Foamite-Childs Corp.; 1923-1928 - Kearns-Dughie/Foamite-Childs 1923-1928; Foamite-Childs division, American LaFrance Corp., 1928-1929; Foamite-Childs div. American LaFrance, 1929-1987; Elmira, NY


Justus Childs was born in Woodstock, Connecticut on September 21, 1809 to Dolphus and Chloe Jackson Child, and came to Paris, Oneida County, New York in 1831. He resided east of Cassville on the stone road, and was an extensive farmer — his farm being one of the "model farms" in town.

He was a direct sixth generation ancestor of Benjamin Child, who came to America from England about 1630 and died in Roxbury, Mass., in 1678. A valuable family genealogy, published in 1881 by Reverend Elias Child, of Utica, New York gives the unbroken lineage of his descendants, many of whom were prominent in civil, commercial and military life.

He married Betsey Budlong, the daughter of Joseph Budlong, Esq., of Bridgewater, N.Y., on Sept. 21, 1834 and to the blessed union were born 6 children: Sarah Louisa Childs. (b. Nov. 18, 1835 – d. Oct. 20, 1870); Joseph Morris Childs (b. Apr. 17, 1840); Wallace Budlong Childs (b. July 8, 1842-d. 1870); Orlando Justus Childs (b. July 25, 1844); Kate Elizabeth Childs (b. July 10, 1848); and Charles Henry Childs (b. Dec. 26, 1854).

In 1843 Justus served a single term in the State Assembly and in 1857 was elected Supervisor of the Town of Paris for a single term. During the interim he established himself in the manufacture of agricultural implements in the city of Utica, Oneida Co., N. Y. The business grew on his hands to large proportions, taxing his energies to an extent which seriously impaired his health. In the prime of manhood and amid business activities, he fell into a decline which terminated his useful life on May 24, 1868, at the age of 59.

The Utica Observer carried the following tribute following his passing:

"He was gifted with superior intelligence and an excellent constitution; and was characterized by active habits and large business capacity, with marked public spirit. Always one of the most prominent citizens of his town, he was repeatedly its Supervisor, and also represented his district in the State Assembly. In all the relations of life, as well as in an official capacity, his conduct was distinguished by integrity, conscientiousness and good judgment, and his death will be lamented by all who knew him. He leaves a large family, among whom are Messrs. J. M. and W. B. Childs, of Utica, and a large circle of friends, to mourn his loss."

Joseph Morris and Orlando Justus Childs, were the immediate successors of their father in the firm's Fayette St. factory, taking over management of the firm when their father fell ill soon after the start of the Civil War. Wallace Budlong Childs decided against it, electing to attend Hamilton College, Clinton, N.Y. where he pursued a law degree, graduating in 1864. Unfortunately his career was short-lived as he passed away in 1870, just two years after his father.

Charles H. Childs, the youngest of the four Childs brothers, joined the firm after the death of his father and for the next decade the three brothers carried on a successful business in both the wholesale distribution and manufacture of numerous agricultural products.

1867 ad – Oneida County directory

"THE ORIGINAL AND ONLY PREMIUM Buckeye Mower & Combined Self-Raking Reaper

"Awarded the HIGHEST PREMIUMS, both in Mowing and Self-Raking, at the most important field trials ever held in any country.


"The success if the BUCKEYE as a SELF-RAKER is unparalleled. Very important improvements have been added for the season of 1870.

"Manufactured by Adriance Platt & Co., for J.M. Childs & Co., Utica, N.Y. An Agricultural Store in Utica

"We are about to fill a large store with all kinds of first-class Farming and Agricultural Implements, Seeds, Fertilizers, &c, &c.

"Persons in want of any farming tool will please call on us and make their own selections. Send for a Circular. J. M. CHILDS & CO."

In 1871 a line of mowers distributed by Childs was awarded a bronze medal at the State Fair by the New York State Agricultural Society. A description from the catalog follows:

"Graham, Emlen & Passmore, Philadelphia, Pa., by J. M. Childs & Company, Utica, N. Y.; the Philadelphia lawn mower; three sizes hand machines; No. 0, 10 Inches cut, price fifteen dollars; No. 1, fifteen inches cut, twenty-five dollars; No. 2, twenty inches cut, thirty five dollars; two sizes for horse-power; No. 2 ½ , thirty inches cut, seventy-five dollars No. 3, thirty-six inches cut, $150."

1872-1873 Broome and Tioga County Business Directory:

"The Buckeye," J. M. Childs & Co., proprietors, office 10 and 12 Lafayette Street, Utica. It is hardly worth while to discuss the merits of this celebrated Mowing and Reaping Machine, at this late day. So perfect and complete was the Machine as originally invented, that its principles have never been changed. Improvements in parts, it is true have been made, as experience showed them to be requisite. When it is understood that notwithstanding the great number of machines thrown upon the market for public favor, more than 130,000 of the "Buckeyes" have been sold, it will be universally conceded that the majority are in favor of this as a labor saving implement. We will not attempt to detail its merits, but would recommend the reader to call and inspect the machine for himself, or send for a circular to J. M. Childs & Co., Utica. Messrs C. & Co., also keep on hand a full assortment of Agricultural Implements, such as Threshing Machines, Fanning Mills, Horse Rakes, Cultivators, Plows, Cider Mills, &c., &c.

