Newberry, SC Fires, 1883

INCENDIARISM IN THE SOUTH.

THE PEOPLE OF NEWBERRY, S. C., TERRORIZED BY A BAND OF FIRE-BUGS.

CHARLESTON, S. C., Aug. 3.---The people of Newberry are greatly excited over the incendiarism which has afflicted that city for the last six months. On Jan. 17 was witnessed the burning of the two stores of J. A. Crotwell; on Jan. 25, the burning of a dozen cotton bales on a platform on Boyce-street; on Jan. 30, an attempt to burn Mr. Pool's warehouse; on May 23, the burning of Dr. East's drug store; on July 26, the burning of Mollehon's row, and on Aug. 1, and attempt to burn the Newberry Hotel. What makes the matter bad is that most of these fires were of incendiary origin and all of them are thought by many persons to have been so. In the fires of Jan. 17 and 27 and May 23 there were no marks discovered of incendiarism. The fires of Jan. 30 and Aug. 1 are known to have been caused by incendiaries, for combustibles piled together and ignited were found. As to the big fire of July 26, Capt. Albright, owner of the building in which the fire started, says that the rooms upstairs were cleaned and free from trash and locked, and that the hall had not a particle of rubbish in it. That the fire was the work of an incendiary there is no room for doubt. The following notice, written in a firm hand and conspicuously posted on the telephone post on the corner of Boyce and Caldwell streets, lends additional terror to the situation:

NOTICE TO PROPERTY-HOLDERS AND INSURANCE AGENTS.

This block can be built no more. Mollohon-row must only live in the history of the past. Modern progress and public necessities decree this. Do not attempt it. Merchants and owners are well paid for losses; perhaps never so much again. So listen to notes of warning. Agents, warn your companies of impending danger, for 12 months have we worked for the public good, and now, since it has been consummated, do not toy with the gods any more. We are strong and determined. We do not destroy for our good or gain, but for the people. If the insurance companies make efforts against us, then be consequences upon their heads. Build up and we will tear down. You see us every day, and those whom you least suspect are one of us or with us. None know us, and we will find time and opportunity sufficient to carry our plans into execution. Mollohon must die that Newberry may live. Coriolanus, mother thou hast saved Rome, but lost thy son Mollohon. THE COMMUNE.

As if to give an earnest of what the warning above meant, it was followed by an attempt to burn the Newberry Hotel last Wednesday. Mr. J. K. P. Goggans was lving[sic] in his room when his attention was attracted by the crackling of flames and by smoke coming through the transom over his door and was about to give an alarm when chamber-maid passed along the hall and discovered a blaze in one of the unused dark rooms in the rear portion of the hotel. The incendiary had taken and empty soap-box of white pine board, paper, and two split-bottom chairs, piled them together, and set fire to them. When discovered the whole of one of the chair bottoms had been consumed, as well as the paper and box. The board and remaining portion of the chair were in a blaze. A bucket of water put out the fire. Had it not been discovered before getting under headway the consequences would have been terrible, for there is no water in the cistern, which is not yet completed, and the creek is so far away that hose would not reach it. This bold attempt in open daylight has prompted measures for protection. A fund is being raised for the detection of the guilty persons. If one of them should be caught there is no doubt that Judge Lynch will settle his case.

The New York Times, New York, NY 4 Aug 1883