History 1920-1930

Back to History

Unfortunately, no minutes or incident reports still exist for the period 1920 to 1928.

During these years, the Lawrence Volunteer Fire Association built a new brick firehouse in front of their old wood-frame headquarters. The first fire hydrants were also installed during this period.

Al Pastor and James Hutchinson also served as chief of the Lawrence Volunteer Fire Association sometime during this era, according to a list compiled for the fire company’s 50th anniversary in 1964.

Serving as president of the fire company some time during this era was Edward Whitehead, according to a list compiled for the fire company’s 50th anniversary in 1964.

1929

January 19, 1929
A raging fire destroyed a dormitory on the campus of the Lawrenceville School in the pre-dawn hours of Saturday, January 19, 1929. Unfortunately, all Lawrence Road Fire Co. documents dating from that period no longer exist. But because of the severity of the blaze it is likely safe to assume that Lawrence Road firefighters were called to the scene. The following story was published on the front page of that night’s edition of Trenton Evening Times:

“Dawes House, the largest dormitory at Lawrenceville School, was wiped out at 3:30 o’clock this morning in a spectacular fire that sent students scampering for their lives. The loss exceeded $75,000. The dormitory, a rambling frame structure donated to the famous preparatory school by U.S. Vice President Charles Dawes, housed 43 students, three masters and three servants. Boys sleeping in the second-story dormitories were roused just in time to escape with their lives. Among them was Dana Dawes, son of the Vice President. Sylvan Scholpp, who occupied quarters on the first floor, prevented the disaster from becoming a tragedy. Scholpp, awakened by the roar of flames, ran about the building yelling an alarm. His cries reached boys on the second floor. Already the flames were menacingly close when the boys on the second floor were awakened. The stairways were spouting flames. The windows offered the only way to escape with a long jump to the ground. Some of the boys formed human chains by holding onto each other’s hands and feet, and many escaped by climbing down the backs of their companions. Others leaped to the ground. Barefoot and clad only in pajamas, the boys left behind all their clothing and valuables. A few snatched up overcoats before they leaped. Everett Noble, assistant master of Dawes House, directed the escape from the blazing house. He led some of the boys down a fire escape. The fire started in the basement and was caused either by an overheated furnace or a short circuit in electric wires. The blaze was discovered at 3:20 o’clock. Within then minutes the structure was entirely enveloped in flames. An alarm brought the Kingston and nearby township fire forces, but the firemen were too late to combat the blaze. A fortunate drift of wind carried the long tongues of flames away from other nearby buildings. If the wind had been in another quarter, it is likely that several other buildings would have been destroyed. The supply building and the doctor’s residence were only a few feet from the blazing structure. The frame building burned with great rapidity. The flames illuminated the sky in a glow that was visible for miles. Vice President Dawes donated the dormitory to the school in memory of his deceased son, Rufus…”

June 10, 1929
During the meeting held on Monday, June 10, 1929, include: “Chief James Hindley reported that he fixed the search light on the engine. The Quoit Ground committee stated that they got two loads of dirt but wanted two more loads. The committee stated that they could get two loads, same as city grounds, for $2. Moved and passed that W. Godfrey Slover be authorized to procure same. Andrew Heck promised to fix the tips on the pool cues provided we procure a scraper. Stephen Ziegler reported that insurance adjusters would inspect the fire plugs in reference to having reduced rates on fire insurance in this district.”

August 12, 1929
During the meeting held on Monday, August 12, 1929, Chief James Hindley reported the company had responded to a fire “at the dump,” but the date of the fire was not recorded in the minutes. The chief also reported “the nozzle for the engine was here.”

August 27, 1929
Late on Tuesday, August 27, 1929, members of the Lawrence Volunteer Fire Association responded mutual aid to a structure fire in Hopewell Township. The Trenton Evening Times published this account of the blaze on following day, Wednesday, August 28, 1929: “Police authorities of Ewing and Lawrence townships are searching for persons who are believed to have set fire to barns on the farm of Thomas Burbesky on Federal City Road in Hopewell Township. The fire was discovered by Officer Forst of the Ewing police about midnight. He notified the Ewing fire department and in turn calls were sent into companies at Prospect Heights, Pennington, Pennington Road, Hopewell, and Lawrenceville Road (sic). Aided by a stiff breeze, the fire leaped from one building to another and, in a short time, four barns and five smaller structures had fallen prey to the flames. The house was saved when the wind shifted. The firemen were handicapped by water and were forced to stand by and see the flames march through the buildings. The fire was extinguished several hours later. A brief examination into the smoking ruins today revealed to Chief Prince of Ewing that the structures had been fired by incendiarists. It was first believed that a still had exploded in one of the barns but this was later discounted by police authorities. An examination revealed only a galvanized boiler in the debris.”

