Transcribed by Mrs. Suzanne (Deal) Sellers, of Dallas, TX, on 2 May 2001 from Xerox copy of newspaper in possession of Mrs. Roberta Annette (Wilson) Ralston of Avard, OK.
THE WICHITA BEACON Vol. LXVI. No. 55, Price 2 cents, Wichita, Kansas, Friday Evening, December 22, 1916, Page 39.
[This page is 7 columns wide. The headlines and articles about the fire take up the left three columns, from top to the bottom of page. The next three columns to the right and about one half a page long contain four photographs of the burned building.]
[Headlines, Columns 1 and 2] FIVE PERSONS LOSE LIVES; PROPERTY LOSS IS $200,000.
All of the Bodies Taken From the Ruins Are Burned Beyond Hope of Identification.
ONE OF THE ADULT RESIDENTS STILL MISSING.
Forty-five Children Who Lived There Were Rescued and Taken to Places of Safety.
THE FLAMES BROKE OUT ABOUT 2:16 O'CLOCK.
Frozen Water Plug Handicapped the Firemen in Their Effort to Cope With the Fire.
Property Was Owned by the Masons of Kansas--Main- tained as a Home for the Aged Members of the Lodge and Orphans of Masons. It Will Be Rebuilt.
THE MISSING. Jesse T. Brown, age 80, of Wichita Mrs. Jesse T. Brown, age 60, of Wichita Frank Ferris, age 80, of Atchison, Kas. Mrs. Frank Ferris, age 78, of Atchison, Kas. Gertrude Weigle, age 20, Burden, Kas.
BODIES RECOVERED. Four adult bodies have been recovered from the debris and 18 inches of water in the basement. They are burned beyond identification.
[Column 3] MASONIC HOME ROSTER; PERSONS WHO ESCAPED.
ACCOUNTED FOR. Armour, Jack K. Logan, Nancy B. Armour, Malcolm. Mailey [or Malley?], Irving. Armour, Thomas J. Millet, D. Q. Armour, James O. Moore, Thomas H. Armour, Rachel M. Matney, Thomas. Barnett, Mrs. Ella. Matney, Daisy R. Barnett, Mrs. Nancy. Matney, Gene vieve A. [surely, Genevieve A.] Barrows, Mrs. Julia A. Matney, Hyacinth. Blakemore, Mrs. Nancy. Morse, James O. Bradshaw, Mrs. Anna. Morse, John T. Burns, Mrs. Nancy J. Morse, Dorothy N. Beck, Joseph G. Morse, Ramona L. Best, Manzo. Mowery, Frank. Brant, Charles T. Mowery, Elwood. Brown, William K. Mowery, Norwood. Bumstead, John E. Mowery, Osa C. Curtis, Hugh D. Morton, Naomi R. Casselman, George. Morton, Merle A. Clark, William L. Morton, Vesta C. Deneke, Emma. Newman, Maggie B. Dodge, George E. Newell, Laura V. Deck, Benjamin F. Neese, Jerry. Dundon, William. Ragland, Z. V. Dunscomb, E. J. Reeder, David. Dweiley, M. S. Schmucker, Edgar. English, Gladys R. Schmucker, Lewis C. English, Frank. Schmucker, Martha. English, Kenneth. Smith, Dean. English, Henry. Smith, Francis B. Elliott, James E. Smith, Lawrence J. Fluhrer, Regina. Strahl, Clark W. Fulton, Carl. Smith, Gale A. Fulton, Floyd. Sadler, O. E. Gager, Orcelia. Seal, J. H. Garvey, Rex. Swafford, William. Garvey, Claude. Seward, Henrietta A. Haskell, Olive M. Townsend, Anna. Hendrix, Fannie M. Tilton, B. F. Henshail, Catherine. Warner, Celia E. Hooser[Houser?], H. G. Ward, U. I. Ion, Adeline G. Watkins, Frank M. Ion, Ida. Whitesides, John A. Ion, Lillian. Wright, A. C. Ion, Morwydd.[sic] Yates, Melissa. Ion, Joseph. Yates, David A. Jones, Mrs. Nettie. Zielkie [sic], Paul. Kreger, Elsie V. Burdick, Daniel P., Superintendent. Kreger, Johnnie E. Burdick, Annie., Matron. EMPLOYES [sic] ACCOUNTED FOR. Stewart, Ettele. Zaring, Emma. Fry, Marie. Davis, E. J. Howard, Julia. Reinert, L. B. Davis, Emma. THE MISSING. Jesse T. Brown, Wichita. Mrs. Elizabeth Brown, Wichita. Frank Ferris, Atchison. Mrs. Amanda Ferris, Atchison. Gertrude Weigel, [sic] diningroom [sic] girl, Burden, Kas.
