ebook  History of Watertown, Wisconsin


Watertown Fire Department






1847-1899 section   Other Segments   2000-2016 section  



Established 1857



___ 1900 __________________


The committee on fire department was authorized to ask for proposals for keeping holes cut in the ice for the use of the fire department during the winter.    WR



[same date] The following officers of the Watertown Fire Department were elected at the annual meeting last night:  President, John Chapman; vice-president, Arthur G. Krebs; secretary, G. E. Gloger; treasurer, A. A. Hardie.    WR



Mayor Grube recommended that the fire limits ordinance be amended so as to include all that district extending from Tenth to Church streets and including two blocks north and south of Main and West Main streets.   WR


02 13       PHOENIX BALL

The ball of the Phoenix Fire Company, No. 2 at Turner Opera house Saturday night, was very largely attended and proved a source of great enjoyment to all participating.  Music was furnished by the city orchestra and a program of twenty-eight numbers danced.  The grand march was led by Edward Schultz and Miss Lucy Reihle.  The hall was profusely decorated with bunting, flags, etc., while from the ceiling hung a large placard bearing the inscription. “God Bless the Ladies and Protect the Firemen.”  From this depended a picture of William Schulte, “Our First Chief.”  In the lower hall an excellent supper was served by Herman Yahr.  A number of firemen from neighboring places attended the ball.



Wednesday afternoon a successful test of the Fyricide fire extinguisher, for which George H. Hastings is agent, was made on the old Tremont House premises.  The extinguishing ingredient utilized in this device is a very finely pulverized chemical, which as soon as applied has the desired effect.



An alarm of fire was turned in from the Watertown Steam Laundry last Tuesday evening at 7 o’clock, the cause being a small blaze which had started in the floor near the chimney.  It was extinguished by employees before the firemen could get to work, although they responded in double-quick time.  No damage was done .


03 06       A. B. LIEBERMANN FIRE

[same date] The clothing and gents' furnishing goods stock of A. B. Lieberrnann, Third Street, was partially destroyed by fire Saturday morning.  When Mr.  Lieberrnann opened the front door of the store at about 6:30 o’clock he was confronted by a dense cloud of smoke, and it was discovered that a blaze had started near the stove and that the tables containing stock nearby were on fire.  The alarm was immediately given and both hose companies were soon at work on the flames, which were promptly extinguished.  The damage to the stock from smoke and water, however, was considerable, while the building was damaged only slightly.  The latter is owned by Charles W. Schulz.  Mr. Liebermann’s loss is covered by insurance.  The fire is supposed to have been started by a spark from the stove. 



The work of the fire department has been up to its usual splendid standard.  It is unfortunate that the city has so far been unable to put in a fire alarm system which would unquestionably be a great benefit; but we doubt if the necessary funds can be spared for that purpose.  Its members in all of the departments are deserving the thanks of all our citizens for the willingness with which they respond to all calls in their line of duty.   WG


04 27       BOYNE’S HOME FIRE

At about 11 o’clock last Tuesday morning fire destroyed about $50 worth of property at Edward Boyne’s home on Western Avenue, and the fire was put out without calling out the fire department.  But shortly after 12 o’clock noon, someone gave the alarm that Mr. Boyne’s house was on fire, the fire bells were rung and the department responded promptly, but imagine the firemen’s disgust when they heard the above fact.   WG



Early last Sunday morning someone ignited a broom saturated with kerosene and shoved it behind the window blind of the house occupied by Mrs. Carr on Jones Street.  Mrs. Carr and her two small children were asleep at the time, but were awakened by the smoke entering the house.  She sent her two children to the city hall to give the alarm of fire, but officers Pieritz and Berg arrived on the scene shortly and put out the fire.  Whoever is guilty of this dastardly act deserves the very severest kind of punishment, for whoever sets fire to a building, endangering loss of life, no matter what the provocation is, is a murderer at heart and a very dangerous person in any community.  Every effort should be made to bring the guilty party to justice.    WG



Monday evening the Ahrens engine was taken to Main Street bridge for the purpose of testing the new fire hose recently purchased.  The engine has been out of service for some time, and could not draw water from the river.  On examination, the cylinders of one of the engine were found to be clogged with several large stones, and how they got there is unknown.  They were too large to be drawn through the hose, and must have been placed there by someone.  As long as this engine is used by the city, it should be properly looked after, for it may be needed in an emergency.  All fire apparatus in the city should be thoroughly inspected by the proper authorities at certain stated intervals during the year.    WG


10 24       TEST OF NEW HOSE

Five hundred feet of new hose assigned to the Phoenix Fire company was given a test Thursday evening and Main Street bridge, the Silsby engine being brought into service.  The hose stood the strain of 240 pounds of pressure and was pronounced satisfactory.   WR


___ 1901 __________________


At 11 o’clock last night an alarm of fire called the department to the stock yards of the Milwaukee road near the Third street crossing, where a blaze had in some manner started.  The firemen extinguished it promptly, with but slight damage resulting.  Had the fire gained headway the loss might have been considerable, as Theodore Huber’s lumberyard is in close proximity. (401 Clyman)   WR



Jos. Jentzen, who has operated sprinkling wagon in this city for the past nineteen years, has sold his outfit, including horses, to Louis Griep.


For the next season of six months the Board of Public Works has let the sprinkling of streets in this city to T. J. Euper, the lowest bidder for $2520.  The probabilities are that Mr. Euper will sublet the sprinkling, one district to James Burke, one to each of the parties owning the fire department teams, and will retain one district for himself.   WG


05 24       DENT HOME FIRE

At 12 30 o’clock last Saturday morning the fire department was called to the home of Robert Dent, where the summer kitchen, about three feet from his residence was on fire.  R. Dent was awakened by the blaze and telephoned to the police station.  Before the fire department arrived Mr. Dent, with the assistance of his neighbor, Joe Harvey, succeeded in keeping the fire from doing much damage to the residence.  The fire department responded promptly, and put the fire out before much damage was done.  The fire is supposed to have been the work of an incendiary.   WG



The Fourth of July celebration of 1901 . . . . In the evening a fire run will be given on Main Street by the local department, followed by fireworks and a sham a battle on the river. . .   WG


06 21       OUTHOUSE FIRE

[same date] During the noon hour last Monday a fire in an outhouse in the rear of Herman Dobbratz’s brought out the fire department.  It was promptly extinguished.  Edward Rimestead, while trying to board the hook and ladder truck at the corner of Main and First streets, fell and narrowly escaped death, being flung against the wheel of the truck with terrific force.  He was taken to Dr. Werner’s office and medical attention given him at once.  He was badly shaken up and bruised, and his injuries will lay him up for several days.  He is employed as a teamster by Wm. Hartig.  


Cross Reference note:  Herman Dobbratz had a saloon and residence at 109 S. Third


07 19       NO WASTE OF WATER

Users of city water are hereby requested not to waste any water during this dry weather.  This appeal to consumers is made necessary because the flow of the well is limited, and to keep a sufficient supply of water on hand for the protection of property against fire must be the first consideration, and should appeal to the justice of every fair-minded citizen.   WG



Thursday afternoon September 5 ,1901, our neighboring city of Jefferson suffered the greatest fire in its history, and at one time during the day it looked as though the entire manufacturing and business portion of the city would be wiped out, as well as the county jail and courthouse.  Aid was telegraphed for to this city and the Silsby engine and Hose Cart No. 2 were taken to Jefferson and rendered favorable assistance.  A staff correspondent of The Milwaukee Sentinel said of the fire:” A stiff southwest wind, fanned what looked like a significant blaze into a raging conflagration, threw the entire city in a pandemonium, brought under control at 6 o’clock only after damage of $10,350 had been done.”


Aid from Fort Atkinson, Johnson Creek, Janesville and Watertown was requested about half an hour after the fire was discovered about 12:10.  The origin of the fire is not known although Superintendent Lewis M. Smith of the chair manufactory, where it was first found, believes that sparks from a passing train at noon flew into the open windows of the comparatively new brick factory building.  At 12:10, after every man of the fifty employees had left the place for lunch, smoke was seen issuing from the windows of the third floor nearest the tracks.  A single stream could not hold the flames in check and it spread to the paint shops and offices.  No call to outside cities was made even then, but when St. Mary’s church caught fire the appeal, which was quickly responded to, was sent.   WG



Another of Watertown’s old and respected citizens, Wm. Dobbratz, passed peacefully from earth Thursday night of last week at his home, 913 N. Fourth Street, aged 68 years.  His death came rather sudden, as it was only last Monday that he became ill, the cause of it being a cholera orbus.  Mr. Dobbratz was born March 8,1833, in Sternin in Kreise Coerlin, Prussia and came to Watertown when he was 10 years of age, and has ever since made this city his home, during most of which time he was engaged in the boot and shoe business.  He served his ward several times in the city council, was one of the founders of St. John’s Lutheran church in this city, was a member of the old Watertown fire department, and a member of the Watertown Arbeiter verein.



At 9 o’clock last week Thursday night the fire department was called out by a blaze in Carroll’s bookstore in Main Street.  A pile of paper in the rear part of the store in some unaccountable manner caught fire, and for a time it looked as though the fire would prove serious.  The loss is a small one and is fully covered by insurance.   WG


___ 1902 __________________

01 10       PRACTICE

Chief Doerr called out the fire department Sunday afternoon for practice, having received the consent of the committee on fire department.   WG



The city clerk was instructed to advertise for sealed proposals for hauling the hook and ladder truck.



(same date)  A resolution passed to the effect that the engineer of the fire engine be released from the duty of running the steam road roller but he is required to keep in order the Ahrens fire engine and clean and oil the steam roller.


03 07       MONOTONOUS

Saturday night a false fire alarm was turned in shortly before 12 o'clock.  This false alarm business is getting to be monotonous, and the next one who turns in a false alarm deserves a horse-whipping.  It is about time was stopped.   WG



At the annual meeting of the fire department George P. Gates was elected chief and Albert Borchart assistant chief.  The following named fire wardens were also selected:  First and Seventh wards, Ed Riemstead; Second and Sixth wards, John Guetzlaff; Third and Fourth wands, Fred Harsh; Fifth ward, Louis Schulz.   WR



[same date] At 2:25 Tuesday afternoon the fire department again responded to a telephone call to extinguish a blaze at the residence of Dennis Powers, corner Montgomery and West Madison streets, Third ward.  A boy who happened to pass by noticed smoke coming from the house and notified Berth Smith a neighbor, who telephoned to one of the fire department stations, but before they arrived Wm. Ardie and Albert Will who were passing by broke open a door and extinguished the flames which had started near the kitchen stove.  The damage was small.   WR


05 31       LOUIS VOGEL

Louis Vogel, aged 33 years, died Saturday morning of consumption with which he had been afflicted for several years.  He was a member of the Anchor Hose company No. 1.  The funeral took place from the home of his mother, Mrs. Emilie Vogel, 926 North Fourth Street, Tuesday afternoon to St. John’s church.   WR



The fire run by the department was a grand feature [in the Watertown Fourth of July parade] and was in itself an object lesson, not as an example of what our fire laddies might do in an emergency, but what they do time and time again without hardly attracting even a casual word of praise.


