Fires News Items from Local Newspapers

Source:  The Charlotte Gazette, Drakes Branch, VA, Thursday, August 2, 1928.
Submitted by:  Bea. Adams King

Bethel Baptist church located about three miles north of Phenix on the road towards Lynchburg, was destroyed by fire last Thursday. The origin of the fire is not positively known.  The church had a short time prior to the fire been gone over with oiled rags to clean interior wood work and it is thought that one of these rags became ignited in some manner. When discovered the fire had gained such headway there was no chance to distinguish the flames.

Source:  The Charlotte Gazette, Drakes Branch, VA, Thursday, May 3, 1928.
Submitted by:  Bea. Adams King

The dwelling house on the Roseneath farm about a mile from Saxe was destroyed by fire early Monday morning.  It was the property of Dr. C.W. Tucker, but was occupied by Mr. Joe King.  He was fortunate enough to save nearly all his belongings.

Source:  The Charlotte Gazette, Drakes Branch, VA, Thursday, October 30, 1873.
Submitted by:  Bea. Adams King

CARD OF THANKS - The subscribers desire to return their hearty thanks to their friends and fellow citizens, who so kindly aided them by their efforts to save their property from destruction by fire on the night of the 22d.  Such evidence of personal sympathy and kindness will be gratefully cherished.
Charlotte Courthouse, Oct. 26th.

Source:  The Charlotte Gazette, Drakes Branch, VA, Thursday, October 30, 1873.
Submitted by:  Bea. Adams King

 ACKNOWLEDGMENT - The subscribers desires to return his grateful acknowledgments for the kindness of friends who rendered so efficient aid in the preservation of his storehouse and property from destruction by fire on the night of the 22d.
Charlotte Courthouse, Oct. 26th, 1873

Source:  The Charlotte Gazette, Drakes Branch, VA, Thursday, December 22, 1955.
Submitted by:  Bea. Adams King

Two persons lost their lives in a fire near Drakes Branch early Friday morning, December 16. Helen Lambert, age 16, and David Lambert, age 10, perished before awakening as fire completely destroyed the home in which they were sleeping.  Three other children were badly burned and one is still hospitalized as a result of the fire. When the fire was discovered at around 2 a.m. the flames had made such headway that Curtis Lambert, father of the children, could not get them out of the building, or save anything in the house. The Drakes Branch Fire Department was called, but he fire had already destroyed the building before they arrived.

Source:  The Charlotte Gazette, Drakes Branch, VA, Thursday, January 18, 1927.
Submitted by:  Bea. Adams King

 Mr. L.P. Garnett had the misfortune to lose a tenant house by fire on New Year's night.  It was unoccupied at the time it was burnt, being vacated only a few hours previous.

Source:  The Charlotte Gazette, Drakes Branch. VA., Thursday, March 1, 1951.
Submitted by:  Bea King

Fire Destroys Historic Home Of Henry Kin
BROOKNEAL--Fire has destroyed "Windstone," the 118-year-old plantation home near here of Patrick Henry's son. Damage was estimated at $63,000 part of it covered by insurance to the historic 13 room brick mansion on the plantation which adjoins "Red Hill," the estate of Patrick Henry. The estate was being prepared for use by its owner, W.B. Tarry, manager of a farm in Charlotte County when flames destroyed it late Saturday night while the caretaker and his family were away.

Only Walls Remain
Firemen, called to the scene shortly after 11 p.m. Saturday were unable to check the flames.  Only the shell of the brick walls remained yesterday the wake of the blaze of undetermined origin.
Mr. and Mrs. Wiley Williams and their son left homeless by the fire at the home, located about seven miles from here.  The Williams family also lost its furnishings in the blaze.
Tarry said he had planned to move into the home in the future.  He said the exterior of the mansion had just been painted and some repairs had been carried out inside the structure.

Source:  The Charlotte Gazette, Drakes Branch, VA., Thursday, February 8, 1940
Submitted By
:  Bea Adams King


A cottage on the dairy farm of G. Overton Pettus was destroyed Saturday evening by fire.  Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Reamer who had recently moved into the cottage lost a part of the household furniture.  The fire was believed to have started in the ceiling.

