Chicago, IL Sugar Refinery Explosion, Mar 1890 - Blown to Pieces


Twelve Men Reported to be Missing and a Large Number Injured – Four Dead Bodies Recovered – No Accurate Reports Yet Obtainable – Names of a Portion of the Victims.

CHICAGO, March 28. -- Nearly a score of men were fearfully burned and bruised, and probably four killed outright, last evening by the explosion of starch dust in the annex of the big sugar refinery at the foot of Taylor street. The building was literally torn to pieces. A large section of it landed on the river and the rest is lying in confused heaps for a distance of two blocks. Owing to the reticence of the officers of the sugar refinery, and ignorance of the most of their employees, it is impossible to get anything like a complete list of the men who were at work in the starch building and nothing like a correct estimate of the number probably killed can be made.

Long after the flames in the ruins had been extinguished a body was dug from beneath a huge pile of brick and mortar and sent over to YEAGER'S morgue on Twelfth street. It was so horribly burned and bruised as to be unrecognizable. The scattered remains of another body, supposed to be those of a boy were found by a fire company and turned over to the police, and still later a third body was found. The driving storm of sleet and snow that set in shortly after the explosion made it nearly impossible for the firemen to continue their search for bodies. They will resume the work to-day under the personal direction of Chief SWENIE.

The dead, four in number, are unknown.

The names of the wounded, so far as they could be ascertained, are as follows:
DR. ARNOLD BEHR, general superintendent of the refinery, fearfully burned.
HENRY HUBELOT, foreman of the house, arms, face, neck, head and feet burned, may die.
JOHN SMITH, laborer, burned and bruised.
OSCAR SCHAETZ, laborer, face neck and arms burned almost raw.
PETE GERNAHARDT, laborer, fearfully cut by flying bricks and timbers and burned.
About twenty other employes were burned and bruised, more of less seriously.
A fireman, name unknown, was blown to the edge of the river, where he was picked up by a tug man. He was badly bruised about the head.
Reports obtained at a late hour show that at least twelve men are missing. Those whose names have been learned are as follows, and they are all believed to be dead:
FRANK GRAFF, all employes of the refinery.

Dunkirk Evening Observer New York 1890-03-28