150 Years Ago... the burning of Opelika
The Daily True Delta, New Orleans, La., November 2, 1860.
The Great Conflagration At Opelika, Ala.- Loss, Thirty Thousand Dollars.- On Tuesday we published a brief dispatch, stating that a disastrous fire had occurred at Opelika, destroying the entire business portion of the place. The Columbus (Ga.) Times furnishes the full particulars:
About nine o’clock Thursday night, October 25, fire was discovered in the roof of the grocery establishment of J. M. Perry, which resulted in the entire loss of the business portion of Opelika. The following are the losses sustained by different parties as near as we can gather from a reliable source:
J. M. Perry’s grocery, loss $3500; insurance $2800. Frank Laurence, drug store, loss $2500; no insurance. R. M. Green & Co., grocers, $3000; insurance $1200. A.C. McIntyre, grocers, loss $2500; insurance $2000. Calvert & Higgins, western produce warehouse, loss $3000; no insurance. Higgins & Calvert, dry goods, loss $15,000 to $20,000; insurance $9000. Dr. Smith, every cent he had was invested in the printing office of the Opelika Era, which is a total loss of three thousand dollars, and no insurance. B. Simms, carriage repository, everything saved; damaged $2000; no insurance. O. Brown & Co., house saved, goods damaged $1000; no insurance. W. G. Williams, house saved, goods damaged $8000; insurance. Mr. Williams owned one of the store houses burnt, loss $1000; insurance $750.
The fire undoubtedly was the work of some malignant fiend, as there had been no fire in the house for several days.
The greatest excitement prevails. A man was caught engaged in close conversation with a party of negroes. He was immediately arrested. He stated that he was from Columbus, and afterwards said he was from Auburn- he said he was employed by Louis Herman, in Columbus. He was locked up for the night, and will be examined Friday. Woe be unto him if found guilty.
The Houses were saved by the untiring excertions of the men, and the bold and fearless manner in which the ladies assisted. They were as calm as could be expected on such an occasion, and a great deal of credit is due them. There are no engines in the place. With buckets and blankets they succeeded in quelling the devouring element. The saving of the house of Messrs. Brown & Co. was almost a miracle. The clothes of some of the men who protected it, were burnt on their backs.
November 4, 1860.
A Bad Man Punished.- The Montgomery Mail of Wednesday says:
A man by the name of Seawell, a John Brown emissary, was taken up by the citizens of Line Creek, in this county, a day or two since for tampering with slaves. A meeting of the citizens was held, and after a strict examination, the proof was overwhelming against him, and he was severely whipped and ordered off. He seemed to be well posted in all John Brown matters, and was endeavoring to incite the slaves to a servile insurrection, &c., telling them that they would all be free after the election; the Lincoln would be elected, &c. This villain, Seawell, is about fifty years of age, and of notoriously bad character.
November 6, 1860.
To Be Hung.- We take the following from the Montgomery Mail of Friday last, 2d inst.:
Another Emissary.- A man by the name of Palmer, a daguerrean artist, has been detected at Opelika, Ala., tampering with the slaves of John Smith, (T.) and others, between Opelika and Auburn. He gave several negroes bowie knives, and otherwise attempted to instill into their minds seditious acts. He was detected, pursued and apprehended, and the proof being positive, he is to be hung at Auburn to-day! Let him swing high and long. There are many others in the south that should be dealt with in a like manner. We learn this from undoubted authority, and can vouch for it veracity.