Our Firemen, The History of the NY Fire Departments
Chapter 33, Part II
By Holice and Debbie
No. 3. -- New York,--This company was organized some time previous to 1783. In 1796 we find it located in Nassau Street, opposite the City hall, and in 1813 in Beaver Street near Broad Street. The records of the Common Council show that it was disbanded in 1829.
"Old Brass Back" was the title of an engine, the first ever built in this country, by one Thomas Lote, in 1743, after the pattern of Nos. 1 and 2. Lote was a cooper and boat-builder, at the foot of Fair Street. Cornelius Bickers was the Overseer, afterwards a lieutenant, in the continentals during the war. She lay near what is called "Kalch-Hook Pond," a body of fresh water abounding with fish, running along about what is now Warren and Chambers Streets. In 1776 Isaac Bokea was the Overseer or foreman, and in 1780 they moved her to Dugan Street. In 1784 the company was reorganized and called Dugan Engine Company No. 3, after Thomas Dugan, owner of the property in that vicinity. It remained here but a short time. Subsequently it was temporarily located in 1795 on what is now Centre Street, near where stands the Tombs. Wm. J. Ellsworth, Abraham Doenaire, Alexander Lamb and Peter Chapple were then members. In 1801 they received a new suction engine, and until 183 had a light roll of members.
METAMORA.--This company was organized on March 22, 1830, by Frederick R. lee, who was the first foreman and who was afterwards alderman of the City and chairman of the fire and water committee, Wilson Wright, Thos. H. Hawks, Arnest Funk, Jr., John Raymer, (from Engine Company No. 40), Andrew Storms, Wm. Anderson, James Ford, Edward Norris, Edward Vaughn, Wm. Allen, Wm. Jarvis, and several others. At that time they were located in Mott Street near Prince; they afterwards moved to Marion Street in the house occupied after their disbanding by Engine Company No. 9. Charles H. Haswell, the eminent engineer, and who was a member of the Common Council of this city, belonged to this company when she lay in Marion Street. The company was disbanded for fighting with 40 Engine on December 6, 1843.
HOPE. -- This company was organized on July 16, 1847, and was located at 128 West Broadway. In 1853 it was changed to Engine Company No. 31.
METAMORA. -- NATIONAL. -- BRODERICK. -- Organized October 25, 1852, and located at 390 Bleecker Street, subsequently removed to 557 Hudson Street. Disbanded on September 22, 1845.
FORREST. -- On the Fifth of March, 1860, No. 3 was reorganized from Lafayette Hose Company 34. The members proposed to form a new Hose Company, and were receiving more applications for membership than they were entitled to elect, and an engine being much needed in that locality, it was resolved to make application for a change, which they did, resulting in Forrest Engine Company No. 3. They located at 211 East Eleventh Street, between Avenues B and C, at present the location of Engine Company 28 of the Paid Department. Their first foreman was John Irwin, and they ran the little old gooseneck engine belonging to Oceanus Engine Company 11 until they received a new piano engine, which they used until the Department went out of service in 1865. James Mason, Jeremiah Hefffernan and Wm. Donnelly were foremen in the order named, the last a captain in the Paid Department for a time. Engine Companies 9, 44, and 51, and 18 Hook and Ladder were rivals of this company during their term of service, and many a rush they had with each other. Engine Company 3 inaugurated a series of yearly picnics, engaging a steamboat and a number of barges and taking their families with them. On the outbreak of the rebellion several of their members joined the First and Second Fire Zouaves. Those who went with Ellsworth's regiment were in company I, Captain John Wildey's. John Gleeson was shot in the face at Bull Run and died in New York. James Hurley was killed at Bull Run. Robert Vreeland and Augustus Calhoun were also out with the First Regiment. In the Second Fire Zouaves Wm. Gleeson, Wm. Perkins, George Ramsey and others enlisted. During the draft riots in 1863 they formed themselves into a military company and did patrol and picket duty around the property in the neighborhood of Dry Dock, and so thoroughly was this done that that portion of the city was comparatively free from the outrages of the mob. It was while serving as a member of this company that Wm. Gleeson formerly lieutenant in the Second fire Zouaves, devised an ingenuous contrivance for keeping water in the engine boilers warm. It was an oblong form of gas pipe fitted up with twenty-four gas jets and shut up like a rat trap, but when opened would fit under the boiler of an engine, and could be attached to the gas pipe with rubber tubing. It was placed under the boiler of Washington Engine Company 20, which then laid in Cedar Street, and was the first attempt made in New York city to keep the water in engine boilers a certain temperature while awaiting an alarm of fire.
