The Cortland Democrat, Friday, April 26, 1889.
Consistency Thou Art a Jewel.
On the 17th instant the following dispatches were sent out from Washington and published all over the country:
WASHINGTON, April 17.—The President made a declaration yesterday which indicates that he has not forgotten the civil service reform plank in the National Reform platform. A delegation consisting of several members of Congress waited on him to ask a further postponement of the application of the civil service rules to the railway mail service. The President replied that it could not be done. The first postponement from March 15 to May 1, he said, had been made because of the inability of the Civil Service Commission to prepare eligible lists by the earlier date, but there was no excuse for any further postponement and none would be made. "We should be disregarding the pledges made to the country,'' said General Harrison, "if we did that."
Since March 4 about 500 changes have been made in the personnel of the railway mail service. First Assistant Postmaster General Clarkson, in speaking of the matter to-day, said that it has been the policy of the department to displace incompetent clerks and appoint experienced and thoroughly efficient men who left the service during the last administration where such were available and desirous of reentering the service. Of course, he said, men whose faculties have become impaired, or whose thorough fitness has become questionable will not be reinstated. The railway mail service, he continued, requires men not only of superior intelligence, but men whose faculties are in perfect order, men who possess every requirement of the service as long as possible. Efficiency in the postal service can be obtained only after a long struggle, and to remove such men to make place for political favorites, irrespective of their fitness, is a public wrong, and should not be tolerated by the public.
On the very same day that the above dispatches were sent out, R. F. Randall and D. P. Dunsmoor of this place, postal clerks on the D. L. & W., received notice that there services were no longer required. Randall had one of the best records of any clerk in the service, having a voluntary examination record on 7600 post offices of over 98 per cent, and has in his possession three letters of commendation from a republican Superintendent. In the three years he has been in the service he has handled 15,000,000 pieces of mail and has only been charged with seventy missent pieces and has never had any kind of complaint whatever filed against him. The man who was appointed to take his place never saw the inside of a postal car until he went to demand Randall's mail keys.
Dunsmoor enlisted as a recruit to fill up the 2nd Regiment of Artillery in January 1864 when but sixteen years of age and went to the front, was wounded by a shell at Cold Harbor and laid on the field for two days, when he was carried to his home on a stretcher and laid in bed for a year hovering between life and death. For five years he was unable to do any work whatever. He was appointed a postal clerk on the D. L. & W., February 12,1888, and had served but a little over a year when he was discharged to make room for a common-doings-sort of a politician, who was never in the army and who knew positively nothing of the duties of a postal clerk. Dunsmoor's eldest brother enlisted in the 81st Regiment in 1861 and died on the Peninsula in July 1862. His second brother enlisted in the 147th Regiment Volunteers in the fall of 1863, lost his right leg in the first day’s battle of the Wilderness and died from the effects of the injury on his way home.
When Mr. Clarkson says that "to remove such men (as Randall and Dunsmoor) to make places for political favorites, irrespective of their fitness, is a public wrong, and should not be tolerated by the public," it sounds very nice, but when he straightway proceeds to remove them, it proves pretty conclusively that he is a cheat and a fraud. President Harrison too, feels that he "would be disregarding the pledges made to the country" if he postponed the date for the application of the Civil Service rules to the railway mail service, and then proceeds to order the removal of 130 postal clerks in this part of the State, the very day that he makes the hypocritical statement, in order that the new appointees may be spared the Civil Service examinations, which they could not pass.
We haven't the slightest objection to the removal of democrats from all federal offices, if the administration will give the true reason for such removals and say they want the offices for republicans, but when they say to the people that they are going to observe the Civil Service rules we like to see them show some disposition to do so.
Republican papers made a great outcry during President Cleveland's administration when a democrat was appointed to fill an office that a republican had held for years, and claimed that the service would be ruined by removing an officer who had had experience and putting a new man in his place. Last week, all the postal clerks running on the D. L. & W. road between Oswego and Binghamton but one were removed and the greenest sort of green men put in their places and republican papers like the Standard commend the action of the appointing powers. On the line of the N. Y. Central road alone, 70 experienced clerks were dismissed the same day, and their places filled with men who knew nothing of the business. If things go on in this way it will be a wonder if the mail service is not ruined.
LOSS IN THE MILLIONS.
GREAT CONFLAGRATION IN NEW YORK CITY.
The New York Central Railroad a Sufferer to the Amount of Nearly $2,000,000—A Magnificent Spectacle—Several Persons Killed or Injured.
NEW YORK, April 20—The biggest and fiercest fire New Yorkers have witnessed in this generation swept the east bank of the North river clean yesterday from Fifty-ninth street to what would be Sixty-fifth street if the street ran to the river there. It destroyed about $2,000,000 worth of property belonging to the New York Central railroad and at least $500,000 worth of stores of lard, flour and the like belonging to other persons, notably N. K. Fairbanks, the great Chicago lard merchant; destroyed the two big elevators, A and B, of the Vanderbilt system, a big brick building stretching from Fifty-ninth street to Sixtieth street, and occupied jointly by the Fairbanks Lard refinery and the Rossister stores, and wiped out the dock property of the New York Central railroad system from Fifty-ninth to Sixty-fifth street.
The fire started on the ground floor of the Fairbanks Lard refinery (formerly belonging to the W. J. Wilcox Lard company), a building 200 feet square, stretching from Fifty-ninth to Sixtieth street, and facing the North river. The building was old and soaked with grease and the flames quickly enveloped the whole structure. The 150 employees found escape by the stairway cut off, and most of them had to jump from windows. Many were injured and one was killed outright. The excitement was so great and the police had so much to do that it was impossible to secure the names of all the injured. The unfortunates were taken away to hospitals as rapidly as ambulances could be prepared. The police cordon kept back a crowd of women, many of whom had relatives in the building. The police have a record of the following casualties:
Henry Benning, a workman in Fairbanks's refinery, killed by jumping from a third-story window.
