GENERAL SLOCUM DISASTER
June 15, 1904

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On June 15 1904 the excursion boat, SS General Slocum, caught fire on the East River of New York City. The boat was carrying about thirteen hundred people, mostly women and children, on an outing from St. Mark's Lutheran Church located on 6th Street east of Second Avenue. The wind was very strong fanning the fire until it was out of control. The life preservers and hoses were rotted. The victims could neither put out the fire nor jump overboard safely. Most of the crew and passengers were burned to death or drowned when the jumped into the river to escape the flames. The grief stricken German American community of Kleindeutchland never recovered. Most left the Lower East Side and moved away, many to Yorkville, on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

More than 1,000 people died that day, making it New York City's worst disaster until September 11, 2001.


Post card collection of Maggie Land Blanck

I had this post card image for a number of years. In March 2009 Bob Alexander wrote that he had a version of the same postcard. In his version he was able to make out that the paddleboat on the right side was the Gen. Slocum.


Image shared by Bob Alexander March 2009


Image shared by Bob Alexander March 2009


Postcard collection Maggie Land Blanck

Bob's email spurred me on to seek other images of the General Slocum. This view of the New York Harbor shows Ellis Island behind the General Slocum. In July 2013 J T Chiarella pointed out that the building on the right is "Pier A". It still exists today.


Collection Maggie Land Blanck

The General Slocum


Collection Maggie Land Blanck

"The stricken General Slocum sinks into the Long Island Sound"

Printed on back;

General Slocum Disaster

1904 Flaming Horror on a Death Ship

June 15, 1904, dawned as one of those rare summer days that make New York City seem full of promise. And the Sunday School children of St. Mark's Lutheran Church were glad, because the Rev. George Haas had planned their annual picnic for that day. The children, their parents and their teachers were to board the steamship General Slocum, which would take them up Long Island Sound to Locust Grove on Huntington Bay. There they would eat lunch, play games, and have a great time.

The General Slocum, a typical excursion steamer of the day, had been built of wood in 1890. There were over 1,300 people aboard her as she pulled away from lower Manhattan at 9:40 A.M. The vessel steamed northward up the East River into the western end of the Long Island Sound. At 10:20, just 40 minutes after the Slocum had left her pier, fire broke out. A northerly breeze swept the flames rapidly toward the ship's stern, where the passengers huddled in terror. Capt. Willam Van Schaick beached the blazing steamer, now an inferno, on North Brother Island*, where her stern lay partly submerged in 30 feet of water. Many men, women and children were drowned as the leaped over the sides into the water; hundreds more died in the burning furnace of the hull when the hurricane deck collapsed. In all, 1021 were lost — making this one of the worst catastrophes in maritime history.

The entire nation was shocked, by the tragedy. President Theodore Roosevelt formed a special commission to investigate the disaster; there was also a New York coroner's inquest and a federal grand jury investigation. In the end it was found that the General Slocum's life preservers and fire-fighting equipment were not only inadequate but old and worn out, though they had recently been approved by government inspection. But it is doubtful than many lives would have been saved even if they had been new, since the fire spread through the old wooden hull so rapidly that few would have had time to outfit themselves before leaping into the water. The investigations did, however, lead to more stringent rules governing the inspection of passenger vessels.

A monument to the unidentified dead from the General Slocum still stands in the Old Lutheran Cemetery in Middle Village, Long Island. Th hulk itself was raised and rebuilt as a coal barge called the Maryland which was lost in a storm off Sandy Hook, New Jersey, on December 3, 1911.

* North Brother Island in the East River between the Bronx and Rikers Island was the site of Riverside Hospital an institution for the isolation of people with quarantinable diseases such as smallpox and typhoid fever. It is now uninhabited and and off limits to the public.


