Tuesday, July 29, 2008

It Was A Dynamite Cartridge

New York, 1895

Some Boys Threw Stones at It to See if It Would Explode, and It Did.

A number of school children in Orient narrowly escaped being blown to atoms Tuesday by the explosion of a dynamite cartridge which they had set up in the street and were pelting with stones. The cartridge was one of several found last week by some school boys near the residence of Mrs. Mary M. Stephenson. A gang of workmen had been employed there recently doing some blasting, and, through oversight or carelessness, they went away leaving the cartridges lying on the ground.

Eddie White and other urchins carried the cartridges about in their pockets for several days, displaying them as curiosities. They had a great time in school passing them around among the other boys. By the time school was dismissed there was scarcely an urchin in the class who wasn't curious to know what the things contained and what they were intended for. Finally one bright lad suggested that the cartridges "looked as it they might go off." Then the boys concluded to put one of them to the test.

By this time the girls also became interested, and they all went to a quiet place in the road some distance from the school, where one of the cartridges was set up as a target. Then about twenty of the boys got a few yards back and at a signal began to throw stones at the curious looking object.

One of the missiles finally struck the cartridge, and there was a terrific explosion. A cloud of dust arose in the air, and the group of children were thrown in all directions by the shock. Villagers rushed to their doors in alarm. The children who could darted off, some covered with dirt and others with their clothes torn. Those nearest the explosion were dazed and regained their feet with difficulty.

When the frightened villagers got to the scene they found a big hole in the ground and several badly scared children standing around looking into it amazedly. Eddie White had a piece of his right ear blown off. Susie Swinton got a bad flesh wound in the left leg, and Flora Wilcox had three deep gashes in her cheek. The wounded were taken to their parents, and gradually the other experimenters found their way to their different homes, where some of them were given a taste of the rod and sent supperless to bed, while others were received with joy.

The villagers began an investigation and secured three other cartridges which three urchins were carrying around for future use. It was estimated that the three cartridges contained explosive force enough to blow up half the village. They were gingerly inspected by the villagers and then one of the men took them in charge and rowing out into the bay dropped them overboard.

—The Long Island Farmer, Jamaica, NY, May 24, 1895, p. 8.

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