Special thanks to Prof. Edward T. O’Donnell, author of Ship Ablaze, for information and photos in this article.
The glaring differences between the World Trade Center disaster and the Slocum include the fact that the Trade Center was a deliberate act of terrorism aimed at taking lives while the Slocum Steamboat disaster of 1904 was an accident – even if surrounded by severe negligence.
However, similarities between the two events beg us to look at the bigger picture of two tragedies. Within the borders of Lutheran All Faiths Cemetery in Middle Village stands a memorial remembering the victims of the General Slocum horror.
The June 15, 1904 steamboat fire that claimed the lives of over a thousand passengers who were enroute from the lower East Side of Manhattan to Locust Grove for an annual picnic which was to be filled with relaxation and laughter. Today, there are no cries filling the air by heartbroken crowds as church hymns are sung and the surrounding land of the cemetery is tranquil. But on the morning of June 18 1904, large crowds gathered to witness a seemingly endless procession of burials. As told in a June 19, 1904 New York Times story, “fourteen hearses were driven (by horse) yesterday afternoon through the East Side from the morgue to the Williamsburg Bridge on their way to Lutheran Cemetery at Middle Village, L.I. It was the funeral procession of the Slocum’s nameless dead.” It was the first but by no means the last long procession to Lutheran Cemetery. Other stories told of a crowd of thousands who made their way to the cemetery and that all around one could hear “lamentation, moaning and weeping.” And an account of four white hearses that contained the bodies of eleven children and that the grief was so overwhelming that the minister was overcome. All this took place in our neighborhood. Lutheran Cemetery and Middle Village were at the center of a nation’s sorrow.
The revisiting of the facts and the emotional toll surrounding the Slocum tragedy only enhances the appreciation of the enormity of the World Trade Center tragedy and brings together two separate eras to share and remember what was lost. Both tragedies occurred only a few miles from each other and both changed the face of a neighborhood and a nation forever. The Trade Center disaster changed the social and economic fabric of downtown Manhattan while the Slocum disaster quickly changed the mostly German area surrounding St. Mark’s Church. The Trade Center forced this country to make nationwide changes in safety and security measures within the air travel industry, while the Slocum forced this nation to address large scale changes in safety and security measures within the transportation industry of its time; namely steamboat travel. Both the World Trade Center and the Slocum tragedies saw a massive loss of innocent lives during a time of relative peace. Both involved extreme shock as victims were brutally taken from their loved ones while doing everyday activities. The two tragedies occurred in the morning on bright and sunny days and were relatively swift in the manner of which all lives were lost. In both cases, scores of everyday people rose to the challenge to become heroes, performing extraordinary life-saving efforts. Thousands of survivors of both tragedies gathered together trying to locate missing loved ones as recovery efforts continued over each site. The effects of the two tragedies were felt long after the catastrophic event as bodies from both were slowly and painstakingly recovered, opening up wounds that needed time to heal. The survivors of the 1904 Slocum disaster wanted to be involved in the building of a memorial as is the case with the World Trade Center survivors. The World Trade Center memorial is not yet constructed but the Slocum stands alone and may someday be a distant memory held by a few. We as a community in Queens that are part of a city, which is part of a nation so affected need to visit, reflect and remember. Slocum survivor, Adella Wotherspoon (Liebenow) unveiled the Slocum Monument in 1905 when she was 18-months old and continued to attend the annual memorial services held at Lutheran All Faiths Cemetery until her death in January 2004. Adella lost her aunt Martha, her cousins Emma Weber age 11 and Frank Jr. age 7 and her sisters Anna age 3 and Helen age 6 due to the Slocum fire. Helen’s body was never recovered.
The Slocum Monument can be seen at Lutheran All-Faiths Cemetery by entering the gate near the Post Office on Metropolitan Avenue and proceeding straight onto Lawn Avenue. At the fork in the road, bear left onto Slocum Avenue. The monument is on the left just past the intersection of Slocum Avenue and Sylvan Avenue.
Hundreds Killed in First Fifteen Minutes
There was no possibility of order anywhere. Women, children and men became panic stricken. The tragedy did not take more than half an hour in its enactment and the first fifteen minutes were death dealing. Seen from the shore the spectacle was one to be remembered for a life time.
A man who was standing on the float at the foot of East One Hundred and Thirty-eighth street, almost opposite North Brother Island, pictured it graphically to a reporter for the Brooklyn Eagle half an hour after the occurrence. He said that the General Slocum came up in a cloud of smoke and
fire, its whistles screaming and answering warnings from a number of tugs, launches and rowboats, which were hastening to the big steamboat’s aid.
