As we continue on our trip toward a public waterworks system in Comanche, Texas, I want to direct your attention to information that comes from the June 19, 1879, issue of the Comanche Chief.
“Our citizens were aroused from their slumbers yesterday morning by a fusillade of small arms and an alarm of fire. The two-story frame building on the east side of the square was seen to be burning.
“The hook and ladder boys were soon on the grounds with their machine and did gallant work. The building was too far gone to be saved, and they immediately devoted their attention to the neighboring buildings, the first of which was the small tailor shop adjoining J.D. Stephens’ law office. This they soon yanked out of the way with their hooks and every nerve was strained to save Stephens’ office, the two-story rock building which, after much hard work, the boys kept from flames.
“The building in which the fire originated, owned by F.E. Wilson, was entirely consumed. The lower story was used as a paint shop, but everything of value was saved.”
Of course as is usual, the rumors began as soon as the flames were extinguished. Since the fire began on the upper floor, and since that floor was unoccupied at the time, the gossip mill had it that men had sneaked up there to play poker, gotten into an argument, and accidentally started the fire.
Others claimed that someone had heard the scream of “murder” coming from that floor shortly before the fire started and that the building was set on fire to cover the crime. I’m pretty sure there was never any evidence found of this, however.
“We cannot commend the fire boys too highly, and through their efforts a hundred times the cost of their truck was saved, yet some of our citizens who own property refuse to aid the company. Buy the boys some buckets, axes, lanterns and other appliances which they need and you will never regret it.”
As I said in our first article, the more things change, the more they stay the same!.