I browsed through the clippings I’d saved about my ancestors. “Fires,” there must be some about fires in the 1,953 stories that I’ve saved on Newspapers.com. Ah, here’s one:
Fire at Roy Taylor’s
Tuesday morning as the family of Roy Taylor were sitting down to their breakfast fire was discovered in a wardrobe. If it had not been for Jesse McGhee and his knowledge of fighting fire learned in Boy Scout lessons, Roy Taylor would have no home left. As it was, with all doors closed the fire was confined to the wardrobe, burning and scorching the woodwork and walls and burning all clothing, which, tho a loss, is not to be compared to what it might have been. It is not known how the fire originated.
This story was front and center on page one of the Tyro Truth newspaper on the 10th of August 1917. I wondered why Jesse (my grandfather’s brother) was at the Taylor house at breakfast time.
After further searching, I discovered from his WWI draft registration that Jesse, age 20, was working at the farm of Roy D. Taylor in Caney. Since farm work starts early in the day, he probably was staying at their place as the hired man. Caney and Tyro were 8 miles apart. In those days of limited cars, it was too far for Jesse to travel daily on foot from his family home in Tyro.
The draft registration described Jesse as being of medium height and build, and as having gray eyes and brown hair.
For those unfamiliar with a wardrobe, it was a large piece of furniture used for storing clothing in before houses started having closets. It might have shelves inside or just a rod for hanging clothes or hooks.
This story has me wondering.
- In whose bedroom was the wardrobe? Was it Jesse’s room?
- Did anyone in the house smoke cigarettes? I wonder if Jesse or someone else had a discreet smoke before breakfast, then hid the presumed-extinguished cigarette inside the wardrobe.
- Were there any young children in the household who might have been playing with matches?
- I didn’t know that there were Boy Scout troops in Tyro at that time. I wonder if my grandfather, Clarence, was ever in the Scouts.
Although we can’t answer these questions, I’ll just share the clipping here with the presumption that Jesse McGhee was a hero for saving the Taylor family home from burning down.