Rippey Fire 1912

From The Jefferson Bee; Wednesday, May 1, 1912

Former Bullock & Keller Store, J. F. Fowler Building and Dr. Shipley’s Office

            Fire which started at 12:30 o’clock Thursday morning resulted in the destruction of property at Rippey to the value of $15,000.  It was of unknown origin, and only the hard work of the fire department and citizens of neighboring towns saved the entire business district.  According to the Perry Chief the losses are as follows:
            Dr. J. H. Shipley, office and fixtures, loss, $1,000, insurance, $400.
Johnson Bros. & Chambers, general merchandise store, loss $12,000, insurance, $7,250.
Farmers Telephone Co., loss on equipment, $250.00.
A.     E. Mentz, loss on buildings, $2,5000, insurance, $2,4000.
Mrs. Laub, loss on household goods, $100.00.
No one knows just how the fire started.  It was discovered shortly after midnight by people living in the vicinity, and by the time the alarm was sounded, flames were issuing from the general store of Johnson Bros. & Chambers, the biggest store in the town.  There was no chance to save anything and the only part of the big stock which was gotten out of the building was a sewing machine and a couple of small crates of shoes.  It evidently started in the rear of the big general store, but from what cause, no one knows.
Dr. Shipley’s office was on the west of the Johnson store and the telephone office was on the east.  Mrs. Laub, who had charge of the telephone office, lived on the second floor of the building, and although some of her household goods were save, her loss will be considerable.
The Fire Department, under the direction of Chief N. P. Burk, responded promptly, when the alarm was sounded and they did valiant work for two hours and a half.  Two streams of water poured on the burning buildings and the flames confined to the burned structures.  No one was hurt, but Rippey Fire Lester Johnson, one of the proprietors of the big establishment which was destroyed, was overcome by the heat and smoke and was quite sick for a couple of hours.  The work of the firemen occasioned many compliments, as it seems hardly credible that they could keep the flames confined to such a small area.  The fire was so fierce that the light could easily be seen from this city.
The buildings in which the Johnson store and the telephone office were located belonged to A. E. Mentz, of Milton Junction, Wisconsin.  Because of the fact that the owner could not be communicated with, it is not known whether they will be rebuilt.  There are no other vacant store buildings in Rippey and for the present, at least Messrs. Johnson and Chambers will have to go out of business.  Their loss will be very heavy.  About $5,,000 in notes and book accounts are represented in the contents of the store safe and it is not yet known whether these were burned.  The safe is apparently all right, but it will be some time before it can be opened.
The telephone exchange was owned by the Farmers’ Telephone Company, which was connected with the toll lines.  The switchboard was gotten out, but the cables and wires leading into the building were destroyed and it will probably be ten days before everything is in good working order again.
The fire is a big loss to Rippey in a commercial way, but the people there are thankful that it was no worse and that they were protected by an excellent system of water works and a good fire department.


1912 fire