Milford, MA Circus Stands Collapse, July 1889

PANIC UNDER A CIRCUS TENT.

HUNDREDS OF PERSONS INJURED BY THE SEATS FALLING DOWN.

FRIGHT ADDED TO THEIR DANGER.

SOMEONE YELLED THAT THE ANIMALS WERE ESCAPING, AND IN THE STAMPEDE WHICH FOLLOWED WOMAN AND CHILDREN WERE TRAMPLED UNDER FOOT -- NO ONE WAS KILLED, BUT MANY WILL CARRY SCARS.

(Special To The World.)
Milford, Mass., July 17. -- The performance at W. H. Bristol & Co.'s circus had scarcely begun last evening when two sections of seats, with 600 people seated thereon, caved in, sending the audience pell-mell to the ground. Women shrieked and fainted, children screamed and the performance was summarily brought to an end. Hardly had those who had been injured been removed when half of the reserve-seat section, with two hundred more persons, crashed down, causing a panic in which some of the women and children were trampled under foot while trying to get out of the tent. During the excitement some one shouted that the animals were escaping, and this added to the general fright. When the excitement had been in a measure allayed it was found that more than 200 persons had been injured, some of them severely. Drs. Eaton and Mackin were summoned and rendered the sufferers all the assistance in their power.
Among those most seriously injured are the following:
HENRY BUTTERFIELD, boy, Hopedale: ankle and wrist sprained and body badly bruised.
CHARLES DUNBAR, boy, Upton: arm broken and internal injuries.
MRS. KEITH, North Milford: injured internally.
A. MEDWAY, Milford: ribs broken.
MRS. PETER SHIELDS, Milford: ankle broken.
MRS. STEVENS, Hopedale: injured internally.
Many others were taken home by friends before the extent of their injuries or their names could be learned. That no one was killed outright is regarded as little less than a miracle. The accident was caused by overcrowding. The lot on which the circus tent was erected was a reclaimed meadow and Monday's great rain had softened the earth under the seat supports. Monday's exhibition had been abandoned for prudential reasons, and at the afternoon performance, though crowded, the seats were entirely safe. Tonight the supports of the seats sunk in the wet ground under the weight of the numerous spectators, thus causing the collapse. Scarcely any one in the audience escaped without a mark of some kind.
Talk of attaching the circus is freely indulged in and several lawsuits are already incubating. Moreover, the feeling against the management is so severe that the latter will not resume business in this section.

The World New York 1889-07-18