February 28, 1935
|Fire Completely Destroys Mill; $100,000 Damage|
Old Landmark Built by John Huegely Sr.
Blazing Inferno for Hours: "Chick" Evilsizer Critically Injured
Huegely Mill, a local land-mark since before the civil war, was completely destroyed Tuesday evening in Nashville's most
spectacular fire since the blaze of 1883 that wiped out the center block on Main St.
The fire, starting in the extreme upper tier of the huge building, shortly before six o'clock in the evening, spread downward
with the speed of a burning comet when firemen were unable to reach its source with water and within a few minutes the
entire west end of the mill proper was a blazing inferno. The loss was estimated at $100,000 most of which was covered
by insurance. While it is not known exactly how the fire started, both J. Homer Huegely and Oren Brandis who were among
the first on the scene and went up into the mill, were of the opinion that spontaneous combustion was the cause.
Charles "Chick" Evilsizer, popular coal miner and volunteer fireman was severely injured when he fell more than twenty ft.
from the ice coated roof of the warehouse, north of the mill, from which the local fire department was attempting to keep the
fire from spreading to the east end where most of the machinery was.
An examination at the Centralia hospital Wednesday morning revealed that Evilsizer was suffering from severe internal injuries,
a badly fractured right arm and shock. He underwent an operation for ruptured intestines at five o'clock last night and this
morning his condition was reported as critical.
Despite heroic efforts of the local firemen, assisted by the Mount Vernon department, the heat and flames from the west end
of the building finally broke through the fire wall separating the old and new part of the mill and the red tongues speedily lapped
up the rest of the structure.
From the beginning, effort was concentrated on saving the concrete elevator south of the mill, which contained thousands of
bushels of stored wheat and this was accomplished. Mr. Huegely was unable to determine how much wheat was actually lost
in the main building until a check could be made from the elevator and they were awaiting the arrival of insurance adjusters for
that. It was estimated that approximately 40,000 bushels of wheat were stored in various parts of the mill and the elevator together.
In addition to the concrete elevator, the warehouse building, containing the main office, was saved. Too much cannot be said for
the efforts put forth by the local fire department. Handicapped as they were by equipment and the fact that water had to be
obtained from the adjoining mill pond, they did all that was humanly possible. The red hot bricks, smoking beams and twisted
pipes today are mute evidence of what might have been saved if we had had waterworks.
The fire was first discovered by Walter Ahrens, a city fireman, who was walking north on Mill street between five-thirty and
six o'clock, when he noticed smoke and flames coming out of the cupola on top of the mill. He ran into Henry Frederking's
house to report his discovery and together they rushed across the street to Homer Huegely's home. The latter immediately
called the fire department and together with the other men ran for the mill. The fire department was on the scene almost as
soon as the group arrived, and together with Oren Brandis, also a member of the fire department, Homer Huegely went up
into the uppermost part of the mill, from where they could see the exact location of the fire.
Because of the height of the fire and the unavoidable delay in having to use the mill pond for water, it was impossible to get
water to the source of the fire and it was not long until sparks began to fall from the upper tier and ignite the dust and other
dry material stored in the west end of the mill. From then on it was an effort to save as much as possible and for a time it
looked like the efforts of the firemen and the thick fire wall might confine the blaze to the west end of the building, but the
flames finally broke through and as walls began to fall all around it was not long until the main building was nothing but
Sparks from the fire were seen to fall as far as south of Main street and Wednesday morning pieces of charred timber were picked
up at many points far from the scene. The flames and light in the sky were visible for miles around and representatives from nearly
every town in the county were present sometime during the evening. One truck driver told a Journal reporter that he first saw the
light between Belleville and Mascoutah, a distance of more that 25 miles away. The first wall fell at about eight o'clock, just two
hours after the start of the fire, and by ten o'clock parts of all the walls had crumbled. The ruins were still smoldering this morning
and it will probably be several days before they are cool enough for inspection.
H.H. House, prominent attorney, was slightly bruised when he slipped and fell on the ice between the office and the blazing
building. He was standing near the office door when suddenly one of the giant iron doors gave way at the mill entrance and
blazing wheat came bursting out, causing him involuntarily to step backwards. As he did so his foot slipped and in addition
to getting drenched he suffered body bruises.
Evilsizer's fall happened at about 9:30 and occurred at the north end of the warehouse. There is a porch roof that runs part way
the length of the building and "Chick" apparently was under the impression that it ran all the way for he stepped backward along
the part of the roof where the porch was not and fell across the railroad loading tracks. He was rushed to Beatty's drug store,
where Dr. Schroeder was summoned, and after perfunctory examination was taken to the hospital at Centralia in Hahne's ambulance.
