Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Touch That Plug And I'll Break Your Heads

Henry Clay Sexton

On Sept. 14, 1857, Henry Clay Sexton became St. Louis' first fire chief (formally, "chief engineer") at an annual salary of $1,000.  He had 30 employees and three steam engines.  Sexton got the job after the Mound Volunteer Fire Company, where he was chief, sold its engine and house at North Broadway and Brooklyn Street to the city for $250. 
Some volunteer companies refused to quit.  In August 1858, Sexton personally defended a plug with a heavy wrench, telling his covetous competitors, "Touch that plug and I'll break your heads."
-St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 12, 2010

This is from a nice article about the beginnings of the St. Louis Fire Department that's online at the Post's website.

Sexton, of course, was a prominent figure during the pioneer baseball era in St. Louis.  He was a member and long-time president of the Empire Club and I believe he was instrumental in developing the relationship between the StLFD and the Empires.  That relationship was most likely used as a way to compensate members of the Empires' first nine, who often were employed by the fire department.

Tip o' the hat to Steve Pona, who sent me the link to the article.  

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