Our Firemen, The History of the NY Fire Departments

Chapter 53, Part II

By Holice and Debbie

BENJAMIN A. GICQUEL, Chief of the Seventh Battalion, was born in New York, February 1, 1842. After attending public schools, he followed the trade of a jeweler for a time. He began to take an interest in fire matters very early, and finally joined Clinton Hose Company No. 17, a prominent organization of the Volunteer Department. He was secretary of the company. Chief Gicquel was appointed a member of the Paid Department in 1865. Three months later he was made assistant foreman of his company. On the third of May, 1866, he was promoted to foreman, and assigned to Engine Company No. 5, and subsequently served in Engine Companies Nos. 9 and 25. On 1871 he was advanced to the post of chief of battalion, and was placed in command of the Sixth, and two years later transferred to the Fifth, now the Seventh, where he is at present stationed. The construction of buildings, the origin and nature of fires, and the ways and mans to subdue them, have all been studied in detail by him.

He was the second recipient of the Bennett Medal. The act for which the medal was presented was the saving the lives of two women and two children at a fire in Montgomery Street on the morning of September 26, 1869. In 1880 he made a thorough inspection of all the theaters in New York. At a fire on the corner of Cherry and Montgomery Streets, on July 20, 1882, which broke out about midnight, Chief Gicquel mounted a ladder to climb to the roof, and when he had reached the third story, lost his footing and fell to the ground. He was in the hospital for three months, after this accident.

On May 1, 1886, Chief Gicquel left for Europe to study the Fire Departments of the chief cities. While in Paris he met Henry D. Purroy, President of the Fire Commissioners, and both were royally entertained by Col. A. C. Couston, Chief of the Paris Fire Department.

JOHN S. FISHER, chief of battalion, new York Fire Department, joined Hook and Ladder Company No. 15 in 1856, at that time located on Third Street, near Avenue D, and subsequently became connected with engine 35 and Hook and Ladder 16. In the latter company he was an active member on the disbandment of the Volunteer Department. During his service as a volunteer fireman, he secured the experience in fighting fire which ash distinguished him in the present Department as a cool, intrepid, and valuable officer. For several years after the organization of the Paid Department, he was a bellringer on the lookout towers. On February 8, 1868, he was appointed a firemen, and assigned to Hook and Ladder 2. On May 30 , 1868, he was promoted to be assistant foreman of Hook and Ladder 7, and on July 15, 1869, he was advanced to the rank of foreman, and assigned to the same company. He was subsequently transferred to Hook and Ladder 2, and while in that company was severely burned by an explosion at a fire in a dyeing establishment at Sixth Avenue and Forty-third Street. the injuries sustained laid him up for two months. On May 21, 1873, his merit as a foreman was again recognized, and he ws promoted to the rank of chief of battalion, and assigned to the Fifth Battalion, in command of which he remained only a few months, when he was transferred to the Eighth Battalion.

WILLIAM ROWE, Chief of Battalion, New York Fire Department, was born December 24, 1842. He joined Hook and Ladder Company No. 18 on June 8, 1864. On the organization of the present department he ws appointed foreman of Hook and Ladder company No. 9, October 20, 1865. He was promoted to the rank of chief of battalion May 21, 1873, and assigned to the Third Battalion, and transferred to the First Battalion February 15, 1875, and afterwards to the Twelfth Battalion, where he is at present stationed.

SAMUEL CAMPBELL, chief of battalion of the new York Fire Department, entered the Volunteer service when he was twenty-one years old. He joined Washington Irving Hose company No. 44, on October 8, 1863. He became treasurer of the company, and remained with it until the organization of the New Department, when he was appointed to Engine Company No. 26, October 16, 1865. In that company he served in turn as driver, stoker, and assistant engineer, and was finally promoted to be assistant foreman to Engine Company No. 23, September 1, 1869. He was made foreman on February 1, 1873, and assigned to Engine Company No. 32. Two years later, on September 25, he was promoted to chief of battalion, and assigned to the Sixth.

