Doug Welch writes to Susan Barlow, regarding the Jimmy Murphy tragedy below:

Susan, The undertaker mentioned in the ["Card of Thanks"] article was Edward W. Post, the same man who would become the fire department's first line-of-duty death in 1921.

Webmaster's Note: To read an article by Doug on the death of Edward Post, please click First SMFD Line-of-Duty Death.

Alayne Murphy Gelletly writes to Susan Barlow:

Dear Susan,

Seeing the reprints of Doug Welch's articles on the history of the fire department made me think of the fire which killed my father's brother in 1905, when Jimmy was eleven years old.

Enclosed are three items from the South Manchester News of Friday, June 16, 1905, which I found on microfilm at the Mary Cheney Library last year.

The first, on p. 4, A Dangerous Practice, reports that on the previous Saturday an alarm of fire could not be rung in from box 52 at the corner of Spruce and Oak streets because the keyhole was plugged with buckshot.

The second item, on p. 5, Burned to Death, Unfortunate Accident to Little James Murphy of Eldridge Street, mentions that "an ineffectual attempt was made to ring in an alarm, as noted elsewhere in these columns."

The third item, also on p. 5, Card of Thanks, is a note from my grandmother, signed Mrs. William Murphy, but I think, judging from the formal language, that someone else, perhaps a newspaper reporter, wrote this for her.

Jimmy was a beloved child, my grandparents' eldest, but no one in my father's family ever spoke of him while I was growing up. (My mother told me about him when I was a teenager.) Perhaps they loved him so much, and his death was so horrible, that they couldn't even bring themselves to utter his name to others. There must have been treasured stories about Jimmy that my generation would have loved to hear, but we never did. There is only the newspaper article. Jimmy's marker in the East Cemetery says, "Gone But Not Forgotten."

We took [the] photos of Jimmy's and other family markers in October 2010.

Webmaster's Note: Click each image for a larger view.