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Crawfordsville FD

Source: Crawfordsville Weekly Journal 22 July 1893

The most destructive fire which has visited Crawfordsville for some months occurred July 13 in the business portion of the city and brought financial disaster to two of the leading firms of the city.  It was about a quarter past 11 o’clock when the engine house alarm, number 21, was sounded betokening to the citizens who were unable to sleep because of the hot weather, that a fire was on right in the heart of town. All men having business rooms or offices in the business section accordingly jumped into their trousers and came rushing down through the sweltering air to see if they “were in it.”  White clouds of smoke hanging low were issuing from the bloc occupied by Arms’ Shoe Store and Houlehan, Quillen & Co’s hardware. Here it was that the fire was raging.  Just how the fire originated will never be known. Some think the spontanerous combustion of oils, etc in the hardware store caused it, some say the electric light was to blame while other introduce the always pleasing and acceptable theory of mice and matches.  It is certain, however, that it began very suddenly and gew apace.  Lew and William Dickerson who live a short distance in the rear of the block were the first to discover it. Night Watchman Vance had been in the alley at 11 and shortly later had tried the front door of Arms’ store and looked in.  No sign of fire was then manifest yet six minutes later the Dickerson boys, some distance away perceived the back part of the block in flames.  The fire evidently originated about the stairway just in the rear of the store and immediately was communicated to the oils and similar combustibles just above.  The shoe store does not run back the full length of the block but the hardware store occupied some 20’ of the space between the shoe store’s rear and the alley and the second story above both business rooms – the space being stored with buggies, machinery and general hardware. The partitions between the rear of the shoe store and the hardware store were wooden and there was beside the above mentiones tairway. These furnished plenty of dry fuel for the flames, which spread rapidly. Although the fire was discovered quickly and the alarm promptly turned in when the department arrived with its usual celerity the flames had made fierce headway and were already threatening adjoining buildings.  

As the fire was raging chiefly in the rear of the block a hose was first run from the Sherman House plug and another from the plug at the trustee’s office and two streams put directly on the flames from the alley. Another stream was carried in the front entrance of the shoe store from the courthouse plug and the fire fought from both sides. Citizens gallantly came to the assistance of the department and helped in saving the stocks, carrying the hose and lending any aid asked. The fire was fought systematically and in less time than an hour was thoroughly under control.  It was half past one, though before the out signal was sounded and nearly 3 o’clock before the department got away.

Mr. Arms’ Loss – “I was sitting in the Robbins House when the alarm sounded,” said Mr. Arms, “and started out but stopped when the clerk said the fire was away north. Five minutes later some one told me where it really was and I got there just as they had broken the glass in the door. I unlocked and was the first one in the building. The fire was raging in the back of the store and the room was filled with dense smoke.  It was very hot but the boyst tood to it manfully and succeeded in saving considerable of the stock, which was carried out in the street and later to the rear of the Gas Company’s office. A great deal of water was thrown of course and it stood on the floor nearly 6” deep. My loss will be considerable. The winter goods, such as rubbers, boots, etc were stored largely in the rear and are a total loss. Everything is badly damaged. My stock was worth between $13,000 and $14,000.  It invoiced $12000 in January and I had since loaded up heavily oin summer goods. I’ve been in business 13 years and this is my first fire experience. I have $10,500 insurance but I’ll be lucky if I don’t lose in trade and actual loss at about $5,000.”

Houlehan & Quillen’s Loss – Messrs. Houlehan & Quillen suffer severely also.  “We can’t tell just what our loss is,” said Mr. Quillen but it will be somewhere between $8,000 and $10,000 with $7,000 insurance. The loss is chiefly on buggies and machinery, although of course the general stock is very greatly damaged by fire, water and smoke. We never had a fire before and so can’t really tell just how we do stand. It is bad enough, however, we know that.  
In the Trade Palace – McClure & Graham’s Trade Palace jus south of the shoe store was also closed this morning. The smoke had come pouring through the raised skylights and considerably damaged part of the stock. The white goods suffered as did the millinery stock upstairs. Other goods were also soiled and smoked but it was impossible to state just how much the loss will be.