The Charlotte Gazette, Drakes Branch, VA., Thursday, June 8, 1944
Submitted By:  Bea Adams King

Cullen Milling Co. Destroyed By Fire Last Wednesday

The Cullen flour mill, owned by L.H. Rosser and a storage house, belonging to J.R. Ferguson were completely destroyed by fire last Wednesday afternoon.  It seems that the fire started shortly after one o'clock in the upper part of the mill and gained considerable headway before it was discovered as the mill was running at the time.  It was then too late to save the mill.  The fire engine from Keysville was called but before it could arrive the dwelling house on one side of the mill had caught and the storage house on the other.
Sympathetic citizens came to the rescue and did what they could to help carry out furniture, rescue cars from the storage house, and otherwise give aid where necessary.  A bucket brigade was formed and men, women and children pumped and carried water for hours for the fire engine.
Credit is given to the prompt and efficient work of the fire fighting group from Keysville for saving other dwellings and stores in the line of fire.  And to those Cullen citizens who stood by in the intense heat with water available to prevent fire breaking out from flying sparks.  Fire is still smoldering in the ashes of the mill.  Trees in the vicinity are charred and little green apples are baked on the trees. One pig pen was destroyed while its occupant went on a journey.  And one garden has only dried and parched stalks to show where once it was green.  But many are thankful that "it ain't no wuss."

Newspaper:  The Charlotte Gazette, Drakes Branch, VA., Thursday, February 28, 1946
Submitted By:  Bea Adams King

Chris Wilmouth's Home Burned
Chris Wilmouth's home located on a farm, about two miles from town, was completely destroyed by fire, Monday morning about four o'clock.  It has been reported that the chimney burned out and sparks fell on the shingles, causing the fire.  It has been rumored that Mr. Wilmouth had insurance on both his home and household goods and that he saved most of his furniture.  They are living in the old hotel on Main Street with their daughter Mrs. Reams and Mr. Reams.

Newspaper:  The Charlotte Gazette, Drakes Branch, VA., Thursday, March 7, 1946
Submitted By:  Bea Adams King

A Correction
In last week's Gazette, it was stated that Chris Wilmouth house and furniture was insured.  Mr. Wilmouth informs us that he did not have insurance on his furniture.

Source:  The Charlotte Gazette, Drakes Branch, VA., Thursday, November 26, 1925
Submitted By:  Bea Adams King

It is with deep regret that I am forced to announce that my mill was burned on November 4th completely to the ground, but I must express to my many loyal patrons, my sincere appreciation for their liberal patronage, which made it possible for me to put in one of the most complete flour mills in the county.  Many have been and expressed their sympathy for me and their deep regret to lose a mill where they got full satisfaction and service and fully expressing their desire that I would rebuild again, that they might travel the same road to the same mill sight and receive the same satisfactory service rendered them in the past.
With this before me, I will at once proceed to build a more modern and larger mill than I had before, and will be ready to grind your wheat again the first of next year.  All parties indebted to the mill are earnestly requested to come foward (forward) and settle their bills, as I need the money so badly to rebuild.
With Best wishes for a happy reunion at the new mill door.  I am
Rour (Your) friend.

Source:  The Charlotte Gazette, Drakes Branch, VA., Thursday, October 1, 1925
Submitted By:  Bea Adams King

The home and store of Mr. R.W. Bailey, located about five miles from Drakes Branch, on the road to Wylliesburg, were burned last night.  The fire originated under the store and was discovered about 12 o'clock.  The cause of the fire is unknown.
Mr. Bailey had insurance to the amount of $2,000.00, the loss was about $10,000.00.  During the excitement of the fire, Mr. Bailey laid his purse, containing over $100.00 down and it was also destroyed.

