A jury composed of the city’s elite men convened the day after the explosion to interview witnesses and assign blame for the disaster. Dressed in top hats and overcoats, this jury toured the wreckage, picking apart debris littered with the chilling remains of the day. Afterwards, they travelled around the city interviewing witnesses, some of whom lay dying or recuperating in their beds. Readers of the Hartford Daily Courant and Hartford Times could follow along on the front pages of their newspapers as full transcripts of the inquest were printed in each new edition for the length of the six -day investigation.
The case hinged on whether or not the engineer in charge of the steam boiler, John McCune, had been “careless” in his duties. Some accused him of neglecting the boiler until the water levels fell too low, causing the blast. The boiler in question had been replaced a month before. Was the boiler itself faulty? Was McCune being asked to do too much by his employers who would not grant him an assistant as he requested? Was McCune drunk on the job? These were all questions posed to witnesses. The entirety of the inquest was reprinted in the pamphlet later sold to benefit victims.
(Link to tiff file of transcript)
What words appear repeatedly? What quotations stand out as shocking or meaningful for readers attempting to understand the explosion and its causes?