Wheeler & Wheeler Home About Wheeler & Wheeler Curtis Memorial Library Home
Previous Chapter Table of Contents Next Chapter



PART II, CHAPTER 6.
FIRES AND FIRE COMPANIES.

CONFLAGRATIONS have been of rather frequent occurrence in Brunswick, Topsham, and Harpswell, considering the population of the towns. The first-named town has suffered by far the most and the latter the least from this cause. The following account of the different fires that have occurred in these towns is obtained mainly from the accounts given at the time in different newspapers, from the records of the fire companies, and from private journals. It is believed to be as full and accurate as is possible from the data to be obtained.

LIST OF FIRES IN BRUNSWICK.

[1671.] The beech woods, where the pine plains now are, were destroyed by fire.1

[1676.] A house and other buildings, near where Pennell's Wharf now is, were fired by the Indians. It had been occupied by a Mr. Wakely, who was killed and his body cast into the flames.1

[1690.] This year the whole settlement was destroyed by the Indians.

[1722.] The Indians destroyed nearly all the settlement. Among the houses burnt were those of Thomas Tregoweth and James Thornton. The latter was the father of Matthew Thornton, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

[1735.] A block house, probably the one at Maquoit, was accidentally burned.

[1737.] The house of Andrew Dunning was accidentally destroyed by fire, and his widow lost her life.

[1770.] Deacon Samuel Stanwood's house, which occupied the ground where Mrs. Joseph McKeen's house now stands, was burnt.

[1777.] There was a fire in some house, not known, which was caused by hot ashes in a barrel


1. Traditional.


[1798.] The store of Stone & Veazie was burnt. It was a two--story building.

[1805.] A two-story dwelling-house, by whom occupied or owned is unknown, was destroyed by fire.

[1809.] On April 30, an extensive fire on the plains near the colleges. On June 29, at 11 A. M., the Gun House, on Center Street, was burnt. A new one was at once built on the same spot.

[1810.] In January, day unknown, 9.15 P.M.., Captain Richard Tappan's house, store, and barn, and the house of Colonel William Stanwood. Deacon John Perry's house was torn down to prevent the spread of the fire. At midnight Secomb Jordan's house, near Pollard & Green's tannery, was burnt. The thermometer at the time indicated -10.

[1814.] Samuel Page's house and James Jones's blacksmith shop were burnt.

For the next eight years there has no record been found of any fire. It is hardly to be presumed, however, that so long a time could have elapsed without some such occurrence. Newspapers at that time gave but little attention to such items, and they may easily have failed to be recorded in private journals.

[1822.] On March 4, the principal college building was burned about three o'clock in the afternoon; the whole of the woodwork was consumed by seven o'clock in the evening. The fire was undoubtedly accidental. $1,000 was contributed by the citizens to aid the sufferers, and the town of Dorchester, Massachusetts, also gave voluntary assistance.

[1823.] On February 12, the house of Mr. Benjamin Orr, occupied by the Misses Tappan, was destroyed. In March, James Nelson's house, near the landing, was burnt. September 4, a fire arose in the woods of Washington Bowker, near Rocky Hill, and made such alarming progress that it soon came within a mile of the village. where, however, its progress was fortunately stayed. It destroyed nearly every building for four miles in length and one in breadth. Twenty1 buildings were burnt in all, amongst which were the houses of Andrew Toothaker, Lemuel Morse, and the Widow Douglass. There was also a great loss in woods, fences, sheep, and cattle. Among the sufferers were two widows. One of them, possibly Mrs. Douglass, "passed through a scene of peculiar anguish. After nearly exhausting her strength in fruitless efforts to save her house, she was


1. Cleaveland's Journal.


compelled to bear away her sick son, with only the assistance of small children, to a place of safety." It is handed down as a tradition, that this fire was caused by a boy setting fire to a hornets' nest, in revenge for the hornets having stung him.

[1825.] On Tuesday Morning, March 28, the store of Jotham Stone, occupied by Ammi R. West, was destroyed by fire, together with all his goods, valued at $2,000, his account books, and six hundred dollars in bank-notes, partly insured. This is the first instance met with in this town where any damages were covered by insurance.

December 1, the post-office caught fire, but was only slightly damaged.

On December 13, occurred what is known as the "Great Fire." Thirty-three1 buildings were burnt, among which were the two fac-tory buildings, five dwelling-houses (occupied by eleven families), two stores, two saw-mills, one grist-mill, and a number of mechanic shops. The thermometer. showed the temperature at the time to be -13. Many persons were badly frozen. The fire broke out in the then new factory building. The total loss was estimated at $90,000. There was an insurance on the factory of $1,800.

At a town meeting in Brunswick, held on the twenty-second of December of this year, it was voted that a committee of fifteen persons be appointed to solicit aid for the relief of the sufferers by the late fire. and to distribute what might be collected. This committee appointed a subcommittee of three, to ascertain the actual loss sustained by the citizens, exclusive of that of the factory company and of property which was insured. In their report it is stated that fifty-seven heads of families had lost $13,918, sixty-eight persons had been deprived of a shelter, and more than fifty persons had been thrown out of employment. $1,044 was contributed by the citizens for the relief of the sufferers.

