Genealogy and History
Part of the Genealogy Trails History Group
Blust Building Fire January 29, 1909 Destroys The Building
Freeport's Worst Fire In Many Years - Conflagration Saturday Night Does Damage To Extent of $85,000. - The White Front Dry Goods Store Totally Wrecked By Fierce Flames. - Other Places Near By Also Suffer Considerable Damage - Blaze Difficult to Fight - Firemen do Good Work
Fire Saturday evening destroyed property and merchandise stock in Freeport to the estimated value of $85,000. This loss is divided among three business firms. Duer & Foll, in whose establishment, the White Front drygoods store, the fire started, were the heaviest losers, their loss being estimated at between $35,000 and $40,000, the building, the property of Mrs. Ida E. Blust, $35,000; Wagner & Albert, furniture dealers, first door east of the Duer & Foll store, loss on stock, $8,000, building, $3,000; S. Hermsmeier & Son, groceries, first door west of Duer and Foll's store, damage to stock estimated at $3,000. Sixteen-inch fire walls were all that separated the valuable stocks of merchandise from the roaring furnace. Literally speaking there is not a spool of thread left of the immense stock carried by Duer & Foll. The bare walls alone are left standing. The interior of the building presents a scene of twisted iron girders and trusses, steam and gas pipes and scrap iron. It was one of the most complete fires that has ever occurred in Freeport. There is absolutely no salvage from the Duer & Foll stock.
Water Pressure Good: As near as can be learned the first alarm was sent to the fire department at 19:55 o'clock. When the location of the fire was made known at headquarters a general alarm was sent to the other fire company, and in a very short space of time several lines of hose were connected with the hydrants in the vicinity. Eight streams of water were played on the fire, but they only seemed to increase the intensity of the heat. Three lines of hose were played on the back part of the building and through the rear windows from the alley, three from the front, and one from each side at top of building. The water pressure was all that could be asked for and the firemen experienced no trouble in reaching the top windows with several streams of water. Heavy sixteen inch fire walls prevented the fire from spreading to the adjoining buildings except where there floor sills of the adjoining buildings met.
Origin of Fire: A number of persons claim that the fire originated on the east side of the store room, about half way back from the front. The desk and office of the store were at this point. When the members of the fire department arrived at the rear of the store in the alley, smoke was rolling out of the windows on the third floor, and the hottest fire appeared to be in the southwest corner of the building, where the furnace was located. As far as can be learned there was no one in the building when the fire started, nor had there been for almost an hour before the alarm was turned in. Mr. Duer was perhaps the last one to leave the store, and that was about 10 o'clock, Ezra Holtzman, who has charge of the furnace at the building, left the store at 9:15. He states that when he left there was but a small fire in the furnace, just enough to last until morning and that before leaving he banked the fire. The steam gauge showed that there were but four pounds of steam pressure in the boiler. He is positive that the fire could not have been the result of an overheated furnace, and although familiar with the whole of the basement, he is at a loss to know who the fire could have started in that part of the building. How it could have started where the office was located is also as much of a mystery. The work of the flames is so complete that it is doubtful if the real cause of the fire will ever be known.
Many Volunteer Firemen: There were but few people on the street when the first alarm of fire was sent in, but within a half hour, despite the condition of the weather and lateness of the hour, it is estimated that there were over a thousand present, many of whom volunteered to assist the firemen. Their offers were gladly accepted although there was little that could be done except direct the streams at the windows, for it was impossible to enter the building. The principal work was done from the rear of the building, until it was seen that if the fire was to be conquered at all, it would be necessary to attack the flames from the front of the store. Up to this time the front doors had been kept closed, but now that they were opened, a wall of flame and smoke literally rolled out and swept across Galena Street, many of the by-standers being driven back by the excessive heat. It was at this time that several of the plate glass windows across the street were cracked by the heat. Luckily the building was well constructed. The sidewalls are sixteen inches thick and the strength of the end walls is testified to by the fact that they remained standing after the fire with out the support floor or roof. The firemen and the volunteers deserve great credit for the work they did in saving the adjoining property from any greater loss than it did suffer.
