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May 6, 1908

FIRE DAMAGES
ELECTRIC PARK.

BELIEVED TO HAVE BEEN IN-
CENDIARY -- LOSS $20,000.

MUSIC PAVILION IS BURNED.

OPENING OF PARK WILL
NOT BE DELAYED.

Indications Point to a Deliberate At-
tempt to Burn the Buildings.
Oil Used to Start
the Fire.


Fire, supposed to be of incendiary origin, completely destroyed the music pavilion, one side of the German village and part of the promenade at Electric park, Forty-sixth street and Tracy avenue, last night about 9:30 o'clock. The damage is estimated at $20,000.

Flames were first seen pouring out of the northwest corner of the music pavilion and it is believed the fire was started in that vicinity. Harry Alexander, who lives at Forty-sixth street and Virginia avenue, was one of the first to discover the fire and turned in an alarm. He stated that within twenty minutes after he first discovered the fire the music pavilion was a mass of flames, and in a few minutes more was burned to the ground. The roof fell within fifteen minutes after the fire was discovered.

As soon as the fire was discovered the Electric Park fire department, members of which live near the park, turned out and made an attempt to subdue the fire, but it was beyond their control. Jack Hutson, a watchman at the park and one of the firemen, was overcome by smoke and had to be carried to the office. He recovered in a short time.

OTHER BUILDINGS SAVED.

Firemen from No. 22 hose house were the first to arrive, and by fast work managed to get the flames under control before they spread to the other buildings. They were assisted by several other companies which arrived later The music pavilion was completely demolished. It is next to the German village, and the side wall connecting them was destroyed. Part of the promenade in front of the building was destroyed.

That the fire was of incendiary origin is the belief of the fire department, M. G. Heim, one of the owners of the park, who arrived soon after the fire started, and the watchmen. The park has a private electric plant, and all currents were turned off the buildings so that the fire could not have originated from that source. No workmen have been in the pavilion or adjoining buildings for weeks, and nothing was in the pavilion to have caused the fire.

George Barker, a laborer living at 4501 Tracy avenue, made a statement at the park that he saw two negroes running from the scene of the fire shortly after the flames were discovered, but later stated that two children claimed they saw the negroes. He did not know the children's names.

HEIM SAYS "INCENDIARY."

M. G. Heim stated that he believed the fire must have been of incendiary origin. "There was no current on the electric wires in the music pavilion and nothing that could have caused a fire there," said Mr. Heim. "The saloon is to be established in another building, not far from the music ha, and it may have been the intention to destroy that building, but the attempt was not a success. The damage is about $20,000."

A squad of police was sent to the park after the fire and ordered to watch the buildings until morning to see that no further attempts were made to burn the buildings.

A score of workmen will be put to work early this morning clearing away the debris and preparing the music hall for the opening which will take place May 17. Mr. Heim stated that the fire will not postpone the opening of the park. A temporary open air shell will be erected for the band and the wall on the side of the German village will be rebuilt.

SAYS OIL WAS USED.

Jacob Baas, night watchman for the south side of the park, is positive in his belief that the fire was not only incendiary, but that a good quantity of oil was used in starting it. At 8:45 o'clock he made his rounds with a lantern, and there was perfect stillness and darkness all over the grounds. Being chilly, Baas went into his shack on the south and to the rear of the "boat tours" concession. He barely had time to light a fire and remove his shoes when a sheet of flame across the grounds above the music pavilion caught his attention.

When he rushed out there was far more smoke than flame -- great clouds of blackness that seemed to suggest that much of the interior was burning before the flames showed on the outside. Baas's immediate decision then was that "a plenty of oil must have been used to get that kind of a quick start."

His belief is that the start was below the German village back of the band stand, though when he got close the fire was spread so generally that there was nothing about the fire itself to suggest where it started.

Manager Rohrer of the People's Amusement Company, who lives at 4507 Tracy avenue, came upon the grounds soon after this, and with Jack Hutson, head night watchman, whose station is in the office near the gate, did what could be done to manipulate the company's fireplugs and hose. Hutson was practically overcome by getting into the thick of the smoke.

H. Smith and B. C. Smith, brothers, who work at the park days and board at 4619 Tracy avenue, saw Edward Solberg, park electrician, shut off all electricity early in the evening as he was leaving the park, and there is no possibility that the fire could have started from the electric wiring.

CHILDREN IN PERIL.

Sam Benjamin, the park manager, who lives in the clubhouse on the grounds was with his wife at the Majestic theater when told of the fire. An old negro servant had been left alone with the two small children of the family. All were in bed and the woman being hard of hearing, it was some time before she and her charges were aroused. Early in the fire the roof of the clubhouse caught, but a sudden downpour of rain quenched the blaze before it had a good start. Had it been a dry evening the clubhouse, starting to burn at this time, would probably have been in ashes before the intervening structures, and have rendered the rescue of the nurse and children difficult.

