January 29, 1833: Fire in Concord!

29 Jan 2015

Although the earliest surviving newspaper for Cabarrus County is the Concord Weekly Gazette of August 11, 1855, earlier extant papers in Salisbury and Charlotte often illuminate events in Concord. Both the Carolina Watchman (Salisbury) and the Miner’s and Farmer’s Journal (Charlotte) of Saturday, February 2, 1833, reported a fire in Concord.

The fire occurred around 5:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning, January 29. Ten houses and two stores near the courthouse were destroyed. The courthouse, and the Klutts house across the street, also were threatened. The fire began in Ward’s store which had just received a new shipment of goods. David Storch and George W. Spears also suffered considerable losses. Storch owned most of the burned houses, and Spears ran the other store lost in the fire.

Cabarrus historian Robert Washington “Wash” Allison (1809-1898), in A History of Cabarrus County and Concord, mentions the fire. According to Allison, Ward was “a Yankee clock peddler” who bought out Storch’s store. When authorities suspected the fire began in Ward’s store, he was arrested for arson and tried in Statesville. Acquitted on the arson charge, Ward was subsequently tried and convicted of forgery. Apparently, Ward accepted notes for six to nine dollars on several Concord men, then Ward changed the notes by adding “ty” to the dollar amounts, making the signed notes worth sixty to ninety dollars each!

Robert Washington Allison. Date unknown. Photo
courtesy of Findagrave.com, Susan I. Grills.

Robert Washington Allison was much more than a historian. He was born in Charlotte on April 24, 1809, the son of merchant William Allison and Peggy Young. In 1823 he left Charlotte for Cabarrus County and married Sarah Ann Phifer in 1842. They had five surviving children. Allison was a farmer and merchant and served in a number of public positions. He was a delegate to the state constitutional convention, a member of the state legislature, clerk and master of the Court of Equity for a number of years, a justice of the peace, and chairman of the board of county commissioners.1  (See April 22, 2014 blog)

Allison’s History of Cabarrus County and Concord is reprinted in the book A Bicentennial History of Concord: from the Pages of Progress Magazine, edited by Clarence E. Horton, Jr., and is available to purchase at Historic Cabarrus Association. Microfilm copies of the Carolina Watchman and the Miner’s and Farmer’s Journal, as well as other regional newspapers are available in the Lore Local History Room at the Concord Library.

Courtesy of the Cabarrus County Public Library, Lore Local History Room

1. Morrison, Leonard Allison. The History of the Alison, Or Allison Family in Europe and America, A.D. 1135 to 1893: Giving an Account of the Family in Scotland, England, Ireland, Australia, Canada, and the United States… Damrell & Upham, 1893, 147