1911 Court House Fire

Newton County, Mississippi 

2 February 1911; The Newton Record



Officers Brave the Blaze to Save Records - Contents of Circuit Clerk's and Superintendent's Offices Burn. 

Tuesday night between the hour of 11 and midnight the Newton county court house at Decatur was destroyed by fire, together with the greater portion of the contents. Fortunately, most of the records in the chancery clerk's office, consisting of Land and trust deed books, etc., were saved, being stored in the vault, which was practically intact. 

At the risk of his life, Sheriff C. M. Wells broke open a window and rushed into his office, and by the light of the blaze from the burning building, managed to save the tax records, which heroic deed will be worth a great deal to the county as well as to himself. In the circuit clerk's office, everything was burned including court dockets, minutes, registration books, poll books, marriage records, and various other valuable articles and court papers. The county superintendent of education met with the same fate, everything in his office, consisting of school records, etc., going up in the flames. 

Chancery Clerk W. J. Leslie managed to get in his office and save a few valuables before the fire reached that part of the building, though it was dangerous to be in the building at that time. Surveyor Dansby sustained a loss amounting to about $75, having his instrument and other articles in the court house burned. 

Hon. M. P. Foy, who had his law office in the building on the second floor, where all of his books were, met with a great loss, everything in his office being burned. His loss is reported to have been about $700 or more, with no insurance. 

The origin of the fire is unknown but from all indications, it was the work of an incendiary. The weather had been warm for several days, and there had been no fire in the building that day. Some if the residents at Decatur left town not more than thirty minutes before the fire, and there was no blaze in the building at that time, and by the time they reached home the building was all ablaze. The fire started in the front portion of the building, about the stairway or little closets underneath, and was beyond control before anyone could reach the scene. 

The county carried about $8,000 insurance on the building and contents. This court house was an old brick structure, built to replace a frame building which was burned in September, 1876, supposed to have been of incendiary origin. The brick structure was a plain two-story building, 40X60 feet, with office rooms on the first floor and court and jury rooms on the second floor, and had a flat metal roof. The contract for the erection of same was awarded to a Mr. Scully, of Meridian, for $7,000 and it was built in the spring of 1877. This was the fourth court house the county had, the first one being a log structure built in 1836.

USGenWeb COPYRIGHT NOTICE: All files on this site are copyrighted by their creator. They may be linked to but may not be reproduced electronically or otherwise without specific permission from the county host and/or the contributor. Although public information is not in and of itself copyrightable, the format in which they are presented, the notes and comments, etc., are. It is however, quite permissible to print or save the files to a personal computer for personal use ONLY. MSGenWeb

You're our 66929th cousin to visit since
January 5, 1999.