Canal Days is fast approaching and one of the events that draws a lot of people is the waterball contest. Area firefighters come together to participate in a wet game of “who can get the ball across the opponents line”. If you have never experIenced this event, you need to check it out this year.
Contests between fire departments are nothing new. Delphos was a bustling town of almost 2000 citizens on May 3, 1872, when a fire started in the rear of Shenk and Lang’s Drug Store and quickly spread through the wooden structures in the area bordered by Washington Street to the east, 2nd Street to the south, Canal Street to the west, and 3rd Street to the north, burning 45 of them completely to the ground. The only means of fighting the fire were bucket brigades using water from the canal.
This disaster was labeled the “Black Friday Fire.”
On July 1,1872, just 2 months later, the Washington Volunteer Fire Company was organized and quickly made a name for itself. An 1870’s Delphos Herald printed the following :
We know our Lima neighbors will pardon us if we proceed to a little blowing over the mere
matter of “taking a horn,” an indulgence to which our friends at the county seat are not
entirely strangers. On this occasion it was taken straight and a good deal of it. But as
there are so many kinds of horns, we ought to specify the particular horn referred to above.
It was a large horn—a very fine horn—a horn upon which Lima had set its eye. It was a
fireman’s silver horn, or more properly speaking, trumpet, offered at the Catholic
fair held at Lima last week to the most popular fire company. Sometimes popularity is
bought, and if this was of the merchantable kind, it is none the less prized, as the market
was open and accessible to all. The Washington boys of Delphos received
364 votes, which, being a majority, entitled them to the trumpet. It is a valuable companion
to the banner carried by them from the State Tournament, and of course, will be highly prized. Next!
And from the 1885 History of Allen County,
The prizes carried off by this company are named as follows: Ohio State Banner, at Galion, Ohio, in 1873; Northwestern Ohio State Banner, at Van Wert, Ohio 1874; a trumpet at Lima, Ohio, 1876; a trumpet at Van Wert, Ohio 1877; a trumpet at Delphos, Ohio 1882; a United States flag at Delphos, Ohio, 1882; a money prize at Northwestern Ohio tournament, held at St. Mary’s, Ohio, 1883, and a money prize at Sandusky, Ohio in 1884.
The museum has the three trumpets and recently received a banner from a thoughtful donor who saw it for sale in Michigan and bought it for us.
We will be open during Canal Days so stop in to see the horns and our new displays on the main floor and upstairs. While you are there, check out the 9 beautiful baskets that some lucky persons will be winning during our raffle. If you purchase some tickets, it could be you!
Reprinted from the September 10, 2011 Delphos Herald.