The Big Fire of 1893

The Big FireThere has been mention of the big fire that happened in Schoolcraft in 1893 (the Great fire happened in 1879) taking out several buildings south of what is currently the Loving Ewe. It burned with such intensity that it blew out windows across the street, and yet, miraculously did not harm the fan-shaped window that still exists. Here is the article from the Schoolcraft Express dated December 8, 1893. Ironically, this did not make the front page of the Schoolcraft Express and ran on page 4. Paragraphs created for ease of reading and were not provided in the original article.




The Total Loss Reaches About $6,000, Partially Covered by Insurance–E.L. Brown and A. L. Campbell the Heaviest Losers–Explosion of a Kerosene Stove Supposed to Have Caused the Fire–Good Work Done by the Fire Fighters in Checking the Progress of the Flames–Other Incidents of the Big Fire.

The most destructive fire that has visited our village since the great fire of 1879, when it will be remembered five of the main business places on the west side of Grand street, just south of the late fire were wiped out, broke out in Assembly hall building shortly before four o’clock Monday afternoon. The entire lower floor of this building was occupied by the grocery store of A. L. Campbell, while the upper floor was used as a public hall.

The fire is supposed to have started in the basement of the building by the explosion of a kerosene heating stove, which had been placed there to keep the potatoes from freezing. When discovered, the fire had gained such headway as to make it impossible to enter the basement and a very few moments later the whole building was one mass of flames. Owing to a failure to get the fire engine in working order and a lack of water in the cistern at the corner of Grand and Cass streets, made it impossible to do much toward stopping the fire with the engine and soon the flames spread to adjoining buildings on the north, consuming the one story wooden building of Lewis P. Bell and occupied by Henry I. Allen, Justice H. P. Smith and the National Express Company’s office.

Just north of Assembly hall and west of the Bell building stood an ice house, owned by Mr. Bell, which was also consumed. Almost at the same time that the buildings on the north caught fire, the flames spread to the barn of Chas. Underwood, on Hayward street, only a few rods west, and which was also burned to the ground. At this stage of the fire, with four buildings in flames, it looked as though other buildings on the north would be doomed to the fate of the raging flames, but by hard and persistent fighting the brick store of W. W. McLeod on the south, and the meat market building of Lewis P. Bell on the north and the residence of Chas. Underwood were all saved, although it looked at one time as if it would be almost an impossibility to save the two latter.

The fire engine did good service in saving Mr. Underwood’s house for without its use the building would surely have been destroyed. All through the fire, which lasted about two hours, the fire fighters fought bravely and unceasingly, and their efforts were rewarded by saving thousands of dollars worth of property which at one time it looked as though it would be an utter impossibility to save from being wiped up by the fierce flames.

The stock in the harness shop of A. D. Chapin was all moved from the building, the meat market fixtures and stock of W. R. Arthur in the Bell building were moved into the street, and all of the household goods of Will Smith, who occupied the Cooper house on Hayward street were removed. The wind was blowing from the southwest and for a time matters began to look serious for the east side of the street, the restaurant building of Aaron Burson being somewhat scorched, but by good work was kept from taking fire.


Assembly hall building, which was owned by E. L. Brown and valued at about $3,000 was insured in the Hartford Insurance Company of which Henry P. Smith is local agent, for $1,600. A. L. Campbell’s stock of groceries and fixtures were valued at about $2,000, and on which he carried but $800 insurance in the Fireman’s Fund, E. W. Bowman, local agent. A portion of Mr. Cambell’s stock was saved and are now in the Troxel building across the street. L. P. Bell’s loss on the frame building and ice house $500, not insured. Mr. Bell’s brick building occupied by W. R. Arthur as a meat market was somewhat damaged by heat; his loss on this building is covered by insurance in the Aetna, H. I. Allen, local agent. The stock goods of W. R. Arthur and A. D. Chapin were damaged considerable by being removed; the latter’s loss is covered by insurance in the Aetna company. Chas. Underwood’s loss on barn and contents, $200, not insured. On house and contents he carried an insurance in the Phoenix which is represented by Abram Gardner as local agent. Mr. Underwoord’s household goods were all removed, and somewhat damaged on which he will receive insurance. W. W. McLeod’s brick store on the south was somewhat damaged by the heat, fully covered by insurance. Nearly all the windows in buildings on the opposite side of the street from the fire, were broken by the intense heat. Mr. Troxel’s loss in this direction is covered by insurance. Other slight losses are reported, the American Express Company losing a few packages.