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Yellow Victorian house in Beaufort with white railings and trim
Victorian house, Beaufort
The Beaufort Fire
of January 19, 1907

Full Transcripts of
THE BEAUFORT GAZETTE (Article of January 24, 1907)
and of
THE SAVANNAH MORNING NEWS (Articles of January 20, 21 and 22, 1907)

(Republished with the permission granted by the editors of The Beaufort Gazette
on January 13, 1998, and the Savannah Morning News on February 27, 1998)

NOTE:

Proper names (of people, buildings, etc.) appear in bold print within the
transcription below. The original article used standard font throughout.

From The Beaufort Gazette (January 24, 1907):

From the Savannah Morning News (January 20, 1907):
Beaufort Loses Stores and Homes
(Fire Started in Scheper's Barn)
From the Savannah Morning News (January 21, 1907):
From the Savannah Morning News (January 22, 1907):

Beaufort to Be Rebuilt at Once

(Origin of Fire was Cigarette Smoking)
Additional Information
(About military bases from which troops were sent to Beaufort after the fire)

About
Fort Screven, Georgia
About Fort Fremont on
Saint Helena Island, SC
Fire bell witrh the date of the fire
Bell inscribed with the date of
the fire at the fire station at
135 Ribaut Road, Beaufort
.
(Photograph by Dennis Adams
October 20, 2002)
 

The Beaufort Gazette
January 24, 1907

BEAUFORT
IN FLAMES.

Most Serious Conflagration
That Ever Visited The
Old Town.

Heroic Work Alone saved the Entire
Business District and Residence Portion.

Property Loss About $175,000.
Insurance $20,000.

The most terrible and destructive fire that ever visited Beaufort made all stand aghast Saturday by the fierceness if its fury and the demoniac like rapacity with which it caught up and destroyed valuable personal and real property.

About 1:30 p. m. the alarm was sounded, and it was found that a building connected with and in the rear of the large grocery and general merchandise house of F. W. Scheper, corner Bay and Carteret streets, was afire. The wind was blowing a gale, and it was soon found that the most heroic efforts of the firemen were unavailing to prevent the spread of the flames to the main store, three stories high, which was crowded with goods. Ready hands helped to remove some of the goods, but had to desist when the flames and smoke burst through. Soon the whole structure was ablaze, and then the hope of saving surrounding property was lessened, but the work went on. Much of the Clover Club furniture and library appurtenances on the second floor were destroyed, and everything on the third floor, occupied by Harmony Lodge, A. F. M., and Rabboni Chapter, R. A. M., and in which were the handsome furniture and regalia of the two Masonic bodies, fed the flames. Then the Peoples Bank next door became a victim, then a store West of that, then the store and building of Mrs. Ohlandt, the laundry of Ah Li, two restaurants and the dispensary building were on fire and burning with fervid heat. In the mean time the large hardware and supply store of N. Christensen & Sons, on the corner of Bay and Carteret streets, and the crockery stores of Mr. J. M. Crofut, next door, were burning from cellar to roof. Little could be saved, so rapid was the the fire, but friends worked manfully, and some goods were taken out, only to fall prey to the flames when the latter spread northward. The handsome brick residence of Mr. J. N. Wallace caught fire when the wind seemed to change, and its valuable furniture and household goods were a total loss. The residence of W. J. Thomas, next east, caught, together with two small houses in the rear, were all destroyed, little if any of their contents being saved. Only the most heroic efforts prevented the destruction of the residence of Mrs. H. L. Waterhouse, that of Mr. Shatswell and that of Mr. Damon, in the rear. In the meantime the flames had grasped the residence of Mrs. Cory, owned by Mr. George Holmes, on the Bay. This was a brick and tabby house, and it was largely to this fact that the fire did not spread further west, and was gotten under control after it had caught and partially consumed the store of Mrs. John Levin. It was at this point that some good work was done, for had the Hutching building, occupied by Chas. Chin Sang, taken fire, no power on earth could have prevented a spread of the flames westward which would have swallowed up the well appointed office of the Beaufort Gazette, and other buildings. While the fire fiend was swiftly eating its way along the Bay street (sic) ready and willing hands were removing much of the household furniture and goods of the burning buildings, and, had this not been the case, the loss would have been more deplorable than it was.

