|The Fire of 1869||The Fire of 1901|
On Sunday afternoon last about half past two, the city was startled by the cry of fire, which proved to be the barn belonging to the Central House, a large wooden structure, old and dry, having been built over 20 years ago. The fire commenced into the hay loft, and burned very rapidly, communicating with the roof, from whence it was seen protruding when the alarm was given, which very quickly enveloped in flames, and was a mass of ruins in a very few moments. The fire was intensely hot, and for a time threatened the buildings occupied by Hull & Hulce, Mrs. S. J. Stack and the Central House, and only the superhuman exertions of our citizens and a favorable shift of the wind prevented an extensive conflagration. In the shift of the wind the fire communicated to the barn of Jacob I. Skinkle, which stood near on the north side, which was consumed, and also to the roof of the brick wagon and carriage manufactory of Seymour & Clisbee, on Second street, and finally to a dwelling occupied by H. Greenough, and owned by August Deelzer, both of which yielded readily to the devouring elements, and were consumed in spite of every effort of the fire department and every available citizen to save them from the devouring flames. Here the fire was stayed, though for a long time there was great danger of its crossing the street, and causing great destruction of property in that part of the city lying between Edwards and School streets. The course of the fire was rapid, and at times was intensely hot, and within the space of an hour from the time the alarm sounded, the burnt district was a mass of burning embers.
The barn of the Central House was owned b G. Monroe Locke, and was of wood. It was very large and as but few horses were kept in it, had been used for some time for storage of machinery, etc. A carriage horse belonging to J. B. Simpson, valued at $150 was burned. Efforts was made to save him but so rapid was the barn devoured that while efforts were being made to loosen the halter, the fire had caught between the horse's stall and the door, preventing any attempt at escape. Also, a harness, saddle, garden tools, etc, were destroyed. Loss about $200. Hull & Hulce, extensive dealers in agricultural machinery, had stored in the barn some 15 of the Marsh Harvester, the last of which were placed there on Saturday, ready for the trade of the coming harvest. All were consumed, at a loss to Messrs. H. & H. of about $3,000. A light wagon, used for carrying the mail to the trains, belonging to Ed wood was destroyed and was valued at $90. The barn itself was valued at $600, and was not insured, nor any of the articles mentioned above. There was very little hay in the loft, so that the loss was slight in that commodity.
The barn of J. I. Skinkle, was a wooden structure, and had been rented by I. P. Bush. The horses in it were gotten out safely. Loss $400. Insured in the Lorillard of New York for $300.
The brick shop owned by G. W. Seymour and used by Seymour & Clisbee as a wood shop connected with their extensive wagon and carriage manufactory in the lower story, and by H. H. Frost for a paint shop in the upper story, was a total loss. Messrs. S. & C. mad a great amount of stock in store which was gotten out by the efforts of our citizens, as also several carriages, finished and unfinished, and several velocipedes, in Mr. Frost's rooms upstairs. Estimated loss to the former, from $1500 to $2000; to the latter $50. No insurance.
A small unoccupied building standing between the wagon shop and the rear portion of J. L. Jones' dry goods store, was by great exertion of the citizens moved into the street which saved his building and the business block with which it is connected, and stayed the elements from doing further damage. He owned the building which was badly racked and damaged. For this act, Mr. Jones rewarded our zealous fire department with the sum of $100 on the morning after the fire.
The jeopardy of the Central House in the early stage of the fire, caused the removal of all Mr. Simpson's household effects into the street, some of which were bruised and soiled, though no material damage done. Mrs. S. J. Slack's millinery store adjoining was also in danger, and her millinery stock was damaged by a similar summary removal. The rear portion of her building was very badly blistered and scorched by its close proximity to the barn. Her damage will not be much less than $100.
