Fires in Winfield


April 3, 1879 - A small house south of town near the residence of Mrs. Holmes was destroyed by fire on Friday last. It was owned by Mrs. Catharine Holmes, worth about $250, and occupied by Mr. Cummings. The alarm was given by someone who noticed the smoke from a window in town and in two minutes the fire companies with their engines and trucks were on the way. After a race of three-quarters of a mile, the men came up exhausted and the building was nearly burned down so there was nothing to do but to return. Mr. Cummings lost nearly all his household goods and $50 in cash. No one was at home but the wife.

May 8, 1879 - Committee on wells reported in favor of sinking four or six wells within the fire limits. Report received and committee further instructed to locate the wells and advertise for bids.

JUNE 26, 1879. - Quite an excitement was created Tuesday by the burning of T. A. Wilkinson's stable in the rear of his house on Mansfield street. Their little boy, Sammy, wanted a bonfire, and taking some matches up in the hay loft, collected a bunch of hay in one corner and touched it off. Seeing that he had a little more fire than he bargained for, he tumbled head long out of the loft and soon the whole barn was in a blaze. The fire company (?) was on hand with the soda fountain in a short time, but too late to save the stable. Mr. Klingman's residence came very near being ignited, the fire being so hot that it scorched the paint, but by saturating the roof and sides with water, it was saved. This should be a warning to our city authorities to provide some effective means for controlling fires, which are liable at any time to break out and sweep whole blocks.

Sept 11, 1879 - Mr. Stiles, the agent of the Adams Express company, is in town, and will rent an office as soon as possible. Mr. Stiles has been the agent of the Adams company at Pueblo, Colorado, for several years, and had some acquaintance with Dr. Van Doren and druggist Brown, while there. He had heard so many and such favorable reports of Winfield, while in Pueblo, that he concluded to come here as soon as possible and see for himself.

Aug 28, 1879 - Mr. Frank Barclay is engaged in putting the new force pumps into the city wells. Better hang a squirt-gun on each pump to be used in case of fire.

Dec 25, 1879 - The city pumps would be very effective in case of fire; provided the fire was started around the pumps.

March 18, 1880 - The fire at the Central, last week, was started from a stove pipe passing through a tin ventilator in the upper floor. The roof was kept saturated with water, which prevented the fire from breaking out until the "Little Giant" could be brought to bear upon it from the inside, when it was quickly extinguished. Several idiots seemed determined to smash in the windows on the north gable, and it required the most strenuous efforts of the members of the fire company to prevent it. Had they done so, and given the air a chance to fan the flames, the building could not have been saved.

MARCH 18, 1880. - About five o'clock last Thursday evening the Central Hotel was discovered to be on fire. In a few minutes after the alarm sounded, and before the fire had got fairly under way, several hundred men were on the ground with buckets and the "Little Giant" fire engine, and in a short time had it completely under control. A good deal of unnecessary damage was done to the furniture by reckless parties, who tore down window curtains, smashed the sash, and did many other things entirely uncalled for. The fire has served to show the utter inefficiency of the means provided to extinguish it. The wells and pumps on which has been squandered a large amount of money were useless, some of the wells being dry and others, where the hose was attached, the force of the pump was too weak to raise the water as high as the building. It is very certain that had the fire occurred at midnight, instead of in daylight when hundreds were on the streets to help extinguish it by hand, a large portion of the business part of our city would now be but a mass of ruins. Let us take this as a warning, and at once cast about for some effective means of protecting ourselves against this devouring demon.

MAY 6, 1880. - Last Thursday night, between 11 and 3 o'clock, Winfield was visited by the most disastrous conflagration yet happening within her borders. The fire started in the old log store, one of the landmarks of the town, and for years occupied by the COURIER, but was now being used by F. Leuschen as a cabinet shop. The fire is supposed to have originated from the old rags, oil, and varnish in the shop. The alarm was given before the fire was thoroughly underway, and had those first on the ground been furnished with decent appliances, it might have been controlled, saving thousands of dollars worth of property. The old log building was like a tinder box and made a very hot fire. Next to it on the east were two buildings, one belonging to C. L. Harter and occupied by the moulder at the foundry, the other owned and occupied by Robert Hudson. These buildings were both destroyed, but the contents were saved.

Immediately west of the log building, across the alley, was an old livery barn belonging to Hackney & McDonald, which was the next to go.

