Friday, April 28, 2017

Tidbits About Nantucket's Great Fire of 1846

Hi all,
There are no better accounts about an incident in history than what was recorded at the time. Below is an account of the fire that was in the Exeter News Letter. It occurred on July 13, 1846 destroying 300 houses and a financial loss of $800,000.

"Along the path of the flames were stored many thousand barrels of oil, and tons of spermaceti. The casks were burned through, and the liquid ran down Ihe streets, converting them into perfect rivers of fire, driving the appalled inhabitants before it, and washing the buildings that lined the ways with burning waves. So rapid was its approach to some points, that men had barely lime to escape, and even two fire engines were left a prey to the element. It ran out upon the water in the harbour, still blazing, and resembled, in its thousand flashes and spires of light, a gorgeous palace of gold amid the sea. The country about was as li«ht as at noon. For hours the town was a Jake of fire; the moon looked bloody, and the sky glared above, while the noise of the flames was like the roar of the ocean, and the explosions, in blowing up the houses, like the tempest bursts of thunder.

"It was morning before the progress of destruction was checked, but many, who saw the sun go down in affluence, had been reduced, ere its rising, to poverty and destitution.

"Numerous were the thrilling incidents that occurred during the hours of that night. A part of the officers and crew of a Revenue Cutter lying in the harbour, came ashore and rendered valuable assistance. At one time, just as a store was blown up, they lost sight of their commander, and it was feared he was killed. Several minutes of intense anxiety passed, but at length he was found unharmed, and so great was the joy of the seamen, that they opened their arms, and received him with repeated embraces.

Two ladies,strangers in the town, not knowing whither to go, fled to one of the wharves for safety. In a brief period, every building near the head of the wharf was on fire. The burning oil poured into the docks, and they were nearly hemmed in by flames; the wharf was supported by wooden spires, and in momentary danger.—In this frightful situation, they remained more than an hour, but were finally discovered by a boat from the Cutter, and released from their distressing position.

"The fire among the ruins, on the second night, lit up the sky, throwing a wild glare over the remainder of the town."

Lynn A. Coleman is an award winning & best-selling author who makes her home in Keystone Heights, Florida, with her husband of 42 years. Lynn's latest novel is a collection of three. Brides of Kentucky She also released a novella this month The Matchmaker Brides Collection Lynn's novella is titled "The Tinman's Match"


  1. Wow! Now, that's some dramatic writing! Imagine being those two poor women!

    1. Hard to believe, I thought it was an amazing tidbit from someone's personal life.