1873 advertisement:

"J.M. Childs & Co: Manufacturers and dealers in all kinds of farming implements : 12 and 14 Fayette Street, Utica, N.Y. : Call and see the best steel plow, and largest variety of implements in the state, 8 page catalog printed by Curtiss & Childs, steam job printers, 167 Genesee St., Utica, N.Y., 1873."

1875 advertisement:

"The VICTORIOUS 'Wisner' IMPROVED was awarded the Gold Medal at the Great National Field Trail near Philadelphia, Pa., 1874, Also AMERICAN INSTITUTE MEDAL, Same Year.

"The Horse Rake and Mower are important Implements on the Dairy Farm. When the Revolving Rake was first introduced, it seemed that perfection had been reached in the way of gathering hay; but soon the Sulky Steel Tooth Rake put in an appearance, crowding out the former, and now the "WISNER," steps in and is bound to supersede all others. The Inventor, J. E. Wisner - of Friendship, N. Y. (owner of one of the finest Dairy Farms in Western N. Y.), Is a practical farmer, and has invented a Rake that is self-operating—a slight pressure of the foot engaging both wheels for discharging the hay, and yet either wheel works independent of the other, so that It will operate equally well while turning to the right or left, making it the most perfect Rake in the world, and its success is unparalleled in the history of Harvesting Implements.

"J. M. CHILDS & CO., UTICA, N. Y., Are General Agents for the "WISNER" SELF-OPERATING RAKE, BUCKEYE MOWER, and Dealers in First-class Agricultural Implements and Farming Tools, keeping the largest and best assortment in New York State. Correspondence solicited."

On Dec. 10, 1874 Orlando J. Childs married Ella A. Jones, daughter of Jonathan Jones, a well-known distributor of dairy equipment located in Utica, N.Y. Soon afterward he sold his interest in the family firm to his brothers, entering into a partnership with his brother-in-law, Frank Jones, under the name of Childs & Jones, successor to Jonathan Jones & Co., embarking on a successful career as dealers in dairy apparatus and general hardware at 84 Genesee St., Utica, New York.

The withdrawal of Orlando from the family firm caused a reorganization of J.M. Childs & Co. with J. Morris Childs the senior, and Charles H. Childs, the junior partner.

The 1883 Oneida County Directory included the following Childs entries:

CHILDS CHARLES H. (J. M. Childs & Co. 12 to 18 Fayette), r Butterfield House
CHILDS J.M. & Co. (J. Morris and Charles H.) Buckeye X Mower and Reaper and agricultural implements, 12 to 18 Fayette. See adv't page 28.
CHILDS J. MORRIS (J. M. Childs & Co. 12 to 18 Fayette), r 3 High
CHILDS ORLANDO J. (Childs & Jones, 84 Genesee), r 140 John
CHILDS & JONES (Orlando J. Childs and Frank L Jones) dairy apparatus, hardware, & c. 84 Genesee, vat shop 30 Meadow.

A chromolithograph advertising card dated 1884 depicts a woman riding a hay dump rake pulled by a tiger, text as follows: "Wisner's Tiger Sulky Hay Rake, 'the King of Rakes' manufactured for J.M. Childs & Co., Utica, NY."

After many years of success in the dairy supply business Orlando J. Childs became enamored with the chemical fire extinguisher, a revolutionary product invented by two local inventors.

In late 1899 Childs organized the O.J. Childs Co. in order to take over the business of the Utica Fire Extinguisher Co., the manufacturer of the Utica chemical extinguisher, an early chemical fire extinguisher designed by William C. Pomfret and Thomas B. Keating. Originally filed on January 16, 1896, the device was awarded US Patent number 588,055 on August 10, 1897 and assigned to the Utica Fire Extinguisher Co.

The following ad appeared in the 1898 Delaware, Lackawanna &a Western R.R. directory:

"The Best Hand Chemical Fire Extinguisher in the World.

"Do Not Think of Buying Until You Have Seen It.


"Albany, N. Y., March 16, 1898.


"Gentlemen: We have equipped the State Capitol Building, Executive Mansion, State Hall and Geological Hall with your hand Chemical Fire Extinguishers, believing them to be the most reliable, most easily operated and most attractive extinguisher that has been brought to our attention.

"Respectfully yours, Frederick Easton, Superintendent.

"Ask for descriptive circular and prices. Special Salesmen wanted everywhere, to whom most liberal terms will be extended.

"MAN'FD BY The Utica Extinguisher Co., 48-50 Liberty st., Utica, N.Y."

