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Ohio State Journal
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Saturday, November 21, 1868
AMOUNT OF DAMAGE BY THE FIRE.
The loss occasioned by the burning of the Lunatic Asylum has been stated at $800,000. This is an egregious error. The entire loss to the State, including the building, apparatus, furniture, and whatever else was destroyed or damaged by the fire, will fall below $200,000. The entire building cost, when erected, including the grounds, less that $150,000. Less than $50,000 have been expended since the erection of the wings, in making these improvements and additions which were in any way damaged by the fire. Then it must be remembered that the State has had thirty years service out of the building. Its walls were in some places cracked, and were giving unmistakable evidences of the action of age and time. Whether the walls now standing can be mad available in erecting a new structure will be determined by the opinions of competent architects and engineers. We presume that the site of the Asylum will not be removed from the present suitable and beautiful grounds.
Saturday, November 21, 1868
The Patients of the Lunatic Asylum.
Up to last night about 160 patients of the Central Ohio Lunatic Asylum had been removed under orders of the various Probate Judges, by the proper officials of the different counties, and by friends. Last night at one o'clock 115 patients were started for the Northern Asylum at Newburg, in charge of Dr. Morell, Dr. Steward, and a corps of faithful attendants. These are of the class most requiring the attention and care that can be given only at an Asylum.
The patients remaining are from distant counties, from which officers and friends have not yet arrived. The Superintendent and Board hope that by Monday at the farthest every patient will be provided for.
Dr. Gundry, of the Southern Lunatic Asylum, was with the Board of Trustees yesterday. He has tendered the use of his institution, as it may be needed. Dr. H. S. Fullerton, late Assistant Physician at the Asylum, arrived yesterday morning, and during the day rendered most valuable aid.
There now remain at the Deaf and Dumb Asylum only about thirty patients, these subject to the orders of county authorities, who will, it is thought, send for them in a few days.
The Lunatic Asylum—Action of the Trustees.
The Board of Trustees of the Central Lunatic Asylum held a session at the Deaf and Dumb Asylum yesterday and last night. All members of the Board were present except Messrs. Wilson and Fullerton. De. Peck submitted a detailed report of the recent fire and circumstances attending the destruction of the Asylum buildings. The Board resolved to lay this before the Governor with the request that it be at once communicated to the General Assembly.
Resolutions of thanks to Superintendent Fay and other officers of the Deaf and Dumb Asylum, for their assistance and kindness, were adopted. The Board adjourned to meet at the call of the Superintendent.
AN INCIDENT.—During the terrible fire Wednesday night at the Lunatic Asylum, no persons more exerted themselves or performed more efficient service than Dr. Morell and Dr. Steward, the Assistant Surgeons. Both performed many acts of heroism, and both were many times in greatest danger.
Dr. Steward had a most thrilling adventure in attempting the rescue of the large woman who, on being taken to the Amusement Hall, created a sensation by a dance upon the piano.
This woman was one of the strongest and most violent in the Asylum. She made no effort to escape from her room, though the cinders from above were falling about and the ceiling threatening to fall. Dr. Steward rushed to her rescue at the risk of his life.
He entered the room, when the frantic woman turned upon him, closed the door and placed her back against it, thus preventing the escape of the man who had come to save her. She was so powerful that the Doctor's efforts to force her from the door were unavailing.
An attendant had followed him, however, and the two finally succeded in dragging her from the burning room to the Amusement Hall, where she celebrated her rescue by a dance upon the piano.
INJUSTICE.—The Cincinnati Commercial correspondent in giving a detailed account of the fire at the Lunatic Asylum on Wednesday night, puts stress upon the anxiety shown by some of the attendants about their "silk dresses," "Pompadour waists," conveying the impression that their duty was neglected.
This is unjust. The attendants made every sacrifice, and though in many cases losing everything, they faltered not. And since the fire the female attendants have been on constant duty, spending both Wednesday and Thursday night with the patients without relief—this without murmur.
MISTAKE—There was only one of the inmates of the Lunatic Asylum sent to the Penitentiary. When the fire broke out on Wednesday night, it was suggested that the more violent cases be transferred to that institution, but the accommodations offered by Mr. Fay, Superintendent of the Deaf and Dumb Asylum, rendered this unnecessary.
Monday, November 23, 1868
THE FIRE AT THE LUNATIC ASYLUM.
