The Republican Herald


Oldest Fireman Recounts Events of over Forty Years
From December 19, 1934
Submitted by Ann Laird

Do you happen to know the oldest Metropolis volunteer fireman, in point of service, and still engaged in responding to alarms? Of course you don't. He is William T. Compton of 212 Scott street, one of the charter members of the East Metropolis Fire Company.

A writer for the The Republican Herald caught Mr. Compton in a reminiscent mood a few days ago. Asked to relate some of his experience as a fireman, Mr. Compton leaned back in his arm chair in Compton and company's store, which is immediately in front of the East Metropolis fire station and said:

"The fire company in our end of the city was organized in October, 1891, with the following members: J.A. Jones, chief; Phillip Davis, F.C. Rehlmeyer, W.T. Compton, and Obe Spencer. Your humble servant is still an active member of the company and Mr. Jones, later for several years, propietor of the New Central hotel, is hale and hearty, and looking after his interest as owner of the Old Armstrong building, and other properities. My brother, Ed Compton, was the victim of an accident in a factory that cost him the loss of a leg. He later was city clerk and for years conducted a transportation business. He lives now on West Second street.

Yes, I recall all who have served with me in our fire company. After F.C. Rehlmeyer resigned Sam Spencer took his place. When J.A. Jones quit his successor was R.L. Ward. Amos Doyle succeeded Ed. F. Compton. Ed Ward became the successor of Philip Davis. Later on, Eb Baynes, a brother of W.P. Baynes, filled the place vacated by Edward Ward. W.E. Davis became the successor of Mr. Baynes. Later on we took in as members, Charles Rehlmeyer and Dave King.

For the first nine years members of our company served without any pay.

Members of the company now are: Ras Owens, driver; W.E. Davis, W.T. Compton, Charles Rehlmeyer, Dave King, O.E. Davis, Lester Ragsdale.

We are ready to go upon a moment's notice. Metropolis has as good, or maybe better fire protection than any city of its class in the state. We have two real pumpers, and both drivers, I think, are unexcelled for the care they take of the fire fighting apparatus, for devotion to their duties and they possess all the other qualifications and I refer to Morris Arnett, driver of the truck for company No. 1 and Ras Owens, driver for No. 2. The city, in my judgment, never has had two more faithful and competent servants than these drivers. they are an assest to the city and should be kept on their jobs as long as physically able to do the work.

"As I recall, during my service as a fireman of nearly half a century, some of the big fires we have fought are the following: Bruner's livery stable, John Copland's livery stable, I.A. Sturgis' livery stable, Renfro Hall, Lee's Confectionary, Odd Fellows' Temple, Quante's Mill, The Bending Company, Box factory and two sheds, Artman's Mill and shed, C.C. Leonard's Mill and Sheds, George Zettler's garage and sales room, and other fires too numerous to even mention."

Mr. Compton is justly proud of his record of 43 years as a fireman. During all that long period he has missed responding to only one alarm, which is a grade of 99 per cent.

"Let me say this" stated Mr. Compton, "We boys of companies No. 1 and 2 get along fine. We are a jolly set of fellows. The company of which I am a member was organized under the administration of August Quante as Mayor. We worked nine years without any pay. Volunteer fireman now receive a small quarterly compensation. It isn't much but none of us complains. We work as hard and faithfully as we would if the pay were more, but if the city council and mayor should see fit to pay us more the increase would be gratefully received.

"Well, as I have pointed out, we have two drivers who can't be improved upon. Don't know that we are crossing a stream, but you have heard the old proverb that it is not wise to change horses while in a stream, so let's hold onto two good men while we have them, men tried and proven efficient. By all means consult the fireman before a driver is changed. The boys who ride the trucks are the ones who risk their lives. Above all things let's keep the fire department out of partisan politics."

It might be added that in the early days of Mr. Compton's experience as a fireman he was also an alderman for the fourth ward. But that was when fireman did not receive any pay.

Mr. Compton admits being 69 years of age, but he is as frisky as a man of forty. He is handy with carpenter tools and never more happy than when he has plenty of work. Mornings and evenings and in between times he assists in waiting upon customers in the Compton Store. Mornings and evenings he entertains at radio concerts in the store, but let an alarm of fire be sounded, good bye Mr. Compton until fire is dead and buried.


BROTHERS REUNITED AFTER FIFTY YEARS

Theodore Garrett Suprises George by a Visit
The Republican Herald, Dec. 2, 1924
Submitted by Ann Laird

George Garrett of the Mt. Mission School House neighborhood is entertaining his brother Theodore, whom he had not seen for nearly fifty years until a few days ago. They are sons of the late Eli Garrett who was killed in a runaway accident.

Theodore Garrett left home at 16 years of age in 1875. For some time the family heard from him indirectly but for the last twenty-five years they had lost all track of him.

A few days ago just as George Garrett drove up to his home a car containing a man and woman arrived there and stopped. The man told George he had come to visit him, intimating they were old acquaintances. George told them to go on in the house as his wife was there and would entertain the visitors while he put his horses in the stable. He asked if George could not recall him. George said there was something familiar in the voice but he had a bad memory for faces. Then it was Theodore disclosed his identity. The woman with him is his wife.

A joyous reunion followed. Theodore after traveling all over the country, got married and settled down. He and his family live on a farm in Lake County, Ill., not far from Waukegan. They are bound south for the winter and among other things will look into rice culture.

George and Theodore had a full sister, Alice, who married, went west and died. Their father married again and the surviving children of that union are Calvin, a school teacher, and Mrs. A.J. Barrett.

Theodore Garrett has found few of the friends and acquaintances of his boyhood days alive. None whom he knew as a boy recognized him. He and his wife have been much entertained and feted since their arrival and will probably remain at George Garrett's all week.


GO ON FISHING TRIP
From Republican Herald, Tuesday, July 18, 1922
Submitted by Ann Laird

A fishing party composed of Mr. and Mrs. Guy Brown and daughter, Mr. and Mrs. Lester Craig and Mr. F.B. Liggitt left Tuesday morning on a two weeks' fishing trip to Dells, Wis. They will make the trip in an automobile. They will go by the way of St. Louis. Dells is located about 12 miles from the Canadian line. They will also make a trip to Canada while there.


NEW FARE ON I.C.
From Republican Herald, Tuesday, July 18, 1922
Submitted by Ann Laird

Rate Lowered to St. Louis Via Paducah and Cairo.

Recently the Lions' Club took up the railroad fare to St. Louis via Paducah and Cairo. The fare has been extremely high on account of the bridge fare. This week they received a communication stating that the fare, beginning August 16, would be lowered to $7.43, which will be quite a saving. The present fare being $8.49 via Paducah. The fare via Carbondale will remain the same, $6.01. 


NOTICE TO MASONS
From Republican Herald, Tuesday, July 18, 1922
Submitted by Ann Laird

The members of Metropolis Lodge No. 91, A.F. & A.M. and all Masons of the city are requested to meet at the Masonic hall Wednesday afternoon at 1:30 for the purpose of attending the funeral of August Quante.

Oscar Miller, W.M. 


Back to Newspaper Index

Back to Massac County Homepage

Copyright © 2000-2001 by Debbie Woolard. All rights reserved.

Copyright includes all contents of this site and does not extend to any other entity. It may not be quoted or retransmitted without a full citation to the author, and may not be put into print--in whole or part--without the individual author's express permission. Submitters retain all copyright, along with the hosts.