Collection Maggie Land Blanck

Printed on back:

"On a sunny June morning in 1904, the General Slocum, an excursion boat, sailed from Manhattan's Third Street pier, bound for Long Island. Aboard the steamer was a local church group looking forward to a day of picnicking and fun. But just minutes after the Slocum left its dock, black smoke began pouring from the ship. Hay and cans of oil had somehow ignited in a supply room, and fire roared through the steamer. The burning of the Slocum proved to be one of the worst disasters on water in American history; 1,021 people — mostly women and children — were killed.

One error after another contributed to the day's tragedy. The ship's captain had not trained his crew to handle a fire. Lifeboats, tied to the ship with wire, could not be launched. Aging fire hoses burst when the water was turned on, and rotted life preservers sank like weights. Many people jumped overboard to escape the spreading flames and drowned.

The disaster shocked the nation, and President Theodore Roosevelt, ordered an investigation. As a result, a federal commission recommended that all new ships be built of steel and have fireproof wall.

The Slocum appears to have been somewhat of a ill fated vessel. See SS General Slocum

Collection Maggie Land Blanck, Harper's Weekly June 25, 1904

Map showing the Course of the Burning Steamer


Collection Maggie Land Blanck, Harper's Weekly June 25, 1904

The Fire in Proress — Scene after the Collapse of the Hurricane-deck


Collection Maggie Land Blanck, Harper's Weekly June 25, 1904

The Steamer "General Slocum" Sinking off North Brothers Island after the Fire


Collection Maggie Land Blanck, Harper's Weekly June 25, 1904

A View of the "General Slocum" on fire off North Brother Island.

"As soon as word was received of the disaster, fireboats were at once hurried to the scene, where they attempted to put out the fire aboard the steamer and to rescue those who were imprisoned on her. At the moment the vessel went aground the hurricane-deck gave way, throwing many passengers, women and children, into the flames below, where rescue was impossible."

Collection Maggie Land Blanck, Harper's Weekly June 25, 1904

"View of the River Front, showing Bodies cast up on the Shore"


Collection Maggie Land Blanck, Harper's Weekly June 25, 1904

"Hospital Surgeons and Nurses attending the Injured"


Collection Maggie Land Blanck, Harper's Weekly June 25, 1904

"Another View of the Beach where the Bodies of Victims were Laid Out"


Collection Maggie Land Blanck, Harper's Weekly June 25, 1904

"Some of the Survivors, who were provided with Blankets from the Hospital on the Island"


New York Library, digital Collection — Temporary morgue 1904 Gustav Scholer papers Catalog Call Number: MSS 89M31 Digital ID: PS_MSS_CD8_108

New York Times

New York Library, digital Collection — Dock at E 26 St. June 15, 1904 Gustav Scholer papers Catalog Call Number: MSS 89M31 Digital ID: PS_MSS_CD8_108

New York Library, digital Collection — Burial of the 'unidentified' 'Gen. Slocum' disaster June [15, 1904] : Corner Ave. A & 6th St. Gustav Scholer papers Catalog Call Number: MSS 89M31 Digital ID: PS_MSS_CD8_106

Courtesy of The Mariners' Museum, Newport News, VA

The wreck of the General Slocum


New York Library, digital Collection — Cemeteries - Lutheran Cemetery - Queens. 1910 Digital ID: 731344F

The General Slocum Disaster Monument, Lutheran Cemetery Queens*

Erected by the Organization of
General Survivors and the Public,
in the Memory of the 61
Unidentified Dead Who Lost Their
Lives on the Steamboat Gen.
Slocum on June 15, 1904.
IN MEMORIAM

*In September 2010 Judy Gumaer Testa informed me that the name of the cemetery has been changed to Lutheran All Faith Cemetery, Glendale.


Photo collection Maggie Land Blanck

The General Slocum Disaster Monument, Tompkins Square Park, New York City

This fountain in memory of the victims of General Slocum disaster was erected in 1906 on the north end of Tompkin's Square Park.


