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The Barlow Fire Company

John Geiselman
From his book "Reflections"

On February 10, 1931, a group of concerned men met in Clarence E. "Jumbo" Fair's store, to organize a fire company to serve the community. This was the former location of the Barlow Creamery. James B. Aumen and D. C. Stallsmith, from the Gettysburg Fire Company, were present to help organize and hold election of officers. The first officers were: President - John Hartlaub, Vice President - C. E. Fair, Secretary - Chester Schriver, Treasurer - J. Burton Witherow, Chief - Boyd Bream, Assistant Chief - George Boyd. The following charter members were taken in at a fee of .25$ each: George Boyd, John Hartlaub, Howard Schwartz, George Geiselman, Chester Schriver, Charles McKinney, George Showvaker. J. Burton Witherow, Milo Witherow, Grover Yingling, and Boyd Bream. The following were taken in at that time who were over 45 years of age; George Lee, C. E. Fair, C. R. Fissel, J. W. Maring, and Jacob Boyd. There were 45 Charter members in all.

In the beginning when a fire call was reported in the Barlow area, it came into Fair's store. "Jumbo" rang a bell he had installed outside his store. Volunteers reported with buckets and any acid portable fire extinguishers they had available to help fight the fire.

In September 1933, Barlow firemen were hosts to the County Fireman's Convention. The meeting was held in the Mt. Joy Church Sunday School room. The Company was just two years old and they didn't have a fire engine or fire house yet. The County Fireman's parade formed at the church and paraded down the Taneytown Road. One of the fire companies put on a water hose demonstration in Rock Creek below the bridge. The parade continued through Barlow then made a left on the Barlow-Greenmount Road. It then continued about three-quarters of a mile to the Chester Schriver woods where they camped that night. It was a memorable rainy night for all involved.

At first the company held their meetings in the Willow Grove School House. As the meetings progressed, their first thought was for providing fire protection for the community and plans for a fire hall with a community center in mind. In February 1936 the Trustees were asked to seek parcels of ground. After investigating several sites, the Company voted to purchase a parcel of land 100 feet by 200 feet from Harry Maring. The transaction was completed on September 11, 1938. In February of 1939 the contract was awarded to Frank Bishop for construction of the first building for $2,083.00. The cost was kept to a minimum by members donating much of their time and labor. David Crider, a prominent citizen of the area, loaned the Company interest free money to construct the building. Through the years the Company has made several additions to meet their needs.

The Company purchased its first motorized piece of equipment on April 16, 1941, a Model-A Ford truck from the Gettysburg Fire Department for $350.00. This truck served the community until 1947, when they purchased a new Chevrolet Chassis. A 3000 G.P.M. Darley Front Mount Pump was placed on it with a 1,000 gallon booster tank.

In April of 1966 a new Ford Chassis was purchased. The pump and present equipment were transferred. This truck was placed in service in the early months of 1967. On June 1, 1971, the Company decided to add a second piece of equipment to keep up with the growing needs of the community. A committee consisting of Terry Lightner Sr. as Chairman, and Lawrence Huff Jr., Oscar Mummert, David Spangler, and Harry Maring, were appointed to purchase a 1970 Chevy Walk-In Van. This was used as a Service Unit for equipment.

In March 1975 another committee was appointed, to study the needs for the community, in planning for a new fire truck. This committee consisted of Donald Gantz as Chairman, also Terry Lightner Sr., Richard Andrew, Donald Hubbard Jr., Lawrence Huff Jr., John W. Schwartz, and James Wherley.

This committee did extensive research into fire apparatus, different pumps, and basically had to look fifteen years into the future as to what the Barlow fire protection area needs would be. The main thing was to custom design a fire truck that would not be out-dated or become inadequate in a few years. On October 18, 1976 bids were opened. Under recommendations from the truck commit-tee, the bid was accepted from Howe Fire Apparatus Company (Grumman) in Roanoke, Virginia. The truck arrived in 1978.

The Barlow Fire Department has built its equipment to include a 550 gallon 1966 Ford tank truck, a 1977 Drummond Ford Pumper, a 1990 Salisburg Drummond Pumper, a 1993 International Rescue Truck, and a 1988 Ford Squad Truck.

In 1955 President Dwight Eisenhower joined the fire company as an honorary member. John Schwartz, then Secretary of the Company, received a letter from The White House, Washington, D.C. It was a "thank you" to all the members for the President's election as an honorary member. Thus the Fire Company became known as "Ike's Fire Company" or "Ike's Boys".

The fire hall became a famous polling place. After President and Mrs. Eisenhower bought the farm near Gettysburg, about three miles from Barlow, they came here to vote. The President would arrive from Washington D. C. by helicopter and land on the parking grounds in the back of the firehall. Mrs. Eisenhower would often come by car. Many people and photographers would gather when they came. The President was always very friendly and usually shook hands with a number of people as he came in.

On March 8, 1966 the Ladies Auxiliary was formed, having as their objective the raising of funds to help cover the costs of this volunteer organization. The work of this group is well known throughout a wide area. Even to this day the family-style dinners are frequently served on Sundays and also during the annual Fireman's Carnival. The added room where dinners are served also became the place for Friday night Bingo.

This speech I wrote in honor of Grover D. Yingling who was a very good friend and fellow fireman. Grover passed away December 1, 1981 at 78 years of age.

With Honor

Grover D. Yingling, deceased Charter Member of the Barlow Volunteer Fire Company, was a man well known throughout the Barlow rural community, not only as a man but as a friend and loyal neighbor. He was always willing to reach out with a helping hand to those in need within our community, not asking for anything in return. He was a pioneer in our fire company. His insight and knowledge helped to build a strong foundation. By doing this, he helped our Company grow and become a great asset to our local rural community fire protection.

When asked to do something for the fire company he did it with a smile as a good neighbor, friend, husband, father, grand-father, and great grandfather. Grover will not only be missed by his family and loved ones but we, of the Barlow Volunteer Fire Company, will miss him as a faithful volunteer fireman. He was always willing to walk the second mile, if need be, that others might have more. We dedicate this in memory of Grover D. Yingling for his faithfulness and service to our fire company.

I have been serving as Chaplain of the Fire Company for a number of years. I received a plaque in March 1995 for my years of service. Presently John Schwartz takes me to the meetings. I am very appreciative to John for his friendship through the years.

John Schwartz was present with his father Howard Schwartz, at the very first meeting of the Fire Company, but he was too young to join at that time. He became a member as soon as he could and has served the company for many years.

As Chaplain of the Fire Company my prayer goes something like this:

"Dear kind Heavenly Father, as we are gathered here as the Barlow Volunteer Firemen, whatever we say or do here may it be for the betterment of the Fire Department and the community `round about us. Be with the President of the United States and the Governor of this Commonwealth. Be with the widows and orphans and with those who are not able to be with us this evening. Last, but not least, be with the Ladies Auxiliary. Amen."

I am proud to belong to this organization. As I reflect back and think of those I met through the fire company, I know I am blessed!

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