Historical timeline of the Rothsville Volunteer Fire Company

By on August 30, 2017

It all started with a local business owner who wanted to make a difference in his community.

In 1888, Jefferson Usner of Rothsville purchased two hand-drawn, two-wheeled chemical carts with a tank and attached cylinder. Later, the first pumper, which was hand-operated, was purchased in about 1900. Manufactured by The Deming Company of Salem, Ohio, it originally dated back to 1897 and is now preserved at the Pennsylvania Farm Museum at Landis Valley in Lancaster.

In 1909, a two-bay fire house to store the pumper and chemical carts was built on the Henry Myers property on the edge of Picnic Woods Road. Two years later, a 300-pound bell was erected, ready to be tolled in the event of a fire.

These events would all lead to the formation of the Rothsville Volunteer Fire Company, organized on Sept. 4, 1917. It would go on to be chartered on Nov. 14 of that same year.

Early meetings were held in the basement of the Kinport Cigar Factory. Founding charter members included: John L. Weidler, president; Aaron H. Weidman, vice-president; Emerson R. Leib, secretary; Jacob B. Weidler, treasurer; Henry H. Myers, Walter S. Stauffer, and Harry J. Bupp, trustees. Additionally, Frank Bowman served as the first fire chief, with B.F. Lutz serving as his assistant chief.

Purchased in 1920, the very first motorized apparatus was a one-ton truck with twin chemical tanks mounted to it. By 1921, all equipment was moved to the stables of Clayton M. Adams along Main Street. In 1925, a fire dam was built in the woods (Picnic Woods) of the Henry Myers property, forming a water reservoir for the protection of the community. In 1927, a pipe was installed from the fire dam to Main Street across from Mumma’s Hotel so the engines could draft water from it.

The ladies auxiliary was formed in 1927 and reorganized 10 years later. They would play a key part of the fire company throughout its future.

In 1928, an electric fire siren (replacing the old bell) was mounted on a tower at the station.

In 1937, the fire company purchased the Kinport Cigar Factory, with the first and second floors being leased to Lititz Shirt Co. and the Rothsville Manufacturing Co. The fire house space (by now its fourth location), was situated in the basement. This property was located at what is now the parking lot of St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, at 2120 Main St.

A 1941 Hahn fire truck would be the very first truck to picture a rabbit. This would become the logo of the company, and dates back to the history of the area once known as “Haussa Barrick,” or “Rabbit Hill.”

To increase protection, four 35,000-gallon cisterns were constructed around the small village. The first was built in 1937 on the fire company’s property. The second was built in front lawn of a school on Church Street in 1945. A third was located on the property across from the White Swan Hotel. The last was built on the Elias Landis property on Skyview Road. These cisterns are all still in use today.

In August of 1948, land was purchased at 2071 Main St. for a price of $200. A two-bay fire house was built on this property a year later, becoming the fifth fire station. This has served as the current location ever since.

The Rothsville fire police were organized in 1951. When the ambulance corps was organized in 1952, a 1941 Chevy panel truck, then serving as the fire company’s squad vehicle, was used as the first ambulance.

Chief Claude Young was responsible for forming the fire company’s junior firemen’s organization in 1958. He would also found the first fire prevention program during October of that year.

In 1961, the fire company and ladies auxiliary purchased land from Joseph Long, which would become the Rothsville Fireman’s Memorial Park.

When Hurricane Agnes hit in 1972, the fire station became a shelter for displaced citizens with the ladies auxiliary providing free food for residents and firefighters during this scary ordeal.

In 1975, the fire station was expanded again when three bays were added to the western side of the building.

In 1986, the fire company purchased its first new fire engine since 1959. It would replace a 1954 Seagrave.

Claude Young Sr. would retire as fire chief in 1988, and Claude “Sam” Young Jr. was elected to the position. Claude Sr. was proudly given the honorary position of chief emeritus in February of 1989.

During July 2005, the fire company dedicated a newly-remodeled fire station. The former space was remodeled into a training room, lounge, bunk rooms, and offices. A gear room and four engine bays were also added. Additionally, a warning light was erected over Main Street to let passing traffic know when an emergency vehicle is leaving the station.

Today, the Rothsville Fire Company serves approximately 4,900 residents across 8.5 square miles.

To this day, they continue to be 100 percent staffed by volunteers.

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Rothsville Fire Company, there will be an open house Saturday, Oct. 7, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Keep your eye on a future issue of the Lititz Record Express for more details.

Cory Van Brookhoven is president of the Lititz Historical Foundation and has authored several books on local history. He welcomes your comments at coryvb@hotmail.com.

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