In consequence of the frequency and severity of fires at this time a citizens' watch was established soon after the last-mentioned fire, and all citizens were requested to have holes made in the shutters of their houses and stores, in order that fires might be more easily discovered.

[1826.] On November 3, of this year, the following advertisement appeared in the columns of the Baptist Herald:-

"WANTED, A SMART, ACTIVE Boy to set fires and burn brush on Brunswick plains. A college-learnt lad would be preferred; one who has little else to do, and can afford to work very cheap. Apply to Doctor Shame, next door to the House of Correction."


1. A. C. Raymond's Diary.


No record of any fires has been found for this year, but it would seem from the foregoing advertisement as though some parties had been kindling fires in the woods for purposes of mischief, and that the college students were the ones suspected.

[1827.] In the night of November 7, the stage tavern, kept by Charles M. Rogers, was burnt. Several travellers who were passing the night there had barely time to leave their beds and get out, unclad, into the deep, newly fallen snow.

On December 27, the house of Theodore S. McLellan was burnt.

At some time this year, the exact date not known, the store of Colonel Jesse Pierce was partially destroyed by fire. After the flames were subdued a keg of powder was taken out of the building, the outside of which had been scorched by the fire.

[1829.] On July 26, the house of Stephen Sawyer was destroyed by fire, together with most of its contents. Loss about eight hundred dollars; no insurance.

[1830.] On March 9, J. Nelson's cabinet shop was burnt.

[1833.] At midday on January 11, the store of John McKeen was burnt. The contents were mostly saved. The building was estimated to be worth between six and seven hundred dollars, on which there was an insurance of four hundred dollars.

[1834.] August 7, of this year, the lightning struck Captain Given's barn and burned it, together with three other barns and ten cattle.

On October 26, the old west meeting-house was burned by an incendiary. In consequence, the town, at a meeting held November 15, appointed a committee to legally investigate the matter, in order that the incendiary might be punished, and voted a reward of one hundred dollars for the detection of the offender.

[1835.] The Dunning house, on the west side of Maine Street, on the hill, nearly opposite the meeting-house, was burned either this year or (possibly) in 1834. The building was two stories high.

[1836.] On February 17, at half past two o'clock, A. M., the college building known as Maine Hall was totally destroyed by fire.

On September 26, the drying-house, near and belonging to the factory, was burned.

Oil November 7, the new two-story building of Messrs. Stone & Morse, near the corner of Maine and Bow Streets, was burned. It was occupied by John L. Swift, tailor.

[1837.] This year Messrs. Stone & Morse were again sufferers from fire, their store being burned on May 11.

[1838.] On May 3, a "factory and picking machine was burnt." The newspaper account does not state what factory it was.

[1841.] August 14, a portion of the McKeen woods was destroyed by fire. December 17, the toll-bridge burned. At some time this year, date unknown, the grist-mill at the Lower Falls was burned.

[1843.] The house of Thomas Crowell, two miles from Bruns-wick Village, was burned on July 23 or 24.

[1845.] On March 27, a destructive fire occurred, at which property to the value of $7,000 was destroyed. No other particulars in regard to it have been ascertained.

On September 24, there was a slight fire at Humphrey's Dye House.

On October 3, at four P. M., the "Growse" house was burned. Loss, two hundred dollars. Fully insured.

On October 13, a two-story house at Mair Brook, owned by Mrs. Garcelon, William R. Field, and George Woodside, was destroyed. It was unoccupied. Loss, six hundred dollars. Fully insured. On October 19 (Sunday), between twelve and one o'clock at night, the houses of Stephen Harris and Joseph Badger were burnt. They were insured for $2,450.

On December 26, a school-house on the Portland road was destroyed by fire.

[1846.] On February 12, Humphrey's Dye House was burnt. On February 18, Major Willett's house, near the factory, was partially destroyed. Partly insured. The fire was extinguished by the Force--Pump Water Works. The fire was the work of an incendiary.

In September, Nichols's store, No. 7 Hinkley Block, was slightly damaged by fire and the goods injured by water. Insured.

[1847.] On April 14, the woollen-mill of Whitten & Meder was partially destroyed. Loss, three hundred dollars. Insured.

On November 13, a saw-mill was burned.

[1849.] On May 3, the woollen factory of Whitten & Meder (owned at the time wholly by William Whitten) was again attacked by fire. The total loss was between $6,000 and $7,000. Insured for $4,200. On December 2, three buildings on Maine Street, beginning at the northern corner of Pleasant Street, where Lemont Block is now, were destroyed by fire. John S. Cushing occupied the corner store, and lost everything. The second story of this building was occupied by the Odd Fellows, who saved nothing. In the second building was a tailor's shop ; and in the third, a shoe store. The second story of these buildings was occupied by different individuals for offices.

[1851.] On March 12, the bookstore of Nathaniel Davis was burned at half past twelve o'clock in the night. July 30, a Mr. Cob-bett's house was destroyed by fire.

[1852.] On June 15, Mr. Larrabee's barn at New Meadows was burnt; and at four o'clock in the morning of the twenty-sixth of the same month, a tannery was burnt.

[1853.] The building on the corner of Maine and Mason Streets was destroyed by fire in February. Lorenzo Day and James Cary built one on the same spot that fall.

