Suspicious fire destroys historic home in Sublette on May 4


SUBLETTE – An historic Sublette area home was destroyed by fire under suspicious circumstances on May 4.

The home, located on Todd Road just west of U.S. 52, was owned by Thomas Ray and was one of the most historic homes in Sublette Township. The fire call was received at 1:37 a.m. May 4 with the Sublette and Amboy fire departments responding. Firefighters were on the scene for 2 ½ hours. The home was completely gutted and is of a suspicious nature. The State Fire Marshal has been on scene investigating.

The fire is one of several suspicious blazes that have occurred to structures in the rural area recently, spanning from Manlius to Sublette.

The rural Sublette property was the homestead of Prescott Bartlett, who came to Sublette in 1855 from Conway, Mass. Bartlett was convinced that the civil war was imminent. He studied cavalry tactics in the winter of 1860 and the following spring he raised a cavalry company.

In 1861, he enlisted and was sworn in, receiving a Captain’s commission in Company D of the 7th Illinois Cavalry Company. The company consisted of 98 men – 25 from Sublette and the rest from Mendota, Amboy and Lee Center.

Captain Bartlett was president of a military commission in Memphis for six weeks. He also served as a personal escort for Generals Ulysses Grant and John M. Palmer. 

Following the war, he returned to Sublette and farmed. He was also elected constable and was deputy under Sheriff Campbell at the time of the famous Banditti of the Prairies prosecutions.

Captain Bartlett had many military reunions at the farm. The farm was later owned for many years by Bartlett’s son, Watson Bartlett, and subsequently sold to Thomas Ray. The Donald Ayers and Robert Ayers families lived in the home for many years.