Our Firemen, The History of the NY Fire Departments

Chapter 29, Part III

By Holice and Debbie

LORENZO DELMONICO, one of the brothers who are famous as caterers, was born in 1813, in the village of Marengo, Canton of Ticino, Switzerland. He joined his relatives in this country in 1832. In 1840 he entered the Fire Department as one of the organizers of engine Company No. 42, of which company his brother, Siro, ws also a member. Siro died in December, 1881. Another member of the family, Charles, belonged to North River Engine Company No. 30, and later to Metamora Hose Company No. 29. Lorenzo died at Sharon Springs, N. R., September 5, 1881.

ALLEN R. JOLLIE, who died in 1877, will long be remembered as the enthusiastic fireman who was invariably first at the engine house, and who used, single handed, to roll it along the sidewalk until help arrived. He was a man of considerable strength of muscles as well as of character. In 1826 he joined engine Company No.12, and in 1828 No. 29 in Greenwich village, to which locality he had removed. He served for several years as foreman and was then, in 1835, made assistant engineer. Subsequently he joined Hydrant Company No. 2, with which he served until 1842. Mr. Jollie had three brothers in the Department, and his son Edward was an active member of Hose Company No. 41.

THEODORE KEELER was born on July 28, 1815. When only fifteen years old he ran as a volunteer with Engine Company No. 12. In 1835 he joined Engine Company No. 14, then No. 21, and next No. 38. He was surveyor of the Lorillard Insurance Company. Died January 10, 1887.

GEORGE W. LANE was a member of Pearl Hose Company No. 28, and treasurer for more then seven years. At his instance his company used the first steam fire engine ever seen in the city. Mr. Lane was chamberlain of the city, and president of the Chamber of Commerce.

E. R. CAMPBELL was born January 7, 1833, in the Tenth Ward. He joined the famous engine Company No. 6 in Gouverneur Street on March 17, 1852. On September 8, 1855, he was nearly killed going to a fire in Grand Street. Near Lord & Taylor's his engine collided with a stage, and the big machine, weighing about four thousand pounds, threw the stage on the sidewalk. Half a dozen of the firemen went down, and the engine ran over Mr. Campbell, breaking his leg and injuring one of his arms. It was thought he would not survive, but he did, although he was laid up for seven or eight months. Charles B. Elliott, who afterwards became a justice in one of the Brooklyn courts, was also thrown down and injured, but he lived to tell the tale. In later years Mr. Campbell was a keeper in Sing Sing and Clinton Prisons. He was instrumental in bringing prominently before the public the evils of the contract system, and had to leave the Prison Department.

DAVID MILLIKEN was secretary and vice-president of the Fire Department one year, and president three years; afterwards vice-president of the Association of Exempt Firemen. In March, 1840, he joined Engine Company No. 18, and was its representative for five years. In 1847 he was transferred to Hose Company No. 40, elected assistant foreman for one year, foreman for three years, and was it representative for six years. He was prominent in local politics, and his opinion always carried weight.

ZOPHAR MILLS has made one of the most remarkable records the Fire Department can boast of. He was born on September 23, 1809, and when only thirteen years old ran with Engine Company No. 13. But in time his ambition was satisfied, and he became a regular member of this company. In November, 1835, he was elected its foreman. On July 11, 1838, he was elected assistant engineer, and received the congratulations of all. Finally he became president of the Fire Department, and on his retirement in 1842 received from the representatives a beautifully engrossed testimonial. Again in august, 1853, Mr. Mills received another testimonial--a magnificent silver tea service, costing one thousand dollars, and subscribed for by the firemen. He became president of the Association of Exempt firemen, an office which he has held for many years. In early days he was indefatigable in getting up balls, and still more zealous in attending fires. At the destruction of the Jennings building he with other firemen was buried beneath a collapsed wall. But he managed to crawl out of the rubbish and assist the unfortunates who couldn't get out. At The Hague Street explosion he also distinguished himself. No man was thought more of in and out of the Department than he, and his bravery, self-sacrifice, and generosity entitled him to the high esteem in which he was held. His views (of a most interesting character) on fire matters will be found on page 446; also his portrait.

THOMAS MONAHAN served for ten years, making an excellent record. He was first a member of Engine Company No. 4, then next of Hose Company No. 1. He was one of the men in 1835 fire. Mr. Monahan was president of the Fulton Bank.

OSCAR A. PESOA, assistant foreman of Engine Company No. 4, in the present Department has been a fireman for the past thirty years, having joined the Volunteer Fire Department on June 2, 1856, attaching himself to Hose Company No. 41, which than lay in Watts Street. In 1857 Mr. Pesoa was elected assistant foreman, and after serving the full term of five years he was placed upon the honorary roll. Still he continued to do active service until the creation of the Paid Department, to which he immediately received an appointment, being assigned to Engine Company No. 18, then stationed on West tenth Street. Mr. Pesoa is a fireman of acknowledged skill and daring, and he carries today upon his body honorable though unpleasant reminders of the fiery ordeals he has passed through. Hose Company No. 41 bore the reputation and deservedly, too, of being hard to beat for quickness in getting to a fire, and for the efficiency of its members. But Mr. Pesoa, with becoming modesty, avoids all reference to their achievements. When interrogated he speaks glowingly of the excellent work done by the Volunteers generally.

