The following article is from
a newspaper clipping from an unkown newspaper:
Bellvale Methodist Church Burns
to the Ground
The beautiful, eighty-six year
old Methodist Episcopal Church of Bellvale burned to the
ground, Wednesday evening. Charred ruins of a few remaining
timbers, ends of the porch steps, part of the foundation
mark the place where it stood. Cause of the fire unknown.
Rivers of ice cover the ground
nearby, ice hangs from some of the branches of nearby trees,
telling their own story of the bitter cold that the firemen
endured that night, when the thermometer hung close to the
zero mark and encased their garments in ice. The corner
of the long shed, close to one end of the building has charred
some timbers and boards but is otherwise not damaged.
Cause of the Fire Unknown
The cause of the fire is unknown.
A light coal fire had been started in the furnace to heat
the Sunday School room for a social that evening. It had
been made around three o'clock that afternoon. Later it
was again tended, room made ready with placement of the
chairs for the evening party and the fire banked and dampers
turned. This perhaps around five. The furnace which stands
today, like a sentinel, still has the unburned coal in it,
just as it was left. The asbestos above the furnace was
among the last to go down The shutoff damper in the pipe
Fire Starts in Another Part
At one time, the firemen thought
they had the fire licked. But on exploring in the attic
over the main assembly room, they found that the flames
had licked up the side wall partitions and the flames had
already reached the attic. The heavy bell in the bellfry
endangered further work. It was ready to cave in at any
Albert Phillips Discovers Blaze
About seven o'clock that evening
Mr. Albert Phillips escorted his daughter to the church
for the social. On entering the Sunday school room, they
found it a seething mass of flames. They went to the home
of Mr. and Mrs. Fred DeGraw, nearby phoningWarwick Fire
Department for aid, and immidiately the siren was sounded
and the Excelsiors on the way. Several lines of hose were
laid from Long House Creek, but it soon became evident more
help was needed and the Raymonds were summoned with their
truck, while Vernon Fire Department stood by to cover Warwick
in case of need.
After the Raymond's arrived two more streams of water were
in use. The firemen met with great difficulty, due to the
extreme cold for pressure gauges froze on the pumps and
they had to run by guess, water freezing from nozzles as
Screw Drivers Used to Open Coat
The buckles on the firemen's
coatswere so encased in ice, when they reached the home
of Mr. and Mrs. Fred DeGraw and the home of Mr. and Mrs.
Fred Batz to warm up, that they had to be pried open with
screw drivers. Hot coffee and sandwiches furnished by the
Ladies Aid Society.
All Furnishings Destroyed
All of the church furnishings
for the altar, except the communion service, in fact for
the entire building were destroyed. Church records, excepting
the first and second year Sunday School records which happened
to be in the church, are intact.
Tragic Blow to Bellvale
Bellvale community will feel
heavily the loss of their church for they made it the center
of their home and community life. It was a going concern.
Young and old contributed generously of their time and talents
and held the church in warmth and affection deep in their
hearts. Throughout the seasons, year in and year out young
blood took special pride in contributing their share toward
church expenses staging a show seldom rivaled in little
community groups,--the Bellvale Circus.
Small Amount of Insurance
The stately old edifice, about
50feet x 32 feet, belfry and gallery, seating in all close
to 300 was of clapboard frame with metal shingle roof and
its four long windows on two sides of the church room, were
of three sashes, each sash holding sixteen small panes.
It was insured for $6,000 in two companies, the VanDuzer
Agency carrying the larger sum. The adjuster has been here.
Planning to Rebuild
Already plans are being laid
to rebuild. May the shadow of the Bellvale community never