Now, focus your attention above the front door at the bottom left corner of the fire station. You’ll see a lantern hanging from the second floor balcony and positioned above the front door.
In 2004, when the Austin Fire Department Historical Society and Museum was being organized a gentleman in his 80′s got word of a fire museum in the works and contacted us. The man, Leo Mueller, Jr., mentioned that his father was Chief of the Austin Fire Department in 1913 when it was volunteer. Following Chief Mueller’s involvement with the Austin Fire Department, he somehow gained ownership of this Hook and Ladder 1 lantern. Many years later, Mueller, Sr. passed on the lantern to Mueller, Jr. Mueller, Jr. hung the lantern as his bedroom light fixture for well over 30 years! After learning of the opening of the Austin Fire Museum, Mr. Mueller donated the lantern for display. The Hook and Ladder 1 lantern is one of the AFD Museum’s most prized possessions and is eternally grateful to Mr. Leo Mueller, Jr. for his donation. There is a frosted glass on the rear with the inscription March 23, 1861. That significance of that date is unclear to the AFD Historical Society. We have found several dates of organization and charters for Hook and Ladder #1, with September 25, 1857 being the most common, but have not yet found documentation of the significance of March 23, 1861.
Fire Chief Leo Mueller, Sr. in 1913
Thanks to LT. Kevin Kalmus (Engine 16 C-Shift), we have now answered the question to the significance of the date of March 23, 1861 etched into one of the panes of glass on the lantern. March 23, 1861 was the date that Texas ratified the Confederate Constitution and joined the Confederate States of America. It is appropriate that we found out this information on the 150th anniversary of the event. Thanks Kevin.