New York City, NY Panic In Public School, Nov 1851
TERRIBLE ACCIDENT AT PUBLIC SCHOOL NO. 26.
FORTY-FOUR CHILDREN KILLED, TWENTY-ONE CHILDREN INJURED.
SEVERAL TEACHERS INJURED, AND TWO NOT EXPECTED TO LIVE.
Yesterday afternoon, another of those awful accidents that seem almost periodical, occurred in this City. The explosion of the boiler in Hague street first startled us and cast a gloom over many a household; then the falling of buildings in Twenty-first street was added to the record. By these two alone many valuable lives were lost -- but it appears there was yet to be added to the list of fatalities another that should, in its sad results, surpass all others.
About one year ago, the papers of our City gave a glowing account of the opening of Public Schools, No. 26, in the Ninth Ward. The building had just been erected and was thought to be perfect. On the first floor was a roomy, airy place for exercise; on the second floor was the Primary Department; on the third was the Boys' Department, and on the fourth floor was the Female Department. The building was large, and yet its capacity was scarcely sufficient to accommodate the immense number of children who sought admittance to the classes. Those capable of judging, while they bestowed unlimited praise upon the building, felt that one great error had been made in its erection. No suitable stairway had been provided, by which the children might rapidly and safely pass from the building in case of fire, or any other danger that should require their speedy exit. The only means of getting out was by a circular staircase, around a large well-hole, as we believe it is called, and nothing was arranged to prevent falling into this well-hole, but a light wooden railing. The insecurity of this, has, we understand, been repeatedly demonstrated to those whose duty it was to remedy the defect, and they have been time and again urged to make some different arrangements. The did, at last, partially obviate the difficulty, by constructing another stairway, is an addition to the building, for the egress of the female department -- but they left the primary and male departments still to use the dangerous one originally constructed. Their gross neglect, has now been fearfully demonstrated.
Yesterday, about 2 o'clock, the Principal in the Primary Department, MISS HARRISON, was attacked by a paralytic stroke. Her face was horribly contorted, and making ineffectual efforts to speak, she fell senseless to the floor. The children in the school became frightened and made a rush for the door, with the intention of running down the stairs. The children in the other departments hearing the rush below, supposed that there was some great danger, and of course joined the crowd among whom, by this time, the cry of fire had been raised. This cry renewed the fears of the children, and in their efforts to escape they rushed against the frail railing, which gave way before them, and the poor, helpless little ones were precipitated down upon the stone floor beneath. Into this awful chasm they poured like grain from a hopper, (as a policeman expressed it,) until they were piled up to the ceiling of the first floor, some falling from the second story and some from the first.
The alarm was immediately given outside, and hundreds rushed to the rescue of the poor little ones, who uttered fearful and heart-rending cries. In a short time came the mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers of those who attended the schools. It is useless for us to attempt to portray the scene that followed.
The following is a perfect list of the
MASTER STEVENS, 18 Downing st.
VIRGINIA MARIGAY, 19 Christopher st.
ALFRED PIKE, 16 Jones st.
BENJAMIN A. JACOCKS, 109 Eighth av.
JAMES A. EUREN, 152 Fourth st.
CHARLES E. MOORE, 21 Jones st.
SARAH BOGARDUS, 49 Bank st.
MARY E. BAXTER, 61 West Washington place.
JOHN McMANN, 68 Grove st.
JOHN T. KNAPP, 11 Sixth av.
LUCY CARLOW, 746 Washington st.
CORNELIA ANN CADMUS, 43 Charles st.
JACOB SPRINGSTEIN, 75 Haratio st.
ANN SLATE, 36 Factory st.
EMMA GILDERSLIEVE, 56 Clarkson st.
MATTHEW WOOD, 175 West Twentieth st.
EDWARD GLEENEY, 24 Jane st.
SARAH BOGART, 30 Charles st.
JOHN L. WORLEY, 30 Greenwich av.
DEBORAH ANN WORLEY, 30 Greenwich av.
CATHARINE DOWNEY, 117 West Seventeenth st.
JULIA DELANO, 669 Greenwich st.
ARCHIBALD VAN TASSELL, 668 Greenwich st.
MISS BROWN, 19th st., between 8th and 9th av.
ANN MARY HILL, 747 Washington st.
ANN VAN DUSEN, 150 Hammond st.
GEORGE WALDEN, 58 Hammond st.
JANE M. DEVOE, 147 West Seventeenth st.
PHEBE ANN BROWNELL, 21 Grove st.
AMANDA HOFF, 115 Barrow st.
ANNA E. THORP, residence unknown.
HENRY ABBOTT, 745 Washington st.
MORRIS WILDEN, 58 Hammond st.
SARAH LEROY, 15 Charles st.
CATHARINE REYNOLDS, 47 Charles st.
ELIZA O'NEIL, 123 Perry st.
MARGARET HARPER, 135 West Thirteenth st.
MARY PENCHARD, 240 West Seventeenth st.
HUGH THISTLE, 73 Barrow st.
HARRIET HOWE, corner of 29th st. and 6th av.
