Marceline’s First Fire Engine, 1889

Up to the period when Mayor Cash took the oath of office, the city was entirely without fire-fighting apparatus. Insurance rates were high, the fire record was bad, and many of the first companies were closing their agencies and withdrawing from the town. Among the first acts of the new administration was the submission of a proposition to a vote of the people to bond the city in the sum of S1500 dollars, the money to be used in the purchase of a “hand fire engine.” The proposition carried almost without dissenting votes, the apparatus was purchased, a volunteer fire company organized; thus a modicum of fire protection was afforded the citizens. While the machine was crude and, so far as the writer is informed, it never arrived in time to save a burning building when an alarm was turned in, yet to the good housewife “next door,” whose home seemed doomed, whose children clung in terror to her skirts, the raucous clanging of its gong was seraphic music. The pump was operated by hand and the men worked for love of home and without hope of remuneration, and that they saved many homes from destruction which, but for their effort, would have gone up in flames with the property adjoining, entitles Marceline’s earliest fire fighting to a place in the grateful remembrance of her people.

Sherman Pierce was the chief of the first fire department in Marceline. Other members were Tom Ludden, Sidney Barnes, Joe Dale, Logue Sutton, Ed Hayden and Ed Berrier.

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