Victory Parade

Fire on Clay Street

Daily State Gazette 3/30/1872
About 4 o’clock yesterday morning a fire broke out in Clay street, in this city, which destroyed the church edifice, now owned and occupied by the Lutheran Christ Church congregation, and partially destroyed six houses south of the church. The early hour (being about the time of the deepest slumber) at which the alarm sounded, made the movements of assistance rather tardy. But had there been sufficiency of water the firemen would have saved the frame buildings.
The fire, it is supposed, originated from the heaters in the church, as the flames were first discovered coming out from the rear, or southwest corner, and from the location of the heaters.
The grand difficulty in the way of extinguishing the flames, arose from the fact that the water plugs were frozen up. The Eagle company first attached their hose to the plug at the corner of Mercer and Market streets, and found it frozen perfectly tight. They had sent their horses away and unreeled the hose, consequently they had to drag their carriage and hose to the corner of Lewis and Clay streets. Here they found about as much water as would fill a bucket. They next went to the canal and found water. This consumed from thirty-five to forty minutes, and of course, all this time the fire was making rapid progress upon the first building south of the church.
The Good Will succeded in making an attachment and getting water at the corner of Jackson and Market streets.
The Union cut a hole in the Stockton street bridge and put in their suction.
All the other companies ran to the canal and found water.
The Hook and Ladder apparatus, although much needed was not on the ground, in cosequence of their inability to get men to pull it.
We mention these particulars in order to show what difficulties our firemen labored under. They speak with entire certainty that with the plugs in the order in which they ought to have been found, they could have easily extinguished the fire before much damage hads been done.

The first property destroyed was the small stone church, erected a few years ago by the Messiah Church congregation. The church was neatly finished and was capable of holding 250 persons. It cost $2800. It was purchased and first occupied by the Lutheran Christ Church on the 18th day of February last. They agreed to pay $2000, and being a small and new religious enterprise the amount was about raised with some difficulty and is to be paid on the first day of April next. The insurance on the building was $700, and expires on the fifth of April next. This congregation, prior to February 13, worshipped in the Court House. Everybody feels a deep sympathy for them, and we trust will rally to their relief in this their extremity.
The next building was a double frame house, belonging to Mrs. Joseph Butterworth.
The first one was occupied by Mr. Geo. Cotton and his mother. The mother first discovered that the church was on fire and awoke her son. They got out safely, with nearly all their furniture. The loss was small. It is not true that the mother was carried out insensible. She was invited to go to a neighbor’s house, and she did so.
The next house was occupied by Mr. George Butterworth and wife. They lost a bureau filled with linen, and a bedstead, and a few other articles. The insurance upon these houses was $1,000. They were badly burned, but the insurance will probably cover the loss.
Next adjoining the above was a frame house, occupied by Charles Tomlinson, wife and two children. Mr. Tomlinson is the owner. Insured for $500. The upper story was burned. Insurance will cover the loss. Furniture all saved, but slightly damaged by water.
Wesley Adams, wife and two daughters, occupied and owned the next house. The upper part was partially burned. Damage about $300; insurance $500. Furnitureall saved. Damage to furniture, light.
George Clayton, wife and child, occupied the next house. Damage about $200; insurance $1,000.
Alfred Danser occupied the next house, is owned by Jonathan Steward, and fully insured. Damage about $200.
The furniture was piled up in the yard of Mr. Charles Nutt. The people were greatly alarmed, and supposed at one time that the whole row would be destroyed, simply on account of the frozen condition of the plugs.

There was some angry talk among the crowd during the fire, about the condition in which the plugs were found. There was some serious threats of suing the city, whose duty it seems to be to keep the fire plugs in order to protect the people from being burned out.
The destruction of the church was very much regretted by every one. Ther have been services in the church for the whole week. Yesterday being Good Friday, there were to be services during the day and communion in the evening.

True American 3/30/1872
Clay street in this city, was the scene of an extensive conflagration yesterday morning, which destroyed a church and five houses. The alarm was given, about 4 o’clock, and it was daylight before the danger had passed. The fire, as far as can be ascertained, originated through the heater in the church, and spreading to the roof, soon caused the destruction of that building. The fire passed from the roof of the church to the frame houses, nearly adjoining, and soon made havoc; and the scene, yesterday morning, was a deplorable one, as the families had to seek other quarters, and were exercised over the loss of their goods and in some instances wearing apparel.
Taking the places seriatim, we notice, first, the church. The loss on this will vary from $1,000 to $1,500. It was, until within a short time since, the church of the Second Advent, but the friends of that cause having more extensive accommodation, the church was sold to the English Lutherans, a congregation that had for the past two years, worshipped in Mercer Court House. The church is insured in the People’s Fire Insurance Company for $700. The friends worshipping in the church are poor, but in every way worthy, and the loss falls heavily on them. We would suggest that the churches in the city make a special matter of this loss; and, on a certain Sunday, to be agreed upon, make collections for the afflicted brethron. By so doing, they will aid a worthy cause, that is growing in numbers and doing much good.
Mrs. Cotton, a widow, who lived in the frame house, nearest the fire, is the worst individual sufferer. She was cleaned out, as to furniture, and her house made a charred wreck. She was suffering mentally yesterday from the loss.
Mr. George Butterworth, had his house partially burned, and a good part of his furniture. He occupied the house next to Mrs. Cotton, and is a property holder in the row.
Mr. Charles Tomlinson, who works for Mr. Rice, corner of State and Stockton streets, occupied next to Mr. Butterworth, and is a sufferer to a consiberable extent. Part of his furniture was destroyed, and he was half fearful that he had lost some money in the fire, but in a conversation with him, yesterday morning, he reported that one pocket-book, supposed to, be lost had been found, and that he was almost certain to find the other. If those two pocket books had been missing, as he at first feared, his loss, in money, would have been $300. Mr. Tomlinson estimates his loss now at $600.
Mr. Wesley Adams is next on the list of sufferers. He lost some of his furniture, but was saved total destruction of house through part of the roof being of tin.
Mr. George Clayton lost no furniture, but had his house considerably burned.
Jonathan Stewart was fortunate in being able to remove his furniture, but the house suffered considerably.
Mr. Butterworth is insured, so far as his house property is concerned, and we believe the bulk of the loss will fall on the Bucks County Company.
Mr. Cotton is uninsured, so far as her furniture is concerned. Mr. Adams loses about $600, and Mr. Clayton about $400.
The losses, footed up, amount to about $7,000, which will be more by some $2,500 than the insurance will cover.
The Fire Department was, as usual, prompt and active. Cars across Lewis street prevented the firemen getting to the Canal for some time. There was no water to be obtained from the fire plugs, corner of Lewis street, and Mercer and Clay streets -- hence the creek and canal were the resort. There was no Hook and Ladder at the scene, and some said, through that, the roofs could not be stripped as fast as was necessary to prevent the spread of the flames.
The scene was one, for nearly an hour, of wild excitement, and the fear was that the fire would spread along the row of houses in Clay street.
Honor to the firemen. They worked as they always do, with a will; and to their efforts is attributable the fact that the conflagration was prevented from spreading, and consequently the total loss no worse.

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