Sunday, January 12, 2014

History of the Fire Companies of Linglestown

The following post is from The 25th Anniversary of Linglestown Fire Company commemorative book. The anniversary was celebrated in June 1959.
A special thanks to Louden (Sonny) and Esther Bretherick for sharing their book with us.

Part 1 

We are not sure when the first Fire Company was organized in Linglestown, but we do know from the History of Linglestown compiled by Nevin W. Moyer, that in 1850 a hand pumper was purchased from the Hummelstown Fire Company No.1 by the Paxton Fire Company of Linglestown.  Mr. Moyer's history relates that the pumper had the date of 1805 inscribed on it. He also records that this fire engine was pulled by hand by approximately 100 men from Hummelstown to Linglestown.

This first pumper was a water box with a hand operated pump. The water box was filled by a bucket brigade formed by both men and woman and pumped up through a metal spout which could be turned in any direction desired.  This fire apparatus was received with much admiration and criticism.

Some of the citizens were skeptical as to the effectiveness of this hand pumper but a demonstration at the home of one of the honored families of the community, Peter Heckert, Sr., residing on North Mountain Road, convinced the critics.  It is recorded that Mr. Heckert offered the fire company $5.00 for every brick the firemen could knock off his chimney with a stream of water.  The fireman accepted his offer and started to work. After pumping for some time the first brick tumbled, then another and another.  Mr. Heckert hurriedly ran into the house, came out waving $15.00 and asked the fireman to stop.  After this demonstration the fire company was accepted into the community.  This fire company due to inactivity, existed until about 1890. There was only one large fire of record which this company fought. This was in 1860 when the Aungst Undertaking Shop caught fire. The establishment was located at the present site of the Zimmerman Home for Funerals (now Hoover Funeral Home - ed.).  

The story is told how the boys of the town would sneak the old fire engine out of the firehouse on the 4th of July and on Halloween and pull the truck up and down the town yelling  like Indians and ring the bells.  Dr. W.C. Smith, who was recorded as being the president of the fire company, would chase after the boys, and since the boys became scared and would run away, it became necessary for the doctor to pull the fire engine back to the station with the aid of a few men he could muster from the village tavern to give him a hand.

In about 1898, the keeper of the Eagle Hotel of Linglestown, in some way secured this fire engine, and had the village blacksmith cut it down and use the wheels and part of the body to make a rig to haul beer kegs, ice, etc for the hotel.

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