News: Colby (Jun 3, 1885)

Surname: Upham

----Source: Colby Phonograph (Colby, Clark County, Wis.) Wednesday, Jun 3, 1885

The Great Medford Fire, May 28, 1885

Memorial Day of 1885 will be long remembered by those of our citizens who attended the services at Medford.

Owing to the fire many who intended going stayed away, and, until the special train arrived, it was thought that the crowds would be rather slim. But Marshfield, Spencer and Unity sent good strong delegations, which was augmented by the Colby crowds to nearly three in a seat in the five coaches which composed the train.

Abbotsford was out in force, reinforced by a delegation from Thorp and it began to look as if most of the male portion of the crowd would walk as far as Dorchester and foot it in from there, but the train officials pressed the coaches of the St. Paul train into service and from Abbotsford to Dorchester everybody had a seat.

At Dorchester the excursionists were increased by a delegation of something over one hundred and Stetsonville sent a respectable portion of its citizens, and from there to Medford standing room was again at a premium.

At Medford, the citizens instead of mourning over the loss of the business portion of their handsome village, was on hand to welcome their neighbors, headed by two splendid brass bands.

As soon as the train arrived the old Vets of the G.A.R. posts of Marshfield, Spencer, Colby, Thorp, Dorchester, Chelsea and Medford were formed in line by Post Commander Upham, Marshall of the day, headed by I. N. Earl Post with the Colby Cornet Band on the lead and the bands from Spencer, Marshfield and two Medford bands sandwiched in along the procession, the column then marched through the principle streets to Turner Hall.



Marshfield Times


Friday May 29, 1885Page 1


The Medford Holocaust!


27 Business Houses in Ashes!


At about four o'clock Thursday morning, a fire broke out in the Exchange Hotel at Medford, and before the flames were stayed, the long row of business places, from John Carstens new brick block south to Mike Grad's saloon, on the east side, The Star & News and Pioneer office, the T. B. McCourt & Bro.'s building, Gay & Biscornet's flour and feed store, and Wis. Cen. depot, between the street and railroad, on the east side, Butterfield.  Furgeson & Co.'s store, music hall, planing mill and about 500,000 feet of lumber, J. K. Parish's store building and law office, Jeffres' abstract office, Mrs. Kline's saloon, River street bridge, the Forest House, and six cars of the W. C. and L. S. & W. R. R.'s were burned, together with nearly all their contents.  On the east side the buildings were occupied by C. Poquet's saloon, Opera Hall building, containing Opera Hall, bergman & Van Nostitz's hardware store, and a butcher shop, Keeler's new building, containing Fred ward's Medford House, Keeler's store, and the Postoffice, Bonneville & Hobb's new drug store, unoccupied, Excghange Bank, Schmidt Bros. General store, Franzen & Schafer's boot and shoe store, C. D. Brun's jewelry store, C. A. Andrese, fancy groceries, restaurant and billiard parlor with residence, Doyle's block, containing store and a saloon, Mrs. Hobb's millinery store, Stims' barber shop and bath rooms, Odd Fellows Lodge, A.O.U.W. and I.O.G.T. lodges, Masonic Hall, offices of the Star & News, and Deutches Pioneer, Reform and Waldblote, Gay & Biscornet's flour and feed store, the W. C. depot, T. B. McCourt & Bros.' hardware store, and Frank Bowdsky's store.  About seven o'clock it became evident that the village was doomed, and a dispatch was sent to Stevens Point for aid. As soon as Possible the South Side hand engine, "Fire Queen," was loaded in charge of five of Stevens Point firemen, conductor Upson and engineer Gilbert, detailed to take the crew to Medford.  Owing to delays in getting orders, and hot boxes, the engine was delayed in reaching Medford until eleven o'clock, at which time the fire had exhausted itself, escept in the limber yards of B. F. & Co.  The engine was set at work, and at 3:30 p.m. was still fighting in the yard.


Early in the fire, Hon. J. K. Parish, while hard at work at the fire, was buried under the front walls of Opera Hall, which fell out.  He was seriously burned and bruised about the head, and had his left hip dislocated.  Dr. Freeman, of Colby, on arriving in town was called in and set the limb.


The losses as estimated by the gentleman well acquainted, is as follows:


  S. H. Keefer, hotel, store and postoffice, $15,000, Ins. $3,000

  Bonneville & Hobbs, building, $3,000

  A. Fourney, saloon, $1,500

  C. Poquet, Opera Hall and saloon, $5,000, brick block, $3,500, Ins. $4,000

  A Pfening, Exchange Hotel, $2,500, Ins. $1,500, occupied by Theo. Fredericks

   who lost all his household effects

  Schmidt Bros., building, $2,500, stock, $6,000, Ins. $4,500

  Franzen & schafer, shoe store building, $1,000, stock, $2,000, Ins. $600

  Exchange Bank, loss $2,000, covered by insurance

  C. D. Bruns, jewelry, building, $1,500, stock $1,000

  C. A. Andrese, restaurant, building, $2,000, stock, $300, Ins. $1,150

  P. Doyle, general store $2,000

  T. B. McCourt & Bro., building, $2,000, Ins. $1,500

  Van Nostitz & Bergman, stock, hardware, $8,000, Ins. $3,600

  Mrs. Hobbs, millinery, $300

  Mr. Stims, $500, Ins. $500

  Star & News and Pioneer offices, loss $3,500, Ins. $1,800

  Waldbote and Reform offices, loss. $2,000, Ins. $1,000

  W. C. depot, $2,000

  Gay & Biscornet, stock, $2,000, building, $1,500, Ins. $1,500

  Butterfield, Furgeson & Co., building, $5,000, stock, $8,000, planing mill $5,000,

