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Fire of 1899


Block as it looked in 1896

The New Hartford Village Fire of 1899 resulted in a loss of approximately $15,000.  High northeasterly winds were blowing at the time and many buildings were threatened. The blaze, which gutted four of the nine business places in the block, was one of the worst in the history of the village.

The block was located immediately opposite Butler Memorial Hall. The fire broke out about 2 o'clock Saturday morning on December 2, 1899 in the rear of the store of J.B. German. It was discovered simul­taneously by Dan Meyers, who keeps a hotel on the east side of the street, and by Albert Goddard, who has charge of the long-distance telephone testing station, also located on the west side of the street, a short dis­tance below the block.

Mr. Meyers arose at 2:10 to take some medicine, and looking from his window, saw the flames shooting from the windows of the second story of the German building. Goddard and his wife live in the testing station and were aroused by the rumpus made by two large mastiffs which they keep in the house.

Goddard ran to the door and shouted an alarm.  Soon after the first alarm was sounded, men ran to the block and awakened two employees of Chris Jensen, the baker, who were sleeping over the establishment, and John M. Murphy, who occu­pied rooms over the market. 

Though the village boasts of two reservoirs, located on the hills a little distance south of the business section, there was not enough water in the reservoirs. As such, not a drop of water was spilled upon the flames. Several people got out private hose lines but could not use them.

Then with commendable presence of mind, Goddard made use of his wires in summoning help from Utica. The central office in Utica notified Chief Murphy, who at once directed Engine Company No. 1 to hurry to New Hartford with the engine and combination hose and chemi­cal.

Within twenty minutes after the Chemical left the house it was in New Hartford village and the engine was but a short distance behind. By that


Aftermath of 1899 fire

time the interiors of four stores were blazing furiously and the roofs of two had fallen.  Hose was laid to the Sauquoit Creek and two streams were thrown upon the fire, which had now obtained great headway.

From the German store the flames spread to right and left. Theodore Dixon's meat market was destroyed and his safe lies in the cellar with the refuse. He occupied both floors and had a large stock on hand including 100 live chick­ens and ducks, a large quantity of lard ready for shipment, and half a dozen dressed hogs which he purchased yesterday.

The Rev. I.N. Terry owned the adjoining building, but the store was unoccupied. Gen. R.U. Sherman Post G.A.R. occupied the second floor and the room contained many relics and mementos of the war, which would not have been sold at any price. This building and contents went up in smoke.

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