This information being taken from a book written by Arahwana Hendren Ridens named the Dyer County and Newbern Tennessee, A history of the 39 earliest families in Dyer County. Part of this information was extracted from this publication, along with other documents and related stories and oral family histories. We continue with the entries of the McCorkle Diaries and what was entered about the from his perspective as a Newbern business owner. We pick up from our December 2016 issue.
A really big fire, long remembered in Newbern, was when several buildings burned on October 22, 1893. The block, from Main Street to the railroad on the west side of the city park and known then as the Douglass block, caught fire on that day and all the able bodied men in the town were there to help extinguish the fire by pouring buckets of water on the blaze. The "bucket brigade" was the only means of fire fighting in that era.
Tom E. Bradshaw, Moffett and one colored man were killed in the fire and several men was badly hurt by the falling walls. Mr. Pettus Holland, was caught under a burning wall, was pulled to safety by Babe Woods, a colored citizen . For saving his life , Mr. Holland rewarded Babe Woods with a house and lot on Jones Street for the rest of his life. Large property losers were Douglass and Haskins , the Opera House Will Roop, and Mr . Porter , who suffered total losses . Others sustaining losses were Wilson and Bradshaw, B. Cox, Henry Willis and Dr. E. O. Cherry. Damages ran to approximately $40,000. (This equates to about 2.8 million dollars in today’s money)
From here, we will take a sideline. According to the above statement… everything from the corner of Main and Jefferson to the corner of Jefferson and Shuck Alley was destroyed. This information now dates the construction of the three buildings currently used by City Hall as being constructed after 1893. We have photographs of the city hall buildings in a 1900 picture showing brick construction of all the building located on Jefferson Street. The photo is of another fire which destroyed the building currently housing the fire department and the buildings adjacent to it, which will be discussed in a future issue. As stated Newbern only had a bucket brigade. This required a lot of manpower and a lot of buckets. Generally during this time period, most buildings would have a fire rack, which would hold about 4-6 bucks, part filled with water and some filled with sand. Theses would be maintained by the property owner. Since most structures were all wood, all heating was done with wood or coal and a hotel would have a large cooking stove fueled by wood. Also, all lighting was by kerosene lamps. More or Less all buildings were a time-bomb waiting for the proper time.
W. E. Copeland was re-elected to a second term as Mayor of Newbern.
Steers sold for 2-1/2 ¢ pound. Cottonseed was 11¢ per bushel. Gold was $20 a troy ounce, Cotton sold for 7 cent a pound and wheat was 7 cents per bushel.
In 1894 the cool weather in June caused the folks to keep the fires burning as late as June 5th. Later that month, Joe Enoch house burned . In November of that year, on election day "Republicans wiped up the earth".
Extreme cold and snow dominated the weather picture at the beginning of the year 1895 . The thermometer dipped to 4 degree below zero and the snow stayed on the ground for almost a month. On February 19th, Walter O' Neal was under arrest and tried for burning his own house but "the state failed completely and he discharged without producing any witnesses" .