Our Firemen, The History of the NY Fire Departments

Chapter 25, Part II

By Holice and Debbie

CARLISLE NORWOOD, who was president of the Lorillard Fire Insurance Company, was born at the corner of Vesey and church Streets, New York, on February 12, 1812. His father, Andrew S, Norwood, was a friend of Lafayette and was well acquainted without the distinguished Frenchman before the latter's visit to New York in 1824. Among the interesting souvenirs which the son retains of the illustrious general is a letter of invitation to his father to attend the marriage of the general's daughter at the family chateau--La Grange, France. When Mr. Carlisle Norwood was attending school in France, he was often incited to partake of General Lafayette's hospitality. At a very early age he evinced a love for the fireman's life--indeed he was only eight when he undertook to run with a machine and was severely reprimanded by his father for his ambition.

When eighteen his darling hope was realized, and he was admitted to membership in Engine Company No. 28. In 1830 he attached himself to No. 21 engine, located on Tryon Row (where the Staatz Zeitung building now stands). He was a fire warden in the Fifteenth Ward at the time of the Gulick disturbance, in 1836. In 1837 he raised Hose Company No. 5. This company was long regarded as the crack fire company of the city. It was organized at the house of George Woolredge, Chambers Street, on October 3, and Mr. Norwood was elected foreman. The company was composed of merchants and clerks, and among its members were Augustus W. Vanpell, assistant fireman, Richard K. Anthony, secretary and treasurer, John S. Winthrop, Abraham Van nest, Robert s. Luqueer, Richard S. Williams, Robert D. Codington, Jonathon C. Ayers, and John Duer. General John Watts Depeyster was a volunteer. The only members now living, beside Mr. Norwood, are Messrs. Luqueer, Livingston, Rutgers, and James M. Rankin, of Brooklyn. No. 5 had its headquarters at firemen's Hall, in Mercer Street.

Mr. James F. Wenman said of Hose Company No. 5 and its organizer: "No. 5 was the best disciplined hose company in the service. Her men were not allowed to leave the rope when going home, not the fire, without permission of the foreman. Norwood was a strict disciplinarian." Mr. Norwood used to say himself that he considered it the duty of the foreman to see that all the laws were strictly obeyed. He refused several times to run as a candidate for engineer. Mr. Adam P. Pentz said: "to my mind Mr. Norwood was the very ideal of the true fireman; that is, his activity was never surpassed, his perceptions were quick, and his judgment cool, clear, and steady. He believed that 'the post of honor was the post of danger,' and exemplified the truth of the proverb in his own proper person."

When Mr. Norwood was on a visit to the town of Adrian, Mich., he saw from the character of the buildings, which were nearly all of wood, that in case of fire the whole town would run the risk of destruction. There were no fire engines or fire appliances. He suggested to the authorities that a fire department be organized and an engine purchased. His suggestion was thankfully received, and Mr. Norwood at once organized a fire department, that in time became one of the most effective in Michigan.

It may be mentioned that Mr. Norwood belongs to one of the oldest families in the city. His grandfather was a prisoner in the Sugarhouse during the Revolutionary War, and was often subjected to the insults and the bayonet points of the British who guarded that place. His father was one of the original incorporators of the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in 1807, when the congregation was located in Cedar Street. Among his associates were Ebenezer Stevens, Selah Strong, Elisha Leavenworth, John Aspinwall, Archibald Gracie, Stephen Whitney, Hezekiah Lord, William Adams, Daniel Hosack, Nathaniel L. Griswold, Robert Weir, John Trumbull, and Lynde Catlin. The Rev. Dr. John Hall is the present pastor of the new and splendid edifice in Fifth Avenue.

RICHARD P. MOORE, surveyor for the German American Insurance Company, joined the Department in December, 1848, enrolling as a member of Liberty Hose Company No. 10. He remained only two years with that company, attaching himself in March, 1850, to Engine Company No. 42, the "Hay-wagon," so called from its likeness to that kind of vehicle. The company was then stationed at No. 2-1/2 Murray Street. Mr. Moore left the Department in 1860, and when in 1861 the tocsin of war was sounded he enrolled as a member of the celebrated Irish Brigade, and under the gallant Meagher went to the front to do battle with the enemies of the Union. At the fire which occurred in French's Hotel in 1852 Mr. Moore received severe injuries, on account of which he was invalided for two months. He has the honor of having been the first man to make a trial of a steam fire engine in this city.

In 1857 Messrs. Lee & Larned completed, under contract with the corporation, two self-propellers. The firemen were opposed to the introduction of them, and meetings were held at which resolutions were adopted calling upon the Common Council not to accept them. Subsequently Mr. Moore was invited to make a test of their ability, and he took the "J. C. Cary" from the Novelty Works at Ninth Street and East river to the Battery, where the demonstration of her effectiveness was complete, and silenced all opposition. The then street commissioner, Mr. Edward Cooper, promptly accepted the engines. The "J. C. Cary" in after years became the charge of the Exempt Company.

