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HISTORY OF THE
GREAT FIRE IN BOSTON

NOVEMBER 9 AND I0, 1872.

BY
COL. RUSSELL H. CONWELL.



Sicut patribus, sit Deus nobis.

BOSTON:
PUBLISHED BY B. B. RUSSELL,
55 CORNHILL.
PHILADELPHIA: QUAKER-CITY PUBLISHING-HOUSE.
SAN FRANCISCO: L. BANCROFT & CO.
DETROIT: R. D. S. TYLER.
TORONTO, ONT.: JAMES SPENCER.

1873.

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1872, by
B. B. RUSSELL,
In the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington.
 
TO
THE CITY OF CHICAGO,
WHO,
NOTWITHSTANDING HER RECENT SUFFERING AND LOSSES, WAS THE
FIRST TO OFFER ASSISTANCE
IN THE HOUR OF BOSTON’S GREATEST TRIAL,
This Volume
IS DEDICATED.



PREFACE.

SCHOLARS often regret, that, in their careful research, so few descriptive accounts can be found of the great conflagrations which destroyed the ancient cities of Europe and Asia; and writers frequently suffer much inconvenience because the extensive fires of modern times have not been more fully and concisely described by the pen of the historian.

It is to supply such future demands, as well as to place before the present generation a readable and trustworthy account of the great fire in Boston, that the author undertakes this delicate and arduous work.

COLLEGE HILL, SOMERVILLE, MASS.,
Nov. 16, 1872.



ACKNOWLEDGMENTS.

THE thanks of the author are due to many gentlemen for kindly assistance, and to ladies in securing information for this volume. The haste with which such a work must be prepared in order to meet the public demand has made the cheerful aid which his friends have so freely extended of great value to him. He would therefore express his gratitude in this manner to the following gentlemen: Hon. Nathaniel B. Shurtleff, Hon. William Gaston, Gen. James A. Cunningham, Hon. William Gray, Mrs. William Claflin, Col. Charles H. Taylor, Mr. Edward P. Bond of the New-England Shoe and Leather Association, Hon. A. H. Rice, Col. E. H. Savage, Mr. E. M. Bacon, Mr. John S. Damrell, Mr. B. F. Priest of “The Daily Transcript,” Mr. W. D. Hayden, Mr. L. G. Farmer, Hon. J. M. S. Williams, Mrs. William H. Hartshorn, and Miss Emma S. Dow.



ILLUSTRATIONS.

I. — GROUP, steel engraving; viz.,
               Portraits of Mayor Gaston, and
Chiefs Damrell and Savage
II. — BOSTON IN FLAMES on the night of the conflagration (colored)
III. — BEEBE’S BLOCK before the fire, and BEEBE’s BLOCK in ruins
IV. — MAP OF BOSTON, showing the burnt districts
V. — BOSTON IN RUINS
VI. — FRANKLIN STREET before the fire, and
               FRANKLIN STREET in ruins

VII. — NIGHT-SCENE, — Franklin Street
VIII. — NIGHT-SCENE, — Summer Street
IX. — VIEW OF THE RUINS from Summer Street
X. — VIEW OF RAND, AVERY, AND CO.’s
               PRINTING-ESTABLISHMENT, Cornhill



CONTENTS.


CHAPTER I.
AN HISTORICAL SKETCH OF BOSTON.

The First Settler. — The Massachusetts Colony at Charlestown. — The Wonderful Spring. — Gov. Winthrop. — First Streets. — Growth of the Colony. — Widow Anne Tuthill’s Windmill. — Curious Laws. — First Church. — North Church. — old South Church. — King’s Chapel. — Trinity Church. — St. Stephen’s Church. — Home of Benjamin Franklin. — Fort Hill. — Names of Streets. — The Mineral Spring. — Quaker Meeting-House. — Historic Localities

CHAPTER II.
GREAT FIRES IN BOSTON.

Address of Hon. Robert C. Winthrop. — Great Fire on Hanover Street. — First Fire-Company. — Conflagration in Dock Square. — First Fire-Department. — Blowing up Houses. — Destruction of Cornhill by Fire. — Second Fire on Cornhill. — First Contributions in Aid of Sufferers by Fire. — Church-street District. — other Fires.

CHAPTER III.
BEFORE THE FIRE.

Saturday Evening. — An Hour before the Fire. — Boston Happy. — Presentiments. — The Horse-Disease. — ominous Indications of the Coming Calamity. — Editorial Dinner. — Shop-Girls. — Millionnaires. — Thoughtlessness in Time of Alarm. — Box 52. — The Weather. — State House.

