Fire - 1899 Macoupin County Illinois
© compilation 2010 Gloria Frazier





Fire - 1899 Macoupin County IL Courthouse



Macoupin County Enquirer Wednes Jan 25, 1899, p1
Fire At The Courthouse

Fire broke out in the office of the county clerk at the court house last night and destroyed an alphabet case containing the original papers of all pending and unsettled cases before the probate and county court. Between 500 and 1,000 blank forms which were in the case, are now charred and unrecognizable. County Clerk Hartley and deputy clerks Seehausen and Fletcher have been working hard these papers, so that they are nearly all on record. A most fortunate occurrence.
Luckily the docket was saved and the county officials believe there are no papers of which an accurate record can not be obtained. The loss will entail much extra labor on their part to get things in the same shape as before the fire. It is believed the conflagration originated from a box of
burning sawdust used as a cuspidor, into which some one had carelessly thrown a lighted match or cigar.
Considerable damage was done to the windows and walls of the building and Clerk Seehausen's desk was destroyed.

Macoupin County Enquirer Wednes Jan 25, 1899, p1
Casper Saves Courthouse
But the Kodac Fiends Faile To Get a Snap Shot of the Act.


Casper Westermeier, Jr., the jovial insurance and abstract man, was modestly receiving encomiums Wednesday on a heroic act he performed last night "all by his lonesome." There are no scars on his manly person to tell of the brilliant dash made and efficient service rendered by which our "million dollar" court house is still spared to us with its beautiful and potent $720,000 mortgage.
'Twas ten o'clock last evening when leaving his offices in the basement of the building, his sense of smell, sharpened by years of insurance inspection, detected the acrid odor of something burning. Rushing up to the main corridor he found Circuit Clerk Homer's office filled with smoke.
To think was to act. Grasping the ice cooler in the corridor, he fought through the blinding, stifling atmosphere, reached the conflagration and with celerity extinquished it. 'Twas a box filled with sawdust. Someone had cast a lighted cigar into it which had lain there and smouldered, and after the inmates of the office departed, had ignited.
Today that section of the courthouse presented an odor akin to that of a smokehouse, but such will prove efficaceous in killing any microbes daring enough to attack the musty tomes impregnated with it.
Several Kodak fiends are lamenting that they missed securing a flashlight shot at Casper in his now famous court house saving feat.

Macoupin County Enquirer Wednes Feb 1, 1899, p1
Fire At The Court House
Destroys the Original Papers in All Unfinished or Pending Cases in County Court


Fire broke out in the office of the county clerk at the court house Tuesday night and destroyed an alphabet case containing the original papers
of all pending and unsettled cases before the probate and county court. Between 500 and 1,000 blank forms which were in the case, are now charred and unrecognizable. County Clerk Hartley and deputy clerks Seehausen and Fletcher have been working hard for the past few weeks to record these papers, so that they are nearly all on record. A most fortunate occurrence.
Luckily the docket was saved and the county officials believe there are no papers of which an accurate record can not be obtained. The loss will entail much extra labor on their part to get things in the same shape as before the fire. It is believed the conflagration originated from a box of burning sawdust used as a cuspidor, into which some one had crelessly thrown a lighted match or cigar.
Cosiderable damage was done to the windows and walls of the building, and Clerk Seehausen's desk was destroyed.
Janitor Lynch says when he came down this morning, on reaching the Presbyterian church corner, he saw the blaze through the windows and knew just where the fire was. He got a pail of water and put the fire out. The room was filled with smoke and everything within reach had been destroyed.
The windows were broken out, the walls cracked and a mirror, five feet away, smashed by the intense heat. Soot and ashes covered the apartment.
What puzzles those who do not believe the fire originated from the sawdust cuspidor, is the absence of that pungent odor which attends burning sawdust which attends burning sawdust.
Another strong rebuttal is the story of Jesse David, who assists Janitor Lynch.
Young David swept the room about 6 o'clock last night and found everything all right. He found several burnt matches in the cuspidor, which he swept out, and gave it a clean, fresh surface. he found the sawdust we from expectoration during the day.
Parties go home from lectlure did not notice any blaze which such a fire necessarily must have made.
From alll evidences, whether the fire originated by accident or incendiary means, it did its work after midnight.
No one can say just what the loss will be to the county or anyone in particular. It is too early to even approximate such loss.
One thing is assured, that much vexatious trouble will result, and the work of partial settlement in various estates will have to be done over again. Whether this can be done in every case, cannot be foretold.
New casing and blanks will be procured at once, and the labor of restoring things to their former condition will be hurried.

The Carlinville Democrat, Jan 25, 1899, p1
Fire In The Court House.
Probate Court Room in Court House Burned And all Papers on File Gone
Thought To Be The Work Of Fire Bugs


At 4:45 o'clock Wednesdayl morning Janitor James Lynch, when he turned the Presbyterian church corner coming down to build the fire, discovered the Probate Court room was on fire; the blaze had burnt through the window. He hastened up and by carrying water finally extinguished the flames, but the fire had already done its worst, and all the probate papers, notes, bonds, letters of administrations, etc., kept in that room, together with the clerk's desk burned.
The origin is a mystery. The janitor says after the clerks had gone home, about 6 o'clock, he swept out the office, and that there was no sign of fire in the cuspidors, which was a large wooden concern, filled with sawdust. The assistant janitor says he swept off the top of the cuspidors and noticed the sawdust was wet, and says there was positively no fire in it. The idea prevails pretty generally that it was the work of fire bugs.
The loss cannot be estimated, as the larger case which stood back of Clerk Seehausen's desk filled with estate papers, letters of administration, notes, claims, and all manner of papers in process of settlement, are destroyed. The papers that were far enough advanced to be recorded are all right, as the records are preserved, but those not desposed of are lost. It cannot be ascertained just what estates will be damaged by the fire, as there were hundreds in this case, and the desk, filled with papers, memorandums, etc., is also a total loss, as is also the large blank case that stood under the file case.
The iron file boxes on the north side of the room were heated hot, but the papers are not damaged. The room is badly smoked and the plastering is the southeast corner of the room is ruined.
The fire will cause no little amount of litigation, and some of the estates may be badly tangled as a result. The windows to any part of the building are easily opened, and it is the general opinion that the entrance was thus made, if the cuspidors did not cause the fire.



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