Surviving buildings on the west side of Main Street are shown in this real photo postcard. All of these buildings are still standing in Alba. (Contributed by Charlyn Hubbard)

Old News

From the 3rd floor
of the Webb City Public Library

Uncontrollable 1907 fire destroyed 24 wood structures on Alba's Main Street

On August 10, 1907, a devastating fire struck the town of Alba destroying most of the business section. Eighteen buildings on the east side of Main Street and two on the west side were lost.

Later reports list the loss of buildings at 24.

The origin of the fire was a mystery but it was thought to have started in a two-story building occupied by the Brown & Barnett meat market.

The flames were discovered on a Saturday morning, shortly after 4:30 a.m. The town had very limited means to fight the fire, and it burned until noon the same day. Alba did not have a water-works system, and the bucket brigade could not keep the fire under control.

Some of the losses were the Hines Hotel, Keltner & Reed’s restaurant and pool hall, Hoover & Duncan’s barbershop, Hannaford’s restaurant, Swoveland’s barbershop, Smith & Robert’s furniture store, the Mineral Belt lumberyard, Rose Mercantile, Berrian’s Grocery and The Owl Bar.

The post office and jail were also destroyed. Editor Barnett of the Alba Review issued a special edition of the newspaper the same day, printing copies from equipment that had been set up in the street.

Plans were immediately made to rebuild most of the buildings, with most to be constructed from brick instead of wood.

The four brick buildings in Alba at the time of the fire were the newly constructed Bank of Alba, the Leader Mercantile Co., the Alba Drug Company and the Turner Saloon.

These buildings survived the fire with some damage to the structures and merchandise inside.

This postcard of the newly built Alba Bank building was postmarked April 9, 1907 – four months before a fire destroyed 24 buildings on Alba’s Main Street.

Sentinel bound volumes are now in the Genealogy Room

The WCAGS has accepted ownership of the complete collection of bound volumes of the Webb City Sentinel, from 1983 (after the fire) until the final issue on Dec. 30, 2020.

Those issues can also be viewed on microfilm, along with much older issues.

Webb City Area Genealogical Society

WCAGS members staff the Genealogy Room on the third floor of the Webb City Public Library. Current hours are noon to 4 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. Meetings are held at 6 p.m. on the first Tuesday of each month in the Genealogy Room.

Everything you want to know about Jasper County Missouri Schools is available at a site compiled by Webb City Area Genealogical Society member Kathy Sidenstricker.