Reading, PA Devestating Tornado, Jan 1889

Ruins of the Silk Mill Hit By Tornado Reading PA 1889 Mill Tornado ruin 2.jpg Reading PA 1889 Mill Tornado ruin.jpg

THE EFFECTS OF WEDNESDAY'S STORM APPALLING ALMOST BEYOND CREDENCE.

DREADFUL STORY THAT COMES FROM READING.

NEARLY TWO HUNDRED GIRLS AND MEN BURIED BENEATH THE RUINS OF THE READING SILK MILL.

TWO-THIRDS OF WHOM FIGURE IN A DEATH LIST SIMPLY HEARTRENDING IN ITS EXTENT.

Reading, Pa., Jan 10 -- There is mourning and sorrow in many households in Reading today. A pall of death hangs over the city. Fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, relatives and friends are grief stricken over the wreck of last night. Over one hundred spirits were hushed forever in death, as the result of the wreck and ruin wrought in this city by the storm.
The cyclone left the entire city in darkness, relieved subsequently by the electric lights and huge bonfires which shed a lurid glare on the scene of death. All night long, brave and willing hands assisted in the work of rescue.
The disaster is fully as bad as reported last night. The list of fatal cases will reach fully 100, and perhaps more. The hospitals and undertakers, establishments are filled with the victims; the physicians are all busy, and many private houses have been opened for the accommodation of the injured.
This morning everything is directly in contrast with the fury of last night. All is again bright and glorious in the heavens, as though mocking the work of last night.
The Polish Church disaster of several months ago was one of the most horrible accidents that has startled this community, but the loss of life by that fatal cave-in sinks into comparative insignificance when placed on a parallel with the awful visitation of last evening.
Mayor Kenney, at two o'clock this morning, issued the following proclamation:
"I hereby earnestly appeal to the professional, business and other citizens who may be able to favorably respond, to meet at the court house this afternoon at 1:30 o'clock, to devise ways and means to aid the injured and assist the families of those who perished last night in the fall of the silk mill, and at the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad paint shops. The fearful cyclone that struck this city at 5:30 last evening has brought sorrow and want to many of our people who are in such circumstances as to be unable to meet the emergency, and the occasion calls loudly for immediate action. Quick to respond to others in distress, do not fail to do speedy justice to our own grief-stricken people."
The work of the rescue is greatly retarded from the singular manner in which the silk mill collapsed. It did not fall, but was badly crushed down, turning in upon itself in one mass. Not a vestige of the walls remain standing above the stone foundation, and the rafters and timbers of the flooring project in all directions. The building was steam heated and the ruins did not take fire, otherwise not one of the unfortunates could possibly have escaped death in its most appalling form.
The only eye-witness to the disaster as far as known, was Mrs. Gemmill, residing near the mill.
"About twenty minutes to 6 o'clock," said she to an Associated Press reporter, "I heard an awful crash, and thinking it was the new house being put up alongside of us, I ran to the front door. A great cloud of dust hung over the silk mill, and I could hear the crashing of the timbers and the roar of the falling walls, and the next moment I saw the mill in a great heap of ruins, from the midst of which came such an awful moaning and groaning and terrible cries as I never want to hear again. Not a soul did I see come out of the mill, and it seemed many minutes to me before anybody came to the spot."
Teams of every description -- omnibuses, funeral coaches, fire wagons, hospital vans and private vehicles -- were pressed into service, and were running rapidly to and from the scene of the disaster all night, bearing the bodies of the wounded, dying and dead to their homes or the hospitals.
From the statements of some of those who escaped from the building, it appears to have gone in an instant. There was a loud crash of the breaking timber, and the persons in the mill all rushed toward the main doors, and a good many succeeded in getting out. Four girls saved themselves by jumping from the second story windows.