THEY CLIMBED THE FENCE.

After midnight last night M. G. Heim and the park manager, Sam Benjamin, discovered what they believed to be proof that incendiaries caused the fire. Two men had climbed the eight-foot board fence in the rear of the pavilion, using a large overhanging elm tree to aid in scaling the wall. Barbed wires along the boards had been cut and the footprints of the two men were plain, leading from the foot of the tree to the northwest corner of the pavilion, where Baas, the watchman, thought the fire must have started. The footprints were measured and watchmen left to guard them until morning, when the police will have opportunity to make minute observations of the prints.

Electric park, at its present location, was opened only a year ago this month. It comprises twenty-eight and one-half acres in extent, and represents an investment, M. G. Heim said last night, of $500,000.

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March 18, 1908

HE PLEADS GUILTY TO ARSON.

Action of Freeman Bennett Frees
Aged Wife From Charge.

In the Wyandotte county district court yesterday afternoon, Freeman Bennett, who lives at Fourteenth street and Argentine boulevard, Armourdale, pleaded guilty to burning his cottage at that place last spring in order to get $1,000 insurance. Bennett had, at his preliminary hearing before Judge Newhall in the south city court, entered a plea of not guilty and was firm in maintaining this stand until his wife, 60 years old, burst into tears while under cross-examination in court yesterday afternoon.

"I can't stand this," he exclaimed. "My wife there, is getting to be a nervous wreck and is too old to stand all this harangue. For her sake, this can't go on. If I plead guilty will you excuse her from the charge?"

County Attorney Taggart recommended to Judge McCabe Moore that under this condition the name of the wife be stricken from the complaint, and it was granted.

"Guilty," was all Bennett said as he sat down. He was taken to the county jail in default of bond. He will not be sentenced until other cases are cleared from the docket.

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December 29, 1907

CLAIMS DEPUTIES BEAT HIM.

Jack C. Taylor Sues Marshal Heslip
on His Bond.

Charging that County Marshal Al Heslip, by his deputies, took him from his cell in the county jail by force and assaulted him in another room in the jail, Jack C. Taylor, who for more than a year was confined in the jail on a charge of arson and wsa released without trial a few days ago, brought suit in the circuit court yesterday against Al Heslip, W. H. Dixon and H. Matthias, who are on Heslip's bond, for $10,000 damages. This is the amount of the bond.

Taylor was arrested in July, 1906, charged with setting fire to a restaurant which he owned and operated on Twelfth street, for the purpose of collecting the insurance. A waiter named Smith was tried in the criminal court and was found not guilty. Taylor was then discharged. Taylor appealed to the circuit court some time ago for release because he claimed he had not been allowed trial at the proper time in the criminal court, but he failed to secure the release.

According to the petition filed in his suit yesterday against Heslip and his bondsmen. Helsip, by his deputies, made the alleged assault in October, 1906, although nothing was ever said about the assault at that time.

Marshal Heslip said last night: "As far as our beating Taylor is concerned, there is no truth in it. When prisoners adopt the plan of being mute in the jail we take them out of their cell and put them in the dungeon. We did this with Taylor, but he was not assaulted. My deputies do not assault prisoners, and that part of the story is not true in any particular."

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June 28, 1907

FIRE UNDER FIREWORKS.

Boys Attempt to Burn Carload
Among Which Men Worked.

A carload of fireworks in the Southwestern News Company's warehouse at Third and Washington streets had a fire built under it yesterday noon by mischievous boys. The corrugated iron structure is built two feet above the ground and the boys splashed a quart of coal oil around on the under side of the floor and touched a match.

Their scampering away caused a teamster to investigate, and the fire was found. It was rapidly eating through the wooden floor before it could be extinguished. Once through the floor, the entire car of explosives would have gone in a flash. Four men were at work among the stuff, filling orders.

The house is on an isolated hill and was built for storing fireworks.

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June 26, 1907

A REPRIMAND FOR LAWYERS.

Change of Venue Taken Merely for
Delay, Judge Wallace Says.

Judge W. H. Wallace delivered a lecture to the attorneys for George Smith and J. C. Taylor, charged with arson in the first degree, because they asked for a change of venue to Judge Porterfield's division of the court.

"I'll grant these applications," the court said, "but I say now to all of the attorneys in the court room if a change of venue is taken from this court to the other division, the party need never afterwards come before me asking for a parole. This change of venue is a bad practice and is meant solely for delay. We labored to get the legislature to allow us two divisions of the court to expedite the trial of criminal cases, and then some of the attorneys try to nullify our efforts by spending time in going from one court to the other.

"I am charged by both defendants with being partial. This charge is false. I could not have been prejudiced against Taylor, because I have not tried him yet. I gave Smith a fair trial and the jury disagreed."

Smith and Taylor are charged with burning a restaurant at 113 West Twelfth street for the insurance.

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