Archives - 1871

Historical information has been retrieved from microfilm from the Pentwater Township Library as published in THE OCEANA TIMES and THE PENTWATER TIMES.

 3/10/1871  FIVE BUILDINGS BURN  At about half-past eleven, last night, a fire broke out in the store of Bacon & Jensen.  It was first discovered by Mrs. Frank Spencer, who, with her husband, occupied rooms in the second story.  The fire is supposed to have originated in the cellar, but in what manner is unknown.  The flames ran up the building between the wall, and burst out of the second story.  The whistles of the different mills sounded the alarm, and large numbers of our citizens were soon on the spot, but nothing could be done to save the building.  The wind blew briskly from the north, and there seemed to be great danger that the whole street would be swept clean.  Next to Bacon & Jensen’s store on the south was the law office of Messrs. Rice & Amber, and just beyond, two saloons stood in close proximity.  Between the last saloon and the Post-office was a space of about forty feet, and here, if anywhere, was the place to stop the progress of the fire.  The last saloon was hastily torn down, and by keeping the sides of the Post-office drenched with water, the fire was prevented from spreading further in this direction.  The store of A.J. Underhill was immediately adjacent on the north, and it was soon evident that it could not be saved.  All of the stock, however, was carried out, before the building burned.  This store stood on the corner of Hancock and Fifth streets, and the direction of the wind prevented the fire from reaching to the Corlett House, which might otherwise have been in great danger.  It was most fortunate that the roofs of our buildings were covered with snow, else the fire would undoubtedly have spread further. 

As we write, at 2 o’clock this morning, the fire is subdued, and although the ruins are still burning, all danger is past.  The losses, as nearly as can be ascertained are as follows: Bacon & Jensen, grocers, store and contents: building valued at $1000.00, stock $7500.00.  But little of the stock saved. Building insured for $1500.00, in the North American; stock for $1500.00 in the Security. A.J. Underhill, general merchandise; building valued at $2800.00, insured in the Andes for $1000.00; stock saved.  Rice & Ambler, lawyers; office valued a $1200.00. Insured for $300.00, in the Underwriters, and for $300.00 in the Security; office furniture insured for $300.00, in the Underwriters; most of the latter was saved.  George Smith, saloon keeper; building valued at $300.00; insured for $250.00, in the Etna; stock estimated at $200.00; mostly saved. J.M. Cahill, salon keeper; building owned by Robert Miller, and valued at $400.00; no insurance; stock estimated at$300.00; mostly saved. 

This is the worst fire that has ever visited the business portion of our village, and we hope it will be the last for many years to come.  We hope our citizens will take warning and perfect on efficient fire department at once, so that we may not again be found unprepared.  We are glad to add to the above that our citizens, with their accustomed generosity, have raised over $150.00 for Frank Spencer, who lost all his property in this fire.  Mr. Underhill estimates his loss on stock, etc., at nearly $700.00, making his total loss about $2500.00.  Mr. Jensen will not rebuild at once.  Messrs. Lamont & Fagin have opened a new meat market in Mr. Clark’s building on Hancock St.  Mr. Underhill has removed to the opposite corner, where he will be happy to meet his old customers, and form the acquaintance of new ones.  He was selling goods the day after the fire, which shows commendable enterprise and pluck.  Messrs. Rice & Ambler have moved into the building of Thos. Hopkins, nearly opposite their old office, and are all ready for business again.  Thos. Hopkins, having given up his building, has moved into the front part of Mr. Purdy’s shop, next door to his old stand, where he has very comfortable quarters, and will be happy to meet those in need of anything in his line. We are sorry to say that J.M. Cahill still continues his old business at a new stand, and George Smith has begun to rebuild.  We wish those men were engaged in a business in which we could wish them success.  (Just a quick note—all of the numbered streets in the village were numbered in the opposite direction than they are 2011.)

