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May 2, 2003

Here's a bit more concerning the Perry fire department in the era shortly after the opening of the Cherokee Strip on September 16, 1893.

A lot of the following information was compiled by Fredonna Eisenhauer Dowell when she was city treasurer some 23 years ago. One of her principal sources was an old Perry newspaper dated February 12, 1912. Her story begins here:

The first move toward a fire department in Perry was made on March 12, 1894, when the city council purchased a hook and ladder outfit for $1,200. J. C. Patterson was appointed fire chief. Barrels of salt water were placed around the square in front of many business houses. Before the wagon arrived, two fires had virtually cleaned up the block southeast of the square.

After the spring elections, Henry Beard was appointed fire chief by Mayor Stone and he served about one month. W. W. Keas was appointed to fill the vacancy caused by Chief Beard's resignation. The department was located on the hill on the south side of C Street between 8th and 9th Streets. The fire house was moved next to 7th Street below C Street, in the Martin Laundry building. Gene Shoup was appointed chief by Mayor Holland.

A pair of gray horses was purchased from Captain Busch for a fire team and later J. A. Snyder was made chief with Dave Snow as assistant. From there the headquarters was moved to the old Pabst building on C Street between 5th and 8th Streets, which burned in 1908. The chiefs in succession following J. A. Snyder were W. Morehead, Charley Welter, George Durfee, Ed Staff, Art Shively, Chet Snyder, Emmit DeLaney and Tom Brandon, who was chief as of February 1912.

The old gray team passed out of commission five years ago (1907) and was replaced by a fine bay team. The department is located (in 1912) on 7th Street and has besides the chief an assistant, two paid and eight call men. Has 40 hydrants covering a radius of 160 blocks. From July 1 to December 31, 1911, the department made 47 blocks runs in response to 12 alarms, laid 3,750 feet of hose. Property loss amounted to $245, the amount of property involved being $103,220 with $69,000 insurance.

We'll wrap up this series of columns with the next one, unless more new information is found in the meantime.