Press "Enter" to skip to content

Everyday citizens became heroes in an emergency

One hundred years ago, the central portion of Mathews Court House lay in ruins after a fire swept almost unchecked through the village. These photos show the extent of the damage. A boy in a well and ladies applying wet blankets to buildings were the main tools of firefighting. In top left photo, Sibley’s General Store, now the Mathews Visitor and Information Center, center left, and the Bank of Mathews, now Mathews Memorial Library, center right, survived the blaze.

As a spreading fire devoured much of downtown Mathews a century ago, hometown heroes worked to contain it … a boy in a well, ladies wetting blankets.

With no fire department to call, the efforts of everyday citizens young and old finally contained the blaze.The village fire was one of many in 1921 that destroyed landmarks and businesses in both Gloucester and Mathews counties; these were featured in the Gazette-Journal in a July 22 article. With no organized firefighting service in either county, structures could ra...

To view the rest of this article, you must log in. If you do not have an account with us, please subscribe here.