September 1901 issue of Municipal Journal & Engineer:

The Utica fire extinguisher is one of the best on the market. It has been endorsed by the Boston Manufacturers' Mutual Fire Insurance Company as thoroughly reliable. It is manufactured by the O. J. Childs Company, 48 Liberty street, Utica, N. Y."

April 4, 1908 Street Railway Journal:


"A hand fire extinguisher which has been adopted widely for electric cars and which possesses a number of novel features is illustrated in the accompanying engraving. It is manufactured by the O. J. Childs Company, of Utica, N. Y. An important feature of the extinguisher is that it has a stop cock outlet in the cap and the lever that opens and closes this stop cock also operates the stopper which corks the bottle of acid. In other words, when the stop cock is shut off, the stopple is held firmly in the bottle, and the liquid securely in the machine until its use is required.

"When the stop cock is opened the stopple is lifted away from the bottle and allows the chemicals to mix when the extinguisher is inverted. This construction is considered especially desirable in the case of an extinguisher to be carried on cars where the device will be subject to a certain amount of rattle and shaking, and where the acid bottle should be kept tightly closed until the extinguisher is to be used. A hose can be employed or not as desired. Among the electric railway companies which are users of this extinguisher are the Utica & Mohawk Valley, the electrified section of the West Shore Railroad the Auburn & Syracuse Electric Railway, the Lackawanna & Wyoming Valley Railway and the Indianapolis & Eastern Railway.

"The same manufacturers make the Childs Approved 3-gal. extinguisher for the protection of buildings, and among the companies which are using this extinguisher are the Detroit United Electric Railway Company, which has some 500; the Interborough Rapid Transit Company, which has 700; the Metropolitan Street Railway Company, which has 575, and the Hudson & Manhattan Railroad Company, which has 112."

Their listing in the 1908 Motor Cyclopedia Directory follows:

"Childs Co., O. J.—48-50 Liberty St., Utica, N. Y. Mfrs. fire extinguishers. Est. 1896. O. J. Childs, Pres.

Childs, O. J.—Pres., O. J. Childs Co. 48-50 Liberty St., Utica. N. Y."

October 3, 1910 Electric Traction Weekly:

"UTICA FIRE EXTINGUISHER - A fire extinguisher forms a valuable item of apparatus for an interurban car. Defective wiring, overheated motors and bearings frequently start fires which are difficult to extinguish, especially when a car is in the country. The Utica No. 7 fire extinguisher illustrated herewith is designed especially for railroad service. The particular feature of the extinguisher is that it has a stop-cock outlet in the cap, and by shutting off this stop-cock the passage to the nozzle is closed and also the stopple is held firmly in the bottle, so that the acid cannot mix with the liquid. To operate it, the stopcock is opened and the extinguisher turned upside down. In the accompanying cut, A is the lever handle to the stop-cock, and E is the lead stopple. The face of this is beveled and ground to a true surface, making a tight joint with the top of the lip of the bottle, which is also ground. The bottle cage is made of bronze in one piece with the top. This cage and the inside working parts of the stop-cock, as well as the inside of the tank, are thickly coated with a lead mixture to prevent corrosion. The packing, B, around the stem of the stop-cock prevents leakage if any liquid should get through the joint at C, which, however, is ground true and should make a perfect joint. The strainer D is over the outlet from the tank.

"This extinguisher is furnished either with or without hose. Among the electric railways now using it are the Utica & Mohawk Valley Railway, the electrified part of the West Shore, the Auburn & Syracuse Electric, the Indiana, Columbus & Eastern, and the Fonda, Johnstown & Gloversville. It is manufactured by the O. J. Childs Company, Utica, N. Y., which also makes the Childs three-gallon fire extinguisher for use in passenger stations, freight houses, signal towers, etc."

September 5, 1912 Municipal Journal:

"Syracuse Gets Combination Hose Wagon.

Syracuse, N. Y.—The new combination hose wagon of the Syracuse Fire Department, which is to be placed at the new Elmwood Fire House, was built by the A. F. & S. C. Stewart Company, of 116 Front street, Rochester, N. Y. The 35-gallon chemical tank and the Utica hand fire extinguishers were furnished by the O. J. Childs Company, of 50 Liberty street, Utica, N. Y., makers of highgrade fire extinguishers. Chemical engines suitable for all purposes, in a variety of styles for city and suburban use, as well as hand extinguishers for the home and factory, are features of the O. J. Childs line."

September 1913 Safety Engineering:


On the main floor of the Grand Central Palace during the week of September 1, the occasion of the 41st annual convention of the International Association of Fire Engineers, was grouped the most imposing array of motor fire apparatus ever collected in one place. Skirting the- main floor is the mezzanine gallery of the Palace on which miscellaneous exhibits were displayed. A few of the principal exhibits are described below.

Childs Chemical Specialties.

The O. J. Childs Company, Utica, N. Y., showed a complete exhibit of soda and acid hand chemical fire extinguishers ranging in size from 1½ to 3 gallons in capacity. Also special fire department extinguishers with the special 'Childs' nozzle, hose clamps, straps, etc.

