Category: Fire & Scalding Death!

A Youthful Bride’s Death

Posted by – November 17, 2013

1892 Morbid Scrapbook



BIRMINGHAM, Ala., Jan. 31.—Mrs. Robert Atwell, a bride of seventeen, in Cherokee county, was warming by the fire a few days ago and her dress ignited. She was so badly burned that she has died.


From the collection of The Comtesse DeSpair
The 1892 Morbid Scrapbook

Women Amid Hot Flames

Posted by – November 17, 2013

Steele Scrapbook – January 23, 1886




A Most Destructive Fire at Columbus, Ohio. The Metropolitan Opera House Among the Buildings Destroyed—The List of Sufferers So Far as Reported—What They Lost.

COLUMBUS, O., Jan. 23.—Fire started this morning in the large block of buildings at Rich and High streets about 7.30, and before noon the entire block from Rich street to Walnut and from High to Wall had been gutted by the flames. The Metropolitan Opera House building was in the same block. Fire started in that portion occupied by H. C. Godman’s leather store, and in a short time the entire building, including the Opera House proper, was in ruins.

There were a number of thrilling and hair-breadth escapes, and with the large force of women employed about the building it is miraculous that the death-roll does not mount up high. The shoe factory of Godman employs about 204 persons; 132 of these were girls, 60 men and 12 boys. The factory occupied three floors. The spectacle of girls going down the fire ladders and escapes with aprons over their heads was one of the thrilling episodes that caused the hearts of men to stand still. The victims were driven out of the building by the fierce flames, and had not even time to get any of their wrappings, the fire spreading so rapidly.

Katie Trott jumped through the window on the first floor and broke both her limbs. Lizzie Ault and Sadie Sauerfrey had a thrilling experience in being saved from the flames. They found the hall full of smoke and flames, through which they had to go, and fire shut off the access to the stairway, and it is reported that Miss Ault sprang through the flames, which her companion jumped through a window on the north side of the building. A woman from the upper floor made her way to the lower part of the factory building and there became prostrated from the smoke and heat.

It is supposed that the fire started in the shoe factory, but Miss Anna Wilbacker’s story controverts this, she being a forewoman of the finishing department. She said: “It was about half-past eight o’clock when I heard there was fire in the building. Our room was on the first floor, just above the Gazeete Printing Company, and just in the rear of Zwerner’s drug store. About the hour mentioned some of the third floor girls yelled that the building was on fire. They were just coming to work and stopped to give us the alarm, and when I went into the hall the flames were coming up the elevator shaft.”

Very soon after the fire began to pour out from the fourth floor of the Opera House block, the great crowd of spectators were horrified by the sight of a woman with a babe in her arms stepping out of a fourth-story window on to the fire escape. She gesticulated wildly for a moment, then turned and disappeared within, evidently giving up in despair of saving herself in so dangerous a manner. Two officers rushed up the stairway through the blinding smoke and flames, and in a few moments were seen again with the woman and child. When the immense crowd saw that they were saved a mighty cheer went up from those who had held their breath. Another woman appeared at the fourth-story window, started to descend by the fire-escape, but being confused and blinded by the smoke, returned inside, to be seen no more.

Mr. Staley, of the firm of Staley & Morton, was overcome by his losses and fainted. When the northeast corner of the block was reached, and flames were pouring forth from the upper windows, a rapid and continued series of explosions, resembling discharge of musketry, was heard. It was supposed to have been occasioned by boxes of cannon crackers stored away in the upper portion of the building.

The Opera House building burned was formerly known as the Cotton Block, having been built during the war by men who had made the money smuggling cotton through. It is a large four-story stone building, one of the handsomest in the city. The Opera House was to have been opened by Modjeska this evening, and the seating capacity of the house had been almost entirely sold. Margaret Mather was to have followed Modjeska Thursday and Friday with big sales.


Snatched Away Under Cover Of Night From Alf


Scalded By Steam

Posted by – November 17, 2013

Steele Scrapbook – October 30, 1885



Terrible Death of Two Engineers on Board A Lake Steamer.

