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A Relief Meeting (1892)
The great fire of July 25, 1892 in the south end of Bay City.
  • Transcribed September 2004.

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

    Bay City Tribune - Wednesday, July 27, 1892


    Citizens Turn Out and Take Action Toward Relieve Distress of Fire Suffers.

    Over $7,000 Raised at the Council Chamber Last Evening –
    A Committee Appointed.


    In response to the call issued by Mayor Jackson for a mass meeting to take action towards relieving the distress occasioned by the recent fire, there was a large gathering of citizens at the council chamber last evening.

    The meeting was called to order at 5 o’clock by Mayor Jackson, who said everyone was familiar with the object of the meeting. He called upon E. A. Cooley {Bio.} to preside.

    Mr. Cooley alluded briefly to the object of the meeting. He said that if there was ever a time when the people of Bay City should come to the front it was now. He had first heard of the disaster at Lansing, but did not know until he had reached home how bad it really was. He could say nothing that impress his hearers with a more complete sense of the horror of the scene. Mr Cooley alluded briefly to the disaster that had overtaken Albert Miller and his sons. What had befallen them was true of hundreds of others. We are here to take prompt measures which are rendered absolutely imperative by the situation.

    John Hewitt was then chosen secretary, Major Jackson, chairman of the relief committee, submitted the following report: At a meeting of the common council Monday evening the undersigned were appointed a committee to take such steps as must be necessary to render assistance to all who are immediate need and to report some plan for rendering systematic aid to the fire sufferers. We beg to report that the wants of all have been supplied up to the present time. The great question which must be met is how much aid can be given and how the same shall be done.

    We have caused an investigation to be made and the report of the special committee will show the total loss, insurance, number of sufferers and other data which will be needed.

    We believe that no such disaster has ever afflicted the people of any city in the state. That all our citizens stand ready to contribute not only to render such assistance as may be absolutely necessary, but also sufficient assistance to aid in the upbuilding of that portion of the city which has been destroyed. We therefore recommend that a committee of fifteen be appointed with full power, to take charge of all matters pertaining to relief, that as much money as possible be raised by popular subscription; that all sufferers who receive the written recommendations of the committee be sold all necessaries of life, household furniture, wearing apparel and building material at cost by our business men for a period of not less than sixty days; that the Business Men’s association take all possible steps to secure some manufacturing institutions to take the place of those destroyed; that the committee open a set of books and take such action as may be necessary to guard against all intended impositions and to account for all moneys received, and that all citizens are requested to give no aid except through the committee.

    The report was received and adopted.

    Mr. Cranage said an attempt had been made to ascertain the losses of the fire sufferers. A committee would report to this meeting an estimate of the loss. He did not think anyone could form any idea of the extent of this disaster. He referred to the destruction of the mammoth plant of Miller & Turner and the people who had been thrown out of employment now had no source of revenue. “This is a serious question,” said Mr. Cranage, in conclusion, “and will confront the people of Bay City for some time.”

    D. A. Marshall, in company with John C. Hewitt, had been appointed to go over the burned district and ascertain in detail the exact situation. The district had been canvassed carefully, and the result was submitted to the following report:

    After have carefully examining the condition of affairs in detail we find that 267 families have lost their homes and that they were either owners of the same or tenants. All these owners and tenants have lost their furniture and clothing and in a large majority of cases have no insurance, and only in a very few cases have they recovered any that was partially saved. These 267 families represent about 1,800 people.

    At least 50 per cent of these people need immediate help. They need money to buy all the necessities of life as well as to provide proper shelter.

    One detailed account represents more particularly the locality of the losses, the kind and nature of the same, whether as owner or tenant; the kind of people who are suffering, and as to their losses, whether total or in part. It also shows stoves, their stock of goods, residences, etc. The store and business blocks do not form a part of the 267 losses mentioned above.

    Mr. Marshall, in response to an inquiry, said the total valuation of property of the Sixth ward, in which the fire occurred, was about $600,000 real and personal, and the loss was about two-thirds.

    R. B. Taylor spoke of the necessity of providing employment to the people who were thrown out of work by the fire. He thought manufacturers should be aided in rebuilding their institutions. The estimates for the city’s expenses for the ensuing year have been made and could be enlarged. But the sum of $25,000 has recently been raised by bonding for the purpose of building the city hall. He thought that a portion of this money should be devoted to re-establishing the burned industries, and made such a suggestion.

