Our Firemen, The History of the NY Fire Departments

Chapter 28, Part IV

By Holice and Debbie

DAVID COLBERT BRODERICK was a noble figure in the annals of the Volunteers. He was educated in the public school and learned the trade of a stonecutter. A self-made man with the best attributes of manhood, he aspired to shine in politics, not for greed or gain, but to have an opportunity of doing good and to exercise the great gifts which nature had bestowed on him. In New York he was defeated for Congress in 1846. Three years later he determined to tussle with fortune in California. He was a member of Howard Engine Company No. 34, and his comrades gave him a farewell reception and a costly watch and chain. His ambition cropped out just before he went away. Meeting in the street Adam P. Pentz, in reply to his badinage that he supposed he would return a member of Congress, Broderick replied: "I'll come back a United States Senator or I will not return."

Broderick kept his word. He said on the "Crescent City" on the seventeenth of April, 1849, and on his arrival at San Francisco went into the assaying business with Frederick D. Kohler, an ex-assistant engineer of the Volunteer Fire Department of New York and a member of Protection engine Co. 5. He was elected to the California Senate, and in 1856 became United States Senator. He was anti-slavery or anti-Lecompton champion, and as such the foe of Senator William M. Gwin. Ex-chief Justice of the Supreme Court of California David S. Terry, who recently married his client (Sarah Althea Hill Sharon), at the Lecompton Democratic State Convention at Sacramento brought about an issue with Broderick by sneering at him as a "Douglas Democrat," because he knew well how sincere Broderick's friendship for Stephen Douglas was. He went on to brand Broderick as an "arch traitor." After a correspondence famous in the records of the "Code," a hostile meeting was arranged. Broderick's seconds were Joseph C. McKibben, David A Cotton and Leonidas Haskell, and Terry's Calhoun Benham, S. H. Brooks, and Thomas Hayes. Their meeting at Laguna de la Merced, near San Francisco, on the thirteenth of September, 1859, is spoken of as one of the "intellectual giants." At ten paces Broderick inadvertently discharged his pistol while in the act of aiming to "the word." Terry took an advantage, that might not have been, under such circumstances, an unfair one, and fired. Broderick's right breast was pierced to the left armpit, and he was carried from the field to die three days later at Leonidas Haskell's residence at Black Point. His last words were: "They have killed me because I was opposed to slavery and a corrupt administration."

In a public square in San Francisco the war hero General and Senator Edward D. Baker pronounced the funeral oration. It was worthy of the speaker and the illustrious man who lay in his coffin before him. Terry was not punished. Broderick's memory was honored in New York, and the drama, "Three Eras in the Life of a New York Fireman," was founded on his remarkable career. The duel in which he was killed was the second in which he was engaged. His first was in 1852, on the east short of San Francisco, with Judge Smith, son of governor smith of Virginia--"Extra Billy" Smith. The conditions were navy revolvers at ten paces, "go as you please," with six shots. Broderick's pistol became out of order at his first shot, and while he was bending over to get it into proper condition for continuing the fight, a bullet from Smith's pistol shattered to fragments the watch which the members of Howard Engine gave him. Fragments of the case lacerated his stomach, but the present saved his life. Ex-Police Justice William Dodge has the chain, which was attached to the watch on this occasion.

THOMAS MOLONEY, a well-known citizen, now in his eighty-seventh year, who belongs to a family of firemen, did fire duty in 1822, and he knew well how to handle the buckets in those days. At the time of the great fire in 1835 he resided at 36 Wall Street. All of his sons and his two sons-in-law were members of the Volunteer Fire Department of New York. His son, Michael c. Moloney was assistant foreman of Fulton Engine Company No. 21, when she lay in Temple Street, and M. T. Brennan was foreman. He also fought under the Stars and Stripes as well as under the banner of the Volunteer Fire Department; he was aboard of the United States frigate "Potomac" at the bombardment of Vera Cruz. During the war with Mexico Thomas P. Moloney was a member of Protection Engine Company No. 5, and in 1857 lost his life at sea, going down in the steam "Central America," which was commanded by W. L. Herndon, father-in-law of the late ex-President, Chester A. Arthur. Nearly all the women and children were saved, but Tom remained steadfast to duty, and, like her gallant commander, went down with the ship. John J. Moloney was foreman of Protection Engine Company No. 5, and secretary of the Volunteer firemen's Association, and bears the scars he received in his devotion to duty. William H. Moloney, was also a member and representative of Protection Engine Company No. 5, and, like his brother Mike, rallied around the old flag in the hour of need. He was a member of the First Fire Zouaves, and secretary to Colonel Ellsworth. Charles A. Brown was his son-in-law. He was a member of protection Engine Company No. 5, and in 1853 was elected an assistant engineer. He was a good fireman and much liked, not only by the Honey Bees, but by the Department. Matthew T. Brennan, foreman of Fulton Engine Company No. 21, was one of the sons-in-law.

