Our County History
by County Historian Marion W. Coplen

The year 1871 was a year of disastrous fires in Kosciusko county and the Midwest. The weather pattern that year was much like 1952, with very little rainfall during the late summer and fall.

Even before the drought set in Warsaw experienced two serious fires in the business district. On Saturday evening, Jan. 14, 1871, a fire starting in a hardware store in the midst of Empire block on South Buffalo street swept away the entire block. Another fire which broke out about midnight on Saturday, Aug. 20, destroyed another block of buildings on East Center street. This included the Baptist church, O. P. Jacques' livery and feed store, and the William Conrad residence.

During the dry spell in the fall, fires seemed to break out everywhere. Many muck fires were started by sparks from railroad locomotives. Tamarack swamp in East Warsaw was on fire for about eight weeks before rain finally came and put it out.

The local newspapers of 1871 were full of accounts of fire loss in our county. Because of the lack of an adequate water supply, fire fighters were at a disadvantage in coping with the numerous outbreaks.

The following captions appear in the Oct. 12 issue of the Northern Indianian (published in Warsaw):
"The whole country seems to be on fire"
"Farmers have been busily engaged in fighting fire during the past week"
"Between Etna Green and Bourbon a large amount of damage has been done"
"Large barn in Franklin township burned"
That same issue also tells about the great Chicago fire which was going on at that time.

Warsaw Times-Union Tues. Nov. 18, 1952