DULUTH, Minn., Oct. 30—A sad and distressing accident occurred here last evening whereby two men were almost instantly scalded to death. As the steamer Miles was leaving the dock the cast-iron casing or jacket of the cylinder filled with steam and exploded, throwing a great volume of steam with such force as to knock the second engineer, who was on watch, through the door into the room where the first engineer was asleep. The steam rushed in through the opening and, filling the room, scalded them so that when the crew went into the room, almost immediately afterwards, they found both men dead. Thomas Hickey, the first engineer, was 37 years old, and leaves a wife and two children in Hamilton, Ont. The second engineer was William Rooney, was not married, and leaves relatives in Ottawa, Ont.

Roasted To Death

Posted by – November 17, 2013

Steele Scrapbook – July 17, 1885




Six of the Children Perish in the Flames of a Burning Building Before They Could be Rescued—The Parents Crazed With Grief.

PITTSBURG, July 17.—Last night about eleven o’clock the residence of Josiah M. Evans, a small two story log hut, three miles from Grahampton, Clearfield county, was destroyed by fire and six of his children, ranging in age from 6 to 15 years cremated. Evans was awakened by a strange noise and under the impression that burglars were about, took his gun and went outside to investigate. To his horror, he discovered his humble dwelling in flames. He quickly gave the alarm, but before he could reach his children, who were sleeping on the second floor, the roof fell in and in a few minutes the building was all ablaze. His wife and three younger children sleeping on the lower floor, were taken out safely, but the parents were forced to see the others perish in the flames. This morning intelligence of the fearful calamity spread rapidly throughout the county and hundreds were soon drawn to the scene. The mangled remains of four of the children charred and unrecognizable were gathered up and buried in one coffin. The other two were apprently reduced to ashes, as no trace of their remains could be found. The parents are crazed with grief, and the whole community is excited over a horror which has no precedent in Clearfield county. The father insists that the fire was undoubtedly the work of an incendiary and in this opinion others share.

Snatched Away Under Cover Of Night From Alf



Inferno Of Caged Unfortunates

Posted by – November 17, 2013

Steele Scrapbook – January 22, 1886




Appalling scenes at the Burning of the National Surgical Institute at Indianapolis. The Building a Veritable Fire-trap—The Brave Efforts of Rescuers —Some of the Bodies Charred Beyond Recognition—Inmates Who Died Without Any Attempt to Escape—Leaped From the Windows—Sad Incidents of the Holocaust.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind., Jan 22 — A score of helpless human beings burned to death. That is the record of last night in Indianapolis. At 11.45 last night an alarm was turned from box 52, corner of Meridian and Georgia streets. The locations being in the heart of the wholesale trading district of the city, people naturally expected a great fire, but when box 22, at Illinois and Louisiana streets, was pulled and in a moment the second and third alarms were heard, it was plain that the conflagration was a dangerous one.

Every piece of fire-fighting apparatus in the city was quickly on the run, and upon arrival, the firemen were horrified to see flames leaping from the roof and fourth-floor windows of the National Surgical Institute, which is located on the corner of Illinois and Georgia streets, with an extension on the latter street. About two hundred and fifty crippled people were in the institute at the time. The building was almost totally enveloped in fire, and when Chief Webster arrived his first order was: “Let the building burn, but run up the ladders and save the people.” This was obeyed, and the work of rescuing the imprisoned patients commenced.

The fire when first discovered was located in the Georgia street building at the rear of the office, in the advertising room. An alley separates the Georgia street building from the one facing Illinois street one. A covered bridge connects them. The fire leaped up through the floors of the building in which it was started, reaching a stairway about two feet wide, thus securing a draught, and sped through the second floor from room to room and hallway to hallway. Then the third and fourth floors were quickly reached and across the alley the fiery tongues dashed, firing the adjoining building.

On the third and fourth floors the horrible work was done. The buildings were a network of narrow halls, entrances and stairways. The fire could not have chosen a better place for its destructiveness. In the small rooms throughout the building were from one to four beds, all occupied by patients, many of whom were perfectly helpless. When they became aware of their peril their fright was awful. They became frantic in their efforts to reach places of safety. Every effort was made by the fire, police and ambulance forces to rescue the caged unfortunates, and acts of heroism and daring were performed by the men that should perpetuate their memories.

Where the dining-room and kitchen were the building was gutted. Above these two departments, on the third and fourth floors, were the sleeping apartments of the patients. When the fire was discovered every means of escape was cut off and many perished there. The flames ate up the entire interior of the building. When the floors gave way and fell to the bottom there is no telling how many persons were killed.


