Our Firemen, The History of the NY Fire Departments

Chapter 33, Part IV

By Holice and Debbie

NO. 7. -- LAFAYETTE -- HAMILTON.--This company was organized in 1701, and located on duke Street, called in former days High Street. Duke Street was just on a corner of a lane leading down to Fort George. William Crolius, John Miltenberger, George Janeway, Robert Berry, and Henry sickles were among its first members. But little is known of the company till 1783, when the Department was re-established, and Stephen P. Trippall was at the head of No. 6. In 1798 they were housed in a small frame building in Beekman Street, where now stands Lovejoy's Hotel. In 1813 the company was located in Rose Street, about 1831 at 91 Henry Street, from 1832 to 1834 at the Corporation Yard, Leonard Street, and in 1842 again in Rose Street. On March 1, 1843, it was disbanded. On October 4, 1843, the company was re-organized and stationed at 6 Third Street, but on February 4, 1847, it was again disbanded.

In 1815, while the company was stationed in the churchyard of St. George's Chapel, on Cliff Street, its foreman was William L. Mott, merchant; first assistant, Eleazer Lundy, currier; second assistant, Gregory Snether, distiller; clerk, Peter Williams, bookbinder.

LEXINGTON was organized on December 26, 1849. The first regular meeting was held on February 4, 1850. The first officers and members were as follows: Richard Kelly, foreman (now president); William Tapper, assistant; Edmund Stephenson, secretary; William A. Bennett, Henry L. Jolly, William H. Hamford, Jeremiah Keyser, Garrett Shepherd, William H. Oliver, John Rosenbrook, Isaac Pierson, John McKeon, Seth W. Valentine, Andrew J. Odell, Nathaniel B. Abbott, James Brown, William H. Smith, William Watson, George Joseph Ruch, Thomas McParlan, Lorenzo Miles, William Doubleday. In 1851 Mr. Kelly having been elected assistant engineer, William Tapper was elected foreman, William W. Bennett, assistant foreman, Edmund Stephenson secretary. Mr. Tapper resigned May 8, 1854, and G. Joseph Ruch was elected foreman, Samuel Cheshire, assistant, and Henry Wilson, secretary. Mr. Ruch resigned May 14, 1856, having been elected assistant engineer, and Samuel Cheshire was elected foreman, Robert Ennever assistant, and Aaron J. Quimby, secretary. Mr. Cheshire resigned July 11, 1859, and John C. Fisher was elected foreman, John R. Barnes assistant, and Edgar t. Stewart, secretary. Mr. Barnes resigned My 14, 1860, and Edward Marrenner was elected foreman, Hans J. Gladney assistant, and Eugene D. Crocker, secretary. Mr. Marrenner resigned May 11, 1863, and Alden Wild was elected foreman, Hans J. Gladney assistant and Thomas Ryan secretary. Mr. Wild resigned May 9, 1864, and Hans J. Gladney was elected foremen, Lancelot W. Armstrong assistant and Thomas Ryan secretary. At the annual meeting held May 8, 1865, Hans J. Gladney was re-elected foreman, Lancelot W, Armstrong assistant foreman and Thomas Ryan secretary. The above officers served until September 24, 1865, when the company held their last meeting and were superseded by the present Engine No. 16 of the Metropolitan Fire Department. All the company's books and records wre presented to Secretary Ryan.

The company was originally quartered in the house formerly occupied by Engine 46, in third Street, between Twenty-sixth and twenty-seven Streets, but remained there but a short time before it was transferred to the present quarters of Engine 16 in Twenty-fifth Street between Second and Third Avenues. There it remained throughout its career. The first engine was built for Engine 15 in Christie Street near Canal, but on the disbandment of that company it was assigned to No. 7. This engine was in active service until March 5, 1860, when a steamer was procured.

