he following is an excerpt from Mr. Hall’s manuscript which is held at the Historical Society, and is reprinted here with his permission.
Pictures of Baltimore’s ashes must have been fresh in the minds of the town commissioners and their president E. F. Effing, when they requested a meeting of citizens in July of 1908 to discuss fire protection. An eager response resulted in the meeting being held on the lawn of the West Main Street office. President Effing offered two options. One, a water supply from a standpipe that might cost $8,000 to $10,000. The other, chemical fire extinguishers mounted on wheels with 50 feet of hose and capable of a 60 foot high stream and cost $175. Lively discussion resulted in a unanimous motion to purchase two 40 gallon extinguishers and ladders not to exceed $500. These were delivered in October and placed in a shed at the rear of the “Council Hall” behind Allee and Shephard’s store.
The following is taken from the Midland Journal, February 19, 1909:
Chemical Engine and Truck Co.
The Town Commissioners have appointed the following to man the chemical fire engines and ladder truck:
Ladder Truck – Wm. Pogue, captain; Wm. A. Neilds, assistant captain; Wm. A. Reeder, Evans E. Ewing, Joseph Tyson, George Gerry, Roy Jones, Granville McDougal, Samuel Johnson.
Chemical Engines – A. B. Keen, captain; W. L. Ryan, C. S. Neilds, W. B. Cooney, N. C. Brown, Scott Wilson, John Donache, Nathan Britton, E. A. Jenkins, Harry W. Effing.
The apparatus is stored in the building erected for it, in the rear of the Council Hall, and each member of the fire company is provided with a key to the building.
Three years later in July 1911, citizens again assembled on the lawn of the commissioners’ office. This time engineers answered questions concerning a water supply and an electric lighting plant for the town. A special election was called for July 17, after an outline of the propositions were published in the Midland Journal. Voters approved a water system with 21 hydrants at 35 psi; an electric service with street lights, and an amendment to the charter allowing the spending, by a 6 to 1 majority. However, no action was taken in 1912. Expecting the legislature to amend the town charter to enable the town to finance the project, the commissioners personally obligated themselves for $15,000 to install the water works. Work progressed slowly, and by September 1913, the mains had been laid, services to homes begun, the standpipe completed, and the oil burning engine and engine house completed. April 1914 saw the completion of the water system at a cost of $13,717.56, real estate for the plant $1,700, and $442.13 for fire hose and hose cart, making a total of $15,859.60. Financing was not completed until the tax rate was increased and bonds were sold later in 1914. It wasn’t until 1917 that electric lights were installed, with power coming from the McCall’s Ferry dam in Pennsylvania.
In August 1918, Oxford’s big “auto fire truck” was invited to demonstrate it’s piping ability at the creek east of town. When firemen attempted to connect to a hydrant, hoses wouldn’t fit. Adapter couplings had been purchased when Oxford’s firemen returned in April, 1920. They were able to pump two fine streams from a hydrant.
The time was 10:15 a. m. Monday , June 13, 1921. The temperature was in the 90s. An American Oil tank truck was delivering gasoline to an underground tank in the alley between the Methodist church and Scott Wilson’s Central Storage Garage. Gasoline vapors ignited, involving the tank truck in fire. The fire was beyond control when the town apparatus was brought into play. Mr. Wilson’s garage, repair shop, plumbing business and home were destroyed. The recently renovated Janes Methodist Church was burned to the ground. One newspaper account tells of a Standard Oil truck delivering oil, also burning.
Realizing the wheeled extinguishers and hose streams at hydrant pressure were inadequate, the town fathers telephoned for assistance. Oxford was first to arrive and because they had checked our hydrants in 1920, had an adapter for their hose. Elkton also found an adapter and was able to use our water system. Perry Point and Havre de Grace laid 2800 feet of hose to Hunter’s mill race and had water when the town system emptied. Fire engines arrived in rapid succession from Fame and Water Witch of Wilmington, Port Deposit, Kennett Square, West Grove and Newark.
During the fire the roofs of several nearby buildings were set on fire and extinguished. When the cap blew off the gasoline truck, it fell through the roof of the Maryland House stable. Fortunately, William Wilson was there and put out the fire. The fire was under control about 2 o’clock in the afternoon. Oxford returned about 11 p. m. to hose down high, wind-whipped embers.
The feeling of helplessness probably motivated Dr. R. C. Dodson to call a meeting at the Chautauqua playing at the school. He stressed the need for an organized fire department. Temporary officers were chosen at the meeting: President – Dr. Dodson, Vice President – Wm. Pogue, Secretary/Treasurer – Evans E. Ewing.
The following Monday, another meeting was held in the public hall. Among those to address the meeting were: Chas. W. Tucker, President of the Maryland State Fireman’s Association; Geo. R. Percy, State Fire Investigator; Mr. Moss, Annapolis Fire Department; representatives of the Buffalo and American La France Companies; President Witworth of Singerly Fire Company; Messrs. Rogers and Brown of Oxford. After much discussion, a call went out for volunteers to join a company to be formed at a later date and 68 men enrolled. Positive action included a decision to equip the two-way hydrants with adapters, so Oxford could readily connect to them. When asked for donations for the couplings $106.50 was collected. The first contribution was made with the comment, “. . . to help make such a fire impossible again in Rising Sun.”
An organizational meeting was held June 23. Dr. R. C. Dodson ws elected President, H. M. Duyckinck, Vice-President, J. M. Holden, Secretary, Evans. E. Ewing, Financial Secretary and Steward M. Ward, Treasurer.
Twelve directors were elected as follows: H. L. Shepherd, A. M. McNamee, Chas. A. Hutchens, Wm. A. Reeder, David T. Reed, Wm. J. Snyder, John D. Donache, J. T. Cameron, Curtis E. Irwin, Chas. S. Pyle, Perry A. Gibson, B. P. Nichols. John Donache was elected captain and the following assistants were chosen: A. B. Keen, J. C. Hindman, A. H. Brown, H. S. White, Arthur Dinsmore, Clyde K. Keilholtz, Taylor R. Biles, Jos. Pogue, Francis Kennard, Amos Crowl, W. J. Snyder, Wm. L. Ryan, Job W. Kirk, Casper E. Ansalvish, Granville McDougal, Wm. Cherry, Merton White, Ed. Jenkins. The By-Laws and Rules Committee was Chas. S. Pyle, W. Louis Ryan, and E. Nelson James.
The group voted to adopt Ed Jenkins suggestion of “The Community Fire Company of Rising Sun, Incorporated” as the name. At the next meeting bylaws similar to Oxford’s were accepted and the town commissioners agreed to let the fire company use the town fire equipment. On August 4, Nelson James, Taylor Biles, and Charles Pyle filed papers incorporating the fire company.
The Community Fire Company of Rising Sun will celebrate the 100th anniversary of its founding on October 9, 2021. Check the website, http://cfcrs.org/, or the Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/risingsunfire/ for information on the parade and other activities to be held during the celebration. The Historical Society is now open to the public with mask and capacity requirements. If you would like to read more about Rising Sun’s fire company, we are open on Mondays, Thursdays, and the 1st Saturday of the month.