William Meyer

William Meyer was a 19 year old usher at the Brooklyn Theater. On December 7, 1876, his name appeared as William Myers on the list of The Identified Dead reported in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. The next day, the Eagle published a description of the funerary ceremony at the Temple Israel in Brooklyn. Both Meyer and the two Dietz brothers, who also perished in the fire, were buried in the Salem Fields Cemetery which is located in front of the Cypress Hills Cemetery.

A Triple Funeral at Temple Israel.

                A large number of sorrowing Hebrews assembled this morning the Temple Israel, on Greene avenue, near Carlton, to pay the last tributes of respect to the memories of three, of their sec who perished in the burned theatre. The interior of the synagogue was completely filled with the friends and relatives of the deceased. The edifice is a very beautiful one, and the interior is rich in decoration and coloring. The mournful faces and sable habilaments of the congregation were in striking contrast with the many pretty frescoes and the ornamentation of the altar. Cold, gray light, struggling in through the long windows added to the gloomy appearance of the scene, and as the rays fell upon the afflicted survivors they looked all the more cheerless. The remains buried from the Temple this morning were those of Abraham and Aaron Deitz, aged respectively 18 and 19 years, and William Meyer. The Deitz brothers were the sons of Isaac Deitz, a man highly respected and well known among his people. The young men had an extensive acquaintance and were members of a great number of benevolent, religious and social organizations.

                They were among the spectators in the theatre. Meyer was employed as a supernumerary in the ill fated playhouse. He formerly resided with his widowed mother in Orchard street, New York, and was her only support. Shortly after nine o’clock the three bodies, inclosed in pine coffins, were borne into the temple and placed in front of the altar. They were followed by a train of weeping mourners, who occupied seats in the forward pews. The services were conducted by Rev. Raphael Lewin, the rabbi, who was assisted by Rev. Dr. Mosher. Silence prevailed until the remains were deposited before the rabbi, and then the solemn rites of the Hebrew funeral ceremony were proceeded with. Dr. Lewin first made a long and earnest prayer in Hebrew. Several prayers were also read from the tablets which are used among this people. Then several passages from the Talmud were read, which was succeeded by a sermon by the rabbi in English. Dr. Lewin spoke at some length. At the commencement of his remarks he referred to the awful calamity which had befallen the city and the number of Hebrews who were lost by it. He spoke with much fervor n picturing the scene in the burning building, and then proceeded to draw the true lesson which the disaster should teach. The people had no time whatever to prepare for death and yet they met death in the most horrible form. The speaker dwelt with particular emphasis upon the importance of their all living in a state of preparation, so that when they were summoned they would be ready. He expounded the Israelitish faith carefully and urged them all to be warned by the awful disaster which had come into their midst and taken away so many people. The Rabbi, in well chosen language, extolled the character and virtues of the deceased, and addressed a few words of consolation to their bereaved relatives. The sermon received the careful attention of all present and the stillness of the congregation was only broken by the sobs of the afflicted parents. After the sermon the usual prayers were read by Dr. Mosher. The ceremony was then concluded, and the remains were placed in three hearses, which were waiting them on Greene avenue. Followed by a large number of carriages they proceeded to Cypress Hills Cemetery, where the bodies were interred with the ceremonies peculiar to the Hebrews. Among the Societies which attended the ceremonies were members of Hebrew Lodge, Independent Order of B’nai Brith; members of the Hebrew Benevolent Association; representatives of the Improved Free Sons; Unique Social Club, and delegates from various city lodges of the Independent Order of B’nai Brith.

Within the Salem Fields Cemetery, there is a burial section owned by Congregation Temple Israel, and the three victims of the fire found their resting places there. William’s surname was spelled as Meyers in the cemetery records with a notation at the end the entry of his name “Victim Theatre Fire of Brooklyn”.

Registry of Cemetery, Temple Emanu-El, 1852-1928 from the Archives of Temple Emanu-El

Name: William Meyer

Age: 19 years

Native of: New York

Resident of this City: NY residence

Occupation: usher in Brooklyn Theater

Marital Status: single

Father’s Birthplace: Germany

Mother’s Birthplace: Germany

Place of Burial: Salemfield

Undertaker: Solomon Buckman, 165 Tillary Street

Certificate of Death: 11389

 

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