Our Firemen, The History of the NY Fire Departments
Chapter 23, Part XI
By Holice and Debbie
The old Volunteer Fire Company No. 6 was given a reception after the parade by the city club at its rooms in the Bowery. Harry Howard, Assistant Engineer Baulch, George Brown, Major H. Hamilton, Samuel Guthrie, ands others were present, and for two hours the stories of the "old days," were re-told. No. 44 held forth in the afternoon at its hall in Avenue D. The Philadelphia Volunteers were to have been received at the military hall. The rain fell in a drizzle, and, finally, steadily and heavily. But the unfavorable circumstances in which the march of the day was made wore the boys out, and they returned home during the evening. A more miserable day could scarcely have fallen to their lot for processional purposes. The firemen in the fifth division of the parade, and the greeting given them was the heartiest of the day. Unlike the other divisions, every organization was applauded; individuals in the ranks were shouted at, and there were frequent cries of "work her up" as the old machines came into view.
There was a great turn-out of the old Volunteer Firemen in red shirts, black trousers, and leather caps, nearly everybody dragging an antiquated hand engine, hose cart, or "truck," which made a miserable contrast with the splendid steam engines and efficiently fitted hook and ladder machine displayed by the present Department. The "machines" were for the most part handsomely ornamented in the style once familiar to, but until then almost forgotten by, the older citizens of New York. Among the "machines" in line were an engine used in the city in 1825, and a hook and ladder truck and jumper dating back to 1830.
The Fifth division formed along Fifth Avenue as follows:
On West Thirty-eighth Street.--General LLOYD ASPINWALL, Assistant Marshal, Commanding Staff.
Mounted Police, Captain McCullough.
Battalion of Police.
Superintendent Geo. W. Walling.
Brigade New York Fire Department.
On West Thirty-seventh Street.--Assistant Chief engineer CHARLES O. SHAY, Detachment New York Insurance Fire Patrol.
On East Thirty-seventh Street.--Superintendent M. B. WILSON. Detachment Hoboken Fire Department.
On West thirty-sixth Street.--Chief GORMAN. Representatives of Old Volunteer Fire Department, New York City.
On East Thirty-sixth Street.--Ex-Chief JOHN W. DECKER. Volunteer Firemen's Association of Philadelphia. Foreman Mortimer L. Johnson. Bellringers of old Fire Department.
On East Thirty-fifth Street.--Protection Engine No. 1, Mount Vernon; Foreman E. J. VOLMAR. Tiger Light Hose, Long Island City; Foreman C. A. LEWIS. Jackson Hose No. 5, Long Island city; Foreman JAMES MCKEON. Astoria Hook and Ladder Company No. 1, Volunteer Hook and Ladder Company No. 2, Staten Island; Foremen G. W. DECKER. Wandewenock Hook and Ladder Company No. 1, Newton; Foremen D. P. TREADWELL. Hope Hook and Ladder Company No.1, Yonkers; Foreman W. H. GURNSEY.
Twenty-one years have rolled by since the disbandment of the Volunteers, and not a few have gone to their last account. But the vigor and the longevity of those gallant men are remarkable, and hundreds of them, happily, still survive. They came to the front once more on the occasion of the unveiling of the Bartholdi statute on Bedloe's Island, on October 28, 1856. New York saw a magnificent parade that day, and one of its most prominent features was the turnout of the Volunteers in large numbers, and with a portion of their old apparatus. It was no exaggeration to say that of the many attractive sights in that long procession none received greater applause than the Volunteer display. It was one continuos ovation from Fifth Avenue and Fiftieth Street to the Battery. It was plain that the old firemen were the favorites of New York, and that their memory would never die. There was a perfect exhibition of the gradual improvement of fire apparatus from the earliest times. Two old engines of the period of 1760 and 1784 were mounted on trucks and were regarded as most interesting curiosities. A floral fireman was a noticeable feature, and also a beautiful bronze statuette of the Goddess of Liberty drawn on a carriage. The old-timer fire engines of Hoboken, Bloomfield, Flatbush, Staten Island, and other suburbs were in line. The Brooklyn Veterans were in the parade with their engines, and a found hand pump from Hoboken was pulled reverently along. The New York Herald of the following day contained the following reference to the fire companies:
But now a ripple of cheering running along the whole extent of the avenue announces what was really the favorite pageant of the day--the fire parade. On came the procession, Marshal Decker leading. Areas of flaming shirts, lines of heavy, crimson lined overcoats, squares of heavy yellow overcoats, garments of gray and blue and black! How gayly they swept by to the refrain of the band and the plaudits of the miltitude! To the latter the scene was a revival of the memories of long ago. It was the old Volunteers, with the beloved "machines," that were passing, with heads now grizzled, faces wrinkled, and not a whit less brave, less manly or less gritty than when they fought the flames with their primitive apparatus, and fought the faction fights of years ago. Thirty-three "Black Joke," Forty-four "Live Oak," they went by covered with flowers and gay with ribbons. But the applause that hailed them was lost to hearing in the hubbub of cheering that greeted a single stalwart figure limping painfully along with the buff fire coat of old days upon his back and the trumpet of his old command under his arm. And so with "Big Six" engine, refurbished and furnished with a new statute of liberty for the occasion, the old Chief Harry Howard went by. Then came fire company after fire company, with decorated engines or hose carriages, and at last gave way to some veterans organizations and kindred associations.
When fifty of the boys in red shirts, black trousers turned up above the mud, and big fire hats came trudging along, hauling an antiquated hand engine, the crown cheered wildly, and the fire laddies took up the cry of "Hi! Hi! HI!" as they passed the President. The leaders of the line waved their big speaking trumpets, and the whole scene for the time was one of unrestrained joy on the part of the firemen and the crowd. The French visitors, contemplated this demonstration with open-mouthed wonder. The faces of the old boys were a study. Most of them wore their hair cropped close, and all of them looked robust. There were other old engines, and hose reels and hook and ladder trucks drawn by hand, useful here nowadays, only as relics. Among the old "machines" in the line was the "Union," built in 1811, while a mouldy wreck of a hand pump, worked with cranks, and carried on a four-wheeled truck, was built in 1760, and looked every day of its age.
The following is a list of the firemen in the parade:
VOLUNTEER FIREMEN'S ASSOCIATION
William E. Bishop, Financial Secretary JOSEPH S. BEER, Recording Secretary
Andrew I. Brush, Merchant, George F. Loftus, Hatter, John J. Blair, John K. Costigan,
John Quigg, Martin Senger, William F. Searing, Directors.
Isaac Mills, Sergeant-at-Arms.
Transcribed by Holice B. Young
HTML by Debbie
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