Our Firemen, The History of the NY Fire Departments

Chapter 32, Part V

By Holice and Debbie

DANIEL D. CONOVER was an active and influential member of the Volunteer Fire department, and took a prominent part in all matters pertaining to its welfare. In 1853 he was a foreman of Amity Hose No. 38, a company noted not only for its elegant carriage, but for the character and standing of its members in the community. He was also identified with municipal affairs. He is still vigorous, and he does not neglect the recreation afforded by the Olympic club at the new quarters down on Long Island, and in the season participates in the sports with such old fire laddies as John R. Platt, ex-foreman of Oceana Hose Company No. 36, ex-assistant engineer John H. Forman and Richard P. Moore- ex-foreman of Empire Engine Company No. 42, who, bye-the-bye, has recently made the grand tour of Europe and can lighten the Olympics with foreign "yarns," and tell how Stanley got on with the last words of Marmion. Mr. Conover is a member of the Veteran Firemen's Association, and threaded the terpsichorean muses at their grand ball at the metropolitan Opera House in 1886, with all the sprightliness of other days. When Mr. Conover was in the Common Council he appreciated the necessity and advantage of a steam engine and introduced a resolution for the purchase of one.

WILLIAM P. ALLEN was born in new York City in January, 1843, in Chrystie Street, within a few doors of old Peterson Engine Company No. 15, which was more familiarly known as "Old Maid." He lived in that neighborhood during the greater part of his life, and from boyhood ran as a Volunteer, or runner with that old company and its successor. Adriatic No. 31, which laid in the same location, and was afterwards known as "Peterson," until 1863, when, on arriving at his twenty-first birthday, he joined Manhattan Engine Company No. 8, located in Ludlow Street between Broome and Delancey Streets. He immediately became a "bunker," and was known as a tongue rusher, as that post of honor gave the ones that obtained it the privilege of taking the pipe at the fire. While proceeding to the large fire in Pell Street, August 12, 1864, and as usual at the tongue of the engine, and going down the Bowery in the railroad track, a large wagon was stopped directly in front of the engine. The engine smashed into the wagon, crushing Mr. Allen, and, as he fell, the engine passed over his body. The result was a broken thigh, ribs, hips, and a badly bruised condition generally. He was picked up by his comrades, taken in a coach to the engine house, and carried on his bunk room bed (which he still possesses) to his residence, where he laid for four months. He remained inactive service until the organization of the metropolitan Fire Department in 1865, when, on the thirteenth of October of that year, he was appointed driver of Engine 12. While driving to a fire one rainy night in 1867, the engine went into a large hole in Pearl Street, and threw him from the seat, but he managed to regain it, and continued driving to the fire with a badly injured back. He was unable thereafter to stand the jolting of the engine, and was transferred to Hook and Ladder Company No. 6, Abram C. Hull (now superintendent of the Fire Patrol) was foremen of Hook and Ladder Company No. 6 at that time, and was detailed to act as a district engineer (same as the present chief's of battalion), during which time Allen was placed in command of the company. Eventually he was detailed to headquarters, and in 1870 appointed clerk to the chief, which position, as the business of the Department developed, was made chief clerk of the bureau, an office which he still holds. While in active service he instituted the quick hitching, and drew the plans for hitching drill for engine and hood and ladder companies which were afterward made permanent rules of the Department. He served continuously under every Board of Commissioners for twenty-one years. Has had charge of all the collections made by the force for charitable or other purposes, and has collected over fifty thousand dollars, among which was five thousand dollars for the blind fireman, Eddie McGaffney, and ten thousand dollars for the widows of Firemen Reilly and Irving, who were killed in the discharge of their duty.

DENNIS HAYS, the inventory of the famous truck which bears his name, joined engine No. 2 in 1852, and served with her until 1862, when he joined Engine 42 as engineer. On the organization of the Paid Department he was appointed engineer of Engine No. 1, but only served a few days. In the following year he went to San Francisco, where he was for many years in charge of the repair shop of the Fire Department. While thus engaged he perfected the details of his truck, which is now considered the best contrivance of the kind in use.