Terrible Panic Among Women and Children
“I never saw such a sight in my life and hope I shall never witness such a thing again,” said this narrator to the reporter. “The stern seemed to be black with people, and men and women were frantically running along the deck. The fire had seemed to have taken entire possession of the lower part of the boat, and the spectators on the shore could see the stanchions burning away and breaking, one by one.
“The mass of humanity on the upper deck seemed to be in a constant action. Some were climbing over the railings in an effort to reach the water. As the Slocum reached the foot of East One Hundred and Thirty-eighth street, her bow appeared to swing over as if the pilot was pointing to North Brother Island. The boat could have beached and many more lives could have been saved if the pilot had run ashore somewhere on the Manhattan side.
Hundreds Drop Into the River and Scores are Drowned
“We could not tell, of course, what was happening on the vessel, but the shrieks of the dying and panic stricken reached us in an awful chorus. As the boat swung around, showing her starboard side to those on the Manhattan shore, I noticed that a line of hawser running from the stern to the paddle box was fringed with women, boys and girls. They were hanging there like clothes on a Monday wash, below the lower deck line of the steamer. They had climbed over in an effort to escape from the flames, and clouds of smoke were sweeping over their heads.
“One by one, it seemed to me, they dropped into the water. As the Slocum proceeded, a blazing mass, I lost sight of her around the bend, at the head of North Brother Island, but I am sure that scores of people were drowned between One Hundred and Thirty-fourth street and the point at which she was beached. You can see now floating on the surface of the water dozens of life preservers that were thrown to those who went overboard. I saw one woman make a flying leap from the upper deck. She was picked up by the crew of the tug Theo.”
Lost Wife and Three Children Entire Family of Albert Kraal, of Middle Village, Perished on the Slocum.
(Special to the Eagle) Middle Village, L.I., June 21st. One of the many heartrendering incidents in connection with the burning of the steamer Slocum was revealed here yesterday. Albert Kraal, an expert worker in pearl and ivory, whose home is in this village (Middle Village), returned yesterday from a trip to Newport, R.I., He had been gone a week or more, and while away had read of the Slocum tragedy, read of it as thousands did with horror, but thankful that it had not directly affected him. He came home to give a surprise to his family, for his trip had been a prosperous one and he had planned to take his wife and children there. He came home with a light heart and knocked gently on the door of his Middle Village cottage. The knock was unanswered and the house was dark and evidently untenanted. Kraal went to the house of a neighbor, and it need but a glance at the latter to reveal what had befallen him, and why his knock was unanswered. His wife and children – a son and two daughters – were among the unidentified victims of the Slocum. All day yesterday the stricken father searched for tidings of his dead, but his persistency was unrewarded. Their bodies may be in the grim trench in Lutheran Cemetery or are perhaps still in the water. Where they are he cannot tell. Kraal's grief is pitiful. He does not cry nor moan, but in a dazed way continues to repeat: “I only ask to find one body, only one. This is not much to ask of God.” The sympathy of his neighbors for the grief stricken husband and father is deep, but they are powerless to aid him.
Brooklyn Woman Saved, but Lost Her Relatives
Later information proved that this person who was rescued by the Theo was Miss Lucy Hincken of 169 South Second street, Eastern District. She was pulled out of the water by William MAJOR of the Theo, and was taken directly to the hospital at North Brother Island, suffering from immersion, and half crazy over the loss of her mother, Lucy, and her brother Charles, both of whom also lived in the Eastern District. Lucy regained sufficient composure later to tell her story to an Eagle reporter. It was as follows:
“I was in the boat with my mother and brother. We had been invited by some friends to go on the excursion. We were all together when the boat took fire. The first intimation we had of it was by the shouting of the people, the smoke that came from the front of the boat and the panic.
“My mother was not very well and I took her up on the very top deck, where I put her in a corner near the back of the boat, where I thought she would be safe. I had lost sight of my brother Charlie in the meanwhile, and I ran back to see if I could find him and to discover, if I could, a way to get off the boat.
Woman Tried to Save Three Little Children
“The captain seemed to be running her to the land then. When I got down to the deck below I saw three little babies lying on the floor. They had been trampled on by the people. I don’t know how I did it, but I gathered the little babies and carried them to where my mother was. Then I went back to find Charley. I caught sight of him once, but then I lost him again, and the crowd drove me up to where the fire was burning.