The Childs chemical engines are made in various sizes to meet different requirements. Here are a few types that were exhibited:

Type "F," 40 gallons capacity; for factories, stores, warehouses, etc.
Type "D," 40 gallons capacity; for outside service in factory yards. 
Type "G," 40 gallons capacity; for railroad yards, villages, country estates, etc.
Type "H," 35 gallons capacity: stationary tank for combination wagons complete with water hose connection, etc.
Type "HH," 65 gallons capacity; stationary tank for combination wagon, chemical hose nozzle, clamps, etc.

This company makes it possible for small towns and villages to secure motor fire apparatus at a nominal cost."

Childs saw an opportunity in producing ready-made chemical tank equipped truck bodies to rural fire departments and in March 1918, acquired the services of L. C. Smith, formerly superintendent and secretary, American La France Fire Engine Co., Elmira, N.Y.

By the late teens Childs had sales outlets scattered across the country as evidenced by the following display ad published in the June 1920 issue of American City:

"Fire Equipment — For Any Chassis

"Childs complete Fire Equipment is now made to fit any commercial truck chassis. This means you can get Childs apparatus complete and ready to go on any make of motor truck—only requiring a coat of paint and the tightening of a few bolts. The municipality needing new fire fighting equipment will find this announcement of particular significance. The saving in cost of Childs Equipment and the convenience of being able to purchase it from a local dealer where good service can be readily secured will appeal to any town or city government.


"Sales Offices: New York City, 1265 Broadway. Room 816; Boston, 644 Old South Building; Philadelphia, 812 Lincoln Building; Pittsburgh, 322 Fulton Building; Chicago, 440 So. Dearborn St.; Detroit, 308 Moffat Building; Houston, Foater Building; Dallas, 1219 1/2 Main Street; Omaha, 1113 Farnam Street; Atlanta, Ga., Trust Co. of Georgia; New Orleans, La., 724 St. Joseph St."

February 1920 American City:

"Town Fire Apparatus

The question of securing adequate fire protection thru the use of motorized apparatus is one which is stirring the minds of prominent citizens and fire department officials in many small towns. It is appreciated that hand-drawn apparatus, or even horse-drawn apparatus, for small town and volunteer fire departments is inadequate, particularly when the places to be covered by the department are away from the center of the town.

The O. J. Childs Company, Utica, N. Y., manufactures single- and double-tank combination chemical and hose cars, which may be mounted on Reo, Ford and other trucks. The complete equipment includes one or two 35gallon chemical tanks complete, automatic reel for 250 feet of chemical hose, with nozzle, extension ladders, roof ladders, lanterns, torches, extinguishers, axe crowbars, pike pole, play protection, power and process piping, steam, hot water and gas heating, drying, sales of pipe fittings, valves and supplies."

July 1920 American City:

"The Latest Development in Light Weight Fire Apparatus

"Municipalities and towns which have felt the least doubt regarding the value of light-weight lire apparatus, which heretofore has been solely of the chemical type, will be glad to learn of the new Childs triple combination hose, chemical and pump mounted on a Ford one-ton truck which is now manufactured by the O. J. Childs Company, Utica, N. Y. This new piece of apparatus retains all the valuable features of the Childs chemical truck and in addition carries a rotary fire pump specially designed to harmonize with the character of the power supply and the motor chassis as a whole.

"The pump is of the positive displacement type, does not have to be primed, and will draw water a vertical height of 24 feet without the use of a foot valve. The pump is driven directly from the motor of the truck. The pump body is cast in one piece, reducing leakage to a minimum and practically eliminating vibration. The pump does not rack and strain the motor, but operates fast or slow, according to the speed of the motor. It is equipped with two suction and two discharge connections, one on each side of the car, thus making the apparatus very adaptable and eliminating all waste of time through having to turn the car around to face in the proper direction, as is the case with some of the larger engines. The pump is mounted under the driver's seat, the drive being taken at a point in the rear of the transmission of the car, so that the ratios in the car transmission are available in connection with the pump. There is a connection between the pump and the radiator so that cold water is provided constantly to keep the engine from overheating. The entire apparatus is simplicity in itself and can be readily operated by any man capable of running the regular Ford car.

"Two lengths of suction hose of 12 feet each, with 3-inch internal diameter, fitted with special heavy suction couplings, are provided with the car, and one special heavy suction strainer is also included. The water pump also connects into the chemical line with a heavy brass piping with valves. This permits pumping water through the chemical hose for finishing up work or for putting out small fires resulting from flying sparks or embers. The hose body is of steel and has a capacity of 1,000 feet of single-jacket, 3½ -inch fire hose, or 700 feet of double-jacket 3 ½ -inch hose. The body has a slanted bottom and is well braced and strongly built throughout."

1921 - W.J. Childs, ME Cornell University 1898, is president of the O.J. Childs Co., Utica, NY.

