East Williamsburgh, NY Factory Explosion, June 1860



At 2 o'clock on the 8th inst. a fearful explosion occurred in the fireworks manufactory of J. W. Hatfield & Son, in East Williamsburgh, N.Y., by which two men were instantly killed, several others severely and perhaps fatally injured. The premises comprised eight small detached brick buildings, and situated on what is known as the
"old road," about two miles from Union avenue, Williamsburgh. The explosion was in the end used as a finishing room, where colored fire is used, and from which the most danger is always apprehended. The cause of the accident is unknown, though it is believed to have resulted from the inadvertent use by MR. H. HATFIELD of some improper instrument with which he was at work. He was, however, too much injured to give an account of the occurrence.
MR. CHAS. HATFIELD and JACOB GUSK, who were at work in the building when the explosion took place, were instantly killed, and when removed from the ruins were so charred and disfigured as to be scarcely recognizable. MR. HENRY HATFIELD, the youngest son of the proprieter, JOHN HUNTER and ROBERT BRUNDELL, working in the next building, were severely injured. The explosion extended from building to building with great rapidity, and in about five minutes the whole premises, with the exception of two small fire proof buildings used for magazines, in which 130 kegs of powder were stowed, were a complete ruin, scarcely one brick being left upon another. At the time of the explosion, forty-five persons were employed in the buildings, and the escape of so many seems miraculous. MR. GUSK was 32 years of age. He leaves a wife and six children.
MR. HUNTER, one of the men most injured, and whose recovery is considered very doubtful, lives in Remsen street, E. D. He had only been at work in this establishment for three days. At the time of the accident MR. J. W. HATFIELD, was in New York, and knew nothing of the occurrence until late last night. His loss is estimated at $27,000 in stock and buildings. An unusually large amount of stock was on hand at the time. Although MR. HATFIELD has been engaged in the manufacture of pyrotechnics for twenty years, this is the first time any accident has happened in any establishment of which he had charge or supervision, and he was proverbial for his successful and fortunate immunity from the casualties that so frequently attend this dangerous business.

Banner of Liberty Middletown New York 1860-06-13