Tells How “Little Phoenix”
Found His First Clothes Ready
The home of Mrs. Frank E. Haske, two miles north of
Metz, was destroyed in Thursday’s big fire. Haske tells this story:
horses, barn, and stables burned to the ground, and we saved nothing,”
he said. “My wife was fighting the fire with me. She was taken ill. I
drove her as fast as I could to the place where her father was staying.
She is all right now, and so is our new baby. It’s a boy. First baby
after the fire. Something to be proud of, yes?”
the Haske family were familiar with the classics, they might name the
boy Phoenix. As it is, he will probably be known as John. This
important question has not been decided. Preparations were at once made
to give the newcomer a few reasons for remaining. A large bag was
filled with the smallest articles of apparel that could be found. It
was about to be handed to the Haske family when one of those rummaging
among the boxes brought to light a bundle marked “Full outfit for a new
At this manifestation of the wonderful work of
Providence and the people of Michigan, Haske nearly collapsed.
thoughtful person sent a baby carriage and blankets to the week-old
child of Mrs. Oliver Hurket, which came through the wreck at Nowicki
Siding without a scratch or a burn after being thrown from the gondola
by its mother.
C. Haske, grandfather of Metz’s fat cat, stopped his wagon, laden with
clothing, food, and a new stove, to discourse on past and future. Haske
was reputed the richest farmer in Metz township. He owns 400 acres.
used to live in Detroit,” he said. “I drove for C.A. Newcomb when the
Newcomb-Endicott store was built. Afterwards, I was coachman for George
Robertson. But, I wanted to be my own boss, so I came here, where my
father was, about 25 years ago. I lost two barns, all my stables, my
granary, my hog pens, and my house. It was the biggest house and the
biggest barns in the township. I had an organ and four stoves, and 20
chairs. I saved only two chairs. That’s all. First I tried to save
the house, but the fire came up like a …oud and took it. I soaked my
shirt in a barrel and put it on, so that the water ran over me.
I tried to save one of my stoves, but I couldn’t get it out. Then I ran
for my organ and carried it into the yard. Then I went back for the
stove, but I thought of my new $7 clock and my $2 alarm clock, and tried
to save them, but everything was on fire. So I ran out and grabbed my
organ after soaking my clothes. I ran with it, but the fire was so hot
I had to drop it and run for my life. It was all burned up.”
of Haske’s 13 children were in the ill-fated gondola, but one became
terrified before the train started and climbed out. The others followed
to rescue him from the flames, thus probably saving their own lives.
GOV. WARNER DESCRIBES
TRIP THRO’ FIRE DISTRICT
PLYMOUTH, Mich., Oct. 20—“The people in the
burned district need food, lumber and hay most of all,” declared Gov.
Warner this morning, on his return from the northern fire-stricken
region. Sunday the governor went up to Alpena, joined Gen. Rogers and
Supt. Luce of the D&M railway, and made a tour by special train, an
engine and one coach, Monday. He had to miss his scheduled meetings in
Washtenaw County yesterday, but got back in time today to take up his
Monroe County meetings on time.
“The fire victims, up
north,” said the governor, “will be flooded with clothing. Alpena alone
has already supplied half enough clothing to supply all who need it.
“According to best estimates
there are about 200 destitute families around Metz. As most of the
families are large, this means from 1,200 to 1,500 persons.
“Shipments should be made to
Alpena, care of the relief committee. This Alpena organization is an
excellent one, splendidly managed and working with remarkable
efficiency. As has already been announced, the Michigan Central, Pere
Marquette and D&M will carry all such consignments free.
“The Alpena relief committee
is working especially for the relief of those persons living along the
line of the D&M at LaRocque, Metz, Posen and Bolton, and in the
surrounding country. There are, however, many other districts more or
less damaged, and many isolated cases of suffering will be found.
“I wish the officers in all
parts would report such isolated cases to the Alpena relief committee,
and they will attend to the wants of the sufferers. This will be a more
effective way of affording relief than the attempt to send special
consignments from the lower part of the state to the individual cases.
“Lumber is needed in great
quantities. For this purpose, money will be much better than loaded
freight cars from the south, because lumber can be bought for so much
less in the district.
“It will require about
600,000 feet of timber to build shanties and sheds for the 1,500 people
and their horses and cows. The D&M railroad has sent up its full force
of carpenters, and is assigning one to each family or group of families
to direct the rebuilding. The shacks are about 20 by 16 feet, with two
or four double-deck bunks in each room. Five lumbermen of Alpena have
already contributed one carload of lumber each, making 75,000 feet in
“From Grand Rapids has come
two carloads of furniture, available as fast as the shacks go up. In
the meantime the victims are stopping with farmers living outside the
“For the winter, fully 100
cars of hay will be necessary, in addition to quantities of food for the
people. And of the money raised, the committee ought to hold back at
least $5,000 until spring to buy seed, for the people are destitute.
Their crops, hay, grain and all the rest has gone.
“Here is a sample: I talked
with one farmer who said: ‘I had 40 acres of hay in my barn, 300
bushels of potatoes, other things in proportion, and seven cows and two
horses, also houses, outhouses, barns, and the like. Now, I’ve nothing
save seven hungry cows and two horses, and ashes all over my farm.’
“These people have got to
start all over again. Many of them have lived there many years—18 or
20—and had grown quite comfortable. They came as pioneers after the
timber had been cut, cleared fields of stumps and found good farm land.
“The fire burned a swath
from five to six miles wide from the interior, easterly to Alpena,
ending at the lake. The people are mainly Germans and Poles. They are
hardy citizens but with everything wiped out they must be maintained
until spring and then started out with seed.
“One of the most pathetic
incidents I encountered was at Metz. A German farmer and his wife [Mr.
and Mrs. John Nowicki, Jr.] left their four children, boys 10, 8, 6
and 4, while they went to town. They lost their lives, and when rescue
parties went out they found the farm house and all the buildings gone.
It was supposed the four boys were dead, but they were found alive in an
orchard. The ground had just been plowed, and with presence of mind the
10-year-old boy led his smaller brothers to safety. All four have been
sent to Alpena to homes.
“Metz is all gone save the
“At Bolton only a church is
“Posen got off luckily, but
the surrounding country is devastated.
“Along the lines of other
railroads there will be found families here and there whose possessions
are all gone. As to the total number killed, it is hard to say:
between 30 and 50, anyway.
“At Posen, I called on the
parish priest. He said he has 350 families in his parish and from an
enumeration he took Sunday finds that between 50 and 100 are destitute.
All are Polish.
“The board of supervisors of
Presque Isle County met Monday and named a committee to go over every
township to find just how the people stand. Some whose property is
wiped out may not be destitute. The committee with learn just where aid
is needed and see that it is given.”