John W. Does & The Grange Warehouse Fire of 1880

“Sacred to the memory of
John W. Does
son of 
B. & Jeanetta Does
Who fearless and (illegible) fell by
Fire (illegible) in his attempt
 to save a fellow being in dis-
stress at the burning of the
Grange Ware House
May 9th, 1880
Aged 23 years, 8
Months and 13 days
This monument is
erected by his
 comrades at Dan-
ville Hose Company No. 1″

By chance, I found a small article in a May 1880 issue of the New York Tribune about the fire in which John died.It seems as though the building, which was being used to store tobacco, caught on fire early in the morning. John, a fireman, was attempting to rescue Samuel Croxton who was sleeping in the building. Both men died in the fire.
John was born in Richmond, Virginia around 1857 to Bernard (a German immigrant) and Jeanetta Does. When John married his wife Mary, is unknown. At the time of his death though John’s occupation was listed as a blacksmith, the same profession of his father. (Prior to 1884 Danville fires were fought by volunteer firefighters through various private companies.) At first it was difficult to narrow down when John moved to Danville from the Richmond area. In the 1870 Richmond city directory there is a listing for both a Bernard Does and a John Does. Information for the 1874 directory is basically the same. This is most likely not our John because directories beyond 1880 continue to list John in Richmond and we all know that he was dead by then. However, when I checked the Mortality Schedule for the census year 1880 whomever provided the information reported that John had moved to Danville around 1875. That would have put him at around 18 years of age when he came to town, which is funny to me because most people are trying to leave Danville around that age today. The disease or cause of death was recorded as “burnt.”

The Grange Ware House, one of eight tobacco warehouses in the late 1870s, was on Craghead Street according to an article in the city’s newspaper from 1929 about something completely unrelated to the fire. It was also known as the Border Grange warehouse.

   A marker near John’s shows us that 1880 was a particularly difficult year for the Does family. Two months after John perished in the warehouse fire, his wife had a son, named after him, who was born on July 18 and was dead by July 19.








July 2013


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4 thoughts on “John W. Does & The Grange Warehouse Fire of 1880”

  1. Again another truly fascinating post. The ampount of reaserch you put in always amazes me as I know how difficult it can be at times.

    John died a true hero, tryuing to save the life of another. How awful it must have been for Mary to first lose her husband and then her infant son.

    Thank you for linking up with Cemetery Sunday

    Beneath Thy Feet

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