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The Fire of Portsmouth - July 25, 1892

In the year of 1892 and located at the south end of Bay City, the village of Portsmouth was destroyed in a fire. The fire began at the Miller & Turner sawmill on 31st Street and spread to over 40 acres. The Bay City paper reported that 232 homes, 38 barns, 2 churches and 33 businesses were buned.

The fire left 1,300 homeless.

The glorious sun that early morn
Saw Fremont in her pride
Where spreading boughs with ivy green
Threw shades on every side.

Once there the linet sweetly sang
Its wild and happy tune;
Sweet dews that fell like summer showers
To moist the rose of June.

Still darkly gathering was the gloom
The burning arrow spread.
And there made Jesse Miller's tomb -
He's numbered with the dead.

Hell's burning spark was bent on ill,
If such was prophesy it did fulfill
For every tree, green bush and flower
Was laid in ashes that fatal hour.

At noon a spark - how, no one knows -
Caught something powder dry, like tow
From that the flames did outward roll,
That ward, the Sixth, was swept the whole.

Unruly flames, with maddened roar,
Swept down the lumber, Miller tore
No wild tornado that ever blew
Left such destruction for to view.

Dark was the skies that dismal hour;
Loud crash the fall of church and tower;
Like firey demons the blazes flew;
The firemen's force was swept like dew

Back, back from death that fatal hour
Destruction blew the fiery shower;
With sultry smoke that air was hazed
Red volumes of fire Gemorrah blazed.

But louder still the flames did roar,
And higher yet the sparks did soar
The burning ashes, tis said, that day
Fell from the skies ten miles away.

The firemen showered against the flames
Heroic deeds shall bear their names
Their hands were scorched with burning heat;
From Fremont corner was a hot retreat.

Amidst the fire and burning smoke
Fell clouds of water - the engine spoke
The flames leaped through the fire display,
But still the firemen did not give way.

A southwest gale it blew
One point to north the compass drew
Until the sun sank in the west
Reflecting o'er the desolate waste.

Dark pillars of smoke did onwards roll
Like spirits of death that haunts the Soul,
A burning desert, sad to admire
Such was the scene of the Portsmouth fire.


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This page was last modified: 01 Jan 2023