Anna, IL Insane Asylum Fire, Apr 1881

Anna ILL State Hospital.jpg



Anna, Ill., April 19. -- A fire broke out in the bathroom on the fourth floor of the north wing of the Illinois Southern Hospital for the Insane, at this place, at 11:30 o'clock last night. After getting the patients out an effort was made to check the flames, but, as the building had a mansard roof, it was not until the centre building was reached that the fire was mastered. Three patients were discovered in a room on the second story of the north wing, entirely surrounded by the flames. The throng upon the ground witnessed their frantic efforts to burst through the grated windows with breathless excitement. Finally, a ladder was procured and placed near a window, and although the flames curled around the ladder, three times men started up, but were forced by the heat to return. One gallant fellow named GRACE ran up the ladder, through an axe into a window, and commanded a colored patient named NELSON to cut his way out. He simply drew the axe away, and again it was given him, and the crowd below, as with one voice, yelled to him to cut the grating loose. This time he did it, and escaped. GRACE again showed his courage by ascending the ladder and going into the blazing room, and, after a hand to hand struggle with a patient named McCLELLAND, who was nearly dead from the heat but desperately determined to stay in his room, GRACE forced him headlong through the window and persons outside caught him. GRACE inhaled the heat and suffered intensely afterward, but is not in danger. A patient from Monroe County named N. FERKLE was burned to death. These patients were all taken from the halls, but in some way wandered back. Three fire companies from Cairo arrived at 6:30 o'clock and are working upon the ruins. The Superintendent, DR. WORDIER, is in Chicago on business. The loss is estimated at $150,000. FERKLE is the only patient missing.

The New York Times New York 1881-04-20