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May 25, 1908


Either Rolled Onto Tracks or Fell
While Catching Ride in the
Burlington Yards.

Mangled beyond recognition, and the head missing, the body of Martin Pretzel, aged 17 years, a son of Joseph Pretzel, and employee of the C. H. Conklin Ice Company, residing at 1657 Washington avenue, was found on the Burlington tracks, directly under the Fourth street viaduct, at 4:30 o'clock yesterday morning by Louis Hommold, a laborer. He reported the discovery to the No. 2 police station. Patrolman James McGraw was sent to make an investigation but could find nothing by which to base the identity of the body and ordered it removed to the Eylar Bros. undertaking establishment.

At noon yesterday the parents of young Pretzel became uneasy about their son's absence, and hearing of the finding of the body investigated. Harvey E. Bailey, a son-in-law residing with the Pretzels, identified the pantaloons as the ones which he had given the boy a short time ago, and the father thought the coat and vest were the same as worn by his son when he left home. Beside the body as it lay on the track, was found a hat which belonged to Lee Ganders of 413 Landis court, the dead boy's companion. The two boys, who worked at neighboring grocery stores, left home after work Saturday night, saying they might go to St. Joseph on a fishing trip.

Lee Ganders reached his home at 4 o'clock yesterday morning, and explained to his mother that he had gone to the Fourth street viaduct with young Pretzel, that from there they had intended catching a train for St. Joseph. While waiting for the train the boys stretched themselves on the ground beside the track and fell asleep.

"About 3:30 o'clock in the morning," continued young Ganders, "I was awakened by the noise made by a passing passenger train. As the cars passed by I missed Pretzel, who had substituted the hat he wore for the one worn by myself. Thinking that he had either caught the train or gone home, I started for my own home."

The inference is that while asleep young Pretzel may have rolled on to the tracks and was run over or he might have attempted to mount one of the platforms of the moving cars and fell under the wheels. No part of the $1 given the deceased by his mother was found in his clothing.

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March 19, 1908


Mrs. Hilda Holmquest, Landis Court
Fire Victim, Has a Daughter.

Mrs. Hilda Holmquest, who on February 2, jumped from the third story of her home at 406 Landis court during a fire, sustaining fractures of both legs, a scalp wound and internal injuries, yesterday gave birth to an eight-pound daughter in the Swedish hospital. Both mother and child were doing well last night. At the time of the fire in Landis court Mrs. Holmquest rushed to the rear fire escape with another woman's baby in her arms. She threw the baby to the ground and it was caught by a bystander and unhurt. Mrs. Holmquest leaped after the child and struck the pavement in the alley. She was taken immediately to the Swedish hospital, where she has since remained. When she was first injured the attending physician entertained little hope of her recovery.

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February 3, 1908





Man Caught the Baby as It Dropped,
but the Woman Struck the
Hard Pavement and
Was Badly Hurt.
Mrs. Hilda Holmquest.
Who Heeded an Excited Crowd's Advice to Leap From a Burning Building, and was seriously hurt.

Cut off from escape by the stairs in a fire in 406 Landis court yesterday afternoon, Mrs. Hilda Holmquest rushed to a rear fire escape three floors above the paved alley, with another woman's child in her arms and stood a moment dazed while flames shot up at her from a window on the floor beneath. It seemed impossible for her to descend the ladder through the flames and the excited crowd below cried to her to jump.

"Oh, take the baby," she said, "it is not mine."

Then she threw the infant and jumped after it.

George M. Thomas of 910 Wyandotte street, one of the crowd beneath, caught the babe by one arm and both feet and dodged Mrs. Holmquest's falling body.

The child was unhurt. Mrs. Holmquest struck the brick pavement and suffered a broken knee, a serious scalp wound and internal injuries. She may recover.

Two minutes after Mrs. Holmquest jumped the truck and ladder company from No. 4 fire station arrived and rescued all of the other people imprisoned by the fire in the upper floors. They are: Mrs. Edward McNamara, wife of the police sergeant; Mr. and Mrs. C. L. Bushnell and Mr. and Mrs. Mellin.

Others than Mrs. Homlquest, who were injured in the blaze, were people on the first floor. The fire started from an unknown cause in a closet in the apartments of Mrs. Frank Alley, on the first floor, and when she opened the closet door it had gained such headway that already it was eating its way through the ceiling into the rooms above and it burst out of the closet upon her, singeing her hair and burning her hands.

A Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell, who were visiting Mrs. Alley, were unable to reach a door before the flames cut them off. Mitchell's face was burned deep into the flesh. Mrs. Alley was unable to save anything from her apartments.

The rescue of Mrs. McNamara from a window above the floor from which Mrs. Holmquest leaped was a thrilling one. When she discovered the fire she rose from her bed, where she had lain for six weeks because of sickness, crept to a window, and seeing nothing below her but smoke and flame, climbed along the window ledge on the third floor to the window of hte adjoining apartment, No. 408. There she remained until Captain John Vaughn of the fire company put up a ladder, climbed it and carried her to safety.

Mr. and Mrs. Bushnell and the Marlins, their guests, were also on the third floor. Smoke and flame coming up the stairs and enveloping the fire escapes compelled them to sit in their windows and await the arrival of the firemen. No. 4 truck company ran up three ladders and brought them all to safety.

When the work of rescue was finished the firemen turned their attention to the blaze and extinguished it after a hard battle. Two companies were called and assisted No. 4. The fire damage was confined to the three foors of the one apartment, although tenants of the apartments on either side suffered damage by water.


Last night no cause for the fire had been discovered. M. G. Harmon, agent for the property, said that the loss will probably amount to $4,000 or $5,000. The "court" runs from Broadway to Washington street on Eighteenth street on both sides and includes twenty-two houses, accommodating four families each on as many floors. Howard B. Waldron, mayor of Hisllsdale, Mich., bought the property five years ago for $200,000 and $80,000 insurance is carried.

Mrs. August Josephson, mother of the baby that was dropped three stories, returned soon after the fire and found her child at her sister's, Mrs. H. O. Axene, at 402 Landis court.

Mrs. Holmquest is 28 years old and came here from Providence, R. I. She has been married eight months and is the wife of Theodore Holmquest, a porter, employed at the Emery, Bird, Thayer Dry Goods Company. He was at work yesterday and she had left her home at 1638 Pennsylvania avenue to visit Mrs. Josephson and was caring for the baby, Velma, while Mrs. Josephson attended a funeral. Velma is eight months old.

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