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Democrat & Chronicle
Democrat & Chronicle
Contributed by Glenda_Subyak

Description: Various stories pertaining to the fire at the Rochester Orphan Asylum.

Date: January 10 1901

Newspaper published in: Rochester, NY

Jan. 10, 1901


Death of Miss Mary Brad at the Homeopathic Hospital

The Remaining Victims of the Fire With Two Exceptions Are Reported as Improving - Dormitories Hereafter Will be on the Ground Floor

The disastrous fire at the Rochester Orphan Asylum, which has already resulted in the loss of thirty lives is naturally still a topic of general discussion. If anything, the feeling of horror is intensified, as the full significance of the occurrence is realized.

Two names must be added to the death roll; Miss BARD, the attendant, who died at the Homeopathic Hospital last night, and a lad who died at the City Hospital.
That the calamity is not to be allowed to pass into history without something practical having been done to prevent, if possible, the recurrence of such accidents in the future, is demonstrated by the decision reached by the managers of the orphan asylum yesterday. While the plans for rebuilding the burned portion of the institution are still necessarily tentative, it has been determined that, henceforth, all the dormitories where the children sleep shall be located on the ground floor, and that abundant exits shall be provided. It is realized that the proposed change will involve additional expenditures, but in any event the precaution has been determined upon.

Insurance adjusters were yesterday engaged with a board of appraisers in fixing the amount of loss, which was fully covered by insurance. Examination of the building will, it is thought, show that the first estimate of the damage was too small, and that a larger sum than $10,000 will be required to remedy the loss. It will, of course, be understood that the loss in such cases is based upon conditions existing before the fire, and no reference to improvements which may have been decided upon.

Another direct result of the fire, with its long death roll, has been to call attention to conditions, in other public institutions in this city, This, of course, is not unusual. Calamities like this always lead to apprehension, which is usually quieted without practical results, as the first sentiment of horror gradually passed away. It is not unlikely, however, that the present instance will be an exception. Managers of the various institutions are making diligent inquiry as to means for preventing and extinguishing fire, and as to opportunities of escape in case it becomes necessary for inmates to leave a building. As in the case of the orphan asylum it was learned yesterday that the matter will not be allowed to drop without definite and immediate action. In at least one elecmosynary institution the trustees have begun a strict investigation, under the advise of experts, and every practical means of prevention of loss of life will be adopted without delay.

Possibly the greatest source of anxiety, or perhaps it should be said the cause of the most widespread anxiety, is in regard to the public schools. Here also there was yesterday signs of renewed vigilance. In some of the schools it was found that the wholesome fire drill, which has saved so many lives, had fallen somewhat into disuse. In several of the schools yesterday the gong was sounded. In one or two notable instances, the full significance and value of the fire drill in the public schools was appreciated, and the building emptied of its occupants. It is stated that in others the pernicious practice of merely calling the pupils to a position ready to leave the building was followed. One of the public school principals yesterday called attention to the fallacy of thus partially enforcing the drill. He said that the real object of the exercise was to so prepare pupils that in case of actual fire, they would march through smoke and fire, if need be, without panic, to reach the open air. This principal expressed himself very forcibly to the effect that, unless the drill was carried out in its entirety, and at irregular but frequent intervals it would prove a hindrance rather than a help in case of fire. The attention of the board of education has called to the matter, and it is stated that definite instructions have been issued to principals in all of the public schools.

Although several theories in regard to the origin of the fire advanced yesterday, nothing conclusive was brought out on the subject. Miss ASHDOWN, the night nurse at the asylum, stated to a Democrat and Chronicle reporter yesterday that her last visit to the west wing was made at 11 o'clock on the night of the fire, and the hour for the next visit was 2 o'clock. She was awake, and just after 1 o'clock she smelled smoke. She at once aroused the matron, Mrs. DINEHART, and together they went to a window, and discovered that the lower part of the west wing was ablaze; Miss ASHDOWN at once rand for the janitor, while Mrs. DINEHART telephoned police headquarters. This was at 1:10 o'clock. Inasmuch as Miss ASHDOWN heard no explosion previous to smelling the smoke, it would seem that the explosions reported were the results of the fire and not the cause.

