Albion Interactive History / Organizations / Alert Company

Albion Interactive History

Albion Interactive History / Organizations

Albion Alert Company, 1856
    Disbanded 1880s

In the spring of 1856 the village of Albion realized the necessity of having some fire protection for the town. An engine a hand machine called The Alert, was purchased for $1,000. A volunteer fire company was organized at once, with James Monroe as captain, Charles W.Dalrymple, secretary, and John Fanning, treasurer. This organization was knownas the Alert Fire Engine Co. No. 1 of Albion.

On July 4, 1857, there was held at Kalamazoo, Michigan, the first State Fireman’s Tournament, at which prizes were offered for water throwing by hand fire engine. Alert Fire Engine Co. was there sixty strong. There were in all twelve hand fire engines from different towns in the state entered for the contest.

The first prize, a large silver trumpet, properly engraved, was won and brought home by the victorious Albion Alert Company. This victory was highly appreciated by the citizens of the village and one over which the Alert Company was proud.

The trumpet was for many years in the possession of Mr. Dalrymple for safe keeping, when in 1904, it was presented to the City of Albion by the four surviving members of the old company, viz: C.W. Dalrymple, Orton Robinson, Wallace Green, and Nicholas Plough.” (Biographical Sketches, Dr. Elmore Palmer, 1908.) P22

The Alert Fire Company was replaced in the 1880’s by the Union Hose Company No. 2.

The Alert Company, 1886. Left to right: Leonidas H. Brockway, foreman; Gale, Miller, Rockwell, Marion Moore, Bills, Byron Angevine, Stone, Russell Sackett, Edick, Newton, Henry Cushman, Agard. In the background can be seen the back of James W. Sheldon, the clothing store of Wareham W. Douglass, and the National Exchange Bank of Albion.

Surviving members of Albion’s Alert Fire Company gather for this reunion photo in 1886. Front row (L-R): (at table) Fred W. Sheldon, Charles W. Dalrymple, Nicholas Plough. Back row: Augustus J. Gale holding the award trumpet, Charles F. Austin, Henry Daniels Smith, John Phipps, J.W. Gillespie, John Fanning, William Balcom.

Source: Frank Passic. A Pictorial History of Albion, Michigan; From the Archives of the Albion Historical Society. Dallas, Texas: Curtis Media Corporation. 1991.

Organized in May of 1856, after several disastrous fires had aroused the little village, the Fire Department attracted 120 volunteers. Soon the Common Council ordered (at $100) the “Alert” – a water throwing fire engine, at first drawn by men, and, later, by horses. Pride in this engine was such that it was regarded as almost human…Where was the “Alert” kept? Records do not tell; but the firemen were seemingly always crouched, ever ready to spring into action, and the volunteers were some of the leading men of the village. The first officers were James Monroe, foreman; James W. Sheldon, assistant foreman; W.H. Bidwell secretary; Mellon Osborn, treasurer; Alex Emmons, horseman; F. Osborn, steward. The hose committee included H.M. Hovey, Ira T. Eastman, B.B. Bidwell, and Marshall Woolever.The first convention in January 1857, sent as Albion delegates J. Monroe, George Hannahs, W.B. Southard, H. McGee, and H.G. Hall.The Albion Weekly Mirror, from which details are taken, told of the popularity of the “Alert” and its devoted attendants, its participation in contests, and the intense rivalry existing in the towns of southern Michigan. Often their fire fighters met in tournaments that were truly spectacular affairs.

Source: Audrey K. Wilder. A Young Man in Albion Village. 1975.