Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Mystery of the Miamogue Hotel Fire in South Jamesport

My Uncle Henry half brother to my father, Joseph was involved in a mysterious crime taking place in 1932. So far I haven't found any information proving who committed the arson. My attempt at checking the newspapers from 1932 gave me the information that I have reported in my article.

Built in 1875, this four-story waterfront inn had the distinction of being the tiny hamlet’s first big hotel. Destroyed by fire in 1895, the Miamogue was rebuilt two years later and expanded further when its owner, I. Seymour Corwin, purchased and then demolished a smaller neighboring hotel, the Sunnyside House. In 1932, the County Review reported that the Miamogue’s new owners, Henry A. Ramsauer and Henry Koferl, had been charged with second-degree arson for allegedly setting fire to the hotel in order to recover a $50,000 insurance policy. Nobody was injured in the incident, which took place before the hotel opened for the summer season. The Riverhead men were acquitted of the charges in May 1933, possibly because a defense attorney successfully indicated the fire was actually caused by two of the prosecution’s witnesses. The Miamogue Hotel was never rebuilt.

On April 27, 1932 a fire broke out in the attic of the Miamogue Hotel located in South Jameport, Long Island. Jointly owned by Henry F. Koferl and Harry A. Ramsauer it was recently purchased by the two plumbers who had a plumbing business in Riverhead. When firemen entered the fourth story of the hotel they found a lit candle near some oil soaked debris. Due to the find the fire was believed to be arson and the two owners were charged with second and third degree arson. Their lawyer, Harry Saxstien, of Saxstien & Scheinberg, filed a plea of not guilty and were secretly indicted by a Grand Jury. They were released on $7000 bail and were acquitted before Judge Hawkins on Monday after a jury had deliberated only 15 minutes.

Sometime after purchasing the hotel and between October 1931 and April 1932, Henry Koferl and Harry Ramsauer increased the insurance that they held on the hotel from $20,000 to $50,000. Two witnesses to the fire Jack Gerhardt, 40 of Riverside, and William Janis, 16 of Riverhead did not claim to know what started the fire were taken into custody at a local jail. They were released in May of that year after they had waived immunity rights and agreed  to testify in front of a grand jury.

The owners Harry Ramsauer and Henry Koferl were working on the hotel preparing it for the summer guest when the fire took place.

Lindenhurst Jewelry Store

My grandparents Anna and Henry Joseph Koferl in 1921 bought several lots of property in the village of Lindenhurst where they ran two stores Jewelry and Cigar right next to one another.  It was on the south side of Hoffman Ave on the west side of Wellwood Ave. According to the deed dated May 19, 1921 it was described as block number 43 lot 5 and 6. Below is a tax map showing the property. My father was 7 when they purchased the stores. He often reminisced crawling through a connecting closet between both stores. The businesses didn’t last long due to my grandfather falling ill when working on the house roof fell and damaged his heart muscles leading to his death in 1923. He died at home on the fifth of November. According to the obituary my grandfather started the business in 1914.

I am now interested in locating any photographs of the stores. My next stop is the town historian. I contacted the Town historian, Mary Cascone. She suggested I look through the Village Historical Society photo albums, especially the business volume. So off I go tomorrow hopefully to visit the Historical Society.

The below is a 1925 Sanborn map showing the same corner as the tax map found above. 

Another closeup of the same corner.

Another view of the same avenue looking down the street where we see a jewelry store listed. Is it competition or did they own another piece of property.