Columbus Gazette, Columbus Junction, Iowa Friday, October 9, 1891 page 1
Transcribed by Beverly Gerdts, November 11, 2020

More than Half the Business Portion of the Town swept Away
An Appalling Scene of Desolation.

The fire fiend has visited us again and what was, a few days ago, the business center of our town, is now a mass of ruins. A few minutes after twelve o'clock Monday night the fire alarm was sounded and in an incredibly short time the streets were thronged with an excited, shouting multitude of people. The fire originated, seemingly, between the wood-working shop in the rear of Taylor Carlisle's blacksmith shop and the old ten pin alley occupied by Stroh as a harness shop. As no fire had been used in either building for some days, there seems but little doubt that it is a case of incendiarism.

The fire engine was planted as soon as possible at the cistern near the fire but it was found dry. A move was then made to the city well but from some cause the pumps refused to do their duty. Another move was made to the cistern in front of the National bank but the hose was found too short by fifty feet or more to play on the fire which, by this time, had worked its way across the half dozen buildings intervening between the starting point and the old Board of Trade building. Here, without doubt, the fire could have been gotten under control if it could have been reached with the water. The fire company did good service however, by checking its further progress south along Second street and saving the Slough Barn and the buildings south of the alley. The flames were full twenty minutes in ... over the Board of Trade roof and leaping across the alley to the sheds and out buildings connected with the Murdock house block. As soon as these buildings ignited there began a wild scramble to save personal property and merchandise as all hopes of saving the principal business portion of the town were abandoned. Tens of thousands of dollars worth of goods were hustled across the railroad track and out of harm's way.

The light was equal to midday and the air was scorching hot and full of ignited brands. The row of buildings east of the street did not catch at one place only, but burst into a sheet of flame from a half dozen building at once and in almost the time required to write it, were completely enveloped in sheets of fire that leaped into the air a hundred feet or more. The building burned like tinder. From the intense reflected heat many things that had been carried more than a hundred feet away were reduced to ashes almost as quickly is if cast into a furuace. Agent Lowry had taken the precaution to remove all the cars on the side tracks and the Y and the fire was stopped from going further east for lack of anything to devour. Meanwhile its progress south had been materially retarded by the row of bricks beginning with the Sampson building. Yet slowly and seemingly surely it made its way across the rooms occupied by Freeland, Coffin, Thomas Reaney and Thompson & Kelly. Here it encountered the fire wall of the Moore block. About this time the Washington fire company came in and manged to get a little water from the Lovell well and the Collins cisterns, enabling them to play at intervals on the flames in the rear of the buildings. The home engine began to get warmed up to the work and came around to the front.

The fire that seemed determined to leap up the stairs back of the Moore block was kept in check by the bucket brigade until the Washington engine finally established itself at the cistern at the reformed church on the hill. Here was abundance of water and sufficient pressure was easily obtained. Time and again Collins' roof above and south of the Moore building was on fire but each time it was successfully fought out and at last, just as the water supply was running short, the fierce flames that had wiped out nearly $100,00 of property were subdued. this was now about five o'clock in the morning,and the tire people who had worked and shouted for hours were given a chance to rest, except those who were kept on guard or those who had no place to go.

The night was followed by a dreary, dismal day, that finally settled down into a heavy rain, adding to the gloom and making it all the worse for goods of every description, scattered over acres of territory. But every house was open to the unfortunate ones and store rooms and rooms of all kinds were freely opened up for shelter. The most of the business houses were opened up in other and less commodious quarters. The Jones Bros. are with Mrs. Williams; W. A. Carr secured the William Cutcomp billiard hall; W. L. Ayers and R. F. McConnell are in with John R. Gardner; Breneman occupies the back part of Owen's store room, While Wm. Walters has the basement immediately adjoining, thus bringing the two butcher shops right together. A. H. Parsons has improvised him a store room out of C. A. Sprague's corn crib uorth of the latter's sales room; Mrs. M. L. Lane has found quarters in Hendrix' store; the post office h as taken up temporary quarters in Harrison's elevator; the Safeguard in located at the Cottage House; the Gazette, Columbus Junction, Iowa was glad enough to get the back room of the very office it had just quit a day or two before, with little more than half it took away. Others may have secured quarters but we have not learned where. The New York store have their goods boxed up and piled away in the corn crib east of the railroad track. Our people, of course, are discouraged but don't imagine for a moment that they are cast down. The new Columbus Junction that is to rise from the ashes is to assume a very different aspect from the old. On Wednesday morning men and teams were at work clearing away the debris on several lots preparatory to the new buildings to go up as fast as men and money can put them up. Judge Springer will erect a building covering three lots:Coffin & Carr will build on the corner; J. J. Russell, on the spot recently occupied by Breneman; Mrs. Lane on her own lot; Wils Daugherty and Sampson of Washington and Nathan Metzgar are all to build as also will Dr. D. W. Overholt and at once, on the west side. L. A. Riley has also begun work on the east side and further developments are to be looked for as soon as the property owners over there can get together.

