Monday, March 27, 2017

On This Date in Minnesota History: March 27

March 27, 1911 – Captain Ferdinand (Frank) Pearson of Minneapolis No. 10 Engine Company, hero of many fires, made his last run this evening; he died in harness.


While his horse was tearing along at a swinging gallop in answer to an alarm of fire at 409 Main St. South, the firefighter sank to the bottom of his buggy, unconscious. When the driver stopped the horse at Second St. and Sixth Ave. SE, his chief was dead. Heart disease was given as the cause of death.

Only 10 minutes prior Pearson had spoken with Sidney Wilson, operator at fire headquarters, over the telephone. He was in a cheery frame of mind and apparently in the best of health. His good nature and joviality made him beloved by his men and he is deeply mourned by all who knew him.

The fire toward which he was speeding was in a shed and in itself insignificant. He had weathered some of the most serious blazes the city has known within the last 18 years, which is the time he had been a member of the department. On many occasions he had distinguished himself and his fearlessness was a byword among the “boys.”

During the memorable night of Dec. 20, 1904, when the O. H. Peck building wall fell, after the big Boutell Bros.’ Furniture Store fire, and eight persons were killed outright, several others being caught in the ruins, he earned a medal for bravery by volunteering to crawl into the mass of wreckage and, at the imminent peril of his own life, extricating two men who were pinned under the timbers. At that time he was a lieutenant of No. 11.

Boutell Bros.’ Furniture Store2

When his driver realized his captain was dead he notified the police and the department’s surgeon arrived only to verify the driver’s fears. The body was removed to the house of the East Side Salvage Corps., Sixth and University Ave. SE, where it was viewed by Coroner Seashore, who permitted relatives to take charge of it. Chief Ringer had taken to the undertaking rooms of Rainville Bros.

Captain Pearson was 52 years old and was survived by his widow and five children, three sons and two daughters.

The Minneapolis Morning Tribune; “Fireman Drops Dead on His Way to Fire. Captain Frank Pearson Falls Victim to Heart Disease Enroute to Blaze. Brave Hero of Many Battles With Flames Responds to Last Alarm. Sinks to Bottom of Buggy as Driver Speeds Horse to Burning Shed.”; March 28, 1911; p. 1.


The Minneapolis Morning Tribune; Dec. 14, 1904; p. 1.


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