Galveston Historical Foundation

The Galveston Fire of ’85 Sheet Music

The Galveston Fire of 1885 began at the Vulcan factory on the corner of Strand and 16th on Friday, November 13, 1885. A north wind fanned the flames in a southwesterly direction, and before the flames could be extinguished, the fire had decimated 40 city blocks, destroyed 500+ buildings, and left 1500 people homeless. There were, however, no fatalities caused by the fire but one man died afterward when on the site of his burned-out house, the remains of his chimney fell on him. After the fire, slate roofs were required within the city limits to reduce the spread of flames from house to house. These slate roof tiles turned out to be fatal projectiles during the 1900 Storm, and they were later banned.

As with many disasters during this period, artistic license was taken to share the story through various media. In this case, via published music from composer Jacob Day and lyricist Louis Gruetzmacher. Galveston-based piano seller Thomas Goggan and Brother commissioned and published this particular work. Goggan began their business in 1866 and had a location locally and in San Antonio.

The below PDF is a scanned copy of the original sheet music donated by Randy and Lin Parham of Fort Worth. We want to hear your renditions! For those who would like to record their versions of the below sheet music and send to us, we’ll feature your performance on this page and give you a #GalvestonHistory guest pass with complimentary admission to our sites and attractions.

CLICK TO DOWNLOAD ?tmstv=1689878416


Galveston Historical Foundation (GHF) was formed as the Galveston Historical Society in 1871 and merged with a new organization formed in 1954 as a non-profit entity devoted to historic preservation and history in Galveston County. Over the last sixty years, GHF has expanded its mission to encompass community redevelopment, historic preservation advocacy, maritime preservation, coastal resiliency and stewardship of historic properties. GHF embraces a broader vision of history and architecture that encompasses advancements in environmental and natural sciences and their intersection with historic buildings and coastal life and conceives of history as an engaging story of individual lives and experiences on Galveston Island from the 19th century to the present day.

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