History 1917-1919

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1917

January 8, 1917
During the first meeting of 1917, held on Monday, January 8, Edward Whitehead, chairman of the Apparatus committee, reported “the tanks and other equipment were about ready for shipment, and Fitzgibbon and Crisp were progressing with their part of the work, and they expected the equipment early in February.” A report by the financial secretary showed there were 11 honorary members and 68 active members in good standing. Officers for 1917 were then elected.

February 12, 1917
During the meeting held on Monday, February 12, 1917, the Apparatus committee “reported the American LaFrance Co. of Elmira, N.Y., had promised shipment of the tanks and other equipment on or about February 20. On motion, the chief and assistants were instructed to attend to recharging the hand extinguishers in the district. The secretary stated Lawrenceville Fire Co. had invited our association to attend a smoker on January 25 and he notified our members by post and about 30 members accepted the invitation and had an enjoyable evening. The secretary was instructed to send our sincere thanks for the invitation. Edward Whitehead stated that in view of the fact that the equipment for our new apparatus would soon be here it would be necessary to borrow some money for the same. The following resolution was made. Resolved that the Apparatus committee be empowered to negotiate a loan not to exceed $1,000 for one year and the interest not to exceed 6 percent per annum, and the president, secretary and treasurer sign the note on behalf of the association. P. Ziegler suggested we devise some means of getting a better fire alarm for the firehouse.”

March 12, 1917
According to the minutes of the meeting held on Monday, March 12, 1917, the Apparatus committee “reported the American LaFrance Co. had shipped the apparatus equipment, which would be here in a few days, and Fitzgibbon and Crisp had promised to have same completed in four weeks if possible. The question of fire alarms was discussed and laid over. On motion, Charles Smith was appointed a committee of one to see about having a telephone pay station installed in the firehouse.” It was then decided that the 1917 carnival would be held August 4 to August 11. “On motion, the three chiefs and President Stephen Ziegler were instructed to purchase an automobile and conduct a drawing for same in conjunction with our carnival, with tickets to be sold at 50 cents each.”

April 9, 1917
During the meeting held on Monday, April 9, 1917, “Charles Smith reported he had asked the telephone company about a pay station but had received no definite answer as yet. President Stephen Ziegler stated he had consulted Mr. Reeves of the township committee about having a direct wire telephone installed in the firehouse at the expense of the township. Mr. Reeves promised to take up the matter with the committee at their next meeting. The secretary then read the bill from the S.F. Hayward Co., agents for the American LaFrance Co., for the equipment for the engine, amounting to $824. It was reported that President Ziegler had loaned the Apparatus committee $200 so Treasurer Charles Smith could pay the bill. Same would be paid back when the officers instructed to negotiate the loan had done so. It was explained that the reason Mr. Ziegler made the loan was because the money was needed quickly to release the goods from the railroad company and Treasurer Smith only had a little over $600 in hand. Mr. Young asked if the apparatus had been insured while at the factory of Fitzgibbon and Crisp Co. The committee stated the matter had been discussed but no action taken. On motion, the matter was referred to the trustees with power to act. The president and three chiefs were appointed to draft a set of rules governing the handling of the new apparatus and designating the official drivers, and fixing penalties for any violation or neglect. The Apparatus committee stated there would be an extra tire and bumper needed for the apparatus to make it complete, and also a section of 2.5-inch hose. Edward Whitehead asked what the members thought of the proposition of our members volunteering to do duty at the firehouse one or two nights a month during the war crisis. The suggestion met with the approval of the members present and nearly everyone present volunteered to serve when our new apparatus arrived.”

Also on Monday, April 9, 1917, “the members of Lawrence Volunteer Fire Association convened after the adjournment of the regular meeting to discuss the question of taking some action in reference to forming a Home Guard association at some future date. After some discussion, a motion was made by Edward Whitehead, seconded by Thomas DeCou, that there be a committee of three appointed along with President Stephen Ziegler to confer with the township about the matter and report back at their earliest convenience. Committee appointed was Edward Whitehead, Thomas DeCou and John Hulse.”

