Memphis, Tennessee to South Hanover, Indiana: 1849. Envelope or Cover. This four-page stampless folded letter measures 15” x 9.5” unfolded. Sent from Memphis to South Hanover, Indiana and bears a circular Memphis postmark in blue and a manuscript “10” rate marking and the annotation “via river mail.” It has a 1.5” split on one mailing fold and a small hole where its seal was removed.Much of the letter concerns discussions about friends at Hanover College, however a significant portion discusses an early Memphis fire company: “I have joined “liberty fire Co no 3,” We have just ended a fair of two nights for our benefit with a ball. . . . During the fair I enjoyed myself very well. . . . as you know it could not be otherwise. There was however an unfortunate circumstance connected with it which very much allay our enjoyment. It was this, It was reported that Y. L. Conant who is a member of our Company insulted the young ladies who have a table at the fair which of course you are aware reflected no honor on the company. . . . Poney being one of the committee of arrangements and consequently feeling himself personally agrieved by the ungentlemanly act of (YLC) in the next meeting of the Company arose and after speaking for about 40 minutes ended by moving that the company expel (YLC) or make some other demonstration of its sentiment and Y had in answering him grossly contradicted him when Poney bounced him and give him a regular built flogging, and I now have the pleasure of announcing that Conant is no longer a member of our Co, I understand that he has threatened to shoot P on sight, he has seen him several times however, and hasn’t ‘burned powder yet.’ We have nearly money enough made up to purchase a new engine and think we will soon send on after one, We intend getting a rowboat engine, . . . the best now in use.”. Very good. Item #009314
Liberty Fire Company No. 3 was established in 1849, shortly before Sanders wrote this letter. It was the the third fire company established in the city; the first was founded three years earlier Rowboat engines like the company wanted to purchase were cumbersome machines that could require up to 30 men to operate. The men would sit atop the engine and pull handles (much like the oars of a rowboat) that would shoot water much farther, faster, and in greater volume than it could be thrown from a bucket. An insider’s first-hand report of an early independent volunteer fire engine company. Very scarce. As of 2019, nothing similar is for sale in the trade or held by institutions per OCLC. While the Rare Book Hub reports auction sales of several engine company log books and meeting minutes, there are no auction records of similar description of misbehavior at firemen’s balls or expulsions and fisticuffs steaming from “ungentlemanly” conduct.