Our Firemen, The History of the NY Fire Departments

Chapter 39, Part I

By Holice and Debbie



No. 47 (Mechanics' Own, Howard, Mechanics). -- No. 48 (Carson, Americus). -- No. 49 (Lady Washington). -- No. 50 (Corlies, Hope). -- No. 52 (Undine), -- No. 53 (Naiad). -- No. 54 (Eureka). -- No. 55 (Harry Howard). -- No. 56 (Equitable, Nassau). -- No. 57 (Paulding). -- No. 58 (Merchant, Forrest). -- No. 59 (Ion, Manhattan). -- No. 60 (M. T. Brennan). -- No. 61 (Zephyr). -- No. 62 (Minute). -- Fifth Ward Exempt.

No. 47. -- Mechanics' Own. -- Mechanics. -- Although this company was organized on "All Fool's Day," it was no fool of a company, for it proved one of the most active on the east side of the city. Their organization dates from April 1, 1850, and was started mostly by shipbuilders and foundrymen, among whom were David Coleman, Robert Johnson, John Sperry, Harvey M. Weed, and Asa H. Leonard. They adopted the name of "Mechanics' Own" after a noted clipper ship that had recently been launched at one of the shipyards for the California trade, and upon which several of the members had worked. Shortly afterwards the work "Own" was dropped, making it plain "Mechanics." Securing a temporary location in a small shanty on Fifth Street, near Avenue C, they elected Robert H. Johnson foreman, and commenced doing duty with a two-wheeled "jumper." Robert B. Herring followed as foreman, and in 1853 Joseph Radley was elected. This year they ha a house in Fourth Street, near Lewis, altered, and moved in, when they brought home a new carriage built by Pine. It was double-reeled and richly painted by John Quigg. On the one side was a representation of the famous clipper ship 'Contest,' and on the other side the yacht 'America,' on the front box was a marine view of a shipwreck and rescue, and on the rear box a fine view of a shipyard with vessels on the stocks and the men at their work. In fact the whole was a very superior piece of workmanship, and reflected great credit on the artist. Shortly before they removed to Fourth Street, they changed the name to "Howard" (the philanthropist--not Harry). They had run under the name of Howard only a year when it was changed again to "Mechanics," dropping the word "Own." During 1855, 1856, and part of 1857, Jacob H. Miller was foreman, and in 1857 Cornelius N. rice was chosen. The company had a favorite dog called "Major," who knew the stroke of the fire bell as well as any one of the members, and he seemed to take as much delight in a race with Engine 44 or Hook and Ladder 13 as the boys themselves. When the company went out of existence they gave him to Engine Company No. 3, of Elizabeth, N. J., where he died a few years after. About this time alderman Francis I. A. Boole, of the Eleventh Ward, afterwards defeated for mayor, and who died in an asylum, was elected a member. In 1858 we find John J. Whyte foreman, who remained in charge till 1860, when Daniel Kelly took his place. Kelly,. As related elsewhere, subsequently entered the monastery at West Hoboken and took the name of Brother Bonaventure. Samuel Lynch succeeded Kelly as foreman, and John Quigg was elected assistant under Lynch. About this time they brought home another new carriage built by Torboss, painted maroon color tipped with gold. On the four ends of the front and rear boxes were the portraits of Patrick Brown, a deceased member, Andrew Mills, George Steers, and Wm. H. Webb, all boss shipbuilders. On the top of the carriage they used to carry an "Ox Tail" of immense size, which resembled a high bunch of flax, and when it was worn out they ran an elegant plume till disbanded. In 1862 Wm. A. Nelson was elected foreman, and re-elected in 1863, while among the members were Thomas Lane, assistant foreman; James Clark, Henry H. Wells, George C. Cornell, John Clark, Lewis H, Lanman, F. W. Adams, George Frelich, Matthew Curran, and Jacob Couterie. In 1864 John Quigg was elected foreman, and while under his command they moved to their new house, 548 Fifth Street, where they held a grand entertainment. On the Fourth of July 1865, just before the Old Department disbanded, they paid a visit to Elizabeth, N. J., where they were received by Engine No. 3, and the members of that Department. After they had sold out and divided up the old relics of the company, they presented their last foreman, Mr. Quigg, with a silver trumpet as a token of their esteem for him as a man and a foreman. Toward the close of the company we find among its members Henry G. Hellthaler, Lyman F. Green, Jacob Wood, Wm. G. Clark, John Stehle, Mathew J. Montgomery, Joseph Stumpf, G. Reeves, M. W. Roberts, C. F. Patten and G. Goube. A few of the old boys can still be found around the old Eleventh Ward. Nathaniel K. Thompson, a former member of this company, afterwards became chief engineer of the Fire Department of Elizabeth, N. J., and afterwards sheriff.

