[1890s]. A collection of 23 photos, all mounted on stiff card stock, most 6 x 8 in., with a few 7 1/2 x 9 1/4 in., and 3 ovals, 4 x 8 in. Photos are all very good, clear, lightly soiled around edges. The main group of 19 photos depict the equipment used by Engine Co. Nos. 1, 2, & 4, Hose No. 3, and Hook & Ladder No. 2 of the Springfield, Massachusetts fire department in the 1890s. A few of the trucks have "S.F.D." painted on their sides. Members of the Fire Department are shown in uniform, posed on the horse-drawn, wooden wheeled trucks, steam pumpers, and ladder trucks, occasionally with their dogs, once or twice with a young boy in a fireman's uniform sitting on the running board. One of the larger photos shows a combination chemical engine and hose wagon, with "Chemical E. Combination" painted on its side. Two of the photos show the ladder truck next to a five story building on a downtown Springfield street. The fully extended ladder is empty in the first image, then in the second image six firemen are balanced on the rungs, including one sitting precariously on the very top.
Springfield, Massachusetts had one of the earliest established fire departments in the country. The town purchased its first hand-drawn pump truck in 1792 and group of citizens organized a "fire club" of volunteers in 1794. By 1872 the city had a professional, all-paid fire department, with innovations such as a central telegraph fire alarm system and a gravity-fed reservoir to provide access to water. [see: the Springfield, Massachusetts' website on the history of its fire department]. Item #65478
Four additional photos accompany the fire department photos: Pres. McKinley and a group arrive in Springfield for a visit; two canoers paddle on a peaceful lake; a group of well-dressed men and women go for a ride in an open carriage in a rural setting; and a group of well-dressed young men traveling with two cameras on tripods are shown on a rural excursion in a flat bed horse-drawn wagon, possibly a group photo of the local amateur photographers club.
Although there is no name on the 19 fire department photos, the four additional images accompanying the group hint at possibilities. The photo of canoers on a lake has a faint stamp on the verso of the Lazelle Photographic Studio in Springfield. Edward Lazelle, a landscape and portrait photographer, was operating a studio on Main St. by 1888. The photo of the young men with cameras has a pencil note on the verso "J.C. Kemater '89." John C. Kemater (1864-1927), a Springfield native, was a member of the Springfield Camera Club in 1889, according to the publication "American Amateur Photographer," Vol. 1, 1889, p.211. He was also a bookkeeper and teller at the local Chapin National Bank in 1889, and by 1920 he was the bank's vice president. The McKinley photograph is stamped on the verso "F.R. Sistare, Springfield, Mass." This image shows Pres. William McKinley on board a boat, the "Mascot." He is standing in the bow of a two-tiered pleasure boat, numerous well-dressed people crowd the deck, sailors tie up the lines, a canvas sided gangplank leads to the dock where police officers and others wait for the passengers to disembark. McKinley was visiting the area, stopping in both Northampton and Springfield after attending his niece's graduation from Mount Holyoke. This photo appeared in Leslie's Weekly on July 6, 1899, attributed with a few others to Sistare. Frank R. Sistare is listed in the Springfield city directory as a clerk at the firm of Babbitt & Norris [later G.N. Norris], dealers in clothing and furnishings. Perhaps he or Lazelle or one of the amateur photographers was responsible for the fire department photos as well.