Clifton, Staten Island, NY Dock Bridge Collapses, July 1852




Clifton, S. I, New York -- A melancholy accident occurred at Vanderbilt's Landing, Clifton, Staten Island, on the 5th July. On Monday afternoon at 4 o'clock, as the steamboat Hunchback came from the City to land at Vanderbilt's landing, the ferry bridge gave way, precipitating about 50 or 60 persons in the river, men, women and children, and a number were drowned. A number were saved by the bystanders on the dock. Twelve bodies had been recovered up to 12 o'clock on Monday night. The following are the names of the persons as far as could be ascertained:
ELIZA COLELOUGH, aged, 28 years, residing at Green Point, L. I.
MRS. JANE HOLENS, og Freen Point, L. I., aged 20, had been married but a short time.
MRS. MARGARET FREELICH, of Germany, residing at No. 206 Walker street.
CHARLOTTE BENTA, aged 10 years, residing at No. 206 Walker street.
JOSEPH WILLIAM ROBINSON, aged 5 years, residing at No. 157 Cherry street.
MRS. ELIZABETH, wife of JOHN RITSEN, residing corner of Smith and Warren streets, Brooklyn, aged 19 years -- lately married.
CATHARINE McNAMEE, sister to MRS. RITSEN, aged 15 years, residing in Warren street near Columbia, Brooklyn.
MARY ELEANOR LLOYD, daughter of HENRY LLOYD, residing at No. 226 Tenth avenue, aged 4 months.
A woman, supposed to be MRS. GUILLIAM, of Philadelphia, aged 35 years.
The body of a woman was teken from the dock, she was about 40 years of age, dressed in a brown De Laine frock, had a full set of false teeth in the upper jaw.
Also the body of a female child, aged about 2 years.
A lady that was taken from the water died on board of the steamboat Hunchback on her passage to the city. Coroner RANDOLPH hald an inquest on the bodies, and the Jury returned a verdict of Drowning by the Ferry Bridge giving away.
The bodies of MRS. JANE GWILLIAM and her daughter SARAH JANE, of Philadelphia, were recognized on Tuesday morning. This lady and her daughter left Philadelphia on Sunday last to visit some friends residing in this City.
A correspondent, who was present, makes the following comments on this tragical affair:
Being an eye witness of the fatal tragedy that took place at Vanderbilt's dock, at Staten Island, on the afternoon of the 5th, whereby seventeen men, women, and children, were almost instantly drowned, I think it my duty to speak out. The whole accident occurred owing to a most criminal neglect. The people were let in through the gate on to the bridge, and had nowhere else to stand. The bridge was densely crowded, with men, women, and children. The bridge gave way on one side, and precipitated full one hundred and fifty persons a distance of six feet to the water, which was about eight feet deep. They fell as it were into a well. Those under had no chance, and the wonder is that so many were saved. If Captain VANDERBILT had gone to the expense of ten dollars when the bridge was built, to have put two sticks of timber underneath, for the bridge to fall on, at a distance of some two or three feet, this whole loss of lives might have been saved. Last year a similar accident happened on the People's Ferry, when I was on their bridge. The chains that supported it gave way, when the bridge was equally crowded, but, in consequence of the timber being placed as a support, not the slightest injury occurred to any one.

The New York Times New York 1852-07-07