August 1922 Automobile Dealer & Repairer:

"Consolidation of Fire Extinguisher Companies

Announcement has just been made of the consolidation of the Foamite Firefoam Company, with general offices at 151 Fifth Avenue., New York, and O. J. Childs Company, Inc., of Utica, N. Y., in a program uniting these important fire protection interests under a new and complete service organization. The O. J. Childs Corporation brings to the new organization a record of successful manufacturing and merchandising which extends back to 1896. "Childs" chemical and motor lire apparatus has the acquaintance and good will of fire officials throughout the country. For several years the Childs Corporation has functioned as the manufacturing division of the Firefoam Company, making the Firefoam portable devices at its Utica plant. The present consolidation with the Firefoam sales and engineering organization is expected to give the new and larger company the benefit of many manufacturing and distributing advantages. At a meeting of stockholders on July 21, it was decided that the Company will hereafter be known as "Foamite-Childs Corporation" and the following officers were elected: Mr. W. J. Childs, president of the Childs Corporation was elected president: Mr. F. M. Watters. vice-president; Mr. E. Janeway. secretary; and Mr. F. J. Maginniss, treasurer. Mr. James C. Patterson will continue as a Director in full charge of sales. It has been announced that there will be no change in the sales policies of the consolidating companies. As soon as possible after August 1st, the executive offices will be located at Utica, N. Y.


Their neighbors just happened to be Utica's classic-era coachbuilders, Willoughby & Co., which was located just around the corner on Dwyer Ave. The Childs' plant, now demolished, was located just north of the 250,000 sq. ft. Savage Arms factory (later Sperry-Univac) on Turner St.

KEARNS (US) 1909-1928 (bodies by Foamite-Childs Corp of Utica, N.Y)

(1) Kearns Motor Car Co., Beavertown, Pa. 1909-1912 (2) Kearns MotorTruck Co., Beavertown, Pa.1912-1920 (3) Kearns-Dughie Corp., Danville, Pa.1920-1928

The Kearns automobile was a high-wheeler introduced in 1907. The first truck, a brewery wagon, was built in 1909. The high-wheelers, built until 1913, were powered by a 3-cylinder 2.stroke air-cooled Speedwell engine and had a friction transmission, dual chain drive, and wheel steering. In 1912, when water-cooling was optional, the 1500.pound truck cost $900 for the chassis.

In 1914 a standard truck with 20 hp 4.cylinder water­cooled engine, cone clutch, 3-speed transmission, and Hotchkiss drive was introduced. It cost $1175 for the chassis. A few touring cars were built on the truck chassis in 1915. The firm also built the LuLu cyclecar in 1914.

Post war models included a ¾ ton model with Lycoming engine and 1½ ton model with Herschell-Spillman (later Continental) engine. The trucks, priced at $850 and $1800, had dry plate clutches and internal gear drive.

After the move to Danville the firm specialized in the manufacture of fire engine chassis which carried bodies and equipment by the Foamite-Childs Corp of Utica, N.Y. and were sold under the name of Childs Thoroughbred. In addition a complete line of worm-drive trucks from one to five tons was offered until the factory was closed down in 1928.

June 1920 Automobile Manufacturer:

"Kearns-Dughie Motors Corporation, Heavertown. Pa., has been incorporated with a capital stock of $100,000 to manufacture automobile motors, parts, etc. M. V. Dughie, Lewistown, is treasurer."

Charles M. Kearns, general manager, Kearns-Dughie Motors Corporation, Danville, Pa

R.E. Beaver, engineer and superintendent, Kearns-Dughie Motors Co.

October 1920 Motor Record:

"Kearns-Dughie Motors Co., Beavertown, Pa., has moved its plant and main offices to Danville, Pa."

March 15. 1922 The Commercial Vehicle:

"Danville, Pa, March 2—The Kearns-Dughie Motors Corp. announces a reduction in its model "H" 1-ton chassis from $1,600 to $1,150 and its model "M" 2-ton chassis from $2,200 to $1,650. The price of its model "H" chassis complete with its standard hand-made post express body is $1,360."

April 15, 1922 The Commercial Vehicle:

"Two Kearns Models Of 1 and 2-Ton Capacities Powered with Same Size and Make of Engine

"TWO models of 1 and 2-ton capacity, respectively, are being produced by the Kearns-Dughie Motors Corp., Danville, Pa. Both models are mounted with pneumatic tires and are powered with the same size and make of engine.

"The two models differ only in their wheelbases, weights and tire sizes. The smaller truck, model H, weighs 2800 lbs. with its body and 2150 lbs. as a chassis. The wheelbase is 118 in., while the tire sizes, both front and rear, are 32 by 4V4 in.

"The heavier truck, model N, weighs, 3100 lbs. in chassis form. Solid tire sizes, standard equipment, are 34 by 3% in. in front and 34 by 6 in. on the rear. Pneumatic tire sizes, supplied at an extra cost of $250 are 36 by 6, both front and rear. This price includes one extra rim and a power-driven tire pump. The wheelbase is 136 in.

