Matthew Wilson,

Director of Admissions

The story of the beginning of the Columbia County Volunteer

Firemen's Association to its current year:

            A meeting was called for all Columbia County Volunteer Fire Companies to meet January 18th 1925 in the village of Philmont.  Meeting was called to order by the County Vice President of the Hudson Valley Firemen’s Association Mark Rosenthal who stated the purpose of the meeting.

            Several distinguished firematic guest were present, W.H. Frank President of the Board of trustees of the Hudson Valley Association,Chris Noll Secretary of the Hudson Valley Firemen’s Association, W.H. Hallenbeck President of the Greene County Firemen’s Association and many more guests.  Henry Buxbury from Hudson was chosen Chairman and Ross Myers from Philmont temporary Secretary.  Mr. Sweet from Coxsackie gave a very descriptive account of the Greene County Association and its workings, W.H. Frank spoke in general on matters of interest to firemen’s and especially of the State Firemen’s Home in Hudson.

            Motion made and carried by Mark Rosenthal that the roll be called of the delegates present about 80 in all to express their views in favor of or against a County Firemen’s Association.  After an expression from delegates from Germantown, Copake, Stockport, Mellenville, Hillsdale, Niverville and Philmont.  Motion was made by Mr. DeWald and carried that they go on with the business of forming "The Columbia County Firemen’s Association".

            Mr. Wright Drumm of Chatham gave an invitation to the Association to meet in Chatham for the next meeting which was accepted, President of the Philmont Fire Company J.E. Walker gave an invitation to hold the first convention in Philmont which was accepted.  Mr. Walker made a motion that a committee of 5 by appointed to nominate the officers.  The nominating committee reported that they had made the following selection of Officers.

            President Henry Buxbury, Hudson, 1st Vice President Harold DeWald, Philmont ; 2nd Vice President Nathan Wild Jr., Valatie; Secretart George Feltner, Stockport; Treasure Stanley Miller, Germantown.  Board of Directors Mark Rosenthal, Hudson; Adrian Langdon, Copake; P.T. Winslow, Niverville; F. Dimmick, Hillsdale; and Wright Drumm, Chatham.  On the motion from the floor, the secretary was instructed to cast one ballot for the Officers and they were  declared elected.   

            Resolution to appoint 5 members to draft by-laws and  present them at the next meeting, which was held February 26th 1926 in Chatham.  At the next meeting many appointments were made by the President of the 21 fire companies who attended.  Dues was sent at 50 cents per member and $1.00 per Company.  At this meeting the delegates voted the last weekend in July for the 1st annual convention to be held in Philmont.  This weekend would not interfere with the Hudson Valley Convention and the New York State Convention.

            The first Convention book printed in 1939.  Shows the profit on the book to the Association was $750.00.  At that time 40% of the proceeds went back to the Association and the host company kept 60%.  The motto the Association was used on the books at that time was "United for Service"  1943-1945 books were dedicated to the firemen of Columbia County who were serving in the Armed forces of the United States.  Fire Companies listed the names of the members who were serving from their companies, 750 volunteer firemen from Columbia County served our Country during WW II.   The 21st Convention was called "Victory Convention"  which was held in Valatie, and the book was dedicated to the firemen of Columbia County who severed in the Armed Forces.  1949  book was the biggest book in pages till that date.  1950 marked the 25th Annual Convention.  The book cover was silver with blue print and the convention was held in Livingston.  At this point in time the membership was well over 1000 members. 1977 the book was dedicated to Edward Rowe, who was Secretary of the Association for 28 years.    

       In 1975 the County Association was 50 years old.  The Convention was held in the city of Hudson.   The year 2000 was the 75th Anniversary of the Association hosted by Mellenville on their 75th Anniversary..    The year book has changed in sizes three different times.  It started out 8 1/2"x 11" second change 5 1/2"x 8 1/2" the third change was back to 8 1/2"x 11" but bounded on the edge because the number of page got more the most pages go back to 2006 with 232 pages.  The Greenport Fire Department that year made which as of this date is the most any fire company has taken in.  1988 the Association changed the profits of the year book, that the company publishing the book get 100% of the profit, this will help them with their expenses.  Since then companies publishing the yearbook have increased the books size, to benefit themselves.

        The County Association has had two increases in dues for both the fire companies and the membership.  The original dues were $1.00 for Fire companies, 50cents for the general membership.  1949 the dues was increased to $2.00 per Fire Company and $1.00 for the membership.  The third increase came in 1977, $6.00 per Fire Company and $3.00 per member.  Starting in 2009 the membership dues of $3.00 are due by July 1st, after this date the dues increased to $5.00.  Company dues remain the same  The Association membership has had it up and downs in membership both Fire companies and general membership in 1989 the membership was 1000 members and has since fallen. At this date the county membership stands at 430 members, includes the 28 life members.  The Officers of this Association have taken an active role to increase the membership each year.  

         The year 1995 is the first year that the Association is the host of the convention.  It has been past practice that the Presidents company will play host to the County firemen.  This we hope will encourage other members to come more active in the Association, knowing that if their company for some reason cannot host the convention that the county Association will be there to help out.  1998 The first female firefighter was elected Director to this Association.  2006 Janet Shumsky from Greenport was elected the first female President of this Association.  2009 another women was elected Director, Laura Forster from Germantown.  And she will become our second women President in 2018.  In 2007 another first Past President Henry Swartz from Niverville was elected Director and to be the first Past President to go thru the chairs again and will become President in 2016.   2006 our long time Treasure Bruce Babjeck from Philmont retired after serving 29 years. 2010 James Coons from Hudson retired as our Financial Secretary serving 17 years.  This coming July 2013Recordin g Secretary Jeffrey French will also retire after serving 24 years and has been an officer in this Association since 1988.  Over the years the Association has made donations to the Volunteer Rescue Squads in the County and many worth while projects.  Individual awards have been made to those who have shown acts of Bravery toward saving other lives, etc.  Each year attendance awards are presented to the three top companies who have the largest attendance at the three quarterly meeting.  These awards are $125.00, $75.00, and $50.00.  Another fund raiser came about.  Clothing bins have been placed thru out the county. The county association is reimbursed for the clothing, and this has helped our treasure.

         Over the 85 years of convention parades only one parade was rained out, 1960 in Stockport.  There had been parades where the rain fell during, before and after, but never has hard as 1960.  The parades use to start at 3:00pm, in 1991 the parade time changed to 2:00pm because of the heat and the threat of rain in the later part of the day.  1997 Greenport moved the parade time to 6:00 pm, for two reasons the heat and make it possible for more of the working firemen can make the parade. As of this date the time of the parade is up to the host company. 1:00 pm or 2:00 pm is the most standard time the parade starts

         The Columbia County Volunteer Firefighters Association has grown in stature over the years and has keep the object of this organization going and that is to foster and extend the interests, welfare and growth of firematic interests and good feeling in Columbia County.  

         The Officers, Directors and Past Presidents of The Columbia County Volunteer Association wish to express their thanks to all their friends who have contributed to the success of this Association.  With out these loyal friends the Association would not have grown to what it is today.

As Recording Secretary of this great Association I hope this little bit of history will show our proud heritage of the Volunteer Firefighters in Columbia County.    (Revised 3/13)

Jeffrey W. French
Recording Secretary

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