May 6, 1917
On May 6, 1917, the Trenton Sunday Times Advertiser published this news report: “The first platoon of Home Guards for Lawrence Township were sworn in last night at the Lawrence Road firehouse when 17 members of the organization took the oath. The election of officers resulted in the selection of the following: Sergeant, Stephen Ziegler; First Corporal, J. Roscoe Howell; and Second Corporal, William Sharp. The Home Guards for the township consist of three platoons of 17 members each and at a meeting to be held next Friday night the platoon for Lawrenceville will be sworn in. No time has been set for the Slackwood men to take the oath. At the meeting of the Lawrence Road guards last night a resolution was also passed instructing the committee to plant winter beans on the acres of land allotted for garden purposes and these beans will be donated to the U.S. government. The officers of the township organization are President, E. Whitehead; Vice President, William Barner; and Secretary, Thomas DeCou.”

May 14, 1917
During the meeting held on Monday, May 14, 1917, “the Apparatus committee reported the machine would be complete and ready for delivery in about two weeks. John Hulse was instructed to have Mr. L. Magee proceed to have the necessary alterations made to the front doors. On motion, the Apparatus committee was given the privilege of holding open house on Decoration Day to celebrate our new apparatus, with the privilege of inviting the township committee and others whom they wished.”

May 25, 1917
On Friday, May 25, 1917, Lawrence Volunteer Fire Association responded to another fire. Unfortunately, little is known about the blaze. Only one line of information is recorded in the minutes of the meeting held on Monday, June 11, 1917: “The secretary was instructed to write Mr. R. Henry Jr. a letter of thanks for hauling our hand engine to the fire at the Eggert Farm on May 25.”

May 26, 1917
Ironically, the first motorized apparatus in the history of the company, the Jeffrey, was delivered one day after the blaze on the Eggert Farm. “The Apparatus committee reported same received from Fitzgibbon and Crisp on May 26,” according to the minutes from the meeting held on June 11, 1917.

June 10, 1917
In the “motoring” section of the Trenton Sunday Times Advertiser on June 10, 1917, a photograph of the new Jeffrey was published, along with a news story about the purchase of the apparatus. Unfortunately, the article included several inaccuracies, such as the cost of the apparatus and the date the fire association was formed. The article reads: “A fully-equipped automobile chemical engine, costing $28,000 (Editor’s Note: This should have read $2,800), has been delivered to the Lawrence Road Fire Co. by the C.P. Weedon Motor Co. of Trenton, which was awarded the contract some months ago. The chassis is the same as is used in the Jeffrey ton-and-one-half trucks and the body was built by the Fitzgibbon & Crisp Co. of Trenton. The machine is the latest model and the Lawrence Road Fire Co. is justly proud of its appearance. It carries two 40-gallon tanks, ladders, hooks, axes, bars, lanterns, hand extinguishers and other equipment and can, if needed, transport 18 men. The purchasing committee was composed of Edward J. Whitehead, chairman; Stephen Ziegler, president of the company; Thomas B. DeCou, James Balaam, John Hulse, William Sharp, William L. Hendrickson, J.H. Darrah Sr., W. Godfrey Slover, Charles H. Smith, Harry Sohl, Chief Harvey Butterfoss, John Hutchins, Spencer Cornell, P. Ziegler, James Parker, and William Varner. Wallace M. Hough, Deputy Fire Commissioner of the City of Trenton, assisted the committee in the selection of all the necessary equipment and in the supervision of the construction of the apparatus. Great credit for the organization of the company is due Stephen Ziegler, who was the prime mover in the forming of the association May 12, 1914 (Editor’s Note: This, of course, should read May 1, 1914), and has been president ever since. In the three years, the company has bought and paid for their own lot and firehouse at Lawrence Road and Wilson Avenue, as well as their hand apparatus. The new apparatus is over two-thirds paid for and the members expect to pay off the balance after their next carnival, which will be held from August 4-11. The Ladies Auxiliary connected with the association is also entitled to much credit for the success of the same and have started in to make the coming carnival a bigger success than ever. Special attractions are being booked and men are at work getting the dance pavilion ready. Among the many awards will be a new 1917 Ford touring car.”

June 11, 1917
Other business documented in the minutes of the June 11, 1917, meeting include: “John Hulse of the trustees reported he had insured the apparatus against fire and theft for $2,000 at $1.75 per hundred, with the theft clause not covering the loss of tools or other accessories under $25. President Stephen Ziegler reported the Acme Rubber Co. had consented to donate to us 200 feet of 1-inch hose in place of the 3/4-inch cotton hose. He also reported the committee had kept 100 feet of the cotton hose for washing the machine. President Ziegler reported borrowing $800 at 6 percent interest from Charles H. Smith for one year. Edward Whitehead and himself had endorsed the note for the association. On motion, the trustees were instructed to have a line of planks put under the new machine and drop runs made at the front doors. The secretary suggested the ladders be fixed so as to slide in and out more easily. On motion, the chiefs were instructed to attend to the matter. On motion, Hobart Poole was placed in good standing on the books for the period of his enlistment.”

