Saturday, April 8, 2017

Incredible Fire Story Found in German Newspaper

I cannot read German. But, thanks to technology, I can still search German newspapers to find stories of my German relatives.

I recently found my first German newspaper story about Jerome Kaechle who was my great grandfather's younger brother. The article, which I found on Chronicling America, was in the Detroiter Abend-Post on August 4th, 1916.

After seeing his name, I painstakingly worked with Google Translate to translate the article. I also sent the article to my dad and shared it on the Genealogy Translations group on Facebook. Combining all of our work, I was able to come up with this composite translation:

Durch Feuer aus Betten getrieben [Driven by Fire from beds],
Detroiter Abend-Post, Detroit, Michigan, 4 August 1916,
page 8, column, 3, digital image, Chronicling America,
(http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov), accessed 1 April 2017. 

Driven from their beds by fire
3 houses and 4 sheds burned down this morning
Several people forced to jump out of windows

The three two-storied houses 512 to 520 Ashland Avenue and four sheds were destroyed by fire at 1 a. m. today, the cause of the fire is not yet known for certain. It caused damage of approximately $8,000 to $10,000. The residents of the houses, some 40 people, had to hurry out onto the street in their night clothes, as the fire spread really quickly, several had to jump out of windows, and two were carried out by neighbors having been overcome by smoke.

The fire was discovered simultaneously by several neighbors, and Mrs Ausher, of 551 Ashland Ave raised the alarm, but the fire was burning fiercely when the fire brigade arrived. The families of Arthur Kretschmer, Frank Donahue and Frank Hart lived at no 512 and were woken by the neighbors' warning. The house was already in flames, and without having time to dress, they had to rush out to the street.

Durch Feuer aus Betten getrieben [Driven by Fire from beds],
Detroiter Abend-PostDetroit, Michigan, 4 August 1916,
page 8, column, 3, digital image, Chronicling America,
(http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov), accessed 1 April 2017.

It spread quickly

Even before the alarm had been raised, the flames had taken hold of the house of Karl Duppernell, 518, and that of Jerome Kaechle, 520 Ashland Ave, and when the fire brigade arrived it was not possible to save either of the houses, and the teams could only stop the further spread of the fire. Frank Donahue lived on the top floor of one of the houses; his wife is ill in hospital, and when Kretschmer ran into the house to warn him, Donahue was lying on a bed, overcome by smoke, and had suffered slight burns. Kretscmer carried the unconscious man onto the street, where he soon recovered. Kaechle was also almost overcome by smoke, when he was found and rescued.

The Hart family had only moved in two days earlier, and had furnished their home completely new: everything was destroyed by the fire. Hart works nights at Chalmers car factory, and wasn't home at the time of the blaze. Arthur Bartell, who lived in a room in one of the houses, ran back in to save $150, and was almost overcome by smoke. Everyone who had been made homeless by the fire found accommodation with neighbors.

[Special thanks to my father and volunteer Anne Callanan for their help with this translation!]

6 comments:

  1. What a story and quite a translation challenge. Sounds like a huge fire and big financial loss, but luckily your ancestor and the others weren't seriously hurt!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree! Though it sounds like quite a lot of property damage, it was great to hear there were no serious injuries.

      I meant to look up how old Jerome was at the time. He was about 45. He was married twice, but his first wife had died before this fire and he hadn't yet married his second wife. So, it looks like he was living on his own.

      Delete
  2. A fun find, but a sad story. You did a great job getting it translated to share.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Linda! I hope I'm able to find more stories in German newspapers. They're challenging, but worth it!

      Delete
  3. I know it was 100 years ago but only $8,000 - $10,000 in damage? Crazy.

    I'm glad to know there were no serious injuries.

    ReplyDelete

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