(Special to the Courant.)
Constable David Crockett, employed as special patrolman by Cheney Brothers, was found dead in the entrance way
to Hose and Ladder Company, No.1's bowling alley by his cousin, Robinson Crockett, at 10:45 o'clock yesterday
morning, his neck having been broken. It was evident that he had been dead for some time, and as he lay face
down, with his head jammed up against the door at the bottom of the stairs, the blood had rushed to his head,
making a very gruesome sight.
Later in the morning, when a record was taken of the clocks which register the hour that the different alarm boxes are rung, it showed that death must have come sortly after 3:00 o'clock, as the tape registered the winding of that particular clock at 2:45. For ten years, or more, Constable Crockett has been employed by Cheney Brothers as a special patrolman about the works. There are a number of boxes situated at different points that he was to ring each hour. One of these boxes was just inside the door leading to the bowling alley and the supposition is that he went there to ring it. He had a flashlight in one hand and the box had been opened and wound, when, it is supposed, he was overcome by one of the dizzy spells to which he had been subject of late, and pitched head first down the stairs. There are ten steps, all stone, leading to the bowling alley, and there is a door at the bottom of the stairs. Mr. Crockett was a heavy man, and when he fell he must have struck on his head with such force as to break his neck. The firemen who sleep in the building did not hear the noise. This was next to the last box that he had to wind, as he went off duty at 4 o'clock.
Robinson Crockett, also a constable and a cousin of the dead man, comes on duty each Sunday morning at 8 o'clock and goes over the territory covered by the regular patrolman during the night. He had wound several boxes and at 10:45 o'clock reached the box located at the hose house. As he stepped in to wind the box he noticed the body at the bottom of the stairs and, after a hurried examination saw that it was his cousin and that he was dead. Philip Clark, the janitor at the hose house was called by him and the Medical examiner Tinker was called. After Dr. Tinker had examined the body, it was turned over to Watkins Brothers who removed it to their undertaking rooms.
Probably the last person to see Constable Crockett alive was Earl Ballselper, who met him on Hartford road
about midnight when on his way home. They walked down the street together and Constable Crockett told Ballselper
that he was not feeling well of late and that he was having trouble with headaches and several times during the
night he became very dizzy. He had also complained of the same trouble early in the evening to his son, John
Crockett, but insisted on working. It would appear from this that he had one of those spells when he was at work.
He was a native of County Armagh, Ireland, came to this country when a young man, and settled first in Philadelphia. He later moved to Manchester and was employed as a clerk in a grocery store and later went into the insurance business, retiring from this occupation to enter the employ of the old Hartford, Manchester & Rockville Tramway Company. While working for the latter company he was elected a constable and when Cheney Brothers decided to engage a patrolman to do duty about their mills, he was selected. He has been employed as a special patrolman for the past twelve years. His wife died about a year ago, and he leaves five children, John, Jane, Walter, Irene and Edna, all living at home. He also leaves a brother, Alexander Crockett, of this place.
Case Brothers Saturday sent to President Frank Cheney, jr., of the South Manchester fire district, a check for $500 to be divided equally among the four companies of the South Manchester fire department in appreciation of the work done by the companies at their fire in Highland Park a week ago Saturday night. Early last week, Case Brothers expressed their appreciation of the work done by the South Manchester firemen through the newspapers and now have made a more substantial gift.
Thomas Gorman, who has built several of the larger business blocks in South Manchester in recent years, among them being the two Johnson blocks, has been awarded the contract to build the new mills for Case Brothers at Highland Park. Men are now at work cleaning up the ruins and plans are being prepared for the construction of modern, up-to-date buildings, and as near fireproof as possible.
Webmaster's Note: Doug Welch forwarded the following commentary about the above article to Susan Barlow: "These stone steps are the ones on the south side of the Pine Street fire station that lead to the basement. Originally, they were open to the elements, but were later enclosed with a small hut type structure which is still there today. No reports of the building being haunted, though!"