[1854.] On Saturday afternoon, January 14, one of the mills on Shad Island took fire. The fire had made considerable progress before it was discovered, but by the untiring exertions of the fire companies, assisted by the company from Topsham, the flames were soon subdued. The mill was owned by the Granite Bank Company of Exeter, New Hampshire, whose loss was estimated at $300. It was used by Mr. B. E. Parkhurst as a match-box manufactory. His loss was about three hundred dollars, but was partially covered by insurance. The machinery in the mill was the property of Messrs. Byam & Pearsons, of Boston, was only partially injured, and was probably insured. July 6, the house of Christopher Mitchell, on the Portland road, was burned. No insurance.

[1855.] On March 7, a loaded freight car was burned near the depot. The loss was estimated at $3,000. April 19, there was a fire at Carleton's gum factory. Amount of damage not stated. On June 25, the freight and engine houses of the Kennebec and Portland Railroad Company were destroyed by fire about nine o'clock P. M. The contents of the buildings were saved. On July 1, an old stable on School Street, the house and stable belonging to the Misses McLellan, and the Stoddard house, corner of Federal and School Streets, were destroyed by fire. The buildings on the " Stoddard lot" were owned by General R. T. Dunlap, and were not insured. The loss on them was about six hundred dollars. The McLellan house was partially insured.

[1856.] On May 17, Miss Narcissa Stone's steam-mill on Pleasant Street was burned. It was uninsured, and the loss amounted to $1,600. This fire is supposed to have been the work of an incendiary. In November the house of Isaac Varney, near the depot, was burned to the ground. On December 10, the Washington Hall building and Parsley's store were destroyed by fire. The former was occupied by the barber shop of E. Eaton, by Johnson & Goddard's confectionery. shop, and

by four families ; and the hall was used by the Brunswick Light Infantry as their armory. The building was owned by General R. T. Dunlap and S. Thompson. Dunlap's share was uninsured. Thomp-son was insured for five hundred dollars. Eaton's loss was some over fifty dollars. Johnson & Goddard were fully insured. The loss to the Infantry Company was about eight hundred dollars.

Parshley's store was occupied in the basement by Mr. H. A. Thomp-son, and in the second story by two families. Parshley's loss was about five hundred dollars in excess of his insurance. The whole loss due to the fire was estimated at $3,000.

[1857.] In the spring of 1857 the town-house was burnt. It was the work of an incendiary. On September 29, the Kennebec and Portland Railroad depot burned down. A great many papers and considerable baggage were destroyed. though some of the baggage and freight was saved. .John A. Cleaveland lost one hundred and twenty--five, William R. Field four hundred, and Doctor Haley twenty-five dollars. The loss to the company was about $7,000. They were un-insured. One trunk that was burned was said to contain jewelry to the value of three hundred dollars. This fire was thought to be the work of an incendiary.

On October 20, Darius Newman's shop, and on October 23, James Spollett's shop on Pleasant Street, were burned. October 30, Leon-ard Merrill's house, at the Landing, was partially destroyed. No-vember 22, Jotham Varney's building, occupied by W. J. Harmon & Co. as a billiard and refreshment saloon, was burnt. December 15, about four o'clock A. M., the Bourne mill, in the cove, was burnt. It belonged to R. T. Dunlap, C. J. Gilman, A. B. Thompson, and Ward Coburn. [1858.] February 25, there was a fire in the picking-room of the factory.

[1859.] At one o'clock A. M., on July 15, the barn, shed, and back part of the house of the Misses T. and J. Hinkley, on Maine Street, which was formerly owned and occupied by Reverend John S. C. Abbot, were burned. The buildings were insured. The fire was supposed to be the work of an incendiary.

On July 20, four or five acres of swampy land, near Rocky Hill, were burned over. In August there was a fire in the woods south of the McKeen Road, and also on the Plains. [1860.] On September 16, the house, barn, shed, etc., of Mr. Hiram Campbell, on the Bath road, burned down.

[1862.] June 27, the McKeen Store, occupied by D. B. Libby, and by Joseph McKeen, treasurer of Bowdoin College, was destroyed by fire. The more valuable books of the college were saved, though many papers were lost. Henry Bowker's house and H. A. Thomp-son's store were slightly damaged by this fire.

On August 5, Gideon Kincaid's house, barn, and shed were burnt.

[1863.] At eight o'clock P. M., on December 2, the stable attached to the dwelling of James Hall was destroyed by fire. Insured.

[1864.] July 27, the house and barn of Calvin Cooper, one mile from the village, on the Bath road, was burned, together with its contents.

About midnight of August 12, the house of Washington Stanwood, near Mair Brook, was consumed by fire, together with the out-buildings and contents. It was occupied by Emery Hersey. Buildings insured for five hundred dollars.

At ten o'clock P. M., on October 14, one of Humphrey's steam-mills (the most southerly one) was consumed by fire. The loss was estimated at $5,000. Partially insured. Lumber valued at $1,000 and not insured was also destroyed by this fire.

October 20, Captain Nathaniel Badger's barn was burned, together with his horse and carriages. [1865.] On the tenth of April the barn of the poorhouse was fired by an insane person. The loss was about seven hundred dollars. Insured for two hundred dollars.

