Our Firemen, The History of the NY Fire Departments

Chapter 28, Part I

By Holice and Debbie



W. D. Wade. -- J. S. Giles. -- Peter Goelet. -- A. Tredwell. -- J. McGarrigal. -- H. L. Slote. -- J. Betts. -- F, Harper. -- W. M. Tweed. -- J. Tyson.--P. R. Warner.--J. Y. Watkins, Sr. -- J. y. Watkins, Jr. -- J. R. Mount. -- W. H. Webb. -- S. Willets. -- B. Strong. -- J. P. Bailey. -- J. s. Belcher. -- J. J. Bloomfield. -- W. Boardman. -- T. Cleary. -- A. Craft. -- J. W. Degrauw. -- D. C. Silleck. --  W. H. Philp. -- P. J. Chappell. -- A. V. Davidson. -- J. H. Johnson. -- N. D. Thayer. -- J. P. Teale -- F. R. Mott. -- M. T. Green. -- J. J. Reilly. -- D. C. Broderick. -- T. Maloney. -- N. Seagrist. -- J. w. Walsh. -- W. Lamb. -- M. O. Allen. -- J. Baker.

WILLIAM DURAND WADE joined the New York Fire Department on March 15, 1845, and was enrolled a member of Oceana Hose company No. 36. This company had just been reorganized, and Mr. Wade served with it for nearly eleven years. In May, 1848, he was elected assistant foreman. His service was so admirable and he became so popular by a thorough performance of his duties that he was elected foremen in 1850, and re-elected the following year. Towards the close of 1861 Mr. Wade was compelled to resign in consequence of ill health. Although afterwards not able to continue in active duty as a fireman, the members of No. 36 still retained him on the roll and he still held his position as representative. He was exceedingly useful in the Department by his talent and experience. At the annual election of 1853 he was chosen secretary of the Department, and in the following year was advanced to the post of vice-president. In December, 1855, he was unanimously elected president. On this occasion his old comrades presented him with a handsome hat and a silver trumpet. The trumpet was inclosed in an elegant case.

Mr. Wade did not enjoy his new honors long, for he died on Friday, Jan. 11, 1856. The next day a special meeting of the Representatives was held in Stuyvesant Institute. Mr. John S. Belcher, vice-president of the Department, presided. Mr. Carlisle Norwood offered a series of resolution commemorating the energy, perseverance, and fidelity of the deceased. Mr. Norwood said of his departed comrade: "As a fireman he was ever zealous and active, foremost at the post of danger, and rose through all the various grades of office to the highest in his company. As a representative he was faithful, energetic and diligent, always ready to take part in the proceedings of this body, never shrinking from duty, he labored assiduously and incessantly to promote the welfare of the department." Among others who eulogized the dead were Mr. C. L. Curtis, Hook and Ladder No. 4; Mr. John A. Smith, of Engine Company No. 51, Mr. David Milliken, secretary; Mr. Zophar Mills, and Mr. James F. Wenman, of Hose Company No. 5.

The Board of Engineers and Foremen also held a special meeting to take appropriate action on President Wade's death, and Mr. John Lynes, of Hose Company No. 9, Mr. John Slowey, of Engine Company No. 19, and Mr. John Gillilan made feeling speeches.

The Rev. Thomas Gallaudet, Rector of St. Ann's, preached a memorial sermon in that church on Sunday evening, Jan. 29. The discourse was remarkably eloquent, able and appropriate, and was listened to by a number of firemen. A very touching general address was made by the Rev. Isaac Ferris, D. D., LL. D., Chancellor of the University of the city of New York.

Said the Rev. Gallaudet: "We recall the time when he stood before us in the full glory of health and strength and beauty; we see him as disease lightly touched the secret springs of life; we trace his gradual yet steady course, through encouraging and discouraging vicissitudes, towards the period of physical weakness and general prostration; we see him withdraw again from the duties of active life, and seek gentle, faithful nursing of maternal love; we call to mind those weeks of anxiety when our daily inquiries were made as to his welfare; we remember the pang which pierced our hearts when the word, passed swiftly from one to another, came to us that he was gone; we see once more the pallid, sunken features of the lifeless form--the casket from which the Almighty had taken the gem--laid out in the chamber of death; we set before us the solemn gathering at the home of our loved one; we behold the outward insignia of grief, and we hear the sobs which indicate that the deep places of the soul are broken up; we listen once more to those sublime strains which characterize a Christian burial; we bring back the word of the venerable men who spoke so appropriately of our brother; we picture the solemn procession of genuine mourners, slowly bearing the precious earthly remains to the house appointed for all living; we hear a voice from heaven proclaiming, 'Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord; even so saith the Spirit, for they rest from their labors,' and we bow our heads at the great, the mysterious truth, that man giveth up the ghost. Verily the passing away from earthly scenes of our friend and brother has been to us impressive instances of the mortality which is inwrought into the race of which we are part and parcel."