While the firemen were fighting the fire with all the power they could, the flames spread northward along the west side of Carteret street, burning the fire engine house and hall and two residences. Crossing the street, it kept on burning the office and several houses belonging to Mr. Thomas Talbird, and at last caught and consumed the Town Market. Crossing Craven street, it consumed the Town Hall, a small hook and ladder company hall and a small engine house. The State Arsenal, fortunately, is built of brick: and this fact, together with personal courage on the part of fire fighters, prevented its total destruction. A building belonging to Mrs. Odell, next (sic) the Carteret Street M. E. Church, was soon consumed, and the tin roof of the church alone saved it from destruction. On the opposite side of the street, the heat was intense, and the rosin was drawn from the side of the wooden buildings, and only the untiring work of active workers prevented a spread in that direction. Somewhat of a panic was prevalent with householders all in the neighborhood, and the streets were filled with the household goods if those who desired to save what they could from the insatiably (sic) maw of the terror-breeding fire.

Huge pieces of fire were carried northward and eastward of the town, and ignited every shingle roof they came in contact with, and innumerable fires broke out all about up town. The stately old family residence of the Talbirds caught and was consumed, as was also the well-appointed home of Supervisor W. F. Sanders, also the house of Mrs. Mount. The latter saved a few articles, but we are told the loss of the former was total. A society Hall near the residence of Collector Smalls caught fire and was consumed, and it was only by united effort of the bucket brigade that certain neighborhood was saved from the flames. It is almost impossible to tell how many places were set on fire by the flying splinters and brands of fire, but everything was so dry that even the grass in some places caught and increased the danger.

Over 40 buildings of one kind and another were destroyed. Some of them could not be replaced for $10,000 at the present value of materials.

Thus we have given a brief synopsis of the fire and its cause, but it is impossible for us to mention the individual work of the men who battled with the flames, especially where all did such noble work. It was a sight worthy of the pen of a stronger writer than we are to tell the story of the day and night. On one hand were white men aiding and assisting to save from the homes of the colored people, and on the other were colored men and women performing the same labor for their white fellow citizens.

When night came and the flames were somewhat subdued, most of the young men who were firemen donned their military clothing and went on guard to protect the ruined district from the pilferings of the noncombatants. During the afternoon a squad of men, with a fire apparatus, came up from Fort Fremont to assist in the work. They offered to aid in any way, and were placed on guard with the naval militia, and prevented looting. This careful arrangement doubtless provoked the spleen of some of the irresponsible, and they were loud in their murmurs against the use of military. The constituted authorities, at the request of Intendant Townsend, had placed the military at the latter’s command. Sunday it was seen that people were too much fatigued for further arduous work, and that there were many valuables in the ruins of the burnt buildings, so Intendant Townsend asked for a detail of soldiers from Fort Screven to aid in the protection of property, and Col. Patterson immediately sent a detachment of 45 men, under Capt. Joe Wheeler, on the Tug Gibbon, which arrived here Sunday, and did patrol duty until Tuesday morning when it returned to the fort. The presence of the military tended to quiet the nerves of the excitable of both races, and the tone of the people soon resumed the normal. It was to be expected that some people would not like the presence of the troops, and would be dissatisfied, but when the measure was one intended to be entirely protective, and was actuated by the best motives, complaints should only come from those who were thus estopped from making the occasion, the distresses and demoralization of many people, a period of harvest of robbery and pilfering. With all the care that has been bestowed there was some stealing, but not to any appreciable extent.