It was fine, even the horses seemed to enter into the spirit of the occasion.  With ears laid back, distended nostrils and eager, flashing eyes, and every muscle in active play, they needed no urging to make them beat the devil’s tattoo with their iron-shod hoofs on the brick pavement as they swung into view and out of sight between two long drawn breaths.


Every man was in his place, the engines under a under a full head of steam, flying sparks and clatter of horses’ feet, one by one, engines, hook and ladder trucks and hose carts passed in flying review, and as the people saw it they might well realize how much they are dependent upon the efficiency of our fire department for the safety of life and property.


Hurrah for the fire boys; their show was fine because it was real.       Watertown Republican, 07 12 1902.  



During the heavy wind and rain storm that passed over our city Monday afternoon lightning struck and set on fire the Watertown grain elevator near NorthWestern depot, but the prompt response of the fire department saved the building and contents.    WR


___ 1903 __________________

                CHRISTIAN BECKER

Secretary of the Fire Department and Treasurer of the Pioneer Fire Company. 



The Committee on Fire Department was given power to hire men to keep the ice open at Silver Creek and Boughton bridges for the use of the fire department.


CROSS REFERENCE NOTE:  The 150-year history book on the Watertown Fire Department mentions a spot underneath the Oconomowoc Avenue bridge where the Rock River was kept open during the winter by inserting a barrel in the ice and piling manure on top of it.  In a fire emergency a hose could be lowered into the water through the opening.


The Committee on Fire Department reported that they purchased 500 feet of Paragon hose from the Eureka Fire Hose company of Chicago at 90 cents a foot and 500 feet of Gold Seal hose from the Goodyear Rubber company at 75 cents a foot.



The annual meeting of the Watertown Fire Department for the election of chief, assistant chief and four fire wardens was called to order at the city hall Monday night by Vice President Edward Boyne in the absence of President M. Hurtubise who removed from the city.  Secretary Gus Gloger kept the minutes.  As there was no opposition to the reelection of George P. Gates for chief of the department he was elected by acclamation.  For assistant chief John Kehr was a candidate and secured 48 votes out of 82 cast.  The retiring assistant chief is Albert Borchardt of the No. 2 company.  The newly elected assistant belongs to Hook and Ladder Co. No, 1.   The old fire wardens were again elected as follows:  First and seventh wards, Edward Rimested; Second and Sixth wards, John Guetzlaff; Third and Fourth wards, Fred Harsh; Fifth ward Louis Schultz.


03 21       FACTORY OF F. C. JAEGER

[same date]  The wood working factory of F. C. Jaeger in Seventh street narrowly escaped burning Sunday morning shortly after 1 o’clock.  An alarm was turned in and the department arrived on the scene in a short time and promptly extinguished the flames.  The fire started in the boiler room and when the firemen arrived was burning briskly.   The building and contents suffered.  The building is insured.



Peter J. Euper, a well-known business man and contractor.  A member of the Department almost from the time of its organization, being a member of Phoenix Hose Cos. No. 2.  The flags on the city hall and Phoenix Engine house were placed at half-mast out of respect to his memory. 



Upon resolution of Alderman Mayer, the mayor appointed the following committee to investigate the merits of an electric fire alarm invented by Joseph A. Salick, H. C. Mayer C. Mulberger, J. F. Prentiss, R. H. Radtke, H. C. Fredrich.



The Common Council of the city of Watertown, do ordain as follows:


Section 1.  That the city of Watertown establish and maintain an Emergency Hospital, and for that purpose make use of the second story of the brick building, on First street, which is owned by said city, and located on a part of lot number two (2), in block number twelve (12), in the First ward of Watertown, Wisconsin according to Cole Bailey & Co s plat of the village of Watertown, now City of Watertown, Jefferson County, Wisconsin.  Said building being also known as old No. 1 Engine House.


Section 3.  That the equipment and care of said hospital become the duty of the Commissioner of Public Health of said city, who shall be responsible to the city for the care of said hospital and shall take charge of all surgical instruments, appliances, medicines and supplies, and attend to the proper cleaning of said hospital, fixtures, surgical instruments and appliances, as often as required, in order to keep the same in good sanitary condition and cause the hospital rooms to be properly heated, whenever necessary.   WDT, 04 19 1903



At 5 o’clock Wednesday afternoon the Fire Department was called to fight a fire at the James Forncrook Box Factory in Third Street [same as 1000 S. Second]. 


It proved to be one of the fiercest fights the firemen have had in years. 


Owing to the strong wind blowing from the south it was a question for a time if the whole neighborhood could be saved from the flames, but by the persistent efforts of the department the neighboring buildings were well guarded until the fire was under control. 


The factory had shut down at 4:30 o’clock and Mr. Forncrook and the workmen had left.  The loss is in the neighborhood of $9000, there being $1500 insurance.  A large number of men are also thrown out of employment. 


The residence property just north of the factory was in great danger and in evidence of this and in gratitude to the firemen, the owner, Dudley Fitzgerald, presented them with $25.  


1899-1900 Watertown City Directory



Section 1. No person shall keep for safe or for any other purpose, within the corporate limits of the City of Watertown, Wisconsin, any gunpowder, dynamite, nitro glycerin or any other substance of whatsoever name, which will explode from concussion or friction, or fire, except the same be kept in tin or metal canisters containing not to exceed five pounds each; and not more than five canisters all be kept in or about any one building or place within said limits at the same time. 


Any person who shall keep or store more than five pounds of dynamite shall keep the same in a fire proof vault, located outside of any building, and which location must first be approved by the Common Council. 


This section is not to be construed to prevent any person from keeping or selling any common matches.



The Phoenix engine house No. 2 on North Water Street received a thorough repairing the present week.  A new floor has been laid and at the rear of the room where the horse barn is annexed the partition has been removed.  This will make it more convenient in getting the horses out of the barn.  Instead of taking them out through the engine room when going to work they will be led out on the north side where a door has been fixed for that purpose.  Besides several other changes a new sidewall has been laid in front of the house.      WR



      Northwestern Passenger and Freight Depot almost Totally Destroyed


A disastrous fire occurred in this city early Monday morning, in which the C.&N.W. Railroad depot was almost totally destroyed.  The night operator, it appears, had been excused at 11:30 and during his absence, or near 1 o’clock, the blaze was discovered and the alarm turned in.  The fire department immediately responded, but by the time of their arrival the fire had gained such headway that it was impossible to do much, although they succeeded in saving the lime warehouse on the south and the waiting rooms and north shed roof.


Owing to the fact that the freight room had been pretty well cleared out on Saturday there was not much loss in that quarter.  However, the office was completely destroyed.  Among the ruins may be seen the charred remains of books, freight bills, tickets, etc., in a useless condition.


As to how the fire started is a question which will probably not be known, although it is reported that a freight train passed through shortly before the blaze was discovered, and it is thought that a spark from the engine might have started the fire.  It is evident, at any rate, that the conflagration started in the freight department by all appearances which remain.


The telegraph office has been temporarily located under the roof at the north of the waiting rooms, where a temporary office has been enclosed with rough boards.  A large force of men have been engaged in tearing away and burning the debris for the past two days, and although nothing definite has been learned, it is altogether probable that the railroad company will soon commence the erection of a new depot.  The business of the company is being conducted as usual without interruption and all freight shipments are accepted.


During the fire, Louis Griep, driver of hose cart No. 1, was injured, but was able to attend to his duties the next day, however.   It is estimated that the total loss to the railroad company is about $5,000.          The Watertown News, 29 Jul 1903


12 30       THE IROQUOIS THEATRE FIRE occurred on December 30, 1903, in Chicago.  It is the deadliest theater fire and the deadliest single-building fire in United States history.  At least 605 people died as a result of the fire but not all the deaths were reported, as some of the bodies were removed from the scene.  The remains of the Misses Orlena and Anna Moak of Watertown, victims of the Iroquois theatre fire in Chicago, were laid at rest in Oak Hill Cemetery.


___ 1905 __________________


The Silsby fire engine which was sent to Seneca Falls, N.Y. some time ago to be repaired arrived back Thursday, and was tested Saturday by Chief Glaser and assistants and found to be all right, and is hoped that its service will not be needed.  


05 18       A trial of old fire engine No. 1 was made yesterday afternoon, the scene being on the river bank back of the old brewery.  The trial was under the direction of Otto Biefeld, former chief, and was for the purpose of instructing the new engineer of fire engines, August Schmidt with the duties of the position to which he was recently elected by the council, which was formerly held by Mr. Biefeld.  Despite the fact that the engine has been in service in Watertown for a period of thirty years this summer, the former chief declares that it does just as good work as ever and that during the trial yesterday, it threw a stream across the river. It is said Mr. Schmidt takes hold of the work with much credit to himself. The first engineer was Ferdinand Bursinger and the first chief William Schuette.  


06 22       F. Kahlpacker of Cincinnati, Ohio, in the employ of the LaFrance Fire Engine Company, with headquarters at Chicago, reached here yesterday morning and put a new pump on the fire engine Phoenix No. 2, which was repaired by said company and received back about four months ago. After the new pump was attached the engine was tested by the chief and assistants and furnished the required quantity of water and it appeared to be serviceable, throwing a strong, steady stream of water without the aid of parts, with which it keeps the boilers supplied with water. Mr. Kahlpacker took his departure last night, feeling quite confident that the engine would be accepted by the city council at the regular meeting tonight.  



The fire department was called on Friday noon by the burning of four stacks of grain near Tivoli island.  How the stacks took fire is a mystery yet to be solved.  Shortly after its return, a false alarm was turned in and the department given another run for exercise and to get warmed up so as to use hot drivers.



The final test of the Silsby engine was made yesterday afternoon, perched on the river bank near the Cady Street bridge and subsequently on the Main Street bridge. The first test was based with three lengths of hose and water was thrown nearly if not quite across the river at that point.   Afterward with the Siamese twin coupling, water was sent across the river without any trouble. The engine was then taken to the Main Street bridge and a further test made, which was as satisfactory as the first. The tests showed that with the new cylinder and the adjustment made by Mr. Langdon, the representative of the American Fire Engine company, the work was accomplished with less than half of the coal formerly used, a stronger and more uniform water pressure maintained and a gain of one three quarter inch stream secured.  The old machine is now better than when it was new and good for thirty years more of service.  



There was an alarm of fire sounded late Wednesday night and the department was out with its usual promptness and made a run over the sixth ward to extinguish a blaze in a chicken house.  It is a mystery as to how the chickens started the fire.   WR


10 05       FIRE AT IXONIA

Mayor Wertheimer received a telephone message Monday afternoon that the village of Ixonia was burning up and send help.  He at once ordered steamer No. 1, and a hose wagon up to the St. Paul depot where these were placed on a flat car and started for the village mentioned.  The fire started in the elevator owned by H. C. Humphrey and destroyed the same; also the Milwaukee railway stock sheds. The loss of the former was $3,000, and the latter $50, both were covered with insurance.



