Newark Fire Disaster
Large Part of Business Section Burned. Loss $20,000
Published in the Kendall County Record, January 27, 1909
Edited and compiled by Elmer Dickson
A destructive fire broke out at an early hour Friday morning, destroying a row of frame buildings on the north side of Front Street. The buildings were occupied respectively as post office, restaurant and billiard parlor by Bean and Tendall, shoe shop and residence by James Newberry, and a small building used by Mike S. Fries as a storeroom. Only a mass of smoldering ruins marks the spot, which formerly was active with business life. The fire made a clean sweep from Thunemann's drug store west to the Thomas J. Phillips building occupied by Mike S. Fries as a general merchandise and grocery store. It was only by good work that this building was saved, as it caught fire several times.
The fire started in the second story of the C. F. Johnson building. Mr. Johnson had been making preparations to move his family into the building on their arrival from Dakota a little later. When Mrs. A. Kinne, the mother of Dr. Kinne discovered the fire, it was under so great headway that it was only a question of saving the adjacent corner buildings and those across the street, which were in great danger. Only two buildings are now left standing in the block. The drug store at one corner and Thomas J. Phillips building at the other corner.
Mr. Newberry's home and shoe shop was a total loss. Bean and Tendall lost all their stock, fixtures and billiard tables, four in number. C. F. Johnson lost two buildings and household furniture. Mr. and Mrs. R. C. Bibbins saved most of the post office fixtures and some of their stock of books, stationery, cards, and pictures. It is impossible to say how the fire originated. It spread with such amazing rapidity that at times it seemed as if the whole business section was doomed. Slight damage was done to buildings across the street in breaking of plate glass windows and the scorching of walls. Only the brick walls saved the Phillips and Thuneman buildings from total destruction. At this writing the whole loss is estimated at from $15,000 to $20,000.
When the alarm of fire was sounded the people faced the fact that there was no fire protection. The rush to the conflagration demonstrated how brave men would imperil their lives to protect and save their neighbors' property. The men of Newark worked like heroes with buckets and ladders, doing most efficient service.
The Losses and Insurance
R. C. Bibbins, Post office, heating and lighting plant, $2,000, partially covered by insurance.
C. F. Johnston, two buildings and furniture, $6,000, with $3,500 insurance on buildings and $575 on furniture.
Bean and Tendall, stock and fixtures, $3,000, insurance $1,500.
James Newberry, home and contents, no insurance.
T. J. Phillips building, $250.