Grocery Store Loss: S. Hermsmeier & Son, proprietors of the grocery store on the west of the Duer & Foll store, were heavy losers by the fire. The greater part of their damage, however, was caused by water, which came through the roof at the rear of their store, where a large quantity of flour was stored. The building occupied by this store is also the property of Mrs. Blust and is heated by the same steam heating plant. A hole had been made in the wall separating the two stores, about half way back from the front, and through this aperture the flames ate their way and caused some damage to the grocery stock and fixtures. Although the heat was intense, several men stayed in the grocery store and fought the flames as fast as they gained any headway. A part of the building occupied by the Hermsmeiers is a one story structure. From a point where the second story ends, back in the rear of the building is an old wall nearly two feet thick which was not removed when the front portion of the store was remodeled. This wall joins the Blust building and afforded an additional protection against the flames and heat.
Wagner & Albert Are Losers: The Wagner & Albert furniture store, which joins the Duer & Foll store on the east are heavy losers as a result of the fire. It appears that when the wall separating the two buildings were allowed to meet. When those of the White Front burned out, the heat was so intense that the sills of the Wagner building caught fire and in a short time the floors, mop boards and the furniture standing against the walls were afire in several places. Luckily this condition was discovered in time to prevent the flames from gaining any great headway. William Wagner stated that he thought the loss to stock would be in the neighborhood of $8,000 and to the building about $3,000. Insurance men who were present, however, thought that this estimate was somewhat high. The Wagner store occupies three floors and on each floor there was considerable damage to the furniture set near the dividing wall. THere was not a great deal of it burned, but the heat ruined and blistered the finish of the various articles of furniture. Considerable stock was stored in the cellar and this is greatly damaged by water. The greatest part of the fire fighting in the furniture store was done with patent chemical fire extinguishers, those of the fire department also being used.
Chemical Extinguisher Explodes: F. W Ridgway, of the Ridgway Electric company, was using one of the patent extinguishers on the third floor of the Wagner building when it exploded. Flames had broken out at one of the sills and Mr. Ridgeway turned the chemicals on to it. For some reason the extinguisher would not work properly. He then shook it several times, when of a sudden there was an explosion and the top of the extinguisher went through the ceiling. The force of the explosion threw Mr. Ridgway's arm back in such a manner that at first it was thought that it had been broken, or at least dislocated, but aside from several bad bruises and scratches he was uninjured.
Falls Through Floor: William H. Musser, one of the firemen stationed at the city hall, fell through a hole in the main floor of the drygoods store, into the cellar. He landed on his feet in about three and one half feet of water. THere was nothing within reach of his hands by which he might pull himself out, so he was obliged to call for help. Sam Brinkbrock, another fireman from the same station, was passing the front of the building at the time and heard his call for help. He entered the front doors and soon located Musser. He reached down through the hole to pull him up, but was unable to do so as he could secure no hand hold. A ladder was sent for and lowered into the cellar. Mr. Musser then climbed out and was sent to his home as the cold bath had disqualified him from further service. This was shortly before 2 o'clock.
Cut By Glass: Sam Brinkbrock while working at the front of the building was struck on the left hand by a heavy piece of glass and severely cut. He bound up the wound and continued his work. Sunday afternoon the injured member began to trouble him. He called on a doctor and a splinter of the glass was removed from deep in the hand.
Strikes Live Wire: Sam was doomed to run up against nearly everything that there was, out of the ordinary. While on top of the Hermsmeier building he ran into a live wire, the shock knocked him over and today he has a bad scar over the right cheek bone.
Two Firemen in Danger: Those familiar with Lexington Hall know that there is an outside fire escape from the hall, which leads to the roof of the Hermsmeier building. Firemen Borsdorf and Brinkbrock were on this platform playing a stream into the building. The first named fireman had one leg over the door sill to steady himself. Brinkbrock was just behind him and hearing a crackling sound above, he called to Borsdorf to get back out of the doorway as he thought the roof was about to fall in. Borsdorf withdrew his leg just in time, for scarcely was the warning given when the roof came down with a crash. At that the suction caused by its fall nearly drew Borsdorf down with it to the roaring furnace beneath.
Hottest Fire Ever: In speaking of the fire of Saturday night, the firemen all agree that it was about the hottest fire that they have ever been called upon to fight. It was one of the greatest fire losses that Freeport has ever experienced. Fire Marshal Rodemeyer in speaking of the fire said, "When I arrived at the front of the store, there were no flames to be seen, but I knew that there was a bad fire in the building, for the front part of the store was filled with smoke. I went around to the rear and saw that the smoke was coming out of all the windows from the ground to the roof. I then cut a hole in the cellar door and could see the flames about twenty feet in from the rear wall. I think that the fire was burning nearly a half hour before the alarm was sent in I have no idea as to the origin of the fire."