NO. 4 AMERICAN. -- The first engine of this company was built in 1749. It was located on a lot at the corner of Broadway and a lane leading to a windmill belonging to Peter Jansen, about midway between Little Queen Street, now Cedar, and Fair, now Fulton. It was proposed to purchase the lot, but the price asked, being five hundred and eighty dollars, was considered too great. The Vreedenburghs and DE Kalbs were Overseers in its early days, and during the Revolution the engine was destroyed. When the Fire Department was re-established in 1784 No. 4 was re-organized, and in 1796 she is recorded as being located on John Street, opposite the playhouse, Thomas Bruen being the foreman. Among its early members we find the names of John A. Hardenbrook, broker, and John Colwill, grocer, the latter being foreman. In 1811 Colwill was appointed an assistant engineer, and Willett A. Robbins was chosen foreman, and John A. Hardenbrook assistant. The latter the very night he was elected was fined twelve shillings for going first to the fire on an alarm, in place of repairing immediately to the engine house.
In 1812 Henry Cowenhover, merchant tailor; Daniel Hawdhurst, iron monger, and John Sutphen, a whip maker, joined. On the roll were also Thomas Stowell, Anthony Chapples, Michael Schoonmaker, William Revee, and Henry W. Peckwell. At this time the initiation fee was said to be ten dollars. Hawkhurst Smith followed as foreman, and then came on Weyman. During 1809 the company did most praiseworthy duty at the burning of the ship "Nancy," which was flatteringly commented on in the papers. The company was accustomed to give an annual dinner, at which assistant engineers Van Antwerp, Tyler and Bruen were the company's guests. The last bill paid for a supper was nine pounds. In 1814 Jasper Corning, M. Mandeville, J. V. Varick, and John Van Benschoten appeared on the roll, and 1818 to 1820 the new members were Joseph Bedell, Abraham Warner, Cornelius Romain, John . H. Griffin and William Winterton.
NIAGARA (RACE HORSE). -- the company was the result of a meeting called at Constitution Hall, December 9, 1848, to organize an engine company. Among those present were Messrs. John A. Baker, C. P. Dickie, Henry Wilson, H. W. Smith, J. G. Storm, M. E. Greene, A. Owens, Chas. Holder, Wm. Mount, J. A. Hammond, F. A. Long and C. W. Cornell, most of them having been members of Union Engine Company No. 18, which had been disbanded in November, 1846. John A. Baker was elected chairman, and C. P. Dickie secretary. At this meeting it was resolved that a committee be appointed to select a suitable name for the company, and also resolved that their number should be eighteen. The next meeting was held December 18, and twenty-four members answered to the roll call. At this meeting they elected the following officers:
Henry Wilson, foreman; John A. Baker, assistant; H. W. Smith, secretary, and Nelson D. Thayer, treasurer, and again by a vote of thirteen to ten adopted the number of 18 for the company.
On January 5, 1849, another meeting was held at which by-laws were adopted, and committees on house and location were appointed. On January 11, 1849, a special meeting was held, and on Monday evening March 5, 1849, the first regular meeting of Niagara Engine Company No 4 was held, when several new members were elected. At this meeting the following preamble and resolution were adopted.
Whereas, the fire and water committee, through the chief engineer, hasdecided that this company shall be No. 4, therefore, Resolved, that we accept and will do duty under said number.
John A. Baker, the newly-elected assistant foreman, having died while the company was organizing, it was also resolved, "that in token of esteem for his memory the office held by him remain unfilled during the term for which he was selected."
