Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Fires at Brubaker and Phend Homes

I came across these two articles, while looking for something else. As always, I seem to get "lost" in the newspapers, usually spending way more time in them than I should. I thought it was funny (not funny "ha ha" but funny in a strange way) that two of my families would have small house fires within the same week. These articles also show one of the hazards of life in the early years of the last century. They offer another glimpse into the past. Newspapers are one of my favorite resources, and I'm thankful everytime I find a little gem on any of my families.

Sunday Night Fire At Brubaker Home
Columbia City Post, Whitley County, Indiana ~ Wednesday, August 5, 1914

A Sunday night fire alarm called the fire department a half square south of the fire engine house at 7:10 o'clock to the home of Mrs. William Brubaker, who resides in half the Isaac M. Swigart property on South Chauncey street, with Mel Worden and family, and incidentally filled the streets with more people than have been seen for many weeks on Sunday night.

Incidentally the fire amounted to but little, but the uproar caused by the city plant fire whistle, and the furious clanging of the fire bell, would have made a stranger think the city was ablaze. They came running from every direction, with the exception of a few wise ones, who asked the telephone centrals, and then looked for signs of smoke in the air.

Mrs. Brubaker had lighted a coal oil stove to heat some water for Mrs. Worden who was suffering from a nervous headache. A leak in the stove had accumulated some drippings in the ban beneath the burner, and it flashed to the ceiling, when she applied the match to it. Mel Worden ran in, and had the necessary courage and presence of mind to pick the stove up and carried it out in the yard. Some one phoned the department, and Sam Jolly threw the switch to notify the plant and the fellows down there did the rest.

The wall paper along the side of the kitchen was scorched and blacked as was a part of the ceiling, and a bad blaze might have broken out, but it was easily extinguished. Mr. Swigart the owner of the property has $1000 insurance, and the damage will be slight. He lives on the same lot, but was confined to his home with an attack of lumbago.

Mel Worden had the palms of his hands painfully scorched while carrying the stove out of the house, but was able to go to work Monday at the Harper Buggy Co. where he is employed. Had the flames got a good start, things would have been right interesting around the buggy factory, as the Swigart house is but a short distance from it.
Henry Phend Fire Did Little Damage
Columbia City Post, Whitley County, Indiana ~ Wednesday, August 12, 1914

The fire whistle that blew at 11:40 o'clock Monday noon, was for the third fire that has occurred in a week's time. On this occasion Carl Wolford is the man who gave the alarm, and the fire department dashed west on Market street to the corner of Market and Elm, where they went south and then west to the home of Henry Phend, the well known contractor.

A spark from the kitchen stove set fire to the roof, and the family was not aware of the fire until neighbors and friends began to overflow the yard. Just at the time that the fire department was called, rain began to fall in great gobs, and aided materially in drenching the fire that might have burned down the home. The damage will probably reach $1.50, according to Fire Chief C. G. Doriot.

The fire department was called out last Sunday night to the home of Mrs. Wm. Brubaker, in the Isaac Swigart property on South Chauncey street, and a loss of $5 was sustained there.

On Saturday forenoon just before the Brubaker fire, another incipent blaze in the rear end of Feaster's grocery was quelled, when Orval Pence discovered it, and no alarm was put in.

Last Friday afternoon the department was called to the Lee F. Johnson home on account of a fire that destroyed his barn and that of Vallorous Beck. It is claimed to have been caused by the work of some small boys playing who had a furnace fire in an adjoining lot.

1 comment:

Terry Snyder said...

I agree - newspapers are one of my favorite sources too. I once became so engrossed in reading the editorials from a Democratic paper in 1860 warning of what terrible things would happen if Lincoln should be elected president. After reading about a dozen of these newspaper pieces, I could feel my stomach knotting up, and thinking how worrisome the possibility of Lincoln being elected was. I had to laugh as I remembered, wait, this had already happened, and I knew exactly what occurred after Lincoln's election.

Thanks for sharing, I loved the comment about the town's reaction to the fire and how they included the fact that Mrs. Brubaker was heating water for her friend who had a "nervous headache". I'm guessing the fire didn't help the headache!