The losses must figure up something like $175,000 and the insurance cannot be more than $20,000. The cause of this is the fact that the rates of insurance are so very high.

The only persons carrying any insurance at all were Messrs. F. W. Scheper, W. J. Thomas, The County Dispensary, Mrs. Odell W. F. Sanders and Mrs. J. Levin, and the amounts they carried were small in comparison with their losses.

(NOTE: For the origin of the fire, see the Savannah Morning News article of January 22, 1907, below.)

 

The Shooting of Bennett

The most deplorable incident connected with the fire trouble was the shooting of William Bennett, Saturday night, on the Bay. Who did the shooting and why Bennett was shot are not known to us, but coming at a time that it did, when the nerves of the people were unstrung, the news caused unusual excitement among an easily excited people when it became known. An inquest was held, and the findings was (sic) death at the hands of some one unknown. Bennett was a member of the Allen Brass Band. He had worked at the fire during the day. He was advised that night by a white friend not to go down into the burnt district, but must have unheeded the advice. His funeral was largely attended by his race, and the societies of which he was a member, Monday. All our people regret the tragedy.

(NOTE: See also Savannah Morning News account of William Bennett's death.)

 

Fire Notes (First Section)

  • Mr. Lon Brooks, Chief of the Fire Department, deserves the weldone of our citizens for the valuable executive ability he displayed in the work of conquering the devouring flames. He worked early and late, and we had an eye on him all through the battle, and cannot understand where he obtained the physical power to withstand the great strain that was upon him in the conduct of his arduous duties.

  • No one deserves more thanks than our accomplished Miss Bellamy, who remained at her post day and night at the telephone exchange.

  • Miss Annie Driscoll deserves praise for the assistance she gave Miss Ohlandt and Mrs. John Levin in removing their store and household goods.

The circular, arched windows of the brick Firehouse Books building  reveal its origins  
Too Late for the Fire:

This former fire station at the intersection of Scott and Craven Streets in downtown Beaufort was built around 1911 -- four years after the fire.

Mass Meeting

Some 50 or 60 representatives (sic) citizens of Beaufort, some colored, met in mass meeting at the Arsenal Monday afternoon. Mr. S. H. Rodgers was called to chair and Mr. R. R. Legare was appointed secretary.

Capt. C. C. Townsend, Intendant, addressed the meeting, and stated his reasons for requesting the presence of U. S. Troops, without arms, but with explosives, to aid in quelling the fire. Afterwards be had requested them to act as a patrol with the Naval Reserves, from which body they procured arms. He read his telegram to Lieut. Lawson on the subject. Finding the naval militia who were also fire men, tired out he had requested the presence of a squad of soldiers from Fort Screven, and they had come over Sunday, and had been acting as a guard.

Capt. Joseph Wheeler stated that he was here under orders of his commanding officer, at the request of the Intendant, to aid the citizens in maintaining order.

Dr. T. G. White, in a brief speech, saw no reason for the presence of troops, when the lives and property of citizens were not in danger. Commended the colored people for their good work at the fire. Thought citizens should deny the report in the Savannah Morning News sent in by a photographer who had only been here a few hours. Mr. W. H. Ohlandt asked the speaker "How much did you lose in the fire?" The answer was "Nothing." Mr. Ohlandt said, "I did."

At the request of Capt. Townsend, Mr. E. D. Raney stated that he sent a telegram, but did not send the one which appeared in the Morning News.

Collector Smalls, colored, looked upon this affair as a ridiculous and a malicious slander upon the people of this town, and believed there is a better feeling between the races now on account of the fire. White men came and assisted him in saving his home, and he was grateful to them. The article in the Savannah News is justly condemned by the best citizens, and he was pleased to hear the expressions of condemnation from them. I am sorry for those who lost. No word can be said against the behavior of the colored people at the fire, except through two or three drunken men. Thank God he lives in Beaufort, and that not a lady in town is afraid to walk the streets night or day, and there is not a decent negro man in town who would not defend them.