Recapitulation of Losses
Hull & Hulce, agricultural machinery
Seymour & Clisbee, shop and damage $2,000
August Deelzer, dwelling . $300
G. M. Locke, Barn .. $600
J. I. Skinkle, stable ... ...$400
J. B. Simpson, horse, etc. $200
Mrs. S. J. Slack, damage to house, etc. ... $100
Ed Wood, wagon ... $90
J. L. Jones, removal of house, etc. . $50
H. H. Frost, loss in paints, etc. .. $50
There were other slight losses. Knight & Fox, photographers in Mrs. S. J. Slack's building, got ready for removal, and some pictures carried out and never returned. Gardens were trampled down by the surging crowd passing to and fro around the burning territory; fences were burned or torn down for rods; out buildings served in like manner, all of which, if estimated, would make a considerable sum.
Origin Of The Fire, Etc.
The origin of the fire is not definitely known, though it is presumed it was accidental. The freedom of smoking about stables is almost universal, and it is a matter of marvel that casualties of this kind are not more prevalent. In the present instance the fire was commenced in just the spot, had the circumstance of wind been favorable, to have laid a large portion of our business houses in ruins without the least power on the part of the citizens to save it; and probably for no other cause than the indulgence of smoking about the barn. Fir and hay are very congenial elements; the formers love of the later in so ecstatic and overwhelmingly loving as to devour it root and branch in the embrace. We cannot be too careful about barns, and smoking should be rigidly prohibited in every case about stables and straw heaps.
Our fire department showed their mettle in this great emergency, and to a man were on the ground and fought the devourer like "tigers'. They do this at every fire, and though they work at a disadvantage on account of meager facilities, they are worthy of the heartfelt thanks of our people for the gancrous effort they have put forth.
One of Our Best Business Blocks in
The Loss About $60,000 Eleven Buildings Destroyed and Ten Firms Burned Out
Peoria Fire Department Comes to the Rescue and Saves a Much Worse Conflagration
About one oclock last Monday morning our citizens were rudely awakened from their sweet dreams of rest and somnolence by the ever ominous clanging of the fire bell, and rolling out of their pleasant and warm couches, they hurriedly donned the most convenient pieces of apparel and hastened toward the already luminous spot at the business center of our city; and as people rushed from all directions, the flames increased with frightful rapidity, sending their long forked tongues of lurid light far up toward the sky, where their brilliant sheen had already painted the heavens in gorgeous tints of pink and red. Adding to the fearfulness of the scene were the great columns of blackening smoke, made to look like upward-moving demons as they were partially permeated by the reddening glare of the flames that had become almost demoniac in their destructiveness.
Starting in the Fair Store of J.M. Powers, the breeze tho light, being a little south of west, fanned them quickly into a mighty roar of flames, the two-story frame structure being dry and filled with goods of the class that are readily combustible when started; the flames moved on from house to house in spite of the most heroic efforts of the fire department assisted in every way possible by the great out pouring of our citizens.
At times the flames would stream almost directly upward and then they would assume a half circular form, like a hugh electric arch, and curl downward to the roof and sides of the next building, melting it down with the great intensity of the heat, seemingly determined to destroy everything within reach. Shingles and pieces of lumber were wafted upon the breeze every-whither, until the heavens seemed one mass of floating fire, falling upon the roofs of adjacent buildings, some carried squares away, endangering all the residence portion of the eastern part of town.
When the Paskell House, one of the land-marks of our town, stood up for a moment, one vast sheet of flame, it was to many a sorrowful picture, and one that will be sadly missed, but its doom had come upon it, and there was no mercy, and only a moment of two did it stand in its magnificent picture of farewell and then it crumbled into irretrievable ruins, and was licked up by the devouring flames until but a charred and burning mass marked the spot of the old time place. But the mastering element spent no moment of lingering even here, for with a sudden pressing of the breeze into a gale, the flames leaped forward with greater speed; spreading and threatening everything before it.
