Harlem Chit-Chat 1868

Three Deaths From The Disease.
Extensive Fire in Harlem

At 9:45 o'clock last night a fire broke out on the lower floor of the five-story brick building on One Hundred and Twenty-ninth-street, near the Harlem Bridge, known as Payne & Lane's flour and grist mills. Owing to the lateness of the hour and the remoteness of the location the flames gained great headway before the firemen could get to work, so a second alarm, became necessary in order that a sufficient number of steamers might be summoned to the scene. The mills have a frontage of thirty-five feet on One Hundred and Twenty-ninth-street, and extend back to the river a distance of one hundred and thirty-five feet, and contained a large amount of ground and un-ground stock. So rapid was the progress of the flames, that by 11:30 o'clock the entire building was wrapped in a sheet of flame, which threw out a most brilliant light, and so illuminated the entire neighborhood with the glare of noon-day.

Despite the exertions of the firemen, the entire mill and contents was destroyed, causing a total loss of $175,000 to the firm, covered by insurance in at least fifty companies in this and other cities.

For some time the steamers Sylvan Shore, Sylvan Grove, the schooner Susan E. Nash, of Westerly, L.I., with the Harlem and Astoria freight and tug boat Leader, were in considerable damage from the excessive heat and the sparks which tell in great showers, as was the surrounding buildings, which were indeed saved from the fiery element by the rain which was falling at the time.

The lumber-yard of Caryell & Co., adjoining the grist mill, was also exposed to the flames and considerable loss has been sustained by that firm also.

The livery stable of Peter Connor, in One Hundred and Twenty-ninth street, seemed for a time doomed, and eight or nine horses and several carriages were removed from the building in anticipation of such an event. As the writer left the scene at 12:45 o'clock this morning the fire was at it's height, and the flames seemed liable to spread still further.

Assistant Engineer Perley had charge of the firemen on duty, and handled this force with great ability. The Police of the Twelfth Precinct, under Capt. Bogart were on the ground also, and were relieved soon after midnight by the Twenty-third Precinct. (1)

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Complete Destruction of the Harlem Oil Works-Aggregate Loss Over $300,000.

At 9 o'clock last night a fire broke out on a shed roof in the Harlem Oil Works, owned by Z. Oppenheimer & Co., and situated at the foot of East One Hundred and Eighteenth-street. The flames spread with great rapidity, and soon extended to the main buildings, when they gained fresh vigor and caused the complete destruction of the entire establishment.

The buildings are quite extensive and were intended for the manufacture of linseed oil, but owing to the scarcity of that raw material, the works were engaged in pressing cotton seed oil, a large amount of stock being on hand at the time. The aggregate loss occasioned by the fire is believed to be a total one, amounting to about $300,000, upon which there is an insurance of $140,000, all in City companies. The flames are believed to have resulted from a defective flue.

The morocco dressing establishment of John B. King, situated in rear of the oil works, and fronting on One Hundred and Seventeenth street, were also damaged by the flames, Mr. King estimates his loss at $3,000; covered by insurance.

The firemen had only two steamers on the ground, owing to the suburban locality of the fire. Chief-Engineer Kingsland and Commissioner Wilson were present during the fire. (2)

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Harlem Railroad Disaster

A serious accident occurred on Monday night, upon the Harlem Railroad, to the express train due here at 9:30 o'clock. As it rounded a curve between Bronxville and Mount Vernon, it struck a tie which had been laid across the track. The locomotive, tender, baggage and express freight cars were instantly thrown off, but the passenger cars were retained upon the rails by a prompt application of the brakes. The engine ran for a short distance after leaving the truck, and then capsized. No injuries occurred, except some severe bruises to the engineer, Mr. Marshall, the fireman and Mr. Charles Simonson, a clerk of the company, in the baggage car. The express freight car tumbled seven feet down the embankment and was much broken. The locomotive and tender were also badly damaged.

A train was sent immediately from Williamsbridge, which brought the passengers to this City. Workmen were immediately employed in clearing the track during the night, but could not remove obstructions in time for the passage of the milk train yesterday morning. Many breakfasts were consequently minus the luxury of milk. The loss to the Company will be from $30,000 to $40,000.

A similar attempt was made two years ago to destroy a train, but the track-walker discovered the attempt in time. The tie placed on the rails last night was small, and the cow-catcher passed over it. (3)

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Accident on the Harlem Railroad

About 4 o'clock, on Saturday afternoon, George Crabtree, a boy about 11 years of age, and brother of Lotta, stumbled and fell under a passing train of the Harlem Railroad, at Tremont. The lad, in company with a companion, was on his way to the Union Baseball Park, and had got off the train. When he fell, his companion, with great presence of mind, told young Crabtree to keep his head down, and to that he owes his life. The wheels of the train passed over his right leg above the knee, crushing it horribly, and partially over the left foot, injuring that severely. The train was stopped, and Conductor McKibben had him taken into Iltner's Hotel. Drs. Carnachan and White, of New York, and Dr. Frerman, of West Farms, were sent for, who amputated the injured leg near the thigh. Lotta was telegraphed to at Wallack's Theatre, and went to her brother yesterday morning. The physicians think if they can keep off inflammation that the boy is lot fatally injured. (4)

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Killed On The Harlem Railroad

James Berry, a flagman on the Harlem Railroad, yesterday morning found the body of Charles McCue lying on the track in the deep cut at Ninety-fourth-street. The body was in a terribly mangled condition, and it is supposed that the deceased, during the night, had fallen from the embankment and had been run over by a train. The deceased had lived at the corner of Eighty-fifth-street and Fourth avenue, and was last seen alive in a liquor-store in Eighty-sixth-street, near Fourth avenue, Saturday night about 12 o'clock. Coroner Schirmer will hold an inquest in the case today. (5)

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Terrific Gale Along the Line of the Harlem Road_A Passenger Car Blown from the Track.

On Wednesday last a terrific gale swept along the line of the Harlem Railroad and the southeastern section of this county. Had there been a large body of snow at the time of its occurrence it must have proved more disastrous than that of last year. The morning up freight-train, with passenger car attached, was struck by the gale while between Boston Four Corners and Copake Stations, and the passenger car and one platform car were raised bodily from the track and precipitated down an embankment some fifteen feet. There were five men in the car, who were more or less injured, but none seriously. In the descent the stove was capsized and the car set on fire; but the flames were extinguished before they had gained much headway. A gentleman from Martindale was severely burned about the head. Mr. John Hawley, of Egremont, was badly bruised about the face. The other passengers were but slightly hurt. Three ladies had fortunately left the car at Boston Corners a few minutes before the accident. It was a very narrow escape from a second Angola disaster. The down mail train was detained tour hours, and all the trains were ordered to lay up until the fury of the gale had abated. The gale continued from early in the morning until 3 o'clock in the afternoon.(6)


Website: The History Box.com
Article Name: Harlem Chit-Chat 1868
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


(1) The New York Times November 18, 1868; (2) August 2, 1868; (3) The New York Times November 11, 1868; (4) The New York Times September 7, 1868; (5) The New York Times April 20, 1868; (6) The New York Times January 4, 1868
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