HISTORY OF THE GOOD WILL FIRE COMPANY NO. 4 OF POTTSVILLE, PA
Written By Joe Hanney- Former Company Historian
Edited and Revised by John Shoener- Company Webmaster
Established 3/4/1882.....................Good Will Hose Company
Organized 5/1/1882.......................Good Will Hose Company No. 4
Charter Granted 6/19/1882.............Good Will Hose Company No. 4
Charter Amended 4/26/1886...........Good Will Hose & Engine Co. No. 4
Charter Amended 12/18/1939.........Good Will Fire Company No. 4
OUR STATION NUMBERING SYSTEM
The #4 was arrived at following three (3) earlier-formed fire companies in the name of "Good Will". They were as follows; Minersville in 1867, Frackville in 1876, and Port Carbon in 1879.
EARLY COMPANY HISTORY
On Saturday evening, March 2, 1882, at 8:00 pm under the dim rays of a flickering gas oil lamp, the secretary began slowly writing: "At a meeting of the (Northeast 7th ward, Jalappa) citizens of Pottsville held at the house of Frederick Leffler, the following officers were elected protempore. Viz. President - D.E. Deasy, Secretary - F.W. Saylor, Treasurer - George Hock." These words described the beginning chronicle of a new fire company on the firefighting scene in Pottsville. Thirty-two members signed up, initial dues being $0.10, yearly dues being determined as the company progressed, adding up to a total amount in the treasury of $3.20. Committees were appointed
on the constitution and by-laws, finance, and membership.
The company would soon join the Pottsville Fire Department, the Board of Fire Trustees, and later participate in the Pottsville Fireman's Relief Trust Association. The Atkins Fire Company, in Fishbach's Northwest 7th ward, was not very enthusiastic about the new company, and there was some vocal opposition in Jalappa, but Atkins became slowly lukewarm, inviting the new company to join them in parades and other town-wide activities. Many priorities came to the forefront. Meetings were held until the first complete fire house on Prospect Street became available in 1884. The cornerstone mentioned only the date of the company's organization o May 1, 1882. (It can still be seen there today.) The company hardly settled into its' new quarters with a growing membership, when plans were being presented before council for the present fire house at Coal and Nichols Streets. The cornerstone was laid on May 1, 1898. Council directed the design of the new building aiming at an early occupancy, amidst much input, suggestions and revisions from the membership, the only major area agreed upon was the need of a high tower.
Little time was lost in 1883 procuring the company's first "crab", a 4-wheel hand-drawn wagon with reel, in basic white which seemed to become the companies' original color. This piece of apparatus had red stripes with gilt edging. It was the companies first mobile, albeit had-drawn firefighting equipment, while certainly most homes of the day had safety ladders in second floor. A parade of acceptance was held, for the "crabs". It was led by the town's fire department, with the chief touting his golden hued trumpet!
FIRST COMPANY STEAMER
The company bought its first steamer from the Humane Fire Co. in 1885; and the horse power came from the famous Ulmer Packing Co, other businesses, and some citizens. This went fairly well with only some disruptions, until the company began purchasing it's own horses. Additional wagons were acquired for "hauling of all kind promptly done" of "best quality of coal at market prices". It was a good business for the company. The teams were often used for social occasions and outings. The company soon became involved in many community-wide activities, parades, social events, civic dedications, etc. with their members always bedecked in their traditional red shirts, neckerchief or wide white tie, wide brown belt and hat. Company picnics were held at either agricultural park or Jalappa. Indeed, the company itself initiated a community-wide affair with its "Easter Monday Night Ball", which was preceded by a parade before the gala affair held at either Centennial Hall on North Centre St. or at the Union Hall on Mahantango St. (next to the Academy of Music). The company had its' own musical organizations at various times, even doing occasional minstrel shows.
FIRST MOTORIZED APPARATUS
To this day we record no fatality in the line of duty, but the loss of one young member Billy Burke, in W.W.II, will always, in our members minds be regarded as the same. The third era in firefighting (first being hand-drawn crab, second being horse-drawn steamer, third being mechanized) began when the company purchased its first motorized unit, a white car chemical truck from Pottsville manufacturer John Yaissle for $4,625.00 on 11/14/1916. The housing took place that Thanksgiving Day by rules quickly enacted, ten members only at a time were allowed to ride on the truck to fires. At that time, the trustees were ordered to sell a team of horses and the hose wagon.
FIFE AND DRUM CORPS
The Good Will Fire Co., like many organizations over the years, has also partaken in many other activities such as it's much heralded fife and drum corps which was so widely renowned not only in Schuylkill county, but the entire eastern seaboard that in 1932 in the National Labor Day parade in Washington D.C., its performance won a sterling silver loving cup. This trophy is currently in the company meeting room at Station 40. The fife and drum corps may have gone, but their bass drum still remains at Station 40 in the upstairs social room. This drum represents how much the people of the Good Will believe in their heritage as firefighters.
COMPANY APPARATUS (1952-1965)
In 1952, The Good Will purchased a 1952 GMC American 750 GPM Pumper from American Fire Apparatus. This trucks served at the Good Will from 1952-1962 until there was an accident between the fire truck and a coal truck by the current day Rite Aid by Weis Markets in Pottsville. In 1963, a 1963 GMC American 750 GPM Pumper was purchased. In 1965, a 1965 GMC American 500 GPM Pumper was purchased.
COMPANY APPARATUS (1982-2012)
In 1982, The Good Will celebrated its 100th Anniversary. (1882-1982) They also purchased a 1982 Ford FMC 1000 GPM Pumper to replace the 19 year old 1963 GMC American. "New" Engine 41 was at the Good Will from 1982-1993, when it was sold to the American Fire Co. in Schoentown, PA. In 1993, the Good Will purchased a 1993 Spartan-Quality 1500 GPM Pumper. The Good Will Fire Company No. 4 celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2007. (1882-2007)
In 2008, a 1985 former New Jersey National Guard Pickup truck was received from the DCNR. After the hard work of many members, the truck was put into service at the March 2009 company meeting as Brush 42
COMPANY APPARATUS (2012- Present)
In January 2012, the Good Will ordered a new 2000 GPM pumper from Kovatch Mobile Equipment of Nesquehoning, PA. New Engine 41 arrived in 2012. New Brush 42, a 1997 GMC/Reading Brush Unit, arrived in 2014.
Good Will had also sponsored many activity clubs: a softball team, dart & pinochle team, bowling team and most recently was the Second Half Electronic dart champions, as well as playoff champions. The Good Will was among the first Pottsville fire companies to welcome women to join the ranks of volunteer firefighters as far back as 1980 when Kathy Honage and Lisa Bickleman joined the organization. Records show that as far back as 1893, the Good Will had a women's auxiliary, though not given status until 1920's, the women's auxiliary has been an integral part of the companies existence. Although not active at this time, it has long been recognized as a "Right Hand" to the fire company.
THE GOOD WILL TODAY
With still nearly one-hundred fifty members strong, the Good Will Fire Co. No. 4 continues to actively serve the people of the Greater Pottsville Area proudly with Engine 41 and Brush 42.
Please Check out our Photos Section for many old photographs throughout our company's history. It features many old apparatus and members.