Mr. Charles E. Danner called the attention of the meeting to the fact that it had been called to condemn a report in the Savannah Morning News of 21st. He believed there is no harm in the Beaufort negro. Troops were not brought here to protect whites from colored, but for mutual protection.

Jas. Riley, colored, feels as keenly the calamity as anyone, and is surprised that, after working as hard as they had done, the colored race should be so unjustly written up. Our interests are the same. God forbid that any uprising was in the minds of the colored people.

Messrs. J. I. Washington and Geo. A. Reed, colored, citizens, made pertinent remarks.

Mr. F. H. Christensen offered the resolution condemning the piece in the Morning News, which will be found in this article. He said he felt that the Intendant was right in calling for troops to guard the ruins, as the Naval Reserves were worn out with their labor. Sheriffs (sic) posse would also have been worn out. Regular soldiers would be better able to enforce honesty. As one of the fire sufferers, thought the regulars had done good orderly work.

Capt. Geo. A. Crofut says troops were properly ordered out, and no good citizens should object. That he was ordered from the ruins of his own property, and obeyed.

Mr. Christensen’s resolution was seconded by Dr. N. J. Kennedy, colored, who said troops were not objectionable to good citizens.

Samuel Green, a colored orator, made a rattling good talk. He said he was helping to remove the stock of Mr. F. W. Scheper and saw parties pilfering. That he helped to remove the effects of the bank, although, if he has an enemy, it is the cashier of the bank. He said there was but one thing to condemn in the whole affair, and that was the article in the Savannah Morning News, and the killing of Bennett through overzeal in the effort to suppress the fire and its attendent confusion. If anything done was a blunder, it should not interfere with the the peace and harmony which existed between the races. South Carolina is a power within itself, and the U. S. troops have no place here.

The resolution of Mr. F. H. Christensen, as follows, was then unanimously adopted.

Resolved, That the Secretary of this meeting communicate with the Savannah Morning News, condemning in unmeasured terms the article contained in that newspaper of the 21st instant.

The following is the communication of the secretary:

Beaufort, S. C., Jan. 21 -- A mass meeting of prominent white and colored citizens of Beaufort, S. C., hereby express their unqualified condemnation of your report published in the Morning News of January 21, headed "Troops Sent in to Beaufort to Hold Negroes in Check". The implication that the two races did not work in harmony for the preservation of life and property or that there was at any time during the fire friction or ill feeling between them is a gross injustice to this community.

S. H. Rodgers,
Chairman.

R. R. Legare,
Secretary.

Intendant Townsend asked on expression from this meeting as to the further detension (sic) of the troops. That he had been requested to retain troops until tomorrow.

Collector Smalls moved that the troops be dismissed tomorrow, 8 a. m. Adopted.

On the motion of Mr. F. H. Christensen resolutions of thanks to Capt. Wheeler, Lieut. Wheatley and the soldiers under their command for their prompt and laudable attention to duty were unanimously adopted.

In Behalf of his command and himself, Capt. Wheeler thanked the citizens for courtesies.

On motion of Capt. George A. Crofut the action of Intendant Townsend was approved by a rising vote.

Fire Notes (Second Section)

  • The Savannah Photographer says he talked with the leading citizens of Beaufort and they all believed the fire would prove a blessing. Leading citizens such as Messrs. Christensen, Scheper, Talbird, Crofut, Ohlandt, Holmes and others who lost can hardly have been consulted by this special correspondent of the Morning News.

  • Another visitation of the Savannah Photographer would be a calamity just now. He is too "yellow" journalistic for our conservative people. But he was advertising himself, don't you know.

  • Mrs. Cory is a brave woman. She worked courageously to save what she could, and for the present takes boarders in appartments (sic) over the Express Office.