July 9, 1917
During the meeting held on Monday, July 9, 1917, the Apparatus committee reported the final cost of the Jeffrey apparatus and equipment as being $2,811.86. Chief Harry Sohl then reported he had entered into a contract for the purchase of a Ford touring car for $360 to be chanced off at our coming carnival. The agent of Nash Motor Co. then submitted the contract, which was signed by President Stephen Ziegler and Secretary Edward Whitehead. President Ziegler reported that Edward Whitehead and himself had been to look at a dance floor owned by the Fairview Volunteer Fire Co., which was willing to sell the same for $75. The floor was 38-feet by 28-feet, set up on 2-by-8 rafters. Edward Whitehead stated that while the offer was undoubtedly a bargain, we would be unable to get enough help to go over and take it up. On motion, the matter was left in the hands of the committee.”

September 10, 1917
During the meeting held on Monday, September 10, 1917, “in the absence of President Stephen Ziegler and Vice President Thomas DeCou, Spencer Cornell was chosen to preside. The Bylaws committee read a set of resolutions and asked they be made a part of our bylaws. On motion, they were laid over until our next meeting.” Little was actually done about the bylaws during the next meeting, held on Monday, October 8, 1917: “The Bylaws committee submitted a set of bylaws that were read and, after some changes were made, they were laid over for final action at our next meeting. On motion, the treasurer was instructed to purchase a $100 Liberty Bond.”

1918

January 14, 1918
Officers were elected during the first meeting of 1918, held on Monday, January 14, 1918. Also during the meeting, “the report of the Bylaws committee was read and, after a few minor corrections, the bylaws were adopted as a whole. The committee was instructed to find out what it would cost to have 100 copies printed in book form, one dozen or more copies printed on card, and two or more copies typewritten, and to report at our next meeting. On motion, the Board of Governors was instructed to appoint official drivers and such other help as they deemed necessary, such as mechanics and to fix compensation for same. They were also instructed to purchase sufficient keys for the drivers and to have one in the firehouse at all times. The question of paying Mr. Ziegler for the repair and use of his piano was discussed. Mr. Ziegler then offered to sell us the piano in question for $100 and to store it at his home free of cost. On motion, the offer was accepted and order drawn for same. The dates of the next carnival were set for August 3-10.”

February 11, 1918
During the meeting held on Monday, February 11, 1918, “Edward Whitehead reported that we could have 125 copies of the bylaws printed for $15. The Bylaws committee was instructed to have same printed. The treasurer reported he had deposited $700 in the inactive account at 3-percent interest. On motion, the fines of all members who did not attend the January fire drill were ordered remitted on account of their not yet having received their bylaws. The chief was ordered to purchase non-skid chairs for the apparatus. The Board of Governors reported the official drivers were: Harry Sohl, Harvey Butterfoss, Charles H. Smith, Stephen Ziegler Sr., James Balaam, and Spencer Cornell. Mr. Balaam reported an iron bucket was missing. The Board of Governors was ordered to investigate. Edward Whitehead reported he had borrowed some of the association’s crockery and would pay for same or return same.”

April 8, 1918
News of another fire responded to by members of the Lawrence Volunteer Fire Association is recorded in the minutes of the meeting held on Monday, April 8, 1918. The actual date of the fire is not listed in the minutes. “President Stephen Ziegler reported we responded to an alarm of fire at Darrah’s woods, upon call from Mr. Darrah, as there was danger of a bungalow catching fire.”
Other highlights from the meeting held on April 8, 1918, include: “It was approved we order one dozen small bottles for hand extinguishers. The Board of Governors was instructed to purchase a new flag. The question of additional drivers was discussed. On motion, the Board of Governors was instructed to appoint additional drivers. President Stephen Ziegler asked what the members thought about a fire alarm system of the siren type. On motion, a committee was appointed to take the matter up with the township.”