September 9, 1929
Chief James Hindley, in giving an account of the Hopewell fire during the company meeting held on Monday, September 9, 1929, reported that “no chemicals were used.” During the meeting, details were given about several other recent fires: “The chief reported a fire on Richmond Avenue, no chemicals used, on August 29; a fire at the Fairfield Avenue dump, no chemicals used, on September 4; a fire involving a Mack truck belonging to International Oxygen Co. of New York City, two extinguishers and one big tank used, on September 8. Also we answered an alarm at C. Reeves’ home, but nothing was used.” Other business attended to during the meeting included: James Balaam reported that Mercer County Firemen’s Association wished us to appoint a committee of five to meet at Mercerville firehouse on Wednesday at 8 p.m.. They also asked that a committee of three be appointed from the Ladies Auxiliary. A letter was read from Lawyer Satterthwaite in reference to being recognized by the fire insurance company.”

October 21, 1929
During a special meeting held on Monday, October 21, 1929, “it was moved and seconded that we decorate the firehouse and engine and the company pay the expenses incurred at the parade. Moved we buy 12 white hats, six white overalls, and six blue shirts.”

(Editor’s Note: This entry in the minutes refers to Lawrence Volunteer Fire Association’s participation in a parade to be held in Trenton to commemorate the city’s 250th anniversary. The fire company decorated its 1917 Jeffrey chemical engine as a ship honoring Captain James “Don’t Give Up The Ship” Lawrence, hero of the War of 1812. Maidenhead Township was renamed Lawrence Township in 1816 in honor of the heroic sailor. The actual date of the parade is unclear.

December 1929
During the final meeting of 1929, held in December, it was “moved that we present the fire zone and fire tax petition to the township committee. Pat Pasquito reported we made $58.53 on the Thanksgiving turkeys. Moved we give the boys a rising vote of thanks. Robert Ross reported progress on bill-board. Trustee James Balaam reported that Joseph Pilla would fix the chimney and Robert Ross asked about the slates on the roof. Robert Ross reported a member donated the piece of tin under the engine. The Board of Governors reported the building was cleaned and Charles Smith and Robert Ross cleaned all the lights. Moved that the chief present the doctors certificates of active members to the township. Moved that the secretary send a letter of thanks to the Ladies Auxiliary for their help at the oyster supper. Moved that we appoint a committee to meet with Lawrenceville and Slackwood in reference to liability insurance.” Nominations and elections of officers for 1930 were then held. “Robert Ross gave a good report on new members.”

1930

Janaury 13, 1930
During the meeting held on Monday, January 13, 1930, “Chief James Hindley reported the siren was in place and works okay. William R. Sharp reported on liability insurance. Pat Pasquito reported $31.70 was made on Christmas turkeys. Moved and second that Joseph Pilla be given a rising vote of thanks for rebuilding the chimney on the firehouse.”

January 27, 1930
During a meeting held on Monday, January 27, 1930, “Chief James Hindley reported that the township committee had appropriated $2,000 to the three companies for 1930. Moved and seconded the chief and his assistants procure a map of our fire district and put same in our firehouse.”

February 10, 1930
Chief James Hindley “gave a report of the Lake fires and said the members worked well,” according to the minutes of the meeting held on Monday, February 10, 1930. Unfortunately, no other details about the “Lake fires” are recorded in the minutes.

Also during the meeting, “Chief James Hindley reported progress on the map. The chief also reported the machine was in good shape and made a run to Mr. Coliveto’s in four minutes. The chief also reported the new flashlight and new tools were received. Moved we hold a card party and a committee of five be appointed. Moved and seconded we get 500 post cards to be mailed out in our district asking for old newspapers for the fire company. President Robert Ross reported progress on the bulletin board. Under new business, Mr. Ziegler gave a good talk about a new engine, hose, etc. Moved and seconded that the same 1929 Hose committee (Edgar G. Weart, William R. Sharp and James Hindley) be appointed to get prices on 700 feet of hose. Moved and seconded that a committee of three be appointed to secure data covering the benefits of having and costs, etc., of a pumping apparatus, and report back to the company. Appointed to the committee were: John McNeice, Spencer Cornell and James Hindley.”

