Our Firemen, The History of the NY Fire Departments

Chapter 30, Part III

By Holice and Debbie

JAMES FAGIN was born in New York City in 1838, joined Forrest Engine Company No. 3 in 1861, and continued in service until 1865. He was appointed a member of the Fire Insurance Patrol on the Twenty-fifth of June, 1868. He is a present member of Patrol No. 2. Mr. Fagin is a member of the Volunteer Firemen's Association.

JAMES H. ENGLISH, of Pearl Hose Company 28, joined the Fire Department in 1863, and served thirteen years with the company, and was representative for three years. he was one of the workers and one of the original ten bunkers who took pride in making the carriage one of the quickest in the Department. He is now in business as a blank book manufacturer.

JOHN KAVANAGH was born on the twenty-second of June, 1832, in the old "Eighth Ward of New York" and at an early age joined 34 Engine. Mr. Kavanagh was apprenticed to the boiler maker's trade and soon acquired a thorough knowledge of that business. In 1857 Mr. Kavanagh was elected assistant foreman, and so satisfactorily did he perform the duties that tat the expiration of his term of office he was elected foremen, which honor he held from 1859 to 1862. Many instances of bravery and coolness at fires are told of Mr. Kavanagh. He was also representative of the company from 1863 to 1865. He was appointed in the present Department Janaury 29, 1867, and assigned to Hook and Ladder 8, and in 1869 was transferred to Engine Company 30. He was promoted to be assistant engineer in 1871, and in 1878 was promoted to be engineer. In the year 1854, while running to a fire down Broadway, he was tripped by one of the men and caught under the engine, and was dragged for nearly a block before he would get free, and then he was run over and had his leg broken. In 1865 at a fire on the corner of King and Washington Streets, he was buried under a wall and was pulled out after much difficulty. On November 14, 1868, he saved two lives at the risk of his own at the fire in the Stewart House. In the same year he saved the life of Thomas Farrell, a brother fireman. The fire was on the dock of the Neptune line if steamers at the foot of Murray Street. Farrell slipped into the river, and Kavanagh caught the end of a coil of rope lying on the deck of a boat, jumped in after him and seized him just as he was about to go down. They were both pulled out by the members of their company. In 1869, at a fire in Church Street, near Canal, Kavanagh saved the life of Thomas Smith at the risk of his own. In 1873, at a fire in Crosby Street, in the rear of Howard Street, a back wall of a house fell outward into an alley, burying Foreman Martin Walsh, of engine Company 30, and Foreman Wilhelm, of engine Company 29. Kavanagh lifted Foreman Walsh out and took him to a store in Howard Street, and from there to a hospital. At another time, at a fire at Jackson Square, he again saved the life of Foreman Walsh. They were both on the second floor of a burning building when the floor gave way, and Foreman Walsh had just time enough to straddle a window sill until the arrival of Kavanagh so that he would not fall into the flames. They were both burnt about the hands and face.

JOHN DAILEY was born in the eleventh Ward about fifty-three years ago. In his early youth he attended private schools, and prepared himself for an active business life. In his early manhood he served his apprenticeship with one of the extensive engineering and machine concerns on the east side. He became a master mechanic in practical engineering, etc. He was first identified with Atlantic Engine Company No. 18, being one of the active participants in organizing the company, of which he remained a member until its disbandment. In 1856 he joined Hose Company No. 34, was elected and served as foreman of that company until the growth of his business interests in Brooklyn necessitated his removal to that city. On 1859 he joined Mechanics' Hose Company No. 2, of Brooklyn, E. D., and served with it until 1864, when he resigned. Mr. Daily is an active member of the Exempt Firemen's association, and of the volunteer Firemen's Association of Brooklyn, E. D. He is also a valuable member of the Volunteer Firemen's Association of the City of New York, on all occasions taking an active part in every movement for the interest of his old-time companions. He was chief aid to marshal John Decker in the "Bartholdi" day parade of Volunteer Firemen, the success of which was, in a great measure, due to his exertions.

EDWARD P. DURHAM was born in 1826, is one of the "Old Vamps" whose progeny can point back with considerable pride to his record as a Volunteer fireman. He first joined Constitution Engine Company No. 7, of Brooklyn, E. D., in 1853, where he served his full time, after which he resigned and moved to New York. At a fire in Talman Street, Brooklyn, in the winter of 1855. He particularly distinguished himself by saving the life ofd an aged man from the attic of a blazing frame building. Having deposited his almost lifeless burden in the hands of his companions on the street, he rushed back into the building in search of another decrepit old man, who he knew had been in the building, and in doing so very nearly lost his own life, the upper part of the building falling in. He was rescued by his comrades, but was badly injured. The aged man he was in search of was rescued through the rear of the building by another fireman. Mr. Durham performed many other acts of mercy. On moving to New York City he joined United State Engine Company No. 23, and served with that company until the disbandment of the Volunteer Department in 1865. Mr. Durham is now an active member of the Volunteer Firemen's Association of New York, taking an interest in everything pointing toward the benefit of his old-time companions.

JAMES J. SLEVIN, ex-Alderman and Register of this city, was a member of No. 9 Hose company, and considered the handsomest-looking man in the whole service of the Fire department. On days of popular celebration--like the Fourth of July--the girls had eyes for him alone. The headquarters of the company were at that time in Mulberry Street. Mr. Slevin filled several offices, was representative, engineer, and foreman, and was connected with the company for a full term. The company had a stirring experience in its day, and had many prominent men connected with it, or at least who became prominent in after years.

