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Brooke County Fire Engines at Statue of Liberty Parade
This is a copy of a letter sent to the Fire Chief of the Wellsburg Fire Department, Wellsburg, (Brooke Co,) WV dated 20 Dec 1984.


Mystery Log Cabin
Brooke County Fire Engines at Statue of Liberty Parade

Re: Wellsburg Fire Engines and The Statue of Liberty.

Dear Sir,

I recently came across an interesting piece of "Americana" concerning three Wellsburg fire engines, which forever links your community and the Statue of Liberty in a delightful and unique way. In view of the renewed interest in the statue and its planned rededication in 1986, you and the community may be interested in it if you are not presently aware of it.

It seems that during the first half of the last century Wellsburg had acquired and used three used engines, one of which was built in England before 1800, the second called "Union" was built in Philadelphia in 1811 and the third was built in 1830. It was later noted that they "did good service in past years" in Wellsburg and no doubt were the pride and joys of your fire fighters. When their useful years were over and they were retired from service, they were not destroyed or junked. They ended up as part of the antique collections of the Hoboken, N.J. and New York City Veteran Fireman's Organizations and they had at least one more day of glory left in them.

On the morning of October 21, 1866 the three Wellsburg Fire Engines showed up on display in front of the Fabric Hose Company on Barclay Street in New York City. They so captivated New Yorkers on their way to work that a large crowd grew and the incident was reported the next day in the pages of the New York Times. The Times noted that the Wellsburg Fire Engines were there as part of the Veteran Firemen's Association entries in the Statue of Liberty dedication parade on October 28. This parade was then known as the "Bartholdi Procession" in honor of the artist who designed and built the statue.

The parade was the main on-shore ceremonies for the dedication of The Statue of Liberty and one of the largest ever held in the city. A later issue of The Times reported that the portion of the parade which commanded the greatest interest was that of "the fire laddies". As part of the ceremonial procession the Wellsburg Fire Engines were pulled down Fifth Avenue, and Broadway to the delight of the assembled millions and were reviewed by and received the salute of President Cleveland as they passed his reviewing stand in Madison Square. They ended up in lower Manhattan where the people viewed the ceremonies at the Statue.

Many states and foreign countries were represented in the ceremonies educating the Statue of Liberty, but few local communities outside the New York City area were there. However, it is documented that when Miss. Liberty arrived in New York Harbor Wellsburg, West Virginia was there. It was represented by the three Wellsburg Fire Engines.

_________________________________________________

THIS IS FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES 22 October 1886, Page 8, Column 3

" A good deal of attention was bestowed yesterday upon three venerable looking boxes on wheels, surmounted by singularly shaped iron attachments, which stood in front of the office of the Fabric Hose Company in Barclay-street. They were antiquated specimens of fire engines, which are to be dragged in the Bartholdi procession next Thursday by the veteran firemen's organization. All three were picked up in Wellsburg, West Va. where they have done good service in the past years, although to the modern city fireman they seem fit only to be broken up for kindling wood and junk. The oldest of the three was built in England some time during the last century, nobody knows when, and turned up in Wellsburg 75 years ago. It consists of a box 6 1/2 feet long by 2 feet wide and about a foot deep, and the water, which was poured into the box from buckets, was thrown out through the hose by means of a crank. The box is mounted on old rusty wheels, and as it stands on the sidewalk reminds one of nothing so much as a dilapidated coal box.

A more ambitious specimen of the old style engine is boldly named Union. It is a double deck end brake engine, upon which the fireman stood in the good old days and pumped up and down by means of brake bars on either end. This engine, also, had no suction, but the water was furnished by a bucket brigade, which filled the reservoir while the boys were pumping it our. It was built by Patrick Lyon of Philadelphia, in 1811, for the Vigilance Fire Company of Pittsburgh and did service for many years in the smoky city of Pennsylvania. It was finally abandoned when steam engines came into action and sold to the Wellsburg people, who seem to have been on the lookout for aboriginal specimens of fire engines. This and the coal box have been bought by the New York vet4rans, and will be hauled by them in the procession.

The third engine is somewhat more modern, but still ancient enough to be a novelty to the present generation, and it has a history of its own. Ir. was built for the Cincinnati Fire Department in 1830, and is a suction engine, drawing up the water and filling its own reservoir. It is worked by horizontal brakes, which the men pulled back and forth while sitting comfortably facing each other on the box, and was really an improvement on the regular hand engines its time. When the Cincinnati firemen got an improved machine the old engine was sold to Dan Rice, who was traveling with his circus up and down the rivers of the West. He carried it on the steamers as a protection against fire and utilized it as a band wagon for his procession on land. This engine, too, finally drifted to Wellsburg, West Va. and has now become the property of the veteran firemen of Hoboken, who will pull it after them in the Bartholdi parade. The three machines will prove a unique feature of the procession.


I believe this to be a part of the heritage of Wellsburg and may be of great interest to the community as interest in the Statue of Liberty grows during the next two years. For this reason, I am sending copied of this letter to those noted below.

I also enclose a copy of part of page 8 of the October 22, 1886 issue of the New York Times (col 3) where the incident on Barclay Street and the description of the Wellsburg Fire Engines are reported. To assist, I attached there a typed copy of the article.

I found this piece of history to be very interesting and would appreciate it if you and the parties named below would pass it on to the community, especially the children. I would also appreciate hearing if the story found some interest in Wellsburg, or if it was previously known.


Very truly yours,

John J. Sullivan
Copies: Mr. Anthony Paesano, Principal Brooke High School
Brooke News
Wellsburg Chamber of Commerce





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