Detroit, MI Fire, Jun 1805


The fire of 1805, which destroyed "Old Detroit," has often been described by eye-witnesses. Some of the descriptions have already been published, but I think this clipping from one of our morning papers in 1855, in relation to it, may not be out of place:
The boundaries of the town at the period of the fire were as follows: the western extremity was on a line with Wayne Street, the northern Lamed Street, the eastern Griswold Street and the southern the river. The houses were usually composed of logs, clapboarded, and one story in height. The number of inhabitants may closely be estimated by the list of losses published below multiplied by four. The fire broke out about 9 o'clock in the morning of June 11 1805, in the stable of a baker named John Harvey.

The stable stood between Wayne and Shelby Streets, on the north side of Jefferson Avenue. The wind was south by southeast, and was so violent as to carry cinders as far as Grosse Pointe. The flames spread so rapidly that in spite of the exertions of the citizens nothing remained but an old warehouse located on Wayne Street, subsequently occupied by Henry J. Hunt. Few of the inhabitants saved any of their personal property except those who were wise enough to cart their effects to the commons. An old fire engine formerly owned by the British was brought into requisition, but to little purpose. The only recourse for the afflicted families was to find shelter in residences along the river. These were too few to accommodate all the sufferers, and common board shanties were erected on what was then called the commons, which at that time extended from Griswold to Randolph Streets. Fortunately the weather was mild. When a violent storm arose the inhabitants would rush out of doors for fear that their frail shelters would tumble down. One evening a blind horse owned by Henry Berthelet walked into one of the board shanties occupied by Conrad Seek and family, and full possession was given before the brute would be expelled.