The Dispatch from Moline, Illinois on January 7, 1950 · 1
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The Dispatch from Moline, Illinois · 1

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Moline, Illinois
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Saturday, January 7, 1950
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1
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MOLIN DAILY" DISPATCH WEATHER FAIR AND COLDER 72D YEAR NO. 157 MOLINE-EAST MOLINE, ILLINOIS, SATURDAY EVENING JANUARY, 7, 1950 SIXTEEN PAGES. PRICE FIVE CENTS THE FAMILY PAPER B"HV A JTRTTT" 32 . " SfeiViW sir?' --s25 4r-, -I . Vi - ?'Ui5 i$yt - ywi fSJ THE FIRE-EATEN RUINS of St. Elizabeth's hospital, Davenport, still smoldered this morning, mute testimony to the tragic blaze that claimed more than a score of lives of patients. The psychiatric division building located on Mercy hospital property is at the right. Main portions of the hospital are at left and in the background. The fire is termed the worst in quad-city history. THE FIRE STILL WAS smoldering and firemen were searching for bodies and getting ready to knoek down the vail at the right when the above Dispatch picture was taken shortly after daybreak. lilllir1) 'HUD ",n " in---Vtiiiiiiliiiiiihifiiili -.Ywrfiii ' i.iiiiiiitmiidtilHmiiwiiiirinAl-iiiflm THREE OF THE SHEET-WRAPPED BODIES of women who died this morning in a fire that destroyed St. Elizabeth's ward of Mercy hospital in Da venport early today are shown in the temporary morgue established in one of the employees' cafeteri a rooms of the main hospital. The bodies were placed In the temporary morgue awaiting removal to one of the city's six mortuaries where they were held for Identification by hospital officials or relatives. (Dispatch photo.) Seven Men Lost in Northwest; Mercury Down to 73 Below VANCOUVER, B.C. (UP A Royal Canadian air force party set cut today to look for seven men overdue in the northwest territory wastelands. The men had been salvaging the war-time Canol pipeline. Officials said they were last heard from December 10. The weather bureau said temperatures in the area where the men are missing have dropped to as low a 73 degrees below zero since they were last heard from. 0 .... tK D- Among Missing, Unidentified dead or missing in the Davenport hospital fire are: Betty Loeding, Monmouth, la. Mrs. Margaret Benson, Davenport, or Peoria, 111. Delia Biodgett, Davenport. Mrs. Ida Bongers, Ottumwa, la. Mrs. Ellen Cronan, Davenport. Agnes Carroll, Peoria, I1L Alma Dawson, Washington, la. Minnie Downing, Davenpor Mrs. Mary GoodHI, Rock Island. Elizabeth HentscheL Chicago. Bertha Harder, Davenport. Delia Jensen. Rock Island.' Lillian Keating. Davenport. Miss Lura Keogh, Chicago. Unidentified Ella Krai, Hills, la. Mary Lemmer, Cedar Falls, la. Lidwina Lahey, Clinton; la. Amy McGee, Davenport. Emma Reistroffer, Davenport. Louise Renwald, Minot, N. D. Mae Schesser, Davenport. Mrs. Mina Schneider, Davenport. Amanda Stillwell, Davenport. Anna Feeney, address unknown. Elsie Teufel, Victor. Nellie Walton, address unknown. Miss Rose Wishman. Washington, Ind. Mrs. Lydia Turner, Davenport. Army Sending 800 Men into Flooded Areas CHICAGO (UP) The army rushed 800 soldiers today to battle floods in Illinois, Indiana and Missouri, where 4,000 persons were driven from their homes. New floods arose in six other midwest and southern states-Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas. About 500 persons were affected in those states. Tributaries of the mighty Ohio river were rising swiftly and a few families in Columbus and Cincinnati, O., fled from their homes. A United Press survey showed that the last week's flood, blizzards, sleet, heavy rains and severe cold killed at least 49 persons across the nation. A new arctic cold front was expected to arrive in the Pacific northwest this weekend just as the last mass of cold air was expected to sweep east to New York City, dispelling a "heat wave" that broke records for high temperatures four days in a row. The mercury was expected to drop to freezing in New York tonight. Fruit Crop Endangered The new cold front made southern California fruit ranchers fear that all possible hope for saving their crops was lost. The ranchers were firing smudge pots in their orchards for the fourth straight day. Damage was believed heavy but the exact extent of the crop loss had not been determined. Policeman Gives Account of Rescues (Editor's Note: Patrolman Richard Pee of the Davenport police force was one of the heroes at today's hospital fire. Here Is his story.) By PATROLMAN RICHARD FEE Davenpert Police Force As told to United Press DAVENPORT (UP) I was one of the first to reach the hospital when we got the alarm. Flames were shooting out of the windows on the second and