New York City, NY Colored Children's School Fire, July 1882



Fire-cracker paper, which had smoldered on the veranda in front of Mary Josephine Ward's St. Vincent de Paul Nursery and School for Colored Children, in East One Hundred and Sixty-fourth street, between Washington and Railroad avenues, set the wood work on fire shortly after 4 o'clock yesterday morning. The veranda was destroyed, the front of the house, and that of the REV. THOMAS E. FRANKLIN, ex-Pastor of St. Paul's African Methodist Episcopal Church, in East One Hundred and Fifty-eighth street, near Elton avenue, next door, were charred, and in the attic of MRS. WARD'S house, which was gutted, JOSEPH HAWKINS, aged 11, son of a negress who slept with him, was burned to death. MRS. WARD is an intelligent negress about 40 years old. Her husband, JOSEPH H. WARD, is an invalid. The house they live in is a two-story and attic frame structure, of which GEORGE E. SHERWOOD, of Third avenue and One Hundred and Sixty-ninth street, is the agent. Monday night gangs of young men and boys let off fire works in the neighborhood of the Nursery. They threw fire crackers at houses, and behaved so badly that MR. W. M. BOGART, a veteran fireman, who saw them throw crackers on MRS. WARD'S veranda, and some neighbors drove them away. They returned, however, and were celebrating between 2 and 3 o'clock yesterday morning. Next door to MRS. WARD'S in a house which may be said to form part of hers, was a surprise party tendered to the REV. THOMAS E. FRANKLIN, whose festivities were kept up till nearly 2 o'clock. In MRS. WARD'S house were herself and husband, who slept on the first floor surrounded by cots on which were live girl babies. MARY SIMPSON, mother of one of the girls, slept on the second floor. In another room on the same floor was MRS. WARD and her baby, JOHN PETER, who was born last week. In the attic slept AUGUSTA HAWKINS, a widow and her boy JOSEPH. About 4 o'clock MRS. WARD arose to attend to MIRA. She heard a strange noise, and saw that the roof of the front veranda was on fire. She kept her presence of mind, and, seeing that MIRA was able to crawl down stairs, and that MARY SIMPSON was safe, MRS. WARD went down with her babe, and then went up to the attic to save MRS. HAWKINS and her boy. MRS. HAWKINS had been roused by her son and had escaped. She was endeavoring to return to the attic, but the flames were everywhere then, and, after she and MRS. WARD had become nearly suffocated, they gave up the attempt at rescue. Meanwhile, a fire alarm had been sent out, and the REV. T. E. FRANKLIN and his family had escaped to the street. Engine No. 41 and Hook and Ladder Company No. 18 came promptly. The firemen, aided by MR. BOGART, put out the fire in 20 minutes. The attic of the REV. MR. FRANKLIN'S house was gutted, and a front room on the second floor was washed by the flames. MRS. WARD loses about $600 by fire and water damage. She is not insured. About $400 damage was done to the two houses, and the REV. MR. FRANKLIN'S loss is $200. The body of JOSEPH HAWKINS was taken from the attic by the firemen.

The New York Times New York 1882-07-05