Our County History
by County Historian Marion W. Coplen

At 5:30 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 8, 1906, a fire of unknown origin broke out in a meat market on the south side of Main street in Mentone. The citizens of that community fought the blaze for two hours before the fire was brought under control. The only piece of fire-fighting equipment Mentone had was an old hand engine which they had bought from the Warsaw department some 15 years before. Although it was inadequate for the job, the hand engine was in good condition and gave good service on this occasion. Much of the fire fighting was done by a "bucket" brigade.

The fire started in the Ben Sells meat market and quickly spread to other stores on either side. A building owned by Loren Manwaring was completely destroyed. In the front of this building was J. W. Augenbaugh's harness shop and Frank Jennings' general store. Jenkins succeeded in carrying his goods out in time.

Beyer Bros. a wholesale butter and egg concern with main offices in Warsaw, occupied the rear of the building. D. W. Lewis and Sons notion store and David Ellsworth's cobbler shop and residence also burned. Nearly an entire block running east from Broadway street lay in ruins.

Most towns experienced disastrous fires such as this in their early history. Equipment was usually very poor, and usually the water supply was not adequate. A few fires such as this one usually caused a town to buy better equipment and often led to the installing of more fire hydrants. Mentone was especially alarmed at that particular time, because this was her second big fire in the short space of three years. A former conflagration had burned two buildings in the business district.

There was very little insurance on any of the buildings involved in this fire 47 years ago. Although a financial loss was felt by the men involved, many times such fires were blessings in disguise. The owners usually built better buildings and the looks of the town improved. Mentone quickly recovered from the fire of 1906.

Warsaw Times-Union Sat. Feb. 7, 1953