McDanell's Furniture Factory Burns
About 8:30 o'clock Wednesday evening an alarm of fire was sounded and in short time the town was in a great state of excitement on discovering the large planing mill and furniture factory of the J. H. McDanell's Sons Co. to be on fire and the whole business section of Warsaw was threatened by destruction.
John J. Payne, in going home, noticed a bright light in the engine room of the factory and hurried to investigate the cause, when he found flames bursting out the sides of the building. He yelled fire as loud as he could and ran to the residence of George Mershon, the superintendent of the factory, and quickly informed him of the calamity. By this time the flames had lit up the sky and the people hurried to the scene to help subdue the fire and prevent its spread. The building being a light frame, and very combustible, it was soon seen that it would be impossible to save it. The fire company quickly responded and had the engine pumping water from the cisterns but it was difficult to get a strong stream owing to the hose bursting on one place, though without this agency the fire could nothave been confined as it was. Willing hands did everything possible but the factory was soon a mass of seething flames. The attention of the fire fighters was then directed to the neighboring property, especially the large stable and lumber storage barn opposite the planing mill office, and although this building frequently caught fire yet the heroic and
persistent efforts of the indefatigable workers kept the fire from spreading beyond the planing mill property. Had this stable and barn gone to the flames the warehouse and store of the McDanell's Sons, the grocery of Ira Patterson in the Brown block property of Misses Lizzie and Anna Carver, and the residence of J. H. McDanell would have been added to the fire, and perhaps half of the business portion of the town as the fire would have been practically beyond control. Two large kilns of quartered oak, containing thousands of feet of lumber, became food for the flames, and a stream of water was kept on them nearly all night and not until they were ashes was the fire extinguished. The saving of the adjacent property was a great accomplishment, and everybody feels grateful that the loss was not greater under the hazardous conditions.
It is a difficult matter to explain the origin of the fire, as at quitting time, Rice Webb, who had charge of the engine room, flooded the floor in front of the furnace with water, as was his custom, and carefully examined all of the engine and boiler room without discovering a particle of fire, and the night watchman, Thos. Boggs, had inspected the same place about five minutes before the fire was discovered, and had gone to the post office after the mail. It is supposed that saw dust accumulated above the boilers, and becoming hot caught fire in some way. The McDanell's do not attach any blame to anybody, but take maters philosophically and attribute the fire to an unavoidable accident that would be liable to occur at any factory.
The loss is between $20,000 and $25,000 on which there is not a cent of insurance as no company would carry the property on account of its hazardous risk, being all frame and very combustible. The machinery valued at about $10,000 was the best in the market, the lumber was valued at about $6,000 and the buildings and other supplies foot up the balance of the loss. All of the workmen lost their tools which were quite valuable, with the exception of Gil Roberts, whose brother Will rescued his from the flames. Robert Abbott and Finley Peters ran into the burning building to save their tools but were overcome with the smoke, and Mr. Abbott fell on the floor and would have been lost but for Mr. Peters who carried him to a place of safety.
The loss of the factory is a terrible blow to the business interests of Warsaw, as the pay roll amounted to $700 per week. The factory was first started as a planing mill by the McDanell and Sons in 1892, and about four years ago was turned into a furniture factory. They have been the life and business energy of the town and if they do not rebuild Warsaw will ba a "dead one." They take the matter quire coolly and philosophically, but are unable a t present to state whether they will rebuild their factory. They were overcrowded with orders and fortunately had a large stock made up and in their warehouse and will be able to fill most of the orders by using the machinery in the Warsaw Furniture Factory to make and supply odd pieces. Mr. Bogardus, the superintendent of the upper factory, has kindly tendered the use of his plant for this purpose and Mr. Mershon, having saved the plans and patterns of the McDannell's factory, will be able to fill his orders. They had a great deal of material ordered for future work but cancelled the orders until they determine whether they will continue in the furniture business. Everybody deplores this calamity to the business interests of Warsaw and extends tot he unfortunate firm their heartfelt sympathy. Messrs. McDanell have requested us to most feelingly express their gratitude to everybody for the faithful service rendered in the effort to preserve their property from the destructive fire.