[Text from Columns one and two] "The Kansas Masonic Home, in West Wichita, was destroyed by fire early today with a loss of $200,000. Five of the 108 adult residents of the home are believed to have lost their lives. All of the 45 children who resided there were rescued. Four bodies of adults, burned beyond all hope of identification, have been taken from the ruins. It is impossible even to determine the sex of the bodies. They have been taken to the I. W. Gill morgue. The fire started at 2:16 o'clock this morning in the boiler room. [left hand edge of page is deteriorated part way down] ....ter plugs greatly handicapped the fire department. The ...heroic rescue work among both the children and adult ...the home. THOSE THOUGHT TO BE DEAD ...ive persons who are believed to have died in the fire are ...rown, age 80 years, a member of Masonic Lodge No. 99 of ...nd his wife, age 60 years; Frank Ferris, age 80, of Atchi- ...and his wife, age 78 years; and Miss Gertrude Weigle, age ...who was employed in the dining room at the home. ...odies were found in the basement buried in debris which ...d by water 18 inches deep. They were burned so badly ...ismembered and some of the firemen who recovered them ...t instead of there being four bodies there may be only ....
...ce carried on the building and contents amounts to $90,000. ...Y WANTED TO SLEEP ...ness of Paul Zeilke, [sic] a 16- ..., who was on watch in the ...until midnight, probably ...ible for the failure to dis- ...e in time to save the build- ...lives of the inmates. Young Zeilke [sic] went to sleep during a watch. He was wakened up by a crackling of flames about 2 o'clock. The boiler room was a seething fur- nace of flame fed by crude oil. Zeilke [sic] was scorched in making his escape. Excited by the flames, Zeilke [sic] ran to the instrument board in the boiler room to turn off the motors that drove the oil pumps. Instead he switched off the lights from the entire build- ing. This left al [sic] parts of the home in darkness and tremendously handi- capped the firemen in the rescue.
Water on the Flames. Meanwhile the pumps continued to pour crude oil on the flames until the motors were consumed. .... 'The interior of the home was tin- der,' said Fire Chief A. G. Walden. .... Col. Tom Fitch was uncertain where the fire started. He was inclined to believe that it originated in the laun- dry and not in the boiler room. ....
18 inches of Water. It was nearly 10 o'clock when the debris heaped in the basement in eigh- teen inches of water was cool enough for firemen to dig for bodies. .... Su- perintendent Burdick was called.
Two Bodies Were Taken Out. [continued in lower part of Column two] .... At 11 o'clock ... rescue work was stopped. .... As soon as the fire was under control and all the Home inmates rescued had been taken to places of safety, the task of checking up began. This was tedi- ous work as men, women and children were bundled up and taken to any homes that were opened to them as rapidly as they were taken from the burning building.
They Began to Report. .... By noon all but five of the 108 persons living at the home had been accounted for. The missing at that hour were: Mr. and Mrs. Jesse T. Brown, members of Wich- ita Lodge No. 99; Mr. and Mrs. Frank Ferris, members of an Atchison lodge, and Miss Ger- trude Weigle, 20 years old, a din- ing room girl. .... In all there were 108 residents and employes [sic] living at the home. Of these thirty-one were men, twenty-one wo- men, twenty-seven boys and nineteen girls. The ten employes [sic] brought the total to 108. Four of the oldest men in the home were taken to the residence of W. J. Gilbreath, 522 South Elizabeth Avenue. These were: W. M. Swofford, [sic] 92 years old; E. S. [sic] Dunscomb, 83; U. I. Ward, 78, and W. K. Brown, 61. Mr. Swofford [sic] is the oldest inmate of the home. He has been there sixteen years. His con- dition was reported serious and under the doctor's orders he and Mr. Duns- comb were removed to the hospital.
