|Transcribed by Norma Knotts Shaffer from a
Calhoun Chronicle newspaper clipping dated 6/19/1919.
Business Section of Town Swept by Flames
Aftermath of the Grantsville Fire of June 14, 1919
The most disastrous fire in the history of the town occurred Saturday
night about nine o'clock when the Masonic Hall, in which was also located
the Calhoun County Bank, the postoffice, Dr. J. A. Morford's office, the
Peoples Bank building, including the apartments occupied by Mr. and Mrs.
W. E. Price and those used for Lee Ice and family, the offices of Dr. J.
B. Law, Justice H. and Attorney J. T. Waldo, the building occupied by Deems
and Price's confectionery, the box sill of the building under construction
by George W. Hamilton, the Hardman building, the first floor of which being
occupied by the _________Store & Produce Co., the second floor by the
apartments of Ira Hardman and family and Fred Hardman and family, and the
residence occupied by W. R. Stalnaker and family, and on Court Street the
residences of Bernard Marshall and S. J. Turner. Within less than
two hours after the first cry the fire had assumed definite bounds, but
in that short time five business buildings and three residences were razed
and eight families were without homes.
View From Mill Street
Pell Home and Bank of Grantsville Visible on Market St.
Corner of Court and Mill Streets
Old Courthouse Visible in Background
The origin of the conflagration will probably never be known but it
is more than likely that a bolt of lightening struck the Peoples
Bank building perhaps igniting a gas leak. This theory seems plausible,
as Mr. Ice came down from his room after one very hard crash and inquired
of Cashier B. G. Stump if there had been a gas explosion in the building.
Mr. Stump said there was very loud report in the banking room.
In about an hour after that the fire was discovered breaking thru the
second story of the Peoples bank building on the side next the postoffice.
The flames spread through the building and those who rushed up the stairs
were compelled to retreat without being able to fight the fire or saving
the contents on that floor. All hands were turned to removing the
furniture from the postoffice and the Peoples Bank, the buildings then
under immediate destruction. By this time the flames had reached
the Masonic hall and a valiant and successful fight was made to confine
the fire to the block in which it had caught and to save the block extending
north from G. S. Smith's store. The most serious danger this block
was in was while Bernard Marshall's house was burning when the west corner
of the building containing the barber shop and E. Chenoweth's office caught.
The blaze was extinguished by men who remained on the roof when the flames
went higher than their heads.
There was no effort made to stop the fire in the block wiped out except
by the dynamite squad who first attempted to blow the ell off the R. W.
Bennett building, which would have saved the Home Hotel and everything
below it. Further attempts were made in the same manner but there
was not enough time to plant the charges where they would have been most
When it was seen that the Hardman residence, occupied by W.
R. Stalnaker, had caught effort was made to save K. M. Hunt's residence.
It would take the most uptodate fire engines in the world to do better
work than was done there, and by the coolheaded and efficient this building
was not even touched by the flames.
No one was seriously injured by the fire but two small dogs one belonging
to Johnson Bennett and the other to Lee Ice were burned to death.
Most of the stuff on the first floor of the buildings that burned was
saved though a great deal of merchandise was damaged in removing it..
The merchants claim they could have saved all their goods if they had not
been compelled to get out of danger of the dynamite.
We are unable to place an estimate on the total damage sustained, as
the men who suffered the losses have not exactly determined them
The Calhoun County Bank succeeded in removing practically everything,
including the counter and wicket work. The Masons in the same building,
saved nothing but the Master's chair, records and aprons. There was
$1500 insurance on this building.
Everything was removed from the postoffice except a typewriter desk
and a chair, there was nothing of any great value remaining in the office.
Dr. J. A. Morford, whose office was on the second floor, lost everything
except a part of his library.
Everything was taken out of the Peoples Bank except the counter
and one chair. The front door, with its large plate glass was saved,
but the large window was destroyed. Of course an effort was made
to move the safes, as was the same with the Calhoun County Bank.
Nothing was saved from the second floor of the Peoples Bank building.
A heavy loss was sustained by Justice Waldo, who is also town collector,
as some very important records were lost.
Deems & Price had $2500 insurance on their stock of goods, but have
sustained a very heavy loss. They had two fountains and one of them
was removed to the street, though badly damaged in moving.
George W. Hamilton, who had a building under construction for a grocery
store and confectionery, had put a stock of goods in the former dining
room of the Home Hotel but saved nearly everything except loose articles
on the shelves.
Ira Hardman saved about half of his stock of goods on the first
floor but didn't save much from his living apartments on the second floor
or from his furnishing establishment on the third.
W. R. Stalnaker saved most of his household goods.
Bernard Marshall saved everything but two very costly pieces of furniture
and a fine set of silverware. S. J. Turner saved all the watches
left in his care but lost much of his household effects.
Grantsville is without adequate means to combat fire. Early in
1915 the town ratified a proposition to issue bonds for a water system
but the denomination of the bonds was not desirable and they were not sold.
No doubt the greater part of this loss could have been averted had a constant
stream of water played on the flames.