“I must have lost my head. I do not know what I did, but I think I started for my mother, but couldn’t find her. She was gone, and so were the three babies. Maybe I went to the wrong part of the boat, but I could not find them. It was awful. People were running all over and did not seem to know what to do.
“Charlie was gone, mother was gone, and there was nothing for me, so I thought I would jump overboard. I could not swim. I didn’t want to swim. All I wanted was to die. But I was taken off and put in a boat and carried here. I think Charlie and my mother are both dead.”
The Vessel Run Ashore on North Brother Island
The General Slocum was run aground on the upper end of North Brother Island and hundreds of people who had remained on the bow of the boat in spite of the fire, jumped overboard, and even some small children were able to wade ashore. Those who had remained in the stern of the boat were not so fortunate. Scores were drowned and many others died from burns or were unable to leave the wreck and perished in the burning vessel.
Many of the fatalities were due to the collapse of the upper work of the boat. When the stanchions gave way, the framework of the decks above slid down, and hundreds of people were plunged into the water, headlong some of them. A number of boats were in the near vicinity, including the Franklin Edson, one of the city’s vessels, the tug Theo, the Wade, the Elsa, the Wheeler and the Walter Tracy.
Two of the tugs of the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad Company hurried to the scene from docks nearby and scores of passengers were saved by the heroic efforts of the crews of these tugs. At least fifty persons were taken out of the water by the men on the Edson and they were hurried to North Brother Island.
For hours afterward, the water in the neighborhood of the wreck was filled with rowboats, launches and tugs, picking up bodies and rendering assistance to those who needed it. Every ambulance in Manhattan was called into service, and over a hundred physicians and as many nurses were sent over to the island, where the injured were taken for treatment. The medical and hospital staff on the institutions on North Brother Island were also on hand to help.
Pathetic Scenes on North Brother Island
The lawn around North Brother Island was filled with survivors who were unable to be taken elsewhere. They lay in rows in the open sunshine, with a breeze ministering cool refreshment to them, while doctors and nurses, with lint and oil and soothing appliances, with stimulants and surgical bandages, ministered to their many wants. It was a scene to be long remembered, as hundreds of survivors uninjured, seeking the missing passed from row to row identifying here and there, a mother, a brother, or a child.
Some of the scenes were pathetic in the extreme. Those who were not so badly hurt as to require hospital care had their injuries dressed and were passed in little groups of ten and twenty boats that took them back to the mainland. The elevated trains on Manhattan on the east side were crowded with bandaged survivors, their clothes soaked with water and most of them still in the same condition of panic that struck them when the boat caught fire.
Dead Bodies by the Dozen Everywhere
There were dead bodies by the dozens on North Brother Island, dead bodies by the dozens brought over on the boats, dead bodies in groups of three and four carried from the dock at the foot of One Hundred and Thirty-fifth and One Hundred and Thirty-eighth streets to the police station on Alexander avenue. The main sitting room in the rear of the station was converted into a morgue.
At noon sixteen of the remains of drowned women, clad in all the finery affected by the East Side for a day’s outing, were lying on the floor in two ghastly rows. In one corner of the sitting room lay the corpses of six little children. All had been drowned. There was an unending stream of sorrowing relatives seeking remains of their lost ones. One of them was Joseph Vollmer, a parent, who had lost his entire family.
Vollmer’s wife was lying there and when he saw her he screamed in agony and almost fainted. All of his children were gone, he said. One of them was Joseph Vollmer, Jr., who had earned only last week a hero’s fame by saving thirty persons in a burning apartment house on the East Side.
The boy had been in charge of an elevator and he ran the lift up and down the building at the risk of his own life until he had saved every person there. Today he, with his mother and brothers and sisters was on the excursion and he with the rest was among the missing. The only visible remnant of the family was the body of the mother of this little hero.
Bearing Away the Bodies of the Victims
While the frantic crowd was searching through the police station other bodies were arriving in what seemed to be an endless procession. Five patrol wagons had been pressed into service and each carried its own ghastly freight. Even doctor’s wagons were used to hurry the bodies to some place where identification would be possible, and more than one little corpse in a blanket was brought to the station.
Heroic Work of a Priest
Criticism of Captain and Pilot
There was much criticism over the action of the captain of the vessel, William Van Schaick, and the pilot, E.L. Van Wart, in failing to beach the boat on the Manhattan side.
Had he done so, it is believed that many of those who lost their lives would have been saved, for, as it was, the vessel was beached at a point where there was minimum chance for assistance and very little opportunity for escape of those who were in the stern of the boat.
