When the Gong Rings
A Fire History of Charleston, Illinois

20.                                                           Return to the Table of Contents

Also read:  page 18  and  page 19 for more


1898 CONTINUED

OYSTER SUPPERS POPULAR IN VOLUNTEER DEPARTMENT


 

VOLUNTEERS ORGANIZE MEETINGS
The Charleston Fire Department had regular monthly meetings. Officers were elected, including a president, secretary and treasurer. Minutes of all meetings were maintained. Men were paid a $1.50 per night for staying "On duty" at the fire-house. Old log books tell of Volunteer meetings and attendance records. Pay record books were also kept. The Volunteer Fireman's Association would make recommendations to the City Council, as well as conduct many business and social matters of
their own.

VOLUNTEERS MADE REQUESTS FOR PAY RAISES
In 1917, Charleston firemen were concerned about "Pay raises" for the chief and the assistant chief. "More effort" to get the raises was needed. The brotherhood of firefighters that met each month was a close one. The secretary often referred to each other as Brother ... in the log minutes. The death of a brother would cause concern. In the 1918 log, a motion was made to purchase an enlarged framed picture of Brother Eclisor Rauch, deceased. The picture would be hung in the fire-house. In 1917, the August minutes have a note in which the volunteers expressed that they "Adjourn and eat" and "The big eats was along with the smokes." Several notes in the minutes of the early years concern the organization of the annual "Oyster supper and feed." this oyster supper was very traditional in the Charleston Fire Department, even into the 1940's. After reading about old-time fire departments in the big cities, one can find that similar traditions existed for them, smoking was big with the firemen at their gatherings. Several motions were made in the meetings to "Buy tobacco and smokes" for upcoming
meetings.

CHARLESTON IN BATTLE FOR NEW EASTERN NORMAL CAMPUS
During the 1890's, Charleston would have to go to battle to keep the court house, and to fight for the gain of the possible new Eastern Normal College. Charleston put on a good show when the committee from Springfield came to check out the town. The Fire Department displayed its ability to fight fires on the square. At the time they had two manual fire carts and the Babcock Fire Wagon. Regardless, the town passed. Eastern would be located at the south edge of Charleston on present Lincoln Street. Charleston would change radically after 1895. Its fire department would remain the same (very small) for many
years, but in 1918 a big change was in store-- A gasoline fired engine!

1892 SEES THE WING FLOUR COMPANY DESTROYED BY FIRE

At the same in 1892 the Wing Flour Company and the Kizer Oil Company burned. Few details of these fires are available. In 1898, one of Charleston's great fires occurred, being the Charleston High School (Normal School). This fire is illustrated on previous pages in this book. Any fire in the early days of Charleston could easily be disaster. There just wasn't any way to bring a large fire under control. Many large buildings burnt to the ground while the firemen watched. [This would be a problems with Charleston fire-fighting until the late 1950's> when modern pumpers were finally purchased,]

HORSES COMMON IN CHARLESTON
The long panoramic picture of the square shows that horse-driven vehicles were common in the 1890's through the 1920's. Charleston followed suit with the rest of the country in fire-fighting equipment: manually pulled carts; horse pulled wagons; and finally in 1918, a gasoline engine fire truck. Only the
big cities had the steamer pumpers.

 

tomandalex
Tom & Alex, Firehorses, with Henry Snyder (driver) and Crew



The Left Side of the Square in 1890

The Right Side of the Square in 1890


Further Links

The "Opera House Fire Page of 1914

Return to Charleston Fire Log Index Page

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