Our Firemen, The History of the NY Fire Departments

Chapter 35, Part III

By Holice and Debbie

35. -- Columbus. -- This was the first engine company that was organized in Harlem, then called the village, and was placed in service in 1807. Their first location was n what is now One Hundred and Eighteenth Street and Lexington Avenue. The only connection then, and for many years after, between the east and west sides of the upper portion of the city, was by way of One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Street, or by Chauncey's Lane, which ran diagonally through the grounds of the present Central Park. In 1812 the engine with which they were doing duty was classed as "unknown" as to the date of its construction, and as it was the only engine so classed with the exception of 28, it is safe to conclude that it must have been one of the earliest engines known. In 1832 Abraham Vermilyea, butcher, was foreman, and Benson McGown, farmer, assistant. In 1827 the company prepared their first gooseneck engine and afterwards removed to a little shanty on One Hundred and Twenty-first Street, near Third Avenue, in the rear of the Harlem Market, and about 1850 moved to Third Avenue, between One Hundred and Twentieth and One Hundred and Twenty-first Streets, in a two-story brick house with 43 Hose. In 1861 they again removed their quarters, this time to One Hundred and Nineteenth Street, between Second and Third Avenues, the location of the present Engine Company No. 35. Among the old foremen of the company were William H. Colwell, the lumber merchant; Samuel Cross, William Graham, John H. Pain, Robert Crawford, and E. V. Graham. In 1850 Mr. Graham resigned the office of foreman, and John Gillelan was elected foreman in order to allow him to run for the office of assistant engineer, and on his election to that office Mr. Graham was again elected foreman of the company, and held the position until 1853, when the term for which Gillelan was elected an engineer having expired, he returned to the company, and was again elected its foreman, serving until 1858, when John Hart was elected. David Fitzgerald followed Hart as foreman, and he was succeeded by William daily, who was the last foreman of the company. Samuel L. Liscomb, who was foreman of this company, and elected assistant engineer in 1842, started for California with John J. Audubon, the naturalist, and was killed in crossing the plains in 1849. Garret Dyckman, who was major of the First Regiment of New York Volunteers in the Mexican war, and colonel of the First New York Volunteers in the war of the Rebellion, was a member of this company from 1857 to the breaking out of the last war. The Common Council, by special committee, awarded to Dyckman the gold snuffbox that was left by Andrew Jackson to be presented to "that patriot residing in the city or State from which he was presented, who shall be adjudged, by his countrymen, or the ladies, to have been the most valiant in defense of his country and our country's rights." The committee, after several sessions, at which much testimony was taken, declared in their report of August 8, 1857, that Garret Dyckman was entitled to the gold snuffbox for having been the bravest man in the Mexican war. Some difficulty arose, and Dyckman never received the box, but he was afterwards elected register of the city.

No. 36. -- Equitable.--It was established on August 13, 1810, and its location fixed at Spring Street, near Varick Street. The members of the company who were appointed on august 22 consisted of:

John Targay carpenter Greenwich Street
B. C. Stevenson inspector Spring Street
Elkannah Mead carman Hudson Street
Alexander Allaire carman Budd Street.
Daniel Martling grocer -
Lotion Quick carman  Budd Street
Silas Parklow carpenter Spring Street
Frederick Glasham butcher Spring Street
David Hartshorne carpenter Budd Street
John Goodheart laborer,  Macdougal Street
Duncan Douglass carpenter spring Street.
John Lambert,  gentleman. -
Smith Valentine grocer Greenwich Street
Enoch Miller carpenter Greenwich Street
John Tompkins milkman Sullivan Street
James Clark milkman Greenwich Street
Richard Worsburn carman Hetty Street
Peter Roodeback, mason Spring Street
John Freeman carpenter Spring Street.
J. Westervelt carpenter Greenwich Street.
John C. Parmerly carpenter Thomas Street.
Thomas J. Booles - Spring Street.
Elias B. Coy carpenter Greenwich Street
Garret Smith Mason Greenwich Street
Thomas Rockhill mason Spring Street

The company was disbanded on August 5, 1846.

Equitable. -- Harry Howard. -- Equitable. -- No 50 Engine company was changed on march 10, 1848 to No. 36, and was located at sixty-eighth Street and Bloomingdale Road.

