|Fire in Smithville
Contributed by Becki Watters
Brunswick County, North Carolina
From an unknown newspaper source:
15 Jan 1869 - A terrible fire struck Smithville. The bells of the vessels in the harbor rang the alarm, and troops from the garrison and sailors from the vessels aided the citizens in the fight to subdue the flames. The fire began in the kitchen of Dr S D Thurston, who lived in a rented double-tenement house belonging to Mrs E A Everett. It soon spread to the residence which was destroyed. The fire then spread to the residence and store of Mark Reynolds, an old man of 68, who lost everything and too feeble to begin over again. The flames then jumped to the store of Messrs E Legg & Schupp, also owned by Mrs Everett. The flames spread to the store owned by John Brown and occupied by Prioleau & Company, then proceeded across the street to the dwelling of Mrs Lockwood, occupied by a Mrs Ellis, thence to the residence of Philip Prioleau, a very fine residence, and it was totally destroyed. The residence of Dr W G Curtis, a duplicate of Mr Prioleau, caught fire next, and the fire burned fiercer than ever, burning the garrison fence nearby. Citizens were busy covering neighboring buildings with wet blankets and buckets of water. The excitement was intense. The fire began at 4:30 a.m. and about 10:00 a.m. the fire had ceased. Five dwellings and three stores were totally destroyed.
During the fire Mrs Stuart and the wife of Captain Piper found some looting going on and chased the culprits away.
A sailor from the revenue cutter reported that he saw some persons under Dr Thurston's kitchen with a light, and in 30 minutes the fire broke out. The acts of incendiary were suspected earlier. A citizen of Smithville later wrote: 'God grant we may soon receive security for property in small villages.'