ILLINOIS STATE ARCHIVES
From the Ashes, 1872-1900
A Selection of Documents from the Illinois State Archives
REPORT ON A PETITION FOR COMPENSATION FOR DAMAGES SUFFERED FROM THE DEATH OF HENRY COYLE
November 29, 1880
In Alice Coyle's petition she stated that she was a widow, her husband having died eleven years earlier. Her son Henry had been a bachelor and aged twenty-five at the time of his death. He had been his mother and his minor sister's sole source of support. Henry had been working for the Fire Department since January 1879. Before that he had been a fireman with the Northwestern Railroad Company. The widow Coyle and her daughter were living on a small donation Henry's comrades had collected for them. In the corporation counsel's opinion the city was not legally liable for Coyle's death. This attorney did believe however that some relief should be provided. The city council passed an order on December 9 to compensate Alice Coyle the sum of $3,000.
The Illinois General Assembly in 1877 had enacted legislation providing for police and firemen's relief funds for cities and villages. One fourth of all local revenue generated from taxes and fees "effecting fire insurance, and all moneys received from fines inflicted upon members of the police and fire departments for a violation of the rules and regulations of the service, all fines recovered because of conviction for a violation of the fire ordinances, all moneys accruing from the sale of unclaimed stolen property" were to be paid into these funds. Compensation was to be paid from the funds to those police or firemen who were disabled in the line of duty or to the dependents of officers who were killed in the course of their work.
Points to Consider
Describe how Henry Coyle came to his sudden death.
What was a hose cart?
Why was the bridge over the river at State Street turned at the time of the accident? Describe that bridge.
Should Mrs. Coyle have received compensation from the city for the death of her son? Why?