Monday, April 25, 2016

Amanuensis Monday: Arson at 1106 North Eighth Street - 1892

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

I continue my project to transcribe family letters, journals, newspaper articles, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts. Not only do the documents contain genealogical information, the words breathe life into kin - some I never met - others I see a time in their life before I knew them.

My second great grandfather, Selig Feinstein, first appears in the St. Louis City Directories in 1892. He is recorded as a Shoer, working at 1106 North Eighth Street.

He arrived in America in 1890, but his wife and children didn't arrive until October of 1891. It's possible they migrated to St. Louis after that. When did they arrive? When did he start working at 1106 North Eighth? The 1892 directory was published in April of 1892.

The below newspaper article, dated Feb 11, 1892, describes a fire at 1106 North Eighth Street.

Two Men Charged With Burning Stable and Horses
They Are Alleged to Have Set Fire to the Place of Rival Junk Dealers – Both Men Assert Their Innocence – An Insane Butcher’s Deed – Other Police News of the Day

Six horses perished in a stable in the rear of 1106 North Eighth street which was destroyed by fire early this morning and Henry Sterns and Sam Banks are locked up at the Four Courts accused of setting fire to the place. Sam Banks, who has been arrested before on charges of arson, is a junk dealer, in business at 616 Lucas avenue, formerly Christy avenue, and lives with his wife and several children in a suite of rooms over his shop. His is about 80 year of age and has been in the junk business about eight years. He was taught the business by Wm. Welsman, whose stable was burned and who owns another junk shop in partnership with William Larner at 607 Lucas avenue, a few doors further east on the same street. Harry Sterns is about 2? Years of age, in the employ of Banks, and lives with his parents at Seventh and Wash streets. There is an intense business rivalry between Banks, his man Stern and Welsman and Larner, but Banks claims it was only business rivalry and not prejudice or unfriendly feelings.

Welsman and Larner kept six horses, their harness, feed and other belongings in a stable in the rear of 1108 North Eighth street. Every morning very early Moses Welsman and Charles Slinsky in the employ of Welsman and Larner, go to the stables to groom and feed the horses and prepare for the day’s work. When they reached the stable this morning they saw flames breaking out of the structure in several places and at the same time noticed two men sneaking away. They chased the men some distance, but the fellows were more fleet on foot than their pursuers and escaped.. Slinsky ran to the engine house on Eighth street and gave the alarm. When the firemen arrived the stable was one great flame in which the fire was too hot for the firemen to attempt any rescue, and they saw the horses fall one by one before the water thrown on the fire had any perceptible effect on the flames. The stable and outhouses were completely destroyed, causing a loss of $100 to the structure and $400 to the horses, harness and feed. There was no insurance on either the building or contents.


1) There is more to the news story, but I haven't transcribed it all, since my ancestor isn't mentioned. According to a later news article, Sam Banks was acquitted of the charge. I do not know about Henry Sterns. What interests me is that we know there was a stable, and horses, which might mean there were shoers employed as well as groomers.

2) In 1900, when Selig finished his career as a shoer/blacksmith, he entered into the junk store business himself.

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