Our Firemen, The History of the NY Fire Departments

Chapter 29, Part I

By Holice and Debbie



F. A. Ridabock. -- J. Dawson. -- W. Dunn. -- D. Garvey. -- F. S. Gwyer. -- E. W. Jacobs. -- Benj. J. Brown. -- M. W. Duane. -- C. Van Blarcom. -- M. Franklin. -- P. W. Engs. -- Francis Hall. -- John G. Hall. -- C. H. Haswell. -- S. T. Hoyt. -- P. N. Cornwell. -- J. M. Bennett. -- W. H. Wilson. -- B. Kenney. -- Eugene Ward. -- I. Williams. -- W. M. Mitchell. -- T. F. Goodwin. -- W. E. Bishop. -- L. Delmonico. -- A. R. Jollie. -- T. Keller. -- G. W. Lane. -- E. R. Campbell. -- David Milliken. -- Zophar Mills. -- R. Monahan. -- O. A. Pesoa. -- C. Forrester. -- H. W. Taylor. -- J. Quigg. -- C. A. Childs. -- E. Haight. -- J. Kittleman. -- J. and R. Kimmons. -- W. H. Pegg. -- D. C. Smith. -- T. A. Ricard. -- T. W. Adams. -- W. L. Proch.

FREDERICK A. RIDABOCK, one of the best known of the Volunteer firemen of the city, was born in the Fifth Ward, at the corner of Broadway and Walker Streets, in 1816, where his father had kept a grocery store for forty years. The latter was also an old fire laddie, having serving a full term with engine Company No. 24, which lay in Fulton Street. His period of service extended from 1800 to 1815. Mr. Frederick A. Ridabock learned the trade of upholsterer. He joined Engine Company 31 in September, 1835, in which company he served for seven years. In 1852 he organized Hook and Ladder Company No. 12, the company's quarters being located in West Broadway, near Beach Street. Mr. Ridabock was elected foremen of the company--an office which he held for six years. In 1858 he was elected a representative from the company as a trustee of the Widows' and Orphans' Fund of the Exempt Firemen's Benevolent Fund. Mr. Ridabock is one of the organizers and also a trustee of the Veterans Firemen's Association.

JOHN DAWSON, of the firm of Joel Mason & Co., was born on March 3, 1839. He served his time with Eagle Hook and Ladder No. 4, of which company he was treasurer for several years. Mr. Dawson was formerly president of the Eckford Social Club of Williamsburg, and is now a very popular member of the City Club.

WILLIAM DUNN, affectionately known as "Old Father Dunn," saw over twenty-two years of service in the Old Department. Born on December 5, 1825, he early enrolled in Americus Engine No. 6. He also served with Bunker Hill Engine No. 32, and Jefferson Engine No. 26. Although one of the most popular men in the Department, Mr. Dunn repeatedly refused to accept office.

DANIEL GARVEY, at one time a well-known shipwright in the employ of Messrs. Steengraff & Co., of South Street, has an honorable record of over twenty years in the Old Department. He was born on March 7, 1830, and on arriving at age joined Croton Hose. In 1857 he assisted in organizing harry Howard Hook and Ladder No. 11, in which he served several years. Mr. Garvey was a member of the committee in charge of the building of Firemen's Hall, and is an ex-president of the City Club. He is now one of the trustees of the Veteran Firemen's Association.

FREDERICK S. GWYER, a very popular fireman, served with Lafayette Engine No. 19 for ten years, joining that company September 5, 1857. He was born on November 4, 1833. Mr. Gwyer is a member of the Volunteer and Veterans' Firemen's Association, and had the good fortune to win the engine drawn for by the Association in the summer of 1886. With characteristic generosity he presented the engine to the Veterans' Association, in appreciation of which the Association presented him with a handsome gold badge. Mr. Gwyer was one of the "old boys" of "19" when John Slowey and George W. Badger were killed at the fire at Goodwin's cracker bakery, February 3, 1863.

EDWARD W. JACOBS has the distinction of being the only private of the Old Department who was ever elected representative, a post which he filled with honor for four years. He was born on December 29, 1822, and joined Americus Engine No. 6 in 1850. He was an assistant engineer from 1856 to 1862. For three consecutive terms he was elected third vice-president of the Americus Club. Mr. Jacobs is now one of the trustees of the Exempt Firemen's Association.

BENJAMIN M. BROWN, as a fireman, was ever among the foremost to respond to the call of duty. He was largely instrumental in the erection of the Thirteenth Street reservoir. He held many offices; foreman, fire warden, trustee, alderman and commissioner of the Croton Water Works.