CHARLES FORRESTER, for many years foreman of the celebrated Black Joke Engine 33, lying in Gouverneur Street, and subsequently an engineer of the old Department, was born in New York on November 4, 1814. When a lad of eleven he became an assistant to his father, who was a clerk and letter-carrier in the Post-Office. He remained in the service of the Post-Office throughout his life, rising to the position of superintendent of the City Paper Department, which he held up to the time of his death, which occurred on the twenty-first of February, 1886.

Mr. Forrester was a born fireman, and began to run to fires as soon as he could walk. At the great fire, in 1824, young Forrester, then barely ten years if age, carried a torch. During this fire the men of Black Joke engine were forced to abandon their machine, which was totally destroyed. The shipyard and a number of vessels on the stocks were consumed. Mr. Forrester was successively elected steward, secretary, treasurer, assistant foreman, and finally foreman of Black Joke. He served as steward but one year, and failed of re-election on account of his refusal to serve out liquor to the boys.

Throughout a service of fifteen years Mr. Forrester never missed a day from his business, in spite of frequently being called out on duty as often as four nights in one week. It is related of him, that on one occasion, while taking a vapor bath to check a cold, he threw off the coverings, and, hastening to the engine house in response to an alarm, worked bravely throughout a bitterly cold night. Next day he declared that he had discovered a new cure for colds. At the "Great Fire" in 1835 engine 33 was run on the deck of a brig at the foot of Wall Street, and supplied water to the engine playing on the fire further up the street. The weather was bitterly cold, and the boys were frequently obliged to leave the brakes, and get into the brig's cabin to "thaw out." When their comrades on deck judged that their turn at the stove had come the expedient of placing a fire hat over the stove pipe speedily smoked out those below. After working all night the engine became so encased in ice that further work was impossible. At the great fire in West Street, near the Battery, Mr. Forrester, then engineer, entered the building to order out the men of Engine 33 and Hose 13, the walls being in danger of falling. The boys of Hose 13 lingered to save their hose, and three of them were instantly killed by the falling walls. A ludicrous adventure befell Mr. Forrester at a fire in a stove store at No. 321 Water Street in 1842. The stoves in the upper floor having fallen through to the basement, tearing away the staircase, the escape of the men on the roof was cut off. Finally someone found an old signboard which was placed at a steep incline against an adjoining roof. It proved to be coated with a preparation of smalts--a mixture of powdered glass. Man after man was obliged to slide down, and those who only ruined their trousers wre considered lucky. Mr. Forrester said that it was many a day before he could sit down.

At the fire in the Buck's Horn Tavern, in 1842, at the junction of the Boston Post Road and Bloomingdale Road, near the present site of the Fifth Avenue Hotel, Engineer Forrester formed a line of engines to the corner of Fourth Street and Fourth Avenue, that being the nearest point where water could be procured. In the same year a disastrous fire occurred near Fulton Ferry in Brooklyn. So rapidly did the flames spread that the chief engineer decided to dispatch a messenger to the Navy Yard to beg that a force of marines might be detailed to blow up a row of brick buildings in the path of the conflagration. Chief Engineer Anderson, of New York, and Engineer Forrester assured the Brooklyn chief that with the aid of the New York fire laddies the fire could be checked without help from the Navy Yard. In a few minutes engineer Forrester was on his way to New York with orders to summon assistance. His first care was to hold the ferry boat in her slip, and then he rang an alarm on the Fulton market Bell. This was taken up by the bells of the City Hall, the North Dutch Church, and the old Brick Church Tower, and in an incredibly short space of time the ferry boat, heavily laden with engines was on her way back to Brooklyn. The reinforcements got to work with a will, and soon got the fire under control, and saved the row of buildings which were about to be blown up.

Mr. Forrester was a firm believer in the virtues of salt water for extinguishing fires. It could not be thrown so far, he said, but whatever it struck its effect was felt. In 1847, when Mr. Forrester applied to Chief Engineer Anderson for an honorable discharge, that officer complimented him greatly on his splendid record, and said, "You ought to have two--one for each term you have served."

HUGH TAYLOR was born in New York City in Beekman Slip, now called Fulton slip, on July 28, 1800. He is now living at Mill Neck, Oyster Bay Township, Queens County, Long Island. On May 20, 1820, he joined Protection Fire Engine Company No. 5, Foster Nostrand being foreman, and Samuel Jones Willis assistant foreman; location in Fulton Street, at the rear of the old Ditch Church. He was elected foreman of the company on the fifteenth of January, 1828, and resigned from the office and the company on the twenty-second of June, 1830. At the time he joined the company a fireman had to serve ten years to clear him from jury and military duties. On December 21, 1821, he was at the fire that took place in Fulton Street reaching from Fulton on Front Street to Beekman Street, and on Fulton Street reaching to the East River, the block where Fulton Market now stands. It was a bitter cold night, and the engines had to work all the time to keep from freezing. He was also at the first burning of the Bowery Theater.

