Sandburg's Hometown

December 2, 2013

Galesburg Illinois Fire Fighters and Horse-drawn wagon, ca. 1900

The Fire Boys Talk

By Barbara Schock

On November 23, 1893, the Galesburg Fire Department received an alarm that there was a fire at the home of the Reverence C.R. Hodge at 632 South West Street. The men at the Prairie Street station harnessed the horses to the chemical wagon and hose cart. The machines quickly ran west on Tompkins Street. At the corner of Tompkins and West, the driver slowed the team to a trot to negotiate the left turn. But the street was covered with ice and snow. As the turn was made, the chemical wagon hit a rut and went over on its side. The seat and one of the ladders were broken and the men were thrown some distance. None were seriously injured. George Norene, the driver, managed to hold the team to a stop.

 Dick Howard witnessed the accident and ran to the nearby Frost Manufacturing Company to get help. A good number of the workers came to the scene to turn the fire engine upright. Fortunately, the fire at the Hodge home was small and the delay didn’t add to the damage.

 The next day, a reporter from The Mail stopped by the firehouse. He wrote that the members of the Galesburg Fire Department were great story tellers. They would compel a visitor to listen to their stories until they were completed.

 George Norene, the driver of the chemical wagon, loved his team next to his wife and son. His horses recognized his footstep and expected him to pay attention to them. “Old Jim” was an old white horse who had been in the department for many years. He was something of a boss over the rest of the equine residents of the station.

 A few months before “Jim” had decided he needed a drink of water before lights out. Norene gave him the drink. After a few nights, Norene decided this routine was getting tiresome and stopped watering “Jim.” The horse began to whinny and kick the sides of his stall until he was given a drink.

 Don Downing drove the hose cart team. He claimed his horses were more intelligent than “Old Jim.” One horse would run to the cart and grab hold of the harness with his teeth to help the firefighters hitch the wagon.

 Tall tales or not, we don’t know, but the Galesburg Fire Department men were jolly and brave at the same time and always ready to answer an alarm

 Just a few years later Carl Sandburg would join the crew at the Brooks Street Station as a call man. He slept at the station, performed his duties, bicycled to fires when necessary and attended Lombard College to get an education.

Sandburg's Hometown
Date Title
December 2, 2013 The Fire Boys Talk
November 25, 2013 Galesburg Will Feast on Turkeys and Cranberries - Thanksgiving 1893
November 18, 2013  Mary Sandburg Johnson
November 11, 2013 Carl Sandburg's Bicycle
November 4, 2013  Lace Curtains 
October 28, 2013 The Front Room
October 21, 2013 A Warm Breakfast
October 14, 2013 Marion D. Shutter
October 7, 2013 Cigars and Consumption
September 30, 2013 Forrest F. Cooke & August Sandburg
September 16, 2013 Forrest F. Cooke, Mayor
September 9, 2013 Dusty Streets
September 2, 2013 Typhoid Fever
August 26, 2013 Coffee and Water
August 19, 2013 A Horse! A Horse!
August 12, 2013 Gaddial Scott
August 5, 2013 The Racetrack
July 29, 2013 John Peter Algeld - Part II
July 22, 2013 John Peter Altgeld - Part I
July 15, 2013 Tramps, Tramps, Tramps
July 8, 2013 Lady Liberty
July 1, 2013 Galesburg's Fourth
June 24, 2013 John H. Finley
June 17, 2013 The World's Columbian Exhibition
June 10, 2013 Fruit Short-Cake
June 3, 2013 Horatio Alger, Author
May 27, 2013 Memorial Day, 1887
May 20, 2013 Professor Jon W. Grubb
May 13, 2013 Beginnings of Lombard University
May 6, 2013 Young Sandburg’s View of Lombard College
April 29, 2013 Thinking
April 22, 2013 Robert Colville, Master Mechanic
April 15, 2013 The Galesburg Opera House
April 8, 2013 Grocery Stores and Sample Rooms
April 1, 2013  A Hearty  Breakfast 
March 25, 2013  The Lost Wallpaper Legend 
March 18, 2013 Martin G. Sandburg
March 4, 2013 The Edison Talking Machine
February 25, 2013 Joe Elser, Civil War Veteran
February 18, 2013 Remember the Maine...
February 11, 2013 Lincoln's Birthday
February 4, 2013 Curiosity