Transcription of the articles on the Slocum disaster in the Brooklyn Eagle by Mimi Stevens at

BROOKLYN GENEALOGY INFORMATION PAGE

GENERAL SLOCUM DISASTER Brooklyn Daily Eagle - June 15, 1904


The Addicks (Addix/Adickes/Adieckis) Family

Ernst Adickes married Anna Stuve the daughter of Margaret Stuve. They had John (c 1888), Margaret (c 1892), Martha (c 1894), Mary (c 1895), Ernst (c 1899).

Mrs. Stuve took the child on the Slocum outing. She survived and was listed at Lincoln Hospital as "Mrs. Mary (or Maggie) Addix" 49 Ave A, shock. She was also listed as Margaret Stuve, Grandmother, age 65, at Lincoln Hospital.

Two of her children John age 16 and Margaret age 12 died. As did her "adopted daughter, Margaret Heidkamp[er].

Listed as Dead were:

  1. ✟ADDICKS, Margaret, 12 years, of 49 Avenue A - dead

  2. ✟ADDICKS, John, 16 years, of 49 Avenue A, (died)

  3. ✟Margaret Heidkamp 13, adopted child (died)

Listed as Missing:
  1. ADDICKS, Martha, 10 years, of 49 Avenue A, (missing) (She was definitely the daughter of Ernst and Anna Adickes). John age 15 and "Martha" age 11, were listed as death in a later list.
  2. ADDICKS, Mary, 9 years, of 49 Avenue A (She was definitely the daughter of Ernst and Anna Adickes)
  3. ADDICKS, Amelia, 75 years, of 49 Avenue A (???)

Listed in a Hospital:
  1. ADDICKS, Annie, 7 years, of 49 Avenue A, (Flower Hospital) (could this have been Mary?) she was listed later as Addicks, annie, age 8, 49 Ave. A
  2. ADDICKS, Ernest, 5 years, of 49 Avenue A, (Lincoln Hospital)
"Mrs." Addicks was rescued:
"The first person that I saw was Mrs. Addicks, who keeps a candy store at No. 53 Avenue A, and she called me by name, and I went over and helped her by keeping her chin above water and towing her a little. She got to shore all right and was not much hurt. She threw her arms around my neck and kissed me."

Testimony of Charles Schwartz, Jr., machinist's apprentice, eighteen years old.

History of the General Slocum Disaster, J. S. Ogilvie

No listing under NYC death index for Addicks/Adickes in June 1904.

Ernest Adickes, 1894, 49 Ave A, Candy, New York, New York, City Directory, 1894

1900: 49 Ave. A. Ernst Adieckis, 37, born Germany, Candy Store, Annie wife, age 33, John son 10, Martha daughter 5, Annie daughter 4, Ernst son 3, Stuve, Margaret, mother in law, age 50, Stuve, Richard son age 24, ice cream, Heidkember, Maggie, border, age 6, adults born Germany, children born New York.

Death: Stuve, Margarethe, 72 y, Dec 10, 1911, 36426

The Armand Family

Andrew Armand married Anna P Haller on August 1, 1895. They had Stella circa 1896 and Lillian in 1903. Anna Armand and her daughters were on the Slocum excursion with Annie's mother-in-law also named Anna. The two Annas and Stella survived. Lillian died.

In Lincoln Hosptial:

  1. Armand, Mrs. Annie, twenty seven, 334 East 6th street, shock and burns.

  2. Stella Armand, age 8, 334 6th street, shock and burns to arms and body

  3. Armand, Anna age 48, 334 East 6th street shock and burns.

  4. Listed among the missing were "Armond" grandmother and gandchild 334 E 6th street.

Dead: ✟ARMAND, Lillian, 14 months, of 334 Sixth street (Birth: Armand, Lillian, Apr 12 1903, 16946)

1900: 123 7th street, Andrew Armand, 27, cabinet maker, Annie Armand, 23, Stella Armand, age 3, all born New York. 1915: Bronx, Andrew J Armand 42, cabinet maker, Anne Armand 38, Stella Armand 19, stenographer, George Hopfe 32, border

They were also listed in the 1920 and 1925 censuses in the Bronx.

