To the Memory of Those Who Perished by the Burning of the Newhall House, Jan. 10, 1883

© Photographed June 6, 2015
Milwaukee, Milwaukee County, Wisconsin
JAN. 10, 1883

The monument is located just south of the eastbound  West Forest Home Avenue entrance to Forest Home Cemetery, located at 2045 Forest Home Avenue, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53215.

The Newhall House was one of the principal houses in Milwaukee, being in fact the second house in importance in the city. It was situated at the corner of Broadway and Michigan street, with a frontage on both streets . . . The building was of brick with sandstone trimmings, and of six stories. The house had about 100 rooms, and was always full, being the oldest house in the city, and very popular.
The Boston Daily Globe, Thursday morning, January 11, 1883.

Interesting Note: 25-inch tall circus and sideshow superstar General Tom Thumb (Charles Sherwood Stratton) and his equally small wife, Lavinia Warren, were guests the night of the fire, but were among those rescued.

A Monument to be Erected Over
Twenty-Four Dead.
MILWAUKEE, March 1.--A suitable monument will be erected over the graves of twenty-four of the one hundred victims of the Newhall House holocaust whose bodies were unclaimed, and the contract for furnishing the monument, according to the design of Henry O. Avery, the New York architect, has been awarded to Brown, McAllister & Co., also of New York. It is expected that the monument will cost about $6,000, exclusive of the foundation, and be finished next July [1885]. It will be a stately column of Main granite, about twenty-four feet in height and octagonal in shape, and on it will be inscribed: "To the memory of Those Who Perished by the Burning of the Newhall House, January 1883." The names of the victims will be cut on the monument near the base.
The New Albany Ledger.
New Albany, Indiana, Saturday Evening, March 1, 1994.

Wisconsin--Destruction of the Newhall House, Milwaukee, by fire,
with great loss of life. Jan. 10th

Burning of the Newhall House
in Milwaukee.
A Terrible Awakening for the
Sleeping Guests.
Seventy Persons Said to Have
Found a Fiery Grave.
[Special Despatch to The Boston Globe.] 
MILWAUKEE, January 10. -- The Newhall House here was destroyed by fire early this morning, while the guests were asleep. The fire burned fiercely when it had got good headway, and was not extinguished until after 10 o'clock, when the work of searching for the bodies was begun. Scenes of the utmost terror prevailed. The inmates jumped by dozens from the upper stories to the stone sidewalks below. The shrieks of the unfortunates filled the air. The people below were unable to render any aid. Quite a number of the terrified guests and employees of the hotel appeared at the windows, and, seeing the distance to the ground, fell back to perish in the flames. The employees of the hotel numbered eighty-six, and mostly lodged in the sixth story. Their exit by way of the roof was cut off by fire . . . A very few were saved by jumping on canvas.
The Boston Daily Globe.
Thursday morning, January 11, 1883.

Milwaukee Visited by a Terrible
The Newhall House a Mass of
Smoking Ruins.
One Hundred Persons Either Burned
or Killed in Endeavoring
to Escape.
Destruction of the Newhall House, Milwau-
kee -- One Hundred Persons Perish in the
Flames or Fatally Injured -- Scenes Around
the Ruins and at the Morgue.
MILWAUKEE, Wis., Jan. 10 -- Twenty-four hours have nearly elapsed since the most terrible catastrophe befell. Milwaukee, and the immensity of the dreadful disaster seems to increase instead of wane with the floating time, and a dread seems to creep over everyone passing the place where only two days ago the palatial Newhall House stood with 200 inmates, who awoke yesterday morning from their slumbers to stand face to face with the grim reaper. The snow had been falling all night, silently weaving a shroud of many, how many, nobody can ask without a shudder on beholding what is left of one of the largest hosteiries in the Northwest.
The Indiana State Sentinel.
Indianapolis, Wednesday, January 17, 1883.