The Surgical Institute was a verital firetrap. The stairways were narrow, the halls dark and whole structure a labyrinth. Entering the main building from the alley a dark store-room is reached. A door at the inner end leads to an open court. A winding stairway not much over two feet wide leads up to a window of the third floor. This stairway is built of pine boards and boarded to about the height of a man’s head. It would be next to impossible for two persons to pass in it. The room to which this leads was a dormitory. It contained about a dozen beds, most of which had been occupied.

From the open court there is a door leading to the hallways inside the building. This passage was dark and a person was obliged to group [sic] his way to a better lighted spot. Near the Illinois-street front of the main building was a stairway the people were surprised to see. It made a turn midway between two floors, and at that point there was a landing. From that landing to the top step of the lower section was a distance of least 2 1/2 feet. In speaking of that place Fireman James Madden remarked: “How could they expect cripples to get up or down those stairs?”

In some parts of the building the stairs were so old and worn that extra boards had been nailed on the steps. Large holes had been burned in the floors. The halls and stairs in some places were so much of a puzzle that it was hard for a person to tell which was which. At one point four flights of stairs were in a bunch. Rooms on the third and fourth floors of the main building and nearest the alley were the scenes of the greatest fatalities.

In one room were two women, both of whom perished. In another there was a man whose lower extremities were paralyzed. Although unable to walk he dragged himself to a window at the rear of the building and threw himself out. He dropped about eight feet to a roof, then to another, and finally rolled off to the ground, saving himself from death. The entire rear half of the inside of the Georgia street building fell in. The debris completely filled the first story, and when the firemen began their search for dead bodies they were obliged to commence work on a level with the second floor. It will be several days before they can hope to reach the bottom. The names of the killed are:


KATE L. STRONG, died at 1084 Massachusetts avenue; home in Salem, Oregon.
MRS. LAZARUS, of Chicago, jumped from the second story of the rear building.
MISS KATE BURNS, of Newport, Minn.
FRANK BURNS, of Newport, Minn.
MINNIE ARNOLD, Lancaster, Mo.
ILMA PAYNE, Dexter, Minn.
STELLA SPEES, Macomb, Ohio.
MINNIE MCDONALD, Negaunee, Ohio.
MRS. ERB and DAUGHTER, Shelby, Ohio.
FANNIE BREEDEN, Memphis, Tenn., died of her injuries at eleven o’clock Friday.
MORTIE DECKO, died at 305 north Mississippi street.
FRED DOCKENDORF, Stillwater, Minn.
HANNAH BROOK, Taylorsville, Ill.
C. H. GORMAN, McDonald, Mich.

More than a score of persons were hurt. They were taken to St. Vincent’s Hospital, where, with the exception of those fatally injured, they were resting fairly.

Five bodies were taken out this morning. They were roasted alive, the skin having peeled off their bodies. In a few instances their faces were burned off. At Powers and Blackwell’s were found the unknown bodies. They were taken out of the building in their night clothes, and there was absolutely nothing by which they could be identified. One was a woman with dark hair and complexion. She can easily be identified by friends, as she was suffocated and not burned. Another woman whose body was cooked beyond recognition was also at the morgue. Her feet were deformed and shrivelled up from the fire. A man with a deformed limb, also there, can be identified.

This afternoon the ashes and cinders were washed from the dead, and hundreds viewed the blackened remains. At Flanner and Buchanan’s morgue was a man supposed to have been attendant. He was burned about the face. He was about twenty-five years old. He had light hair and moustache and blue eyes. Three other bodies were found at the northeast corner of the rear building or the third floor. They had huddled about the windows and were trying to escape when the flames caught them.


Just as the department arrived on the scene a woman appeared at a third story window. The flames within made a frightful background, and her form stood out in bold relief. She wrung her hands and screamed for help, while the smoke rolled up in angry black wreaths about her. Chief Webster at once realized her critical condition and shouted at the top of his voice, “Hold on, hold on; don’t jump. For God’s sake don’t jump, we’ll get you in a moment”

A savage roar of the flames and a creaking, crashing sound was the only reply that came back to him, and scarcely had the words of appeal left his leaps when the woman, with a shriek of agony, leaped into space. With dishevelled hair the feminine form descended rapidly, the burst of flames displaying the deathly pallor which overspread her face. The body struck the stone flagging but a few feet from where the fire chief stood, and was picked up dead.

