Our Firemen, The History of the NY Fire Departments

Chapter 3, Part II

By Holice and Debbie

On December 1, 1741, these additional firemen were appointed:

Isaac Van Hook cordwainer
Abraham Alstyne, Jr. bricklayer
Albertus Tiebout carpenter
Johannes Alstyne blacksmith
John Van Zandt blockmaker
Samuel Bell blacksmith
John Myers gunsmith
Peter Hendrickse carpenter
Ahasuerus Turk cordwainer
Johannes Powlse carman
John Apple carpenter
Benjamin Moore sailmaker
John Dally ship carpenter
Peter Vlierboom cordwainer

In this year also a committee of the common Council was appointed "to inspect the ladders, hooks, etc., and to cause one hundred leather buckets to be made."The number of houses in the city, in the year 1744, was as hereby particularized:

The west side of Broadway to the river 129
The east side of Broadway, with the west side of Broad Street 232
The east side of Brad Street, with the west side of William Street 324
The east side of William Street, with the west side of Pearl Street 242
The east side of Pearl Street to the East river 214
Total 1,141

Professor Kahn, who visited this city in 1748, thus describes it: "Most of the houses are built of bricks, and are generally strong and neat, and several stories high; some have, according to the old architecture, turned the gable end towards the street, but the new houses are altered in this respect. Many of the houses have a balcony on the roof, on which people sit in the evenings in the summer time; and from thence they have a pleasant view of the opposite shore. The roofs are commonly covered with tiles or shingles, the latter of which are made of the white Fir tree, which grows higher up in the country. The inhabitants are of opinion that a roof made of these shingles is as durable as one made of white cedar. The walls of the houses are whitewashed within, and I did not anywhere see hangings, with which the people in this country seem in general to be little acquainted. The walls are quite covered with all sorts of drawings and pictures in small frames. On each side of the chimney they usually have a sort of alcove, and the wall under the window is wainscotted, with benches near the window. The alcoves, as well as all of the woodwork, are painted with a bluish-gray color."

"The streets do not run so straight," he furthers adds, "as those of Philadelphia, and have sometimes considerable bendings; however, they are very spacious ands well-built, and most of them are paved, excepting in high places, where it has been found useless. In the chief streets, there are trees planted, which, in summer, give them a fine appearance, and, during the excessive heat at that time, afford a cooling shade. I found it extremely pleasant to walk in the town, for it seemed quite like a garden. The trees, which are planted fir this purpose, are chiefly of two kinds; the water beech is the most numerous, and gives an agreeable shade in summer by its large and numerous leaves. The locust tree is likewise frequent; its fine leaves, and the odoriferous scent which exhales from its flowers, make it very proper for being planted in the streets, near the houses, and in gardens. There are likewise lime trees and elm in these walks, but they are not, by far, so fragrant as the others. One seldom meets with trees of the same sort adjoining each other, they being in general placed alternately. Besides number of birds of all kinds which make these trees their abode, there are likewise a kind of frog, which frequents them in great numbers during the summer. They are very clamorous in the evening, and in the nights (especially when the days have been hot and a rain is expected), and in a manner drown the singing of the birds. They frequently make such a noise that it is difficult for a person to make himself heard."

It was decided, in February, 1749, to build an engine house in Hanover Square, and to procure one hundred new fire buckets. Three years later, in May, the watch prison was designated a house for a fire engine, and six small speaking trumpets were purchased.

On February 23, 1753, a fire broke out in the new Free School House, kept by Mr. Joseph Hildreth, clerk of Trinity Church, which entirely destroyed the building. The steeple of Trinity Church, was set on fire several times from the flying coals, but the fire was happily extinguished and the steeple preserved. The whole loss sustained was set down at two thousand pounds.

Peter Clopper was allowed three pounds for building an engine house, "on a vacant lot called Rutgers' Walk, in the east ward of the city." Engine Company No. 26, it is believed, occupied the site of this building in after years in Rutgers Street.

In addition to the law for the better preventing of fire which was ordained on the eighth of November, 1756, an ordinance was passed in November, 1775, decreeing that no person should have, keep, or put any hay or straw in barracks or piles in his yard or garden, or in any other place, to the southward of Fresh Water, except in close building erected for the purpose; and that no person should have, keep, or put any hay or straw in any house, stable or building within the same limits, that should be within ten feet of any chimney, hearth, or fireplace, or place for keeping ashes, under the penalty of twenty shillings for every offense, one-half of which should be recovered for the church wardens for the use of the poor of the city, and the other half for the person who should prosecute the complaint. The new barracks adjacent to the workhouse being unprotected, a fire engine and fifty buckets wre sent there. In order to provide additional and more powerful fire engines, it was decided at a meeting of the Common Council, held on June 20, that the remainder of the money acquired by the sale of the city's fire-arms to General Abercrombie, be sent to England for the purchase there of one large fire engine, one small one, and two hand engines, with some buckets, etc.

In July, Jacobus Stoutenburgh was appointed overseer of the fire engines and appurtenances, agreeing to take care of them and keep them in good order for the sum of thirty pounds per year. The following year Mr. Stoutenburgh was known as the engineer of the department, having as assistants Samuel Bell and Jasper Ten Brook. The working force consisted of twelve men for each of the six wards, of whom the following is the complete roster.

