Our Firemen, The History of the NY Fire Departments

Chapter 40, Part II

By Holice and Debbie

In 1849 the brass work on the truck was silver-plated. At the annual meeting, May 7, Mr. Smith was again elected foreman, with Robert M. Bruce, merchant, as assistant, and William E, Rose, surgical instrument maker, as secretary. May 29 Mr. smith resigned, and Michael Eichells was made foreman, and William E. Rose assistant, and James L. Kennedy secretary. In November Mr. Kennedy resigned, and E. W. Safford was elected. In February, 1850, petitions were circulated in favor of the enactment of a law prescribing the election of engineers once in three years. March 19 the company voted against the passage of such a law. The company stood by Chief engineer Alfred Carson in his fight with the Common Council, in Septmeber, 1850, passing resolution of confidence in him, and condemning the Common Council.

In October, 1850, upon the information that Jenny Lind, the nightingale, had donated a large sum to the fund of the Fire Department, the company passed appropriate resolutions of thankfulness, in which, after giving testimony of their deep sense of gratitude, they assured her that "when her voice should cease to charm the ear, her memory would be affectionately cherished, not only in their own hearts but in the heart of every widow and orphan, whose prayers for her welfare already ascend \in grateful invocation to heaven." Mr. Bruce resigned the foremanship in March, 1851, and at the annual meeting, held in May, J. L. Kennedy was elected to the position, with a. C. Schenck, as assistant, and George Hickok as secretary. Mr. Kennedy served only two months when he resigned, and Charles E. Gildersleeve was elected. Ex-mayor William H. Wickham was an active member of the company at this period. On January 5, 1852, he resigned, and was elected an honorary member. The annual meeting of that year was held in the office of the Clinton Fire Insurance Company, No. 52 Wall Street. Mr. Gildersleeve was re-elected foreman. On June 14, 1852, the company moved into their new house on the corner of Centre and Chambers Streets. In 1853 the company was fortunate in possessing "a recorder," John A. Smith. In April of that year (according o the recorder) there were twenty-four active duty-doing members on the roll, although by law the membership might be raised to forty, but the location, and "other causes," prevented the accession of such members as it was desired to secure.

In May, 1863, Douglas Cairus was elected foreman, Thomas Langan assistant, and Luke W. Rees secretary.

This company never lost their organization for a single day during the existence of the Old Fire Department, and on the organization of the Paid System, Hook and Ladder Company No. 1 was created September 8, 1865, using the same location, the same truck and the same red cap fronts as Mutual Hook and Ladder Company No. 1 did, and nine of the her twelve members had served in the old company. It was the only company that was continued with the same number and location, it might be said that Hook and Ladder Company No. 1 has had a continuous existence since the sixteenth day of June, 1784.

The famous Mutual Base Ball Club was named after this company and was organized in their house. John Carland was its first president, and John Wildey followed him. They had their grounds at the "Elysian Fields" in Hoboken, and their contests in 1`859 and 1860 with the Atlantic, Eagle, empire and Gotham Clubs will be remembered by all old-timers lovers of the game.

No. 2. -- Originally organized in 1872; was located at where is now the corner of Chambers and Centre Streets. It was the custom in those early days to have the ladders hung up on the fence of the City Hall Park, near the truck house, that plan being found handy for the first comer, citizen or fireman, to carry the ladder he short distance required at the time. In 1842 the company was stationed in Beaver Street, near Broad; they performed but little duty, and were disbanded August 1, 1850. On September 1, 1851 Isaac L. Seixas, with eighteen ex-members of Croton Engine Company No. 16, and a number of citizens, reorganized the defunct company, secured a house in Twenty-fourth Street, between Seventh and eighth Avenues, procured a truck from the city, and christened the new-born child.

Chelsea Hook and Ladder Company No. 2, in honor of the old village where they were located. Isaac L. Seixas was elected foreman, and a Mr. Dean assistant foreman. Mr. Seixas remained in command for two years, when Stephen Mitchell was elected foreman, and continued in command a number of years, until he was elected assistant engineer. During these ten years of service No. 2 was considered a first-class duty doing company, quick skilled in their line of service, and of great benefit to the community. The members boasted of their long-winded capabilities, and offered wagers that they could beat any company in New York racing from Eighth Avenue and Twenty-fourth Street to the Battery. About this time matters became mixed with No. 2; their house became untenantable; the city refused a new one; old members resigned; no new recruits were enlisted; a new located was forced upon them at the junction of sixth Avenue, Broadway and Thirty-third Street; the building was nothing but a shed. Shortly afterwards their humble home was destroyed by fire; the company was homeless. The last seen of the once famed and fleet truck was at the corner of Eighth Avenue and Thirty-first Street, standing in the gutter, a sad monument to fallen greatness.

