VERDE HERITAGE 1925 COTTONWOOD FIRE; Anniversary, April 20
"April 20 was the anniversary of the most disastrous fire in the history of the Verde district and Yavapai County, which burned the town on Main Street from the north wall of the MacIntyre Furniture Store (now, an empty lot) to the Cottonwood Post Office (now, a city driveway) and took a toll of one human life, an aged man over 70, named G. H. Brooks, who was overcome by the smoke and perished in the Cottonwood Hotel building. Many were the narrow escapes from the same fate as the Giordano's. Clarence Smith and several others had close shaves from being victims of the hungry flames. The fire crossed the alley into L. W. Pugh's residence and garage building (behind Cottonwood Hotel, now a parking lot) and swept the east side of Mingus Street (now, Cactus) clean from Joe Hall's residence (now, corner of Cactus and Pinal) to the Edens residence, a distance of 300 feet on Mingus Street and on the alley line over 400 feet; in front a distance of 380 feet, and left a mass of ashes and an irregular aggregation of ruins of cement walls. The year has witnessed the complete rebuilding of all but 50 feet of the destroyed area along Main Street, and resulted in a fine concrete residence on Mingus Street (built for Luna B. Willard and known as the W. F. Edens House on the National Register of Historic Places) and one frame residence to replace the burned residence."
"The fire destroyed, in all 13 business houses, 10 residences, and several small garages and a large warehouse belonging to J. R. Hall that was filled with valuable tools, motors, etc. The loss was easily $150,000."
"The new buildings are all of concrete and are better and more beautiful in every respect. Cement walks have been built as rapidly as the buildings were erected. The town looks much different and will continue to grow. From the hell of smoke and flame has arisen a greater and better Cottonwood to stay. No town ever sprung from the ashes of its destruction with greater rapidity than Cottonwood. There is iron nerve in her inhabitants."
(Verde Copper News; Jerome; Tuesday, April 27, 1926; page 5.)
JOSEPH R. HALL REOPENS
"Last Saturday morning [April 17, 1926,] J. R. Hall threw open the doors of his new café to the public and has been enjoying a fine patronage ever since. He now has a building 100 feet long and the front 60 feet is devoted to a café, soft drinks, cigars and candies, while the pool hall has been moved to the back of the building [located at 1004 N. Main, now, Papillon II]. The front has all been fitted with expensive booths with a mirror in each one of them and are screened from the long lunch counter by a stockade partition. The counter in front is faced with a row of turning chairs of comfortable pattern and everything for the comfort of the patrons is installed. Mrs. Ed. Barney, the well-known chef, is ably assisted by Mrs. Minnie Hall and they are turning out the food that brings the patronage. Hall opened a restaurant here in 1917 and was in the restaurant and hotel business when the big fire of December 3, 1917, burned his place along with 6 other business houses. After the fire he ran a restaurant again in the old frame building that was burned down by the last fire. He also operated a restaurant for a time in the old Bungalow café. So he is no novice in the art of feeding people." (Verde Copper News; Friday, April 23, 1926; page 2.)
The man who died in the fire, George H. Brooks, was married to the sister of Joseph R. Hall and Bessie (Hall) Siler. Rev. Brooks, a member of the National Spiritualists' Association, had been invited to hold a meeting and give private readings at Cottonwood. He predicted a great catastrophe for the town. (Verde Independent; "1925: Rev. George H. Brooks Died; April 20;" April 19, 2013.)
Joseph R. Hall and Ed. A. "Big Slim" Moe operated a still across the river from Cottonwood until they were arrested by prohibition enforcement officers during March of 1924. "It is believed that this still has been the source from which much of the bootleg liquor sold in the valley towns has been coming." (Verde Independent; "1924: Joe Hall; New Building; Jailed March 17;" March 14, 2013.)
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