Our Firemen, The History of the NY Fire Departments

Chapter 38, Part IV

By Holice and Debbie

Mazeppa. -- Mount Pleasant (the second No. 42). -- Was organized on October 12, 1848, located in thirty-third Street, near Ninth Avenue, and went of out of service in 1865. At the annual meeting of Mount Pleasant Hose Company, held May 14, 1850, the following officers were unanimously elected for the ensuing year: Oscar Taylor, foreman; Alfred Reed, assistant, James T. Austin, resigned; E. Harrison, secretary; Philip Agnew, treasurer; John D. Revere and James Odell, representatives.

On Friday, October 24, 1851, House 42 brought home a carriage from the fair at Castle Garden. They were accompanied by a band of music, and presented a fine appearance. The boxes and upper works were painted a dark plum color, striped with gold, edged with a fine blossom-colored stripe; the gilding was connected by gold scrolls at the corners. On the front panel was a rich scroll with the words "Mazeppa Hose 42," and the date of the organization of the company. On the back box panel was a small picture of Washington's Camp at Valley Forge, and a scroll with the motto "Fearless and Faithful." On the right hand reel panel was a painting of Mazeppa, at sunset, where his horse has fallen, and he is surrounded by a group of wild horses. On the left reel panel was another scene from Mazeppa, where he is rushing through the forest pursued by a flock of wolves. On the right end of the front box was a fireman standing at a hydrant, while his associates are conducting the hose to a fire in the background. On the left end was a miniature view of the Institution for the Blind. On the right end of the back box was the coat of arms of the city, and on the left was a figure of Hope. The wheels and running gear were painted carmine, striped full with gold, relieved by a delicate lilac stripe. The back and front plates on the running part were ornamented with rich gold scroll work. The carriage was painted by a. P. Moriarty, and he received a medal at the fair for the superior manner in which the paint was executed. The company visited the institution for the Blind and were welcomed by Miss Crosby, who delivered a pretty address, to which foreman Read responded.

The house of this company caught fire under the stairs at 11:30 P. M. September 10, 1862. It was believed to be the work of an incendiary, from the fact of the bunkers being all in bed, and the lights having been out in the carriage room. While this fire was burning, Mr. John Bathe, a member of No. 42, showed remarkable presence of mind. Instead of running down stairs at the risk of being burned he invested a fire escape by detaching the rope which was used for hoisting hose to dry, and, getting "Billy" Timms to hold one end while he threw the other end out of the rear window, he then "shinned" down the rope safely to the yard. This was all very well for Bathe, but after he got down, Timms had no one to hold the rope for him, so he had to take him chances down the stairs.

No. 43. -- this company was organized on May 20, 1839, located in Willett Street, near Rivington and changed to Hose company No. 31 on April 28, 1842.

Pioneer (the second No. 43). -- Was organized September 28, 1848, and was first located on Third Avenue, north side, between One hundred and twenty-fist and one Hundred and Twenty-second Street. This company removed their headquarters in 1860 to their new house on One Hundred and Twenty-first Street, corner of old Harlem Lane, now the corner of One hundred and Twenty-first Street and Lexington Avenue. They first ran a carriage painted drab, with gold stripes, and in 1851 received a new carriage, painted red, and which they christened "Little Red Bird." They ran it until the company went out of service in 1865. During the entire service of Pioneer it had but three foremen, John D. Jones being the first, and John R. Farrington the last, the latter serving in that capacity for eleven years and six months. It was while proceeding to a fire at Fort Washington, and while descending a hill, that J. Wilson, of this company, had his leg so badly injured by being crushed between the wheels of the carriage and a tree that he afterwards died from the effects of the wound. This company ran from Harlem to the Tripler Hall fire in January, 1854, and did good work. At the annual meeting of Pioneer, held on Monday evening, May 3, 1852, the following gentlemen were unanimously elected officers for the ensuing year: John DeWitt Jones, foreman; Wm. Wilson, assistant; Wm. Skinner, secretary; James L. Mason and Aaron Hosford, representatives.