No. 3. -- Phoenix. -- this company was organized on the twelfth of September, 1804, by Harvey Turner, Wm. Bruce, and James Curran, the latter being foreman. About the year 1810, they were located on Greenwich Street near Barrow, and in 1832 at Hudson and Christopher streets, and about 1840 moved to Horatio Street near Hudson. Cornelius V. Anderson, then chief engineer, recognizing the need of a Hook and Ladder Company in that section of the city, lent his aid in reorganizing the company. About 1845 a new location was obtained at No. 126 Amity Street near Sixth Avenue, and adjoining Engine Company No. 18 and Hose Company No. 38. Among the new members were Edgar E. Holley, Samuel T. Rogers, Lawrence Van Wart, Harrison Redfield, Thos. B. Oakley, David W. Anderson, John W. Grant, Augustus T. Anderson, Stephen D. Thatcher, Wm. P. Thatcher, Geo. G. B. Irish, C. Whingates, and others. Edgar e. Holley was the first foreman in Amity Street. He held the office for four years, being succeeded by his assistant foreman, Harrison Redfield. Edgar E. Holley was independent in his actions and a capable foreman. Like most New York boys, he took to fire life early, and was assistant foreman of Union Engine No. 18 before he had attained his majority. On the reorganization of Hook and ladder No. 3, the independent and original traits of Mr. Holley's character were displayed by his introducing an improved hook and ladder truck to the New York Fire Department. He thought the trucks then in use could be greatly improved, and accordingly made plans for the construction of a truck that would better satisfy the wants of the department. Encountering difficulties in having his designs carried out in this city, he, not to be thwarted, made arrangements to have the truck build in Newark, N. J., and when it was finished and she first struck the New York pave, the boys voted her a success, and very soon other trucks were built in the same model. He was the first to apply elliptic springs in the construction of hook and ladder trucks, and his inventive genius was also displayed in making designs improving the construction of hose carriages. At a fire in West Seventeenth Street about the year 1847 the house, a four-story frame, caught fire from a stable in the rear. Holley was in the building, and, while making his way out, came across a woman lying in bed. She was blind and helpless. His rescue of her was a gallant act. An oil painting of the scene hung in the house of Hook and Ladder Company No. 3 for many years, and it seemed the opinion of many at the time that the woman had purposely been abandoned to her fate. A little over a year after the above he carried two small colored babies from a burning dwelling in Little Twelfth Street, and on returning to continue his search, found the burned body of the mother.

The company, on New Year's Eve, December 31, 1849, presented to Mr. David W. Anderson, their late secretary, a massive silver tobacco box and a superb gold pen and pencil, as a token of their esteem for him as a man and a fireman, and a slight tribute for the faithful manner in which he had always discharged the duties of his office. The box was exquisitely wrought. On the front is a beautiful wreath of chased work surmounted by a Phoenix, and enclosing a figure 3 crossed with a hook and ladder. On the back of the box was the inscription.

On Monday morning, April 8, 1850, the company left New York ona visit to Baltimore and Washington, turning out sixty-one caps. James L. Miller, assistant engineer, was the marshal; Edgar E. Holley, foreman; and Harrison Redfield, assistant foreman. The truck was gaily decorated, the hooks polished, and presented a fine appearance. Dingle's band furnished the music, and on the rope were, among others, William N. McIntyre, of old Hope Engine Company No. 31; James B. Mingay, of Empire Hose 40; William M. Tweed and Joseph H. Johnson of Americus Engine Company No. 6; T. L. Banta and T. Dugan, of Neptune Hose Company No. 27; T. F. Riley and J. F. Kirby of Southwark Engine Company No. 38; Wesley Smith and J. W. Price, of Star Hose Company No. 34; Charles Miller and W. B. Ripley, of Howard Engine Company No. 34. They were received with great enthusiasm on their arrival in Baltimore and Washington, and one result of their trip was the organization in Baltimore of a hook and ladder company, which took the name and number of Phoenix Hook and Ladder Company No. 1. In May, 1850, Mr. Holley resigned. The company passed very complimentary resolutions and elected him a honorary member. The Committee on Resolutions were Samuel T. Rogers, Alonzo H. Perrine, Lawrence Van Wart, Harrison Redfield, and John H. Brady. The exempt members, felling that the occasion called for some action on their part, held a meeting at the residence of Mr. Thomas B. Oakley. It was largely attended, and among those present were David W. Anderson, John W. Griffin, Augustus R. Anderson, Stephen D. Thatcher, William P. Thatcher, George G. B. Irish, and C. Whingates. Harrison Redfield succeeded Mr. Holley to the foremanship, and was followed in turn by John H. Brady, an excellent foreman, who fully sustained the reputation of his company. William E. Berrian, Isaiah Rodgers, Abraham Cooper, Alonzo W. Hadden, were the foremen in later years, Hadden being the foreman at the time the Paid Department came in vogue in 1865. John H. Brady was elected from the foremanship of this company to the post of assistant engineer, serving from 1853 to 1856. 

