Our Firemen, The History of the NY Fire Departments
Chapter 44, Part IV
By Holice and Debbie
Handsome and often costly prizes were given for the best marksmen, and a degree of efficiency and discipline was attained that would do credit to the regular soldiers of any army.
The Gulick Guards were organized October 17, 1835, and during their existence sustained a high reputation for their drill and discipline. They first paraded in firemen's uniforms but later, in 1833 and 1839, they adopted a different uniform, and were finally attached to the Second Regiment N. Y. S. M., as an independent company. They numbered from one hundred to one hundred and twenty-five men, and were the outgrowth of No. 40 Engine Company. They had their yearly encampment, and were famous among the militia companies of the day. The first captain was John C. Helms, John Carland, the popular foreman of Lady Washington Engine Company No. 40, was his successor, and Gilbert C. Deane was the last captain of the Gulick Guards. The well-known Henry S. Mansfield, of Columbia Hose Company No. 9, and afterwards some of the organizers of United States Engine Company No. 9, was a lieutenant; and James Elkins, who was assistant foreman of Lady Washington engine Company No. 40, and later foreman of Independence Hose Company No. 3, was also a lieutenant. James Bostwick, of Lady Washington Engine Company No. 40, was orderly sergeant. Moses O. Allen, of Hope Engine Company No. 31, and afterwards foreman of Independence Hose Company No. 3, was a sergeant; and James F. Wenman--a son of Uzziah Wenman, formerly chief engineer of the Fire Department, a gentleman of the old school, an associate of Thomas Franklin, Jamieson Cox, and firemen of the like stamp--who was foreman of New York Hose Company No. 5, and afterwards an assistant engineer, was likewise a sergeant. He was ever an active fireman, and is to-day a member of the Veteran Firemen's Association, Mr. Wenman and Mr. Allen were secretaries of the Gulick Guards. Nicholas Bello was also a sergeant. The Gulick guards were not mere sunshine soldiers--they exercised not only in the drill room and streets, but camped out for a week in each year, and were thoroughly instructed in the practical life of a soldier. These encampments were in various sections; they went into camp at New Rochelle, Catskill, Hyde Park, and Keyport. During these encampments they were visited by many Gothamites, who wanted to see how the boys looked under canvas. The visitors hospitably entertained--put through the ackward squad, and given to understand that they could not play off any of their practical jokes on old soldiers. The Gulick Guards paraded on al military occasions, with the Second Regiment, and Colonel Spicer considered them the crack company of the regiment. At the time of the anti-rent war they volunteered their services to the State, and held themselves in readiness to march with the regiment. They were not called into the field on this occasion, as the order for the military was afterwards countermanded. Their first uniform was, fire-coat of blue pilot cloth, with pants of the same material, white cross-belts, fire-cap skull with brass peak and frontispiece, with a silver G. G. The second uniform was double-breasted blue frock coat with gilt trimmings, blue pants with red stripe, white cross-belts and G. G. on the breast-plate, the cap the same as that worn by the Seventh Regiment at that period, with white pompon with red ball.
They went on an excursion to Philadelphia, making the entire trip by water onboard of a schooner chartered for the occasion. The pleasure of this trip was saddened by a most melancholy accident. One morning while the vessel was in Philadelphia, David Heulet and Frank Newman indulged in a little sportive "skylarking." In the course of their play they slipped on the deck, and while endeavoring to recover themselves, lost their balance and fell overboard. Newman was a good swimmer and was rescued, but Heulet did not come to the surface. Search was made for him, but the energetic efforts proved fruitless--it was supposed that his head must have struck against some hard substance, stunning him, and that he was swept away with the current. Much to their regret, his comrades were obliged to return home without his body. Some time after it was discovered several miles below the city, and kindly cared for and brought to New York by a delegation of Philadelphia firemen, and was interred in Greenwood. The balls given by the Gulick guards were features in the social life of the Metropolis, and were invariably looked forward to with pleasure by the belles of Gotham.
