Decatur, IL Norman's Laundry Accident, Jan 1900


HOMER BARTHOLOMEW, Aged Twelve Years, is Caught in Heavy Machinery.


His Arm Caught Between Heavy Rollers, One of Them As Hot As Steam Can Make It


Homer Bartholomew, aged 12 years, met with an awful accident at Norman's laundry last evening and as a result lost his left arm. His arm was caught in a big machine and so badly mangled that the surgeons could do nothing but amputate it at the shoulder.

The mother of the boy is foreman of the department in the laundry where stand the big machines known as "the mangle" and he was playing about the room when the accident happened.

The mangle is a series of big steel rollers standing high on an iron frame. These rollers are used to iron such goods as towels, sheets and the like. They are fed into the machine on one side and come out ironed on the other. At the time of the accident Miss MAUDE GIDLE was ironing at one machine and while the other machine was in motion there was no one working there. It is necessary to have a series of strings about these rollers to carry the goods through. A string dropped between the rollers will naturally carry through to the other side. Young Bartholomew was up on the feed table about three feet from the floor feeding strings in to the machine when Miss GIDLE heard a scream. She knew what had happened before she could reach the place. Only a short time before she had compelled the boy to go away from her machine. She said that he often fed the towels into the machine and was perfectly safe in doing that but when he was running strings through from the wrong side he was in great danger. The rollers of the mangle are big steel affairs about eight inches through. One of them is covered with heavy canvas and rolls directly against a roller of the same size but which is hollow and heated as hot as steam will make it. The first thing Miss GIDEL did was to stop the machinery and then shut off the steam. Then she ran to the boy and supported him while she called for help. The whole laundry was in an uproar at once. Miss GIDEL unloosened the rollers as much as was possible but the boy could not be released until a big wrench was secured to loosen the frame and the rollers lifted.

The wrench could not be found and for twenty minutes that boy was held imprisoned against the hot pipe. The arm was however, deadened to a sense of pain and he told Miss GIDEL "It don't hurt now." He is a bright, fair faced boy and a favorite with those who know him. As soon as he could be released he was carried to his mother's apartments on the fourth floor of the Syndicate building and there the surgeons waited on him. All of the time that he was waiting for them to begin the little fellow was perfectly conscious and made no complaint.

The hand and arm bones and all were simply ground to splinters up to the elbow. Above the elbow, half way to the shoulder the tissue was so badly torn that there was no possibility of saving the arm and the line of demarkation was about three inches below the shoulder.

Doctors JOHN T. MILLER, WILL CHONOWETH and CHARLES BUMSTEAD gave the boy the necessary attention.

Decatur Herald, Decatur, IL 9 Jan 1900