  • "Where the carcass is the ravens will gather." It was the would-be ravens who started the dissatisfaction as to the guard. The better people have little to say.

  • We saw no attagonism (sic) between the two races. The would-be looters had disappointment lines in their faces.

  • Considering the stock, the dispensary had the heaviest insurance.

  • Quick work. The Peoples Bank was burned at 2:30 p. m. Saturday. At 2:30 p. m. Tuesday, a new safe was being hauled into the present home of the bank.

  • Considering their losses, our people show wonderful nerve, especially the women.

  • Mr. John N. Wallace has removed into a residence on Craven street.

  • Mr. W. J. Thomas now occupies a part of the Ritchie house on the Bay.

  • The Peoples Bank is now where the Beaufort Bank used to be, in the Commercial Club building.

  • Mr. Thomas Talbird has his law office just opposite where his former office was located.

  • The County Dispensary is in the Armstrong store.

  • Mrs. Rachel Haynes, colored, who lost her home on Carteret street, is very grateful to those who saved her furniture.

  • Clearing up the debris, and repairing injured homes has began (sic).

  • The young lady who did such yeoman work in pulling down fences to keep back flames is a heroine.

  • No crowd of colored people worked harder than those at Mr. Thomas and Mrs. Waterhouse's houses.

A Card

We, the undersigned citizens and property holders of Beaufort, to use this means of extending our thanks to, and expressing our appreciation of the splendid efforts of Mr. Lon Brooks our fire chief, who worked hard and faithfully to save our property, and to whose executive ability belongs the credit for checking the progress of the flames and thereby preventing a spread of the fire which might have resulted in the total destruction of our city.

R. H. Legare, W. H. Ohlandt, S. H. Rodgers, Mrs. G. Levin, F. H. Christensen, H. E. Scheper, F. W. Scheper and many others.

Note. -- Owing to lack of space we were unable to publish all names signed to the above card.

Notice

To the subscribers of the Clover Club Circulating Library, the Clover Club takes pleasure in announcing to the public that the library will be open Friday morning at the usual hour. Through the kindness of one of the patrons of the library a room has been secured in the old post office building. The Clover Club also wishes to thank the gentlemen, who so kindly saw to the safety of the books. Through their forethought and energy, most of the books were saved and the Club will be able to continue its work of providing a library for the town of Beaufort. A few of the books, the sectional bookcase and library table are missing, any information concerning these will be very much appreciated.

Temporary home for the Clover Club books after the disaster
(Photograph by courtesy of the Clover Club)
 

Library Books Escape Damage:

After the fire, the Clover Club Circulating Library was moved to this buidling (location unknown). Although the Masonic Building that had housed the Clover Club library was destroyed, all but fifty of the books were saved.

(Article republished with Permission of The Beaufort Gazette,
January 13, 1998)


Savannah Morning News
January 20, 1907

NOTE: Links within this Savannah Morning News article are, with a few exceptions, to references within the Beaufort Gazette article, above.

BEAUFORT LOSES
STORES AND HOMES

By a Fire That Caused Property Loss
Estimated at $500,000 to $700,000

FIRE STARTED IN
SCHEPER’S BARN

FANNED BY STRONG WIND

IT SOON RENDERED THE DEPARTMENT
HELPLESS

Beaufort, S. C., Jan. 19 -- Fire broke out at 1:30 o’clock this morning in the barn and stables of F. W. Scheper on Bay street, and fanned by a stiff southwest breeze, it resulted in one of the most disastrous calamities that has ever visited Beaufort.

From the commencement the fire department was powerless, and soon the raging flames took possession of Scheper’s large grocery store and consumed the three-story building, in the lower floor of which was stored a large stock of groceries and supplies. The People’s Bank , of which Mr. Scheper was president and which adjoined his store, was totally consumed. The bank’s papers and property were saved, including the large fireproof safe.

Adjoining were a row of stores, which were all consumed.

