A recent question submitted to the Sayre Morning Times asked about Firemen’s Conventions held in Sayre. Looking at microfilms of the Bradford Argus, Bradford Star, The Athens Gazette, and the Towanda Daily Review I was able to put the following information together for the convention of 1900. There are no Sayre Evening Times available for that period. Fireman’s conventions were held yearly for many years in Bradford County.

The fifth annual convention of the Five County Volunteer Firemen’s Association of Northern Pennsylvania opened on Thursday September 7, 1900, in the Patriotic Order Sons of America Hall at Sayre, and after the address of welcome by Burgess Sawtelle, the routine business of the association was taken up. At 7 o’clock the delegates were given a trolley ride over the road accompanied by the Packer Band, which gave a concert in the part at the close of the ride. M. H. Sawtelle presided as toastmaster at the banquet which was served at the Wilbur House at 10 o’clock. Nearly 100 covers were laid, and the affair proved a very enjoyable one, lasting until about2 o’clock a.m. The music of the occasion was furnished by the Packers and added to the entertainment.

Friday was a perfect day and at an early hour the crowds began to pour in from every direction. Special trains began to arrive with different companies, bands and visitors to participate in the festivities of the day. An excursion train starting from Tunkhannock and taking in all the small towns along the Lehigh brought upwards of 1,500 people. The parade was about an hour late in starting, but the appearance of the thirty-two companies and bands, comprising 900 men, soon dispelled the tired feelings of the multitude, which a few moments before, was anxiously awaiting the start. The parade moved and covered the principal streets of the town. Each company made an attractive appearance. The town was richly decorated, and the committee in charge was highly complimented for their successful efforts in making the convention a perfect success.

During the parade an alarm of fire was sounded which called the firemen in the third division to the east side, but their services were not required. At the same time a car loaded with feed caught fire from spontaneous combustion, but the employees of the freight transfer extinguished the flames with little damage.

About 3 o’clock the races and contests took place, the Franklin Steamer Company of Towanda, wining the $50 prize drill, their percentage being eighty-six. Protection Hose Company of Athens won the prize for best appearing company; the hose race was won by Mist Hose Company of Blossburg, and also the hub and hub race; the hook and ladder race was won by the Audax Hose Company of Wyalusing, in 35 seconds they covered the distance of 200 yards in this competition. The Wyalusing group was a fairly new organization and only a few days before this event attended a big fire at home but kept up their standard time far above the ordinary, also kept in the line of march; they also made their first appearance in their new suits at Sayre.

The judges were: W. J. Brown, Sayre; S. C. Gernon, Scranton; P. L. lang and Howard VanDuzer, Waverly.

At 5 o’clock Friday afternoon occurred the band contest between the Ithaca and Wellsboro Military Bands, the former winning the $50 prize, making fifty-six out of a possible sixty points.

The officers of the association for the next year were elected they were: President—J. B. Clarey, Montrose. First Vice President—Dr. J. P. Langwell, Wellsboro. Second Vice President. V. Weller, Athens. Secretary—W. S. Hillis, Troy. Treasurer C. P. Welles, Towanda.

The judge of the prize drill was W. O. Coolbaugh of Ninth Regiment of Wilkes-Barre, and the judge of the band contest was Professor J. J. Alexander of the Ninth Regiment Band of Wilkes-Barre.

Much credit for the success of the 900 convention was due to the executive committee, composed of L. L. Eighmey, president; Charles Bowman, treasurer; Dr. C. M. Hunter, secretary; and J. M. Dean, W. H. Case and E. Hulette.

It was estimated that 2,500 out-of-town people attended the convention. Over 700 tickets were sold at the Towanda stations for Sayre on Friday.

The 1901 convention was scheduled to be held at Troy.

Henry Farley is a founding member and a current board member of the Sayre Historical Society. He is also president of the Bradford County Historical Society.

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