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Participate in the General Slocum Disaster Collaborative Tree!

Posted by Sean Daly on Oct 8, 2021

The steamer General Slocum burned in New York’s East River in 1904 with great loss of life to the German-American community there.

Do you know the story of the steamboat General Slocum? Until September 11, 2001, it was New York City’s worst disaster.

The German-American community in Kleindeutschland – Little Germany – on New York’s Lower East Side chartered a large paddle boat steamer for a picnic excursion to Long Island’s North Shore to celebrate the end of Sunday school classes. June 15, 1904, was a Wednesday and most fathers went to work; the boat was full of women and children. Fire started in a forward storage cabin and the untrained crew couldn’t put it out with defective safety equipment. In a flood tide from behind while navigating Hell Gate – New York’s most treacherous channel – the captain made full speed towards beaches in the Bronx and North Brother Island. However, a headwind fanned the flames aft. In only a few moments, 1400 passengers faced death by fire or by drowning, as few could swim, especially dressed in their Sunday best.

Geneanet has created a collaborative family tree of all of the families aboard the Slocum that day. Help us honor the memory of those who died and their bereaved survivors, many of them injured, whose descendants want this largely forgotten event to be remembered. Visit our forum thread for more information.

The paddle steamer General Slocum, named after a Civil War hero and politician, was built in Brooklyn in 1891 and was certified to carry 2,500 passengers. About 1,400 were aboard the morning of June 15, 1904.
The Slocum quickly burned to the waterline while beached on North Brother Island near the Bronx and although tugboats and other craft raced to rescue drowning passengers who had jumped to escape the flames, in just a few minutes there was no one left alive to rescue.
News of the awful disaster spread around the world, but in New York City, there was incomprehension as to why there was such loss of life. The German-American community of Kleindeutschland in the Lower East Side was shattered.
Bereaved fathers raced from hospitals to the morgue and back again. The warehouse of the East River 26th St. dock was turned into a vast morgue and workers from the coroner’s office set up tables to fill out death certificates with family members who identified their loved ones. Coroner Scholer, in the white hat, signs certificates. New York Public Library, Gustav Scholer collection
61 bodies were never identified due to their burns. All of Kleindeutschland turned out for the funeral procession; this is Avenue A at East 6th St. The unknown were buried together in Lutheran (All Faiths) Cemetery in Middle Village, Queens. New York Public Library, Gustav Scholer collection

View photos of the monument in All Faiths (formerly Lutheran) Cemetery, Middle Village, Queens.

If you are interested in participating in this project, please leave a comment below or visit our forum thread. Comments will be published, those requesting access will be answered by the project manager vie e-mail. Instructions for participating.

10 comments

I would be interested in learning more about this project and participating in it.


My relative, Edward Flanagan, is in your tree for the Slocum disaster. I have information regarding his parents, etc. Please let me know how I can add this information. Thank you.


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