read by John Hurley at the dedication of the newly constructed firehouse
and meeting hall.
We are gathered today to dedicate this fine new home of the Silver Creek
Fire Department. Yet, this is but another milestone in unselfish
devotion in community pride. Let’s turn back a few pages in history and
see how this dream has become a reality.
1850’s when the early settlers gave birth to Silver Creek, little did
they visualize a settlement growing to such proportions. By the turn of
the century, Silver Creek could boast of a sawmill, distillery, brewery,
cheese factory, soda water factory, gristmill, blacksmith shop, saloon,
store, school, and a church. Wages were not high, only fifty cents a
day, but prices weren’t high either. For instance, Rietz’s rye sold for
forty cents a gallon. Even though the threat of fire lay in everyone’s
mind, few means other than bucket brigades were able to avert disastrous
losses. It wasn’t until 1912 when the church burned, near what was the
Billy Frauenheim farm that serious thought was given to organizing a
volunteer fire department with what was then considered modern
A group of
dedicated citizens, headed by Otto Risse and Willie Gessner formed an
organization called the Badger Club and rallied citizens to the
promotion of worthy causes. The members, whose names are all familiar,
most of whom are descendants of original pioneers Walter Risse, Milton
Hannert, Levi Hannert, Alex Schroeter, Alfred Schroeter, Raymond
Schroeter, Henry Winter, Herman Schieferdecker, John Kohler, John Cill,
and Peter Miller.
By 1917 the
first piece of fire fighting equipment was obtained, a two wheeled, soda
acid hand-drawn rig. Although, as today they were badly in debt, the
Silver Creek Fire Department became a reality. One of the early tests
of their fire fighting prowess was when Herman Binder’s smoke house
burned. It behooves us to wonder whether all the hams and sausages were
consumed by fire, or if the fire department had one of it’s first brat
the fire house was in what is now Rollin Risse’s barn, so a two mile
push and pull to the fire did work up a good appetite. The official
meeting hall was in Wille Gessner’s blacksmith shop at that time.
In order to
pay the debts, the community promoted dances and concerts which were
given by the Risse Family Orchestra. The community joined in giving
several plays; namely “Blundering Billy” and “When Smith Stepped Out”.
These were played to “standing room only” crowds. Frequent dances were
given at Rietz’s Hall, above Risse’s Hardware Store and Tanck’s Hall,
now Old Fort Silver to raise funds.
In 1920 the
fire department acquired its first permanent fire house on one acre of
land obtained from Gertrude Rietz, which served until the present
structure was built.
gradually modernized, by acquiring a Packard truck from Black River
along with a portable pump, parts of which were later converted into a
Ford chassis. In 1959, the department acquired our present pumper from
Cascade, a tank truck from Milwaukee and a utility truck from Barton. A
brand new pumper truck was purchased recently to bring up to modern
standards the department we see now.
be given to the untiring efforts of the fire chiefs, from Otto Risse and
Alex Schroeter in the old days, down to Al Schladweiler, Ralph LaFever,
Willard Hammen and Ralph Jung for the re-organizing and modernization of
Not to be
forgotten or overlooked is the very important cooperation of the ladies
in the community. It was through their efforts that much was
contributed to the department. Since the Ladies Auxiliary was organized
in 1957, their contribution to the success of the department has been
outstanding. Many pieces of equipment were purchased through their
efforts and presently all new tables and chairs and kitchen equipment
are the latest items.
God bless the
members of the Silver Creek Fire Department, both men and women and let
us pray for continued success and progress.