Hoovers, IN general store and house fire, Jun 1923


Two Children Burned to Death, One Injured, When Lawson Store and Home Was Destroyed Saturday Night.

Hoovers, the Adams township village ten miles northeast of here, is grief stricken today following the disasterous fire in which Leonard, 7, and Cecil, 5, sons of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Lawson were burned to death Saturday night. Anna, 19, is recovering from injuries received when she leaped from the second story window of the building.

The ruins of the general store and home of the family gave up the two bodies early Sunday morning. Only fragraments [sic] of the two small forms remained. They were placed in a lone casket and following funeral services at the Methodist church by Rev. S. Z. Willey were buried in a single grave at the Corinth cemetery near by.

12 Trapped By Fire.

Twelve members of the Lawson family were trapped in their living apartments on the second floor of the general store operated by them. Harry, a twenty year old son, was in Logansport at the time. Eight members escaped through a windo wat [sic] the front of the building by descending a ladder. Anna juped to the porch roof and then the ground, and Hazel, a three year old tot, was rescued from the apartment by the heroic effort of Roy Kenzie, a Hoover resident. Leonard and Cecil, asleep and probably overcome by the smoke, went to their death as the flames consumed the building and neighbors and parents made a franic [sic] effort to rescue them.

The family retired about ten o'clock according to the faterh. At about 10:30 Galen Cook, tower man and operator for the Pennsylvania railroad, discovered that the Lawson general store was on fire. He spread the alarm and rushed to the scene. At about the same time Mrs. Roy Kenzie, who resides a block to the rear of the store, discovered the blaze and aroused her husband. Mr. Kenzie donned a few clothes and made for the scene. Rushing up the rear family entrance stairway he found the roofs filled with smoke. They were pitch dark. Kinzie felt his way through the first room into the second where he knew a portion of the family slept.

Driven Back By Flames.

By feeling his way about the room he located hazel, asleep. Placing the baby under his arm he felt his way about the room in an effort to find another child believing that another was still there. Unable to find a second child, he carried down the stairway, not knowing that Leonard was sleeping the the first room to the rear and Cecil occupied the same room that Hazel was found in. Turning, the rescued child over to others who had arrived, Kenzie started up the stairway again but the flames forced him back. The stairway was afire. Further efforts to reach the helpless boys were fruitless and the parents, brothers, sisters, and Hoover residents who had arrived at the scene were forced to stand helpless knowing that the two small children were within the burning building.

Upon the spread of the alarm and the awakening of the family, the father, mother, and older children attempted to reach all the children. The flames and smoke hindered their work. A ladder was secured by rescuers and the eight members of the family, Mr. and Mrs. Lawson, Jean, 15, Edna, 14, Clara, 13, Fred, 11, Paul, 10, and Bernice, 9, were removed from the building by way of a front window and over the store porch.

Dr. A. E. Graves of New Waverly was summoned. He found that the nineteen year old daughter had sprained the ligaments in her right ankle and bruised and strained her back in the leap from the building. Other members of the family that escaped from the building were found uninjured. The daughter was removed to the home of Roy Kinzie where she is being cared for. Reports from the place today is that she is recovering.

Members of the family escaped in their nightclothes. They were taken to other homes about the village where they are being cared for. The father stated today that preparations were being made to return his family to the home of relatives at Portland, Indiana, Within the next few days where they will be able to recover from the shock of the fire that deprived the famly of two of its members. That they are heartbroken is to say the least. The Lawson [sic] come to Hoovers in August, 1922 from Portland at which time they took over the store.

All Contents Consumed.

No contents of either the store or the home were recovered from the building, efforts of the rescuers being towards the recovery of the family. The financial loss is placed at about $6,000, the structure being estimated at about $2,500 and the merchandise, fixtures, household furniture and clothing being valued at about $3,500. Considerable cash, Saturday's receipts, were lost in the fire.

Coroner J. J. Stanton was notified of the loss of life Saturday night and went to the scene at noon yesterday for the investigation.

Deposition of the older members of the family and the early arrivals at the fire will be taken by the county coroner Tuesday or Wednesday, he stated today for the purpose of having official records in the case.

The blaze threatened to spread to near by buildings and the chemical truck from Twelve Mile, five miles north, was taken to he [sic] place and assisted in checking the fire.

The origin of the fire has been undetermined. There had been but little fire in the stove of the home during the day. The blaze had started on the lower floor of the building and had gained considerable headway when discovered. When Jean, the fifteen year old son, awakened his bed was on fire.

The building, a frame structure, burned rapidly and the fire could be seen over the country for miles around. Hundreds of people were attracted. Scores of Logansport residents hurried to Hoovers by automobile.

The Logansport Pharos Tribune, Logansport, IN 4 Jun 1923

Friends and neighbors of the Thomas Lawson family of Hoovers two of whose members were burned to death Saturday night, are donating clothing and money to the family. At noon today a purse of $140 in cash besides a number of clothes had been gathered and presented to the family. All members of the family excepting Anna will visit at Portland for a few days, going Tuesday.

The Logansport Pharos Tribune, Logansport, IN 4 Jun 1923