Topeka, KS Copeland Hotel Fire, Jan 1909 - Many Rescued

Copeland Hotel, 1904 Copeland Hotel, early 1900s


State Senator Stewart Drops Guests from Windows - I. E. Lambert Perishes

TOPEKA, Kan., Jan. 14. - The body of Isaac E. Lambert, an Emporia attorney and politician, was found to-night in the ruins of the Copeland Hotel, with the head missing. When last seen, Lambert stood at an upper window, soon after the fire started at 4 A. M., begging the firemen to save him. Finally he disappeared into the interior.

The Copeland Hotel was an old structure, and proved to be an easy prey to the flames.

Several daring rescues were made duirng the progress of the fire by J. W. Stewart, State Senator from Sedgwick County, aided by W. Y. Morgan, editor of The Hutchinson News. Senator Stewart had a room on the fourth floor of the hotel. When he was awakened he ran into the hall and found it full of smoke. He had hardly opened the door when T. B. Murdock, editor of the Eldorado Republican, appeared. A few seconds later Mr. and Mrs. W. Y. Morgan, whose room was opposite to Stewart's, appeared.

All started toward the fire escapes, but they were cut off by the flames in the hall. Stewart rushed into a room and threw open the window. Then he grabbed a mattress and threw it out. There is a two-story building on the south side of the hotel, and the mattress fell on the roof of this building. The Senator Stewart got T. B. Murdock to the window and held him by the hands, something like trapeze performers hold each other by the hands and wrists in doing the "leap for life." Senator Stewart swung Murdock out from the building and to one side, and then let him drop to the mattress.

Mrs. Morgan and Mr. Morgan were dropped to the mattress in the same way. Mrs. Morgan struck a timber on the roof and her leg was broken.

The New York Times, New York, NY 15 Jan 1909