The location selected for the company by the Common Council, at 33 Great Jones Street, did not seem to please the company, but they were unable to alter the decision of the authorities, and accepted the situation. On May 7, 1849, the regular election of the company took place, and Henry Wilson was unanimously elected foreman, and John A. Hammond, assistant. At a special meeting held July 23, 1849, Henry Wilson resigned as foreman, and Isaac T. Redfield was elected to fill the vacancy. At this meeting thirteen of the members resigned from the company and two were expelled.
On July 27, 1849, the company turned out to their first alarm. There proved to be no fire, and the company stopped corner of Sixth Avenue and Sixth Street.
In this year the company received one of the three Philadelphia style of engines built by James smith, the other two going to 6 and 7 Engine companies. They were painted lead color when delivered to the companies and finished by them. That of No. 4 was painted by Thorp and Grenell. The box was white ornamented with gold with a delicate shadow, the wheels blue, full gilt, and levers blue, neatly ornamented. There were four paintings on the condenser case; on the front a volcano at sea, with vessels in the perspective; on the right side a view of the suspension bridge across the Niagara river, and of the little steam "Maid of the Mist," the view being taken from the "Devil's Hole" on the American side; on the left a birds-eye view of Niagara Falls showing the whole cataract, with the "Table Rock," "Horse Shoe," and the great current above, the view taken from the American side; on the back a scene of a prairie fire, the carved work inlaid with solid gold. On the gallery of the condenser case were the following mottoes: "Duty our Pleasure;" "Ever Ready, ever Willing." It was a magnificent engine and was one of the decorations at the Firemen's Ball in the year it was finished.
On May 6, 1850, Isaac T. Redfield was re-elected foreman, J. A. Hammond, assistant, and John T. Morris was elected treasurer. In July of this year the officers all resigned their positions, but with a few exceptions were immediately re-elected, and on the fifteenth of that month eighteen of the members resigned from the company. On May 5, 1851, J. B. Foley was elected foreman and Thomas Leavy assistant, who were re-elected in 1852. During the latter year the company was out of a location and held their meetings at the house of Engine company No. 26, they having stored their furniture while waiting for a location. On September 7, 1852, Mr. James B. Foley having resigned the office of foreman, Mr. Thomas Leavy was promoted to that office, and Cyrus T. Frost was advanced to the position of assistant foremen. In May, 1853, the company took possession of the house No. 220 Mercer Street, and Thomas Leavy wa re-elected foreman, and George W. Lyon assistant. In May, 1854, Mr. Leavy was again re-elected foreman, and Charles K. Hyde assistant. In May, 1855, Mr. Leavy was for the fourth time elected foremen, and Mr. John Kennard succeeded Mr.Hyde, in the position of assistant. At this election the company presented Mr. Mr. Leavy with a gold watch as a mark of their esteem. In July of the same year Mr. Leavy resigned the office of foreman, and Mr. Charles K. Hyde was elected to fill his place, Robert W. Adams being elected assistant.
On the evening of November 26, 1855, while Wallace T. Vaughn, a member of this company, was passing Wallack's Theatre, the flagstaff on that building blew down, killing him instantly. The company defrayed the expenses of his funeral, and a benefit was given by them at Wallack's Theatre for the family of the deceased at which the company netted over five hundred dollars, which was invested in the interest of the widow and son. In May, 1856, the company, seeing no reason to change their officers, re-elected Messrs. Hyde and Adams, while L. De Garmo Brooks, the professor of dancing, was unanimously elected treasurer. These officers were continued in charge at the election in 1857. In 1858 Mr. Hyde declined a re-election to the foremanship, and Mr. Adams was promoted to fill the position, William Forbes being elevated to the office of assistant.
In 1859 the company had their engine rebuilt, doing duty in the meantime with a little old gooseneck engine. In the latter year Frank W. Robb and John Judge were elected foreman and assistant respectively. Judge was elected foreman in 1861, and held the office until 1863, when Thomas Leavy was recalled to that position, and the company procured a steam engine built by Joseph Banks. Leavy was continued in the office of foreman until the disbandment of the company in 1865.
Transcribed by Holice B. Young
HTML by Debbie
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