For long, painful seconds, she was unsure if she was alive or dead.
But the ache of her limbs, the coughing in her lungs, and the pitiful cries of her child assured her that she was.
“Mary? Are you alright?” She called out.
“I think my dress is ruined,” her daughter whined back.
“Clarence?” She shouted next.
“I’m here, Mrs. Gallagher.” Their negro servant answered back. “Lord, what a mess.”
“Did the building fall down?” Her daughter asked as Mrs. Gallagher lit a match and put the fire to a candle on the table.
Candlelight and shadows spread around them, illuminating the giant hole in the ceiling they’d fallen through when the floor gave out.
“Looks like the whole thing caved in.” Declared Clarence peering into the ruined floors above.
Mrs. Gallagher looked down at her feet, and gave thanks for the bags of loose cotton that had broken their fall.
“This is a catastrophe.” Her daughter announced.
“Very good vocabulary usage, dear.”
“Mrs. Gallagher?” She could hear the apprehension in Clarence’s voice. “What are we going to do?”
“Well, we’re in the basement storeroom. There’s loading stairs in the rear of the building. God will provide for the rest.”
In 1864 a multipurpose Memphis government building on Adams street collapsed, killing six and trapping several more in the rubble. Amongst those trapped were Mrs. Gallagher, her daughter and their servant. Keeping her wits, Mrs. Gallagher was able to safely rescue her family by exiting from a loading bay in the back of the building. A feet the New York Times would report as “miraculous”.