Historical information has been retrieved from microfilm from the Pentwater Township Library as published in THE OCEANA TIMES and THE PENTWATER TIMES.
7/1/1864 The fire which has been burning in the woods near here, has been doing great damage. A large number of logs and shingle bolts have been destroyed. Mr. C. Mears loss in logs and bolts is estimated at $1000.00. There are others who have also met with losses, but we have not been able to learn to what extent. Persons who set these fires at such dry seasons of the year as we have had here, should know better and if there is any law, by which such fellows can be punished, we hope they will be made acquainted with it.
9/1/1865 On Saturday last about 2 o’clock the blacksmith shop at Hart & Maxwell’s mill was discovered on fire, and in a few moments the flames reached the carpenter-shop near it and both were burned to the ground with nearly all the tools, & c. Luckily for the village the wind was in the south west, blowing the flames away from the other buildings, as it was the boarding house caught fire in several places on the roof and it was only by hard work that it was saved. This is the first fire that has happened here for a long time, and should be a lesson to people to get insured. If the wind had been directly south it would have swept the fire straight up Hancock street. We would say in this connection that C.W. Deane, Esq., is the Agent for several of the best Insurance Companies in the country, and every one owning property in the village should get insured without delay.
11/22/1867 The Fire Extinguisher. The Bucks County (Pa.) Intelligencer, gives the following account of a trial of the fire extinguisher, at the late agricultural exhibition held at Newtown: One of the most interesting features of the exhibition was the public trial of the Fire Extinguisher, which took place on Wednesday afternoon. A shanty abut ten feet by twelve in size, and ten feet high, with door and window apertures, had been previously prepared. A large quantity of dry pine shavings had been place inside, and these, together with the sides of the building, were saturated with coal oil just before the fire was applied. The experiment began by setting fire to three oil barrels piled together and filled with shavings. As soon as the fire spread over them, one of the exhibitors, with the apparatus strapped on his back, turned the nozzle of the instrument upon the flames an in a very brief time they were extinguished. They were again fired and extinguished before the main trial began. When the building was red it became covered with a sheet of flame in about half a minute. Everybody thought it would be impossible to save it after the fire had acquired such a headway. The exhibitors two in number, were nothing daunted. They walked up to within about ten feet of the fire, turned on the fluid and directed it upon the flames as coolly as if they were operating upon an iceberg. In a minute or two the fire had perceptibly abated, and in about three minutes was entirely subdued. Even the most in incredulous were thus satisfied of the efficiency of the apparatus. During the trial the track was surrounded by thousands of interested spectators, who could not but confess their admiration of the manner in which the thing was done.
Six or eight of the machines were on exhibition, but only two were required to put out the fire. They are made of sheet iron, in the form of a cylinder, about two feet long and six or eight inches in diameter. When filled with the preparation they weigh about forty pounds each. When in use they are carried on the back by straps of webbing over the shoulders. Near the bottom of the cylinder is a brass stop-cock, worked by the left hand when it is in use. A small rubber hose connects with this at the extremity of which is a brass nozzle, with an orifice about as large as a goose quill, which is directed with the right hand toward the fire. The fluid inside of the cylinder is composed of water charged with some chemical substance which is effervescent like soda water. It is this tendency to expansion that forces it through the pipe when the cock is turned. The effect of this fluid upon burning substances is like that of carbonic acid gas, extinguishing fire almost or quite instantly. The machines cost about fifty dollars each, and the preparation for charging the $1.50 per package. It is represented that they will keep in perfect working order for an indefinite time or a long as the air is wholly excluded. A single charge will furnish a stream for five or six minutes, or long enough to put out a small fire.
12/13/1867 False Alarm, Some Wind, The severest gale of the season, and one of the severest we have ever witnessed, occurred last Friday. The day opened with a light south-wester, which increased rapidly, and in the afternoon veered to the west and north-west and increased to a gale abut four o’clock. No accidents save the blowing down of chimneys on the new Congregational Church occurred. An alarm of fire wa given, but happily no fire could be found. On the lake the gale was one of the most severe that has ever been witnessed here by the oldest residents of the place. The sea was unusually high, and running with great force. Nothing but the white foam of the waves could be seen as far as the eye could reach. Great anxiety was felt for the safety of the scow Supply, commanded by Capt. Reddic, which have in sight just about the time the waves were rolling the heaviest, and doubts were expressed as to her safety of making the harbor. But in she came, and that right over the old wreck and boiler, the large waves fairly lifting her over. The crowd that had gathered at the pier, as well as the captain and the crew of the vessel considered it almost a miracle that she got in all right. She received no damages, save the tearing of some of her sails, and carring away part of the jib-boom. We are sorry to note that this good luck did not attend her during the whole trip. When out in the middle of the lake, the night before, she encountered a heavy gale and lost one of her men overboard, and all efforts to save him proved fruitless. Wild rumors were afloat here during the week that the Barber and Messenger had gone to the bottom of the lake. But happily these rumors were contradicted by the Barber making her appearance at the dock Wednesday morning.
12/15/1867 During the time of the fire last Saturday, several fellows off $5.00 in change from Mr. Lacreux’s Hair dressing establishment, while the proprietor had gone out into the street to see where the fire was.