"Regular equipment on the smaller truck includes fenders, dash, two head and tail electric lamps, electric starting and lighting, Buell Whistle, battery, tools and jack. The chassis costs $1,600. Complete with the body, the price is $1,825.

"Regular equipment on the larger truck chassis includes fenders, dash, two oil head lamps and a tail light, whistle, tools and jack. Optional equipment includes a gas tank and large lights, electric starter, generator and lights, driver's seat and body.

"Specifications include a HerschellSpillman four-cylinder 3½ by 5 in. engine; Zenith carbureter; Berling high tension magneto; dry-disk clutch; threespeed gearset; screw and nut type of steering gear; Hotchkiss drive; Torbensen internal gear axle; internal and external brakes, chrome vanadium steel springs, semi-elliptic all around,  wood artillery wheels, and a special heat-treated pressed-steel frame with a channel section.

"The larger model is equipped with the Pierce gear-driven governor, while the smaller model is equipped with a Dyneto two-unit starting system with a Bendix drive."

1923 article:

"Kearns-Dughie Motor Corporation, Danville, Pa., announces the purchase of all assets of the Belmont Motors Corporation, Lewistown, Pa., which includes machinery, trucks and plant. The plant thus acquired has 70000 sq.ft. of floorspace."

Kearns Dughie chassis were also used by the Buffalo Fire Apparatus Co as the basis for some of their early Buffalo-badged fire trucks.

North Beach's first engine was a 1927 STUDEBAKER/FOAMITE-CHILDS. It also mentions that they used a Chemical-Hose truck loaned to them from FOAMITE-CHILDS while they were waiting for delivery of the 1927 STUDEBAKER.

Childs built many pieces of apparatus on Model T Ford chassis.

A 1914 Federal-OJ Childs chemical engine exists formerly in service with the Norwich, and Oxford, N.Y. Fired Depts.

A 1922 Reo-Childs engine exists, formerly in service with the Manlius, N.Y. FD.

In 1923 the Foamite Firefoam Company and O.J. Childs Co. merged to form the Foamite Childs Corporation. They began building chemical cars and pumpers, and in the late 1920s introduced their custom chassis, known as Child's Thoroughbreds.

Mr. Kimball was successively assistant hydraulic engineer at Underwriters' Laboratories in Chicago, chief engineer of the former O.J. Childs Co., and assistant general sales manager of the Foamite-Childs Corp.

The "Childs" motor pick-up street sweeper, is announced in a 4-page pamphlet issued by the Foamite-Childs Corp., Utica, NY This sweeper is said to be of low initial and maintenance cost, durable, of one-man convenience, quiet,

New Motor Pick-Up Street Sweeper. A new motor pick-up street sweeper has been brought out by the... Large rear broom so designed that "Childs" Motor Pick-Up Sweeper. wear automatically shortens distance between broom and conveyor....

In 1923, the Foamite-Childs Corp. designed a Pick-Up Motor Street Sweeper. This one-man device combined a sprinkler machine, a sweeper, and a disposal hopper mounted on a motor vehicle chassis. The water sprinkling system used gravity and was announced to the trade in the Jun 15, 1923 Commercial Car Journal:

"Childs Motor Pick-up Street Sweeper 

"The Latest Development in Street Cleaning Sweepers is the Automatic Gutter Broom This addition makes this job as complete a self-contained unit as possible for cleaning service…"

January 1924 Popular Mechanics:

"Pick-up Street Sweeper is Motor Driven

"Although horse-drawn vehicles have largely passed into history as the chief problem of street sanitation in American cities, the civic pride of progressive communities continues to support the cost of clean streets. Dirt cannot be avoided, under present conditions, but when it is allowed to accumulate, or is only partly removed by the manual labor of 'white wings', it presents an unfavorable indication of the character of city housekeeping.

"Even small municipalities can afford to modernize their street-sweeping methods now that a 'pick-up' motor sweeper had been developed that not only has a special gutter broom attachment, this dispensing with manual labor entirely, but that has a comparatively low initial cost, and is economical to maintain.

"The automatic gutter broom works in and out with the curb line, without attention from the driver, and the rear broom is so designed that wear automatically shortens the distance between broom and conveyor. A 150-gal. water tank is provided for the sprinkling system. Only one man is required for the operation of the machine, and all levers are so arranged that the operator has complete and convenient control without leaving his seat. The working speed of the sweeper is 9 miles per hour on average pavement."

1924 American City:

"Childs Sweepers delivered to New York City

"Reducing Street-Cleaning Expenses by Motor Sweepers

"City officials seem to be giving more attention than ever before to the reduction of their street-cleaning expenses through the installation of modern motor sweepers.

"Utica, NY, has recently installed two Childs motor pick-up street sweepers, made by the Foamite-Childs Corporation, Utica, NY, and in so doing was able to replace several horse-drawn equipments and many broom men.

