This Day in History: October 1st, 1914

This Day in History: October 1st, 1914


Aged Woman Who Lived Alone Has Her Home Destroyed – Nothing Saved – Other Local News

MILLTOWN, Oct. 1 – Mrs. Kate Rappleyea, widow of the late Jacob Rappleyea and better known as “Aunt Kate,” had a narrow escape yesterday. While resting in the front room of her home on Riva Avenue after lunch, awaiting water to heat for washing dishes, she heard a roaring sound from her kitchen. Upon investigation, she was met with a wall of flames. In under an hour and a half, her home was reduced to ruins.

The suspected cause of the fire is the flare-up of the kerosene stove. Mrs. Rappleyea mentioned that the rear door was partly open, and a strong northwest gale from yesterday had forced it completely open.

Upon seeing the flames, Mrs. Rappleyea tried to fetch water from a nearby pump to put out the fire. However, upon her return, she was met with a burst of flames that scorched her and nearly overcame her. Despite her age, she managed to exit the house and scream for help. Her cries were heard by Mrs. Titus and her son Harold, who lived a quarter of a mile away. They, along with Mrs. August Anderson and a road worker, rushed to assist.

At the same time, Councilman W. R. Evans and Addison Thompson, who were at the corner of Richter Avenue and Clay Street, heard her cries. They noticed the smoke and flames, prompting Thompson, an ex-foreman of the fire company, to run towards the fire. Evans, on the other hand, sounded the alarm.

Engine Makes Good Time

C. W. Waddington, the chief chauffeur for Eureka Fire Company, No. 1, promptly dispatched the chemical apparatus after the alarm sounded at one o’clock. He was accompanied by Chris Jensen, a patrol member. Others, including Henry A. Christ, Winfield Fine, Fred Hartlander, and second assistant foreman Martin Miller, were quick to arrive. Many neighbors and townsfolk also joined in the effort, assisting where they could.

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Heavy Gale Fuels Flames

When the local fire apparatus arrived on the scene, flames were already pouring out of the roof. Despite the firefighters’ efforts, the building burned completely to the ground. A strong northwest gale fanned the flames to such an intensity that the fire became unmanageable. At one point, even trees across the street caught fire.

Firefighters Save What They Can

About the only items the firemen were able to save were a shed at the rear of the house, several Maltese kittens, 13 chickens, and some bedclothes along with other minor articles.

Lost $30 in Flames

Mrs. Rappleyea mentioned she had thirty dollars stored in a bureau drawer in the upper part of the house. This money was earmarked for her winter coal supply. Anxious to recover it, she informed Harold Titus, one of the first responders on the scene, about the cash. Harold attempted to reach the bureau, but the heat upstairs was overwhelming. While searching, he was struck by a flying pane of glass, suffering burns on his arms. This forced him to retreat without recovering the money. Additionally, several important papers, including the deed for the property, were lost in the fire.

When Mrs. Titus arrived, Mrs. Rappleyea was nearly exhausted. Shortly after the fire team’s arrival, the injured lady was transported in Theodore Sutphen’s automobile from New Brunswick to the home of W. G. Evans. Dr. Forney was then summoned to provide the necessary medical attention.

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Mrs. Rappleyea, 74 Years Old

Mrs. Rappleyea turned seventy-four on the 16th inst. She had been living alone in her Riva Avenue home. Throughout her life, she faced numerous adversities. Her husband, Jacob Rappleyea, was tragically drowned near Parsons’ during a freshet some years ago. In a span of three weeks, she lost her three grown-up sons to diphtheria. Her brother, William DeHart, dropped dead right opposite her home just as it was completed. Yesterday, aside from the clothes on her back, she lost almost everything she owned.

For now, Mrs. Rappleyea will stay with Mr. and Mrs. Jacob DeHart on Main Street, Milltown.

Forest Fire Also Raging

While Mrs. Rappleyea’s home was ablaze on Riva Avenue yesterday afternoon, another fire ignited on the outskirts of South Milltown in the forest. The damages from this fire are not believed to be significant.

Insurance on Rappleyea Dwelling

The Rappleyea residence was insured for $1,000, but only for the house. The personal property inside is a complete loss.

Girl Faints

In the midst of the chaos and rush to the fire yesterday, a young Michelin employee, having recently finished a substantial meal, tripped over her own feet and fell face-first in the street. This left her unconscious for about fifteen minutes. When she awoke, she was astonished to find a crowd of people surrounding her, resting on a couch in a friend’s home. For a moment, she believed she was at a surprise party.

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Many at Picnic

Despite the late season and the cool evening, a significant crowd attended the first annual picnic of the Michelin Band at Parsons’ Grove. The music provided by the Michelinites was exemplary, ensuring everyone had a joyous time.

At Trenton

Local attendees at the Trenton Fair included Councilmen Charles Bauries and Albert Skewis, Messrs. Elmer Sayre, William Glock, George McGinnis, Peter Jensen and his son Peter, Edward Schlosser, William Beecher, George Detaler, Mr. and Mrs. George Kuhlthau, Miles Kuhlthau, Mr. and Mrs. Christian Kuhlthau, Mr. and Mrs. J.V.L. Booraem, Miss Mae Lins, Miss Lillian Wilenbrock, Mrs. Charles Denhard, and John Bauries.

Other Local Items

  • Charles Weyd and his son visited Newark.
  • Ferdinand Denhard injured his chin in a fall on his way home from school, requiring Dr. Forney’s services.
  • Louis Jensen visited Perth Amboy.
  • Mr. and Mrs. John Hoffer are at the Trenton Fair today, as is Charles Denhard.
  • Messrs. Harold Schlosser, James Selover, and Gilbert Gill enjoyed a bay trip aboard the “Ben Hur.”
  • C.E. Reichardt, a Michelin salesman in the Dakotas, has returned to the plant.
  • Oscar Wagner from Minneapolis is visiting his parents in the borough.
  • Chris. Crabiel has rented Jasper Field’s barns and took possession.

The Christs Surprised

Mr. and Mrs. George E. Christ were pleasantly surprised at their new Van Liew Avenue home on Tuesday evening by friends and family honoring Mr. Christ’s birthday. The celebration included musical selections, singing, games, and a delightful meal. Attendees were Misses Edith, Margaret, Martha, Elizabeth, and Mary Christ; Maria Lins; Messrs. Alfred Christ, Charles, John, and Harold Christ; Fred Lins; Russell Lins; Mr. and Mrs. Berthold Christ; Mr. and Mrs. Nicholas Christ; Mr. and Mrs. Henry A. Christ and son Vincent; Mr. and Mrs. George E. Christ and daughter Lorna; Mr. and Mrs. John Lins; and Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Christ.

Rally Tonight

Local Epworthians will attend a rally at St. James Church, New Brunswick, this evening, departing on the 7:18 trolley.

Entertainment Tomorrow Night

Keith Cherry, the renowned impersonator and humorist from Philadelphia, will entertain at the Methodist Church tomorrow night. Admission is 25 cents for adults and 15 cents for children.

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