Genuine Souvenirs of the Great Fire

While digging up that stuff about residence requirements yesterday, we did come upon something interesting:

In the immediate aftermath of the great fire, everyone wanted a souvenir. And, since people whose houses had burned down needed SOME way to make a buck, a whole cottage industry of fire relics sprung up.

The big prize was the bell at the old courthouse (the courthouse and jail were was badly damaged in the fire, but still in good enough shape that they were able to keep using them for a while, until the new one was built – they even had a couple of hangings there after the fire). However, the bell was freaking huge – no one could carry it away, or even break off a decent sliver of it.

The bell was initially put on display in as a relic in the courthouse, but a fellow named Thomas Bryan bought it up. He couldn’t do much with it himself, so he sold it to an enterprising firm of jewelers who planned to melt it down and make miniature charms in the shape of the bell, which would be sold by jewelers along with letters of authenticity. They set up an office to sell them on Wabash.

We haven’t finished checking to see if they ever got around to this. Anyone have one of the bells?

TRIVIA: the tail of the cow that was rumored to have started to fire was served up for oxtail soup at a restaraunt shortly after the fire. See our story!

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