West ward.--John Kierstadt, Gulian V. Varick, John Van Dolson, Cornelius Heyer, Isaac Stoutenburgh, Jr., Marselus Garrabrants, George Stanton, George Wells, Abraham Bussing, Robert Harding, Barnardus Swartout, and Cornelius Cooper.

North ward.--Peter Hendricks, Aaron Gilbert, John Montania, Francis Barry, Cornelius Turk (cordwainer), Peter Garrabrants, Isaac Stoutenburgh, William Ellsworth, Jr., Isaac Delamater, John Delamater, Andrew Bell, and Isaac Bogert.

Dock Ward.--Josiah Bagley, Daniel Ten Eyck, Charles Phillipse, Andrew Breasted, Peter De Riemer, henry Deforrest, James Van Varck, and Henry Sickles.

East Ward.--Peter Bogert, John Roomes, John Targier, William Bokee, David Hansen, Samuel Waldrom, Francis Basset, John Van Alstyne, Victor Beecker, David Scott, John Bergen, and William Post.

South Ward.--George Walgrove, Isaac Marchalck. Zachariah Sickles, Aert Houseman, Gerardus Myer, Thomas Lawrence, Jacob Roome, Abraham Labach, Henry Sheaf, Abner Brown, Richard V. Varick, and Daniel Evits, Jr.

Montgomerie Ward.--William Hardenbrook, Anthony Shackerly, Theophilius Hardenbrook, John Elsworth, James Bogart, Jr., Stephen Crosfield, Tunis Tiebout, John Hardenbrook, Peter Roomer, Peter Ryker, John Dyckman, and Cornelius Van Sise.

No attempt was made to light the streets by public authority until the year 1762, excepting a temporary ordinance in the latter part of the previous century, requiring the occupants of every tenth house to hang out a lantern upon a pole. An act of Assembly was passed in the above year giving the corporation authority to provide mean for lighting the city. In the same year the first posts and lamps were purchased. In 1770 a contract was made with J. Stoutenburgh for supplying oil and lighting the city lamps, for the sum of seven hundred and sixty dollars. In 1774 the city employed sixteen lamplighters. This system of lighting the city remained substantially the same until the contract with the New York Gaslight Company, in 1823, by which certain parts of the city were to be lighted with gas.

Nicholas De Reimer was appointed foreman in the East Ward, on January 4, 1765, in the place of David Hansen, deceased; and Nathan Fish was appointed a foreman in the place of David Scott, who had removed to Albany.

On October 14, John Silvester was appointed a fireman in the place of Andrew Gotier, the then assistant fireman in the Dock Ward.

On 1767 it was directed that all the roofs in the city should be covered with slate or tin. For some years, however, tiles alone were used, the first building roofed with slate being, it is said, the city Hall, in Broadway, erected in 1794.

The number of firemen in the city had been increased by February 1, 1769, to one hundred and thirty, among whom the following were foremen:

Jacob Roome and Robert Harding in the West Ward.
George Stanton, Gulian Varick, and Andrew Bell in the North Ward.
Peter Bogart and Charles Phillips in the East Ward.
Isaac Marschalck in the South Ward.
William Hardenbrook in Montgomerie Ward
Jacob Stoutenburgh was still engineer, with Joseph Ten Brook and Isaac Stoutenburgh, Jr., as assistants.

The law prescribing a penalty for permitting chimneys to take fire through neglect to keep them clean became practically obsolete because of the unwillingness of neighbors to turn informers and help to prosecute for violations of it. It was therefore deemed necessary in November, 1771, to appoint Johannis Myer to perform that disagreeable but necessary service; and the penalties were to be devoted to a firemen's fund for the purchase of material required by them in the prosecution of their duties. The engineer, in this year, for "maintaining" ten engines and for his own salary, drew the sum of thirty-three pounds and six shillings. The following year a third assistant engineer was appointed, and three additional engines were purchased.

In May, 1772, John burns, peruke maker, and Peter G. Waldron, were appointed firemen for the South Ward. In July, Alderman Andrew Gautier was authorized to purchase two fire engines belonging to Thomas Tiller; and in September to purchase on belonging to Davis Hunt. George Stanton and Jacob Roome were recorded as assistants to engineer Stoutenburgh; George Waldegrove was foreman, and John Brower, assistant, in the West Ward; John Bell, also foreman, in the West Ward; Jacob Brower and Gulian Varick were in command of two small fire engines; Isaac Meade was foreman of the engine near St. Paul's church; Andrew Bell in command of the engine at the barracks; and John Quackenboss in command of the company located in the "Out Ward," lately organized, which consisted of David Henry Mallo, George January, John Walters, Henry Shute, Garrett Peterson, Isaac Van Duerson, John Simerendyck, Richard Edmonds, Valentine Arnolds, Francis Sawyer, Mathias Feer, John Stout, and William Crolius.

Five acres on Broadway were purchased during the year 1773, and buildings erected at a cost of about eighteen thousand dollars, for the new York Hospital. Before their completion their interior was burned out by an accidental fire, and the work was thus retarded for a considerable time.

"The Provost House" at the Battery, wherein dwelt governor Tryon, was consumed by fire at midnight on December 7, of this year. The family escaped with difficulty. The governor's daughter leaped from the second story window, and her maid, Elizabeth Garrett, afraid to follow her, was burned to death. Great mischief would have been wrought but for the snow on the adjacent buildings.

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

HTML by Debbie

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