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.)
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.