Our Firemen, The History of the NY Fire Departments

Chapter 23, Part I

By Holice and Debbie



Some of the Grand Displays in which the old Department has Participated. -- Celebrating the Opening of the Erie Canal, and the Introduction of the Croton. -- Commemorating The French Revolution of 1830. -- The First annual and the Triennial Parades. -- Torchlight Processions. -- Great Parade of 1883. -- The Bartholdi Statute Fete.

In the history of the Volunteer fire Department its parades are a prominent feature. Even the citizens of Paris are no greater lovers of a street show than are the citizens of New York. A military and civic pageant of this city is never complete without the appearance therein of the firemen, and no body of men comes in for a greater share of applause than the citizens whose business is fighting fires. The volunteers have graced many and many a parade, and not a few have been entirely their own. To give a detailed description of them all would require many chapters. In this book we can describe only the most important, and briefly refer to the lesser ones.

Independence Day was always considered a proper occasion for a Firemen's Parade. One of the first took place in 1824. The procession was formed in Hospital Green, and proceeded through several of the principal streets to the Bowery Church. Thousands of people cheered the firemen on their way.

When Lafayette arrived in this country the firemen got up a display in his honor. A novel exhibition was given in City Hall Park on September 9, 1824. In the afternoon forty-four engines, the hook and ladder companies, together with two engines from Brooklyn, assembled. General Lafayette, accompanied by Chief Engineer Franklin, reviewed the men and their apparatus, and warmly expressed his admiration of what he saw. The hook and ladder companies, placed in the centre, formed a pyramid of their apparatus, upon the top of which was a miniature house filled with combustibles. Upon a given signal this house was fired, and simultaneously the engines turned their streams upon the burning object, and to the delight of the spectators each nit the object with wonderful accuracy. The spray from the water was remarkably pretty, and as the sunlight shone through the white cloud the brilliancy of the prismatic colors drew forth repeated exclamations of admiration from thirty thousand spectators. Subsequently several companies assumed the name of Lafayette. Engine Companies Nos. 7 and 9 each claimed the honor of the first assuming the designation, but No. 19 finally retained it. Hose company No. 34, Hook and Ladder Company No. 6 and Hose Company No. 4, also at times bore the coveted name.

The opening day of the celebration of the completion of the Erie Canal, November 1, 1825, was one of the finest parades New York had seen. The procession through the city was composed of nearly seven thousand citizens, of different societies, with many cars bearing their respective standards and the implements of their respective arts. It passed through columns of people whose numbers exceeded one hundred thousand. The procession was entirely civic. The aquatic display was exceedingly fine. Twenty-nine steamboats gorgeously dressed, with barges, ships, pilot boats, canal boats and the boats of the Whitehall watermen, convey thousands of ladies and gentlemen, present a memorable spectacle. The whole fleet passed down the bay to receive Foreman Clinton and his staff and the committees from the different parts of the country.

The several companies of artillery throughout the State assembled on the auspicious morning and fired salutes in honor of the event. Cannon were placed along the Hudson from Albany to New York at twenty-one places and beginning at 11 A.M. were fired in succession with one minute interval, beginning at Albany. Then a return fire was made from the city. The report of the cannon from the north and west was received at new York on one hour and forty minutes, and was returned to buffalo in nearly the same space of time, making a communication on a line of eleven hundred miles in less than three hours.

In the procession the New York firemen presented a magnificent appearance. They headed the Fourth Division one thousand two hundred and fifty-two strong, and were loudly cheered along the whole route. The column proceeded to the Battery and returned by the easterly side of Greenwich Street up Canal Street. The procession occupied one house and fifteen minutes in passing a given point. The following is the order of the firemen's procession:



Nathaniel M. Brown

Wm. P. Disosway

Otis Harrington

Edward Dayton

Wm. Lockwood

John P. Bailey

Neil Gray

Peter D. Vroom

Thomas Kennedy

William Burger

John W. Degrauw

Moses Bedell

Dan. M. Winants

John G. C. Lord

E. H. Lacy

Wm. P. Shipman

Fred. R. Lee

Jesse Forshay

Drake B. Palmer

George Greig

Fire Department Standard, inscribed "New York Fire Department," borne and supported by members of Company 37.

Company No. 6, preceded by their banner. A small car followed, containing two platforms handsomely carpeted and decorated; on the upper platform was a small engine, complete in every respect, with three-eighth inch chambers, from which issued at intervals a stream of water to the distance of fifty feet, being the workmanship of Wm. Corp, a youth who was not a mechanic.

Washington Company No. 20, bearing a small banner. Their engine was mounted on a car drawn by four beautiful black horses; on the platform were two firemen appropriately attired; their grand standard--a portrait of Washington--followed.

Company No.--with banner.

Tradesmen's Company No. 7, bearing a blue silk banner. In the center of this company was borne a banner of blue silk, six feet b y five feet--a female figure with her right hand upon a spinning wheel, at her feet fruit, etc.; signifying that, notwithstanding calamities by fire, she, by her industry, can obtain a livelihood.

