Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The house that burnt - the Domelle house in East Liverpool Ohio

So this is my grandparents' house burning down - on the front page of the local newspaper, the East Liverpool Review.  It happened the morning of Thursday, December 17, 1953, during a particularly cold morning.  It's amazing that these photos exist!!

I have never had to experience loss like this, I can't imagine.  They lost everything, but they all made it out safely.  As a genealogist, I try not to think of all the family photos and letters lost.  My grandfather told me he had sheets of music that his father had written.  My mom, who was just a little thing, remembers with fondness a little iron stove she had that looked just like one of those old fashioned stoves you see in farmhouses.  All gone just like that!  It was bitterly cold, and the pipes in the pump house had frozen.  My Grandpa said he was trying to unfreeze the pipes, using a blowtorch.  But something caught fire.

My grandparents had built the house themselves, bit by bit, and not unexpectedly, they rebuilt the whole thing right in the same spot!  I find it amazing - my grandfather was born and raised on a farm in Indiana, my grandmother was one of 10 children of an itinerant farm laborer in upstate New York.  Where exactly along the way did they learn how to build their own house with electricity and plumbing and all that!  But that didn't stop them, they just did it!  And when they lost it, they just did it again.  What tenacity!  I raise my glass to both of you, William and Ann (Mix) Domelle!

They sold the house in 1957, that's when these photos are from, I don't have any photos of the 1st house that burnt, they clearly went up in the flames.  So this is the rebuilt house the summer before they sold it.

And my grandparents in front of the house (1957:

And my Uncle Steve in front of the house (1957):

Annnnd, my Mom, my Aunt Becky, a neighbor girl and a neighbor boy on the porch of the house (1957):

Then, 17 years later in 1974, the family traveled from where they now lived in Pennsylvania to Ohio for the marriage of my Uncle Steve and Aunt Linda - and while on the trip, my parents and grandparents (and I) stopped off to take a look at the house.  It was a very good shape!

The first photo below is me, my Grandma, my Mom, my Mom's dog Poochie indicating her feelings on the matter, and my Grandpa.  My Dad took the photos.

And finally, our last trip out to Ohio in 2003 to see the house, again it was my parents, grandparents and me.  The house was still there, and the lady that lived there graciously let us roam the grounds and take photos.  Remnants of the swing my mom, my Uncle Steve and my Aunt Becky used were still embedded in the tree!!  :-)

This is me and my Mom pretending to hold the swings she played on :-)

Doesn't look like the pole that held the swings is going anywhere as long as the tree is standing!

Below is a transcript of the newspaper article for those that want to read it:

Family of Five Homeless after Cannons Mill Blaze

House Razed As Oil Supply Feeds Fire

Parents, 3 Children Flee As Dwelling Is Consumed Swiftly

A family of five was left homeless today when fire destroyed their brick and frame home on the Youngstown Rd. in the Cannons Mill district about 4 1/2 miles from East Liverpool.

Mr. and Mrs. William A. Domelle and their three small children fled from the flames, which apparently started in the pumphouse and spread rapidly through the structure.

The flames were fed by a tank of oil in the basement, firemen said.

City firemen, who received the alarm at 7:25 a.m., said the fire started in an undetermined manner while Domelle was thawing a water line in the pumphouse.

Mrs. Domelle reported the pumphouse fire and then called back in less than 10 minutes to tell the department the flames had spread to the home.

Firemen used a booster line from the pumper to battle the flames but they had spread beyond control.  The Glenmoor volunteer department was called by Chief Charles Bryan to secure more water, but it was a futile attempt.

The family lost all the contents of the home and their clothing.  Mrs. Domelle was attired only in a short-sleeved house dress while the children - Stephen, 6, Deborah, 5, and Becky, 2 - still were in their pajamas.

A pet dog apparently was lost in the blaze, but the family cat managed to escape.

Neighbors said the family moved into the new home about a year ago and still was working to complete it.

The family had lived in a trailer, they said, while Mr. and Mrs. Domelle worked at night to complete the house.  A light was rigged so they could lay bricks at night, the neighbors added.

Neighbors said they understand there is a slight amount of insurance on the home, but none on the contents.

Two neighbors pitched in to help the stricken family.  Mrs. Howard Bomberger clothed and fed the children this morning while Mrs. Robert Boyd provided Mrs. Domelle with a winter coat.

The family is now staying with the Charles Foster family in Gaston Pl.

While one truck from Central Station was on the Domelle fire, East End firemen were called to the trailer home of Joseph Johnston, located at the rear of the fire station, when flaming oil from a heater spilled on the floor..  Slight damage was caused, they added.

The department was called to the home of John Moninger, 710 McKinnon Ave., at 12:13 a. m. today when a motor became overheated.