall, of Laporte, Ind., who occupied a room on the fourth floor adjoining that of Martin Weber, his partner in business, became excited at what seemed to him unconscionable delay and endeavored to climb down on the window-caps and feel to the walk, receiving fatal injuries.
Long before this, Chief Lippert, Assistant Black and the remainder of the department had appeared on the scene and entered actively upon the work of rescue—a duty at that time paramount to all others. The engines of the department were stationed as follows: No 1, corner of Broadway and Michigan Streets; No. 4, corner of East Water and Michigan Streets; No. 6, corner of Wisconsin Street and Broadway; No. 5 corner of Wisconsin and East Water Streets; No. 2 foot of Michigan Street, with suction from the river; No. 3, corner of Milwaukee and Michigan Streets; No. 7, corner of Huron Street and Broadway. The water that was being poured into the quivering heat through ten nozzles seemed a futile waste. Chief Lippert, however, was in duty bound to view the situation in all its phases. While the duty of life saving held the first place, he had an eye on the vast furnace that was spangling the wings of the wind and showering brands of fire upon a large portion of Milwaukee. Unwilling to take a single chance, the prudent fireman telegraphed to Chicago and Racine for assistance, and also asked for the engine at the Soldiers' Home. Chicago and Racine responded at once. Three steamers left Chicago at 5:50 A. M., Nos. 5, 10 and 14, together with two men each from Companies 1, 2 and 3, and 1,000 yards of extra hose. At Highland Park, about twenty-five miles north of Chicago, the relief train was countermanded by Chief Lippert, the fire having spent its strength in the Newhall House. The Racine relief train was also countermanded. Gen. Sharpe, commandant at the Soldiers' Home, did not send his engine, because the request was not signed by any one in authority.
Foreman Michael J. Curtin, of Hook and Ladder Truck No. 2, observed the perilous situation of the Johnson's, and was on the point of returning to his truck for a ladder, when he was informed that the extension ladder belonging to Truck No. 1 was available. He assisted in raising it, and witnessed its disablement. At this time Mrs. Johnson jumped or fell, her body striking the balcony railing and dropping to the hard pavement. The unfortunate woman was carried into the American Express office, on the opposite side of the street, in a dying condition. Wm. Dodsworth, of the Express Company, secured a feather pillow and endeavored to make the poor woman as comfortable as the means at hand would permit. He placed the pillow under her head and threw his coat over her shoulders. As the coat touched her she raised her hands and pushed it off, saying, “it is too hot here,” or words to that effect. These were the only words she spoke after the fatal jump. Mr. Johnson still stood in the window awaiting assistance. The pipe man of Engine No. 6 was directed to keep the fire away from the jeopardized man by sending a stream of water into the window, and over his body, if necessary. Foremen Curtin and Riemer begged Mr. Johnson not to jump, as another ladder would be brought to rescue him. The excited people below drowned the advice of the foremen with cries of “Jump! Jump!” and denunciation of the pipe man of Engine No. 6, who was drenching Mr. Johnson. As Foreman Curtin, of Truck No. 2 turned to go for his extension ladder the poor man, who was now hanging outward against the north side of the window of his room, facing Broadway, relaxed his hold on the casing and jumped, striking the edge of the canvas which was spread below with such force that it was torn from the grasp of those attempting to hold it, and Mr. Johnson struck the pavement heavily, receiving fatal injuries. He was carried to the American Express office and placed beside his wife, where he died while Mr. Dodsworth was endeavoring to relieve his suffering by tenderly chafing him. His body was then taken to Coates' bathroom, on Mason Street, with that of Mrs. Johnson, in which life faintly lingered for about an hour.
Pg. 10 The express office proved a blessed haven for the half-clad refugees from the ruined hotel, and the injured and dying that were brought through its doors received unremitting attention from the kind-hearted Dodsworth. One of the injured girls brought into the express office was the heroic Kitty Linehan, chief laundress of the hotel. She had sacrificed her chances for escape in a brave effort to direct her frightened companions to the exits, and cut off from the avenues of escape she knew so well she was compelled to leap into the fatal canvas. When brought into the office the brave girl had strength enough to sit up, but she rapidly failed, and, after a few gasps, passed beyond the reach of pain. Mr. Dodsworth feels confident that she could have been saved if stimulants were at hand, as the physicians who examined her mains could find no marks that indicated mortal injury.
After Mr. Johnson had made his fatal jump, Foreman Curtin, of Truck No. 2, turned towards the alley and was met by Wm. Linehan, fireman of the hotel, who implored him to bring ladders to the fifth story. Foreman Curtin asked for and received assistance from Truck No. 1, and the extension ladder was hurried to the alley. The scene that was presented to the firemen in the narrow corridor of death was a frightful one, and it was no wonder the brave men shrank for a moment at its portals. Foreman Curtin called to the girls to stay in the windows until he could reach them with the ladder. They begged him to hurry. Turning to his assistants, Foreman Curtin led the way into the jaws of death. Upon the cobblestones in the alley lay the bodies of eleven girls, shockingly mangled. To enter this narrow place under the towering and dangerous wall of the hotel, with the dead and dying lying at one's feet, called for a display of true courage. The brave men entered with the ladder, but before they could use it Foreman Curtin discovered that a ladder which Foreman Riemer, of Truck No. 1, had ordered across the alley from an opposite building, was successfully doing the work he was about to enter upon; he, therefore, relinquished work with the ladder and ordered the removal of the bodies of the poor girls. After this was accomplished good work was done with ladders of both trucks along the Michigan Street front of the burning hotel. One ladder was placed against the fire escape near the corner of Broadway, and another over the Michigan Street entrance. Many people came down in safety over them. The extension ladder that brave Curtin's men had dragged up the alley in the shadow of death was not recovered. When all need of rescuers on the fronts of the building was over, Curtin returned to the alley with his men to recover it. But Providence interposed in their behalf, and prompted them to hesitate where they had before rushed in upon as ghastly a sight as ever man beheld. During this brief pause the hand of the same kind of Providence decreed the fall of the rear wall of the now hollow shell of the Newhall House. Down it came with a thundering crash, burying the gory pavement and the ladder that had brought hope to the jeopardized girls under a heavy mass of broken brick and crumble mortar.
Pg. 11 Hook and Ladder Truck No. 3 arrived from the Nineteenth Street fire and did good service along the Broadway front, but the question of life or death was settled for most of the occupants of the building before it reached the scene.
The noble work on the ladders spanning the alley will be found recorded under the heading “Heroes of the Fire.”
The work of the Truckmen is thus particularized because it was by far the most important at the fire. The question of extinguishments, of course, entered into the fight, but the main object during the hour in which the immense hotel melted away was the saving of human life. The excitement of rescue was so absorbing that not one of those who were engaged in the noble work could tell exactly what had been accomplished even by themselves. So much had to be done in short order that there was little time for observation.
Pg. 12 While the busy rescuers were putting forth their best efforts, the frenzied guests and servants impatiently jumped to death on the cruel stones below. Their mangled bodies were hurried from under the walls by spectators and carried either into the American Express office or the Chamber of Commerce building, in the basement of which cots had been hurriedly set up. Some of the dead and injured were taken into Stanley & Camp's jewelry store, on the corner of Wisconsin Street and Broadway. The body of one poor girl was taken to a saloon on East Water Street, a few doors north of Wisconsin, where it remained until morning, when it was removed to the morgue.
D. G. Power, the well-known real estate agent and inventor, jumped or fell from his window in the sixth story, on the Michigan Street side of the building, and was killed. He was burned about the head and face, which was evidence that he either attempted to escape by the hall and was driven back into his room, or that the fire invaded his chamber and scorched him out. His body was taken to the morgue, where it was claimed by his friends. Mr. Power had in his room a fire-escape of his own invention, but there was no evidence that he had even attempted to use it.
T. E. Van Loon, a retired capitalist, formerly a resident of Albany, New York, occupied a room next to that of D. G. Power, on the sixth floor. He also jumped to death on the pavement. His body was found lying on the steps leading down to the Goetz barbershop, in the basement of the hotel. Mr. Van Loon's remains were taken to the morgue, where they were claimed by a friend.
About the time Allen Johnson and his wife jumped from their room on the fifth floor, John Gilbert, a brilliant actor, and his wife, who occupied a room on the same floor, on the Michigan Street front, appeared at the window and jumped. Mrs. Gilbert was instantly killed; her husband was very badly injured, but he is now recovering. The tragic fate of this young couple was particularly sad. They were married in Chicago on the morning previous to the fire, and came to Milwaukee to join the theatrical troupe with which Mr. Gilbert was connected. Mrs. Gilbert's maiden name was Sutton. Previous to marrying Mr. Gilbert, Miss Sutton was engaged to a Louisville gentleman by the name of Porteous, who went to her home in Canada at the appointed time to marry her, but, when there, found that she no longer loved him, but had given her affection to an actor. This new revelation produced a change in Mr. Porteous' affections, and he found himself enamored with her only sister, whom he soon after married, and, with his bride, went back to Louisville. His first affianced, no longer fettered by an engagement with him, soon after went to her new found love, and they were married in Chicago, as has been stated. Mr. and Mrs. Porteous heard of the disaster, and seeing the name of Mrs. John Gilbert among the dead, suspected the worst, and came on to Milwaukee, where their sad conjectures were confirmed when they visited the morgue and found the remains of the one they had both loved so well. John Gilbert's real name is Donahoe. He was at one time a resident of Milwaukee. One of the most trying scenes occurred when Mrs. Anna Donahoe, mother of the actor, searched the morgue for her son's young wife. It was a pitiful sight—that of the aged, weeping woman kneeling in pools of blood, tenderly brushing back the hair from the pale, bloody foreheads of the dead girls, eagerly scanning every lineament of their faces, caressing the cold hands, examining the clothing upon the corpses, and striving in every way which suggested itself to her sorrowing heart to find some mark by which she might positively know her young daughter in law. “This is she,” said Mrs. Donahoe, plaintively, as she looked intently upon the form of a girl who had already been identified as a servant in the hotel. “That is her hair, those her eyes, and the nose is like Gertrude's. No, no, it can't be her, though, for she had small hands and a bright, new wedding-ring.” Twice, thrice, Mrs. Donahoe voiced the same certainty, then doubt, but at last she identified the same corpse, which had been picked out by John R. Rogers, manager of the Minnie Palmer Company, as that of Mr. Gilbert's wife. This identification was strengthened by the fact that upon this woman's finger was found a plain, gold band, new and untarnished— evidently the wedding ring. This corpse had previously been claimed by the father of a missing girl who had been employed in the hotel, but Coroner Kuepper, after much questioning, came to the conclusion that it was Mrs. Gilbert's body, and delivered it to her friends.
Pg. 14 T. B. Elliott [Theodore B. Elliott], of the law firm of Jenkins, Elliott & Winkler, was the last arrival at the ill-fated hotel. He came in on a late train, and was shown to his room on the fifth floor, where he dozed off into a half slumber from which he was aroused by dense clouds of heated smoke. He started at once for a window and jumped, striking on the balcony and receiving fatal injuries. Detective McManus lowered him from the balcony, and Lieutenant Jansen, of the police force, took him to the Kirby House.
Walter H. Scott, an employee in the general ticket office of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway, who occupied a room next to Mr. Elliott's, jumped to the pavement and received injuries that caused his death in a short time. He died in the American Express office, whither he had been carried.
