Dover, NH Stafford County Farm Fire, Jan 1881



DOVER, N. H., Jan. 7.---A fire was discovered in the main building on the Strafford County Farm about 4:30 o'clock this morning. At the time of the discovery the flames had made great headway and many rooms were filled with smoke. One hundred and sixty-nine persons were in the building at the time, and great difficulty was experienced in getting them out, some of them having to be dragged to a place of safety. Thirteen persons are missing, and probably lost their lives. Their names are Frank Jones, Asa Hall, Peter Sargent, Burnham Nute, Jeff Holland, Thomas McDermott, Ivory Hanscom, Joseph Cook, Charles Riley, Sadie Abbott, Martha Jewell, Lizzie Wilson, and Clara Scates. The loss is estimated at $70,000; insured for $25,000. If the weather had not been unusually warm the loss of life would have been much heavier. The inmates who escaped are now clothed and sheltered through the generosity of neighbors and citizens of Dover. A fire engine sent from Dover, four miles away, was unable to reach the scene of the conflagration on account of the heavy snow on the ground. The fire caught from a furnace.

The County Commissioners have been on the ground all day and have made arrangements for the protection and shelter of the inmates. The Water-works were rendered useless by the extreme drought, and no water could be obtained. Perhaps this could not have been avoided, but there seems to have been mismanagement somewhere. Most of the inmates were locked in their rooms, and there was no one to let them all out. All the sick were saved, and of others, rescued nearly all were able to go about. There was no watchman on the premises, and the fire had made great headway before being discovered. Several able-bodied paupers rendered great assistance in saving the sick and feeble. The loss on the county building is estimated at $65,000. Nothing further can be done toward recovering the bodies until the mass of debris cools. No water can be applied. There were two fire-escapes on the building, but the doors loading thereto were shut, and that circumstance is subject to no little unfavorable comment.

The New York Times, New York, NY 8 Jan 1881