Rocksprings, TX Edwards County Courthouse Fire, Dec 1898



Incendiarism is Suspected -- Records Believed to be Safe

Rock Springs [now Rocksprings], Texas., Dec 23. -- The Edwards county courthouse is tenantless this morning.  Ravenous flames literally ate up last night between 11:35 and 12:20.  The flames were first seen in the southwest window, and instantly burst through the window and then another and another till the whole was enveloped.  Parties coming to the scene from the east report about the same condition on that side, and in the immediate place of Sam Hough's office and law library and the stairway.

There was no chance of saving the building.  A light northeast wind was blowing and enough hands proceeded to wet the roof and front of the drugstore, the only building then endangered.  The heat was intense, enough to blister patches on the drug store and the blacksmith shop immediately west.

The loss includes all office fixtures and furniture; the building, with the possible exception of the first story, the law library of Sam Hough, and a few personal effects left in the house overnight.  The value is something like $20,000, with no insurance.  The court house was of limestone, and was a commodious edifice, it was built in 1891 at a cost of $18,000, exclusive of the finishing and furniture.

The sheriff saved only the delinquent records, the tax rolls and stub receipts, his other valuables being in the safe.

None of the other officers saved anything. The large vault containing the records is believed to be all right, though the embers are too hot to venture to it.

Nobody can account for the fire.  The fact that is appeared to some extent on the east and the west side at about the same time leads to the idea of incendiarism, but that is conjecture.  Nobody saw the fire early but somebody say [sic] they passed the building not exceeding half an hour before the alarm and there was no fire there then.

San Antonio Express, San Antonio, TX 27 Dec 1898

The courthouse was rebuilt by the original architects.

[Note: The date is incorrectly listed as 1897 on the Historical Marker for the Edwards County Courthouse.  It is correct in the National Register Listing.]