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Mt. Pulaski , Illinois
July 13, 1961     Times
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July 13, 1961

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DISASTROUS FIRES IN RECENT ENTIRE SOUTH SIDE OF SQUARE THREATENED BY DAYTIME BLAZE Hoes CaJrage the grocery business for himself. In 1880 the mercantile firm of And Four Buildings zeiss & Bekemeyer was formed, : and the building was erected for Are Destroyed their large establishment. After (May 8, 1952) l a number of years Capt. Zeiss A fire siren-that stuck and re I retired from the firm and moved fused to sound the alarm t^n "lto Tyler, Texas. It was then that ed UD with a stren south wind] Wm. H. Clear, also of Springfield, on M'ondav noon to ai a --,--11f entered into partnership with , . ......... t Mr Bekemeyer When he decided blaze that started In the extreme l . . . v_h,,,t west rear w,,,,,',,,o ,,,, _,*,,lt'qult, . business,.  mr. Clear took Fred Holmes Garage, in brin-I ver his interests and operated ---oin Mount Pulaski it.q rnnqt fli. ' the store for a number of years.. Later J. C. Swlnney was in bum- astrous business section fire, wip- ing out five business houses as well as threatening to keep up a steady march on down the block. But for the fine work that the local fire department and the wonderful aid sent here by many of our neighboring towns and cities, there is no telling where it would have ended. The loss was estimated at between $75,- 000 and $100,000. The Holmes Garage was com- pletely destroyed, including its wrecker, which was run around from the east side and left di- rectly in front of the building. The loss included a large stock of tires, as well as all equip- ment which was a heavy source i of loss, as much new lathe equipment had been installed recently. ness there. Garage Opened in 1925 About 1925 William E. Holmes & Sons bought the property and operated a garage thru the years, the present owner being Fred Holmes. Mr. Holmes announced I Tuesday morning that he had] :.:.- rented the Unland garage build-] ing on South Washington street, ] just north of the I.C. station, and l will be ready for business the: in a few days The frame building adjoiniv the garage was occupied by the Central Illinois Electric and Gas Co. office. The next business room west had just been rented by Don Leonard, who opened a radio and TV repair shop. It had been used at various times as a Gam- ble Store, restaurant, shoe repair shop, etc. Moving still on west was the room occupied by the Liesman barber shop. In years gone by jewelry stores were operated in this location by Walter Mayer, Ben Overstreet, John Reeves, and Kelsey M. Anderson. In 1907 this room was rented by James H. Shrader for a barber shop. He rented the place for 30 years and then purchased the building and the two on the east, which were described above. The last of the frame struc- tures was the two-story building where Dr. R. N. Harem formerly had his dental office. This build- ing was put up in the early days, before the Civil War by John Capps, a brother of Jabez Capps, founder of Mount Pulaski. He conducted a general store several years, and then moved to Illi- opolis, where that branch of the Capps family grew t!p. We are unable to give a complete history of the building, but for a long period of time it was owned by John W. and Jacob Mayer, who conducted a harness shop. They were followed in succession by John W. Mayer and son Oscar, and then Ben Potter. It had var- ious uses for over 90 years and in recent years it became the pro- perty of Dr. R. N. Harem. New BuildLu From the ruins of the fire there arose a modern basement garage and a fine modern store building erected by Ben Holmes in which Kennedy's Supermarket is located. HOLMES GARAGE HRE Fire Mmhes West After the flames had devoured the garage, they began eating in- to the office of the Central Ill- inois Electric and Gas Co., one of four more frame structures the fire's path. As fire trucks be- gan arriving from various COl. munities, some in response to calls and other coming volun- tarily, the firemen and scores of volunteers centered their fight against its spreading any furth- er than the big brick building which houses the Doud Store. A brick wall half way back on the east side of the utility office broke the flames up and did much to aid the firemen bring the fire under control. After sweeping the front and roof off this building it ate into Don  Leonard's new radio and televis- ion store from which most of the merchandise was saved by vol- unteers who braved the heat to carry it out. Next in line was the! Liesman barber shop, from which most of the equipment was removed, although heavy glass mirrors were left on the waLls. The old buggy shop which in recent years had been re- modelled into a dental office by Dr. R. N. Hamm, was the last stand for the devastating fire for with seven or eight fire hoses : pouring thousands of gallons of water on the building, the dang- er was over. Eight Trucks Respond The response for help was in- stantaneous and Latham was soon