Paris, TX -- Fire of 1896

Taken from Backward Glances by Alexander White Neville, Volume One, edited by Skipper Steely - Column dated Thursday, August 29, 1929


What many people consider the worst fire Paris ever experienced, aside from the conflagrations of 1877 and 1916, was what is known as the Peterson hotel fire, April 27, 1896.

The fire stared in the Bywaters building, a three-story brick of flimsy construction at the northwest corner of Main and Kaufman. It was well afire before there was an alarm and being all timber except the four outside walls, burned rapidly. From its rear the fire went to the Peterson hotel, a two-story brick with fame mansard third story, on the south side of the square at the corner of South Twentieth. Just in its rear was a four-story all-brick annex, the east end of which nearly touched the west end of the Bywaters building.

Working east from the Peterson, the fire destroyed the two-story brick saloon adjoining it, and the three-story adjoining it and the two-story next on the east, the latter occupied by Murphy's drug store, where badly damaged. Some small bricks between the Bywaters and Clement building, on South Main street, also burned.

The fire was supposed to have started by John Salmon, a deputy U.S. Marshal whose home was at Wister, Okl., overturning a lighted lamp he occupied on the second floor of the Bywaters building. At the coroner's inquest the next day two companions testified they had put him to bed after visiting several saloons earlier in the night and had left a lamp lighted while they returned to the street to finish their sight seeing. A portion of Salmon's body was found in the ruins the next day.

After the fire was out, and the volunteer fire department about exhausted by the eight hours work had turned in, some volunteer citizens were handling the hose, pouring water on the ruins especially in the cellar under the saloon east of the Peterson, where was stored a quantity of fine liquor in bottles and cases. Among them were S. H. Ramsey and Louis Rohatch, and about 11 o'clock in the morning a part of the east wall of the Peterson fell on these two men.

The loss by the fire on the buildings and stocks was estimated at $200,000, and this, with the three deaths, made it a most disastrous fire.

A few days afterwards, the Crook-Record company, then located on the east side of the square, and which had been looking for a location which would make more room for its rapidly growing business, bought the Peterson lot and built on it a handsome three-story and basement house that was destroyed in the fire of 1916. The house was completed and occupied Crook-Record company in the spring of 1897, and was then the finest and best arranged mercantile building in this section. It was at the corner of the square, running 85 feet east, and after the 1916 fire, part of the corner was sold to the City National bank for the present Liberty National bank building, and Crook-Record bought another lot east and built the house now occupied by Perkins Bros. company.


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Created on ... July 04, 2000