The Heritage Corner, Springhill Record

October 17th, 2012

Mar. 28, 1935 Springhill RecordFormer Windham Man’s Tragic Loss

     The recent death of Mrs. Frances Herrett, formally of Windham, recalled to the memory of old friend, her eldest son, Silas, who was born in Windham and as a young man went to the United States where he has since made his home and where he works a 113 acre farm.  He is a brother of Fred and Hicks Herrett of Windham, Edward of River Philip and Mrs. Edith Keiver of town; and many friends who remember him will sympathize with him, on learning of a terrible misfortune which has come to him, word of which has come to relatives here.  On the night of March 16, Fire and Death were visitors at his home in Cahill, Minnesota, resulting in the loss of his home and the death of his daughter, Mrs. Dickinson, 32, her fifteen months old daughter and her aunt, aged 70, all of whom were sleeping on the second floor of the two storey farmhouse.  Adjoining the room of Mr. Herrett on the ground floor, was that of the other three children, a girl of 10, and two small boys of 6 and 3 years.  According to the story in the Minneapolis Journal, the little girl, waking with a cough, called to her mother.  Mrs. Dickinson got up and taking an oil lamp in her hand started to go downstairs to get medicine for her, and fell.  The lamp bounced into a small clothes closet where it exploded, splattering burning oil over clothes and stairway.  In a moment the flames were rushing up and filling the well of the stairway.  Mr. Herrett jumped from his bed and in spite of heroic effort was unable to rescue those in peril.  Seeing that he could do nothing inside the house, the 69 year old father, making sure that the older grandchildren were safely outside, climbed 30 feet up a windmill and unhooked the section of the ladder which he put up to his daughter’s window.  Breaking the glass, the flames burst out in his face, burning him severely.  He then tried the other bedroom window just as the side of the house burst into flames.  All those inside perished.  Before leaving the house the little girl put in a call to the fire department just before the wires burned off.  She then took the little boys, wrapping them in a blanket, being helped by the pet dog, an Airedale “Pretzel” who pulled the bed clothes off the older boy.

     Coming from the scene of his futile efforts, Mr. Herrett noticed that the pump house where the children had taken shelter was beginning to smoke, so he pulled down the lever of the windmill to start the pump and threw water on the building.  Then neighbours came and helped him.  The fire equipment lay bogged in the roadway until pulled out by a tractor.  The blaze had started about 12:30 but they did not arrive until about 5 o’clock only to find the ruins of the farmhouse.  Mr. Herrett was suffering from burns but the older children were unharmed.  Mr. Dickinson, who is employed in a Department Store was in the city owing to bad road conditions.  This is a story of heroic effort seldom equaled, a pitiful and tragic story.  Friends here will honour and sympathize with the brave Nova Scotian and his family in his grief and loss.

Pioneer Business Changes Hands

     The taking over this week of Gilroy’s Market by Walter Scott not only opens a new chapter in local business, but closes and old and interesting one; marking the growth of a well-established business, coincident with the later growth of the town.  For nearly half a century “Gilroy’s” has stood in Springhill for integrity, courtesy and service. The founder, Richard Gilroy, whose death occurred at the close of the year, was a local man, born at Saltsprings, both parents, Thomas and Emily Mills, being members of pioneer families, settled in the district before the founding of Springhill.  At an early age he set up in business for himself, opening a small meat shop on Victoria Street next to the old Niagara Hotel.  Here he proved, from the beginning, his ability and business acumen, so that at the end of three years, he was in the position to enlarge his business.  He took into partnership his cousin, J. Fleming “Flem” Gilroy, and moved to the present site on Main Street, opposite the old Post Office (which as Miss Fuller’s Millinery Store was destroyed by fire this year).  This new business move was made 45 years ago.  An old photograph shows the building at a considerable elevation from the street, the present level indicating the height to which the lower part of the street has been raised.  The Gilroy’s continued in a satisfactory and prosperous partnership for twelve years when Mr. Gilroy retired for a time, the business being carried on by Mr. J.F. Gilroy for two years, when he, in turn, left to go into the lumber business.  Mr. Gilroy returned to the business and held it until the time of his death.  Although obliged by illness to withdraw from active participation for the past six years, during the last three of which he had been bed-fast, he continued until within three weeks to keep in touch with details and to direct in a general way the policies of the business, showing in this the measure of his ability and mental keenness.  He took into the business, in due course, his sons, Councillor Millan Gilroy, who with draw a number of years ago, the late Lloyd Gilroy, and George Gilroy who has been acting manager during the disability of his father.

     Mr. Scott, who now takes over, entered Gilroy’s on leaving school and remained with the firm for fourteen years, learning the business under Mr. Gilroy.  He enjoyed to a marked degree the friendship of the older man.  He returned to a position on the staff about four years ago, and is therefore especially fitted to carry on the tradition and customs of the house.  For himself, he merits the good will and patronage enjoyed by the old firm for so many years.  Our good wishes are extended also to Mr. George Gilroy in his new line of business.