Our Firemen, The History of the NY Fire Departments

Chapter 32, Part IV

By Holice and Debbie

LAWRENCE TURNURE, foreman of Hose Company No. 36, representative of the company, treasurer of the Firemen's Monument Committee (Greenwood Cemetery) and late president of the City Bank, was quite an active fireman in his day. He was a member of the firm of Moses Taylor & Co.

D. LYDIG SUYDAM had a narrow escape from perishing beneath falling walls at a fire in Eldridge Street near Grand (1840). A stream of water was being played from the street upon the burning building, and he was holding the pipe, when the wall fell in, burying several firemen beneath the ruins. Had the wall fallen outward, Mr. Suydam would have been mixed up with the debris, no doubt. He lived at No. 40 East Thirty-first Street, and was a member of Hose Company No. 5.

DANIEL MOONEY was born in the City of New York in 1819, and has lived in the vicinity of Spring and Varick Streets (Eighth Ward) for over sixty years. After serving on the Volunteer roll for four years, he joined Hope Engine Company No. 31, located in West Broadway, in 1841. Mr. Mooney served seventeen years as a certificate member, during which time he was assistant foreman for two years, foreman for two years, and representative for three years. When Hope Hose Company of Philadelphia, one of the handsomest carriages in that city, visited their namesake, no. 31, foreman Mooney showed them every attention. Their carriage was placed on exhibition at the Crystal palace, and Mr. Mooney assumed guardianship of their "pet" until it was returned to its birthplace. In return for the courtesy displayed by Mr. Mooney, Hope Hose presented him with a beautiful model of their apparatus and a set of engrossed resolutions, handsomely framed.

WILLIAM A. WOODHULL, IN 1847, when twenty-one years old, joined First Ward Hose Company No. 8. He did duty for three and a half years; then transferred his allegiance to Oceana Hose, 36, stationed in Madison Street near Rutgers. At the end of three years' service as foreman Mr. Woodhull resigned in 1855 to become secretary of the department. The company presented him with a small but rich and massive rosewood bookcase. On the top is a gracefully carved hose marriage. A brass plate informs the reader that the bookcase was "Presented to William A. Woodhull by the members and honorary members of Oceana Hose Company No. 36, D. Reynolds Budd, William D. Wade, Henry B. Clapp, W. R. W. Chambers, Alonzo Slote, committee." He did duty with his company at the Park Theater fire, the American Museum blaze, and the Harper Bros. conflagration. Mr. Woodhull was also present in Hague Street a few minutes after the awful explosion. His resignation as foremen of Hose 36 was followed by his appointment as secretary of the department. This office he quitted for that of vice-president. After a year's service as president he left the Department, retaining, however, his membership in the ball committee, which he holds to this day.

THOMAS COMAN was born in 1835, and in September, 1856, joined Eagle Engine Company No. 13. Almost immediately after becoming a member he was elected secretary and representative, and after serving two years in those positions, was elected foreman of No. 13 in 1859. He was re-elected in 1860-'61-'62-'63-'64, and was in command when the curtain fell on the last act of the Volunteer Department in 1865. During the draft riots in 1863 the members of No. 13, under the direction and command of Mr. Coman, performed police, military and fire duty, taking under their charge all the large storehouses in the vicinity of the engine house. This duty was performed day and night, until the riots were quelled and the city was in a peaceable condition.

In 1865 the people of the Second Aldermanic District, comprising the Fourth and sixth Ward, elected Mr.Coman Alderman, and re-elected him in the years 1867-'69. He was elected alderman-at-large in 1870-'71 and '72, and president of the board in 1867-'68-'69-'70, and twice in 1871. During these years he was three times legislated out of office, and on each occasion his constituency at once returned him to his position. On only one occasion was there any opposition to his election; at all other times he was indorsed by all parties. He was supervisor in 1871 and '72. When John T. Hoffman was elected governor Mr. Coman became acting mayor. In every position held by Mr. Coman he has displayed untiring energy and application. Mr. Coman is now connected with the Equitable Life Insurance Society of this city.

ENOCH C. PENTZ.--Enoch C. Pentz was born in 1822, and for several years was a Volunteer with Knickerbocker Engine No. 12. He was an early member of Southwark Engine Company No. 38, and served over seven years with the company. He was elected assistant foreman in 1843. His record in the company was a fine one. Mr. Pentz belongs to one of the oldest families in New York. The cooperage establishment, No. 2 Gouverneur Lane, where he now carries on business, has been occupied by members of his family for over one hundred years.

THOMAS DUNLAP commenced his fire duty as a volunteer with "Black Joke" Engine Company No. 33, located in Gouverneur Street (the same house was subsequently occupied by "Big Six"), and after serving his apprenticeship was elected a member of the company in 1838. Four Dunlap brothers were members, viz.: Thomas, James, Samuel and William. Samuel as assistant foreman of the company at one period. In 1844, when C. V. Anderson was chief engineer, there was to be a great "Polk and Dallas" celebration and parade, and several fire companies had signified their intention to join in the Democratic jubilee. The chief engineer warned them against such a proceeding, and informed them that any company disregarding his command would be disbanded. Engine Companies Nos. 15 and 33 vowed they would turn out, and they did, and the chief kept his work, and both companies were disbanded. This closed Mr. Dunlap's career as an active fireman. During his service he had many narrow escapes, and on one occasion was run over by the engine and picked up for dead.

