Boyertown, PA Rhoades Opera House Terrible Fire, Jan 1908

Seriously Injured:
BAUMAN, ELWOOD.
BROWN, MRS. S.
COLLINS, MR.
CULLEN, FRANK.
DRY, MRS. JOHN.
FISHER, H. W., burned about face and hands.
HENRY, S. I., Principal of public school, burned about the face.
KAUER, MARY.
KURTZ, AMY.
ROSE, WILLIAM.
SCHLEGEL, MRS. DANIEL.
SHANNER, EDGAR.
SPATZ, CHARLES E., ex-Member of Legislature, three ribs broken, and cuts and bruises.
TOMS, MRS. WILLIAM, of Mooresville, legs and arms crushed and burned.
TURNER, RICHARD.
WREN, HOWARD.
WEBER, the REV. ADAM M., burns on face and hands.

It is probable that many others were more or less badly injured who have not been reported.
WARREN WEIN of Boyertown went insane to-night as a result of the tragedy. He knew that his sisters CARRIE and FLORENCE were in the burning building. He made efforts to climb the fire escape to get inside. Later he learned that his mother was also among the missing. He then became violently insane.
CHARLES B SPATZ, ex-member of the Legislature and editor of The Berks County Democrat, got to a place of safety from the stage entrance, and while sliding down a ladder broke three ribs.
The Farmer's National Bank, under the burned Opera House, carried $75,000 in currency in its vaults, which was found intact.

The New York Times New York 1908-01-15

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TO ARREST MRS. MUNROE.

She Is Blamed for Boyertown (Penn.) Fire, Which Caused 171 Deaths.

Reading, Penn., Sept. 11 -- A warrant was issued here to-day for MRS. HARRIET E. MUNROE of Washington, owner of the copyright of the entertainment, "The Scottish Reformation," which was given in Rhodes Opera House at Boyertown last January, when 171 persons of the four hundred present were burned to death.
MRS. MUNROE was not present, but it is alleged that she employed incompetent help, and that they caused the disaster. The prosecuter if FRANK MOYER, who lost a daughter in the fire. MRS. MUNROE'S attorney here agreed to accept service, and the case will go before the Grand Jury next week.
DR. THOMAS J. B. RHOADS, owner of the Opera House, is already under arrest for criminal negligence.

The New York Times New York 1908-09-12

SCORES OF MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN PERISH IN OPERA HOUSE HORROR.

Victims Mostly Church Members Who Had Thronged Theatre at Boyertown, Pa., to See Entertainment by Children.

EYE-WITNESS TELLS GRAPHIC STORY OF DISASTER.

Little Ones Crushed in Maddened Dash For Exits – Oil Lamps Burst and Bodies Burned in Heaps as Firemen Stood Helpless – The Exact Number of Dead May Never Be Known, For Among the Victims of the Awful Disaster Were Visitors and Strangers Who May Have No Relatives to Trace Them to Their Fate.

Boyertown, Pa. -- When daylight dawned the full extent of the night's horror when the Rhoades Opera House was burned became apparent. The list of dead is placed at 160 and the injured at seventy-five. How many were killed may never be known, for among the victims of this awful disaster were many visitors and some strangers who may have left no relatives to trace them to their untimely fate.
Out of the ruins of the Rhoades Opera House 167 bodies, mostly of women and children, ahd been taken when darkness fell on the day following the disaster.
Then, with at least forty more bodies in sight and perhaps more mixed in the debris, the search stopped for the night.
At least 200 persons perished by fire, by trampling and by suffocation in the awful tragedy. The list may reach 230.
Of these 167 victims taken from the ruins two-thirds are women and children. Only ten in all are recognizable, save, perhaps, by scraps of clothing and blackened trinkets.
Coroner STRASSER said: “Among the bodies are 110 females, forty-three males and twelve whose sex is not distinguishable. Twenty-two of these are children. The ratio of women and girls to men and boys, is nearly three to one.”

Included in the remains recovered are three sacks of skulls and bones.
For several months the Sunday school pupils of St. John's Lutheran Church had been rehearsing “The Scottish Reformation,” which was being staged by MRS. H. E. MONROE, of Washington, the authoress, and when the curtain rose at 8 o'clock the opera house was thronged with representative citizens.

The second part of the play, in which the students from the Glasgow University and the Puritans marched to Leith to meet Queen Mary, had just been reached. The young people taking part had just finished their songs, and incidental to the drama a number of pictures were shown by a moving picture machine. This was operated by H. W. FISHER, of Carlisle, Pa., who used calcium lights. While he was operating the machine there was a flash and a loud report, and the people sitting in the rear of the opera house near the machine arose in fright and rushed toward the stage.
Their action caused a panic in the audience, and many of the people, thinking the building was on fire, rushed toward the stage. The young people who were taking part in the play motioned to them to go back and resume their seats, but the frightened spectators attempted to climb upon the stage to escape the fiery spluttering of the moving picture machine.

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