At eleven o'clock P. M., on May 3, the grocery store of R. Crockett & Co. was entirely burned. Partially insured.

On September 26, the picking-room in the cotton factory took fire, but the flames were soon subdued and but little damage was done.

[1866.] At half past eleven P. M., on March 7, a loaded freight car was burned on the track near the depot.

In the night of June 23, a car loaded with hay took fire near the depot.

At three o'clock A. M., on December 22, Forsaith & Dunning's house and out-buildings, and the house and stable occupied by G. B. Tenney, were burned. The loss of Messrs. Dunning & Forsaith was estimated to be $2,000 over and above the insurance to each. Tenney's loss was estimated at about five hundred dollars more than the insur-ance, and the house occupied by him was valued at seven hundred dollars more than its insurance. This fire was supposed to be the work of an incendiary.

[1867.] On April 16, the stable of W. A. Campbell, including four horses, three top-buggies, and one open buggy, one Concord wagon, four single sleighs, one double sleigh, six single harnesses, one double and one team harness, fifteen robes, an express wagon, and a hearse ; also the barn of J. Lufkin and that of the double house belonging to Albert C. Otis and Mrs. M. G. Merryman, were all destroyed by fire. Campbell's property, exclusive of building, was estimated at $3,250. He was insured for $2,000. The stable was worth five hundred dollars, and was insured for two hundred. The other parties were all fully insured.

At half past five o'clock A. M.. On November 2, Jotham Varney's building, containing Haley's apothecary store and York's barber shop, was burned. No insurance.

[1868.] On February 15, the woodshed of the poorhouse was consumed by fire. Estimated value, one hundred and fifty dollars. Uninsured.

At half past nine o'clock P. M., on June 29, an engine-house of the Androscoggin Railroad Company was burnt.

About midnight of September 2, the barn and a portion of the house of Waitstill Merryman was burned. It was occupied by D. S. Perkins. Merryman was insured, but Perkins was not. On November 26, the house of Harvey Stetson was partially consumed by fire. The loss was estimated at eight hundred dollars. No insurance.

On December 4, a house below Mair Brook was slightly injured by fire.

December 5, the house, barn, shed, and several cords of wood, belonging to Captain Jesse Coolidge, on the river road to Rocky Hill, about one and a half miles from the village, were burnt. The loss amounted to $2,200. Insured for $1,000.

[1869.] At four o'clock A. M., January 21, Mr. Robert Bowker's house was partially burned. Fully insured.

At seven o'clock P. M., on January 29, Charles Cobb's tool shop, on Cushing Street, was destroyed by fire. The loss was about four hundred dollars. No insurance.

At ten P. M., on May 9, Moses Freeman's house and shed, on the Bath road, were burnt. Everything was lost, even to the clothing of the inmates. House insured. At twelve o'clock P. M., John Snow's house, a mile and a half from the village, was burned.

[1870.] On the evening of July 19th, a farm-house on the estate of Captain Larrabee at New Meadows was burned.

[1871.] At six and a half o'clock A.M., on February 17th, there was an extensive conflagration at the cove, with the following loss:-

Colby & Co.'s sash and blind, saw, shingle, and clapboard mill, two planers, etc., estimated at $10,000
Wing's grist-mill, estimated at . 2,000
Coburn's saw-mill, estimated at 5,000
Blether, Booker & Given, tools, machinery, etc. 1,000>
David Dennison, plug-borers, etc. 400
Edward Stone's sash and blind mill, . 4,000
William Whitten's mill, carding-machines, etc. 4,000
Sundry others 2,000
Total loss . $35,400

The shore-string of the toll-bridge was burnt, and one span and one abutment spoiled. On the morning of May 20th, Samuel Gummer's house at Maquoit was injured by fire ; loss estimated at two hundred dollars.

[1872.] At two o'clock A. M., on April 3d, the Portland and Kennebec Railroad bridge across the Androscoggin took fire and was entirely destroyed.

[1873.] On March 16th the farm-house of Horace Philbrook, with its contents, was entirely consumed by fire.

July 14th, two miles of woods at New Meadows were burned. The fire caught from a locomotive.

At fifteen minutes past eight o'clock A. M., of August 8th, fire was discovered in the stable of the Weld house on Federal Street. The fire was chiefly confined to the stable and woodshed, which were a total loss. The L attached to the main house was slightly damaged by fire and water. A portion of the library of Reverend Doctor Woods was burned and many valuable historical documents were destroyed. The loss on the buildings was about $2,200, on which there was an insur-ance of $1,300. The loss to the library was estimated at $1,000, but this was a low estimate. There was no insurance on the library.

At nine o'clock A. M., on October 31st, fire broke out in a house on Bow Street, occupied by a French family. It was speedily extinguished and but slight damage was done.

[1874.] At half past five P. M., on May 15th, Benjamin Dunning's house was partially burnt. It was insured.

At three o'clock A. M., on July 19th, the High School-House was damaged by fire to the amount of $1,500. It was supposed to be the work of an incendiary.

In the night of November 28th the soap factory of

Levi F. Andrews, in East Brunswick, was destroyed by fire. The loss was eight hundred dollars; no insurance.

