Williamsport, PA Baptist Church Collapse, Dec 1872
THE WILLIAMSPORT HOLOCAUST.
TERRIBLE SLAUGHTER IN A BAPTIST CHURCH.
THE ROOF AND FLOOR GIVE WAY.
THREE HUNDRED PERSONS BURIED, BRUISED AND BURNED.
FIFTEEN KILLED AND FIFTY WOUNDED.
A LIST OF THE UNFORTUNATE VICTIMS.
Williamsport, Pa., Dec. 26, 1872.
Last evening the Sabbath school attached to the Baptist church at Newberry, in the Seventh Ward of this city, assembled to participate in the ceremonies of Christmas night. Some three hundred men, women and children were present.
The ceremonies of the occasion had been inaugurated, and Mr. Kinsloe, of this city, proceeded to address the children, when a peculiar shake and quivering of timbers was felt that denoted a sudden downfall of the building. No sooner had the impression taken firm hold upon those present than the floor gave way, precipitating the whole assemblage into the cellar below.
The church was constructed with an upper auidence room, and it was in this that the congregation had assembled. The interior dimensions of the floor are twenty-six feet in width and forty feet in length. There was a centre girth, with joints thickly placed on each side, and through the centre from above were two bolts connecting with this main girth. Evidently the weight of those assembled sprung the truss bearers, and the supports slipping out of their places caused the terrible catastrophe. This is evident from the fact that the timbers were not broken. The gas pipe, two inches in diameter, which was beneath the centre girth, was bent double by the immense weight.
When the crash came there went up a heart-rending wail of mangled humanity. Children wildly shrieked for their parents and the groans of the wounded and dying filled the air. To add to the horror, the oil lamps of the edifice ignited and bade fair to destroy all in a general conflagration. Those outside worked with a will and used every possible effort to rescue the living. The church was now on fire, but providentially the flames could be reached and were speedily extinguished.
Before the floor gave way many of those within were able to reach the windows and leaped to the ground, a distance of fifteen feet. In the panic several were wounded by being run over.
At eleven o'clock P.M. the dead bodies were removed and were identified as follows:
MRS. DUNCAN CAMPBELL and two children.
A child of C. V. S. McGinnis.
MISS LADIE MOFFITT.
MISS MARY FISHER.
MISS LIZZIE BOSKIN.
MISS GRACE SEAMAN.
A boy named SHUMAN, a child of John Bubb and MRS. JOHN WILKINSON.
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