Hamlet of Garoga Nearly Wiped Out by Big Conflagration Last Night

Source: The Morning Herald, Gloversville and Johnstown, NY, Thursday, 26 Oct 1916

Ten Buildings, Including Erkenbrack Hotel, Everest Grist Mill and Four Dwellings Destroyed by Fire Which Raged for Hours Unchecked, Despite Valiant Efforts of the Villagers.

The hamlet of Garoga, located about nine miles west of Johnstown was visited last night by one of the biggest fires that has occurred in that locality. The hamlet, which consist of twelve or fifteen homes, a hotel, church, grist mill, school and several barns was nearly wiped out by the conflagration.

Four of the homes, the hotel, grist mill and several barns were destroyed by the flames before they were checked.

More than once it looked to the few inhabitants that the entire settlement would be wiped out by the flames, but heroic work on the part of volunteers, many of whom were from Johnstown, helped to save the few remaining buildings.

The loss will amount to thousands of dollars.

Century-Old Buildings Easy Prey for Flames.

The origin of th efire was not knowl last night other than it started in the store and grist mill. The buildings being of wood, and many of them having stood there for upward of a century, the flames found easy prey as they communicated from one to another along the street, while the sparks that dropped at times like rain soon started the structures on the opposite side, and where prompt work was not forthcoming blazed would shoot out upon the shingled roofs faster than they could be extinguished.

According to reports the fire broke out in the grist mill building before it had been closed for the night. The building was soon a firey furnace and the populace of the village was summoned and a bucket brigade formed, but the efforts was fruitless and the fire spread rapidly along from one building to another.

The blaze could be plainly seen in the sky from Johnstown, Gloversville, and intermediate places between Garoga and the cities. Telephone messages were sent to Rockwood and Johnstown and many went from these places. The work of the Johnstown visitors was commended last evening as all turned in and applied wet blankets or carried water from the creek that runs through the village at the rear of the property one side of the street.

Ten Buildings Wiped Out by the Raging Flames.

The hotel, a long two-story, wooden building, was known as Erkenbrack's hotel, and was conducted by the late Oscar Erkenbrack for many years. Charles Bronk, a son-in-law, now owns the property. On the same side of the street are properties owned by L. H. Everest, Charles Bronk, Francis Weaver, Mary Christman, Dr. Nelson Everest and the Methodist church. The residenced on the opposite side belong to M. Everest, C. Christman, L. H. Everest and -- Everest. The grist mill on this side of the street was owned by Lyman Everest.

The burned buildings, ten in all, include the hotel, hotel barn, F. Weaver's residence and barn, the Everest grist mill, L. Everest's house barn, ice house and shed adjoining mill, and the Ropeter house.

Church and Schoolhouse Saved.

The Methodist church caught on fire in five places and as the ladders had all been burned it seemed the building was doomed to destruction. A foreman employed in the construction of the dam at Rockwood climbed to the cornice of the building, cut the rope from the bell and use the rope to pull buckets of water up on the roof to extinguish the flames. The building was only slight damaged.

The school-house caught on fire twice but the flames were put out before much damage was done.

Valient Work by Bucket Brigade.

The village has no fire fighting facilities other than pails and buckets, all of which were pressed into service from the farm houses nearby. The water had to be carried from the creek and much credit is due those who helped for their effective work.

At one time when it was thought the fire was beyond the control of the workers, arrangements were made to secure a quantity of dynamite from Rockwood to destroy adjoining building in hopes of checking the spread of the fire.

Considerable Furniture Saved.

The household furniture in many of the homes was moved to places of safety befor ethe buildings caught fire, and luckily that it was, as there was but little chance to save anything after a building once started to burn.

Most of the hotel furniture, besides the contents of the Weaver home were burned.

The contents of the barns, some of which were sotcked with hay and produce from the garden and fall crops as well as wagons and harness and farming implements were lost. All live stock was saved.

It was stated last night that insurance was carried on all the residences except one, most of the policies being in the W. W. Chamberlain agency of Johnstown.

One Family in Dire Distress.

The home of Francis Weaver and all of its contents were destroyged, and Mr. Weaver, who is a cripple has no insurance. The four members of the family have nothing left but the clothing they had on when the ifre broke out. Supplies for the winter recently purchased were burned up and the family is left in bad circumstances.

Relief Fund Started.

Mortimer Everest of Gloversville, started a fund for the relief of the family last night, making the first contribution of $10 himself. Persons desiring to contribute to the fund or to give anything toward the relief of the family should notify Mr. Everest or The Morning Herald.


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