MARTIN W. DUANE, an old and popular member of Peterson engine No. 15, was born on September 10, 1825. Mr. Duane lives in Brooklyn, and was at one time alderman in that city. He is now in the cooperage business.

CHRISTIAN VAN BLARCOM, who served as assistant foreman of Americus engine No. 6 in 1862 and 1863, was born on July 5, 1832. Mr. Van Blarcom was an enthusiastic fireman. He is now a member of the Associations of Veteran and Volunteer firemen.

MORRIS FRANKLIN, late president of the New York Life Insurance Company, son of Chief engineer Thomas Franklin, attained a reputation as an intrepid and skillful fireman as great as that of his distinguished father.

Mr. Franklin early in life enrolled in Supply Engine Company, then stationed at the Corporation Yard, the present site of the tombs Prison. From this company he went to No. 24, known as the "Brass Back Engine," of which he soon became foreman.

His reckless bravery frequently carried him into situations of extraordinary danger, from which, on two different occasions, at least, he barely escaped with his life. At the first fire in the Bowery Theater he forced his way through flames and smoke to the third tier. Suddenly the "All Out!" was passed, and in a few moments he found himself the only man in the building. Finding no other way of escape he made a desperate leap to the ground floor, and although badly bruised and half stunned he managed to grope his way crawling on hands and knees, to the great door which was just being closed, where he was caught up by his comrades and carried in a fainting condition into a neighboring house. As soon as he recovered consciousness he insisted on returning to duty, and manfully stood at his post until the fire was over.

At a fire in park Place Mr. Franklin was holding the pipe in an attic when the blazing roof fell in on him so as to make escape impossible. In this fearful situation he was discovered by Chief Gulick, who gallantly went to his rescue and succeeded in extricating him, not, however, before he had been so terribly burned that he was confined to his bed for many weeks.

In 1837 Mr. Franklin was elected to the Assembly on the Firemen's ticket, and in 1842 he took his seat in the Senate. In 1838 he was a member of the Board of Assistant aldermen, and in the following year was elected President of the Board of Aldermen. He was also chairman of the Committee of Arrangements for the grand celebration of the thirty-fourth Anniversary of the origination of the Department in October 15, 1827.

When John W. Degrauw was presented with a magnificent silver urn on the occasion of his retirement form the presidency of the Department, the presentation address was made by Mr. Franklin. On the occasion of the laying of the corner stone of the present Firemen's Hall Mr. Franklin delivered the inaugural address.

PHILIP W. ENGS, one of the most active of the old Volunteers in promoting fire matters, was born in 1789. He joined engine Company No. 21 December 9, 1813. He became assistant engineer in 1824, and served in that capacity until 1833. In 1857 he was elected President of the Association of Exempt Firemen and thereafter for twenty-five years was annually re-elected. It was due to his exertions while in the legislature in 1866 that the Exempts obtained control of the Benevolent Fund of the Fire Department, he died May 19, 1875.

FRANCIS HALL, publisher of the Commercial Advertiser, was a member of Hose Company No. 1, joining the Department about 1813.

JOHN B. HALL, of the Commercial Advertiser, son of Francis Hall, was a chip off the old block, and was first a member of Engine Company No. 5, and then of Hook and Ladder Company No. 1. Once at a fire in Maiden Lane, below Gold Street, he had a very narrow escape of his life.

CHARLES H. HASWELL was in his time a member of many companies. At the age of twenty-one he joined Merchants' Engine Company No. 25. In 1822 he was a member of Columbian Engine Company No. 14, then of Union Engine Company No. 18. In 1830 he removed from North Moore Street, where he was born, to Clinton Street, and joined Jefferson Engine Company No. 26. In 183 2 having removed to Crosby Street, he was invited to join Metamora Engine Company No. 3 as foreman. In 1835, having moved to Twenty-second Street near Ninth Avenue, Chelsea Engine Company No. 16 offered him the position, of foreman if he would join, and he did so. When Mr. Haswell obtained a position in the naval service he resigned from the Department.

STEPHEN T. HOYT was a member of Hudson Engine Company No. 1, was afterwards foreman of Hudson Hose company No. 21, and was elected assistant engineer in March, 1850. He died on September 17, 1852, at the age of thirty-seven. For some time before he expired he lay in a lethargy. The bell on the Twenty-second Street tower striking an alarm, the sound appeared to arouse him. He counted the district with his fingers, and a moment of two afterwards, he died.

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

HTML by Debbie

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