by Sarah Cedeño, village historian
The Benedict Block suffered two fires within three years’ time. The second of these fires happened in early 1917, when owners returned from business to find their stores engulfed in smoke. This particular fire was one of a spate of fires that had occurred on Main Street in the past three weeks, and though there was an investigation, officials declared “spontaneous combustion” as the cause.
The flames were never visible from outside the building since the fire originated in the basement of the building. Both store owners lost their inventory.
Though the outbreak of the Spanish Flu would become a pandemic, killing more Americans than WWI, the tone of this 1917 article in The Brockport Republic offers a candid account of the symptoms of influenza with a pretty ambiguous message about either the nature of the disease or the nature of the afflicted at the end: “Don’t care for anyone on earth, not one whit. No one cares anything about you–Glad of it.”
When Fred Richards, overseer of the poor, tried to cross a wintry Main Street in Brockport to get hold of Duke Bennett’s horse, he was almost trampled, but managed to capture the horse anyway–and to much appreciation. But the editor suggests quiet recognition, to spare Fred Richards’ embarrassment.