The work of constructing the long talked of fire cistern in the Meckelberger settlement was started yesterday by the contractors.  The construction of this means of fire protection was in compliance with the urgent demands of the residents in that section of the city for better protection.  It is a step in the right direction and is prompted by the fact that the city is spread over nine square miles, leaving some of the residents and taxpayers in the outlying district without ample protection.  The work, which was started yesterday, is the first step toward giving effective protection in the districts that are not protected by water mains.  The city will endeavor to furnish protection to other districts similarly situated from time to time and as fast as the finances of the city will permit.  The new cistern is to be 35 feet long and about 11 feet high.  It is a recognition that is due the citizens in that section of the city and the mayor and city councilmen are to be commended in the action taken.   WDT



The fire department was called out yesterday noon to extinguish a fire in the residence of Robert Brennecke, 813 Western Ave., which caught from a Christmas tree, the candle upon which it had been lighted. The blaze was put out by the use of chemicals after quick work by the department. The wall paper was badly scorched, furniture blistered by the heat and two costly rugs ruined. Mr. Brennecke has reason to congratulate himself that he escaped with so small a loss.   WR


___ 1906 __________________


It is reported that at the time of the fire at the residence of Robert Brennecke [813 Western Ave] a lady living in the neighborhood discovering the fire by the reflection of the flames through a window, telephoned to the central office asking that the fire department be notified.  She was told to go to an alarm box and turn in an alarm which would have required several minutes, even if she had known where the alarm box was located. If the report is true, it is to be regretted, for every person in the city is anxious that an alarm of fire should reach the department at the earliest possible moment, and as the city has given the telephone company a valuable franchise and its employees go upon the roofs of buildings at all times to string wires leaving wire and nail holes in the roofs, it certainly would be but a simple matter of courtesy to aid in the preservation of property from destruction by fire. The writer does not wish to be captious nor critical in the matter and only refers to it that the company in the future may cooperate with other citizens in extending all possible aid in case of fire.  



Three weeks ago, the Republican in the issue following the fire at the Brennecke residence contained a gentle criticism of the Telephone Company for not turning in the alarm to the fire department telephoned to the central office.  Immediately following the appearance of the article in the Republican, the Daily Times January 6th contained the following “Explanation.”


As an erroneous impression has gone abroad regarding the turning in of a fire alarm at the time of the Brennecke fire, the telephone manager wishes it corrected.  He says that since the introduction of the fire alarm system the telephone central has never been requested by the authorities to turn in fire alarms as previously done.  On the day in question, however, one of the operators was called up and told to turn in an alarm.  The manager claims the girl tried the west side house but got no response and she then notified the person calling that it might be quicker to turn in the alarm from the box and not wait.  If this be true the published statements regarding the affair are unjust to the operator.  Just censure is always admissible but unjust censure harms innocent people.


And on the 17th inst., the following local appeared in the Daily Times:


Telephone Fire Alarms.


Hereafter when persons wish to send in an alarm in case of fire and when the fire alarm box is not in the immediate vicinity they may send the alarm by telephone to the central station, giving the location of the fire and central will notify the fire department at both houses simultaneously.  This matter has been arranged with the telephone management by Chief Glaser, who requested that the public be notified through the press of the change.  Since the introduction of the fire alarm system but little attention has been paid to the method of notifying the department, but good service in this respect is now promised at the central telephone station.


The Republican does not claim that it brought about the change — but has a sort of a suspicion that it set the ball in motion which has resulted in good.


01 31       SMOKE HOUSE FIRE

The fire department was called out Saturday morning at 3 o’clock by a fire at 1000 Vine Street, the home of Theodore Wiese, by the burning of a smoke house on his premises, which was destroyed.  In the evening there were five large hams and two shoulders in the smoke house and when the fire was extinguished the remains of but one ham and the two shoulders were found which leads to the suspicion that four hams were taken by thieves and the house set on fire to conceal the theft of the hams.



         Beyond Water Works Protection


The fire department was called out about 11 o’clock last night, the alarm having been turned in from box No. 72.  The fire laddies were called to the residence in the Seventh ward near the fairgrounds owned by Mrs. Herman Knick and occupied by Charles Riemer and family.  The property is located on Kansas Street, between Utah and Nashotah streets, considerable distance from the last fire hydrant.


An effort was made to stretch hose from the nearest hydrant, but it was found to be considerably short and after a fruitless attempt it was found necessary to send for one of the fire engines, which arrived on the scene about an hour and twenty minutes after the alarm had been turned in and at a time that its presence was of no use.  The fire started in a barn adjoining the residence in some mysterious manner and was not long in spreading to residence, which is one of the old landmarks of the city.


Mr. Riemer and one of his neighbors sat visiting on the porch till 10 o’clock, when the first mentioned retired for the night.  As stated, the fire started in the barn, which was soon a mass of flames and owing to the inability to secure water, soon spread to the house, which was also soon enveloped in flames and was at the mercy of the elements and all that the assembled crowd could do was to stand by and watch the work of destruction.


The contents of the barn consisted of a quantity of hay, about 200 pounds of feed, which had just been purchased, and three pigs.  The latter were driven out of the barn and were saved, but the balance were consumed by the fire.  The household goods were practically all saved, a fact that is lucky, for no insurance was carried on the goods.  It is understood that Mrs. Knick carried a small insurance, although it was not positively known last night whether the policy had lapsed or not.


There were at least a couple of fortunate features in connection with the fire and that was that there were no buildings in close proximity and that it had been raining, otherwise there would have been more of a fire loss.


Mrs. Knick, the owner of the building, is the mother of Alderman Knick and other children and naturally they felt badly to see the old structure that marked the place of their birth go up in smoke.  For many years they had played about the premises and were familiar with every foot of the ground.


Despite the lateness of the hour and the inclemency of the weather, there was a large crowd at the scene of the fire.  A number of young ladies in party costume made the trip out through rain and mud and they must have been a sight when they returned to the scene of the gaieties of the evening.                    The Watertown Weekly Leader, 20 Jul 1906



A 1906 Gamewell automatic system, on display at the Hall of Flame Fire Museum and the National Firefighting Hall of Heroes, located in Phoenix, AZ, is believed to be that of Watertown.


___ 1907 __________________

04 16       The fire department was called out yesterday afternoon about 3:30 o’clock the scene being at S. Molzahn’s building, corner Third and Madison streets.  The fire started in some mysterious manner in the cupola on the building.  It is a mystery for the reason that the cupola is shut off from the building.  There are no chimneys or electric wires therein, a fact that is causing considerable speculation as to the origin.  Fortunately the flames were extinguished before much damage was done.   WDT

10 20       Steam heating plant; Phoenix engine house   WL

11 02       Twenty crates of matches source of fire   WL

11 06       Proposed new building for storage of city property including the No. 1 fire engine   WL


___ 1908 __________________

04 22       No. 1 fire engine was taken out of its storage and tested  

05 20       Lehmann & Schroeder fire 

06 27       Wisconsin State Fireman's Assn, Lake Mills

08 07       Beals & Torey false fire alarm.   WG

08 07       Letter of Nic Bruegger on his time with H&L Co.

10 16       Gus Neitzel recollection

11 27       Fire insurance agents of city elect officers   WG

12 11       Hook and Ladder Co. No. 1 elected officers for the ensuing year   WG

12 18       Phoenix Fire Co. grand ball at Turner opera house    WG


___ 1909 __________________

01 01       Anchor Volunteer Hose Co. No. 1 elected for the ensuing year; Phoenix Fire Co. grand ball   WG

01 08       Copeland-Roach Motor Co purchased former fire engine house/emergency hospital   WG

01 15       Officers elected   WG

02 05       Winter storm shuts down fire alarm system    WG

02 05       Reeseville nearly wiped out by fire; Watertown Fire Dept arrives by train   WG

02 12       William Schimmel Residence Wrecked by a Gas Explosion

02 26       Fire at L. H. Cordes’ home on Third Street    WG

03 05       Improvements at Water Works Plant; pressure increased for fire fighting   WG

03 19       JOHN GLASER Elected Chief

Last Monday evening the Watertown Fire Department elected the following officers.  John Glaser receiving 53 to 32 votes for chief over George Kunert.  The new chief has been a member of the Phoenix Fire Co. for over 20 years, and has served as chief of the department heretofore.


Chief—John Glaser.

Assistant Chief—A. A. Hardie.

Fire Wardens—First ward, Edwin Kohl; Second and Sixth wards—John A. Gruel; Third and Fourth wards—Chas. E. Kerr ; Fifth ward, Albert Borchardt.   WG

03 19       Hose team of c.1895 remembered   WG

04 02       Clyman Fire Company organized   WG

04 30       Circus performance to benefit volunteer firemen   WG

05 14       Bids for hauling fire apparatus    WG

05 29       Officers elected, Phoenix Hose Co No. 2    WG

06 04       Amoskeag fire engine owned by city of Columbus, Dornfeld-Kunert secured contract for new boiler on   WG

07 09       Elevator at Richwood destroyed   WG

09 03       Names of Fire Companies:  For the benefit of an inquiring subscriber in Milwaukee we will state that the names of the Watertown Fire companies are:

Anchor Hook and Ladder Co. No. 1.

Anchor Hose Co. No. 1.

Phoenix Fire Co. No. 2.   WG

09 03       Overhauling Waterloo’s Silsby steamer   WG

09 10       Alarm of fire test   WG

10 01       Letter from Ernst Wood; Phoenix Fire Co recollections   WG


___ 1910 __________________

01 07       You are invited to the Phoenix Fire Co’s ball at Turner Opera House Saturday evening, Jan. 29, 1910.   WG

01 14       Officers re-elected   WG

03 11       Wisconsin House fire   WG

03 11       Fire Dept elections, Glaser reelected chief   WG

04 05       Money receive from insurance companies   WG

          - Phoenix Co, 35 men; Anchor Hose Co, 34; Hook and Ladder Co, 33 men.

04 22       Robert Kerstell, Engineer Fire Engine; Standing committee, William Schimmel, John Kehr, Charles Kohn

04 29       Statement on condition of dept by Mayor Grube   WG

06 17       Brandt-Dent factory fire   WG

07 08       Max Naatz electrocuted, employed fixing fire alarm wires   WG

07 29       Carl F. Otto elected treasurer, in place of George Weber, deceased.   WG

08 12       Homecoming celebration, fire apparatus parade part of   WG

08 19       Louis C. Ullrich [1850-1910], former member of old Pioneer Fire Co.   WG

10 15       Signage, Anchor Hose Co. No. 1. dance


___ 1911 __________________


The fire department, through Chief John Glaser, expresses its thanks to Mr. George Hawkins for a generous supply of cigars in recognition of the prompt response of the department when called to his place recently.   WG


03 23       False Fire Alarm.  Watertown—At 9:50 o’clock Monday a false fire alarm was turned in from box 13 and the fire department responded promptly, several firemen narrowly escaping serious injury by the hook and ladder truck crashing into hose wagon No. 2.  False alarms are periodically turned in here and sooner or later the guilty party will be caught and severely punished.   WG


07 28       Fire at the New Commercial Hotel


08 24       Jaeger wood working plant totally destroyed by fire.  WG



The Volunteer Fire Co. of this city met last week and elected the following officers:

President – Justin Wallace

Vice President – Wenzel Kunert

Secretary – Walter Kuenzi

Treasurer – Charles Gruel

The treasurer was placed under bonds of $500 to be furnished by the department.  The regular meeting date was fixed at the third Tuesday in each month.  A committee of three, Fred McLaughlin, William Kasten and R. Traeumer was appointed to petition the city council to purchase badges for the members.  The total enlistment of men was 42, divided into three companies.   WG


-- --           Fire Engines, popular iron toys of 1911 


___ 1912 __________________


The Watertown fire department at its annual meeting held in the city hall last Monday evening elected the following officers:


President—J. Wallace.

