Hotel George Damaged by Fire

Occupants Jump From Third Floor, One Man Breaks neck, Others Seriously Hurt in Daring Escape

Little did the citizens of Linden know how quickly their investment in a volunteer fire department and construction of the 1939 Firehouse would play in a significant downtown tragedy.

The Thursday July 27, 1939 Edition of the Cass County Sun, announced in a banner headline, “Hotel George Damaged by Fire, One Dead Others Injured”. The George Hotel, a three story structure was located on the east side of North Main Street.

Courtesy of Sue Lazara

“At 4 o’clock a.m., according to the article, the George Hotel was discovered to be on fire on the third floor. The fire apparently started near or in the linen room at the head of stairway. When the fire was discovered Mr. R. P. Fant rushed to the third floor to awaken guests.

He and all guests on third floor were trapped, cut off from the stair way and fire escapes. Miss Ida Mae Fant, his daughter, who was on the third floor and was among the first to awake and threw a coat over herself and fled to safety.”

According to her daughter, Nancy Max Belford, Ida Mae recalled escaping the fire and leaving behind a treasured ring given to her by her great-aunt. Amazingly the ring was recovered later in the debris, in a damaged condition.

“…Mr. R. P. Fant, Mr. And Mrs. J. L. Trammel, L. F. Lummus, Paul Horn Lovelace, Gerald Stephens Travis Skelton, Floyd Kitchens, Eddie Hogan, and Mr. Charlie Miller were cut off from the fire escape and had to jump from the 3rd floor windows.  Mr. Lummus, a traveling salesman from Paris, was instantly killed. Mr. Fant had 2 ribs broken, ankle broken and badly burned.  Mr. and Mrs. Trammel were carried to Atlanta Hospital by Allday Caver Ambulance.  The others, who leaped to the top of an adjoining one story building, we slightly burned and injured”” as described in the Sun.

Hotel George (circa 1930’s). Photo courtesy of Jo Miller

“The Linden Volunteer Fire Co. was on the scene quickly and did a fine piece of work, they held the fire in check until the Jefferson and Hughes Springs fire departments arrived…..  The supply of water in the city of Linden again proved to be plentiful with 3 sets of equipment running the pump and the tank supplied plenty water.  Linden and Mr. Fant are deeply grateful to each one of our neighboring cities who came to our relief in time of need and to our Local Fireman, all of whom regardless of the danger did such a fine piece of work in controlling and extinguishing the fire without greater loss.  This is Linden’s first fire to do any damage since the fire equipment was purchased.”   

“The entire 3rd. floor of the Hotel was gutted, entire building and all furniture damaged by smoke and water. Estimated loss $10,000 – $14,000 thousand dollars insurance carried, $10,000 on building and $4,000 on furniture.” 

“All recovered from their injuries except Mr. Lummus.”

Mr. Fant, can be hailed for his heroic act of going to the third floor to warn guest and exposing himself to serious injuries.

 2 November 1939 – Cass County Sun – Page 1

“The George Hotel was remodeled and opened for business under the ownership of Mr. R. P. Fant in November 1939.  Mr. Russell Law will have management of the hotel while Mr. W. A. Williams will be in charge of the coffee shop.  We are indeed glad to see the reopening of the splendid hotel and wish the management unbounded success.”

Loss of life and injuries plus further damage to the George Hotel and adjacent structures might have been greater but for the City’s expansion of its firefighting capacity.

Earlier Fires Prompted Linden to Build Fire Fighting Capacity

In 1930, the Post Office burned suffering a total loss, attributable to the lack of firefighting capabilities.

In August, 1933, the Cass County Courthouse was damaged by a fire of unknown origin.  Citizens salvaged what documents and other materials they could and but did little else but watch the courthouse burn.

Courtesy of Sue Lazara

As a result of the significant damage caused by these earlier fires, before the fire at the Hotel George, Linden was prompted to establish a waterworks along with a fire department and fire hydrants in the downtown thanks to the New Deal era programs.  Motivation for a decrease in fire insurance rates, implementation of more efficient fire protection became a priority for the town.

Linden Gets a New Fire Truck & Organizes a Volunteer Fire Department

On May 23, 1935, the Cass County Sun reported that Linden’s new fire truck “should be delivered here this afternoon or tomorrow.”  The following week’s publication described the new vehicle as “… a Ford V8 and has a pumping capacity of 500 gallons per minute.”  Furthermore, the article went on to describe that a volunteer fire department would be established within a week.

1935 Ford V8

Linden Builds Fire Station

26 January 1939 – Citizens Journal – Page 1

Linden started work this week on building a 24 X 30 stucco fire station for their fire engine, and the building will include office, storage room and sleeping quarters for two volunteer fire boys.

According to the Cass County Sun of February 16, 1939,The fire station will be completed by the last of this week and ready to house the fire truck.”

The truck “officially” entered the firehouse the following week:  “Did You Hear” – The fire truck as it moved into its new home Tuesday noon, near the water tower, this is a great improvement for our city. “(Cass County Sun, February 23, 1939, p.1).

Thanks and recognition go to our Linden Volunteer Firefighters of today who serve in the spirit of those who responded to the Hotel George fire.  These are modern-day heroes, best known for their willingness to risk their lives to save the lives and property of others.

Linden Volunteer Fire Department 2016 Wildflower Trails Photo courtesy of Jo Anna Duncan “Cass County ‘s Front Porch”

Credit is given to Gail Dorgan for providing this interesting history of Linden.  Transcription by Catherine Knapp.