At a window on the upper floor a panic-stricken mother was seen struggling to throw open the window. In one arm she clasped her child, which was a mere infant. She clutched at the window casing, and finally succeeded, after frantic efforts, in reaching the air and received relief from the stifling smoke and death-dealing flames within. Her screams fell upon the ears of thousands of hapless spectators. No ladders were at hand, and her pitiful appeals were unheeded. Her face was deadly pale and her form partially nude.

The flames were closing in about her and she looked back into the furnace of death, then down to the pavement below, as if choosing between two things, either of which seemed certain death. Realizing finally that the end was at hand she clasped the babe to her breast, tossed the precious load out of the window and gave her life to the flames within. It would have been a pleasing thought to her to know before expiring the fortune that befell her offspring.

Pipeman O’Brien had watched the heart-rending scene from below, and as the child left the arms of its mother he planted himself firmly with outstretched arms underneath the window. The baby, wrapped in its night clothes, whirled about in the air and tumbled into O’Brien’s arms unhurt by the fall—a life saved. A few moments later it was smiling, seemingly unconscious of the surroundings.


As soon as the hall-ways had been sufficiently cleared of the smoke to permit an investigation, some of the most horrible scenes were developed. In one room on the third floor four victims were found dead, kneeling in the attitude of prayer. The windows in the room were up, but their occupants had apparently made no effort to escape nor appeal for rescue. The stifling smoke had overtaken them, and seeing no avenue of escape, had become resigned to their fate, and as a last hope muttered a prayer to Heaven, begging the interference of Providence in their behalf.

In a room on the second floor a man was found in bed dead. The smoke had found its way into the room slowly, and he was gradually overcome, expiring without a struggle. Further along the hallway a young man was found sitting beside an open window, his dead body leaning forward. There seemed to be no good reason for this loss of life, as all who appeared at the windows were quickly saved.

Although the occupants were nearly all more or less seriously crippled, many of them became so frantic that they lost all self-control and almost invited death by their actions. They would rush to a window, cast their eyes below, and realizing that a leap was almost certain death, retreated at once into the room and faces the result desperately.


Unceremoniously Stolen From Alf


A Little Child’s Horrible Death

Posted by – November 17, 2013

Steele Scrapbook – August 15, 1892


A Little Child’s Horrible Death.

CENTRALIA, Aug. 15.—Mary Wrentzel, daughter of Jacob Wrentzel, living near here, was fatally scalded this afternoon. Her mother went out to borrow something from a neighbor, leaving her child, which was but two years old, lying on the floor. The child crept to a tub of hot water which the mother had poured from a boiler before leaving, and fell in. Her screams were heard by a neighbor, who ran to her rescue. The mother is frantic with grief.


Ruthlessly Stolen From From Alf

Burned To Death In Her Home

Posted by – November 17, 2013

January 28, 1892


Special Dispatch to The North American.
POTTSTOWN, Pa., Jan. 28.—Mrs. George Netz, aged forty, was burned to death at Francona Square this forenoon. Her four children were at school, and when her husband, who was working on a neighboring farm, saw the blaze and hastened home his wife’s charred trunk was found in the cellar. Origin of fire unknown.

From the collection of The Comtesse DeSpair
The 1892 Morbid Scrapbook

Burned To Death

Posted by – November 16, 2013

Steele Scrapbook – May 12, 1885



NEW YORK, MAY 12.—A pan of grease boiled over this morning on the stove in a second floor room in Bleecker street, which is occupied by Mrs. Payne, a colored woman. Her clothes caught fire, and, being alone in the room, she was burned to death before her cries and the smoke attracted help. The damage done to property was small.


Unceremoniously Stolen From Alf

An Actress Burned To Death

Posted by – November 16, 2013

Steele Scrapbook – January 5, 1886



The Shocking Fate of Miss Mary Bird, of the “Straight Tip” Company.

CINCINNATI, Jan. 5.—Miss Mary Bird, a member of the “Straight Tip” Company, playing this week at the Grand Opera House, died to-day from the effects of burns received last night. She was about retiring at her hotel when her clothing caught fire at the grate from some inflammable substance accidentally spilled. She ran down stairs before assistance reached her, and was so horribly burned that she died to-day.


Unceremoniously Stolen From Alf