third floors and I could see more fire on the roof of the building. As the firemen put a ladder up, I grabbed an ax and climbed to the top of one of them. I chopped at the anchor bolts holding the bars across one of the windows. I thought those bars never would give way. . Finally the bars dropped to the ground and I smashed one pane with the helve of the ax. I saw a sight I guess I never will forget. Silhouetted against the flames were a group of patients. They weren't screaming and didn't seem excited much. They just looked bewildered. Sort of like animals who had something new happening to them and didn't know just what to do. Flames Around Them The flames were all around them by then. But thank God, they were docile and followed my orders willingly. I climbed in and took several by the hand and led them to the window. Firemen and other officers helped them down the ladder while I went as far as possible into the building to get more. Altogether, I guess I found about a half-dozen patients and got them out that window. I didn't have time to keep count. , Those flames were hot. I could feel them searing my uniform and my skin as I ducked among them. I was a little afraid the floors might give way but didn't have much chance to think about it. Elderly People Most of the patients I saw were older people. We managed to throw blankets around some of them, but for most the weather was so cold that they were going from one hell to another as they got out of the building. When they got outside, they just stood around and looked at each other sort of unbelieving as though they just couldnt understand that anything like this could happen to them. There was very little screaming in the part of the building where I was but I could hear terrible, terrible yells from other parts of the building. This was the worst thing I've ever seen in the time I've been with the force. I hope I never see anything like it again."" More Bodies ouskt in Ruins 4 Moline Youth Aids Man, 55, Escape Blaze (Editor's note: What It felt like to be trapped in the blazing Davenport hospital fire early this morning behind barred windows, was told by James Stab-lein, 19, of Moline to Bob Sward, a Dispatch reporter, after his return to his home in Moline after spending nearly l'a hours in the burning building. Stab-lein, who was released on bond December 8 on an original charge of contributing to the delinquicy of a minor, was voluntarily placed in the psychiatric ward of Mercy hospital for mental examination.) By JAMES STABLEIN I first awoke a little after 2 and thought I smelled smoke. I thought at first that maybe I had been smoking in bed and had gone to sleep so I felt around on the bedclothes and then got up and went to the door. As soon as I opened the door a wave of smoke came rolling in and I ran to the window to get fresh air. There was another fellow in the room with me, a man about 55, and after getting the window open I awoke him and told him there was a fire, but not to get excited. By that time I had my slippers on, so I tried to get back to the door and close it to keep the smoke out of the room. The heat and smoke were so .bad that I couldn't find the door so I made another run to the window to get a breath of fresh air. The other fellow had a window open by then and he was groping around trying to find a pair of shoes. Face Is Burned On the third try I finally got the door closed, but I guess I got my face burned a little from the heat that was rolling in from the hall. (Stablein suffered minor scorch burns on the forehead.) The only thing I could think of was to get the bars off the window so we could get out. I started kicking at the bars and did get one side loose, but the frame was still stuck. The heat was pretty bad so I grabbed blankets from the bed and Continued on Page Three) Ask Watchman About Attacks On Reuthers DETROIT, MICH. (UP) Police hammered questions today at a soft-spoken, middle - aged janitor today in an effort to break the Reuther brother shootings and the attempted bombing of the CIO United Auto Workers headquarters. Fifty - eight - year - old George Thomas confessed last night that he falsely reported himself kidnaped yesterday to cover up a suicide attempt. Detroit police and the FBI hinted that it was their' "biggest break" since the first outbreak of violence against the union and its leaders in April, 1948. Inspector Joseph V. Krug said Thomas, a bachelor, "most definitely would be questioned about attempts on the lives of UAW President Walter Reuther and his brother, Victor, and about the dynamite bomb found by Thomas at the union's headquarters building here December 20. But he said Thomas also would be given a sanity test. Thomas was found roaming near suburban Dearborn, Mich. He seemed dazed. A piece of sash cord