New York Times
December 21, 1911
Say Triangle Doors Were Never Locked

More Witnesses Contradict the
Testimony of Harrris & Blanck's
Girl Employes.


Superintendent of the Blazing Factory
Left Panic-Stricken Operators
to Save Themselves.

Max D. Steuer counsel for Isaac Harris and Max Bostwick, proprietors of the Triangle Waist Company, where 147 persons lost their lives in a fire on March 25, and who are now on trial for manslaughter in the first and second degrees before Judge Crain in General Sessions, called several witnesses yesterday, who testified that the Washington Place doors on the night [sic] and ninth floors were always available in case of need, and that the keys were always left in the locks of both doors.

Ida Mittleman and Anna Mittleman, who worked on the ninth floor, the first called both testified that they had never seen the Washington Place door on that floor without a key in the lock, and that it was not locked to their knowledge on the day of the fire.

"Did you turn the key in the door yourself on the day of the fire and find it unlocked?"  asked Assistant District Attorney Charles Bostwick while cross-examining Ida Mittleman.

"No I did not try the lock myself.  I waited for the Washington Place elevator and then ran to the Greene Street side.  I met a crowd of girls coming from that place, and we crowded back to the elevators on the Washington Place side.  I was pushed into the elevator.  Then I saw my sister and gave a scream and she got into the elevator as it was going down."

"You are sure that there was a string attached to the key you saw?"

"Yes, I am positive about that."

William Harris, a negro, of 532 West Fiftieth Street, the next witness, caused a ripple of laughter, the first since the trial began, when his examination began.
"Who sent you to the District Attorney's Office?" asked Mr. Bostwick.
"Who me?" questioned the witness.
"Yes, I mean you," said Mr. Bostwick.
"And yoh all want to now who sent me to de District Attorney's Office?"
"Yes, I want you to tell me who sent you here, and you know it," explained Mr. Bostwick.
"What yoh all axes me is who done sent me to de District Attorney's Office?" the negro queried.
"Yes, that is what I want you to say."
"Why, no pusson evah sent me down heah.  Ah cum alone," replied Harris, with a broad grin.
Mr. Bostwick then showed him a statement he had signed, in which he said that Harris sent him to the District Attorney's Office, and asked him if that was his signature attached to it.
"Yas, Sah, dat's mah name, right dere, Wilyum Harris.  But I done nevah say dat."
"That's no answer, strike it out," said Judge Crain.
"Dat's no answer, strike it out," echoed the witness, while the spectators chuckled.

Samuel Rubin of 307 St. Anna Avenue, a patternmaker, said he was discharged two weeks before the fire, and had never seen the Washington Place door locked.  He admitted on cross-examination that he was willing to return to the employ of Harris & Blanck if he could.  Hyman Silverman of 142 Carlton Street, Newark, testified that he worked in the Triangle Waist Company for nine years, and that he had often seen the superintendent pass through the Washington Place door.  Other witnesses were called who testified to the same thing, but admitted on cross-examination that they were only in the building on special occasions.

During the afternoon session District Attorney Whitman appeared in court and whispered to Mr. Bostwick for some minutes.

Just before court adjourned for the day Samuel Bernstein, brother-in-law of Blanck, who was employed as Superintendent of the factory, was called.  He testified that he was on the eighth floor when the fire began.  He said he passed through the Washington Place door about ten times a day.  All through the trial Mr. Steuer has been trying to get the witnesses for the prosecution to admit that Bernstein directed them during the fire and had attempted to save their lives.  In telling his story Bernstein said:

 "When I heard the cry of fire I ran toward the blaze and saw a man throwing water on it.  I tried to use the hose, but it would not work.  Brown, the machinist, then shouted, 'We can't get the fire out, go to the other door and get the girls out,' and he went to the Washington Place door.  Then I remembered my brother and ran up the Greene Street stairs, but I couldn't see him, and I ran to the tenth floor and into the shipping room, which was all afire."
During the recital of his story the witness cried, and then went on to say that he helped Harris and Blanck out through the roof, and that he made his escape by the same means.  Judge Crain then adjourned court until today. 

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