WE wish to state right here that there are no flies on this same Columbus Junction. Should anyone doubt it, see what the Gazette, Columbus Junction, Iowa is this week, beginning on Tuesday morning to gather up the remnants of the office scattered over a distance of a quarter of a mile, rushed with job work, with its forms all gone, imposing stones all gone but one, press a ruin and everything else in almost as bad condition. Of course, we couldn't have done it unaided and how can we thank our friends for their assistance and words of sympathy almost as helpful. To name them all would require all our space: to name a part, would do the others injustice. But we must make an exception in the person of J. H. Pearson, of the Ainsworth Clipper, who came down in his old clothes and pulled his coat, helped put up the stove, built a fire in it and then went to the cases and helped us to bring some little order out of the chaos that was all around us. Now there were others...as much in other ways as be but they will excuse our especial mention of him because Junction folks all like to do the handsome thing by their friends from a distance who come to see them. And this will excuse another digression in the case of Uncle John Saunders, of Wapello, who took, to us, such an unexpected and unusual method of expressing his sympathy. To all these friends of ours and of us all, in this our sore affliction we desire to express the sincerest thanks of all the fire sufferers.

As nearly as can be ascertained up to the present the losses and insurance are as follows:

S. H. Shearer, value of stock, $8,000. building, $2000; household goods, $500. Lille salvage, Insurance, $2,000

W. H. Darrow, building, $2,300, insurance, $1,200.

A. H. Parsons, stock, $3,200; insurance, $1,600; loss, $1,000.

Judge Springer, building, $4,500; insurance, $3,000.

C. A. Carpenter, no insurance, loss, $300.

J. L. Collins & H. M. Letts, loss on building, $600 Collins fully insured; Letts none

W. A. Carr, stock, $16,000; insurance, $7,000; loss not fully covered.

Jake Foster, building insured for $400; loss small.

Coffin & Carr, building insured for $1,300; loss about $1,000.

Clarke & Richley, stock $1,600; insurance, $600

J J Russell, building insured for $400; small loss

W P Paugh, building insured for $600 Loss not fully covered.

J B. O'Connor, barn, loss $1,200. No insurance.

J. R. Davies, loss small; fully insured.

G W Kuder, two buildings worth, $2,500 No insurance.

L. A. Reiley, building, $2,500; insurance, $1,000

Gazette, Columbus Junction, Iowa, building, $1,200; insurance, $606. Loss on stock, $500, mostly covered by insurance

Hartman, a loss above insurance of $500

M. W. Klotz, building, $1,300; endurance, $900.

Mrs. Barnes, building, $900; insurance, $650.

O. S Todd, Safeguard, $2,000; insurance, $1,000. Almost a total loss.

B F. Stroh, stock, $5,000; insurance, $3,000. Loss small.

Odd Fellows, building and contents, $1,500; insurance $1,200.

Albaugh building reported uninsured; loss, $800.

Zahnezer, building, $1,300; insurance, 500.

G. F. Kern, building, stock and household goods, $4,500; insurance in all, $2,200. Goods mostly saved and loss small.

(several lines unreadable)

G. W. Brown & Co. loss above insurance, $150.

Mrs. M L. Lane, building and contents, $2,500; insurance $1,130.

G. I. Freeland, total loss, $2,200; insurance, $1,600.

D. W. Overholt, buildings, $5,00; insurance, $3,00; loss on furniture, $300.

Wils Daughtery, building, $4,500; insurance, $2,500.

Nathan Metzger, building $4,000; Insurance, $2,000.

L. M. Sampson, building $4,000; no insurance.

Band boys lost uniforms and instruments worth $300; no insurance.

Frank Bouton suffered a loss of $100; fully insured.

Thos. Reaney & Co.' stock, $10,000; insurance, $7,000. His loss will be $1,000.

G. S. Neal, loss, $400; insurance, $350.

New York Store, invoice, $6,400; insurance, $3,500. Loss not covered.

Jones bros. Stock, $9,000; insurance, $6,000. Loss fully covered.

Koeckritz & Gay suffered a loss of $100. No insurance, but safe company responsible.

Mrs. Julia Williams, loss, $200; covered by insurance.

Thompson & Kelly,stock in business building, $3,500; insurance, $2,500. Stock in ware room, $1,200; insurance, $600.

Crotsenburg, material and tools, $400; insurance, $200.

F. G. Coffin, stock, $5,000; insurance, $3,800.

J. Carr Duncan, on barn, $50; fully insured.

Taylor Carlysle, shop and tools, $600; insurance. $250. Nothing saved.

N. T. Hendrix on drugs damaged by fire and water, $500. Fully insured.

Dr. J. C. Mitten, furniture and tools, $600; insurance, $400.

The buildings referred to were all totally consumed and losses noted on them over and above insurance. Of course, these figures are only approximately correct, but the best possible to collect at time of going to press. There were many minor losses not reported, most of which will fall on the individual losers.

Columbus Gazette, Columbus Junction, Iowa Friday, October 9, 1891 page 1


Jas. O'Connor's teams are housed for the present at Holliday's barn.

Doctor Mitten's office, for the present, will be over John R. Gardner's restaurant.

Kern's goods and household furniture are housed for the present in the basement of the Reformed church.

G.G. Kern, the old reliable harness maker begins business at the Cottage House, Monday morning where he will be pleased to see all his old friends and customers.

The first work ordered from our new office was Landlord Smith. A half dozen others followed in quick succession only a few of which were gotten out while there. Our stay was a very short one.

The Safeguard folks have bought a complete outfit, including a Cottrell & Babcock 8 column folio power press, jobber ad complete outfit of newstype. It is not been determined where the new ......continue to hold up his end of the string right along with the balance of us. The purchase was made of Mr. Wood with Barnhart Bros. & Spindler, Chicago. There are no nicer men to deal with in the business than they. It is generally understood that six or more buildings will go up on the east side this fall, yet. These will include the room on the corner occupied by the Safeguard, as well as the building very hastily vacated by us Tuesday morning.

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