Thursday, July 8, 2010

Fire Chief George O. Wilmarth.


Born in Providence, R. L., April 13, 1843, He was married at Attleboro, Mass., August 15, 1864, to Mary A. Starkey, a native of that place. They have buried two children a son who died in infancy, and Edward G., who died at the age of four years. Charles B., born January 19, 1872, is their only remaining child.

In the fall of 1855, he joined the band of sturdy Kansas settlers who were struggling to make it a free state. In 1859, he came to Topeka and established the first book and stationery store in the city. In April of 1869, fire destroyed his establishment, his loss was complete, nothing was saved. In 1865, he was appointed by the Mayor and Council to the office of City Clerk, which he held until 1870. It was during the latter year that he became a member of the Fire Department, joining Safety Hook and Ladder Co. No. 1. He was soon given the position of Assistant Forman, and in 1872, was chosen as Chief of the Department. Being a fire man comes the danger of injury and being Fire Chief don’t lesson the danger, will fighting a fire in the “Jewell” building in March of 1881, he was leading his men across the roof when he fell through and received serious injuries.

Mr. Wilmarth, always expressed his wish to die in harness. His whish was granted to him, his attendance at a fire on February 8, 1914, aggravated a cold he contracted after a fire on the 7th. His cold soon became pneumonia and he died on February 12, 1914, at the age of 70. He had given 42, years of his life to the service of the Fire Department. It was claimed that he was the oldest Fire Chief in the United States at the time of his death.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Mr. Segelquist-
Hello. I am finishing work on a book about Kansas Territory. I found your site and your entry on George O. Wilmarth and wanted to perhaps correct some information.
George O. Wilmarth was the son of Otis Wilmarth. They did go to Kansas in 1855, but George was only 12 at that time.

it was the father, OTIS, who opened the store in Topeka in 1859. George and his father are both listed in a much later Topeka business directory as owning the store. George's middle name appears to be Otis.
Just wanted to let you know.
If you are interested in the Kansas Territory, my nonfiction book with 50 settlers writings, comes out in August, 2013. THe title is Hope Amid Hardship: Pioneer Voices From Kansas Territory. You can see the cover on Amazon. com.
Take care,
Linda Johnston