Last Saturday, about noon, the barn of Mr. R. Atwood was discovered on fire, and in a few minutes the entire building was in flames. A valuable horse belonging to Mr. O.P. Cook was burned. A team belonging to Mr. J. Atwood was saved with great difficulty. A high wind was blowing at the time, and it was only through the greatest exertions of some of our citizens that some of the other buildings in the vicinity were not also burned. Mr. Cook’s loss is estimated at $400 and that of Mr. Atwood at $200. The barn was valued at $400 and was fully insured. Had this fire occurred during the night, or in some other locality, there is no telling where it would have ended, as we at present have nothing to fight the fires. Steps should be taken immediately towards this purpose. Some suggest a fire engine, but in our opinion, more service could be rendered with hooks, ladders and buckets; as in many cases an engine would be of no avail on account of the scarcity of water. Hooks and ladders would be a far cheaper investment, and could be used at almost any fire. We therefore urge upon our citizens to procure them as soon as possible, and without delay.
2/7/1868 The quiet of our village was startled on Monday evening, by the…….. fire. The fire was caused by a ……….chimney, in the Clothing establishment of Mr. Wm. Kuhn, and had it not been for the timely discovery, and prompt …….. to the alarm, by our citizens, Pentwater would undoubtedly have suffered a most severe loss that it has yet be …………. to record. At the time the ……….. was given a strong wind was blowing from the south-west, and it would have been most impossibility to have checked .......... or prevented the fire from ………….. had it once got under headway. …….. another warning to us, that we should be prepared, to the best of our ability for fighting this most destructive enemy before it is too late.
PENTWATER HOOK & LADDER CO.
2/28/1868 Proceedings Pentwater H. & L. Co.
At a meeting of the Pentwater Hook and Ladder Company, held at the School House. Monday evening, February 24th, the following business was transacted: Meeting called to order by the Chairman, Mr. G.W. Grant. Voted, that the minutes of the previous meeting be read, which was accordingly done by the Secretary. Voted, that the Constitution and By-Laws be read, as arranged by J.M. Lacey. Voted, that the Constitution and By-Laws be adopted as read. Voted, that the Membership Fee Be Twenty-five cents. After the signing of the Constitution and By-Laws, ballets were spread for the election of Officers, which resulted in the election of J.M. Lacey, Foreman, R.L. Hardy, 1st Assistant, B.S. Reed, 2nd Assistant, T.V. Purdy, Secretary, F.W. Ratzel, Treasurer. Voted, that the minutes of the meeting be published in the Oceana Times. The meeting was then adjourned until the first Monday in March. James N. Love, Sec. pro-tem.
4/22/1870 ORGANIZE FIRE COMPANIES. The great need of the villages and cities along this shore, the organization of efficient Hook and Ladder Companies. Shall we wait until we suffered still more severely from the burning element before we take measures to protect our lives and property? The town of Mediana, Ohio, was almost entirely destroyed by fire on the 15th inst., only two business blocks escaping. The only means used to stay the flames, were the efforts of the citizens with buckets, and these were unavailing. We shudder to think of the consequences of a fire breaking out in the thickly settled portion of our own village under the existing circumstances. If any on in our village will take steps to or organize a Hook and Ladder Company, we are confident that he will find our citizens ready to assist by every means in their power. Our village ordinance makes it the duty of our Marshal to see that its provisions are enforced. Buckets and Ladders were procured in accordance with its requirements some months ago, but we fear if an investigation were now made by our Marshal, many of our dwellings and public buildings would be found lacking the required number.
7/19/1870 FIRE IN THE DOCK. On Tuesday afternoon, about two o’clock, a fire was discovered on the dock of Mr. Chas. Mears’, where was piled a large amount of lumber, the greater part of which was hard wood. Crowds gathered at the scene of conflagration, and on preparing to the scene, we found men at there “work with a will,” removing lumber, pullin up dock and throwing water on the fire. Boom-logs were stretched across the river to keep the lumber, which was being thrown into the river, from going into the lake. Two forcepumps were procured and put in opporation; slabs and edgings, of which the dock was built, were removed to keep the fire from catching in the pier and warehouse on the one side and docks and warehouses on the other. The wind was blowing a gale from the south. The chanel was so completely blocked up with lumber, when the Messenger came from the south, that it was obliged to stop and leave its mail and passengers at the piers. About five o’clock the tug “Richards” started for Lincoln to get the tug “Albion”, which has a steam forcepump on board. The “Albion,” reached here about nine o’clock P.M. and soon began throwing water on the then somewhat subdued flames. We are unable to ascertain the loss.
7/19/1870 FIRE DEPARTMENT. The Common Council took initiatory steps, Wednesday Evening last, for the organization of a Fire Department in our village. Good for the guardians of the public weal.
Fire-On Monday morning, about three o’clock, fire was discovered in the house of Mr. F. Duva, situated nearly opposite the Methodist church, and in a very short time the house lay in ashes. It was very hard to save houses adjoining, as they stood but a very few feet apart; but, by willing hearts and ready hand, the fire kept from spreading. We learn the insurance fully covers the loss.