Haverstraw, NY Powerful Storm, July 1853





Our reporter yesterday again visited the scene of the melancholy disaster which occurred at Haverstraw, Rockland County, on Saturday. The brick-yards which line the shore from Lower Haverstraw (opposite Croton) for some miles up the coast to Colwell's bore evidence of the violence of the gale of Saturday. The sheds in several of the yards were completely stripped of their roofs, while others were totally prostrated. Fortunately, the gale passed to the side of the village, which escaped almost uninjured. Dwelling houses suffered comparatively little damage -- the storm having taken a course over the sheds along the shore, and over the bay in the direction of Croton Cove. The sloops lying along the beach were torn from their wharves, and had to let go their anchors. One sloop was midway across the river, on her way from Croton, laden with front brick, when the squall struck her abeam, capsizing her instantly. The crew (three men and a boy) were thrown into the water, but managed to secure the boat, and escaped. The sloop, her load having slipped off, righted a little, and was driven ashore two miles below. A pit shed at Grassy Point, belonging to MR. GORDON was blown down. All the yards along the coast sustained more or less damage. A barn in the village, belonging to MR. LOUIS R. MACKEY, was blown down; value about $300. The battlements and wooden work on the steeple of the Presbyterian Church, situated immediately above MR. PECK'S yard, was torn away. A brick wall, supporting a horse shed, connected with the church, was in part blown down, and the posts torn from their places. But the yard of PECK, RUTHERFORD & KNAPP, bore the saddest evidence of the storm. It was strewn from one end to the other, with ruins of the building, which seemed to have been lifted up and levelled with exceeding force. This was the only high building in any of the years; low sheds being used in every instance for lodging the laborers, and was originally built by MESSRS. HIGGINS & Co., as a carpet factory. It was two stories high, each story about 14 ft. Its entire length was 100 fe., by over 30 ft. in width. The bulding was occupied as a carpet factory until 1849, when the present Company took the yard, and appropriated the building as a dormitory, with beds for thirty-two persons; while the middle part was at times occupied by the families of men recently arrived, who had got a job of work. At the time of the disaster, three of these families were in the building. Of fourteen children, all escaped uninjured, except one girl aged 7, named DINAH VANDERLINDER, whose leg was broken.
For several years this building has been looked on as unsafe by people in the neighborhood. When used as a factory, the workmen always left it during anything of a storm, fearing that it would come down. At such times, we are informed, it would so shake as to disarrange the looms. It was the opinion of many that the building was insecure in case of a storm. Yet, with respect to this point, the security of the building, the Jury made no investigation beyond a question to one of the proprietors of the yard. The evidence taken, as copied by our Reporter from Justice HAZARD'S notes, was very meagre and unsatisfactory. In a case attended by such serious loss of life, it was the duty of the acting Coroner and Jury to have instituted a rigid inquiry as to the state of the building. By failing to do so, their verdict is unsatisfactory to the community. Justice HAZARD stated that he directed the Jury to take more evidence on this point, but they considered it unnecessary. The eliciting of any evidence which he considered of moment, however, properly fell within his province as Coroner. With the Jury rested the verdict.
We subjoin a correct list of the dead and those under treatment on the premises:
FELIX GARRIBOTTI, aged 45, an Italian, unmarried.
WILLIAM BRASIL, aged 30, an Irishman, unmarried.
WILLIAM HERON, aged 40, an Irishman, unmarried.
MARY KROEDLE, aged 31, German, wife of HENRY KROEDLE, laborer.
HANNAH MYERS, aged 34, wife of JOHN MYERS, laborer.
Badly Injured:
JOHN MYERS, at first not expected to recover; doing better yesterday. In falling, a stake was forced up his body. His wife was killed. Four children, with him at the time, escaped unhurt, except one boy, whose ankle was caught.
HENRY KROEDLE, a German laborer. His wife was killed; five children living; had landed but a few days.
HENRY ERNER, severely injured in the back; left a wife and family in Ireland.
MARIA VANDERLINDER, injured internally. She, her husband, and four children, were in the lower part of the building.
DINAH VANDERLINDER, aged 7 years, had her leg broken.
The patients were all much better yesterday, and likely to recover, except JOHN MYERS, whose case is yet doubtful. Every attention has been paid them by the attending physicians and the proprietors of the yard.
When the bell rang an alarm, Justice HAZARD and a number of the villagers hastened to PECK'S Yard, which is nearly a mile up, and aided in extricating the bodies. The scene is described as most heart-rending. That the storm was unusually violent, its path of destruction gave ample evidence; but we found the impression strong on many minds in the neighborhood, that the building was not sufficiently secure to entrust the lives of a number of men during the gales to which that point is liable. For the sake of all parties, we regret that the Coroner's investigation was not of such a clear nature as to leave no doubt on the question.

The New York Times New York 1853-07-12