New York: 1891-1907. Unbound. This grouping contains five items: a 1904 7.5” x 11” Certificate of Honor from the U.S. Volunteer Life-Saving Corps, a 1904 invitation to the awards ceremony “as a hero of the Slocum disaster and the U.S. Volunteer Live-Saving envelope in which the invitation was mailed, Muller’s Police Pension Fund Certificate from 1907, and a cryptic, handwritten “Hurrah-for-the-Police” thank-you note from 1894. All are in nice shape. Very good. Item #009052
Frank Muller was a patrolman from the New York City’s Thirty-sixth Precinct when he responded to the horrific fire aboard the General Slocum in the middle of the East River. The Slocum was a Brooklyn-built passenger steamboat that was used to transport people on excursions around New York City. St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church had chartered the ship to take its predominately German-speaking congregation on its annual picnic. Over 1,400 passengers, mostly women and children, were on board when just past East 90th Street a fire started from a carelessly discarded match that ignited straw, oily rags, and lamp oil stored in the ship’s Lamp Room and spread to a paint locker and a cabin filled with gasoline before being discovered. After it was, the captain decided to continue on course rather than grounding the ship, and in the ensuing chaos, the completely untrained crew found the ship’s fire hoses had rotted away. All of the lifeboats were inaccessible; some claimed they had been wired to the ship and painted into place. Survivors reported that the life-preservers were as rotten as the hoses and provided no buoyancy. Some passengers jumped into the river to escape the flame but their heavy woolen clothes quickly dragged them under. Many died when the ship’s floors collapsed, and a number were beaten to death by the paddle-wheels when they climbed over the sides. By the time the Slocum sand in shallow water just off the Bronx shore, over 1,000 people had either drowned or burned to death. There were acts of heroism by witnesses, passengers, the staff and patients of a nearby hospital, and policemen like Frank Muller, who formed human-chains to pull victims from the river. The disaster was New York’s worst in terms of loss of life until the Islamist terrorist destruction of the Twin towers in 2001. It is still the worst maritime disaster in the city’s history, and the second worst disaster on U.S. waterways.Muller’s certificate notes that it was presented for his “heroic conduct in assisting in rescuing and resuscitating the sufferers of the Slocum Disaster. . . .” The U.S. Volunteer Life Saving Corps augmented official government life-saving services in cities and communities along the U.S. coast and inland waters. He was also added to the New York Police Role of Honor for the Year 1905 by the Police Commissioner. The Honor Awards invitation notes that Mayor George B. McClellan would preside at the ceremony and Andrew Carnegie was expected to deliver the closing address. Muller’s pension certificate shows that he retired in May of 1907 and was awarded an annual pension of $700. The strange thank-you card is from Forrest Glenn of Brooklyn and states that “when I think of what “You” and the 13th Police Precinct did for me the night of Oct 26th it makes me feel like shouting “Hurrah-for-the-Police. I shall never forget you for what you did for me. . . .” It continues on the reverse, “I take my pin out of my ‘Scarf’ put it in ‘Yours’ so you will not forget me – a little reminder ‘You Know’ Yours Truly Glenn. Remember me to ‘Judge Ryan’ Shall never forget him “You Bet.” A documentary reminder of one of the most horrific, preventable tragedies in U.S. history. As of 2018, nothing similar is for sale in the trade, nor held by institutions per OCLC. Neither ABPC nor the Rare Book Hub show auction records for anything similar, although another U.S. Volunteer Life-Saving Corps certificate from the Slocum Disaster was once sold on eBay.