Judson J. Hough, of Maroa, Ill., nephew of Allen Johnson, occupied a room on the fifth floor next to the Johnson's, on the Broadway front of the building, near the fatal elevator. When first observed from the street he was sitting astride the ornamental cap of the window of the fourth floor, just below his room, shielding his head and neck from the flames, which were sweeping out of the apartment he had hastily deserted. Before an effort could be made in his behalf the fire broke through the glass of the window over which he was sitting and the cruel flames licked upward about his person, compelling him to let go. Mr. Hough dropped to the balcony, receiving fatal injuries. He was at first thought to be dead, and no effort was made to remove his body, as the living claimed all the attention, but a moan from the sufferer attracted a fireman and Mr. Hough was taken from the balcony and removed to the Central Police Station, where he died. He was conscious when he arrived at the station, and sent for Alfred James, secretary of the Northwestern National Insurance Company, of which he was a special agent. Mr. James hastened to the station and remained with poor Hough to the end. Policemen inured to scenes of woe say that the most pathetic sight they ever witnessed was that of the dying man painfully syllabling the words “Ma-roa, wife, ba-by.” The last thoughts of the departing soul were with loved ones whom it had left in the full tide of health, never to see again on the earthly side of the dark valley of death.
Pg. 15 E. Erickson and S. A. Grant, of Palmyra, Wis., had a thrilling escape from their rooms on the fourth floor. Mr. Erickson was awakened by the confusion in the hall. He jumped out of bed and called Mr. Grant, his room-mate, saying that the house was on fire, and opened the door to find the hall filled with hot air and a little smoke, with the fire about forty feet distant. Grant told Erickson to close the door while they dressed, as an escape through fire could be more successfully made while clothed with woolens. They both dressed, even putting on their overcoats, Erickson being cool enough to remember and secure $300.00 under his pillow. They then rushed to the window and called for help, which was not at hand. Looking down, Erickson saw the cast-iron cap on top of the window below, which projected outward and upward. The apex of this projection was only two feet below him. Holding fast to the window sash in his own room which was the second room from the alley and fronting on Michigan Street, in the fourth story, he stepped down on the iron cap, swung himself to the center of the window and broke it through with his feet, never letting go with one hand until the other was fast hold of something else. He then held fast to the center bar of the sash and dropped to the window sill, breaking the glass, grasping hold of the center bar of the sash until he could swing himself on to the next window cap, thus repeating the operation down three stories until he came to the dining room on the second floor. Erickson made the descent from the dining room by the aid of a tablecloth and the telegraph wires that entered the Mutual Union office in the basement of the hotel. Grant, instead of following Erickson, ran twenty or twenty-five feet in the hall, when he was driven back with scorched face and hands. He broke open the door of a room, rushed to the window, and called to Erickson, who directed him to descend as he was doing. Grant accepted his brave companion's advice and was saved.
Pg. 16 Gen. Tom Thumb and wife were rescued by Police Officer O'Brien, who awakened them by loud knocking at the door. The General arose and admitted the officer. They immediately looked about for means of egress. Officer O'Brien opened the window and a ladder was raised at once. The room was situated on the third floor, directly over the entrance on Michigan Street. Gen. Thumb descended the ladder first, followed by the policeman with Mrs. Thumb in his arms.
Sylvester Bleeker, manager of the Tom Thumb Company, and wife, occupied a room on the fourth floor directly over those occupied by Tom Thumb and wife. Mr. Bleeker tied strips of bedclothes together, and began to lower his wife to the balcony below. She lost her hold and fell to the balcony, dislocating her left shoulder, breaking her left arm, dislocating her left arm and fracturing her right leg, besides receiving numerous cuts about her body and face. She was taken into the room of Mr. and Mrs. Tom Thumb and from there lowered to the ground by means of a rope. Mr. Bleeker succeeded in climbing down also, and reached the sidewalk from the balcony over a ladder that had been raised for his rescue. Mrs. Bleeker's injuries proved fatal. Her real name was Broesbeck, Bleeker being a professional name.
L. W. Brown and wife occupied a room on the fifth floor of the Broadway front, near the elevator, between the rooms occupied by J. J. Hough and Walter H. Scott. Mrs. Brown was awake and clothed at the time the fire was discovered, awaiting the hour of departure of an early train on which she intended to leave the city. Mr. Brown was still in bed. Mrs. Brown heard the alarm in the halls and fancied she could distinguish the peculiar roar of restrained flames. She told her husband of her fears, but he merely placed his hand on the wall and jocularly remarked that heat was an accompaniment of fire, and that the wall was cold. The noise becoming greater each moment, Mrs. Brown prevailed on her husband to investigate the cause. He arose and opened the door, letting in a puff of smoke. The flames were then leaping a foot above the floor about the elevator shaft. Mr. Brown sprang back into the room and told his wife to prepare to leave the building, as it was on fire. He dressed in a hurried manner, and both attempted to leave the room. The flames, however, had so far progressed during the brief time it took Mr. Brown to clothe himself that escape by the hall was impossible. Tearing up the sheets and blankets Mr. Brown made a rope which he let down to the balcony. Tying the hastily improvised lifeline to a sewing machine, Mr. Brown endeavored to persuade his wife to lower herself to the balcony, three stories below, but she was afraid to trust herself on the frail looking rope. In order to assure her of its strength, Mr. Brown swung out and reached the balcony in safety, his wife promising him that in the event of his success she would follow immediately. While Mr. Brown was swinging in mid-air on the perpendicular wall of the building a dark body shot swiftly by him; it flashed through his mind that his wife had jumped. On reaching the balcony Brown inquired for the woman who had jumped or fallen. The firemen told him that no woman had thus escaped. Mr. Brown then made frantic efforts to find his wife, but failed. It subsequently transpired that the poor woman had jumped or fallen as her husband suspected, and that her body had been hurried to the morgue, where it was recognized on the following day.
Pg. 17 W R. Busenbark, of Chicago, roomed on the fourth floor, Michigan Street front, with W. C. Wiley, of Detroit, who had come to Milwaukee with him to establish an office for the Michigan Central Railway. They were awakened by the roar of the fire, the all-pervading smoke and the confusion in the hall. Mr. Wiley dashed out in the hall in a wild endeavor to escape, and was seen no more. Mr. Busenbark, finding escape by the hall impossible, turned to the window, and seeing the telegraph wires stretched between him and the hard pavement made a sprawling jump for them. He struck upon the wires, which in their recoil threw him off and he fell to the street, severely injuring his back. Mr. Busenbark also received a number of bad cuts from the wires.
Pg. 18 The most appalling sight witnessed during the disastrous conflagration was the death of Miss Libbie A. Chellis, head dressmaker in T. A. Chapman's dry goods store. She occupied a room on the Broadway front of the sixth floor, near the corner of Michigan Street. When the building was seething with fire she appeared at her window and sank upon her knee, as if invoking Divine aid in the supreme hour of peril. Her friends on the street instantly recognized her and begged her to jump. She made no effort whatever, but maintained her supplicating position until the flames curled about her and bore her backward upon the gigantic funeral pyre. A thrill of horror swept through the witnesses of this crowning scene in the vast panorama of death.
The good work performed by the Truckmen with their ladders was supplemented by heroic efforts on both facades of the burning hotel by volunteers, who chose noble work instead of surrendering to idle curiosity. One of these noble men, Oscar Kleinsteuber, an attaché of the Police Department, climbed up the Broadway side of the building on the Benner fire escape, and rushing into the hallways, called to those groping about in the blinding smoke. His efforts were rewarded by the saving of a number of lives, at a time when the bare thought of ascending the threatening walls appalled many a stout heart. The corridors of the building were at that time filled with smoke and flame that swept through them like fire through a chimney flue, driving the victims to the windows, and, in a number of instances claiming the unfortunates in plain sight of the palsied multitude in the street.
In the alley, where the brave Truckmen made such heroic rescues, the scene before their appearance was one of blood-curdling agony. Long before the fire appeared in their rooms the frenzied girls commenced their terrible leaps to certain death. Their ears seemed closed against all appeals from their friends below, who saw no reason for the bloody sacrifice. One after another they hurriedly jumped, until eleven of them lay weltering in gore upon the cold stone pavement in the alley. Those who saw the forms of the girls dart downward and heard the sickening concussion as they struck will never be able to efface the scene from the tablets of memory.
Pg. 19 When so much was enacted before the multitude, on the outer walls of the building, and so little remembered in detail, owing to the attendant confusion, what can be accurately given of the pandemonium that prevailed in the halls of the hotel when the lights had been extinguished by the smoke, and the bewildered victims were rushing hither and tither, blindly hoping for accidental escape, and gasping for the breath of life? From the glowing core of the fire, the elevator shaft, the flames swept outward and upward with withering fervency. The very air throughout the house seemed to yield up its elements to combustion. The heat was so intense that the few who escaped were painfully burned by the hot blasts in the halls where the flames had not yet reached.
Away up in the sixth story along the north wall, with windows opening above the roof of Sherman's photograph gallery, roomed James McAlpine, Andrew Hardy and J. R. Duval. Mr. Hardy instinctively awoke when the fire was in full sway. He felt the danger that was at that very moment closing about him and his companions. Jumping from his bed, he hailed Mr. McAlpine, telling him the house was burning, at the same time striking a match and lighting the gas. Before they could fully realize their position the rushing heat forced in the transom and instantly the thick smoke put out the gas. They both sprang for the window, which they crushed out, and just as the hot air was overpowering them they sank outward and fell to the roof, some distance below, where they were restored to sensibility by Mr. Duval, who had preceded them to the roof. The only occupants of the rooms on the sixth floor who escaped, besides the three just mentioned, were Ben. K. Tice, chief clerk, and Patrick Conroy and Thomas Cleary, bellboys.
Mr. Tice says he was awakened by an indescribable sensation. His room was rapidly filling with smoke, and on opening the door to the hallway black masses of suffocating smoke pressed into the apartment. He immediately started for the hose near by to fight the fire, but as he rushed through the hall the hot air scorched and burned him. He attempted to arouse Messrs. Van Loon, Power and Reed, and Miss Chellis, but failed on account of the overpowering heat. Two of the bellboys were shouting for help, and Mr. Tice called to them to follow him, but they ran in an opposite direction, while Mr. Tice went to the window at the end of the hall next the alley, broke it out, went down the ladder built on the side of the building, and dropped to the roof of the bridge between the hotel and the bank building. As he reached this point he heard some one attempting to open the door on the fifth floor of the hotel leading to the bridge. Breaking in the door he found Lizzie Anglin and carried her to the roof of the bank building. Lizzie then called for Mollie Connors, her roommate, and Mr. Tice returned for her; but as the flames were pouring furiously from the door and window from which they had just escaped, Mollie's rescue was an impossibility. Mr. Tice broke a window in the roof of the bank building and took Miss Anglin, who was fatally burned, to a hallway below, where clothing was furnished him. He attempted to enter upon further work of rescue, but the intense heat through which he passed had so roasted his hands and face that he was compelled to desist. Mr. Tice claims that he was not touched by fire and that the burns he received painfully illustrated the terrible heat in the upper corridors of the ill-fated hotel.