In the forenoon of November 30, the house and barn, with their contents, of Martin Eaton was consumed by fire. There was no insurance, and the family was left destitute.

[1875.] In the night of March 3d the old Hunt house on the Maquoit road was burned, together with the adjoining barn.

In the morning of August 6, the house of Charles J. Noyes, occupied by Miss Estabrook and Mrs. Cutler, was somewhat injured by fire, but not consumed; insured.

[1876.] On April 27, a large fire occurred on the Commons, near the Harpswell road.

September 15, at one o'clock A. M., the Bradford Cobb house on Pleasant Street was totally destroyed. Loss, $2,000; insurance, $1.500.

November 6, at one o'clock A. M., the barn and L of the Melcher house on Noble Street were burned. Two horses were burned to death.

On December 5, Stephen Walker's house on the River road was destroyed. Loss, six hundred and twenty-five dollars; insured.

The following is a resume of the list given above:-

There have been, during the time from 1671 to 1877, at least one hundred and twenty occurrences of fire in town. This would make an average of a little over one fire every two years. Probably a correct average would be about one fire a year.

Of the one hundred and nine fires in which the season is stated, twenty-six occurred in the winter time, twenty-seven occurred in the spring, twenty-five occurred in the summer, and thirty-one occurred in the autumn.

Of the forty-three fires in which the time of day is stated, thirteen occurred between 6 A. M. and 6 P. M., and thirty between 6 P. M. and 6 A. M. The largest number of fires occurred in the month of December (12), and the least in January (6).

LIST OF FIRES IN TOPSHAM.

Though the town of Topsham has suffered from no very extensive conflagration, it has had the usual experience in fires of other manufacturing and ship-building towns of its size. The only accounts of such occurrences before the present century are of the burning by the Indians of the houses of Gyles, Thomas, and York, and the

traditional account of the house of Robert Patten having been twice destroyed by fire. The dates of all the above fires are unknown.

[1801.] In March or April of this year Captain Robert Patten's house was destroyed by fire.

[1810.] On Saturday, July 21, a large building, occupied by Messrs. Coombs and Hodgdon, the office of Benjamin Orr, Esquire, and three stables (probably misprint for stores in the newspaper account), belonging to H. Purinton, N. Green, and Messrs. T. & N. Sandford, were consumed by fire.

[1826.] Saturday, January 14, "Sager's house in Topsham was burnt about three o'clock."

On Sunday, January 15, between three and six o'clock A.M., the large three-story building owned by George F. Richardson, and a shop owned by Daniel Dennett, were burned. The upper stories of the house were occupied by the families of Messrs. Richardson, Oliver Conant, and Eliphalet Bryant. The inmates escaped, but saved nothing. The lower story was occupied by Major Nahum Perkins and Samuel R. Jackson as a grocery store. Richardson's loss was estimated at $4,000, Perkins & Jackson's about $4,000, and S. & N. Perkins, in notes and accounts, about $7,000, together with all their account-books. Mr. Gillet lost his shop and stock, about $1,000. There was no insurance. It rained hard and there was snow on the roofs, or the greater part of the village would have been destroyed.

Saturday, July 8, P. Dinsmore's tavern, owned by Captain Samuel Perkins, with the barns and out-houses, was destroyed by fire. The Brunswick people had to lay planks across the stringers of the bridge (which was being repaired), to get their engine across.

December 24, about 12.30 at night, the store owned by General Samuel Veazie, and occupied by Abel Merrill, Junior, was burned. The goods, valued at $1,900, were all consumed, together with three hundred and fifty dollars in cash. The building was not insured, but the goods were insured for $1,500.

[1828.] On January 27, General Veazie's house, situated where Mr. Woodbury B. Purinton now lives, was partially burned.

[1842.] July 25, a fine new ship of about four hundred tons, on the stocks, and nearly completed, was destroyed by fire at the yard of John Godfrey. The heat was so intense that the house of Mr. F. T. Purinton, a few rods distant (near the junction of Main and Green Streets), took fire several times, but was saved by the exertions, of the firemen. A stable and chaise-house near, belonging to Mr. Purinton, were consumed, and a dwelling-house, occupied by Mr. Small, was much damaged by fire and water.

The vessel was valued, as she stood, at $15,000. She was owned by Mr. Godfrey, and Messrs. Frost, Haskell, Perkins, and Mallet, the greater part of the loss falling, however, upon Mr. Godfrey. No insurance. The whole loss, including buildings, etc.. was estimated at not less than $20,000.

[1843.] The woods in the eastern part of the town were burned. Probably what was known as the "undivided."

[1844.] March 25, the house of Mr. Leiden Cook was destroyed by fire.

[1845.] May 12, woods burned.

[1850.] December 23, Mr. Rufus Rogers's mill, at the upper dam, was destroyed by fire.

December 29, Mr. Charles Thompson's store, occupied by F. T. Littlefleld, tailor, and C. A. Berry, harness-maker, was totally consumed. The contents were saved.

[1851.] January 20, Ephraim Griffin's stable was partially burned.

[1854.] Railroad bridge was partially burned this year.

[1857.] December 3, at a quarter before two o'clock in the morning, Mr. Alfred White's store was destroyed by fire.

