Fire has always been a concern in small towns, especially as fire-fighting equipment was scarce or non-existent. The following is an account of a fire in Uniontown, Union County, Kentucky as reported in the Evansville Courier, Sunday, 13 May 1894.
Uniontown, Ky., May 12 – The sun rose this morning upon an ugly mass of ruins, damaged machinery, etc., where stood for 24 years the city roller mills, solely owned and controlled by Wm. Rathman. At 2 o’clock a fire was discovered in a part of the building as leads to the inference that it originated in the engine room. There was $10,000 insurance upon the mill, but that sum is not sufficient to make Mr. Rathman’s loss tolerable. The loss to the town, unless rebuilt, will be great.
A large frame warehouse, which stood across the street from the mill, belonging to Mr. Sam Taylor, was burned. This had wheat stored in it belonging to Martin J. Clements and Geo. W. Cambron.
J.F. Roberts lost an uninsured blacksmith shop, and a small frame cooper shop, in which the barrels for use at the mill were made, belonging to Mrs. Nancy Livesay, was also burned. The three buildings in close proximity to the mill were saved. The nearest of these was Mr. Rathman’s three-story grain elevator built of brick and iron roofed, the second, his dwelling, just back of the mill. It is of frame, iron roofed and was saved but the out buildings were burned.
Mrs. Nancy Livesay’s two-story, shingle roofed frame dwelling is the third and it was only because of the good facilities her grounds afforded for water that it could be saved by the efforts of citizens.
Mr. Wm. Rathman, who is the principal loser by the fire, has been 41 years a resident of the town, coming here from Evansville in 1853. He worked for 17 years for H. Munchoff and then built the mill which burned last night. This is his second heavy loss by fire, he having $6000 worth of wheat stored in a warehouse burned in the big distillery fire of 1874.