Pg. 20 The servants' quarters in the Newhall were on the fifth floor, and ranged along the alley side of the building, from a point about twenty feet north of Michigan Street to a point about twenty feet south of the north end of the building, and the rooms were built along a hall which ran north and south and at each end was totally separated from the guests' apartments by heavy doors. The rescued girls say that the first they knew of the fire was when Linehan, the engineer, awakened them with order to run out and follow him, without waiting to dress. Linehan says the hall swarmed with girls after he gave the alarm, and thinking they would follow him as he directed, he rushed down the stairs to find that only one had obeyed his instruction.
Pg. 21 Mary Gavin, who escaped across the alley on the ladder raised by the heroic firemen, says she was awakened by screams in the hallway. She aroused her roommate and they ran into the hall, which was full of smoke and very hot. They all ran toward the south end of the hall, which opened upon a staircase, but were driven back by smoke and heat. The air was suffocatingly hot, and some of the girls fainted. A number of them went to the rooms facing the alley and broke out windows to get air. Men could be seen below, looking up, but nobody seemed to be doing anything toward their rescue. “ The smoke grew thicker and the air hotter,” said Miss Gavin. “I supposed the other girls were standing up behind me. As nobody said anything I looked around, but the smoke was so thick I could not see anybody. I went to the door and looked out into the hall and could see no one. It seemed as if I was alone in the building. I turned to go back to the window to breathe and as I did so I fell over something. I felt around on the floor and found all the girls who had been with me lying there, seeming to be suffocated. I got back to the window and called to the men below to do something. I could see girls jumping out of other windows or hanging to the windowsills till they fell dead to the ground below. Suddenly men on the roof of a building across the alley put a ladder across to my window and called to me to go over. I stooped down and tried to wake the other girls, but they did not stir. Then a man came across the ladder and took up one of the girls and carried her across. Then I went over and the men carried some of the others out.
Mary McCauley, who was also saved by the brave firemen, over the ladder bridge, says: “I was awakened by the shouts and screams of the others and ran into the hall. It was full of the girls rushing wildly up and down, crying and screaming. I rushed to the end of the hall, peeped through the door and saw everything was smoke and fire outside. I then ran back, and passing a room where seven girls had taken refuge, joined them and we all knelt in prayer. One of the girls had a crucifix and a stout woman prayed out loud. Just as we had given up all hope the window crashed in our room and I fainted. It so happened the firemen with the ladder had found our room out of thirty others, and we, with a few others, were saved.”
Pg. 22 Orange Williams, of Janesville, had a room on the Broadway front of the fifth floor. The noise in the hall and on the street roused him from deep sleep to face a double danger. The hall was filled with smoke that was stifling, and the heat was intense. He went to the window and stood on the casing, looking down upon the exciting spectacle. On calling for help, he was informed by some one on the walk that there was a fire escape on the wall a short distance from him, toward Wisconsin Street. Mr. Williams re-entered his room and went out in the hall, where the screams and moans of the panic stricken and dying appalled him. He groped along the smoky hallway, stumbling over a fallen victim in his course, and finally reached the escape.
J. C. Clark, of Wausau, roomed on the fourth floor on the Broadway side. He heard the confusion and roar in the hallway, but did not leave his room until he had dressed himself, coolly lighting the gas for that purpose. He had been a guest of the Newhall at various times, and had familiarized himself with the exact location of the fire escapes. When Mr. Clark left his room he crawled along the hallway until he arrived at the window leading to the escape. This he broke, and mounting the ladder lowered himself to the balcony, entered the office and escaped to the street.
T. J. Anderson, of Chicago, was aroused by the shrieking of the terrified inmates. He was in the corner room on the fourth floor. On opening the door the smoke and blaze poured in. He perceived that escape by the regular course through the corridors was impossible, but managed to open a window near the Benner fire escape, on the Michigan Street side, where he irresolutely stood in the heat, calling for help. Detective McManus entreated him to come down the fire escape, which he finally did; while McManus was after a short ladder to take him from the last rounds of the escape, one story above the walk, Anderson became impatient and slid down the stand pipe connected with the escape, reaching the walk all right. The only garment he had on was a gauze shirt.
Pg. 23 John L. Kellogg, traveling freight agent of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad, had a room on the third floor, about the center of the Broadway front of the hotel. He was awakened by a piece of hot glass from the transom window falling upon him. Hastily dressing himself he tore his sheets and blanket into strips and made a rope. With this he lowered Miss Warren, of the Thom Thumb troupe, to the balcony; he followed her and both were saved.
Of all the guests who escaped from the Newhall House with their lives none suffered such injury from running the gauntlet of the flames, as did William E. Cramer, the veteran editor and proprietor of The Evening Wisconsin, and his good wife. They occupied a suite of rooms in the southeast corner of the building, on the floor above the office. Mrs. Cramer awoke with the noise of the flames as they roared and crackled in the elevator shaft—diagonally opposite the sleeping room—filling her ears. She sprang out of bed, hastily opened the door, saw the fire in the shaft and smoke in the hall. Beyond the roar of the flames she heard no unusual sounds, and saw no one moving; the hallways were deserted, and the occupants of rooms opening into them apparently remained ignorant of the terrible danger that confronted them. She awakened her husband and informed him of the fire and the imperative necessity of moving toward the street without waiting to dress. He seemed loath to move thus, but she dragged him into and across the hall to the south staircase. Huge tongues of flame were then darting from the shaft, and a portion of the stairway was on fire. Placing herself between him and the flames, she led him past them and down the stairs to the office floor below. There the elevator shaft was safely passed, and after waiting on the landing and in the glass lobby facing Broadway from some minutes, she asked a policeman to call a hack. This was done, and by her direction she and her husband were conveyed to the Plankinton House. It was not until both were ready to leave the hotel that Mr. and Mrs. Cramer discovered that they had suffered injury from the fire. And yet both were terribly burned about the lower limbs, shoulder, neck, face, and head. The marble tiling of the office floor in front of the shaft was so heated that it burned and blistered their feet. At this writing the injured couple are slowly recovering.
Pg. 24 W. F. Schmidt was awakened from a sound sleep in his room on the fourth floor. For an instant he was terror stricken. The room was filled with smoke, on the wall was the flickering reflection of fire, and the roaring of the consuming element could be heard above the frantic shrieks that resounded through the house. Recovering from the terror that possessed him, and fully realizing his danger, he jumped from the bed, and hastily pulling on a pair of pants, fled from the room. On opening the door he encountered a thick cloud of smoke and was for a moment stifled. The hall way was very dark, and from the swirling blackness came groans of anguish and unearthly yells of despair. He advanced into the corridor, and a crowed of hurrying people hustled him from one side to the other. Mr. Schmidt said the desperate people, transformed into maniacs, were hurling themselves against the walls and falling dazed to the floor. Others tramped over prostrate forms on the floor in their endeavor to find an exit from the hallway. Mr. Schmidt, in his haste to find the stairway, struck his head sharply against a door or casement and became unconscious. When he recovered his senses he was seated on the floor. The intense heat had singed his hair and blistered his ears and nose. For several moments he groped helplessly in the darkness and finally, despairing of being saved, prepared to meet his fate. Suddenly some one grasped his hand firmly and pulled him along, shouting “This way, this way!” Another person caught his other hand and the trio rushed onward. At last they reached the stairway. The story below was brightly illuminated. They rushed, half tumbling, down the staircase, and in the passage below saw a woman curled up on the floor. “Don't step on her!” said Mr. Schmidt's conductor, “she is dead!” In this way they reached the boiler room and made their escape into the alley. Mr. Schmidt's rescuer was the heroic Wm. Linehan, engineer of the hotel, who, from the first discovery of the fire until all hope of further rescue had fled, devoted himself to the work of life saving with all the energy that he could summon. The woman Mr. Schmidt saw lying in death like stupor on the floor was an employee of the hotel whom Linehan had rescued. She was afterwards resuscitated.
Pg. 25 M. Moran, of Beloit, Wis., occupied a room on the third floor, opening on the court. He was awakened by hearing a crashing noise. Supposing it was the pantry girls throwing the dishes around at breakfast time, he lay in bed several moments. Suddenly he heard cries of “Murder!” “Fire!” and shrieks of frightened women. He jumped out of bed and opened the door. The draft was such that the door was slammed in his face and the room was filled with smoke. He grabbed his clothes and rushed out. While running down the hall he stumbled and fell over the body of a woman. She was unconscious, and another woman was lying beside her. They were both in front of the room adjoinging his. Two other women were rushing up and down the hall crying in despair. Moran caught one of them by the arm and dragged her to the end of the hall. She there broke away from him and rushed back into the burning building. There was a sheet of flame across the end of the hall, but Moran heard a man calling from the other side: “Come through, it is only two feet deep.” He rushed through the flames, still clinging to his clothes, and got out of the building.
Samuel Martin occupied a room on the third floor, his window opening on the court. When awakened by the noise and smoke he seized his pants and rushed into the hall. Looking down the hall he saw a sheet of flame rushing along like a prairie fire. He was so utterly bewildered that when he escaped he could not tell how he got into the only garment he had saved. As Mr. Martin dashed toward the alley before the advancing flames, a man sprang out of a room and fell prostrate. Moved by a strange impulse, Mr. Martin entered a room, seized a sheet and threw it over the fallen man. A thinly clad woman then appeared and over her shoulders Mr. martin threw a blanket. He then seized a blanket himself and rushed down the servant's stairs to the alley. He proceeded to the Kirby House, where, to his astonishment, he found the man upon whom he had thrown the sheet sitting in the office with the self same sheet over his shoulders.
Pg. 26 J. W. Maxwell, of Chicago, had a thrilling escape. He occupied an inside room on the third floor, near the elevator. He had been filled with strange forebodings during the night, and his slumber in consequence was uneasy. He awoke to see the flames darting in over the transom of his room. The smoke in the hallway was very heavy; through it came with groans and shrieks of the unfortunates who were wrapped in its stifling folds. The horrid delusions of Maxwell's broken sleep were now equaled, but it took a mouthful of the stifling smoke and a coughing spell to awaken him to a full realization of his situation. He endeavored to unlock his door to get out in the hallway, but the key broke off in the lock. He tried to turn the stump but did not succeed. In his desperation Maxwell seized the knob of the door and wrenched it off. Finding escape by the door impossible he turned to the window, ripped out the sash and dropped to the roof of the court, a few feet below. He ran along the roof, in the glare of the fire, amid falling sparks, to another window, which he entered. The door of the room was locked. Maxwell climbed back into the court and tried another room, without success. Returning to the court, which was now a picture of hell, he ran from room to room until he found one with the door open. Crawling on hands and knees through the hall he succeeded in making his escape.
C. W. Briggs, of Grand Rapids, Wis., slept in a room on the third floor opening on the court. The breaking of glass by the heat and the draft through the hall awakened him. He seized his clothing and rushed out into the smoke. A wall of flame barred progress in the direction in which he at first ran, and he was compelled to double on his tracks and seek egress in the opposite direction. A stupor seized him and it was only by determined effort that he could shake it off. Fortunately he reached the stairway, the first flight of which he blindly traversed. He fell at the head of the second flight and went to the bottom, receiving severe bruises. Mr. Briggs' escaped was an extremely narrow one.
Pg. 27 Emil Flesh escaped from his room on the third floor, on the Broadway side, by making a rope out of his blankets. He says that when he awoke his room was literally filled with rats, which were scampering around the floor.
