Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Fire in a Snow Storm

This article was found in the historical newspaper archives at http://www.fultonhistory.com/. It was published in the Watertown (NY) Daily Times newspaper dated Tuesday, 3 January 1922. The article reads:




With Mercury Below Zero, Huge Snow Drifts Keep Would be Rescuers From Scene of Conflagration Near Malone - Lose $5,000.

Malone. Jan 3.- Flames swept the farmhouse of George Seaver in the Lamekiln road six miles southwest of Malone, shortly alter 7 Sunday night , destroying it with all it contained. Seaver, with his wife and four children, two of them five-month old twins, escaped with the clothes they wore. The loss from the fire, said to have been caused when a chimney burned out, was estimated at nearly $5,000. The barns and stock were not burned.

Intense cold, with below zero temperature, coupled with a driving wind and blinding snow. kept all except a scattered handful of neighbors from giving aid. So quickly did flames envelop the home nothing In it was saved. It burned like tinder„ and only the fact that the wind was in an opposite direction saved the barns from being consumed.

In several Instances where farmers and others responded after being called by telephone to fight the fire, snow drifts encountered, and which were unable to penetrate, forced them to give up the battle. An auto with help from Malone became installed in drifts three times in endeavoring to reach the fire after It left a main highway and took a crossroad.

Half frozen by the cold and their fight against the snow the occupants had to turn around and return when a mile from the fire. The blinding snow driven by the wind that never once abated in Its fury made the blaze appear like a bonfire In a field, even when viewed from short distance away.

There were several farmers who lived in the same road who failed to we the fire until other neighbors called their attention to it. Unlike in most instances and especially at night when a fire might be viewed from a long distance, there was no reflection. The snow hid the fire from view.

Seaver and his family were seating themselves for supper when the fire was discovered. The meal was never finished. An endeavor to check the flames at the outset proved unsuccessful in the face of the wind and biting cold. Within a few moments the whole interior with Its furnishings and all that was treasured most was a roaring furnace.

Members of the family had barely time to don their wraps when they were obliged to flee from the house. Neighbors living close at hand quickly responded when they saw the flames, but had there been plenty of water it was doubtful their aid would hare been of avail against the wind and cold. The home was leveled In less than a half hour, only smouldering embers remaining.

Coming at the beginning of the new year and as a climax to a series of misfortunes, the loss of his home and furnishings will be a severe one for Seaver to bear, his friends stated. The farmer's lifetime saving were virtually wiped out by the fire. Only a small amount of insurance was said to have been carried on the property.

Several years ago Mrs. Seaver met with an accident in a downstate city, while only a little more than a year ago Seaver was seriously hurt when be fell into an excavation for a turntable here. He filed suit against the railroad, a jury rendering a judgment of about $7,000 in his favor. About a month ago, the appellate division reversed this judgment, after much litigation, and Seaver lost his case.

Until they can make other arrangements Seaver and his family will be cared for at the home of Joseph Peryer, across the road from his farm, where they were housed Sunday night.

This article has tremendous historical value to members of this George Seaver family - it documents a tragedy that was probably talked about for generations.

This type of article really points out the family history value of having an index for the historical newspapers and a search capability. I also believe that many "brick wall" problems will be solved when small local newspapers have been digitized and indexed. Presently, these small local newspapers are only available in a local library, local genealogy or historical society, or in someone's attic or basement in a box (or worse).

1 comment:

Lidian said...

Amazing story - I gather this family is not related to yours?

I agree entirely about the digitization of small local papers, re brick walls.