ANDREW M. UNDERHILL was born in New York City fifty-one years ago. He is descended of an old and honorable Warwickshire (England) family, who were among the first settlers of the New England States. He was educated at private schools in East Broadway, in Market and in Crosby Streets. He joined the volunteer Fire Department of Brooklyn, and served his time with Mechanics'' Hose company No. 2, of which company he was foreman for over two years. When the war broke out he was commissioned first lieutenant of Company G of the Eleventh Regiment, N. Y. V. (the Ellsworth Fire Zouaves). At the first Bull Run he distinguished himself by his heroism. At one tine, on that day--when Rickett's Battery was left on the field--every man being killed or wounded, he said to Sergeant Ferris of G Company: "It's a pity to leave those splendid guns for the 'Rebs'; can't we get them off?" With three or four brave Zouaves to help, the guns were dragged off the field under a galling fire from the advancing columns of Rebs, which killed three, wounding Sergeant Ferris and a private. The rifle of Sergeant Ferris was shattered with balls, pieces of their clothing being shot away, yet strange to say, the tall, erect and muscular lieutenant escaped injury. Later in the day, however, he was captured, taken prisoner, and held for over twelve months; during which time he had a variety of Confederate prison experiences, being confined, from time to time, in no less than eight prison pens. He was finally pardoned, and returned home, a skeleton of his former self. He made several offers of his services to the government subsequently, but each time received the reply that he was still a prisoner of war. He entered the employ of Williams & Guion has freight agent in 1863, and was promoted step by step until now (1887) he has succeeded the old firm, and is the senior of the firm (with his son as partner) of A. M. Underhill & Co., general agents of "The Guion Line, Liverpool Steamers." He holds a captain's commission in the Post G. A. R., and no old-time fire-laddie or war veteran was, or is, more popular than Andrew M. Underhill.

WILLIAM F. HAYES, now Captain of Engine 16, joined Protector Engine No. 22, on coming of age in the spring of 1859, and remained with that company until the organization of the Paid Department, when he was one of the first men to join the first company organized, Engine No. 1. While assistant foeman of Hook and ladder No. 1, he assisted in rescuing several persons from a burning building in Bayard Street. In the same year he made several rescues during a fire at the corner of Montgomery and Cherry Streets. His name appears twice on the roll of merit.

MATTHEW McCULLOUGH, when a mere child, began to run with the machine. He was born at Tarrytown in April, 1843, and came to New York at an early age. Thought but eighteen years old, he went to the front with the Second Fire Zouaves, and took part in all the battles where his regiment was engaged up to Petersburg, after which he was discharged. No bullet ever touched him, although he was twenty times under fire. Only one other man in the regiment had similar good fortune. After he came home, Mr. McCullough joined Croton Engine Company No. 47, where he served until the Volunteer organization was disbanded. He is president of the Veteran Firemen's Association of the Second fire Zouaves, and trustee of the Volunteer Firemen's Association. The Veterans Zouaves Association of old soldiers, who have a handsome room in First Street, decorated with trophies brought from many a hard-fought field. Twice a month the members meet, talk over old times, and drink a silent toast to those comrades who lie in Southern soil awaiting the last bugle call.

JOSEPH W. SANDFORD is a member of the Veteran Firemen's Association, and his good-looking countenance can be seen on the big picture of the "Vets" with their machine. He stands a little nearer the head of the rope than judge Gorman. Mr. Sandford joined Richard M. Johnson Hose Company No. 32 as a youngster, and when the company merged in Jefferson Engine No. 26 he joined Friendship Hook and Ladder No. 12 when Frederick A. Ridabock was foreman, and afterwards became a member of Pacific Engine Company No. 28 under foeman John Pettigrew. Later on he was assistant foreman of Brooklyn Engine Company No. 17 of Brooklyn, known as the "Grasshoppers," a sterling company whose members occupied a high position as citizens and firemen. Before the war Mr. Sandford was a well-known carpenter and builder, and during the war was engaged as assistant master builder on Government work on Acquia Creek in Virginia. Afterwards he became connected with the fire insurance interest, and was for a while a captain of the patrol, and afterwards surveyor. His son, Jefferson M. Sandford, is captain of patrol No. 4.

