The Daily Picayune, (New Orleans, LA) Wednesday, June 06, 1888 Rayville La, A fire which destroyed considerable property and how the hotel was saved.
June 3, Special–This morning about sunrise the usually quiet little town of Rayville became the scene of considerable excitement, occasioned by a fire, which originated in the craproom, situated in the rear of the Gem Saloon, now owned and occupied by J W Simms. The fire rapidly consumed this building and the storehouse and stock of goods adjoining , also owned and kept by Mr. Simms.
The flames then proceeded to envelop the old Richland House owned by Mr. John H Abraugh and kept by Mrs. E.M. Carter as a branch of her hotel. These were all frame buildings and the house owned by J H Abraugh and the Gem Saloon two story buildings. When the flames were at their utmost heat it seemed that the destruction of the main hotel buildings, situated about 30 feet from the Richland House could not be prevented. The last mentioned building is the only hotel in Rayville and is owned and occupied by Mrs. E. M Carter; and the many friends of this energetic lady; were unwilling to see her property destroyed and her business destroyed if any means could be employed to prevent such a calamity. Accordingly a timely and well directed effort was made to save this building.
J. W. Willis quickly followed by Mr. B O Edwards by means of the surrounding lattice work, mounted the roof. These gentleman were assisted by a number of earnest workers who produced a ladder and brought water and blankets. The blankets were spread upon the roof and kept saturated with the water, and this well organized effort to save the house was successful. Mrs. E M Carter lost considerable furniture in the building owned by Mr. Abraugh which however was insured in the Home Mutual Insurance Company.
The total loss is estimated about $12,000 or $15,000. All the buildings were insured. There having been no necessity for fire being about the buildings, the fire is supposed to be the work of an incendiary. The Regalia’s of the Knights of Pythias and the American Legion of Honor were in the lodge situated above the Gem Saloon. Mr. B O Edwards made a daring but unsuccessful effort to save them.