April 6, 1930
On Sunday, April 6, 1930, members of Lawrence Volunteer Fire Association responded to a fire on Ridgemont Avenue. “Used one chemical. Slackwood and Lawrenceville were there,” according to the brief report entered in the minutes of the meeting held Monday, April 14 , 1930.

May 12, 1930
Highlights from the minutes of the company meeting held on Monday, May 12, 1930, include: “Chief James Hindley reported that 80 gallons of chemicals were used at the woods fire at Eggerts Crossing. The chief reported the tool box was partly complete. E.G. Weart reported progress on driver’s insurance. John McNeice reported that we have a reduced fire rate as of April 1, 1930. The Board of Governors reported they had given the old flag pole to the Princessville Cemetery. Quoit grounds in good shape. Moved and seconded that we have a light over the bulletin board and a red light over the fire alarm box. Moved and seconded we have a light over the quoit grounds.”

June 9, 1930
During the meeting held on Monday, June 9, 1930, “Chief James Hindley reported progress on the lights and engine. The chief reported on a fire on June 2 at Mike Simonelli’s garage. One large and one small chemical used and 300 feet of hose laid. House saved. And a fire at the township dump. The chief reported he bought seven new rain coats and 12 brooms, and 250 feet of 2.5-inch hose was ordered. Joseph Radlinsky was given a rising vote of thanks for wiring and working on the engine. James Balaam ordered flowers for William Brearley. President Robert Ross asked the brothers for a moment on behalf of Brother Brearley. Moved that the chief and assistant chiefs send a list of names to committee for appointment as special officers at fires.”

July 14, 1930
Highlights from the minutes of the company meeting held on Monday, July 14, 1930, include: “Moved we discontinue collecting papers and sell what we have on hand. Moved we notify the people that we are not going to collect papers. Chief James Hindley reported no fires and that he took engine over to Battery B with five active members on June 20 and 21 for the horse show. He reported he bought two new Indian fire extinguishers and 250 feet of 2.5-inch hose. Chief James Hindley reported he could buy a new battery for $7.50. The chief was instructed to buy a battery. Moved we donate $10 to the Princessville Memorial Cemetery. There was a lively discussion about firecrackers. President Robert Ross said that no more firecrackers would be allowed in the firehouse.”

September 8, 1930
During the meeting held on Monday, September 8, 1930, “the chief asked that the garbage man be instructed not to set fire at the dump on Saturday night or Sunday. Moved that a committee be appointed to wait on the township committee about same. Moved that badges be sold to members for $1 each. The secretary was instructed to write to the Newark office and ask if it would be permissible for the assistant chief to represent the chief at the convention if the chief is not able to attend.”

October 13, 1930
Highlights of the meeting held on Monday, October 13, 1930, include: “Assistant Chief Anthony Pilla reported we responded to a false alarm on September 29 on Darrah Lane. James Balaam reported the sauerkraut supper for the baseball team was a success. Chief James Hindley reported the engine was okay. Moved that the old fire engine committee be discharged. Moved that a new committee of all active members, with Chief James Hindley as chairman, be appointed to canvass the fire district and see what amount of money they could get pledged for a new fire engine. Joseph Pilla was appointed to clean the property on the outside.”

November 10, 1930
During the meeting held on Monday, November 10, 1930, “Chief James Hindley reported two fires. One in Eldridge Park and one on Brunswick Avenue. Small damage. Charles H. Smith reported that $188.10 was made on the recent oyster supper. Walter Schoeller reported progress on the new fire engine. Paul Paak suggested we make two or three coat racks. Moved we donate $5 to the old members at Boonton for Christmas.” First nominations for officers were held.

December 8, 1930
During the meeting held on Monday, December 8, 1930, “Assistant Chief Anthony Pilla reported we responded to a grass fire on DeCou Road. No damage. Chief James Hindley reported progress on the new fire engine. The trustees reported the front door will be fixed this week. James Hindley gave a good report about the Mercer County Firemen’s Association meeting and reported the next meeting would be at our firehouse. Under new business, it was approved the company buy 400 feet of hose and two gas masks.” It was then decided that the traditional open house would again be held on New Year’s Day. Elections of officers for the coming year were then held.

Top of page