Tampico, IL Fire, May 1876

The fire at Tampico, the morning of the 17th, involved a loss of $85,000.

Davenport Gazette, Davenport, IA 20 May 1876


…Fire again desolated Tampico. This time it came early on Wednesday morning of May 17, 1876. The flames were first discovered between the stores of Peter Burke and E. W. High, and the Tampico Tornado [Newspaper] at that time describes them as leaping up the sides of the buildings, as if kerosene or other inflammable substance had been used to facilitate their spread. Six buildings fell a prey to the devouring element before it could be subdued. The first building on the south side limits of the fire was owned by James Conroy, and used as a residence and grocery store; loss $2,000. Nelson Maxson’s store came next; loss on goods and building estimated at $6,600. Next in line northward was Peter Burke’s grocery store; loss on building and goods, $3,600. Adjoining was the building owned by Geo. Dee, the lower part of which was occupied by E. W. High as a store, and the upper part by the Tornado office, and J. H. Melvin, as a law office; the building was valued at $2,500. Mr. High had about $8,000 worth of goods on hand, a portion of which were saved, but in a badly damaged condition; Mr. Melvin lost his entire law library and office furniture, valued at $600, a large number of book accounts, notes and mortgages being also destroyed; the press and type of the Tornado were not in the office at that time, so the loss was confined to books, papers, etc. John Paice’s building, used as a residence and butcher shop, stood next; loss on the whole, $2,300. Case & Adams’ billiard hail was the last building on the block destroyed; loss $1,500. Piersol’s blacksmith shop, standing in the alley between Case & Adams’ and Taggart & Fitzgerald’s, was torn down, and the store of the latter was severely scorched. The fire spread so rapidly that the store keepers on the opposite side of the street from where it was raging, removed their goods. It was a severe blow to the business men who suffered by it, as most of them had been sufferers by the other fires, as well as by the tornado. Their courage, however, did not desert them, some immediately renting other buildings in which to open their business, and others commencing the erection of new buildings. Peter Burke at once laid the foundation for a brick building, which he hastened rapidly to completion, and soon had the present fine store of Burke & Forward stocked with goods, ready for his customers; among the active business men of Tampico, Mr. Burke stands prominent. Since this fire Tampico has not been disturbed by the elements, and she is rapidly progressing in all that adds to the growth, wealth, and prosperity of a town.

History of Whiteside County, Illinois - from its first settlement to the present time, with numerous biographical and family sketches, 1877, page 458. Use this Free trial to search for your ancestors.