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From The Mt. Echo August 12, 1887 Issue:

An Incendiary Fire, Lays Low the Court House. All Records, Books and Papers Destroyed. Almost an Irreparable Loss.

     About ten o'clock last Wednesday night the courthouse was discovered to be on fire. Mr. Henry McCabe was the first to make the discovery and give the alarm. Fire bells were rung and guns fired, and in fifteen or twenty minutes quite a crowd of citizens had gathered, but the fire had gained such headway, it was impossible to save any of the books, records, or other effects inside of the building. Several efforts were made to enter the clerk's office by Mr. Dodd, the clerk, and others. Mr. J. W. Pierce succeeded in getting inside the office but was compelled to make hasty retreat by the flames. Seeing it was impossible to save anything in the clerk's office, an attempt was made to enter the law office of J. C. Floyd and save his library. Mr. John Cowdrey went in, but was compelled to retreat quickly, and in escaping therefrom came very near being caught in the flames. Only four books were rescued. By this time it was impossible to do anything further toward saving the courthouse, and the attention of everyone was directed to the business houses. It was only by the most persevering and heroic effort that Layton & Cowdrey's store and the row of buildings south of the courthouse were saved. Prof. Jones scaled Layton & Cowdrey's building and in the face of intense heat and flames did valuable service by pouring bucketful after bucketful of water on the roof. The front of J. H. Berry and Son's store was considerably scorched, but the heroic work of James Wickersham and others kept it from catching fire. The falling in of the tin roof of the courthouse which had a tendency to smother the flames and there being no wind, hardly a breath of air stirring, was the salvation of the business portion of the town. The least breeze would have carried the flames to other buildings and the town of Yellville would today have been a smoldering heap of ashes.
     The loss to the county is irreparable. All the records, books and papers that were in the courthouse were destroyed, except portions of records that were rescued from the ashes after the fire had died down. They, however, are of little value, as they are almost a perfect mass of char. The building is a small loss compared to the loss of the important papers and records. It cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $10,000 but such a frame building could now be constructed for considerable less. We understand the building was insured for $2,000. Besides the public loss, the private losses consist of I. F. Clark's printing press and appurtenances; J. C. Floyd's entire library and valuable papers, (embracing King's Abstracts of Marion County); worth between $300 and $400. Clerk Neal Dodd suffered severe loss also. He lost about $50 in money, $150 or $200 in county script, besides $400 or $500 in valuable papers in form of notes, accounts, and various other personal effects. Deputy Sheriff Lawson also lost some valuable papers. An estimate of the entire loss cannot be made.
     The house was clearly set on fire as there had not been any fire or even a lamp light in the house during the day or night. It was evidently fired in the upper story just over the county clerk's office. When Mr. Dodd left the building Wednesday evening the hall doors were left open, as they have always been heretofore, but when the fire was discovered the doors were found closed. Mr. Henry McCabe observed three men going off northeast from the courthouse just as the fire was first discovered. These men doubtless were the parties who burned it, with the intention, no doubt, of destroying indictments against themselves or others. This is a great public calamity and falls heavily on the people of Marion county, and we hope the perpetrators of the cowardly crime will be brought to justice and made to suffer the severest penalties of the law.

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Linda Haas Davenport