The captain and pilot, both of whom were saved, were arrested early in the afternoon. It is understood that Captain Van Schaick said he would have beached the vessel earlier had it not been that he had been warned by some one of the attendant tugs that if he would have been in danger of a more serious calamity by running into either oil works or a lumber yard.
Some Families All Gone Husbands Almost Frenzied
Nobody Seems to Have Dreamed That There Was Danger in a Sunday School Excursion
Although the terrible event of yesterday did not devastate the homes of Brooklyn as it did those of the East Side of Manhattan, the loss of life in this borough will undoubtedly reach the number of more than a score. In Queens Borough nine more are dead. In this morning’s list of dead and missing there appeared thirty Brooklyn names. Only one or two of these have been found among the living and it is hoping against hope to believe that those who escaped with their lives will communicate with their bereaved families any later than today.
In at least two instances in Brooklyn entire families have been wiped out. Grief crazed fathers are today searching the tiers of dead in the morgues and hospitals of Manhattan, with the pitiful hope of finding wives and children, and according them Christian burial.
When an entire community is plunged in the depths of sorrow, individual griefs seem small and unimportant. But such griefs give an insight into the unutterable horror and pathos of it all. At such a time the only comfort that exists is the broadening sympathy of affliction shared. The story of the Oellrich family, who lived, father, mother and five children, at 519 Willoughby avenue, Brooklyn is but one of many, but facts which in other cases are obscure are here clear and appealing.
Fate of Oellrich's Family
William Oellrich is a grocer at Willoughby and Marcy avenues. His home is in the flat above the store. Yesterday morning, Oellrich’s family, consisted of himself, his wife Annie, and five children, Henry, 11 years old; Freddie, 8; Minnie, 7; Lizzie, 5; and the baby, Helen, only just past her second birthday.
Mrs. Oellrich had a sister, Mrs. Sachmann, who lived in Rivington street, Manhattan, who was a member of the St. Mark’s parish. Last week Mrs. Sachmann invited her sister‘s family to go on the Sunday school excursion. Oellrich intended to go with his family, but early in the week was drawn for jury duty. When this happened Mrs. Oellrich wanted to abandon the outing, but Oellrich urged her to take the children and go.
Yesterday morning Mrs. Oellrich rose early and dressed the children in their best. It was only a little after 8 o’clock when the mother and five children trooped into the grocery store to kiss the father goodby. At 9 o’clock Oellrich went to court to serve on the jury. He left the store in charge of his cousin, Henry Jaeger.
Jaeger was out in the afternoon, and while in the neighborhood of the Broadway ferries saw the Eagle extra telling all that was then known of the tragedy. He hastened back to the store and found that Oellrich had just returned from court.
“This is a fine day for the excursion,” said Oellrich, as his cousin entered the store. Jaeger saw at once that Oellrich had heard nothing of the tragedy. “Have they got home yet?” he asked very soberly. Oellrich saw from his cousin’s manner that something was wrong, and asked immediately what it was. “The Slocum met with an accident,” said Jaeger. Without a word Oellrich put on his coat and started for Manhattan. It was 1 o’clock last night when he returned to his flat. Jaeger when he met him hardly knew him.
“All Lost but Henry”
“They’re lost, every one but Henry,” he said, and went into the flat. After going up and down among the dead and dying for ten hours Oellrich had at last found his oldest son lying in a hospital suffering from burns about the head. The boy’s injuries were pronounced slight and the father was permitted to take him to the home of the Sachmanns in Rivington Street.
Long but vainly the father questioned the 12 year old boy for tidings of his mother his brothers and his sisters. Little Henry said that he was playing with some boys of his own age on the upper deck and had left his mother and the other children in the cabin down stairs. When the alarm of the fire reached him the boy had tried to get back to his mother but the stream of people rushing up the stairway had prevented him and he had been forced back upon the deck.
“Everybody That Can Swim, Jump; It’s Your Last Chance.”
Then, Henry said, the smoke poured up around him so thick he could not see. A man in a blue uniform rushed by him shouting: “Everybody that can swim, jump! It‘s your last chance!” With that, Henry said, the man himself jumped over the side, and, scarcely knowing what he did, the boy followed. He said he was picked up by a rowboat and taken ashore. From the time the alarm was given he did not see his mother, brother and sisters.
Oellrich stayed in his flat all night. He did not go to bed. At the first streak of dawn this morning he went back to Manhattan and renewed his search. Up to noon nothing had been heard from him.
