Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Deadly Bomb!

The scene of the crime - photo, 2008.

This is quite a crime story. Never believe anyone who tells you that there was no crime in Jamaica Plain until the Nineteen -Seventies.

Boston Daily Globe May 24, 1889

Deadly Bomb

Thrown Into a Private Residence.

A Terrific Explosion Follows.

Rose Donnelly Escapes Death by Jumping.

House in Jamaica Plain Shattered.

Remnants of Gaspipe Loaded with Buckshot Found.

The residents of Jamaica Plain, who live in the vicinity of Centre and Holbrook streets, where shocked last night by an explosion which rattled their windows, and for a while brought up visions of earthquakes.

The alarm, however, was caused by what appears to have been one of the most cold blooded attempts to murder an inoffensive woman that can well be conceived.

Some one deliberately threw a bomb through the window of a residence, and that an innocent life was not sacrificed seems to be due only to the merciful interposition of Providence.

The scene of the startling event was a large two story frame residence corner of Centre and Holbrook streets, owned and occupied by Miss C.M. Weld as a summer residence. Miss Weld spends her winters in Boston, and has not yet taken up her residence at the Plain, so that the only occupant of the house at the time of the explosion was Rose Donnelly, the housekeeper.

She was sitting in an armchair beside the window in the kitchen, on the Holbrook street side at 9 o'clock last evening, when a long black object came crashing through the window within about a foot of her face and landed in the middle of the floor. Not stopping an instant to investigate she dashed out of the door into the hall.

Scarcely had she slammed the kitchen door behind her when a terrific explosion took place, which shook the house as if by an upheaval of the earth, and left it in utter darkness. Tearing open the front door she screamed for assistance, and her cries brought to the scene sergeant Follett, who lives near by, and several citizens who were in the immediate vicinity. Officer Albert Hildreth heard the report and was present in a few moments.

The explosion was followed by a lively blaze, and a still(?) alarm was rung, which brought engine 28, Captain Reilly, and hook and ladder 10. The fire was soon extinguished the only damage from that source being the destruction of a lot of newly laundered clothing and a general scorching of the woodwork about one of the windows.

An inspection of the damage by the explosion of the bomb showed that the three windows in the kitchen were blown out, pane and sash, and the glass, blown to powder, was scattered over the lawn for several feet outside, glistening like frost in the rays of the electric lights from the streets beyond. The range was wrecked, the floor was torn up as if some one had been freely using an axe upon it, and the ceiling was started away from the walls. Pieces of the casing of the bomb and its contents, a charge of buckshot, went clean through the closet doors and woodwork, some of which was an inch in thickness. In the centre of the floor, where the bomb struck and exploded, was a hole as big as the crown of a hat.

The bomb was a piece of iron pipe, apparently gas-pipe, 10 inches in length and an inch and a half in diameter, having upon each end a heavy iron cap screwed on with a thread. In one end a hole was bored through which a fuse was passed. The charge was gunpowder, and also buckshot, a large quantity of which was picked up about the room by firemen and police officers.

The pipe was blown into many pieces, varying from half an inch to two or three inches in length. The largest piece was a strip in length of the pipe and about an inch and a half in width, twisted and distorted, and having rough, jagged edges.

Not more than two-thirds of the pipe could be found, the rest, evidently, either having gone out the windows or become embedded in the woodwork.

Had the explosion occurred a few seconds sooner, or had the woman delayed a moment in her exit, nothing could have saved her from a shocking death, as not a vestige was left of the woodwork, or glass of the window by which she had been sitting. Several other windows besides those in the kitchen were broken, while those in the pantry, immediately in the rear, were badly riddled as those in the room where the explosion took place.

Miss Donnelly received considerable credit for the nerve she displayed after the explosion, and she retired for the night quite well satisfied upon learning that Officer Hildreth would stand guard in the house during the night.

Superintendent Small, upon hearing of the affair, sent out a general alarm to the stations ordering the officers to arrest all suspicious persons and hold them until further orders from him. Nothing has yet been learned of the identity of the miscreant.

No possible reason for such an attempt at destruction could be learned last night, although it is said that an incendiary fire was set in the stable of the same residence on the night of Jan. 9 last, which was the night of the policemen's ball. The floor was saturated with kerosene and fired, though, owing to prompt discovery and a ready response by the department, it was extinguished with little damage.

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