Episode 99: Plain Hell: The St. Elizabeth’s Hospital Fire of 1950

In the early hours of January 7, 1950, flames illuminated the night sky around Mercy Hospital. An orderly was one of the first to see a mental hospital on the grounds engulfed in fire, but he would be far from the last. By the next morning, it would be one of the worst hospital fires in United States history.




Amy D. The St. Elizabeth’s Tragedy: Part I of II. Blog, Davenport Public Library. 1/14/2015

Anna Neal. State Historical Society of Iowa; Des Moines, Iowa; Iowa Death Records, 1888-1904

Past Weather, January 7,1950. National Weather Service.com

Clear and Warmer Weather Forecast for Quad-City Area. The Democrat and Leader, 1/6/1950

Screams Awakened Nurse Aid. The Daily Times, 1/7/1950

Lorenzen, Ron. Early Scenes at Fire Pure Horror Says Eyewitness. The Daily Times, 1/7/1950

Patient is Found Safe; Tears Flow at Reunion Scene. The Daily Times, 1/7/1950

Youth Chops Out of Burning Hospital. The Daily Times, 1/7/1950.

Bills, Fred. Davenport Meets Emergency of Worst Tragedy. The Daily Times, 1/7/1950

37 Bodies Taken from Fire Ruins. The Democrat and Leader, 1/8/1950

Nurse’s Aide Saw Best Friend Die in St. Elizabeth’s Fire; Says Mrs. Neal Had Patients. The Daily Times, 1/11/1950

Evidence Presented to Board of Inquiry Probing Hospital Fire Supports Mrs. Epperly’s Confession. The Democrat and Leader, 1/25/1950

Murray Francis Rites Are Set in East Moline. The Rock Island Argus, 5/14/1971

The National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; World War Ii Draft Cards (Fourth Registration), For the State of Illinois; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System; Record Group Number: 147; Series Number: M2097

United States of America, Bureau of the Census; Washington, D.C.; Seventeenth Census of the United States, 1950; Record Group: Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790-2007; Record Group Number: 29; Residence Date: 1950; Home in 1950: Davenport, Scott, Iowa; Roll: 1928; Sheet Number: 6; Enumeration District: 101-92

Condon, Sister Mary Brigid. From Simplicity to Elegance: The Story of Mercy Hospital, Davenport: 1869-1994. Davenport; Genesis Health System.

Loewy, Tom. IA Firefighter Still Haunted by Grisly 1950 Hospital Blaze. Moline Dispatch and Rock Island Argus, 1/7/2020.

Richard J. “Dick” Fee. FindaGrave.com

St. Elizabeth Hospital Fire Inquest – Microfilm 977.769 Cor . The Inquest took place on February 2 and 3, 1950.


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