Mrs. Margaret Sachmann of Rivington street, Manhattan, the sister of Mrs. Oellrich, who went on the excursion with her four children, was rescued, with two of the children, Annie and Charlie. The other two, Margaret and Herman, are still missing. Mrs. Sachmann said that she was with Mrs. Oellrich when the alarm was given, but was immediately separated from her.
Wife and Two Children Given Up for Dead.
William Boeger, a happy man, left his home at 910 Putnam avenue yesterday morning with his wife and two children to start them off the excursion. He returned alone last evening, heartbroken, with the news that the body of his girl Florence, 3 years old, had been recovered from the wreck. Then the distracted man went away to seek the bodies of his missing wife and little son Wilbur, 4 years old. All night long and up until a late hour to-day he looked in vain.
There were no more lovable or pretty children in the neighborhood than little Wilbur and Florence. They were general favorites. Florence, known as “Dollie,” because she resembled a big wax doll, had big black eyes and black curls, which reached to her shoulders. Wilbur had blue eyes, filled with expression, and true golden hair.
The family formerly lived in Manhattan, and it is there that Mrs. Boegerˆs mother, Mrs. Caroline Hanneman, lives. It was upon the invitation of Mrs. Hanneman that Mrs. Boeger and her two children went on the excursion. Mrs. Hanneman, frightfully burned and injured in other ways, is in the hospital on North Brother Island. She has yet to learn of the fate of her daughter and grandchildren.
Mr. Boeger is employed as a bookkeeper in Manhattan by a Monroe street firm. He accompanied his wife and children on his way to work as far as Grand street, where he kissed each one in turn and wished them a happy day. At noon, while at his desk, he learned of the catastrophe and immediately departed for the scene of the wreck. He arrived there soon after the body of his little girl had been taken from the water. Later he located his mother-in-law among the injured and from her learned some of the details of the horrible affair.
Mother-in-Law Told the Tragic Story.
Their little party had been on the lower deck. Wilbur wanted to go above and the grandmother, with the child ascended. Then came the flames. Somebody grabbed the boy. She tried to reach her loved ones below. When convinced that mother and child had made their escape Mrs. Hanneman leaped. She landed in three feet of water and was pulled out by rescuers. The body of little “Dollie” was found not far away. Mr. Boeger has yet to learn what fate befell his wife and little Wilbur.
Today kindhearted neighbors are caring for the Boeger home. There has been a steady stream of sympathetic people calling there, hopeful that the newspaper reports are untrue. No word of encouragement can be given to any of the number, for the anxious husband and father has not returned as he promised, if either of the missing were found. The body of Dollie still lies in a Sixth street undertaking establishment because her father has said that he does not wish to bring one home without the others.
The news of the fate of little Wilbur and Dollie has cast a gloom over the men in the Ralph Avenue police station. Wilbur introduced himself and sister there some months ago. He was playing in the street in front of his home when some older boys annoyed him by throwing stones. Suddenly Wilbur took hold of Dollie‘s hand and started toward Ralph avenue, said: “Come on, Dollie, we will go and see Captain Miles O’Reilly about this.”
And the two little ones trudged around to the station house hand in hand. Wilbur questioned every man in uniform to learn if he was Captain Miles O’Reilly, until finally the pair were ushered into the captain’s office. Then Wilbur said: “Captain Miles O’Reilly, there are some very bad boys around on our street, and I wish you would arrest them.”
Captain O’Reilly smiled, drew the children to his side and said they should not be further annoyed. That is one reason why there is many a heartache near the Boeger home today.
August Schneider, the musician (aboard the Slocum) who lives at 322 Stanhope street, and who lost his wife and two children was nearly out of his mind this morning and it was with difficulty that friends restrained him from doing harm to himself when he talked of the scene on board the vessel yesterday. Which the fire had made such headway that it was known serious danger might result Schneider took his five month old child in his arms and with his disengaged arm around his wife led her and the two elder children, Katie and Amelia, to a place in the forward part of the boat. In pressing forward the crowd crushed in so closely that his wife became separated from him and he made a grab for her, catching her sleeve, but the sweep of the crowd, that had now become a frenzied mob, separated them again and he was hurled against the rail of the boat. He turned back again in a vain effort to find his wife and children, but the fire made such headway that he could get but a few feet from the rail when the scorching flames compelled him to leap for safety into the raging waters with his child in his arms.
