Los Angeles Fire Department
Historical Archive

Los Angeles Examiner, March 23, 1929

Thomas Strohm,
Three-Time Fire Chief Passes

032329_examiner_strohm.gif (51478 bytes)
As Fire Chief (upper) and as He Appeared Before Death.

  Death yesterday claimed Thomas Strohm, Los Angeles earliest fire chiefs, and a resident of this city for the past fifty-three years. Mr. Strohm, who was 82 years old died at 2 o'clock at the home of his daughter, Mrs. George O'Donnell, 1341 North Mariposa street.

  The veteran fire chief joined the Los Angeles volunteer department in 1876, the first year of his arrival here, and became a member of the force when it went on a salary basis in 1886. He was appointed fire chief three times in 1887, 1895 and 1900. He also served as city councilman from 1892 until 1894.

  Besides his daughter, Mr. Strohm is survived by three sons, Clarence, Lou and Walter Strohm. He was past master of Masonic Lodge No. 42 of Los Angeles and a member of the Knights Templar.

  Burial arrangements will be made at Inglewood Cemetery. March 23, 1929

Los Angeles Express, March 23, 1929


Flags at Half Mast for Pioneer;
Funeral Will Be Held Next Monday

  American flags unfurled above Los Angeles firehouses were at half-mast today in respect to Thomas Strohm, 82, of 1341 North Mariposa street, Hollywood, the first chief of the fire department, who died at his home following a month's illness.
  Funeral services are to be held Monday. The color guard of the department, the department band and hundreds of city firemen will escort the body to Inglewood cemetery.
  In the death of Chief Strohm the city losses one of its most colorful characters. He came to Los Angeles 53 years ago, arriving here on a steamer from San Francisco.

  In the early pueblo days Chief Strohm was a member of the volunteer fire department, joining Engine Company No. 38 in 1876. The first volunteer company was called "38s," because 38 men comprised its personnel.
  When the fire department became an institution of the city government and its members paid, Strohm became first chief executive. He served three terms as fire chief, from 1887 to 1890, 1895 to 1898 and 1900 to 1906.
  He came here from San Francisco at the request of the German Turnverien to instruct athletes.

  Strohm was past master of Los Angeles Lodge No. 42, F. and A. M.
  Chief Strohm was born in Germany and came to the United States in 1849. He was married in 1875 and his wife died in 1917.
  Surviving are three sons, Lou, Clarence and Lon Strohm, and a daughter, Mrs. George O'Donnell, wife of former Assistant Fire Chief George O'Donnell of the Los Angeles department.


Los Angeles Herald, March 23, 1929


  With a guard of honor from the Los Angeles fire department, last rites will be held Monday afternoon in the Masonic hall at Pico and Figueroa streets for Thomas Strohm, 82, one of the first fire chiefs in Los Angeles, who died yesterday at the home of his daughter, Mrs., George O'Donnell of 1341 North Mariposa street.

  The hour of services will be announced later.  Fire Chief Scott has detailed a number of his men to attend in full uniform and members of Masonic lodge No. 42 and the Knights Templar will also send guards of honor to the funeral.

                                                       LONG L. A. CAREER
  Mr. Strohm's death brought to an end a long career in this city, during which he was identified with the early civic development both as chief of the department and as a member of the city council.

  At the request of the German Turnverien, Mr. Strohm came to Los Angeles from San Francisco to teach gymnastics.  He made the trip by boat, disembarking at Santa Monica, this being in the days before the Southern Pacific railroad had built a line into Los Angeles.

  As instructor at the Turnverein he had in his classes many of the boys who afterwards developed into the city's prominent men.  Among them were Marco and Irving Hellman.

                                                 ATHLETIC INSTRUCTOR
  When the Los Angeles Athletic club was founded Mr. Strohm was its first athletic instructor in the old club quarters in the Arcadia block.

  On his arrival here he joined the volunteer fire department and served as a member until it was put on a paid basis.  He was fire chief from 1887 to 1890, from 1895 to 1898 and from 1900 to 1906.

  In the early days one of the sights the boys watched for at a fire was Chief Strohm riding to the conflagration at breakneck speed on his handsome black horse.  Arrived at the fire, Chief Strohm would turn his horse loose and the animal would at once return to its home, leaving the chief to ride back on the hose wagon.

  Under Sheriff Billy Hammel Mr. Strohm served as deputy sheriff and later acted as deputy marshal under Al Sittel.

                                                     OWNED 'CORNER STORE'
  During the 80s he owned "the old corner store" at Alameda and First streets, and during the heavy rains in the winter of '84 the river waters flooded that part of the city, forcing the Strohm family to move uptown on Main street.  Besides his grocery Mr. Strohm owned one of the first soda water bottling works in the city.

  Mr. Strohm was born in Germany in 1846, coming to the United States at the age of 3.  He came to California in 1874, and worked as a machinist for the Southern Pacific in Sacramento.  When the Southern Pacific built the San Fernando tunnel in San Fernando valley, he worked on the construction and also worked for the railroad company during the early days in San Pedro.

  In 1875 he married Emily Schubrell of Los Angeles and the couple had four children.  Mrs. O'Donnell, Louis, Clarence and Walter Strohm, all of whom live here.  Mrs. Strohm died in 1917.

  An active Mason, Mr. Strohm was past master of the Masonic lodge No. 42 and the oldest living member of the Knights Templar, Los Angeles commandery No. 9.

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