Reedy Exhausted: Patrick Reedy, one of the veterans of the department, was overcome by the excessive heat and smoke, and it was necessary to take him to his home. There were but few of the firemen who did not show some signs of the hard night's work today.
Fire Under Control: It was about 2 o'clock Sunday morning when the fire was brought under control, but by that time everything within the four walls of the Blust building was practically destroyed. It was about that time that the floors and the roof fell in. When this happened there was little danger of the fire spreading, and after the first burst of sparks and flames following the falling of the roof, the fire gradually burned itself out. But not until 8:30 o'clock Sunday mroning was it deemed advisable to shut off the streams. Then, tired, and wet, and hungry, the firemen reeled up their hose and returned to their stations. In places the hose had become frozen to the ground or imbedded in the ice and it was necessary to use considerable force in freeing it.
Mayor a Good Fireman: Mayor Dittmar was on the scene about as soon as the fire department and remained until they left. He did not fight the fire by issuing orders but worked. He appeared to be everywhere, lending a helping hand and relieving the firemen who had become chilled or overcome with smoke. There were volunteers, too numerous to mention and their assistance was gladly accepted. Some were physically unable to be of actual service in fighting the flames, but helped otherwise. One clothing merchant, who has a store in the same block, noticed the predicament of one of the firemen who had torn his clothing in slipping down a ladder. He took the fireman to his store and fitted him out. When this merchant returned to the fire he carried with him an armful of mittens which he distributed among the firemen and the volunteers. The dry mittens were gratefully accepted by the boys and John Vaupel will not soon be forgotten.
Serves Hot Coffee: Chris Strohacker, living next to the alley on Van Buren street, served hot coffee to the firemen and volunteers all night long. No one had time to eat, but the boiling hot coffee did much to invigorate the half frozen firemen.
Street Car Cuts Hose: Before the water had been turned on from the hydrant at the south east corner of the court house, a street car coming from the west ran over the hose cutting it in two. It was necessary to take out the length of hose and make another coupling. Other leads of hose led to the fire from the hydrants at Moogk's corner, Guenther's corner, corner of Spring and VanBuren, and Jackson and Van Buren streets.
Pedestrians Seek Fire: For fully fifteen or twenty minutes before the alarm was turned in pedestrians on their way home on Chicago and Galena streets smelled the smoke but were unable to discover the fire. Finally a late shopper at the John Wagner confectionery store made the remark that things looked queer in the dry goods store across the street. Mr. Wagner went to his front door and seeing that the front part of the Duer & Foll store was filled with smoke he telephoned in the alarm.
Flat Dwellers Move: Damian Loos and family live over the Hermsmeier store. The heat became so intense a short time after the fire started that they left the building, taking with them but a small portion of their household goods and wearing apparel. Across Galena street it became so hot in the first flats over the stores that two of the families moved their household goods from the front rooms to the rear.
Hermsmeier Loss: Local insurance agents are busy taking inventory of the damaged stock in the Hermsmeier store. There is considerably more of the stock damaged thatn was at first suspected. Mr. Hermsmeier states that he carried $2,000 insurance and that in his opinion this would just about cover his loss.
Taylor & Frick held the following policies:
White Front - Germania $2,500; Milwaukee Mechanics $2.500,
Moveable Store Furniture and Fixtures - North River $500
Hermsmeier Building - Rochester German $1,500; German of Freeport $1000
Duer & Foll Stock - American of Newark $2,000; Buffalo German $1,000; Continental $1000; Rochester German $1000; Dubuque Fire & Marine $1000. -- Total $6,000.
The insurance carried by the Wagner & Albert company and the Duer & Foll company carried through C. F. Hildreth, T. A. Secker and other insurance agents is as follows:
Wagner Building - National of Alleghaney $2,000; Royal $2,000.
Wagner & Albert Stock - Firemen of Newark $1,000; Williamsburgh City $1,000; Detroit Fire & Marine $1,700; Dubuque Fire & Marine $1,700 -- Total $9,400.
