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Nebraska City News-Press - Nebraska City, NE
  • Mystery traveler averts fire disaster at historic Slocum farm

  • An unidentified man altered authorities Tuesday morning and used water from a livestock tank to beat down flames that threatened a 130-year-old barn linked to Nebraska's frontier days.
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  • Traveler averts
    fire disaster at
    Slocum farm
    An unidentified traveler on Highway 2 used water from a livestock trough to avert a fire disaster Tuesday morning at the historic Slocum farm near Dunbar.
    The man saw smoke rising from the barn, which housed a calf and hay bales harvested from 10 acres near I and 58 roads.
    He called firefighters and went around the mile section into Dunbar and tracked back to the farm.
    Jean Slocum, who is recovering from a broken arm, said the man beat on her door and alerted her to the fire.
    Slocum said she could not do anything because of her arm, but told the man there was water in the livestock trough. He grabbed a bucket and started pouring the water on the burning hay.
    By the time Dunbar firefighters arrived minutes later, the flames had subsided and firefighters were able to spread out the hay and cool it off.
    Slocum said she did not catch the man's name before he left, but she is very grateful for him.
    Her farmhouse was built in 1880 and the barn also dates back 130 years. She and husband Mike have plans to restore the barn and have recently uncovered hidden documents linking the property to early Nebraska history.
    Slocum's family is verified as being a first settler family in Richardson County and are related to another frontier family named Thompson.
    The Slocums recently uncovered an old fireplace in the house and found documents hidden in the bricks believed to be blueprints for an addition to the house. Slocum said the name Thompson on the documents and the date suggests that the house was owned by her husband's pioneer relatives.
    She said her heart sank when she looked out and saw smoke billowing out from the barn.
    "I thought for sure all of the hay was gone and the tractor was toast, but he was brave enough to go over and open a door and at least try to start the tractor in hopes of driving it out," she said.
    "It's a diesel and it wouldn't start. Then he picked up a bucket and threw the animals' water until he put the flames out," she said.
    "Don't tell my husband, but when I saw it I was more worried about that old barn than I was about the tractor. It's a treasure and we don't want to lose it," she said.
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