|Google map placemark shows location of former Hitchcock Manufacturing Co.|
Cortland Evening Standard, Wednesday, April 5, 1893.
TWO FIRES IN ONE NIGHT.
THE HITCHCOCK MFG. CO.'S PLANT ALMOST MIRACULOUSLY SAVED.
Frank C. Hodges' House Also Destroyed—The Wind was Blowing a Gale—Magnificent Work by Cortland's Fire Department.
Cortland has had several bad fires in recent years which have been properly termed conflagrations. But the circumstances were never more favorable for a disastrous and widespreading conflagration than last night. The wind was blowing a perfect gale from the northwest. It was with difficulty that people could walk along the street in its teeth. When at about 8:50 in the evening the dread sound of the fire bell was heard, it sent a shiver through every one as he thought what a terrible night for a fire.
An alarm was rung in from box 324 on the corner of Elm and Pendleton-sts., and the fire proved to be in the blacksmith shop of the Hitchcock Mfg. Co. The wood shop of this concern extends from Elm-st. south, parallel with the D., L. & W. tracks. About seventy-five feet back from Elm-st. and parallel with it, extending westward from the wood shops is the two-story blacksmith shop, more than one hundred feet long. The first floor was used for the blacksmith shop, the second floor being a kind of store room. At this point it is closely surrounded by a large number of wooden buildings, so that a fire starting in that place was in a very bad neighborhood as far as the safety of the surrounding property is concerned.
A number of people claim to be the first ones to have discovered the fire, and it is likely that several saw it at about the same time. When first noticed the blaze was bursting out of the north side of the blacksmith shop about twenty feet from the west end of the shop
The fire department responded very promptly. Chief N. J. Peck was at the Tioughnioga club rooms when the bell sounded. Many of the firemen were at the armory. The wind swept the fire down through the shop like a race-horse and before the firemen with all their haste could arrive it had almost reached the doors of the woodshop. If it had once gained admittance there it would have been in the midst of a veritable tinderbox and nothing on earth could have saved the entire plant of the Hitchcock Mfg. Co. situated on the west side of the railroad tracks.
But it was not destined to get into that shop. Very quickly the Hitchcock Hose Co. laid a line of hose from the hydrant in front of their hose house which is across the street from the factory and directed a stream of water into the base of the fire. But the blaze had passed them there, and they were determined to get ahead of it and keep it back. The line was shifted through the workshop until the nozzle was put through the door between the wood and blacksmith shops and the blaze was met squarely in front. As it was driven back the Hitchcock boys, who perfectly knew every foot of the way, followed it up. Their stream had just been turned on when the remainder of the department arrived. Chief Peck took a hurried glance at the situation and directed the remainder of the Hitchcock company and the Orris boys to put two streams into the base of the fire on the south side of the building.
Water Witch and Emerald hose companies each put a stream in on the north side, the former upon the roof at the north-east corner and the latter upon the ground.
First Assistant A. G. Bosworth had charge of the north side of the building, and Second Assistant Frank Burns of the south side. A sixth stream was put in at the west end by Emerald and Orris together, and these two companies together directed another stream at the south-west corner.
For a time it looked as though the building would certainly go. But the tin roof, though very bad to fight under, was valuable in keeping the fire within bounds. The buildings too were fitted throughout with the J. C. Mackey sprinklers and through the window it could be seen that where the valves had been melted off they were doing good service, for the water was flowing in great streams. The officers of the Hitchcock company directed that the valves should be tapped in several places in the wood shop on the first floor next the blacksmith shop and everything was soaked down here, so that it would have been difficult for fire to catch had it reached that point, but it never got there. The Hitchcock Co. too had a duplex pump with a capacity of 1,000 gallons per minute and this was started and was pouring the water through the sprinkler system with great force.
About twenty minutes after the department arrived Chief Peck was advised to send to Homer for help, but he believed he could confine the fire to the blacksmith shop without additional help. Besides, every hydrant in the vicinity was in use. But he bethought himself of one of the old wells which antedated the hydrants and which is situated on the corner of Greenbush and Venette-sts., and he summoned the steamer, which attached to this and so put the eighth streams on the fire.
In another half hour, the fire was under control. All but about 500 feet of hose that there is in town was used. The Hitchcock horse and cart was sent to the engine house three times for a fresh supply. At the time when the fire was at its height the wind poured smoke and sparks over to the south and it looked as though the houses and barns adjoining the shop on Venette-st. must go. Much of the furniture was removed from some of the houses, but it was afterward replaced.
At about 11:30 the steamer and Water Witch Hose Co. were released and directed to return to the engine house and prepare for any other fire that might occur. Fifteen minutes later the fire was out and all the companies except the Hitchcock were released and two men from each Orris and Emerald companies who were detailed to remain all night and see to it that the fire did not start again.
THE SECOND FIRE.
The Water Witch company had just reached the engine house and had prepared their cart for a new alarm when the alarm came in from box 312, on the corner of Clinton-ave. and Washington-st. This fire proved to be in the two-story frame house of Mr. Frank C. Hodges which stands on the east side of Rickard-st., within twenty feet of the river. This fire was first discovered in the northeast corner of the second floor of the house directly over the kitchen and is supposed to have been caused by a defective chimney.
