Johnstown, PA Opera House Panic, Dec 1889
A PANIC'S AWFUL RESULT.
Another Disaster in Ill-Fated Johnstown.
Many People Trampled to Death in a Theatre.
Johnstown, Penns., the city of disasters, has had another horror. It came in the night, and though its dead and injured victims do not number more than one hundred, all told, it came upon them with even less of warning or preparation than the awful deluge of May 31. Twelve persons at least were killed and thirty-five seriously injured as a result of a fire panic at the Johnstown Opera House, which was opened to the public only a week or two ago. Stetson's "Uncle Ton's Cabin" was the play, and there was a large audience present, considering the very limited means which Johnstown people now find at their command for any kind of amusement purposes. During the performance the cry of"œFire!" was raised. To a people among whom any sudden warning might mean so very such, to those who had passed through the flood and had not forgotten its horrors, this cry was contagious. It spread like wild fire, and was on every lip in an instant. Terrified and panic stricken the hundreds of people in the audience rushed, over seats and struggling bodies, toward the one means of exit. There was only a single, narrow stairway, and over one another, headlong, the frightened people tumbled regardless of the consequences.
By 1:45 o'clock A.M. Nine dead bodies had been recovered from the wreck of the stairs and auditorium, and dozens upon dozens of the injured had been assisted to doctors' offices and drug stores for relief and restoration. By 3 A.M. Ten dead bodies had been counted, and it seemed as if the number might yet be swelled, possibly doubled. The number of injured at that hour had reached thirty-five, and there had been only the most superficial and hasty of searches for either the rescued or the dead.
It was found necessary to turn a stream of water on the crowd from a fire engine to force it away from the doorway below, so the dead and wounded could be taken out.
When the jam was cleared the following persons were found dead upon the stairs:
MISS CLARA BURNS, MRS. NESTER, GEORGE HORNER, CHARLES FIANT, MRS. LISTER, JOHN MILLER, A. WEISS, JOHN WYMAN, RICHARD WORTHINGTON, ISAAC TOLAR, JOHN CARR and an Unknown Woman.
Among the seriously injured were CHARLES VAUGHN, ALBERT OWENS, and a man named WELMER. There were about thirty others injured.
The alarm was false, and there were many threats against the unknown man who started it.
The Cranbury Press New Jersey 1889-12-13
Researched and Transcribed by Stu Beitler. Thank you, Stu!