Greenville, TX Courthouse and Business District Fire, Aug 1884



A Fire, Supposed to be the Work of an Incendiary, Breaks out at 2 O'clock on Sunday Morning - Forty Business Houses Fall a Prey to the Flames - Loss Over $300,000, Insurance Aggregating $200,000.


GREENVILLE, August 17. - The Banner and Herald combined forces to-day and issued the following extra, giving the particulars of the great fire:

Greenville has again been visited by the demon of destruction. Already she has passed through fires, cyclones and the great hotel horror, but each time she has emerged from the sea of ruins to become more prosperous than before, but this (Sunday) morning has witnessed the crowning calamity so far as the destruction of property is concerned.

At 3 o'clock a fire broke out mysteriously in the rear of the wooden buildings occupied by J. L. Beal, grocery, and J. N. Herndon, furniture dealer, on south Stonewall street. It is uncertain which building the fire took hold on first, but it was the work of a dastardly incendiary. The wind blowing strongly from the south, the flames spread with alarming rapidity, destroying two solid wooden blocks on south Stonewall street, including the large two-story Coffey hotel. From this the mad flames crossed Washington street and destroyed the splendid brick block on the west side of the square, extending two hundred yards up the south side of Lee street. Among the many handsome buildings in this block were Rainey's Opera-house, Ragsdale & Harrison's mammoth two-story brick machinery and hardware house, and many others given in detail below.

To the sorrow of everyone the flames also took hold of Hunt county's fine $40,000 courthouse and it was totally consumed in spite of the efforts of the fire company and the citizens. So fierce was the flames that the streams of water from the engine made no percentible impression on the roaring flames. Stonewall street was also crossed to the east from the Coffey hotel and half the buildings on the south side were consumed.

Altogether about forty business houses, half of them excellent brick building, were burned, comprising over half the business part of Greenville.

The little city that was so prosperous and proud but yesterday, is sorrowful today. Hopes were bright, the town was becoming solid and beautiful, and the county had recently completed a beautiful court-house. After many months of hard times and dullness, the merchants were anticipating a business boom of unprecedented prosperity, for which ample preparations were being made. The people were proud of their town, and all Hunt county gloried in Greenville's prosperity. With brave hearts all former disasters were ceased to be brooded over, and every face was bright. Today there stand black walls and ruined heaps [sic] from blasted homes, and desolation reigns where prosperity recently stood. As an old citizen said this morning, as he viewed the ruins, "Greenville has borne her fortunes bravely, but now I am heartsick beyond expression. All the stiffening is taken out of the town now. Well, it does look dreary indeed, but we are hopeful. It will take time, but Greenville will rise again."

The Dick Hubbard Fire Company worked nobly, but unfortunately their engine got out of order. But for this the fire could have been checked at Washington street, and the destruction would not have been half so extensive.

After the brick block was in flames the heat was so intense that the fire boys were powerless.

The following details of the losses and insurance are as accurate as it is possible to obtain at this hour, though doubtless there are some mistakes and some crude estimates:

A. F. Clements, on stock, $1000; insurance, $500.

J. S. Coffey, furniture and hotel fixtures, $2500; insurance, $1250.

M. M. Arnold, damage to two brick buildings, $1000 - covered by insurance; loss on frame dwellings, $500; insurance not stated.

A. M. Davidson, damage to stock, $1800; fully insured.

J. D. Hargrave, loss on building and photograph gallery, $1800; insurance $750.

C. W. Cherry, picture gallery, $350; no insurance.

E. E. Avery, on stock, $150; no insurance.

Patty & Samuels, on stock, $5500; insurance, $4800.

Latimer & Gorman, on stock, $1500; insurance, $600.

J. Wegger, shoe shop, $800; not insured.

N. T. Wyse & Brother, on stock, $11,500; insurance, $8000.

Briscoe & Maddox, on stock, $4500; fully insured.

Gernett & Brother, on stock, $5000; insurance, $4700.

J. T. Beall, on stock, $3000; insurance, $2000.

S. J. McKnight, on stock, $8000; insurance, $5000.

Jenkins & Germany, on stock, $4000; insurance, $8000.

J. N. Cook, saloon, on stock, $3100; insurance, $2300.

Ira A. Myse, on stock and building, $12,000; insurance, $3500.

