The Hero Of The Southern Hotel Fire!
April 11, 1877 - A fire at the Southern Hotel killed 21 people and made a folk hero out of firefighter Phelim O’Toole. He saved a dozen people trapped beyond the reach of his primitive hook and ladder apparatus. O’Toole instructed victims to lower bed sheets, tied around the bedposts. He then swung out on a rope, climbed up the sheet and brought them to safety. The citizens of St. Louis awarded him a check for $500, which he promptly donated to orphans.