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PART II, CHAPTER 6.
|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|
|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 A portion of the library of Reverend Doctor Woods was burned and many valuable historical documents were destroyed.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
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).
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
[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.
[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
[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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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.,
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.
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