Scope and Content
The Gibsonburg (Ohio) Volunteer Fire Department records were donated to the Hayes Presidential Center by the organization in 1999.
The village of Gibsonburg, Ohio, suffered devastating fires in 1895 and again in 1897 when many businesses were damaged or destroyed. As a result, a volunteer fire department was established in February 1898 for the purpose of providing fire protection to property in and around the village of Gibsonburg. The first equipment, hoses, a cart, and rubber coats and hats for the men, was ordered later that month. Initially the village was divided into three districts with a trustee overseeing operations in each of these districts and reporting to the fire chief.
Since the fire department’s beginning, fund-raising in the form of suppers, plays, and ice cream socials has been an important source of money for the purchase of new equipment. The department purchased its first fire truck, a Ford Model T chemical truck, in 1918, and the equipment has been continually modernized. The method of alerting the firemen to an emergency has also changed over the years, from a very loud community whistle in the early days to the present individual pager system. Originally the fire department was for Gibsonburg only, but today it serves Madison Township as well and funding is shared equally by the village and the township.
The fire department joined the Northwest Ohio Volunteer Firemen’s Association in June 1898. The Gibsonburg department has played a very active role in this organization, hosting the annual convention in 1932, 1982, and again in 1987. The Gibsonburg Fancy Drill Team has had much success in competing at these gatherings.
Over the years the number of active members has varied from 14 to more than 100 but since 1986 this number has been limited to 50 at any one time. The first woman firefighter joined the department in 1985.
Scope and Content
The collection contains records of the Gibsonburg Volunteer Fire Department from its inception in 1898 to 1987. These records are primarily the secretary’s minutes of the meetings as well as treasurer and membership books.
The secretary’s minutes provide a detailed and frank account of the organization’s founding and information regarding the men attending firemen’s conventions, parades, and competitions. These minutes books also include details of fund-raising activities, election results for the various leadership positions, resolutions at the of death of a member and admission of new members, and correspondence regarding the annual Gibsonburg Homecoming celebrations. Newspaper clippings regarding the occasional fire are also found here.
The treasurer’s books include a record of income and disbursements from 1898 to 1984 and receipt books from 1953 to 1961. The membership dues and roll call books cover the periods 1904 to 1942 and from 1971 to 1982.
Other miscellaneous items include yearbooks from 1982 and 1987 when the NOVFA convention was held in Gibsonburg, the minute book of the Firemen’s Indemnity Fund, and photographs. There are five group photographs from the early 1900s and four photos from a children’s Christmas party, possibly from the 1950s.
3 linear ft.
Folder 1 Minutes 2/15-1898 - 7/24/1903 also includes 11/5/1923
2 Minutes 9/11/1903 - 4/17/1911
3 Minutes 1/4/1926 - 4/27/1931
4 Minutes 5/4/1931 - 7/3/1933
5 Minutes 1/2/1934 - 5/20/1935
6 Minutes 5/27/1935 - 8/3/1936
7 Minutes 11/15/1937 - 1/17/1944
8 Minutes 1/3/1944 - 8/27/1951
9 Minutes 9/10/1953 - 9/19/1960
10 Minutes 9/26/1960 - 11/18/1968
11 Minutes 12/2/1968 - 8/2/1971
12 Minutes 8/6/1971 - 1/19/1976
Folder 1 Minutes 2/2/1976 - 3/8/1982
2 Minutes 3/22/1982 - 8/14/1989
3 Treasurer’s Records 10/15/1898 - 1/22/1934
4 Treasurer’s Records 1942 - 1963
5 Treasurer’s Records 1942 - 1984
6 Receipt Books 10/27/1953 - 4/10/1961
7 Membership Dues Book 1904 - 1905
8 Membership Dues Book 1904 - 1934
9 Membership Dues Book 1935 - 1942
10 Roll Call Book 1934 - 1937
11 Roll Call Book 1971 - 1982
12 Fireman’s Indemnity Fund Minute Book 5/3/1923 - 1/22/1934
13 NOVFA Convention Yearbook 1982, 1987