The following communication is not in the right spirit, but it contains questions that have been asked so many times that we publish it, giving in connection answers to the questions asked, as far as the Trustees of the Asylum are concerned.:
EDITORS MORNING JOURNAL:— I saw in your issue of to-day a communication from J. Sullivant, Esq., on the subject of the Lunatic Asylum fire. He seems to think that water works would be a sovereign remedy for such disasters, and condemns the cistern system of supply as wholly inadequate. I would ask Mr. Sullivant whether or not he has ever read or heard of any large cities where they had water-works. If I am correctly informed, the cistern system did not have a fair trial at the Asylum fire, as what cisterns they had there are said to have been but partially full at the time of the fire, and if the capacity of the cisterns were insufficient for such a contingency as was always possible to occur, ought not the trustees and superintendent to have had the capacity enough to have known it., and to have increased them in number and capacity until they approximated a safe standard? And why in all common sense were not the buildings insured? I am not aware that they had even a fire watch, such as prudent men usually keep about large and valuable establishments, especially at night. I hope the operatives were not too much abandoned to festivity on that occasion, as you say at the breaking out of the fire some two hundred of the insane were mingling with a large number of ladies and gentlemen from the city in the giddy mazes of the dance.
And now, Messrs. Editors, if your account of the working of the Fire Department on that occasion is correct, as set forth in today's editorial on the subject, it was not for any lack of water that the fire completed the destruction of that magnificent pile of buildings, but another lack—of capacity, probably, on the part of the man who controlled the hosemen. You say: "Instead of running the hose through the halls of [the] building, and beating the flames back from within, they (the flames) were driven forward by attacks in the rear from without." If that was the case, if they had had the Scioto river at their disposal, they would have been none the better off for it.
About the matter of insuring, it may possibly be said, and perhaps as to the matter of building additional cisterns also, that the Legislatures have not made special appropriations for those purposes. If such an argument should be made, I think I may answer in behalf of any of the legislative bodies that have convened here since the Asylum was built, that the most fogy among them would have made the necessary appropriations if the necessity of the case had been properly presented to them. The public, I think would like to know whether the other State institutions, located here and elsewhere, are in the same helpless condition.VENT.
Columbus, Nov. 20, 1868.
The Trustees and Superintendent had recently caused to be constructed two very large cisterns, conveniently situated on the grounds—one of the capacity of 1,500 barrels, reserved exclusively as a guard against fire, and which was full—the other of the capacity of 2,00 barrels, intended for general purposes, and which, at the time of the fire, yielded little or no supply to the engines. In addition to the cistern first named, there is a very large and inexhaustible well, which by the local machinery continued to feed the engines or keep up the supply of water in the cisterns, as long as the engines were worked. The fact is, two of the engines early gave out from defective condition, and the other was worked (whether efficiently and with judgment or not, we do not undertake to say) until further effort was considered useless.
As to insurance it is not usual for the State to take out policies. The trustees are not aware of any of the public property being insured; nor has any appropriation ever been made, or authority of law given for such a purpose. Two night watches were regularly placed on duty immediately on the attendants retiring; and vigilant supervision over the whole premises kept up through the whole night. But at the time of the breaking out of the recent fire, attendants were still on duty and the night watch had not assumed theirs.
The fire was first seen in the attic, above the upper hall, in the Northwest corner of the east wing. Notice was promptly given by the attendant on duty. The origin of the fire remains a mystery. No theory has been arrived at, that is satisfactory, or consistent with other known facts. No defect in flue is known, nor was there any fire in any flue in that part of the building. The house was heated from steam. The "festivity" alluded to in the article with-drew no vigilance of the attendants, and proved a most favorable circumstance in concentrating prompt action of the employes, and collecting to-gether and removing patients.
THE ASYLUM PATIENTS.—The transfer of the patients of the Lunatic Asylum, to the train for the Northern Asylum, on Friday night or Saturday morning, was made without serious difficulty. Many of the patients were noisy, but not troublesome in other ways. In addition to Drs. Morell and Steward, and the corps of assistants and attendants, Mr. Hunter, one of the Board of Trustees, accompanied the party.
On Saturday quite a number of the inmates remaining at the Deaf and Dumb Asylum were called for by county officers, and more were sent of yesterday.
It is thought the Legislature will take immediate steps to have the building rebuilt.
THE ASYLUM DEAD.—The remains of the persons who perished at the Lunatic Asylum fire on Wednesday have all been claimed but two. The remains of Mrs. Bradford and Mrs. Connor, of Athens county, still remain in charge of Taylor & O'Harra, undertakers. The have also the remains of one of the Asylum patients, who died since the fire, from injuries received.
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