I’ve written earlier about Caddo’s devastating fire of November 23, 1900. It destroyed twenty-one buildings and killed George Ahren. Now, however, thanks to Rozell Thomas’s recent book of articles extracted from the Caddo newspapers of 1874-1900, I’ve learned that Caddo actually had two fires in 1900! The first was in May.
Caddo Herald, May 18, 1900
“The worst fire by far that Caddo has had in ten years occurred Monday night at 9o’clock. The damage as near as can be estimated being $40,000. Only the heroic efforts of our citizens and a very hard rain prevented the entire business portion of town from being destroyed.
The fire originated in the rear of A.C. Hancock’s store building and by the time anyone could get there the whole end was ablaze. Efforts were then turned toward saving other buildings. The brick building occupied by the Choctaw National Bank was next to catch and was within about an hour consumed. Several other buildings caught fire but were put out time and again. A large crowd of workers saved the wooden buildings, adjoining the bank, from burning. Just before the wall of the bank building fell a heavy rain began to fall, and when it did a mighty shout went up from the crowd for it was the rain which saved the town.
The streets and sidewalks were thronged with crowds of people who were engaged in moving goods from the burning buildings and from those in immediate danger. When the west wall of the bank building fell, it crushed the roof of the frame building occupied by G. W. Phillips and thus kept the fire from spreading in that direction.
The rain, while it put out the fire, ruined nearly all the goods that had been taken form the stores, so the loss was made heavier.
Different opinions are extant as to the cause of the fire, but the only one which is certain, is that it is known.
A statement of losses as given to us are:
C.A. Hancock, store building and goods- loss $21, 500, insurance $16,200
Loss on building occupied by Bank- loss $3,500, insurance $2,000
C.E. McPherren, office in Bank building- books, papers and furniture, loss $600, no insurance
City of Caddo- starionery, blanks, books and records- $250
Choctaw National Bank, furniture (books, papers, and safe saved in the vault)- loss $1,500, fully covered
G.W. Phillips, loss on stock in moving and by water- loss $2,500, insurance $1,000
Joseph Hydler, loss in moving goods and furniture- loss $300, fully covered
J.F. Lamb, damage in moving stock- loss $200, no insurance
E.O. Harrison, damage to stock in moving- loss $2,000, insurance $1,000
E. T. Hammer, damage to stock in moving- loss $500, no insurance
R.T. Lynch, damage to furniture in moving- loss $75, fully covered
Ben Siegel, damage to stock in moving and water- loss $1,000, fully covered
F. W. Haney, damage in moving tools- loss $50
Frank Bros., damage furniture by move and rain- loss $50, fully covered
J.R. Bryant, damage to harness in moving- loss $300
Craig & Savage, damage in moving goods- loss $200, no insurance
John Droke, small damage in moving goods
Arnold & Attaway, damage stock by move and water- loss $4,000, fully covered. The building occupied by them was damaged by fire some. The building W. H. Ainsworth was damaged some in front.
About $2,000 worth of goods were saved from the Hancock Building, but they were badly damaged by rain and rough handling. They were moved Tuesday to the Odd Fellows Building near the Herald office. Nothing is being done with the goods which were ruined by the rain until the adjusters come.
The Choctaw National Bank opens up Wednesday in the Iron Pace Building and will remain there until their new brick is built. Their quarters are not as convenient as could be desired, but the officers deserve praise for getting ready for business so soon.
New bricks will be built on the lots of the burned buildings at once.
This was a narrow escape for Caddo. A little less rain and the town would have gone. Rain cannot always be depended upon to fight fire, so we ought to think about being ready should another fire occur.”
What ironic words!!! I’m just amazed that Caddo recovered from two major fires in one year.