Company History

Liberty Hose Company No. 2
Lykens, Pennsylvania
Founded August 27, 1885

In 1885, the Borough Council of Lykens, Pennsylvania, decided to organize a Fire Company and a fire department committee was formed.  The committee met at Mechanics Hall to carry out such purpose on Thursday, August 27, 1885.  The committee waited on 39 men who were willing to enter the new company. Click Here for a list of those individuals, our founding members.

That first meeting was called to order by the chair, J.B. McCoy, chairman of the Borough Fire Committee.  The following men were elected officers by acclamation:  Eli Kohlberg as president,  E.W. Deibler as vice president, and H.T. Bressler as sectretary.  A ballot declared U.D. Deibler as treasurer.  A committee of five was appointed to draft a constitution and by-laws.  On motion to go into nominations for a name for the new Fire Company, the following names were proposed: Citizens Hose Company No. 1, Liberty Hose Company No. 1, and Goodwill Hose Company No. 1.  The ballots declared Liberty Hose Company No. 1 to be elected as the name for the company.  (see Note 1)  This was the progress made at the first meeting which was adjourned to meet again Tuesday, September 8th, 1885, with the president to act as foreman in case of fire.  At the next meeting Eli Kohlberg resigned as president due to business matters and E.W. Deibeler was elected to fill the position.  E. W. Deibler resigned as President on December 3, 1885 because he was moving to Kansas.  J.I. Delaney was elected as the third president in a very short period.  Office stability settled in after this with officers coming and going with each annual election.

On October 1, 1885, George D. Grieff was elected as the first foreman of the newly formed company, John F. Foster as first assistant foreman, and Henry Ream as second assistant foreman.  Also at this meeting, the preamble to the constitution was read and adopted after some changes were made.  Also, the motto of the fire company, "Willing Hands to Save", was adopted.  On November 19th the by-laws were adopted  On December 3rd, after the resignation of E. W. Deibler, Three collectors were appointed to take subscriptions for a hose carriage with the subscriptions to be payable on or before April 1st, 1886.  A committee was also appointed to meet with Lykens Borough Council to obtain a contract for the use of hose.

The company had been meeting at Mechanics Hall but desired a building of their own.  On December 17, 1885, a committee was appointed to obtain a building for the company.  This was also the day of our first parade invitation.  Rescue Hose Company No. 1 of Lykens invited Liberty Hose Company No. 1 to participate in a parade on December 19, 1885.  The invitation was accepted and anyone wishing to parade was encouraged to do so. 

The Name of the company was changed at the January 7, 1886, meeting.  The name was changed to Liberty Hose Company No. 2.  It is rumored that this name change was because one of the other companies in town, Rescue Hose Company, was already using No. 1.  But there is no written documentation for the reason of this change.  Also at this meeting, it was decided to hold a ball on February 22.  This was the first of many such balls.  The balls were held for recreational and fund raising purposes.  The first ball raised $127.75 for the company.  After uniforms were purchased in August of 1886, all of these early balls were held in full uniform with the members escorting their ladies who were also dressed in the finest attire obtainable in the local stores.

On June 21, 1886, a contract was entered into with Mr. W.W. Wunder of the Reading Fire Apparatus Works for the building of a hose carriage for the sum of $450.00. (see Note 2)  The color of the carriage was to be vermillion and carmine mixed and to have glass in the reel, and the name and date of the company were also to be put on the carriage.

The company joined the State Firemen's Association on September 15, 1886, and on September 25, 1886, elected our first delegates to the convention held in Altoona.

The company secured and moved into a new building on December 12, 1886.  The building was located at the corner of present day South Second Street and Municipal Street and was owned by the Borough.  The annual lease was set at one dollar.  This would be the home of Liberty Hose Company for many years.  The building presently on this location is the "old" Lykens Municipal Building, built in 1937 and currently owned by Liberty Hose Company No. 2 and known as Station 22-1.

During the third week in 1887 the company and their new carriage  (see Note 3) entrained for Allentown where they paraded in the annual State Firemen's parade.  These fellows would parade, hold picnics, and have balls at the drop of a hat and grand ones they were.  Despite lack of transportation, paved roads or lack of money these early men really got around!

An interesting incident is noted in the May 18, 1887, minutes:  "Complaints from the citizens have been made, that members of the company, when out with the nozzle and section of hose, turned the water on citizens, yards, buildings and washed clothes causing trouble.  Therefore on motion that the hose cart, nozzle, section of hose or porperty of any kind should not be taken from the building, except at a fire, or with permission of the company or foreman."

The first fire after the formation of Liberty Hose Company broke out on the 17th of December, 1885 about 11:50 a.m.  The fire was in the double frame dwelling house owned by Andrew Hoffman, situated on North Second Street, near the west end.  At the time the alarm was sounded the men were cleaning the hose and carriage for a parade the next day.  There was only 350 feet of hose on the reel at the time of alarm and, thinking that this would be enough, they started for the fire.  But on reaching the fire, they found that they did not have enough hose to reach the fire.  H.K. Myers then hurriedly drove back to the hose house with Henry Ream and loaded the balance of the hose on the coal wagon of Isaac Hoffman who drove full gallop to the fire.  The boys soon had two streams of water playing and drowned the fire.  The damage was not great: $186, which was fully covered by insurance.  Twenty firemen answered that call.

