Reeseville, WI Business Section Fire, Jan 1909

Reeseville WIS Fire 1909.jpg Reeseville WIS Main Street before fire.jpg


Reeseville, Wis., Jan. 30. -- With one of the worst blizzards in the history of the village raging and the wind blowing a gale, almost the entire business section of Reeseville was destroyed by fire yesterday. But for the prompt assistance rendered by the cities called upon for aid it is certain that the entire town would be one mass of ruins today. As it is, eight business blocks and one dwelling are gone, the estimated loss being $25,000.

The LaCrosse Tribune Wisconsin 1909-01-30

The following from
"Numerous fires occured in Reeseville during the seventy-five years of its existence. The worst, however, was the fire of Jan. 29, 1909 when the entire village was threatened with destruction.
Five business buildings and a residence were reduced to ashes by a blaze that started in the CHARLES STEINACKER hardware shop then located where the KURTH building now stands.
Explosion of a gasoline blow torch caused the fire. ARTHUR KOHN, who was working in the store at the time was badly burned.
A fifty mile an hour gale from the north on the day of that memorable fire had blocked the highways with snow and paralyzed telephone and telegraph lines. The deep snow and severity of the weather made it difficult for the local fire department to battle the flames that in an hour had destroyed a half block of buildings including the STEINACKER opera house, F. E. O'ROURKE saloon, CHARLES STEINACKER'S hardware store, GEORGE ROUNDS' saloon, the State Bank of Reeseville and the E. T. KING risidence.
Efforts to communicate with neighboring towns for help proved futile. But just when all hope was waning a train from the west pulled into Reeseville.
After seeing the plight with which Reeseville residents were confronted, the conductor gave orders to disconnect the locomotive and hurry to Watertown with the message that Reeseville needed help. A short time later, after the flames had crossed the street and were gradually devastating everything in their path, the apparatus from Watertown arrived via railway. Late that afternoon, five hours after the explosion the flames were finally extinguished as it vainly licked the brick walls of the BICKEL Bros. store building.
Besides the buildings in the first block, the fire destroyed the buildings owned by EMIL ABENTROTH, FRED ETSCHELD and AUGUST BICKEL.
From the debris of this devastating fire arose a number of new brick structures that are a real credit to the village."