Watsonville, PA Fire, Dec 1894



A Ready Response Given But Aid Was Not Needed --Hausemest [?] Block in that Town Destroyed, Estimating a Loss at $50,000

At 2 o'clock yesterday morning fire broke out in the livery stable of Peter Faust, in Watsontown, and before the progress of the flames were checked they had destroyed the opera house block and adjacent buildings, entailing a loss of $50,000, on which there is an insurance of about $20,000. The fire originated in the livery stable and seemed to break out in several different places. The cause is said to have been due to an unavoidable accident to one of the employes of the establishment.

Great excitement was created in the town and appeals for aid were sent out to both Milton and this city. The fire department here responded quickly after receiving authority and at 8 o'clock No. 1 engine company was prepared to place its apparatus on a car when word was received to await further orders. Twenty minutes later word came that the fire was under control and assistance was not needed. Milton, also, was ready to respond.

A few moments after the fire was discovered the entire population of the town had been alarmed and they pitched in with a will to try and check the progress of the flames. Every available foot of hose, large and small, was pressed into use fed by the free consumption of water the balance of the town was prevented from being swept from the face of the earth. Citizens climbed upon roofs of their homes and by copiously drenching them kept the flying sparks from gaining a foot hold on the dry shingles. The capacity of the water works was thoroughly tested and found ample.

The opera house was among the finest business blocks in Watsontown, being created about the close of the rebellion. The first floor, on Main street, was occupied by John B. Dunn, druggist, and Smith Heilman & Company, general merchandise; both these firms carried large stocks. The Second street front was occupied by Charles Miller, barber and Mr. Colby, butcher. A one story building between the opera house and Faust's clothing store on Main street, was occupied by William B. Reed, confectioner, and the saddlery establishment of Mr. Faust. The double dwelling the rear of the opera house on Second street was owned by Miss Sadie McKee and occupied by herself and the Misses Buckner, dressmakers. The Faust building where the fire originated fronted on Main street and extended to the alley to the rear which part was used as the stable of Mr. Faust, the second floor in the rear over the barn being used as the workshop of the butlering [?] department. The Faust store building was used at one time by John Wenner of Williamsport, for his grocery business in Watsontown. The barn belonging to Isaac N. Messinger with several smaller buildings were the only buildings destroyed south of where the fire originated.

The loss and insurance, as far as could be secured, is as follows: Peter Faust, loss $12,000, insurance $3,000. I. N. Messinger, loss [illegible], insurance $3,000. W. B. Reed, loss $2,000, insurance $900. Smith, Heilman & Company, loss, $12,000; insurance $8,500. J. B. Dunn, loss $3,5000, insurance $1,700. Mr. Miller and Mr. Colby, loss, $500, no insurance. Opera House, loss, $10,000, insurance $3,000. Miss Sadie McKee, loss $3,500, insurance, $2,1000. The Misses Buchner, loss $1,000, insurance $500.

Daily Gazette and Bulletin, Williamsport, PA, 24 Dec 1894