CHAPTER IV.
BEGINNING OF THE GREAT FIRE.

Leman Klous’s Building. — origin of the Fire. — Its Discovery. — Appearance. — The Alarm. — Arrival of the Engines. — Description of the Wild Fire. — The Excitement. — Beebe’s Block. — The Raging Demons of Fire. — Otis Street. — Summer Street. — Bedford Street. — Against the Wind. — Destruction of Dry-Goods. — Trinity Church

CHAPTER V.
SPREADING NORTHWARD.

Hawley Street. — Franklin Street. — Business-Houses destroyed. — Arch Street. — Devonshire Street. — Franklin Street. — Progress of the Flames. — The Flagstaff. — Federal Street. — Congress Street. — The Ruined Ones. — The Whirlwind. — The Boot and Shoe Marts. — Pearl Street. — Oliver Street. — Milk Street.

CHAPTER VI.
QUELLING THE FIRE.

New Post-office. — The Beginning of the End. — Battling the Flames. — Congress Street. — Liberty Square. — Lindall Street. — Broad Street. — The old Post-office. — Removal of the Mails. — The Horrid Din. — Sublime Scenes. — Boston by Firelight. — Boston by Gaslight.            74-78

CHAPTER VII.
THE PEOPLE.

Citizens of Boston. — Their Faith. — Confidence in tho Fire-Department. — Waiting too Long. — Excited Crowds. — Saving of Merchandise. — Fear and Dismay. — Call for Powder. — The Awful Uproar. — Moving Household Furniture. — Scenes Distant from the Fire. — The Firemen. — Crowded Streets. — The Morning. — Sight-Seers. — The Soldiery. — Comparison with a Bombarded City.

CHAPTER VIII.
THE RUINS.

Appearance of the Burnt District. — Blockaded Streets. — Bewildered Explorers. — Safes and Vaults. — Visitors. — Sentinels. — Cragged Walls. — The Ruins by Moonlight. — Gradual Expiration of the Fires. — Clearing the Streets. — Photographers. — New Post-office Building. — Militia Lines. — Strangers in Boston. — First Week after the Fire.

CHAPTER IX.
THE HEROIC DEAD.

True Heroes. — Death by Fire. — Frank D. Olmstead. — His Self-Sacrifice. — Albert C. Abbott. — Lewis Porter Abbott. — Capt. Daniel Cochrane. — Walter S. Twombly. — Capt. William Farry. — William S. Frazer. — others injured and killed        100-109

CHAPTER X.
GOD’S HELP.

Turning to the Almighty. — Sermons on the Fire. — Rev. Dr. Manning. — Rev. W. H. H. Murray. — Rev. W. R. Alger. — Rev. Dr. Webb. — Rev. John F. Beckley. — Rev. Dr. Bartol. — Rev. Phillips Brooks. — Rev. J. R. Cushing. — Rev. A. J. Gordon. — Rev. W. H. Baldwin. — Rev. J. F. W. Ware. — Rev. George L. Chaney. — Rev. W. F. Mallalieu. — Rev. S. K. Lothrop, D.D. — Rev. Robert Collyer. — Rev. James B. Dunn. — Rev. Dr. Lorimer. — Rev. J. J. Lewis. — Rev. V.M. Simons. — Rev. Rollin H. Neale. — Rev. Dr. Talmage. Rev. Henry Ward Beecher.

CHAPTER XI.
MAN’S HELP.

Chicago the First to offer Assistance. — Wirt Dexter’s Speech. — Boston’s Sympathy for Chicago. — Resolutions. — Despatch from D. L. Moody. — The Masons of Chicago. — Arrival of Chicago Relief Committee. — Speech of Rev. Robert Laird Collier. — Report of the Chicago Relief Committee. — New-York Chamber of Commerce. — Speech of Hon. William A. Dodge. — Brooklyn, N.Y. — St. Louis. — Other Cities. — old Boston in England.

CHAPTER XII. 
HELPING OURSELVES.

The Section of the City destroyed. — Homeless Ones. — Relief Committee. — Names. — Resolutions. — Navy-Yard Employment. — Report of a Committee Meeting. — Hesitation about receiving Aid from Abroad. — Miss Jennie Collins and the Sewing-Girls. — Kinds of Employment. — How the Work was done. — Rather work than beg. — Generous Giving. — Protest against the Issue of more Currency. — Temporary Provision fox All.      

CHAPTER XIII.
THE FIRE-DEPARTMENT.

