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. Several people were saved from the ruin or were unhurt after the collapse, and these incidents were described as miraculous. The following is a narrative of some of the lucky few that were saved from possibly burning to death:
"One young girl was buried ten feet under rubbish, but her screams being heard, parties set to work to extricate her. After toiling long and hard, they succeeded in removing the complicated mass, when, to their astonishment, the girl jumped nimbly up, and ran skipping away, greatly pleased at her liberation, and not in the least hurt.
An entire family of five persons, all employed in the mill, was providentially saved, and the poor mother, gathering her children about her, amid the surrounding darkness, her heart bursting with gratitude for their deliverance, offered up a fervent prayer to Heaven.
Miss Selina Weeks, of Dover, N.H., worked in the spool-room, in the sixth story. She went down with the building, and when she recovered from the shock, she was standing upon the floor of the spool-room, her body half concealed amid the ruins. She escaped unhurt.
Damon Wyhom, an overseer in charge of the looms in the basement and first story, was buried beneath twelve feet of ruin. By almost superhuman exertion, and after repeatedly sinking back in despair, he succeeded in clearing a passage to where he could be reached by those outside, and was saved.
A boy at work in one of the upper rooms, hearing the crash, had the presence of mind to jump into a waste box, which, with its occupant, was buried several feet beneath the ruins. When the rescuers raised the pile of rubbish from the box, the young hero sprang from his narrow prison, and walked away as coolly as if nothing had happened.
Another boy, who had acquired the use of the "dudeen" [a short tobacco pipe], on being extricated from beneath a mass of machinery, walked away, took a pipe from his pocket and went to smoking.
Three women were in the privy when the mill fell, and were all saved, as that portion of the building remained standing until the succeeding evening.
Three young women, members of a family of seven, named Luck, were all in the mill at the time of the fall, all of whom escaped without serious injury. One of them, Jane Luck, after being buried five hours beneath the ruins, was rescued without receiving so much as a scratch. Anna, one of the oldest sisters, was standing near her loom when the crash came. She instantly threw herself under the loom, and called to Elizabeth Fish and Phelia Barnes to follow her example. They did so, and were all three [were saved]. The Luck sisters had one uncle killed and another fatally injured. All these girls were, near the windows.
Miss Ann Lugden of Lowell, was at work in the fifth story, and was buried in the ruins; after lying senseless for an hour she made her escape with several others near her, and returned to Lowell to prevent her mother from suffering anxiety and suspense.
Mr. Thomas A. Watson, who worked in the fifth story, had three ribs broken, his lower jaw broken in three places, and several severe flesh wounds and bruises. Yet he was not aware of any injury or pain until after his rescue. Watson's wife worked in the Pemberton Mill and had not been away from there a day for six months until that afternoon. Her husband intended to start for California on the following Monday, and she remained at home to do some washing and prepare for his outfit. By this cause she was saved from running the great personal risk which endangered the life of her husband.
Mr. Adams, second hand in the weaving-room on the first floor, was buried deeply in the ruins, and extricated himself with a saw and an axe which were handed to him through a crevice."