Pinkerton Report, Jan 10, 1891

Dublin Core


81/2 x 14"




MS020 1/5

Document Item Type Metadata


New York Jan, 16.91
Jos. M. Ives Esq.
259 Main St
Danbury, Conn.

Our operative J.I.McM further reports.
Saturday, Jan 10.91
To-day in Danbury,
At 8:30 am, I arose and after breakfast I called on Mr. Ives and received further instructions. I went to the store of Hull and Porter on Main St. I saw Mr. Porter, he gave me a list of the late fires prepared by Sg’t Waggonre of Police Dep’t. They are as follows
#60. Nov. 16.90. Foster Bros. Shop Lumber Yard and Tenement house time 2.30 am
#61. Nov. 30.90. Dwilling House #69 West Wooster St. time 2.40 am
#62. Dec. 1.90. H.R.R. Engine House oil waste found. time 12.27 am
#64, Dec. 6.90. [Tomatson Bros.] Barn, Morris St. time 12.53 am

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#66. Dec. 20.90 Osborn Bros. Lumber Yard and part of H.R.R. freight house time 10pm
#67. Dec. 21.90 Green and Beebe’s Box Shop
[Chas] ReedsMachine Shop
Ges. Barmount Dwelling oil waste found time 1.37 am
#68. Dec. 23.90. Lyon’s Barn and out-house time 2. Am