Past Services of the Fire-Department. — Lack of Water. — No Horses. — First Hose-Carriage at the Fire. — First Steamer. — Different Alarms. — Chief Engineer Damrell. — Companies from out of Town. — Unadjustable Hose. — Heroic Conduct. — Sad Fate. — Protest of the Board of Engineers. — Blowing up Buildings. — Mr. Damrell objects to the Use of Powder. — Is persuaded to use it. — Effectiveness of the Explosion — Major-Gen. Benham. — Gifts for the Relief of Firemen. — The Board of Engineers

CHAPTER XIV.
THE MILITIA.

Promptness of the Soldiers. — Excellent Performance of Duty. — Gen. Cunning-ham’s order. — Names of the Military Organizations. — Conflict of Orders. — Ludicrous Exhibition of Military Rule. — Clearing City Hall. — Troops in the old South Church. — Field and Staff. — Farewell order of Gen. I. S. Barrill.

CHAPTER XV.
THE POLICE.

Making Arrests. — Capturing Stolen Property. — Mistaken Vigilance. — The Jails filled. — Class of People arrested. — The Small Number proved to be Dishonest. — The State Police. — Dark Night. — Drunkenness. — Closing of Liquor-Saloons. — New-York Roughs. — Their Interception. — Police Relief Fund.

CHAPTER XVI.
THE TRADES.

Boot and Shoe Trade. — Early Manufactories. — Shoe and Leather Trade Fifty Years Ago. — Wilde’s Hotel. — The First Traders. — The Hon. Amasa Walker. — Moving into Pearl Street. — South Street. — Pearl Street before the Shoe-Dealers. — Amount of Trade. — The American House. — Statement of Losses. — Occupation of Fort Hill. — The Wool-Trade. — Amounts imported. — Amount destroyed. — The Paper-Trade. — Large Houses destroyed. — Effect on the Market. — The Dry Goods Trade. — Enormous Stock destroyed. — The Clothing-Business. — The Hardware-Trade. — Number of Firms burned out.

CHAPTER XVII.
INSURANCE AND THE LEGISLATURE.

Character of Insurance. — Amount of Losses. — Companies paying in Full. — Formation of New Companies. — Resolution of the Relief Committee. — Necessity for a City Loan. — Meeting of the Governor’s Council. — Speech of the Hon. William Gray and Others. — Application by the Insurance-Companies. — Proclamation by the Governor. — Convening of the Legislature    

CHAPTER XVIII.
NEWSPAPERS AND MAGAZINES.

“The Boston Daily Evening Transcript” — Historical Notice. — Description of the Building. — “The Boston Post.” — Narrow Escape from Destruction. — ”The American Homes.” — Suffering the Second Time. — “The Pilot.” — Mr. Donahoe’s loss. — ” Waverley Magazine.” — ”Boston Journal of Commerce” — ”The Saturday-evening Gazette.” — List of Periodicals burned out. — State Printers.

CHAPTER XIX.
FACTS AND FIGURES.

Report of United-States Signal-officer. — The Police from other Cities. — The Heaviest Losers. — Resolutions by the Lumber-Dealers. — The Removal of Bullion from the Sub-Treasury. — The Work of opening Safes. — Destruction of the Vault belonging to the Freeman’s National Bank. — Five-cent Savings Bank. — Emigrant Savings Bank. — The Loss to Harvard College. — Remarkable Incidents. — The Insurance-Companies. — The Methodist Seminary. — Straightening Streets. — Mansard Roofs. — Boston, Hartford, and Erie Railroad Station. — Breaking-out of the Second Fire. — Rand, Avery, and Co. — The Third Fire. — The old South Church. — The Chicago Fire.

CHAPTER XX.
SCENES AND INCIDENTS.

The Little Leader of the Blind. — An Heroic Boy. — Boston by Candlelight. — Payment of Gas-Bills. — Curiosity. — Gratitude. — The Stampede of Irish Tenants. — Harriet Beecher Stowe. — Generous Action of Boston Merchants. — Relic-Hunters. — Return of Stolen Property. — Incidents connected with Safes. — The Burning of “The Pilot” Office. — Appearance of the Business-Men. — Solvent Insurance-Companies. — Extortionate Draymen. — South Boston under Fire. — Burning to Death. — Ludicrous Signs. — “Her Clara.” — “Cannot beat Chicago.” — Passing the Guards.

CHAPTER XXI.
THE EFFECT.

The Influence of our Loss upon Other Cities. — Cannot suffer Alone. — Effect upon Working-Men and Working-Women. — Ruined Walls, but Unbroken Courage. — The Better Boston.


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