Tragic 1912 fire in San Antonio claims 8 lives, destroys St. John's Orphanage

  • Source: WOAI-TV NBC 4 San Antonio
  • Published: 10/30/2020 12:00 AM

A tragic fire killed eight people, including three young children, and destroyed St. John's Catholic Orphans Home back in 1912. The fire started around 4:30 a.m. on Oct. 30, 1912, at the orphanage on the corner of San Saba and W. Houston Street, where CHRISTUS Santa Rosa now stands. According to the San Antonio Light, 87 children, ranging in age from 2 to 12 years old, and nine nuns were in the building at the time of the fire. San Antonio Fire Chief Wright, at the time, told reporters the work of the nuns "was all that saved those little tots." After the fire broke out, the first work of the nuns was devoted to saving the children. They woke up the sleeping orphans and marched them all, single file, down the only fire escape on the west side of the building. The death of Mother Mary of the Cross was one of pure courage, as she learned Francis O'Brien, a baby, was missing. Without hesitation, she ran back upstairs, found the boy and struggled to a window with him in her arms.


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