At this junction seeing their inability to cope with the mighty element now raging like a demon, the fire department telephoned to Peoria for assistance and received reply that they would respond with a steamer and crew at once, which they proceeded to do. Leaving Peoria after some delay because the engineer would not assume the responsibility of a fast run without an experienced fireman which it took some time to obtain, they made the run in 30 minutes, and locating the engine at the river, they turned on the steam and sent a stream of water up the hill and to the scene of conflagration, that soon assisted in putting a check to the dangerous out-stretchings of the scattering fire-brands.
Our own fire department with both engines and hook and ladder had done all men could do with the implements at hand to stay the course of the raging element, but all to no purpose, for the entire block of business houses, from the brick building of Joseph Schick occupied by Mrs. Kinnear and Jacob Fosbenner at the other corner of the block, were left but heaps of coals in smoldering ruins, and the building of Mr. Jones, tho standing, is thought to have been damaged by the excessive heat, and that of Mr. Schick was also much damaged. So intense was the heat that the paint on the buildings directly opposite was crisped with crumbling blisters, and every glass of the fine French plate fronts was broken and cracked and shivered to atoms, and also every other kind of glass from the alley to Second street.
While much of the goods in the stores of the upper half of the burned block was carried out and saved, still the loss cannot fall short of $70,000, and many place the estimate at a higher figure. Of the massive stock of groceries, chinaware, notions, etc, usually found in a store of his kind, scarcely anything was saved from the Powers Fair Store, the rapidity with which it was enveloped in flame precluded the possibility of reaching the goods.
This was by far the most destructive fire our city has ever had, and only for the timely arrival of the Peoria crew and steamer, no conception can be formed as to possible spreading and destructiveness of the fire, for cisterns were all pumped dry, and a hand engine cannot force the water up the hill from the river, so our own department was almost completely handicapped as to further efficient services. The Peoria boys charged nothing for their services, only expenses of the trip, but they went away loaded with appreciable presents from our businessmen, and loud in their praise of the generous spirit of the Henry people.
Below will be found individualized statements of losses, insurance and other items of interest connected with the fire.
The Firms Burned Out
1. J.M. Powers, Department Store
2. Frank Baer, Sample Room
3. Warren & McAleer, Restaurant
4. Paskell House, Hotel
5. J.N. Krenz, Harness shop
6. Frank Yanochowski, Bakery and Restaurant
7. Mrs. J.S. Burt, News Room
8. Theodore Hartwig, Merchant Tailoring
9. J.J. Hartley, Barber shop
10. George Daniels, Photographer
Supposed Origin of Fire
It is surmised that the origin of the fire was from burning soot in the chimney, which under certain directions of the wind did not draw so well, as it was lower than the peak of the roof and would at such times fill up with soot and later under a brisker draft burn out. It appears that Saturday night a smoldering fire had been left in the store, which had been repacked Sunday forenoon, and everything so far as could be seen perfectly safe.
The last time Mr. Powers was in the store was 3:30 Sunday afternoon when he went in to telephone Dr. Hall about choir practice, and then fire in stove was low and as usual. He and sons did not know of fire until all was burned to Yanochowskis store. During Sunday night it will be remembered that the wind changed to the southwest and blew quite briskly for awhile, and it is thought that the fire brisked up and set the soot blazing, or it may be the stove filled with gas and suddenly flashed, as it sometimes will, and set fire to it and also blew out a stop in the upper part of the chimney, letting sparks fall out upon the floor, which, as Mr. Powers used the upstairs for a storage room, was probably more or less littered with papers and packing material and all highly inflammable.
Frank Coan, now here, owner of building used by Fair Store, confirmed belief in chimney burning out and firing room on second floor. He says it was in the habit of burning out, and one time he detected flue stopped up and red hot, and soot falling out while chimney was burning out. There had been a stove in second floor, but this winter had taken it out to avoid fire from it. A partition shut off the front part of the building and the fire might have burned for some time before its discovery. It may have burned thru the floor, and as near the chimney sat the kerosene tank, the falling cinders communicated fire to it which was the cause of the explosion heard, tho a few fireworks stored upstairs might have caused the explosion. This theory seems to be the most plausible as it is universally admitted by all who first saw the fire that the upper story was in flames before the lower story.
