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There are some old maps of Dallas on this page:
New York Herald (New York, NY), 18 July 1860

Destructive Fire at Dallas, Texas

New Orleans, July 17, 1860

Thirty-three buildings, comprising the best portion of the town of Dallas, Texas, were burned on the 7th. Loss from $200,000 to $500,000; barely covered by insurance.
1860-07-24; Houston Telegraph; $10,000 only was insured. It seems that the big losses were uninsured--WW. Peal $18k, A.Shirek 17K, Crutchfield House12k, Smith Murphy Co 20k, Stackpole 20k, Cockerel House 25k, A.Simon 15k, Hersh 17k. The list of losses were from a letter from Stackpole to the Civilian (a newspaper?).
Boston Daily Advertiser (Boston, MA), 26 July 1860

News from Texas

St. Louis, July 25 - An extra from the Bonham (Texas) Era of the 17th contains a letter from the editor of the Dallas Herald, stating that the fire in that place on the 8th led to the discovery of a plan to devastate the whole northern section of Texas. Two preachers named Blunt and McKinney, who were expelled last year, are said to be the instigators of the plot. The plan was to lay the whole country waste by fire, destroying all the arms, ammunition, etc., in order to get the country in a state of helplessness, and then on election day in August to raise a general insurrection, aided by emissaries from the North and parties friendly in Texas. The operations were to be directed and sub-directed, each division being under a white man, who was to control the negroes. Several white men and negroes have been arrested. The same day that the fire in Dallas occurred, the Mercantile House in Black Jack Grove was destroyed; loss $3,000. Also business houses have been burned in Denton; loss $1,000. A large house at Pilot Point, loss $10,000; storehouse at Ladonia, loss $25,000; eight stores at Belknap, loss not given. The town of Milford was totally destroyed, and there were several other small fires. Great excitement existed throughout the country and prompt and effective measures were being taken for the preservation of life and property.
The Daily Register (Raleigh, NC), 28 July 1860

General Intelligence

Dallas, Texas - Destroyed by Fire - The Houston Republic of the 14th inst., gives the particulars of a fire at Dallas, Texas, which destroyed nearly the whole town on the 8th inst. The whole number of buildings destroyed was thirty-three, comprising the most substantial edifices in the place, and including every storehouse in the town. The loss of property is estimated at from three to five hundred thousand dollars.
Stackpole's list totals 179,000, 1860-07-24; from Houston Telegraph
Dallas Morning News (Dallas, Texas), 8 July 1887

Interesting Anniversary

The Alleged Conspiracy of Abolitionists and Slaves to Burn Dallas

To-day is the anniversary of an alleged conspiracy which, twenty-seven years ago, created such intense excitement in Dallas. Those were troublesome times. The political horizon was becoming rapidly overcast with the dark clouds out of which death was soon to emerge and flap his black wings over the South.

Every "Northerner" who came South without any viable occupation was considered a cloud in himself, trying to raise the dust and Cain among the slaves. Such emissaries were in Texas quite common and the observed by all observers. They traveled mounted, and it was not uncommon to find tete-a-tete in their saddle-bags those opposite modes of persuasion, the Bible and the six-shooter.

A rumor acquired currency to the effect that those Abolition visitors were in the habit of holding communion at night with the slaves for the purpose of inflaming their minds against slavery, and a ridiculous rumor got out that these strange men had been seen drilling the slaves in the woods.

Excitement and apprehension, however, found a more solid basis to rest their feet on the discovery of circulars distributed through the State calling on the friends of human freedom to burn mills, stores and whatever else could be made to contribute commissary supplies to an army.

There were horrible forebodings among the people, and organization for the suppression of sedition was restored to. Gov. Crockett was then Mayor of Dallas, which in those days consisted of twenty houses, situated on what is now the courthouse square. He was the first to take cautionary steps, and was later on invited by the people of Washington County to visit them and explain the modus operandi observed in Dallas County, which he did.

In time it was developed, with all the strength of exciting rumor, that the Abolitionists contemplated incendiaries on Sunday, July 8, the year being 1860. The Abolition emissaries suspected of planting the seeds of insurrection in the hearts of the slaves in and around Dallas were a preacher named McKinney and a side-partner of his named Blunt.

These men, it was averred, had the confidence of the slaves and were ready to exercise without restraint any plot against slavery. The morning of the eventful day dawned in summer glory upon Dallas and ushered in a regulation summer sun, the rays of which streamed down on Dallas like the blasts from a furnace. Business was suspended and the white people collected in groups interchanging views and good or evil signs.