The Board of Representatives and the Board of Engineer and Foremen appointed a joint committee to see to the suitable erection of a memorial. The committee was as follows: Messrs. Charles Norwood, C. L. Curtis, D. Reynolds Budd (Hose Company No. 36), H. B. Venn (Engine Company No. 14), J. Lynes, J. Slowey, D. Stanbury (Engine Company No. 28), Jacob Ostrom (Hose Company No. 38), J. F. Wenman, and W. H. Blague (Hook and Ladder Company No. 1). The result was the placing of a tablet in Firemen's Hall, (on the building committee of which Mr. Wade had served), with the following inscription:


William Durand Wade,
BORN JANUARY 18, 1826; DIED JANUARY 11, 1856.
Aged twenty-nine Years, Eleven Months, Twenty-one Days.
This tablet is erected by the Fire Department of the city of New York, of which he
Was president at the time of his death, a graceful tribute to his faithful and devoted attention to its usefulness and prosperity.

JOHN S. GILES, for many years treasurer of the old Department, was born in 1799. As a lad he ran with the engines. At the age of twelve he went to sea and made two voyages before the mast to India. When but fifteen years of age he was apprenticed to a builder and worked with such a will that two years later he was able to start in business on his own account. He had scarcely done so when he was burned out, and, being uninsured, lost every penny he had in the world. Nothing daunted, he set to work again as a journeyman and wrought with untiring energy at his trade until his thirty-second year, when by great self-denial he has accumulated fund sufficient to pay off all the indebtedness due at the time of his misfortune and leave a balance sufficient to re-establish himself on his own account. From that time his affairs prospered greatly, and at the time of his death, at the age of eight years, he was in the possession of an independent fortune. Mr. Giles was one of the organizers of Hose Company No. 14. In the year 1849 he rendered invaluable services in securing the passage by the legislature of an act requiring all fire insurance companies, organized outside the state of New York, to pay to the treasurer of the fund of the Fire Department two per cent of the amount received for premiums.

Mr. Giles was for some years the treasurer of the fund. On the outbreak of the civil war mr. Giles was an active member of the committee appointed to recruit the famous Second Regiment of Fire Zouaves. When the famous Exempt Engine Company was organized on November 14, 1854, to run the heavy engine, known as the "man-killer," Mr. Giles was elected treasurer. He was an enthusiastic and intrepid fireman, and leaves on record the opinion that in his days "a fireman thought more of his engine than he did of his family."

PETER GOELET, the well known capitalist whose late residence at the corner of Broadway and Nineteenth Street is one of the landmarks of New York, was a prominent member of the old Volunteer Department. He died leaving an enormous fortune. Mr. Goelet served his time with Engine No. 9, and was for many years a Trustee of the Fire Department Fund. His brother Robert was also a famous fireman. Mr. Goelet bore an active part in raising the Charitable Fund.

ALANSON TREDWELL, now a member of the well known clothing fire of Tredwell, Slote & Co., at the corner of Broadway and Chambers Street, was born on November 24, 1828. In 1851 he joined Hose Company No, 6, and in 1857 was elected foreman of Oceana Hose No. 36, to which company belonged such solid citizens as Alonzo Slote, Daniel Slote, William A. Woodhull, and William D. Wade, subsequently Presidents of the Department; L. H. Macy and John H. Waydell. Mr. Tredwell served long in the Department and has a gallant record.

JOHN MCGARRIGAL, formerly of the firm of Gayte and McGarrigal, who built the present Firemen's Hall, was born on February 22, 1829. Mr. McGarrigal was a brave fireman, and was at one time foreman of Americus Engine Co. 6. He is a member of the Exempt Fireman's Association and still takes a great interest in everything pertaining to the old Department.

HENRY L. SLOTE, formerly of the firm of Slote and Janes, stationers, was born in 1828, and began his career as a fireman with Oceana Hose Company No. 36. Subsequently became a member of Americus Engine Company No. 6. Mr. Slote married a daughter of Alderman Griffiths of the Tenth Ward. He was well known the Department as a brave, enthusiastic fireman. Mr. Slote died recently, deeply regretted by a large circle of old comrades.

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

HTML by Debbie

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