No. 44. -- Eleventh Ward. -- Organized June 1, 1839, located at 77 Willett Street, and changed to Hose Company No. 29 on June 22, 1842.

Washington Irving. -- this company, which performed duty in the First and Second Districts, was organized February 1, 1849, and was located in Thirty-first Street, west of Seventh Avenue, and next door to where Franklin Engine Company No. 39 was located in 1853. They commenced service with a hose tender, having a new carriage built for them in 1851, and when this carriage was disabled in 1856, they obtained another which they ran until 1860. Pending their procurement of their last carriage they used in 1864, they appropriated for a while the old carriage of Hose Company 17. Wm. Simpson was foreman of the company in 1852, followed by Wm. J. Wilson, Jacob Tooker, Geo. Hook, Edward Craddock, and George A. Campbell. At the annual Meeting held on Monday evening, May 6, 1850, the following officers were elected for the ensuing year: Leonard Myers, foreman; James R. Remsen, assistant; William E. Bishop, secretary; Alvah Spaulding, treasurer; William Simpson and John Maxwell, representatives. Mr. Simpson was elected assistant foreman in 1853, and served for three years. September, 1852, was a memorable year for the company. They went on an excursion to Poughkeepsie, and were taken to a banquet, parade, and the best of everything.

During the riots of July, 1863, this company did most faithful duty. They were located in the midst of the troubled districts, and some of their members were on duty during the whole of that memorable week, and either the foreman, George A. Campbell, or the assistant, John A. Ripple, were in command at all of the many incendiary fires in their district. The members of the company who were "bunkers" brought their mattresses down to the carriage room, and slept there, and some of the members staid there night and day until quiet was restored to the city. At many of the fires the company encountered serious opposition from the rioters, and their hose was cut in Twenty-seventh Street, near Seventh Avenue, and also at the ferry house, and at the fire in Allerton's Hotel, Forty-first Street and eleventh Avenue. At the latter place the company had taken a hydrant in Forty-second Street, and stretched in, but were not allowed to get to work. The company were instrumental in saving a colored family in thirty-second Street, whom they harbored next to the carriage house until the police were able to get them to the station house. Any account that fully describes the incidents of riots in the upper districts must necessarily mention Washington Irving Hose Company 44 and the bravery of its members.

No. 45. -- Red Jacket. -- Organized December 10, 1849, located in thirty-third street, near third Avenue, disbanded July 19, 1858. In April, 1850, the following officers were elected for the ensuing year: John M. Manolt, foreman; Henry Allman, assistant; Jacob W. Cooper, Secretary; Hiram L. Frost, treasurer; Thomas W. Bennett and Henry Allman, representatives.

On October, 1851, the company brought home a new carriage from the Fair at Castle Garden, where she had been placed on exhibition. The company turned out strong, accompanied by a band of music, and presented a good appearance, attracting much attention as they passed through the streets on their route homeward. The carriage was one of Pine's build, and was ornamented in superb style. The running gear was carmine with a gilt stripe; on the right panel of the reel a painting of an Indian chief and an Indian maid leaning upon him for support, while he is casting his eye over the plain beneath him where his enemies are in pursuit. On the left is a representation of an interview between Red Jacket and Washington. The paintings were encircled in richly carved wood. On the front box was a scene representing the early settlement of the country; a settler and his family have just escaped across a river and are looking back at the log house which a short time before was their home, but is now being destroyed by fire, the work of Indians. On the side panels were two very near Indian female figures. On the back box was a scene at Fort Hamilton; on the side panels two figures of Indian hunters. The carriage was adorned with a handsome bell arch, which was silver-plated, the signal was in the center of the arch, on the top a figure of an Indian. The lifters were of an entirely new pattern representing an Indian maid. The tongue was silver-plated. The paintings were done by E. Weir; the pictures by L. Ryder, 151 Charles Street. In the evening, with a large number of invited guests, partook of a supper. At a meeting of Red Jacket Hose held on Monday evening, December 7, 1852, the following officers were elected: Adam Keifer, foreman, vice A. M. Manolt, resigned; John Golden, assistant; Michael Wallace, secretary; John McBride, treasurer.

