Brooklyn, NY Brooklyn Bridge Disaster, May 1883

Brooklyn Bridge in 1899

As the crowd was forced, with an irresistible pressure from behind, towards the steps a boy of 10 years who was being crushed shouted so loudly and piteously for his mother that a broad shouldered man endeavored to lift him up. The little fellow was too tightly wedged to be extricated. He was insensible when he reached the steps, and his face had been trampled out of all semblance to humanity before the rush was over.

A lady who was in the thickest of the jam declares that she had no idea that anything serious had occurred until the deadly work was at an end. Close by her side was a tall, delicate looking man who was trying to save his child. He fought like a maniac: "I was perfectly helpless," said the lady, "and was being pressed against the unfortunate little one. I knew the poor child was being crushed but I was powerless to resist the pressure, and the father struck as viciously at me as if I had been the author of his trouble. What became of them I do not know. They were swept slowly by me toward the steps and I did not see them again. It is a wonder that I did not faint. The direction of the current seemed to diverge for a moment and I got a chance to reach the railing. How I managed to climb up I don't know, but I reached the top of it and lowered myself down on the other side. Several others had already done the same thing, but none of them seemed to know that anything serious had happened. I was afraid of falling through the open space, but I managed to get into the roadway on the other side with nothing but a confused notion of what I had endured."

MRS. EDWARD COLBURN, of 137 South Eighth street, came out into Chatham street, leading a little boy with each hand. She had lost her husband in the throng. He had taken their eldest son with him. While she was talking with a reporter on Chatham street her niece, a girl of 10, ran up to her, crying: "Where is uncle?" MRS. COLBURN answered that she did not know. She said: "It was an awful experience. I saw one woman fall backward from the steps. As soon as she fell she was jumped upon by men who were forced after her. They trampled her to death. I was pushed up against the railing and turned around and around. My clothing was torn and I was exhausted. When I last saw my husband he was holding our son up in the air and being carried toward the edge of the steps by the crowd. I clung to the railing. At last some one from above grasped my wrists and hauled me out of the crush. A few minutes later they got my two boys up."

MISS MARY BARRETT, 18 years old, accompanied by her mother, an old lady, MRS. SOPHIE PRINCE, a married sister, her sister NELLIE, 15 years old, and her little brother FRANK, 9 years, met the full force of the rush at the top of the steps near the New York arch. A policeman who had secured a position of safety on the railing, shouted to them in an excited manner to go back, but before they could obey the order they were engulfed in the swirling crowd. MISS MARY BARRETT picked up her little brother in her arms, but in a moment he was torn from her grasp and trampled under foot, while she was swept to the outer edge of the crowd. She could see her brother, and attempted to turn back to rescue him, but she was roughly pushed away by a policeman, who said it served them right for going into such a crowd. MISS BARRETT said that the two policemen whom she saw appeared to have completely lost their heads and rendered no assistance whatever in extricating the people who were being trampled upon by the crowd. Little FRANK BARRETT was restored to the arms of his sister by a man who pulled the little fellow from under the feet of the panic stricken people. The child's left arm and leg were broken, and he was unconscious when he was carried out of the crowd. The other members of the BARRETT family escaped with slight injuries, but KATIE MAHER, a girl of 19, who was of their party, was severely injured.

RACHEL SHONLISKI was one of a party of three girls who had reached the New York tower on their way to Brooklyn just as the panic set in. In an instant all three were swept from their feet. RACHEL clambered to the shoulders of a man who had fallen on his knees beside her, and from that position pulled herself up on the railing of the bridge. She remained perched on the railing until the panic subsided, and was the means of having the little girl, ANNIE GOLDSTEIN, one of the companions, who was very badly injured, taken to her home. SARAH GAERTNER was buried under a mass of struggling human beings, and when she was pulled out nearly all of her clothes were torn from her back. She said last that she thought she had been dreaming, and could recall nothing of the scene from the time she was swept down the steps until she found herself in the street wit the man who had picked up ANNIE GOLDSTEIN. When the rush was over and missing friends were being searched for RACHARIAS BAZARIAN, of 302 Plymouth street, whose wife was crushed to death, was found to have become insane. He applied at the New York Hospital for information concerning her and seemed to suddenly lose all control of himself. He raved and gesticulated wildly, and his friends could scarcely restrain him, while one of them went downstairs and there found the dead body of his wife. BAZARIAN was taken away apparently a hopeless maniac.

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