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One Century Ago: Woman, Child Killed in Fire

Headlines from Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow, 100 years ago.

Welcome back to One Century Ago, a collaboration between Patch and the Historical Society serving Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown.

Each week we bring you the front page of a local newspaper that covered the news in Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow (North Tarrytown) one hundred years ago. This front page comes from the Tarrytown Press-Record. The Press-Record was published as a weekly from 1893 to 1946 and has been preserved by the Historical Society on microfilm.

Friday, October 18, 1912:

Two Killed in Fire

Early on Wednesday morning there was yet another serious fire in North Tarrytown which left the lives of many in ruin, and killed a young woman and a child.

The fire began in the early hours of the morning in the house owned by Samuel Cohen, on the corner of Beekman avenue and Clinton street in North Tarrytown. On the ground floor of the building was a restaurant, and above that were a number of flats. Mrs. Bernard Hoffman, whose husband owned the restaurant, smelled smoke and started shouting an alarm. Some of the other woman in the building became startled, and soon there were so many women screaming that Officers Tracy, Briggs and Delanoy came running, thinking that a fight had broken out. When they reached the Cohen building smoke was billowing from the windows.

The fire escape on the building was jammed with people trying to escape, but nobody knew how to lower the ladders. Officers Delanoy and Briggs saw this predicament and swung a clothes line over to the frightened people so that they could slide down the line one at a time. About 15 people escaped like this.

All local fire crews were called to the scene and in total about 15 streams were put on the blaze, but they were less effective than usual due to low water pressure. For hours the fire burned, and the reflection of the blaze in the sky above could be seen for miles around. The fire sent out sparks as far as Main street, and was the cause of several smaller fires which started in the roofs of frame buildings on Cortlandt street and Wildey street, though none of these were serious.

Two people died in the fire: six year old Anna Schwartz, and Miss Lichtenstein, a young woman engaged to be married. Miss Lichtenstein had been given a beautiful diamond ring by her betrothed only a few days earlier, and just as she was escaping from the burning building she remembered the ring and went back to her room to fetch it, despite her Mother’s protests. She was never seen again.

Another man was reported missing, but a letter was received from him a few days later saying that he was safe and sound with friends in New Haven. Most of the shops and flats in the adjoining buildings were gutted, and a number of families were left homeless. The Ladies’ Hebrew Auxiliary took collections in the days following the fire to help those who had lost everything, and the local community were very supportive, offering food and shelter.

When people began going through the rubble and charred remains of the buildings a skull was found, as well as several bones, and these were taken to Ossining for burial. The origin of the fire was a mystery.

Hundreds Gather to Hear Democratic Candidate for Governor

Nearly one thousand people gathered in Depot Square in Tarrytown to hear a short address by the Democratic candidate for Governor, the Hon. William Sulzer, from New York. He arrived in a special train conveying him and his party along the Hudson line to make speeches in various towns. They received a very lively and positive reaction from the crowd, and the Press-Record reported that Mr. Sulzer’s remarks “had the right ring to them... They have the ear-marks of truth and sincerity and those who gathered to hear him this morning felt it.” He made clear that his main focus was to be the high cost of living in the area. His speech was brief, but the crowd cheered loudly as he re-boarded the train. 

To join as a member and support the preservation of the history of Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow, please click here: thehistoricalsociety.net/membership

joy October 22, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Very interesting piece

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