Newspaper:  The Charlotte Gazette, Drakes Branch, VA., Thursday, January 9, 1964
Submitted By:  Bea Adams King

Fire Guts Keysville House Christmas Eve
Across the snowy streets on Christmas Eve the arctic air was pierced by the shrill sound of a fire alarm in Keysville.
Just at sunset, blue smoke poured out of the home at the corner of King Street and "T" Avenue belonging toMrs. Zillah H. Shafer and her mother, Mrs. Frank Hailey.  At first, the firemen despaired of saving the 8-room dwelling but hard work paid off.  By dark, they knew it would be spared.
Nevertheless, the Christmas dinner being prepared, Christmas tree and other holiday decorations, gifts and furniture were scattered over the lawn.  Some presents were burned, but neighbors cared for valuable possessions.  Permanent damage included gutting of two upstairs bedrooms, ruining of the paint downstairs by water, falling plaster and the loss of most of Mrs. Shafer's wardrobe.
The cause of the holiday catastrophe was unknown, but the fire is believed to have started in the upstairs closets.

Newspaper:  The Charlotte Gazette, Drakes Branch, VA., Thursday, April 27, 1933
Submitted By:  Bea Adams King

Prominent Business Section of Keysville Entirely Destroyed by Fire Early Last Night; No One Injured
One the most disastrous fires in the history of the town swept through Keysville early last night destroying thousands of dollars worth of property. The fire completely wiped out the Western business section of the town, being only a few years since the Eastern section was destroyed, and which had been partially rebuilt.
The fire of undetermined origin broke out in an old warehouse between Main and Church Streets.  The flames rapidly gained headway to other nearby buildings.  The flames spread to the Hardware firm of Hanmer Brothers which quickly burned.  Excitement ran high when bullets and shells in the burning building began to explode because of the intense heat.  The Planters Bank of Keysville and the Mercantile firm ofE.M. Arvin on either side of the Hardware fire were the next to catch fire.  The flames spread rapidly through both and very little merchandise could be saved.  It was not known early last night whether the main vault of the Planters Bank had been injured, but a number of papers and records in a smaller safe were destroyed when the intense heat forced open the steel doors.
Buildings on the Southern side of Main Street caught fire several times, but was quickly extinguished by the formation of a bucket brigade.
The plate glass windows of business establishments across the street were broken or cracked under the terrific heat.
Fire engines were called from nearby towns and the fire department from Farmville responded but the flames were out of control when they reached Keysville and they were also hampered by lack of water.
Soon after assistance arrived, the blaze was stopped, although many residents feared that the whole town would be destroyed.  It was conservatively estimated that the damage amounted to more than $75,000.
All telephone communications to Keysville was cut off for sometime during the night after the flames had severed wires.  The fire itself was described by Keysville citizens as one of the worst there in the last 50 years.  No one was able to determine what the amount of the damage was covered by insurance.
The fire was strikingly similar to that recently in Burkeville when a large portion of that place, about 20 miles from Keysville was burned.  The exact origin of the Burkeville fire has never been determined.
Despite the close range fire fighting, no injuries were reported.
An estimated of between 1,000 and 1,500 persons were present.

Newspaper:  The Charlotte Gazette, Drakes Branch, VA., Thursday, December 1, 1932
Submitted By:  Bea Adams King

"Roxabel" Burned Thanksgiving Day

"Roxabel" the home of Dr. and Mrs. C.M. Nicholson, located a mile and one half from Charlotte Courthouse, was destroyed by fire early Thursday morning, November 24.  The fire was discovered by Mrs. Nicholson at two thirty, who was awakened by the smell of the dense smoke which filled the house.  It originated under the electric hot water heater in the kitchen.
Occupants of the house at the time were Dr. and Mrs. Nicholson and their son and daughter-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Nicholson, Jr. who motored down the previous evening from their home in Richmond to spend Thanksgiving with Mr. Nicholson's parents.
As soon as the fire was discovered Dr. Nicholson telephoned to Charlotte Courthouse.  The bell there was rung and the people generally notified by telephone.  Shortly afterwards a crowd gathered at the scene of the fire and men worked to save as much as possible from the house.  Some things were saved from the first floor but because of the stifling blanket of smoke nothing could be gotten from the second floor.  Both Dr. and Mrs. Nicholson lost all of their personal belongings.
"Roxabel" was one of the old historic homes of the County.  It was built more than a century ago by Judge Marshall.  Dr. Nicholson purchased and modernized it in 1917 and since then has made his home there.
The insurance covered only a small part of the loss.  Negotiations for rebuilding are under consideration.