Sunday, July 8, 2018

ANCESTORS IN THE NEWS ~ Patrolman William Patrick Hayes Discovers Huge Warehouse Fire–Detroit Free Press - 1907

  • Newspapers are one of my favorite resources for finding out information about my family.  It’s not just the engagement, marriage announcements and obituaries that can be of interest.
  • Today many of us use social media, email or texts to share with one another.  However, before those technological advances, there were newspapers.  They were the gossip columns and information disseminators of their day.
  • Did someone leave on vacation or go on a trip to visit family, did they hold a party or for the ladies, perhaps a tea?  You may read about it in the newspaper.  Those are the items that fill out our ancestors lives with every day activities.
What have I located today? An article in the Detroit Free Press in December 1907 about a large, destructive warehouse fire.  The fire was discovered by the husband of my 1st cousin, twice removed, William Patrick Hayes (1884-1949).  He was a Detroit Police Lieutenant upon his retirement in 1933.  At the time of this event he was a rookie patrolman.

It seems a warehouse located at Woodward & Jefferson Avenues, caught fire in the early morning hours.  The contents of the building were a complete loss.  Estimated damages were $250,000.  That equates to $6,403,214 in 2018.  A whole LOT of money.  Once I read the story it became obvious why the contents were worth so much.  The warehouse was full of furs.

Here’s the newspaper clippings from the Detroit Free Press and below is my transcription of one of the articles.  In the original article Pipeman, Robert Hummel was said to probably recover after his injury.  However, in an article published the next day, it states that Fireman Hummel “may die.”  I did a search of the Detroit papers for the following few weeks after the incident and found nothing further on Mr. Hummel.

HAYES_Wm_warehousefire pic_DFP_22 Dec 1907_pg 1 - Copy HAYES_William_discovers fire_21 Dec 1907_DFP_pg 1 - Copy
Here’s my transcription of the article:

Originating in Defective Wiring, Blaze Quickly Spreads Through Entire Building and Nothing is Left but the Walls
Two firemen were hurt and damage aggregating perhaps $250,000 was caused by a blaze which swept the wholesale store of Edwin S. George, furrier, at Woodward and Jefferson avenues, early this morning.

The interior of the building was thoroughly burned out, and the entire stock of furs incinerated. Only the walls of the structure itself, still stand.
D.E. Kellogg & Company, wholesale milliners, who occupy the first floor of the building, also were heavy sufferers. Their entire stock was destroyed. No estimate of their loss could be obtained this morning.

It is said that both Edwin S. George and D.E. Kellogg & Company are well protected by insurance. The building, the los on which will be heavy, as it is almost valueless now, is also said to be insured.

The blaze was first noticed at 2:40 o’clock this morning, by Patrolman William Hayes, who saw smoke issuing from the basement on the Jefferson avenue front of the building. Others saw the smoke about the same time, and three alarms were turned in almost simultaneously. Soon after the firemen arrived a third alarm was sent in, and almost all available fire-fighting force of the city was put to work, including both the fire boats.

The blaze which apparently started in the basement, presumably from a defective electric wire, soon gained access to the elevator shaft, on the southeast corner. Up the shaft it roared, and by the time the first stream of water was directed upon it, it had reached the upper floors, and was making sad havoc with the rich stock of furs stored there.

Engine after engine and company after company of firemen arrived and hastily went into position. Thousands of gallons of water were thrown every minute upon the blaze, but for a long time it had no apparent effect.

Indeed, at first the flames seemed to thrive on it. In spite of the fire-fighter’s efforts, the blaze gained headway, and soon it broke forth from the fifth, the top floor. For two hours it roared steadily, leaping from the windows and roof. One by one the floors fell in, and the and the flames, given freer access, leaped higher.

Flames Under Control
By 4 o’clock the blaze, though still burning steadily, was under control. Nothing was left of the building but the walls, and though it seemed likely they would fall every minute, they stood and the firemen standing almost under them and directing the great streams of water upward seemed unconscious of their danger.

Two Firemen Hurt
Shortly after the fire started a hose nozzle on Jefferson avenue got away from the men who were handling it. In its writhings it knocked another loose. Chief George J. Kelly, of battalion No. 5 and Robert Hummel, pipeman of engine company No. 6, were knocked down and injured.

Hummel was the more seriously hurt. In his fall his head struck the curb, and it is believed his skull was fractured. He was carried into Waldorf hotel, nearby, and when the Detroit ambulance arrived he and the chief were taken to St. Mary’s hospital.
The physicians at the hospital trephined Hummel’s skull in the hope of relieving the pressure on his brain. Immediately after the operation it was said he probably will recover.

Chief Kelly Hurt Twice
Chief Kelly suffered only severe bruises. He was hurt twice last night. Besides being knocked down by the hose at the fire, he was thrown from his buggy on his way. He was driving his horse furiously down Michigan avenue, and at Abbott street one wheel of the buggy caught in a cartrack, and the rig was turned over.

The Chief was thrown out, but when passersby rushed to him and picked him up he said he was not much hurt, and after a vain attempt to find his horse, which had galloped on, he proceeded to the fire. There he was injured again.

I enjoy reading any newspaper article that mentions my ancestors.  In this case, I am actually in contact with descendants of Patrolman William Patrick Hayes.  We matched up via DNA, as his wife Mabel Catherine Thorpe is the granddaughter of my 2nd great grandparents, Horace Henry Thorp and Catherine C. Dorsey.  We are currently exchanging pictures and stories.

To read other posts about Ancestors In The News – please click on here.

Happy hunting,
Michigan Girl

Copyright ©  2010-2018   Diane Gould Hall

1 comment:

  1. Yes, Diane, where would we be without those newspaper accounts to tell about our ancestors' lives.


I look forward to reading your comments. If you have any connection to the people mentioned in this blog, please let me know. I write about mine and my husband's ancestors and would welcome new information or meeting a new cousin or two. Thanks for visiting and come back soon.