Thursday, December 2, 2010

1924 Barracks Fire

This morning a Cadet asked for information on the 1924 Barracks Fire. I thought I would share the answer with everyone.

Courtesy, Perry County Herald, Travis Vaughn. Originally published, 15 Oct, 2009.

"The deadly MMI fire occurred in 1924 in a white frame structure called South College Barracks and claimed two victims, Jefferson Bryant Meharg of Pensacola, Fla., and Lawrence Christopher Olsen of Waukegan, Ill. The monument on the honor ground recalls this event:

'Erected By The Cadet Corps 1923-24

Cadets Jefferson Bryant Meharg And Lawrence Christopher Olsen Who Lost Their Lives In the Burning of College Barracks March 17, 1924...'"

Courtesy of Travis Vaughn,

From “History of Marion Institute” Speech in Chapel by Cadet J. W. Matthews; Fall, 1959

“The two cadets shared a room in South College Barracks, a two-story white fame building a short distance south of the present campus area. About 5:30 on the morning of March 17th, 1924, South College Barracks caught fire. Fire call was sounded, the entire battalion formed in front of the chapel and everyone was reported preset. The tragedy occurred after dismissal from this formation. One of the boys (it’s not known which) had left his watch in the building and decided to return for it. Smoke was pouring from the building at this time, but there was no sign of flames. He apparently could see no danger. His roommate discovered that he was missing and guessing that he went back into the building, went to find him. The building suddenly exploded and burned swiftly. Meherg was killed instantly. Olsen somehow managed to get out, but he was fatally burned and died six hours later in Selma Hospital.

The following year, the Cadet Corps erected a monument to their memory. This monument is the cannon overlooking the drill field and the plaque on the monument bears the inscription:

“Greater love hath no man than this,

That he lay down his life for his friends”

Courtesy of MMI Foundation Archives.

Courtesy of MMI Foundation Archives, Page 5, 1925 MMI Yearbook

Courtesy of MMI Foundation Archives, Jefferson Bryant Meherg’s Attendance Card [Address removed for privacy].
Courtesy of MMI Foundation Archives, Lawrence Christopher Olsen’s Attendance Card

Until Next Time,
Erin Jones
MMI Archivist
334 302 1038