New York City, NY Tenement Fire, Oct 1855




We announced briefly, in a postscript to our morning edition of yesterday, that another of those terrible calamities by fire which too frequently startle the community, had occurred in State Street at an early hour that morning. Our reporters have since ascertained further and fuller particulars of the melancholy affair, which we subjoin:
A fire broke out in building No. 12 State Street, about 2 o'clock Friday morning. It was a most calamitous one. Three women and two children were burned or suffocated to death, and another woman, fatally burned, was conveyed to the New York Hospital, where she still lingers.
The building, a four-story brick one, was occupied by a family on each floor. The first floor was occupied by MR. MACONEY, wife and one child; the second floor by MR. HENRY LUBS, wife and four children; the third floor by OLIVER D. VANDERBURG, wife, two childre, and the mother
and sister of MRS. VANDENBURG -- MRS. CATHARINE PEACOCK, aged 50 years, and MISS MARY PEACOCK, aged 19 years. MRS. BROWN, and her nephew, aged 9 years, lived on the fourth floor, JULIA RICKERS and a girl named RECA -- both Germans, and in the employ as servants of MR. LUBS, and a sewing woman, named MISS BECKER, slept in the attic.
The fire originated in the basement, but in what manner has not yet been ascertained. It was first discovered by Officer Cornelius Dwyer, of the First Ward Police, who instantly gave the alarm, proceeded to the premises, and endeavored to effect an entrance.
The Fire Department had some difficulty in finding the place, owing to its situation, and the fact that the flames, being confined within the building, were not visible at a distance.
Previous to the arrival of the firemen, the street door had been forced open, which, by increasing the circulation of air, gave an impetus to the flames, which then rushed up the stairway with astonishing rapidity, cutting off all escape by that means from above.
As it was known that none of the inmates of the house had made their escape by the front entrance, the greatest excitement prevailed among the large number of persons, who, notwithstanding the hour, had assembled. The firemen worked now energetically and soon succeeded in cutting off the progress of the fire from the basement to the second story.
As soon as it was possible to do so, Engineers Baulch and Farnham forced their way up the first flight of stairs. On reaching the first landing they stumbled over something which at first they supposed to be some burnt furniture. Mr. Baulch on stooping down to, ascertain the character of the obstruction, clasped in his hand the skull of a human being, burned almost to a crisp.
A lantern was then procured, when was revealed the horrid sight of the remains of two women and a child with the flesh burned completely off, and the bones exposed and blackened. One of the women was crouched to one corner with the child lying beside her. The other was extended in the opposite corner. Both the unfortunate women in attempting to escape from their sleeping apartments to the street were stopped by the flames and smoke on the lower landing, and there perished. The three bodies were conveyed to the lower room upon the first floor.

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