York Whip Factory Burns
Site of Wellensiek whip factory
York County had several whip factories in the 19th century, the days of horse-drawn wagons and buggies, including a large factory in Wellsville. German immigrant John Wellensiek opened a sizable factory for whip manufacturing on West Princess Street in York in the 1870s. In 1895 it went up in flames, perhaps the victim of an arsonist. The April 29, 1895 York Dispatch reports:
A SATURDAY NIGHT FIREThe Wellensiek Whip Factory Badly Damaged by Fire
On Saturday evening between the striking of the hour of 8, by the Christ church clock and the Court House clock, an alarm of fire was sounded from Box 17, corner of Penn and Princess Streets, and the department responded with its usual promptness. The fire was found to be in the Wellensiek whip factory on West Princess street between Newberry and Penn, and when discovered was making rapid progress through the building. Some members of the Third U.B. Church, whose church adjoins the ship factory, discovered the fire and immediately gave the alarm. When the firemen arrived the interior of the building as a mass of flame and the fire was leaping out the windows of the east side of the building. The firemen, however, in the quick time of four minutes from the sounding of the alarm had water on the building and the flames were quickly extinguished. The fire started in the stock room and the whole interior, including stock on hand is badly damaged. For a short time the fire burned fiercely and made quite a light and that more damage was not done can be attributed along to the promptness and good work of our fire department. The following is Chief Crimins’ report:
York, Pa. April 27, 1895.
To His Honor, G. W. S. Loucks, Mayor.
DEAR SIR:–An alarm of fire was turned in this evening at 8:05 o’clock from box 17, located at the corner of Penn and Princess Streets, caused by fire being discovered in the one and one-half story brick building, No. 342 West Princess Street, known as the Wellensiek whip factory. The factory has been closed since last February, and as Mr. Wellensiek had said there had been no fire used in the building since that time, the origin of the fire is a mystery. It is supposed to be the work of an incendiary. The fire started in the whip room on the first floor and burned through to the roof. The building and contents are owned by Mr. Jacob Baer. The lost is not estimated. It is fully covered, however, by an insurance of $1,000. The alarm was turned in with key No. 31, charged to Smid’s bakery, and was released by Assistant Strickler. The entire department responded and did good service.
JAMES E. CRIMINS,
Chief Engineer York Fire Dep’t.
The factory must have been razed sometime in the next few years. The 1903 Roe Atlas of the City of York shows homes on the lots adjacent to Third U.B. Church (shown on the map as Allison Memorial U.B.). The four minute response sounds exceptional to me, especially when you realize that the engines’ horse power was provided by real horses.
Click the links below for more York County fires.
York condensed milk plant fire.
York County jail fire worries prisoners.
Woman, cow and horses saved.
Red Lion cigar factory goes up in smoke.