In Darkest Africa – As is well known to the police and the neighborhood the second story of the block just north of the one burned is tenanted by negroes. No one ever know how many hung out there and no one ever had any idea that so many could be stacked in quarters of that size until the exodus was made when the smoke came pouring through the windows in the rear with an occasional stream from the fire hose. One gentleman, he counted 267, not including the babes in arms of whom there was a host. The exodus was nuts for the onlookers, as many came down in tears and scant array.
Quite a number of insurance companies have a finger in the pie:  Mr. Arms’ stock of shoes insured for $10,500 – Phoenix of Brooklyn, Morgan & Lee $1,000.  North American of Philadelphia, Cumberland & Miller, $1000.  The Travelers, of Chicago, Ed Voris, $1,000. Liverpool, London & Glove Cumberland & Miller, $1,000.  Commercial Union, Morgan & Lee, $1,000. Guardian of London, Morgan & Le, $1,000. Niagra, CW Wright, $1800.  Home of New York, AS Clements, $1,000.  Detroit, Ed Voris, $1,000.  Royal, Ed Voris, $1500.

Houlehan, Quillen & Co were insured for $6,000 as follows: Continental of NY Cumberland & Miller, $2,000. Fire, Association of Philadelphia, CW Wright, $2,000. Royal of Philadelphia, Ed Voris, $2,000.  The firm had just taken out $2,000 in the Conteinental for 60 days to cover an extra large stock they were carrying for a short time but a $1500 policy had also lapsed just a few weeks ago.

The building was owned by Gen. MD Manson.  It was insured for $5,000 in the Germani and Ohio Farmers.  The insurance will cover the loss. Back in the 70s the same block was burned out and was a total loss.  It was then occupied by JR Bryant’s Hardware Store & Miller’s Shoe Store.

The pressure that night was all that could be asked – it was elegant.  When the stream sturck anything it went down and went down in sections and splinters. The firemen did elegant work and cannot be praised too highly. They handled the fire in a manner that would indicate that they fought fires every night and thrived on the work.

Source: Crawfordsville Weekly Journal 23 June 1888 p3

Rockville Republican: Crawfordsville has advanced to a paid fire department. For years a volunteer company responded to every call and much property was saved by their efforts. Such a company could quickly be organized here if we had any appliances to work with. For some months there has been no fire in Rockville. Soon we will all stand around and see some fine residence burn to the ground.

Source: Crawfordsville Weekly Journal 11 Oct 1866 p3

Last Friday night about 10 o’clock a large portion of our city was reduced to ashes. The whole block at the corner of Washington and Vernon streets is swept off. The Crane House, Miss Baldwin’s Millinery Store, Martin & Huff’s Butcher Shop, Hughes & Shue’s Bakery, Guthrie’s Meat Market, Sellers’ Saloon, and JF Galey’s Bakery are all gone. The loss is heavy and partly covered by insurance. The fire originated in the rear of the building occupied by Galey & Sellers. The contents of the building were mostly saved.

Same Source
Miss F.M. Baldwin – this estimable lady, who was so unfortunate as to have the store room which she occupied on Vernon Street burned on Friday night last, succeeded in saving her goods in excellent condition.  She has now taken a room on Green Street with Mrs. Wilhite dress maker, two doors south of Elston’s Bank, where she is prepared to accommodate her old customers and the public in general with anything in the Millinery line, on just as reasonable terms as if the accident by fire had not occurred. We hope our citizens will extend to her that patronage and good will which she so richly deserves.
Source: Crawfordsville Weekly Journal 11 Oct 1866 p4
Card – I take this method of tendering my most sincere thanks to all those who labored so assiduously on the night of the fire, in rescuing my furniture from destruction.  The services will be gratefully remembered and duly reciprocated. VQ Irwin, Proprietor of the Crane House.  

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