The Water Witch company started at full speed for the fire. The other companies had just begun to gather up their hose at the Hitchcock fire when they heard the alarm. They filled their reel as fast as possible and hurried over. There was no hydrant nearer than the one on the corner of Grant and Washington-sts. The hose that Water Witch had joined with Orris, which arrived second, was just enough to lay one stream to the burning house, but there was light pressure of the water after going through so long a line. Chief Peck grasped the situation at a glance when he arrived from the Hitchcock fire and, rushing over to his barn on Washington-st., he mounted his horse and rode at full speed to the engine house and ordered the steamer to report at the fire instantly. It was soon on the way. Meanwhile all the furniture was removed from the lower rooms in the house and was placed in the Street.
Another house also owned by Mr. Hodges, and occupied by Mr. J. L., stands on the south side of this and is only distant from it by about twelve feet, and this too was emptied by the willing hands. But when all the furniture of these two houses had been placed in the street there seemed to be no one to guard it. The Protective
Police who had done good service at the first fire failed wholly to appear at this one with the exception of about five men. This was a cause of much annoyance to the department and it is understood that a number of things were stolen for the lack of proper guarding.
When the steamer arrived it was placed on the banks of the river and two streams were turned on the burning building. Every one believed, up to this time, that the other house must be destroyed too, but every window and blind on it on the side toward the burning building was closed and it was kept soaked with water. To this is due the fact that it stands to-day. Only the shell remains of the north house.
CAUSE OF THE HITCHCOCK FIRE.
The cause of the fire in the Hitchcock blacksmith shop is not definitely known. It is believed to have originated from a spark from one of the forges, though there are those who think that it may have been incendiary, and claim that there are good reasons for that belief. The night watchman, Mr. J. Suits, went through the shops at 7 o'clock and found fires in two forges which he extinguished. On his 8 o'clock trip there was no sign of fire any where. He had not reached the blacksmith shop on his 9 o'clock trip when the fire was discovered.
INSURANCE AND PROSPECTS.
A STANDARD reporter called upon Secretary H. L. Gleason this morning and made some inquiry regarding losses, insurance and future prospects. Mr. Gleason said that the total loss would probably not exceed $10,000 and it might figure up considerably less than that. Up to within a few weeks the Hitchcock company had carried a blanket policy of about $120,000, but several policies have lately been canceled, so that there is now a blanket policy of $50,000 on the entire plant. This is nearly all placed with companies outside of this state and is not obtained through any local agents. Mr. Gleason was making arrangements to increase the insurance to $150,000. One policy of $2,500 was received thin morning after the fire. It was dated March 31 though, so it will hold good.
MR. HODGES' INSURANCE.
It is impossible yet to tell Mr. Hodges' loss but he has $2,000 insurance on his house placed $1,000 each with L. Davis & Son and F. L. Bosworth. His furniture is also insured for $300 with L. Davis & Son.
Chief N. J. Peck wishes through the columns of the STANDARD to express his sincere thanks and deep appreciation of the services of the various companies of the fire department at the two fires last night. He finds nothing to criticize on the part of any member and good words to say of all.
At the Hodges fire last night First Assistant A. G. Bosworth had the misfortune to run a sharp wire nail through the sole of his rubber boot into his foot, it was extracted with difficulty and bled profusely. Mr. Bosworth rode home and to-day is as comfortable as could be expected.
All to-day there have been rumors of half a dozen fires besides these two, all of which were extinguished without sounding an alarm. But it is impossible to verify any of the reports.
Too much cannot be said in praise of the magnificent work done last night by Chief Peck and all the firemen. Cortland has a fire department of which any place large or small could justly feel proud. Cortland is proud of her fire laddies and fully appreciates their grand work.
One of the first things necessary when the fight with the flames began, was to turn off the current from all the incandescent lights in town. The standard supporting all of the wires rested on the roof of the blacksmith shops and it would have been exceedingly dangerous to fight fire where live wires were likely at any time to drop.
The wind blew a window out of the top story of the shops of the Cortland Omnibus & Cab Co. last night. Night Watchman Richard J. Turner found it out about 9 o'clock and found sparks from the Hitchcock fire coming in. He stamped out the sparks and boarded up the window.
THE CARNIVAL OPENED.
FORTY-FIFTH BOYS WIN ALL THE ATHLETIC CONTESTS.
Large Crowds—Exciting Events, Choice Music—Details of Everything—To-night's Program.
The Carnival of athletics and music given by the Cortland City band and the Forty-fifth Separate Co., N. G. S. N. Y., in the armory last evening was a grand success in every respect, notwithstanding the numerous counter-attractions. Eleven hundred people were present and all report a most enjoyable time. The band made a parade on Main-st. about 7:30 o'clock, after which they returned to the armory and rendered a number of choice selections till shortly after 8 o'clock when the contests began.
