News: Neillsville Fire (Oct 1885)


Surnames: Breed, Walker, Morley, Trappl, Tragsdorf, Huntzicker, Brock, Dolan

---------Source: Badger State Banner (Black River Falls, Wis.) 10/23/1885

(Reprinted from Neillsville Times)

At 2 o'clock Saturday afternoon a fire broke out in the upper part of the Central House barn, supposed to have been set by sparks from a man's pipe. In an instant the whole upper portion of the structure was in flames. Mrs. Edson Breed, a farmer residing in the town of York (Clark Co., Wis.), was in the city on business, and had placed his team in the barn. Mr. Breed was at Mrs. Walker's millinery store, a black distant, when the fire was discovered, and immediately ran to save his horses. Several men had quickly appeared on the scene when Mr. Breed arrived. Mr. Breed rushed into the barn, the lower part of which at the moment was clear from smoke or flames. In an instant a huge mass of burning hay fell from above the floor near the hroses. Mr. Breed, not succeeding in rescuing his team, made a rush through the fire, falling out on the ground with his clothes one sheet of flames. A bystander dashed a pail of water over the unfortunate victim, while ready hands grasped him and pulled him away from the building. He was taken to the Delano House, where Dr. Morley was called, who did everything possible for the relief of the sufferer. He was removed to Mr. Wm. Breed's, a couple of blocks from the hotel, where he lingered until about four o'clock Sunday morning, when death came to his relief. Mr. Breed was a man much respected among his acquaintances. He leaves a wife and one child.

A strong wind was blowing from the west, and directly towards the Central House, which was soon on fire. The hard fight made saved at least one half the value of the city. By the noble work done here the fire was confined to the hotel, although buildings all around caught many times, but were quickly extinguished by vigilant watchers.

The wind was so strong that burning shingles were carried half a mile eastward, and scattered in a tack a great many yards in width. The dwelling house of Mrs. John Trappl, at a distance of five blocks from the hotel, soon became a victim of the fiery shower The dwelling was consumed with the greater portion of its contents. The dwelling of Bernhard Tragsdorf, nearby, fell a prey to its burning neighbor. Most of the contents were saved from this house.

The Central House, owned by Geo. Huntzicker, of the North Side Hotel, had not been occupied as a public house for some time. Mr. A. Brock lived in one portion of it, but succeeded in saving most of his goods. The saloon and bowling alley part was occupied by M. Dolan as a saloon, and nearly the whole contents were consumed. A quantity of household goods were stored in the building and were also consumed.

The loss on the hotel and contents was at least $2,400. The barn contained a cutter, two carriages, Mrs. Breed's horses, some hay, grain, and other property, the total loss being about $1,000. No insurance was had on the hotel, barn or contents.

Loss on Mrs. Trappl's dwelling and contents, $800, Insurance, $500.

Loss on the Tragsdorf dwelling, $600, insurance $300.

Many buildings for several blocks around received visits from falling sparks, and only great watchfulness prevented other conflagrations.

The courthouse was baptized in a shower of burning cinders., and its escape from destruction was fortunate.

The steam pump at Colburn's Mill, though a small one, did excellent service.

The heroic work of citizens and strangers, who were in the thickest of the fight, are receiving universal praise for their work.



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