Village of Stokes, Town of Lee, Oneida County, New York
Town Of Lee, Oneida County, New York Village of Stokes

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Hotel and Three Houses Burn

Roman Citizen
Tuesday, August 4, 1896

Stokes, six miles from Rome, on the Turin Road, is today a desolate looking place, the cause being a serious conflagration which visited that quiet little place Saturday afternoon, and inside of two hours a hotel, three houses and several barns lay in ashes and several thousand dollars of damage done.

About 1:30 pm Miss Minnie Barry, daughter of David Barry, who conducted the two story frame hotel, noticed smoke pouring out of a window in the ball room. She went there and discovered the room to be all ablaze. She gave the alarm and as there were only four or five men in the place, the women of the neighborhood turned out and did heroic work in saving property and moving furniture. The people of Stokes have no apparatus with which to fight fire and pails were scarce.

In a short time the hotel, which was a very old building and dry, was enveloped in flames, which soon spread to adjoining houses and barns. But little furniture was saved from the hotel. Mr. Barry had an insurance of $500 on the hotel, $500 on the furniture, and $100 on the large hotel barn. He estimates his loss at about $1000 over insurance. In the barn were a quantity of hay, oats, two wagons, two cutters, bobsleighs, four harrows, four harness, and other farming implements.

Next east of the hotel, and close to it, was the large, old, two story house, with wing, owned by Mrs. Sarah S. Dunn, occupied by her and the family of her son, Byron Dunn. They saved most of their furniture. They had no insurance. Their loss is at least $500, including barn which was also burned.

North of the hotel was a house, 1-1/2 story, owned by Henry Howlett of this city and occupied by the family of William Coonrod. On the house was an inusrance of $400. Mr. Coonrod had no insurance. Nearly all of his goods were removed, much of it being damaged. His loss is about $75. Mr. Howlett estimates his loss at $200 over insurance

North of Mr. Howlett's house was a two-story house owned by Harvey Gillett, occupied by the family of Louis Hartson, with a barn in the rear. Mr. Gillett had no insurance. He estimates his loss at $500 on the house and $100 on the barn. Mr. Hartson had no insurance and saved but little of his furniture. He estimates his loss at $250. Mr. Gillett had an insurance of $400 on the house, but it had run out.

Next to Mr. Gillett's place is the fine two-story house owned and occupied by John Williams. The house caught fire several times, but the flames were extinguished with pails of water. About 13 rods from the house, on a side hill, was Mr. Williams' barn, and this was burned to the ground, together with its contents, this season's hay and oats, and farming implements. He saved his horse and a wagon. Miss Martha Williams attempted to drag a ladder to the barn, but she could not raise it. The roof was burned off a large hen house located near the house. Everything was moved from the house, the furniture being much damaged. Mr. Williams had no insurance. About a year ago he carried $1500 insurance, but allowed it to run out. He estimates his loss at nearly $500. His fine orchard of apple and pear trees is ruined.

Jones & Hartson's general store is across the road from the hotel site. The front of the building was scorched and the windows in the upper story were broken by the intense heat. Their loss is estimated at $50, with no insurance. Mr. Jones was in Rome at the time of the fire. While here he thought he would renew his insurance, and went into an insurance office for this purpose. He was told that Stokes was at that minute burning up and his insurance could not be renewed that day. He jumped into his wagon, gave his horses the whip and drove to Stokes, six miles, in just 25 minutes, arriving there in time to do a great deal of good.

The Lee Center and Delta ball teams played at Stokes during the afternoon. The diamond is some distance from the fire. The Delta boys were on the diamond waiting for the Lee Center team. The latter arrived some time after the fire had broken out, and they pitched in and helped to save the property. They worked like heroes. After the fire the game was played, the score being 13 to 29, in favor of Delta.

A young man from Rome was there on his bicycle and Miss Martha Williams requested him to ride to Delta, two miles, and summon aid, but he did not want to miss the fire and refused to go, and he also refused to assist the ladies. His name could not be learned.

All the outbuildings belonging to the places mentioned were burned.

Frank Sly, who was fighting the fire on Mr. Williams' roof, fell off and was considerably bruised, but was not seriously injured.

Mr. Williams' daughters, Martha and Ida, worked heroically to save their father's home. They live across the road from him. They also helped others to save their property, working greatly beyond their strength. Mr. Williams was in poor health and could do but little. Martha, after the fire was over, was taken sick and a doctor was called. She had been in poor health for some time. Mr. Williams' barn was fully 40 rods from the hotel.

Mrs. Belle Graves rushed into the burning home of Mr. Dunn and rescued the little baby of Byron Dunn, who was asleep in its carriage. About as soon as she wheeled the carriage out the building fell in.

It is believed the fire originated by means of the stove pipe running through the wall in the ball room

Mr. Barry purchased the hotel about two years ago. It was an old land mark on the Turin Road. In old stage coach days it was an important stopping place. In old times when much teaming was done on Turin Road, teams returning from Rome with merchandise and household supplies were allowed a long rest at this hotel before beginning the ascent of the big hill, the foot of which is only a short distance north of the house. Thirty years ago and more the hotel was kept by Marenus Hawkins.

Several persons were quite badly burned in fighting the flames, and many had their clothing burned.

One old man was so excited he did not know what he was doing. He took off his boots and stockings, rolled up his pants and ran about the place barefooted.

Mr. Hartson's family are temporarily in the house with Mr. Jones on the west side of the road.

Mr. Conradt intents to move into M. N. Wentworth's house on the west side of Turin Road.

Mrs. Dunn is living with her daughter, Mrs. Dexter, next door east of the site of her burned dwelling.

Mr. Barry and family are temporarily with Mrs. Margaret Gillett, in the rear of the store, on the road running to Lee Center.

The force of the wind carried sparks three miles to northeast of Lee Corners and set dry brush on fire.

Mr. Barry will rebuild the hotel, but on a smaller scale.

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