The fire crossed the street an the large and well-stocked hardware and paint store of Messrs.
N. Christensen & Sons shared a like fate, and half the block behind it was totally burned.

The fire crossed the next street and consumed the law offices of Mr. Thomas Talbird and the row of small houses that he owned, extending to the city market, which was burned.

Then the flames crossed the next street, and the Town Hall and Council Chamber were a total loss, and the adjoining houses between it and the Methodist Church were burnt.

During the prevalence of the raging and furious flames the sparks were blown in a northeasterly direction, and several smaller houses, including the residence of Mr. W. F. Sanders , about an eighth of a mile off, caught, and from the Sanders residence the large and ancient mansion of the Talbirds, owned by Mr. Thomas Talbird, caught and was totally consumed.

The house on the opposite corner of the street occupied and owned by Mr. J. N. Wallace and recently handsomely renovated, was burned, and next door to it the residence of Mr. W. J. Thomas, with his two rented housed in the rear, was consumed.

Mr. James M. Crofut’s store, adjacent to Mr. Christensen’s store, became a mass of ruins, and the next store of Mrs. J. Levin also was nearly consumed.

At one time it looked as if the whole town would be destroyed.

The losses are estimated roughly are between $500,000 and $700,000, upon which there is not more than perhaps one-third insurance.

Mr. Scheper’s property was fairly well insured, it is said. Messrs. Christensen & Sons, Thomas Talbird and James N. Crofut had no insurance whatever. Mr. Thomas’ property, it is reported, was partially insured.

The water supply failed.

MUCH INTEREST
HERE IN FIRE

HUNDREDS OF INQUIRIES

MRS. J. N. WALLACE HERE WHILE
HOME WAS DESTROYED

There was general interest in Savannah last night after it became known that Beaufort had been visited by a disastrous conflagration.

Communication was difficult and at times very unsatisfactory. While the telephone and telegraph lines were working those for whom messages were intended were too busily engaged in looking after their personal and property interest there to pay much attention to outside matters.

It was late before the details of the disaster were received in Savannah. The interest felt here was evidenced throughout the early evening when hundreds of persons inquired by telephone of the Morning News for information. Many Savannahians have friends and relatives, as well as business interests, in Beaufort.

Shortly after the fire started and when it was seen that the local fire fighting facilities were not adequate to control the situation Intendant Anderson wired Mayor-elect Tideman of the impending calamity, and suggested that he would probably ask for assistance. The Intendant, or Mayor, stated that "the town is burning up," that four blocks were already gone, and high winds prevailed.

The telegram was delivered to both Mayor Myers and Mr. Tideman and Mayor Myers instructed Fire Chief Maguire to communicate with Beaufort and acquaint himself with the situation.

Chief Maguire talked with the Mayor of Beaufort and it was decided it would not be worth while to send any apparatus from Savannah as it would require half a (sic) hour to prepare and nearly four hours to make the trip.

Mrs. J. N. Wallace of Beaufort came to Savannah yesterday morning to be present with her father, the Rev. William Campbell, who was operated on at the Savannah Hospital. She left her three children in Beaufort and was naturally very anxious about them until she succeeded in hearing that although her new home was among those totally destroyed, the children were safe. The children are with their father and the nurse. It was understood that Mr. Wallace was a heavy loser.

Mrs. Wallace left early this morning by steamer for her home. Mr. Campbell was reported to be doing well after the operation.

[End of January 20, 1907 entries;
January 21 follows.]

(Articles republished with permission of Savannah Morning News,
February 27, 1998)


 

Savannah Morning News
January 21, 1907

(NOTE: Links within this Savannah Morning News article are, with a few exceptions, to references within the Beaufort Gazette article, above.)