For some unaccountable reason the teams from the Second Separate Co. of Auburn, the Forty-eighth of Oswego and the Syracuse Athletic association did not put in an appearance. It looked very much as if the Forty-first of Syracuse which was present was the only team that had "sand" enough to tackle our boys. In the first tug of war contest Cortland got the drop by one inch. They gained a half an inch the first minute and another half-inch the second. They then held their own for another minute, gained another half an inch the fourth minute and at the end of the five minutes won the contest by three inches.
In the half mile relay race the Forty-fifth's team had the start in the beginning and easily won the first heat in 2:04. The second heat in the tug of war was then pulled and resulted as follows: The Cortland team as usual got the drop, but only by a half an inch. At the end of the first minute they had gained an inch and a half, at the end of the second minute another half inch. The boys then rested a minute holding the rope at two and one-half inches at the end of three minutes. An inch was gained at the end of the fourth minute and another at the end of the fifth, the Cortland boys defeating those from Syracuse by 4 1/2 inches. This made two tug of war heats making the Forty-fifth winners of the contest and thereby winning the onyx clock.
The second heat in the relay race was won by Cortland in 2.07. The first quarter was run in one minute, flat. This gave the Cortland team the silver water set.
The Syracuse tug of war team, consisting of Messrs. Willamot, George Sponable, C. Clearwater and John C. Melligan, and the racing team, consisting of Messrs. Clark, C. S. Smith, Edward Daniels and John Stobo, are both strong teams, but are not a comparison to our boys. In the tugs of war the Syracuse team attempted to win by a sort of a see-saw while the Cortland team made one steady pull.
The tugs of war contests took place on a high platform so that every one in the armory was able to witness them. One noticeable feature, also, was the absence of the maiden with the book, begging subscriptions for contests.
Shortly before 9 o'clock when the fire alarm sounded over half of those in the armory rushed to the fire, but many returned and dancing was indulged in to the entrancing strains of the City band and Daniels' orchestra.
The visiting company were royally entertained by the Forty-fifth boys and although they did not carry off any of the prizes they all took their defeat good naturedly and told the Cortland boys that they could not pull against them. They abused our "baby anchor" somewhat but he was protected and well taken care of by the larger members of the company.
The interior of the armory was neatly decorated with bunting and a sign of "Welcome to our Guests" was a conspicuous object on the east end of the hall. In the front end of the hall in the center was Beaudry's candy booth while at the left of the entrance was a stand where Messrs. Miles Wilson, J. E. Perry and C. D. Hyde dispensed soft drinks to the thirsty multitude. In the northeast corner ice cream and cake were daintily served by Misses Lillian Hotchkiss and Annie O'Brien. The booth was beautifully decorated with the stars and stripes.
The band rendered some of their most choice music between the tugs of war contents and races.
The Cortland relay team consists of Messrs. John Reagan, Adam Harkness, James Gaffney and Robert Mills. The Forty-fifth tug of war team is too well known to need mentioning.
To-night the most interesting races of the week will be run, consisting of a ten-mile, half-mile and quarter-mile foot races, followed by dancing for which the full band will furnish music.
It might be a good idea to pass a law requiring people to wear their clothes on the stage.—Galveston News.
A Neat Building.
The new Miller block is nearly completed and is one of the best and most substantial in town. It is a twin sister to the block just north. The front is of Philadelphia pressed brick and the pillars and cornice are of galvanized iron. The woodwork in front is of white wood with a cherry finish. The store, which has not been rented as yet, is twenty feet five inches by ninety-two feet and is very neat and attractive. The interior is all plastered with the Eureka plaster, which is as hard as stone. The third floor is left in one room, while the second floor has been fitted up for Mr. M. DeVere Wescott as a photograph gallery. Large heavy fire doors are between the two blocks. The building will be lighted with electricity throughout. Mr. N. P. Meager is the contractor and builder.
—Mr. W. W. Gale is moving his home from the Wickwire block on Main-st. to 20 Groton-ave.
— Adjourned meeting of the J. L. Lewis Lodge, I. O. O. F., at 8 o'clock this evening.
—Twelve cans of young trout, each can containing 5,000 fish, were received yesterday from the Caledonia hatchery to be distributed in the trout brooks of this county.
— Owing to the high water in the Tioughnioga river, Cooper Bros. had to shut down their foundry and machine shop this morning, as it was impossible for their water wheel to run.
—Everett Vosburgh of Freetown, N. Y., who was late a private of company D, 16th Regiment of New York heavy artillery volunteers, has just been allowed a pension under act o f June 27, 1890, whereby he receives about $250 arrearages and $8 per month in the future. L. P. Hollenbeck of Cortland, N. Y., is his attorney.
—Packages are being made up to send to the Normal Institute at Hampton, Va. Clothing of all kinds and books and papers for children are solicited. All interested in this work can leave anything they have to donate at W. C. T. U. rooms, Saturday afternoon, April 15, or any time before that with the superintendent of the Department of Freedmen at 87 Elm-st.
—The church was again crowded last night to hear Mr. Weber, the evangelist. The alarm of fire was sounded during the after meeting, but Mr. Weber did not lose his head and succeeded in keeping the audience quiet. The meeting proved to be a very interesting one. There were thirteen seekers. To-night the subject will be "Hell."