The Fire In Detail
The block on which the fire fiend did its fell work contained 18 buildings fronting Edwards street, and 11 of these were destroyed. Ten business firms were burned out. At either end of the block were two brick buildings both of which were saved. Cannah Jones two story brick dry goods store on the south end and Joseph Schicks brick grocery building and annex on the north end. The brick annex occupied by Mrs. Kinner & Wald as a Ladies Bazaar, stopping the fire at that point.
The block was thickly studded with residences, barns, sheds, and small frame structures, including the Paskell House barns and sheds on its other sides and a dangerous one in time of fire. It was a miracle the entire block had not been fired and consumed, as it was covered with flying embers during the fury of the conflagration.
Losses and Insurance
Cannah Joness stock of dry goods, clothing, shoes, etc., suffered from fire, smoke and water. He is insured for $2500. The building owned by J.H. Jones, was more or less damaged by heat and water. Amply insured.
Mr. Powers had both stores packed with goods from floor to ceilings and even on ceilings and with extra counters and shelves on counters. The second floor had deep shelves on each side from floor to ceiling, and in these were stored boxes of surplus goods with row of boxes of goods thru the center of the room. The basement had large stock of window, glass, vegetables and surplus goods. Total loss $14,000 with $10,000 insurance. Nothing was saved except cash register and about $75 worth of rings in small case. Mr. Powers feels very deeply his loss, especially considering that he had been seven years getting the business to its fine condition. He anticipated turning the principal business over to his son Ralph as soon as he graduated from high school. Mr. Powers feels as tho this work must now be started over again and no doubt will build or buy and try to recover lost efforts. His financial affairs were in fine condition. He did a cash business and kept no book accounts, and virtually no outstanding bills against him unpaid. Some firms of whom he had bought goods for 25 years were first to telegraph sympathy.
Frank Baer, saloon, owned building, fixtures and stock. Hardly anything saved. Loss $3,000. Insurance on building only $800.
Warren & McAleer restaurant. Loss on fixtures and stock $1000; insurance $500. Building owned by Paskell estate, the upper rooms being an annex to Paskell House, and fitted up for bedrooms.
The Paskell House, saved a portion of its furniture, bedding, dishes, etc. Loss about $12,000; insurance $8,000.
J.N. Krenz, harness shop. Owned building and stock of harness, robes, etc. Building insured for $1000 and stock and tools for $1000.
Frank A. Yanochowski, bakery, grocery and eating house; carried heavy lines of baking goods, and groceries. His stock and fixtures were valued at $4000; insured for $1650. The two-story brick was owned by George Ball; valued at $5000. Insurance $2200. Wm. Forrest, attorney, had office in second story. His goods mostly removed.
Mrs. J.S. Burt; news room and notions, also residence. Nothing saved but a trunk and a few personal effects. Loss $900; insurance $300. The building, a two-story frame; was owned by Mrs. W.A. Rowe; valued at $1200, insurance $700.
Theodore Hartwig, tailor. Most of his stock of tailor goods was saved. Loss $100; insurance $500. The building, a one-story frame, was owned by Paskell estate. Loss $1000.
Joseph Hartleys barber shop fixtures, and George Daniels photograph paraphernalia were mostly saved, each sustaining losses, tho not very large. Hartley was insured for $100, and Daniels for $250. The Hartley building was torn out by order of Mayor Forrest, to help stop the progress of the fire, and the front of the Daniels building was also torn out. Both frames were owned by the Manski estate. Loss $1000; insurance $700.
Mrs. Kinnear and Mrs. Ward, in the Schick building, dealing in ladies fancy goods, moved their stock across the street.