JOHN QUIGG was born in the Eleventh Ward. He joined Mechanics' Hose Company No. 47, of the old Volunteer Fire Department, in 1854. He has held every position in the company, and was foreman at the dissolution of the Department. As a fireman he was always prompt in the discharge of his duty. He was a disciplinarian, and his company was second to nine in fire duty. At one time he represented No. 47 in the Board. He became a member of the Exempt Firemen's Association in 1867, was one of the charter member of the Volunteer Firemen's Association of new York, and is now one of the directors. He was president of the Mechanics' Association, composed of members of the Old Department on the east side of the city. This organization claims to be the spark which kindled the flame of enthusiasm among the scattered members of the Old Department which eventually brought the present Volunteer Firemen's Association into existence. As a testimonial of the esteem and respect in which his comrades held him, they presented him with a beautiful fire trumpet bearing the following inscription engraved thereon; "Presented to John Quigg, foremen, by the member of Mechanics' Hose 47 of the Volunteer Department, for his ability as a fireman, his qualifications as a man, and his many acts of kindness to his fellow members. October 16, 1865." Mr. Quigg's ability as an artist is well known. He has been connected with the present Fire Department since its organization as master painter, and decorator, a position which he still holds.

CHARLES A. CHILDS, like many members of the Volunteer Fire Department, in very early years evinced his love for fire life, and he ran with Atlantic Hose Company No. 14. In 1855, when he had attained his majority, he became a member. James R. Mount was then foreman of the company. He resigned in 1857 and joined Adriatic (afterwards Peterson) Engine Company No. 31. While a member of 14 he was elected secretary. He served his time in 31, and during his membership he was elected treasurer and also a representative. He was one of the organizers and members of the Baxter Light Guard (named in honor of Lieut.-Col, Baxter, who was killed in the Mexican War). He had been a member of the Volunteer Fire Department and also of the Peterson Guard. He likewise was one of the organizers of Atlantic Light Guard and was elected the first captain.

Mr. Childs at an early age became connected with the express business, John Hoey and he were boys together in the Adams Express Co. For many years he was superintendent of the New York Transfer Company, and had charge of the transportation of the United States mail. He organized the Dodd & Childs Express Company, of Jersey City, and for several years has been baggage agent of the Fall River Line of steamers. He resides on Jersey City heights and is a member of both the Veteran Firemen's and the Volunteer Firemen's Association. He was born in Albany, N. Y., and is a descendent of the Childs family that settled in Roxbury, Mass., in 1630, being of the sixth generation. Twenty-two of that family were of the first company of volunteers and minute men at Lexington, Mass., April 19, 1775, when the boys of those days taught John Bull's regulars what volunteers could do.

EDWARD HAIGHT, the president of the Commonwealth Bank, was an enthusiastic fireman. On one occasion he turned out with his engine thirteen times in six days, a feat that he was fond of citing in later years as an example of the amount of wok that the old-timers could do. In order to insure being roused in case of fire, he had an ingenious attachment fitted to his front door by which the ringing of the door bell started an alarm bell in his bedroom. He was a member of the Association of Exempt Firemen. His five sons all served their time in the Department.

JOHN KITTLEMAN, affectionately known as "Old Kit," a member of Empire Hook and Ladder Company No. 40, was a very popular fireman. He was a mason by trade. No firemen's excursion was considered complete without the presence of "Old Kit." Mr. Kittleman died on June 14, 1861.

JOHN AND RICHARD KIMMENS, twin brothers, were born on august 6, 1825. John Kimmens was a well known member of Americus engine No. 6. He died on April 27, 1882. His brother "Dick," at one time foreman of No. 6 was one of the most popular men of his day.

WILLIAM H. PEGG, a prominent member of Oceana Hose, was born in 1825. Few men in the Department could number more friends then "Billy" Pegg. He died on November 27, 1884.

DAVID C. SMITH, one of the organizers of Americus Engine No. 6, was born on April 28, 1829. He was for many years in the plumbing business in this city. He went to Rochester, where he is now connected with the firm of E. H. Clarke & Co. He was a brave and popular fireman. He served with No. 6 for over nine years.

T. AUGUSTUS RICARD, son of George Ricard, the millionaire who died in 1880, was born December 25, 1819. He was a member of Peterson Engine No. 15, and helped to roll her at the great fire at Woolsey's sugar house, at Montgomery and South Streets, in 1850. Mr. Ricard, who is quite wealthy, has retired from business and resides in Staten Island.

THOMAS W. ADAMS, an old member of Americus Engine, was born November 29, 1822. He was a carman by occupation, and was at one time Alderman of the Seventh Ward, being elected by the firemen's votes. He was at one time Commissioner of Public Works in Brooklyn. Mr. Adams used to be noted for his personal strength. He now resides in Brooklyn, where he is engaged in the house-moving business.

WILLIAM L. PROCH, of the fire of Drumgoole and Proch, died on October 7, 1876. He was a famous musician, and possessed the faculty of whistling like a flute. He was very popular, and on all occasion of social enjoyment used to contribute with his musical talents to the entertainment of the boys.

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

HTML by Debbie

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