VERDE HERITAGE 1899: JEROME; Objections to Fire Ordinance after the Fire on May 19
After the fire on May 19, the Town Council immediately approved a new Ordinance to extend the "Fire Limit" to include more lots and parcels of land lying within the corporate limits of the Town of Jerome. The new duties of the town marshal included the removal of any and all buildings which hereafter are erected contrary to the provisions of the ordinance. "The council's stand in the matter that no shacks shall be built within the city fire limits, is commended by all. It is certainly no use rebuilding the city if it is to be rebuilt of wood. Another fire would simply be the result." NOTICE: "All tents within the incorporation of the Town of Jerome must be moved before sundown Tuesday night, May 23. The council has so ordered and the marshal has orders to remove all tents or tent-covered shacks left standing within the city limits after that time." (Jerome Mining News; May 22, 1899.)
"May 22: The town council is active in all matters pertaining to the rebuilding of the city. Orders for 1,400 feet of 2 1/2-inch fire hose with necessary couplings and nozzles have been placed in San Francisco with the New York Belting & Packing Company, Limited, and the regulations regarding the erection of buildings within the fire limits will be rigidly enforced without fear or favor." (Arizona Republican; May 24, 1899.)
NEWS OF JEROME - May 22, 1899
"Jerome presents a sorry spectacle. The burned district lies littered with the debris of the fire. Heavy sheets of corrugated iron are distorted and twisted into grotesque shapes, miles of electric light, telegraph, and telephone wires are inextricably tangled, piles of broken brick, plaster, and mortar, and over all the dreary scorch and blackened footsteps of the red devil that has been the inveterate enemy of Jerome ever since its inception. Those who time after time lost all in conflagrations, stand looking upon the sites of once prosperous businesses, sigh heavily and contemplate unsatisfied mortgages covering property now vanished. Much outside money will have to come into Jerome to enable its people to rebuild. The fire of September 11, 1898, made borrowers of a heavy percentage of the business men and just as they were getting shaped up again along came the disaster of last Friday that hit them all hard."
"It is likely that the greater number of small saloon keepers will go by the board, at least for some time to come, and a new crop will spring up in the fallow field. Dave Conner, Hoover & Cordiner [Fashion saloon], McFarland & Hooker [St. Elmo], the Lanham Brothers [Elite saloon], and Van Allen & Archambeau [Annex saloon], while heavy losers, are already taking active steps to resume business, and will put up brick or cement buildings. The day of the flimsy wooden shack is past."
"The rear wall of Dave Conner's hotel went down yesterday afternoon with a crash, from the effects of a sudden wind. No one was hurt. The east wall of the Hoover & Cordiner new cement block shows a couple of cracks but it is thought it is not beyond repair."
"The horde of Chinese restaurant keepers have flitted. About 15 of them, with their 'cousins' and other help have left the camp, they say, for good. Oriental superstition and fatalism is not proof against repeated chastisement of this character, and the departed people are assured that a curse is on Jerome, and like rats they have hastened from the sinking ship. And the superstition is not entirely confined to the Mongolians. A prominent saloon man remarked the other day: 'Well, ain't it enough to make anybody superstitious?' --- and further: 'Why, I saw the last new moon over the left shoulder myself!'"
"There are only 2 remaining restaurants left, the Sotoyome and the Grand Central, both in the hands of celestials, and their proprietors have grown very haughty and disdainful. They serve any old thing to the hungry, and 'take it or leave it,' is the motto of their establishments. --- but you have to pay whether you take it or not. As one of them remarked while the flames were burning: 'Make plenty money now, charge 'em 4 bits, 6 bits, 1 dollar, and catch um plenty money.' His 'cousin' to whom he was speaking and who had just lost his place, sadly shook his head and in a discouraged tone replied, 'Heap sick in head. Las' year fire lose um fi' hunned dollar, now lose um six hunned dollar. Heap sick in head; heap sick.'"
"The talk of arson, while still passing in whispers, has not resulted in anything of an overt nature. There seems to be much bitterness directed toward a certain quarter, but in the absence of a direct charge and nothing apparently more substantial than suspicion, your correspondent feels that it would be unfair to give the names of persons alleged to be suspected. Probably this phase of the matter will gradually die out altogether."
"Herbert Allaire," Special Correspondent. (Arizona Republican; Phoenix; May 24, 1899.)
NEWS OF JEROME - May 27, 1899
"Jerome is still afflicted by partial paralysis resultant from the fire of just a week ago. Enterprise hangs poised in mid-air uncertain and perplexed where to alight. In the meantime the sensation monger is plying his vocation industriously. Some of the wildest and most absurd rumors are afloat, and the timid and fearful are playing battledore and shuttlecock with tales calculated to curdle the marrow. It is reported, with other gossip, that the soiled doves are rampant against the municipal regulations forbidding the erection of wooden or inflammable structures within the new fire limits, and that they have threatened, unless allowed to 'resume' at once, in whatever manner considered to be best befitting their enterprise, accompanied by slender resources, to burn down that part of Jerome that escaped the flames. This is a constant nightmare to the apprehensive."
"In addition to this fact, 2 attempts were made last Monday to fire the new saloon of George Lanham, the 'Elite,' or at least a blaze was twice discovered and put out on the opening night. This has not served to allay the fear of impending danger."
"In sober truth, it is not likely that more than ordinary precaution and vigilance on the part of the local constabulary is required to keep matters well in hand. Both 'Tom' Miller and Frank Ferguson are efficient, alert officers, and in the present state of the public mind and inclination it shall fare badly with any one caught in the attempt to instigate another conflagration. At the same time it must be admitted that there are many tough worthies here fully capable of the dastardly deed, who are now compelled to forego their usual emoluments, gleaned during the operation of many saloons and resorts of questionable character, and if anything is to be dreaded, these are the people to keep under surveillance."
"The town council 'stands pat' on the maintenance of the new fire ordinance in its integrity. As anticipated, the firm attitude has created much dissatisfaction and inspired loud protest in quarters allied to the faction that has been the inveterate foe of incorporation since its inception."
"An attempt was made last Monday night too hold a popular indignation meeting for the purpose of denouncing the council's position, and to encourage to defy the ordinance those who wished to rebuild with wood, oil cans, goods cases, canvas, and kindling wood. 'Squire' Harvey, elected a Justice of the Peace last fall, is said to have been an active promoter of the attempted demonstration. It fizzled out after a volley of amens, and the waving of several small American flags. Promised spellbinders failed to materialize, and a fair sized crowd melted away without formation of any drastic revolution."
"From the shadows now cast it would appear that the new Jerome will be a city of stone, cement, brick, iron, and steel, of such solid, substantial and fire resistive composition that it will snap defiant fingers at future onslaughts of the fire fiend. The best element of the community is upholding the council in its determined stand, and the noisy, swaggering, and irresponsible kickers eventually will have to succumb with such grace as they can evoke and take the medicine of civilization. Jerome has passed the stage of incubation."
"Quite a number of the old style fire traps and blaze breeders are rapidly going up outside the line, however, but it is impossible to hinder them."
"Most of the debris has been cleared away, and enough of the town remains to counteract the horribly desolate aspect presented by the aftermath of the disaster of last September, and which was enough to give the onlooker the jim-jams. But Jerome is all-right, all-right!"
"Herbert Allaire," Special Correspondent. (Arizona Republican; May 29, 1899.)