TROOPS SENT TO BEAUFORT TO
HOLD NEGROES IN CHECK

Regulars from Fort Screven Are Guarding Valuables
and Patrolling the Streets

The Shooting and Killing of a Negro Near the Ruins of the People’s Bank
by a Guard Caused Murmurings Among Others of His Race

By M. Ed. Wilson

Beaufort, S. C., Jan. 20 -- Murmurings of negroes to-day caused apprehension of an uprising, and the authorities at once sought to secure military protection for the city.

The intendant telegraphed Col. R. W. Patterson, in command at Fort Screven, Ga., asking for a company of regular troops to be dispatched here for the preservation of order. In response, at 8:30 o’clock to-night, forty-five men, fully armed and equipped for service, arrived under command of Capt. Joseph Wheeler . The detachment came on the tug Gibbons, and immediately guards were established and patrols formed.

Loitering Negro Was Shot.

The discontent among the negroes, which, it was feared might be fanned into a fury, was caused by the killing of William Bennett, colored, by a guard a 1 o’clock this morning. The negro was discovered hanging about the ruins of the People’s Bank, one of the buildings destroyed by the disastrous fire of yesterday. To the challenge of the guard on duty there no satisfactory response was made, it seems, and the guard fired.

An inquest was held this morning over the body of the negro. There was doubt as to which of the guards had shot the man. The verdict returned was that he had come to his death at the hands of parties unknown to the jury.

Situation Well in Hand.

The arrival of the United States troops relieved the apprehension of the citizens. The negroes, impressed by the presence of the regulars, have ceased their hostile demonstrations, and the military apparently have the situation well in hand. Their arrival was welcomed by the citizens who had been standing guard over valuables saved from the flames, and who had been prepared to resist as they might have been able any outbreak on the part of the negroes.

A new estimate of the loss caused by the flames shows that it was less than that of earlier reports. It is believed now that it will total not more than $150,000. The best portions of the business and residence sections of the city were not touched by the flames. Messrs. N. Christensen & Sons, George Crofut, J. N. Wallace and Thomas Talbird were the heaviest losers. Their losses were either not covered at all by insurance or the amount they carried was inconsiderable in comparison with the value of the property consumed. The other losses were about half covered by insurance.

Tabby Buildings Stopped Flames.

Oyster shells are the main ingredient of tabby concrete
Closeup of a tabby
wall.
(Photograph by

Michael Broam)
 

The water supply did not fail, as reported. The firemen made a brave fight against the fire, but the high wind caused it to get beyond their control very quickly. Then it was beyond their power to curb its progress. Not until a number of old buildings, constructed with tabby, a material made of sand and shell, had been reached by the flames could their ravages be stopped.

In all, fifty-four buildings were destroyed. It is stated that practically all of the buildings will be restored upon a better scale than before.

There is no telephone communication with Beaufort and the early closing of the Western Union Telegraph office shut off all communication. With important messages forwarded and awaiting answers, the Western Union closed its office shortly after 9 o’clock and after that hour nothing could be learned of the conditions in the fire-stricken town. There was the same difficulty the night before, the office being closed before the full reports of the disaster could be secured.

GOV. ANSEL WAS ASKED
TO ORDER OUT MILITIA

Columbia, S. C. , Jan. 20 -- A telegram was received early this afternoon by Gov. Ansel from the authorities at Beaufort, asking that the naval militia be ordered out to keep order at that place.

The telegram stated that race trouble was feared, although it gave no further details. It is presumed that the trouble grew out of the big fire which occurred there yesterday.

Only once before, during the great flood of 1893, has there been any friction between the races at that place. The negroes greatly outnumber the whites at Beaufort.

TROOPS MOVED
WITH RAPIDITY

WHEN SENT TO BEAUFORT

FIFTH COMPANY LEFT FORT
SCREVEN IN GOVERNMENT TUG

Upon request of the intendant of Beaufort and with the authority of the the War Department, the Fifth Company Artillery at Fort Screven, forty-five men, under command of Capt. Joseph Wheeler, Jr., left for Beaufort at 2:00 o’clock yesterday afternoon on the government tug Gibbons.