J.S. Fosbenner, grocer, moved out part of stock, and sustained damage from smoke and water. Insurance $700. The building owned by Joseph Schick, damaged by catching fire, smoke and water to about $1000; insurance $2500.
The Paskell House
The Paskell House is one of the old landmarks of the place, and of late years has a reputation the country over as a first class hotel. Its landlord was a Virginian, and as the saying goes knew how to run a hotel. So thought the general public however, for large numbers of them, if anywhere in the vicinity, would make Henry to spend Sunday with Landlord Paskell.
The house was commenced in 1844, and completed in 1845 by Silas Locks. It consisted of oak frames and braces, and was substantially built. Mr. Locke died in 1846 and Ephriam Hoyt assisted the widow in running the house. George L. Hoyt was landlord from 1847 to 1848. William Wikoff was manager during 1849. A Mr. Furgueson conducted it in 1852. John Locke, a brother of Silas, married the widow and they conducted the house in 1854-5. They moved out and went on a farm near Putnam, when a Mrs. Hagerman became mistress, with D.D. Bunn for an assistant. Mr. Locke again took possession, and remained until after the war. After Mr. Lockes death, Silas Jr. became owner of the property, and a Mr. McCann leased it.
He was succeeded by G.F. Paskell, who conducted it for a time and then moved out. About this time the property cam in possession of G.M. Locke, and he was its landlord for some six months, when the house was sold to Israel Koehler, and G.F. Paskell again became its landlord. The latter afterwards purchased it of Mr. Koehler who made it famous as a country hotel. It has entertained all the great men of the century past and was an institution that helped to make Henry famous.
The following is a partial list of the more disastrous fires that have occurred in henry in the past:
1856 A large store building on the corner where J.W. Nieces
1861 The Lombard House, a large four-story hotel near the depot.
1866 Business houses on the corner of Front and Edward streets.
1869 Barns and buildings rear of the Paskell House.
1871 G.W. Seymours wagon shop, back of Cannah Joness store, John Klines furniture store, and all the buildings down to Schusters clothing store on Edwards street.
1874 Paper mill
1877 Ken McNeals shop and other buildings
1878 Nicholson elevator at the river
1883 Kaprauns tailor shop
1884 West side of Edward street, opposite the late fire
1887 Calaboose and Hanna factory sheds
1888 Duke Bros. establishment
1892 Rock Island depot
1893 Nicholson elevator at the depot
1894 The Electric Light Plant
1897 The old school house, known as Sparlings shop
1900 Cannah Joness store, struck by lightning, and damaged by fire and water.
1901 East side of Edward street, from Powers Fair Store to Schicks corner, including the Paskell House.
Peoria Fire Fighters
The following is the roster of the Peoria Fire Fighters who so generously assisted at the fire last Sunday night:
Fire Chief Carl Moeller
Captain Mat Gorman
The Henry Electric Co., estimate their loss to be a least $1,000.
Badly scorched, but still on earth: -- Cannah Jones, the merchant
Patrick McManus was the person who discovered the fire and turned in the alarm.
The chemical engine was of little use at this fire. This was not its kind of a fire.
The jumping jacks in Powers Fair Store must have had a hot time in the old town Sunday night.
George Ball has broke ground to rebuild on the site where the other one stood. J.N. Krenz will follow suit.
Those who occupied the burnt buildings above the Paskell House, saved a portion of their goods from the flames.
The families living between 2nd and 3rd streets on west School street, moved their goods out of their homes when the fire was its maddest.
Arthur Smith, who was one of the pipemen at the fire and who fought long and hard, had the misfortune to burn his eyes so badly that he can hardly use them.
Our fire laddies fought fierce and hard to get control of the enemy and had they been supplied with abundance of water the fire would not have lasted as long as it did.
The rebuilding problem is next to be solved. Modern buildings of brick will now take the place of the frames as no wooden buildings can be built in the fire limits of the city.