One of the most celebrated public houses in the United States was the "Pewter Mug," located in Frankfort Street, next door to old Tammany Hall (now the Sun Building). Thomas Dunlap was the proprietor, and during his popular management he received as friends and visitors the most distinguished men of the period. The highest officials of the country were in the habit of making the "Pewter Mug" the Mecca of their political pilgrimage. In the rooms of this out-of-the-way tavern names were made or unmade, the laurel crown was placed upon or snatched from the brows of aspiring statesmen, and now a nomination for governor, congressman, state legislature, or city or county office could be made unless the sanction of the "Pewter Mug" was first obtained. But Mr. Dunlap retired from the business, and the glory departed from this spot forever. When William F. Havemeyer was mayor, he appointed Mr. Dunlap to the responsible position of mayor's marshal. Sheriff Davidson secured Mr. Dunlap as a deputy, and several succeeding sheriffs retained him, appreciating his valuable services. Mr. Dunlap was one of the Commissioners of Emigration, as member of the Common Council in 1854-'55, deputy naval officer under the administration of Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan, deputy collector of city revenue under Comptrollers Flagg and Hawes, collector of city revenues many years when nearly all moneys belonging to the city passed safely through his hands, and commissioner of jurors for several years, in which position he secured the hearty commendation of all the judges in the city. He was a delegate to almost every National, State or County convention that has occurred for the past fifty years, and for forty-six years was on either the young or old men's Tammany Hall committee, a longer continuous term than any living man. Mr. Dunlap was the intimate friend and confidant of Governor Horatio Seymour. When the presidential contest was waging between Lincoln and McClellan, and it became necessary to secure an honest, trustworthy commissioner to distribute and collect the New York soldiers' vote, Thomas Dunlap was selected. He faithfully discharged the duty, and was the only one who brought the vote to New York City. He takes his title of colonel from his position on Governor Seymour's staff, and also his commission from Brigadier-General Spinola.

DANIEL DONOVAN was born in the Fourth Ward of the City of New York in the year 1830, and began life as a printer in the office of the Journal of Commerce. He joined Eagle engine No. 13, of which the well-known fireman, John Baulch, was foreman, but his first service in the company only covered a period of four months, when, on account of some internal discord, he resigned, and immediately joined Fulton Engine Company No. 21, serving until the early part of 1852, when he rejoined No. 13. He was elected assistant foreman in 1852, and foremen in 1853-'54-'55. In 1857, when Harry Howard was elected chief engineer causing a vacancy in the Board of Engineers, it was filled by the election of Mr. Donovan. His attention to rules so pleased the department that at two consecutive elections he was re-elected, leading all other candidates. In 1860 Chief Decker appointed Mr. Donovan foreman of the Corporation Yard--an office which he held until the time of his death, which occurred in August, 1862.

WILLIAM H. LANDERS was born in New York City in 1825, and joined Star Hose Company No. 34, then located at Tenth Street and Avenue D, on August 27, 1849, and served seven months, when he resigned and joined Live Oak Engine Company No. 44. He remained with No. 44 until September 29, 1865, and during his service was foreman for one year and representative for three years. On the date last mentioned the Volunteer Department went out of existence, and the same day Mr. Landers became a member of the Metropolitan Fire Department. He was made assistant captain November 15, 1865, and captain of Engine Company 39 December 24, 1870. He is at present captain of Engine Company No. 42, located in Fulton Avenue, between One Hundred and Sixty-seventh and One Hundred and Sixty-eighth Streets (Morrisania). Mr. Landers's fire service covers a period of nearly forty years without a break, and to-day he is hale and heart, and apparently able to survive forty years more of the hard work he has endured.

Two items of gallantry to Mr. Landers' credit must be mentioned, both occurring in 1858. The first was at a fire in Sixth Street, between Avenues B and C, in a building adjoining what was known as Jones's Brewery. A mother and two children had been left on the third story, and their position was perilous in the extreme, when Mr. Landers placed a ladder in position and succeeded in rescuing the family. The other event took place in Eighth Street, Between Avenues B and C, when two children had been cut off from escape in a rear room on the third story of the burning building. Foreman Landers mounted a ladder at the front of the house, crawled through the window, and, though nearly suffocated, reached the panic-stricken group and bore them to the window, where willing hands were waiting to receive them.

LEWIS P. TIBBALS was born in Milford, Connecticut, in 1832. His ancestors were among the original settlers of the place, their names being on the State records in 1640. One of them married a beautiful Indian maiden, consequently Mr. Tibbals claims to be a genuine native American. The "Charter Oak" is no better known in Milford than the old family name of Tibbals.

Lewis P. Tibbals came to this city at a tender age, and joined Southwark Engine Company No. 38 in 1853. He was an ardent worker in the company. One night in 1854 the "Pearl Street House," in Pearl Street, between old Slip and Coenties Slip, was discovered to be on fire. Mr. Tibbals had the pipe of Southwark on the roof of the tall six-story building, when the engineer, deeming the position unsafe, ordered the pipe down. The smoke was dense, and as Mr. Tibbals was striving to obey the order he became bewildered, stumbled and fell from the dizzy height. He was missed in a short time, search being made, was found between the hotel and adjoining building. He was conveyed insensible to the New York Hospital, but in six days was discharged, lame of course, suffering only from the effects of shock and a sprained ankle. Few firemen have had a more wonderful escape.

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

HTML by Debbie

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