Felton Fire Company, No. 3
3rd & Yarnall, Chester, PA

Felton Fire Company, Chester and Vicinity  1914 by Hy. V. Smith

Photo from Chester and Vicinity 1914 by Hy. V. Smith

3rd & Yarnall
Chester, PA

More pictures of Felton Fire Company Apparatus, courtesy of William H. Crystle, 3rd, MISERABILL@aol.com,
from the Jack Robrecht collection.

Felton Fire Company Pictures from their 100th Anniversary Program book, November 6, 1982,
courtesy of William H. Crystle, 3rd, MISERABILL@aol.com

Pictures of some Felton Fire Company members courtesy of William H. Crystle, 3rd, MISERABILL@aol.com,
from Harry Bomberger's collection.

Back to Chester Fire Department main page

History | Known Members | Known Junior Members | Recollections


Harvey W. Ritter's Felton Fire Company Badge, courtesy of his daughter, Alice Ritter

Harvey W. Ritter's Felton Fire Company Badge,
courtesy of his daughter,
Alice Ritter, Rittera@aol.com

felton_fire_button.jpg (286575 bytes)

Harvey W. Ritter's Felton Fire Company Button
commemorating the Aerial Truck Housing
June 9, 1928,
courtesy of his daughter,
Alice Ritter, Rittera@aol.com

Felton Fire Company
3rd & Yarnall

Felton was the newest of the 5 original Chester Fire Companies.
Instituted November 2, 1882; incorporated November 29, 1882

Members of Felton Fire Co. had the Bird's Club house at the foot of Townsend St. until it burned in 1902.


The following "History Of The FELTON FIRE COMPANY, No. 3" is taken from their 100th Anniversary Book (1982), courtesy of Leigh Allvord, ldamm3usn@comcast.net

In the latter part of October 1882, a number of citizens among whom were Bernard McLaughlin, Sylvester Canavan, Thomas Brown, William Brown, Robert Mackey and William Davis, met at the store of William Brown at Third and Reaney Streets, and decided to call a meeting for the purpose of instituting a fire company in what was then the Borough of South Chester.

This meeting was held in the Town Hall at Fourth and Jeffrey Streets on the evening of November 2, 1882, and was called to order by Wm. J. McDowell. Richard Peters, Jr. was unanimously chosen Chairman, and E. T. Calvert, Secretary. Seventeen individuals in attendance each donated $1.00 to start the fire company. Ex-Alderman Nelson and several members of the Franklin Fire Company were also in attendance.

The next meeting was held on November 9 and saw the first permanent officers elected. They were: Richard Peters, Jr., President; Hubert J. Riley, Vice-President; Gasoway O. Yarnall, Secretary; Wm. J. McDowell, Treasurer; Geo. B. Lindsay, Solicitor; Trustees - Thos. J. Houston, Thos. J. Clayton, Samuel M. Felton, H. J. Riley, E. T. Ferry, John Howarth and Sam Chase. At this meeting it was decided to name the fire company after Samuel M. Felton, an honored citizen of national reputation.

November 1882 continued to be a busy month with the members adopting a large portion of the Franklin Fire Company By-Laws and appointing a committee on November 23 comprised of Dr. A. P. Fields, Wm. Rowan and J. W. McMaster to secure a lot for a building. A piece of ground, 25' x 130', west of Yarnall Street was purchased on December 28 for $17.50 per foot. The land was acquired one day after the Felton Steam Fire Engine Company No. 1 of South Chester was incorporated with forty-two names affixed to the charter.

The members began 1883 by adopting the motto, "Haste To Save" and approving plans for a new building. The plans were prepared by J. W. McMaster incorporating the features of three engine houses in Wilmington, Delaware. Construction of the building began in April. Members and friends of the company donated their time, labor and material in the construction of the firehouse which was completed in November of 1883.

The Felton volunteers appeared at their first fire on Saturday morning October 27, 1883 at the Oil Cloth Works, later the Gas Works.

The first fair was held in the new building on December 8, and the first regular meeting took place on January 3, 1884.

The Active List was started on March 6, 1884 with 22 citizens volunteering. One day later the Building Committee officially turned over the new firehouse to the Trustees, just one year and three months after the committee was formed. March 7 saw the first Chief Engineer, Wm. Boon, elected to office. Later in the month plans were approved to purchase a hose carriage from Bernard McVey of Wilmington, Delaware. The carriage was received on June 11 and housed the following evening. Two months later on August 12, the Borough Council passed an ordinance establishing a fire department for South Chester - the Felton Fire Company became a department within itself.

The company purchased its first engine, an Amoskeag, from the Manchaster Locomotive Works of Manchester, New Hampshire. The membership had selected the Amoskeag over the Selby fire engine. The steam fire engine arrived on Tuesday, January 6, 1886 and was placed in service three days later. A pair of horses were bought on February 24 to pull the new fire engine at a cost of $450.

