New York, NY Greenfield Candy Factory Fire, Dec 1877 - The Ruins, Missing

Miscellaneous City News

The Barclay Street Ruins.

Sunday’s Work In Them-A Woman’s Garment Found, Which Is Asserted To Be Josephine Sheppard’s-Persons Still Missing

Yesterday was an uneventful day at the ruins on Barclay Street and College-place. The work of digging over the rubbish on the Barclay Street side in search for dead bodies, was begun at 8 o’clock in the morning by a force of about 30 men employed by the Messrs. Greenfield. Te task was necessarily a slow and tedious one, and comparatively little progress was made during the day. The work of the diggers was confined to the engine room, where the third body was found on Saturday, and a space about 10 feet square had been cleared by 5 o’clock in the afternoon, when work was stopped. Some of the machinery was unearthed, and it was found to unbroken, although, of course, all the metal work was covered with rust. Digging to the eastward, the laborers uncovered a portion of the horizontal brick flue, extending from the boiler-room back to the angle where the Barclay Street and College-place divisions of the candy manufactory joined. About eight feet of this flue, which is nothing more than a square brick chamber, were uncovered, when the picks and shovels struck the stair-case which led from the store on the first floor of No. 63 Barclay Street to the boiler room, landing on the flue. This staircase forms the front of a barrier of brick, iron, and rubbish, which the workmen will begin to remove to-day. The flue, or that part of it unearthed was found to be intact; but Mr. Nelson Greenfield and Fire Commissioner King, both of whom were at the ruins yesterday, were still confident that the cause of the explosion would be found to have been an accumulation of coal-gas in the flue, and that the flue would be found shattered further back toward the chimney at the College-place angle. A large amount of old iron and other metal was taken from the ruins yesterday, including the utensils used for weighing candy at the counters in the Greenfields’ store. Workmen were busy all day, also, picking out basketfuls of scorched and water soaked wool from the ruins of the wool house, No. 61 Barclay Street. This wool, it is said, can be cleaned, and most of it will the be salable. Immense quantities of it were piled up in front of the ruins, and there it was packed in bags for removal. The pleasant weather attracted many persons to the streets, and the ruins formed a centre of attraction for downtown promenaders. The fire lines on College-place, Barclay Street, and Greenwich Street, were kept up, and were strongly guarded by the Police of the Twenty-seventh Precinct. Beyond the lines immense crowds of people stood all day, gazing with unflagging interest at nothi9ng in particular. The people on Barclay Street looked over the littered pavements covered with sugar-boilers, piles of brick and charred wood, into the faces of the Greenwich Street crowd a block below them, and the College-place sight seers saw nothing but the charred walls of the candy factory and the bank adjoining it. The College-place wall must be taken down, as it has been declared unsafe, and the removal must be at the expense of the owner of the building. The work will require scaffolding and derricks, as the wall is too heavy to be force down with battering rams. Its fall would shatter all the glass and crockery in the neighborhood. The fire was still smoldering beneath the ruins yesterday, and some of the bricks were so hot that the workmen handled them with difficulty. Columns of white steam were puffing up through the rubbish in various places, and a number of firemen were on duty all day. Two streams of water were kept flowing on the ruins, the firemen shifting the hose from one place to another as occasion required. One of the firemen exploring back by the College-place building saw a piece of calico protruding from a mass of crick and mortar. He pulled it out and found that it was part of a woman’s polonaise skirt, of two kinds of calico. It was handed from one to another until it reached the hands of young Sheppard, the brother of Josephine Sheppard, who is supposed to have perished in the ruins. He asserted that it belonged to his sister, but it was a very ordinary piece of clothing it was soaked with water, and covered with mud so that its texture was scarcely discernible. Nevertheless, the brother of Josephine Sheppard is confident that her body will be found near the spot where the fireman discovered the dress. Mrs. Grissich, the wife of Thomas J. Grissich, a gum-drop maker, who has been missing since the fire, went to the Morgue yesterday and viewed the body found in the boiler room on Saturday and supposed from the place in which it was found and its small size, to have been that of Phillip Hetzberger, the engineer. This body was so disfigured and blackened that positive identification of it seemed to be impossible. Mrs. Grissich, who a little pale faced woman, asserted positively that the body was that of her husband. She had said before that her husband was a tall man. She identified the body, she asserted, by peculiar patched on the underclothing, and by a string tied around its waist. It is understood, however, that Mrs. Grissich had not lived with her husband lately, and little faith is put in her identification of the body. Mrs. Mary Rodmer, a saleswoman of the Greenfields, who has been named among the missing, reported on Saturday night at her employers’ home. She escaped from the building unhurt. Two large bonfires were lighted in front of the ruins on Barclay Street last night, but no work was done after 5 o’clock. A strong guard of policemen was on duty there all night. No tidings have yet been received of the following named persons, who were in the candy manufactory when the explosion occurred:

The New York Times, New York, NY 24 Dec 1887