Plan Building Model Business Section – Warn of City Water

Spencer, IA – (AP) – While firemen and workmen Monday were completing the razing of what little remained of the heart of Spencer’s business section after Saturday’s disasterous (sic) fire, business men and city leaders went ahead with plans for the construction of the destroyed area.

While hundreds of persons looked on, firemen used dynamite and ropes in pulling down walls and chimneys.

Actual loss in buildings and business stocks is now estimated at fully $2,000,000 with 23 buildings razed, 16 badly damaged, 73 business and professional firms burned out and 21 others damaged and operating under difficulty.

Many records were lost in the blaze which started from a spark of a small boy’s sparkler igniting a fire works display.

Signs have been posted about the town warning against the use for human consumption of city water, as the water now filling the mains is drawn from the Little Sioux river, into which is dumped all the sewage from the city’s sewer system.

It is expected telephone service will be re-established by Wednesday or Thursday as the company already has a large number of men engaged in the work of making repairs and preparing to install new switchboards. Toll lines are the only ones working now, three improvised stations for that purpose having been opened.


Spencer, IA – (Special) – No attempt to clear away the debris from three blocks of Spencer street can be made on account of the intense heat of the wreckage. Fires are breaking out in many places at all times and firemen are kept on the ruins. (F)ive thousand dollars in mountains of coal owned by Schoeneman brothers and the Floete Lumber company will burn for many days.

The meeting of business men to plan for the future did not materialize Monday night at the Commercial club as each one was too busy with his individual problem to attend and on account of no local telephone service and the difficulty of reaching the business district.

The Clay County National bank has moved into the old First National bank occupied by M. E. DeWolf. Experts have been sent for to guide them in handling their safes and vaults which are in the ruins. The effects of the bank were placed hurriedly in the fire proof vaults before they were closed. They will replace their building, probably the best in Spencer, with another equally good.

The McAllister block which housed the Bjornstad drug store, C. Ben Bjornstadt Hardware company, American Legion rooms and the law offices of Cornwall and Cornwall was owned by a holding company which states rebuilding will begin as soon as possible.

Officials of the Finklestein theaters will build two super theaters one to be opened in 60 days. They are holding their shows in a temporary building in the meantime. They will use none but local labor which plan is to be followed as far as possible by other builders. It is hoped that an expert can be retained to help plan the rebuilding.

J. A. Cummings, druggist, will also build at once. Offers of aid have been received from all quarters and the Clay county farm bureau has offered practical help whenever called on.

Contributed by: Tom Heien. Found in a collection of newspaper articles kept by his mother, Irene Heien. The great fire of Spencer occurred on June 27, 1931.

Rossie--In the future the Rossie items will be known as Davis items as the village is platted and known as Davis, while the Post Office will be known as Rossie after it is opened.

Mr. John Hammes has received his appointment as postmaster at this place, but as yet has no place to open up the office.

Source: Spencer Herald, Spencer, Clay County, Iowa; Wednesday, January 16, 1901.


Sunday night a bridge gang on the Chicago, Milwaukee & St Paul road, all residents of Spencer, went to the depot about 1 o'clock to take the west bound freight to Sanborn to commence work Monday morning on a section of the road to the west of us. They were M. C. Stephenson, G. W. Stephenson, Datus Stephenson, ___G. W.'s boy, and Lewis Miller. The regular freight was two or three hours late, but an extra was at the depot ready to pull out, and the boys boarded this train. The only other occupant of the caboose, besides the regular train men, was a traveling brakeman, going west for a job. They were all rather sleepy and lay down on the benches to sleep. When they pulled in at Hartley, the second station west of us, G. W. Stephenson got up and looked out to see where they were. He found they were in Hartley and after walking about the caboose a moment or two, lay down and dropped into a doze. At that time the train was standing still and everything appeared all right. When he woke up the train was under way, and the motion was so peculiar, he stepped to the door of the caboose to see what was the matter. As he opened the door, he looked into the headlights of an engine that was rapidly approaching and only a short distance away. He shouted to the boys inside to look out and jumped to one side of the door outside and the next moment there was a terrible crash and he was thrown violently to the ground several feet away. The caboose in which they were in was split clean in two pieces and the boys inside were hurled violently out on either side. Datus Stephenson and Lewis Miller were on the north side of the caboose and in the rear of the car and were terribly scalded by the escaping steam from the engine. M. C. Stephenson and G. W. Stephenson were badly bruised but not scalded. Datus Stephenson and Lewis MIller were brought back to Spencer and given the best possible care, but Datus only lived about six hours after the accident occurred. Lewis Miller, although badly scalded is somewhat improved and hopes are entertained of his recovery. The funeral of Datus was held in the Free Baptist church, Tuesday afternoon at 2 o'clock and was conducted by Rev. A. S. Cochran. So far no one knows how the rear of the train came to run back to Everly from Hartley, but it is supposed that the brakeman failed to set the breaks on the rear section of the train while they were switching at Hartley, and as there is a heavy down grade from Hartley to Everly, the train started by its own weight down this grade and collided with the section of the extra, which was following the one at Hartley not quite a mile out of Everly. The engineer on the section which was following, saw the red lights of the caboose approaching in time to reverse his engine and set the air breaks and get clear of the collision, or the loss of life and property would have been much grater than it was. P. J. Mead, conductor on the first extra, was summoned Monday evening by the coroner and held to give his testimony before the coroner's jury, which met Wednesday morning.

Contributed by: Mary Jane Parsons. Source: Spencer Reporter, Spencer, Clay County, Iowa, November 21, 1892.

Zahrt Car Burns (Rossie)

July 22, 1932 (Special)--While driving through the south part of Rossie at the Sigman corner last Friday, Fred Zahrt lost control of his machine and it plunged into the ditch at the side of the road. It caught fire and was completely destroyed. Mr. Zahrt managed to leap clear of the wrecked car before the flames reached him and was uninjured except for minor bruises.

Contributed by KKCS.

Thanksgiving day Mr. and Mrs. A. W. Green of Spencer celebrated their golden wedding. They have lived in Clay county for forty-eight years.

Source: Emmetsburg Democrat, Emmetsburg, Palo Alto, Iowa, Wednesday, December 4, 1918.

Everly Girls Ball Team, 1961

Contributed by: Anna Sullivan Penny, a former Everly resident.