Rescue Hose Company No.1 and Liberty Hose Company No. 2 had many interesting races to answer alarms, and Liberty usually won out by sending a runner ahead who took possession of the closest plug until his fellow firemen arrived.  In fact, of all the records kept up until December, 1900, Liberty was only second one time.  They certainly must have had the fastest runners in the borough or else real smoke sniffers who were able to smell a fire before it really began to burn.  Nothing slow about these early guys.  It was a matter of pride with them.

As the company grew and prospered they became uniform conscious.  It was common practice during this period of 1890 to 1900 to suspend all members who did not get a uniform whithin a certain period after becoming members.  The social event of every winter was the full uniform ball held in Mechanics Hall and bad luck to the member who did not appear spruced up in a freshly pressed uniform with his equally well accoutered lady on his arm.

After new applications were accepted for membership, it was the practice to have an examining board of three members, usually the foreman and his two assistants.  It was their duty to examine each and every active service applicant.  The examination consisted of at least ten questions and concerned such questions as fire plug locations and the water pressure at the plugs, questions about nozzles and couplings, who was responsible at fires, and general duties of a volunteer fireman.  The applicant had to have an average of at least 70% or he could not qualify for membership.  He had six months trial period and then if he had not passed, failed to secure a uniform, or generally proved unfit in other ways he was automatically expelled from the company.  Another important committee who served on an annual basis was the standing committee who heard and acted on all grievances and charges brought against individual members.

In the minutes of October 14, 1897 one reads that a motion was made to have the president appoint a committee of three to solicit new members and use all honorable means to secure the same to bring the membership up to 100.  It was also the custom at this time to loan money to needy members, who signed notes for the same without interest.  Two dollars per month was paid for janitor service, bills for spittoons were common as were bills of five dollars for refreshments.  The company and their hose carriage paraded on all national holidays and many of the state conventions.  The uniform for the July 4th, 1899 parade consisted of blue jeans, white shirt and gloves, and a straw hat.

Money was raised by the members in many ways, often by doing solo jobs.  In the August 24, 1899 meeting Harper Dunlap reported that he had appointed himselp a committee of one to secure chances on a chair.  He paid $1.98 for the chair and turned in $4.00 to the dance committee and $8.12 to the company.  Inter-company visits were common and great times were reported by all.  On February 21, 1890, the Northern Central Railroad out of Shamokin brought 60 members of Liberty Hose Company No. 1 of Shamokin to Lykens for a grand ball and parade.  The men stayed for two days and were presented with a silver trumpet by C. Jones of Lykens, who was the leading orator at that time.  The trumpet with all gold mountings was engraved as follows: "Presented to Liberty Hose Company No. 1 of Shamokin by Liberty Hose Company No. 2 of Lykens, February 22, 1890."

At the meeting held November 7, 1901, the secretary was instructed to contact a law firm in Harrisburg and find out what a charter, to incorporate the company, would cost.  The following meeting, November 14, 1901, an order for ten dollars was drawn to pay John C. Fox, Esquire, to proceed and get a charter.  At the same meeting the secretary was instructed to contact W.W. Wunder for the certificate in the State Firemen's Association.  On December 17th, 1901, the company was formally incorporated by action of the Dauphin County Courts.  The following week the certificate of membership in the State Firemen's Association was received and a hat and belt were presented by the Tremont Fire Co. in recognition of the new charter.

The company progressed and grew through the years.  Each year being marked by observance of various holidays with uniformed balls and parades.  The by-laws were changed from time to time as the occasion arose, all moving toward a definite end to make the company a stronger organization.  By 1910 the company became daylight saving conscious with regular meetings to be held on Thursday of each week from April 1st to October 1st at 8 o'clock and from October 1st to April 1st at 7 o'clock.  At this time the membership was held at 100 with the entrance fee for membership to be $1.00.

At the August 22, 1918, meeting an invitation was received to send three delegates to a Firemen's Union meeting to be held in Harrisburg on September 10, 1918.  This was the start of the present Dauphin County Volunteer Firemen's Association as we know it. Edward Rowe, Walter Deitrich, and George Ibberson were the delegates.  This was also the time the flu epidemic was so bad in town that no meetings were held between September 12th, 1918, and January 9th, 1919.  Sam the bulldog was the mascot.  A dog collar for Sam as well as a dish pan to feed him with and a water bucket were authorized to be bought.  The pool table was re-covered at a cost of $2.03 and 6 decks of cards cost $1.05.  Liberty Hose Company became an active member of the newly formed Dauphin County Firemen's Association on April 10th, 1919.  The first convention was held in Harrisburg on June 13th and 14th, 1919.  This was also the first year that the company placed flags on the grave of deceased members.

During July, 1920, a carnival was held which realized a net balance of $142.  This money was no sooner reported than a motion was made to put on a free keg and the balance to be spent for a picnic for the members.  And a big, beautiful time was had by all on Labor Day, 1920.  And this carried over for the next few years, have a carnival - make some money - have a picnic.  These men believed in paying for their fun the hard way, but at least they earned it.