No. 4. -- Eagle. -- The first No. 4 was established on October 21, 1811, and located at Chatham Square. Subsequently it was located in third (Eldridge) Street, near Walker, and disbanded in 1864. Among the members were Daniel M. C. Mills, foreman; Peter Cullen, assistant foreman; Charles Monell, John Douglas, George Hauptman, and Francis Raymond.

On Monday evening, May 10, 1852, the members of Eagle Hook and Ladder Company presented to Mr. Peter N. Cornwell a magnificent silver trumpet. The trumpet was presented in behalf of the company by W. R. Goodall, the young tragedian. Before presenting it he called upon his friend Mr. Hamilton, a very clever actor in the Bowery theater, to sing, "The Ship on Fire." Mr. Hamilton complied. Mr. Goodall then proceeded in a brief but eloquent speech to present the trumpet. He alluded to himself being a fireman in the "City of Brotherly Love." He spoke of the universal praise by with which he always heard the members mention Mr. Cornwell, and concluded by wishing them a long, happy and prosperous life.

George B. McClellan (the second No. 4). -- Was organized in 1864' had no special location, and went out of service in the following year. Michael Loftus was foreman, Thomas Flynn assistant, George W. Sanders secretary. Among the members were P. Murphy, James Toohill, J. J. Hogan, J. McKron, L. Loftus.

No. 5. -- Union ("Screamer"). -- Organized in 1826; located at Delancey and Attorney Streets; after 1847 at 91 Ludlow Street; after 1856 at 152 Norfolk Street, and went out of service in 1865. Among the members were Andrew Grogarty, foreman; Floyd Palmer, and James Myers.

No. 6. -- Lafayette. -- By a special resolution of the Common council, Lafayette Hook and ladder Company No. 6 was organized on the twenty-seventh of July, 1829. Among its first members were David G. Winkle, Jacob L. C. Roome, Laurence Crumb, John C. Franklin, Henry Johnson, Ed. Moore, and John Leander Spinella. They were located on Mercer Street, between Prince and Houston, which location they maintained until disbanded by the overthrow of the Volunteer Department. They ran a rather old-fashioned truck until they could have a new on built. David G. Winkle was elected their firs foreman, and on the night of the first election they had a grand jubilee at Lafayette Hall. There were present over one hundred delegates from other companies to wish them success as a new company. The following year they added to their roll Archibald Reid, William Sherwood, George and William Cowen, and Jacob Lozaba. At the great fire in 1835 the members to a man never left their post--in fact they were the last truck to take up and go home. The citizens gave them great credit for their efficiency, and the proprietors of the Astor House entertained them by furnishing them a sumptuous collation. The first new truck they ever brought out was with the new patent running gear of Pine & Hartshorn, which was adopted to many of the other companies afterwards. It was certainly a great improvement on the former style, as men upon the rung and tiller could buck the sidewalk with impunity, and not be thrown. About the time they received their new apparatus, Henry Hardenbrook, William H. Smith, and Alfred A. Judah joined, and were followed by James M. Murphy, formerly clerk of the Jefferson Market Court, James L. Kellogg, Tunis Miller, George Boyd, Samuel A Moore; then came Mortimer Marsh, George Lightboy, George L. Mather, Charles P. Haviland, John Creighton, and Edward Portinger. At the fire in 1845, the company again distinguished itself by saving thousands of dollars' worth of property. There was probably no company in the department that ws more particular in the selecting of members than No. 6. They never aspired to full rolls, and were continued with small numbers; but those they had were, however, good firemen.

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

HTML by Debbie

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