Pierceton, IN Fire, Sept 1895


Half of the Business Portion of the Town Destroyed.

An Early Morning Conflagration Lays in Ashes Fourteen Business Houses and Two Residences.

This morning at 1 o’clock, a fire broke out at Pierceton, a town of 1,200 inhabitants situated on the Pittsburg, Fort Wayne and Chicago railroad, thirty one miles west of this city, and before the flames could be checked one-half of the business portion of the town was destroyed, including fourteen stores and two residences.

The fire originated in the tailor shop of C. B. Brown, in the second story of the postoffice (sic) building, situated near the center of the square. The frame structure was soon a mass of seething flames and rapidly spread to the adjoining buildings, frame structures, both north and south, and destroyed everything in the square on the west side of Front street.
The hand engine of Pierceton and the voluntary fire department of the town were soon on the scene, but they could not successfully fight such a conflagration and the fire department from the city was summoned by telephone. The message was received in this city about 3 o’clock and at 3 28 steamer No 6 with 1 000 feet of hose, was at the Pittsburg depot ready to start, with Fire Chief Hilbrecht, Electrician Schroeder, Captain Zent, Driver Rohyans, Engineer E. C. Hill, Pipeman Hencil and Gooth and Captain Borgman, of the city police force.

The Pittsburg company gave the rescue party engine No. 107 and two cars, with D S Hodges, engineer: A. Wild, fireman, and Harry F. Brill, conductor. The run from this city to Pierceton, thirty-one miles, was a fast one. The party left Fort Wayne at 3:28 and arrived at Pierceton at 4.10, occupying in the run just forty-two minutes.

When they arrived at the scene they found that the fire had done its worst. The hand engine of the town soon failed and the buildings were left to the mercy of the flames. Our steamer at once got to work and extinguished the fire and saved the adjoining buildings, and returned to this city at 8.05 this morning. The loss will reach about $40,000, and included in the buildings destroyed were the Commercial hotel, the printing office of Kicat Bros., the Pierceton Record; the People’s band and business establishments, all of which were all frame buildings which have been standing many years. The stocks carried by the stores was not large and the loss can probably be divided as follows: Twenty thousand on buildings and $20,000 on the stocks of the merchants. The building destroyed were as follows:

Pierceton Record, conducted by Keist Bros, building owned by Dr. A. R. Johnson.
Residence of Mrs. Dr. A. R. Johnson.
B. E. Cretcher, furniture and undertaker, building owned by Mrs. Henry Hackett
L. B. Snyder, agricultural implement dealer
Commercial hotel, owned by Chas. F. Guy
Millinery store, conducted by Mrs Snodgrass building owned by Miller Bros.
Snyder & Johnson, boot and shoe store, owned by them
J. A. Dallas, drug store, building owned by William Spade.
Miss Ollie Howell, millinery, building owned by Mrs Fannie Matchett.
Lewis Foster, drug store, building owned by him
Postoffice (sic), M. F. Brosnahan, postmaster, building owned by the heirs of William O’Brien.
People’s bank, building owned by Miller Bros.
Five other buildings owned by Mrs. Fannie Matchett and occupied as a restaurant, meat market, barber shop, J. M. Miller’s feed store and one other, Mrs. Matchett’s residence.

The town corporation engine house was also destroyed, but the hand engine was saved, being used at the time the building caught fire by the volun-company (sic) in fighting the flames.

The following were the losers in the second floors of the burned district: John Haas, shoemaker, Miss Lydia Sheidler, dressmaker; A. R. Johnson, dentist, Dr. C. R. Long, Virgil Barbour, justice of the peace.

The heat of the fire was so intense that the plate glass in the big brick buildings across the street was cracked.

It was the largest fire that Pierceton ever experiences and almost every resident was out fighting the flames, together with many of the men from the surrounding country.

The business men of Pierceton are energetic and enterprising and it will not be long before handsome brick business houses will be standing, where now nothing but the charred embers of the old frame structures remain.

The individual losers on buildings as far as THE SENTINEL is able to gather them are as follows: Foster Bros, $4,000, Jonas Miller, $2500, Commercial hotel, $2000, Wm O’Brien heirs $2000, Mrs. Henry Hackett, $1500, Mrs Dr Johnson, $1000, J. S. Dallas, $500, J. H. Lawrence, $500, Pierceton corporation, $300, M. F Brosuahan, $400, Frohley Bros, $250, Wm McNamara $250, Chas. Brown, $100; Mrs. Snodgrass, $500
Not long after the fire broke out Warsaw was telegraphed to come to their aid, but they failed to respond and the Pierceton citizens were very indignant. The Fort Wayne department responded as soon as they received the message. Our department was treated nicely by the Pierceton people, who were warm in their praise and who served them with a fine breakfast at the railroad depot hotel.

There was to have been a match game of base ball at Pierceton this afternoon between the business men of the east side of Front street and those of the west side (burned district) but was postponed indefinitely on account of the fire.

There was practically no insurance on any of the buildings as they were considered fire traps and the insurance companies did not want to take the risks. There was an insurance of $650 on the Record printing office.

The Fort Wayne Sentinel, Fort Wayne, IN 9 Sept 1895