5/12/1871  Yesterday afternoon the wagon shop of Messrs. Fisher & Cleveland, near the mill of Messrs. S.A. Browne & Co., caught fire, and narrowly escaped destruction. It is supposed that sparks from the smoke-stack set on fire the dry chips and shavings lying near the shop, and the flames crept underneath the building, and ran up underneath the siding, until they burst out at the roof. The hose was quickly attached to the steam force pump at the mill, and in a few moments the fire was subdued. Had it not been for this timely preparation for putting out fires, not only the shop but the adjacent building would now be in ashes. This should lead our Common Council to make suitable provisions as soon as possible for extinguishing fires in our village.
5/26/1871  On Wednesday last the Boarding House of S.A. Browne & Co., again caught fire from sparks from the smoke-stack of the adjacent mill, and this time the damage was more serious than on any former occasion. The flames spread rapidly, and a brisk South wind endangered the whole business part of our village. Fortunately an additional amount of hose had just been received, so that a stream from the steam force pump at the mill could be brought to bear on any portion of the building, and by strenuous efforts the flames were at length subdued. The house is much damaged by both by fire, water, and the ill-advised exertions of some individuals who were frantically breaking out windows, throwing lamps from the second story, and making other similar attempts to save property. 
We are informed that a certain individual, who certainly ought to have used different language, lost his temper on seeing so much zeal and so little discretion.  “What, the d…..l, are you doing!” exclaimed he, preparing apparently for a free fight, to stop the unwarranted proceedings, but finding the occasion for warlike demonstration removed, he soon cooled down.  The loss is estimated at $1000.00. Fully insured in the North America.  The need of immediately forming an organization for extinguishing fires is plainly shown, or at least the appointment of a competent officer to direct the efforts of the citizens, and thus make their work effective.
7/7/1871 THE HOLLY WATER WORKS  We have received a letter stating that Horace Phelps, agent for Holly’s system of fire protection and water supply for cities and villages, will be in Pentwater next week. We therefore defer our promised description until we shall be able to make at the same time a statement of the estimated cost of introduction in this place.
7/11/1871  STEAM FIRE ENGINE  A No. 2 steam fire engine has been ordered by the village authorities from the factory of Clapp and Jones, Hudson, New York. As also hose cart, hose, etc. It will be here in about sixty days. In the meantime a house for it will be erected ……. the lot purchased for the purpose, just in rear of the News building.
8/4/1871  INCENDIARIES AT WORK  The building, or buildings of H.J. Slater, situated on the corner of Second and Hancock streets were set on fire on Wednesday night last at about one o’clock. Mrs. S.L. Slater, wife of T.F. Slater, was awakened by smoke and the cracking of glass and immediately aroused her husband. He discovered a fire burning the side of a building attached to their residence and store, but some barrels filled with rain water standing near enabled him to extinguish the flames. The locality of the fire shows that it was a deliberate and cool-headed attempt to destroy the buildings, though for what reason. 
Mr. H.J. Slater, the owner of the property, who lives there in the family of his son, is unable to determine. He informs us that he cannot give a reason that would prompt any one to do this dastardly work. The flames had burned out two of the boards forming the sides of the building and were within two feet of the roof when discovered, and it seems a miracle that the property is saved. Not ten feet from where the fire was started stands a keg containing twenty five pounds of gun powder, and the close proximity of the adjoining buildings leads us to the belief that a very destructive conflagration was prevented by the promptness of Mr. Slater, if not a great saving of life. It is hoped that the authorities will take this first attempt at building burning in hand and thoroughly investigate it.

8/25/1871 OUR STEAM ENGINE Our readers will remember that in the proposal to our Common Council, made by Mr. Walker, agent for the Clapp U Jones Manufacturing Co., the following guarantee occurs: “We further agree that this engine shall be capable of doing as much work as any other build of engines not weighing more than 500 pounds more than ours, and in case any other builders choose to bring an engine here within three months, and do better work than ours, we will take our engine off your hands, refunding the freight.” 

We have received a report of a late trial between engines from the Clapp & Jones, and Silsby manufacturing companies, which we publish in another column, judging it to be of interest at this time. It appears that the Silsby engine proved to the better of the two in every respect, and we hope one may be sent to our village on trial.

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