The Most Disastrous Fire in Indian Territory

Eighteen businesses, eight residences and thirteen offices were destroyed leaving fifty-eight people suddenly unemployed.

About 12:30 a.m. on April 15, 1895, some people were returning to the National Hotel (across from the Capitol Building on the North side) in Tahlequah and discovered the fire which had started in a loft in John Wilson's livery stable. The stable was located on Muskogee Avenue at the corner of the alley that is between Delaware and Shawnee streets.

At that time, Tahlequah had four weekly newspapers, one being The Arrow.

The Arrow's office was one of the last buildings to burn, but was quickly back in business. The Cherokee Advocate allowed use of their printing press to accomplish the publication of the paper. Following is the account they published of the incident:

"Town Marshall Eli Wofford, C.D. Pendleton, James Hightower, and of or two others were the first to arrive at the stable after the alarm had been given by the firing of pistols, and, although the whole top of the building was then ablaze, they succeeded in bursting down fences and doors, cutting the horses loose and running them out.

A brisk southeastern wind hurried the flames to the general merchandise store or J.A. Lawrence & Co., thence to J.P. Carter's drug store and on to Crafton's Red Front.

In the meantime the flames from Wilson's stable leaped across the street and, almost before the slumbering inhabitants were aroused, both sides of the street were a seeting mass of flames. The vicinity, however, soon presented a scene of wild disorder.

All efforts to save the buildings on fire were abandoned and the attention of the gathering crowd was turned to assisting in the removal of goods and furniture. From the large frame building on the corner, under course of construction by McCann Brothers for E.C. Boudinot, the flames swept across Shawnee street to the residences of Waddie Hudson and Capt. J.L. Smith, consuming them in an incredible short time.

From the buildings on the west side of Muskogee street the fire was communicated to the Presbyterian Church, and from there to the large residence of D.W. Bushyhead. While these buildings were burning, the fire was burning rapidly south on the west side of Muskogee street, and, in less than two hours, the entire block around to Park's Racket Store had been consumed.

From Crafton's Red Front on the east side of Muskogee street the flames crossed Shawnee street and consumed R.B. Williams' Grocery and burned everything east for a block.