Hancock, MD Terrible Explosion, May 1839


Extract from a letter dated Hancock, May 2, 1839.
Last evening, about 8 o'clock, we were suddenly alarmed by a tremendous explosion that shook the whole building terribly, and soon we heard that DANIEL RUSH'S store had been blown to atoms. The old part is completely demolished, and the new part which had just been fitted up for a dwelling, has been so shattered that it doubtless will have to be taken down. His goods are so much damaged by fire, water and dirt that they will scarcely bring more than one fourth of their value; but all this is nothing, when compared to the human suffering that has resulted from the explosion. There were fourteen persons in the building at the time, six of whom are dangerously wounded - some with legs others with arms broken, and all with their faces scarified in a shocking manner. DANIEL RUSH and two journeymen shoe makers are not expected to live. Three of DANIEL'S children are among those seriously injured, but the youngest child miraculously escaped unhurt. It was in the cradle, and those who first arrived at the scene of ruin and distress, saw its little hand above the rubbish, and removing the fallen timber they found that the cradle had preserved the child from being crushed to death. MRS. RUSH, DANIEL'S father and mother, JOHN CRAIG, MURPHY PEAT, MR. KINGSLY and son are all more or less injured. Everybody seems to be in a state of gloomy amazement numberless conjectures as to the cause of the explosion are afloat, but nothing definite in relation thereto can be obtained, for those who were in the store when the unfortunate event took place are too much injured to say anything about it.

The following additional particulars are from the Baltimore Patriot on Saturday evening:
Hancock, Washington Co., Md. May 2.
A few minutes after I addressed you yesterday, I moved to the room where RUSH had been removed to. The maimed and mutilated poor fellow breathed his last soon after I arrived. Such a piece of disfigured mortality I never beheld, though it as fallen to my lot to witness the harrowing out of existence of some scores of my fellow men. The children and the wounded are despaired of. If the children should recover they will finish their days as cripples.

Vermont Phoenix Brattleboro Vermont 1839-05-17