Bristol Fire Company No. 1. — The action which led to
the organization of Bristol Fire Company No. 1, was
prompted by two disastrous fires, one of which consumed
Albernathy’s storehouse on the canal basin, and the other
the frame houses on Mill Street, near RadclifTe. At its
first meeting, held in the Town Hall, on March 10, 1857,
a committee consisting of H. G. Stelwagon, C. W. Peirce,
Jr., Dr. J. D. Mendenhall, L. A. Hoguet and A. L. Packer,
was appointed to make inquiry relative to the purchase
of an apparatus. This committee succeeded in raising
$1,800 by public subscription and placed an order with
John Agdew, of Philadelphia, to build a new fire engine,
to cost $950, and be completed in six months. The com-
mittee also ordered 500 feet of leather hose. Mr. Agdew
kindly loaned the company a second-hand engine until
the new one was completed. At the same meeting the
committee was authorized to purchase a lot at the corner
of Wood and Market Streets, of Ellen Johnson, for $600,
upon which to erect an engine house. Subsequently a
hose carriage was purchased for $400. It was an antique
affair, consisting of a reel, supported by two heavy
wheels, with a short tongue or pole to which the rope
The first officers of the company were Lucius H. Scott,
president; A. L. Packer, vice president; E. D. Buckman,
secretary; J. K. Wildman, assistant secretary; Louis A.
Hoguet, treasurer, and H. G. Stelwagon, C. W. Peirce,
Jr., H. L. Strong, R. W. Brooks, Joseph B. Bailey, I. S.
Tomlinson, W. S. Sulger, John Vanzant, Elwood Doron,
Samuel S. Rue, Edward C. Brudon, Valentine Booz,
Nathan A. Gaskill, Chas. C. Douglass and Robert Pat-
terson as directors or engineers. At the meeting of July
7th, a committee reported that the charter had been re-
ceived and was in the possession of the treasurer.
On December 23rd, the new engine arrived and the
members gave a short street parade in order to show it to
the people, after which a demonstration of its working
quaHties was given, which proved entirely satisfactory.
The first fire at which the new engine was in service,
occurred about 12 o’clock on Thursday night, March i8th,
1858, when a frame stable belonging to Jacob Poole was
entirely consumed at a loss of $600. On the same night
a frame dwelling and stable owned by J. Merrick Brown,
was burned and also two houses, owned by John Davis
and Robert Sanderson were partly destroyed. The en-
gine was in service for three hours and threw two streams
of water constantly.
In 1868 the members became disheartened over the
apathy in the community, with regard to the support of
the company, and a special meeting was called to con-
sider the advisability of handing over the engine to the
borough authorities, but it was reported at this meeting
that council expressed a willingness to assist in defraying
the expenses of the company, and the members gained
fresh courage, deciding to struggle on in the good work.
Several disastrous fires occurred this year, notably St.
Mark’s Roman Catholic Church, Wm. Young’s hay press,
the Farmers’ Hotel stables on Bath Street, Budd Doble’s
training stables and the Bristol Woolen Mfg. Co.’s mill.
In February, 1872, ninety-two new members were
elected to membership. A new era appeared to be estab-
lished and on March 5th the committee reported that
they had purchased the hose carriage formerly owned by
the Diligent Hose Company, of Philadelphia, for $500,
and 800 feet of new leather hose at 75 cents per foot.
The carriage and hose had been housed on February 21st
and taken out for exhibition and parade on Washington’s
The agitation for the purchase of a steamer began in
July, 1872, and in a short time $2,000 were raised by sub-
scription. On October ist, the order was placed for a
third size Silsby steam fire engine, to be delivered in
thirty days. On the arrival of the steamer a parade was
held, the steamer being drawn by the horses of Good Will
Fire Company, of Trenton, which were kindly loaned for
the occasion. The steamer cost $5,000, and was paid for
by a cash payment of $2,000, a note of $1,180 at one year,
note of $1,120 at two years and a note of $1,060 at three
years, and John R. Boyd was elected engineer. The bell
was purchased in 1873, having been formerly the Union
Street Station bell at Philadelphia, weighing 1,423
pounds. In 1874, at a fire at the canal stables, on the
property of Joseph Allen, the steamer was damaged by
having the smoke stack and headlight torn off by striking
the trestle under the railroad bridge, but by the substitu-
tion of a flour barrel for the smoke stack, good service
was done and the injury was repaired after reaching the
On October 6, 1874, the use of the meeting room was
granted to W. H. P. Hall and others for the purpose of
organizing a new hose company. This was the first
step in the formation of America Hose, Hook and Lad-
der Company No. 2, and was followed by formally rent-
ing the room to that company free of charge, and the loan
to them of the Fame hose carriage, previously bought
of Dr. Schenck, with a line of hose. This hose carriage
was afterwards sold to the new company and 500 feet
of hose was presented to them to fill the reel.