     . . . stretching the heavy canvas, which required fully thirty strong men to handle, successfully. A poor fellow stood on the cornice of the fifth story corner window for twenty long minutes, not daring the fearful leap. Finally he became bewildered, to judge, by his actions, or dumbfounded by smoke, and skid off his perch to the canvass below. The few who held it could not give it the necessary resistance.
     The body fell, unhindered by the canvas, with a crash which sent a shudder through every witness. The shattered body was carried into the American Express office. All the while hundreds of people had been looking on, nobody responding to the demands of the officers for aid. Everybody seemed to be spellbound. The terrible spectacle seemed to have paralyzed every bit of willpower. In the sixth story window, right over the unfortunate sat the figure of a man crouched upon the window sill, gazing like one absent-minded into the fiery abyss below, motionless, but from time to time sending up a heartrending shriek. Steadily the flames encroached upon him. He did not seem to mind it. The flames singed his hair, licked his night clothes; one despairing look he gave to the crowd below and them tumbled back into the sea of fire.
The Indiana State Sentinel.
Indianapolis, Wednesday, January 17, 1883.

A man and a woman appeared at the window of the third story. They were recognized as Allen Johnson and his wife. A canvas was stretched below the windows of their apartment, formerly occupied by Professor Haskins and lady, and a thousand voices called to each of them to jump. Mr. Johnson kisses his wife, then leaped into the air and shot downward into the canvas, but his weight was such that the canvas was pulled out of the hands of the few who held it, and he alighted on the ground with deathly force. His wife followed. Her body struck the veranda and fell into the ground lifeless. Mr. Allen died a shortly afterward . . . and his dead body was laid beside that of his wife until they were borne away.
The Indiana State Sentinel.
Indianapolis, Wednesday, January 17, 1883.

     . . . just when the fire was at its worst and every window in the huge building lined with shrieking humanity.
     The multitude, which by this time had swelled to thousands, stood in perfect awe, but few having self-possession and resolution enough to held a helping hand on the canvases stretched out to receive those of the despairing inmates of the burning pyre, who risked the leap down to the stone sidewalk, 100 feet below.
The Indiana State Sentinel.
Indianapolis, Wednesday, January 17, 1883.

Deeds of heroism were recorded worthy of unqualified praise. Ed Ryemer and Herman Strauss, of Truck 1, appeared on the roof of the bank building at a critical juncture, directly opposite the servants' quarters, ladder in hand. For a moment the unwieldy thing poised in mid-air, then descended with a crash through the window of the hotel. It formed a bridge across the alley, and before it became stady in position the men had crossed over into the hotel. Then, amid the cheers of the multitude below, dragged the helpless creatures across the slender bridge until a dozen were rescued, all of them in their night clothes. Many were badly frozen before taken to shelter. A woman, in a dead faint, unable to help herself, was dragged across in safety, but at one time the whole of her body was hanging clear over the ladder, while the brave men held her by one of her ankles. The crowd below held their breath in suspense, expecting every moment to see the ladder turn over or break beneath the terrible strain. The man, however, equal to the emergency, by herculean effort, pulled her upon the slender bridge and finally placed her out of danger, while the crowd, which had endured the most painful suspense for full ten minutes, burst forth in round after round after round of applause.
The Indiana State Sentinel.
Indianapolis, Wednesday, January 17, 1883.

The Number of the Dead Now Placed at Sixty-eight
MILWAUKEE, Jan. 11--A force of 125 workmen have been engaged all day at the ruins of the ill-fated Newhall House searching for bodies, but none were found up to 7 o'clock this evening. The remaining walls were pulled down because they endangered the workmen, but the north wall, which is a partition wall with the adjoining building, which might tumble at any moment.
Delving in the Ruins for the Dead
 MILWAUKEE, Jan. 15--One hundred and fifty men are at work searching for bodies to-day. The weather is somewhat milder and the work proceeds quicker. Still, the total result of the forenoon's search is only two bodies, so badly burned that recognition is impossible. Thus far twenty little heaps, pronounced by physicians to be human flesh and bones, have been taken from the ruins, and so far as can be learned thirty-nine are still missing.
The Indiana State Sentinel.
Indianapolis, Wednesday, January 17, 1883.

The memorial is located at Forest Mound Cemetery
in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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