Duer & Foll Stock - Connecticut Fire $1,000; Milwaukee Mechanics $1,500; Girard $1,500; Firemen of Newark $1,500; Ins. Co. of the State of Ill's. $1,500; Citizens of St. Louis $1,000; Northern of England $1,000; National of Hartford $5,000; Fidelity $1,000; Firemen's Fire Underwriters $1,500; Queen $1,000; Northern Underwriters $1,500; Company's represented by M. Marvin $2,500. Total -- $21,500
(Contributed by Karen Fyock Freeport Daily Journal - February 1, 1909)
The Walls Are Shaky
Part of Blust Building Should Be Torn Down at Once
Contractor J. M. Hineline was asked to inspect the walls of the burned Blust building by the city authorities yesterday. In his opinion they are dangerous as the front and back portions are likely to fall without a moment's warning. The side walls will be used in the re-construction of the building, which, according to reports, will be an exact reproduction of the burned one. Sheets of galvanized tin are hanging from the building and could easily be blown to the street by wind of but little violence. The fire department went to the ruins yesterday afternoon about 4 o'clock and turned one stream of water on the debris in the basement, which was still smoldering. There is still a small amount of smoke coming from from the west side of the basement. Frank Keck of Allentown, Pa., son-in-law of Mrs. Ida Blust, is due to arrive here this afternoon to look after her interests involved in the recent fire. It is his wish that Mrs. Blust be not notified of her loss, so that she may enjoy the trip, which she is now taking in the southwest states and in Cuba. It appears that the waterworks were notified of the fire by four rings, which signifies that the fire was in the business district south of Stephenson street. The water company, however, had no such signal on its board and the men in charge did not know what it meant.
Blust Fire Kills Fireman
Patrick Reedy Dies of Pneumonia Caused by Exposure - His Age Against Him - Deceased was a Soldier in War of Rebellion.
West Wall Crumbles - Ruins of Blust Building Fall on Hermsmeier's Store - Roof Is Crushed In - Store Filled with Debris - Fortunate Escape of All in Store
Without a moment's warning and with a crash that could be heard for blocks, the west wall of the ruins of the Blust building collapsed at half past 11 o'clock this morning and fell on the rear end of the grocery of S. Hermsmeier & Son adjoining, crushing in the roof and filling the store with debris. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured, although the store was filled with customers at the time the collapse occurred. Miss Lydia Hermsmeier, the bookkeeper, was back at the ice box when the crash came. She was caught by the falling plaster and brick and was carried to the floor. She extricated herself at once and was taken to the butcher shop next door, where it was found her injuries were only trivial. Ben Hermsmeier was waiting on trade on the east side and was struck by brick on the side and shoulders but without injury. Since the fire the grocery store has been without the heating plant of the Blust building and a wood stove in the back part of the store had been substituted. When the wall fell the stove was smashe into small pieces, which scattered the embers among the debris. A fire started and an alarm was at once sent to the fire headquarters. Owing to the blaze being found when barely under headway the firemen made short work of it. A can of gasoline and another of kerosene was within ______ feet of the stove but was moved to a place of safety soon after the crash Hermsmeier's store runs from Galena street back to the alley, a distance of 120 feet. The last sixty feet has been used as a storage room and was filled with flour, eggs and other articles. This part of the store is completely filled with debris, consisting of the bricks from the walls of the Blust building and its own roof. The damage to Hermsmeier's and to the building which is owned by Mrs. Blust will be several thousand dollars. There is no insurance on an accident of this kind on the goods and the loss will be almost total. This afternoon it was necessary to take added precaution in keeping curious spectators from venturing too near the walls. The north or front wall of the building cracked when the west wall fell and sways back and forth with the wind a distance of at least six inches. The front wall has been ordered town down and will not be taken down piece by piece as was originally intended, but will be pushed in from the front. A portion of the west wall remains standing. Its condition would warrant its fall at any moment. The building occupied by the grocery store is two stories high in front, but in the rear is only one story high. It was the one story portion that was struck. The city has been very fortunate all though this affair. The fire that reduced the Blust building to ruins occurred on the night of Saturday, Jan. 30. Had it occurred the sight before, when a terrific gale was blowing from the northwest, a gale so strong that it almost bore pedestrians from their feet, the whole south part of town would very likely have gone up in smoke. Even occurring when it did, it was very fortunate that the entire block was not consumed, which at one time seemed likely to be the case. Since then the walls have been allowed to stand, although condemned by expert authority, a menace to the lives of passersby, yet when the inevitable happens and they topple down nobody is killed or even seriously injured. That was indeed a remarkable instance of Freeport's luck. [February 5, 1909]