The censuses indicate that Andrew born circa 1873 was the son of Andrew and Anna Armand. Anna listed as age 48 in Lincoln hospital must have been his mother.

The Cortes Family

Metta Cordes widowed age 46 born Germany was listed in the 1900 census at 417 16th street with her children: Henrietta, 18, dressmaker, Henry 16, baker, John 15, clerk, Charles 13 and Fritz 10 plus three boraders. Mrs. Cortes, Henrietta, and Fritz (Fred) died in the Slocum disaster. Henry was on the excursion but survived. John was listed as identifying his mother and brother Fred.

Charles was on the missing list but appears to have survived. Metta Cordes was buried in Middle Village Queens.

Henry Cordes said that he and his brother, Charles, were resqued by a tug but the rest of his family were missing.

The Deluccia Family

Lena DeLuccia of 54 7th street took her children: Rose, Frank, Agnes, and Nicholas on the Slocum excursion. Frank, Agnes and Nicholas perished. Rose, age 12, survived. Lena Deluccia, who was badly burned survived by clinging to the paddlewheel.

Dead: Deluccia 54 7th street: Agnes age 6, dead, Frank age 9, dead, Nicholas, age 2, missing, presumed dead (never found)

Rose age 12, in Lincoln hospital in shock.

Nine persons from the tenement 54 Seventh street, in the rear of St. Mark's Church, none of them members of the congregation, went with the excursion. Only one came back.

Mrs. Lena De Luccia, who lives on the top floor front, took her four children, ranging in age from two and a half years to twelve, for the sake of the sail. She persuaded her neighbor across the hall, a young married woman named Sophie Siegel, to join the party. Yesterday morning Mrs. Galefsky, on the floor below, decided to go, too, and took her two young children.

Mrs. De Luccia was the only one who returned. Her hands and arms were horribly burned. She and her children, she said, were all together on the main deck, near the wheel-box, when she saw the smoke and flames forward. She picked up her baby and, with her other children, crowded to the rail. Men went around, she says, shouting that there was no danger.

Next she remembers a wave of frenzied women and children forced her overboard. She lost her baby and saw no more of her other children. Mrs. Siegel struck the water alongside of her, but she did not see her come to the surface. The Slocum's engines had stopped and Mrs. De Luccia clung to a paddle-blade. As the superstructure burned, the iron got so hot that it blistered her hands. Then a Towboat picked her up.

History of the General Slocum diaster, 1904, J. S. Ogilvie, Electronic library

Mrs. A. Galewsky (Flora age 36) and 2 children. Helen Galewski age 5 years dead list, Morris age 3 dead list. Mrs. Galewsky was on the missing list - her body was never recovered. The Galewski family were listed at 54 7th Avenue in the 1900 census : Samuel 36, born Russia, salesman, Flora 30 born Russian, Hellen 2 and Emil 1 both born in New York.

The 1900 census listed 15 families at 54 E. 7th ave including:

  1. Henry De Luccia age 35 stableman, and his wife Lina age 29, both born Italy and their children Aggie 2, Frank 5 and Rosie 8
  2. Nick De Luccia age 40, bookkeeper, Janie, wife 29 both born Italy, no children.

Mrs. Sophie (Mrs. T. age 24) Siegel (or Nagal).

The building was said to be a five story flat. Fourteen people who lived in this building were said to have died. Besides the DeLuccias, and the Galewskis (Galwiski) was Mrs. Tobias "Nagal" who was pregnant, and Mary Clow 35 - listed as identified by her husband, Alfred - her name was later given as Margaret.

