1878 Waukesha Fire started by Vandals?

A Fancy for Flame Bold Attempt of Incendiaries to Destroy Waukesha

Source: Milwaukee Daily Sentinel, (Milwaukee, WI) Thursday, September 12, 1878; pg. 5; Issue 219; col C


Incendiarism Waukesha, Sept. 11-The business man, as he came down town this morning, was astonished, or horrified by the information that a systematic attempt had been made during the night to burn the town. On inquiry it was learned that four different buildings had been set on fire sometime between 3 and 5 o'clock that morning. The buildings were a barn on River street, east of the depot, used by Mr. William Blair as a store house, in which were kept threshing machines, wagons and other farming implement, the sheds of the German M.E. Church, the Exchange Hotel, and the Mansion House. The fire at the barn was discovered by Mr. A.C. Hawes, night watchman at the Woolen Mills, about 4 o'clock. He alarmed some en in the neighborhood, who succeeded in squelching the flames without giving a general alarm. The damage was wholly to the building, by burning a hole in the side, about 8 to 10 feet in size. had the building been of pine instead of oak it would undoubtedly have been destroyed, as the fire had gained considerable headway when discovered.

The fire at the sheds was discovered by night-watchman Downes at about the same time and was put out by him with the assistance of another man, without giving any general alarm.

The porter of the Exchange, on going to the water-closet on the first floor at the end of the wooden part of the building about 5 o'clock in the morning, found it filled with smoke. On examination he found unmistakable signs of its having been set on fire in three different places. The fire was about out. IN one place a hole large enough to admit the body of a man was burned through the wall, and the other places were badly scorched.

The Mansion House was also set on fire in the water closets. In was not discovered, however until about 7 o/clock in the morning, and then it was in a smoldering condition, or rather about out.

The whole matter is involved in mystery. All day long groups of men have been gathered on the streets, discussing the probable motive of the incendiaries, for such they are beyond all doubt. There are many theories and stories afloat, but that plunder was the object of the scoundrels seems the conclusion.

What steps the authorities are taking, if any, it is impossible to find out.