Mr. Moore was born in the Second Ward, of this city in 1830. He was elected assistant foreman of Engine Company No. 42 in 1854, and acted in that capacity until 1859, when he was elected foreman.

ALDERMAN CLARKSON CROLIUS is one of the most prominent names in the Croton Aqueduct celebration. No one is better identified with the history of New York than Mr. Crolius, who has lived eighty-five years in the city, and held public office for many years. While alderman of the Sixth and Seventeenth Wards he rarely missed being present at a fire. Mr. Crolius comes of an old Knickerbocker family. The first of the family came from Germany in the beginning of the eighteenth century. This was William Crolius, whose male descendant's were John Crolius, Clarkson Crolius, St., and Clarkson Crolius, Jr., now living, and who has survived all his contemporaries in the Common Council. His father was Colonel Crolius, a decided Whig, who was compelled to leave the city after the defeat of the American troops on Long Island. When sir William Howe took possession of the City of New York his property fell into the hands of the British, and did not again revert to the family till the peace of 1783. The two elder brothers of Colonel Crolius took part in the Revolutionary War. At the commencement of the war of 1812 Clarkson Crolius, Sr., was major in the Twenty-seventh Regiment, now the Seventh, but resigned his commission in the militia and received an appointment to the same rank in the regular service. In 1802 Colon Crolius officiated at the laying of the corner stone of the City Hall in the Park, then called the "Fields." He was a member of the Common Council for many years, for ten years in the legislature, and in 1811m as a grand sachem of Tammany Society, laid the foundation stone of the old Tammany Hall in Frankfort Street. He died on October 5, 1843, at an age of seventy years.

The family records were lost during the Revolution, and its not known from what part of Germany William came. He was a manufacturer of stoneware, which occupation has been followed by a representative of the family in every generation of his descendants. William Crolius' pottery was located in Reade Street near Broadway. His son John acquired property on Reade Street, about one hundred feet west of Centre, where the pottery and the family residence were maintained for many years, until Clarkson Crolius, Sr., removed the works to No. 65 and 67 Bayard Street, the old home still remaining in Reade Street. For one hundred years a ship could not sail to any part of the world without finding there some stone mug or jar bearing the stamp: "Clarkson Crolius, Manhattan Wells, New York." Mr. Clarkson Crolius, Jr., discontinued the manufacture of stoneware in Bayard Street in 1845, and the pottery was afterwards demolished.

The subject of the present sketch was born in 1801, in the sixth Ward, where the family residence has been for one hundred and twenty-seven years. As a boy he skated on the Fresh Water Pond, on the site of which now stands the Tombs. He saw the workmen lay the foundation of the Tombs in the mire which formed the bottom of the pond. The men placed three or four tiers of heavy timber crosswise in the mire, and upon these built the stone walls. In 1838 the prison was finished, and it fell to the lot of Mr. Crolius, who was then chairman of the Joint Committee of the Common council on prisons, to transfer the prisoners --about one hundred in number--from the old Bridewell, situated in the park between Broadway and the present City Hall, to the Hall of Justice of the Tombs. Mr. David Graham, then the alderman from the Fifteenth Ward, was member of the Committee on prisons, and High constable Hayes also assisted. In 1838 Alderman Crolius voted in favor of the act authorizing the construction of the High Bridge. Mr. Crolius was chairman of the Joint Committee of the Common council on Receptions when General Scott visited the city on his return from the Mexican War, and when General Cass, General Quitman, and Commodore Matthew C. Perry, who bombarded Vera Cruz, were publicly received by the municipal authorities. Mr. Crolius was also a member of the Reception Committee of the Common Council when Polk, Clay and other distinguished men were received.

Mr. Crolius, the present representative of the family, was assistant alderman from the Sixth Ward in 1838 and 1839, and alderman in 1842 and 1843. He was also alderman of the Seventeenth Ward during four years from 1847, and State senator form the Fourth District in 1850 and 1851. He was unanimously renominated as senator, but declined the nomination, and has since devoted his time to the management of public charities. He is said to have been the only Republican ever elected from the Sixth Ward. For thirty years he was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Seamen's Retreat at Stapleton, S. I., until the institution passed, in 1882, into the hands of the government. For twelve years he was a president of the retreat.

In 1842, at the aldermanic election in the sixth Ward, Captain Mile Walsh, at the head of the "Spartan Band," attempted to destroy the ballot box. It caused Mr. Crolius' election to be contested by "Hold-over Shaler.' The case was carried tot he Supreme Court by a mandamus, subsequently by the advice of Mayor Robert Morris, to the Albany Court for the Correction of Errors, and in both places unanimously decided in favor of Mr. Crolius.

In 1848 the residents of the upper wards were indebted mainly to Alderman Crolius for the establishment of the first line of omnibuses up the Bowery. The outfit belonged to Hatfield, Bertine & McLelland.

Mr. Crolius was at every fire in the Sixth Ward.

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

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