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Holocaust Of Fire

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Parent Issue
Public Domain
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At midnight 50 years ago tbis mornning one of the greatest fires in the history of Ann Arboroccured. Before daylight half of the business block between Main and Fourth ave. andfluron and Washington streets was swept f rom the ground. On Monday April 2, 1849 the village election was held. It was a hot flght and resulted in the election and appointment of the followiug city ofticers: William Findley, president,Emanuel Mann, trustee; David S.' Hickcox, recorder; Moses Rogers, treasure; J. R. Wilcoxen, collector; Samuel G. Sutherland, marshall; EdwardClark, Charles Cairle and JamesWeeks, street commissioners; Olney Hawkens, attorney. The fire started soon after midnight in the furniture shop ofO. M.Martin sr. which was located where Adams Bazaar now is. What it started trom was a mooted question but it was generally believed from a tallow candle that had been inadvertently left burning. Another story was curren t that a small pig had been stuft'ed down a stove pipe which caused the fire to blow out into the shop. This might have been done as in those days the stove pipes were pushed through the roofs of the building. It was believed the trick was done as a joke. It was a still night not very cold, and the fire spread both ways. It burned up to the east line of Jacob Vollands harness store on East Hurón street, andón East Washington street as far as Thomas Gilthannons residence. It was stopped on East Hurón street by Mrs. Devaney's brick store. William Wagner, the tailor, had his shop on Hurón street west of Mr. Volland's shop. The bucket brigade was out in charge of Capt. H. E. Goodrich, who was the flre warden. The buildings were completely destroyed altkough some stocks were partially saved. There was no insurance on any of the property destroyed. Emannel G. Wildt, who had a grocery store where the State bank is now loeated refused to have any goods moved, as he believed his corner would de saved. They were however all destroyed. There were thousands of lives lost, they were however not missed, being rats. X. G. Terry, in talking of the lire, said he saw the rats running in every direction. The land was worth more, after the buildings were gone, than when they were standing. Nearly every body started to rebuild, although no body had any money. The buildings were all of brick. Everything in those days were paid by orders on butchers, tailors, etc. Mr. Terry said he had worked all that summer of ;49 and did not see a dollar in money. The only thinar that was cash, was flour The money that was in circulation was all wild cat money, and they could not teil if the money was good over night. ïo show the scarcity of money, Mr. Terry, said he received a letter frora New York on which there was 24 cents due. With difliculty he raised the money, and wrote his friends not to write any more letters as he could not pay for them. William Allaby had a similar experience. He received a letter from England on which there was 48 cents postage due. lie liad to wait'two weekf3 before he could raise the money. This postase had all to be paid in specie. In '49 the population ot' Ann Arbor was less than 3,900. William Allaby and Christian Aberle were running a shoe shop where Waguer & Co., merchant tailors, are now located. Mr. Aberle owned the lot which he af yards sokl to William Wagner. Tolay William Allaby and Christian Eberbach are the only two men livng and now in business who were hen in business on Main st. between Daniel Hiscock's on the north to DanBrovvn"s on the south. The lire caused much excitement and many farmers from the neighborliobd came to town. Among those was Comstock F. Hill. a nine year old boy. He distinctly recolleets the exeitement of the night. The business of the vil Inge was centered about Main Washington andIuron sts. For the size of tlie villagw che tire was a great blow, but the results were really beneücial. Tlie above f acts were largely gleaned from the retentive memories of A. A. Terry and William Allaby.