New York, NY Greenfield Candy Factory Fire, Dec 1877 - Three More Bodies

Three More Bodies Found In The Ruins-One Of Them Identified As That Of Kerber-The Other Two Not Recognized-The Fire Marshal’s Investigation Continued.

Three more bodies were taken from the ruins of Greenfield & Sons’ candy factory in Barclay Street yesterday. The first was taken out at 10:30 o’clock, and was identified as that of Ferdinand Kerber. It was recognized by his wife, by means of the underclothing found upon it. At 1:30 P.M. another body was found, and at 4 o’clock still another. Neither of these were identified, but they are supposed to be the two Krammery boys, and the boy Drexler. The last body taken out had on two cotton undershirts and blue jumper. The bodies were all very much burned, and also in an advanced stage of decomposition. Coroner Woltman will begin his investigation on Thursday. The funeral of Josephine Sheppard took place yesterday, the expenses being paid by Mr. Greenfield. Nelson Greenfield stated last night that he had abandoned the theory that the building tumbled down, and that it was now his opinion that there was an explosion in the upper part of the smoke-stack from an accumulation of gas. Work on the ruins will be resumed this morning.

Fire Marshal Sheldon continued his investigation yesterday. Theodore D. Platt, of No. 109 McDonough Street, Brooklyn, testified that he was acting as a member of the firm of D.D. Tompkins & Co., and was in the store, No. 61 Barclay Street, when the accident occurred; witness heard, in pretty quick succession, three reports, like the sharp claps of thunder; he thought Greenfield’s boilers had exploded; witness’ office window, next to No. 68, was forced in; this was immediately followed by a rush of dust and wind, probably caused by the falling of the front wall of No. 68; it was some three or four minutes before witness was able to see on account of the dust; when the dust had settled, witness could see that there was fire in the rear part of his store; the skylight was broken, and the fire was coming through; No. 61 was on fire very soon after the accident occurred.

George B. English testified that at the time of the accident he resided at No. 65 Barclay Street, and had resided there nearly 29 years; No. 63 Barclay Street was formerly a four story, flat roofed dwelling house; it was rebuilt about 1852 or 1853; the west wall was taken down as far as the floor beams of the third floor and a new wall built; the east wall of No. 63-the part that was left standing and was built upon-leaned toward the interior of the building, and the new wall above was built against the wall of No. 61, lapping over the old wall about the width of a brick; No. 63 had a brownstone front, and was originally used as a dry goods store; Greenfield had occupied it since 1863; there was a constant jarring of the building occupied by witnesses, caused by the machinery in the candy store; the jarring and vibration has been worse during the past year that ever before; witnesses had had occasion frequently to go upon the roof of his house, and had noticed that the brown stone front of the west gable of No. 63 had separated, so that there was quite a space between them; witness was in a barber shop, corner of West and Vesey streets, when the fire broke out; he heard a noise, and was told that the candy store in Barclay Street was on fire; ran immediately to his house, and Nos. 61 and 63 were both on fire, and also the rear of No. 65; that plastering all through his house was down, and in the yard of No. 65 lay the rear part of the west wall of No. 63, a mass of fire; witness did not know the condition of his house, at that time; he did not see the wall fall, but from all he could gather the walls, from the Grocers’ Bank to his house, fell toward Greenwich Street; there was a great deal of machinery in Greenfield’s building; witness had bee in there, and remembered noticing that the floors sagged toward the centre.

Michael Bakery, of No. 81 Carmine Street, an employee of D.D. Tompkins & Co., was in No. 61 Barclay Street at the time of the fire; the front office window was blown I, as he supposes, the glass falling inside the office. Witness did not remember hearing any fall or crash in the street, but there was a great wind blowing into the office, worse than any storm he ever saw, and a cloud of dust and steam came in; at first the dust was so thick that he could see nothing but some fire in No. 63; when the dust cleared he could see that the front of No. 63 was lying in the street; No. 61 took fire very soon; the sky light was broken or blown in, and the fire came in there; there were no supports to the middle of the floors of No. 61.

John P. Son, of No. 78 Barclay Street, was in No. 61 Barclay Street when the accident occurred; he first heard a loud rumbling noise, followed by the bursting in of the office window and a cloud of dust; Mr. Platt was knocked over; after a few minutes a second explosion took place at the rear, and fire came through the sky light into the store; witness ran out of the building and across the street, and saw that the whole of the front of No. 63 was out, and that there was fire on the first and second floors.

John H. Jordan, of No. 229 Greenwich Street was in his place at the time the accident occurred; he heard a dull, heavy thud; did not hear any sharp noise; after a few seconds he looked out the window; could see diagonally into Greenfield’s store; the west walls were down, and from the rear of the store he saw a column of flame shooting up in the air about 100 feet; one of witness’ sky lights was broken; it might have been blown in or broken by the jar of the falling walls.

The New York Times, New York, NY 1 Jan 1878