To more fully illustrate the horror of the situation on the upper floors during the fire, the graphic statement of Edward P. Haff, of New York, who occupied a room on the third floor, on Michigan Street, adjoining the alley, is given. Mr. Haff says: “A terrible sensation of a crushing weight upon my chest awoke me, and I lay for a moment dazed and half smothered and heard a clock strike four. The thick smoke in the room was stifling, and groping to the door I opened it. The rush of the flame and heated air, not smoke alone, but scorching, burning air, met me, taking away my breath, and well nigh my senses. A reeling form, with hair and whiskers burned from the face, and eyebrows gone, staggered toward me with wide open mouth, gasping for breath. From the parched throat cam inarticulate moans. I pulled him into the room, closed the door, and tried to open the window. It was locked. I broke a pane of glass and caught a whiff of God given air. By the light of the burning building I could see the telegraph wires twenty feet away and half resolved to jump. My companion in the room revived a little, and said he had come from No. 221, only four rooms distant, and yet he had nearly perished in making the journey. His name was Mahoney, and he was from Rock Island.” After measuring the chances of escape by jumping or by a dash through the hall, Mr. Haff and Mr. Mahoney chose the latter method and prepared for the effort. Mr. Haff thus tells of the escape: “Covering our faces so as to breathe as little of the torrid air as possible, we again opened the door and ran along the hallway toward the alley. We met a young woman staggering through the smoke and groping along the walls, apparently blinded or dazed. As she was almost naked, I caught up a couple of sheets, threw them around her, and tried to lead her with me. She was hopelessly frightened, however, and could only moan: ‘My God! My God! I can't!' She finally fell into an open doorway, and I left her lying across the threshold. My companion and I crossed the bridge into the bank building, and descended to the ground.”
Pg. 28 An hour after the discovery of the fire the towering walls of the hotel simply bounded a huge furnace, that sent upward immense clouds of vapor and smoke. Into the quivering heat of the inner ruin the Fire Department continued to pour water from seven engines; nothing more could be done. At 5:30 o'clock the Broadway wall of the ruined structure bulged out and fell to the pavement with a thundering crash, followed shortly after by a portion of the Michigan Street wall, near Broadway. About this time a piece of the cornice and a mass of brick fell from the top of the Michigan Street wall, near the alley, where Ben. Van Haag, first pipe man of Supply Hose No. 2 was holding a nozzle with a companion and directing a stream of water into the ruins. Seeing the falling mass they beat a hasty retreat; but Van Haag was not swift enough. The rubbish struck the telegraph wires and broke a large pole into several pieces, one of which felled Van Haag to the frozen earth. He was at first thought to be fatally injured, but he rallied from the effects of the shock and recovered. This was the only serious injury suffered by a fireman during the battle with the consuming element.
The fire had now burnt itself out, but its glowing embers required constant attention. The inner ruin was a fervent crucible; in which was being reduced to ashes the remains of over two score of human beings who less than two hours before were slumbering in blissful ignorance of their impending fate. The blow was almost as swift as the flash of steel; and, although the end of the doomed was frightful to contemplate, their friends can spare themselves the harrowing thought that they suffered the pangs of slow death by fire, as the evidence of survivors process conclusively that the dark angel's summons came through a cloud of smoke and brought with it the boon of unconsciousness. Fireman, policeman and citizen had braved death in the work of rescue, but Fate had willed that their efforts should prove futile. Mistakes were, undoubtedly, made in the excitement of the hour; the fire fighters were more than human had their work been perfect. The consuming element had the mastery from the start, and its work was accomplished with such appalling swiftness that nerves of steel were for the nonce un-tempered. Criticism cannot restore the dead, neither will it prevent like occurrences under like circumstances.
Pg. 29 THE RUINS The scene in the neighborhood of the tragic spot shortly after daylight dawned was one that will never be forgotten by those who witnessed it. A perfect sea of dumb stricken humanity encircled the crumbled walls and broken columns of what only a few hours before were one of the city's stately edifices. Police officers and firemen were hurrying hither and thither in the performance of their duties, while, as if to give the new comers a confirmation of the terrible tale that had been poured in their ears, shortly after 7 o'clock, four bearers with a ghastly burden emerged from the edge of the ruins and deposited it in a sleight for conveyance to the morgue. The seven steam engines which were massed in close proximity to the fiery pile kept up an incessant din, which was varied at intervals by the sharp jingle of breaking glass, as the sudden reaction from the extreme heat to which they had been subjected, sent the fine plate glass fronts of nearly all the stores on the east side of Broadway to pavement in fragments. Dense clouds of smoke and steam completely veiled the ruins, and it was almost impossible to get a clear view of the whole place at one time. Towering above the writhing mass of vapor stood jagged monoliths of brick and mortar, remnants of the partition walls, whitened by the Intense heart. Broadway was comparatively clear, except as to the western sidewalk, which was heaped high with brick and rafters. Michigan Street, in front of the Chamber of Commerce building, was strewn with debris, over which about two thirds of the south wall, slightly buttressed by fragment of the alley wall, reared its head in a threatening manner. Almost the entire north wall remained standing, owing to the support given it by the Sherman building. Along it seared and scorched face the iron frames of the fireplaces around which the guests had grouped themselves in fancied security only a few hours previous, still adhered. Another object of pathetic interest to observers was a tablecloth dangling from one of the dining room windows, to the frame of which it had been tied by some unfortunate endeavoring to escape the flames. Like the walls and everything else in the neighborhood of the fire, the tablecloth was thickly coated with ice. The crowd of spectators at last grew to such proportions that the police found it necessary to draw a cordon around the immediate neighborhood of the fire, and the avenues bounding the ruins were closed for the day. The struggling mass of humanity pressed closely against the hempen barrier throughout the entire day and far into the night succeeding the calamity, seeming loath to leave the weird spot and retire to the quietude of home.
Pg. 30 THREE IMPORTANT STATEMENTS
The following statements are printed in order to give and idea of the origin of the fire and rapidity of its progress: STATEMENT OF WILLIAM McKENZIE, ELEVATOR CONDUCTOR
At 2 o'clock in the morning I took a Mr. Brown, connected with the “Ranch 10” Company, from the first to the third floor in the elevator. After taking Brown I took care of a grate fire in the office, and then made a tour of inspection through the dining room and kitchen. From the kitchen I went through the cellar and engine room, and returned to the office floor. This occupied my time a trifle over half an hour. I next went down the main stairway and around past the saloon to the ladies' entrance, to see that no tramps had found lodging there. About 3 o'clock I was on the office floor waiting for passengers by the trains, which usually arrive at that hour. The train was late and I made another tour of the house, taking in the first and second floors, the bank building, and the kitchen and cellar. On my return at half past three or twenty-five minutes to four I took up Mr. Elliott, who came on the delayed train. I took him to the fifth floor, where he roomed. There I let the elevator stand and made a tour of the halls of that floor. While coming around to the elevator again I met a gentleman apparently searching for a room number. Went toward him and recognized him as a man who slept on the floor above. Invited him into the elevator and carried him up. Again I let the elevator stand and made a tour of the halls there. Took a look at the clock on this top floor, and found it to indicate ten minutes of four. This clock could not be depended upon for correctness, however. My time to call the help is 4 o'clock. I had the kitchen fireman to call on this floor, and as I passed the elevator to do so I saw smoke issuing from the shaft at the bottom of the car. I immediately sprang into the elevator and descended to see where it was coming from. By the time I reached the floor above the office the smoke had become so dense that I stopped the elevator and ran down the flight of stairs to the office. Tom Delancy, the night clerk, was standing in front of the counter. I said to him: “Tom, there is smoke coming up through here, and I am going to see where it comes from.” I then ran down the main stairway, and around to the main elevator followed by Tom. I found the passage leading to the Michigan Street entrance so filled with smoke that I could not enter. I said to Tom, “Turn the water on,” as I closed the door, and her replied: “ I'll telephone for the firemen.” Then I rushed into the pitcher closet, and shouted down to Linehan to come up, as there was fire in the elevator. After doing this I returned to the hallway below and found the smoke as bad as ever. Linehan here rushed past me into the hallway leading to the Michigan Street entrance. I spoke: “There's no use staying here. We had better call the house;” with which I rushed up to the third floor, shouting “Fire!” and I kicked in the door of Mr. and Mrs. Cramer's sleeping room; also the door of room 24, occupied by some of the Tom Thumb people. The fire was now beginning to burst out of the elevator door on this floor. The smoke and fire appeared suddenly and enveloped me so that I gave up the idea of running to the floor above, which I had in mind. In fact, the smoke became so dense that it fairly bewildered me. I dropped upon the floor, and hastily crawled to the passage leading across the alley to the bank building. Here even the heat, which preceded me, had warmed the knob of the door. The first gust of smoke and hot air from the elevator almost stifled me. Through the bank building I proceeded to the street, and assisted people who sprang from the windows, and also helped to raise a ladder to Tom Thumb's room, so that he and his wife could be got out.
STATEMENT OF ENGINEER WILLIAM LINEHAN
I came on duty at half-past 3 o'clock in the morning, and at ten minutes before 4 turned steam on for the office. I then sat down for about ten minutes, after which I tried the steam-guage and shut the furnace dampers. At 4 o'clock-perhaps a few minutes sooner or later-I heard the warning call of the night watchman, directed to me from the pitcher-closet on the office door. The watchman informed me hastily of the discovery of a fire in the hotel. I ran to the office floor via the rear or servants' stairway and shouted: "Tom, where is all the fire coming from?" The reply was: " I don't know, but the house if full of smoke." (Tom was the night clerk). I then ran down to the main floor and reeled off a line of canvas hose, which I dragged up-stairs. As I reached the landing flames were working through the office floor near the elevator entrance. This caused me to run downstairs again for the purpose of directing the firemen, who had arrived and were running tow lines of hose into the elevator entrance. AFter having done this I once more proceeded to the office floor, and encountered Mr. and Mrs. W. E. Cramer and the housekeeper, Mrs. Lusk, near the landing of the old ladies' entrance stairway. I next retraced my steps to the basement via the back stairway, and got a lamp intending to run up-stairs to the upper floors and arouse the help. Before doing so, however, I ran forwad through the basement to the bottom of the elevator shaft, a distance of eighty feet, and opened the door leading into the bottom of the shaft. I only pulled the door ajar sufficiently to thrust my head into the shaft. My attention was immediately drawn to flames rushing into and up the shaft through the east wall. This wall was merely a board partition separating wood and general store-room of the Goetz barber-shop from the shaft. The flames did not fill the shaft, but merely rushed upward along this easter board-partition wall. I had to withdraw my head from the shaft quickly, as the current of air rushing upward was so strong that it lifted a silk cap which I wore off my head, and I barely saved it from being swept upward into the vortex of fire. The point where the flames seemed to burst into the shaft was between three and four feet, or a little more than an ordinary barrel high. When I withdrew my head I closed the door and ran back with all the speed I possessed, to and up the back stairway, as far as the tank-room, between fourth and fifth floors. There I shouted to those above that they should come to me and I would save them. No one responded. I then descended to the third floor, where I met a German girl (the vegetable cook in the kitchen), whose name I do not now remember, and asked here if she knew where my sister Kate was. The girl replied that Kate was all right, as she (the girl) has been called by her. I heard some one moaning in the hall, and proceeding through the smoke in the direction of the sound, I found a young woman, who afterwards proved to be Julia Burns, lying upon the floor senseless and foaming at the mouth. She was scantily dressed. I took her into my arms and carried her to the landing on the office level, and put her down upon the floor. Then I went back up-stairs, found a man lying senseless, and bore him to the same landing, where there was no smoke. This man I covered with a buffalo robe. I went back a third time and brought down a dining room girl named Christina something, who roomed on the third floor. The fourth trip I brought down Lizzie Anglin, who afterward died at the Axtel House, from effects of burns, although to me, at the time, she did not appear to be injured. The fifth trip put the second porter in my hands, and I brought him down to the same landing with the others. A sixth trip resulted in the rescue of a man whom I encountered with a blanket wrapped around him. By this time the smoke had become so dense that I could not go up any more, and I turned my attention to those I had brought down, taking them out into the alley in the rear of the hotel. Scarcely had the last one been taken out into the open air, when a horrible yell greeted my ears. The voice was apparently that of a man, and the sound came from the court. I rushed in there to see who it might be, and save him, if possible. But I could discover no one. While searching the court with my eyes from the doorway, a spark of fire from aloft fell upon my neck, and game a painful burn. Other cinders fell upon my cap, and burned that. The man who shrieked in such an unearthly manner may have been at one of the windows looking into the court. He may also have been upon the brick pavement below, and unseen by me, but there can be no mistaking where the sound of his voice came from. It fairly makes me shudder when I think of it now. After this last effort at life saving I beat a hasty retreat into the open air, and not any too soon, as by this time the entire upper portion of the building was a mass of flames.
