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

More Bodies Found In The Ruins Yesterday-Continuation Of The Fire Marshal’s Investigation.

Three parcels of human remains were taken from the ruins of Greenfield’s candy factory, in Barclay Street, yesterday. There was a conflict of opinion, however, on the part of those in charge of the work, as to whether there were three bodies or only two. Foreman Monroe, whose business it is to take charge of the remains as soon as they are discovered, was positive that there were three bodies, whole the contractor who has charge of the work of overhauling the ruins was of the opinion that there were only two. The first fragment taken out at 11:10 A.M., and consisted of the skull, back, and hips, the upper and lower limbs being missing. At 4 o’clock another portion was discovered, not far from the spot where the first had been found, and consisted of the trunk only, and it was in regard to these that there was a difference of opinion. At 4:30 another pile of bones and putrefied flesh was unearthed, but in regard to this there was no doubt that it represented the entire body of a large man. There was no fragment of clothing on the remains or anything whereby they could be identified. If there were only two bodies, there have been nine taken from the ruins, including those of the newsboy and Mr. Bradley, of Brooklyn, and that is just the number which Mr. Greenfield has contended were missing. Foreman Monroe expressed the opinion that at least 10 more bodies would be found by the time all the ruins were overhauled.

At the official investigation by Fire Marshal Sheldon, yesterday, William Montayne, proprietor of the spice mills, Nos. 62, 64 and 66 Barclay Street, opposite the candy factory, testified that he was in his office when the fire broke out; he heard a dull heavy thud that shook the building; in a few seconds he looked out and saw the whole front of Greenfield’s building lying in the street; the fire spread very rapidly; there was a large register clock on the fourth floor of witness’ building, the pendulum of which was displaced by the shock and stopped at 5:03.Witness though No. 61 took fire in the upper part about 15 minutes after the fire broke out in Greenfield’s and that it was half an hour before the walls between Nos. 61 and 63 fell over, and an hour before the front fell. John A. Mott testified that at the time of the accident he was working on the upper floor of No. 69 Barclay Street, with four other persons; the lamps had just been lighted, when witness heard a report which he thought was the explosion of a boiler; the building was shaken by the concussion, which was immediately followed by fire and a rumbling noise, and then came a crash, and a quantity of bricks came through the roof, burying witness and several others, and severely injuring them; that was about eight seconds after the report; the report seemed to come from the rear of NO. 68, as did, also the fire; when witness recovered from the shock, and looked about him, he saw that a large portion of the west wall of No. 63 had fallen out, the front wall was gone, and about two-thirds of the upper floor seemed to be down. John F. O’Donnell, book-keeper for Mr. Alexander Rich, testified in regard to the amount of wool stored in No. 61, that there were about 250,000 pounds; the second and third lofts were entirely filled from front to rear, and from the west wall to within about eight feet of the east wall; the first loft was filled from the rear to the stairway, and the fourth was about three-quarters full; there were about 150,000 pounds on the second and third lofts. James H. Weaver, of No. 60 Barclay Street, said that his show window was not blown in, but several pieces of crockery in it were shaken down, the gas was extinguished, and simultaneously with the explosion NO. 63 was a mass of fire; cornucopias were blown into witness’ cellar, and the whole building seemed to be lifted up under him; the entire front of No. 63 was not blown out by the explosion; only the iron front of the first floor; the rest of the front fell afterward, and in 15 minutes the entire building was down; the iron front of No. 61 fell 50 minutes after the explosion; Langstaff N. Crow, of No. 17 West Fifty-Second Street, is a mason, and built No. 61 Barclay Street for Mr. Hopkins in 1853; it was considered a strong building; the cellar wall was 20 inches thick, the first story 16 inches, and from that up 12 inches; the first floor timbers were 12 inches from centre to centre; there were no girders through the building; Mr. Hopkins was in the glass business, and witness had seen the floors piled with glass from floor to ceiling; Mr. Hopkins asked to witness if he thought there was any danger in loading the building so heavily, and witness told him he saw no signs of weakness about it; that was about two years after it was built; the structure was not built to carry a test weight.

Coroner Woltman yesterday began the inquest in the case of the fire victims. Testimony was taken from a great many witnesses, and the proceedings occupied the entire day. Nothing new was elicited beyond what has already been published in The Times, except what was given in the testimony of William H. Schumacher and William Rowe, Chief of Fire Battalion. Mr. Schumacher, the book-keeper and cashier, corroborated Mr. Greenfield’s testimony about the fire descending from the ceiling, but seemed to contradict him in regard to the stuff stored in the building, for, besides the different articles admitted by the latter to have been kept on hand in quantities, Mr. Schumacher testified there were also resin, ivory black, salts of tartar, cologne, and spirits of turpentine. William Rowe testified that the noise made by the accident resembled the report of a cannon, and he heard it at No. 193 Fulton Street; the front of the building No. 63 Barclay Street was lying on the street when he reached the scene, and the interior of it, particularly in the upper stories, was demolished; the boilers were found to be intact, one full of water and the other empty; none of the walls of No. 63 were standing above the second story; the walls had the appearance of having been subjected to heat; the building had the appearance of having been over-weighted, although, beyond the appearance, there was nothing to indicate that it had been over-weighted; witness surveyed the building two or three months ago; he could no say what was the cause of the fire, but was of the opinion that the fire and explosion were caused by gas, either in the service pipe, generated in the furnaces, or beneath the ceilings; witness thought it possible that has was generated by the combustion of coal in the furnace. The case will be continued this morning at 11 o’clock.

The New York Times, New York, NY 4 Jan 1878