"Borough President Maurice E. Connolly, of Queens, recently made formal acceptance of two Childs sweepers for New York City. These sweepers are the first to be used in this section. Some of the other cities using Childs sweepers are: Hamtramck, Mich.; Port Arthur, Tex.; Elmira, NY; Windsor, Ont.; Cohoes, NY; Massena, NY ; Fort Wayne, Ind. ; Ford City, Pa., and East Cleveland, Ohio. Palatka, Fla., has just placed an initial order for one machine."

1924 article:

"This new model motor pick-up street sweeper which has recently been put on the Canadian market by Foamite-Childs of Canada Ltd., 90 Jarvis Street, Toronto, is shown in the accompanying illustration."

1925 Foamite Childs Corp. "Childs" Motor Pick-Up Street Sweepers, 631 Turner St. Utica, NY

"Change in Sales Managers at Foamite-Childs

"The Foamite-Childs Corporation, 79 Turner Street, Utica, NY, has announced the resignation of George W. Lee as Manager of General Sales, and the appointment of C. P. Smith as General Sales Manager. This change in management brings all of the Foamite-Childs sales departments together under one roof. Since August 1, 1923, Mr. Lee has directed the sales of all Foamite-Childs portable and motorized equipment, including the Childs motor pick-up street sweeper, Mr. Smith being in charge of engineering sales, including the Foamite Stationary System installations and automatic devices. Mr. Lee has resigned in order to return to the Todd Company, manufacturers of the Protectograph System and other office appliances at Rochester, N. Y., as their machine sales manager."

July 26, 1926 Simpson's Leader-Times (Kittanning, Pa.):

"Ford City, July 26.—Tests of a fire truck manufactured by the Foamite Childs Corporation, Utica, N. Y., were given here Saturday afternoon and evening. The truck was being taken from Utica to Pittsburg for a demonstration and as the company had submitted a bid to the borough for a 600 gallon pumper a stop was made here for a demonstration.

"Although the truck had been run 425 miles it is reported to have given very satisfactory tests. The first test was given at 11th street and Sixth avenue and in the evening the truck was taken out to Crooked creek where the pumper was given a thorough test as to throwing-water.

"While the firemen have recommended to council the purchase of an American La France 750 gallon pumper won over to the Childs truck. The truck is  a 600 gallon pumper and has been offered to the borough for $9,000 and those who favor it say it is able to do the work required' here just as well as any other apparatus. The American LaFrance bid is $12,500

"These matters will be threshed out at a meeting of Borough council next Monday night when action will be taken on the fire truck bids submitted at the meeting on July 19."

Originally located on Liberty Street, the company moved to Bleecker and Turner streets after World War I. In 1926, Foamite-Childs was acquired by the American-LaFrance Corp of Elmira, New York and production of chemical apparatus transferred to Elmira.

Under the direction of W.J. Childs, the firm's Utica operations were reorganized as O.J. Childs Inc., which continued to supply regional fired departments with custom-built apparatus into 1933 as evidenced by an ad in a 1933 issue of the Commercial Car Journal:

"Sell Motor Fire Apparatus to Your Cities and Towns

Sell Them Your Truck Equipped with Childs' Apparatus

Profit For You and an Advertisement of Great Value

Write Us For Particulars and Catalogue

O.J. Childs Co. Inc., Utica, N.Y."

Time Magazine - Monday, Nov. 26, 1934:

"Business was slow the last year of the Civil War but Truckson La France of Elmira, N. Y. had an idea. He put on his best bowler and went to call on the rich Diven family. "I've perfected a rotary fire engine," he announced. "I want money to make it with." With a snort Old Man Diven gave him the money. Inventor La France made his first fire engine in an old brick house, sold it to Elmira. It was enough to scare the horses, but it had two lines of hose and only one weakness. The cams on the pumps wore down, refused to deliver the pressure. Firemen fixed that by pouring molasses over the cams. For years a jug of molasses was regular equipment on the old "La France."

"Quick to adopt each new improvement in fire-fighting apparatus, the successors of Truckson La France branched into chemical fire wagons, doubled their business when fire trucks were motorized. They opened a plant in New Jersey to manufacture regular commercial trucks, had to abandon it when Mack Truck and others retaliated by invading the fire apparatus field. Just before Depression American-La France bought out Foamite-Childs Corp. of Utica, makers of "Foamite," a patented powder which mixes with water to produce a fire-fighting gas said to be superior to the old sulphuric acid, soda and water. As the biggest manufacturer of fire engines and apparatus in the U. S., American-La France & Foamite Corp. has for years supplied nearly every important municipality.

"But Depression-ridden cities have stopped buying new fire engines. American-La France's 1933 sales sank to an unprecedented low of $2,400,000. about half of 1931 sales. Last week, American-La France's President Charles B. Rose filed a petition in Federal Court in Manhattan to reorganize under the Bankruptcy Act. He explained that although his corporation was still solvent, it could not meet obligations as they matured."

