1882 O’Kelly’s Corner Consumed by Fire

It is commonly accepted and has been repeatedly published that Henry O’Kelly purchased the D’Anemours home in 1840 and that the O’Kelly family took up residency shortly thereafter. Henry O’Kelly did not purchase the land until 1871 and the family’s first dwelling after moving to Monroe was above the store they operated on the corner of Sixth & Desiard streets. The following newspaper article confirms that it was not until after the the fire of 1882 had consumed the family store that Henry was prompted to repair the building in the rear of his property, now known as the O’Kelly Home.

Ouachita Telegraph February 18, 1882, Page 3 Column 2

The Fire at “Five Polnts. After the great fire in 1871 which destroyed more than sixty buildings in Monroe and caused the loss of six hundred and fifty thousand dollars worth of property in the aggregate, a fire district, including the principal business streets of Monroe, was established. Wooden buildings were hurriedly erected near the depot, and this part of the city was christened, and has since been known as “Five Points,”quite as much from the fact that, unlike the notorious Five Points of NewYork, six points (counted by the street crossings) meet there, as by the fact that the location, like its namesake, had no very enviable reputation for its morals.

Visitors to this part of town Sunday morning found not many of the buildings erected after the great fire left standing, and were curious to know the reason. The question met with is the answer that about half an hour after midnight of Saturday, fire was discovered. In the back-room of the store, corner of DeSiard and Hart streets, occupied by Wm. Hamilton, a colored Baptist minister, as a grocery and provision store. The alarm was promptly given, but an unruly horse delayed the arrival of the fire engine several minutes. Meanwhile, the flames had reached Dobson’s livery the stable and were threatening Hamilton’s residence in the rear of his store which to was eventually saved by hard work rendered by spectators. The fire engine went to the cistern at Mr. Kuhn’s residence, and threw thence a stream of water on the brick saloon occupied by Mr. Heekin, and saved that building, as that, also, known as the Overton house, by a timely flow of water.

Dobson’s stable was nearly emptied before It was covered by the flames, but the building, a two-story house, was burned, and the fire communicating to the building adjacent went along out the street to O’Kelly’s corner, consuming O’Kelly’s store and a large part of the contents. The flames did not cross the street; but large coals were flying continually toward the north, the wind lying in the south. The shingle roofs of several houses were on fire at various times, and from this cause two cabins across the street belonging to H. G. Dobson, where burned, and other houses would have been burned, but for the fact that men with buckets of water were on the roofs. There was a large number of people attracted to the spot by the burning, and the confusion, as is usual at fires, was conspicuous. Those whose buildings were threatened, as well as those whose buildings were burning, were apparently in doubt what to do, and most of them were impatient of advice or assistance. The colored men, perhaps, and those who effected the most in were those who had not nothing at stake.

We append an estimate of the loss, damages and insurance so far as-we have been able to obtain this information: Wm. Hamilton, stock and damage to household furniture $7000, insurance $4000; H. G. Dobson, loss and damages $2250, insurance $1000; F. P. Stubbs, building $750; Estate E. Gross, building $750; Lehman, Abraham & Co., building $1200, insurance $800; W. H. H. Mullin, building $1500, insurance $1000; A. Campbell, damages in $250; John Tenne, stock $1000, insurance $500; H. O’Kelly, stock (part saved) and building $6000, insurance $3600; C. J. Herring, damages by removal $400.

AFTER THE FIRE. Col. O’Kelly will occupy the building owned by him in rear of his store, and is having it repaired for that purpose. Messrs. William and Thomas O’Kelly are superintending the change. Our young friends had several relics of value to them which they will miss.

Mr. Dobson has leased the stable adjoining the city calaboose.

William Hamilton has opened in the warehouse in rear of Campbell’s late saloon, and Mr. Campbell has re-opened in the two-story building known as Saunders’s Hall.

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Filed under Henry O'Kelly, Ouachita Parish, Monroe, Louisiana, The O'Kelly Home, William Abram O'Kelly Sr.

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