Rioting women and children by the
thousand, swept into a senseless panic by an absurd story that
children's throats were being cut by physicians in various East Side
schools, swarmed down on those buildings all over the Lower East
Side in great mobs yesterday, intent on rescuing their children and
companions. Excitable, ignorant Jews, fearing Russian massacres
here, knowing nothing of American sanitary ideas and the supervision
exercised over school children by the Health Board, outdid all
previous resistance to vaccination. They stoned the schoolhouses,
smashing windows and door panes, and, except for the timely
intervention of the police reserves from several precincts, would
without doubt have done serious injury to the frightened women
As it was, the affair was a tempest in a
teapot. One or two minor arrests were made, and the police had their
hands full for a couple of hours. The serious rioting, which would
have become dangerous if the men had had time to join in it,
occurred just before noon. Teachers, learning what the trouble was,
dismissed their pupils, and the sight of the multitudes of uninjured
children stilled the mothers' wrath.
The excitement lasted all afternoon, however. Three or four
patrolmen were kept on duty at each schoolhouse in the East Side,
and the doors and windows of each building were closed. These guards
adopted summary methods for quelling what excitement was left.
Almost every one armed himself with a long supple slat from one of
the numerous new buildings all through that section, and when
voluble Yiddish women of luxuriant flesh or chattering young Hebrews
formed a group before the schoolhouses, they were persuaded to
depart by vigorous application of the slats to the most convenient
section of the nearest "Yiddisher."
"There's goin' to be no spoilin' of these children," explained a
patrolman who was engaged in this unusual occupation to a passer-by.
"We're not sparin' the rod any. They want riot over here all the
time bread riots, meat riots, coal riots - and now the wimmin and
childer is havin' one for themselves. "They'll git it," he declared
grimly, as he set about hastening the departure of some half-grown
boys who had become obstreperous. They got it, soundly.
The panic grew out of minor operations by Health Board physicians on
several of the children and a great deal of vaccination among the
children in preparation for the usual summer disease epidemic. Such
vaccination is always accomplished only by force in the Lower East
Last week Miss A. E. Simpson, principal
of Public School 100 at Broome and Cannon Streets, found that many
of the children were suffering from adenoids, a fungus growth at the
back of the mouth and nasal passages which can be removed by a
simple operation. The consent of parents is necessary before
physicians may perform such an operation. Miss Simpson weeded out
the cases and explained the situation, telling the parents that, if
possible, their children should go to private physicians or
hospitals, but, if not, the Board of Health physicians would do the
work. Most of the parents probably misunderstood, but last Thursday
public physicians operated on many of the children.
The trouble came to a head in half an hour yesterday. The mobs of
women descended on the schools crying out that their children were
being murdered and buried in the school yards. The riot belt
extended from Rivington Street to Grand and from the Bowery to the
East River. In the more easterly section the violence was greatest.
In almost every case the windows of the schoolhouses were riddled
Some of the schools attacked were Public
school 4, No. 203 Rivington street, of which Miss Lizzie E. Rector
is principal; 10, at No. 12 Columbia street, M. E. Kennedy,
principal; 20, at Rivington and Forsyth streets, W. William Smith
principal; 42, Hester and Ludlow streets, Harriet V. R. Reid
principal; 88, No. 300 Rivington street, Susan A. Griffin principal;
92, No. 154 Broome street, Annie E. Boyne principal; 120, No.
187 Broome street, Ella Conway principal; 137, Grand and Ludlow
streets, Kate M. Stephens principal; 140, No. 116 Norfolk street,
Anna M. Atkinson principal; 160, Rivington and Suffolk streets,
Charles F. Hartman principal; 161, No. 105 Ludlow street, Lizzie F.
Stefford principal; 174, Attorney and Rivington streets, Elizabeth
J. Hoffer principal. Several of them are among the largest in the
city, having over two thousand pupils each.
Captain Cooney, of the Union Market
station, who single handed tried to disperse the angry crowd in
front of Public School 188, at Houston and Manhattan streets,
received a bad beating from a couple of irate mothers. The captain
at last managed to telephone for the reserves of the Union Market
station to come and help him. All the reserves and detectives,
however, were out at other schools. Doorman John Falway went to the
captain's aid, and the two managed to keep the crowd in fair order
until more assistance could reach them.
Much excitement was caused at the school
at Attorney and Stanton streets when Leon King, brushing aside
women, children and policemen, made a dive for the iron doors,
shouting in Yiddish that his children were being murdered and he
must save them. He had battered himself half insensible before the
patrolmen could check him. He was arrested for disorderly conduct.
Women in the various mobs got to fighting among themselves to get
nearest to the doors. they tore out handfuls of hair, and their
dresses after the fray were a little more open than is customary
even in East Side social circles.
And then, as suddenly as it had risen,
the trouble lost its serious aspect. The teachers had learned its
reason, and line after line of children began marching out of the
buildings. The screaming, fighting mothers caught their own progeny
and hurried home, helped along by indignant police reserves whose
sleep had been spoiled. Commencement exercises in many schools were
postponed. No fatalities were reported, but the East Side lost all
interest in the discussion of kosher "wurst" to gossip over this