Refusal to Leave Home
Saved Lives of His Children
The persistent refusal to yield to the pleadings of his children to
place them aboard the rescue train leaving the burning village of Metz,
saved the family of John Zimmerman, who, with his five children, arrived
Monday afternoon at the home of his brother, Henry Zimmerman, 12 Plum
Street. With them came the two little daughters of Mrs. Edward Hardies,
rescued by the merest accident from the steel gondola car in which their
mother lost her life.
The young people and children who will remain in Detroit
until their father is able to rebuild their home, are Martha, Augusta,
and Mamie Zimmerman, young women; Lavina and Fred, aged 9 and 7;and
Theresa and Louise Hardies, aged 6 and 5 years.
The Zimmerman’s lived on a farm just outside the village
of Metz, about 25 feet south of the railroad tracks. Augusta this tells
the story of their escape from the flames that swept the village:
Fighting the Fire
“When everybody was getting ready to go in the train, we
all gathered around father and teased him to let us go, too. It was so
hot and smoky, we thought we couldn’t stand it much longer, and it
seemed hard to see everyone going away in the cars and we staying
“But father said, ‘No children, if we’re going to burn,
we’ll burn right here on our own place. We’re safer here, anyway, than
we would be out in the woods on the cars.’
“So we pumped up tubs of water and got quilts out of the
house and soaked them with water to put them on the roof, for we thought
that we would keep the house from catching fire from the sparks. But,
at last, father saw that it was of no use. The wind blew so hard we
could scarcely hold on to the things that we carried out of the house.
The air was full of hot sparks and ashes and burning shingles.
“Then we carried bread and butter in cans out into the
field, and buried them, for we knew if we escaped we should have
something to eat.
“It was about half past 6 when it got so hot that father
saw there was no use trying to save the house with the wet quilts, so he
wrapped them around the children and took us over to the field. The
last thing, my brother Adolph went to the barn and drove out the cows
and horses. Father stayed around the house, trying to keep it from
catching fire. But, at last, it began to burn, and then we saw father
start to come to us. He got part way across and fell. He had worked so
hard, and the smoke was so thick, that it got the best of him.
“Sister Mamie and I ran to him and dragged him to the
place in the lot where we had our things. We put water on him and in a
little while he was alright again. Then father and Adolph got back to
the barn and dragged out a load of lumber that we had stored for our new
house. With the lumber and a hay rake, they fixed up a kind of shed
where we spent the night.
“The next morning, the men took the lumber and built the
first house that was rebuilt in Metz. Before night, we had 15 people
staying there, though it is not as big as a good-sized room.
The two Hardies children, Theresa and Louise, were in
the ill-fated gondola car with their mother when the car left the track
and the awful holacaust began. They escaped by clinging to the coat of
a man who was jumping from the car. Stunned by the fall, little Louise
was lying on the ground, while Theresa, a year older, groped her way to
a clearing where she was afterwards found by her cousin.
Stumbling along in the blinding smoke and heat beside
the train, Edward Hardies felt something that yielded beneath his foot.
He stooped and snatched up the body of little Louise and succeeded in
getting her also to a place of safety. His return was cut off, and his
wife and other children perished.
News, October 22, 2908
FAMILY OF FOUR TURNS UP
AFTER BEING MISSING A WEEK
Martin Lapczinsky, his wife and two children, missing since Thursday,
and though to be either burned to death or drowned n Grand Lake, were
located today at the cottage of Bliss Stebbins on the lake shore, where
they have been for several days.
of us were in a lumber camp near the lake Thursday night,” said Mr.
Stebbins today. “We did not think the fire was serious and turned in at
the usual hour. About 11 o’clock we were awakened by Lapczinsky, who
rushed into our camp and gave the alarm. We just had time to get to the
lake when the flames burst through the forest. We pushed our boat out
and waded a long distance along the shore to a part of the forest where
the fire had not yet come. There we rested awhile, until the flames
approached, then launched our boat again and pulled for Grand Island.
There was a tremendous wind, and it was all we could do to keep afloat
with ten in the boat.
the morning we tried to reach the mainland, but the fire was still
burning. Finally, we succeeded in reached the clubhouse and cottages,
where we have stayed ever since. We did not know that people were
searching for Lapczinsky.”
Stebbins reported that the camps of the Emery Martin Lumber Co., near
Presque Isle, were destroyed, as was also the camp of Joseph Ritlitz, in
the same vicinity.
“There were no fatalities in this region,” he added. “We have slept
only one night in the past five, however, and have been constantly on
guard. There is no fire near here now.”