1908 Fire, Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin

  Histories
The Night the Churches Burned
Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin


last modified:

11 Nov 2001


St. Joseph Church destroyed by fire in 1908. [Note that church faced Marr St.]


Congregation Church destroyed by fire 1908
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September 25, 1908
the headlines of the Daily Commonwealth read:


FOND DU LAC SWEPT BY $200,000 FIRE
EXTRA! EXTRA!

The fire which caused such destruction, was centered at the corner of Second and Marr streets, and totally destroyed 2 churches, one residence and the Crescent Garage, while severely damaging another church and several residences. The Cresent garage, which was the origin of the blaze, was at one time an opera house. The building had been converted to a garage for those few local residents who already owned automobiles. The amazing part of this story, is that the two churches destroyed were located two blocks apart, and flames were carried on the wind from one church to another. The hidden story is the fact that the city only had two fire engines, and with one at the Cresent Garage and another at St. Joseph's Church, there was no fire truck to send to the Congregation Church when the Church caught fire. By 1997 standards, this fire would have caused $3,500,000 in structural damage alone.

Here are the headlines of stories regarding the fires, and the aftermath of this devastation to the Fond du Lac community: September 25, 1908

1. Many Buildings Are Laid In Ruins;
The Crescent Gar[a]ge, Mayham Residence,
St. Josephs Church and the Congregational Church all a Total Loss;
OSHKOSH SENDS AID TO THE STRICKEN CITY
Makes the Run In 23 Minutes; St. Peter's Lutheran Church Suffers Heavy Loss But Building is Saved

2. SCENES NEVER TO BE FORGOTTEN
Awful Battle With the Flames Bought Bravely
LOSS IS AN APPALLING ONE
Fact That No Lives Were Sacrificed Gratifying; The Fire Department Aided by Volunteers

3. LAYS THE BLAME TO CROSSED WIRES
Nine Automobiles Valued at $20,000 are Consumed in the Fire--Local Auto Owners Suffer a Heavy Loss
J. AMBOR TALKS ABOUT ORIGIN OF FIRE
Says Liert Governor Connor's Car Was Not Responsible For It--Left Building Ten Minutes Before Fire Started

