Wallingford, CT Fire, Dec 1883



WALLINGFORD, Conn., March 16.---Early this morning Constable Roger S. Austin, tired and dusty after a long trip, reached this town, bringing with him as a prisoner Frank H. Morse, one of the best known young men in this neighborhood. An hour later young Morse was taken before Justice Bartholomew to answer to the charge of arson. There were two counts against him, and the case was continued to March 29, his father, Emory H. Morse, giving bonds for him in the sum of $5,500. To say that the whole town is excited over the affair would be putting things mildly. The Morses are among the most prominent people of the place. They are old residents. They have always taken a great interest in public affairs, and they have been active in business and social circles. The elder Morse is counted among the rich men of Wallingford. To his townsmen the arrest of young Morse was a perfect surprise, and they have rich food for gossip in the story of the detective work which led up to the capture. One night nearly three years ago two buildings belonging to Simpson, Hall, Miller & Co., and used by Frank H. Morse as a glass shop, were discovered on fire and were burned to the ground. There was not doubt that the fire was of incendiary origin. The night watchman was found drugged near the building. Suspicion pointed to Morses, but he proved he had been at home all evening before the fire broke out.

Agent Hall, who placed the insurance on the buildings first burned, accidentally discovered a few weeks ago that a number of glass founts, supposed to have been destroyed and on which he had paid $1.300 insurance were stored in four places in Wallingford Plains. This aroused his suspicions, and three weeks ago Constable Austin was put on the case at the instance of the insurance companies, it is supposed. It is reported to-night that the officer has an affidavit from one Gus Bossman that Morse hired him to fire the buildings. At all events Austin went to Western New York a few days ago, and yesterday afternoon arrested Morse in Rochester. Morse to-night refused to say anything about the charge against him. He is married and has one child. His wife left Wallingford to-night. The watchman who was found drugged after the first fire, it is now recalled, left town quietly a few days after the occurrence.

The New York Times, New York, NY 17 Mar 1886



WALLINGFORD, Conn., March 26.---William Hendrickson, a Hollander, and a member of the local company of the Connecticut National Guard, over his departure. Hendrickson, it is said, confessed some time ago to having fired an icehouse belonging to D. W. Hallenbeck and R. S. Austin in 1883. He claimed that the was hired to do the job. The fire was believed to have been on incendiary origin, but the matter was allowed to drop. It was revived by the arrest of Frank H. Morse for arson some weeks ago. Since then Hendrickson has been greatly worried and has consulted an attorney. Besides, he has made confidants of several of his friends. This afternoon a detective was in town working up the matter. He told Insurance Agent William M. Hall, who is interested in the prosecution of the Morse case, that he could find Hendrickson if needful. It is generally believed that Hendrickson if needful. It is generally believed that Hendrickson has been mixed up in the Morse case. There have been many incendiary fires in Wallingford during the past few years.

The New York Times, New York, NY 27 Mar 1886



WALLINGFORD, Conn., March 28.----Excitement in this town over the trial to-morrow of Frank H. Morse on the charge of arson continues to run high. It is said that at the trial the evidence of Charles Manville, watchman at the Morse glass shops at the time of the fire, will be introduced, and that Manville will testify that Morse hired him to let Gus Bossman, a noted firebug, into the building, and not to give the alarm until the flames had got full headway. After the fire Manville was found near the ruins, apparently drugged. He left Wallingford soon after the fire and went to South Britain, where the officers hunted him up.

Another sensation has been growing since William Hendrickson disappeared a few days ago. He was suspected of setting fire to an icehouse belonging to Hallenbeck & Austin. Austin is the constable who arrested Morse in Rochester, N. Y. Constable Daniel Reilly told a reporter that Hendrickson told him that he (Hendrickson) received $10 from Austin for firing the icehouse. He was assisted in this, he said, by a young man named Toothe. Both Hendrickson and Toothe, Officer Reilly believes, can be found. Austin and his friends totally deny the truth of the story.

The New York Times, New York, NY 29 Mar 1886




WALLINGFORD, Conn., March 29.---Wallingford's neat Town Hall was crowded this morning when Justice F. C. Boecholowem was called upon to decide whether or not Frank H. Morse, one of the town's most prominent young men, was guilty or not guilty of arson. The shops were as good as closed, for nearly every man who was able to walk managed to reach the hall. Two long tables, end to end, were needed to accommodate the lawyers, seven of whom were there to make things pleasant for the witnesses. The first man to testify was Fire Chief Amos S. Dickinson, who submitted maps, and told the court about an incendiary fire which resulted in the destruction of Morse's glass works in Nov. 1883. Then Charles Manville was called, and this nervous young man, with the weakest of voices and a generally badly frightened air, told how not long before the fire he was lured to Wallingford by Charles Hall, who visited him in Brookfield and told him that he could get $17 a week and board in Wallingford. Manville came here, and with very little trouble got work in Morse's shop by telling the proprietor that Hall had sent him from Brookfield. Manville testified that Morse about a week later privately told him that he owed his glass blowers two month's pay; that they were constantly hounding him, and that it was a good time to burn the shop. Manville wanted to go home to Brookfield, but agreed to remain for $100. One day Morse took a lot of turpentine to the shop and hid it in the cellar. Four nights before the fire Gus Bossman appeared at the shop. On the night of the fire Manville drugged the night watchman with a potion given him by Morse. At 10:30 o'clock flames broke out in the basement and destroyed the building. Gus Bossman told him after the fire that Morse owed him (Bossman) money for setting the building on fire. Morse has since furnished him, Manville said, with money and work. Once or twice Manville wrote to Morse for $15 claimed to be due him. Finally, about March 1, Manville says, he told Deputy Sheriff Glover about the fire and Glover worked up the case. William C. Case, for the defense, subjected Manville to a rigid cross-examination. One or two other witnesses gave corroborative testimony on minor points, and the court was adjourned to Saturday.

The New York Times, New York, NY 30 Mar 1886