Pg. 33 STATEMENT F THOMAS DELANEY, THE NIGHT CLERK
On the morning of the fire I was in the office. Going back to 3 o' clock in the morning, or about that time, two officers came in. One, I think, was O'Brien. They stayed about five minutes. The next person who came in was T. B. Elliott; that was after the Chamber clock had struck 3:30. He said “Good morning, Tom,” and I told the night watch to take Mr. Elliott to his room. Then next who came in was Conductor Howie, about five minutes after. He left a small satchel on the settee at the top of the stairway. I spoke to him and got a drink, then walked up the south stairway. That was pretty near 4 o'clock. The next thing I heard was a step on the stairs. I looked over the front stairs and saw smoke rising from below, near the stairs. It was McKenzie I had heard, and he asked me where the smoke came from. I said downstairs, and we both rushed down, he a little ahead. We passed the wine room. Who got to the Michigan Street door firs, I don't know, but when it was opened the smoke rushed through the hall so densely that I was forced back. I ran to give an alarm, which I did by the telephone. That, I knew, was the quickest way to send the alarm. That was, as near as I can say, about 4 o'clock. It was five minutes to four when I first discovered the smoke. I telephoned: “Send Fire Department to Newhall as quick as you can!” They responded they would be there in a minute. I then set about seeing how the firemen could best reach the blaze. I ran to the Broadway sidewalk and already No. 1 hose cart was coming down. I looked into the house at this juncture and saw flames had burst from the elevator. I yelled, “Right this way, gentlemen!” Two firemen rushed in with Babcocks, but they saw it was too late for them and hose was run in. I ran into the house the first ones I met were Mr. and Mrs. Wm. E. Cramer, in their nightclothes. Two men came in then—officers or firemen—and requested me to let them into the balcony. I did so, but the balcony door was not locked. By this time one man had jumped on to the balcony. Mr. Antisdel called me back to the office and asked for the key to the safe. I took it from the cash drawer and gave it to young John Antisdel, who was nude, and I gave him one of Mr. Lee's coats. I took the valuables out of the safe, jumped out of the office and handed Mr. Freeman's buffalo overcoat to Mrs. Cramer, who asked me to go to their room and get them some clothes. I tried to do so, but had to come back and told her I could not get to the room and she said, “Never mind.” Parlor C struck me just then, where I knew was Tom Thumb. Running there I found a policeman, and I awoke everybody in that neighborhood. I then ran up the north stairs and met Mr. Starr, with Mr. Ludington in a chair. Then I ran down to the ladies' entrance and got a couple of the policemen, who helped Mr. Ludington down. I then thought of Mr. Paul, who was also on the Ludington floor. I met him hobbling along, nude, and I got officers to help him down, which they did. I went up again, the third and last time. The smoke was so strong and the gas out that I could see nothing. I struck a match to the light the gas, and it went out. I tried to light a torch, but could not. The smoke was then so suffocating that I had to lie down. I went up all those times to get people out, and had to crawl back to the office on my hands and knees the last time. When I left the office the floor was falling in around the elevator. I gave young Antisdel two little boxes, but he did not take them out and I did. About ten minutes elapsed between the time I found the fire and was forced from the house. After I left the office I went out on Broadway. By that time four stories were all on fire. I stood until I got cold, and then I went home.
Pg. 34 THE HEROS. Against the dark background of despair and indecision which marked that cruel morning, the names of those who, at the peril of life and limb, labored faithfully to wrest their fellow beings from the grasp of the insatiate flames will sand inscribed in letters of living light, never to fade while the memory of that fiery drama shall linger in the heart of a single citizen.
First on the list of those who immortalized themselves by their noble efforts in behalf of their fellows is DAVID H. MARTELLE, a gallant railroad conductor, who fate willed should immolate himself on the dreadful altar of human sacrifice. When the startling alarm resounded through the lower corridors of the hotel MARTELLE was standing at the office counter chatting with the night clerk. He immediately bethought himself of his friend and brother conductor, ROBERT HOWIE, who had retired only a short time previous, to his room in the sixth story of the doomed structure. The faithful Martelle made all haste to warn his sleeping friend of the impending danger, but whether he was permitted to fulfill his design will never be known, as he and Howie were carried down in the seething furnace. Their charred and mangled remains were subsequently recovered from the ruins and laid to rest forever by sorrowing friends.
Pg. 35 The name of KITTIE LINEHAN, who had charge of the hotel laundry, also occupies a lasting place in the history of the memorable conflagration. After having aroused and directed a number of dazed and frightened girls to places of safety, she returned to continue her noble work, and was so beset by the devouring element that escape was impossible, and she met her death by jumping into the canvas held by rescuers in the street.
By reference to the statement of WILLIAM LINEHAN, who, by the way, is a brother of the unfortunate young heroine just mentioned, it will be observed that he proved himself a jewel of incalculable worth on that trying morning. By the exercise if undaunted courage and remarkable presence of mind he succeeded in carrying six persons to places of safety, and only desisted from his noble duty when the infliction of painful burns on his person forced him to beat a retreat from the building that had so long been his home. His record during that brief season of excitement and terror stamps him as one of God's noblest works.
But it was reserved for the firemen of Hook and Ladder Trucks Nos. 1 and 2 to perform the most conspicuous and daring deeds of bravery enacted on that dark and eventful morning. Shortly after the arrival of the truck men on the scene, and while they were engaged in raising ladders on the Broadway and Michigan fronts of the burning hotel, their attention was called to the fact that a large number of servant girls were imprisoned in the fifth story, with all avenues of escape cut off. Attention was immediately turned to the alley side, where a horrible scene was presented. The panic stricken girls, feeling themselves closely pressed by the smoke and heat, and becoming imbued with the idea that no attempt was being made to rescue them, had begun to make the horrible leap to the earth below, and already ten or more of dead and dying lay prone on the alley pavement. Forman CURTIN, of Truck No. 2, shouted to the girls to remain where they were and he would reach them with a ladder. He then started back to fulfill his promise. Forman RIEMER, of truck No. 1, at this juncture conceived a brilliant idea and ordered his men to the roof of what is known as the Frackelton Building, and directed them to span the alley with a ladder and thus reach the quarters of the imprisoned girls. HERMAN F. STAUSS was the first man to reach the roof of the Frackelton Building, and with the assistance of GEORGE WELLS, an employee of the Goodyear Rubber Company, proceeded to execute his foreman's orders. The fireman and his volunteer assistant deftly handled the long, unwieldy ladder on their lofty perch, and soon the spectators had the satisfaction of seeing one end of it crash through a window in the servants' quarters of the hotel, thus forming a bridge over which the frightened girls could escape. One of them immediately appeared at the window, and Fireman Stauss crept over the improvised bridge and conducted her across in safety. She was a heavy woman, and in her fright she moved clumsily along the ladder. For a moment it seemed to the awe stricken assemblage as if both the rescuer and his charge would be dashed to the earth; but Stauss proved equal to the emergency and safely deposited his helpless burden on the roof of the East Water Street building amid the cheers of those who beheld the brave act. It was this thrilling incident in the gallant work of rescue in the alley that so deeply impressed the spectators as to move them to single out Stauss for especial favor, although it was plain to all who witnessed the affair that Stauss' companions performed equally meritorious acts. Firemen ALFRED A SMITH, JOHN BORNGESER, and G. E. NODINE, of Truck No. 2, then crossed the frail bridge and rescued three or four of the girls, whom they found in a semi-unconscious state, and with difficulty aroused to a sense of their dangerous situation.
Pg. 37 Perceiving that the ladder bridge was performing such excellent service, CHARLES HEYDER and JOHN RYAN, of Truck No. 1, and GARRETT GREEN, of Truck No. 2, succeeded in spanning the alley with a second ladder, over which they crossed, and soon several more of the trembling girls were landed in safety on the opposite roof.
The brave firemen did not rest from their labor until all the girls within their reach had been rescued, when they took up the ladders and went to work on other parts of the burning building.
Foreman CURTIN, of Truck No. 2, with the assistance of his men, immediately removed the dead from the alley pavement, and while cogitating on the advisability of attempting to save the extension ladder, the rear wall of the building fell with a thundering crash, filling the alley with a monstrous pile of brick and rubbish.
While the good work was progressing in the rear of the burning structure, OSCAR KLEINSTEUBER, one of the youngest members of the police force and who supervises the police alarm system, ascended the fire escape to the fourth floor on the Broadway side and called to him no less than seven women and men, all of whom he helped upon the escape so that they might descend to the street. He desisted only when the smoke became so dense that his own safety lay in the direction of the fire escape.
There were many other heroes in the ranks of the Police and Fire Departments and also among the assembled citizens, whose brave deeds in that brief hour of peril became lost in the vortex of confusion and excitement, and will never be recorded. All honor to those who participated in the noble work of life saving in the gloomy shadow of tottering walls. Their deeds, in the face of frightful death, entitle them to more than human commendation.
THE RUINS EXCAVATED On the day following the fire the work of searching for the remains of the lost in the ruins of the burned hotel was commenced by a large force of men under direction of Capt. William P. O'Connor, of the Board of Public Works. The progress of the work was necessarily slow at first, owing to the heated condition of the debris and an accumulation of water in the pit; inclement weather also militated against operations. Notwithstanding these adverse circumstances Capt. O'Connor carried the work through to a successful termination with surprising diligence. Forty-eight charred and dismembered relics of humanity were exhumed and sent to a room in the Miller Block, corner of Wisconsin Street and Broadway, which had been kindly tendered for that purpose by Messrs. John M. and B. D. Miller. Of these fragments of bodies four were identified as the remains respectively of David H. Martelle, Robert Howie, Wm. C. Wiley and Mary Miller. These identifications reduced the number of bodies to forty-four; and after the physicians had made the official examination for the purpose of noting anatomical peculiarities that might at some future time lead to identification, a mattress upon which was the blackened imprint of a human form, and which was at first supposed to contain the dust of a victim, was rejected, leaving the number of unidentified forty-three. Horace M. Brown, M. D., and Arthur Holbrook and James S. Perkins, Dentist, conducted the examination of the charred relics and made a full report, which has been filed for preservation. Capt. O'Connor says a deposit of pure white ash was found around each body, generally where the limbs would have been had they been intact. This white ash was an almost infallible indication of the presence of a body. The workmen were taught this by experience, and always proceeded cautiously when such ashes were reached. In a number of cases, however, white ashes were found without any visible remains of bodies, which leads to the belief that quite a number of the unfortunate victims were totally incinerated. How many will never be known.