LOUISA COOPER, 123 Eighth av.
GEORGIANA QUACKENBOSH, 709 Greenwich st.
EMMA HATFIELD, cor. Leroy and Hudson sts.
HENRY DEMMAN, 5 Downing st.
As these were taken out from the mass, they were sent to the Ninth Ward Station House, and from there sent to the residences of their parents, as fast as they could be identified. It was impossible to ascertain the ages of the deceased, but they ranged from six to fifteen years. Among the dead is a daughter of J. SHERMAN BROWNELL, formerly Register of this City. A few of the first children that fell down were killed instantly by their fall, but the largest number lost their lives by suffocation. Those that were smothered had turned black before they were taken out. Many were wounded slightly, and ran home as soon as they were extricated, and, of course, no record was kept of them, but the following is a complete list of the children who were:
AUGUSTUS MILLER, 86 Sixth av.
DELIA ACKERMAN, 30 Charles st.
CHARLES DARRAGH, 71 West Twentieth st.
ELIZA FELTERS, 49 Horatio st.
JEREMIAH EDWARDS, 189 West 26th st.
GEORGE WELLS, 28 Jane st.
MISS BURLISON, 49 Horatio st.
CORNELIA F. ESTON, 212 West Sixteenth st.
ELIZA MILLER, cor. Husdon and Hammond sts.
CAROLINE SEBRING, 8 Grove st.
JANE BARR, 112 Eighth av.
MARY CHASE, 45 Hammond st.
W. SMITH, 132 Macdougal st.
CAROLINE WARING, Factory st.
MARTHA E. INGERSOLL, 27 Perry st.
RHODA FISHER, 3 Mulligan st.
PATRICK McGLONE, 99 Fourth st.
MORTIMER E. LATSON, 71 Hammond st.
MISS COOPER, corner of 16th st. and 8th av.
MISS JACOCKS, corner of 18th st. and 8th av.
PATRICK MALONE, 99 Fourth st.
When the rush commenced, the teachers attempted to stem the current, and to force back the frightened children. MR. McNALLY, the Principal in the Boys' Department, succeeded in closing the door of his room, and thereby keeping back the crowd. The female teachers were, however, less successful; struggling to keep the children from the fatal staircase, they were themselves carried along, and some were precipitated down upon the struggling mass beneath. They were:
MISS JULIA VAN VLEEK.
MISS M. LOUISA McFARLAND.
MISS ELLEN D. TRAPHAGEN.
MISS MARGARET SMITH.
They all received severe injuries, and it is feared MISS WHITNEY will not survive.
MISS HARRISON, whose sudden attack caused this fearful and fatal panic, is not expected to live.
At the time of the accident, there were 1,856 pupils in attendance, as follows:
In the Primary Department, 2d floor, .................... 763.
On the third floor, ................................................. 513.
In the Male Department, fourth story, .................. 580.
Total .................................................................... 1,856
Of the dead, 34 were from the Primary Department, (boys and girls,) 5 were from the Boys Department, and five from the Female Department.
While those attracted by the cries at the school house were engaged in extricating those who had fallen down, their attention was arrested by a small boy who, holding a younger brother by the hand, stood in an open window, urging him to jump to the pavement, and calling to some person "to catch brother TOMMY." "Jump, TOMMY," said he, "jump, and I'll jump too." A gentleman, looking up, hd just time to raise his hands and make an effort to catch the boy as he leaped from the window. Fortunately, he succeeded in catching him, and then his brother followed, whom he also caught. The example once set had ready followers, and these little fellows, to the number of twenty, were thus caught as they jumped. They probably would, unfrightened, have hesitated to jump one-quarter of the distance -- but, almost frightened to death, they thought not of the danger before, in their strong desire to escape the awful abyss behind them, into which so many of their classmates had been driven. But one of the nineteen or twenty thus liberated uttered a word as he was placed in safety. One, as he was caught, exclaimed, "Good boy," and started for home. When, at last, order was restored, and the children up stairs were liberated, there was upon every face that passed out from the building almost an unearthly look -- a wild, bewildered stare, as though they had passed from the very jaws of death.
As soon as the accident became generally known, the physicians in the neighborhood promptly repaired to the spot, and tendered their services. Among them we noticed A. M. McGUNN, E. A. C. PAGE, E. C. FRANKLIN, W. J. JOHNSON, L. J. HENRY, H. T. MESLER, J. O. POND, JAMES GRISWOLD, J. W. CARTER, D. M. REESE, J. M. CONGROVE, McCREADY, and GABERDEEN. There were several others present, with whome we were not acquainted.
The Police of the Ninth Ward, with Captain LOVETT, rendered efficient service, as did also MR. BUTMAN, Justices BLEAKELEY, MUCH and others. All that men could do, they accomplished.
At a later hour the Mayor, Recorder, Chief of Police, and others attached to the city government, were at the school-house.
The Trustees, Commissioners and Inspectors, held a meeting last evening at the School House, and received statements from the Teachers, which statements will be laid before the Coroner's Jury this morning. It was deemed proper that they should not be published until that time.
The New York Times New York 1851-11-21