On This Day in FFD History

February 1, 2018 Events  No comments

February 1 and 2 happens to be bad for “This Day In FFD/Frostburg History.” This will be the first of three posts today and ironically, two of the fires involved the same building 130 years apart.

NOTE: This was 18 months before the FFD was organized and six months prior to the fire that burned down half of the opposite side of Main Street and beyond. This same block, again burned to the ground in 1917. (Today’s Gianni’s and FSU store and previously Prichard’s & G.C. Murphy’s)

Reprinted from the Cumberland Times, Saturday, February 7, 1874 (Punctuation, grammar and spelling as it appeared)

The citizens of our neighboring town of Frostburg were startled by the alarm of fire at about the hour of seven o’clock Monday morning. The alarm proved only too true, for almost at the same time the flames of what was only prevented by hard labor from being the most disastrous conflagration that ever visited Frostburg, burst from a building on Main street, in the very center of town, owned by Mrs. Jarret and occupied by Mr. Frederick Gross as a furniture warehouse and cabinet shop. This building, with its entire contents, consisting of a very handsome and valuable stock of furniture, tools, &c., was soon a ruined burning wreck from which the flames were leaping and spreading in all directions.

The citizens having rallied promptly to the call were doing all that human hands could do to stop the spread of fire, but in vain. Mrs. Jarrett’s residence, almost adjoining, with its entire contents of household and kitchen furniture was next to go. The loss of this lady is extremely heavy, and falls with peculiar hardship upon one who is poorly prepared to endure it.

The progress of flames was still onward, and Mr. Peter Payne’s residence and restaurant with a stock of liquors next was swallowed up, together with a large frame livery stable. The horses in this stable were saved by an effort, but the harness, feed, &c., were consumed.

The low buildings above Payne’s residence occupied by Hawke, painter and glazier, W. Corper shoemaker, Rodde shoemaker, were torrn down by hooks to prevent the fire from spreading. Four store rooms belonging to Thomas H. Paul, Esq., were next lapped by the seething fires, and destroyed in a very short time. One of these, is known as “Paul’s Hall.” the first story of which was occupied by Mr. Thomas McNeil as a drug store, the entire stock and fixtures of which were destroyed before they could be saved.

Another room occupied by Mr. Hartz Bear as a wholesale liquor establishment, was swept away before the irresistible flood of flame, carrying with it Mr. Bear’s entire stock. At this point the fire seemed to have spent its force, and began to yield to control of fireman.

The Franklin property on the opposite side of the street, formerly owned by the late Jacob Hoblitzell, Esq., and Beall & Koch’s store were on fire several times, and were only saved after great difficulty.

The news of the fire reached this city at 7:35 a. m. by the following telegram to Mayor Withers from the Mayor of Frostburg: “Our town is on fire. Send us assistance at once. MAYOR & CITIZENS OF FROSTBURG” The bells immediately sounded an alarm and our firemen were promptly on the spot, and in a short time the Steam Fire Engine, (Potomac,) the engine of the Cumberland Hose Company and the reel of the Pioneer Company were on a special train and ready to start to the relief of our neighboring city. They were only stopped by the following telegram, dated at 8 a. m. from Mayor Bepler: Fire under control. Don’t send engine. Wm. Bepler, Mayor. This dispatch was followed in a short time by another in the following words: “To Mayor Withers: Frostburg sends thanks to you and the citizens of Cumberland. We shall not need them. Fire under control. Wm. Bepler”

These last dispatches had the effect to allay the excitement in this community, and the firemen returned with their apparatus from the depot, and quietly dispersed.

The loss by the conflagration is heavy, and will probably approximate $25,000, although a part is covered by insurance. The buildings destroyed were, we learn principally frame, and therefore of a some what combustible nature.

After the above had been put in type we received a letter from a correspondent in Frostburg giving a detailed description of the fire from which we extract the following: Mr. Paul’s losses are to some extent covered by insurance. Also Messers. Bear and McNeill. The cornice and windows of St. Michael’s Catholic Church were saved by covering them with wet blankets and cloths, while the parsonage of the same congregation and the property of Aden Clary, Esq., were saved with much difficulty. A barrel of whiskey was given to the crowd by Mr. Wineland, and frequent potations were indulged in by the workers at the fire. The fire and the dimmable verdict rendered in the Resley murder case are the all-absorbing subjects of conversation on the streets to-day. The verdict is of course denounced in unmeasured terms.”

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