Read the full transcription of the Hotel George Fire account in the Cass County Sun of July 27, 1939 see the Documents Section 


National Trust for Historic Preservation Awards the Linden Heritage Foundation a Preservation Grant under the Hart Family Fund for Small Towns

The Linden Heritage Foundation was recently allocated a $9,750.00 grant by the National Trust for Historic Preservation from the Hart Family Fund for Small Towns. These grant funds will be used to support the Old Linden Firehouse Rescue Project by funding Plans and Specifications.

The Rescue Plan for the Old Firehouse is to . . .
. . . locate historic photos,
. . . restore the building to the U.S. Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for historic preservation,
. . . finalize the site’s listing on the National Register of Historic Places,
. . . give the building a commercial user that will further Linden revitalization goals, and
. . . create a heritage asset out of the present eyesore on this important block of downtown Linden.

“Organizations like the Linden Heritage Foundation, help to ensure that communities and towns all across America retain their unique sense of place,” said Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “We are honored to provide a grant to the Linden Heritage Foundation which will use the funds to help preserve an important piece of our shared national heritage.”

For more information on National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Preservation Fund grants, visit:

About Linden Heritage Foundation visit:

About the National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation is a privately-funded nonprofit organization that works to save America’s historic places to enrich our future

Take the time to visit their website and consider becoming a member.  Individual membership begins at $20.00

What’s in Your Album?

The Old Linden Firehouse Project needs photos of any part of this building taken between 1939 and 1965.  

If you have such a photo, even one that shows only a piece of the building, please submit and collect up to a $750.00 reward!

Photos from the Rush Street facade, on the south, are prized since it’s the “front” of the building.  Research indicates that originally, the Old Linden Firehouse had just a single fire truck door so the pair of doors seen here may not appear on older photos.

Be sure to carefully check the background of your old photos – people often posed with some part of a historic building behind them.  Such a photo will also count for this reward!

Photos submitted will be evaluated by a Committee of the Linden Heritage Foundation, reward levels determined, and photos returned  with credit given for use.  All photos of the Old Linden Firehouse pre-1965 receive prize $.

Thank you for helping us get this word out.

Linden Heritage Foundation

512.799.6294-Joe; 903.490.6821-Sue

Please respond no later than August 31, 2017

“Sam Houston” – An Essay by Asher Wells

In competition between 3rd-5th graders across Texas, Asher Wells, Linden Kildare ISD, son of Kerry and Erin Wells, placed second for his essay on “Sam Houston”.

Asher Wells receiving his second place certificate from Dr. Patricia Richey, Chair of the Social Sciences Department and Sponsor of the Webb Society Chapter Jacksonville College in Jacksonville, Texas

“Sam Houston”

He went from runaway teen to war hero. There were so many interesting events in the life of Sam Houston including having the Capital of the Republic of Texas located in the city named after him before being moved to Austin. He was likely the only politician to join an Indian tribe, direct destruction of the Alamo and “caned” a Congressman.

Houston was born in Rockbridge County, Virginia March 2, 1793. When his father died his mother took the family to live on a farm. Houston decided life with the Cherokee Indians sounded better. He was adopted by Chief Oo-Loo-Te-Ka who named him “The Raven.”

Sam Houston, painting c. 1856.

Houston joined the Army at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in the War of 1812 where he was badly injured twice. His bravery caught the eye of General Andrew Jackson. From there he was nominated by Andrew Jackson’s Democratic Party for the U.S. House of Representatives. He won the election with one hundred percent of the votes. Later he was elected Governor of Tennessee even though he injured a General in a duel.

Legend says Houston was six foot six and he didn’t let anyone mess with him, so when he got word that a Congressman had accused him of fraud in the newspaper, he called him up. They decided to meet on Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington D.C. where he beat the man with a hickory cane. From there he was off to Texas.

He became a Major General in the Texas Army and even ordered James Bowie to blow up the Alamo once. That didn’t happen but Texas declared its independence from Mexico and he now led the army of the Republic of Texas to the Battle of San Jacinto. Even though he was outnumbered he defeated the Mexican army in twenty minutes.  In rallying his men to battle, he is quoted as saying “You will remember this battle! Each minute! Each second! Until the day that you die! But that is for tomorrow, gentlemen. For today, Remember the Alamo!”

Surrender of Santa Anna by William Henry Huddle

After gaining freedom from Mexico, Sam Houston was elected President of the Republic of Texas and found time to marry his third wife.

Houston went to see his friend Andrew Jackson after this but arrived at The Hermitage one hour after the President died. “The towering Texan sank to his knees and openly wept over the body,” said one report. Houston had a child he named Andrew Jackson Houston. He returned to Texas and spoke in favor of Texas joining the United States. The state was annexed shortly after this. Next he went to Washington D.C. as a Senator from Texas and kept going until he was Governor of Texas.

As Governor he did not want to go along with Texas leaving the United States before the Civil War so he stepped down. He said, “I love Texas too well to bring civil strife and bloodshed upon Her.”

Houston died of pneumonia in Huntsville, Texas at age seventy. Sam Houston State University was built there in his honor. The impact of this historic man lives on today.

Sam Houston, Hermann Park, Houston

Websites: Wikipedia


Old Linden Firehouse receives Texas Historical Foundation Grant

Linden Heritage Foundation’s Firehouse Rescue Project is honored to have received a $1,000 planning grant from the TEXAS HISTORICAL FOUNDATION.  This organization is based in Austin and serves past, present, and future Texans by supporting research, publication of Texas history, and preservation of sites significant in Texas history and prehistory.

THF grant recipients are strongly urged to follow the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties as guidance for decision-making about work or changes to a historic property. To download a copy of these standards, go to

Take the time to visit their website at and consider becoming a member of THF.  Membership begins at $45 – for that see