Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The 1882 Fire

Much if not all of the south half of the west side of Chariton's square was destroyed in an early-morning fire on Feb. 12, 1867. After that fire, all structures other than the Matson Building, rebuilt in brick (now hiding behind the facade of the Stanton Building), were replaced by new wooden structures. On Dec. 5, 1882, fire broke out again on the west side, wiping out the new wooden buildings between the Matson brick (which resisted the flames) and the corner of Court and North Main. Here is an account of that fire from the Chariton Democrat Leader of Dec. 7, 1882. All of the buildings south of what we now call the Stanton Building were built after this fire and continue to stand.

The Chariton Democrat Leader
Thursday, Dec. 7, 1882

At 12:45 Tuesday morning the citizens were roused from their slumbers by the cry of "fire" and the whistling of a locomotive. On opening doors and windows, the location was observed to be on the west side of the square. A general rush for the scene was made when it was discovered that the fire was in the Bake Shop of G.F. Gasser and the entire inner portion was in flames. In a moment the roof was ablaze. The Hook and Ladder boys were promptly on the ground and exerted themselves to the utmost, but the fire had gained such headway that it was impossible for them to check its progress. The Engine in the mean time had been run out, and the hose was laid, but while steam was being raised the fire communicated with the rear of the wooden building adjoining the Bake Shop when the work of destruction was very rapid. Willing hands were ready, and the work of removing goods began. The first goods removed were those of G.F. Gasser and E.P. Chase, and the hope was entertained that the fire could be confined to those two buildings.

But this hope was quickly dispelled as, on account of the dry and combustible material on which the fire was feeding, the flames reached out and embraced the building owned by H.H. Day on the corner, and occupied by Manning & Murphy, and also the building on the north of Gasser's owned by Kull & Yengle and occupied by E.M. Press. The work of further removing of goods then began in earnest, and the rapidity with which the flames licked up the frail wooden structures produced the fear that a very destructive conflagration would ensue.

A portion only of the goods belonging to Manning & Murphy could be removed, while part of the stock belonging to E.M. Press and that in the next building on the north belonging to M. Goodman was carried out.

Next adjoining on the north was the brick building owned by the First National Bank and occupied by Messrs. McCollough & Co. The efforts of the firemen, who during all this time had nobly battled against the devouring element, were now directed exclusively to preventing the fire from crossing the street to the south, or mounting over the brick building on the north. Happily the night was calm, and soon all fears of the fire spreading to the south were removed. But a terrible fight was necessary to prevent it from reaching out to the north. At one time it seemed almost impossible to stay the flames, and the stock of McCollough & Co. and that of Goodrich & Ensley next to the north were carried out. By the heroic and persevering efforts of the Firemen, and after the hooks had been applied and a portion of the frame building next to the brick torn out, the mastery was obtained over the fire-fiend and the flames confined to the five buildings.

As if the fire had not caused sufficient damage, a rain and snow storm set in, and many of the goods which had been removed from the burning buildings were further damaged. But again scores of willing hands were at work, and the goods were carried into the two buildings which had been vacated but not burned. In addition to this Mr. W.C. Penick threw open the doors of his store building, and also his bank, and a place of shelter was provided. The goods belonging to Manning & Murphy, E.P. Chase and G.F. Gasser, were removed to the east side and housed.

The losses and insurance as nearly as can be learned at this writing are as follows:

Manning & Murphy --- $4,500; no insurance.

M. Goodman stock and household goods --- $6,500; insurance $4,400.

E.P. Chase --- $300; fully insured.

G.F. Gasser stock and building --- $4,000; insurance $1,000.

Manning & Coles --- $600; no insurance.

E.M. Press --- $3,500 to $4,000; fully insured.

J.N. McCollough & Co. --- $300; no insurance.

Goodrich & Ensley --- $300 to $500; fully insured.

H.H. Day buildings --- $2,500; no insurance.

R.M. Moore building --- $1,500; insurance $1,000.

Kull & Yengle building --- $2,000; insurance $1,000.

Telephone Exchange --- $25 to $50; no insurance.

Y.M.C.A. --- $25 to $50; no insurance.

Eikenberry & Co. implements --- $1,400; no insurance.

Eikenberry & Co.. and Kull building --- $1,500; no insurance.

A. Prather --- $300; no insurance.

In addition to the above there were sundry other small losses, which cannot be obtained this morning. In all over $30,000 worth of property was swept away in less than two hours.

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