A Grave Marker Unveiled for Six Triangle Fire Victims Who Had Been Unknowns

By Lillian Swanson

Published April 08, 2011.
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A grave marker inscribed with the names of the six victims of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire who were only recently identified was unveiled April 5 in Evergreen Cemetery in Brooklyn.

The six were buried as unknowns 100 years ago, and later a large monument was dedicated to them at the cemetery. The new stone marker, placed in front of the monument, declares the site to be the final resting place of Max Florin, Concetta Prestifilippo, Fannie Rosen, Dora Evans, Josephine Cammarata and Maria Lauletti.

View a slideshow of images from the memorial ceremony:

Photography by Shulamit Seidler-Feller.

Family members of the six, friends and school children took part in a memorial ceremony that was at the gravesite and was moved indoors because of rain.

The victims were among the 146 “shirtwaist” or blouse makers, most of them young Jewish and Italian immigrant women, who were trapped by flames March 25, 1911. Nearly 60 workers jumped to their deaths from the windows of the ninth floor of the factory in the former Asch Building, half a block east of Washington Square in Manhattan.

Researcher Michael Hirsch of New York City, who co-produced an HBO On Demand exclusive called “Triangle: The Unidentified,” is credited with identifying the six who were burned so badly that they could not be identified by friends and family in the aftermath of the fire. In the video, Hirsch is shown reading microfilm reels of newspapers of the day, looking for clues to the identity of the six bodies that had been buried as unknowns.

Their remains had not been claimed in the temporary morgue set up after the fire, and they were quietly transported by horse-drawn hearses April 5, 1911, to Evergreen Cemetery. According to the 1962 book “The Triangle Fire” by Leon Stein, eight hearses carried the caskets of seven unknowns to the cemetery that day. The eighth hearse carried human fragments picked up at the fire scene.

A year later, Salvatore Maltese identified one of the bodies as that of his wife, Catherine, who had died in the fire along with two of their daughters. Her body was exhumed and removed to a family plot. That left the six, who for the first time have their grave marked with their names.


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