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1870's Mahanoy City: Citizens Steam Fire Company No. 2

The need for an organized fire company is important to every community. Mahanoy City in 1870 was no different.

In a growing and booming post-war coal region city, there was always the risk of fires which could potentially decimate the wooden structures and leave devastation in its wake. Most properties did not have insurance.

The first fire company in Mahanoy City was organized in 1867. As the town grew, more fire companies were organized. On 22 February 1870, Milton M. Bowman formed the Citizens Steam Fire Company No. 2. John F. Schoener was the chosen as the first foreman.

A charter was granted the company on 1 September 1873 and included Charles D. Kaier, founder of the Chas. D. Kaier Brewery in the city as one of the charter members. John continued to serve as foreman until 1874, when at a meeting of the company, a resolution was adopted authorizing Milton Bowman to recruit 20 young and active men of good standing in the community for membership. Up to that time the company had been largely made up of business and professional men, who found the duties of the position too burdensome. John was a carpenter/contractor. At a subsequent meeting, 21 candidates were proposed and a reorganization was effected. George Major, the Chief Burgess of the borough, was elected foreman. His time in the position would be short-lived.

By 1880 the company mustered 40 men. On 8 January 1934, the Schuylkill County Court granted a petition permitting the company to drop the word "Steam" from its name and assume the name of "The Citizens Fire Company."

The first hose carriage of the company was procured from the Good Intent Co. of Pottsville, PA, by whom, many years before, it had been purchased from the old Fame Co. of Philadelphia. In 1875 a steam fire engine of the Silsby pattern was procured. At a cost of $5,500, of which sum the borough council contributed two-fifths and the balance being paid by the company.

Silsby Steam Engine, Circa 1876

Money to assist in purchasing the fire engine was raised by public subscription. Mrs. Wilbur Smith, wife of the proprietor of the Mansion House hotel, contributed $500, the largest individual contribution. In recognition of the generous donation, the firemen called the steamer "Lady Jane Smith", until later years when it was called "Major" in honor of the deceased foreman, George Major. Until 1877 the apparatus was drawn by hand. The first company team was purchased in 1885. A hose wagon was purchased in 1892. The first parade in which it participated was the celebration in conjunction with the unveiling of the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) monument at the German Protestant Cemetery on 6 September 1892. The first chemical and hose wagon was bought in 1902. The first motor apparatus of the company, an American LaFrance pumper, was delivered on 6 June 1917.

American LaFrance Type 40 (1917)

In 1939 the Citizens raised sufficient funds to purchase a Studebaker ambulance. Thus was instituted the first Community Ambulance service, which became an integral part of the area.

From its inception, the members of the Citizens Fire Co. were always active in community life.


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