Peoria County, Illinois Genealogy Trails

Weekly Register & Daily Champion Printing Office Fire


Contributed by: Foxie Hagerty
The Journal, Knoxville, Ill Wednesday,  January 30, 1850--Volume I---Number 17
Fire in Peoria--Loss of Life!!!
By Monday's champion, we learn with sorrow, that a dreadful fire occurred on Saturday night, destroying the large building, which was occupied by W. A. Hermon as a drug store, the office of the Peoria Champion, and Register, and the New York Hotel, and burying it ruins Mr. William Pickett, b rather o Thos. J. Pickett, editor of the Champion, and Mr.. James Kirkpatrick, editor of the Peoria American.
The books of the Grand Lodge of the State of Illinois, as also the proceedings of the last session of the G. Lodge, which were in the course of publication, were destroyed.
The loss of Messrs. Picket and Davis is about $2,500, of which 1,300 was covered by insurance. Mr. Herron was fully insured. 
And the building, owned by Mrs. M. B. Davis, not insured.
The editors of the Register and Champion inform their friends, that through the generosity of W. Cockle, Esq., editor of the Democratic Press, who has kindly tendered them the use of his office, they will still be enabled to communicate with their friends and patrons. And that in a few weeks they will procure press type, &c. and resume their usual size. 
They also request Postmasters to forward to them the names of their subscribers, both t o the register and Champion, their lists having been destroyed.
We tender our heartfelt sympathies to the bereaved friends of the deceased.

One of those sudden dispensations of providence which sometimes cometh upon us like a "tide in the night," giving us solemn warning that in "the midst of life we are in death," blighting our hopes, and carrying desolation to the hearthstones, has just occurred in Peoria, teaching us a lesson of the frailness of all human calculations.
About eight o'clock last Saturday evening a fire broke out in the drug store of Wm. A. Herron, on Main street, corner of Printer's Alley, soon after which an explosion was heard, when the building fell to the ground, burying ,it is certain two of our citizens in its ruins.
The second story of this building  was occupied as the Weekly Register and Daily Champion Printing Office, which are entirely destroyed, together with the contents of the drug store below; for so sudden was the alarm, and so shot the notice after the discovery of the fire, that not time was given to save the property before the falling of the building.
The person known to have been killed by this melancholy occurrence, were Mr. Wm. Pickett, clerk of the establishment, and brother of Thomas J. Pickett, Esq., and one of the editors of the Register and Champion, and Jas. Kirkpatrick, Esq., editor and proprietor of the Peoria American. The former lost his life in a vain attempt to save the books of the concern, which he went for after once escaping from the building, and the latter it is supposed, had just arrived upon the ground for the purpose of assisting with at the fire.--
Efforts, almost superhuman, were made by our citizens, in the hopes of saving lives of these ill-fated young men, but when their bodies were extricated from the he rubbish, life was extinct.
The building in the rear, and the third story of the front, which were in fact one and the same building as occupied by Mr. Decker, as the New York Temperance House. 
He had barley time to escape with his family, some of whom did so en dishabille, and were taken out of the second story window, in consequence of the stairs falling.
A son-in-law of Mr. Decker, who went into the upper stories of the building to alarm the inmates that were supposed to have been there, saved his live by leaping from a third story window, with no other injury to himself than a few slight bruises. Mr. Decker lost the most of his property.
During the progress of the fire it communicated to the frame building occupied by Mr. John McClallan as a dry good store, but owing to the vigorous and judicious efforts of the regular and volunteer Fireman it was speedily extinguished. The same praiseworthy exertions saved the building on the other hand owned by Francis Voris, Esq., and occupied by Mr. J. C. Brayson as a dry good store. We suppose that Mr. Brayson met with less loss by the removal of his goods, but we are not informed to what amount.
The Records of the Grand Lodge of this State were all in the office at the time of the fire, and were also destroyed, together with the printed proceedings of the last session, as far as executed.--
-Peoria Champion 
"The People's Journal [Quincy, Ill] calls the burning of a distillery in that city, "Another fountain dried up."



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