Kankakee, IL Insane Hospital Fire, Jan 1885

Kankakee IL  State Hospital Burned.jpg

FED WITH LIVING FUEL.

BURNING OF AN INSANE HOSPITAAL IN ILLINOIS AND LOSS OF SEVENTEEN LIVES.

Kankakee, Ill., Jan. 19. -- About 4 o'clock yesterday morning, the south infirmary, a detached ward of the Eastern Illinois Insane Hospital was discovered to be on fire, and before the inmates could be warned the entire building was filled with hot and stifling smoke. The night watchman who discovered the blaze immediately gave the alarm, but the flames, which originated over the hot air furnaces, were drawn through the network of flues and along the halls and stairways to every portion of the doomed building. The morning was bitterly cold and a piercing wind sweeping down from the north chilled to the marrow the unfortunate beings who were forced to brave the elements in a half clad condition. The attendants labored with a spirit of desperation in subduing the demented beings as they ran screaming through the burning corridors, and several of the brave men risked their lives to save their charges from a terrible death. Almost all the patients refused to cooperate in the effort being made to save them, and were only rescued by being dragged from the flames and prevented from returning. One man rushed back three times after being rescued and finally perished. The bed ridden patients were all removed and placed in the adjoining wards. All of the patients saved are old and infirm and two of them are not expected to survive the terrible ordeal to which they were subjected. Most of the attendants lost all of their clothing, but worked bravely with only their night clothing on the rescue the patients. WILLIAM REID, an old attendant, formerly of an English hospital, saved twenty-four patients and JAMES COYNE, an inmate, saved four patients. He was injured himself. Following are the names of the victims:
HENRY BROWN, Rock Island.
H. W. BELDEN, Galesburg.
GEORGE BENNETT, Morris.
JOSEPH COLBERT, Chicago.
ORLANDO ELLIS, Pontiac.
J. W. GALLOWAY, Macoupin.
THOMAS HICKEY, Springfield.
MATTHEW HAGUE, Chebanse.
T. HACHNER, Stevenson County.
THOMAS HERELY, Chicago.
JOHN JOHNSON, Vermilion.
MICHAEL JORDAN, Chicago.
J. NATHAN, Chicago.
A. RANYARD, Winnebago County.
C. STROTZ, Chicago.
J. W. TYLER, Chicago.
F. WEYMOUTH, Putnam County.
Seventeen bodies were recovered. The remains of the bodies with one exception did not aggregate each a sufficient quantity of charred fragments to fill a man's hat. The entire remains of ten were spread on a small table two feet square.

The Weekly Wisconsin Milwaukee 1885-01-28