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Labor Pains


At 3:00 AM on February twenty-second, the Great Fire of 1860 began in the home of James Matthew. The fierce east wind spread the fire to the downtown area, where it ignited the roof of the popular Batterton House Hotel. A man and his pregnant wife were residing on the third floor of the hotel that night. The wife began experiencing labor pains in the early hours of the morning, so an experienced doctor was called in. As the fire began to consume the roof, the father and doctor tried to move the mother out of the building without inducing fear in the woman, but they were unable to. The young woman, panicked by the fire and inhibited by the smoke, went into labor. Unable to leave the young woman behind, everyone in the room perished as the hotel burned to the ground. The hotel was rebuilt four years later, but it was closed shortly thereafter because of a "lack of business due to strange occurrences". Individuals claimed that between the hours of four and six AM, lodgers on the third floor could hear the painful screams of a young woman, then silence, followed by the innocent cry of an infant. The Batterton family sealed the third floor off and resided in the hotel for many years. The Batterton house still stands in Danville today.                                                                                                                         


Sarah Reynolds

Taylor County High School