Among the latter it was related that two "Northerners" had visited the city several times within a few days; that these men had gone that morning to Judge Hord's house and had breakfasted there, and that doubtless they had the firing of the city in contemplation.

While the populace was indulging in such views a cry of fire was raised and the next moment flame and smoke proceeded from a new two-story frame house belonging to Capt. Peak, the upper rooms of which were occupied by boarders. In the excitement that ensued well directed means of bringing the fire under control were impossible and the house burned down. The slaves who had assembled on observing the rage of the whites became stupid with fear, and so intensided the suspicion which now pointed with dreadful directness at the Abolitionists.

To add to the trouble, this house had been suspected of being the initial point for incendiary operations and the mayor a few days previously, seeing that the chips and shavings which surrounded it might be used to advantage in applying the torch, had them raked up into a ridge a few feet from the house. The fire started on this ridge. The burning of the house was inquested by a vigilance committee composed of all the white citizens of Dallas County.

Three slaves were hung, a hundred whipped, and a slave who died afterward divulged the plot, the outlines of which were contained in the circular already referred to. In an attempt to arrest McKinney he resisted and fired on his pursuers. But he was too valuable game to be lost. Half a dozen companies resumed pursuit, and he was caught and jailed.

Blunt gave himself up to the mayor and pleaded for protection. The next night both men were taken from the jail, whipped, and then turned loose, with the magnet of their voyage pointing toward the friendly north star.
White Metropolis: Race, Ethnicity, and Religion in Dallas, 1841-2001 - by Michael Phillips

The fire began that hot Sunday between 1:00 and 2:00 P.M. in a rubbish heap outside the W. W. Peak and Brothers drugstore. Temperatures reached 105 degrees that afternoon, and a high southwest wind fed the blaze, which in just five minutes engulfed the store. The flames, fueled partly by chemicals stored at the drugstore, spread fast as "the fire caught most of us in our siesta," Charles Pryor wrote in a letter to the Houston Telegraph. "We barely escaped with our lives—some like myself, without clothes, boots, shoes, or anything else." The fire reduced dry goods stores, groceries, law offices, inns, the three-story St. Nicholas Hotel, and the offices of the Dallas Herald to ashes. Officials calculated the loss at $400,000, with a mere $10,000 of that insured. Some of the richest and most powerful people in Dallas, among them General John Good, attorney Warren Stone, publisher John Swindells, and Alexander Cockrell's widow, Sarah, lost their fortunes in the fire. Volunteer firefighters diverted the inferno from the courthouse, although "the heat was so great that the curtains on the inside of the windows caught fire through the glass." When the fire burned itself out, Dallas smoldered, a smoking ruin.

On the day after the downtown fire, a home burned down a mile and a half from town, inspiring gossip about a conspiracy. Men "with inflamed minds, swearing vengeance," gathered at the courthouse, insisting that Dallas had been targeted by arsonists. District Judge Nat M. Burford left court proceedings in Waxahachie to preside over an inquisition held on the fire. A fifty-two-man Committee of Vigilance formed, and their suspicion quickly settled on slaves and their reputed abolitionist accomplices. If the committee kept any records, including the suspects' alleged confessions, these documents have apparently disappeared. The chief source of information on the investigation is a series of letters Charles Pryor wrote to newspapers across Texas, including the politically allied State Gazette in Austin.

Pryor's letters instigated a statewide panic about a slave revolt inspired by abolitionist outsiders. These letters told the same story: black rebels plotted to set fires across the state, murder white leaders, and poison wells. At a time when prolonged drought made water a much-protected commodity, the rumor that slaves planned to poison water supplies must have inspired particular terror. The slave rebels, Pryor told readers, intended to commit horrors on "certain ladies . . . selected as the victims of these misguided monsters." On July 28 the Austin State Gazette carried Pryor's letter proclaiming the Dallas fire as the opening gambit in a statewide revolution. Abolition preachers "expelled from the country last year" had hatched a scheme to "devastate with fire and assassination" the "whole of Northern Texas." Slave rebels hoped to destroy military targets such as stores of gunpowder, lead, and grain to "[reduce] this . . . country to a state of utter helplessness." The revolution in each county was "under the supervision of a white man, who controls the action of the negroes in that district . . . Many of our most prominent citizens were to be assassinated . . . Arms have been discovered in the possession of the negroes, and the whole plot revealed, for a general insurrection and civil war at the August election."

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NOTE: There is more narrative on this topic in the book ...
1860-07-24; Houston Telegraph said Stone lost $500, Good $1200, Cockrell $15,000. No info on publisher Swindell but Dallas Herald office $5000.



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