Hi Mr. Goodwin!
I received your book a few days ago. I apologize for not letting you know sooner but I have been busy. I was a history major in college and have been very interested in all history.
As for a family connection to the fire, not really, however my aunt, Pat Harper Parker, worked in a coffee shop somewhere around there and was on duty that night. She remembered serving coffee and cold drinks to not only workers fighting the fire and tending to the wounded but also onlookers. She brought my mother and uncle to see the aftermath several days after the fire.
I wish I could remember where she said she worked but as she died several years ago I can't ask her and my mother was only 12 and she doesn't remember where my aunt worked. She does remember going to see the ruins and remembers being affected because several people around her age died there.
Have you any information on the big Atlanta fire that happened around 1917 or so? I saw a reference to it somewhere but I have never seen a lot of info on it.
I really enjoyed your book and thanks!
Thanks for the kind words about our book. That's a very interesting story about your aunt Pat. Thanks for sharing it with me.
Hamburger Heaven was very near the Winecoff Hotel. That is where Alice Edmonds (the night maid) bought hamburgers and coffee shortly before the fire and brought them back to the third floor linen closet.
Yes, I am familiar with the 1917 fire. It started on Fort street and burned northward all the way to Ponce de Leon Ave. Homes along Ponce de Leon had to be dynamited to create a fire break. I have a family connection to that one.
My grandmother was an eyewitness to the Great Fire of 1917. She watched it from atop the Ponce de Leon Apartments (now The Ponce Condominiums) where she worked for more than sixty years. You can read the basic facts of that fire here:
Best wishes and be safe, Allen
Friday, February 23, 2007
Hi Mr. Goodwin!
Friday, February 9, 2007
Dear Mr. Goodwin,
I ordered your book for my daughter, she is our family historian. My grandmother Alma Mitcham Smith had a brother his name was John Thomas Mitchum (for some reason he spelled his name differently than the rest of the family). He had a daughter whose name was Ella Sue Mitchum. I believe she was with a youth group when this fire happened. Sadly enough she was one of the many casualties.
You may already have this information, but I will send it to you anyway, if I can locate it quickly enough... It is a newspaper article on my great uncle's search for several days trying to find his daughter's remains. I know back then that adults were sort of hush-hush about things that they thought would upset children, so all that was really said around us was that Sue had died in the Winecoff Hotel fire and little was said about how bad it really was. It has only been very recently that I have learned how tragic this fire really was.
They say that the divorce rate after the loss of a child is extremely high...my great aunt blamed my uncle for Sue's death and they ended up divorcing. From what I understand she was not in favor of her going on this trip and he let her go anyway. They ended up divorced because of it.
I think I have the article in my documents. I will email it to you if I can find it. Thanks so much for your interest in this, telling the story and being a voice for the victims of this tragedy.
This is a doubly sad story indeed. I have read your second e-mail and yes, I do remember the article, "Grim Hunt". I read it in the Atlanta Public Library in the middle 1980s.
Re-reading it brought back the solemn mood that enveloped me throughout much of our original book research. Suddenly and automatically I began reading again to myself in a voice reserved for an adult breaking bad news to a child. I remember the gentle cadence well. I relied on it often during the saddest parts of our research.
Thank you for writing to me and thank you for remembering Ella Sue Mitchum.
Best wishes and be safe,
Wednesday, February 7, 2007
Reader Bill Baker reports that a family history book reveals new information on the life and career of Winecoff Fire arson investigator Asa Nuckolls. Nuckolls was a premier arson investigator of his time, a veteran of at least twenty seven major probes of fires and explosions including the Texas Grain Ship Fire. His testimony (given by deposition due to his failing health) to the jury in the civil trial two years following the Winecoff Fire asserted that the fire was intentionally set.
Here is what Mr. Baker reports:
AS PART OF HIS CAREER RECORD WE SHOW HIM BEING A CHEMIST WITH
ILLINOIS STEEL CO 1905/1906.
THEN A CHEMICAL ENGINEER, UNDERWRITERS LAB INC.FOR
CHEMISTRY AND HIGH EXPLOSIVES FROM 1909-1946
FINALLY AS A CONSULTING CHEMICAL ENGINEER, UNDERWRITERS
LAB FROM 1946-1950.
THERE IS A NOTE ON ASA IN THE NUCKOLLS BOOK THAT AT HIS DEATH
A NOTICE WAS WRITTEN UP IN THE NEW YORK TIMES AS A FAMOUS
THE TWO REFERENCES ON THESE DATES COME FROM THE FOLLOWING:
THE FIRST VIRGINIA NUCKOLLS AND KINDRED BOOK II
PUBLISHED BY THE NUCKOLLS WORLDWIDE KINDRED ASSOCIATION
E-MAIL DATA BASE ON BRITISH CHEMICAL COMMUNITY 1880-1970
ASA HOPKINS NUCKOLLS WAS THE SON OF DR. JOHN WALTON NUCKOLLS
AND LAURA BUNCH HOPKINS WHO WERE MARRIED 06-05-1878.