The meeting held March 16th, 1922, showed the members were definitely interested in purchasing a piece of motorized fire equipment and a committee was appointed to contact business men, industries, and fraternal societies for donations to help defray cost of said fire engine.  On April 20, 1922, the meeting nights were changed to the second and last Thursdays of the month.  On May 24, 1922, a copy of the by-laws, amendments, and obligations were loaned to the Wiconisco Fire Company and a motion was made and passed for the company officers to give all aid and assistance to the Wiconisco Fire Company in helping them organize their company.  The new fire engine arrived in October, 1922, and the company members had quite a hassle with the borough council over rules and regulations before a compromise was affected.  It appears that the borough council wanted to appoint the engineers who were to have sole operating rights to the new equipment.  On October 12th, a Star auto, fully equipped, was purchased for $496.50 to be chanced off to help defray the expenses of the forthcoming county convention to be held in Lykens in June 1923.

The first county convention to be held in Lykens occurred in June 1923.  The convention was held in the West Boro Park Pavilion with the various churches in town very graciously providing the meals for the many delegates in attendance as well as visiting dignitaries.  The carnival run in conjunction with the convention was a great success with over $3,600 being realized after all expenses including parade prizes.  Although the charter called for 100 members, as of July 25, 1929, the company consisted of 53 active members, 13 exempt members, and 3 honorary members.  As of September 26, 1929, the meeting time was changed to 7:30 for all meetings except the annual meeting.  The company prospered and grew by changing the charter to accommodate 125 members.  In June of 1936 the company was again host to the Dauphin County Volunteer Firemen's Association.  In the fall the company started a very worthwhile project, that of cleaning chimneys in the borough without charge.  This project has been carried over continuously since that time and has served to prevent many fires and loss of property.

On February 10, 1937, the membership was increased to 150 with many new applicants seeking membership.  The borough built a new municipal building in 1937 with the company moving in on October 6, 1937.  The added room was more than welcome as it gave the company an auditorium for meetings and social functions and a club room in the basement.  The parade carriage was then stored and an ambulance was placed in the carriage room with the fire engine.  The present Hose Company Band was organized in July of 1939 and thrives today as one of the better musical organizations in the area having competed for and won many prizes.  On April 13, 1939, the present blue and red uniform was adopted.  On April 27, 1939, the company took over management of the West Borough Park.  This continued on an active basis until a fire destroyed the dance pavilion on May 30, 1953.  The membership has increased to 175 members on December 14, 1939.  During December, 1940, plans were made to finance a new fire engine which was finally delivered in the fall of 1941 and still serves the company today.  In November, 1940, the company took over the sponsorship of the Christmas street lighting project and competently handled this job for the following eleven years.  November 26, 1941, found the company purchasing their first resuscitator which was to prove such a boon to so many sick people.

With 200 members the old quarters were found to be too small and the company purchased the double block adjacent to the Borough Building.  The new club building was started in the fall of 1951 and the company took possession a year later in September, 1952.  On March 21, 1953, the membership was increased to 250, where it stands today.  A second resuscitator was purchased on May 15, 1953, and the old one was rebuilt in order to handle the many requests for service by our trained crew.  The company once again were hosts to the Dauphin County Convention in June of 1955.  In the spring of 1960 Liberty Hose Company in conjunction with our good neighbors, the Wiconisco Fire Company sponsored an ambulance association in order to give our residents a much needed and economical service.

This ends Part 1.
Major source:  Harold E. Shambaugh, Historian    7-11-1960


The original name of the company was Liberty Hose Company No. 1.  The name was later changed to Liberty Hose Company No. 2. (mentioned further in the text)   There is no mention in company records as to why the name was changed.  There are rumors that the name was changed because of another fire company in the Borough which had "No. 1" in their name, Rescue Hose Company No. 1.  Borough records do not exist to provide any clues to this mystery.
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W. W. Wunder was a manufacturer of fire apparatus in Reading, Pennsylvania, being proprietor of the only manufactory of its kind in the State at the time.  He was born in Reading on January 17, 1850, son of Louis and Susan (Setley) Wunder.  He was educated in the schools of Reading.  As a boy he worked in the sheet mills and later for the Reading Iron Company.  He learned the cigar maker's business at the old Maltzberger stand, which he later purchased, remaining there until 1882, when he engaged in the fire apparatus business.  His fire apparatus, which was considered the best made in the country, included chemical engines and fire trucks.  He organized the Pennsylvania State Firemen's Association, being elected secretary, a position which he held for more than thirty years.  He was a prominent member of the Keystone Hook and Ladder Company No. 1, was their representative to the Firemen's Union for thirty-four years, and was president of his Firemen's Relief Association.
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This 1886 hose carriage is said to be the first hose carriage of Liberty Hose Company No. 2.  However, documentation shows that the company used a hose carriage prior to taking delivery of the 1887 carraige.  (see the detail of the company's first fire and note the date)  Research, at this time, does not show mention of multiple hose carriages in company documents.  An 1897 fire company inventory, appearing in Borough records, does list two hose carriages.
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