It was pointed out yesterday that slight explosions, from one cause or another, are very common at fires. Sometimes, after a fire has been in progress some time it will reach a closed room and an explosion follow in the absence of any known explosive substance. Sometimes it is explained on the theory of the formation of gas, and at others by the formation of a ????? vacuum by the sudden combustion of the oxygen in the closed room. Hence, it is urged, no great significance can be ascribed to the explosions which were heard.

Fire Marshal WALTER yesterday visited the scene of the fire, and later stated that he found nothing which would indicate the cause. An interest which cannot properly be called, is shown by crowds visiting the scene of the fire and the morgue yesterday as on the day following the fire. Numerous people visited the vicinity of the asylum and viewed the ruins of the west wing. Very properly the public was not admitted to that portion of the building which was burned, as the doors are in a dangerous condition and accidents are liable to occur. Many affecting scenes were again witnessed at the morgue.

Not the least of the many affecting incidents connected with the fire was the death of Miss BRAD, who was attending two sick children in one of the wards of the hospital.

Her story, as gathered in her lucid intervals at the hospital, shows that she was literally a martyr to her duty; that her life was sacrificing in the futile effort to save those who were under her immediate charge. It is known that Miss BRAD had abundant opportunity to save herself comparatively uninjured, but, true to the principles and practice of the noble profession to which she belonged, she put duty to her charges before self. The case of Miss BRAD is by no means the only instance of heroism and self-sacrifice on the part of the nurses and attendants of the asylum, but it is one of the bright side lights on a very dark picture.

Death of Miss BRAD at the Homeopathic Hospital Last Night

The thirtieth victim of the orphan asylum fire died at the Homeopathic Hospital shortly before 10 o'clock last night.
On the morning of the fire Miss Mary BRAD, one of the attendants at the asylum was taken to the hospitals suffering from terrible burns on the face, arms and limbs. She was made as comfortable as possible and given the most skillful treatment, but little hope for her recovery had been entertained. Her sister, Mrs. OLLIS, of No. 6 Beaufort street, was notified of her death. Later the body was taken to the morgue.

While at the hospital Miss BRAD told her experience at the fire. She said she was recovering from an attack of diphtheria and was very weak. She was caring for two children who were ill with diphtheria. When she found escape by the stairs was cut off she placed the two children on the roof with herself. Failing of rescue, she again placed the children inside of the hospital, in the hope of their being saved from the window. At this time she said she could have escaped uninjured, but would not leave the children. She was finally assisted down a ladder, terribly burned, but the two children were lost. Miss BRAD was a native of England.

The nurses at the Homeopathic Hospital say that during the last hours of her life she was delirious and talked constantly of the two children she had tried to save; efforts which eventually cost her own life. It seems that she carried the children until she sank down exhausted.

Only Five Little Forms Remain at the Rooms on Allen Street.

The heartrending scenes of Tuesday at the morgue were repeated yesterday, when over 12,000 people, it is estimated, called and viewed the charred and blackened remains of the few children not removed by friends. Last night there remained five bodies, those of Beachnel and Evangeline CAREY, Bertha HALL, Violet STUCK and Lorena OWENS.

The two CAREY children will be buried to-day from the morgue, by the father, Thomas CAREY.

Violet STRUCK will be buried by her mother. The body of Lorena OWENS will be given to the father to-day. A box of red and white carnations and tuberoses was received at the morgue yesterday, directed to Lorena OWENS. There was no card on it by which the sender could be known, but it is believed that the mother sent it. The parents of the child are parted.

The body of Bertha HALL, a child of "Kid" HALL, who is now in Auburn prison, will probably be buried by the asylum management. Mrs. HALL, the child's mother, called at the morgue Tuesday and identified the remains of her child. The little girl was about 7 years old. She was a bright child of attractive appearance. It is likely that she was suffocated before the flames reached her, as her dress was not burned at all.

The body of Mrs. Martha GILLIS, an attendant at the asylum, will be sent to St. Catherines, Ont., this morning.