On the 9th, about eleven and a half o'clock in the forenoon, the old Court House (Academy) was burned. It was owned at the time by Charles Thompson, Joshua Haskell, W. B. Purinton, William Dennett, and Warren Johnson.

On the 17th, John Flagg's house was totally consumed.

[1858.] January 11, the Walker house suffered slightly from fire. It was supposed to have been set on fire by an incendiary.

[1859.] In August some woods were burned.

[1860.] February 18, the old store of F. T. & W. B. Purinton, on Main Street, was burnt. Dunlap's paint-shop, also, at the same time. It was thought to be the work of an incendiary.

April 23, at one o'clock in the night, the house, barn, and sheds, with their contents, of Mr. F. W. Dearborn caught fire, and were consumed. The house was unoccupied at the time. Loss $1,800. Partially insured.

May 30, John F. Blondell's house, four miles from the village, with barn, sheds, etc., and from forty to fifty cords of wood belonging to Messrs. William and Charles T. Patten, was destroyed by fire.

[1862.] April 2, John Preston's house, barn, and sheds on the mill road, together with eight cords of wood, one half ton of hay, and two fowl, were consumed by fire. Insured partially.

[1863.] August 25, at one o'clock at night, Maxwell & Jameson's

blacksmith shop was burnt. Supposed to be the work of an incendiary. Loss, four hundred dollars. No insurance.

[1864.] April 23, the house owned by Miss Hannah Thompson and her sister, and occupied by Miss Thompson and Mrs. Merris, was burned. No insurance. July 17, the woods north of the fair grounds were burned. Considerable damage done.

[1865.] October 7, an old dwelling, belonging to Mr. Rufus Rogers, was totally consumed by fire. October 12, Wildes P. Walker's barn was set on fire, but was extinguished with but slight damage.

[1868.] April 21, at three o'clock in the morning, the barn and shed of W. D. Haskell and the barn and shed of H. P. Mallett were consumed by fire. Both were insured.

July 3, at ten o'clock in the evening, Perkins's saw-mill on the west side of the Topsham end of the toll-bridge was burned. It was the work of an incendiary. Loss $1,500. No insurance.

[1871.] May 24, in the night, a blacksmith's shop near Mr. Rufus Rogers's mill was burned.

[1873.] April 14 (to 19), Cornelius Gleason's house on the old Bowdoinham road was destroyed by fire. No insurance.

April 19, the old "Fuller" Haley house was burned. It had been unoccupied for a long time, and the fire was undoubtedly incendiary.

[1874.] June 11, the barn and hay of Charles E. White, and lumber worth $1,000, were destroyed by fire. No insurance.

August 8, at two o'clock in the morning on the Mallet road, some three or four miles from the village, Mr. Charles Purinton's house, stable, and barn were burned. Loss about $4,000. Insured for $2,000.

The following is the resume of the foregoing list.

The number of fires known to have occurred in this town is thirty-eight, an average of one in two and a half years. Of the thirty fires in which the month is given, twelve occurred in the winter, eleven in the spring, nine in the summer, and two in the autumn. The largest number occurred in December, and none in September or November. Five fires are recorded as occurring in the daytime and eight at night.

LIST OF FIRES IN HARPSWELL.

Tradition says that the lower end of Harpswell Neck was at one time burned over and the cinders, flying across to Bailey's Island, set fire to the woods on that island, and they were all destroyed. No date is given of this occurrence, but it was probably very early in the history

of the town, quite likely before its incorporation. Very few buildings have ever been destroyed by fire in this town. It is said that the only building ever burnt on Bailey's Island was an old, dilapidated school-house.

On the 23d of January. 1822, James Barstow's house on Orr's Island was burned to the ground. Mrs. Barstow, who was then seventy-four years of age and who was very fleshy, was taken out in her night-clothes and carried some distance to the house of a friend. A portion of the way she had to walk. She died three days after in consequence of the exposure. Mr. Barstow never recovered from the shock and exposure, and was at times insane. He died in 1826. The origin of the fire was a candle which was placed under and in too close proximity to a shelf.

Phineas Webber's house on Great Island caught fire, date un-known, from some boiling tar upon a stove. The house and contents were entirely destroyed. The loss was about $1,000. Insured for two hundred dollars. It was the first house in Harpswell that was ever insured.

On July 4, 1868, the Mansion House on Harpswell Neck was burned. The cause of the fire is unknown. The loss was $3,000.

There have doubtless been other fires than those enumerated, but these are all of which we have been able to learn.

Owing to the few cases recorded, no resume of the fires in this town is needed.

The first fire-engine in Brunswick was purchased in 1810, by individuals. It was a small "tub" and had to be filled by buckets. An effort was made in 1810 to induce the town to appropriate some amount towards the purchase of this engine, but the article in the warrant for this object was dismissed. In 1814 an attempt was made to induce the town "to accept of the engine," but it declined so to do. This engine was used as late as 1847, at which time Whitten & Meder's factory was burned. This engine had no name at first, but was after some years named the "Mechanic."

