TIL at an Alabamian church in 1902 someone yelled “there’s a fight!” The congregation instead heard the word “fire” and began to attempt to escape. In the ensuing stampede 115 people were killed.

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“What did he say?” “The sheriff is near.”


Also as an interesting side note; the “fight” that prompted the initial commotion isn’t 100% clear on its nature. Some onlookers state that it was between the church’s choir leader and a delegate from Baltimore over an empty seat. The reason someone from Baltimore was there and that the church was packed was because Booker T Washington had just given a speech at the church. Booker T Washington himself said, ” I found on investigation that a Birmingham man had stepped on the toes of a delegate from Baltimore named Ballou. Ballou resented it and made a motion as if to draw a gun. This caused the woman to scream.” Additionally the minister attempted to quell the panic by yelling “quiet” and motioning to sit down. The already frenzied audience again misheard this word as “fire” and only became more frantic in their attempts to escape.


As someone who reads obsessively about human stampedes and crushes, this one is new to me and is one more reason to be happy modern doors open outward. Such a terrifying way to die.


how many people were there if 115 died from stampede??


Sorry for the wonky title. I tried to get the point across while simultaneously keeping the title as short as possible.