Archiver > INLAWREN-OBITS > 2004-08 > 1092077981

From: Diana S Flynn <>
Date: Mon, 9 Aug 2004 13:59:41 -0500

SATURDAY, DEC. 30, 1950


Small Girls Die As Fire Sweeps Through Beavers Home on Seventh Street

Parents Away From Home When Blaze Discovered; Victims Range In Age From
18 Months to 6 Years

Four little girls, ranging in age from 18 months to six years, burned to
death late yesterday when flames swept through their three room frame
house on east Seventh street, near the city limits of Bedford, and
authorities were pressing investigations of the tragedy today.
Edward Beavers, 32, father of two of the victims and stepfather of the
other two who died was placed in the county jail for investigation about
9:00 o'clock last night but was released about 11:00 o'clock this morning
after being questioned for more than an hour by Coroner R. E. Wynne and

Victims of the fire, all daughters of Mrs. Elizabeth White Beavers, 26,

Linda Kay Beavers, 18 months.

Charlotte Maybelle Beavers, 2 years and 8 months.

Helen Louise Flynn, 3.

Mary Irene White, 6.

The official investigation was to enter another phase at 2:00 o'clock
this afternoon when a post mortem examination of the bodies was planned
at the Day & Carter Mortuary.

Both Parents Away

Both parents were away from the small block like house when the fire
broke out. Mrs. Beavers was at work at the Stone City Machine and Tool
Company, where she is a punch press operator, and Mr. Beavers had gone to
the home of a neighbor and friend, Campbell Blevins, 36, a few hundred
yards from the Beavers home to inquire about buying a rabbit.

The blaze was discovered by Mrs. Lizzie Brown, 78, who lives about 100
feet from the beavers home in another small house.

Mrs. Brown told authorities and Times-Mail reporters that she discovered
the fire as she prepared to light a lamp as darkness fell over the city.

She said that as she reached for her lamp, she glanced out of the window
and saw flames inside the Beavers home.

Mrs. Brown ran screaming from the house crying that the children were
burning up." She said that she ran to the front door of the Beavers home
and kicked at the door while at the same time calling for the children
inside to come to the door. She explained however, that she was unable
to open the door.

She said that flames were sweeping through the interior of the room when
she reached the house and that she heard no sounds from the children.

Attracted By Screams

Mrs. Brown's screams attracted Beavers and Blevins and the two men ran to
the Beavers home.

Beavers told reporters that when he reached the house, he pushed lightly
on the front door and it opened readily. He said that he attempted to
enter the room where the children were found but that flames and smoke
drove him back. He said that he could neither see nor hear the children
although the room was lighted by the fire.

Failing in the effort to enter through the front door, Beavers said that
he called for a blanket and someone handed him a quilt. He said that he
place the quilt over his head and tried again to enter the room but ht
fire was too intense.

Then, Beavers related, he and Blevins ran to the rear kitchen door and
attempted to enter the house on their hands and knees but were again

Blevins was painfully burned on the hand in the rescue attempt.

Kenneth Allen, another neighbor who joined Beavers and Blevins in the
rescue attempt said that he and Blevins tried to get in the kitchen door
of the house but explained that it was blocked by a washing machine.

Got Door Open

They got the door partially open, Allen said, and he attempted to crawl
under the machine but the heat was too intense. It was impossible to
crawl over the machine, he said, because of the smoke and heat. Allen
said that the interior of the house as "red hot" when he got there.

Blevins also related that the flames, smoke and hat prevented their
entrance to the house. "I'm, telling you the truth," he said to a
reporter, "The heat just wouldn't let us in." Blevins expressed the
belief that something explosive figured in the fire to cause it to spread
as rapidly as it did.

"It had to be gas or something," he said.

Blevins' wife, Lucille, said that she looked out of her kitchen window
and saw the flash of the fire after hearing Mrs. Brown cram. She shouted
"There's something wrong down there." It was then that her husband and
Beavers dashed from the Blevins home.

Mrs. Blevins said that she thought she heard one of the youngsters moan
when she arrived at the house, but both Allen and Blevins said that they
heard no sounds inside the house when they tried to get in.

Clearly Distressed

Blevins was clearly distressed by the tragedy. "I was going to fix fence
tomorrow, (Saturday)" he said, "but I think I'll go hunting so I can get
out in the fields and relax."
"I'm going to move just as soon as I can," he continued. "I can't look
down there (toward the Beavers home) and think about that."

Beavers at first thought that one of the children had thrown gasoline
from a can onto the hot stove, but this theory later were abandoned when
a gasoline can about half full of fuel was found intact and unexploded
with the cap on tightly. The gasoline was kept in the house to power a
gasoline engine washing machine.

Bedford firemen were able to bring the blaze under control quickly when
they arrived at the scene. The house itself was still intact, although
the interior was badly charred.

