70 Years Later, the Hartford Circus Fire Still Burns | Connecticut Public Radio

70 Years Later, the Hartford Circus Fire Still Burns

Jul 10, 2014

On July 6, 1944, a circus tent in the North End of Hartford caught fire. The tent covered three blocks. It was gone in six minutes. 

Little Miss 1565, Eleanor Cook.
Credit DragonflyDC / Creative Commons

Roughly 170 people died. You'll understand my imprecision as we go along. Five employees of the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter, and served minimal prison sentences. One of them, James Haley, was so unscarred by this that he later served for 24 years in Congress.

The symbol of the tragedy was Little Miss 1565, a young girl whose remains were never claimed, and were not firmly identified for almost 50 years. During that time, two Hartford detectives brought flowers to her unmarked grave each anniversary of the fire.

What are your memories of the fire? Comment below, email Colin@wnpr.org, or tweet @wnprcolin.