Approximately a half-century ago, on January 18, 1930, a fire devastated parts of Newhall, California. The fire destroyed the homes of several individuals, including a former resident of Milwaukee, Wisconsin and a railroad conductor and his wife. The railroad conductor, David Johnson, and his wife were the parents of ten children. They lived in a house near the Union Oil depot and the Southern California Gas Co. station in lower Wildwood Canyon.
David JOHNSON was a railroad conductor
During the 1883 fire at the Newhall House in Milwaukee, 71 people died. Among those who died were Grand Representative Theodore B. Elliott, a representative from Wisconsin, and David JOHNSON, a railroad conductor. Some of the dead were burned to death, while others were unable to be identified.
The hotel was built in 1857, and was home to the Milwaukee Chess Club until it burned. The fourth, fifth and sixth floors of the building were connected by an alley on the level with the third floor. Many other guests were carried to safety by firemen ladders. It was located at the corner of Michigan Street and Broadway.
The fire broke out in the hotel around noon on May 13, 1883. When it was discovered, 71 of the 300 people in the hotel were dead. The bodies of 71 people were identified and 114 were unknown. The fire destroyed the hotel, but the bodies of several of the victims were left in a temporary morgue. They were to be identified and given to friends if a positive identification was made.
Loss of dwelling on Lockwood Fox Farm in lower Wildwood Canyon
Luckily for Earl Altkens, he was not living at the fox farm when the blaze raged. The fox farm was not the only property to burn. The nearby Hart ranch, home to the likes of Henry Hart, had its own flaming fingers.
The aforementioned Lassalle Ranch brush fire may have actually been started by a military target practice exercise. The best part is that the blaze was extinguished with a minimum of loss to property and lives. It took a team of 200 to do the heavy lifting. Some of the credit goes to the local fire department and the flurry of federal firefighters who swarmed in to help. Some of the damage might have been mitigated if the fox farm’s owners had been more diligent in their fire prevention efforts.
Loss of dwelling on Union Oil depot and Southern California Gas Co. station
During last summer’s blazes in northern California, over 2.5 million acres of land were burned. These fires claimed the lives of almost two dozen people. The blazes destroyed more than 3,700 structures. Some of these structures were in Brea and San Luis Obispo.
In addition to causing huge losses to property, these fires caused an enormous amount of damage to the environment. A number of trees and natural growth were burned. In addition, the blazes burned off a number of orange groves. These groves were owned by J.D. Sievers, who declared his land “destroyed for all time” after the fires.
The fires were caused by lightning. Lightning ignited two reservoirs simultaneously. The first conflagration occurred south of San Luis Obispo. It threatened the Southern California Gas Company’s station. The second strike ignited the third and fourth reservoirs. It was a fast-moving fire. It burned 100 acres of orange groves, and threatened other homes. The fire spread to southern and western parts of Newhall. The Union Oil depot was in the path of the fire. Several of its employees were injured.
Jno. C. Clark was a former resident of Milwaukee
Located at the intersection of Broadway and Michigan street, the three story brick Newhall House is a storied landmark in Milwaukee’s history. It was the home of Milwaukee’s first gangster, John Gilbert, who served as a bootlegger and petty criminal. His wife, a former Miss Sutton of Chicago, was a pampered lady who was the envy of her peers. She was also the most beautiful woman in the state. Sadly, her untimely demise was the unfortunate end of an otherwise noble career. The most unfortunate part of the tragedy was that Gilbert was unable to complete his next-level duties as a professional entertainer.
Aside from Gilbert’s tumultuous career, the Newhall House was also the launching pad for two of Milwaukee’s most notable luminaries. It was also where the likes of renowned jazz savant Charles H. Reilly and the legendary Thomas Jefferson made their bones. The house was also the site of the aforementioned Newhall Moose, the city’s first jazz club.
Leave a Reply