Our Firemen, The History of the NY Fire Departments

Chapter 37, Part I

By Holice and Debbie



From No. 1 to 25, Inclusive. -- the dates of their Organization and Disbandment. -- The Men Who Rendered Conspicuous Services. -- Their Foremen and Other Officers. -- Service Rendered And Their Story Narrated. -- Some Incidents Worth Recording. -- Heroic in All things.

No. 1. -- Eagle. -- this company was organized on September 7, 1812. Its various locations were as follows:

In 1813, at the Bridewell on Broadway.
In 1823, in the Corporation Yard.From 1832 to 1834, Mulberry Street, near Broome.
Later in Tryon Row.
In 1837, at 5 Duane Street.
In 1847, at 156 Madison Street.
In 1863, at 3 Pike Street.
Went out of service in 1865.

Among the members in 1813 and later were

William Stone, foreman.
Joseph H. Horton, assistant.
Simon Van Ness, steward.
William W. Halsted.
Sinclair Tousey

On Sunday morning in January, 1850, Joseph s. Taylor and Comptroller Taylor (the son subsequently become well known in municipal affairs as the head of a department), while running to a fire caught hold of No. 1's rope. He tripped and fell, and, his face coming in contact with some sharp substance, his nose was split in the center from the forehead down. The scar remained for life. At the time there were in the company E. P. Morris, Charles Aikman, Geo. C. Webster, John S. Beers, John A. Seaman, and William A. Boyd. The company, while located in Madison Street, near Pike, were called "Mutton Hose." The name ("Mutton Hose") came about in this manner: at an annual meeting, after the officers were elected, the newly-elected officers took the boys down to an old-fashioned English Ale house in Madison Street near Catharine Street, and were eating English mutton pies, when al alarm of fire occurred and they rushed out with pies in hand--hence the name.

The company was one of the last companies disbanded by the Metropolitan Commissioners, in October, 1865. The last fire attended was ina grocery house, corner of Warren and Greenwich Streets. The rope was filled with not only their own members but with members of most all companies running in the Seventh and eighth Districts, they having been disbanded but a short time previously. The last officers were:

Lewis Hopps, foreman.
James H. Bartley, assistant foreman.

Among the firemen of No. 1 were Henry J. Ockershausen, Halsey M. Mead, James Connor, and Thomas Truslow (an old Quaker).

At an annual meeting of Eagle Hose on Monday evening, May 12, 1851, the following were elected officers for the ensuing year:

Charles Aikman, foreman.
George C. Webster, assistant.
Joseph S. Taylor, secretary.
William A. Boyd, treasurer.
Joseph S. Taylor and Charles Aikman, representatives.

On Monday, June 14, 1852, the morning of the second annual parade of the Department, the members of Eagle Hose called a meeting to witness a presentation. The presents were a pair of handsome trumpets--one to Mr. Charles Aikman, the foreman of No. 1, by Messrs., Joseph Canning, Joseph S. Taylor and Henry A. Kendall; and one to the assistant Mr. G. C. Webster, by Mr. James W. Conner, as a slight token of the respect and esteem of the company.

No. 2. -- Niagara. -- Knickerbocker. -- This company was organized on December 5, 1831, and located in Rose Street:

In 1841, it was at 262 William Street. After 1847, at 5 Duane Street. Went out of service in 1865.

Among the earlier members of the company were:

John Ryan, clerk, foreman.
Peter McAvoy, carman, assistant.
Daniel Brady, merchant.
John Monahan, cooper.
Charles Kirchhoff, currier.

Some time after the organization of "Niagara," J. Munroe Russell and Richard Davis were appointed a committee to ask the common Council for an increase of members, to make the total thirty men, which request was granted.