ASA WAS BORN 1880 IN SPRINGFIELD, TN
HE DIED IN 1951 IN WHEATON, IL
ASA WAS MARRIED TWICE
1ST TO MYRTLE MONTGOMERY IN 1910. THEY HAD ONE CHILD
HAROLD HARRELL NUCKOLLS.
WE DON'T KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO MYRTLE OR HIS SON
2ND MARRIAGE WAS TO HELEN GATES ON 02-03-1928
TWO CHILDREN FROM THIS MARRIAGE
MARY ELIZABETH BORN 05/03/1929
JOHN HOPKINS NUCKOLLS 11/17/1930
Mr. Baker also reports he is himself an eyewitness to to the fire scene:
MANY YEARS HAVE PASSED, BUT HERE IS MY BEST MEMORY OF THAT DATE.
I HAD JUST TURNED 15 YEARS OF AGE (NOV. 10TH). WE WERE LIVING IN THE
TECHWOOD HOMES PUBLIC HOUSING COMPLEX. WE WERE ABOUT A MILE OR
SO FROM THE HOTEL. I WAS ATTENDING O'KEEFE SCHOOL WHICH WAS
LOCATED AT THE INTERSECTION OF TECHWOOD DRIVE AND 5TH STREET.
I BELIEVE I WAS IN THE 10 TH GRADE AT THIS TIME, BUT COULD HAVE BEEN
IN THE 9TH.
MY DAD WAS WORKING IN THE PARTS DEPT. OF JOHN SMITH CHEVROLET CO.
ON WEST PEACHTREE STREET. HE NORMALLY DID GO IN ON SATURDAYS
BUT A LITTLE LATER THAN ON NORMAL WEEK DAYS. I DON'T THINK WE HAD
A TELEPHONE THEN, AND OF COURSE NO TV. WE DID HAVE A SMALL RADIO
WHICH SAT ON TOP OF THE FRIGERATOR. THAT MORNING WHEN WE TURNED
ON THE RADIO ALL THE NEWS WAS ABOUT THE FIRE.
DAD HAD A YOUNGER SISTER WHO HAD BEEN WORKING AS A FRONT DESK
CLERK AT THE WINECOFF, BUT A SHORT TIME BEFORE THE FIRE SHE HAD
MOVED OVER TO THE BILTMORE HOTEL IN THE SAME CAPACITY. AT THIS TIME
I CAN NOT REMEMBER WHEN SHE MADE THE MOVE. SHE WAS LIVING IN AN
APT SOME WHERE BETWEEN THE TWO HOTELS.
AT THE TIME OF THE FIRE MY DAD WAS 43 YEARS OF AGE. WHICH AT THAT TIME
MAY HAVE BEEN THE START OF THE SENIOR YEARS, NOT LIKE TODAY.
THIS WAS THE FIRST TIME I CAN REMEMBER SOMEONE HAVING A "SENIOR
MOMENT". DAD FORGET THAT HIS SISTER HAD CHANGED HOTELS AND TOOK
OFF LIKE A SHOT TO CHECK ON HER.
WE DID NOT SEE HIM AGAIN UNTIL MUCH LATER IN THE DAY, AND HE SAID THAT
HE WAS HALF WAY TO THE WINECOFF BEFORE HE REMEMBERED HER CHANGE.
HE DID A COURSE CHANGE AND DID FIND HIS BABY SISTER. CAN NOT REMEMBER
IF HE FOUND HER AT THE BILTMORE OR AT HER APT. A BIG RELIEF FOR ALL OF
AS FOR ME, ALONG WITH ABOUT 3 OR 4 OTHER BOYS IN OUR MID TEENS GOT
TOGETHER AND WE WALKED UP TO SEE THE HOTEL. OUR FIRST EFFORT
WHICH WAS TOWARD THE BACK OF THE HOTEL WE GOT STOPPED BY THE
POLICE AND HAD TO BACK ANOTHER WAY. THIS TIME WE WENT DOWN TO
BAKER STREET AND WENT UP TO PEACHTREE ST. THAT WAY.
WE STOOD ON THE EAST SIDE OF P'TREE (ACROSS FROM THE OLD ROXIE THEATER)
FOR SOME TIME, AT LEAST I TH INK THAT WAS THE NAME OF THE THEATER,
I CAN STILL REMEMBER SEEING SOME SMOKE AND MANY HOSES. FOR THE LIFE OF
ME I CAN NOT REMEMBER SEEING ANY SHEETS OR BLANKETS HANGING FROM
THE WINDOWS AS SOME CAN.
SORRY THAT I CAN NOT GO INTO GREATER DETAIL, BUT TIME HAS NOT HELPED