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Chicago Tribune (IL) - April 09, 1914

Charles F. Seyferlich, fire marshal of Chicago, died in his home at 430 Wrightwood avenue at 10:40 o'clock last night. He had been ill ten days. A [MISSING-TEXT] cold, which he caught at a fire, developed into pneumonia.

Physicians held a consultation in the morning and decided that in his weakened physical condition "Old Sy" was beyond help. His wife and family, and his brother, Arthur, assistant fire marshal, were notified.

His family was at the deathbed. The fire chief was conscious until a few moments of the end and spoke to persons in the room, giving them advice, telling them not to cry.

Mr. Seyferlich knew he was dying and was not afraid to go. When his brother came into the sickroom half an hour before the end, he looked up with a warm smile and said a few words.

Arthur Seyferlich turned away. The wife and children crowded around the bed. Dr. Henry Harman, the family physician, stood watching. The dying man kissed them all and his eyes closed. The doctor felt his pulse until it ceased to beat.

One of Most Picturesque Chiefs.

"Old Sy" was one of the most picturesque fire fighters Chicago has known. He stood well over six feet in his fire boots and white waterproof. Fire fans could pick out his frame among a hundred men.

"Sy" and his lantern went to all the big fires in any part of the city. It made no difference whether they struck in on a hot summer day or on a bitter winter night. He went to every fire, however small, in the downtown district.

He was never still when at a fire. He walked around and around the burning building shouting to his men, ordering, directing--swearing at them sometimes in the excitement of the moment when the blaze would not die down, climbing fire escapes, ascending stairways, and, above all, protecting his men from the danger of falling walls.

"Get back there you loons"--you could hear his voice carry above the roar of the flames, the pumping of the engines, and the swish of the water against the buildings-- "Get back there. Don't you see that wall tremble?"

Fire First; Then the News.

Reporters could talk to him, plead with him, upbraid him, in their quest for news. He would never answer until the fire was well under control. Then he would gather the newspaper men around him, and with his broad smile tell them all about it, what he thought had started the fire, where it had started, the damage, the men overcome by smoke, and any other details that he knew.

"Wonder how long the old man can stick it out?" the fire fans would say when they saw his grizzled face. "He's as strong as a bull, but this fire game will wear him out. At his time of life no man can keep it up, day and night, winter and summer."

Seyferlich Born in 1850.

Charles Ferdinand Seyferlich was born at Beethoven and Sedgwick streets on Sept. 29, 1850. He entered the fire department on Aug. 18, 1877. He was made a lieutenant in June of 1881, and resigned in December of the following year. He was reappointed on April 1, 1883, reappointed lieutenant Aug. 4, 1883, made captain May 1, 1887, made chief of the Fifth battalion seven years later, On Oct. 22, 1904, he became third assistant marshal. He was appointed second assistant May 18, 1905, and first assistant July 1, 1906.

Then came the tragic death of James Horan and twenty-four of his men beneath the ruins of the packing plant of Morris & Co. in the stockyards.

Seyferlich took charge of the search for the bodies. He found Horan's helmet and tore the debris from the dead chief's body. At the next council meeting "Big" Tom O'Connor was given the post of first assistant. Seyferlich had refused to be marshal in 1905, but he was made to take it after the death of Horan.

Saved Many Lives.

During his thirty-seven years on the fire department Seyferlich received honorable mention many times for the saving of life.

In 1895 a fire engine ran him down, smashing his ribs and sending him to the hospital for several months.

The fire marshal made many efforts to prevent fires, and it was his ideas, outlined to the mayor, which caused the bureau of fire prevention to come into being.

The dead chief is survived by his widow, Mrs. Anna J., and six children, Estelle E., Edgar P., Herbert C., Frank W., Ellen D., and Walter M. Seyferlich. Arrangements have not yet been made for the funeral.

-Submitted by Ken Gruschow