No. 48. -- Carson. -- Americus. -- In November, 1850, at the house of George B. Over, in Third Avenue, between Eighty-sixth and Eighty-seventh Streets, the subject was agitated of organizing a hose company for the Yorkville district. On December 11, 1850, the company was organized by Frank B. Ball, William Granger, James Lynch, William H. Karr, Abram Quackenbush, Charles Quackenbush, Benjamin Pine, Charles Abel, Thomas Pearson--afterwards councilman and district judge, M. A. Read-for many years past Superintendent of Station D Post-office, John Singer, and others. They started with eighteen men, and elected Frank B. Ball foreman, and William H. Karr assistant foreman. Ball was a runner with Lafayette Engine Company No. 19 when she lay corner of Eldridge and Division Streets, and for five years foreman of No. 45 Engine. The company adopted the name of "Carson," and commenced doing duty with a tender belonging to No. 44 Hose, the wheels of which were very high, so the company applied and received a new four-wheeled carriage in 1851. They had it painted black and gold with red running gear. When the apparatus was finished, the company adopted the name of "Americus," which name they retained until disbanded. Their location was ina two-story brick building on the northeast corner of Eighty-fifth Street and Third Avenue. After Ball had succeeded in getting the company well under way, he retired from the office of foreman, and William H. Karr was chosen to succeed him, Abram Quackenbush followed, and in 1856 the company procured another new carriage, and the same year elected Charles W. Keip as their foreman. Seth W. Valentine and James B. Dalton followed, the latter holding the office for several years. Michael Hallaran was elected foreman in 1863, and elected as assistant engineer in the Spring of 1865. Mr. J. Shanahan, at one time assistant foreman, was elected the last foremen of the company, \which went out of service when the Metropolitan Fire Commissioners assumed control. John O'Donnell was assistant foreman in 1863, and Daniel H. Griffith, secretary. Among the many members this company has were Thomas Beaty, James J. Gilmore, John H. Braddock, S. Otis Clapp, John F, Twomey, William E. Marshall, James R. Dalton, Thomas Webster, Moses Marsh and Mathew Shanahan.

No. 49. -- Lady Washington. -- Hose Company No. 49 was organized by Jacob L. Smith in 1851, and was located at 126 Cedar Street. Among the members were Andrew Seeley, Henry Beck, Cornelius Flynn, and James McGlynn. Most all were residents of the First and Third Wards, of various occupations, mechanics, liquor dealers, boatmen, and a few were merchants. Cornelius Flynn, who is to-day a well-known figure in First Ward politics, succeeded Mr. Smith as foreman. Mr. Flynn resigned in 1864, after seven years' service, and he was elected to the Legislature. "The company" says Mr. Flynn, "was a very quiet, easy-going lot, no trouble, only now and again a little brush in contending with rivals for the honor of being the firs to ger to a fire." The pet name of the company was "Lady Washington," and she was decorated in gorgeous array on all occasions of public display. All the works of the carriage were silver-mounted and the panels decorated with a likeness of Lady Washington and of the General crossing the Delaware. Went out of service in 1865.

No. 50. -- Corlies. -- Hope. -- Organized September 8, 1851, and was officered as follows: William A. Tyson, foreman; James Y. Watkins, Jr., assistant foreman; John G., Tibbets, secretary; Joseph Hilton, treasurer; Henry A. Burr and James Y. Watkins, Sr., representatives. This company was located at 10-1/2 Mott Street, between Chatham and Pell Streets, and was formed by members of Hose Company Nos. 10 and 14. The company retained the name of "Corlies" but a short time, when the name was changed to "Hope." William W. Corlies was the founder of the company, and gave his name to it. Among the original members, the name of James Y. Watkins, Sr., stands prominent; he was an old fireman, having been a member of Engine Company 21 and 14; he was also a trustee of the Fire Department Fund, serving faithfully from 1853 t until the time of his death in 1883, a period of thirty years. Henry A. Burr was also prominent in the Department, serving as treasurer of the fund, and chairman of the Firemen's Ball Committee. The Watkins family were well represented in this company, James Y., Sr., mentioned above, and James Y., Jr., the assistant foreman, were well known member of Hose Company 10, Engine Company 42, and the Exempt Engine. Another member of the family, John O., served his time in this company. Two others members of No. 50, John Feeney and Matthew Stewart, served in the Second Fire Zouaves. Both of them were honorably mentioned. Captain Feeney was severely wounded. No. 50 remained in the debarment until the end, and was always known as a quiet, duty-doing company.

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

HTML by Debbie

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