1911 Early Morning Fire
6 Killed; 5 Injured
L-R: Dr. J. G. Rushing, W. J. Powell, Will Rogers, Y. S. Rogers (father of J. C. ) Nina Mae Elliott, Hazel Rogers, Obie Andrews, Neal Rogers, Carlton Rogers (at Pump) and J. C. Rogers (in doorway)
As the bodies were recovered, the dead were taken to S. P.
Irvin's Undertaking Establisment, and the injured taken to thier homes where the
doctors and family attended them.
The dead included the wife of C. C. Locke of the Mistrot House; William H. Booth, 49, husband of Theodocia Lee Booth; John M. Mull, 57, husband of Mary F. Mull and brother to Rev. James Allen Mull; Cliff Goodson, 27, Lindsay Ferdinand "Jack" Davis, 15, son of Ida Davis and brother of Louise Mae Davis; and Joseph L. Crawford, 60, husband of Bobbie Horn Crawford.
The injured were Marian Davis, suffering a spinal injury; B. W. Pearce, suffering a broken limb and numerous brusies; T. Wood Smith and Kirksey Martin, suffering many bruises and gashes, but their would were not considered serious; and W. g. Carnahan, who suffered several bruises and burns.
Mr. Fitze lost his entire stock of merchandise, valued at $3,000, on which he carried $2,000 insurance. The bulk of the merchandise in the other two houses were saved, but badly damaged and sustained losses as follows; J. C. Rogers' loss on building and contents, $3,000, fully covered by insurance; the Mistrot house, owned by Ben Pearce, building total loss, insured for $3,000, The Center Feed Store loss suffered , $3,000 and insured for $2000. Mistrot Brothers, content loss of $4,000. O. H. Polley owned the three buildings occupied by J. D. McCallum, Center Feed Store and W. K. Fitze, valued at $15,000 on which he carried insurance to the amount of $9,000. Upstairs in the Fitze building losses were suffered by J. L. King. Judge J. M. Sanders, E. H. Parrish, and Judge Rufus Price. Judge Price lost a law Library that was the collection of a lifetime, and was among the greatest earthly treasurers. It was said that Mr. Parrish lost all his personal effects, and the following morning his only clothes in the world were on his back.
All the businesses, banks and industrial enterprises of the city closed the following day. District Court was adjourned by Judge Perkins, and friends and families of the deceased began to bury the dead. Mrs. Locke was carried to her hometown of Groveton. Mr. Goodson of the Paul's Store Community was laid to rest in the Carroll Cemetery, with Mr. Booth, Davis and Crawford buried in the Fairview Cemetery. Young Mull was buried in his family Cemetery near Center (The Mull Cemetery is located on Hwy 96 South).
Among the rescue workers were Mr. Guinn, a new dentist in the town, W. H. Paxton, Bob Parker, J. C. Pigg, A. C. Cooper, Oz Metz and many other men and women of the town.
Center was visited by another great fire in 1893, and on that occasion Mollie Bailey's Circus was visiting the town, and every member of it volunteered aid in saving the town from total destruction. But, the fire of 1911 is long remembered as the most costly and destructive in the history of Shelby County.
From East Texas Light by Kay Sanders