The first fire company in Brunswick was called the Washington Fire Club. It was certainly formed as early as 1821, and very likely at the time of purchase of the engine, in 1810. No records of this company have been found, but it is known that the membership was voluntary, and that each member agreed to have in readiness for use, one canvas bag, one bed-key, and two leathern fire-buckets. In 1825 this company had charge of the engine, as is shown by a bill against the company for repairs to the pumps of the engine. In 1826 there

were about fifty members to this club, among whom were Doctor Isaac Lincoln, Professor Parker Cleaveland, General Richard T. Dunlap, General Abner B. Thompson, General John C. Humphreys, and Mr. John Coburn.

After the "Great Fire" in 1825, the town appointed Professor Parker Cleaveland, Robert Eastman, Doctor Isaac Lincoln, Doctor Jonathan Page, and John Coburn a committee to purchase a new engine, and eight hundred dollars was appropriated for the purpose, with the proviso that any unexpended balance should be used for building an engine-house. The selectmen were also this year directed to increase the number of engine-men to twenty-five. This second engine was the "Hydraulian." It was made in Philadelphia. It had a suction attachment, not flexible like those of the present day, but of straight copper tubing, with curved joints. There were platforms over each wheel, upon which three or four men stood to aid those who stood on the ground in working the breaks. This engine was sold in 1852, in exchange for the "Protector No. 4."

No records of the Hydraulian Engine Company have been found previous to its reorganization in 1843, but it is known that Professor Cleaveland was especially instrumental in its organization. He was its first commander, and held the position for twenty years. He was always one of the first on the ground at a fire, always managed the hose pipe, and always stood, when duty required, in the place of the greatest exposure and danger.

In the summer of 1828 or 1830, a force pump was erected at the upper dam. It was operated by water power, and it forced water from the river through pipes, into a large tank which was situated on the high ground west of Union Street, about where the corn-house of the Honorable C. J. Gilman now stands. From thence the water was carried, by its own gravity, through pipes to Maine Street, just north of Lincoln Street, where it flowed continuously through a standing pipe, and thence along the gutter at the side of the street to the cove, where it entered the river. This arrangement worked well in summer. but when winter came the water froze in the gutter, the street and sidewalks were overflowed and covered with ice for a long distance, and the experiment was abandoned. It was probably a private enterprise to secure the property of individuals from loss by fire, as there is nothing in the town records to indicate that the town had anything to do with it.

The third engine in Brunswick was the "Niagara, No. 3." It was purchased by the town in 1848. This engine was exchanged in 1870

for a larger and better one, called the "Niagara, No. 3," also, but which was really the fourth engine.

The early records of Niagara Engine Company have not been found. The only thing known about it prior to its reorganization is that on the evening of June 11, 1855, the company paraded the streets with torch-lights.

The records which we have seen commence in 1858. The officers of the company at that time consisted of three directors, a standing committee of four, exclusive of the first director, one steward, one assistant steward, three pipemen, one foreman of hose, five leading hosemen, three suction hosemen, two axemen, and one clerk. The latter was paid between five and ten dollars per year. During the year there were sixty-seven members in the company.

The only events worthy of mention, to be gleaned from the records, are the following:-

October 17, 1858, the company attended the funeral of Professor Cleaveland. August 7, 1860, the company was presented with a flag by Edward W. Thompson, Esquire. On December 4, of the same year, a flag was also presented by Colonel Alfred J. Stone. Probably one of these was an ensign. On July 4, 1865, the company went to Lewiston to celebrate the day. August 7, 1866, the company was disbanded, but was reorganized on the thirteenth of that month, and the old constitution and by-laws were adopted.

No entry appears in the records later than the year 1871. The fifth engine in Brunswick was called the "Protector No. 4." It was purchased in 1852. The town that year authorized the selectmen to dispose of the two old engines and to purchase a new one. Two hundred dollars was appropriated, to be added to the proceeds of the sale of the old engines. The first book of records of the Protector Company has not been found. From the second book it appears that at the first meeting, held April 3, 1854, the following officers were chosen H. M. Bowker, first director; J. H. Toothaker, second director; R. L. McManus, third director; Hiram Talbot, clerk; John Andrews, steward; John Andrews, Joseph McKeen, Charles Hinkley, A. S. Aubins, suction hosemen; Charles E. Owen, first pipeman; Jordan Snow, second pipeman; John D. Stanwood, third pipeman. C. R. Lunt, William Reed, B. Boutelle, John Hinkley, G. W. Swett, I. Taylor, A. Colby, hosemen; Curtis Harmon, A. Underhill, axemen; David Bonney, James French, torch-boys.

The sixth engine in Brunswick was the "Kennebec No. 1." It was bought in 1875.

In 1836 the village of Brunswick was created a corporation, by an act of the legislature, and invested with power "to raise money for the purchase, repair and preservation of one or more fire-engines, hose, or other apparatus for the extinguishment of fire, for the con-struction of reservoirs and aqueducts for procuring of water, and for organizing and maintaining within the limits of said territory an efficient fire department. The officers were a supervisor, clerk, treasurer, prudential committee of three, and from five to nine fire--wardens. At a meeting of this corporation, held in November, 1836, a com-mittee was appointed "to devise ways and means for protecting the village against fire."

This committee reported in favor of building eighteen brick cisterns, circular, and about twelve feet in diameter and fourteen feet deep. They also recommended the purchase of a double-chambered engine for raising the water from the cisterns and conveying it to different parts of the village. How far these recommendations were carried out is not known.