In heavy marching order, with shelter tents and rations for several days, the men were on the vessel ready to leave the fort as soon as the sanction of the War Department was received by telegraph from Washington. At Fort Screven it is expected that the company will be on duty in the burned city for several days, protecting life and property.

The request for troops came at 8 o’clock in the morning and Commander Patterson at
Fort Screven immediately acquainted the War Department with the the situation and asked for instructions. Confident that a company would be ordered to the stricken city arrangements were at once made for the departure of the artillerymen. The Gibbons was at Savannah and was ordered by telephone to return to the fort. In the meantime there was great activity in the commisary department and among the men of the Fifth Company, which had been decided upon by Col. Patterson for the trip.

The artillerymen at Fort Screven were to have continued their target practice with the guns to-day, the practice having been interfered with by weather conditions during the last few days. It is probable that the practice will be continued without the Fifth Company. The One Hundred and Seventeenth Company from Fort Fremont is is in Quarters from Fort Screven and will engage in target practice.

[End of January 21, 1907 entries;
January 22 follows.]

(Articles republished with permission of Savannah Morning News,
February 27, 1998)


Savannah Morning News
January 22, 1907

NOTE: Links within this Savannah Morning News article are, with a few exceptions, to references within the Beaufort Gazette article, above.

BEAUFORT TO BE
REBUILT AT ONCE

LOSS IS WITHIN $150,000.

ORIGIN OF FIRE WAS DUE TO
CIGARETTE SMOKING

All was quiet in Beaufort yesterday when Capt. Ed. Wilson and one or two other Savannahians who went over the morning following the fire returned to the city, and it was reported that the damage to the city was not even as great as thought the day following the fire.

Mr. Wilson said he believed $150,000 was a large estimate of the damage done, and doubts if the damage is really over $125,000. According to his statement about twenty-three dwellings and ten business houses were consumed, but the majority of these were small wooden structures that were not of much value.

Mr. Wilson said he made inquiry while in Beaufort and found that with but few exceptions all of the owners of the property carried insurance, in many instances to the full value of the loss. Following the arrival of the company of artillerymen from Fort Screven in command of Capt. Joseph Wheeler, perfect order prevailed in Beaufort and there was no disposition on the part of any one to cause trouble.

The origin of the fire was traced to three small boys who were smoking in a stable to the rear of
F. W. Scheper’s store on Bay street. These boys were questioned and admitted that they had been smoking and had probably thrown a lighted match into some hay that was stored in the stable. Neither of the trio was over 8 years of age, and nothing was done with them.

Mr. Wilson said the fire was confined to one district, where it first started, but that the wind carried sparks and embers some distance and set fire to other buildings, causing three fires to be in progress at once. Very few of those whose homes were burned saved any of their personal effects, as it was not believed the fire would spread to any buildings except the stable and store of Mr. Scheper. Large quantities of clothing and furniture were burned after they had been removed from the houses and piled in the yards. Many residents saved nothing except the clothing they had on their backs at the time the fire was discovered.

Mr. Wilson said he talked with the leading citizens of Beaufort, and they all believed the fire would prove a blessing, as it would result in municipal legislation that would throw many needed restrictions around the building permits, and would serve to reduce the insurance rates, which, in some instances, went as high as 6 per cent.

The work of rebuilding, Mr. Wilson said, will be commenced at once. Everything will be rebuilt with the exception of the old colonial houses, which, of course, can not be replaced. Modern houses, however, will be erected in place of these. The troops will probably be withdrawn from Beaufort to-day unless some unexpected trouble arises or some newly found necessity for their remaining on duty arises.

Mr. Wilson took a large number of pictures while in Beaufort, and said that he had splendid luck in getting good exposures.

[End of January 22, 1907 entries.]

(Articles republished with permission of Savannah Morning News,
February 27, 1998)

 
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