Pinkerton Report - Jan 16, 1891

Dublin Core


81/2 x 14"




MS020 1/7

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New York Jany 19, 91
Jos. M. Ives Esq
257 Main Street
Danbury, Conn.
Our Operative J.T. McM further reports.
Friday Jany 16, 91
Today in Danbury,
At 9 am I went to the office of the Cap’t of Police Michael Keating. I had to wait some time so that I could have an uninterrupted talk with him but as soon as he was finished his talk, he had locked the door to his office. I told him I wanted a statement from him regarding the fire, what suspicion he had, and what he knew personally, regarding the reputation of the individual members of the present Fire Dept and those of the Kohanza Social Club.
I remained with Cap’t Keating until 11:50 am, when I went to the Hotel. First agreeing to meet Cap’t Keating at 2 pm as he said he wanted to take and show
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me several portions of the fire district and to explain his idea of the fire. I returned to Turner House to dinner, after which I made out statement of Cap’t Keating up to time that I left him.
At 2 pm, I returned to Police station, and met Serg’t Waggoner who introduced me to a lawyer, who chanced to be sitting in the Cap’t’s office, but introduced me under some other name than my own. After the man had left, I told the Serg’t that it was foolish to introduce under any other name than my own, for if the Cap’t had come in and called me McManus thus it would show me up in a very poor light. Serg’t Waggoner seemed surprised to know that I had met the Captain, and acted as if he did not like it.
The real fact of the matter is, in all the departments so far as I have been brought in contact with them a petty jealousy exists, each member of the various departments wants to be the real one, in the Poilce and Fire department. This spirit is a self-evident fact, that I think the special committee in charge of this matter have by this time fully realized. I questioned Waggoner as to what the result would be of tonights meeting of the members of the Fire dept. in connection with their resignations. Waggoner said he did not know, but hoped that they
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would stay a month longer. I suggested that the best course for the city to do would be to accept the entire batch of resignations, re-organize the entire force on a different basis, throw out al objectionable persons, take in only those that are known to be reliable men irrespective of party, put them under living wages, under rules to be lived up to, have the Engine house for the sole use of Firemen, and not an annex for Dillon’s, Madden’s, Dougherty’s, Terrell’s, and Bartley’s saloons. If good men can be found in the Kohanza Social Club, take them. That a department could be had that might be an ornament to the city, and that old feeling of hatred would be wiped out that has and is now existing between the Kohanza Club and the Fire Dept. Waggoner did not say that he fully agreed with me on that subject, he wanted to know what the Cap’t had told me, but I threw him off, and told him that I got no information from the Cap’t.
At 2:30 pm, the Cap’t returned and with him I went out. He wanted to point out different places. We left and went out West to Deerhill Ave, to River St. At the corner Cap’t Keating pointed out to me a man going out Elm St; he said his name was Dan McCreedy who I am positive I recognized as a man that worked in Shop No. 5 at Conn State Prison
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some six or eight years ago. What his crime was now I am not positive of. Captain Keating told me that this man had been mentioned as a possible “fire bug.” I noticed that McCreedy, after I had passed, got behind a fence to watch me. Cap’t Keating and I continued over to the site of Green + Beebe Shop and looked at ruins, and Cap’t pointed out spot that the fire was set. If the Cap’t is right the person evidently came to shop from and left by railroad as places were fired not from Maple Ave. side but from the R.R. side. From there we went to Osborn Yard and went through that place. I got no further additional information; we continued through back of the building on Main St. in Fire district and back to the office where we arrived at 5 pm where I met Officer Bradley and got statement from him.
At 5:15 pm I left office with Officer Bradley and went to Mead’s saloon next to Wooster House where we had two drinks of hot whiskey and cigars. I went to the house of John Ellwood but did not find him. I returned to Wooster House where I sent a note to Ellwood by telegraph asking him to meet me at my room, No. 55 Turner House, this evening between 7 + 8pm. I returned to Hotel and after supper went to my room. At 7:30pm John H. Ellwood came to my room and I received him.
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I told him I wanted to make some enquiry of him regarding the late fires and fire department. He said he was willing to give them. I then ordered 2 bottles of Lager to be brought to my room. I was not struck with his appearance while he was in my room. He appeared ill at ease and was quite pale when talking until I got him talking about Morris Meyers. He then got quite flushed and seemed excited; he all the time spoke in a very slow manner seeming to weigh his words; he made a statement; he remained with me until 9:40 pm. When I had got enough, we went down stairs where I ordered 2 more bottles of lager. After he left, it was too late for me to go down town, so I called up by telephone the Police Station to find out what action the Firemen had taken tonight at their meeting. I could not get telephone to work, but in 20 minutes Serg’t Waggoner came to Hotel to see me. He said he had not got any word from the meeting as to how they had acted. He said that Ellwood had come into station just before he came to see me and said that some Gentleman at the Turner House wanted to see him, but he did not know what for. He further said that Ellwood was in some trouble of some kind, for just after he (Ellwood) left the office two women
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came in very much excited and inquired for Ellwood, not finding him. After they had left a man (the husband of one of the women) came in and inquired for Ellwood. He was quite mad and excited and wanted to see Ellwood. Not finding him he left vowing vengeance on Ellwood. I questioned Waggoner as to who he would believe, Ellwood or Meyers, he said Ellwood. He and I remained in parlor and had bottle of lager and a cigar until 10:50 pm, when he left and I went to my room.
Yours Resp’y
Pinkertons Nat Det Agy
Robert A. Pinkerton
Genl Supr [Exec]




Pinkerton, Robert A. (Robert Allan), 1848-1907. “Pinkerton Report - Jan 16, 1891.” Pinkerton Detective Agency Danbury Fires Investigation Collection, MS020. WCSU Archives, 9 July 2019. Accessed on the Web: 25 Jan. 2020.


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