“The Milwaukee Fire”

Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1922
Keywords: fire disaster death
Found in: US(Ap,MW,SW)


The "oft-condemned" Newhall House catches fire; passers-by watch in horror as the residents die in the flames. In particular, a servant girl leaps to her death, and a mother watches her son trapped in the fire


John W. Kelley (who also produced such pieces as "The Bowery Grenadiers") wrote a piece called "The Milwaukee Fire" in 1884, and some sources equate this song with that item. The fire, however, was the subject of a great deal of press coverage, and doubtless produced several pierces. None of the folk sources I have consulted equate the traditional song with the Kelley piece, and so I am holding off until I see better evidence. - RBW

Historical references



  1. Laws G15, "The Milwaukee Fire"
  2. LPound-ABS, 62, pp. 138-140, "The Milwaukee Fire" (1 text)
  3. DT 682, MILWAUKF
  4. Roud #3255
  5. BI, LG15