NYC Death Index: Deluccia, Frank, 9 y, Jun 15, 1904 3380, Bronx, Body No. 541 - Frank DE LUCCIA, 9 years, 55 Seventh street - Identified June 12, 19-4

"In the clothing of a boy about 10 years old was a small aluminum strip, such as issue from slot machines upon the deposit of a cent. On the strip was stamped "Frank DE LUCCIA, goes to P.S."
Galewski Helen 6 y Jun 15 1904 3465 Bronx

The Dorhoffer (Darhaffer) Family

The Dorrhofers lived at 121 Ave A. Fritz and Babette Dorrhofer had five children: Lillie, Kate, Frida, Fritz and Mamie. Fritz and Frida died. Mamie survived. Lillie and Kate were not memtioned in connection to the Slocum. Kate was listed with the family in the 1920 census.

Fredrich Dorrhofer married Barbara Kirchner on 04 Apr 1885 in Manhattan Manhattan, New York, New York

Barbara "Dohefer" of 121 Avenue A was saved by patrolman John Q. Schwing of the Alexander Avenue Station who saved five people in his boat. Mrs. Barbara Dorhoffer 121 ave A was listed in Lincoln Hospital with burns on head neck and arms.

Also listed at Lincoln Hospital: "Dorrfler" - Margaret 42, 121 Ave A., Barbara 42, 121 Ave A, Mary age 9, Mamie age 9 both 121 Avenue A.

Mamie Dorhoffer of 121 ave A in Lincoln Hospital burns right hand and legs.

Listed among the Dead:

Dorrhoffer, two children, no 121 Avenue a.

✟Dorrhoffer, Frederick age 11, 121 Avenue A - DORRHOEFER, Frederick, 11 years, of 121 Avenue A.

Listed among the missing: "Dorffhager" Mrs. 40 , Fred 10, Freda 13, Mamie 8 all of "128" Ave A.

On another list of missing Dorrhofer, Freida age 13 121 Avenue A.

The "Doerhfer" family made a mistake in identifying the body of of Fritz Doerhofer of 121 Ave A. After the body was removed from the morgue and taken to the undertaker the mistake was recognized and the body was returned to the morgue. (NY Times, June 17, 1904)

The body of ✟Frida Doerrhofer 13 of 121 Ave A was identified on June 22, 1904.

The 1900 census at 121 Ave A listed the Dorrhofer family: Fritz, age 37, wine cooper, Babette wife age 33 six children 5 living, Lillie daughter age 14, Kate daughter age 10 Frida, daughter age 9, Fritz son age 6, Mamie daughter age 5

Fritz, Barbara and Mamie Dorrhofer got passports in 1906.

1920 Census: Manhattan District 16, Dorhoffer, Frederic, age 55, wine place, Barbara wife age 57 (?), Cate, daughter, --, Marie, daughter 24

Fritz and Barbara Dorrhofer of Elmherst Long Island returned form Europe on the Aquitania in September 1929.

New York Death Index: Doerrhoefer Freida 13 y "Sep" 15 1904 3670

Frederick "Fritz" junior not listed.

The Freese/Fresse Family

Fresse, Anna 15 of 509 Houston street, Lebanon Hospital

Fresse, Elle 43 of 509 E Houston Lebanon Hospital

Fresse, Fred 50 509 East Houston

Listed as Freese, Ferdinand, age 50, Annie, age 15, and Meta age 44, of Manfin and Houstin or 509 Houston. Brooklyn Eagle:

Mrs. Charles E. PFIFER, wife of Policeman Charles E. PFIFER, attached to the Vernon avenue station, was lost. Her body was identified this morning at the morgue. Mrs. PFIFER is the daughter of Frederick FREESE, a saloonkeeper in East Houston street, Manhattan, and who is also a director of the Consumers Brewing Company of this borough. Mr. and Mrs. FREESE with another daughter, were on the excursion, and at the time of the outbreak were engaged in looking in the engine room of the boat. Mrs. PFIFER had stepped away, and while the FREESE family were saved, she was killed. The unfortunate woman was to have celebrated the first anniversary of her wedding to-day.

