General Tom Thumb rescued from deadly Milwaukee hotel fire!

In doing some class prep I came across a book titled Vintage Milwaukee Postcards, by Larry Widen, which talks about, among other interesting pieces of Milwaukee history, the famous (in its day) Newhall House Fire.

The Newhall House was a sprawling six-story, wood-framed luxury hotel located on N. Broadway in downtown Milwaukee.  In 1883 it burned to the ground, killing 72 people and becoming Milwaukee’s deadliest fire ever.  (Now that I’m on Facebook, I can tell you that Retro Milwaukee has a page on this fire, with lots of photos. You may want to check it out if you’re interested in learning more.)

Among the fire’s survivors was “the world-famous midget General Tom Thumb.”  As this screenshot passage from Widen’s book indicates, the actor “was rescued by a fireman who carried the 25-inch Thumb from the hotel on a ladder.”

Vintage Milwaukee Postcards

What a small world!  (Update on July 16, 2021: No pun intended, which I just now realized sort of happened there. I saw in my stats today that someone had just visited this post, and since it has been a long time since I’ve seen it myself, I decided to take a peek at it, too.)

One never knows what awaits discovery in the course of just moving through the day 🙂

About Katherine Wikoff

I am a college professor at Milwaukee School of Engineering, where I teach literature, film studies, political science, and communication. I also volunteer with a Milwaukee homeless sanctuary, Repairers of the Breach, as chair of the Communications and Fund Development Committee.
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