EDWARD BONNOLL, born on October 20, 1826, performed his first fire service with Clinton Engine No. 4 in 1846. In 1857 he joined Tompkins Hose. He was at one tine foreman of Hose No. From 1862 to 1865 Mr. Bonnoll served as fire commissioner. He was also a member of the board of Trustees of the Veterans firemen's Association. Mr. Bonnoll died on December 17, 1885. Few firemen were more widely popular than he was. His funeral from the Club House of the Veteran Firemen, No. 53 East Tenth Street, was attended by hundred of his late comrades.

ANTHONY J. ALLAIRE is one of the celebrated family whose name was well known as the great iron workers and boiler builders. The "Allaire Works" built the boiler for the first steamship that ever crossed the Atlantic, the "Savannah," that sailed from Savannah, Georgia, for St. Petersburg (ands successfully made the trip) years before the "Sirius" entered New York harbor. The last piece of work from the Allaires' hands was the boilers for the Collins steamship "Baltic." The work of the firm was familiar on all classes of steam vessels from the St. Lawrence River to the Spanish Main. Anthony J. was the last of the name engaged in the iron business. He joined Engine Company No. 41 in 1853. His first experience as a fireman was at the destruction of the Harper Brothers' buildings. Mr. Allaire served three years as assistant foreman, and as foreman one term, when an accident incapacitated him from active duty, and he resigned his office, but remained a member until 1864. Mr. Allaire was appointed on the police force August 24, 1860, has filled every position in the Police Department from patrolman to captain, to which position he was promoted May 23, 1867, and is now in command at the Tenth Precinct, having performed twenty-six years of active duty on the force.

Mr. Allaire's war record is one to be proud of. He went out with the Second Police Regiment (One Hundred and Thirty-third Regiment N. Y. Volunteers) as captain, was promoted to major and lieutenant colonel, and was mustered out of the service as brevet colonel and brevet brigadier general. He was too modest to talk much of "moving accidents by floor and field," where he was personally engaged. But there is one event that he takes just pride in. Our fleet Alexandria, Red river, Louisiana, under Admiral Porter, was imprisoned. The water had fallen so low that the vessels could not move. Mr. Allaire was selected as one of the officers to build a dam. His mechanical education was here of service. The dam was constructed, and the general says it was one of the happiest moments of his life when gunboats, supply vessels, and transports passed safely through, making a marine procession of over one hundred and fifty vessels. Millions of dollars were saved to the government, and the officer and men were proud of their achievement.

JOHN MULLIN was a member of that once famous Hose Company No. 3, which was organized in 1832, and was called "Independence." It had a roll of thirty members, and its headquarters were in Hester Street. Geo. Spencer was foreman, and he went to the front, when the war broke out, in the New York Fire Zouave Regiment.

JOHN BUCKBEE WAS BORN ON December 29, 1831, and became a member of Americus engine No. 6 on February 16, 1854. He served as assistant foreman in 1860 and 1861, and in the following year was elected foremen, a post he filled with honor or two years. Mr. Buckbee is a member of the firm of Ash & Buckbee, plumbers, at the corner of Cedar and William Streets. He is an ex-president of the Eckford Social Club of Williamsburg, a prominent member of the City Club and member of the Association of Exempt, Veteran and Volunteer Firemen. Mr. Buckbee is also a prominent Mason and one of the most genial and popular "fire laddies" in the city.

ABRAHAM FRANKLIN was the first secretary of the Fire Department, being elected on January 17, 1792, on which occasion a constitution for the Department was drafted and duly adopted.

The first written report of the proceedings of the Fire Department was made on November 4, 1791, at a meeting held in the house of Jacob Brouwer, in Nassau Street. Mr. Franklin, then a foreman, was elected secretary. On January 25, 1792, he was elected the first secretary of the Fire Department Fund.

MARTIN J. KEESE was a volunteer runner of Fulton Engine Company No. 21, and upon attaining his majority in 1858 linked his fortunes with the Matthew T. Brennan Hose company No. 60. He was elected to the office of representative. In the meantime he went to the war in the eleventh New York, Ellsworth's fire Zouaves, and was severely wounded at the battle of Bull Run. On returning he was elected foreman of the company each year til the break up of the Volunteer Department in 1865. Mr. Keese is a member of Noah L. Farnham Post No. 458 of the G. A. R., and one of the organizers of the Exempt firemen's Association, and also one f the organizers of the Volunteer Firemen's Association, which numbers two thousand one hundred members. Mr. Keese was deputy sheriff with M. T. Brennan when the arrest was made at the Metropolitan Hotel of Wm. M. Tweed, and at the comptroller's office of Richard B. Connolly, and was in jail with the latter in Ludlow Street jail for about a month until he was admitted to bail by Judge Barnard, of the Supreme Court. Mr. Keese is now custodian of the City Hall, an office which he is well qualified to fill.

JORDAN L. MOTT was an active promoter of the Benevolent Fund and a member of the Ball committee. Mr. Mott, who was a merchant at Beekman and Cliff Streets, was a member of Hose Company No. 52.

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

HTML by Debbie

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