Condition of the Injured as Reported Last Night

One of the injured children taken from the orphan asylum fire to the City Hospital is dead at that institution. His name is Allen BELMORE, 2 years of age. This is the twenty-ninth death up to this time.
At the City Hospital Miss Isabella LAWSON, who was severely burned and whose lungs were injured by the fire, was resting as comfortably as might be expected yesterday. In the opinion of her physicians her chances of life and death are about equal.

The condition of Hyman SAPERSTONE, 4 years old, who is at the Hahnemann Hospital, is very serious. He was burned on the left knee, the right ear, cheek and forehead and was also partially suffocated. He was very low yesterday, but was thought to be slightly better. John CAREY, at the same hospital, was partially suffocated. His condition yesterday was reported as somewhat improved.

With the exception of Miss Mary BRAD, whose death is announced elsewhere, all of the remaining patients at the Homeopathic Hospital were last night reported as convalescent. They are Amelia CLINE, Frances M. HIBBARD.

Kale COTTERILL, Blanche ANDERSON and Maurice KEATING are at St. Mary's Hospital. All were reported as doing well last night.

Those to the Dormitories Destroyed First and Were the Only Ones Burned

An important phase of the asylum fire concerns the cutting off of the escape of the children on the second and third floors by the burning of the stairways leading up to those floors from the ground floor. The entrance to the next room was also near the stairway.

The stairs began on the ground floor in the southwest corner of the Potter memorial building, and were next the brick wall between that building and the boiler room. The foot of the stairs was near the door into the boiler room. Next to the brick wall was located the laundry dry room, which was heated by steam pipes. After the fire, it was discovered that the wooden shell of the laundry dry room was completely burned away, leaving only the skeleton of steam pipes. The floor above had fallen at the end next the wall of the Potter building.

The conditions in that part of the building, immediately after the fire, left no doubt in the minds of the experienced firemen who made an examination, that the fire had started there, and had burned longer and hotter than in any other part of the building. The stairs, before described, were entirely burned away, and it is significant that no other stairs in the building were destroyed. The stairways furnished a clear upward path for the flames, which were undoubtedly preceded by smoke, filling the sleeping rooms above and rendering the sleepers unconscious, before the flames reached them. The stairways were of wood and led directly into the dormitories.

It seems, too, that the flames burned rapidly towards the top floor and the roof, and did not spread so much on the second floor as they did on the third. The third floor dormitory appeared to be burned more than the second floor dormitory. It is probably owing to this circumstance that the children on the second floor were saved, and those on the third floor lost.

The trustees of the Rochester Orphan Asylum have undertaken to defray the funeral expenses of the victims of the recent fire.


The Hahneman Hospital has tendered four beds for the use of children formerly located at the orphan asylum.

Coroner KLEINDIENST will not hold an inquest in the case of the asylum victims until all of the bodies are removed from the morgue, and after the inquest in the case of the fireman who died after working at the Kodak park fire Monday night. These two inquests will undoubtedly take much time and labor.

Gertrude and Marion McCaw to be Buried Friday - Mrs. Gordon to-day

The funeral services of Mrs. Maria GORDON, aged 42 years, who met her death at the orphan asylum fire Tuesday morning, will be held from the chapel of Ingmire & Thompson, No. 64 Clinton avenue south to-day, at 2 o'clock P. M.

The funeral of little Gertrude and Marion McCAW, twin daughters of William T. McCAW, will be held to- morrow afternoon at 2 o'clock from the home of their grandfather, T. R. McCAW, No. 16 Birch Crescent.