David and Frank Coan of Wenona owned the buildings occupied by Powers Fair Store. David had an insurance on his half for $400 and Frank carried an insurance of $250.
It was a miracle how they saved the Paskell livery stables. The fire worked up within a few feet of it, looked over the fence with blood in his eye, but the Peoria boys knocked his eye out.
The Telephone Co. saved all their phones from the burned district, save the one in the Fair Store, which was too far engulfed in flames when discovered to allow an entrance to the building.
Fire chief Frank Krenz, on arriving upon the scene, decided that outside assistance would be necessary and immediately telephoned to Peoria and chief Moeller came to our assistance with a rush.
Frank Baers loss adjusted and claim settled $800. John Krauss loss on plate glass adjusted satisfactorily, $99.68
J.N. Krenz has rented the Duke building next to Frommels cigar store, and will be open for business in a few days.
Nightwatchman James McCune was on his beat, and while walking down the lower part of Edward street, heard the explosion, and was one of the first at the fire and to give the alarm.
The citizens pumped dry three city cisterns and the arrival of the Peoria company was a God send to the people living in the east part of town, as their homes would have surely been wiped out.
The Peoria steamer was planted on the bank of the Illinois river, foot of Edward street, and the inch and half stream that passed thru the 350 yards of hose into the burning buildings soon killed the desperate flames.
Our young landlord J.R. Paskell has received about 70 telegrams of condolence from travelingmen, who express great sympathy with him in the loss of the Hotel, which was a favorite with the traveling public generally.
Only an article or two was saved from the Fair Store, tho it was crammed, jammed full of merchandise in basement and two stories. The building was a lurid mass of flames when discovered, and beyond hope of saving anything.
Clifford Haws worked faithfully and well during the hot spell. He in company with others were extinguishing the flames at the rear of the burning district, when he fell into a cistern. He thought his name was Jonah for a few minutes, but with a hard struggle he got back to earth.
E.R. Hamilton representing Maurer & Jackson; Chicago, adjusters of fire losses and insurance counselors for the assured, is in the city looking sharp after business among those who lost in the 20th Century fire at Henry on that fatal Sunday night last.
The lower building of the Fair Store was erected by Albert Dickinson and was another land mark of the town. Later it was owned by Lyman Horrom. Latterly Mr. Frank Coan was owner, who insured it only a short time before the fire. Lucky man that.
Mrs. J. Slack owned for a long time the building used by Warren & McAleer as a restaurant. It was afterwards purchased by G.F. Paskell and the second story was converted into bedrooms and made an annex to the Paskell House. It had many occupants during many years.
It is the general belief that the incendiary at the Sunday night fire was a defective flue. He is an awful mean bugger, and is up to that business too often to be healthy. He often makes mischief and great loss because chimneys are neglected and the great public are not careful enough in this respect.
J.M. Powers iron safe was opened yesterday, but nearly everything was destroyed. A roll of bank bills were charred, but will be sent to the government for identification and reimbursement. J.N. Krenzs safe went thru the fire ok. It was opened this morning and its contents were unharmed.
Frank McBrady, the blacksmith at Duke Bros., made an effort to carry out the red hot stove from the office in the Paskell House on the night of the fire. If Frank was looking for hot things we wish he would have hooked onto the fire proper and carried it off which would have saved unspeakable sorrow and sadness.
A large number of insurance agents and in the city adjusting the losses caused by the Sunday night fire. J.M. Powers lost his invoices, bank books, private papers, etc., which were in his safe, and as the fire was so intensely hot in the store, the documents in his safe were burned. Consequently it will take some little time to agree on terms of settlement.
Mayor Forrest, with his untiring zeal did great good during the blaze on Monday morning. While fighting the flames at the Schick building, the doctor took hold of the tin roof and in some way cut a deep ugly gash in the palm of his right hand. The accident did not weaken him a particle as he stayed right with his comrades until the flames were extinguished.