Pg. 39 While delving in the smoking mass of crumbled walls and ashes, every article found by the workmen, however small, was carefully preserved and sent to the Central Police Station. This wise course enabled many of he friends and relatives of the lost to obtain mementos of the lost ones whom death had so cruelly snatched from them. The collection of exhumed relics revealed many strange and wonderful freaks of the heat and flames. Articles of wood and paper, cloth and other perishable material passed through the crucible unscathed, while more substantial things were found burned and fused into inconceivable shapes. A portion of Postmaster Payne's library was recovered in fair condition, while directly under the pile of volumes the remains of an unfortunate were found charred beyond recognition. Trunks were removed intact, but with contents thoroughly blackened and water soaked. The contents of several baskets of champagne were recovered in good order, but the wicker receptacles had crumbled to ashes. About a dozen gold watches and a large number of rings and other articles of jewelry were unearthed. Conspicuous among the timepieces was that of Judge Geo. Reed. It was sadly battered and minus half the case. On opening the remaining side the following inscription was revealed: “To Geo. Reed, projector of the Wisconsin Central Railroad, from his friends of Stevens Point, Waupaca, Weyauwega and Wausau.” Judge Reed's son claimed the sad memento. The gold watches of Robert Howie and E. H. Martelle were also recovered and delivered to their friends. Amongst the jewelry recovered was a gold signet ring, which bore the inscription, “Katie to Will, Dec. 25, 1880.” A box of valuable papers belonging to Wm. E. Cramer, the veteran journalist, was brought to light in satisfactory shape. Shortly after the box was found a policeman picked up a crumpled document, which, on examination, proved to be Mr. Cramer's will, that had become separated from the other papers when the box was crushed. Several Madonna's and crucifixes graced the miscellaneous collection of relics. One of the former articles emerged from its fiery baptism in a remarkable condition; although the frame was charred to a cinder, the enameled picture remained fresh and untarnished. Tom Thumb's numismatic collection became widely scattered, as was evidenced by the numerous quaint and ancient coins that were taken from the ashes. Most of this class of articles found their way into the pockets of citizens as relics of the fire. All the safes belonging to the firms who occupied the first floor were lifted out of the rubbish, and in every instance the contents were found well preserved. Great interest was manifested when the hotel safe was unearthed, as it was hoped it would contain the register book with its valuable list of guests. But the eager group which surrounded the grimy casket was doomed to disappointment, for when the door swung open it was discovered that the precious volume had not been saved.
Names of the lost were moved to the previous page.
THE OBSEQUIES. On Wednesday, January 23rd –just two weeks from the day of the fire—the remains of the unidentified victims were buried with solemn ceremonies in Forest Home and Calvary Cemeteries. It was at first proposed to inter them all at the former place, but in compliance with the wishes of the friends of a number of the unfortunates who belonged to the Roman Catholic church, all the bodies found under the place where the servant girls roomed, together with those found with Catholic emblems and other evidences of their faith, were given to the clergy of that church for burial. Twenty of the bodies were in this manner designated as Catholics, and twenty-three as Protestants.
Business was generally suspended during the day of the funeral, and many stores and residences were profusely draped with the somber trappings of woe.
The sky was clear and bright, but the temperature of the atmosphere was almost too low for the personal comfort of those whom duty called to escort the dead to their last resting place. Notwithstanding this fact, however, the ranks of the various societies were will filled. The citizens gathered in force at the Exposition Building and St. John's Cathedral, where the religious ceremonies were performed, while the sidewalks along the avenues designated as the line of march were thronged with spectators long before the solemn cortege appeared.
At St. John's Cathedral, the congregation of which includes a large number of the more immediate friends of the victims of the disaster, the ceremonies were the most solemn and pathetic. Above the main entrance, as well as over the smaller doors to the left and the right of the sacred edifice, there was a simple arrangement of black and white drapery. This was the only sign upon the exterior of the building of the sad rites that were being performed within. Inside, the funeral trappings were elaborate and profuse. The vestibule was heavily hung with black and white streamers. The stately white fluted columns in the rear of the spacious interior were wound about with black, and along the walls black and white festoons reached from window to window. The large chandeliers and the pulpit were heavily draped, and the chaste solemnity of the sanctuary was heightened by heavy and elaborate trappings of black. Extending from the steps of the sanctuary back to the vestibule—a distance of sixty feet—was the bier, covered with black cloth, on which rested the coffins, twenty in number, placed two by two, with feet toward the altar. The relatives of the dead were nearly all gathered in the front part of the church. Back of them, on both sides of the center aisle sat members of civic and military societies, their draped banners forming a prominent feature of the scene. Every inch of space in the vast building, except what was kept clear by the exertions of the police, was occupied by mourners or sympathetic spectators. Solemn high mass of requiem was celebrated by Monsignor Batz, V. G., assisted by Rev. Father Weinman and Father Lucas, the Palestrina Society, comprising a chorus of about fifty voices, rendering the music. As the ineffably sad strains of the requiem floated through the sacred building, a tremor of emotion shook every member of the vast congregation. Women in every part of the church burst into audible sobs, and among the men there were few dry eyes. At the conclusion of the mass, Archbishop Heiss performed the ceremony of absolution over the remains, after which Father Matthew, of Racine, preached the funeral sermon. He said:
Pg. 43 My text for this mournful occasion will be Ecclesiastes, twelfth chapter, seventh and eighth verses: “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was; and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.” “Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity.”
Death is one of the circumstances attached to life. When we come into this world we are born under the sentence of death. When it comes or how it comes we know not. God only knows. The true philosophy of life teaches us to prepare for that event. Religion tells us that the salvation of our sols depends upon dying in unity with God. I need not re-enact the terrible scene of that dreadful morning. The curtain of night held its pall over the habitation of man. Tired nature had sought refreshment and repose that comes with slumber. We know not the bright visions that passed through the minds of the unconscious slumberers. Some, no doubt, were living over again in pleasing fancy the joyous days of childhood. Again they sat by their own father's fireside, and talked of home and their childish pleasures. Others, with pleasing anticipations, dreamt of pleasures yet to come. We all have our expectations that the future will realize to us pleasures and happiness. So may we suppose was the minds of those slumbering occupants on the dread morn, when the peal of alarm burst forth to call some to judgment and others to the trying ordeal that awaited them. Imagination cannot depict a scene more terrible, and it is hard for the mind of man to describe it in its reality. In that leap for life death was imminent; behind them the most unmerciful element of destruction. The scene was alarming, though these terrified guests gave way not to despair. The preservation of life is an instinct of our nature. By jumping, death was probable; by remaining, certain. How beautiful the teachings of our Christ. In that last trying ordeal, faith sustained them, and hope animated them to offer their lives to their God. All human aid appeared to be unavailing. Kind hearts outside sympathized with them, but God alone could assist them. On their knees, they supplicated Heaven's mercy, and in union they drew together before the cross of Christ; in that alone did they look for aid and mercy. “I am the resurrection and the life,” says St. John in the Apocalypse; “he that believeth in me shall have everlasting life.” Animated with his idea they threw themselves on the mercy of God, and in words of Scripture, said: “into Thy hands, oh Lord, I commend my spirit.” It appears that the ear of God was not closed to the petition for aid. It came from a most unexpected source. A brave fireman, strengthened by the spirit of God, risked his own life, and in a manner familiar to you all, rescued a number of precious souls. These, whose bodies lie in the chancel, their lives, their faith and their trust in God might well justify us in saying: “Oh! Grave, where is thy victory? Oh! Death, where is thy sting?” They died as they had lived, true children of their church and faithful followers of the Lamb. In life they hoped, in death they were not disappointed. We can well say that this appeal from fervent hearts was addressed to the throne of God: “Have mercy on me, oh Lord, according to thy great mercy.” The decrees of God were verified. St. Paul says to the Hebrews: “It is decreed for all men once to die.” They have paid that penalty and in resignation submitted to that decree. They have left their bodies to us, which we this day are about to consign to the tomb. Their souls have returned to the God from whence they came. Their examples and their lives are still in the memory of those who knew them and cherished most by those who knew them best. Though gone, yet to us they shall not be forgotten. The teaching of our church bids us to hold their memory in grateful remembrance, so that every kind thought may be a new prayer, asking for Heaven's mercy. This beautiful feature of our religion bids us pray for the eternal repose of their souls. The disfigured remains, though not recognizable to the eyes of mortals, yet are known to the ever-searching eye of God. That terrible day will long be fresh in the minds of the people of this community, and their memory shall not be forgotten by the church. So let us take warning by the fate of those who have gone before us; be you also ready, for you know not when God may call on you. Let us return to our homes from this saddening scene with humbled hearts and humiliated spirits. As we thus honor their memories, let us pray that God will have mercy on their souls.
Pg. 45 The pallbearers then removed the remains to the funeral cars. As the bearers filed slowly out of the church with their burdens the band outside played a dirge, and the deep toned bell in the steeple tolled a mournful accompaniment.