Vice President—W. Kunert.

Secretary—W. Kuenzi.

Treasurer—C. Gruel.



First Lieutenant—E. Schumann.

Second Lieutenant—M. Justman.

Hose Captain—T. Bergmann.

Assistant Hose Captain—J. Gruel.



First Lieutenant—H. Leschinger.

Second Lieutenant—E. Peters,

Hose Captain—A. Glaser.

Assistant Hose Captain—L. Arndt.



First Lieutenant—E. Kohl.

Second Lieutenant—E. Reichart.



First Ward—Wm. Hilgendorf.

Second Ward—A. Bursinger.

Third Ward—Roy F. McLaughlin.

Fourth Ward—William Kasten.

Fifth Ward—C. Sprenger

Sixth Ward—F. Lemke.

Seventh Ward—J. O’Brien.


10 04       CHARLES STRAW, 1851-1912





12 19       FIRE ALARM CALL

From this date parties discovering a fire and notifying “central” at the telephone station, must state the exact location of the fire.  It is then the duty of “central” to at once notify both engine houses as well as the waterworks station.  – John Glazer, Chief.   WG


_____      LOUIS E. DORNFELD

From 1912 to 1917 Louis E. Dornfeld drove the Hook and Ladder for the North First Street fire station.  The care of his horses was always a great concern and on the icy, wintry night of the Carl Schurz home fire one of his horses took cold and the team needed to be replaced.


___ 1913 __________________


Some years ago when the steam fire engine drawn by horses came into use its effectiveness was so far superior to the hand pump and bucket brigade of a previous era that many firemen believed the very pinnacle of progress had been reached in fire fighting.  But since that time has come the motor age.  We are purchasing no fire horses this year.  In fact, I do not believe we will ever purchase fire horses again for the department.  The days of service of these noble animals are drawing to a close.  The fire horse will soon be a memory in New York.  They have served their purpose well but in the future of fire fighting the horse plays no part.  The gasoline motor has usurped his place


___ 1914 __________________


About 7:30 o'clock last Sunday evening the fire department was called to the home of Mrs. Herman Korban, 1138 River Drive, by a small fire started by a defective chimney. Hand chemicals put out the fire before much damage was done.   WG


02 05       SALARIES

[same date] The engineer of the fire engine is to receive $700 instead of $660; the fire chief will receive $100 per year instead of $60.   WG



Last Friday fire at Hubbleton destroyed the feed mill owned by R. Elliott of Madison.  The fire communicated to the lumber yard nearby and destroyed a quantity of shingles.  The loss is about $2800, partially covered by insurance.  Assistance was asked from Watertown and the Silsby engine and a hose cart were taken to the depot to be shipped to the fire, when word came that the fire was under control and it was unnecessary to send aid.  WG



Sunday evening the fire department was called to the corner of Market and Second streets, where a fire was in full headway at the barn of Henry Guse.  The firemen had scarcely returned to their stations when another alarm called them to the barn in the rear of Rudolph Meade’s hotel and saloon at First and Milwaukee streets, which was ablaze.  At this place a man was seen leaving the barn shortly before the fire was discovered by Mrs. Erdman, who resides on the Milford Road, and was waiting for her husband when she noticed the barn on fire.  Across the street from Mr. Meade’s place the firemen discovered a fire in the rear of the Racek warehouse.  A pile of kindling had been arranged and set on fire and a torch was found nearby.  The same evening Mrs. John Guetzlaff saw a man striking matches in a barn in the rear of the Guetzlaff saloon in North Third Street and she called to him what he was doing and he replied “can’t a fellow light a cigar,” and beat a hasty retreat.  It looks very much as though a systematic effort was made Sunday evening to have fires by the wholesale, and no doubt the “fire bug” is still in the city and it might be well for our citizens to exercise a little extra watchfulness till the fellow is found out and put where he will not do any harm.  WG



Shortly after nine o’clock and again shortly after 12 o’clock Tuesday night false alarms of fire were turned in from boxes 63 at Hancock and North Fourth streets, and from box 51 at North Montgomery and West Green streets.  John Glaser, chief of the fire department, while trying to mount the hose wagon as it was leaving the Phoenix engine house, slipped and one wheel of the wagon ran over his foot, injuring it quite severely.  WG



While the family of Peter West, 1320 Boomer Street, was up town last Saturday morning, fire destroyed the barn on the premises and its contents.  WG


09 03       JOHN SOLON FIRE

The fire department was called Sunday afternoon to the premises of John Solon, West Main Street, where a small blaze in a barn threatened to destroy considerable property. The damage was slight, covered by insurance.  WG


11 12       FIREMEN’S BALL

A large crowd attended the Firemen’s ball at Masonic Temple hall last Saturday evening.  WG


12 10       FIRE AT CLYMAN

Early last Thursday evening fire destroyed about $20,000 worth of property at Clyman, nine miles north of this city on the C.&N.W. Ry.  This city was called on for assistance to help fight the fire, which threatened to destroy all the business portion of Clyman.  A number of our firemen and one of our fire engines and hose carts were sent to the scene of the fire on the C.&N.W. Ry. and Juneau also sent their fire apparatus.  The engines were not unloaded at Clyman, owing to there being no water available.  The hose, however, was attached to a standpipe reservoir there and put into service as long as the water lasted.  The firemen, however, with the assistance of residents of Clyman, controlled the fire in a short time and confined it to the vicinity where it originated.  The double store building owned by Mrs. G. Coler and occupied by H. Lekachman Mercantile Co. was totally destroyed, with contents, and the saloon and hotel building adjoining, owned by Wm. Hartwig [Hartig assumed] of this city, and occupied by Emil Kressine, was also badly damaged.  The fire is said to have originated by the explosion of the gasoline lighting system in the Lekachman store while the proprietor was lighting it.  He was badly burned about the face and neck.  WG  /   Google book citation 



At 5:30 o’clock Sunday morning fire at the home of George Schleicher, 608 North Church Street, caused by an overheated furnace, destroyed the home and contents to the extent of $1000 worth before it was put out.  It was partially covered by insurance.  WG 


___ 1915 __________________

01 07       FIRES IN CITY IN 1914

During the year ending December 31, 1914, the fire department answered thirteen calls in the city, according to records at the No. 1 engine house and were as follows:


Feb. 1—Korban chimney.

Feb. 23—Irving’s chimney.

March 8—Guse barn.

March 8—Maede barn.

April 24—Watertown Grain Co. elevator.

May 2—Peter West barn.

June 10—Krahmer’s barn.

July 4—Kraft house, Ninth ward.

Aug. 30—Robinson barn.

Nov. 4—Kraft barn, Seventh ward.

Nov. 23—Leo Jurck house.

Nov. 24—Kostjal house.

Dec. 19—Schleicher house.


Mr. Schleicher sustained the heaviest loss, which amounted to about $1000.


The department responded to one outside call, which came from Clyman on Dec. 4.  The damage at the Clyman fire was about $11,000.   WG 



Elevator, Coal and Lumber Yard Destroyed by $30,000.00 Fire.   WG     Portfolio of images  



Members of the Watertown Fire Department enjoyed their annual outing in the woods alongside Rock river, just past of the city limits, last Sunday.  All report having had a delightful time.   WG





The main building of the Watertown Creamery Company plant, at the SE corner of First Street and Western Avenue, was practically destroyed by fire.  Robert Duthie, president of the company, had built dwelling rooms into the west wing of the plant, and was sleeping in the building, until awakened by heat and smoke.  Leaping from his bed, he discovered that he was cut off from the telephone.  He reportedly threw his clothing out the window and fled in his night clothing to the power house of the waterworks, from where the fire alarm was turned in.  The buildings and machinery were formerly the property of the Jahnke Creamery Company.  Not long after the Jahnke company went into bankruptcy they were purchased by Mr. Duthie’s company from the George Koenig trust for $5,000.  Later this site was the location of the Steinhorst egg plant and Berres Bros. coffee.  Now (2016) the Watertown Street Department garage.  House on left stood at Western and S. Second, facing Second (i.e., 800 S. Second) and demolished when garage was built.


___ 1916 __________________


               Home of Matthew and John Lutovsky damaged today


Fire which broke out about nine o’clock this morning practically destroyed the upper story of the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Matthew Lutovsky and their son and daughter-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. John Lutovsky, 1413 [ should be 1412 ] Oconomowoc Avenue.  The residence is the first east of the Rough and Ready bridge on the north side of the street.


The Lutovsky family were notified of the fact that their house was on fire by Anton-Prochaska, a neighbor, who had called at their home and was leaving the premises when he glanced back and saw smoke coming through the roof.  Mr. Prochaska and John Lutovsky attempted to put the fire out, and for a time had hopes of succeeding but the flames got into a partition and a telephone alarm was sent in by Mrs. L. W. Moldenhauer from her home across the street.


Matthew Lutovsky, who was sick in bed with la grippe, was removed to the Prochaska home, and later to the Moldenhauer home.  He became thoroughly chilled and it is feared that his condition is serious.


The records of the fire department show that the alarm was received at 9:15 o’clock.  The hook and ladder truck and the hose wagons from both fire companies answered the call, but all the chemicals on the wagons were used without success in checking the flames and the fire engines were called for.  The nearest water plug is at the hospital, about half a mile distant from the bridge.


The engine from the east side was hauled to the fire by Emil Roth, and the Phoenix company engine was hauled by William Spear.  The Phoenix engine did not arrive until about a minute after the other, but being in charge of Engineer Kerstell, was well steamed up and two streams of water were on the flames within five minutes.


When water was thrown on the fire just before 10 o’clock part of the roof and part of the second floor ceilings had fallen in and the balance of the roof was blazing.  Under the restraining influence of the two streams of water the fire made practically no further headway and was soon under control.  Practically all the upper story will have to be torn away, and there is considerable damage to the first floor in both fire and water.  The loss on the building will be covered by insurance.  All the household furnishings were removed before any water was thrown on the fire.


The need of a chemical engine was clearly demonstrated at this fire.  An apparatus of this kind can reach a fire quickly and is ready to operate the moment it arrives on the scene.         WD Times, 01-08-1916


02 19       MASONIC TEMPLE FIRE, 2-6 East Main

Chapter on Masonic Temple.     Masonic Temple image set  



Chief 1886-1887, Death Of


___ 1917 __________________





The city’s new triple combination pumping engine, hose cart and chemical engine motor truck has arrived at the city hall fire station.  It is a mammoth gray bodied affair with the Watertown goose painted in various portions upon the sides of the driving seat.  The truck was built by the Seagrave Company of Columbus, Ohio, and represents an expenditure of $8,150. 