Tearing Down Walls
Workmen Are Busy at Blust Building - Owner May Sell Property, Receiving Good Offers
Mrs. Ida Blust has a force of workmen tearing down the west wall of the Blust building today. The part left standing after yesterday's collapse seems to be quite solid and it is with considerable effort that it is being taken down. Yesterday afternoon Contractor Hineline pulled the large smoke stack to the ground. It required several hours' time to do the work on account of the chimney being filled with tiling. The front wall will be torn down some time this week and work on it will be commenced as soon as the west wall is razed. Mrs. Blust has not as yet decided on the final disposition of the property on which the building stood. She has received several flattering offers for the land which she may accept. The store of S. Hermsmeier & Son will be repaired as quickly as possible and the back part rebuilt. Their loss in yesterday's collapse will at least reach the mark which was set yesterday - $2.000. Miss Lydia Hermsmeier and Ben Hermsmeier, the two injured yesterday, are much improved and Ben is able to be at work helping to straighten the affairs at the store. [February 9, 1909 clipping]
Rawleigh Medical Company Destroyed by Fire
Photo contributed by Alice Horner
$100,000 Loss Loss at Rawleigh
Fire breaks out in Big Patent Medicine Factory This Morning
Start in Grinding Room - Chemicals That Ran Quickly into Money Damaged - Carries Own Insurance
April 7, 1911: Damage in the neighborhood of $100,000 was sustained in a fire at the Rawleigh Medical company factory this morning, which broke out in the mill room located on the third floor at 8:40 o'clock. At the present time it is thought that spontaneous combustion was the cause. The large factory is divided into three divisions, each separated from the other by fire walls which extend from the north to the south side. Had it not been for these walls the loss would have been more than trebled. Simon Ottenhausen, foreman of the mill room, was the first to discover the blaze. According to his theory one of the five large grinding mills became overheated and the oil in the drugs broke into a mass of flames. The fire spread rapidly and before the arrival of the fire department smoke was pouring from every window on the third floor.
Several Fire Fighters Injured
There was no panic among the 259 workers, many of whom were women, and in five minutes practically everyone was out of the building. The central fire department was first to arrive, but was followed closely by the Third ward apparatus. A second alarm brought out the West Freeport department and a third alarm brought out the Illinois Central fire fighting department of twenty men, who assisted the city department men materially. Charles Groshans of the Third ward department, who was the first to scale a ladder with a hose, was partially overcome by smoke after an hour's work. Groshans exhibited much bravery and grit, and his work was one of the spectacular features of the blaze. Fred Peters, employed at the factory, was one of the many workmen who did heroic work. Working bareheaded he was cut by falling glass and was taken to Dr. C. L. Best's office, where his wounds were dressed.
Spread to Fourth Floor
Hardly had the fire been got under control in the third floor when heavy smoke began to issue from the windows on the floor above. The fire on this floor was even harder to master and it was several hours work before the firemen left this floor. Meanwhile the fire and smoke worked its way to the roof and for a time it looked as though the entire middle section of the factory might be lost. Raw material on the fourth floor burned fiercely and black smoke which issued from the windows in clouds made fire fighting extremely hazardous.
Loss Cannot Be Estimated Closely
The fire loss, although in the neighborhood of $100,000, cannot at the present time be accurately estimated. During the month of April the raw material stock is the heaviest of the entire year and officials of the factory place the value of this stock at the present time at more than $150, 000 on the fourth floor alone. It is possible that the damage there will be $75,000. Finished product valued at more than $20,000, was being stored on the middle section of the third floor. Part of this will be saved. The loss in the entire building will be heavy. Nine streams of water were used for more than two hours and water several inches deep stands on the first floor. Much plastering and redecorating will have to be done before even the office can be used.
Carried Own Insurance
The Rawleigh company carry their own insurance in the form of a general sinking fund, which, so it is said. is large enough to cover almost the entire loss. Officials of the company says it will take several days before the official loss can be estimated.
