Westville’s Independent Fire Company

firehouse-01-detThis week I am posting three glass negatives shot by John B Capewell of Westville, New Jersey. The shots are of the Independent Fire Company and are so similar I figured I would roll them all together into this one post.

When I was looking over these negatives, I figured I had a firehouse, but in order to get more of a complete picture of my pictures, I forwarded some JPEG images to the incomparable and incredibly generous Jerseyman. JM responded:

This photo depicts the same firehouse as appears in your 9 August 2012 posting and the piece of fire apparatus appears in your 16 August 2012 posting. So, it is the Independent Fire Company firehouse. The piece of equipment appears to be a small chemical tanker with a hose basket on top.

Thanks, Jerseyman!

firehouse-01Quite by coincidence, Eric Farley of the Westville Fire Department yesterday posted a scan of a print of this same firehouse to the I grew up in Westville, New Jersey page on Facebook. I think it is more than likely that the print was from one of Capewell’s glass plates.

Eric Farley has commented on these pages before, and in his Facebook post he provides this information:

The original building and site of the Independent Fire Company No.2. Chestnut Street, South Westville. This building is still standing as a private residence at 226 Chestnut Street. (Photo 1907)

Here’s another negative that Capewell shot of the Firehouse from the same position:

firehouse-02The bell tower and the apparatus is festooned with bunting and flags. I wonder if it was an unveiling of a new piece of equipment or was it Independence Day?

Fire-Equipment-detailIn the third negative of the firehouse, a crowd gathers.

firehouse-03-det…and below is that entire 5 inch by 7 inch glass negative.


About The Capewell Glass Negative Collection

The Capewell Glass Negative Collection is a series of about 200 5-inch by 7-inch glass negatives shot early in the 20th Century by John Batt Capewell (1878-1951) of Westville, New Jersey. John passed the negatives down to his son Henry who left them in his wife’s possession upon his passing. Henry’s widow didn’t know what to do with them and didn’t particularly want them so she offered them to my Dad who couldn’t turn down anything. Ultimately I wound up with them and thought I would one day have photographic prints struck from them. That didn’t happen, but I came up with the digital workaround of placing the negatives on a lightbox and rephotographing them with a digital camera. The “processing” was then done on a computer with image editing software. They came out better than I thought they would so I thought I would show them off to the world on this site. Many of these pictures have not been seen in a century, and I’m proud to be presenting them today.

At first, I did not know who the people were in the photographs. I have a box of ephemera that accompanied the negatives and snagged a few clues from that as far as the Capewell name. I did some research on the internet and had a few false starts and wrong turns, but the readers of these posts have provided a remarkable amount of research and detail. I’m amazed at what people have turned up sifting through public records and such!

DSCN1482-negLast: Women & Children

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2 Responses to Westville’s Independent Fire Company

  1. Debra J. Higbee Pitman, NJ says:

    Loved seeing your photographs. I am a Capewell descendent. My great great grandfather was Charles Baldry Capewell, my great grandmother was his daughter Emily Capewell Wood. They lived in Camden and Charles B was a salesman for Excelsior and Westville.

  2. Joe_Williams says:

    Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. This is exactly what I was hoping for!

    You may be interested in this family shot if you haven’t seen it already:

Comments are closed.