From this the fire was communicated to the Central and Lindell hotels. As soon as it was evident that the hotels must go, the work of getting out the furniture began. Carpets, bedding, crockery ware, and furniture of all descriptions were tumbled promiscuously out of windows and doors into the street, much of it being broken and smashed. The hotels being dry, pine buildings, burned rapidly, sending up large cinders which fell in different parts of the city, making the utmost vigilance necessary to keep them from igniting buildings three blocks from the fire.

When the two hotels caught, everyone turned their attention toward saving the buildings on either side of the street. They were covered with men who handled buckets of water and barrels of salt, and by their exertions prvented the fire from spreading and destroying the larger part of the business portion of our city.

The old part of the Central Hotel was owned by Jas. Jenkins, of Wisconsin. The new part of the Central Hotel was owned by Majors & Harter. They had sold out to A. H. Doane, and were to have given possession Saturday morning.

The Lindell Hotel was owned by J. M. Spencer, and was leased by Jas. Allen one month ago.

Our citizens generously opened their homes to the homeless people, and accommodations were offered for more than was needed.

The following is a list of the losses and insurance.

Captain Stevens, store, loss $1,000; no insurance.

Fred Leuschen, furniture store and dwelling, loss $1,200. Insurance on stock, in Home, of New York, $300.

C. L. Harter, tenant dwelling, loss $300; no insurance. Tenant had no loss except damage.

Robert Hudson, dwelling, loss $800. Mrs. Hudson removed most of her furniture. No loss except damage. No insurance on either house or contents.

Hackney & McDonald, livery stable occupied by Buckhart, loss $800; no insurance.

Central Hotel, main building: James Jenkins, loss $3,500; insurance, $1,500 in the Atlas.

Central Hotel, Majors & Harter portion: loss to building, $2,500; insurance, $2,100, as follows: Weschester, Springield Fire & Marine and Hartford, $700 each. [Their insurance was on building and furniture.] The loss of Majors & Harter in excess of their insurance will be upwards of $3,000.

PUZZLING! $2,100-INSURANCE...AND YET $700 EACH ($1,400)...DOES




J. M. Spencer, Lindell Hotel, loss $2,500; insurance $1,000, as follows: Fire Association, $500; Phenix, of Brooklyn, $500; James Allen, loss $1,000; insurance, $800.

June 24, 1880 - The water works boom at Emporia last week was a big thing, and the committee which attended from here say that had we had one of the six streams thrown during the trial test, our late fire could have been subdued without one-tenth of the damage being done.

Winfield Courier, February 7, 1884. Council Meeting.

The City parliament met Monday evening and ground out the usual grist of laws.

The fire limit ordinance was finally passed, and it is a stout one. Everyone must first get a permit from the Council before the erection of any building within the fire limits.

An ordinance organizing a fire department was also passed. It provided for a chief fire Marshal and two hose companies of twelve members each. The chief Marshal is to receive two dollars for every run made and each member of the companies one dollar. The members are enrolled for three years and are exempt from poll tax and jury duty. It is a first-rate ordinance and ought to give us an excellent fire department.

Courier, Feb. 21, 1884. Mr. Kretsinger stated that he had appointed Mr. Clatworthy captain of fire company No. 1, and F. W. Finch captain of fire company No. 2. Fire marshal was instructed to procure lanterns, trumpets, and other necessary supplies for the use of the fire department.

Winfield Courier, February 21, 1884.

Fire Department.

The following is the organization and enrollment of the Fire Department.

City Fire Marshal, D. L. Kretsinger; 1st Asst. Marshal, James Clatworthy; 2nd Asst. Marshal, Frank Finch.

Hose Company No. 1. Jas. Clatworthy, Captain.

Members: W. Lanagan, M. L. Garrigue, W. A. Kuhns, J. W. Hall, John Riley, E. Borghert, C. R. Delay, Frank Cropton, S. Crandall, E. C. Green, Ed Cochran.

Hose Company No. 2. Frank Finch, Captain.

Members: F. L. Noble, W. H. Clark, R. S. Howard, John Wooden, R. D. Rodgers, F. A. Whitney, E. F. Nelson, F. J. Pierce, A. McNeil, C. Trump, and W. S. Brown.

The Department is now thoroughly organized and under the efficient management which Mr. Kretsinger gives any enterprise he takes hold of, assisted by Jas. Clatworthy and Frank Finch, will down any fire that has courage enough to show its little light.

Winfield Courier, March 13, 1884. The lease existing between Albeo & Dorley for room for hose carts was annulled, both parties concurring. A lease was then made with J. C. McMullen for his brick and stone building on North Main for the term of five years at $25.00 per month, for the use of the fire department.