1933 Commercial Car Journal display ad:

"Sell Motor Fire Apparatus to Your Cities and Towns Sell Them Your Truck Equipped With Childs Apparatus Profit for You and an Advertisement of Great Value WRITE US FOR PARTICULARS AND CATALOGUE O.J. CHILDS CO., Inc. UTICA, N.Y."

No further information has been locate and its assumed the firm retired from business shortly therafter.

© 2004 Mark Theobald -


  For more information please read:

Elias Child - Genealogy of the Child, Childs and Childe families, of the past and present in the United States and the Canadas, from 1630 to 1881, pub. 1881

Henry C. Rogers – History of the Town of Paris and the Valley of the Sauquoit; pub. 1881

Henry J. Cookinham - History of Oneida County, New York : from 1700 to the present time: pub. 1912

Charles H. Young and William A Quinn - Foundation For Living: The Story of Charles Stewart Mott and Flint, pub. 1963

O.J. Childs Co. - Which protects your property? The inefficient, risky, doubtful water pail, or the safe, sure, reliable "Childs" extinguisher? - 6pp., pub. 1920

O.J. Childs Co. - When seconds count: a brief description of the powerful "Childs Chemical Fire Engines. 6pp., pub. 1920

Donald F. Wood, Wayne Sorensen - Big City Fire Trucks: Volume 1; 1900-1950

Business & Finance: La France - Time Magazine - Monday, Nov. 26, 1934

Walter M.P. McCall & George H. Dammann - American Fire Engines Since 1900

Fred W. Crismon - Fire Engines

Bob Dubbert - Encyclopedia of Canadian Fire Apparatus

Donal M. Baird - A Canadian History of Fire Engines

Phil DaCosta - One Hundred Years of America's Fire Fighting Apparatus

Bill Hass - History of the American Water Towers

Hans Halberstadt - The American Fire Engine

Hans Halberstadt - Fire Engines

T.A. Jacobs - A History of Fire Engines

Matthew Lee - A Pictorial History of the Fire Engine

M.W. Goodman MD - Inventing the American Fire Engine: An Illustrated History of Fire Engine Patents

Consumer's Guide - The Complete Book of Fire Engines: A colorful Review of Today's Fire Apparatus

Sheila Buff - Fire Engines in North America

Sheila Buff - Fire Engines: Motorized Apparatus Since 1900

Neil Wallington - World Encyclopedia of Fire Engines: an illustrated guide to fire trucks around the world

Keith Ryan & Neil Wallington - The Illustrated History of Fire Engines

Paul Barrett - Heavy Rescue Trucks: 1931 - 2000 Photo Gallery

Larry Shapiro - Aerial Fire Trucks

Larry Shapiro - Fighting Fire Trucks

Larry Shapiro - Hooks and Ladders

Larry Shapiro - Pumpers: Workhorse Fire Engines

Donald F. Wood - American Volunteer Fire Trucks

Donald F. Wood - Big City Fire Truck 1900-1950

Donald F. Wood & Wayne Sorensen - Big City Fire Trucks: 1951-1996

Donald F. Wood & Wayne Sorenson - Motorized Fire Apparatus of the West, 1900-1960

Donald F. Wood & Wayne Sorensen - New York City Fire Trucks

Donald F. Wood & Wayne Sorenson - Volunteer & Rural Fire Apparatus Photo Gallery

Kenneth Little - Chicago Fire Department engines: Sixty years of motorized pumpers, 1912-1972

Kenneth Little - Chicago Fire Department hook & ladder tractors, 1914-1971

Ron Jeffers - The apparatus of the Jersey City Fire Department: Yesterday and today

John Rieth - Jersey Shore Fire Apparatus: Classic Thru the 60's

Philip R. Lincoln - Massachusetts fire apparatus: A pictorial Collection

Charles Madderom - Los Angeles City Fire Apparatus: 1953 Through 1999 Photo Archive

George Klass - Fire apparatus: A pictorial history of the Los Angeles Fire Department

John A. Calderone - Wheels of the bravest: A history of FDNY fire apparatus, 1865-1992

Peter Aloisi - Apparatus and fires across America: Featuring former FDNY apparatus

Scott Schimpf - Fire Apparatus of Philadelphia

Harrold Shell - Past and present: A history of Phoenix fire trucks

Leo E. Duliba - Industrial & Private Fire Apparatus: 1925 Through 2001 Photo Archive

G.N. Georgano & G. Marshall Naul - The Complete Encyclopedia of Commercial Vehicles

Albert Mroz - Illustrated Encyclopedia of American Trucks & Commercial Vehicles

Daniel D. Hutchins - Wheels Across America: Carriage Art & Craftsmanship

George W. Green - Special-Use Vehicles: An Illustrated History of Unconventional Cars and Trucks

William T. King - History of the American Steam Fire-Engine

John M. Peckham - Fighting fire with fire: A pictorial volume of steam fire-fighting apparatus

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