September 26, 1908
City Shudders At Great Loss;
Ready To-Day to Build

4. SEVERITY OF FIRE IS APPRECIATED
Charred Walls Proclaim Silent Message of Destruction-- Firemen Drench the Ruins Till Last Embers Die
BURGLARS LOOT AS THE FIRE FIEND SPREADS
Insurance Runs About 50 per cent of the Loss-- People Spend Night With Homes In Imminent Danger
5. INSURANCE ON CITY'S BIG LOSS
St. Joseph's Church Policies Fall Short of Loss
INSURANCE BY COMPANIES
Protection Carried Is Hardly 50 Percent of the Loss--The Policies Classified.
6.BURGLARS LOOT WHILE FIRE RAGES
Make Haul at Mangan Residence This Morning
MONEY, SILVER AND LINEN
Family Away but Fifteen Minutes-
Gain Entrance Through Kitchen Window-
Police have Clue
7. PROVIDES WAY FOR LARGER CHURCH
Walls are Found to be Service-ably intact
MODERNIZE ARRANGEMENTS
New Congregational Church May Extend Full Length of Lot--Decide to Rebuild at Once.
8. TO HOLD CHURCH IN THE ARMORY
Temporary Quarters For St. Joseph's Congregation
SAVE THE SACRED ARTICLES
Rev. M. J. Taugher Tells of Great Fire -- Church Blazes While the Priests Work to Save
9. FROM STANDPOINT OF WATER COMPANY
Reservoir Lowers Three Feet During the Fire
STATEMENT OF SUPT. MASSON
Says Rueping Leather Company Pumped From Its Fountain and Not From the Intake.
10. ASPHALT IS BAKED
New Pavement of East Second Street Destroyed Near Marr Street-- Cracked and Burned.
11. GRANDER CHURCH; AIM OF ST. JOSEPH'S
Congregation is Not Discouraged Says Trustee
NOW NEED A BIGGER CHURCH
Decision Will Be Known Soon as to What Congregation Will Do--The Plans.
Monday, Sept 28, 1908
12. THE WATER SUPPLY AND OPINIONS
People Complain About Weak Pressure at First
INTERVIEWS ARE OBTAINED
Business Man Says Organization Is Needed in Fire Department-- Chief in Supreme Command.
13. PEOPLE WEEP AS PRIEST CONSOLES
Sad Service Held by St. Joseph's Congregation
NEW CHURCH ON GROUND LEVEL
Homeless Congregation Hears Mass at Armory E Sunday - Secures Temporary Home.
14.MRS. MAYHAM TELLS OF EXPERIENCE
Was Alone in The House Asleep At the Time
ROARING FLAMES AWOKE HER
Tried to Get the Fire Department on the Telephone-- Believe Insurance to be Light.
15. DECLARES IT WAS GOD'S WARNING
Rev. L.P. Peeke Calls Presbyterian Church a Menace
NOW THE TIME TO BUILD ANEW
Pastors Extend Sympathy to Congregations that Suffered Loss of Church Homes
16. MARKS BEGINNING OF GREATER EPOCH
Church Passes Into Character Affection and Memory.
PAYS BEAUTIFUL TRIBUTE
Rev. L. H. Keller Delivers Inspiring Sermon Before Big Congregation at Masonic Temple Sunday
17. AFTERMATH OF DEPLORABLE FIRE
Miracle That the City Was Saved at all
WET BLANKETS BURN ON ROOF
Brick Walls of Burning Buildings Prevented Fire From Spreading Unchecked - Some Incidents.
18. BRAVE DRIZZLE TO LOOK AT RUINS
Thousands Visit Fire Zone Sunday Afternoon
LUTHERAN BELL RINGS OUT
East Side Resident Thought House Was Afire and Slid Out of Window on Blanket.
September 29, 1908
19. SILENT TESTIMONY OF FURY OF FLAMES
Half Tone Photographs of Burned Structures
ANGRY FLAMES' AWFUL WORK
Garage is Shown as a Heap of Debris-- Gaunt Skeletons of Ruined Churches
20. BUILDINGS SHAKE WHEN WALL FALLS
Firemen Have Narrow Escape From Death
TAKE UNNECESSARY RISKS
Windlass Placed Too Near Wall--Covered With Debris-- Firemen Flee to Safety
21. HANDSOME CHURCH TO RISE FROM RUIN
Congregational Society Names Committees For Active Work
ENGAGED THE HENRY BOYLE
Preaching Services to Be Held There on Sundays-- Building and Finance Committees Named
22. DEVICE SHOWS STEAM PRESSURE
More About Water Controversy in Big Fire
THE MAIN WAS OVERLOADED
Record Sheet Shows a Rapid Gain in Steam Pressure at 11:30 O''Clock Friday Night
23. WILL REPLACE BURNED BOOKS
Insurance on Furniture and Fixtures Falls Short
BOARD FIGURES UP THE LOSS
Will Add Another Teacher to the Faculty of Franklin School--Hold Special Meeting
24. INSURANCE CLAIMS SETTLED TODAY
Award $5833.76 for Damage to Grant School
PAY FACE OF CHURCH POLICY
Milwaukee Companies Pay Full Amount of Policy on St. Joseph's--Loss on Fixtures
September 30, 1908
25. THE CORNERSTONE OF ST JOSEPH'S
Paper of 1874 Tells About The Ceremonies
BISHOP HENNI OFFICIATED
Eight Thousand People Rejoice as Bishop Sets the Stone - Big Delegation from Milwaukee
October 1, 1908
26. FIRE DELAYS WORK ON THE PAYVEMENTS
Thought City Burnt Up and Did Not Ship
LACK OF CEMENT AND STONE
Floor Being Laid on Western Avenue Bridge - Welding Work Being Rushed - Rails Replaced

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This site represents an ongoing effort to document, and collect visual artifacts related to, the  history of Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin.
If you have corrections or additions to share, please contact Tracy Reinhardt by email at fondygenie@charter.net or at (920) 929-8538.