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History of the Johnson City Volunteer Fire Department, by George Byars, October 2006. In his "History of Johnson City Lodge 561 AF&AM", privately printed in 1920 or 1921, Brother L.G. Goar says of Johnson City, "The town is small, having a population of 500. It has had no growth in the past ten years. One cause of this condition is that a series of very disastrous fires have occurred in town during the past few years, . ." (p.1). The community did not take any steps toward incorporating the town until after World War II had ended. The young men returning home to Blanco immediately formed a VFD. Still, it took more "very disastrous fires" to move the Johnson City community to take action. In late 1944, the Elementary School, once the High School that Lyndon Johnson graduated from in 1924, burned (see included photo).

The students had to be farmed out to available Church Sunday School rooms and to the County Fair Grounds Exhibit Hall. In 1947, a movement was started to incorporate the town and pass a bond issue to install sewerage and water systems. Jimmie Leonard was elected as the first Mayor. On the last day of the year in 1948, another "very disastrous fire" consumed the Fawcett Drug Store, Dr. James Bauerle's dentist's office, Johnson City Lodge 561 AF&AM, and the Blanco County Supply hardware store (see attached photo). 

The alarm system in place at this time was based on the telephone operator causing whistles to blow, bells to ring, horns to honk, or other loud noises to alert the citizens to call in and get directions from the operator. The operator also knew who else to call, such as the Sheriff, Constable, or the owners of the stores involved. Also, on this night, the operator called Blanco, Marble Falls, and Fredericksburg VFDs for help. The Blanco truck broke an axle and dropped out, but the other two continued on and protected the exposed buildings to the North by drafting out of Town Creek and Cox's Pond.


Picture (postcard) of the ruins of the downtown Johnson City fire of December 31, 1948. Destroyed the hardware store on the corner, Fawcett's Drug Store next door, Dr James Bauerle's dental office upstairs, and the Masonic Lodge.  


Our little town was hard hit. 


After everyone caught their breath, the merchants of the town (C of C) and the City of JC sent a fairly substantial check to the Blanco VFD so they could repair their truck. The check was returned to the JC Mayor, George E. Byars Sr, by Aaron Posey, Roy H. Byars, Jimmy Hauck, and others of BVFD in a letter that advised that they appreciated the offer. Still, the repair did not cost very much, suggesting that the City of JC use this money to make a down payment on a fire truck and form its own VFD. 

Mayor Byars called a meeting to be held on May 10, 1949, at the repair shop of Robert "Bob" Sewell for all the men of the community interested in forming a VFD. The people involved in this meeting were as follows: Mayor George E Byars, Sr, Councilmen George Crofts, Joe H. Crofts, C. L. Fuqua,  Vernon Penick, and Helmut Klappenbach. Elected Fire Department Officers: George Crofts-Fire Chief, Charley Holden-Assistant Fire Chief, Edgar Moreland-Captain, Cecil Presnell-Captain, Roy Gipson- Lieutenant, Claude McConnell-Lieutenant, Robert "Bob" Sewell-Driver, George E. Byars-Sr. President, O.L. Patterson-Vice President, Bob McKinney-Secretary-Treasurer, Alton Felps-Fire Marshall. Firemen: Rollie Adams, M.B. "Mike" Barrow, George E. Byars, Jr., Ohlen Cox, Billie Edwards, Truman Fawcett, Teemer Furr, Pete  Hall, Johnny Jennings, Robert Knox, Helmut Klappenbach, Nolan Latham, Edgar "Eddie" Miller, Bob Penick, Vernon Penick, Garth Shelley.

A used fire engine was purchased from Fredericksburg VFD (see the picture below of the restored engine). Soon, with training in fire fighting from the surrounding departments, the men (and soon women) of JCVFD began to save structures and began moving into the rescue role, i.e., automobile accidents, water rescue, and others.                                                                                                                       

Johnson City VFD is a non-profit, volunteer entity contracted with ESD 1 in Blanco County to provide fire protection and related rescue services. 

Likewise, North Blanco County EMS is a non-profit entity under contract with ESD 1, as is the Round Mountain Volunteer Fire Department, also located in northern Blanco County. Fire and EMS services in southern Blanco County are under contract with ESD 2. 


JCVFD serves about 6,300 people in about a 600-square-mile area in the northern half of Blanco County. JCVFD responds to approximately 400 calls annually, including fires, rescues, traffic injuries, and other call types. 

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