Transcribed by Norma Knotts Shaffer from microfilms of the Calhoun
Chronicle dated 3/19/1917 and 4/15/1917.
3/29/1917 - Five are dead as the result of a fire that reduced all
part of the town of Creston lying on the east side of the West Fork at
its mouth to ashes Monday night.
Mrs. Henan Merrill
The fire, one of the most destructive conflagrations ever occuring
this section of the state, is of uncertain origin but is believed to
started from a gas jet in Carl Steven's room in the Stevens hotel,
11:00 o'clock Monday night. Fanned by a strong wind the flames
rapidly to other houses clustered near and in a short time every
on that side of the West Fork was ablaze.
The younger Stevens boy, Carl, a son of Capt. and Mrs. Henry O.
who operated the hotel where the blaze started, was burned in his bed
his brother, Lindsey, and Mrs. Merrill, were burned so badly aiding
to escape that they died Tuesday morning while being removed to
Mrs. Merrill, formerly Miss Isenaugle, of near Creston, had been
in the hotel during the absence of Mrs. Stevens, mother of the dead
who was at the bedside of her husband in a Parkersburg hospital for an
The charred skeletons of two other people, whose identities are
but presumably travelers returning home farther up the river, were
on the same bed springs among the ruins. Who they were may be
known when Misses Mag and Minnie Stevens, sisters to the dead boys,
sustained very severe burns rescuing a crippled brother and who were
to Parkersburg for treatment, are able to tell about the disaster.
However, at present they are nameless and no clue as to who they
has been discovered.
It was thought at first and it is still contended by some that
were two other victims in the Stevens hotel, but it cannot be proved
now - perhaps never.
Strong hope was expressed Wednesday for the recovery of Miss Maggie
Stevens, but her eyesight most likely is destroyed.
Travelers who stayed in Creston that night, who barely escaped with
their lives, tell a grewsome story of the scene. The screams and
sufferings of the crazed victims are indescribable, they say.
Carl Johnson Rescues Baby
Carl Johnson of above town, arrived here from Creston Tuesday
He was returning home from Parkersburg and reached Creston about 9:00
night. Retiring to bed some time afterwards, in the Armstrong
he has not yet fallen asleep when a woman's screams brought him to his
feet. His room was in a corner of the building next to the
hotel, and on looking from the window was horrified to see that
ablaze. Hastily dressing rushed over to the burning hotel where
saw Mrs. Merrill in an upper story with her baby in her arms
crying for help.
Mr. Johnson shouted for her to throw the baby to him. He
the child which was uninjured save for a few slight burns and carried
across the street out of immediate danger.
"When I returned," says Mr. Johnson, "Mrs. Merrill was on the
The next person I saw was Lindsey Stevens, making for the river, so
burned that he was unconscious of his actions. He was
His crippled brother was thrown from an upper window by his sisters,
escaped practically unhurt.
"The flames soon spread to adjoining buildings and fanned by a
wind quickly turned the whole town into raging furnace. But few
lived in that section of the town and any efforts to have fought the
would have been in vain. We saved all the live stock in the
and all automobiles, and then fled to the hills."
Mr. Johnson himself received severe a cut on his arm from a broken
Property Loss About $40,000
The loss of property is estimated at about $40,000. About
will be recovered from insurance. The house and store of J.P.
Guy Rader's hardware store, the Stevens and Armstrong hotels, Eustace
store in which the postoffice was located, the residences of J.E.
and "Fuzzy" Reed, and a confectionery and restaurant building were
A fund for the relief of those who suffered at Creston of nearly
had been subscribed Wednesday at Grantsville. Contributions are
received at the M.H. Hardman store.
Fire Victim Was A Marietta Girl
4/15/1917 - Marietta, March _0 - Mrs. Mary Merrill, one of the
of the disastrous fire that swept away the town of Creston, W.Va.,
evening, was a daughter of Morris C. Icenogle, No. 221 S. Sixth
this city, and a former resident of Marietta. Mrs. Merrill was
badly burned in the fire that she died on a gasoline boat enroute to
Mrs. Merrill was 32 years of age and is survived by her husband and
one child, who was rescued from the burning hotel. At the time
the accident, Mr. Merrill was at home in Fairmont, W.Va. His
and child were visiting at Creston and had stopped overnight at the
in order that they might catch an early boat for Parkersburg.
Funeral services were held and interment made near Creston Thursday