JOHN J. BRESNAN, chief of the Sixth Battalion, was a member of Fulton Engine Company No. 21 in the Volunteer Department. He was appointed a member of the Metropolitan Fire Department on October 20, 1865, and assigned to Engine No. 31. Promoted to be assistant engineer of Engine No. 12 on February 1, 1870. On July 1, 1870, he was promoted to the rank of assistant foreman, and transferred to Engine Company No. 6. He also served for as short time in Engine Company Nos. 13 and 20. March 1, 1873, he was appointed foreman of Engine Company No. 33. He commanded this company until February 1, 1880, when he was appointed chief of the Sixth Battalion, with headquarters in the house of Hook and Ladder No. 3.

MICHAEL F. REEVES, chief of the Tenth Battalion, New York Fire Department, was born in Ireland, December 27, 1843. He came to the United States with his parents when four years old. From New York the family went to Albany, returning to New York in the course of a few years. Michael has lived in New York since he was seven years old, and has a thorough knowledge of the city. On the sixteenth of April, 1867, after the organization of the present department, he was appointed a fireman. He was he was first assigned to Hook and Ladder Company No. 10, in Fulton Street, where he saw plenty of hard service. On the fifteenth of October, 1870, his efficiency was recognized by promotion to assistant foreman of Hook and Ladder Company No. 1. He remained with this company only until August 1, 1871, when he was further promoted to foreman of Hook and ladder Company No. 8. Here he distinguished himself by the most faithful and heroic services for a period of nearly ten years. He secured for the company the highest possible reputation, which it still retains, and was himself placed on the Merit roll of the department for heroic conduct. On the first of November, 1881, he ws promoted chief of the third Battalion.

Once he was very severely injured , and was laid up for three months; indeed, not fully recovering for eighteen months. The accident happened on the seventh of January, 1879, at a fire at No. 76 Vesey Street. A portion of the building fell, and Reeves was buried beneath the ruins. His coolness and skill were remarkable at a fire at No. 132 West Broadway on January 4, 1874. When he was instrumental in saving the lives of many tenants. For this his mane was placed on the roll of merit.

In the old department Reeves was a member of Hose Company No. 45, when it was in Avenue A and Nineteenth Street.

JOSEPH F. McGILL, Chief of the Third Battalion, was born November 14, 1843. He joined Hudson River Engine Company No. 53, on February 18, 1864, and served until the Old Department was legislated out of existence. Chief McGill was appointed a fireman in the Metropolitan Fire Department on March 21, 1866, and assigned to Engine Company No. 12, in Wooster Street. Promoted assistant foreman in April, 1870, and transferred to Engine Company No. 27; was appointed foreman of Engine Company No. 33 in 1872. He commanded Hook and Ladder Company 10; Engine Company Nos. 7 and 30 until the introduction of self-propelling steamers, when he was sent to command the one assigned to Engine Company No. 32 in Burling Slip. He was promoted to be chief of battalion on August 12, 1883, and assigned to the Third Battalion, which he has successfully commanded until the present. Chief McGill's name was placed on the roll of merit while in command of Hook and Ladder 10, for the rescue of Harriet Colgan from the upper part of the burning buildings, Nos. 35 and 37 Vesey Street, on March 3, 1873. On November 22, 1879, Mr. Edward W. Tapp presented Chief McGill was a handsome gold watch and chain, on behalf of the merchants in the district of Engine Company No. 32, of which Chief McGill was then foreman.

THOMAS GOODERSON was appointed a fireman on February 1, 1874, and assigned to Engine Company No. 35. He was promoted assistant foreman of Engine Company No. 22 on December 20, 1875; transferred to Engine Company No. 36, January 4, 1876; and on April 11, of the same year, was appointed foreman of Engine 37; transferred to Engine 35 on June 1, 1879. On January 15, 1884, he was appointed a chief of battalion, and sent to command the Twelfth Battalion. Chief Gooderson was transferred to the Ninth Battalion on May 1, 1886, where he is now stationed. His record as a fireman is first-class.

