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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : blogsold : verde heritage January 25, 2015

Verde Heritage
By Glenda Farley, Cottonwood, AZ
Local historian Glenda Farley guides us on a journey back in time to discover fascinating moments that make up our Verde heritage and history.
Monday, December 3, 2012

1917 COTTONWOOD FIRE; December 3.

Verde Heritage

"A fire that was almost a general conflagration quickly consumed six or seven business houses at Cottonwood early this morning, and only for the fact of streets intervening on two sides and a concrete building on another, there would be little left of the business part of the town today."

"The buildings that are burned were an ice cream parlor, the Cottonwood Hardware company's store, Ed Jones' place, Young and Hansohn's store which formerly was occupied by Armstrong brothers, a root beer stand with a cleaning establishment in the same building, Joe Hall's restaurant and the bakery and drug store of Judd Rounseville."

"It started this morning about 2 o'clock, nobody knows how, in the rear of the ice cream parlor. A general alarm was given and the whole populace quickly turned out."

"Both north and south it spread quickly consuming the store and contents of the Cottonwood Hardware company, which was recently opened. Its owner, Mr. Borwn, previously was a carpenter and contractor at Cottonwood. He carried a stock of secondhand goods and light hardware, having considerable of the latter en route from the coast. Its loss will be keenly felt, as hardware stores are not plentiful in the Verde country, there being a few small light stock and only one claiming to be a regular one, which is in Jerome."

"Ed Jones' place adjoined this and it went the same route, but here the fire ran into the solid wall of the concrete building recently erected by Mrs. M. A. Stemmer, which brought its progress northward to a halt."

"Southerly, however, the going was better and the old Armstrong store, into which Young and Hansohn had not finished moving their stock of dry goods, clothing, gents' furnishings and the like, was enveloped in flames along with the ice cream parlor. The building was a thin wooded one, which has been there just long enough for the lumber to be thoroughly dry, and its rapid destruction was inevitable."

"The building containing the root beer stand and the cleaning works was a very good one and brand new. There was no saving it."

"Less hope there was thereafter for the two story Joe Hall place. It was a restaurant and rooming house and had just been finished. The proprietor had been in business about long enough to earn the price of an insurance policy, when away went all his earnings in a few minutes."

"The Rounseville place was a large one and one of the best wooden buildings at Cottonwood. It had been talked of a great deal and its completion looked forward to on account of the great demand for a drug store. Mr. Rounseville came from Williams, as did many others at Cottonwood, and he went to a large expense to prepare for a period of strenuous activity and prosperity. The building and stock cost him probably $5000. He was just commencing to realize after months of planning, when it went up in about an hour."

"The vacant place, which is a street, to the south, saved the O.K. Hotel and several buildings beyond, these including the new theater and the Bungalow pavilion."

"Buildings along the east side of Main street were more or less scorched and that they are standing as nearly unharmed as they are is the form of their testimony to the foresight of the townsite owners in making the street broad."

"Exact data as to insurance is not at hand, but according to telephone advices the only policies were carried by Mr. Rounseville with $1000 on his whole property, and the owner of the ice cream parlor who carried $1000."

"The hose for a fire department had recently arrived, but could not be used. There were no connections for it and they are supposed to be on the way. The water system is in service, but the plant is not yet quite ready to turn on full pressure. The latter must come from a storage tank now being erected by F. Woods, of Jerome, for Charles D. Willard. But if the hose connection had been there and in use the present pressure might have saved half of the buildings that were burned."

"Smith, the Cottonwood barber, suffered personal injuries to a considerable extent by being scorched. From the scene came words of praise for his heroism in fighting the fire. It being stated that he put up a battle that was remarkable. Everybody fought the fire and helped to the best of his ability, the whole town turning out. It was thought that every store must go and the excitement was intense."

(The Jerome Sun; Monday, December 3, 1917; page 1, columns 1, 2, 3.)

"DISASTEROUS FIRE"

"Fire was discovered last night about 2 o'clock just back of the Brown second hand store on Main street and before it could be gotten under control about half of the block from Mason street north to the Stemmer cement building, consisting of five business houses, in which seven different lines of business were conducted, was totally destroyed. The losses are: M. J. Rounseville, drug store and bakery, approximate loss $3,000, insurance $1,000; Joe Hall, rooming house and grill room, about $2,000, no insurance; J. J. Hemler, building and root beer stand, approximately $1,500, no insurance; W. J. Collins also occupied part of this building with a cleaning and pressing business, loss about $200, no insurance; Young & Hansohn, general merchandise, loss about $3,500, $1,000 insurance; Oasis soft drink and confectionery, loss about $2,000, no insurance; Brown second hand store, loss approximately $1,000, no insurance."

"The fire originated in a pile of rubbish that had been permitted to accumulate back of these buildings but as to the source of its origin nothing is known."

"The town is practically without fire protection and it was only through the heroic efforts of the citizens that the fire did not spread to a greater extent."

"All of these buildings were new and some of them hardly completed. Mr. Rounseville had just completed his building and received a lot of supplies for his bakery and was waiting on a part of the equipment before opening it up. Joe Hall had just opened up his rooming and eating house Thanksgiving day."

"The owners of the buildings state that they will replace them at once, and that the development of Cottonwood will not be retarded by this unfortunate incident."

(Verde Copper News; Monday, December 3, 1917; page 5.)

"ORIGIN OF FIRE"

"In the article covering the Sunday night's fire in Cottonwood, the statement was made that it originated in a pile of rubbish back of the second-hand store, which at the time seemed to be authentic information, as to the location of its origin. But after further investigation by officers and other parties most deeply interested, which is now considered the best information obtainable, it seems to have originated in the back room, near the back door of the Oasis soft drink and confectionery store."

(Verde Copper News; Friday, December 7, 1917; page 4.)

"ADDITIONAL LOSSES"

"In detailing the losses in the fire here Sunday night, the fact that C. D. Willard owned the building occupied by Young & Hansohn, valued at $1,000 and Emil Williams, the ones occupied by the Oasis confectionery and the second hand store worth about $1,000, was overlooked. No insurance was carried in either case."

(Verde Copper News; Tuesday, December 4, 1917; page 5.)




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