Hinckley and the Fire of 1894 (Images of America) by Alaina Wolter Lyseth

By Alaina Wolter Lyseth

Think a strength in nature extra robust than a number of atomic bombs—that was once the good Hinckley fireplace of September 1, 1894. in just 4 hours, the fireplace incinerated over four hundred sq. miles of woodland, killed at the least 418 settlers and an unknown variety of forest-dwelling local american citizens, and destroyed six cities in a firestorm of flame. the weather that resulted in this exceptional disaster integrated careless logging practices, a drought, freakish climate, and suspected sparks from passing locomotives. the tale of the 1894 fireplace is a saga of devastation, heartbreak, heroism, survival, desire, and rebuilding that captured world wide consciousness. lately chanced on images supply a backdrop for a clean examine the occasions surrounding the catastrophe and the braveness of the pioneers who survived to inform the story.

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Pictured here is horse trader Joe Harrison, who went missing after the fire. Standing strong against the flames and gale-force winds of the fire was this single surviving white pine tree. It remained a landmark on the old government road east of Hinckley for many years. It eventually succumbed to age and the elements, but travelers will always remark upon a route named Lone Pine Road. 36 Dutch immigrants Joseph and Patronella Williams had settled in Hinckley. On that terrible day, as Joseph Williams was deciding whether his family should flee for their lives, Patronella was soaking the family savings in water and stuffing it in her purse.

Posing are, from left to right, Harvey Reid, Charles O’Malley, Roy and Frank Patrick (John’s sons, both fire survivors), and Arvid Anderson. All Hinckley Town Council members survived the catastrophe, including Mayor Lee Webster. He had settled in the town in 1877, finding work in the lumber trade as a teamster and a saw-setter in the mills. In 1890, he opened the first furniture store in town. The newspaper editor commented that his motto should be “Birth, Marriage, and Death” because his inventory included baby carriages, home furnishings for newlyweds, and coffins.

50), one wringer ($3), and a washboard, plus $5 in cash to purchase soap and bluing for their laundry business. McNeal lived for 11 more years, dying from “old age” on a date estimated to be just shy of her 100th birthday. C. Bartlett built this hotel and named it after himself. J. Rolle purchased the inn and decided to rename the business. He distributed printed cards among traveling salesmen and offered a prize for the best suggestion. The winning entry, “Phoenix,” refers to a bird in Egyptian mythology that was consumed by fire and later rose, renewed, from its ashes.

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