Monday, April 5, 2010
January 9, 1889, Reading, Pennsylvania
John Van Noate aka Mr. Waterslide, a collector of old photographs, has a huge selection of cabinet cards on Flickr. For the next few days, I will research some of his cards that are of the funeral genre. He has labeled this card as a possible factory or mill fire. I am not convinced that the building description is correct. Also, his title, Nineteen Dead, Reading, Pennsylvania may possibly be misleading.
My first attempts at researching this funeral card is the card publishing company was located in Reading, Pennsylvania but the fire incident did not occur there. The closest hit on NewspaperARCHIVE.com is an news article titled, Nineteen Dead in Fire in The Daily Times dated January 8, 1901. The story details a fire starting in the asylum section of the building located in Rochester, New York and quickly spreading and destroying the building completely.
This funeral card merits further investigation.
Are there any historians out there familiar with this story?
UPDATE: I posed a similar story on Facebook F.C. & G. and Darlene Bittaker came back with an interesting response of her findings:
"'C. A. Saylor, who operated the New York Gallery at 411 North Sixth Street, Reading , assembled this rare composite of the VICTIMS OF THE GRIMSHAW MILL DISASTER--in record time--to sell as a memento, while interest remained intense. Notice that no attempt has been made at individual identification...and 19 folks are pictured despite the fact the death toll numbered 17.' That I would think surely dates this card to near the date of occurrence. Jan. 9, 1889."
Interestingly, her find leads to another replica of the Commemorative Card on the Destruction of the Mill. The reverse side of the funeral card is shown there, providing additional clues that Darlene Bittaker discovered. Interestingly, Darlene provides another link to GenDisasters and a posting about this same story by Stu Beitler, Reading, PA Devastating Tornado, January 1889. His story provides a list of the dead.
Everyone be sure to check the comments that researcher, Teresa Martin Klaiber, offered. She was on the same trail as Darlene. There are some great history sleuths out there.
From this posting, I hope the reader will see that the author is not always correct in her first observation and attempt to solve a riddle.