It is equipped with a six-cylinder enclosed gear water cooled motor officially rated at 79.3 h.p., and a Westinghouse electric starter makes it possible to make a quick “get away.”  The gasoline tank holds 30 gallons. 


The body is built of sheet steel, substantially braced, and is of sufficient size to carry 1200 to 2000 feet of 2 1/2-inch hose.  The hand rails and standards are of brass.  There are side steps between the wheel fenders and rear step fifteen inches deep.  The chemical engine is made of heavy hammered Lake Superior copper.  This equipment includes a 50-gallon tank - 200 feet of best quality 1-inch hose and two 3-gallon Fire Department extinguishers.


City Clerk Frank S. Weber wrote the Seagrave Company Saturday asking them to send their demonstrators at once. As soon as these men have tested the truck and the new driver has been taught to handle it, the horses will be removed from the city hall and the truck will take their place. No changes will be made at the Phoenix station.      Watertown Daily Times, 04 09 1917



But for the fact that Edward Leschinger was on the river bank between O’Connell and Cady streets Thursday morning the little child of Otto Biefeid, Jr. (*) would have been drowned in the river.  The little tot tumbled off the bank into the water and Mr. Leschinger, who was watching the test of the new motor truck (**), saw the accident and went into the river and brought the little one to shore in safety.    Watertown Weekly Leader, April 25, 1917


Webmaster’s notes:

(*)  g-grandfather of Watertown’s current Fire Chief, Kraig Biefeld.  There were 3 Ottos, the above-mentioned SON of Otto Jr. (therefore Otto III).  The Otto Jr. family resided on the lot where Johnson Arms is currently standing on N. Water St.  The Otto Sr. house was on O’Connell St., right behind the old Otto Biefeld factory on N. Water.

(**)  This incident aligns with the April 1917 arrival of the city's new triple combination pumping engine, cited on page 198 of the book on the 150-year history of the Watertown Fire Department.




A 50-year-old bell from the first motorized fire truck in 1917 was donated to the missions in 1967. 



The Watertown Fire Department now contains twenty-one members, twenty besides the chief, John Glaser.  The membership was reduced at the request of the police and fire commission, who also organized the present body.  Formerly there were thirty-six members and it was thought that a smaller force of firefighters under present conditions would be preferable.


The new membership is as follows:

John Glaser, chief.

Emil Schumann.

Al Preusse

Harry Schlueter.

Walter Kuenzi.

Edward Leschinger.

Otto Kohlhoff.

Leonard Arndt,

Jack Kuenzie.

Arthur Glaser.

John A. Gruel.

William Hilgendorf.

Robert Donner.

Max Justmann.

William Wendt.

Edward Carey.

John Dillon.

Edwin Kohl.

Edward Reichart.

Ernie Kuehn.

Julius Arndt.


At the meeting of the fire department Tuesday evening the annual dividend was given the men.  This “divvy” included all the members before the reorganization, and the sum of $34 was given each man.  This money comes from a return of two percent on all fire insurance premiums paid in the city, but for several years the dividend has been under control of the state.  It formerly was under control of the city and is given to volunteer firemen in lieu of any pay.  Hereafter as the force is reduced in membership, the annual dividend will be larger per man.



Fires, like time and tide, wait for no man, and when there is a fire in Watertown, the firemen are supposed to knock off work at the closest convenient point and not to stop to finish a glass of lemonade or complete the hilling up of a cabbage plant before responding to duty’s call.


Tuesday the whistle blew and the gong rang, and there was supposed by all rules to be a fire —therefore the fire laddies began to respond.  One of the members of the department, unlike some of the rest, possesses an automobile.  Into this auto the owner climbed and started in the general direction of the alleged conflagration.  On the way the autoist encountered Chief Glaser, and invited him to hop in and get there instantly.


Chief Glaser suspecting that the river was on fire from the direction the bunch was heading, jumped into the auto, and all was merry for a block or so—and then the auto, with a grunt somewhere in it’s innards, stopped still.


No amount of lever pulling or reciting of Latin had any effect on the car, and the auto driver, with rare presence of mind, suggested that they get out and run.


Under the circumstances, this was a bright idea, and was at once acted upon, and after the fire was squelched, which proved to be no fire, ribald jokes were indulged in as to the speed made by Chief Glaser in his sprint, it was also discovered that the cause of the stopping of the auto was caused by the lack of gasoline in the tank, as it has been found at times that gasoline is almost indispensable when running an auto, except in cases where Kansas and Oklahoma autoists have used bootleg whiskey for motive power.  Bootleg whiskey is erratic, however, when taken internally by the driver of a car or used for motive power, and has been known to make an auto climb a pecan tree backwards, hence the expression, “nutty as a pecan tree” used much in that section.


Certain persons have suggested that the driver of the Watertown auto to yesterday’s fire simply wanted to see how fast Chief Glaser could run, but the lack of gasoline was proven beyond a doubt.  The name of the autoist is not divulged . . . and we do not want to turn the joke on anyone.                The Watertown News, 18 Jul 1917


-- --           FIRE SUMMARY FOR THE YEAR 1917

  Addition of a motor truck an improvement over the horse drawn hose wagons


The year just closed was remarkably free from disastrous fires according to Fire Chief John Glaser.  In fact, during the last half of the year 1917 there were but few blazes and these of little consequence. 


During the year, however, the equipment of the fire department was greatly improved by the addition of a motor truck.  This is a great improvement over the horse drawn hose wagons and reduces considerably the chances of fire gaining headway.


The Watertown Fire Department has been reduced in membership, the total now being twenty-one.  It is claimed that the reduction has added to the efficiency and the well-earned reputation of the past [and] seems assured in the future, although but a volunteer organization.


During the year there were seven false fire alarms and six still alarms, and three of the fire calls were to extinguish a on railroad property.


There were but eleven fires during the year as follows:


Jan. 7 —C.M.&St.P. box car.

Jan. 16—Muller house.

April 6—Berg's barn.

April 22 —Killian house.

April 24—McDonald house.

May 15 —Immanuel church.

July —Tool house, C.M.&St.P. Ry.

July 18 —Zoelle house, North Second Street.

Aug. 15 —Kuhn’s grocery.

Sept. 4 —Gilbert’s house.

Dec. 9 —C.M.&St.P. box car.                                     01 02 1918


___ c.1917 __________________




___ 1918 __________________


Charles A. Gamm today tendered his resignation as a member of the Police and Fire Commission.  He gave as a reason that he expects to be absent from the city considerably owing to poor health.  His term expires in 1922.  His successor will be appointed by Mayor Mulberger and under the rule will be a republican in politics.  Confirmation by the council is necessary.  Mr. Gamm was appointed a member of the commission when it was first organized, by Mayor H. G. Grube, and has served continuously since.



Have you made up your mind to attend the Firemen’s mask ball to be held in Turner Opera house Saturday, January 26?  If not, you had better, for it will be the first mask ball of the season.  It will be the largest social affair staged here. 


There is $114 in cash to be offered as prizes, the largest amount ever offered in cash at any mask ball ever held in this city.  The merchants have contributed prizes to the amount of $141.  Better buy that ticket now as you will regret it later if perchance you find the tickets all gone.


The Weber-Stube orchestra will furnish the music.  They guarantee to last as long as the dancers do.


The firemen protect you, make you feel secure in your homes, work hard for you when you are in distress.  They are going to help you in the way of amusing yourself on Saturday evening, January 26.  Your cooperation is all that is necessary.  Artistic ability on your part may mean that you will go home richer than you came.  For the prizes will not be stinted.  The merchandise premiums are too numerous to mention.



The elite of the east mingled with the brawn of the west, courteous southern chivalry rubbed elbows with the orient, old world costumes and clothes of modern but past days were commandeered for the Firemen’s mask ball in Turner Opera house Saturday evening. 


Everybody knows the story which has been handed down from the earliest peoples as a heritage of joy to the present day.  Aladdin and his wonderful lamp presided for the brief space of one evening of unlimited joy in this, the century of activities.


Both lower floor and balcony were crowded to capacity.  The grand march played by the Weber-Stube orchestra started promptly at 9:30 o’clock and was led by Jack Glaser and Jack Kuenzi.  The judges, Charles W. Harte, Frank P. McAdams, Emil Creuz, Mrs. Harry Stube and Miss Gertrude Schatz then picked the winners as they passed in review.


The first prize of $25 was won by "Old Glory group” composed of six girls dressed in red. white and blue with white stars.  The Misses Hattie Krueger, Alma Sterwald, Hilda Siebort, Bertha Fleuter, Josie Loukota and Jeanette Hoeffner made up the group.  The second best costumed group prize of $18 was awarded the fairies, comprising Misses Josephine and Grace Collins, Margaret Nellins and Meta Buske, dressed in ballet costumes.  Five coons copped the comic group prize of $10.  The color scheme consisted of red, green and black.  Messrs. Leonard Johnson, Max Schultz, Hugo Vogel, Ewald Radtke and Lawrence Brown made up this group.


Misses Zayda Weber and Elsie Schwendke, dressed in colonial costumes, were awarded the $10 prize for the best dressed couple.  Fatty Arbuckle and wife, Ray Schmedel and Lorraine Ott, won the $6 prize for the best comic couple.  Misses Ella Knoll and Helen Hoeffner were awarded $5 for the second best dressed couple.  They wore colonial costumes.  Edward Buske was given $5 best Uncle Sam.  August Henschel of Oconomowoc received $5 for the gents best costume.


Herbert Schatz and Miss Martha Knoll won the $5 special prize offered for the best tango by Gruel & Glaser, and Ernst Leschinger and Miss Winifred Lange won the $5 special waltz prize offered by “Nig" Preusse.  Paul Borchert and Walter Weihert won the $3 prize for second best comic costumes.  Miss Tillie Kaercher was awarded $2 with a jockey costume.  Roy Ditttmann took a $2 prize for carrying the best electrical outfit.  Clarence Peters and Miss Pearl O'Brien won $2 in the turkey fox trot. 


The following were awarded merchandise prizes:


Elmer Donner and Viola Buege, best American couple; Mrs. Edward Buske, flower girl: Ernest Brill, best original makeup; E. Krueger, fireman; Ruth Johnson, best school girl; J. Weihert, Happy Hooligan; Minnie Rebahn, Goddess of Liberty; Howard Krueger, beat workingman; Ferd. Dittmann, hod carrier; Walter Potter, painter; Norman Glatzel, Jew; Richard Hilgendorf, Chinaman; Fred Block, clown; Gust Boehm, clown; Edward Kehoe, Irishman; William Kohls, clown; Harry Davenport, cook; Meta Korff, best chauffeur; Pat Riley, policeman; Della Johnson, schoolboy; Hugo Zillmer, farmer; Max Wolff, tramp; S. M. Lord, negro; R. Budewitz, yellow kid; A. R. Bahr, tramp.     The Watertown News, 01 28 1918



The city fire truck will have a license this year according to advice received from Madison.


