HUNTERTOWN FIRE DEFENSE IS IMPROVED
YOUTH TRACES STEPS TAKEN TO BRING GREATER PROTECTION
BY CONRAD TUCKER, Huntertown High School
Fire! Fire! Fire! A cry that has always had the power to stop this work of a community with a breathless hush. Fire! A cry in the night that wakes men, women and children to fear and to terror Ė is it our house? Is it a neighborís? What will we do? From every direction comes men with buckets and ladders. Comes help!
FIRST FIRE IN 1879
To the best available information the cry first rang out in the village of Huntertown in 1879 when Red Men Hall burned. This building stood near where ARCH JOHNSON now lives. A man by the name of WHITEHEAD ran a saloon on the lower floor and a tinner also used part of this building.
Before 1890, the cry rang again when the general store and implement business of JOHN HUNTER & SCHUTT burned to the ground. This was the site of the present store of BURL SLOFFER. The fire started in the hall upstairs, which was the meeting place of the Regulators, an organization of the influential men of the community who policed the country for horse thieves.
In 1892 BOB LIMANíS cabinet shop at the site of the present Bank Building was burned, but the lumber yard at the rear was saved.
MANY SILLY THINGS DONE
HARL SAYLORíS home in the late fall of 1912 was found on fire one morning. The fire was confined to the east wing and as fast as BILL SNYDER could remove the shingles DOC GREENWELL, with a pipe bent into a hook, tore loose the sheeting to isolate the fire.
More strange happenings marked this fire than any in the history of the community. One man finding some dishes upstairs, very carefully carried them across the rooms, kicked out a window and threw them on the lawn: another attempted to move a 400 pound base burner, upset it, setting fire to the front-room rug: another, alone, carried a dresser down a ladder, but next day was unable to lift it onto the porch.
One man found a large and expensive vase, carried it carefully across the lawn and set it on a picket fence from which it promptly fell and broke. A farmer snatched up a broken fence post and endeavored to save the windows and doors by knocking them loose. Two men moved a large piano to the lawn without scratching it. Next day six men moving it, scratched it in a number of places and knocked off a pedal.
SEVERAL STRUCTURES LOST
The last fire before the purchase of two chemical carts in 1917 occurred at 2 a.m. on September 11, 1913, at a group of buildings that are just north of BILL SAYLORíS. WIDOW PORTERíS home, where the library now stands, BILL GRIMMíS blacksmith shop and a store building owned by BILLY BALLOU, wherein a tinner plied his trade, were razed and MR. SNYDER just saved his home.
But by now there was more help, more help for those who must face their blazing homes. The initial difference was the spirit of the community; it was changing.
On January 1, 1913, the Huntertown State Bank opened its doors, financed and run by the men of the community. Two years later the first Belgium Horse Show was held on the main street of the town and this organization developed into the Allen County Fair, which was to run to the fall of 1926. The war had been raging in Europe and had now claimed this country. Everyone busy, was jarred out of his lethargy.
CHEMICAL CARTS BOUGHT
The last two fires, one of HARL SAYLORíS and the other razing of the three buildings at the site of the library, had brought home to the community the need of a fire protection. Influential men pushed the movement with donations and solicitation of funds. Exactly $420 was raised early in the year 1917 and two 50-gallon chemical carts were purchased.
While donations were in order PERRY HALL, who at that time lived where EARL ERWIN now has his home on Road No. 27, came to the bank and gladly gave his contribution with this remark, ďWho knows, I may be the first to need it.Ē
Three months later and two weeks after the new equipment had arrived, the first run was may to PERRY HALLíS farm. While threshing, the new stack close to the barn had caught fire. CHIEF BILL SNYDER organized his men in two groups, one on each end of several log chains linked together and in this manner pulled the burning stack away from the barn. This trick was used again by CHIEF SNYDER seven years later at the home of MARION GUMP to move a blazing stack from the buildings, and, incidentally, the same trick should be kept in mind by the present company; it may come in handy.