Mother Alive, Her Two Children Gone
A scene similar to that repeated at many other houses of mourning was enacted at the home of Charles Beck, 69 Marcy avenue, this forenoon, when his wife, Louisa, reached there in the company with several relatives. Mrs. Beck was formerly a member of St. Mark’s Church, and had been in the habit of attending the excursion every year. She in the company with her two children, Grace Edna, 4 1/2 years old, and May Louise, 6 1/2 years old, attended the ill-fated outing. She was almost too hysterical to tell a connected story, but says that in the panic she was torn away, in the wild rush, from her two children, and though she searched frantically for them, never caught sight of their faces again.
During her search she was thrown down and trampled under foot and finally found herself in the water. She does not know how she came to get into the water, but believes she was forced over the edge of the burning boat by the maddened mob. She was rescued and taken to the Lincoln Hospital. She was located there by her frantic husband and when able to leave this morning was assisted to her home by relatives. She managed to compose herself until she reached the house, when she broke down and became hysterical. Her shrieks were heart rendering and she called constantly for her two children. A number of relatives were gathered in the stricken home including Mrs. Beck’s aged mother and father and their weeping added to the pathetic scene.
The missing children are described as being very pretty with long golden curls and dressed nearly alike.
Wife and Daughter Missing
A scene with the same pathetic circumstances occurred in the home of August Lutjen at 101 Clymer Street. Here the elder Lutjen , with his son, August were confined to bed suffering from shocking burns about the body. His wife, Kate, whose dead body was recovered, had not yet reached th stricken home at noon, but was expected every moment. A daughter, Marguerite, is missing, together with Mrs. Ella Bolton, who lives in the same house and accompanied the family on the excursion.
The elder Bolton had charge of the lunch counter on the excursion when the cry of fire came and he dashed in search of the members of his family together with his son.
He was unable to locate her, and his son, who was looking for his sister Marguerite, caught sign of a girl wearing a blue waist, the same as that worn by his sister in the swirling mob, and managed to fight his way near enough to grasp the sleeve. He was then forced away, but retained his hold on the material, which was torn away from the waist. The sleeve was still in his grasp when picked up unconscious in the water. He had been burned by the fierce flames, as was his father, who was also hurled into the water by the rush of the panic stricken crowd. Neither father nor son saw anything of Mrs. Lutjen or the daughter after that. Relatives identified the body of Mrs. Lutjen in the morgue, but have been unable to find a trace of the missing girl.
Great Grief of a Mother Upon Finding Her Babe‘s Body
Mrs. Lena Rekanski, a hard working widow, living at 337 Fifth street, tried to drown herself in the East River shortly after 3:30 this morning, after discovering her idolized daughter, Wanda, aged 10 years, among the bodies of the dead on the pier. Mrs. Rekanski allowed her daughter to attend the one affair of its kind during the entire year. The excursion of her Sunday school was the one little thing Wanda dreamed about and told her mother most of during the months just passed. In company with a girl friend, Lena Goetz, aged 12, who lives in the same house with Wanda, the latter set out for the pier at the foot of Third street yesterday morning after kissing her mother goodbye.
It was with a heart sick with grief and eyes red from crying that Mrs. Rekanski was assisted out o the pier shortly after 3 o‘clock this morning. She had given up hope of again seeing her child alive and she looked searchingly into the faces of the dead children. She was about to come away, feeling that none of the long line belonged to her, when she saw a hand. It was the hand of her baby. With a shriek that resounded through the dock house, the woman turned and fell across the body, hugging and kissing the dead figure of the child.
Still screaming, the woman was led away and walked with great pain until she came to where the gang planks were laid on to the steam Fidelity. Then she started as though to go aboard the boat and no one cared to stop her. A hundred eyes followed her every move, however, when she was seen to stop midway up the gang plank the men stood spellbound.
But only for a moment. At the instant she swerved, and would have allowed herself to drop off the gangplank and into the river between the boat and the pier, three strong deck hands grabbed her and lifted her off her feet and carried her back onto the pier. Seeming to recall that her effort to kill herself had proved unavailing, the woman again started to scream, and became so hysterical she had to be taken into the offices of the Charity Department on the pier.
Brother Identifies Sister
Henry Hsrdincamp, who is about 24 years of age, identified his sister, Mary, aged 11, early in the morning. Mary was to have celebrated her birthday today. Henry came to the morgue looking for his father, John and brothers Frank and Harold who, with his sister Mary, were among the missing. Henry threw himself across his sister’s coffin, and it required the combined efforts of several men to tear Henry away from his sister’s coffin.
The sight that rendered many women spiritless was that of two women who died clasping their infant babies in their arms.