The fire foreman holding the speaking trumpet in this photo is James H. Hart. It was probably taken around 1900.
Hart was born in in New York City in 1834. He came west to earn his fortune in the gold fields and found that serving liquor to miners was a better way to get gold than digging for it. According to Hugh Hartman’s book, The Founding Fathers of Boise, Hart started Jim’s Drinking Saloon in Placerville in 1863 with $9.75. That first year he grossed $30,000 and netted $12,000. His business acumen may have been what got him elected city treasurer.
According to Hartman’s book, Jim Hart had a special way of building up the town treasury. He was quoted as saying, “We had a plaza in the center of the town, on which was a flag pole. I’d play a trick on some good marksman by hinting that he couldn’t hit the pole with his gun. In the meantime, I’d have the Sheriff stationed ready to make the arrest as soon as the man shot. Then the judge would fine him ten dollars, and to get even he’d play the trick on someone else. Then when we had about fifty dollars in the treasury, we would blow it on champagne.”
Hart and his family moved to Boise in 1871 where he was a saloon keeper, a city tax assessor, the proprietor of Jimmy Hart’s Grocery and Bakery Sample Room, and a volunteer firefighter, which is something to trumpet about.