Little Girl Saved
Pemberton Mill Collapse
The Pemberton Mill in Lawrence, Massachusetts collapsed on January 10, 1860. The debris was set on fire while trying to extricate people that were trapped in the ruins. A young girl was buried under an iron column, and several men were able to pull the debris from on top of top her. Her lifeless body, and that of a nearby woman, are described in the following narrative:
"On Tuesday evening, before the fire broke out, while two thousand men were exerting every energy in rescuing the survivors from their living sepulchres [burial chamber], and the dead from the rubbish which buried them, a party came upon the body of a little girl.
She lay apparently crushed beneath a ponderous block of iron, weighing over a thousand pounds, and which covered her body to her chin; her back was pressed against a huge timber, one of her arms was thrust to the elbow through a ring in a piece of machinery, and she was completely wedged in by heavy iron gearing.
Intent only on preserving her features and form as little disfigured as possible, the men labored carefully to remove the block of iron without crushing her still further. Four of them tugged upon it, but could not stir it. After they had made several ineffectual attempts, a stalwart and athletic man, in passing, caught hold of it, and with marvelous power, aided by the excitement which the scene produced upon him, he succeeded in loosening it.
The other rubbish was then removed, and the body taken out, when, what was the surprise and joy of the men to find that they had rescued a living girl instead of a corpse, and more, that her injuries were not fatal, but comparatively trifling. The heavy iron had met with some more powerful obstruction than her body, and her life was spared as if by a miracle. Had the pressure upon her body been but slightly increased, or had the least carelessness been allowed in extricating her, she would have been another added to the list of victims.
In another spot near by, and at about the same time, the body of a woman was extricated from the ruins by some of her relatives and friends. The bricks and iron had buried her so tightly that no hopes were entertained of her life, and when the body was at last drawn out, the little circle of friends found their worst fears confirmed.
Her husband took her carefully in his arms, and, with a heart throbbing with grief, bore her towards his home. A number of relatives were there awaiting her, and, when they saw her lifeless form, cried out in sorrow. Suddenly, the woman revived, and throwing up her hand, cried out, "I’m safe I’m safe!" She was received as one risen from the dead."