As soon as the fire was brought under control, officers and firemen
entered the house and found the little girls' bodies. The smallest was
found lying on a bad with heavy covers piled over it. Authorities could
not determine whether the child, Linda Kay, had crawled under the bed
clothing or whether one of the older girls had covered her. Linda's body
was not badly burned.

Semi-Seated Position

Fire Chief Ralph Brock said that one of the older girls was in a
semi-seated position on a day bed and the other two were on the floor,
lying face down. One was stretched out and that other was somewhat
crouched. All except the smallest child were badly burned, Brock said.

The fire chief, who conducted a careful inspection of the house after the
fire was beaten down, said that all of the girls were undoubtedly dead
before the fire was discovered.

He said that the three older children were in the southwest corner of the
living room, which he said, was the farthest pint in the room from the
apparent origin of the fire. The baby was on a bed in the northwest

Brock said that he children may have tried to get out the door and when
they failed fled to the point farthest from the fire.

The fire chief said that the fire appeared to have originated from an
overheated stove and faulty stovepipe. He also said that the clearance
between the stove pipe and ceiling was inadequate.

Firemen who reached the scene first said that the front door of the house
was open when they arrived and they immediately threw a stream of water
into the room.

Blind Man Saves Coat

The Beavers family occupied only two rooms of the house in which it
resided. The third small room was occupied by James Condon, 81, a blind
man, who was at the home of Mrs. Brown when the fire was discovered.

Mr. Condon ran to the Beavers home when Mrs. Brown screamed about the
fire and he salvaged a coat from his sleeping quarters there. Condon was
in Mrs. Brown's home when the fire broke out.

Gave Coherent Story

At the conclusion of the first phase of his inquest this morning Dr.
Wynne announced that said that Beavers had been released. He said that
the father gave a coherent story which corresponded with evidence
obtained at the scene of the fire by Fire Chief Ralph Brock.

Wynne said that the blaze was a flash fire, fed by many coats of
wallpaper on the walls and dry native timber which formed the ceiling.

The elbow of the stovepipe where it goes into the flue had a large crack
about six or eight inches long, the coroner said.

Two or three weeks ago, he related, a fire occurred in the kitchen of the
home due to a defective flue. Beavers repaired the flue with bricks and

Wynne said that the front door of the Beavers' quarters was defective.
He said that he door dragged. He also said that the only way to keep the
door closed from the inside was by turning a button latch. On the
outside a hasp and staple were used to keep the door closed.

Beavers told Coroner Wynne that he left the door partly open when he left
the children to go to the Blevins home. He said that when he left, the
baby was asleep on the bed and the two older children were sitting in a
chair playing and the other child was sitting on the floor changing her

Beavers told Wynne that he had not been gone more than a minute or two
until he hard someone scream.

Rush To Door

Wynne related that Beavers said he rushed to the door and called:

"Girls, girls, come to the door, come to me!" but there was no response.

Beavers showed little emotion last night after the fire but wept today
during questioning by the coroner.

Beavers said that he has not worked for about the past two years because
of ill health.

Beavers had been taking sedatives and police gave him a tablet at the
jail last night shortly after he was admitted there.

Coroner Wynne said that other people will be quizzed in the case before
the investigation is completed.

Funeral Monday

Funeral services for all four of the children will be held at 10:30
o'clock Monday morning at Elmwood Chapel of the Day & Carter Mortuary.
All four will be buried in Beech Grove Cemetery. The mortuary said that
he caskets will not be opened.

The oldest girl, Mary Irene White, was born in Lawrence county on
February 10, 1944. She is survived by the mother, Mrs. Beavers, a
half-sister, Margie Sue Beavers; the maternal grandfather, Thomas Ira
White of Bedford; the maternal grandmother, Mrs. Mary Lunsford of
Rushville, Ind.; the maternal great grandfather, Thomas B. White of Tarry
Park, and the maternal great grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. William Rollings
of Owensburg.

Helen Louise Flynn was born in Lawrence county on May 12, 1946, the
daughter of Harry and Elizabeth White (Mrs. Beavers) Flynn. She is
survived by her mother, her father, Harry Flynn at Butlerville, Ind.; a
half-sister, Margie Sue Beavers; the paternal grandfather, John Flynn of
Lawrence county; the maternal grandmother, Mrs. Mary Lunsford of
Rushville; the maternal grandfather, Thomas Ira White of Bedford; the
maternal great-grandfather, Thomas B. White of Tarry Park, and the
maternal great grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. William Rollins of Owensburg.

Linda Kay Beavers was born on June 28, 1949, and her full sister,
Charlotte Maybelle Beavers, was born April 14, 1958. Both were the
daughters of Edward and Elizabeth Beavers.

