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The R. B. Grover & Company
Shoe Factory Boiler Explosion

March 20, 1905

 

The R. B. Grover & Company factory
The R. B. Grover & Company factory

 

      One of the greatest disasters in Brockton's history happened on the morning of March 20, 1905. At about 8:00 AM there were around 400 employees at the R. B. Grover & Company shoe factory in Campello when the boiler exploded, shot through the roof and caused the building to collapse. The boiler traveled several hundred feet, damaging a number of buildings and coming to rest in the wall of a house.

 

The Grover boiler after the explosion
The Grover boiler after the explosion

 

      Escaping gas fueled an intense fire that engulfed the shattered building. Fifty-eight people were killed and 150 were injured.

 

Ruins of the factory after the explosion
Ruins of the factory after the explosion

 

      Thirty-six of the victims were never identified, and were buried in a common grave in Melrose Cemetery, where a monument to the victims was later erected by the city.

 

Melrose Cemetery monument to the victims
Melrose Cemetery monument to the victims
Photograph Copyright © 2005-2015 by Dale H. Cook

 

      A fund started for the widows and orphans of the disaster raised over $100,000. Families of many of the victims placed small memorial stones in rings around the Melrose Cemetery monument, which still holds a place of honor in that cemetery. This tragedy was one of the primary reasons why boiler safety standards were implemented, first in Massachusetts, and later in other states and nationwide.

 

Here are the inscriptions on the four sides of the monument, with the side noted in square brackets:

 

[Southeast]

ON MAR. 20, 1905,
A BOILER EXPLOSION
AND FIRE DESTROYED THE
R. B. GROVER CO. SHOE FACTORY.
THERE WERE 58 LIVES LOST
AND 150 PERSONS INJURED

ERECTED BY THE CITY OF BROCKTON,
IN MEMORY OF THOSE WHO PERISHED
IN THE FACTORY DISASTER,
MAR. 20, 1905.

 

[Northeast]

UNIDENTIFIED
AND BURIED IN THIS LOT

JENNIE STILES
NELLIE LEARY
MARIAN TUFTS
STELLA KELLY
ISAAC S. HOXIE
JOSHUA F. SNOW
MARY LEONARD
SAMUEL A. TILEY
HENRY M. WEEKS
JAMES JACKSON
BARNABAS LEWIS
JOHN N. SULLIVAN
HANNAH LINDBERG
ALMORAN HALLETT
O. SAMUEL LOVEJOY
WILLIAM F. JEFFERS
THOMAS F. LANGLEY
FLORENCE M. MERRILL

 

[Northwest]

UNIDENTIFIED
AND BURIED IN THIS LOT

HARRY S. HALL
CLAIR ATWOOD
MYRA BURGEN
FRANK W. BELL
LINUS BURGESS
MARY J. CURTIS
IRVING G. BAKER
LENA BERGENSON
JESSE CHANDLER
ALBIN DAHLBERG
FRANK L. EMERSON
GEORGE D. BURGESS
WALLACE N. FINAL
ALPHONSE FORTIER
MARY FITZPATRICK
TIMOTHY J. DESMOMD
WALTER E. COPELAND
WALLACE R. ABERCROMBIE

 

[Southwest]

IDENTIFIED
AND BURIED ELSEWHERE

EMMA B. PRAY
DORA E. CLARK
ALBERT S. RAY
JAMES R. COLE
STEPNEM SNOW
LILLIAN B. HURD
JEROME A. MAYO
HENRY G. KIBBEE
HIRAM J. PIERCE
GEORGE E. SMITH
EMMA M. TALLMAN
J. VICTOR TURNER
ERNEST C. CARLSON
RICHARD SPRIGINGS
DAVID W. ROCKWELL
MARY T. O'CONNELL
ANDREW C. LUNDELL
SERENA S. BARROWS
GEORGIE B. EMERSON
HARRY C. BARTLETT
FLORENCE A. DUNHAM
GRANVILLE HARTWELL

 

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Created and maintained by Dale H. Cook.
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