Chicago, IL Eastland Disaster, Jul 1915 - Death List Over 1500, part 3
Identify by Card System.
By noon a card file system to learn the names of the missing and known dead was established by the police at 216 Clark street. At tht time two dead girls had been identified as Miss Vasinosky and Miss K. Allen.
Ex-Alderman F. W. Taylor today declared that the steamer Eastland sunk in Chicago river with a heavy death list, was condemned and rebuilt six years ago by order of government inspectors.
"Six years ago," said Taylor, "the Eastland was condemned on the ground that her center of gravity was not right. She was taken to Cleveland and rebuilt. I think this whole sickening matter should be mercilessly investigated, regardless of who might be hit. If the steamship officials are blameless we should know it. If there is any particle of blame, it is up to the city of Chicago to fix that blame and punish the responsible party or parties. If there has been criminal negligence, let us get those really responsible--the higher ups."
Rev. Father Thomas Kelly, pastor of the West Side Precious Blood Catholic church, was among the first on the scene. He was downtown when he heard of the the disaster. He rushed immediately to the dock and upon identifying himself to the police officials, was permitted, though warned of the danger, to go to the upturned boat. For an hour he helped in rescue work. Then he went to the river bank, where many unconscious victims were taken. There, with fifty other priests, Rev. Father Kelly administered conditional extreme unction to all who showed signs of life. They worked on the bank hour after hour, pronouncing the last rites, sometimes while doctors, who were called in or had volunteered from all over the city, administered aid.
Built at Port Huron.
PORT HURON, MICH., July 24--The steamer Eastland was constructed at this port by the Jenks Ship Building company in 1903. At that time she was considered as one of the finest vessels on the lakes.
Engineers here declared today that as originally designed and built the boat was unusually safe, but they declared changes had been made later at the request of the owners and more upper works were added to increase her passenger accommodations.
More Girls Than Men.
There was row upon row of bodies at a score of temporary morgues in first floor offices throughout the neighborhood. And the pitiful thing was that for every body of a man there were three to five bodies of girls, children and women. In the stiffened arms of some of the women were clutched their babies, hugged tight to them.
Counted 400 Dead.
Dr. T. A. Carter told a United Press representative that he had counted 400 dead. Dr. Carter was assigned to the work of feeling the pulse of those brought ashore. Those with any signs of life were rushed to hospitals or given first aid immediately, while the others were taken to temporary morgues.
"I counted 400 dead among those I examined," said Dr. Carter.
Missed it by a Hair.
CLEVELAND, O., July 24--D. O. Fonda, of this city, today received this telegram from his brother, C. E. Fonda, an employe [sic] of the Western Electric company:
"Missed the Eastland by a hair."
Was Boat Overloaded?
While bodies still were being removed this afternoon, a conference among officials was planned to concentrate proposed investigations into two bodies in order to eliminate conflict. Federal investigators, appointed by Washington officials, will work along their own lines, with whatever aid they desire, however, from state, country and municipal authorities, who will comprise the second investigating body.
Shortly following the arrest of Captain Pedersen and First Mate Fisher, W. K. Greenbaum, general manager of the Indiana Transportation company, which had chartered the Eastland upon orders from the Western Electric company from the St. Joseph-Chicago Steamship line, was served with a grand jury subpoena.
Merely to insure their presence at the pending investigations, two engineers of the Eastland were also held as witnesses. No specific charges were entered against Pedersen and Fisher. They were merely held as witnesses.
Greenbaum this afternoon corroborated an earlier report that the Eastland was loaded to capacity.
"I was at the dock," he said, "when I saw the Eastland tipping. I ran to Theodore Roosevelt at dock up stream and ordered all boats lowered, all life saving paraphernalia thrown overboard, and all hands to the rescue.
"I am informed by officials that government inspectors were at the dock as the Eastland loaded and that when she had her full capacity they turned others away. The Eastland carried no more than the law permitted her."
Manager Greenbaum's estimate of the number on board was higher than that of Captain Pedersen's. He said the law permitted 2, 500 aboard.
This afternoon Deputy Superintendent Schuettler ordered all bodies removed to the Second Regiment, Illinois Militia armory, at Curtis and Washington boulevards. The gruesome work was begun immediately. Police patrol wagons, private and public ambulances, morgue vehicles, undertakers' wagons, department store delivery auto trucks and private automobiles were voluntarily offered for the task.
Known Dead in Eastland Horror
JOHN ALLEN, 50, Cicero, Ill
MISS ELEANOR ORBIS, 26
ERNEST TISNER, 21
Fort Wayne News, Fort Wayne, In 24 Jul 1915