The Petersburg Fire

The Boone Mercantile Company’s Store Destroyed 


Origin of the Fire Unknown


   At 2:45 o’clock last Tuesday morning the citizens of Petersburg were aroused from their slumbers by the cry of fire, the ringing of church bells and the shrieks of the Str. Workum’s whistle.   The entire population was soon on the streets, and assembled at the store of the Boone Mercantile Co., where an ugly fire was raging and beyond the control of the bucket brigade, which did admirable work, and succeeded in saving all the surrounding buildings.  At 6 a.m. the store building and its contents had been reduced to ashes, not a dime’s worth of stock being saved, entailing a loss of over $10,000 with an insurance of $5,000.   Owing to the effective work of the bucket brigade, Mrs. Vesenmire’s house, which stood not more than six feet from the store, was saved, only being slightly scorched.  It was Mrs. Vesenmire who discovered the fire, she having gone out doors to get some fresh water for her son who was sick.   The building occupied by the Mercantile Company, consisted of several apartments and was the property of J. Frank Grant, who was president of the company, and the largest stockholder.  The brick portion occupying the corner of the lot was built by S. G. Botts in 1883. In 1887 a large frame addition was built by Mr. Grant, making it the largest and finest general store building in the county.   The Mercantile Company was doing good business, and employed three clerks, Miss Lou Alden, Adam Hoffman, and Leonard Vesenmire.   The cause of the fire is unknown, but it is supposed that it caught from a defective flue in the grocery part.   An attempt to save part of the stock might have been made had it not been for the explosion of 100 pounds of powder and a lot of cartridges about the time the doors were opened.  By the time the cartridges were exhausted the interior of the building was a mass of flames.   


from the Boone County Recorder, April 12, 1893