An immense crowd of people attended the general funeral at the Exposition building. The ground floor was literally packed, and a multitude of faces looked from the galleries on the twenty-three coffins exhibited on
the draped platform, which had been erected over the fountain basin. The speaker's platform in the south end of the building was covered with white cloth, over which streamers of black cambric were tastefully arranged. The organ was also heavily draped, and from rosettes long cordons of twisted black and white bunting hung from the balcony. The platforms were arranged in two terraces, the upper one for the choir, which consisted of the Musical and Arion Societies, and the lower one for the clergy, other Boards of Supervisors and Aldermen, and a guard of police, all of whom wore rosettes of crape on their breasts. Elaborate floral tributes from a number of citizens occupied appropriate positions on the circular bier. The principal piece was a large floral cross-composed of roses, immortelles and other fine flowers, intermingled with smilax and pampas grass. It was donated by the East Side Market Association. Surmounting the cross was a five-pointed star of clustered white immortelles, bordered with smilax. The employee of the Telephone Exchange sent a handsome harp of choice flowers. The pedestal was composed of fine flowers nestling in a cushion of smilax and a great number of roses and rosebuds formed the harp. The strings of instrument were immortelles, and large calla lilies were placed at the extremities and along the edge of smilax. Two wreaths, from Fred Vogel, Sr., rested on the lids of the coffins. Pink and white roses, violets, forget me nots, honeysuckle and green leaves woven together, formed the wreaths. A lyre from Mesdames Frank Whitnall and Frank R. Ellis was among the decorations. This was a very large and most beautiful piece of work. The groundwork was of different kinds of mosses, on which were tea roses, handsome calla lilies and choice variegated flowers. Arising from the bed of flowers at the pedestal was a branch of palm, through the fine leaves of which the strings of the lyre were visible. Around the gallery at the south end of the building were drapings of mourning, and the speakers' platform was covered with loops of festoons of black cambric resting in relief against a wide strip of white cloth. Two other crosses, fully three feet in height, which were sent by the Board of Aldermen, were handsomely designed. Exquisite flowers, green vines and pampas grass were wrought into the design, and in letters inscribed in delicate white flowers were the words, “At Rest.” On coffin No. 1, which is supposed to contain the remains of Miss Chellis, was a large floral cross. It was donated by Mrs. T. A. Chapman, and was composed of camellias and lilies, into which was interwoven the sentence, “In God We Rest.” The ceremonies were opened by Rev. a. F. Mason, who repeated the Lord's Prayer, thousands of voices in the vast assemblage joining in the invocation. Rev. J. E. Gilbert read one of the Psalms of David, and the joint choir of the Arion and Musical Societies sang “Over All the Tree-tops,” with great effect. The singing was followed by a prayer, delivered by Rev. A. A. Kiehle, after which the organ pealed out the strains of the choral from Bach's cantata, “A Strong hold Sure,” and the vast congregation afterwards joined in singing “Old Hundred.” Rev. J. N. Freeman then delivered the following funeral mass:
Pg. 46 The time allotted to this service requires that my words should be few. And this is well; for who, in such a sermon as this, can give adequate utterance to his own surging thoughts, much less voice the feelings of this multitude? We are witnessing and sharing in the last public act of the awful tragedy which, a fortnight ago, burst with suffer and pitiless fury upon our beloved city—a tragedy which caused bitter tears which no human sympathy can wipe away, and wrought a desolation which no human means or skill can rebuild; a tragedy whose shadows seem to deepen as the days pass. This group of nameless caskets gives silent but pathetic witness to our utter impotence to grapple with the mystery, and to make up the loss, which is most real. The familiar block, now a ghastly ruin, may be restored to more than its original beauty and service; but who can build again the shattered hopes and plans, or restore to bereaved kindred and friends out of these poor fragments the forms which were once goodly to look upon and early loved? This is no place to pronounce eulogies upon the dead, however deserving; nor to merely offer condolence to the sorrowing, however sorely needed. Rather is it ours in humility and reverence to give worthy Christian burial to these pitiful remains, in the name of thousands whose grief is the heavier because they are denied even the poor consolation of recognizing and giving private sepulture to their beloved. Well may this stricken city claim as hers, and pay due honors to those who once added their share to her wealth and worth! Well may the place where their bodies shall find their last resting place be ever sacred to us and our children! But, when these memorial services and this solemn pageant are over, when our life in home and city struggles back to its wonted channels. has our whole duty been done? Is there no more, which humanity, gratitude and religion call upon us to accomplish in memory of the dead and in behalf of the living? Surely, friends, there are deeper lessons, if we will receive them; nobler tasks, if we will consent to perform them. It is said: “ when the German ocean has been moved by a great storm, it begins to toss out amber upon the beach, and the jewel-makers rush down to the new sand. So, whenever the human ocean has been well moved it begins to throw forth things of value to those walking on the mortal shore.” What thoughtful mind can doubt that these sudden and mighty agitations should arouse us to higher ideals and nobler methods of life? Who can doubt that the angel of terror and of death, the shadow of whose wings have been dark as night, may yet prove a “ministering spirit,” leading us on to brighter because better days? If we will, out of these troubled waters shall come forth purged of its dross. Among the throng of thoughts, which are excited by this great calamity, there are three, which I would especially emphasize. One is, the inestimable value of a single human life. Mortal though we are, we are not the like the beasts that perish. Made in the image of God, we are charged with an immortal destiny. Whoever cuts short this life, whether his own or another's, whether by malicious intent or by thoughtless neglect, will not be held guiltless by God, and should not be by men. We must check the fearful prodigality with which so many waste their own life and imperial the lives of others. Again, let us more full recognize the relations that bind us together in human brotherhood. We are not, cannot be independent of each other. However separated by the barriers of nationality, station, possessions, employments, creeds, we are one in the sorrows that afflict us and the death that awaits us. The things of which were so often boast are but the accidents, not the essentials of life. Why then should we suffer ourselves to be ever proud, contemptuous, exclusive? That humanity is the richest, the most like God's ideal, which takes as its motto and rule of life. “Each for all and all for each.” Lifted by this sudden calamity and sorrow to recognize this fact in splendid deeds of heroism and generous sympathy and help, why should we ever lose sight of the high ideal? Once more, let us not forget that there is a kindness, which comes too late. Flowers upon the casket of the dead may bear pathetic witness to love, but how much better if we should strew more flowers along the dreary pathway of the living! Solemn hymns and chants are appropriate to a burial service; but can we not, if we will, put more music into the hearts and homes that are all too dolorous? Eulogies over the departed may be sometimes helpful; but a few hearty words of cheer and praise to our fellow pilgrims, ere they leave us, are worth infinitely more, plan more, do more for those who are still with us. Then shall this sorrow, grievous as it is, bring a blessing that shall be eternal.
At the conclusion of the address Beethoven's funeral march, “Eroica Symphony,” was rendered by Prof. Garratt on the organ. Rabbi I. S. Moses than advanced to the front of the platform and addressed the assemblage in the German language. It was arranged that Rev. A.A. Hoskin should speak immediately after Rabbi Moses, but at the conclusion of the latter's remarks a panic was caused by the escape of steam from a broken pipe in the west wing of the building, and the audience left in a rather an informal manner, thus bringing the exercises to an abrupt close.
12o'clock the two divisions of the funeral cortege united on the upper end of Broadway, and started on the solemn march through the city toward the cemeteries in the following order:
Marshal Bean and Staff.
Light Horse Squadron.
South Side Turner Rifles.
Grand Army of the Republic.
Scandinavian Benevolent Society.
Delegates from Eintracht Society.
Carriages Containing Clergy.
Three Carriages Containing Clergy.
Three Carriages Containing Policemen.
Citizens in Carriages.
Under command of Assistant Marshal Thomas Shea
Knights of St. George
Knights of St. Patrick
Order of St. Bonaventura
St. John's Married Men's Sodality
St. Bonifacius society
St. Pius' Society
St. Peter's Society
St. Joseph's Society
St. Bernard's Society
St. George's Society
St. Stanislaus' Society
St. Anthony's Society
St. John's Young Men's Sodality
Heart of Jesus Society
Carriages Containing Catholic Clergy
Delegation of St. George's Society as Pallbearers
Carriages Containing Citizens and Delegations from Societies
As the cortege moved with measured steps through the lanes formed by the living mass on both sides, the silence was unbroken save by the melancholy strains of the dirge and the regular tolling of the various church bells. The catafalques on which the forty-three coffins rested in full view of the spectators were the center of interest all along the route. They were seven in number and consisted of platforms built on sleights, the whole being covered with black cloth, and appropriately trimmed with rosettes and festoons of black.
Can't read next page 50, it covers where the number coffins were buried. I will get the book from the library and see if the original is any more legible.
IN MEMORY OF THE DEAD
Mrs. L. W. Brown Martha Schloessner Spelling
Mrs. John E. Gilbert Mrs. Allen Johnson
Mary Conroy Allen Johnson
Mary McMahon Walter H. Scott
Mary McDade Thos. E. Van Loon
Mary Anderson David G. Power
Ottilie Waltersdorf Judson J. Hough
Bessie Brown Theo. B. Elliott
Maggie Sullivan Wm. H. Hall
Augusta Giese David H. Martalle
Bridget O'Connell Robert Howie
Julia Fogerty William C. Wiley
Anna Hager J. Bradford Kellogg
Kate Linehan Richard Goggin
Julie F. Groesbeck Q. O. Brown
Lizzie Anglin Geo. G. Smith
Mary Miller Judge Geo. Reed
Libbie A. Chellis Capt. Jas. P. Vose
Nora Flanagan L. K. Smith
Rosa Burns J. H. Foley
Annie McMahon Prof. B. Mason
Margaret Owens Geo. Lowry.
Mary Owens Just Haak
Lizzie Kelly W. E. Faimer
Jane Dunn Emil Giesler
Ann Casey Fred Barker
Augusta Trapp Walter Gillon
Kate Monshan William Gillon
Amelia Krause Daniel Moynahan
Maggie Finnegan Gust Fredericks
Kate Connors Ernst Schoenbucher spelling?
Mary Burke C. Kelsey,
And others unknown.
HONORING THE HEROES
On the afternoon of Friday, January 19, the hall of the Chamber of Commerce building was filled to overflowing with spectators who had been drawn thither to witness a public demonstration in honor of the brave men whose valorous deeds on the morning of the fire entitle them to lasting remembrance. Delegations from the Police and Fire Departments occupied conspicuous positions on the floor of the hall, while their respective chiefs, Wason and Lippert, together with President Freeman of the Chamber of Commerce, President Baumgaertner (spelling ?) of the Common Council, Chairman Weiss of the Board of Supervisors, and Gen. H. C. Hobart were seated upon the platform. Herman F. Stauss and George E. Well—the heroes selected for especial commendation—and Stauss' newly made wife, his mother and brother, also had positions on the platform, and were for the time the center of attraction.
At precisely three o'clock President Freeman stilled the audience by a blow of the gavel and directed Secretary Langson to read the resolutions which had been adopted by the Chamber of Commerce, expressing to the brave members of the Fire and Police Departments their appreciation of the heroism at the Newhall House fire, where many risked their lives that others might be saved, and setting forth that, as Herman F. Stauss had exhibited conspicuous bravery on the occasion, the Chamber of Commerce desired to present him with a slight testimonial. Gen. Hobart, the orator of the day, then stepped forward and spoke as follows:
On the morning of the tenth of this month, when the people of Milwaukee looked out from their windows upon the heavens, lit up by the lurid flames of the burning Newhall, they had little dreamed of the terror and agony of those imprisoned by the flames, or the fearful danger of those attempting to escape. Never did a fire-bell in the night presage a calamity more appalling—hardly in the history of the world, and never before in the record of this beautiful city. Morning never broke over the lake upon a scene so terrible, and God grant that it may never again. The first signal found a part of the Fire Department engaged in a distant part of the city, and but two-thirds of the force were able to respond promptly to the alarm.
THE MEN WHO FOUGHT THE FIRE
Chief Engineer—Henry Lippert Assistant Engineer—John T. Black Superintendent Fire Alarm Telegraph—Geo. Glassner Lineman—L. Schroeder Veterinary Surgeon—Dr. John Senti
CHEMICAL ENGINE NO. 1—Foreman, Nich. Theisen; pipemen, H. Fitzlaff and A. G. Maas; driver, Fred Noelk
HOOK AND LADDER NO. 1—Foreman, Edward Riemer; trackmen, H. F. Stauss, C. Heyder, L. Gillmeister, John Ryan' driver, F. Schuppner.
HOOK AND LADDER NO. 2.—Foreman, Jacob Kopf; trackmen, F. Groskopf, S. Brand, W. Moschgau, J. Stoltz; driver, L. Linberger
SUPPLY HOSE NO. 1—Pipe men, F. Schmidt, F. Thiele, A. Braun; driver, J. T. Owens.
SUPPLY HOSE NO. 2—Pipe men, B. Van Haag, h. Weidner, Wm. Schneider; driver, J. Surney
STEAM ENGINE NO. 1—Foreman, H. Meminger; pipe men, Geo. Wolf, W. Henley, M. Galley; engineer, M. Burns; stoker, C. T. Heineman; engine driver, J. O'Donnell; hose cart driver, C. Blackwood; watchman, J. Behles.
