Memphis, TN Tenement Fire, Apr 1894



Memphis, Tenn., April 9. -- A four-story brick tenement block collapsed yesterday, carrying down in its debris many victims. So far five dead have been rescued and five lie at the city hospital fatally injured. There were others who escaped with their lives and tell harrowing tales of the horror. Several persons are yet in the ruins.
The dead are:
WILL COOK, barber, aged 28 years.
LOTTIE MARKS, aged 25 years.
JOHN MORGAN, barber, aged 30 years.
AMY SIMMONS, aged 18 years.
Unknown Man.
The following were fatally injured:
CATHERINE BOYD, 26 years old; internal injuries and back broken.
GEORGIA GUY, aged 35; severely mangled.
ANDREW HARRIS, 18 years old; skull factured and body mangled.
CORA MURPHY, 28 years of age; internal injuries; still unconscious.
LAVINIA PERKINS, aged 20; internal injuries and mangled legs.
The block was erected thirty-four years ago. The buildings composing it were made of brick, four stories high, with slate roofs and were separated by thick brick walls. They were located on Beal and Desoto Streets in a thickly populated part of the city. One part was occupied by families and day laborers, mostly colored, while the other part was let out in rooms. In the morning many of the tenants were at mass or sunrise prayer meetings and returned shortly before the disaster. When they went in they noticed unusual cracking of the plastering and floors and aroused those yet sleeping and rushed across the street just as the block fell.
There was a toppling of chimneys, a swaying of walls, a crash that was heard for squares away, and a jar that wakened the sleeping inhabitants a half mile away. The whole was enveloped in a cloud of dust that hid the scene from view for some minutes.
The firemen, the police and citizens rushed to the place and, as soon as the blinding dust of plaster cleared away, began the search for victims. Of the day tenants all were out save two. One was a deaf mute, AMY SIMMONS, who had not been aroused, the other was an aged negro woman. Aunt Dolly, one of Mr. Kelley's old servants, who had a room on the fourth floor. She fell with the building but escaped unhurt.
In the other part of the building the tenants had not fased so well. The nine taken out were either dead or worse. Some were pierced through with splintered timbers, others were limp and unconscious with broken legs and arms. All were so covered with dust that they were unrecognizable.
The walls fell both in and out, filling the streets on both sides with brick and mortar. It is asserted that a man standing on the corner having his shoes blacked was killed, while the bootblack escaped by running. There are many men and women missing who are supposed to have been in the building.

The Daily Gazette Janesville Wisconsin 1894-04-09