The “Old Baby” according to Collie, or “What’s the matter with it now” by the chief, will cost the city an additional $10 this year as heretofore no license tag was necessary.  Attorney General Haven on Friday advised Secretary of State Hull that the law providing for the licensing of automobiles and other similar motor vehicles applies to all such vehicles owned by municipalities.  This ruling means that all cities owning motor fire apparatus, fire patrols, police patrols and motorcycles will have to take out state licenses for such vehicles, the same as they do for motor vehicles used by city officials.    The Watertown News



Under unfinished business Alderman Glatzel asked if many fire hydrants were frozen.  Chief Jack Glaser stated that a man had been hired without his knowledge to keep the hydrants clear of snow, but that he had found in Western Avenue that the work was not satisfactorily done.  In other years he had looked after the matter and had packed the hydrants to keep them from freezing.  The mayor then advised that the committee on fire department and the chief to get together and untangle their differences.



Alderman Beurhaus asked if any of the28 ½ tons of coal put into the Phoenix Engine house was left or what had become of it.  Chairman Harte of the buildings committee said the greater part of it should still be in the bins.  In answer to Mr. Beurhaus’ question, Mr. Harte said in 1916 the house had used 32 ½ tons and in 1917 39 tons, but this year a saving was effected by storm windows and conserving the supply in other ways.  He said the present supply at the Phoenix house would last through the year and the surplus, if any, could be used in the city hall, where the supply was sufficient for only three weeks.




The Carol O’Donnell residence, 1119 Breckenridge Street [continuation of So. Twelfth St from RR tracks to city limit], was damaged by fire Tuesday morning.  The flames had a good start before the fire apparatus reached the scene and was extinguished only after the building had been nearly destroyed.  The origin of the fire is unknown and its probable cause is assigned to either a spark from a passing locomotive or a poor chimney.  The loss is but partially covered by insurance.


In making the run the fire truck [1917 Seagrave assumed] started out good but went dead between Third and Fourth streets on Main.  It was necessary to use the hand crank before it could be started.  It continued to buck all the way out.  As a result, the Phoenix horse-drawn hose cart arrived on the scene of the fire and had a stream playing on the blaze before the engine truck arrived.


After control of the fire had been gained it was necessary to cut the hose in order to allow a passenger and freight train on the Milwaukee Road, which had been waiting an hour to pass.  The fire gained a fresh start before the trains had passed and the coupling replaced.  It was noon before the blaze was extinguished.  A barn in the rear of the residence was the only building threatened by flames.


Shortly after the fire truck had been housed after its bucking run to the O’Donnell fire, Engineer Schumann thoroughly inspected all working parts.  His attention came finally to the magneto.  When taken apart it showed two flaws, a crack on the right side and a long crack on the left side.  The magnet was taken out and will be replaced.


Chief Glaser ordered the truck out for a test at 5 o’clock Tuesday afternoon, running on the batteries as the machine is equipped with double ignition.  On Main Street the truck hit in the neighborhood of 35 miles an hour.  It made the [Sacred Heart] college hill in West Main Street at 45 miles.  It was in fine working order and the accident was an unavoidable one as a magneto very seldom goes wrong.     The Watertown News





___ 1919 __________________

-- --           BELL FROM 1919 FIRE TRUCK

A 50-year-old bell which served on the first motorized fire truck in 1919 was destined to Ghana, Africa.  The brass bell which was used to herald fire runs on the Fire Department’s first fire truck is being reactivated and will start a new “career” in Africa.  A Watertown couple, engaged in mission work for the Assemblies of God, is taking the bell with them when they return to their mission field following a 13-months furlough “at home.”  They are the Rev. and Mrs. Edwin Ziemann whose residence in Watertown during the furlough has been at 501 Division Street.


___ 1920 __________________


Drivers of automobiles are hereby warned not to interfere in any way while the fire department is answering a call.  Racing to a fire in a manner to hold up or stop the motor truck by getting in the way will not be tolerated and any further action of this kind on the part of auto drivers will be prosecuted.  Cutting off the truck at crossings so as to compel the driver to stop to avoid collision will result in prosecution.


John Glaser, Fire Chief.



Mr. and Mrs. Herman Doerr and son and Mr. and Mrs. Gustav Schroeder and son of Baraboo motored here Saturday morning and remained until Sunday evening, the guests of the former’s mother, Mrs. Julius Doerr in this city, and his brothers, Emil, Arthur and Robert Doerr, and sister, Mrs. Gust Sillmer.  Mr. Doerr conducts a tailoring establishment in Baraboo, where he has been in business for the past sixteen years.  He left Watertown thirty-one years ago, first locating in Mazomanie, and then removing to Two Rapids, Iowa, where he was in business until coming to Baraboo.


In talking over his boyhood days in Watertown, Mr. Doerr became reminiscent and told about how the youngsters were thrilled with the work of the fire company, recounting a number of big blazes of that period, including the Tremont House fire.  While driving the truck to that fire the horses became uncontrollable and the apparatus was upset in Main Street, injuring a number of the men. 


The party started back Sunday evening.  Mr. Doerr pointed out many civic and business improvements in Watertown during the past ten years. 



That the fire truck must be taken out often and attention given to the recharging of batteries was stated by Chief John Glaser to the council last evening when criticism was offered that the truck was out on the street too often.


The chief said that he took it out to determine its running order a couple of times a week, only for short drives, and that such a course was in conformity with careful regard for the service.  The matter came up when two small claims were filed for damages alleged to have been done by the truck in running into automobiles lately.


Alderman Henze of the fire committee corroborated the stand of the chief.  Alderman Gruetzmacher mentioned that reports had come to him that the truck was driven at too great a speed when out on these trial drives.  Chief Glaser replied that the speed on such occasions never exceeded ten miles per hour.


Alderman Block informed the council that many complaints were made, that the truck was away from the engine house too often, and that many times it was taken out too far from the center of the city, a thing that would be dangerous in case of fire.


Settlement of the claims was referred to a joint committee consisting of the finance committee and the committee on fire department.






Fire in big wind destroys elevator of malting company


The elevator of the American Grain and Malting Company, near the Milwaukee depot, was almost entirely destroyed by fire in a blaze that raged all forenoon.  Officials of the fire department say this was the worst fire since the Masonic temple fire four years ago.  A high wind prevailed and the fire department had that difficulty in combatting the flames.


The call came in by telephone from the office of the Beals-Pratt Shoe Company, which has an uninterrupted view of the building, shortly after 9 a.m.   The auto truck made a quick “get out” and was soon at the scene of action and the whole fire fighting force was quickly marshaled and put in action under the command of Chief John Glaser.


Origin of Fire


The origin of the fire is not quite clear but the general belief is that the fire started from sparks emitted from a railway engine.


It was reported that a lady crossing the tracks just before the 9:05 passenger, observed sparks from the engine blowing in that direction.  There was a strong wind from the southwest and the fire was first discovered on what is known as the second highest part of the southwest corner of the elevator.  Carl E. Emmerling, manager of the American Malting Company, the owner, stated that about 9:15 he was in his office and looked out the window.  The fire alarm sounded at about the same time and he looked about and saw a blaze about three feet wide on the edge of shingles on the southwest roof mentioned.  The fire department reached there soon after. 


The flames seemed to have made terrific headway, and in a few moments the whole building was becoming enveloped.  It was discovered when the hose were attached that the city pressure was very feeble, and the auto truck engine and the Ahrens were both brought into service to increase the pressure.  There was no hitch in the work of the fire department, steady streams being directed against the rapidly burning structure and the fire kept confined thereto.


The wind was so brisk that it was feared that buildings in a northeasterly direction were in danger.  Every precaution was taken to prevent sparks from taking hold.  Despite the vigilance, a large hole was burned in the roof of the H. Uehling barn, 809 Clyman Street.  It was put out with chemicals in short order.


Residence owners were quick to invoke the law of self defense and put their garden hoses in operation.  The roofs were manned and the wooden surfaces of the building kept drenched until the danger period was passed.


The elevator building was owned by the American Grain and Malt Company, which is the successor through reorganization of the American Malting Company.


Early History


The building was erected over sixty years ago, according to the statements of old residents of the city, but during its history changed hands but few times.


Its first owners were Jonas and Silas Sleeper, who conducted it for many years, being among the pioneer grain buyers of this vicinity.  It was considered one of the biggest elevators in the state, having a storage capacity of 24,000 bushels of grain.  The lumber used in its erection is said to have been of the very best and it was considered yesterday as good as new.  The cost at the time was $7300, according to a record kept and transmitted to the successors of the original owners.  The first building was built south of the present depot and about thirty years ago, on becoming the property of the late William Buchheit, was moved to its present location.  It passed from him to the American Malting Company.


Large Storage of Tobacco


For the past six months the lower floor of the elevator has been stored with stemming-tobacco from the plant of the Ligget-Mayer Company of this city.  We were unable to ascertain the extent of this loss, but it is supposed to be quite large.  The tobacco was almost entirely destroyed or ruined.


Building Complete Loss


The building and its equipment is a complete loss, but is partially covered by insurance.  For sometime the elevator has been out of use for grain storage and the probability is that it will never be rebuilt.      WDTimes, 9-15-1920


Cross Reference note:  The mill burned in 1946 and again in 1959.



The Junction House served the public until it was destroyed by fire at high noon on Friday, Oct. 9, 1920.  It was never rebuilt.


___ 1921 __________________

01 22       FIRE AT KOSER’S

After two weeks enforced rest from baking, the Koser Bakery, 111 S. Second Street, is now prepared to resume.  The baking room which was badly damaged by fire on Sunday, January 9, has been fully repaired and in a manner that makes it one of the best and most serviceable departments of its kind in any bakery.  The ceiling and walls are now entirely of steel and painted a pure white which gives it the appearance of ideal sanitary conditions.  The fire started in the “proof box,” a wooden structure which was destroyed in the blaze.  The new box is made entirely of steel and is much more serviceable.  The baking room is very spacious and well arranged.  Bakers who have looked it over say that it can hardly be improved upon. 


On account of the improvements made necessary, the Koser bakery had to suspend baking in its plant, but through Herbert Pagel of the West Side bakery, they were able to turn out barely enough to keep up with the trade.


The bakery, recognized as one of the best and most up-to-date to be found anywhere, is now better prepared than ever to serve its large and growing trade.  Mr. Koser went in business here 23 years ago and has been at the present location, 111 Second Street for the past 14 years.


The building is splendidly adapted to the bakery and confectionary business on a large scale and under the present efficient management of Mr. and Mrs. Koser and their children, the business has grown to large proportions.


The Koser Bakery is the manufacturer of the celebrated “Golden Crust Bread,” and specializes in rolls, pies and cakes.  The result has been a large shipping for foreign trade as is evidenced by the fact that numerous school girls are employed after school in wrapping food parcels to be forwarded to distant points.


The improvements just made as a result of the fire have added materially to the value of the bakery, which will commence to operate the ovens Monday morning.


___ 1924 __________________




    Watertown Wis, June __24


___ 1925 __________________


      June 17, 18 & 19, 1925

Admission Ticket, Drawing for $1,000 in Gold



A picture containing text, building, old, outdoor

Description automatically generated       Held in Watertown on June 18, 1925



The fire department responded to a call from the residence of Mrs. Pauline Goeldner, 310 N. Church Street, Sunday afternoon, 12/27/25.  The roof of the house caught fire while an effort was being made to thaw out a frozen water pipe.  According to the firemen, birds had built a nest under the roof and this is believed to have started to burn when the flames from a candle reached it.  Through a misunderstanding over the telephone, the department went first to N. 3rd Street instead of N. Church Street.  The damage was not very great.