O. Godfrey Gunther (the second No. 45). -- was organized on June 25, 1863, located at 278 Avenue A, and went out of service in 1865.

No. 46. -- Nassau. -- At "Windust," corner of Ann Street and park Row, one of the most famous resorts in the power portion of the city, there congregated a number of your men in 1849, who proposed the organization of a hose company. On the fifth of November of that year they again met, and after some twenty signing the roll, they elected Andrew McNichol foreman; Christian A. Borras, assistant; Francis McKennon, secretary; James Hawkins, treasurer; John Spittle and John McNicol, representatives. They adopted the name of "Nassau," after the street they were located on, which was Nassau (No. 83) between Fulton and John. They ran a "jumper" till 1851, when they received a new carriage. The company did not seem to fill up very fast, although they were very quick at fires, and did excellent work. From 1851 till 1854 Daniel Meehan was foreman, when in the latter year they became involved in some trouble, and were disbanded September 18.

Valley Forge. -- On the twentieth of December, 1854, just two months after the Nassau boys threw up No. 46, James Millward, Jr., Wm. W. Jacobus, Alexander Gedney, John C. Wandell, James Finch, Wm. J. Minard, John W. Jones, Abram Odell, Edward Dobbs, George W. Lowerre, John Warren, Alfred T. Serrell, James Richmond and others met on Eighth Avenue, and formed a new hose company, taking up No. 46, and selecting the name of "Valley Forge." They obtained a location on West Thirty-seventh Street, one door from Eighth Avenue, and, securing the old carriage, elected as officers, James Millward, Jr., an old fireman from Engine 39, as foreman; Wm. J. Minard, assistant; Edward L. Cobb, secretary; and John Cross, treasurer. In 1855 they removed to more comfortable quarters, 185 West Thirty-seventh Street, and in 1856 received a new carriage, built by Sickles, and painted by A. P. Moriarty. The panels were finely finished. On the one side was "Washington at Valley Forge," and on the other "Washington crossing the Delaware." In 1858 Edward L. Cobb was elected foreman; J. Elias Whitehead, assistant; and Frank E. Skilding, secretary. These gentlemen remained in office till 1860, when the company petitioned for a steamer, which being awarded to them, they resolved themselves into an engine company, retaining the same number. Thus ended Hose company No. 46. James Millward, Jr., the first foreman of Valley Forge, was for many years a port warden and commissioner of exchange at Fortress Monroe during the war, and, under the second term of U. S. Grant as President of the United States, was appointed Minister to Belgium. While there he escorted General Grant through that country during the latter's tour around the world. Jonas A. Bryant, at one time assistant foreman of the company, enlisted in the Fifth New York State volunteers, and was killed at the battle of Williamsburg, Va. In April, 1860, the company organized themselves as Valley Forge Engine Company No. 46. The company was composed of good material, and had a good reputation for fire duty.

[Air:--"Life on the Ocean Wave."]
Huzza for brave Thirty-six.
Ever prompt at the fire-bell's call,
Three cheers for brave Thirty-six,
Huzza for the firemen all.
When the red flames wildest flash
On the startled midnight air,
Where the crackling embers crash,
Oceana's men are there.
Huzza, etc.
Secure may the mother sleep.
With her babe upon her breast,
Brave hearts her vigils keep,
To guard them while they rest.
Thought sudden flames alarm them
In the dwelling where they lie,
The fires shall never harm them,
Oceana's men are nigh.
Huzza, etc.
Then, laborer, cease thy toil
And want, forget thy woes;
Though fiery serpents coil
"Round you in your repose,
No fatal fang shall wound you,
The Fireman's wary eye
Shall be a guard around you--
Oceana's men are nigh.
Huzza, etc.

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

HTML by Debbie

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