  lumber, $12,000, total Ins. $12,000

  J. K. Parish, law office and store buoilding, $2,000, Ins. $1,800

  Mrs. Kline, saloon, $1,000, Ins. $500

  M. Scidmore, Forest House and furniture, $3,500, Ins. $500

  Frank Brodowsky, hardware stock, $8,000, Ins. $2,500

  C. Glassou, butcher, stock, $500

  Theo. Frederick, loss, $1,600, Ins. $950

  Making a total loss of $116,700, with only a known insurance of $35,200--$32,450 of which is in Winchester's Agency at Dorchester.

  There is undoubtedly other insurance, as T.G. Jeffre's Agency at Medford, is know to have a small amount, also G. A. Reumer's Agency, at Dorchester.  It is also assured that the stock and buildings of the R.R. Co. was insured.

  Only a small portion of the stocks of the merchants were saved.


The post office was opened in Glasow's store in time to receive the mails, but was without a working outfit.  The Exchange bank was also opened immediately at Kurtz's drug store, but was rather short of funds and books, the safe bing in the ruins of the fire, and too hot to open.


Wheeler & Barrett, of the Star & News and Pioneer, telegraphed to Chicago for a new office, and Wheellock started for Stevens Point, at which place the Star & News will be issued this week.  Jos. Brucker, of the Waldbote and Reform, left on the evening train for Milwaukee, where the two papers will be gotten out until a new office can be secured.

Other business men signified their intention of rebuilding as soon as possible, but it will be many months before Medford will recover from the fesarful devastation which visited her yesterday.



Great Medford Fire of 1885

Surnames: Biscornet, Brucker, Butterfield, Carstrus, Curran, Ferguson, Glennon, Gray, Keeler, McGlachlin, McSulver, Norton, Poquet, Price, Schmidt, Simons

----The Star and News (Medford, Taylor County, Wisconsin), June 6, 1885


Again our village has been visited by fire, this time attended with more than ordinary loss.

At two o’clock Thursday morning an alarm was sounded, and flames were discovered issuing for Opera Hall Block, a large frame building situated about midway in the principal business block.

The usual crowd gathered, and used almost superhuman efforts to stay the flames but that was impossible among the large dry frame buildings on either side.

In an incredibly short time, the Exchange Hotel was wrapped in tongues of fire, and Poquet’s saloon followed soon after. The Exchange Bank, Schmidt Bros., the Star and News block, the Norton building, S. H. Keeler’s new hotel, the Medford House, the depot, Gray and Biscornet’s flour and feed store, and then the Butterfield, Ferguson & Co. lumber yard followed the leader , and joined the caravan marching on to destruction.

Burning brands were shooting across the dusky morning sky like meteors, and a mass of thick black smoke being over the village like a funeral pall.

As the brands fell, innumerable fires sprang up all over town and the half distracted citizens were kept busy extinguishing them, it seemed at one time that the entire village was doomed to total destruction, and it now appears to be almost a miracle that any buildings west of Front street were saves, as the very moderate wind that was blowing carried the sparks and burning shingles in that direction.

About the only things that were saved out of the stores and offices were the books, and in some cases they were burned.

Buildings that were thought of be out of danger were suddenly ignited by the heat or cinders, and as quick as thought the entire building would be enwrapped in fire, the flames shooting an hundred feet in the air.

This is a dreary Decoration Day for Medford.

The west side of the village was saved by hard work.

W. P. Price now has the only jewelry store in town.

It would be well now to lock the barn door, the horse has been stolen.

John Carstrus’ brick block was saved by the supply of water kept on the inside.

The Coon trio gave a very decent entertainment at Opera Hall Tuesday evening.

Joseph Brucker started Thursday for Milwaukee to replace the burned material in his office.

J. D. Curran of Stevens Point and Tom Norton, of the Marshfield Times were visitors to the Medford ruins Thursday last.

People who think Medford will sink under the blow she ahs received are terrible mistaken. We are made of tougher metal than that.

We are under obligation to McGlachlin & Simmons, and Ed. Glennon, of Stevens Point for valuable assistance in issuing this number of our paper.

The short time that has elapsed since the fire has not been sufficient for the sufferers to get their bearings and decide upon their future course.

The Odd Fellows, Masons, Temple of Honor, Ancient Order United Workmen and Knights of Labor all lost their entire property in the fire. The two first named are the heaviest losers.

Stevens Point was telegraphed to for a fire engine, and responded by sending a hand engine. It was used to good advantage, but did not arrive until nearly noon.

Hon. J. K. Parish, while working at the fire last Thursday, remained too long in the Opera Hall block, and was caught by falling timbers. After being extricated it was found that his hip had been dislocated, and his face severely burned. The dislocation was reduced, however, and he is now doing well. At present, he is (unreadable, poor copy) at the McSulver mansion.

Information provided by: Marvin Obschernings




Transcribed by Robert Liprandt with additional information furnished by Ken Wood..