Lack of Fire Equipment
With the best of water pressure the city firemen had difficulty in reaching the heart of the blaze. Firemen were unable to enter the building and were forced to remain at or within a few feet of the windows so thick was the smoke. The city can boast of but one fire helmet and this was being used by a man at the bottom of one of the ladders. For more than an hour nine streams were playing thorough the windows and finally one hose was taken to the roof and used there. At 11 o'clock the fire was checked and work was started getting the damaged stock out of the building. The workmen on the third floor were handicapped by water, at least three feet deep in places. Shortly before the noon hour several officials of the factory made a hurried trip through the building and found their loss was not as heavy as they expected. Much of the $150,000 stock of raw material was not damaged and part of the $20,000 stock of finished product will be saleable. It was at first believed the loss might reach $200,000.
Part of Roof Falls With Crash
About 10:45 o'clock a part of the roof fell in, but there were no workmen on the upper floor at this time. The building and roof can be repaired for $20,000, it is said.
Rockford Department Not Needed
This morning when the fire was apparently gaining headway a call for assistance was sent to Rockford and the apparatus had already been loaded on a flat car when a second call was sent saying the fire was under control. It was planned to bring the Rockford equipment to this city on train No. 3 of the Illinois Central. Stephen Julian, assistant fire chief at Rockford, is in attendance at the consistory and was a spectator at the fire. He was in readiness to take command had the Rockford department been needed.
Mayor Rawleigh was en route to Freeport when he was informed of the fire at his factory and he arrived in Freeport shortly after 11 o'clock. [Contributed by Karen Fyock]
SEELEY and READ Dry Goods
The mammoth dry goods plant of Seeley & Read in Freeport was demolished by the fire fiend last Friday morning. The fire originated in the basement of the Weishar block in which Seeley & Read's store was located. It is supposed that the fire caught from a lighted candle in the hands of an errand boy who had gone to the basement of the store to turn off the water from a bursted pipe. The fire burned nearly six hours and during that time aid was summoned and received from Rockford. Seeley & Read's stock was valued at $70,000 and was insured for $30,000. The stock was nearly all lost. The firm will at once begin to arrange for a building and stock on the old site that will exceed their former emporium in magnificence, having already, with characteristic enterprise, advertised to be in their new quarters inside of ninety days. [Warren Sentinel clipping January 4, 1893; Contributed by Karen Fyock]
Second Fire in 5 Months - Thirsty Flames Lick up Thousands of Gallons of Oil - A Spectacular Blaze
Tanks of Pennsylvania Oil Company Belch Forth Flame and Smoke
For the second time this year fire destroyed the sheds and oil and damaged the big tanks of the local branch of the Pennsylvania Oil company in East Freeport. About 6 o'clock yesterday afternoon the department was called to the sheds of the company just west of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul tracks in East Freeport, to extinguish a blaze that could be seen from all over the city, and that looked to people up town as if the Stover WIndmill company's plant was ablaze.
That was the general belief and attracted a large crowd of people to view one of the most spectacular fires that have ever been seen in Freeport. By the time the department had arrived the shed covering the engine was totally destroyed, and the fire laddies could do nothing to check the progress of the flames, which were making quick work of the thousands of gallons of oil in the big tanks. Thick black smoke rolled in dense volumes from the blazing oil, and the heat was intense. This morning not a vestige of the shed could be seen, and the intense heat had blistered the engine and other machinery in the shed so that they are practically worthless. Just how the fire started is unknown.
A workman by the name of Black had been filling the wagon when he heard a sizz in the pumping station, which was immediately followed by an explosion, and the whole station seemed ablaze. He led the horse to a place of safety, but it was impossible to remove any of the wagons from the burning shed. One large tank full of kerosene was undamaged, but the contents of three tanks were destroyed. It is estimated this morning that about twelve thousand gallons had been burned.
However, there is enough oil in the undamaged tank to supply the demand until the damaged sheds are reconstructed. The fire burned the greater part of the night, and it was found necessary to station one fireman there the entire night. This morning at 8 o'clock the fire was pronounced entirely extinguished. A. H. Wieman, who owned the station figured his loss at $2,500, all of which is covered by insurance. This figure is not an exact statement for it will be impossible to determine the extent of the loss with anything like precision until an examination can be made of the contents of the tanks to determine the salvage, should such exist.
This is the second fire at the pumping station this year. Early in February, while W. A. Chappel was acting as agent for the Pennsylvania Oil company, a similar fire occurred, which practically destroyed the pumping station. Mr. Wieman has had charge of the agency for the Pennsylvania concern since April 15.
