Empire City, OR Fatal Tree Accident, May 1855

A SAD ACCIDENT, Five children were killed near Empire City, in Oregon, on the 26th of March last, by the falling of a spruce tree two hundred and fifty feet in height, which was standing at a distance of two hundred feet from the house in which the children were sleeping. The heavy branches crushed through the roof and floor of the house, instantly killing five of the eight persons who were within at the time. The survivors, strange to say, received no injuries.

Barre Patriot, Barre, MA 18 May 1855

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Dreadful Accident in Coos County, Oregon.

A correspondent of the Plumpqua Gazette, writing from Coos Cay, Oregon, under date of March 27, says

A terrible accident occurred at the house of Mr. John Yokiam, some six miles south of Empire City, in the county of Coos, on the evening of the 26th inst., which resulted in the instant death of five children, Caroline Yokiam, a young lady of nearly fifteen years of age; Drucilla Yokiam, aged eleven years, nearly, Susanna Yokiam, past nine years of age; Harriet R. Yokiam, of two years, past; Nancy Ellen Yokiam, an infant of four months.

These children were all healthy and happy on retiring to bed, which they did at heir father's house on the unfortunate night, rather earlier than usual. Mr. Yokiam had been burning down the large fir and spruce trees which surrounded the house. A large spruce tree, some five feet through, and some two hundred and fifty feet in length, was on fire some two hundred feet from the house. Although the tree seemingly leaned from the house, yet, Mr. Yokiam entertained some vague fears that it might fall forwards and upon the house. The five daughters were sleeping in one end of the room, and the two little ones, Jasper and George Washington, in a bed near by.

Mr. Yokiam walked out the door to notice the tree, when he heard it commence breaking, and soon he saw it descending in the direction of the house. He cried out ot the inmates of the house to run out. Mrs. Yokiam was at the time stand on the floor, with her infant in her arms. She warned the five children, her daughters, and with them attempted to make her way out. The eldest, Caroline, seized Harriet, the youngest of the four, in her arms. By the time they were on their feet, the limbs of the tree were breaking in the roof of the house. All but Drucilla had got out through the door, when the fatal tree came down upon them. Mrs. Yokiam found herself crushed down, and raising her child, she observed its face, and thought it unhurt. She laid it down, and felt for Susanna who was crushed down by her side, and found her dead.

Mr. Yokiam approached her, and near by they found Caroline and Harriet under the trunk of the tree, crushed to pieces. Mr. Yokiam then proceeded into the wreck of the house and found Drucilla about midway of the floor, under the edge of the trunk of the tree, all crushed. He exclaimed, "Drucilla is also dead," when the reflection passed the mother's mind, "all dead but my infant." She turned to the spot where she had laid down her child, and found that the brains had been extracted from its head by a fracture which had taken away the top back part of its skull, while in her arms. The parents having extracted the remains of their daughters from the ruins, Mr. Yokiam proceeded into the house in search of the two boys, and to his joy found them alive. They were a bed, and had not awaked, although the trunk of the fatal tree lay within two feet (or less) of their heads, and they were covered five or six feet in depth with boards and limbs. On the evening of the next day, their mortal remains were interred near the fatal spot.

Ohio Statesman, Columbus, OH 23 May 1855