On May 23, 1838, a paper mill of Col. Camp, at the Harbor, was burned with a loss of from $7,000 to $10,000. It had been in operation about a year.

        On the morning of August 21, 1843, a destructive fire occured at Sackets Harbor, originating in a ware house on the wharf, as was supposed from the cinders of the steamer St. Lawrence, and spreading rapidly, consumed nine buildings on the north side of Main Street, and eight upon the south side. Passing up Bayard Street, it consumed several barns and dwellings, and from the violence of the wind the flakes of burning materials were wafted to the cupola of the Presbyterian Church, which was burned. Upon the alley or street in the rear of Main Street, a number of buildings and much property was burned. The whole number of buildings consumed was about forty; the loss over $35,000. Had this fire occurred in the night time, from its rapidity and violence, a loss of life could have scarcely been avoided. An ineffectual suit was instituted against the steam boat company. On several other occasions the village has suffered severely by fires.

          In the fall of 1851 the Ontario House barns on Broad street, took fire from some unknown cause. The fire extended to Main street, and five stores and dwelling houses were soon in flames. Before the sixth was reached a very heavy timbered, two-story building (and one in which printing presses of various newspapers had been established for years) was torn down by the heroic efforts of the foresighted and resolute inhabitants.

        Six weeks afterwards Buck & Burt's dry goods and hardware establishment, on Main street, took fire in the same manner, and was consumed with nearly half the square. Each one of these conflagrations brought clouds filled with snow.

        June 11, 1883, Clark & Robbins' grain warehouse, filled with grain, was discovered on fire. This valuable and useful storehouse was fired by an incendiary.

        January 3, 1886, a disastrous fire was well under way in the unoccupied annex to Gladwin's brick building, on Main street, when discovered. Formerly it faced on Main street, and here Mr. George Camp started the Sackets Harbor Gazette, in March, 1817. Stokes' hardware store and dwelling and Robbins' block, corner of Ogden and Main streets, with Lane's dry goods below, offices and Ontario Hall above were burned, with Gladwin's, Dennison's malt-house, and McEvoy's grocery and provision store.

        May 29, 1886, the historic warehouse built by the United States navy during the War of 1812, as a storehouse for its fleet, was burned. It had served many purposes in civil life--a bethel house from seamen, 1828; "Knickerbocker bowling alley" and sail loft; Hooker & Hopkins, forwarding merchants; steam flouring-mill; again, warehouse and sail loft, whcih last was converted into a skating rink. At the date mentioned, Mr. Eveleigh permitted an embryo band to practice in it evenings. During the night it burned, no doubt by carelessness on the part of the band.

        In March 1888, Mr. Horace Payne's store and fine dwelling house, on Main street, were destroyed. Fire started in the store part, occupied by Mr. Jones, soon after closing business at night.

        A most severe fire since 1843 occurred August 11, 1889, beginning at the Boulton store adjoining the malt-house walls, where the fire of January 1886 was stopped. The building was unoccupied, and its burning is considered by the inhabitants as of incendiary origin. That and McEvoy's grocery and provision store, north of Railroad street, Conlin's grocery and provision store, Hasting's saloon, Clark & Bowe's fishhouse and office, railroad passenger and ticket office, telegraph and telephone offices, on Main street, Ira A. Rowlson's clothing store and dwelling, M. Jeffrey's store, dwelling and boat-house, A. J. Drake's feed store and dwelling, Maddigan's saloon and dwelling, Heman's saloon and dwelling. Eveleigh's stone stores, with extensive warehouse, containing grain and deposited valuables; Hooker & Crane's store and warehouse of 1812, custom-house, market house, and town hall—all were burned.

        An incendiary effort was made to burn Mr. Eveleigh's hotel some years since. Had it been accomplished the village would have been annihilated. Fire was seen by the Masons, on leaving their lodge, breaking out from the attic. By their activity in getting the hose into the building, and a stream directly upon the fire, the calamity was averted.

More to come....

Sources Quoted:

Haddock, John A., "The Growth of a Century," Philadelphia: Sherman & Co., 1894, p. 591.

Hough, Franklin B., "A History of Jefferson County in the State of New York,"
Watertown, NY: Sterling & Riddell, 1854, p. 186.

© 2001, Mark A. Wentling