The News-Palladium from Benton Harbor, Michigan on September 6, 1946 · Page 6
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The News-Palladium from Benton Harbor, Michigan · Page 6

Benton Harbor, Michigan
Issue Date:
Friday, September 6, 1946
Page 6
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PAGE SIX THE NEWS-PALLADIUM, BENTON HARBOR, MICH. FtlDAY, SEPTEMBER 6, This Was A Town Of Mourning Fifty Years Ago Today Sun Shone On Smoking Ruins Where 11 Died Ruins Of Yore Opera House Fire And Mourning Citizens Nobody Ever Knew Cause Of Yore Theater Fire Fifty years ago today a deep pall oi eloom and sorrow mantled the twin cities. In the undertaking parlors of Benton Harbor and St. Joseph lay the mangled bodies of 11 firemen. They had died, a few hours earlier, beneath the falling walls of the old Yore opera house, at Territorial and Sixth streeti, known today as the Yore block. A twelfth victim died four days later. Only A Few Alive Now Only a few who participated in that night of tragedy and horror are alive today, a mere handful. Fred Null, lifetime musician and trouper, is one of them. He was alone in the "pit" of the old play- K n ' n house that Saturday night, Sept. 5, 1896. "ragging" it a bit. and banging out "Maple Leaf Flap" and Sousa's famous "Stars and Stripes Forever." Dr. B. G. Watson, dean of the local medical fraternity, was there, too. in the early hours of that ill- 50 year ago this morning. Here 11 Dr. B. O. Johnson and Dr. J. C. Cole. Enders Young advertised they'd jgive a five per cent of their sales j to the widows and orphans of th« Yore victims--and "Jake" Simon, five days after the big fire, was i promoting a stock company for a jnew playhouse for Benton Harbor. Above, the smoking ruins of the Yore opera house lire as they looked twin ritv firemen lost their lives, while a 12th victim ilii-il a fen- (lays later. Fnwcrtt, Ann Watson and debris crashed down, followed by Mrs. Simon. a major portion of the entire wail. A Rood house saw and applauded "This horrible sight was wit- the show and when "Jake" f i l i a l l y nes.^ed by at leas: a hundred hor- locked up and went out to paMe ror-strickeli spectators, who si up -some bills fur Monday's opening helplessly looking ut the (iistrcs.^ card he was pretty well satisfied. catatrophe and many of them Fred Gets His S3.00 rushed in regardless of further Pianist Null had collected Ills danger and of fire and smoke u St. Joseph meanwhile had claimed it.s dead and buried them with honors. The firemen's monument in St. Two days later. Sept. 8. 1896. a mass funeral service was held for the seven Benton Harbor dead at the old Central school -grounds. Here a mourning citizenry, lined up on East Main, waited to march en masse to the funeral. .d Joseph, erected a few years later day lhat was operating w h e njMain; you could get school sup- ia on the lake front park, opposite Yore . s went up in Jire that m _ plies at Belrs and Dr j j FarDyi fated morning just a half century where they first carried some of jthe dead and injured, had a drug fated Sunday morning, helping to 5300 for his nights's musical per- help the shrieking and struggling dress the injured along with Drs. John Bell--then mayor--Dr. H. V. formance in the pit and gone, over for a nnciniklii snack at Morrow So reported The Daily Palladium Tutton Dr J C Bostick and oth- * Stones restaurant, in the base- in an extra edition published early ment below the grocery, t h a t Sunday morning. The visiting firemen, with some Daylight Anil The Dead ers. Floyd the Whitcomb. has ever since commemorated the heroic sacrifice of the St. Joseph victims. Thaver's basket factorv office!store and office at 110 Water; the Todav-50 years later-, monu- J*^,TM^ ,£ ^LupM j G M line was operating the ment t u Benton Harbors se\en .,., c * oam ore r"itw nf fh^orm iv/rii - i i inct iTM,, ,,i nn ort in ti,n n e sam e quarters in a new build-!steamers City of Chicago. Mil- dead has just been placed in the H and Louisville; C. T War- firemens lot at Crystal Springs '" 8 - : ,,,,,,, ^rrptarv nf th» nniiriimr cemptprv ; Manv an Old Timer today watch-i n e r / a s secretarj of the Building iemeipi\. . - ' Loan--lies now dean of the Bostick were among the B. H. physicians. The leading "horse doctors" were Woodruff, retired local fireman was a member of the de- of the local boys, had adjourned Daylight of t h a t black September partment the night of this disaster, to a nearby grog shop for one last ,bbath mon i revealed