On March 4, 1897 the fire company received notice that the City of Chester had annexed the Borough and the Felton would cover all alarms in the city, south of Lamokin. This would be the 6th District. Jos. Kelly was Chief of the Department at this time.

Felton's first line officers, Foreman H. Ash and Assistant Foreman John Carson, were elected on September 7, 1899. The hose carriage purchased in 1884 was sold to the Independence Fire Company of Wilmington, Delaware for $150 in December 1901.

The first member of the Felton to become Chief Engineer of the Chester Fire Company, Samuel Palmer, was endorsed for this position in January 1902.

August 1903 was a joyous month with the final payment made on the mortgage of the building. In September the City purchased a Seagrave Hose Wagon large enough to carry 750' of hose.

The month of February 1904 kept the Felton volunteers busy spending 13 hours at the Baltimore Fire on February 7 and 8. 

The records indicate the company turned over the old hose carriage to the Colwyn Fire Company on July 7, 1904 and do not explain what happened to the deal in 1901 to sell it to the Independence Fire Company of Wilmington. Two great fires occurred in July at Roaches Shipyard and Chester Steel.

December 31, 1907 was the date of the 25th Anniversary celebration of the company.

The volunteer companies on April 16, 1909 requested that the City Council install an alarm system in the city.

The company requested in 1910 that the city purchase a 55 foot Seagrave aerial truck with a tillerman seat. In order to accommodate the new truck, the fire company purchased the property next store for $1,500 - and one year later on April 15, 1911, the new truck was housed along with the dedication of the new house. Six months later, Allen Hilligas was elected an Assistant Chief in the CFD.

In July 1913, due to the needs in the area, the company recommended that the city purchase a new Amoskeag steam fire engine. This apparatus was received in May of 1914. Motorization of the Felton Fire Company began in March 1915, with the purchase of an American La France tractor for the steam fire engine and a Mack tractor for the aerial truck. In March 1917, one month before the United States entered W.W.I, the Felton Fire Company became fully motorized with the acquisition of a Seagrave combination hose and chemical wagon. The Felton volunteers performed fire duty at the Eddystone Ammunitions Explosion in April of 1917 and at the Buckley Fire in January 1918.

On November 16, 1919 Allen Hilligas was nominated Chief of the CFD, only the second member of the Felton to hold this position.

It became necessary to replace the steam engine purchased in 1914, and so a request was made to City Council in July 1922 to purchase a 1,000 gallon Seagrave pumper which arrived in May 1923.

A petition was presented to the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County in 1928 requesting the charter be amended by changing the name to "The Felton Fire Co. No. 3 of Chester, Pennsylvania." This change was approved on June 1 of 1928. That same month the 55' Seagrave aerial truck was replaced with an Ahrens-Fox 75' aerial truck.

1932 began with Joseph Pierce becoming an Assistant Chief in the CFD and ended with the 50th Anniversary Banquet on Wednesday, November 2, 1932 at the Masonic Temple in Chester.

The following years saw the replacement of the Seagraves combination vehicle with a 750 gpm Ahrens-Fox pumper in 1938 and the start of W.W.II. Fifty-eight members of the company entered the service and were honored at a banquet upon their return home.

Looking back the fifties was a decade of changes. A 750 gpm Buffalo pumper was purchased in 1951 and one year later, Lewis Harper began his tenure as Assistant Chief in the CFD. An 85' Seagrave aerial ladder was acquired in 1953 replacing the Ahrens-Fox ladder truck. The 75th Anniversary was celebrated at the Columbus Center on November 2, 1957 and the same year a 750 gpm Seagrave pumper was received.

The passing years along with the increased weight of the new apparatus began to take its toll on the firehouse now 75 years old. So in January 1958, a committee was appointed to select a site for a new firehouse. After reviewing all available sites, it was decided in April to purchase a tract of land at 5th and Highland. The next five years were spent raising the necessary funds and the once thought of dream became reality with ground breaking ceremonies on a cold windy day in December 1963. Spring saw construction begin and the culmination of the efforts of many men were realized on September 19, 1964 when the new building was dedicated. The same day a Seagrave 750gpm pumper was also housed. This was the second time in 53 years that a dedication and housing had occurred on the same day.

The decade of the seventies will be well remembered with the Great Leopard Skating Ring fire and the Chester Creek flood both happening in 1971, while 1972 saw Robert Grayson begin his tenure as Assistant Chief in the CFD.

The seventies and eighties have seen numerous changes in the Chester Fire Department making the future of the Felton Fire Company uncertain. What isn't uncertain is that the Felton volunteers can be proud of their contributions ensuring the safety of the citizens of Chester and their belongings.

The past 100 years have seen 20 Presidents, 44 Vice Presidents, 14 Secretaries and 12 Treasurers serve the membership of the Felton Fire Company. 

