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Letter by Letitia Dickie (1892)
The great fire of July 25, 1892 in the south end of Bay City.
  • Contributed by Carolyn McGrath (September 2004)

  • Jul. 28, 1892: View south from Fremont avenue of destruction on Water street.

    See "Introduction Page" for Background on names mentioned in the letter.

    Letter Written by Letitia Dickie.


    Bay City, Mich., July 25, 1892

    Dear Brother Robert, Margaret and May:

    I'm at Ella's, keeping house for her.

    It is now near midnight and I'm wide awake and expect to be for the rest of the night. Anna came down an hour or two ago to tell me that I'm homeless. We were burned out this afternoon, with hundreds of other families.

    There is not a house left from 29th street up to 35th and as far back from the river as Stanton street and Broadway - a clean sweep.

    The fire commenced in Albert Miller's mill, which was the first to go, and was the worst fire Bay City ever had. There is not one house left on 29th street from Water street to the school house. All gone, and all Fremont avenue, and for blocks and blocks beyond. Our small house was not long in going, but the big one was a little tougher. Gibbs just came and told me the roof had tumbled in. They got out all that they could and put the things in the field with "Jenny", the cow. R.B. is watching them tonight, I being down here, did not know about it. I knew there was a fire but did not know that we were in danger.

    About 8 o'clock Anna came to the front door and rang. I went, and laughingly asked: "Did you get burned out?" "Yes," she replied, "I did and so did you." It was quite a while before I could believe it. I can't realize yet that I've no home.

    I had gathered up quite a large washing and put it in the basement, but they are all burned. I don't know yet what I've left. Will go up early in the morning to see. I do know that I've only one shirt, as that is on me. In my last wash, I had overlooked quite a number of things, but cloth is cheap.

    Anna, Gibbs and the children are here. Robert is watching our stuff.

    Old Mr.Campbell had one eye hooked by a cow; it is too bad. They, too, are burned out. Also the Baptist and Methodist churches - all gone. You can stand on Stanton street and look clear down to the river, nothing left but ruins.

    Anna said that the first men who came running in to help were two that used to board with us, John Fagert and Jas. McGuire. I've not seen either of them for years. They said: "We did not come in for dinner, we came to help you move." We could not get much help for everyone was busy alike.

    There are hundreds tonight who will sleep on the ground and without their suppers. Poor little children who go separated from their parents. One woman lost her little babe. Anna said she'd go crazy, had she stayed there longer herself, seeing and hearing the distress. A colored woman to whom I used to give milk for a sick babe, went up from 17th street when she heard we were in the fire, and worked like two men. Anna said she never saw a woman work as she did.

    Well, I'm about exhausted. The old home is gone!

    I've seen some sad days as well as some very happy ones in it.

    It was the only home we had, but I'm thankful to know that it is as well with us as it is.

    Write soon,
    With love

    Letitia Dickie

    You'll always remember the old home.

    Intro. & Background Acres In Ruins. (Bay City Tribune articles.)

    1892 Fire Menu
    * Introduction
    * Letter, Letitia Dickie
    * Acres in Ruins
    * Fire in Detail
    * Under Control.
    * Slept in the Streets
    * Unfounded Rumor
    * A Relief Meeting
    Related Notes & Pages

    (Click to enlarge.)
    The fire of July 25, 1892 was Bay City's most disatrous, it started in the city's south end, near the Miller & Turner mill, located between Harrison street and the Saginaw river and foot of 31st street. Fed by gale force winds, it destroyed 350 homes and businesses covering a forty-block area. 1800 people went homeless, most lost all of their possessions.
    People Referenced
    (See Introduction Page)
    Subjects Referenced
    Baptist church
    Methodist church
    Broadway ave.
    Fremont ave.
    Seventeenth st.
    Stanton st.
    Twenty ninth st.
    Thirty fifth st.
    Water st.
    Internet References
  • None at this time.
  • WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.