The two story structure, one portion of which was used by the Fair Store, and the other by Frank Baer as a saloon, was built by G.M. Locke for a hardware store. The Culver boys conducted a stove and hardware store there for years. Afterwards Frank Baer purchased one-half and at the time of the fire, David Coun of Wenona, owned the other half, used for the upper building by the Fair Store.
The lads from Peoria who came to our assistance when we were in great danger, were given a royal reception by the Henry fire company after the work was over. When time came for them to return home, the Henry Carnet band accompanied by Mayor Forrest escorted the brave fire fighters to their special train. In all that was done our citizens tried hard to show their appreciation for services rendered.
The building used for a news room by Mrs. J.S. Burt was owned by William Rowe. Hartwig, the tailor, was in a building owned by the Paskell estate. The Joseph Hartley barber shop and Daniels photo gallery, were in buildings owned by Emil Manski of Chicago. The barber shop was torn out to help stop the fire. It proved abortive, as the fire leaped over the gap made and consumed the photo gallery.
The first to open business after the fire was Frank Yanochowski who moved into the Gates building. Joe Hartley was taken in by Wright & Green, increasing the shop to three chairs. Geo. Daniels moved his photograph gallery into the room in the 3rd story over Adkinsons grocery. Warren & McAleer rented the Samuel Orr building opposite the post office and will start anew as soon as they receive their insurance. The others have not decided what they will do.
It is not often that we have a conflagration, hence at the time of a fire, there are some omissions and some blundering. At the fire the other day, a large number of our business men slept the sleep of the just not knowing of the disaster till told of it next morning. Had the church bells the four - been rung, the whole town would have been roused, and many more helpers to fight fire. This should be remembered, and the church bells rung at any hereafter extensive fire at night. The electric plant whistle might also have helped raise the natives to advantage. Everybody should cry fire also as they run.
George Schafer built the Ball bakery. It was a two-story brick, and has always, been used as a bakery, grocery store and eating house. After the tragic death of Mr. Schafer, George Ball became the purchaser and conducted the business, followed by his son-in-law Frank Yanochowski, who has had charge for several years. The bakery burned rapidly, and the walls all collapsed and fell in as the floors gave way. The building will be rebuilt at once. Temporarily Mr. Yanochowski will continue the business in the Gates building, or until the new structure is ready for occupancy.
The business buildings on the west side of Edward street, all suffered from the intense heat. Nearly every plate glass front was cracked and broken, and many of them fell out and wood work was badly scorched. Some taking fire which was quickly extinguished. Dr. Powells drug store front directly op0osite the hotel, suffered so badly that a new front will be required. He was insured for $100. Nieces drug store, Adkinsons grocery, Hartleys Market, Wright & Greens barber shop, Powells drug store, M.L. Coan, Perry Hardware Co., Nelson & Thacker, jewelers, and C.E. Smiths grocery, all had cracked or broken windows and wood work more or less scorched and marred.
Back to Marshall County Illinois History and Genealogy
Taken From the Henry Republican
Thursday, August 1, 1878
The Storm and General Details of the Loss.
A terrific rain storm visited Henry this morning attended with thunder and lightning of a nature to be dreaded. The storm followed a long heated term of dry weather, and the manner of its coming gave forebodings of a fearful tempest. The rain poured. The wind was strong and violent. The lightning was sharp, angry and in its rapid and vivid flashes predicted evil. The thunder that followed was loud, and its mutterings so deep and ominous, as to strike terror to the heart of the timid and even to make the courageous to quail. Nearly every citizen was awake, the taper burning, the children leaving their beds and flocking to the protection of parents, and all fearful as if destruction might come.
The storm was near its close when the crash came, in three successive thunderbolts. The first or second sheet of lightning descended to the earth at the upper part of the lock, but done no damage. The third, more direct and fearful in its consequences, descended upon the Danley elevator, now owned by Messrs. Nicholson & Rulison of this city. It struck near the top of the great chimney on the roof, setting the elevator on fire, which was soon a mass of lurid flames, and burned rapidly, consuming the building and contents.
