Eagle Archive: In 1945, fire and 'canned news' in Taneytown

The actions of our local fire departments — and the harvest of peas and corn — were the subject of news Feb. 9, 1945.

A local newspaper reported that in Taneytown, a fire "of undetermined origin destroyed the large frame warehouse … with 30,000 cases of peas and corn … of the A.W. Feeser Canning Company plant ... along the Littlestown-Taneytown road. The damage was estimated by B. B. Chenowith, manager of the plant, at $100,000."

The now-defunct Democratic Advocate carried the news, "Taneytown Has Destructive Fire." The newspaper reported, "Three fire engines from the Taneytown fire company, two from Union Bridge and one from Westminster battled the flames … saving the canning factory containing machinery and equipment, which was separated from the warehouse only by a ten-foot alley…

"The structure … contained a government order awaiting shipment in a few days. Some of this, it is believed, may be salvaged. The spring season's supply of seed peas and corn was completely destroyed. Members of the Taneytown fire company remained at the scene of the fire all night…"

Also in Taneytown; on Feb. 1, 1896, the now-out-of-print local newspaper, the American Sentinel, carried a "Taneytown Items," news brief about a horse and buggy accident involving a mail carrier.

The paper reported: "On last Monday afternoon when Mr. John Shriner, who carries the mail from this place to Harney, was leaving for home his horse became frightened and in some way fell to the ground, breaking one shaft off his cart. When the animal regained his feet the broken shaft struck him on the heels causing him to run away.

"After he had run some distance the cart was upset and threw Mr. Shriner to the ground with great force. He was dragged some distance… Mr. Shriner was badly bruised and scarred and has not been able to attend to his duties since the accident, but is now slowly improving and will soon be carrying the mail again."

Then on March 4, 1899, the same newspaper reported, "A fire occurred in Taneytown … by which four small colored children barely escaped with their lives. "A large frame building, owned by John E. Davidson and used partly as a storage warehouse and as dwelling, was burned to the ground with all its contents.

"The contents of the warehouse consisted of tobacco, barrels of oil, a buggy and other articles and were owned by Mr. Davidson. The dwelling portion was occupied by Benjamin Coates, colored, his wife and four children.

"The fire originated in the warehouse and when the doors were broken open by the Taneytown fire department the buggy was in a blaze. The building would probably have been saved but for the explosion of the barrels of coal oil. It was only through the heroic efforts of the firemen that adjoining buildings were saved."

When he is not practicing stop, drop, and roll for fire safety, Kevin Dayhoff may be reached at kevindayhoff@gmail.com.

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