The story and a half frame residence at 217 North Third street occupied by Mrs. Ernestine Karge was gutted by flames during an early morning blaze today. The house was badly damaged by the fire and by water.  Furnishings on the first floor were carried to safety; but most of the furnishings on the second floor were destroyed or damaged in the blaze.  The origin of the fire is unknown but it is believed to have started in the basement.  The fire spread rapidly and blazed through the roof and windows when members of the fire department arrived.


The fire alarm was sounded at 2:20 o'clock this morning.  At the city hall information was given to the effect that the fire was at a Third Street address instead of on North Third Street.  This resulted in the first alarm giving box 12 as the location of the fire.  A trip was made to that section of the city by the fire department but the error was soon discovered and the department hurried to the scene of the blaze.  The building is owned by Milwaukee parties.


___ 1926 __________________


Emil Hell, Church Street, was appointed a fire truck driver by the police and fire commission at a special meeting held at the city hall Tuesday night.


Mr. Hell was appointed in place of Charles Schumann who did not accept his appointment made by the commission last Friday night.  The appointment is to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Edward Radloff Jr., who will leave Watertown on April first to engage in business at Lake Mills.


Mr. Schumann, in tendering his resignation from the appointment, stated he would remain at the Walter J. Booth Shoe Co., where he is engaged as engineer.  He was the first driver of the fire truck in Watertown and his appointment met with the approval of the businessmen and others, according to a statement made by the police and fire commission.


Mr. Schumann, according to his resignation, stated that, owing to the fact that his appointment did not seem to meet with the approval of the fire department, he would rather turn down the appointment so that the work of the fire department would go unruffled.


Mr. Hell is at present a truck driver for the Kraeft Cheese Co. of this city [1]


[1] Assumed to be Kraft Bros. Cheese Co., 122-124 N. First (Jossi Cheese Co, cheese mfg & dlr-wholesale previously at this address)


Mr. Hell is well known in this community and no doubt will take up his duties in an able manner.  He has not been a member of the fire department.



A picture containing grass, outdoor, building, house

Description automatically generated  

The Becker home at 302 North Water Street, stands in ruin today as the result of a most disastrous fire which swept most of the structure and brought ruin to the building and its furnishings.  The home is occupied by Dr. and Mrs. W. C. Becker, Mrs. Catherine Becker, mother of the physician, and by Miss Catherine Becker, his sister.


The fire was discovered at about 1:15 o'clock this morning by the elder Mrs. Becker who lives on the second floor of the building.  The origin of the fire had not been determined but it started in the attic.  Members of the Becker family had returned home shortly before midnight and Dr. Becker tended to the furnace in the basement before retiring.  Sometime later the fire was discovered and the fire department responded to the call.


The flames laid waste to most of the upper part of the building, the roof being completely ruined.  Flames swept the building for three hours.  Most of the furniture and furnishings on the main floor were saved while the upper floor today contained the remains of the furniture and furnishings.  Water did a great deal of damage too and today it was still dripping in many places throughout the building and a great deal of the woodwork had begun to warp.  Smoke has also had a share in causing damage.  The upper floor had just been redecorated.  The fire attracted a great many people and the flames soared high into the darkness.  The firemen used every effort to keep the flames from spreading.  Luckily, they did not reach other nearby dwellings.


At the home it was stated today that the damage had not been estimated, but it will run high.  A visit to the place disclosed that. Insurance will help to offset the loss but the amount of insurance was not made known.



Watertown merchants and other businessmen and leading professional men in the city who realize the value of the farmers of this community to the welfare of Watertown, are heartily in favor of the plan whereby the city is to become a part owner in a suburban fire truck.


The entire matter of purchasing such a truck is now up to the city council and it is expected that the council committee will report on the proposition in the near future and that the matter of purchasing a suburban fire truck will be up for consideration by the council at an early date.


It is pointed out by businessmen that, since the plan for such a truck for this community originated in the city itself, it is up to the city to carefully consider the matter and to give it proper support.  The plan has been readily accepted by the various town boards of this section and the sum of $6,500 has already been voted by three boards toward the purchase of such a truck.


Watertown business life depends, in a large measure, upon the farmers of this section and the city now has an opportunity to work for closer harmony and personal interests with the farmers in the surrounding townships. It is an opportunity that should not be passed up without due consideration, it is pointed out by various business men and other citizens, who see in the suburban fire truck a necessity that is becoming more apparent in all communities such as Watertown.


Businessmen of Watertown are becoming actively interested in the proposition of such a truck and the farmers, who have done their part toward securing such a truck, are waiting to see what the city is going to do about it.



A large barn on the premises of Michael Modl, 1300 Theresa Street, was destroyed by fire Sunday night.  The origin of the fire has not yet been determined and an inspector from the state fire marshall's office at Madison was in the city today investigating the case.


The fire department responded to an alarm shortly before 10 o'clock last night and upon arrival the structure was a mass of flames.  Firemen managed to save the house and other buildings located near the barn. The blaze was spectacular and the flames illuminated the entire neighborhood and attracted a throng of people.  Most of the contents of the barn were destroyed in the blaze.  Mr. Modl was being held by police today for questioning.  This afternoon no definite announcement about the case could be made as the investigation had not been completed.



Fire, said to be of unknown origin, destroyed a row of sheds at the Monarch Tractor plant early this morning.  The fire was discovered shortly before 2 o'clock and an alarm was sent to the fire department which responded.  When firemen arrived on the scene the sheds were a mass of flames and three automobiles and a snow plow, stored in the sheds, were destroyed in the flames.  A second alarm was turned in at 2:15 o' clock and practically every fireman in the city was on the scene.  The fire raged for more than two hours.  The sheds were located at the rear of the assembly building of the plant.


___ 1927 __________________


Blaze Sweeps Oil Company Sheds and Tanks Here.  Fire believed to have started when a gasoline truck backfired Tuesday night, 9/13/27, swept the sheds and storage tanks of the Bartles-McQuire Oil Company located at 1117 Tenth Street and destroyed the coal sheds of the Watertown Fuel Company located nearby and resulted in the most spectacular blaze Watertown has had in several years.  Two men were burned, one of them seriously, Harry G. Marshall and O. L. Diest. . . .


___ 1928 __________________


It was a sad day in Watertown, when, on March 9, 1928, Turner Opera House caught fire and burned down


___ 1933 __________________

11 17       FORMER HABHEGGER SALOON Consumed.  Habhegger’s Sommergarten 


___ 1934 __________________


Watertown's city hall will be closed from top to bottom all day tomorrow and warning signs will be placed at all entrances to keep the public out or risk death.


The reason for this step is that the drive to exterminate bedbugs which have made their entrance via the jail through the admission of transients who sleep there is to be launched as authorized by the city council.  The deadly fumes which will fill the lower quarters of the building will prevent anyone from entering unless they wish to risk certain death.


The fire department and the police department will move headquarters to the Krueger garage next to the city hall.  A special telephone wire was run in there today to handle all calls in both departments tomorrow.  Fire trucks will be kept out of doors while the department headquarters are closed.


The city jail quarters were cleaned up some time ago, but some of the vermin got into the sleeping quarters occupied by the firemen and since then it has become necessary to give the entire first floor of the building a thorough cleanup.  The deadly fumes will penetrate the upper portions of the building and for that reason it will be necessary to close the entire building while the work is under way.


Firemen took a number of pigeons from the tower to save them from death.  One pigeon which flew into the tower Sunday was overcome and toppled to the ground but was revived.  A hornets' nest located above one of the doors on the exterior of the building had all of its inmates destroyed by the gas, the hornets falling dead on the sidewalk.



The Evans Block [101, 103 and 105 E Main], a three story structure housing the Princess Confectionery and the Main Cafe, as well as living quarters was swept by fire the Saturday morning of 12/1/34 to such an extent that the eastern half of the building will have to be almost completely reconstructed . . .   WTribune


___ 1936 __________________

Feb          Emil Luther funeral; volunteer fire dept, tribute paid    WDT


___ 1937 __________________


A disastrous fire the first of the week at Watertown destroyed the auto paint shop of Chas. David Sons, on Madison Street, entailing a loss of $4000 to $5000.  The blaze, which started in the shop, was discovered shortly after 1 o'clock, and an alarm was turned in.  The entire fire department force was called out and battled the blaze for four and a half hours.  Several automobiles, huge quantities of oils and paints were destroyed, the oils adding to the fierceness of the blaze.  Several firemen were overcome by the fumes.  They revived when taken out. of doors.  Firemen were able to keep the blaze within the confines of thee shop proper, preventing its spread to the store at the front of the -establishment and from nearly buildings.


___ 1940 __________________


The [former] west side [Phoenix] engine house [no longer used by the city] is to be cleaned up so basement quarters can also be turned over to the project and make additional room.  The city has instructed the committee in charge to have William Spear's horses which have been kept in the basement stalls moved and Mr. Spear is to be so informed.  Under his agreement with the city he agreed to move the horses from the building any time the city made such a request.  He will take them to a barn which he owns.


02 19       Former Phoenix Engine House returned to Christian Becker estate    WDT


___ 1941 __________________




___ 1944 __________________


Robert G. Kerstell, chief of the Watertown Fire Department, died Saturday night at his home, 216 College Avenue.   Death was due to a heart attack which came after a short illness.  He had been confined to his home for three days, but his condition was not regarded as serious and he planned to report back to work this week.


Mr. Kerstell was 62 years old and was a native of Omro, Wis., where he was born Oct. 3, 1881.  He was a son of the late Frederick and Elizabeth Kerstell.  Before coming to Watertown he had worked as a member of the staff of the Wisconsin State prison at Waupun where a brother of his was for many years a guard.


He had been a member of the fire department here for 32 years and for the past ten years had served as chief, having previous to that been assistant chief.


Survivors are his wife, Mrs. Clara Kerstell, and a son, T/Sgt. Edward Kerstell, now on duty in Northern Ireland; a daughter, Marguerite, Madison; a stepson, Harris Evans, this city ; a stepdaughter, Jeanette Evans, Milwaukee; and one brother, Andrew Kerstell, Berlin, Wis.  A daughter passed away in infancy.


Mr. Kerstell was an active member of Lincoln lodge No. 20, Knights of Pythias and a past chancellor of the lodge.  He was also a member of the Calanthie club.  He was a member of Immanuel Lutheran church.


He had a lot of friends here and elsewhere and for years was active in the affairs of the Wisconsin State Association of Fire Chiefs and regularly attended its conventions and meetings.


The funeral will take place Wednesday afternoon.  There will be a service at 1:30 o’clock at the Schmutzler funeral home and at 2 o’clock a service will be held in the Immanuel Lutheran church, North Ninth street.  The Rev. O. H. Wonn will officiate.  Burial will be in Oak Hill cemetery.


Friends may call at the funeral home to pay their respects Tuesday from 3 to 9 p.m. and Wednesday up to the time of the service.  The casket is not to be opened at the church.


