Search America's historic newspaper pages from 1836-1922 or use the U.S. Newspaper Directory to find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present. Chronicling America is sponsored jointly by the
National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress. external link Learn more
Image provided by: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library, Urbana, IL
Newspaper Page Text
the halls. Flames crackled nearby.
First came cries to the sisters, then
terror, and panic.
Boys and girls, seeing their teach
ers helpless, broke ranks.
They dashed for- ;windows and
doors. A majority rusfiM wildly for
the big front door, through which
they had entered only a short time
Many of the children were tram
pled down before reaching the door.
Screams of mites of girls swept out
from the flaming building as the chil
dren struggled for their lives.
Many unable to reach the door,
turned to the windows and prepared
to jump immediately on gaming the
Persons living in the neighborhood,
had flocked to the scene. They call
ed to the little ones, beseeching them
not to make the leap until blankets
could be brought to catch them.
Some, crying and protesting, waited.
Others jumped. Men rushed forward
and caught them in outspread coats.
Hurry calls were sent to every home
for blankets. With these spread as
nets, a score of the tots were saved.
With flames roaring behind them
and only blank space looming .be
tween theto and the earth, the chil
dren looked down through tears of
terror, then gave despairing cries
Many were injured as a result of
the perilous leap. There were no fire
escapes on the school building. With
the main door jammed tightly shut,
the children had either to jump or
Firemen found a pitiful sight as
they finally forced their way through
the main door. Charred, crushed
bodies of boys and girls were jammed'
Some had died of suffocation. The
lives of others had been crushed out
by the weight of their schoolmates
who trampled and fell upon them.
Burning tongues of flame had
claimed others. Their faces were
burned to a crisp.
With arms extended toward the
door, cries to the sisters and to their
parents on theif lips, the little ones
were virtually roasted in the hall of
the building, now turned into a roar
Various causes were assigned for
the fire. .Some persons reported
hearing an 'explosion.
Mothers driven temporarily insane A
dren rushing wildly in the midst of
crowds, crying for their parents and
a score of broken, charred little bod
ies stretched out in a row on the
ground while the ruins of St John's
parochial school still smoldered and
Every available ambulance an
swered the call that followed the out
break of the school fire. Primarily
they were intended to carry away in
jured children, but scores of mo.th
ers required the attention of physi
cians and nurses.
The ambulances made trip after
trip, hurrying away to the nearest
hospital with raving mothers who
had become almost insane at finding
charred masses of flesh that had once
been their little boys or girls.
Hundreds began arriving at the'
scene of the fire within a half hour
after the first alarm was sounded
Mothers were frantic as they hunted
for the little ones. They ran from
one group to another almost as wild-K
ly and hysterically as did the chil
dren. They shrieked the names of
their boys and girls who only a few
hours before had kissed them good
by and departed for school
St John's parochial school, scene'
of today's fire disaster, was merely a' a
brick shell, with inflammable interior . W
and no fire escapes. ' This made it
similar to an pven, when the roaring'
fire got under way. The structure'
was erected six years ago and was
the largest in the city. The three-'
story walls were of brick, but all the
interior, including-the stairways, wast
made of wood and burned like tinder.""