Union Hill, NJ Factory Boiler Explosion, Oct 1867


A Large Factory Demolished at Union Hill, N. J.--Two Men Killed and Two Injured.

Between 12 and 1 o'clock Saturday afternoon, as was stated in the TIMES yesterday, a fearful boiler explosion occurred at Union Hill, N. J., resulting in the total destruction of a large factory, the death of two men, the injury of two others and the killing of two horses.

The building, which was situated just back from the Bull's Head road, and some six or seven hundred feet south of MAINBERG & HEIM's hotel and brewery, was known as Cotes' Piano-forte Manufactory, but was occupied jointly by GEORGE FANSEL as a saw-mill and for making moulding patterns, and by Mr. MEYER, as a tannery for dressing sheepskins. In the building quite a number of men were employed. Fortunately at the time of the catastrophe they were nearly all absent, having gone to their dinners. The building was fifty feet front, seventy-five feet deep, three stories high and constructed with brick in the most substantial manner. The boiler was situated in a basement room at the southeast corner of the building, and is said to be about 24-horse power.

There were four persons in the engine-room at the time of the explosion, Mr. FANSEL, OTTO MEYER, Jr., the engineer, (name not ascertained) and a laboring man employed by JACOB HAMMER, named CHAS. HANSHERR, who had just entered, having been sent there by his employer for some tools. Mr. FANSEL and young MEYER were in conversation when the latter stepped up and looked at the indicator, and turning suddenly around with a countenance indicating great alarm, exclaimed: "FANSEL, for God's sake! there is more than two hundred pounds of steam on," and before any one in the room was able to escape, the boiler exploded with a most terrific noise, which was heard at a great distance, completely demolishing the building, with the exception of about two stories, front and rear, and leaving the high brick chimney intact. For a while the air was thick with bricks, stones, pieces of boiler-iron, iron pipes, machinery and timbers, which came raining down in all directions, and in front of the building the ground was completely covered with the debris for from two hundred to three hundred feet around.

FANSEL, MEYER and the engineer were blown out of the front of the building. The engineer was scalded in a dreadful manner, and being conveyed to St. Mary's Hospital, died there during the night. Young MEYER was very badly scalded about the face, head and arms, but may recover. Mr. FANSEL was scalded, but his injuries are comparatively light, and he was able to be out yesterday. CHARLES HANSHERR was buried in the ruins near where the front of the boiler stood, and his mutilated remains were not recovered until noon yesterday, it not having been known until in the forenoon that any one was missing. About one-third of the front end of the boiler ascended perpendicularly to a great height, and in its descent crashed through the stable adjoining the boiler-room, killing two horses and setting fire to the building, which, together with the debris of the large building was totally consumed. Two lengths of the rear end of the boiler, about 7 feet, took a northeasterly direction, and passing within 10 feet of a gentleman with four children in a wagon on the Bulls'-head road, landed in the gutter, 60 feet in front of the hotel, and over 700 feet from the factory. Two other large pieces of boiler-iron struck in front of the hotel, rebounded across the road into Denning Duer's Woods, one of them cutting down a large tree, a piece of iron pipe, some ten feet in length and two feet in cumference, landed near the hotel, and another piece, about half near the hotel, and another piece, about half the size, was found a short distance off. Two dwelling houses near were slightly damaged by flying missiles, and one of them, belonging to Mr. FANSEL, was scorched in front, and the other caught fire in the gable, but Engine Co. No. 1, and Hook and Ladder Co., No. 1, of Union Hill, were able to prevent any material damage and saved them from destruction. The engineer was a new man and had been employed there only three or four days, and no one in the neighborhood seemed to know him. HAUSHERR was a single man, about 30 years of age.

The case will be fully investigated, as it is said the{sic} the engineer was not competent for the position.

The New York Times, New York, NY 28 Oct 1867