Way Back When

(The Spirit is pleased to share with our readers vignettes of life in the 19th century as originally reported in past issues of the newspapers. These reproduced stories include their original headlines and spelling.)

Local Intelligence
October 6, 1897

The Village of Austin, Potter County Devoured by Flames

A telegram from Austin to yesterday's Commercial Gazette says: "Probably 500 people are homeless in this Potter county lumber town. Fire broke out this afternoon at 2:45 in Weeds livery barn on Turner street, and in five hours every building in the town but five was leveled to the ground.

Turner street was the principal residence street of the town. The fire was started by a load of hay being run into a gas jet. The load was backed into the barn and the team left standing while the driver was preparing to unload. The team started and thus the second great fire in the history of this village came about.

In all about 100 buildings were burned, mostly residences. Among the larger loses were the Methodist church, the Presbyterian church, the opera house. Welch's meat market, Heliwig's drug store, Gallup's livery and Weed's livery. The loss is placed by insurance experts at about $150,000 to $200,000.

The town was practically without water supply, the mill pond, on which it depended for water for fighting fires, having been drained while undergoing repairs.

October 13, 1897
Plenty of Game
Squirrels and pheasants are reported to be remarkably plentiful on the oak and chestnut ridges of Jefferson and Indiana counties, and the sportsmen of this town have much difficulty in restraining themselves.

War and the chase being the principal occupations of our primitive ancestors, the hereditary thirst for gore is still strong in many of us.

We want to enjoy the luxury of killing something, if it is only a chipmunk. Hence the report that the woodlands are full of game is calculated to warm the blood of the otherwise hebetudinous hunter.