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Have We found "Grandfather" ?
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By Member Clarence Jewell
April 24, 2024

The 1764 "coffee mill" hand pumper "Grandfather" is believed to be the first engine purchased in Frederick with funds from the 1760 raffle that was held specifically to build a "market" and purchase a fire engine. According to the records of the Independent Hose Company, the engine was purchased in 1764, some 54 years before the Independent Hose Company was organized. The engine was probably used by the Friendship Fire Company, Frederick Hose Company, or Union Fire Company. Though the Sun Fire Company was also in existence in the early days of Frederick, an 1803 act of the Maryland Assembly authorized a lottery to purchase an engine for the Sun. At some point, it is believed the "Grandfather" was also used by the Independent Hose Company.

The "Grandfather" was "recovered" by the Independent Hose Company prior to the 1893 75th anniversary of the Independent Hose Company as the engine was listed in the Anniversary/MSFA parade in Frederick in 1893. News articles also indicate the engine was donated to the Baltimore Veteran's Association, members of the previous volunteer fire companies in Baltimore. But, in 1949, the Baltimore Veteran's donated the engine to the Friendship Fire Company of Alexandria, VA. The article noted they donating an engine that was purchased by George Washington for the Friendship Fire Company.

Still many unknown variables, but a curator at the Smithsonian is in agreement that the engine presently owned and on display at the Friendship Fire Company in Alexandria, VA is most likely the "Grandfather" of Frederick. Stay tuned for more information as research continues.


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