St. Louis, MO Southern Hotel Fire, Apr 1877
THE ST. LOUIS HOTEL FIRE.
SEARCHING THE RUINS FOR BODIES.
SLOW PROGRESS OF THE WORK -- THE NUMBER OF VICTIMS STILL IN DOUBT -- RECOVERY OF PROPERTY IN A DAMAGED CONDITION -- SOME ADDITIONAL NAMES OF PERSONS WHO WERE KILLED.
Special Dispatch to the New York Times.
St. Louis, April 12 -- The public excitement over the burning of the Southern Hotel has been almost as intense today as it was yesterday, multitudes crowding around the newspaper offices and Police Headquarters in quest of news, and vast crowds visiting the ruins at all hours of the day. At 1 P.M. a force of 100 men began the work of removing the debris, but progress has been very slow, the rubbish being still so hot that streams of water are kept constantly playing on it. A deep trench has been dug from north to south across the ruins to facilitate the operation of the workmen tomorrow, and some excavations have been made near the foot of the main stairway, where many persons are supposed to have perished. One little body, with head and feet burned off, was found at 6 o'clock this evening, so badly burned and charred, as to be unrecognizable. It is now at the Morgue. Around the body was wrapped the burned remains of a quilt, showing that it must have been asleep in bed at the time the floors fell in. A squad of men have been searching during the afternoon in a spot under the room occupied by H. G. CLARK, wife, and daughter, but have not yet recovered the bodies. The heat was so intense and long continued that it is feared that many bodies were completely incinerated. J. H. MORRILL, of New York who is reported to have lost $17,000 in jewelry, has had a squad of men at work near the main entrance during the day, and has succeeded in taking out about $600 worth of jewelry. He had three barrels of ashes containing treasure gathered up and shipped by express to his firm in New York, to be smelted. This morning MISS KATE CLAXTON visited the ruins, and had the good fortune to recover the manuscript of her play "Conscience" and several contracts with different theatrical managers. The papers were badly scorched, but were still legible. MISS CLAXTON is very much prostrated by the excitement attending her escape from the fire, though she appeared last night and tonight at the Olympic Theatre in the role of Louise. She lost $2,000 by the fire and her entire wardrobe, including a splendid costume she had received a few hours before the fire. A performance for her benefit and that of ROSE OSBORN and MARION CHIFTON, two other actresses who are impoverished by the fire is announced for Friday night.
The number of those who perished is not definitely known, though there is good reason to believe that it exceeds the original estimate of 50. The hotel register for Thursday was lost in the confusion, and it is impossible to ascertain the number of names of the arrivals on that day, and consequently it is not practicable to estimate the number missing. The hotel had 204 employes. One hundred and forty of these have been accounted for up to 10 o'clock tonight. Of the remaining 60, it is quite certain that many of them lie burned in the ruins, though some were in the habit of sleeping away from the hotel.
W. J. L. HALLIDAY, editor of the Holly Springs (Miss.) Reporter, is among the missing, and his friends feel assured that he is lost, as he had an important business appointment which he should have met if living.