the Yore Empty Verdict At Inquest and , , although he didn't happen to be on good night and goodbye. duty ; Then, as Fred Null te] Never To Be Forgotten Old Timers then, as now, never forgot the Yore opera house fire. To this day the few who can still remember that harrowing Saturday it today, there was a frantic ringing of the fire bell. Racing upstairs to the street. Null saw the fire wagon driven by ..,,,,,.., .......... ... ,,,,,..,,. ,,,,..!,. mnvninir | city's realtors--; Lowe Rouse were As in all tragedies of those days. ea " 5 nioiniiijs. l i n business as druggists and James jury was impanelled Fred Cochran, retired Coloma H p oun( j was advertising a weekly publisher, saw "The Factory block a heap of ashes and glowing by Coroner Samuel Brown. brick, with the silent (iead stretch- The jury comprised Daniel j Girl" performance with Scott Rice, ed out at Young's and Jap Rowe's Moore, Lovi Stark, O. S. Chapman,'one of the victims, undertaking parlors. Carried down in the ruins were Lytle. the stores on the main floor The jury heard a number of i setting type for the Banner- "slaughter" sale in jackets and velvet capes; H. A. Foeltzer, later to - - - -- -- - . - . be mayor, was the town's niftiest Cieo. S. Bossett and George W. i Young Rice was a clerk at the custom tailor ; Sarn Bailey was sell- Hotel Benton and Cochran was Chief Charles Johnson, racing of ihe o-story block, including The witnesses. says the Evening News, then a morning They even heard Billy Connelly I Reed. ' Register, then published by Editor the town drunkard, who slept un- Joseph Hansen. veteran tailor der the stage of the Yore's, and j who still works at Rohring's, was Guy Prescott. a bill poster, who! a spectator at the fire and an in- was reported to have said he knew \ quest victim later. how the fire started but repudiat-j Hi Annis,'still living and dean eel this report at the inquest. of the local barbers, but retired. night in Benton Harbor history re- , down West Mam. He call the excitement and the stun- horses, hard to drive and the ]mper but recently purchased by ning blow to the community. . regular driver, Vern Willard, not t n e lal( , j N K lock, who got out And they always linked ihatTMmd, were running away and ., .. {ire extra - i n st. Joseph, holocaust 'to another memorable' weren't stopped until they got to Thcsc Wore The victims ill-fated event in local marine his- Colby Hinkley's mill. Then they: T i le se were the 11 firemen who tory--the loss of the Chicora the came tearing back, around the corp!M .j s hpri t h a t night in the Yore year before, in January of 1895. »cr to the Yore block. tragedy: Tragedy Mocks Tournament ' Flames Break Through Roof Ilenton Harbor--John Huffman, Oddly enough, the *Yore fire was Flumes were breaking through Thomas Kidd. Frank Woodley. a tragic mockery of » fireman's the roof, says Mr. Null. Scolt Rice, Will Mitten, Louis Hoff- totirnament that was held that Johnson's men began laying lines. man. Saturday afternoon. of hose from three sides and in the St. Joseph--Fil. H. Gan^e. Silas Members of 12 fire companies had alley at the rear. K. Watson. A r t h u r c. Hill, Frank come to Benton Harbor for a holi- Meanwhile the St. Joe fire de- Seaver. Hubert I,. Uolfe. day and show. .partment had been summoned and The twelfth victim, a volunteer, They had a big time all after- they came racing across the marsh died four days later. He was Wil- noon. putting on contests and with its hosecart and pumper. Ham E. McCormick. sports and throwing water in the Ladders Up--Wall Crashes Ten of these 12 dead were caught block between East Main and Sixth Up -.vent the ladders against that in the falling wall. Two of the and showing off generally to the rear wall. dead--Kidd (a nephew of A. J. applause of admiring townsmen On them, hauling hose, were 15 Kidd. one of the founders of Kidd. and a thousand kids. or more smoke eaters from the two Dater Price wholesale grocery.! That night Manager J. A. Simon departments. and Thomas Woodley were electro"Jake" of Rip Van Winkle fame-- A roaring inferno above them ctited when they .turned a stream what sort of electrical setups that] Cigar" with a statement that it One witness, a stage hand, ad- i was one of those who turned in the milted having knocked out the: alarm of fire just a few minutes ashes of his pipe onto the stage : after midnight on that memorable but he swore he stomped out the. night, sparks. As Time Marches On Anyway the coroner's jury after The tides of time have swept about a week returned a verdict I away most of the vestiges of the t h n t ten of the dead had died in!local scene of that fateful fire of the fire from falling alley wall and 1896. two were electrocuted. What started that conflagration ladium's Fire Extra reveals that of death the jury said it couldn't I truth, determine. Gone are virtually A glance through the Old Pal- ing life insurance and C. J. Scherer's --The White House, remember?