May 13, 1918
During the meeting held on Monday, May 13, 1918, “the secretary was instructed to write to Mr. William Hendrickson, former trustee, and ask him to have such papers and legal documents belonging to the fire association that might be in his possession transferred to the present chairman, John Hulse, of the Board of Trustees. The secretary read a request from the Ladies Auxiliary asking for the use of the firehouse and grounds for a strawberry festival on June 14. Request was granted. We then went into the election of a general chairman for the Carnival committee and Edward Whitehead was elected. It was decided to hold a special meeting on Friday, May 31, to organize and select subcommittees for the carnival. James Balaam, Harry Sohl, and Charles H. Smith were appointed to provided a little refreshment for the occasion. The committee appointed to confer with the township about a fire alarm system reported that they thought it was a matter for the three fire companies of the township to take up jointly and for that reason they had deferred taking an definite action until some future date. Thomas DeCou and Edward Whitehead were reimbursed for the $7.50 they spent on the search light.”

September 9, 1918
Highlights from the minutes of the company meeting held on Monday, September 9, 1918, include: “The secretary read a letter from the district Red Cross thanking us for the concessions and very generous support given them at our recent carnival, which enabled them to make a profit of $543.48. Amendments and alterations to the bylaws were then taken up and adopted. Mr. M.C. Lyden of the Princeton Road was then proposed for honorary membership and elected. The secretary was instructed to notify members who had moved outside the district of any action. The Board of Governors was instructed to have the necessary repairs made to the apparatus.”

October 14, 1918
During the meeting held on Monday, October 14, 1918, “Mr. Whitehead reported sending the apparatus to Fitzgibbon and Crisp and a bill for same for $89.10 was ordered to be paid. Thomas B. DeCou recommended we buy $500 worth of Liberty Bonds. Edward Whitehead suggested we send a letter of condolence to Arthur Poole, a fellow member, upon the death of his wife.”

December 1, 1918
A structure fire was fought by the members of Lawrence Volunteer Fire Association on Sunday, December 1, 1918. Sadly, all that is known about the blaze is the following one-sentence report recorded in the minutes of the meeting held on Monday, December 9, 1918: “Chief Harry Sohl reported the fire company responded to an alarm of fire on the evening of December 1, and gave all assistance we could but could not save the barn which was the property of Mr. John Brearley.”

December 9, 1918
Also documented in the minutes of the meeting held on December 9, 1918, Edward Whitehead reported that the township, “in reference to the ordinance on license fees for carnivals, fairs and other amusements, had agreed to exempt duly organized and recognized fire associations, the same as schools and churches.” It was reported that about $825.73 was made on the 1918 carnival. “On motion, the Board of Governors was instructed to furnish refreshments for the members at our annual open house celebration on New Year’s Day. On motion, the chiefs were ordered to replenish the necessary supplies for the efficient working of the apparatus in case of another fire. The question of properly conducting the men at a fire was discussed, after which the secretary was instructed to communicate with Slackwood and Lawrenceville asking for a joint meeting of the chiefs and assistants to arrive at some definite understanding as to who shall have authority at a fire in their respective fire districts. The trustees were instructed to have two guide posts place, one at each side of the crossing in front of the firehouse. John Hutchins suggested we try to get the township committee interested in having water mains laid through the main roads of the township and, after quite some discussion, the secretary was instructed to communicate with the township committee asking about same.” Nominations of officers for the new year were then held.

1919

January 13, 1919
Highlights from the minutes of the company meeting held on Monday, January 13, 1919, include: “The secretary read a letter from the township committee in answer to our inquiry about water mains. They suggested we canvass the district for signers and then petition the Trenton City commissioners for water mains and, if successful, then the township committee would endeavor to have fire plugs installed. On motion, the letter was received and filed. The secretary then read a post card from France from Brother John E. Grannage in which he sent his best wishes to the membership of the fire company and hoped to be with us soon. The secretary was instructed to reply with our best wishes. Officers were then elected. The Board of Governors was instructed to get three white caps for the chiefs and 12 regular caps for members, any of whom could have one as their own by paying $1, the association to pay the balance.”

February 10, 1919
During the meeting held on Monday, February 10, 1919, “the secretary read a letter from Secretary Exall of the State Firemen’s Association advising all members who had not paid their taxes to claim exemptions as per the 1918 laws and those who had paid same to ask for a return of such amounts as where due to them as per said laws, and the State Firemen’s Association would stand back of any and all such claimants. The secretary also read a letter from Slackwood Fire Co. stating they would be glad to meet with the other chiefs of the township to draw up rules and regulations for the proper handling of fires. On motion, same was referred to the chiefs.”