There were other organizations made up of member of difference companies, and among them were the following:
The "P. G.'s" Sharpshooters, Captain John N. Hayward, organized 1841. All of the best shooters in the city accompanied them to target practice. Dave Pollock, of No. 22 Engine, and Joe Hannas, of No. 41 Hose, were among the leaders.
The Growler Guard, Captain Thos. O'Brien, from the Seventh Ward. Captain O'Brien was never known to smile or laugh. The men generally went to Thatcher College, New Jersey. It was a fantastical company, and gave large balls every year, and an extra street parade.
The Legion (November 25,1870), Wm. M. Tweed in command; Colonel W. Kipp and Hawes, and Captain John Rudman, Eugene Durnin, Daniel Garvey, Michael Whalen and E. H. Hall. In this year they made a grand parade on Broadway and Fifth Avenue, eleven thousand turning out. At Irving Hall a dinner followed.
The chowder clubs were also important factors in this kind of sociability. Among them were the following:
"Big Six," (famous in all things), was located in Henry Street. They had there the cellar dug out at an expense of two hundred dollars and fitted up for that purpose, having the finest apartment of any company in the city. They were famous for chicken and oyster chowder, also salmon and clam chowder; and fish and eel chowders, distributed every Saturday night to hundreds. They had lots of fun in singing, dancing, and telling fine "yarns." They never forgot Sunday morning, and always broke up at 12 o'clock on Saturday night. No. 38 Hose, Warren Association, in Sullivan Street, were visitors of "Big Six." No. 29, Metamora Hose, "Rich Men's Poor Sons," was also a great crowd. No. 40, Empire Hose, over in Morton Street, used to have lots of chowders, pigeon pies and pullets broiled. No. 36, Oceana Hose, caroused on wine and turkey a la Woodhull and Slote. No. 38, Amity Hose, nothing less then wine and turkey a la Connover. No. 9, Marion Engine, chowders. No. 14, Columbian Engine, veal pie. No. 16, Mohawk Engine, venison, stew and roasts. No. 24, Jackson Engine, mostly fish and eels and rapper cooked a la McWinnie. No. 7, Ringgold Hose, lots of good singing and music. No. 53, Naiad Hose, generally supper, very stylish. No. 55, Harry Howard Hose, much the same. No. 29, Guardian Engine, chowder a la Eugene Ward, head cook. No. 58, Merchant Hose, famous for crackers and cheese, ale and herring.
After the Old Department was disbanded in 1865, the boys did not know where to congregate. Many a club was organized, and many a first floor and basement were rented and nicely fitted up. Among the new clubs was the Washington Club, located in Greenwich Street, giving its annual balls and picnics every year. Messrs. Thos. Cleary and James Hasson were at the head of it. The Warren Association, from No. 33 Hose Company, located in Sullivan Street, gave annual balls and chowder parties every Saturday evening to many old-timers. Its officers were Thomas Yeomans, Charles Denman, Jack Stoudhoff and H. Webb. Valley Forge Association, from Engine Company No. 46, J. H. Terrell, president; Dr. W. H. Boyd, secretary; Geo. A. Nurse, W. S. Hick, Ed. Cobb, and J. W. Jacobus. They have their annual suppers at Martinelli's. Clinton engine Company No. 41 Association, Geo. W. Wheeler, President. Live Oak engine Company 44 Association. Has balls and picnics, and the profits go to the burial fund' Peter Maloney, president. Americus Engine Company No. 6 Association--W. B. Dunley, president; David M. Smith, Vice-president' W. H. Burns, secretary; John H. Hughes, treasurer--was organized to have an annual supper to celebrate the first fire the company attended on June 11, 1849, and to bury the dead and visit the sick. This association has a lot in Greenwood Cemetery, close to the Firemen's Monument; they have one hundred and fifty-three living members, and at every supper about ninety attend.
Transcribed by Holice B. Young
HTML by Debbie
You are the Visitor to this USGenNet Safe-Site� Since March 9, 2001.
[Firefighters Index][NY AHGP][NY ALHN]