Members of the fire department will meet at the city hall Tuesday evening at 7:30 o’clock to go in a delegation to pay their respects.



Department booklet (pdf file)


___ 1945 __________________


      Destroyed by fire in 1945


A building with a sign on it

Description automatically generated with low confidence     < 1920     A black and white photo of a building

Description automatically generated with medium confidence    < 1930s


A picture containing grass, train, outdoor, track

Description automatically generated

I. L. Henry Box Factory Fire, 04 11 1945


___ 1946 __________________



A picture containing text, building, old, stone

Description automatically generated  

Chapter on the mill 



     116 East Main

Chapter on Bittner and Tetzlaff  


___ 1947 __________________

01 22       Fire at King-Hintz  /  216 South Third Street

A group of people outside a building

Description automatically generated with medium confidence      A group of people in front of a building

Description automatically generated with low confidence      A picture containing text, white, old

Description automatically generated       



A picture containing text, outdoor, old

Description automatically generated  




       < pdf file



A picture containing building, outdoor, old, colonnade

Description automatically generated  



Harry H. Schlueter retired as fire chief in 1947.


Mr. Schlueter had been a member of the city’s fire department for 32 years. 


He served seven years as assistant chief under the late Robert Kerstell who was then fire chief, and later served four years as chief, retiring in 1947.


Mr. Schlueter had a great many friends throughout this area and was well liked.  His services to the city, both as a member and a chief of the department were marked by devotion to his duties and maintaining a high standard in the department.



The department grew in manpower and with the coming of Chief Linde a complete and efficient reorganization took place. Bigger and Better Linde was born in Milwaukee in 1894.  In 1954 he married the former Gladys Wolfe in Jefferson.  Upon his transfer to Watertown in August of 1947 embarked upon his 23 years of service as Fire Chief, retiring in November, 1970.  Prior to accepting the position in Watertown he had served 25 years on the Milwaukee Fire Department before retiring with the rank of Captain.  Following his retirement from the Milwaukee department and before coming to Watertown he had accepted a position with the A. O. Smith Company in Milwaukee as its Assistant Fire Chief. 


Linde died in 1975.  Milwaukee Under Fire Chief Alfred Linde’s regime the fire department underwent a Rules intensive training course, the same course given to Milwaukee firemen.  Linde also introduced a rescue and lifesaving unit.



___ c.1947 __________________



___ 1948 __________________


      Wendt and Nuernberg; initial training, paid fire department. 

Brings the paid department to full strength — 14 firemen, seven on duty on each of two shifts.


___ 1949 __________________

05 21       2,000-GALLON WATER TANK


Firemen painting and making necessary additions to 2,000-gallon water tank.  Tank purchased by the townships of Watertown, Farmington, Milford and Shields.  Tank can be filled in 5 minutes at a city water main.  Plans call for equipping of the tank with ladders.  A motor unit is being secured to haul the tank to rural areas.  Purchased from government surplus for $900.


View is that of NW corner of engine house in City Hall on N. First St.





The 62-year old N. Second Street bridge had been posted against loads of more than three tons for some time.  Property owners north of the bridge protested that posted structure necessitates that fire trucks must therefore cross the North Fourth Street bridge, delaying response time.


___ 1950 __________________



Attorney Kenneth Kolberg

Leonard Kramp, president

R. F. McLaughlin

T. J. Koerner

Ralph Busse


-- --         JAEGER HOME

Fire caused minor damage at the home of Mr. and Mrs. A. R. Jaeger, 808 Cady Street, the blaze starting in the attic wiring.  Firemen were called to the scene and soon had the fire extinguished.  There was some smoke damage and the smell of rubber, due to wire insulation burning, was evident in the area.  The house is being insulated at the present time.  The fire started about 1:30 p.m.  Three fire trucks responded to the alarm.   WDT





Watertown yesterday welcomed a replica of the Liberty Bell, one of 49 such bells now touring the nation in connection with the U. S. bonds - Independence campaign.


The above picture was taken shortly after the bell reached here, when it stopped in front of the Hornburg Motors building.


Roy Pfeiffer, president of the Watertown Association of Commerce, is shown standing atop the truck on which the bell is mounted, just before he struck the bell. 


During the day its tones were heard many times as it made stops in the downtown section of the city and at local schools and industrial plants.  In the forefront are, left to right:  Leonard G. Braunschweig of the local police department, Capt. Joseph Checkai of the local fire inspection bureau, City Manager Dean Van Ness and Mrs. John W. Keck, general chairman of the bond day program. 


Newell Parker of the Hornburg Motor organization was the chairman of the day.


The Ford Motor Co. is providing all of the transportation for the 49 bells now on tour.



                 chapter on the Savoy 



Fishermen proudly display their catch


Holding the fish are Ronald Kapheim, 14, and Daniel Higgins.


Young Kapheim baited the hook with a piece of hot dog provided by Higgins.  However, that appeared to be about the extent of. the assistance young Higgins could provide his fishing companion.  When it definitely appeared that there was a pretty big fish on the light, three-pound line, the boys, fearing that the line might break, attracted the attention of a passing policeman, who in turn contacted the fire department.


A couple of firemen played the role of good samaritans, jumped in their fire department boat behind city hall, and rowed over to Main Street bridge to help the lads land their fish.


The boys, in their efforts to land their catch, attracted quite a crowd around the bridge.








Fire Chief Al Linde has been named director of civilian defense for Watertown, according to announcement made at the city hall this morning by City Manager Dean Van Ness.


The city manager said that he believes the civilian defense setup in Watertown will be in good hands as a result of Mr. Linde’s acceptance of the appointment.  He has had thorough training in dealing with fires and emergencies and with people.


The manager said that the setup here will be formulated within the next few weeks, following additional information and data from the office of the state adjutant general which is expected any day.


It will be up to Chief Linde to form his organization here and make whatever preparations will be required by state and federal agencies in lining up a home front defense program.



Several hundred persons last night watched firemen fight a stubborn blaze which swept the two-apartment residence at 419 Emerald Street causing damage estimated at between $3,500 and $4,000.


The house is owned by Mr. and Mrs. Arthur P. Gruetzmacher who occupy the lower floor, while the upstairs apartment is occupied by Mr. and Ms. John C. Newsom.


The fire started in electrical wiring near a switch in the lower hall and was due to a short circuit.  The fire spread between the walls to the upper floor and then mushroomed across the attic.  It was discovered sometime after 8 o’clock and firemen responded to an alarm.  Dense smoke poured from the attic and upper portion but fire damage was confined chiefly to the inside of the house.


Greatest damage was on the second floor and attic.  The floor was burned through and part of it was burned away.  Second floor furnishings and furniture were destroyed to a large extent or damaged by fire and water.  The main floor also suffered some damage.


The house was for many years the home of the late Mr. and Mrs. Henry Willenbockel.  Mr. Willenbockel was a widely known carpenter contractor here for many years.


10 07       GERBER BARN FIRE


Description automatically generated  



A picture containing text, indoor, old, kitchen appliance

Description automatically generated        Window display at Keck’s

Arranged by the Watertown Fire Dept. and its Fire Prevention Bureau



Frank W. Newbouer, City Engineer Vaso Bjelajac, Neil McMurry, Allen Anderson and Fire Chief Al Linde, civilian defense director for Watertown.



Ministers and others who are in charge of Christmas eve programs and services in Watertown churches during the holidays are reminded not to permit the churches to be over-crowded.  It is better to turn people away than permit overcrowding.  So says the Watertown fire department's fire prevention bureau.  No crowding into aisles and no placing of extra chairs to provide for overflow groups where they impede safety lanes will be permitted.  And, above all, church janitors should see to it that all safety doors are unlocked and that all exits are open.  In case of fire this precaution cannot be too strongly stressed.


___ 1952 __________________


The Watertown Fire Department will now be equipped to buck snowdrifts when answering calls during snowstorms or in heavy drifts.  A snow plow is being attached to one of the fire trucks.  Firemen are doing the work and have constructed the frame necessary to attach the plow blade to the front of the truck.


The plow to be used is one which the city street department has discarded and which it is replacing with a new plow from the Otto Biefeld Co.  The new plow was recently authorized by the city council which stipulated that the price is not to exceed $400.


Firemen decided to use the old plow and make use of it.  Fire Chief Al Linde said that Milwaukee and other departments have trucks with snow plows and that they have proven their value in reaching fires through blocked streets and roads during snowstorms.  He said he saw no reason why the fire department here shouldn’t follow suit and equip at least one truck with a plow.  The firemen decided to pitch in and help and yesterday afternoon the work was well underway to equip the truck.




Located at rear of its milk and ice cream sales division building, 1012 S. Third St.  Four trucks, tools and equipment destroyed.  Fire started while mechanic Harold Ladwig was working with an acetylene torch to remove a fender from a truck.  Gasoline escaped from one of the tanks and immediately caught fire.  Building owned by the Morris Shimon estate and leased by Dairy Lane



       Improve the Engine House

The fire department has made a new hose rack which has been placed in the center of the department quarters making hose supplies readily available when extra loads are needed.  The work on the rack, made of metal pipe, was done by firemen who welded the various parts into a compact and solid unit.  Rolled hose can be kept on the two “shelves” and can be pulled out from either side as needed.


Fire Chief Al Linde said that making this rack is another fine example of the cooperation of his men in his efforts to improve the fire department’s facilities.  The new arrangement will save a lot of time in loading and unloading extra hose.


Firemen have also recently removed a long row of wooden cabinets at the rear of the department’s main headquarters which were used for storing various tools and equipment.  These have been transferred to the basement.  Firemen have also done some cleaning and painting of their headquarters in recent weeks.



The $621 claim filed against the city by the law firm of Thiel and Allen of Mayville on behalf of Donald Ferry, resulting from an accident in which Ferry's car was struck and damaged by a fire truck, has been turned over to an insurance company by Watertown city officials.  The accident took place here on Oct. 11, 1949.  Ferry's car, along; with several others was parked in South Ninth Street, near the high; school, when a city fire truck crashed into it while enroute to a fire.  The report of the accident at the time stated that the driver of the fire truck swerved to the side to avoid what would have been a serious or even fatal accident with another fire truck traveling directly ahead.



Fire which late yesterday destroyed a barn, together with a huge quantity of baled hay and straw on the farm occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Carl Busch, route 6, was under investigation today by Henry Dalby, state deputy fire marshal who came here at the request of Fire Chief Al Linde and Captain Joseph Checkai of the fire department’s inspection bureau.  The Busch fire was the latest in a-series of rural fires in the area.  All have been of undetermined origin and vague rumors have hinted at a possible firebug.  He said that thus far these reports have not yielded anything definite, but the rumors persist.  In an effort to broaden the investigation and uncover any possible, leads, it was decided to call in Dalby.  Mr. Busch was away at work when the fire started and his wife, who called the fire department, said she saw the whole bam ablaze when she looked out of a window at her home.  She said fire was blazing from both ends of, the barn.


___ 1953 __________________

                FIRE PREVENTION WEEK


Joe Checkai and Cecil Granger, high school student, honorary fire chief, elected by fellow classmates.  Fire Dept inherited police paddy wagon and used it as an equipment truck.



      to help identify and locate properties