    Ald. Switzer said the $25,000 had been raise for a specific purpose and could not be used for anything else.

    Mr. Taylor said that the fire, in its destructiveness, had never been equalled in this country since the Chicago fire.

    Alderman Brialy said the question of the city and the $25,000 raised by bonding was entirely out of order and had nothing to do with the matter.

    The chairman said he would not adhere to strict parliamentary rules, but would permit such discussion as he deemed proper. He asked the city attorney if the city charter would permit of such a disposition of the money as suggested by Mr. Taylor.

    The city attorney said it would not.

    “Then that settles the questions,” said Mr. Cooley, and the subject was dropped.

    The report of the committee, which had been before the meeting all this time, was adopted.

    In accordance with the recommendation of the committee, the chair appointed a committee of fifteen, as follows: Major Jackson, Thomas Cranage, S. O. Fisher, J. F. Eddy, N. B. Bradley, W. H. Tousey, W. J. Martin, C. R. Hawley, F. J. Trombley, C. A. Eddy, A McDonell, Jas. Dividson, D. C. Smalley, H. N. Watrous, C. T. Newkirk, C. D. Vail, Orrin Bump.

    Judge Cobb moved that the telegrams be referred to the committee, to answer in such a manner as they may deem proper.

    Ald. Bialy then addressed the meeting. He spoke of the struggle the south end had made and the fact that it was a large part of this corporation. The best part of the south end of the city had been destroyed. The huge interests on which the people had depended for assistance were wiped out. This was a solemn condition of affairs, and called for serious consideration. Not only had the fire wiped out the greater portion of the Sixth ware, but it had removed from our midst one who has been with us for many years, who has succumbed to the terrible conflagration and lost his life. He referred to Jesse M. Miller.

    Continuing, Alderman Bialy said the people of the Sixth ward would be called upon to pay their quota of taxes, and he thought that they should be remitted. It could and should be done. He called the attention of the meeting to the attempts that had been made to take the fire streamers out of service. But, if it had not been for the old Neptune steamer there would not be a house left this side of the South Center street and the railroad track. That steamer was kept in commission four hours that day and worked steadily. When the heat was so terrible that it was almost impossible to face it. If the steamer was never used again in fifteen years, it had paid for itself and the engineer who stood so nobly at his post had earned his salary for that length of time, if he never was called to another fire. The sidewalks of the sixth ward had been wholly destroyed and he thought some means should be devised to meet this emergency. The fire commission had taken upon itself the responsibility of ordering 4,000 feet of hose to replace that destroyed by the fire and he thought that this meeting should endorse that action.

    J. C. Weadock move that Thomas Cranage open a subscription list and receive subscriptions.

    Mr. Cranage acquiesced in the decision, and headed the list with $500. Subscriptions then came in as follows:

    J. F. Eddy, $500;
    Selwyn Eddy, 250;
    W. I. Brotherton & Co., 250;
    Watrous Bros., 250;
    James Shearer, 250;
    C. A. Eddy, 250;
    Michigan Pipe company,500;
    McDonell Hardware company, 250;
    T. A. E & J. C. Weadock, 250;
    C. F. Eddy, 250;
    Hatch & Cooley, 250;
    C. R. Hawley & Co., 300;
    D. J. Kennedy, 150;
    Bay Manufacturing company, 100;
    F. J. Trombley, 100;
    Smalleys & Woodworth, 300;
    T. B. Donnelly, 100;
    E. B. Foss, 200;
    Whitney & Plum, 100;
    B. Burton, 100;
    R. H. Taylor, 100;
    C. T. Newkirk, 100;
    McKeon & Daily, 100;

    Bay City Canning Co., 100;
    Moore & Sons, 50;
    Oppenheim & Son, 50;
    Wm. Ward, 50;
    Ueberroth & Co., 50;
    E. Von Hermann & Co., 50;
    M. M. Smart, 10;
    M. M. Andrews, 10;
    M. A. and M. F. Root, 10;
    J. P. LeRoux, 15;
    Wm. Mitchell, 50;
    C. W. Hull, 25;
    N. B. Bradley, 100;
    James Shearer, 100;
    J. W. Cupit, 15;
    A. Broughton, 10;
    Chas. Hyman, 6;
    John McLennan, 20;
    John I. Stoddard, 50;
    C. F. Rosenbury, 25;
    Thayer & Gustin, 10;
    Moses Lindenbaum, 5;
    total received to day $7,037.50.

