Statement of Howard Stevens

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Tells McM that he has since the Foster Brothers fire believed that five persons on the inside of the Department are responsible for the fires. He tells McM how it was that he has been the first to arrive at the fires - he would always hear a policeman tap his nightstick on the curb across the street from his house when there was a fire arlarm. And he claims he knows who is setting the fires.

Stevens had been a suspect since August and he was aware that he was being trailed. He in turn tells of a man he has been following who has been conspicuous at many of the recent fires and describes the man as 50 to 55 years old, height 5' 9", weight 180 to 185, with a sandy beard and mustache wearing a long faded black overcoat and old derby hat. He links the man to Carlton Hack in the Fire Department. Stevens claims that he heard Hack say that “if we have more fires we will have more pay.”




MS020 1/2

Document Item Type Metadata


Statement of Howard Stevens
Made at Taunton, Conn.
Wednesday Jan 21, 91

You want my opinion, well I am going into Danbury this afternoon and I can see you there any place that you may name where I would have more time than I have at present. I am fishing now and have not much time.

I have had ever since the Foster Bros fire my opinion as to the fires, and I believe that some person on the inside of the Dep’t has something to do with them. I do not know if you have in your mind how many are engaged in it, but I put the number down at about 5, and I think that at least two of those five are members of the Dep’t.
I have had the name of setting the fires I got it from being about the first there. I will explain to you how it was that I used to be the first.

Watchmen Sutton for White + Rudle on River St. whenever he would hear the cry of fire, would run across the street from the factory which was just across the street from my house and rap his nightstick on my stoop and awaken me. I would get right out, many times getting out of the house before the bell rang. I never knew I was watched until the fire Aug. 3rd 1889. That night I was awakened by the
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[Stevens page 2]
watchman rapping. I ran out and ran right into a man standing at my door. I did not think anything more of that until while at the fire, I was standing at my engine, and saw the same man in company with Cap’t Keating, and I heard Keating say to the man, “was he at home.” The man said yes, and he knocked me down when he came out. That morning while I was in front of the Engine house [drowning] my fire, a [trampish] looking man tall with sandy mustache came up to me and said, “well young fellow you had lots it last night, but you will get more of it before long.” I did not pay any attention to this man and did not look to see where he had gone. I did not see him again until after the Danbury House fire. I noticed him back of my house, he left there went up River St. to a place called “Shirt-tail-bend” past the factory of D.E. Leowe, and in back of Mallory’s up the hill and back to Rose St. to the high R.R. trestle to Penfield in back of Penfield to Bears Lumber Yard, then over to New England R.R. station and then to Ives St. I then set in to watch this man feeling that I was suspected, I wanted to put myself in a good light before the public and catch the man if possible. I lost him that night, and we had no fires, on the
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[Stevens page 3]
Following Saturday morning. I saw him buying a drink in Mrs. Dillens on Ives St. he was that same night on Ives St. until 11:30 pm. when he walked to N.E. R.R. track to back of Beckerleys Shop where he got into a box car. I saw him again on Sunday morning back of New England Hotel, I heard that he went through “Mill Plain” (3 miles out) at 10 am.

I moved out here on Jan 1st 1890. I did not see this man again until time of Foster Bros. fire. I did not see him that night but saw him Tuesday night after. I kept watch on him until 2 am where he jumped on train N.E.R.R. going west. On last Saturday night this same man got on east bound freight train going towards Waterbury.

The best description I can give of this man is age 50 to 55- height 5 8 ½ to 5 ft 9- weight 180 to 185- beard. Sandy mustache rough sandy- 4 weeks growth of beard on face. Dressed long faded black overcoat and old derby hat.

Now I have seen this man at different times in conversations with Carlton Hack in[ Terrees] Saloon on Ives St. I could not catch on to what was said. Hack is one of the men in the Dep’t that I have down for being one of the fire bugs, and I think it will be proven
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[Stevens Page 4]
So sometime. Hack is a man no mind of his own, and very easy to be led, will do anything that he is asked to do. On the night of John R. Spain’s factory fire I was in Engine house just before the bell struck. I heard hollering I ran to door and Mr. Hack just coming in I said what is up. He said John R. Spain’s factory. I said how do you know. He said I have just come from there. Three or four times I have seen Hack come from direction of fire before the alarm has been struck. Hack made the remark to me one night in the Engine house, “If we have more fires we will have more pay.” Most of the fires have taken place nights that I have been in town, and Hack has always known that I was here and I think that they are set by him, knowing that I was in town and that it would be laid to me. The night of Tomlinson’s barn fire I drove in from Hawleyville and went to Wooster House where I stayed. I asked Officer Sullivan if Hack was about he said no. Well anyway we had our fire as usual.

I know I am shadowed every place I go that I cannot put my foot into Danbury without at least a dozen are right on top of me. If you want to get at the bottom of this keep your
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[Stevens Page 5]
eye on Hack and Lewis the driver of Hose No 1.
I will tell you all I know at any time that you may state, when I have more time than I have now. I want to finish my fishing to depot so as to catch train for Danbury. I am going in to see my mother on River St. If I can spare the time I will run up to your hotel and see you.




“Statement of Howard Stevens.” Pinkerton Detective Agency Danbury Fires Investigation Collection, MS020. WCSU Archives, 9 July 2019. Accessed on the Web: 23 Sep. 2019.


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