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From SEILING MESSENGER Seiling, Dewey County, Oklahoma - September 19, 1912
Destroys the Temple of Economy Oldest General Merchandise
Establishment in Town, Entailing Property Loss Estimated
at $10,000 to $12,000, Partly Insured


The first fire in the thirteen years' existence of the town from what is now considered as incendiary orgin, destroyed Mrs. Hammon's large general store Sunday morning, and she, together with her little daughter, Olive, perished in the flames.

Efforts to Save Prove Futile

The Alarm

As related by Miss Amanda Johnston, a clerk who was employed by and boarded with Mrs. Hammon, awoke about 5 o'clock and found her bed clothing afire. She made an attempt to exitinguish the blaze but realizing the impossibility of it she called to Mrs. hammon who came immediately to her assistance. Both fought with all human energy until, in making a final effort as if to fully smother the flames, Amanda overturned a vessel the contents of which she says caused the blaze to seemingly envelope the room. With hands burned almost to a crisp and her face almost blistered the girl fled from the room by way of the west door and gave alarm, while Mrs. Hammon called to Johnnie and his father in the building to the north, telling them to save themselves, that the store was burning inside. It is said this was the last time she was seen or heard.

Reported all Safe

It seems that she had been out carrying water just previous to this, but there are so many conflicting statements it is difficult to make the proper connections as to the real state of affairs a that time, and it has been impossible to arrive at a definite conclusion as to how it happened that she failed to take the child out the first thing and suffered both to perish in a veritable furnace.
So convincing were the reports that all were out of the burning building no attempt was made by the fire fighters to investigate to see whether anyone might be left in some of the rooms, and all attention was turned toward saving buildings near by. And let it be said to the credit of the town's abundant water supply (which of course had to be pumped and carried) and to the unrelenting efforts of men and boys --- and women, too we would have you to know ---- that the entire west side of Main street was saved. However, had it not been for the rain that fell Friday and Saturday nights, and for the fact that there was very little wind, all the water in the town would not have saved the business part of it.

The Ruins Reveal Their Dead.

After no trace of Mrs. Hammon be obtained, and as soon as the smoldering embers could be cooled sufficiently to permit it, a search was instituted, and soon the charred remains of the child and mother were found in what had been the northwest bed room. It might appear, and does look reasonable that the woman in her excitement did not realize the imminent danger the child was in and did not consider it necessary to take her up, thinking she had time to give the alarm and then return for her. It seems evident that she made an attempt to get the child and in so doing it is presumed that she became suffocated by the dense smoke and fell unconscious a the foot of the bed upon which the child was sleeping and perhaps also unconscious at that time.
When found, Little Olive was lying almost cross-wise of the bed, partially on her side in such a manner tht one side of her head and hair were practically unburned and recognizable.
The remains were immediately removed from the debris and taken to the Davis building and there prepared for burial which made Sunday evening, Rev. Voss of the Presbyterian church conducting the services at the cemetery.

Idle Rumors Cause For Inquest

Owing to many unfounded statements and various rumors an inquest became imperative. County Attorney Cary was sent for and upon his arrival and investigation ordered the inquest. Practically nothing, in fact the evidence taken failed to attach the blame to anyone, and nothing was really determined by the inquest.

Origin of Fire Only Supposition

As in almost every case of fire, everybody has an idea, if they do not know absolutely, how the fire started, but this one will remain one of the mysterious unsolvable in this day and age, so far as can be seen now. There seems to be no plausible answer to the question, "What started it?"
According to the testimony of the only one who could probably know, the fire when discovered was burning the bed clothing and had started in the wardrobe but how or by whom cannot be proven. If this be not the case the facts never will be known, and in the absence of further proof, it generally accepted as being a plan by someone who understood the situation, as there was not nor had there been a match, light or fire of any kind in that room that night. And the more the affair is drawn upon the more the mystery deepens until it becomes as unfathomable as the fates that govern the destiny of all things material.

A Small Fire But Immense Loss

Excepting the loss of life, in a general way Seiling lost but little in the fire, as it was small and everything seemed to assist in confining it to a very small area, but commercially it was the big store of the town and will be greatly missed, which with its destruction and loss of two lives the first fire has cost the town and amount beyond computation.

Mrs Neva H. Hammon was born in Michigan, September 7, 1873. In early childhood moved to Stafford county, Kansas with her parents , Mr. and Mrs. O. L. Blount. From Kansas they removed to Oklahoma in 1893.
She was married to J. A. Hammon, September 21, 1895 to which union was born two children, J. O, and Olive J. She was converted and joined the Friends church when 19 years of age. Died September 15, 1912, leaving a husband, mother and father, six sisters and three brothers and son.

Olive Hammon was born 1909, died September 15, 1912.

Surviving Son

John Hammon was born 21 June 1896 in Oklahoma, and died February 1974 in Tulsa, Tulsa County, Oklahoma. He married MYRTLE BURCHETT, daughter of ALFRED BURCHETT and ELNORA STEWART. She was born 22 May 1891 in Missouri, and died 5 May 1969. Children: JOHN HAMMON, JR., b. 23 February 1916, Oklahoma; d. December 1983, Tulsa, Tulsa County, Oklahoma.

Contributed by Dorris McKinney - - related to the Burchetts, Hammons, McKinneys