In 1875 the town purchased the two and a half inch iron pipe which had been laid by the Compressed Air Company, from the bridge to the railroad station. It was connected with the force pump of the Pulp Company, and was found to throw a powerful stream of water for a long distance, through two hundred feet of hose.

The following was the condition of the fire department of Brunswick, in March, 1876. The number of engines was three, viz., the "Niagara, No. 3," "Protector, No. 4," and "Kennebec, No. 1."

The "Niagara" was built by Hunneman & Co., of Boston, in 1870. The diameter of its cylinder is five and three fourths inches. It is a first-class machine and is provided with folding brakes. The "Protector" was built by Hunneman & Co. in 1852. The diameter of its cylinder is five inches. The "Kennebec" was made by Button & Son of Waterford, New York, in 1867. The diameter of its cylinder is ten inches. There were at this time twenty-three reservoirs in good condition.

The first engine in Topsham was purchased about 1810 by private individuals. In 1813 an effort was made to induce the town to take charge of it, but the town voted "not to accept " the gift. The next year, however, it was generously voted to accept it, "provided the town should never be at any expense either for the purchase or repairs." The town did, however, in 1826, vote, without any reservation, to

accept and take care of this engine. Like the first engine in Brunswick, this one was a small affair, and had to be filled by buckets.

The earliest fire company established in Topsham, of which there is any record, was the Lincoln Fire Club. The exact date of its organization is not known, but the regulations of the club were printed in 1829. It may, however, have been in existence for some years previously. According to their regulations, the club met four times a year, on the first Tuesdays of January, April, July, and October. Whoever was absent the whole evening was fined twenty-five cents, and if any member left the meeting without the express consent of the club he was fined twenty-five cents also. The officers were a chairman, secretary, and treasurer. In order to be eligible for membership, one must be proposed at a previous meeting and receive three fourths of the ballots of those present on the night of his election. He must also pay in the sum of one dollar as an admission fee. Honorary members were elected in the same way, but were exempt from all assessments and fines.

Each member was required, within three months after his admission to the club, to furnish himself with two good leathern fire-buckets, holding at least ten quarts each. The fire hooks and ladders were under the control of and were probably owned by this club. From there being no other officers than those mentioned, it would appear as though this club had nothing to do with Engine No. 1.

At the annual meeting in 1850 the town appropriated $1,250 to purchase a fire-engine and other apparatus, and Nahum Perkins, Sparrow Chase, and Sandford A. Perkins were chosen a committee to make the purchase.

The engine bought at this time was the "Androscoggin, No. 2." It is one of the Hunneman make, and is the only one ever bought by the town. It ranks No. 2 in size. It is one of the best engines of its class ever made, and the citizens of Topsham justly feel some pride in the good work it has done.

The company having control of this engine was formed in 1850. The first meeting was held over the store of George S. Holt on April 5. The first meeting for the election of officers was held April 15, at which time Sandford A. Perkins was chosen first foreman; Varius Stearns, second foreman; John R. Hebbard, third foreman; David Farrar, treasurer; A. G. Poland, clerk; and James Maxwell, R. P. Whitney, and Eben Colby were chosen as a standing committee.

At this meeting it was voted to have a uniform, consisting of a blue frock with red collar, red webbing belts, a glazed cap, and dark pants.,

The constitution and by-laws of the company were adopted at the annual meeting on the first Monday in May. The company at this time numbered seventy-one. June 28, 1850, the company voted to purchase an ensign. December 2, of this same year, a flag-staff was raised in front of the engine-house. July 25, 1851, the company voted to attend the firemen's jubilee to be held in Hallowell on August 6. At this celebration the company took the prize -a silver trumpet- as being the best engine of its class present. It also has taken several prizes since that time, at different celebrations of firemen.

On March 3, 1852, the company was reorganized by the choice of the following officers: F. T. Littlefield, first director; E. E. Maxwell, second director; D. A. Hall, third director; C. G. Jaques, secretary; D. A. Hall, steward. The number of members was fifty-five.

The new organization appears to have been for some reason unsatisfactory, as in August, 1853, the company was again reorganized.

In 1857, at a special town meeting held December 28, it was voted, "To authorize the selectmen to pay each man (not to exceed sixty in number) who shall faithfully perform his duty, twelve and a half cents per hour for his services while at fires, so long as there may he a well--organized fire company in Topsham village." The selectmen were also authorized to offer a reward of fifty dollars for the detection of incendiaries.

In 1860 the town forbade the company to take the engine out of town, except for fires and upon July the Fourth.

In 1869 the town voted to buy two hundred feet of hose, and to pay the members of the engine company twenty-five cents per hour when in active service.

There was never a fire-engine or a fire company in Harpswell. Fire-wardens are chosen by the town annually, and the citizens gen-erally are provided with buckets, etc., to protect their own property. The population of Harpswell is so scattered that an engine would be of no service to a large majority of the people.



Next Chapter





Wheeler & Wheeler Home About Wheeler & Wheeler Curtis Memorial Library Home
Previous Chapter Table of Contents Next Chapter

WW1878HBTH