Death of Abner P. Leshure
Abner P. Leshure, for 60 years identified with the fire department of Springfield. Mass., for 23 years as its chief, and for the remainder of his life building inspector of Springfield, died at his home in that city on September 23, aged 85 years. Mr. Leshure attended the convention of the International Association of Fire Engineers in this city during the first week of the present month, at which time he contracted a cold, terminating in his death. He is survived by three children. Dr. John Leshure, of New York: William P. Leshure, of Springfield, and a daughter. Mrs. Mary Severe, with whom he lived in Springfield. His wife died seven years ago.
The funeral took place on Wednesday, and was attended by a large number of citizens and outside friends. The body was taken to the church at 10 o’clock a. m. and remained on view to the public until the afternoon, when it was followed to the grave by a large procession, in which were the mayor and city officials, chiefs of the fire department, delegations from the Masonic and Odd Fellow lodges, and from the fire and police departments. It certainly was demonstrated that the late chief was one of the most highly respected men in the city and that his long service was fully recognized and appreciated by the assemblage that followed his remains to the grave.
Mr. Leshure, who was the oldest employe of the city, was born in Woodstock. Conn., October 14. 1828. His father. John Leshure, was a veteran of the war of 1812. When 12 years of age Abner drove stage between Woodstock and Southbridge. Seventy-two years afterward, in the summer of 1912, he motored over the same route with an automobile party, whom he delighted with reminiscences. The coincidence, impressive as it was, was no more remarkable than the fact that Mr. Leshure got as much fun out of one ride as out of the other. Leaving school in his early years, lie engaged in several commercial enterprises in Woodstock and vicinity. It was in the little town of Webster that he gained his first experience in fire fighting, his name appearing on the call list as early as 1847, when they fought fires there with buckets, and though he never had any official connection with motor-equipped departments, few men anywhere could discuss the problems of automobile pumps, fire streams and water powers with more intelligence than he. “Chief” Leshure was perhaps as widely known among the fire chiefs of the country as any living man. He had been a member of the Springfield fire department, with the exception of three years during which he was in Roston, since 1854, arid from 1870 to 1893 he was chief of the department. He joined the International Association of Fire Engineers at its second convention, in St. Louis, in 1874, and for 22 years he attended every convention without a break. When the association held its convention in Springfield in 1891, Chief Leshure was elected president, presiding at the next convention in Louisville During 1871 and 1872 he was in Roston, being an eyewitness of the greatest conflagration that city ever had. While in the office of FIRK AND WATER ENGINEERING in April, 1911, Chief Leshure gave a two-page interview, which appeared on the 26th of that month. Among the many interesting incidents related by him at that time was the following:
“In 1802 William M. Tweed, then political boss of New York City and foreman of Rig Six Company, called “Tiger Six,” and the members of the company made an excursion from New York to Montreal, Quebec, and thence to Roston. While in Quebec Mr. Tweed wrote a letter to Commissioner Leshure stating that he and his company would arrive in Springfield on a certain date, and requested an escort to visit the United States armory. The New York volunteers arrived about 2 o’clock in the afternoon, accompanied by Dodsworth’s celebrated band, and were received at the depot by the whole fire department of the city of Springfield, headed by George Dwight, then chief engineer. Mr. Leshure, besides serving on the fire board, was captain of No. 2 Engine Company. When, after the formalities had been gone through, Captain Tweed requested that Captain Leshure he his escort during his stay in Springfield, and thus these two men fraternized while the New York volunteers were in the latter city. The New York firemen left the city in the afternoon, and readied New York in time for a celebration, consisting of a torchlight parade and reception, hailing Tweed’s return like that of a victorious commander. Great crowds joined the procession and he was escorted through the streets with hands of music. During the same year a number of volunteers belonging to Engine Company No. 29. of New York, headed bv Chief Eli hates, also made a visit to Springfield, and were received with the same honors.”
Chief Leshure’s value was not solely that of a general in the field, lie was a plotting, crafty campaigner, who brought all the shrewdness of a quick mind at leisure into the vanquishing of the red enemy. He trained himself to be an authority on hydraulics, as the little book. “Work Done by and Power Required for Eire Streams,” gotten otit in 1878 in collaboration with George A. Ellis and studied the world over by tire chiefs, bears witness, lie made himself a fire department specialist, kept abreast and almost ahead of bis times in matters of efficiency and life-saving equipment, and brought all his wide knowledge to bear practically on the improvement of the Springfield department. Chief Day before him in 1868 had installed the first electric fire alarm system, but Chief Leshure was responsible for the greater part of its extension, lie introduced hanging harness, making Springfield the first city in the cast to adopt it. The Siamese grouping of nozzles, the uniform threading of hose couplings, the use of hose carts instead of reels, the extension ladder, and later, in 1890. the Seagrave ladder, were only among the more striking examples of innovations made by Chief l.eshure (luring his long term of service. He attended regularly the conventions of the fire chiefs’ association, and almost aregularly came home with half a dozen or more new ideas for the improvement of the department, which lie lost no time in putting into effect. Thus lie set a standard for progressiveness in the Springfield department which the city has shown the good sense to appreciate by continuing it through the administrations which have followed. It was by no means all a question of getting new ideas at the convention. Chief Leshure gave quite as much as he took in the long technical discussions.
When age rendered it practically impossible for him to direct lire fighting in the field and his retirement became thus inevitable, it was only fitting that the strong life and keen intellect yet left should go on in the service of the city. “Chief” Leshure’s appointment to the building inspectorship in 1891 pleased every citizen of Springfield, lie was prominent, as a matter of course, in all firemen’s and veteran firemen s organizations. lie was secretary of the Firemen’s Aid Association at the time of his death, and resigned the treasurership of the l iremen’s Relief Association only last spring, lie was active in the affairs of the Connecticut Valley League of Veteran Firemen, of which he was president, (ind was almost the patron saint ot the Springfield veteran firemen’s organization. With the latter lie enjoyed long junkets over the countri like a boy, and was the life of many a meeting. He was it Mason, too, and an Odd Fellow,