John Johnson, a workman in Fairbanks severely injured on the back by jumping from a window.
Charles Brown, severe injuries about the head from the same cause.
William J. Noble, fireman of engine No. 2, prostrated by the heat while at work at foot of Fifty-ninth street.
Edward H. Tobin, fireman, likewise prostrated by the heat.
While looking at the fire from a window of the house at No. 547 West Fifty-seventh street, Mary Murray, an aged woman, lost her balance and fell to the pavement, twenty feet below, and her skull was fractured. She was taken to the Roosevelt hospital.
The Fairbanks building, which contained also the Rossiter stores, was soon beyond saving. The blaze was a most imposing spectacle, and attracted the attention of people in Jersey City and all along the Jersey shore and of thousands of passengers on ferryboats crossing the river for miles up and down. The six-story structure was soon destroyed. Meanwhile the efforts of the firemen to save the two grain elevators opposite the factory belonging to the New York Central Railroad company had been fruitless, and the great structures were soon ablaze.
All the fire engines between Fourteenth street and Harlem were on the spot, but the elevators were so situated as to be difficult of access by the firemen. Twenty-seven sunken trucks of the New York Central railroad and a line of stock yard enclosures intervened between the burning factories and the elevators, and the only way to reach the buildings was along Sixtieth street, where the heat was too great for the firemen to live in it. A company of the firemen, however got past and into the railroad yards, but there was only a six-inch water pipe there, and with the engines so far away they could do little effective work.
The fireboats working from the river side, aided by a number of tugs belonging to the New York Central, were able to do more, but not to save the buildings. The employees in the elevators kept the hose in the building playing as long as they could remain, but at last they had to abandon their posts. Elevator A was the first to go and its flames communicated to elevator B. The sheds of the stock yards next fed the flames, and the conflagration spread rapidly northward.
When the walls of the factory fell, an immense quantity of goods that had been packed in the Rossiter fell outward into Sixtieth street, blocking the thoroughfare and preventing the firemen from doing further work through that channel. After the fire had swept along the sheds to Sixty-sixth street, it stopped for want of further material to feed upon.
The fire lasted from about 3 o'clock until 9, and was witnessed by a vast throng. The police estimated that the crowd contained more than 200,000 people. The sight was a magnificent one, and there was nothing for blocks around to obstruct the view. After dark the sky was brightly lighted up all over the city, miles away from the fire.
The fire burned out all the piers from Sixty-second to Sixty-sixth street and the two freight sheds. The Union stock yards were saved. The barges Inward, Hyde Park, Seth Low, Irvington Trenton, American and one other were towed away from the docks to avoid being burned. It was necessary to cut their hawsers and let them drift. A half-dozen tugs towed them over to the Jersey shore. The ties of the rail road for a considerable distance along the river front were badly burned.
There never was a fire in this city before at which the work of the fire department counted for so little. It was impossible to make headway against such odds. The streams thrown both from land and river seemed ridiculous. The elevators were each 235 feet by 125 feet broad, and had a capacity of more than a million bushels apiece, but they were about empty. Elevator A contained only about 100,000 bushels of oats, and elevator B a smaller quantity of barley, making the total value of the contents not more than $100,000.
The buildings cost respectively $750,000 and $600,000 when built thirteen years ago, large part of the cost being for the foundations, which are probably not totally ruined. The New York Central Railroad company also owned the factory building in which the fire originated. They leased it to the Fairbanks. It was worth about $100,000. The losses on contents are not accurately known but Fairbank's loss is estimated at $300,000 and that of Rossiter and Company's customers, comprising a large number of merchants, at $500,000. The owners of the goods are fully insured, and Rossiter & Company themselves lost but little. Fairbanks is also said to be fully insured, and the railroad company kept its property well covered.
Charles M. Pearsall, who was superintending the work of putting in the new machinery at the factory when the fire broke out, thinks that the flames originated in the engine room in the basement. He says that the engineer was upstairs running the elevator. Pearsall smelled smoke and went to the elevator shaft, and on looking down he saw the basement full of smoke and gave the alarm. There was [sic] three vats containing 200,000 gallons of melted lard and cotton seed oil, and when the flames reached the fluid they exploded, shattering the building.
The situation is not as bad as at first feared. The New York Central foots up its loss at $1,400,000 but more than half a million dollars' worth of the burned property was useless to the company and need not be replaced. Another half million and more is covered by insurance, so that the actual loss of the company, chiefly on freight for which it is responsible, will be less than half a million dollars. Mr. Depew says:
The total toss of property consumed by the fire will be not far from $3,000,000. We figure that $1,400,000 of that sum falls upon the New York Central railroad. Business has changed materially since those big elevators were built. It was intended then that the ocean steamers should go right up to them and load and unload. They have not done so. The old practice of loading by boats has not been changed, and we do not need two such elevators. Besides the foundations of the building, which are in a hundred feet of mud and sand, and cost as much as the structures, are unimpaired. We find we can rebuild one elevator, which will be sufficient for our wants, and all piers, and put ourselves in as good condition as we were before the fire for half a million dollars. Our insurance, distributed among a large number of companies, amounts to about $500,000. The loss on freight and property for which we are responsible is therefore our real loss, and we estimate that at about $300,000.
As far as our business is concerned the three covered piers for west-bound business were saved. The east-bound business we can do as before, on the West Shore road in floats, and the traffic in outside grain we have warehouses to take care of.
It is likely that the total loss will not exceed $2,250,000.