Button Hand-Tub Pumper

Button Hand-Tub Pumper

1853 Button Hand-Tub Pumper - Konoko No. 1

Recognizing a need to stop the growing threat of destruction by fire, the Village of Elbridge, New York, organized a fire department in July 1853. By the next month, the department authorized the purchase of a hand-pumping engine for a sum of $1000. The pumper they purchased, the Konoko No. 1, was an 1853 Button Pumper manufactured by L. Button & Company of Waterford, New York.

The Konoko No. 1 was a standard hand-tub pumper for its time, fed by a bucket brigade and operated by a team of 30 men. The handles were pumped up and down, driving the pistons and producing enough pressure to shoot water to astonishing heights. This model of hand-tub pumper features an air dome, credited to L. Button, which was designed to dampen the pulsation of the 2-cylinder pumper by removing air from the water.

L. Button & Company was one of the largest manufacturers of hand-pumped fire engines in the United States. Lysander Button obtained interest in the fire engine company he was employed at, William Platt& Company, and soon owned the entire company in 1841. Though the company went through many different trade names, the engines produced were always referred to as Buttons. L. Button & Company became part of the American Fire Engine Company in 1891, which shortly evolved into American LaFrance.

Little is known of the pumper’s exact history, but the Button was sold to Donald Herb at an auction in Sennet, New York in 2002.The Button joined our collection at the Koorsen Fire Museum in March 2019.