The first rumbling noise was followed instantly by the falling of the building, the upper stories going first with its human load. Had it not been for the fact that but a few of the hands were on the third and fourth floors at the time, scarcely a life would have been saved.
GEORGE GRIMSHAW, one of the proprietors of the mill, who barely escaped with his life, having received several severe wounds, stated that there were about two hundred and seventy-five persons, principally girls and boys, in the establishment at the time of the occurrance.
Up to eight o'clock this morning, a large majority of the victims were still in the ruins.
GRIMSHAW gives the following list of the killed, injured, and missing reported to him. This list accounts for about two hundred.
Killed:
ETTA LEED, E. B. HARRY, R. KROKER, WILLIAM SNYDER, SOPHIE WINKLEMAN and CARRIE KERSHNER.
Injured:
ANNIE LEEDS, ANNIE FRY, AUGUSTUS ROSCUP, JOHN REBER, ANNIE LOVELAND, ADDIE SHADE, FLORENCE PHILADES, LIZZIE HAWS, BECKY HAYER, HARRY BRICKER, OSMAN STASH, BECKY POUNDS, MARY EVANS, SALLIE SAVAGE, SARAH EVANS, ELLA KRESS, ELLA PFLUM, AGNES SAVAGE, NORA SAYLOR, ANNIE BRICKER, ELLA REITNOUR, MARY FITZPATRICK, KATIE BOWMAN, LOTTIE SAYLOR, SALLIE E. BRIGHT, LAURA WRIGHT, IDA SCHAEFER, AMANDA SCHAEFER, ELLA KRICK, ELLA CARL, BERTHA TAYLOR, CLARA NOLL and KATIE HARTMAN.
Missing: KATIE ALSPACH, CELIA RITNER, CLARA ALSPACH, MILDRED LANGER, LIZZIE ROWLAND, KATIE YAEGER, LIZZIE OWENS, SALLY BAUM, SADIE O'NEILL, ELLA BUCHER, LAURA GEBRIT, CARRIE HARTMAN, BARBARA SEILHELMER, EMMA DEEMER, SALLIE BICKLE, LIZZIE MARTIN, MARY WOOTEN, IRENE DICKSON, EMMA PRESSER, DOLLIE HAINES, LAURA HOFFMAN, MARY HARTMAN, SALLIE HASSON, AMELIA CHRISTMAN, IDA MILLER, ANNIE SAYLOR, HARRY HOFFMASTER, CHARLES HOVER, HIESTER SNYDER, ELIZA LATCHFORD, MINNIE HAYS, FANNY UMBANHOWER, MINNIE VEGEL, WELLINGTON LENGLE, JAMES HAMMOND, JAMES FINN, CHARLES DAPLER, FREDERICK REIFF, EDWARD BROCKWAY, JAMES NEVIN, CHARLES FINN, HARRY FISHER, HOWARD SHADER, HARRY TEMPLIN, AMELIA BOSSLER, LENA SNYDER, MAGGIE ROWE, GERTIE SPECK, EMMA PFLUM, SOPHIA FREES, JOHN NEVIN, PHILIP SIDEL, CLAYTON LUDWIG, FRANK MOHN, GEORGE HETHNAN, WILLIAM GROW, HARRY FIDLER, JACOB SEIDEL, BENTON FIDLER, CARRIE MOYER, ANNIE ROWE, MARY FAY, CHARLES REIDER, HOWARD LEE, SAMUEL FICKS, EMMA EICHNER, KATIE COXEN, ANNIE SHADE, GERTY BICKEL, MARY ALT, ALICE LOND, CLARA FOX, KATIE LINK, LAURA KERSCHER, MARY SCHEIFLE, MAMIE HEDLEY, KATIE GUNTHER, CELIA HECKER, ANNIE DREIBELLISS, MARY REISER, DAISY HECKERER, SALLIE YOUNG, PAULINE ALT, IDA ROLLMAN, ELLA LAMB, MINNIE MERKLE, ANNIE KLINE, CLARA SLOUDT, MAGGIE NANGLES, LEYRIA PRESSER, MINNIE DEKIRK, EMMA COXEN, ABBIE RISSMILLER, HARRY LASHER, MINERVA GIFT, JENNIE HARTMAN, NELLIE SAMMON, TILLIE GROW, MARY MELON, MILLIE SCHAEFFER, BERTHA HERMAN, KATIE LUENDER, CELIA ERLACHER, LIZZIE BARRETT, ALICE EISENHOWER, CLIFF FIRESTERIN, DORA DETCH, SALLIE FAUST, KATIE HIPLER, AGGIE HOWERTER, ANNIE MARY BUSTLER, BERTHA KUSER, HANNAH CLEAVER, SALLIE BEISTLERE, EMMA NESTOR, MAMIE KINZY and KATIE LEBA.
The big tower and smoke stack at the silk mill and ten feet of the western wall remain standing. The following is a correct list of the killed and injured at the Philadelphia and Reading paint shops, which was struck by the cyclone, and the men enveloped in flames by the explosion of the gas chambers in nine passenger cars.
Killed:
ALLEN LANDENBURGER, head, legs and arms missing.
JOHN FOREMAN, crushed to death.
JOHN U. KOHLER, head crushed.
S. JONES, burned to death.
G. A. SCHAEFFER, legs burned off.
Injured:
GEORGE KNABB, seriously injured.
AARON OSWALD, arm broken.
Eight more bodies have been taken out and exactly how many more are in the ruins is a matter of conjecture.

Reading, Pa., Jan. 11. -- No more bodies have been found in the ruins of the silk mill, and it is believed that all have been recovered. Several reported as killed have been found safe.
The following is a corrected list of the dead:
EMMA NESTOR.
JOHN KEBER.
EVA LEEDS.
LAURA KERSHNER.
SALLIE HOMER.
TILLIE GROW.
MARY FITZPATRICK.
SALLIE FAUST.
HENRY S. CROCKER.
AMELIA CHRISTMAN.
SALLIE C. BECKEL.
ELLA REIDMAUER.
TILLLIE E. SCHAEFFER.
SALLIE SCHAEFFER.
BARBARA A. SEILLIEMER.
SARAH SHADE.
WILLIAM SNYDER.
SOPHIA F. WINKLEMAN.
Those killed at the Philadelphia & Reading railroad paint shops were:
ALBERT LAUDENBERGER.
JOHN FOREMAN.
JOHN U. KAHLER.
SHERIDAN E. JONES.
GEORGE A SHAEFFER.

Reno Weekly Gazette and Stockman Nevada 1889-01-17