Osceola, PA Fire, May 1875

The village of Osceola, in Pennsylvania, was entirely wiped out by the recent conflagration. Scarcely a single building now stands on the site of the village. The residents are rendered utterly destitute; for the fire, after destroying their houses, swept through the woods and fields surrounding them, destroying whatever had been carried out by the occupants of the houses to places of supposed safety. Relief is being liberally forwarded to the sufferers.

The Athens Messenger, Athens, OH 10 Jun 1875
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Tyrone, PA., May 20.--A fire broke out at 11 o'clock this morning at the Mashannon Lumber Company's mills, west of Osceola. 15,000,000 feet of lumber was burned. The wind was so strong that fire-brands two feet long were thrown to most all parts of the town of Osceola. Fires broke out in every quarter. All public buildings, except the Catholic and Methodist Churches ere destroyed. Twelve hundred people are houseless. The people were driven to the race course where they were surrounded by fire from all sides. The fire department left t 2 o'clock with their steamer and hose carriage, but could not reach Osceola on account of the railroad track being burned. The road between Osceola and Powellton on either side is one blaze of fire. The members of the Tyrone Company fought their way through and rendered all the assistance possible. About two hundred houses are yet standing. Some half dozen were burned between Osceola and Powellton.

At Osceola the loss, about $200,000; insurance generally very light. Up to the latest reports no lives were lost. People are in destitute circumstances, they having lost their property and everything else. The woods between Tyrone and Phillipsburg are on fire.

Steubenville Daily Herald and News, Steubenville, OH 21 May 1875

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Tyrone, PA, May 21. -- The confusion is very great, and the telegraph lines are so busy that no further news of the Oceola fire can be obtained. Hundreds of people are homeless and destitute of clothing and provisions. The burgess of Huntington was telegraphed this morning for food, and clothing for the sufferers. Relief is badly needed. A large number of cars and many feet of trestle work on the railroad have been destroyed, and the shipment of coal will be delayed for at least ten days. The total insurance reported amounts of nearly $100,000.

Tyrone, PA., May 21.--The fire is still raging furiously throughout the woods in the neighborhood of Osceola Mills, Pa. About 250 homes were consumed in Osceola, and 400 families rendered homeless. Great praise is due Mr. D. D. Wood, Train Master, at Tyrone, who, through his heroic conduct and presence of mind, saved a great many lives. He go a lot of box cars, and after loading them with men, women, and children, sent them through the burning forest at the extremity of fast speed to Phillipsburg. Four such trips were made, and about 1000 people were taken to a place of safety.

The ties on the railroad from Osceola to Houtzdale are burned so that coal can not be shipped for some time. Provisions have been sent from homes in the vicinity, and a meeting will be held to raise funds.

The heaviest losers by the Osceola fire are: Pennsylvania railway, $65,000; Liveright, Lingle & Co., $30,000; Heims & Co., $30,000; J. K. White, $25,000, and numerous other losses ranging from $8,000 to $20,000, and hosts of smaller amounts.

The insurance in the Osceola mills will reach $200,000 outside the Mosshannon land and lumber company's mills. Moshannon mill is placed in the Philadelphia. The insurance will reach $300,000. Later reports say one woman named Stoneberger was burned to death.

Decatur Daily Republican, Decatur, IL 22 May 1875

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Tyrone, PA., May 22.-- Osceola is leveled to the ground, and heaps of smoking debris are all that is left of the houses. Neighboring towns are sending money for the relief of the unfortunates.

Steubenville Daily Herald and News, Steubenville, OH 24 May 1875

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The town of Osceola in the mining regions of Pennsylvania was last week stricken with fire and two hundred and fifty of its houses and four hundred families rendered homeless. The fire spread to the mountains surrounding it, burning houses, timber, railroad tracks...

At one time on Friday night the town of Phillipsburg was threatened, but owing to the efforts of the citizens it was save from destruction. All the brush about the place was set on fire, which, after burning out, left a wide area between the town and the flames. The people from Osceola who had taken refuge at Phillipsburg were greatly alarmed, thinking they would be compelled to fly from their place of refuge. The railroad bridges between Osceola and Houtzdale which were destroyed are being rapidly rebuilt, and it is expected that communication will be re-established in a few days.

The Herald And Torch Light, Hagerstown, MD, 26 May 1875

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On May 20, 1875, the town was almost wholly destroyed by fire. One and one-half million dollars worth of property was burned up and nearly all of the inhabitants were ren­dered homeless. With the aid of contributions by other communities and their own energy, the people of Osceola Mills soon recovered from the effects of this conflagration and on the ruins left by the fire there sprang a new town more beautiful than the old one.


Twentieth Century History of Clearfield County, Pennsylvania and Representative Citizens, 1911, page 380.
Read the book online.