St Clair Cemetery, Mt Lebanon, Allegheny Co, PA

Search for cemetery records in Saint Clair Cemetery, PA at by entering a surname and clicking search:

Restrict search to


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: 1931 Holocaust in Pittsburgh

History teaches us many lessons as we seek to learn of the past.  Some lessons are terrifying while other lessons demonstrate the heroic deeds of mankind.  We all remember the details of the Holocaust that so many suffered under the dictator hands of Hitler.  What about events that were given the description of Holocaust by those who lived through them?

One such example is the 1931 six alarm fire at the Little Sisters of the Poor Home in Pittsburgh.  Many newspaper articles referred to the event as a holocaust.  It must have been terrifying to witness the fire and the helpless infirm patients and inmates of the home.  The rescue efforts mounted by the firemen, policemen, and general public should be remembered.

Sample excerpts:

"... Carried down by ladders by firemen, after she became weak and overcome by smoke, Mrs. Margaret Kline, 80, told her rescuers after resuscitation, that she was hemmed in by smoke and flame and "prayed that God would take her away."
Miss Veronia Stein, 64, also one of the rescued, said that when she was taken down the ladders she told firemen that Mary Henley, 75 and Mary Jacobs, 75, both crippled, and paralyzed, were lying behind a door, unable to help themselves.  When firemen returned and tried to enter the same window from which Miss Stein had been saved, they found their ladders burned, and fire pouring from the window...."

"... Mrs. Sarah Carlson, 65, first spread the alarm to the aged group, three of whom were crippled or paralyzed.  Then she started for the men's quarters in another part of the building to make sure that her husband, Dan, was saved.  Her friends last night did not know whether or not she reached safety.
As the five aged who were able to walk began helping Bridget Dooley, Margaret Henry and Bridget Reardon to safety, the three invalids cried in unison:  "No! No! Help Mama."  "Mama" is an aged and paralyzed woman in the next room, beloved by all the inmates...."

"... Men seemed to try to outdo each other in their efforts to save the aged and infirm from the smoke and flames.  Trapped inmates were carried down ladders by firemen, and volunteers and one aged woman, unconscious, was lowered to the ground from the third floor by a rope tied around her waist.
Firemen and policemen, live Lavery, off duty, rushed to the fire, working in civilian clothes in which they had been enjoying an evening's rest to battle the flames.  Brawny bluecoats worked with the doctors to aid the stricken victims of smoke as they waited for the arrival of the clanging ambulances in the shadow of the flames that had turned a quiet haven for the aged into a roaring inferno.
Men and boys living in the vicinity of the home, were the real heroes of the catastrophe, veteran policemen and firemen, who had attended most the city's big fires in recent years, said last night.
"This is certainly the worst fire I've ever seen," Lavery said..."

Take time to read some of the stories on our Old Pittsburgh Newspaper Project.  Along with details of the fire and rescue efforts are the names of the wounded and dead.

Ahh, genealogy.  Tis a great day to thank those first responders for their heroic efforts to protect others in times of need.  Thanks.

©2013 AS Eldredge

No comments: