Iowa Old Press
Sioux County Herald
March 2, 1876
Loss of Life by Fire at LeMars.
One of the most terrible and heart rendering calamities that ever befell a
community occurred last Thursday, at LeMars, and seems to have almost filled
the cup of sorrow to the brim. We let the Liberal tell the story in its way:
About 11:30 o'clock last night the night watchman, Mr. Aukerman, discovered
that the West End Hotel, located about three-quarters of a mile south of the
depot in LeMars, in what is known as the South Side Addition, was on fire.
He communicated the fact to Mr. James Andrews, who immediately in company
with George Perue (sic Pew), started for the fire. They reached the scene of
the conflagration as soon as the distance could me made on foot and found
all the occupants asleep, consisting of Dr. A. B. Griffin and family, and
Mr. John Niermeyer and family consisting of a wife and 6 children, and a
blind man, who is a brother of Mr. Niermeyer.
The first intimation that the occupants of the house had of the fire was
given by the bursting open of the doors by the parties from town. Mr.
Griffin and his family all got out. The blind man and the two children that
were sleeping with him made their escape. Mr. Niermeyer awoke in a
half-smothered condition and got out not knowing what was the matter at the
time. He seems to have lost all reason as soon as he saw the fire. He lost
all consciousness and is now insane.
The blind man displayed a remarkable presence of mind. Two of the children
were sleeping with him, and taking one under each arm, he started to descend
the stairs through the flames. The stairs fell in with him, but the brave
man held on to the children and brought them out alive through the flames,
though they were quite seriously burned.
Language cannot compliment this brave good man for his noble act. Totally
blind, he could not know the danger that he was in. Yet, when the stairs
fell in with him and the children, he still held to them, and if they had
perished he would have perished with them.
Mrs. Niermeyer was about 24 years of age. She was a noble woman. And
affectionate and loving wife and mother. She had six children, three of them
perished with her in the flames, two were saved by the blind man, and one
was spending the night at a neighbors.
Two little girls and a boy perished in the flames-the oldest a girl of three
years and 6 months, a little boy 2 years old, and a baby girl, 8 or 9 months
Both families lost everything in the shape of household goods and clothing.
The blind man lost all his effects, including $110 in money.
Old Mr. and Mrs. White lived with Mr. Griffin, and their household goods and
clothing were all destroyed.
The children who were burned severely while being taken from the house by
the blind man, received medical attention from Dr. Porter, and are as
comfortable as could be expected.
--Since the above was in type we learn that the citizens of LeMars have done
all in their power to elevate the sufferings of the terrible stricken
The funeral sermon was preached Sunday at the M.E. Church, the Rev. Mr.
Glass officiating, and was a very solemn affair. The church was crowded.
Iowa Old Press Home