June 16, 1904

The Hedekamp/Hedenkamp/Hendkamp Family

Mrs. E Hedenkamp 806 6th ave, Lincoln Hospital shock - Listed as Margaret Hedekamp age 50 805 6th street on a later list.

Hendkamp, John age 54, and Margaret age 11, Frank of 805 6th street listed as dead.

The Muth Family

John Muth age 36, of East 146th street and his three year son were the only members of their party of fifteen to survive. His wife, his children, Lizzie, Keenie, and Katie perished, as did his mother and mother in law, Wilhelmina Hessel, his sister (or his wife's sister) , Keenie Schnitzel (Mrs. Edward Schnitzer) and her daughter, Kate, as well as four neighborhood children they had brought along. One of those nieghberhood children was Minnie Christ, age 14, buried in Lutheran Cemetery. John and his son John suffered burns on their bodies and were in the hospital.

The list of dead included: Eliza Muth, age 62 1264 Lexington Ave, Lizzie Muth, age 11, Tina Muth age 8 both of 785 E 146the street. The missing list included: Mrs Kate Muth, Kate Muth 8, John 3, Mrs Ann 1254 Lexington ave and Conrad Muth age 12, 1254 Lexington ave. Conrad was the son of Conrad Muth a brother of John Muth. He told the times John and his son had become seperated from the rest and were forced to jump overboard.


Lizzie, Christina, Katie and John Muth from New York's awful excursion boat horror, 1904 (open library.org),

John,age 31, clothing cutter, Katie, Lizzie, Christina and Katie were listed in the 1900 census on E 5th street.

Kate Muth and her children were buried in the Lutheran Cemetery in Middle Village.

The Ulrich Family

Mrs. Sophia Ulrich of 433 W. 41st street was listed in Lincoln Hospital in shock with burns. Sophia was about 70 years old. With her on the trip was her daughter Elizabeth wo did not survive.

Dead: Elizabeth Ullrich age 32 433 W 41 st street.

1880 census: Essex street, Lawrence Ulrich 48, grocer, Bavaria, Sophia Ulrich 46, Darmstadt, Mathilda Ulrich 22, Lena Ulrich 18, Edward Ulrich 13, Cathrine Ulrich 11, Elizabeth Ulrich 8, John Martin 26 9 boarders.

1900 census: 41st street, Sophia Ulrich 63, widow, Matilda Ulrich 42, daughter, saleslady delicatessen, Edward Ulrich 33, son, clerk, delicatessen, Elizabeth Ulrich 28, daughter, bookkeeper

Ulrich, Elizabeth, 32 y, Jun 15 1904, 3444 Bronx

Ulrich, Sophia, 82 y, May 24 1916, 16258 Manhattan The Weisser Family

In Lincoln Hospital Mrs. ernestine weisser of -4 Stockholm street Brooklyn, shock.


More on The General Slocum Disaster

General Slocum Boat Fire

  • The Last Survivor of the Slocum Died in 2004

  • The General Slocum by Rebecca Kirschman and Dr. Nils Samuels, March 21, 2002

  • Captain Wade, Hero of the Disaster


On June 28, 1880 a similar incident occurred when the steamer Seawanhaka

See STEAMSHIP SEAWANHANKA DISASTER, JUNE 1880


List of Dead as publiched in the Brooklyn Eagle, June 17, 1904

GENERAL SLOCUM DISASTER


List of Dead as publiched in the Brooklyn Eagle, June 17, 1904

REPORT OF THE UNITED STATES COMMISSION OF INVESTIGATION UPON THE DISASTER TO THE STEAMER "GENERAL SLOCUM." OCTOBER 8, 1904.


Germans in the New York City Area

The Hoboken Fire

If you have any suggestions, corrections, information, copies of documents, or photos that you would like to share with this page, please contact me at maggie@maggieblanck.com

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© Maggie Land Blanck - Page created 2004 - Latest update, October 2013