pumping water from the southwest corner of the square along with almost their entire personnel. One of the Lincoln City pumpers and a pumper from the Lincoln Rural Fire Station, were also on the job in a very short time. Clinton, Blue Mound, llliopolis and the DeKalb Plant also sent fire fighting equip- ment and men. 80 years ago, when the frame building, two-rooms wide, was put up for the general merchan- dlse firm of Zeiss & Bekemeyer, the owners being Capt. George P. Zelss and Herman S. Bekemeyer, who became well known to all people of this area. Capt. Zeiss was born in Mar- burg, Germany, and came to the United States in 1866. After traveling over the nation for a time, he settled in Decatur, and operated a dry goods store there for eight years. He came to Mt. Pulaski in 1878 and opened a boot and shoo store. Herman S. Bekemeyer, a native of located in Mount in and clerked for in the store of and then went into MIDNIGHT FIRE DESTROYS SMITH IMPLEMENT THESE FIIMEN AND VOLUNTEERS shown here may not be "fire-eaters', but they were eating a lot of smoke as they moved in on the front of the Smith Implement Store on the north laze to- side of the square, trying to find a b , IB their hose on. The Latham fire deparm fighting the blaze from the back of the ing. --Times-News Photo. SIX FIRE DEPARTMENTS FIGHT I Lumber SMITH IMPLEMENT CO. FIRE I Destroyed By. r, ,-tremen Deserve f fot get Moun (Aug..2 l)elt  I t Pulaskl eXP er1" " "11  #" oa, i g'l lt, out of hand and spread to the most disastrous fire oV .,,,l,, .,. .v. church property just across the labout 3 o'clock. Satue"$t  Continin F00re alley, can be credited to their fine noon AU . V, when th .1t ..... work. RothwellgLumber Co. ..# #. . ( .D, 1, I). _ . . i Pour Thousands of Gallons South Spring Street tJ. A mionignt'Iire lvionoay, total- i Th  ,co ,e.., nt  .... , destroyed by fire, ':_ a'%a ly destroyed the Smith Imple-,, ......... ,, , ,,, i-, Ha, ess of about $30000 _a ment Co. store building, hardware J,_ ,t.^ , ..... - - ...... building, materials _, #t 1 UIIL t[l IJL Ullt llJ &llll d.tU$  , | and parts contents on the north i .... , ,,a , ..... ,, .... $10,000 in buildings sloe oi me square, wtu  u v --, ,,- ^,--^* . -,-^,,^. ^,-,^ *-* e-uinment  approximately #D,td. c was i*, J* .... f- whlnra hv  The two fire engln eittj shortly after 2 axn. that the flre!, ........ , ..... * ,,-, woo t-on, local department w  t# was brought under control. The i .... d .............. within the one building. The on the scene an _ 1 I nre was o.mcoverea oy ean rut- ]storeroom to the west which is in from Lincoln arriveu  er, whohves a block north. See--ithe Odd Fellows building, fill- after a call for help ., lng a neavy sn'loKe rolling rom _ ..... there a eu Wlm large appliances ano e the south, he thought that the inarts an H is co.ot, b v , or The home of Attr,ee Christian Church was afire whe . ...... ^_ .i ....... Simkins located acrOSS,  he called for the hre department. - ......... track and narrow s ,-l[ f ' n wer on the reacnoa Dy me xiames, aimougn was r p' Pulaski s fireme e t mi*, Hama, w h,avv the lumber yard .... ,ot# # scene in short order and soon had Tho nn, -oH,,w ,,1,,, ,,,,, h,,Hn path of the most d . ait several leads of hose playing ina with th entiw nf mtie Of the fire, ana . # ir """ ............ " .............. ortS " " water on the blaze, from the dama,e and a few broken win- though all eff .od two pumpers, or rather trying to d, "  nt drnad Vir two-story structure " find the flames as a dense smoke "\\;'L-'_':,-_. L.: -=.;.%:. _..- vain llleIL lltU [UII  ltU UL [le up and the fact that the flames to the second floor to be read d 0 were .confined .at first, between for any outbreak of fire there y _l U JW j |' me ceiling ana root. Tney aLSO vo ovao a rushed their water supply tank to the rear of the building where it helped to confine the flames until they ran out of water. In the meantime a call had been made for the Latham fire de- partment in charge of Chief Floyd Buckley, and as soon as they arrived they hooked up at the Schahl funeral home corner and took over the rear wall assign- ment with their big pumper. The THREATENED Water Supply Short MO#____ A dwindling water supply Erect caused a lot of concern as the Lumber v., stubborn blaze wouldn't be con- quered. It was then that a call (Sept. 7, was sent to Buffalo, Mamma, War- A modern and rensburg and Lincoln Rural, for ber yard is to be their water supply tank trucks, IM. Rothwell on and they were standing by to be]disastrous fire used if the city's water supply his entire yard did give out. Fortunately, the tion of the ,if: water held out. the afternoon of 19. SOUTH SIDE OF SOUARE This was the last week | ence between Mr. his son, Chief Keith Rothwell, from his station Calif Keith was yard before The new yard and convenient and will be as materials can though granted to supplies, it is of being able to main office will into the center of ing with a and show rooms hind, while the be along each a distance of loading There wiH be way as before. ! The building will in width. Plan to see one You'll see