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May 5, 2022 / Joanne Yeck

Fire at Well Water

F.N. Maxey, founder of Well Water.

Occasionally, a clipping crops up in my files that is unsourced. The brief article below, “Fire and Narrow Escape at Wellwater, Buckingham, Va.,” was probably originally published in Richmond’s Dispatch, contributed by a Buckingham County correspondent. The date is currently unknown. It reads as follows:


Fire and Narrow Escape at Wellwater, Buckingham, Va.


On the night of 27th March at 11 o’clock a large double-kitchen was totally destroyed by fire. Said kitchen was seventeen yards in rear of residence of F. N. Maxey, connecting with the storehouse of T. H. Ford & Co., over which is the spacious Masonic hall known as Taylor Lodge, No. 212, also that of Wellwater Grange, No. 74. There being a very strong wind at the time, driving the flames in one solid volume almost on rear of said dwelling, at one time it seemed a total destruction of all was inevitable, and was only saved by the great presence of mind of Mr. T. H. Ford, who happened to be awake at the time and gave the alarm. The family being asleep at the time, did not have time to dress, and worked manfully in their night-clothes. A Smith’s patent elevator being attached to the well, gave plenty of water to keep the house well saturated. The fire was so rapid, and the work done so quietly and systematically, that a number of persons in the place were not even awakened from their slumbers, and knew nothing of the fire until the next morning. Cause unknown.


Taylor Lodge, eventually located in Centenary, Buckingham County, was chartered as “Taylor Lodge No. 117.” The article’s identification of it as No. 212, is likely a typo. According to a brief history of the Lodge, “The first communication of Taylor Lodge was held on May 14, 1874.” My ancestors, John T. L. Woodson and Charles S. Saunders were present. The history goes on to note that at a September, 1894 meeting, a committee was appointed to find a suitable location for the building of a new Lodge Hall. The suggested locations were Well Water, Sharon Church, and Centenary. Did the fire take place in 1894?

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To learn more about Freemasons in Buckingham County, click on the following posts at Slate River Ramblings:

Buckingham County: Freemasons

Buckingham County: Taylor Lodge #117

Buckingham Notables: F. N. Maxey, Freemason

Freemasons: Andersonville to Buckingham Court House

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To learn more about the life of F. N. Maxey and the unusual details of his death, please consult:
“F. N. Maxey and His Community at Well Water,” in “At a Place Called Buckingham,” now available at Amazon.

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