Paris, TX -- Fire of 1877

Taken from Backward Glances by Alexander White Neville, Volume One, edited by Skipper Steely - Column dated Tuesday, February 25, 1930


The fire of August 31, 1877, was destructive of much property in Paris and reduced some people to temporary ruin, insurance not being then as generally held as now, partly because rates were so high, on account of frame construction and inadequate fire protection. The list of losses published after the fire showed very little insurance and in no case was the amount anywhere near the value of the property destroyed.

In business at the time was a Hebrew named Cohn, who had a store near the southwest corner of the square. He had some insurance on his stock which his wife thought was a bad investment, and she argued with him about the useless expenditure of the premium money until in desperation he went to the agent and ordered the policy cancelled.

The cancellation was written and with a check for the return part of the premium was delivered to Mr. Cohn by Capt. Jack Barry, the agent, just before noon, the policy then expiring at noon, as that is the hour to which insurance policies usually run. The fire started a few minutes after noon and in its ravage Cohn's place was destroyed.

The Cohn's lived in a part of the store building and Mrs. Cohn had a small flock of geese, that were drawn on for roast goose at festival times. The fire scattered or destroyed them, and after things had pretty well burned out Mrs. Cohn was going about searching for her birds, and bewailing their loss. She approached her husband with an inquiry whether he perchance had seen anything of I 'my gooses," but remembering his greater loss, and that she was in part the cause of it, he replied with much asperity, "So, its about gooses you are asking me? What do I care for gooses woman. You made me lose my insurance, and now coming to me about gooses. To ---- with your gooses." And that was all the consolation the poor woman got from him.

It is probable that if the young man who in a fit of drunken anger started the fire that destroyed Paris that hot August day had been found he would have been summarily treated. Several of the citizens who were heaviest losers. some of whom had seen swept away the savings of a lifetime, were very bitter and open in their denunciation and threats of what they would do. The incendiary was not found until the next day, however, he having gone out of town when he realized what he had done, and was taken to Bonham jail. He was brought back to Paris for trial and finally was given a penitentiary sentence of a few years, which it is said he did not complete. The story is that he escaped and went to Indian Territory, then a haven for fugitives from the state laws, but he never returned to Paris.


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Created on ... July 04, 2000