Many of the members of Lexington in time became prominent citizens. For example: Richard Kelly, president of the Fifth national Bank; Edmund Stephenson, Commissioner of Emigration and president of the Home Bank; Charles E. Munson, the well-known baker; James L. Potter, popular builder; Robert Ennever, School Commissioner; Wm. H. Cochran; Peter Wood, assemblyman for the Sixteenth District; Charles H. Doremus, of the firm of Doremus & Corbett; William W. Rhodes, assistant engineer in the Paid Department; Alvin W. Gordon, Superintendent of Franklin Telegraph Company; Lancelot W. Armstrong, of the firm of Moran and Armstrong; J. P. Teller, engineer of the company's steamer; John M. Semler, director of the Third Avenue Railroad Company; George Fielding, Henry Bullwinkel, Jeremiah Keyser, the original "Keyser: of Chanfrau's "Mose;" William H. Hayward, Harris Wines, ex-foreman of 39 Hose; John Taylor, Henry Saulspaugh, John Geary, Michael C. Caffrey, of calcium light fame; John Gannon, T. P. Brennan, now of Hook and Ladder No. 3; John and James Dalton, Thomas Carr, William Haggerty, superintendent for several years of Post Office Station A.

Among the principal fires attended by the company were: the fire in a tenement house on elm Street, between Grand and Howard, on the night of February 2, 1860, when five persons were burned to death on the roof in sight of the firemen, who were powerless to reach them; the destruction of the Third Avenue Railroad Depot on June 27, 1861; the fire at the Empire Works on February 6, 1864, on which occasion Engineer J. P. Teller stood at his post for eighteen consecutive hours, and the great fire at D. D. Badger's iron works on April 24, 1864. The company participated in the great demonstration in honor of the laying of the Atlantic Cable in 1859; and on the occasion of the procession in honor of the Prince of Wales, on October 13, 1860, it turned out with no less than one hundred men.

On the breaking out of the war the following members of Lexington Engine sprang to arms and went to the front: Colonel John W. Marshall, Lieutenant-Colonel of the Tenth New York Zouaves; George Mings, enlisted in the Fifth New York Artillery, was captured at Winchester and died in Andersonville; Corporal W. F. Wilson, was wounded at Bull Run; H. J. Gladney and Theodore J. McDonough enlisted in the First Fire Zouaves, Frederick J. McDonald and Thomas Gillett enlisted in the Second Fire Zouaves, Albert J. Wilson enter the navy, Nelson T. Wilson enlisted in the Thirty-seventh New York Volunteers, John F. Croker and William E. Sandbeg enlisted in the Eighth New York Volunteers, Emmerich Schneider entered the Fifth Artillery, Jacob Lowndes enlisted in the Duryea Zouaves, Patrick Murray enlisted in the Sixty-ninth Regiment, William F. Baker enlisted in Berrian's Battery, E. T. Stewart served in the United States Quartermaster's Department. John B. Brewer and timothy Conron also enlisted.

Splendid service was done by the members of Lexington Engine during the Draft Riots, under the command of Secretary Thomas Ryan. On the breaking out of the riots on July 31, 1863, the company worked in the fire in the provost marshal's office, at Third Avenue and Bull's Head Hotel, at fifth Avenue and Forty-fourth Street, where in spite of the attacks of the mob they succeeded in saving much valuable property. Next they were called on to work on the Colored Orphan Asylum near by, and from there they were hurried to Lexington Avenue and Forty-third Street, where a row of dwellings was in flames. Having assisted in extinguishing this conflagration the company hurried to the Armory at Second Avenue and Twenty-first Street, and worked till the fire was extinguished. By this time the city was in the hands of the mob, and all order was at an end. Secretary Ryan, with a few friends, went along Third Avenue, rallying the citizens and calling upon them to organize in defense of their lives and property. Lexington Engine House became the headquarters for the district, and in a few hours Secretary Ryan found himself in command of a formidable fighting force of citizens, regularly officered and provided with passwords and rallying signals. A series of desperate encounters with the mob soon followed, in which the men of Lexington Engine punished the rioters severely, and succeeded in holding the mob in check until the arrival of troops from the fort. In acknowledgment of the heroism displayed during these trying times, the ladies of the Eighteenth Ward presented Lexington Engine Company No. 7 with a handsome American flag embroidered wit the name and number of the company.

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

HTML by Debbie

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