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 Fallen Firefighters Remembered at Open House

April 25, 2007 - While the main focus was on the Knightstown Volunteer Fire Department's new facility and what it means for the future of fire protection services in the community, there were also moments of somber reflection at the KVFD's April 15 open house on a fire that claimed the lives of two firefighters and one citizen over 100 years ago.

On October 18, 1899, local firefighters Charles Scudder and Marshal T. Rhodes, 25, lost their lives while battling a late night fire that had engulfed the town's Masonic temple and other nearby buildings. Fone F. Davy, a 20-year-old citizen of Knightstown who had been a student at Indiana University, perished with Scudder and Rhodes when a portion of the temple's roof gave way causing burning walls to collapse on the men.

The KVFD had a front page story about the fire from the October 20, 1899, issue of The Knightstown Banner on display at the open house. Fortunately, in the years since then, the department has lost no other members to fires.

KVFD Chaplain Mark Tabb spoke briefly at the open house about the sacrifice that Scudder and Rhodes had made. Noting the inherent danger that comes with fire fighting, he told attendees, "These are the sort of people we should remember and honor."

Recalling when he first began his career as a firefighter in Oklahoma, Tabb said the captain of his department had told him there are two types of firefighters: those who stand at the door of a burning building holding the hose, and those who take the hose and go inside to fight the fire.

"This department is made of men and women who go inside the building," Tabb said. "And those who gave their life - that's the kind of men they were as well."

Members of the Knightstown Masonic Lodge presented the KVFD with a plaque on Sunday memorializing the deaths of Scudder, Rhodes and Davy. Larry Selvidge said the plaque, which may have originally been placed at the base of a fountain, had been found by fellow Masons a few years ago in an upper floor storage area in the current temple.

In a familial sense, the legacy of one of the deceased firefighters continues within the KVFD to this day. KVFD Second Assistant Chief Steve Wilkerson told The Banner the day after the open house that he had recently learned he is related to Rhodes. With assistance from family members, he said records were located that confirmed Rhodes was his great-grandmother's brother.

Note: This story and another in this issue were part of a full page spread that included photos. You can view that full page here


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