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struggle in the doorway, the screams of the women, and the shouts of
the men continued for a full ten minutes. The noise was deafening and
the services in the church had to stop.
The news of the disaster spread rapidly in the neighborhood
and men rushed to the scene. They worked to quiet the people in the
rear of the church and worked to rescue the people in the front of the
church, who were down and could not rise.
Walter Wilson, a clerk in the post office, was standing
near the main entrance when the panic first started. At first he tried
to stop the people from fleeing the church, but seeing that this would
not be successful, he stepped aside and watched the stream of people
coming out. The jam at the door then took place and he did all a man
could do to help those in the crowd get out, but the crush became so
great that the people were so tightly packed that he could not pull
Louis Lageman was standing at the side door to his
store, which was across the street, when the panic started. As soon
as he realized that there was a panic as the people came rushing out,
he ran across the street and tried to help Mr. Wilson. He said later
that it was impossible to move a single person in the front because
they were so tightly packed.
Someone in the gallery had shouted "Fire"
and this added to the horror and increased the fright of the panic-stricken
entrance view of Salem Church
news of the disaster was telephoned to the police station and word went
out from there through the city. It was reported that the gallery had
fallen and fifty persons had lost their lives. Hundreds flocked to the
scene. Several thousand people where at Ninth and State in less than
The injured were taken into the neighboring homes
and doctors were called. Those more serious injured were taken care
of by persons living in the vicinity.
Some of those seriously injured were Miss Mary Ann
Ritter, who lived at 12th and Vermont; Miss Mary Keyes, daughter of
Charles Keys of 527 Broadway; Miss Wissman, daughter of Henry Wissman;
and Mrs. Fred Spilker, who lived on 7th between Washington and Jefferson.
Many people had bruises and scratches, including
Mrs. Albertina Jahn, teacher of German, who lived nearby on 9th
between Kentucky and York; Mrs. Gottlieb Rensch; Mrs. John Fischer;
and Rev. Hallerburg, pastor of St. Jacobi's Church.
After the panic subsided the funeral services for
Rev. Simon Kuhlenhoelter were resumed and lasted until 4:00 p.m.
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