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A Terrible Tragedy.

The awful tragedy of the family of the Hon Benjamin P. Tracy, Secretary of the Navy, has cast a gloom over society at the national capital, and has for the moment eclipsed every other subject of public interest in this country. About 7 o'clock in the morning of February 3 persons passing the residence of Mr Tracy, 1634 I-street, Washington, saw flames coming from the front windows, Secretary Tracy, his wife, his daughter (Miss Mary Tracy, aged 14), his married daughter Mrs Wilmarding, and her daughter Alice, and a French maid servant were sleeping in the rooms upstairs. The servants, who were at their duties downstairs, were unaware of the danger until the butler, James Welch, answered a ring at the door and was informed that the house was on fire. The walls, ceilings, and stairways of the house were of wood, oiled and varnished, and almost simultaneously with the discovery of- the fire the flames ran up the stairway to the roof, and cut off all communication. The fire department was promptly, on the ground, and as soon as it was known that Secretary Tracy and his family were in the rooms upstairs the firemen made the most strenuous effotts to reach them. Chief Engineer Parish of the fire department rushed through the flames, and succeeeded in bringing down Secretary Tracy, who was lying on the floor of his bedroom unconscious from smoke. Mrs Tracy endeavored to escape by dropping from her bedroom window on the second floor. She fell 30 feet into the stone-flagged areaway before anything could be done towards rescuing her or relieving her fall, and died almost immediately from injuries to her heart, sustained in the fall, which flooded her lungs with blood. The lifeless body of Miss Mary Tracy, was found by Chief Engineer Parish a few minutes later. She was lying on the second floor hall, at the head of the stairs, and had evidently died from suffocation. The dead body of the French maid burnt to a crisp, was found in hex" room on the top floor of the house. Mrs Wilmerding, Secretary Tracy's married daughter, and her daughter Alice occupied the second story front room on the same floor with Secretary and Mrs Tracy. Both she and her daughter jumped from the window to the grass terrace below without receiving any serious injury, although the shock to both was necessarily severe. Secretary Tracy is 60 years of age, and it was at first feared that the shock of his great loss might prove fatal to him. It was some hours before he recovered full consciousness, and then the news of his dreadful affliction was broken to him by President Harrison. The bodies of Mrs Tracy and her daughter were removed to the Executive Mansion, whence they were taken on February 5 to Oak Hill Cemetery for interment, The funeral was attended by the President and all t;he members of his Cabinet, and nearly all the members of the Senate and House of B.epresentatives. Investigation into the causes of the fire show that it began in the front parlor, from a defective flue connected with the heating apparatus, the house being heated by l|ot air fron> a furnace in the subsceljar. This seems to explain why the servants, who were on the basement, knew nothing of the fire until it was too late. Secretary Tracy Ijas rallied, and* is bearing up as, w-e|l as could be expected under his terrible affliction. He has received many letters and messages of condolence from all parts of the world, including a cable message from Queen Victoria, expressing her deep sympathy with him in the hour of his trial.-—" Sydney Mail" corres.poncle,jit.

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Bibliographic details

A Terrible Tragedy., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2391, 2 April 1890

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A Terrible Tragedy. Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2391, 2 April 1890