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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Greeley woman works to give ‘Ten Circus Men’ from 1884 tragedy a name



Patti Morgan sits last week with the headstone she is looking to improve in Linn Grove Cemetery. Morgan has been researching the 1884 death of 10 unknown circus workers to identify the men and place their names on the headstone.

WHITNEY HIGHT / For The Tribune

By Mike Peters


June 26, 2011

LINN GROVE CEMETERY — One of the most famous graves in Greeley, where the remains of 10 unidentified circus workers were buried 126 years ago, may have to be changed, thanks to the diligent work of a Greeley woman.
Patti Morgan became interested in the Orton Anglo-American Circus workers’ grave in Linn Grove after reading about the 1884 tragedy. She began work on library computers and found something that wasn’t there before: the names of the victims.
“It made national news at the time,” Morgan said. “Papers all over the country had stories about the fire.”

One account Morgan found in the New York Times was especially graphic, even though the newspaper had no reporters at the scene:
“The odor of the roasting flesh and the distant cry of the coyote added to the general horror. The voices of the dying grew fainter and soon ceased.”
A later coroner’s inquest would show that 60 men were crowded into the railroad car, which also was carrying two barrels of gasoline. It was determined that the gasoline was ignited by a torch used to light the car. Luggage blocked one end of the car, the fire at the other, leaving only a small window for escape.
In addition to the 10 who died, dozens were injured in the fire. The engineer disconnected the car from the train and sped 10 miles to Greeley and returned with a doctor. Two more doctors came from Denver and treated the men while the train moved on to Denver.
The circus officials said they had to be in Golden for their next show. The burned car and 10 men were left behind.
Greeley officials and residents took over the scene. They removed the remains of the 10 men and placed them in a 10-foot-by-7-foot coffin. They buried the coffin in Linn Grove Cemetery with a tombstone that stated simply, TEN CIRCUS MEN.read more at:http://www.greeleytribune.com/article/20110626/NEWS/706269976/1002&parentprofile=1001





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