While researching the history of the Seaside Library in the microfiche of the Seaside Signal, I am often distracted by other anecdotes of the history of Seaside. I started researching around the year 1913 in the archives, because that was when the Seaside Library first opened as a reading room and public bathrooms in the Dresser building downtown. Headlines and noted items of interest of that time were very brief but tantalizing in their descriptions of the events of days gone by. Events that must have torn the town apart back then were often tersely described and as a reader of over a hundred years later, I often found myself wanting more information to fill in the gaps. Thankfully, the Seaside Signal put together an anniversary edition of articles commemorating the first 75 years of the paper that helped fill in some of the gaps in the paper’s reports.
1910 to 1913 seemed to be a key turning point for Seaside. In 1910, Mayor Henninger and his brother Ed owned the local lumber mill, bank, and also ran the city as mayor and treasurer. In 1907, banks had failed back east but the results weren’t felt in Seaside until three years later, when wood from Seaside was shipped and sold back east but the Henninger’s were unable to collect payment. While the mayor was back east desperately trying to collect on the unpaid bills, his brother Ed could no longer borrow from the bank to make payroll for the sawmill and he took his own life. The saw mill and bank closed, and the mayor resigned. Less than two years later, May of 1912 was one of the hottest Mays on record with 90-degree weather. Much of the water reserves were used on gardens and local farms in Seaside. Several different accounts including an exploding stove were listed as the cause, but I believe the true story is that someone was boiling a crab in the back room of a business downtown on the west side of Seaside but left it too long and it boiled dry on the stove and started a fire.
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