Our Firemen, The History of the NY Fire Departments

Chapter 31, Part IV

By Holice and Debbie

WILLIAM H. VAN SICKEL, JR., was born in this city October 11, 1837. He joined 26 engine January 7, 1859, and was mustered out with the Old Department.

WILLIAM W. WARNER was born in the city of New York about 1830. In 1847 he was a runner with 5 engine of Newark. In 1848 he moved to New York, where he served his apprenticeship as a printer. When he was twenty-one years of age he joined Marion Hose No. 4, afterwards No. 2 Engine. He is a veteran of the late war, having served as first sergeant in Company B, One Hundred and Twenty-seventh Regiment New York State Volunteers. He has been over twenty years with the Bradstreet Mercantile Agency, where he is in charge of the press room.

THOMAS E. HOWE is an old tenth and Seventh Warder. Was formerly a carman and joined tradesman's engine 37 on October 10, 1842, then located in Delancey street near Allen. That was disbanded on march 1, 1843, and he then joined Tradesman's engine 12, organized in 1844, principally by the former members of engine 37. The engine lay at No. 74 Delancey Street. The company disbanded in April, 1847. Mr. Howe next joined Mayflower Hose 29, March 29, 1853, serving only a few months; he left to join Croton Hose No. 6, September 6, 1853, and served there two years. He is now in the insurance business as an out-door man. He is the eldest son of Thomas d. Howe, who belonged to old 37 engine, and who was an assistant engineer from 1828 to 1837. His father was born august 8, 1796, and died September 12, 1865.

GEORGE H. DUNN was born in queens County, L. I., in 1840. His family moved to New York City in 1941, and settled in the Eighth Ward. They subsequently moved to the Ninth Ward. Mr. Dunn joined United States Hose Company No. 25 in 1860, and was never known to have missed a fire. He served until the Old Department ws disbanded in 1865.

JOHN H. HUGHES was born on March 6, 1828. He was a painter by trade. He joined Americus Engine Company no. 6 December 17, 1851, and was a member of the company for eight years. He was always out to fires. When the roll was called at the company's meeting to fine members for not being out, the secretary, when he came to his own name, had the pleasure of saying, "John H. Hughes, four shillings dues," which was a great byword, and is yet so. John was a great friend of the late John Kelly. He is executor for many an estate, and a widower. He belongs to the Exempt Veterans Association, and is treasurer of the Americus (6) Engine association.

SAMUEL WADDELL was a good fireman and a very efficient foreman. He was also an assistant engineer. He also possessed strategic talent, and when he was foreman of United States Engine Company No. 23 before he was foreman of Protector engine Company No. 22, he used to practice it on 6's boys. Neptune engine Company No. 6, and Untied States Engine Company No. 23, and not forgetting Hudson engine company No. 1 used to have some very lively times. When 6 was gaining on 22 while going to a fire, Sam used to make his men take it easy to give them a chance to get their wind. He would keenly be in fine spirits, with a sure thing of passing 23, when he would raise his trumpet and shout, "Let her go, boys!" and she went, much to 6's discomfort. Neptune's trident might be just the thing at sea, but it was not a dairy on land on such occasions, as it would not always carry his namesakes to the front--though they often got there.

THOMAS LEAVY was born in New York City in 1824. At an early age his name was a prominent one on the volunteer roll of Howard Engine Company No. 34. He remained with the "boys" from 1840 until 1844. There is a legend, still extent, in Greenwich Village, that he the original party who bore the title of the "fair one with golden locks." On 1844 he was old enough to become a full fledged member of No. 34, under the foremanship of David C. Broderick, whose life and death became the subject of universal comment throughout the United States. He served seven years with No. 34. Some parties, envious of his golden locks, stated that No. 34 never carried a signal when Leavy had the head of the rope. Mr. Leavy resigned from No. 34 in 1851, joined Niagara Engine Company No. 4 immediately after, and was elected assistant foreman in 1852 and foreman in 1853. It is worthy of note that Mr. Leavy was re-elected foreman for over ten years, a very long period for one man to retain the command and respect of such a large and ever-varying number of men as No. 4 had upon their roll. He served until the Department ceased to exist. Mr. Leavy very materially assisted in saving the lives of a woman and two children at a fire at Eldridge and Broome Streets; and at a fire on Broadway near Broome Street he carried out the janitor of the building in an unconscious state. A few moments' delay and the man would have perished in the flames. In the palmy days of base-ball he was a leading member of the Empire Club, and a good player. Mr. Leavy is a member of the Volunteer and Veteran's Firemen's Association.

WILLIAM HITCHMAN.--Every old fireman in Yorkville and Harlem knows William or "Billy" Hitchman, as he is familiarly called, and even those who were in the old days his political opponents consider him personally a friend. Mr. Hitchman is the son of a livery stable keeper, and was born in Pearl Street, November 18, 1830. Young Hitchman was apprenticed to carriage painter James Flynn, in Eighty-sixth Street near Third Avenue. He joined 45 Engine Company as a runner, and got his certificate when he was twenty-one years old. His comrades elected him secretary, and in this capacity he served until his term expired. Carriage painting injured his health, and he abandoned the trade to become a policeman under the old municipal system. He rose to the ranks of sergeant and lieutenant, and held the latter grade in the Nineteenth Ward when he fight between the Municipal and Metropolitan Departments began. Resigning from the force, Mr. Hitchman entered United States Weigher Dennis McCarthy's office as clerk, and remained there about a year. His next position, assumed in 1859, was that of engrossing clerk to the Common Council. Subsequently he was school trustee, commissioner of education, and secretary of the Tammany Hall General Committee. In 1864 he was made trustee of the Fire Department, and three years later he became a member of the Constitutional Convention. The next year found him Speaker of the Assembly. At present he is an invalid, and lives in Harlem.

JAMES L. MILLER was born in this city November 25, 1813, became a member of Jackson Engine Company No. 24 in 1831, served about eighteen months; was one of the organizers of Hose Company No. 40, and first foreman in 1843, elected an engineer in 1844, served till 1850, was superintendent of buildings, was an extensive builder and associated with John S. Giles, treasurer of the Fire Department, under the firm name of "James L. Miller & Co., builders." He built Firemen's Hall, in Mercer Street, in 1854. Mr. Miller was one of the organizers of and foreman of the Exempt Engine Company; also one of the organizers of Adriatic Engine Company No. 31, of which his brother, John B. Miller, was foreman. He was an active member of the committee appointed by the Board of representatives of the Fire Department to take charge of the division allotted to them by the Sanitary Commission in aid of the sick and wounded soldiers, which yielded the handsome sum of over thirty thousand dollars. The beautiful decorations and general arrangements were due almost entirely to his skill and good taste. He died November 26, aged sixty-three years and one day.

ARTHUR B. HAUPTMAN, son of Jacob Hauptman, Jr., and grandson of the Jacob Huffman whose name is recorded in the accompanying certificate, was for many years a resident of New York City, and was one of the original settlers of the village of Morrisania, now the Twenty-third Ward. He was elected to various positions in the village and town, and died September 29, 1885, in the seventy-eighth years of his age. Rev. T. R. Harris, of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, read the burial service at the residence, and paid an eloquent tribute to the memory of the deceased. He spoke of his genial nature, generous disposition, and of his marked traits of character, as an earnest friend of education, and particularly of his love for the little ones. Morrisania Lodge, No. 171, I. O. of O. F., celebrated the rites of the Order of Odd Fellows at the grave at Woodlawn. Jacob Hauptman, Jr.'s fire certificate dates back to the year 1801.

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

HTML by Debbie

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