John Aspinwall - Stephenson Fire
Fire destroyed the frame dwelling on the farm owned by John Aspinwall, residing in Florence township about 6 miles east on the Pearl City road about 10 o'clock Monday morning. The flames, which originated in a store room on the second floor of the building, are believed to have started by mice gnawing matches. The loss was estimated at several thousand dollars. Neighbors who appeared on the scene of the fire were unable to check the progress of the flames which spread rapidly and the structure was burned to the ground. The house had been vacant for the past several months, it having been occupied by Mrs. Eunice High, mother of Mrs. Aspinwall. The fire started in a room in which wool, paper and other things were stored. The house was one of the oldest frame structures in Florence township. It was formerly owned by the late Senator and Mrs. Homer Aspinwall. A portion of the structure had been moved to the present site from a point about 40 rods to the westward in 1875 and remodeled by Mr. Aspinwall, who resided in the home for many years. Heat from the fire became so intense that volunteer firemen were unable to get near the burning structure and attention was directed to saving other nearby buildings. Water in large quantities was poured on a large stone dwelling nearby. Volunteers were unable to get into the burning building because of the dense smoke and practically all of the furniture on the first floor, however, was taken from the building. [Freeport Daily Journal February 1, 1909; Contributed by Kren Fyock]
FIREWORKS BLAST AND BLAZE TAKE 2 LIVES SATURDAY
Wm. Boedeker, 52, Adam Maltry, 64, Meet Death In Dreadful Form - Explosion In Storage Shed At Former Lakeside Plant - Boedeker Dead When Found, Maltry Lives Six Hours - Cause of Blast Not Determined
Explosion and fire claimed two more victims late Saturday afternoon (September 17, 1932), when William Boedeker, 52, of 1227 East Shawnee Street, was burned beyond recognition, and Adam Maltry, 64, of 718 S. Hancock Avenue, suffered burns and injuries which resulted in his death at St. Francis Hospital at 10:15 o'clock Saturday night. The explosion took place in a shed at the abandoned Lakeside Signal and Fireworks plant, on South Hancock Avenue. Fireman, called to the scene, broke open a door and found the interior of the frame shed a mass of flames and the burned and blackened body of Boedeker in a semi-reclining position against the door. Water, poured from two leads of hose into the interior, soon extinguished the flames and it was found that the body of Mr. Boedeker, from which every particle of wearing apparel had been burned except the sole of one shoe, was in a position indicating by the arms extended across the face that the victim had died attempting to protect his fact from the flames as he groped about the room filled with smoke, fire and fumes from the explosives. The first intimation of the tragedy came when members of the Maltry family, residing in the house just north of the fireworks property, heard an explosion about 4 o'clock and rushing out they saw Maltry, his clothing ablaze, came stumbling towards the house, groping his way along a path between the buildings.
Woman Comes to Rescue
Cries for help brought Mrs. Geo. Lebrecht, residing next door to the Maltry home to the scene. Taking a rug Mrs. Lebrecht smothered the flames enveloping Maltry, and rolled him on the ground. Afterward the victim was rushed to St. Francis Hospital, while in an unconscious condition. Members of the family who spoke to him were recognized but he was unable to give an explanation as to how the tragedy occurred. The shed, which is located about one hundred feet from where Maltry fell to the ground and which is 20 feet west of the main buildings on the property, had been used for storage purposes. The Lakeside company had paid a year's rent in advance on the property, the lease expiring September 20. During the past week trucks removed some of the stored stock, and Saturday afternoon members of the Maltry family stated that two truck-loads had been taken away from the shed prior to the explosion.
Enter Building Together
Mr. Boedeker, who was day watchman for the Arcade Manufacturing Company, located across the street, had been instructed to also watch the fireworks property, which is owned by the Arcade company, to prevent any possible fire. Fifteen minutes before the explosion Mr. Boedeker had been at home. He crossed the street to the plant, where he was joined by Maltry, and the two men went to the shed, where they found several children of the neighborhood playing. They ordered the youngsters away from the building to prevent any possibility of fire or accident. Keys and blackened money in a pocket-book were the only means of identifying Boedeker's body, and it was believed by the family that the truckers had left the keys to the shed with the watchman or had informed him they were not returning, which caused him to enter the shed and inspect the premises. The firemen in breaking open the door on the side of the building nearest to their approach were not aware that around the corner of the shed another door was open through which Maltry had left the shed when his clothing caught fire.
