Chicago, Illinois -- In 2014, EDHS began a series titled "The 844," where we remembered the 844 Eastland Disaster victims by sharing a different story each week. This fall, EDHS will begin a new series called "Remembering the Heroes," where we will share the personal accounts of the first responders and others from that tragic day.
It is our honor to start the series remembering the following Chicago Fire Department heroes: Anderson, Thomas (Lieutenant, Engine Company No. 13); Baynes, John (Pipeman, Engine Company No. 37); Bobzien, Walter J. (Truckman, Hook and Ladder Company No. 9); Burkart, Francis X. (Truckman, Hook and Ladder Company No. 9); Burns, Thomas H. ( Pipeman, Engine Company No. 13); Cassidy, Richard E.; Cherney, Henry (Truckman, Hook and Ladder Company No. 2); Cline, Harry J. (Truckman, Hook and Ladder Company No. 9); Collins, Charles A. (Pipeman, Engine Company No. 40); and Sweeney, Matthew M. (Pipeman, Engine Company No. 1).
Matthew Sweeney was one of the young firemen who assisted in the rescue and recovery efforts of the Eastland Disaster. He received an award for his heroic efforts and was formally recognized by the Chicago Fire Department in their General Order No. 8 issued by the Office of the Fire Marshal.
The order began: "The following named Officers and Members of the Department are honorably mentioned for rescuing persons from the wreck of the Steamer 'Eastland,' capsized in the River at the southwest end of Clark Street Bridge, on the morning of Saturday, July 24, 1915."
The order concluded: "The Fire Marshal wishes to express his sincere thanks to all those Officers and Members of the Department who so readily responded to the call for assistance at the time of and during the days following that terrible disaster, the overturning of the Steamer 'Eastland' in the Chicago River. Quick and systematic action was required on that sad occasion and too much cannot be said in commendation for those of you who went into the dark depths of the vessel and recovered so many of the bodies of men, women and little children."
Matthew Sweeney also assisted during the Iroquois Theatre Fire in Chicago in 1903.