A highlight of the evening was the serving of lunch and hot coffee to the firemen and other workers by local Boy Scouts around
midnight. The following members of the local troop helped out: Melvin Carr, Robert Beckmeyer, Robert Huelsman, Verdall Fox,
Jimmie Allen, Jack Lane, Francis and Norman Maxwell, Sidney Finke and Paul Reeder.
The history of the Huegely Mill is part of the history of Nashville. At the time of the fire it was operating under the name of The
Huegely Milling Company with John Huegely, son of one of the founders as President and his son, J. Homer Huegely, as
Secretary and Treasurer. The present mill was built in 1860 by John Huegely, sr. and Philip H. Reither. In 1870 Mr. Huegely
became sole owner of the mill and operated it successfully until 1890 when he retired from active business and was succeeded
by his sons John, jr., and Julius and his son-in-law Theo. L. Reuter. From their hands the ownership successfully passed to the
present owners, John Huegely, jr., and J. Homer Huegely.
The original mill was a three-story shingle roof building constructed with hand-made bricks made in 1859 by Mr. Huegely, sr.'s
brother-in-law. In 1861 the retail room was built and in 1879 the first elevator was put up and another story added. In 1883 the
west end elevator was built and in 1911, the concrete structure, which Tuesday night successfully withstood the fire was put up.
Added to the material loss suffered by the fire was the fact that several large orders for flour were on hand at the present time
and the mill had been working at least three days a week since the first of the year after having been operated only intermittently
during the past few years.
In talking to a Journal reporter yesterday morning, J. Homer Huegely said he had no immediate plans for reconstruction and
would not be able to give out any details until the insurance adjusters had been there.
June 25, 1936
This One Won't Burn Down
Striking photo of the new all-concrete Huegely Mill which replaces the 77-year-old structure that burned to the ground in Nashville's biggest fire last
February. This new addition which includes everything but the all-concrete elevator to the rear, is the latest thing in wheat depots. For example --
1,000 bushels of wheat an hour can be handled here as compared to between 200-300 bushels at the old mill. This new structure was started last June
and the final pieces of machinery necessary to the buying and selling of wheat, flour, feeds, etc. are now being put in. Viewing the picture from left to right,
the tall part in front of the automobile is the cleaning section while the small building in front of the men is the main office. From the latter the handling
house leads directly into the old elevator which was the only part of the main mill that survived the blaze. A tip of the old warehouse (still standing) can
be seen to the left, and the two men shown in the picture are J. H. Huegely, Secretary and Treasurer of the Huegely Milling Company, of which his father,
John Huegely, is president and J. E. Thornton of the telephone office, who was making his connections the day the picture was taken. Note the fire plug
(part of the new w.w. system) just to the right of the telephone pole. Had it been in operation last February, this present picture might never have been
taken. Other photos depicting progress in Nashville will appear in the Journal from time to time. Watch for them.
June 25, 1936
New Huegely Mill To Open Saturday|
The recently organized Huegely Co-operative Elevator and Milling Company, which last March succeeded the old Huegely Milling Co.,
has announced that their new plant is now ready for business of buying wheat and that a grand opening will be held Saturday. The new company will be
a buying agent for Igleheart Bros., Inc. makers of the famous Swansdown products. They will be exclusive distributors of the products, both retail and
wholesale in this vicinity. The Huegely firm has not been fully active in trade since fire destroyed the mill in 1935. The new plant which was completed
several months ago, is an entirely modern fire-proof, concrete structure and is equipped with new fixtures and machinery.
The plan of the new co-operative, which has been approved by the Federal government, will consist in giving every producer of any soil product one share
of common stock upon his first visit to the mill. Patronage dividends are payable on this common stock in proportion to the volume of business done with
the company. Meetings of the stockholders will be held at least once per year, at which time three of the directors will be elected by the producers. Every
shareholder will be entitled to one vote, except those who hold both a share of preferred and common stock. Those will have two votes. No producer will
be eligible to hold more than one share of common stock, giving all shareholders an equal voice in the company. At a meeting held in February the
following officers were elected for the ensuing year: John Huegely, president; H.H. House, vice president; J. H. Huegely, secretary. The directors in addition
to the above officers are: B. B. Holston, W. C. Meinert, J. L. Beek, Fred H. Schorfheide, Elmer Hake and Byron House.
The public is invited to visit the new mill on opening day. Note the prizes offered in the Huegely advertisement on page 6 of this issue.