PETER P. PULLIS was born in this city in the year 1840. His father and uncle had been firemen away back in the year 1825, both of them serving their time with Howard Engine Company No. 34. Peter P. listened to their talk of midnight battles with the fire fiend, and determined to follow their example. When he was thirteen years old he commenced to go to fire, and kept up his volunteer duty until July 15, 1862, when he joined Empire Hose Company No. 40, and served wit that company until the New superseded the Old Department. During the years of his service he missed but two fires.

When it was decided to have a grand celebration on the centennial anniversary of Evacuation Day, Mr. Pullis determined to organize a procession on his own account. He secured the old hose carriage, induced nineteen of the members to join him, and on November 25, 1883, eighteen years after the company had gone out of service, empire Hose company No. 40 reappeared, as jaunty and saucy as ever, and was a marked and notable feature in the grand pageant. In December 1883, Mr. Pullis was one of ten gentlemen who met and decided to forma Volunteer Firemen's Association. The result was the great success that may be appreciated when it is known that over two thousand firemen are enrolled as members of the association. Mr. Pullis was one of the original trustees.

Early in 1884 the Veterans Firemen's Association was formed; Mr. Pullis was also one of the originators of this successful undertaking. He is one of the trustees of the association, and one of the incorporators of the "Firemen's Home Association."

JOHN CARLAND was born in the City of New York in 1814, and commenced fire duty at such an early period of his life that he does not remember the date. On august 25, 1835, he joined Lady Washington Engine Company No. 40, better known by the name, "White Ghost." After a short service as private he was elected assistant foreman. The company so appreciated his service that at the next election he was made foreman. Year after year rolled on, and at each successive annual meeting John Carland was re-elected. It is sufficient to state that from his first fire duty until he resigned, forty years had elapsed. His love for No. 40 never changed; it was No. 40 first, last and all the time. When he retired from active duty, a new service was imposed upon him; he was twice elected "Commissioner of Appeals," served faithfully five years in that unthankful position, receiving the respect and esteem of the Department, and the lasting friendship of his fellow commissioners.

When Mr. Carland was foreman of No. 40, the old "gooseneck' fraternity were not noted for their peaceable habits; in fact hardly a fire occurred without a skirmish or a battle. No. 40 was not backward to take a hand when necessity (or inclination) offered; but John Carland was always a pacemaker, and the most violent of his opponents at all times respected him and his person. Peterson engine Company no. 15 was at sword's points with No. 40, yet, Carland's home was next door to the house of No. 15, and after many a hand-to-hand conflict Mr. Carland would return home and sit on his front steps with the volunteers and members of No. 15 around him, and discuss the merits of their engagements. It would not have been safe for any other member or No. 40 to have ventured within gunshot of Chrystie and Bayard Streets.

Mr. Carland was also a well-known military man. He was a member of the celebrated "Independent Tompkins Blues," a high-toned organization, second to none in point of drill and discipline. He was also captain of the celebrated Gulick Guards, named after James Gulick, chief engineer, a company almost entirely composed of firemen. It was equal in appearance and drill to any of the city militia companies. When the difficulties occurred with the Canadas, about the year 1837, the cry was "On to Canada!" and war seemed imminent; the militia were held in readiness; the Gulick Guards, fifty strong, armed and equipped, assembled in the City hall Park ready to move toward the border. Happily the strife was averted by diplomacy, and the Gulick Guards returned to their homes.

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

HTML by Debbie

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