Students Two-Step to Safety, 1901

Although it is not a local story, we found this account from the December 13, 1901 Skidmore Standard (Skidmore, Missouri) too good not to share.  As told on page 2:

A 13-Year-Old Heroine.

Played a Two-step for 300 Children to March By Out of a School House.

Chicago — (Special)  While clouds of smoke filled the hallways from a fierce fire which raged in the basement of the Lincoln school, Ethel Barker, 13 years old, sat at a piano in the main corridor up-stairs and played a lively two-step for the 300 children to keep time by while marching out of the burning building.  The child did not cease playing until the last pupil had left the building, and when she tried to escape she was twice driven back by clouds of smoke, which by that time rolled through the corridors.  She finally reached a door and went to the first floor by groping along the walls and along the stair bannisters.

When the girl volunteered to play the march she was the only pupil who knew the building was on fire, for she had heard the whispered announcement that preceded the ringing of the fire drill gong.  When the gong sounded she ran from the Eighth grade room and began to play.  As a result of her coolness all of the children were taken out safely, although a panic was narrowly averted when she reached the lower floor and found that the building was on fire.

For a picture and another account of the story, see the Chicago Tribune of December 11, 1901, page 2.