University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The State of Wisconsin Collection

Page View

Thompson, Oscar T. / Home town : some chapters in reminiscence
(May 1942)

Chapter 8,   pp. 13-14 PDF (618.0 KB)

Page 13

gines were discarded, and were
replaced by a fire wagon drawn
by horses to carry the hose, lad-
ders and fire extinguishers to the
fire. The first fire wagon was built
in the Thompson shop in Third st.
under the supervision of Ald.
Frank Race. He carefully planned
all the features he wanted. It was
painted bright red and ornament-
ed in gold leaf and cost, I believe,
$400. After the water works were
installed, fire pumps were not con-
sidered necessary as hydrant pres-
sure was depended on. However,
sometimes it failed. In parades the
firemen wore red jackets and the
old style leather helmets. They
marched through the streets and
pulled their apparatus by means
of the long ropes.
The red horse drawn fire wag-
on served the city for many years,
but in 1911 the first motorized
service was installed and now we
have a fully equipped department
with two stations, five motor en-
gines, 72 alarm boxes, and a force
of twenty-two men. Since the
fire department was organized as
a paid department we have had
the. following fire chiefs: Geo.
Donner, Charlie North, A. J.
Macey, A. Goss, John Nygren,
Paul Roth, Robert Moses, and El-
mer Fairbert.
The old volunteer company I re-
member Simon Smith, Lance and
Bob Moses were leading members.
When the city was young and
small the police force consisted of
one man called the City Marshal.
We old ones can recall City Mar-
shal Janvrin, who died from the
result of an injury received in the
Burr Robins circus riot. We also
recall that fearless  man, City
Marshal Charlie North, who for
many years kept the tougher ele-
ment in Beloit in fear of the law.
The first jail or "jug," as it was
called, was a wooden building
with a heavy door, located at the
lower end of Broad st. near where
the C. & N. W. freight house now
stands. In it city drunks and oth-
er offenders were locked up and
there is no record of any escapes.
The present jail and police sta-
tion was built in 1900 by Al Dear-
hammer and has been improved
and remodeled at various times.
The following men have served as
chief of police, Charlie North,
Rhoda Scheibel, Geo. Appleby,
Win. Appleby, Charles Qualman,
Lieut. L. J. Williams, Frank Lan-
phear, Stanley Dietz, Dan Torrisi
and our present chief, Robert
Blumer. There are now 29 men in
the police department with a
modern radio system hooked up
with Rock and Winnebago coun-
The title, "city marshal" was
abolished 40 years ago as being
too countryfied, and we blossomed
out with big town stuff. It is now
chief of police, if you please.
Chapter 8
Two years ago I made a sum-
mary of my 18 years experience
on the School Board, as I was op-
posed to the plan of moving the
central high school to a new site.
When I was elected to the board
in 1907, we had four grade schools
on the west side, Parker, Royce,
Hackett, and Gaston. On the east
side we had three, Strong, Mer-
rill, and Wright. We also had the
old central high school built in
1869. During the 18 years I was
on the board we built the present
high school in 1908, followed at
intervals by the following: on the
west side, the Burdge, the Cun-
ningham, the Gaston addition, and
the Lincoln junior high and on the
east side, the Waterman, Todd,
and Roosevelt junior high.
When I was in No. 2 grade
school, Professor Alexander Kerr
was principal at the high school.
In my four years at high school I
was under Professor Eastman,
Professor Paine, and that grand
teacher, Professor Beach. Profes-
sor Converse came to Beloit in
1897 and served the city 35 years
as city superintendent. Mr. Con-
verse was one of my best and
most loyal friends. He passed away
in 1939.
The Masonic Temple was built
in 1913. Prior to that, for 20 years
the Masonic hall was on the third
floor of the Thompson block. Per-
haps the ghost of the famous goat
may still be roaming around up
there for all that I know.
The Odd Fellows have also been

Go up to Top of Page