Belton, TX Bell County Courthouse Fire, Mar 1891

Bell County Courthouse, 1909


Narrow Escape of Bell County's Capitol.

BELTON, Tex., March 15. - About 6 o'clock this morning fire was discovered in the county treasurer's office, which is in the north side of the courthouse.  Prompt work by the fire department saved the building.  The floor, walls, and furniture in the treasurer's office are badly damaged.  Loss about $350.  There is pretty strong evidence that oil was poured on the floor and the fire was started by incendiaries.  No attempt seems to have been made to break open the treasurer's safe, hence it is believed to be the work of parties who wished to destroy the courthouse.

The Dallas Morning News, Dallas, TX 16 Mar 1891



Safe of the County Treasurer Intact -

BELTON, Tex., March 16. -

The damage to the courthouse by the fire yesterday morning was covered by insurance in the following companies:  North British and Mercantile, Western Assurance association of Toronto, Commercial of California, Germania of New York and Hamburg and Bremen of Germany.  The loss will not exceed $400.  The adjuster for the companies is having contractors make estimates for repairs to-day and will have the work done in a short time.

County Treasurer W. J. Blair opened his fire and burglar proof safe this morning and found everything in it intact.  Not a cent of money was gone and his books and papers were not injured.  The safe is smoked up considerably, but there are no indications whatsoever that any attempt to blow it open had been made.

Between the cages in the jail there is a hall, into which the prisoners are let once a day to take exercise and for other necessary purposes.  When they were let into this hall last Saturday they declined to go back to their cells when ordered to do so by the deputy sheriff.  They claimed to be afraid of small-pox.  An extra guard watched them all night.  However, when this conduct of the prisoners became known in town yesterday morning after the fire there was considerable excitement.  Many persons believed that it was a preconceived arrangement between the prisoners and their friends on the outside to start a fire in town and that during the excitement the prisoners would escape.  After a close examination no evidence was found that the prisoners had made any effort to escape.  The action of the prisoners and the fire may have been a mere coincidence, though many persons think otherwise.

The Dallas Morning News, Dallas, TX, 17 Mar 1891


The damage was repaired and the Courthouse (pictured above) is in use today.