St. Peter, MN State Asylum Fire, Nov 1880

Ruins Of The Asylum More recent view

THE MINNESOTA STATE INSANE ASYLUM AT ST. PETER BURNED WITH ITS CONTENTS.

SIX HUNDRED AND FIFTY SIX INMATES AWAKENED TO FACE THE FLAMES.

A LARGE NUMBER FAIL TO MAKE THEIR ESCAPE ALIVE.

PATRICULARS OF THE DREADFUL CALAMITY.

First Dispatch -- A Fire.
St. Paul, Minn., November 16. -- A report has just reached here of a fire raging in the state insane asylum at St. Peter. An engine has been sent from here. The institution has 600 inmates.

Second Dispatch -- Completely Destroyed.
St. Paul, Nov. 16. -- A dispatch from the mayor of St. Peter to Governor PILSBURY says the insane asylum is completely destroyed. No particulars have as yet been received.

Third Dispatch -- Terrible Loss Of Life.
Chicago, Nov. 16. -- A dispatch received from St. Paul at 3 o'clock this morning, after report had closed, says a fire in the Minnesota Insane Asylum, at St. Peters, originated in a corner of the basement of the north building and at about the same time there was a fire in the basement in an adjoining section. The cause of the fire is still unknown. No one knows how many perished but it is feared the number will at least reach fifty. It will be some time before the exact number can be given as some patients, taking advantage of the confusion, ran away, while others wandered off aimlessly and will be surprising if some have perished from cold. The loss on the building estimated from $100,000 to $150,000. No insurance. Additional particulars are expected every minute.

Fourth Dispatch -- Further Particulars.
St. Paul, Minn., Nov. 16. -- A dispatch to the latest edition of the morning papers indicate the fire in the St. Peter asylum was not so serious as feared, last night; only one wing of the building was destroyed. The whole structure was ten years in course of erection and was only finished three years ago. The cost was over half a million. The loss by fire will be from $100,000 to $150,000, on which there is no insurance, the state having neglected this precaution. The origin of the fire is unknown, though it is located in the basement of the north wing, which was destroyed.
Reports of loss of life are indefinite and conflicting. Different rumors place the number of victims at from twenty to fifty, but no bodies have been found and no one is surely identified as missing.
The superintendent ordered the release of all patients as soon as the danger became imminent, and it is probable that in the confusion of the night some were overlooked and burned. This probability is increased by the fact that some of the rooms quickly filled with smoke and could not be entered by the rescuers. There were 656 patients in the hospital last year. The inmates were cared for last night by the citizens. Some provision will be made for them to-day by the state authorities.

Fort Wayne Daily Sentinel Indiana 1880-11-16

Comments

List of victims

This article is from The New York Herald, New York, New York, Friday, November 19, 1880, Page 4, Column 4. The names in brackets are alternate spellings found in other newspaper articles listing the victims. Also reported as victims in other articles: Patrick E. Fahey [Thaey], Ramsey county, missing; James McKay, Carlton county, missing.

THE HOMELESS LUNATICS.
LIST OF THE MISSING INMATES OF THE BURNED ST. PETER ASYLUM—A HORRIBLE EPISODE.
St. Peter, Nov. 18, 1880.
The following is an official list of the missing and dead among the recent inmates of the Insane Asylum, furnished by the officers of the institution:—
THE VICTIMS.
ABRAHAM, JONATHAN P., Hennepin county; rescued from the building, but died soon afterward.
ALLEY [CALLOY], A. [AMOS] C., Wright county; missing.
ANDERSON, HANS, Brown county; missing; probably burned.
BARBER, CHARLES R., Nobles county; missing.
BRENNAN [BREMAN], J. C., Washington county; missing, but believed to be safe.
CLINCH, JAMES E., Aroka [sic] county; probably burned.
COLLOPHIE, WILLIAM, Ramsey county; probably burned.
CRANCY [CLANCY, CLAVEY], PATRICK, Le Sueur county; missing; probably burned.
DICKMON [DICKMORE], HENRY, Dakota county; probably burned.
DUBE [HUBEMAN], LENORE, Hennepin county; epileptic; probably burned.
EGFELLER, JACOB E., Nicollet county; missing.
FITZ [FRITZ, FRITCH], WILLIAM, Nicollet county; thought to have escaped injury and run away.
GILL, JOHN, Wright county; died of exhaustion.
GOGGNA [GOGYNA], MARCELE, Hennepin county; demented; probably burned.
GORDON, EPHRAIM D., Rice county; demented; missing.
HOHLMAN [HAHLMAN], CATHERINE, Ramsey county; missing, but probably safe.
MAHONEY, EDWARD, Todd county; probably burned.
McMILLAN [McMULLEN], COLMBUS [COLUMBUS], Scott county; probably burned.
O'BRIEN, DAVE [DANIEL], Le Sueur county; missing.
PETERSON, PETER [EDWARD], Nobles county; epileptic; missing.
PRUDEN, S. S., Lincoln county; probably burned.
RAUSHEIMER, CARL, Scott county (sick); probably burned.
ROSS, T. LARSON, Rock county; missing.
SLOPPAL [STOPPAL, SLEPHA], JOSEPH [JAMES] M., Blue Earth county; missing.
THORWILDOON [THORWILDSON], JOHN K., Fillmore county; rescued from building, but died the next day.
ULISIN [ALESON, WILSON], ANDREW, Scott county; demented; missing.
Those described as "probably burned" were demented and sick patients, incapable of making an effort to save themselves.
A FRIGHTFUL SCENE.
The following is told by an eye-witness of the fate of six male patients who were seen crowding around a window in an upper story during the progress of the fire:—"They were wonderfully apathetic, and were apparently more interested in the work of the firemen—as a child might be interested in such a scene—than in caring for their own safety. They did not appreciate nor understand the mortal peril in which they were placed, but jabbered at times among themselves with apparent delight at the spectacle, as if the affair were something especially ordered for their entertainment. At times, as the flames came upon them, they would move aside, but only for a moment. Finally, when their retreat had been cut off, some of them seemed to realize in their dim intellects the extremity in which they were placed, and turned to escape, but, returning to address a tirade of gibberish to the firemen, the floor gave way beneath them and they fell back uttering a chorus of horrible imprecations and were roasted."

MORE DEATHS AMONG THE VICTIMS.
St. Paul, Nov. 18, 1880.
A special from St. Peter to the Pioneer Press tonight says:—"Thomas O'Neill, of Ramsey county; John Nequist [Niquist], of Taylor's Falls, and Frederick Leclerk [Leclere], of Rice county, died this morning from the effects of inhaling smoke and exhaustion at the asylum fire. The number known to be dead is thirteen, seven of whom have been identified by name, and six are unrecognized bodies. Ten more are reported as probably burned, and eight more are missing.