1. 1897 to 1950
  2. 1950 to Today
  3. Trustees & Commissioners

1897 to 1950: The Early Bartlett Fire Years

On Wednesday, December 22, 1897, a group of Bartlett citizens gathered together for the purpose of forming a volunteer fire department. Twenty-six men, all over sixteen years of age, signed the by-laws and the constitution of the new fire department which was drawn up by George Struckman. Mr. A.C. Schick was elected the first fire chief of the department at the first meeting held on January 10, 1898. From that time on, the department functioned well according to records, even though the chief was known to report at meetings, "that the engine was in working order, but leaks worse than ever."


The department continued its operations until the middle of 1901, when it apparently disbanded. It was reorganized on July 11, 1910 with many of the same men as members. This organization appeared to have continued until sometime in 1915, although there are no records documenting this after November 7, 1911. A third and final reorganization of the department came on November 16, 1925. At this time twenty-nine men became members of the department.

A New Department

H.C. Thurnau was elected fire chief of the new department. This group not only functioned as a fire fighting unit, but soon became the center of social activity in the community. Dances and picnics, along with grand and glorious 4th of July celebrations were held. The 4th of July celebration in 1926 had a parade that contained thirty-one floats; there were fireworks, dancing, and games of chance. It was so successful that they quickly planned another picnic in August. This was the forerunner of the former firemen's picnic.

Sometime in 1930, the firemen became movie stars. The Atlas Educational Film Company wanted some shots of the volunteer department in action, so the men gave a demonstration of how it should be done. Unfortunately this film is no longer available. Throughout its existence, the department has always had cordial relations with the village board, realizing that cooperation and understanding were essential to a smooth operating partnership. The department held a special meeting on December 6, 1936. The minutes of this meeting read as follows:

"Meeting called to order by President H.E. Schnadt. Roll call showed twelve members present, none absent, and all members of the village board present. The purpose of this meeting was to discuss with the board members the activities of the Bartlett Volunteer Fire Department. The chief addressed the members present and also the board about the duties, requirements, and services necessary to maintain an efficient operation of the Bartlett Volunteer Fire Department. The president of the village board gave a short talk expressing the board's appreciation for the manner in which the fire department has maintained an efficient operation and service, and assured the board's cooperation was welcomed at any time. After adjournment, a social evening was had at the Village Hall, refreshments were served, and a good time was had by all."

Building a Community

As a fire department, this group did their usual fine work during this period, and they also played a large part in building the community. The department, along with other civic groups in town, was largely responsible for the formation of present town parks and field house. On April 12, 1948, a special meeting for the fire department was called by Chief Bull. The order of business for this meeting was to discuss purchasing six lots from Mr. H.W. Schnadt to complete the park. Motion was made to buy this land and turn the property over to the village. Mayor Thurnau, who was village president at the time, thanked the fire department for their action and said he was sure the village board and the rest of the people in town would be very thankful for what the department had done.

Much time, work, and money went into building the present field house. At their meeting on July 13, 1948, the department voted to donate their share of the annual firemen's picnic for the purpose of building the field house. At this time, the Rural League also donated their share of the picnic to this worthy cause.