No. 37. -- Tradesman's. -- The company was organized in 1811, and was first located in Orchard Street, between Rivington and Stanton Streets. Second location, between Rivington and Stanton Streets. Third location Orchard Street, above Delancey, and final home in Delancey Street near Allen. Was disbanded in 1844. Thos. D. Howe joined the engine in 1820. Within six months he was elected assistant foreman, served two years in that position, when he was elected assistant foreman, served five years, when he was appointed assistant engineer, which office he filled for fifteen years. In 1813, when thirty men were on the roll, the foreman was Gideon Carstang, Jr., ropemaker, Third Street, near Stanton (resigned Sept. 18, 1820); assistant foreman, George Howard, ropemaker, Sixth Street, near Rivington, (resigned May 26, 1817); clerk, Thomas Willett, merchant, 47 Third Street, (resigned July 27, 1818). In 1814 it was re-established with twelve men on the roll. The foreman was John R. Thomas, clerk, of the Cross Roads (resigned April 24, 1815); assistant foreman, Aaron B. Jackson, grocer at the Cross Roads (resigned December 21, 1818). Among the members in 1823 were:

Aaron Keyer milkman Bowery and Bond Streets, foreman
Joseph Brewster hat manufacturer Third Avenue, assistant
Simon Van Winkle innkeeper Broadway near Twelfth St.
William Ranson & Jonathon H. Ranson show dealers Washington Square
Commodore T. Williams, Jr.  - Fifth Avenue.
Wm. B. Bohn painter corner Essex and Worth Streets
Wm. N. Romaine butcher 287 Houston Street
Robinson Whitlock brass founder 243 Houston Street
Peter G. Vandrough cordwainer 47 Suffolk Street

In 1825:

Joseph Brewster hat make third Avenue, foreman
Joseph Whaley milkman Bowery, assistant
Simon van Winkle innkeeper Bowery (resigned May 21, 1827)

Samuel Van Norden

wheelwright Cross roads and Bowery (resigned April 24, 1815)

The company disbanded in March 1, 1843, and another under the same name (Tradesman's) was organized on September 26, 1853. It was located in Fifty-ninth Street hear third Avenue, and went out of service in 1865.

No. 38. -- this company, which is remarkable in not having a name, was organized in 1811. It was located at the Cross Roads, Bowery; next to Love Lane (Twenty-first Street), near Bloomingdale Road, and in 1833 at the junction of Bloomingdale Road and the Boston Post Road. It was disbanded on July 9, 1838.

Southwark was organized on February 10, 1840. The company was stationed in Nassau Street near Cedar, and after 1943 at No. 28 Ann Street. It was disbanded in 1865. At the burning of the Park Theater, Saturday evening, December 16, 1848, Engine Company No. 38 got first water on the fire. They soon discovered that the theater was doomed, and that their efforts could not save it, and, backing down their pipe, they turned their attention to saving the buildings of the American Bible Society, which stood in the rear opposite the theater. This they succeeded in doing. The society presented the company with a costly edition of their family Bible, on which was inscribed "Presented to Southward Fire Engine Company No. 38 by the American Bible Society for valuable services in preserving their premises at the burning of the Park Theater, December 6, 1848." The gift was accompanied by a very flattering letter. When Southwark Engine Company was disbanded in 1865, Mr. Thomas F. Riley, who has rolled the engine and had the pipe at the above fire, was presented by the company with the Bible and the letter.

No. 39. -- Franklin -- Good Intent ("Skiver."). -- Upon the petition of Gilbert B. Mott and others, Fire engine Company No. 39 was established on April 6, 1812, among whose officers and men were:

Gilbert B. Mott, foreman.  
John M. Read, assistant foreman.  
Thomas N. Stanford, secretary.  


Jacob Stoutenburgh. William McKenny. Thomas W. Hoyt.
Nathaniel Merritt. John Sutherland. Elkanah Talbot.
William B. Reed William Leary. Peter Aymar.
Jediah Morris. Uzziah Wenman.  

This company used the "Crosby Patent," but it proved to be a failure, and in January, 1814, it was decided to abandon that system of construction and revert to the old plan, to conform with which it was found necessary to alter No. 39. The company was first located at Partition Street (Fulton), corner of Church, next to Vesey, near Church Street, in 1834 at the old Bridewell Park, and in 1840 in Doyer Street. The company was reorganized at St. Paul's Churchyard in Vesey Street, on March 20, 1820, with twenty-six men, and among the members were:

William Snell accountant foreman
John Post druggist Greenwich & Cortlandt Streets, assistant foreman
Abraham H. Kipp merchant Barclay Street
John Dupont merchant Hester Street
Frederick Pentz merchant 49 Vesey Street
Edward Williams merchant Fifth Avenue
Charles Ellet merchant 26 Howard Street

The company was disbanded on March 1, 1843.

Franklin (second of the name) was organized December 27, 1853, and was located in Thirty-first Street, near Seventh Avenue, going out of service in 1865. At an alarm of fire, on January 24, 1864, in thirty-first Street, between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, the Second District apparatus were all present, although the bells did not ring. While Hibernia Engine Company No. 15 were on their way up, the engine ran over William Fanning a member of Franklin Engine, who was about getting on the rope of 15 Engine. He was removed to Eighth Avenue and Thirty-first Street, where he died in forty-five minutes.

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

HTML by Debbie

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