East River Company No. 42 displayed their engine mounted upon a stage, drawn by four beautiful black horses, the two postilions mounted. On the stage in front of the engine were two firemen. Behind were the standard bearers with the company's banner.

Franklin Company No. 39, displaying a handsome banner.

Company No. 15 exhibited their engine mounted on a car drawn by four elegant bay horses.

Equitable Company No. 36, bearing an elegant banner, superbly painted.

Eagle company No. 13. The engine of this company was mounted ona state drawn by four milk-white steeds, handsomely caparisoned, and led by four Africans dressed in rich Moorish costumes. The engine, with varnish, polishing, etc., was in splendid condition. The four lengths of hose (two hundred feet) were neatly would on the reel, and covered with a black leather apron, varnished. All the fittings and draperies were extremely handsome, and the banner very fine. One the stage in front of the engine was stationed Edward P. Degrove, a member of the company in the dress of a fireman, with an American eagle painted on the frontispiece of his cap. He was supported by Master James A. Gray and Master Alfred Lowber, Committee of Arrangements--Charles I. Hubbs, Gideon D. Angelis, Neil Gray, Richard C. McCormick, Edward W. Degrove.

Scott Company No. 7 appeared with a banner--a view of the fire that occurred at Brooklyn, L. I., on the night of August 1, 1822, the same surrounded by an oak wreath.

United States company No. 23 exhibited their banner. Four members of the company carried, on a stage handsomely ornamented, an engine of one inch chamber, two feet long, eighteen inches high, capable of throwing water to the distance of sixty feet--being then the best model, and the most effective and complete miniature engine ever exhibited in this country.

Mechanical Engine Company No. 28, with a banner of blue silk suspended from a bronzed pip and surmounted by a gilt fire-cap.

Hook and Ladder Companies Nos. 1, 2, 3, and 4. Midway from front to rear, in this of the procession, the four hook and ladder companies wre stationed, marshalled by Benjamin J. Scribner. They were preceded by a splendid banner on which was delineated a vivid representation of a fire. One of their trucks followed, drawn by four horses richly caparisoned, the postilions mounted. On each side of the pyramid of ladders, etc., were two firemen in full equipment, bearing axes, etc., and above them waved the "Star Spangled Banner"--the whole representing a correct and beautiful display of this branch of the Fire Department.

Aetna Company No. 16 displayed two very handsome banners.

Manhattan companies No. 41. Their engine, richly painted in orange and highly gilded, was exhibited on a stage surrounded by a balustrade, and drawn by four beautiful blood bays, mounted by postilions. The car was richly ornamented. On the condenser case, the most conspicuous part of the machine, was a beautiful and correct representation (executed by Thomas Grenell)of the arduous and imposing work at that "great pass" through a branch of the Allegheny Mountains known as the "Little Falls of the Mohawk." Next, supported by four members, followed a beautiful and perfect engine in miniature, placed on a stage and decorated with silk drapery, tastefully festooned, displaying appropriate devices. The grand standard of the company, of blue silk, followed, borne by three distinguished members, wearing blue sashes.

North River Company No. 27. The banner of this company, borne and supported by members, represented Amphitrite in her car drawn and attended by Nereids.

Phoenix Company No. 22. Their engine was splendidly burnished, elevated in a tastefully decorated car, drawn by four beautiful bay horses, richly caparisoned.

Company No. 33. Banner of blue silk, five feet square, bordered with yellow silk fringe.

New York Company No. 31, with an elegant banner, painted by Browerre & Quidor, young artists, natives of the city.

Lafayette Company No. 7, exhibited their handsomely burnished engine, elevated upon a stage, drawn by four bay horses.

Niagara Company No. 10, preceded by their banner of blue silk, with a painting of the Falls of Niagara, by T. Grenell.

American Company No. 4. Their engine was mounted upon a stage, drawn by four fine bay horses.

Chatham Company No. 2, followed by a banner, with an engine painted thereon.

Protection Company No. 5, with a large globular brazen signal lantern burnished.

Company No. 24, with a beautiful miniature engine on the top of a brass pipe, ornamented with ribbons.

Jefferson Company No. 26, Hose Company No. 1, and other companies with a variety of appropriate emblems.

The fire wardens followed with the city arms blazoned on their hats. Their handsome banner was borne by George Jacobs, assisted by Henry H. Gillett, and Augustus Cregier, wardens of the Tenth Ward.

One thousand two hundred and fifty-two persons--members of the sever fire companies--assembled at St. John's Park, and were marshaled in the procession by Jamieson Cox, chief engineer of the Fire Department, and his assistants. They wore uniform badges, emblematical of their calling. The marshal, his assistants, the engineers, and delegates were distinguished by the magnificence of their decorations.

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

HTML by Debbie

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