Known Members: Officers from 1882-1982 - 6


CARSWELL, Thos. (Apr. 1893 - Apr. 1894)
EWING, Horace (Apr. 1913 - Apr. 1914)
HOLT, Francis L. (? - 1957 - ?)
McDONALD, L. Gordon (Jul 1931 - 1932 - ?)
MARTIN, Charles A. (Apr. 1912 - Apr. 1913)
McCOY, Harry
McDOWELL, W. S. (Apr. 1894 - Apr. 1912)
McILVAIN, R. (Apr. 1892 - Apr. 1895)
McLAUGHLIN, Bernard (Apr. 1886-Apr. 1887)
MILLER, Robert (1982)
PETERS, Richard (Nov. 1882-Apr. 1886)
STAINTON, John (Apr. 1887-Apr. 1888)
STEVENSON, Oscar (Apr. 1888 Apr. 1891), (Apr. 1914 - July 1931)
STEWART, William
YARNALL, G.O. (Apr. 1891 - Apr. 1892)


BOYLE, Harry
EWING, Horace (1932)
HAINES, Joseph Sr. (1982)
HOLT, Francis
JOHNSON, Michael
LANE, John
McDONALD, Gordan
McCAINE, Robert
McCOY, H. M. 1st
McMASTER, Francis
McMASTER, Harold
MILLER, Robert
MOLETTERI, Patrick (1957)
MOORE, Charles
MOORE, George
MOORE, Louis
REILLY, Hubert
SIMCOX, Horace

Recording Secretaries:

ASHTON, Samuel W.
BENNETT, Richard
JOHNSON, Michael T. (1982)
McCOY, Charles S. (1932, 1957)
YARHALL, Gasaway


ALLVORD, George (1982)
CLARK, Frank
DOWNEY, Philip J. (1932, 1957)
MacDONALD, Gordon

See also:

From the Felton Fire Co. 100th Anniversary Book courtesy of Leigh Allvord, ldamm3usn@comcast.net:

List of Deceased Members of Felton Fire Co.
List of Years of Service of Felton Fire Co. Members
Honor Roll (WWI & WWII)

A List of Deceased Members of Chester Fire Departments courtesy of Florence E. O'Bryan, FOBionicBlonde@aol.com


Name Dates Position Comments/Recollections
ARTY, Ben - 1     [Picture]
BARBACANE, Joseph 1950    
BAUMGART, Joseph - 5     "As a child I can remember that my uncles -- Joseph Baumgart and William Baumgart were members of the Felton Fire Company. William was in the Navy and always responded to the fire alarm whenever he was home on call. I seem to remember that Joseph Baumgart was a treasurer at one point."
BAUMGART, William - 5     "As a child I can remember that my uncles -- Joseph Baumgart and William Baumgart were members of the Felton Fire Company. William was in the Navy and always responded to the fire alarm whenever he was home on call. I seem to remember that Joseph Baumgart was a treasurer at one point."
CREILLY, Bill - 3      
DETWILER, George      
DOWNEY, Sr., Phil - 1     [Picture]

"Later owned the popular pool room next door to the fire house"

- Lee Bennington

EHRENZELLER, Elwood      
GRAYSON, John - 4     [December 4, 1945 news article]
GRAYSON, Robert - 1     [Picture]
HAINES, Sr., Joseph      
HARPER, Blair      
HARPER, Lewis     Later a Chester Fire Chief
KNARR, William      
KOKOSZKA, Walter F. "Koke", "Koko" 1967 - 1992   "My husband Walter F. Kokoszka, better know as Koke or Koko was a Felton Fire Company member and was with the City of Chester Fire Department from 1967 until his retirement in 1992. He passed away on March 14, 2001."

Thanks to
Marie Borcky Kokoszka,

McDOWELL, W. S.     President c. 1903
McKAY, Francis- 1     [Picture of "Franny"]
McKAY, Frank      
McKAY, Joseph      
McKNIGHT, Jack      
McMASTER, "Snooky" - 1     [Picture]
O'BRIEN, Henry      
PALMER, Aaron      
PALMER, John      
PALMER, Jr., Samuel      
PANCOAST, Samuel - 4     President December 1945

[December 4, 1945 news article]

PIERCE, Joseph     Later a Chester Fire Chief
PRESCOTT, Cooper      
PRESCOTT, Joseph      
RITTER, Harvey W. - 2      
RITTER, Leroy      
SPICER, Robert      
ZINZER, Herbert 1950    

Known Junior Members:  

Thanks to the following for adding to our list of known Felton Fire Company members:

1 - William H. Crystle 3rd, MISERABILL@aol.com
2 - Alice Ritter, Rettira@aol.com
3 - Bill Crielly, NOVA1968@aol.com
4 - Lee Bennington, RLBenni@netscape.net
5 - Judy DiMeglio, judy@cpmindustries.com. for this information.
6 - Leigh Allvord, ldamm3usn@comcast.net 

If you have any information and or pictures that you would like to contribute about the history of this fire company, please forward it to john@oldchesterpa.com

2001, 2002 John A. Bullock III.

GDPub2.JPG (7902 bytes)

This page last updated 10/18/05