THOMAS LALLY, chief of the Fifth Battalion, was born in the west of Ireland, on November 16, 1850. His family emigrated to this country when he was very young, and settled on the east side of this city. He was appointed a member of the Fire Department August 15, 1870, and assigned to Engine Company No. 25; was transferred to Hook and Ladder No. 9 September 1 of the same year; promoted assistant foreman of Hook and Ladder No. 6, April 31, 1873; transferred to Hook and Ladder Company No. 10 on April 4, 1879. On November 1, 1881, he ws promoted foreman of Hook and Ladder No. 1. He was appointed chief of the Third Battalion (now the Fifth) on May 1, 1884. Chief Lally's name may be found on the roll of merit more than once, for the rescue of imperiled persons. On the twentieth of may, 1874, he rescued two children from the fourth floor of the burning building, No. 18 Clinton Street. He assisted in the rescue of eight persons on March 11, 1877, at No. 24 Ludlow Street. He again figures as assisting in the rescue of four persons on July 21, 1882.

CHARLES D. PURROY , chief of Second Battalion, was appointed a fireman on January 22, 1880; promoted assistant fireman, April 5, 1881. December 31, 1882, he was promoted foreman; and on May 1, 1884, he went a grade higher, chief of the Second Battalion.

JOHN J. CASHMAN, chief of battalion, New York Fire Department, was born on September 25, 1845. When twenty-one years old he ws appointed a firemen on October 19, 1866, and assigned to Engine Company No. 13. He was transferred to Engine Company No. 29 soon after, and on the fifteenth of February, 1872, was promoted to the rank of assistant foreman, and assigned to Engine Company No. 6. He was transferred to Engine 27 in October, 1873, and promoted to the rank of foreman from that company on April 22, 1879, and assigned to Engine Company No. 29. He was transferred to Hook and Ladder No 5, in September, 1883, and to Hook and Ladder Company No. 8, November, 1883. He was made chief of the First Battalion on September 12, 1884.

PETER H. SHORT was a member of the Albany Fire Department from 1872 to 1874. He came to this city in 1875, and was appointed a member of this Department on May 1, 1875; he was promoted assistant foreman on June 1, 1880, and foreman April 18, 1883, and chief of battalion on August 1, 1886. Chief Short has a record of which he might well be proud. On February 21, 1885, at a fire in Nos. 16 and 18 William Street, and Nos. 57, 59 and 51 Beaver Streets, Chief Short, then foreman of Hook and Ladder No. 1, with the assistance of firemen Furman, King, Cottrell, Lynch, Clarke, and Lyons, rescued at great personal risk Mr. and Mrs. Jaede, their daughter, and Josephine Kraft and Mary Leavy. Six persons lost their lives at this fire, and one person was injured. For this act he was presented with the Bennett medal, and a resolution was presented to the Board of fire commissioners asking for this promotion. This resolution was signed by the leading insurance and business men of this city. On April 18, 1886, with the assistance of firemen Larkin and Tompkins, Chief Short rescued, at great personal risk, Mrs. Hannah Riley and her three children, from the fourth floor of the burning building, No. 89 Mulberry Street.

The late FRANCIS MAHEDY ws born in this city in 1839. He joined the Volunteer Fire Department in 1859, and afterwards became foreman of engine company No. 31, and served until the breaking out of the war, when he enlisted in the army. On his return Mr. Mahedy again resumed command of No. 31. He served with this company until the disbandment of the Department.

He was appointed a member of the Paid Department in 1870, and assigned to engine Company No. 27; he was promoted assistant firemen, and transferred to

Engine company No. 12. While assistant foreman of this company, he was buried for four hours at a fire which occurred in Duane Street.

Later on he became attached to Engine Company No. 28, where he was advanced tot he position of fireman, and transferred to engine Company No. 1. In 1881 he was appointed chief, and assigned to the command of the Second Battalion, where he served for nearly three years, and was then transferred to the Fourth Battalion. It was while in command of this battalion that he met his tragic death, which is still fresh in the memory of all. While driving to a fire his wagon collided with an engine, throwing him out; he died two hours later. His funeral was a grand sight; his battalion marched to the ferry, as did Veteran and Volunteer Firemen's Association. His wagon was covered with a black pall, and his fire-hat upon the seat, with a bouquet lying by the side of it. The horse, covered in a black netting, was led by the driver who was in the wagon when the collision took place. The funeral procession was under the supervision of Chief Gicquel.

His tragic death was mourned by a host of friends, outside as well as inside the department, as his manly nature and gallant conduct in official life had endeared him to all.

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

HTML by Debbie

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