Trail of Flames
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Recollections

The Great Fire of 1922
by Emma Poole Sawyer*

The New Bern fire 1922 the first of December
The People of New Bern will long remember
When everything was quiet and still
And a fire broke out at Roper Mill

The fireman responded but ere they were through
An alarm was sent from box thirty two.
They came and soon extinguished the blaze
Before much of the building could be razed

They returned to the mill and just before eleven
An alarm was sent from box forty-seven.
A fire was discovered on Kilmonark Street
A narrow one about thirty-feet.

The firemen came and done their best
But a gale was blowing from south west
And as the wind blew and the were sweeping,
Women and children were soon heard weeping.

They moved their belongings out of their houses,
But they went up in smoke like linen trousers.
They used their best efforts to check the blaze,
But all before it the buildings were razed.

While the firemen were turning and during their sally
The fire was threatening Tincup Alley.
The flames moved down Elm Street,
like a cow grazing when grass is sweet.

It went up West Street and across of Cedar
And Smithtown burned like an enormous heater.
It crossed over George and wiped up Pasteur
The sight would have touched John Jacob Astor.

At George and Cypress amid great slashes,
It left Rue Chapel reduced to askes.
It started down Howard but turned to the left
And only on house was back of it left.

The firemen from Kinston and Washington were turning
But up Queen Street the fire was still burning
All east of Burn Street in the Frog Pond Section
Everything was burning in that direction.

We were hoping the fire would escape St. Peter
For they had recently installed a nice steam heater
Also it was the church of God
Where many a saint had formerly trod.

It was the colored people’s pride and the white ones’ praise
But it did catch fire and the structure was razed
Some erroneous things were said of St. Peter
When they viewed the nice modern heater

The flames rolled on and we scarcely expect
But at Metcalf Street the fire was checked
All praise to the fireman both home and abroad
Who came to our rescue as sent by God.

Contributions to help in this special project can be sent to Uptown Business & Professional Association (UB&PA), PO Box 14182, New Bern, NC 28561.

Please contact the UB&PA at 252-288-5716 to arrange a Tour of the Trail of Flames!

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