In the Hospital List. The hospital list early this morning included the following: Louis [sic] Schmucker, Irving Malley, Jimmie [sic] Armour [James Ogden Armour], John [sic] Kreger, G. C. Castleman,[sic] William Dundon, J. S.[sic] Whiteside,[sic] Mrs. Ella Barnett, Miss Ettell [sic] Stewart and Mrs. Regina Fluh- rer. Miss Stewart, one of the ma- trons was overcome by smoke. John [sic] Kreger, a boy, had badly frosted feet.
Doctor Calls on the Ill. Dr. J. W. Cave visited all of those reported ill from exposure or suffoca- tion. Several who had been taken to private homes were ordered to the hospital. .... The Masonic Home chapel, ... became admin- istration headquarters this morning. Here Henry Wallenstein, Superintend- ent Burdick, Frank Harris, John House, Gifford Booth, Harry Jones, C. K. Bothwell, Colonel Tom Fitch, Ran- [continued in lower part of Column three] som Brown and many other Masons labored to check up [on] the living. Under direction of Mrs. A. J. Applegate a house-to-house canvass was made to locate the missing members of the Home family. Tonight the chapel will become a dormitory for men, cots were secured and bedding provided. .... Hundreds of offers of aid were re- ceived during the morning. Mr. and Mrs. C. K. Bothwell found temporary homes for thirty-six of the unfortun- ates. M. W. Woods of Sedgwick House offered to take twelve. Individual Masons agreed to care for one or/more until the home can be rebuilt. .... __________________
SHE LOST HER LIFE FOR WEDDING DRESS
Gertrude Weigle, 20 Years Old, After Aiding in Making Rescues, Died While Recovering a Gown. .... Miss Weigle was employed in the children's department of the home and was to be married in the spring. She had been working for some time on a wedding gown and had taken great pride in showing it to friends and the children under her care. According to [the] children, Miss Weigle was one of the first persons to leave the burning building. She gave a great deal of her time to caring for the thinly-clad children as they were taken from the building, thinking that the fire would soon be extinguished. When one of the firemen told her that there was probably no hopes for the dormitory, at least, she rushed by him, telling the children she had been caring for that she would be back just as soon as she had recovered her dress. They waited in the chapel till fire- men took them away, but Miss Weigle did not return. The children fear that she perished while attempting to res- cue her wedding gown. ___________________
A CHILD'S APPEAL SAVED HIS BROTHER
Heroic Firemen Answered the Boy's Call and Rescued a Boy from a Closet. 'My brother's in there: oh, Mister, can't you get him, too?" This piteous appeal from a cold- stricken, 8 year-old boy in the arms of Fireman Harlo McCall, ... drove firemen back into the third floor death trap when they had believed all of the children saved. .... Going on hands and knees, Firemen McCall, Ray Morris, William Offen- stein, Thomas Sladek, A. M. Williams and Bert Furnas fought their way thru sixty feet of hades. ...Morris... found a partly open closet door. This meant unexplored space and children might be in that black hole. ....
Huddled in a Corner. Fumbling blindly among heaps of clothes, the firemen found three (Continued on Page Nine) [ I do not have page Nine--SDS]
[Columns four, five and six.]
Ruins of the Masonic Home in West Wichita [four photos of the Home] TOP PICTURE shows the front of the Kansas Masonic Home after it was destroyed by fire early today. Ice formed from the water thrown by the firemen. SECOND PICTURE from the top is the view from the West end of the building showing the complete destruction. THIRD PICTURE is a view from the South side of the building showing only the wall is standing. BOTTOM PICTURE is a general view showing the North and East fronts of the ruined building."
[Genealogical notes: The Armour children listed in the roster are the younger children of Samuel "R" Armour and Margaret (Kincaid) Armour, who were both deceased by 1915. They are buried in the Hillside Cemetery at Sedgwick, Harvey Co., KS. Samuel "R" Armour was at one time the postmaster at Clearwater, Sedgwick Co., KS and at his death in 1915, he was the mayor of Sedgwick, Harvey Co., KS. (from information and obituary given by Robert Stuart Armour, grandson of Samuel "R" Armour)]
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