On February 13, 1875, the members attended the trial
of the first fire plug in the town, one having been placed
at the corner of Radcliflfe and Walnut Streets by the
newly organized Bristol Water Company, and also put
the steamer in service from the river and from the plug,
the result being very satisfactory, both as to the plug
stream and the line from the steamer.
The company participated in the parade at the com-
pletion of the house of America Hose, Hook and Ladder
Company No. 2, and attended Divine service at the M. E.
Church on invitation of the pastor, the Rev. J. S. Cook,
on October loth. As evidence of the fact that the serv-
ices of the company were appreciated by the ladies of the
borough, a large and handsome flag was presented on
May 4th, 1876, together with a beautiful banner of blue
and gold bearing an appropriate inscription.
On February 22nd, 1877, the hand engine which had
been kept in good order and repair, was turned over to
the Fire Brigade of the Bristol Woolen Mills and housed
in the brigade’s building with appropriate ceremonies,
after a street parade, in order to afford facilities for the
extinguishing of fires on the west side of the canal. The
same year a wooden bell tower was erected and the bell
removed from the cupola and placed in the tower. On
December 6th, 1877, the company with the steamer and
hose carriage took part in a parade in Burlington, cele-
brating the bi-centennial of the settlement of that city.
In August, 1875, permission was granted the Burgess and
Town Council to place a third story upon the engine
house, to be used as a council chamber.
On October 22, 1882, the company took part in the
parade and celebration in Philadelphia of the Bi-Centen-
nial Association of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,
and on August 8, 1885, the company’s bell was tolled for
the memorial service of General U. S. Grant. On March
15, 1886, a pair of horses was purchased at a cost of $500,
with harness costing $25. A brick stable 33 by 24 feet,
by 12 feet high, was erected and joined to the engine
house. On September 15, 1887, the company took part
in the Philadelphia parade in honor of the Constitutional
Centennial. The team proving unremunerative, the
horses were sold in April, 1888, for $350, and arrange-
ments made with the fire committee of council for haul-
ing the steamer to and from a fire.
On July 10, 1890, the purchase of leather hose was
discontinued, and 400 feet of rubber-lined canvas hose
were bought. A two- wheel hose cart was bought of the
Silsby Company in May, 1891, at a cost of $166.25, and
a pole for drying hose was placed in the lot adjoining
the building. On April 7, 1897, the fortieth anniversary
of the company was duly celebrated, and the same year
the company participated in a parade at the reunion of the
One Hundred and Fourth Pennsylvania Volunteers, and
Durrell’s Battery, held in Bristol on September 16, and
also housed a new hose wagon with swinging harness and
other modern appurtenances.
On October 21, 1899, the company responded to an
invitation from Good Will Hose Company No. 3, to
assist in the housing of their new combination hose and
chemical wagon and on June 6, 1901, the company joined
the State Fire Association. During 1903 a hose tower
was erected and furnished with all necessary conveniences
for drying hose. In 1904 a horse was purchased for draw-
ing the hose wagon. On May 19, 1906, the company turned
out to take part in the ceremony of housing the new
chemical engine of Good Will Hose Company No. 3, and
the raising of a flag at the Hall of Mohican Tribe, No.
127, Imp. O. of R. M.
On April 8, 1907, the company celebrated its fiftieth
anniversary with a banquet in Pythian Hall. Of those
who constituted the company in 1857, Thethree are
known to be alive today: William S. Sulger, I. S. Tom-
linson and G. Morris Dorrance. During the existence
of the company it has fought successfully about 300 fires.
Last year (1910), the company purchased an automobile
hose wagon, with chemical apparatus combined, being
the first company to introduce an automobile fire ap-
paratus in Bristol.