Several Bodies Taken Away Yesterday by Relatives of the Little Victims

While the big throng was flowing in and out of the morgue on Allen street yesterday, the stream of people was frequently interrupted by the removal of one or more bodies of the victims. The body of Mrs. Maria GORDON, the cook, was removed by relatives and will be buried at Mt. Hope. The bodies of the following named victims were removed from the morgue yesterday by different undertakers, at the direction of the relatives:

Charlotte BRYANT, Mary ALEXANDER, Gladys HILL (removed Tuesday night), May KANE, removed by her mother; Gertrude and Mary McCAW, removed by their father; Hazel MURRAY, Minnie SKINNER, body sent to Hilton by the father, child's mother dead; Gertrude TONER, Minnie TIFFANY, removed by her mother to No. 529 S. Paul street; Mildred WRIGHT, removed Tuesday night), Arthur KELLY, Cora and Bertha POTTER, Mildred SLOCUM (removed Tuesday night), Isabella MARTHAGE, (should be CARTHAGE - I think) taken by the father, Child's mother was buried just a week ago yesterday. The body of 4-year-old Allen BELLMORE, who died Tuesday night at the City Hospital, was also removed yesterday by relatives.

The little CARTHAGE child was the daughter of an Italian living on Hand street. A short time ago the father lost an eye through the attack of a thug on Front street. A week ago the child's mother died, and the terrible fate of the little girl is the last affliction of the poor stranger in a strange country.

The following bodies were buried yesterday by relatives, the remains being taken direct to the cemetery where the last services were held at the chapel or the grave: Lillian STONE, buried at Watakehl cemetery on the Lake avenue boulevard; Jewish services were held at the grave. The funeral of Charles BENHAM was held at Mt. Hope yesterday afternoon. The body of Mrs. Maria GORDON, the cook, was removed yesterday by relatives, whose names could not be learned.

An accurate account of the bodies removed was kept in the hall, where all could see it. A list tacked to the wall beside the door of the room where the bodies lay contained the twenty-nine names of the victims of the awful calamity. The thirtieth name was added at 10 o'clock last night, when the morgue attendant was notified of the death of Miss BRAD by the Homeopathic Hospital. The nurse's body was soon after received at the morgue.

Misfortunes Culminated in Two Deaths at the Asylum Fire

A pathetic story is told in connection with the death of Cora and Bertha POTTER, who were victims of the orphan asylum fire.

Something over a year ago Mrs. POTTER, the mother of the children, came to the city from a town in Central New York, with five small children. She stated that her husband had not only deserted her, but had sold the furniture. A year ago last Christmas some sympathizing neighbors called attention to the destitute condition of the family, through the Democrat and Chronicle, and the Christmas responses were prompt and generous. Later Mrs. POTTER's father and sister went to live with them, and they all struggled along against poverty.

Last spring the troubles of the family seem to have begun in earnest. Mrs. POTTER's sister contracted a cold and died of pneumonia three days later. Not long afterwards the grandfather was stricken with blindness and was removed to the county hospital, where he soon died. Then the mother was stricken with consumption, and it was necessary to convey her also to the county hospital, where her death is now hourly expected. The oldest daughter was also ill and was sent to some friends in the country. The four younger children, the eldest 9 years of age, were thus left without any protector, and were all taken to the orphan asylum.

In the fire of Tuesday morning the two older children, Cora and Bertha, were burned to death, and the two younger children were rescued in safety. One is now at the Homeopathic Hospital and the other at the City Hospital. It would seem to be a story of real life which needs no embellishment; which furnishes its own pathos.

The funeral of the two children will be held at Mudge's undertaking rooms at 10 o'clock to-morrow morning.

Mother of One of the Babies Did Not Arrive in Time

The funeral of Mildred WRIGHT and Gladys HILL, colored babies, victims of the orphan asylum fire, was to have been held yesterday afternoon at 3 o'clock, from Zion Church on Favor street, but owing to the delay in arriving in Rochester of the mother of Mildred WRIGHT, the services were postponed until this afternoon at 3 o'clock, at the same place. Mrs. WRIGHT is a lady's maid in the Ward & Vokes Company, and when she received the telegram telling of the death of her little one she was herself ill in a hospital at Sing Sing.

As soon as she recovered sufficiently she made efforts to get to Rochester, and had telephoned that she would be here yesterday morning, but failing to catch her train she saw that she would not be here on time and telegraphed again to Rev. Mr. ANDERSON, pastor of Zion Church, telling him of her delay, and saying that she would be in at 5 o'clock. She arrived at that hour.

Submitted: 15/05/05

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