First Traces of Explosives
The shed is 16 by 20 feet in size, and in addition to the outside paper coverings of the railroad signal flares there evidently had been stored some kind of powder or mixture used in manufacture of the explosives as a deposit some ten inches deep was found bearing the round formation of the barrels which had been destroyed and which were still smoking after the flames had been extinguished. The signals stored in the building are of such a nature that if the contents dropped onto the floor a shoe sole coming in contact with it will ignite it through friction. That the building was not entirely destroyed was due to the fact that it is covered on the exterior with corrugated iron sheeting; the frame interior had been charred half through by the flames.
Shunk Death Recalled
The two deaths are another link in the chain of similar happenings, one of which was the tragic death of James Shunk, former part owner of the fireworks plant, who was fatally burned while riding in a truck load of explosives several weeks ago when the automobile in which he was riding was wrecked. Recent deaths from explosion and fire during the past few weeks have taken a toll of nine lives in this county, in four of which instances two lives have been taken. [Freeport Journal Standard, Freeport, IL Monday, September 19, 1932; Contributed by Alice Horner]
Tornado Sweeps Over Farms in Cedarville And Other Areas Last Night
2 Killed And 13 Hurt; Property Loss Staggering
A tornado of the twister type, which blew buildings to pieces and then turned back on its tracks within the same premises, tore its way through a strip of territory 18 miles long and three-quarters of a mile wide in Stephenson county, striking at 9:30 o'clock last night in the farm lands adjacent to Cedarville, Buena Vista, Dakota and Winslow and taking a toll of two lives. In addition, 13 persons were injured, four of whom are believed to be in critical condition, and property was destroyed, the loss being estimated at more than half a million dollars.
The dead are: Mrs. Glenn Hutchison, 22, who resided on the Lloyd Tielkemeier farm between Cedarville and Buena Vista, was killed instantly.
Thomas Cummings, 30, 2625 South Main street, Rockford, Ill., injured near Winslow; dead on arrival to hospital.
St. Francis Hospital - Edward Cummings the father of Thomas Cummings, Rockford now seriously injured.
Chief Deputy Sherriff Ray (Pat) Mead, 37, Freeport, fractured skull, facial fractures, internal injuries, has chance to recover but is in critical condition.
Deputy Sheriff Egbert Tavenner, Freeport, injuries and bruises, not critical.
Policeman Charles Hagerman, Freeport, fractured jaw.
Mr. and Mrs. Arnold Albright, McConnell , and daughter Phyllis aged 16, injuries not critical.
Deaconess hospital: Glenn Hutchison, 23, Dakota; fractured collarbone and back injuries.
His son Charles, 5 months old, scalp injury; not serious.
Dale Phillips, 32, Dakota, condition serious.
David Phillips, aged 5, Dakota, treated and dismissed.
Mrs. Ray Algle, suffered lacerations and bruises about the legs bit did not receive hospitalization.
[Contributed by Karen Fyock - Undated Scrapbook Clipping]
There was a small fire at Gust Addams house on Sabbath morning. [November 22, 1892 - Contributed by Karen Fyock]
Lena: Awakened by the cries of a pet cat, Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Broge of Lena, discovered their home filled with smoke caused by a fire of undetermined origin. The blaze, which started between two walls, caused damage amounting to several hundred dollars. After being awakened by the cat, Mr. and Mrs. Broge aroused their children and summoned the fire department. The fire burned through to the exterior and damaged the roof. [Freeport Journal-Standard, 09 December 1938]
Forreston, Oct. 17 - The home of Elmer Hybarger, above the Sease barber shop and Williams & Albert electric store, was gutted by fire at 4:30 o'clock this afternoon following the explosion of an oil store. The furnishings were destroyed and firemen fought the flames for an hour before they finally put them under control. Hybarger's family had been to Freeport during the day and when they returned home, Mr. Hybarger attempted to light the oil stove. It exploded, throwing burning oil in all directions. Hybarger's clothing was ignited but he managed to extinguish the flames before suffering severe burns. The flames spread rapidly and when firemen arrived, the upper floor of the building was a roaring furnace. Firemen carried out merchandise from the electric store and chairs in the barber shop were removed. The two stores were greatly damaged by smoke and water. Hybarger carries no insurance. [Sunday, October 18, 1925; Morning Star (Rockford, IL) Page: 12]
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