December 7, 1909


Explosion Occurs While Steamfitters
Are at Work -- Other Men In-
jured -- Pickets Blown Off
Fence Across Alley.
Results of a Boiler Explosion at 908-10 Broadway.

By the explosion of a boiler in the basement of the six-story building at 908-10 Broadway at 11 o'clock yesterday morning, Michael Frawley and James Cox were killed outright, and Andrew Meyer and Essie Williams, a negro porter, so badly burned and otherwise injured that they died before nightfall. Two others were badly hurt, and three stories of the rear portion of the building were wrecked. Considerable damage also was done to adjoining structures.

Within two minutes business men and pedestrians in the neighborhood ventured to enter the front door of the building bent on rescuing those who were hurt. The flooring on the first and second stories had been splintered and a heavy partition in the middle of the building had toppled over. Every window glass on two stories had been blown out. Heavy timbers, torn from their places, hung over overhead, and for a time a general collapse of the rear section of the interior of the structure was feared.

The cause for the explosion is not known. Steamfitters employed by Val Wagner & Co., 3918 Main street, were adjusting a steamcock on the boiler, and were preparing to clean out the pipes. They had started to work last Saturday and yesterday morning they put fire under the boiler in order to do the cleaning. There was no forewarning of anything being wrong with the apparatus, and when the explosion occurred Michael Frawley, one of the steamfitters, was on top of the boiler. The boiler had not been in use for some time, and it is supposed that this is accountable for the very bad condition it was in when the workmen began the repairing.


James Cox, a driver for the Stewart Peck Sand Company, happened to be driving through the alley and had just reached the building when the explosion occurred. He was thrown bodily from the wagon and dashed to death against the brick pavement. C. R. Misner, another driver in the employ of the same firm, sat beside Cox. He too was hurled from the seat, but escaped with a fractured shoulder. Essie Williams, a negro porter, was in the boiler room at the time of the accident, and he was scalded from head to foot by the escaping steam. H e was hurried to the General hospital and died at 3:45 o'clock yesterday afternoon.

Andrew Meyer and W. H. Straubmeyer, plumbers, were at work on the boiler. Both seemed at first to have received minor injuries but Meyer was suffering from shock so he was sent to St. Mary's hospital. He did not rally, and it later developed that he was internally injured. He died at the hospital at 5:40 o'clock.


Michael Frawley, 2040 Madison avenue, was unmarried, an orphan, and 28 years old. He has lived in this city all his life. Two brothers, John and Emmett and two sisters, Mary and Kate Frawley, survive. His body was taken to the Wagner undertaking rooms.

Meyer, Forty-third and Hudson streets in Rosedale, was well known in Atchison, Kas., where he had worked as a steamfitter off and on for many years. He came to Kansas City recently and went to live with a brother at the Hudson street address in Rosedale. He was 45 years old and unmarried. His body was also taken to the Wagner undertaking rooms.

If James Cox, 1416 Central street, has relatives living they were not found last night, and it is almost certain they do not live in this city. He was about 35 years old. It is said he was single, but there is another rumor that he has a wife and child somewhere.

Edward Booker, business manager of the local steamfitters' union, said last night that none of the men killed or injured bore union cards. Frawley, he said, was merely a steamfitter's helper. He had once applied for a card in the union, but did not keep up with the requirements, and his membership was finally cancelled.

Essie Williams, 505 East Sixth street, the negro porter, was also a fireman. The whereabouts of his survivors have not yet been ascertained. His body was taken to the Countee undertaking rooms.

The wrecked building is the property of the Homestead Realty Company and is in the charge of David Bachrach, who as the agent, had the renting of the rooms. The block had been unoccupied recently, but the H. K. Mulford Company of Philadelphia was preparing to move its stock in on the third floor.

"It was a terrific shock which seemed to shake the foundation of our building from under us," said C. M. Lyon, president of the Lyon Millinery Company, which occupies the building adjoining on the south. "Several plate glasses crashed and I ran to the front door and out on the street fearing that possibly a second explosion might occur. the damage we suffered was comparatively small, but the fright we were given was large."

The picket fence surrounding the home of Mrs. Thomas E. Moran, 916 Bank street, just across the alley from the wrecked building, was partly demolished by the concussion and many pickets were torn from the fence and blown several feet away.