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Posts Tagged ‘lakeview school fire’

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Gretchen Dorn was 10 years old when she perished in the Collinwood School Fire. Her stone shows signs of severe weathering, and I don’t know that I would have recognized it for what it was if I didn’t already know that she was buried in Woodland Cemetery not far from the Swanson children who died in the same tragedy. Gretchen is one of the children that we have a surviving photograph of, which is uploaded to her Find A Grave entry.

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I’ve written before about being a part of the Collinwood-Nottingham Historical Society’s project to locate the graves of the children who perished in the Collinwood School Fire of 1908. Of the students for whom we have burial information, all but 4 were interred on the east side of Cleveland or in one of its eastern suburbs. One child, Dorothy Hart, is supposed to be buried at Spring Grove Cemetery in Medina, Ohio, and I have an email in to the cemetery sexton asking for assistance in locating her burial records and grave. There are also three boys (Norman, Max, and James Turner) whose bodies were sent back to Oswego, New York, to be buried with their grandmother. Unlike with Dorothy Hart, however, there is not a specific cemetery listed in the records. I’ve found some Collinwood victims in a completely haphazard manner – just going to a cemetery to do photography and finding them, but I can’t very well head to Oswego for the morning to do the same. Also, Oswego has a number of cemeteries listed as being in the city, and there are more in the county as a whole. I tried searching on Find a Grave to see if some kind soul had by chance already created a memorial for the Turners. I am taking any suggestions on where to start to narrow down my cemetery search and figure out which Oswego cemetery they rest in.

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I’ve been uploading a lot of photos from East Cleveland Township Cemetery lately, which involves transcribing at least the name and dates on the stone into the website’s database. Examining each stone closely means that I notice some things that I haven’t before. One of the things that struck me was having a few stones in a row where the memorialized shared a death date.

Mammie M. and Daniel J. Frank

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I’m also including Eva and Edith Wachhaus in this count, because I know they died the same day – March 4, 1908, in the Collinwood School Fire.

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I don’t know what happened to the Frank or the Ford children – was it an accident that ripped two children from the family in one day? Was it an illness? How did their families cope with such tragedy?

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Euclid Cemetery has two nearly identical tombstones that look like two hearts side-by-side. Sadly, these tombstones are for four children (two sets of siblings) who died in the Collinwood School Fire of 1908.  Rose Sophie and Erma Marie Buschman were laid to rest on one end of the cemetery, and Lillian Carrie and Emil Otto Rostock sleep at the other.

Rose Sophie and Erma Marie Buschman

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Lillian Carrie and Emil Otto Rostock

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The Swanson family lost three children in the Collinwood School Fire. Edwin, Hulda, and Fred rest along with their brother Paul, who died as an infant. (If you look along the side of the monument in the photo below, you can see the inscription for Paul.)

Swanson

My friend Mary Louise, the president of the Collinwood-Nottingham Historical Society and driving force behind their research of the Collinwood school fire, was showing me the location of the Swanson children’s graves when she told me there was something else I had to see. She pointed out to me that their mother, Minnie, was eventually buried next to her four children.

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There’s a space on the other side of the Swanson children’s stone where you would expect their father to be, but no grave marker. We found Mr. Swanson’s marker several feet away, looking out of place, and, worse yet, upside down.

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Collinwood School Fire Memorial

On March 4, 1908, the Lakeview School in Collinwood (now a neighborhood of Cleveland), Ohio, burst into flame. By the time the flames were put out on that Ash Wednesday morning, a rescuer, two teachers, and 172 of the students had perished. Nineteen bodies could not be positively identified.

The city of Collinwood commissioned this monument for the students. The unidentified victims and some of their classmates lie buried around it.

Collinwood School Fire Memorial

My friend will swear to you that this monument moves. She cannot set out to find the school fire marker, because she will get lost in Lake View and never make it there. On the other hand, on the occasions when someone else manages to drive her there, she cannot approach the monument. The closer she gets, the more the feeling of fear rises in her, and she can feel the heat of the flames and hear the anguish of the other students.

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