March 1919
During the next meeting, held either on Monday the 10th or Monday the 17th of March 1919, 2nd Assistant Chief Spencer Cornell “reported that the fire chiefs of the township had met and agreed upon a set of rules governing any fire that might occur in the township. The rules give the chief in each fire district entire supervision of any fire that might occur within their respective district and requires him to make a thorough investigation of the cause of such a fire and report same to his company and also to the township committee. Charles H. Smith offered to furnish the posts and labor if the fire company would buy the wire for a fence the depth of the lot belonging to the house next door. Offer was accepted. The secretary reported receiving two fire helmets and a bill for $9.69 for same was ordered paid. The question of a fire alarm siren was discussed and was referred to the chiefs to confer with the chiefs of Slackwood and Lawrenceville to take up with the township committee.”

April 14, 1919
During the meeting held on Monday, April 14, 1919, “the question of holding our 5th Anniversary was discussed and it was agreed to hold same on Friday, May 2. A committee was appointed. The secretary was instructed to send invitations to the members in good standing. On motion, it was decided that we hold our carnival from August 2-9, and every member in good standing was placed on the Carnival committee, and Edward Whitehead was made chairman.”

May 12, 1919
Highlights from the minutes of the company meeting held on Monday, May 12, 1919, include: “The secretary reported that a special meeting of the Board of Governors was held on April 21, at which time it was decided to have the pool table fixed up and loaned to the convalescent hospital for the use of the wounded soldiers. On motion, the action was approved. Chief Harvey Butterfoss reported the engine wanted some attention and we ought to have a tire pump. On motion, the men’s bible class was given permission to hold a strawberry festival on May 30.”

August 25, 1919
During the meeting held on Monday, August 25, 1919, a bill for $19.37 was ordered paid to the American LaFrance Co. for the purchase of two respirators and one search light.

October 13, 1919
During the meeting held on Monday, October 13, 1919, it was reported that the association had actually made a profit of $3,454.55 on the 1919 carnival. “Edward Whitehead of the Building committee reported they had not met yet. In discussing the question of heat, different opinions were expressed as to the worth of the pipeless heater. The committee was instructed to proceed as their judgment dictated.”

November 10, 1919
During the meeting held on Monday, November 10, 1919, “the Building committee reported they had Mr. Mackelright of the firm of Fowler & Seaman submit a prospective plan of the proposed new firehouse. After considerable discussion as to the general features, as proposed in the plans, it was agreed that the committee meet on Saturday afternoon, November 15, and have a surveyor ascertain what the possibilities were in reference to a cellar under the proposed new building and what would be necessary in the way of drainage.

November 23, 1919
A special meeting was held on Sunday, November 23, 1919, “for the purpose of instructing the Building committee whether or not to proceed with the building. The committee reported they had decided to recommend the building of a brick firehouse, 32-feet wide by 60-feet long, two stories in height, with a room in the front part of the first floor measuring 30-feet by 30-feet for apparatus, and a meeting and recreation room measuring 30-feet by 20-feet in the rear of the engine room, with a hallway and stairway in the rear of the meeting room leading to the second floor where there would be an auditorium 30-feet by 46-feet, with kitchen, cloak room and toilet accommodation in the rear. There is also to be a gent’s toilet on the first floor and a steam heating apparatus in the engine room. The committee found it would not be advisable to have a cellar on account of the danger of water. Mr. Mackelright, architect for the firm of Fowler & Seaman, was present and stated the approximate cost would be about $10,000. The architect’s fee would be 2.5-percent for plans, specifications and contracts, and 5-percent if supervising the construction was included. On account there were so few members present, meeting was adjourned until December 8 and the secretary instructed to notify all members to be present.”

December 8, 1919
During the final meeting of 1919, held on Monday, December 8, “the Building committee submitted their report, same as at the special meeting of November 23, that the approximate cost of an all brick, two-story building, 32-feet by 60-feet, suitable for firehouse and amusement purposes would be about $10,000. After thoroughly discussing the matter it was, on the motion of the chairman of the Building committee, decided to lay the matter over until the June 1920 meeting. The secretary reported he had received the caps from the American LaFrance Co. that had been laying in the American Express office since August 11. The bill for same for $31.85 was ordered paid. On motion, it was decided to pay the janitor $2 per week for his services. It was decided to hold an open house on New Year’s Day and a committee was appointed.”

December 29, 1919
On Monday, December 29, 1919, the Trenton Evening Times published this news brief: “The Lawrence Road Volunteer Fire Association will hold their annual open house celebration on New Year’s Day. The active and honorary members will be present and a general good time is promised by the committee in charge.”