NICHOLAS SEAGRIST commanded Empire Hook and Ladder Company No. 8, and was at one time sergeant-at-arms to the Board of Aldermen, and, what is more, kept them in the straight path. 8's boys thought he acquitted himself so well that he ws deserving of a white cap, and they worked hard to get it for him. He was several times an independent candidate. However, the voters in the district elected him as member of Assembly, and afterwards as alderman of the district. He had been for many years a director in the Hamilton fire Insurance Company, of which Mayor Whitney of Brooklyn is the president.

JOSEPH W. WALSH, Surveyor of the Williamsburgh City fire Insurance Company, was a hard working, efficient fireman who quietly performed his duty and thought no more about it. In July, 1850, at the time of the great fire in Philadelphia, when aid was asked for from this city, he, with David Conger, Abraham W. Kennedy, and other members of Putnam Hose company No. 31, went on to assist their brother firemen of the Quaker City. He was also active in working negotiations to receive the Philadelphia firemen when they came on a pleasant trip to this city. In 1858 he resigned from the hose company and joined Excelsior Engine Company No. 2. He always did good service as a member of the Department and of the Insurance Fire Patrol.

WILLIAM LAMB commenced service as a volunteer with Engine Company No. 30. In 1840 he became a member of the company. His service with No. 30 was short-lived. A difficulty arose between the Nos. 30 and 40. No. 30 felt aggrieved at the issue of the controversy and determined to withdraw from the Department. Mr. Lamb in 1844 became a member of Engine Company No. 18 and served until 1848, when the company was disbanded; he then joined Engine Company No. 25, and in 1852 was elected assistant foreman, and foreman in 1854. He served with No. 25 until 1861, when he was elected assistant engineer, and held that position until 1865. During the draft riots in 1863 engineer Lamb was incessantly on duty for three days and nights, an was constantly in danger. He was attacked and knocked down by the rioters, and was rescued by some friends. He escaped without serious injury. The newspapers gave special commendation to the firemen, and Engineer Lamb was highly praised. Mr. Lamb has been connected with the Department for the past eight years as Superintendent of Repairs to Buildings.

JOHN BARKER was born November 1819, in Tryon Row, and at an early age he was indentured apprentice to James Ruthven, in Fulton Street, where he learned the art of brass, ivory and hardwood turner, and became a proficient workman. In 1841 he was a runner to Cut Hose No. 33, and in April 1843, became a certificate member of the company and was one of its most active members. His pride was to be the signal lantern bearer, which was a post of honor. He had experienced many hair-breadth escapes by his daring efforts st fires. One of the most notable was at the burning of Niblo's Theatre (the first time). He was a leading man with the pipe to direct the stream of water on the fire. He is known as "Honest John." He entered the fire patrol March, 1859, and was energetic and persevering. In 1886 he was admitted into the Exempt Association, and is now a life member of the same.

MOSES O. ALLEN, a genial, kindly gentleman and an active fireman, though small of stature, was big of heart. He served the Department well in many positions--as foreman of Independence Hose Company No. 3, member of the Jenny Lind Testimonial, Washington Monument, and other committees. Mr. is now a prosperous merchant. His son, Theodore L. Allen, was foreman of Geo. F. Larned Engine Company No. 2, of Pittsfield, Mass. The company ran a steamer, and young Allen, like his father, was a popular and efficient officer. At a Ladies' Fair, held for a benevolent object, he was voted a silver trumpet as being the most popular energetic fireman in the city. Mr. Moses O. Allen was conspicuous for the very energetic efforts he made to entertain his brother firemen of other cities during their visits to Gotham. The old Philadelphia firemen remember his with pleasure.

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

HTML by Debbie

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