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Harrison Rhodes: Wheelwright, Tanner, Hoseman

Harrison P. Rhodes (c. 1830-1907)

When Harrison Rhodes died on February 19, 1907 of pneumonia at 75, he had been in failing health for a number of years. Born around 1830, he was the son of Moses Rhodes (1801-1882) and Nancy Keith Rhodes (1804-1857). His mother died on March 17, 1857 and his father remarried. Harrison, who never married, continued to live with his father and stepmother, Mary H. W. Gay Rhodes.

Throughout his life Harrison Rhodes was a laborer, working at various jobs including as a wheelwright (sometimes with his father who was a wheelwright), a tannery worker, and a farm laborer. His obituary notes that Harrison was “a hard-working, honest and faithful man who did not slight his work.”

In addition, he was a “suction hoseman” for the fire department in South Dedham, later Norwood. As such he had to know where every available water supply was or had to locate a well, cistern, or brook near enough to a fire to drop in the hose. He built several large fire-reservoirs to supply water which stood long after the town had a water system built in 1886.

The long hose/pipe extension that you see going along the top of this Washington No. 7 hand tub was called the squirrel tail and was placed into a cistern, a brook, or a large hole where they reached a water main and cut the pipe to flood the hole. This would then suction water up into the hand tub and pump it through the hoses with the help of hosemen manually pumping it. Courtesy Norwood Firefighter Michael Chisolm.

After his father’s death on January 25, 1882, Rhodes continued to make his home on Washington Street with his stepmother. Less than a week after Harrison’s death, Mary Rhodes died at the age of 94. Although his name was not engraved on the stone, Harrison Rhodes was buried in the family plot with his parents.

In 1890 this South Norwood site was the home of Harrison P Rhodes.

The family’s last name is variously spelled Rhodes, Rhoads, and Rhoades. It is engraved on the gravestone of Moses Rhodes as RHODES. Thus, that spelling was used for this account. When Harrison died, the newspaper identified him as Harrison P. Rhoads.


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