    Fred Whittemore said contributions of clothing would be thankfully received. All articles of clothing can be left at the police station or city mission.

    The committee of fifteen will meet at the major’s office, and contributions of clothing, provisions or money will be thankfully received.

    The chairman stated that the Arion society had tendered the use of its hall for a few families, until other arrangements could be made.

    The meeting then adjourned.

    Slept In Streets

    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
    Andrews, M.M.
    Bradley, N.B.
    Brialy, (alderman)
    Brotherton, W.I.
    Broughton, A.
    Bump, Orrin
    Burton, B.
    Cobb, (Judge)
    Cooley, C.F.
    Cooley, E.A.
    Cranage, Thomas
    Cupid, J.W.
    Davidson, Jas.
    Donnelly, T.B.
    Eddy, C.A.
    Eddy, J.F.
    Eddy, Selwyn
    Fisher, S.O.
    Foss, E.B.
    Hawley, C.R.
    Hewitt, John C.
    Hull, C.W.
    Hyman, Chas.
    Jackson, (Mayor)
    Kennedy, D.J.
    LeRoux, J.P.
    Lindenbaum, Moses
    Marshall, D.A.
    Martin, W.J.
    McDonell, A.
    McLennan, John
    Miller, Albert
    Miller, Jesses M (died)
    Mitchell, Wm.
    Newkirk, C.T.
    Root, M.A.
    Root, M.F.
    Rosenbury, C.F.
    Shearer, James
    Smalley, D.C.
    Smart, M.M.
    Stoddard, John I.
    Switzer (alderman)
    Taylor, R.H.
    Tousey, W.H.
    Trombley, F.J.
    Vail, C.D.
    Von Hermann, E.
    Ward, Wm.
    Watrous, H.N.
    Weadock, J.C.
    Weadock, T.A.E.
    Whittemore, Fed
    Subjects Referenced
    267 homeless families
    1800 homeless people
    $600,000 personal loss
    Arion Society
    Business Men's Assoc.
    Chicago fire
    City Hall, new
    City mission
    Fire commission
    Lansing, MI
    Miller & Turner mill
    Neptune fire steamer
    Police station
    Relief Committee
    South Center street
    Other News On This Page
    Small Building Belong to the F. & P.M. Partially Destroyed.

    The prolonged tooting of a number of whistles in the northern part of the city about 10 o'clock last evening, led a number of people to believe that a fire of huge proportions was raging in that vincinity. An alarm from box 12 called the department to the Flint and Pere Marquette railroad yards, where a blaze had started in a small oil house. The chemical engine extinguished the flames with slight loss.
    One Has Been Place on Center Avenue for the Sufferers.

    C.D. vail & Co., have places a contribution box in from of their store in order to raise funds for the fire sufferers. The box is of goodly dimensions but it should be well filled before many days have elapsed. Every cent dropped into the box will be spent in providing for the homeless. Now is the time for Bay Cityans to show their liberality.

    ONE CENT. To day we close out the balance of the big Hamburg embroidery stock. Every thing to be closes out to day at ONE CENT per yard. Don't miss it, for the opportunity will never again be presented. -- C.R. HAWLEY & CO.
    Genuine HINKLEY'S LINIMENT always found in yellow wrappers. Use no other.
    For bargains in real estate go to 1 Ruelle, 201 PHOENIX BLOCK.
    The influence of mind over matter is "one grand thing" in the treatment of diseases. -- DR. SPEER.
    For sale Scholarship in the International Business College. Either department will sold on favorable terms to the purchaser. Enquire G.L. care TRIBUNE OFFICE.
    CHATTEL MORTGAGE SALES sales this morning at 9:30 in the Pacaud block, opposite M.C.R.R. passenger depot.
    Cleanliness is next to Godliness. Go and take a TURKISH BATH.
    Watch the space to be used by DR. H.J. SPEER during the ensuing year.
    If you desire the choicest confections go to WRIGHT BROS., in the opera house block.
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