was tied around his neck. At first he said two strange men forced him into their car, drove him around Detroit, then tied him up and dumped him into a roadside snowbank. Thirteen hours later a detective tricked him into tying another piece of rope around his neck. He tied the same odd double square knot that held the rope when police first found him. It was then that he broke down. Thomas said he tried to strangle himself with the rope, but lost his courage when he first felt it tighten around his neck. to 31 Early Morning Blaze Destroys Ward at Mercy Hospital; Worst Disaster in Quad-City History By ART SHINSKE A flash fire that swept through the psychiatric ward of Mercy hospital in Davenport early today killed 32 persons, including the night attendant in the building, and 5 others are still missing and presumed dead. The structure is known as St. Elizabeth's hospital. Of the 61 to 68 persons in the 81-year-old structure at the time the fire broke out shortly after 2 this morning, Sister Annunciata, superintendent of the hospital, said that from 24 to 31 were accounted for. Two of them were reported in serious condition from exposure to smoke, water and cold and were given emer-ency oxygen treatments. Fire Chief Lester Schick of Davenport fire department said he had asked State Fire Marshal Zack Cook to begin an investigation into the fire which took the biggest toll of life of any fire in the history of the quad-cities. By 2:30 this afternoon, when the toll of known dead had increased to 31, only nine of the fire victims' had been identified. Await Identification Scott county coroner, C. H. Wildman, said no effort was being made immediately to identify the dead and all of the bodies, athey were removed from the ruined structure, were" taken to the six funeral homes in Davenport to await identification either by relatives or hospital officials. No Panic Although hundreds of patients were in the main section of the hospital and at the nearby men's psychiatric ward, known as St. John si hospital, there was no panic. Nuns on night duty, nurses and nurse's aides hurried through the corridors to assure all of them there was plenty of time to get them out in event the fire spread. A wind which . blew in from the southwest carried smoke and flames away from the main buildings, relieving the fears that it might spread to the large section to the south of the burning structure. Firemen and policemen reported, too, that the survivors of the fire were not panic - stricken. Whether they were too shocked by the catastrophe to realize horrors that went on around them or the shouts of assurances that assistance was near at hand soothed them is problematical. Policemen First to Arrive One of the first policemen to arrive at the fire scene The- YOU LOO BftCW,N . ... i -CHE QUICHCR V0U Government forecast for Moline and vicinity: Fair tonight and Sunday with a cold wave due tonight. Protect for lero to 5 below. Highest tomorrow, about 15. L 1 9 Saved was Officer Richard Fee. With his squad officer, Larry Frauen, Fee raced to the hospital when he learned of the fire. Seeing the. faces of the patients pressed against the iron-barred windows, Fee seized an ax, mounted a ladder and smashed in several of the gratings over the windows and then assisted several of the women to the ground. "Now that I think about it, none of them seemed to be alarmed ; they weren't screaming for help but had sort of a numb look of appeal on their faces," he said. We helped as many of them to get out those windows as possible. I didn't stop to count them, but there seemed to be quite a few." Pee said that most of the fire appeared to be confined to the center sections of the second and third floors but that within a few minutes after his arrival it spread rapidly until the entire building, except the office portion at the south end, was ablaze. Mrs. Ellen Hildebrand, a nurses aide on duty on the fourth floor of the main building, and Murray Francis of Davenport, a night orderly, were among the first to discover and report the fire. Leads Patients to Safety Mr. Francis, nuns at the hospital said, ran the 60 feet from the main building to the psychiatric ward, smashed in the glass on the front door and aided in leading some cf (Continued on Page Three) List of Dead The list of the identified dead at noon today included: Mrs, Anna NeaL 52, Davenport, hospital attendant. Maggie Tubberty, 85, Davenport, patient. , - Minnie Madden, 80, Ottawa, patient. Mary Ryan, 85, Avon, 111., patient. Mary McNamara, Minonk, III, patient. Marie Rauenbuehler, 62, Burlington, patient. Marilyn Beals, Rock Island, patient. Alvina Kruse, 822 West Locust, Davenport, patient. Mrs. Rachael Dyer, 1031 West Fifth street, Davenport, patient.

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