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The day book. [volume] (Chicago, Ill.) 1911-1917, December 26, 1913, LAST EDITION, Image 29

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045487/1913-12-26/ed-2/seq-29/

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Calumet, Mich., Dec. 26. If suffi
cient coffins can be brought here to
day, the seventy-three victims of the
panic Christmas eve in Italian Hall,
at Red Jacket, which was caused by
some one yelling "Fire," will be
But the ugly question: "Who was
responsible for that false alarm?"
vnll not be so easily disposed of.
It was heard in whispers yester
day while the bereaved stood outside
of the hall, bla.ck despair in their
hearts, and demanded some child,
some woman or some man from the
row of bodies inside.
By night the whisper was a sullen
muttering, as the strikers repeated to
each other: "We don't want help
from the citizens or from the mine
owners; we took care of our own
when they were living; we can take
care of our dead, now."
Every effort is being made to sup
press the question. New stories are
being invented to account for the
panic. One of them is that a child
set his cap on fire with some Christ
mas fireworks, and the sight of the
trifling blaze as his father carried
him from the hall caused the excite
ment that resulted in death.
But Mrs. Caesar, 431 Kearsarge
street, positively declares she saw
the man who pushed his. head in the
door of the main hallway and holler
ed "Fire." She declares she grabbed
'him by the shoulders and tried to
hold him, realizing what would hap
pen, but that he pulled away from
her and ran down the stairs again.
On Christmas eve the strikers and
their families had gathered in the
hall to forget the long and bitter war
waged between them and the mine
There were seven hundred persons
in the hall. The Christmas exercises
for the children were nearly conclud
ed. A bearded Santa Claus, burdened
with a huge pack of toys, had made
his appearance on the stage and the
distribution of the gifts was about to
Then a man thrust his head in the
front door and shrieked the word
that started the mad rush for the
stairway. Mrs. Caesar shouted a de
nial, but her words were drowned in
the cries of the panic stricken for
eigners. The stairway became jammed with
a mass of bodies. Little children of
five and six years were swept in front
of the panicky crowd and sent tum
bling down.'their lives crushed out at
the bottbm of the stairs when hun
dreds of others were piled down on
top of them.
A big man, mad with fear, his fists
doubled, fought his way over the
bodies of women and children to the
head of the stairway, but there he,
too, was unable to withstand the rush
and he was sent tumbling to death.
Mothers seized their children and
fought like maniacs in their rush for
the doorway. Men and girls tore and
pushed at each other.
The more level headed attempted
to quell the riot with reassuring
words, but there are many languages
spoken in the copper country and
their efforts were misunderstood.
After the worst of the panic had
subsided, passing citizens tried to en
ter the building and were blocked by
the solid mass of bodies at the foot
of the stairway. So tightly were they
wedged in that it was necessary for
firemen to climb into the second
story windows and attack the pile
from the top.
In several instances, whole fami
lies were wiped out by the disaster.
Fifty-four families suffered the loss
of one or more members.
A mags meeting of the citizens was
held yesterday to devise ways and
means to take care of the victims
and assist the bereaved families.
President Moyer of the Western

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