The above are all the recent fires and the fires that are to be investigated at the present time, it was now Mr. Porters wish that I get “spot” on the man. Hack, Lovdell and Stevens. I asked Mr. Porter if he could send for Sherwood on White St as I wanted to interview him, and wanted to do it undercover. Mr. Porter then sent for Mr. Sherwood. We went into a rear room and he made the following statement.
“I keep a Fish Market at #81 White St and about two hundred feet from where the fire started in Osborn’s Lumber Yard on the night of Dec. 20 as near as I can judge it was about 10 pm or a little after that. I was standing in the doorway of my store when I saw the flames burst up from a pile of lumber in lumber yard. I called to my man by name of [Hens] and said “look some place is on fire over there.” I then ran towards the fire and at the teo telegraph poles at the cor. of White and Canal St. I met and saw Howard Stevens. I recognized him and said “Hello”. He (Stevens) said
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“well they will have me down for this fire I suppose.” He was not standing but was walking away from the fire. He did not appear to be in a hurry and spoke in a natural manner. This was before the alarm was sounded and before any one by myself was running to the fire. The moment I saw him it flashed upon my mind that the talk about Howard Steven being generally supposed to be the fire bug, and I wondered that he should be walking away from the fire when I should think that a person would be going to the fire, at the time it was burning up quite brightly, where Stevens went I do not know. I did not see him again that night. I am not mistaken in my identity of this man Howard Stevens. I know him personally and have known him for years and any willing to swear to my identity of the man and the fact of my seeing him, time, circumstances and place.
“An Engineer on New England R.R. who had just come in from a run claims to have seen a man going down the track with oil waste in his hand in the direction of Reeds shop just before the Reed fire. I do not know this man’s name (Engineer) but I can find out by Monday morning and let you know. Where I first noticed Stevens was about 40 feet away from where fire first broke out in Osborn’s Lumber Yard. I will see you on Monday and give you
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name of Engineer who claims to have seen man go down track with oil waste in hand.”
It now being 12.20 pm, I went to dinner after which I remained to meet Mr. Porter he was to drive me out to a point where he thought I could meet Hack. At 1.30 pm I left with Mr. Porter, but kept up search for Hack until 3 pm, but could not find any-thing of Hack. I returned to Porters store where I met Mr. Lyons; his barn was burned on the night of Dec. 23. Mr. Lyons is Sec’y and Treas. of the Danbury Fan Company and lives on Park Ave. He makes the following Statement.
At 2 am on the morning of Dec. 23rd 1890 my wife who awoke from a sound sleep looked out the window and looked out the window and saw that the Cow barns some distance away from the house were on fire. She awoke me, I at once called my hired man who sleeps up stairs. My man ran out to the barns first and I followed. The first thing the man did was to let out the two cows. He and I then got out the nine horses and their harness and carriages. My barn is built on the side of a small hill that bring the front of barn on level with the ground, while at the rear leaves an open space but is enclosed by sliding door. In this space is manure and dry leaves that I mix in with the manure. A trap door in barn floor opens directly into this manure pit. The manure in the pit was soft and
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not frozen as it was in the barn yard. I saw at once on going to the barn that the fire had consumed and was burning directly in this manure pit, and directly under the trap door, my man had no sooner got out the cows that the entire cow barn was engulfed in flames and impossible for anyone to enter. While I was engaged in getting gout the harness, I saw two men coming up the yard walk and just before they got to the barn they both commenced to yell out “fire”. Who these men were I do not know; they both began to act as if helping me but insisted on putting harness into wagon would throw them on the floor. I told them if they did not stop I would break their “damned heads”. I did not like their looks and was at once suspicious of them; up to this time there was no one there but myself, my man and these two strangers; by this time the neighbors and Engineers had arrived and with their help we pulled down the cart shed which was between the Cow barn and horse barn and so saved the horse barn. After the fire was under control I went to the house and got four bottles of whiskey for the firemen when a man named Jennigs said to me “it was lucky that Davis got here in time to save your cows, and in doing so got his clothes covered with cow manure.” Now as a matter of fact, hired man took the cows the first thing
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he did on discovery of fire and barely had time to do that, the flames spread so rapidly. My man and this this man Jennings said that Davis’ clothes one side were covered with cow manure, and he and his companion did not show up until after cows, horses and carriages had been saved. Jennings also said he overheard one of the men say when Serg’t Waggoner came to the fire “There is Waggoner; let us get out”, they both then left and Davis has not been seen since. I was informed that these men were, one a man known as Whiskey Davis and the other Archie Lake. Lake, I understand, is still in Danbury, but just where Davis is I do not know. The last person to enter barn before the fire was my hired man and that was between 7 and 8 pm.
I could detect the smell of whiskey on these two men but they were not intoxicated”. It now being 5.15pm I returned to Hotel and after supper I went to Councilman McPhelemy’s saloon, where I had a walk with him in company with [Granville] Holmes. McPhelemy was to let me know if Lobdell was about town tonight and was [is now] at 8 pm. I went to Wooster House and met Mr. Porter by appointment, he told me that Lobdell was at that time in Meyer’s cigar store near R.R. depot on Main St, I went to Meyer’s cigar store
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and form description picked up Lobdell; he was in conversation with Meyer’s. I remained in long enough to get a good spot on him, and I then came out and met Holmes and Porter; they introduced me to a young man named Burke connected with the Opera House. They asked me to go with Burke and visit the saloons and Burke would give me “spot” on such of the gang could be formed, Stevens in particular, as he was in town. Nothing would be suspicious by going around with Burke for then it would be thought that I was connected with some troupe in company with Burke. I visited Hurd’s saloon and Wooster House and then going to Ives St went to Madden’s , Dougherty’s, Dillen’s, Bertley’s and Terrell’s saloons the going to White Street visited McPhelemy’s and Gagahagen’s, back to Wooster House and Hurd’s saloon; not finding any of them went to Terell’s on Ives St where I saw Stevens sitting at saloon stove. He remained in here a short while when he went out, first taking a drink at bar. He went then into Bartley’s. Here he met a man about 48 years of age, full black beard, he stood at the bar with him until 11.15 pm. I stood at the bar next to him talking show business with Burke and trying to overhear conversation of Steven’s. I could catch the word “fire” once in a while but could not make out any connected conversation
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there being so much noise in the saloon at 11.15 pm. he left the saloon and I also did a few moments later, the moment I got on the street I detected that a “shadow” was on Stevens and was giving him a very close one. I saw Stevens go to cor. of Ives and White St where he was hailed by Serg’t Waggoner. I kept right on and went to Wooster House.
I learned from Mr. Booth, Prop. Wooster House, that on the night of the Lyon’s fire Whiskey Davis and Charlie Lake were put out of the hotel at 12.20 am; they were intoxicated at the time. Stevens was also at Hotel that night and went to bed at about 12 midnight. Do[es] not remember of seeing Davis or Lake that night in conversation with Stevens.
Your [Respectfully]
Pinkerton Nat. Dect. Agy.
Robt. A Pinkerton
Genr. Supr. Ediv.





Pinkerton, Robert A. (Robert Allan), 1848-1907. “Pinkerton Report, Jan 10, 1891.” Pinkerton Detective Agency Danbury Fires Investigation Collection, MS020. WCSU Archives, 16 Oct. 2015. Accessed on the Web: 20 May 2019.


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