CT CT - Little Miss 1565 & the Hartford Circus Fire, 1944

Discussion in 'The Unidentified' started by smile22, Feb 27, 2005.

  1. write

    write New Member

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    Unless someone identifies the remains by DNA, I will always believe that she was Eleanor Cook of Southampton MA. Her mother lived and worked in Hartford CT but the kids stayed with their aunt in Southampton MA. The mother saved up and took the children to the circus that day. She was not able to identity them because she was in the hospital badly burned.

    After she died in the '90s her sister (the child's aunt) came forward and said that the woman had always denied that it was Eleanor and would never even look at the picture that was posted in the newspaper every year. She would rather believe that Eleanor was alive somewhere. So finally the aunt gave up trying to get her to admit the truth.

    The surviving brother, Donald, said it was his sister.

    I lived 1/4 mile from Southampton when this secret was revealed by the aunt. I paid close attention because all my life I'd seen the picture in the newspaper and heard the story. Two policemen always went and placed flowers on her grave. Now they are saying it's not Eleanor. Dental records? Well, how good were dental records for a little kid back in 1944? Blonde hair while the mother was a brunette? Blonde hair often darkens later on. Height? Features? We don't know unless we have a family photo of Eleanor herself to compare.

    But I don't know why the aunt who lived on East St in Southampton MA would have lied and told the newspapers that the child was Eleanor if it hadn't been. Too bad someone won't do the DNA thing so people could know for sure but I doubt that will happen. Probably doesn't matter. Just that some of us who have lived with this mystery all their lives would like an answer.
  2. smile22

    smile22 Live Laugh Love

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    could the real Eleanor cook have survived a family mistakenly took the child for theirs because they were in a rush to get out and she had on similar clothing? or they knew somehow the deceased child was theirs and they didnt want to deal with the grief was way to much for them to handle?

    i am going to get a copy of the book when funds permit i believe a fellow co worker i used to work with her grandmother was at the circus that day
    madamx likes this.
  3. MaryG12

    MaryG12 Well-Known Member

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    A rather sensitive topic for me (there is a reason circuses are on the no-no list in my family) one of my relatives died in that fire:

    LeVasseur, Marion

    I remember getting that book "Circus Fire" from the library, read the first page then promptly returned it. That was the end of that.
  4. cybervampira

    cybervampira Well-Known Member

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    Video @ link.

    CT medical examiner seeks to ID bodies from 1944 circus fire

    Connecticut's medical examiner is seeking to exhume two female bodies found after the 1944 Hartford circus fire in an attempt to identify at least one of them.

    Chief State Medical Examiner James Gill told The Hartford Courant he is hoping modern DNA testing can put a name to unidentified remains buried under markers as 2109 and 4512, the case numbers assigned by the Hartford County Coroner in the aftermath of the fire.

    Hartford State's Attorney Gail Hardy filed a motion Friday on Gill's behalf for a court order to allow the bodies to be exhumed.

  5. Richard

    Richard Well-Known Member

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    Besides the unidentified and unclaimed bodies of the Hartford Circus fire, there was one boy who was known to have survived (at least initially), but who went missing from the hospital that same day. He was Raymond A. Erickson, Jr., age 6. Here is his story:
    Raymond A. Erickson, Jr., age 6

    Raymond A. Erickson, Jr. of 245 Williams Street, Middletown, was born May 5, 1938 in Connecticut, son of Sophie (Kurneta) and Raymond A. Erickson. Raymond was assumed to have died from injuries received at the circus fire, although his body was never identified.

    He attended the circus with his uncle Stanley Kurneta, 26, his aunts Mary, 18 and Elizabeth Kurnetta, 9, his grandmother Mrs. Frances (Platek) Kurneta, and his cousin Anthony, 4, and the group sat in reserved seating section S, four rows from the top.

    When his uncle Stanley noticed the fire, he led his family toward the main entrance and found that a steel animal runway at the NW corner of the big top blocked their way. Stanley pushed Frances, Elizabeth and Anthony over the chute and got them outside, then went back into the burning tent to find his sister Mary and nephew Raymond, but the intense heat forced him out.

    He continued his search on the circus grounds and was unable to find Mary, but he did find Raymond on a board near a circus wagon with serious burns to his face and neck, sobbing quietly and eyes rolling side to side.

    Stanley picked the boy up and rode with him in an Army truck to Municipal Hospital, then carried him to the fourth floor and placed him on a mattress on the floor in the corridor. Stanley asked a priest to give the boy his last rites, then he left the hospital to find those he left behind.

    When his search led him to HPD headquarters, officers on duty there took Stanley to the hospital to receive treatment for his own burns that were so serious that he spent over two weeks hospitalized.

    Mary Kurneta was among the dead removed from the grounds and later identified at the State Armory.

    Raymond was described as 6 years old but with the height and build of a nine year old, sturdy and round faced, straight brown hair, large hands. His arm had been broken just above the wrist a month earlier, and he would have genetian violet stains on his arm from three days earlier when a doctor treated him for a blister caused by the case he had on his arm. His teeth were straight and well spaced, 2 front upper and 2 front lower teeth were adult teeth, and several molars with cavities. He had never been to a dentist, so no records were available. His uncle said the boy was fully clothed and wet when he brought him to the hospital, wearing a white shirt with brass buttons and a yellow stripe on the collar, blue chevrons and a blue eagle on the left sleeve with Navy blue shorts, a belt with a black buckle, brown sneakers with a knot in the laces that his mother had tied that morning and blue socks.

    Raymond's father inspected the bodies at the State Armory and was certain that his son was not there.

    Sophie Kurneta inspected a box of the victims' belongings at Municipal Hospital and found her son's shoes with his socks tucked inside them, but no other traces of the boy. All of the hospitals, the morgue, the Hartford Police Station, funeral homes and the coroner's office were all checked and questioned about Raymond's remains and clothing, but nobody had any knowledge of him.

    The investigating officer for the Connecticut State Police declared that "some errors were made", and Medical Examiner Dr. Weissenborn believed that someone else claimed Raymond as their own child. Mrs. Erickson declined to have the investigation continue, not wanting to disturb the other parents by informing them of the mistake.

    Raymond's estate was awarded $6,500 by the arbitration board. In addition to his mother, he is also survived by his father, Raymond Sr., who was called back to duty in the U.S. Navy shortly after the fire.


    Erickson, Raymond
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  6. PastTense

    PastTense Well-Known Member

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    "An effort to use DNA technology to learn the identity of two unknown victims of the Hartford Circus Fire, nearly 75 years after they were buried in graves with numbered headstones, was put on hold Monday as the judge hearing an exhumation request asked for additional information.

    Judge Susan Cobb also ordered that public service announcements be placed in the Hartford Courant and one other media outlet to ensure that anyone who may have an interest in the exhumation of two females — now known only as 2109 and 4512 — has an opportunity to be heard. The numbers match the case numbers assigned to them by the Hartford County Coroner following the July, 6, 1944 disaster that claimed 168 lives."

    Judge delays ruling in efforts to identify unknown victims of 1944 Hartford Circus Fire
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2019
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