No. 3. -- Independence. -- Independent. -- This company was organized November 19, 1832, by some of the members of engine Company No. 24, and located at the corner of Beach and Chapel Streets. Joseph Stanton, cordwainer, was the first foreman, and Charles Copping, cordwainer, assistant, John S. Giles afterwards treasurer of the fire Department fund, was one of the early foremen of this company, and Charles H. Innes, who was a captain in the Mexican War, and distinguished for his bravery, was a member of the company. After the Gulick trouble Mr. J. Rogers was foreman, and he was followed by William Taylor, who died in Mexico, and after him came James Elkins and George Whitehead. About this time they changed their location to 202 Centre Street. At the fair of the American institute, held at Castle Garden in the fall of 1849, this company had their new carriage, just built by Pine and painted by Thorp and Grinnell, on exhibition. It was a beautiful piece of workmanship, and all the paintings were patriotic. The body and running gear were painted black, with gilt stripes. On the right of the reel was magnificent representation of the Boston Tea party. On the left of the reel was a stirring picture of the Battle of Bunker Hill. On the back box was a painting of the signing of the Declaration of Independence; on the right panel was represented the Stamp Act Parade in New York, in 1765. On the left panel Col. Ethan Allen demanding the surrender of Fort Ticonderoga, May 10, 1775. On the front box was a beautifully painted landscape representing the Goddess of Liberty in the foreground and civilization in the perspective. Each end of the panels was ornamented with a neat silver shield bearing a figure 3 in gold. The whole was topped by a handsome signal lamp with the name and number of the company. The carriage was one of the most beautiful of the several apparatus on exhibition at the fair that year. In 1850 Moses O. Allen, an active and efficient office and fireman, was foreman of the company, and in 1852 they again removed their location, this time to 211 Hester Street, near Centre, and Nicholas W, Mooney was chosen as foreman. He held office until 1856, when his assistant, James McKelvey, was promoted to the position. George w. Spencer, Owen Campbell and H. K. Woodruff subsequently filled the position, the latter being foreman when the company went out of service in 1865. The carriage previously mentioned was run by the company until 1855, when it was laid aside for anew and improved Pine and Hartshorn, which was disabled in 1861, and after doing duty for a time with a jumper, they procured a carriage built buy Van Ness, which they ran until the Department was disbanded.

The later records of the Department have the name of this company as "Independent," but Mr. Moses O. Allen states that the name was always Independence, "first, last and all the time."

Mr. Allen seems to have been a popular foreman, for he received many presentations. On November 1, 1850, the company went on a memorable excursion to Philadelphia, where they were right royally received. Thousands turned out to welcome them. The Philadelphians paraded in the following order:

Chief Marshal and two Aids mounted.
Representatives of each company in the parade mounted.
Members of the Buffalo Club mounted.
Pennsylvania Cornet Band
Hibernia engine company
Good Intent Hose Company
Northern Liberty Engine Company
Resolution Hose Company
Reliance Engine Company
Pennsylvania Band
Columbia Hose Company
Mechanics' Band
American Engine Company
Diligent Hose Company Band
Kensington Engine Company
Philadelphia Greys' Brass Band
Northern Liberty Hose Company
Navy Yard Band
Franklin engine Company
Committee of Humane Hose Company
Washington Brass Band of New York
Independence Hose Company of New York
Beck's Philadelphia Brass Band
Humane Hose Company, with New York Apparatus
Washington Band
Washington Hose Company
Independent Greys' Band of Baltimore
Howard Engine Company of Baltimore
Friendship Engine Company
Union Band
Independence Hose company
Good Will Engine Company
Good Will Hose Company
Kensington Hose Company
Fairmont Engine Company
Carroll Hose Company
Southwark Engine Company
Martial Music
Spring Garden Hose Company
Western Hose Company
Fairmont Hose Company

The line moved with difficulty along Delaware Avenue to Dock Street, where it met the Howard of Baltimore; and here again the fraternal feeling was manifested, each company, the Independence of New York, and Howard of Baltimore, passing each other uncovered, while the surveying mass rent the welkin in huzzas. The engine and hose houses were festooned with colors, the apparatus exhibited in front, and the fire bells tolled. On account of the lateness of the arrival, the route being very long, the parade was finally made by torchlight, and as the line neared, bonfires were kindled and variegated fireworks displayed. As it passed the Humane Engine House (the steeple illuminated) the display was grand, specimens of the whole pyrotechnic art being exhibited. M. O. Allen, E. M. Conklin, J. J. Poillon, T. W. Timpson, J. H. Ridabock, M. Toumey, and W. H. Smith were the committee to prepare a card of thanks to the Philadelphians.

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

HTML by Debbie

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