STEAM ENGINE NO. 2—Foreman, M. Kuntz; pipe men, H. Bloss, M. Besel, W. Fisted; engineer, J. Reiter; stoker, J. Kneisl; engine driver, A Guenther; hose cart driver, H. Haerter; watchman, J. Miller.
STEAM ENGINE NO. 3—Foreman, H. Kasten; pipe men, A. Schmid, J. Nork, H. Mangold; engineer, Ph. Meisenheimer; stoker, J. Gutenkunst; engine driver, H. Stoll; hose cart driver, C. Hildebrand; watchman, L. Schram.
STEAM ENGINE NO. 4—Foreman, Patrick Sullivan; pipe men, C. McCormick, P. Sennott, S. McDowell; engineer, P.W. Spencer; stoker, C. E. Derken: engine driver, John Mehan; hose cart driver P. J. Duffy; watchman, S. Simms.
STEAM ENGINE NO. 5—Foreman, J. Ihmig; pipe men, H. Lecher, A. Kuntz, C. Henck; engineer, C. Dusold; stoker, X Schoenbucher; engine driver, J. Dittman; hose cart driver, Geo. Schwarz; watchman, J. Schardt.
STEAM ENGINE NO. 6—Foreman, John McLaughlin; pipe men, J. Schroeder, J. Weiher, A. J. Stauss; engineer, D. S. Dunn; stoker, T. Kelly; engine driver, Jno. Klees; hose cart driver, Thos, Cary; watchman, John Cary.
STEAM ENGINE NO. 7—Foreman, T. G. Scott; pipe men, P. Webber, F. Kleinschmidt, B. Wizinski; engineer, T. Gobel; stoker, F. Simmerling; engine driver, J. Dworak; hose cart driver, F. Hener; watchman, A. Hauesler.
Page. 53 The fire spread with such fearful rapidity that it was not in the power of man to save the building, and it is a marvel that the skill and bravery of the firemen were able to confine that sea of flame within the blackened walls of the hotel. The valuable buildings and the wealth of merchandise now in the block of that ill-fated house are indebted for their preservation to the well-directed and fearless work of the Fire Department. The Police were equally prompt in responding to the first call, and they braved every danger in the discharge of their duty. There were heroes who deserve immortal honor: Louis Schroeder, with great exposure, carried a lady from the third story. Edward Riemer, A. A. Smith and members of the Truck Co. No. 1, rescued seven persons from the Broadway front. Officer Mathews brought out Mr. and Mrs. Cramer. Officer Sullivan saved Mr. Hall. Officer O 'Brien awoke and assisted Tom Thumb and his wife to escape. O'Brien and Miles rescued a lady from the balcony on Michigan Street. McManus and Janssen lowered Elliott and sent him to a carriage, and then carried out James Ludington. Lieut. Rockwood rescued a lady from the flames on the third floor, and saved another as she dropped from a window. Rockwood, Riemer and McManus, with the aid of a ladder, assisted three to escape from the balcony. Oscar Kleinstenber, with intrepid courage, ascended the escape on Broadway to the fourth story, and, with a lantern in his hand, fearlessly entered the building, and with heroic daring piloted seven persons to the escape, who descended in safety. Borngesser, Ryan, Smith and Heyder, with great peril, entered the burning house and rescued five girls, with assistance of Green, Riemer and Nodine. I shall now speak of the hero Herman F. Stauss, and his brave companion, George Wells, Several girls were seen in the sixth story windows over the alley imploring for help. Stauss was directed by his chief to take a ladder and go to their assistance. With an eighteen-foot ladder, he and Wells entered the Frackelton building and forced their way to the top of the block. Emerging upon the roof, the brave girls received them with ringing cheers. Poising their ladder within a foot of the edge of the building, it fell into the window opposite only a few inches. They called to the girls to come out and prostrate themselves and move forward by the aid of their hands. Wells held the ladder and Stauss reached forward and guided them across. In this manner five girls passed over to the opposite roof. Hearing cries from the same place, Strauss threw off his coat and hat and crossed over into the room where the smoke was pouring out of the window, and the panels of the door were on fire. He found one girl lying upon the floor nearly insensible. Lifting her up he placer her upon the ladder. She grasped the sides with her hands and refused to move. Stauss stepped from the window on to the ladder, and with a nerve and heroism unparalleled, passed over the prostrate girl, then turning and kneeling down, he broke away her clenched hands, and with superhuman strength raised her with his arm, and almost in mid air, over a yawning gulf of more than sixty feet bore her across this frail bridge in triumph to a place of safety.
Gen. Hobart then paused, and as he beckoned Stauss to step to the front, said: “Allow me to introduce the heroic HERMAN F. STAUSS the subject of my only to inadequate words, who risked his life again and again for those poor girls.” Here ensued a perfect ovation, and the chamber rang with repeated outbursts of thunderous applause. Stauss modestly bowed to the admiring crowd, while his happy wife and mother were visibly affected. After the introduction a momentary pause ensued, and Gen. Hobart then handed STAUSS a handsome gold watch, chain and ladder charm, saying: “HERMAN F. STAUSS, I now have the honor to present to you, in behalf of the Chamber of Commerce of the city of Milwaukee, this watch, chain and charm, as a slight token of appreciation for your heroic actions on the morning of the ever-memorable January 10th.” Stauss took the gift, placed it in his vest-pocket and bowed himself off the stage, amidst resounding cheers, after saying: “Gentlemen, I thank you for the great honor you have conferred upon me.”
In response to repeated calls for GEORGE WELLS, that brave young gentleman steeped forth and was introduced. He was greeted rapturously. Gen. Hobart then called for OSCAR KLEINSTEUBER, whom he said deserved far more recognition than had yet been bestowed on him, but inquiry developed the fact that KLEINSTEUBER was not present. The assemblage was then dismissed.
Before retiring the crowd gathered around STAUSS and WELLS, and the heroes had to submit to a brief season of vigorous hand shaking.
The watch, which was presented to STAUSS, is of Waltham make, with a heavy hunting-case of 18-carat gold. Engraved upon the inner lid covering the works, is the inscription: “Presented to Herman Stauss, by the Chamber of Commerce. Milwaukee, for conspicuous bravery in rescuing human lives at the Newhall House fire, January 10, 1883.” The chain, also 18-carat gold, is simple in design and very heavy. Attached to it is a gold charm representing the hooks and ladder typical of the fireman's calling.
Another pleasant episode, the result of a rescue at the fire, took place on the evening of the 23rd, when Capt. M. H. Collins was the surprised recipient of a magnificent gold watch and chain from James Ludington. The latter was one of the regular guests at the house, and owes his life to the prompt action of Captain Collins in rushing to his relief through the smoky corridors. Mr. Ludington and the Captain have long been intimate friends, and the latter's first though, on reaching the scene of the fire, was of Mr. Ludington's imminent danger. The watch is a heavy gold hunting-case, of Elgin make, appropriately engraved with the date of the conflagration and the names of the donor and recipient. The chain is of gold, of unique design.
On the 1st of February, Geo. E. Wells, who so gallantly assisted Fireman Stauss in the work of rescuing the poor servant girls, was presented with a handsome gold watch as a recognition of his bravery. On one of the cases of the watch is an engraving representing the hotel before the fire, and on the other the inscription: “To George E. Wells, for his bravery during the Newhall House fire January 10,1883.” A heavy gold chain and an onyx charm are attached. The money with which the gift was purchased was contributed by various businessmen of the city. The ladies of Grand Avenue M. E. church, as a further token of their appreciation of his efforts in saving life, presented him with a beautiful set of “The People's
Cyclopedia,” two large, superbly bound volumes, and a purse of money. The publishers, Messrs. Jones Bros. & Co., Chicago, on learning the destiny of the books, donated, unasked, nearly half the price, and added “The Life of Gen. Garfield, “illustrated, paying the charges on the whole.
The following is a statement of the pecuniary loss by the great
Underwriters' value of the hotel-------------------------$140,000
Estimated value of furniture-------------------------------26,400
Insurance on building-------------------------------------$78,500
Insurance on furniture-------------------------------------23,800
The ground floor of the building was occupied by Geo. Scheller, hotel barroom; Manufacturers' Bank; c. f. Hibbard & Co., and C. H. Ross, insurance and freight agents; L. A. Wheeler and C. E. Crain, insurance agents; W. T. Durand, insurance agent; F. W. Montgomery & Co., insurance agents; Merchants' Dispatch Freight office; West & Myers, insurance agents; Blue Line freight office; and Benj. M. Weil, real estate agent. The basement was occupied by the Mutual Union and District Telegraph offices; Grand Trunk freight office; A. H. Baumgartner, painter; A. W. Goetz, barber; and Burdick & Armitage, job printers. Of these occupants the last named were the heaviest losers. Their presses and material were valued at $10,000, upon which there was an insurance of $8,500. The losses of the other occupants were mainly in office furniture and books and commercial documents of small intrinsic value. The stock of the hotel barroom, kept by Geo. Scheller was well insured. To these losses by business establishments in the basement and first floor of the building should be added the loss suffered by guests and servants in the destruction of clothing, jewelry and other personal effects. In several instances these losses reached a considerable sum. Mr. and Mrs. Wm. E. Cramer lost valuable diamonds and a storeroom full of choice books and articles of virtu collected during their foreign travels. Henry C. Payne, postmaster, lost a valuable library and other goods which he had stored in the building. The total amount of these personal losses cannot be computed, but it certainly reached a large figure.
The inquest on the dead was begun on the 23rd of January, in the jury room of the Municipal Court, City Hall, before the following jurors: Robert Davies, builder; J. B. Thompson, contractor; Daniel Waite, clergyman: T. J. Franey, railroad employee; J. C. Corrigan, merchant; John O'Connell, contractor. John M. Clark, District Attorney, conducted the examination of witnesses. The inquiry continued until the afternoon of February 1, when the District Attorney charged the jury and they retired. The sifting process and argument on the testimony educed at the examination occupied the attention of the jury, at daily sittings, until February 5th, when a verdict containing the following findings was rendered:
That the Newhall House was set on fire by a person or persons unknown; that only one night watchman was employed in the hotel, and that he, having other duties to perform, was unable to attend to his proper duties, which should have received the attention of two or three men; that the night watchman and night clerk, obeying previous instructions of the proprietors, lost valuable time in useless attempts to extinguish the fire, and neglected to arouse the inmates, and that when they did attempt to arouse those in the hotel the corridors were so filled with stifling smoke that the employees were obliged to seek their own safety; that the proprietors were guilty of culpable negligence in not having employed a sufficient number of watchmen to guard the house against fire and awake the inmates in time to save all the lives possible; that, notwithstanding the facts that the Newhall House was easy of egress and devoid of intricate passages, that it had outside escape ladders on the northwest and southeast corners, and a bridge near the southwest corner leading across the alley to the opposite building, an inside servants ' stairway from the fifth story to the basement, and two large open stairways in the front corridors leading from the office floor to the sixth story, with an open ladder to the roof, the owners of the Newhall House, knowing that many fires had taken place at various times in the hotel, are guilty of culpable negligence in not having provided more outside escapes in case of fire; that the Fire Department did their duty as well as could be expected, but could have done much more had the ladder trucks been fully manned and equipped with the best extension ladders and the men will drilled to handle them; and that the telegraph poles and wires caused serious obstruction to the Fire Department by preventing them from using their ladders in a speedy manner at the time they were so much needed.