L. Lowenstein, on stock, $10,000; insurance, $2500.

Terhune & Yoakum, on library and office furniture, $2000; insurance, $500.

Matthews & Bro., feed and harness, $250.

Masonic lodge, building and furniture, $2200; insurance, $1200.

Ed. Schiff, three frame buildings, $1200; insurance, $850.

Mandelbaum & Co., damage to stock, $4000; covered by insurance.

R. A. Hill, on stock, $400; no insurance.

Hunt county, Court-house building, $40,000; insurance, $81,000.

J. S. Sherrell, loss on building, $500; insurance, $300.

R. A. McMurtray, loss on grain, $475; no insurance.

E. W. Harris, Herald office and library, $3500; insurace, $1600.

T. J. Hadley, stock, saloon fixtures, etc., $8000; insurance, $1250.

S. M. Hawkins, two residences and livery stable, $5000; insurance $1500.

J. C. Shelton & Co., butchers, $1000; no insurance.

J. M. Gee & Co., stock of groceries, $8000; insurance, $5000.

W. C. Wells, saloon fixtures, $5500; insurance, $3500.

Telephone Company, $500.

Mrs. E. E. Mathews, damage to brick building, $400; covered by insurance.

J. Schoonover, frame storehouse, $550; insurance, $550.

Mrs. A. B. Watson, hotel building, $5000; insurance, $2500; one residence, $1000, and two frame business houses, insurance not ascertained.

J. W. Cook, furniture, $500; fully insured.

C. Harpold, small stock of confectioneries; total loss.

A. Cameron, lumber for new opera-house, $800; no insurance.

R. Sanger, damage to goods, $1000; fully insured.

W. Rosenthal, stock of groceries, $4500; insurance, $3000.

A. W. Wehrhan, jewelry, $600; insurance, $500.

S. J. Tuft, dentist outfit, $200; no insurance.

Mrs. Martin's hotel, $1200; insurance, $600.

W. H. Collins hotel building and furniture, $3500; insurance, $1000.

C. A. Langford & Co., butchers, 150; no insurance.

Ragsdale & Harrison, hardware and machinery, $35,000; insurance, $33,000.

William Harrison, brick building, $10,500; insurance, $10,000.

J. J. Cooper, two frame stores, $3000; no insurance.

J. F. Sockwell, loss on goods, $5000; insurance, $3500.

J. F. Stockwell & Bro., frame building, $600; insurance, $400.

Mrs. A. J. Hale and heirs, frame building, $1200; insurance, $200.

R. M. Huffaker, saddlery, $2500; insurance, $2000.

Levy & Harrison, brick building, $7000; insurance not learned.

R. K. Love, brick buildings and stock, $14,000; insurance, $9000.

J. O. Haynes, two brick buildings, $12,000; insurance not ascertained.

Russell & Rainy, brick opera-house, $15,000; insurance not learned.

J. A. Maupin, brick building, $3500; insurance, $1500.

R. M. Bounds, brick building, $7000; insurance, $3000.

D. Uplhegrove, brick building, $3000; insurance, $1500.

Thomas Brown, two brick buildings, $5000; insurance, $3000.

Fishmaker & McIvere, barbershop, $500; no insurance.

Fisher Bros. & Co., frame building, $500; insurance not known.

Ross & Harrison, on stock, $750; insurance not learned.

Crockett Boon, one job press, $350; insured.

Mrs. Lon Shepherd, on millinery, $1200; no insurance.

J. D. Lasater, two brick buildings and stock of furniture, $9000; insurance $6700.

J. V. Herndon, on furniture, $4000; insurance, $600.

Mrs. Herndon, on millinery, $1000; insurance, $200.

Marshall & Stinson, lawyers, loss $8000; no insurance.

The total losses will foot up over $300,000 and the total insurance $200,000. It is impossible at this time to get the exact amount of insurance on each loss, as the registers of some of the insurance companies were lost.

After the floor of the second story of the court-house had burned through, Mr. C. W. Collin, the tax collector, offered $100 to any one who would go into his office and get out his private papers. Mr. Phil. Roberts went in and secured them, but received a painful wound in the hand.

The Galveston Daily News, Galveston, TX 18 Aug 1884