The Beaufort Fire of January 19, 1907 was the most disastrous fire to date. When the embers cooled 40 structures were damaged or gone.
The newspaper article transcriptions below are from a web page written by Dennis Adams (Information Services Coordinator, Retired) for the old Beaufort County Library website at various points between 1998 and 2007. The articles were transcribed and republished with permission granted by the editors of the Beaufort Gazette on 13 January 13, 1998. Text appearing in bold teal was supplied by me. I also have chosen to supply punctuation to make the articles easier to read. – Grace Cordial
The daily Beaufort Gazette dedicated most of its January 24, 1907 issue – the first issue published after the disaster since it was only a weekly newspaper at the time — to coverage about the Beaufort fire. Due to the extent of that coverage today’s post will only include the short paragraph about the death of William Bennett from the second column, front page.
A virulent condemnation of the Savannah reporter and photographer Ed. Wilson ended with a not-so-veiled threat and commendations of those who worked so hard to salvage and defeat the fire feature in:
The Shooting of Bennett
The most deplorable incident connected with the fire trouble was the shooting of William Bennett, Saturday night, on the Bay. Who did the shooting and why Bennett was shot are not known to us, but coming at a time that it did, when the nerves of the people were unstrung, the news caused unusual excitement among an easily excited people when it became known. An inquest was held, and the findings was [sic] death at the hands of some one unknown. Bennett was a member of the Allen Brass Band. He had worked at the fire during the day. He was advised that night by a white friend not to go down into the burnt district, but must have unheeded the advice. His funeral was largely attended by his race, and the societies of which he was a member, Monday. All our people regret the tragedy.
Historical Note: The inquest record no longer survives. This text is all that appears in our obituary index.