As we go to press the McDanell's Sons announced they will not rebuild on account of the poor health of J. H. McDanell, therefore a meeting is hereby called of all our citizens to be held at the court house this Saturday evening at 7 o'clock to see if a strong stock company cannot be organized to rebuild the factory and go ahead with the business. Be sure and attend as a lack of interest will kill the movement. The McDanell's will take a big slice of the stock.
The heat was so intense that some of the iron machinery in the mill was reduced to molten metal.
A rent in a length of hose seriously interfered with the stream of water being thrown on the buildings.
Many buckets are missing which parties having will please return to the engine house or McDanell's store.
200 gallons of gasoline, the property of the town, was opportunely removed from close proximity to the fire.
The gasoline and rag house on the mill lot was dragged bodily from its foundation up the street out of danger.
A great many from the surrounding country and Florence, Ind., were attracted here by the glare of the great blaze.
A number of brave fire fighters were drenched to the skin with water but fought on, unmindful of the cold and water, though it was zero weather.
Dr. C. H. Duvall sat astride of the roof of the frame cottage of the Misses Carver for a couple of hours pouring water on the roof to keep it from catching on fire.
One young man carried out an armful of dishes from the residence of night watchman Thomas Boggs and deliberately dropped them in the middle of the street returning for another load.
This is the update from the Warsaw Independent March 4, 1905, two weeks later:
The question of rebuilding the furniture factory has been about determined, and through the instrumentality of the enterprising citizens headed by some of our local capitalists the necessary stock of $25,000 capital has been made up. However there is still an opening for those who would care to have stock, and it is especially desired that those who have not been seen and want stock should be given whatever they desire and if they will call at the Warsaw Deposit Bank, they will find the subscription papers ready for signature. Those who have been solicited will not be asked again as it is supposed they would be alive to the importance of willingly helping in the matter and their failure to do so may endanger the enterprise.
There are over seventy stockholders representing all of the enterprising citizens. Col. Rod Perry has agreed to take the largest amount of stock and his subscription has been more than liberal. He is anxious that everybody has some stock and that all co-operated harmoniously for the successful and profitable management of the investment. The plans will be formulated at once so as to begin work as early as possible. To show what such a factory means to a town, Carrollton called up The McDanell & Sons Co. and stated to them that they would build them a $20,000 brick building and put $20,000 to their credit in the bank if they would start the factory at Carrollton and pay five per cent on the $20,000 cash furnished. Warsaw can surely afford to give $1,500.
Here's the update from the Warsaw Independent April 20, 1905, six weeks later:
The work on the new furniture factory is being pushed rapidly by Supt. George Mershon. Several barges of brick and lumber have been unloaded at the river. The brick were bought at Carrollton at $6.90 per 1000, and the lumber from The Crane Lumber Company at Cincinnati at $16 per 1000. The work on the foundation is being hurried along and Mr. Mershon expects to have the building ready for business by July. Downey White was awarded the contract for the brick work Monday, and with a force of hands will start the work at once. Gordon & Howard, of Petersburg, Boone County, Ky., have the contract for the concrete work and have given the best of satisfaction. They are very clever gentlemen besides being good workmen.
Here's the update from the Warsaw Independent May 6, 1905:
The work on the new factory is progressing very satisfactorily, the boiler having been received and placed in position, the concrete work completed, and the brick work being actively begun, the brick layers, under the contractor Downey White, being Samuel Mendicott, Charles Street, Charles Kelley, and John Corbett, of Madison, Ind., and John Jarvis, or Rising Sun, Ind. The brick work is to be completed by May 20th.
Here's a final update from the Warsaw Independent July 29, 1905:
Monday, steam was raised at The McDanell's Furniture Manufacturing Company for the purposed of re-drying a large amount of lumber that was recently purchased by that company, for the purpose of having it ready to manufacture into furniture. Thursday the machinery was started and a force of about forty employees began work. It is estimated that when the factory is running to its full capacity about one hundred hands will be on its pay rolls. A large amount of orders are on hand to be turned out and the salesmen on the road are sending in nice orders daily.
Original story from the Warsaw Independent, February 18, 1905.