They are survived by the parents, a sister, Margie Sue; the paternal
grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. John Beavers of Huron, the maternal
grandparents (same as the other children), and two half brothers, Edward
Lee and Gordon Gene Beavers of near Huron.
Tragedy Follow Cheerful Day For Family; It Was Father's Birthday; Wife
Got Raise

When ill-fated fortunes struck the tine, three-room home of Edward
Beavers, his wife, Elizabeth, and four small children, yesterday it
seemed to have dealt a still blow made harsher by several ironic

Yesterday afternoon the flames quickly gutted the inside of the little
house and as quickly, snuffed out the lives of four innocent children.

Yesterday was the 32nd birthday of Edward Beavers, the father of two of
the children and step-father to the others. Beavers, in ill health for
the past two years, has been unable to work and has spent his long days
at home with the children, visiting with his neighboring landlady Mrs.
Elizabeth Brown, trying to make the hours seem shorter and life a little
less futile.

Yesterday on her job as punch press operator at the Stone City Machine
and Tool Company and before she left the plant to hear the brutal news,
Elizabeth Beaver's day was a happy one. Jack Shields, owner of the
machine company, had given her a raise in wages. Though the raise was not
big, Elizabeth knew what the added dollars could do each week for her
children and she was pleased. Now the extra money is meaningless to the
young mother.

Shopped Downtown

Still jubilant over her raise, Elizabeth left the plant about 5 p.m.
yesterday to stop at a down town drugstore to pick up the medicine that a
physician prescribed for her husband. And still not aware of the
catastrophe occurring in her life, she went on to a grocery store to make
purchases for the evening's meal.

Still another pathetic development is the fact that Mrs. Mary Lunsford,
Mrs. Beavers' mother of Rushville, arrived this morning to take the four
children to her home in Rushville to care for them a while. But it was
too late. She was already taking care of little 13-months-old Margie Sue
and planned to keep all the children in order to ease the burden on her

A bright ray of hope in the smoky gloom of depression over the Beavers'
family is the generous offer of Jack Shields, the mother's employer, of
financial aid and temporary lodging for Mr. and Mrs. Beavers. Shields
gave the grief-stricken parents an immediate gift of $100 and fellow
employees…..(part of page is missing)…. ers offered another ….(part is
missing) …ing the aid Shield's said "I always like to help someone who is
willing to help themselves and Elizabeth certainly is willing."

Mr. and Mrs. Shields went even further and this morning assisted Mrs.
Beavers in choosing new clothing in readiness for the funeral and in
providing for a collection place for donations of clothing and furniture.

Thomas Ira White, the maternal grandfather, said that his daughter and
son-in-law were not begging but that they would appreciate any donations
that folks might like to give. Any such gifts may be taken to the Stone
City Machine and Tool Company for collection.

Investigation of a fire fatal to four children here last Friday continued
today and Corner R. E. Wynne announced a verdict in the inquest would not
be completed until all witnesses were questioned.

Coroner Wynne, who opened an investigation immediately after a flash fire
snuffed out the lives of four daughters of Mrs. Elizabeth White Beavers,
stated all evidence in the case had not been presented. He pointed out
that all angles are being checked by Police Chief Jesse Condiff.

It was indicated that three or four days may be needed before all
witnesses are questioned.

Chief Condiff said that morning that an extensive investigation by his
department will probably continue for several days. There were no
developments for publication today, however.

The victims, all daughters of Mrs. Beavers were Linda Kay Beavers, 18
months old; Charlotte May Beavers, 2 years and 8 months; Helen Louise
Flynn, 3 and Mary Irene White, 6. The children died when flames swept
through a three-room frame house on east Seventh street shortly before
5:00 p.m. last Friday.

Buried Yesterday

A single grave marks the final resting place in Beech Grove Cemetery.
The little girls were buried yesterday in a lot owned by their
grandfather, Thomas Ira White. The bodies of Linda Kay and Mary Irene
were placed in one casket and the bodies of Helen and Charlotte Maybelle
were in the other.

Funeral services were at 10:30 a.m. Monday at Elmwood Chapel, Day and
Carter Mortuary, with Rev. Ralph Smith and Rev. Otto Duncan in charge.

Songs were "Jesus Loves All the Little Children," "Jewels" and "Beautiful
Beckoning Hands." The singers included Phyllis Tidd, Louise Craig and
Emma Stogsdill, with Mrs. Hazel Wayman accompanying at the organ.

Flowers were in charge of Misses Yvonne Winegar, Jane Mercier, Zena Mary
White, Sue Lafferty, Marilyn Turpen, Javonna Sharon Tolbert and Sharon
Lynn Williams.

Pall bearers for Linda Kay and Mary Irene were William Stewart, James
Henson, Delbert Beavers and Paul Stewart. Pall bearers for the other two
little girls were William White, Elza While, Paul White and Charles

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