-were boasting of their new stock of fall and winter goods. Tom Whitney was chief of police and A. P. Cady was justice of the peace. Mrs. F. B. Gary was teaching piano and at Morrow Stone's you could buy 21 pounds of sugar for a dollar. The First National hank--later to fail--was doing business and the Benton Fuel Co. (Fred A. Hobbs) would fill your coal bin at a single phone call. Lina George was stenographer, while Nate Gifford advertised he'd send "a good clean hack" to any part of the city on order. Lawyers practicing then includ- , ed Alonzo Plummer, F. H. Ells- all of the j worth| victor M. Gore, and G. M. Fire Chief Ray Hall hazards a leading characters and stores and j valentine. The Sunriyside sani- guess today: j firms doing business 50 years ago.j t a r m m ( j ust i ou g ht by the yFW "Probably defective wiring," he j Hopkins' drug store was advertis-1 j or a j,ome1 was operated by Dr. says, "because you can imagine i ing the "Famous 5 cent Master Mar tj la A Stevens staged "The Factory Girl" at Yore's. ·· sounded ominous and billows of of water a comedy which Katie Putnam's and Harry Emery's company presented. In the cast were some well known people--all gone now--of the stage--Mr. Simon, Mr. Emery. Leonard Mitchell. Ed. Kimball. Barton Williams, David Seymour, smoke hid them view. the fire from the partially from Herr Bros, grocery block, across the alley from the Yore block. The . Then suddenly, with no warn- water probably hit live wires in the ing. a brick cornice of the upper, playhouse, alley wall began toppling. In the street a crowd of openmouthed spectators stood horrified. Slowly the tons of brick and The Bells, George and John, F. H U M P H R E Y I O G A R T W E A R S A R E S I S T O L " L A N C E R ' 10 Others $6.50 tn $12.50 S I A f Of E« »»OS. PICTUtE "THt BIG Stiff W« can't ilop men from talking-- but why should we--when cuj- tomtri tell ui and everybody else how comfortable and easy-fitting our Resistol "Self-Conforming" Hals feel. It's a lip-off to you--for fop styling and perfect comfort-gel under one of our new Resislols. 135 I'ipestone SI. Ifenlon II;irlor Mass Funeral Is Held The following Tuesday afternoon a mass funeral for five of the victims was held in the yard of the C e n t r a l school, still standing on Pipestone street. The schoolyard was packed, all business closed; business houses were draped in mourning. had had 50 years ago. And then, | was "agent for Old Oscar Pepper | A Vo t.e.y F. M Kerry and J C of course, somebody may have toss- ; Whiskey and Sweet Valley Port': ed a lighted cigar butt into a | Wine." theater wing. They didn't smoke G. J. Wenninger was selling cigarettes much in those days, you;meats--the F. M. bank had a know." i capital of S50.000 and surplus of Block Finally Rebuilt j S46.000; Dr. Tutton then was a The block, then owned by Patrick; "specialist in the treatment of eye I Yore, was finally rebuilt and today and ear;" Dr. W. C. Saster's spe-| it houses business stores on the! cialty was "pile and rectal dis-' first floor and above are residental eases;" John T. Owens was run- flats, i ning a grocery store; Dr. S. M. Prick's shoe store--lost in the White was the leading dentist; H.! fire--is still the only business to- p. Boehm's feed store was on West j Protection is no further away than your telephone! Phone now. HUMPHREY INSURANCE AGENCY 171 E. Main Ph. 893* Exhibits, Entertainment Horse Show BIG THREE-DAY Berrien Youth Fair Sept. 12, 13, 14 Indian Fields, Berrien Springs There Will Be $500 In Prizes. Fun for Young and Old. NEWLAND'S Includes tne comfortable, transformed, snfi bed Cocktail table, occasional chair, end table, and t*ble NEWLAND'S Stores At South Haven -- Hartford -- Dowaglac -- IVntnn Harbor 151 E. MAIN BENTON HARBOR os seen in Harper's Bazaar Lavish gold uailheaJ strips bring blazoned glory io this Fred A. Block suit elegantly done in soft-spoken wool. A Fred A. Block ribbon-wreathed tall story Iwt completes ilia ensemble.

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