The fire was discovered almost as soon as it caught by Thomas Nicholson, who with the propeller "Ed. H. Heath" was in the lock, and who sounded an alarm with the boat whistle, which, with the cry of fire and alarm bells, caused a general rally of our citizens. Neither fire company or citizens could stay the devouring elements. Soon it was one mass of lurid flames, and at its hottest threatened a general conflagration, its cloud of burning embers passing diagonally over much of the business portion of the town, falling upon the roofs of houses, barns, hay stacks and in yards of our citizens. The heavy rain which had fallen fortunately prevented so terrible a calamity. At times the fire was exceedingly hot, jeopardizing the Illinois river bridge, C. A. Stoen & Co.'s large elevator, and adjacent dwellings, but these were assiduously protected by being kept wet, and escaped with trifling damage. It finally communicated to the office, standing on the opposite side of the road from the elevator, which was consumed, and also the scales near it; and the many cribs surrounding the grain house fared the same destruction, and in less than a hour and a half, the whole structure was a seething mass of ruins.
The elevator was erected by Mr. D. W. Danley about 18 years ago, at a cost of from $30,000 to $40,000. Mr. Danley operated it some years. Afterwards, Danley & Noe used it for several years, when the firm dissolved. Subsequent S. C. Jack was an owner, who bought grain here for some time. Some several years ago Messrs. Nicholson & Bruce were its purchasers, who added machinery, dumps, additional bins, cribs, built an office and repaired the building up in good shape. Under their administration the elevator done an extensive business, offering inducements that brought grain for 20 miles around. Last fall Mr. Bruce retires, the elevator passing into the hands of Messrs. Nicholson & Rulison, its present owners. This firm has also done a very extensive business, having all the facilities for handling, shipping and delivery of grain in Chicago.
The contents of the elevator and cribs are estimated as follows: Ear corn 30,000 bushels, shell corn 600, oats 1000, and rye 500. Some 15,000 bushels belonged to parties storing grain. The loss is large and a severe one to the new firm. It will approximate $60,000 and may foot up more than that. The insurance was light, only $15,000, some $10,000 on building, and only $5,000 on grain. In previous years they had carried $20,000, but at the beginning of the year, the pressure upon prices and hard times, induced them to curtail it to the figures given above. Nothing was saved except the books and papers taken from the safe before the fire communicated to the office. Mr. Rulison is in Chicago, and was notified of the disaster by telegraph..
The loss of this elevator is a severe blow to the business interests of Henry. To it we owe for much of the trade that has been brought to our doors. It has brought the farmer from a long distance, and paid him round prices for his grain - better than he could obtain elsewhere - and secured his trade to the town. The farmers as well as our business men cannot afford to have Messrs. Nicholson & Rulison go from our midst. At this writing - only a few hours after the disaster - it cannot be foreseen what may be done, but it is to be hoped that Messrs. N. & R. may see that its to their interest to rebuild, and at an early day.
October 24, 1878 - The new office of the Henry Elevator Company was taken possession of by the lessees Messrs. Nicholson & Rulison, yesterday, where hereafter they may be found. The office is handsomely finished up, and large and commodius for their business operations. The new Fairbanks scale are also in position, and discount any we know of in this section. The elevator is being pushed rapidly, and under R. K. Warner's management, who has a large force of men employed, will be securely and substantially built. The structure will have 28 bins, the capacity of each being 3000 bushels. Four corn cribs are also under construction, and will be so far completed next week, as to enable Messrs. Nicholson & Rulison to commence buying ear corn. These cribs will by 80 feet long, 11 feet wide and 24 feet deep. Driveways and dumps will be built on top, and every convenience for rapid handling of grain. We will speak of the work further in future issues.
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