Brooklyn Standard Newspaper
13 April, 1871 


Statement of the Present Condition of the Widows' and 
Orphan's Fund TOTAL FUND, $86,936.51.
Seventy-eight Widdows and Sixty-eight Children Dependent on the Fund.

Knowing that there are many thousand people in this city, who cannot 
fail to be interested in all that has pertained to the old 
Volunteer Fire Department, we have concluded to present in this areticle a
few facts connected with its early history, besides giving a statement of 
the present condition of the Widow's and Orphans' Fund.  

The FIRTS FIRE COMPANY was organized on the 30th day of April, 1785.  
A meeting of the freeholders was called at the house of Widow Moser, 
which was located on what is now called Fulton Street, near the ferry, and 
after considerable discussion it was finally agreed that the company should 
be composed of seven members, and be commiissioned for one year. 
The following named persons were selected to act:  
Henry STANTON, Captain; 
Thomas HAVENS,  
J. VAN COTT, and Martin WOOD.  
They also voted the sum of 150 pounds to purchase an engine, and among 
the regulations adopted was the requirement that the members of the company
should meet on the first Saturday in each month "to play, work, and clean 
the engine".  If any member failed to attend on these days, a fine of eight 
shillings was imposed.

THE FIRST ENGINE was constructed by Jacob BROOME of New York, who had just 
commenced business as the first engine builder ever located in that city.  
Previous to this venture on the part of BROOME engines were imported from 
the mother country.  The company, at its first meeting, adopted the name of 
Washington Engine Company No. 1, and was up to the dissolution of the volunteer 
department in active existence.  The engine-house was located in a lane now 
called Front Street.  At this time a great many people of the highest respectability 
commenced to look favorably on the company, and sought to become members of it;
but as it had been decided to limit the organization to seven men, they failed 
in their efforts, and it was not until 1787 that the freeholders permitted the 
number of members to be increased to eleven.

FIFTY FAMILIES residing within the limits of the fire district - the entire 
population, including some one hundred slaves, numbered three hundred and fifty souls.  
There were seventy-five buildings, mainly located between what is now called 
Henry Street and the ferry.  Although fires were of a rare occurance, and the 
damage sustained of a trivial nature, yet nine years' use of the engine, as 
well as misuse in the "playing and working part", made it necessary to get a 
new one.  In view of this fact, on the first Tuesday of April, 1794, the sum of 
one hundred and eighty-eight pounds and nineteen shillings was speedily collected 
and a new and more powerful engine procurred, constructed by a 
Mr. HARDENBROOK, of New York.  During the same year the office of clerk and 
treasurer of the department was created, and Mr. John HICKS was chosen to 
perform the duties.

On the 22th of March, 1795, the former act of the Legislature was amended 
to increase the number of firemen to thirty members, and about the same time 
a town meeting was held, and it was resolved that each house in the fire 
district should be provided with two fire buckets at the expense of the residents.  
At the same meeting the subject of settinp up a fire
                ALARM BELL    
was agitated, and incurrred a great deal of opposition on account of the great 
expense that would attach to it.  But the agitation was kept up, and at the 
town meeting held the year following the proposition was carried, and the sum 
of forty-nine pounds, four shillings was raised for its purchase.  After the 
bell had been procured, a discussion ensued as to whose house it should be hung on, 
when it was finally decided that the most proper place would be on the storehouse of 
Jacob REMSEN, on the corner of Front and Fulton streets, on the present site of 
At that time the tide flowed up to within twenty feet of the house.  
This bell was taken down about fifty years ago, and removed to Middagh street, 
near Henry, where it remained until 1827.  In that year it was removed to 
the block bounded by Bridge, Gold, Prospec, and Sands streets, where, upon 
the erection of a building known as the "Eastern Market", it was placed in 
the cupola.  This place was subsequently converted into a place for religious 
worship, and the bell remained there up to within tow years, when it was taken
to the Corporation shop.  Where it is now, a great many people are anxious to discover.

Of the period, 1795 to 1816, there is no record of any noteworthy incidents.  
It is true that the department increased in strenght and efficiency, and 
several new engines were purchased.  
Among them were Neptune Company,  No. 2, and Franklin Company, No. 3.  
Before 1816, the restriciton of thrity men was found to be a great evil.  
The population had increased to FIVE THOUSAND,and the number of buildings in proportion. 
The same year the village of Brooklyn was incorporated, and the and the trustees 
were directed to appoint, from time to time, as many firemen as they might 
deem expedient.  With this authority the trustees promptly ninety-five men 
and organized new companies.

On the 4th of May, 1816, the office of CHIEF ENGINEER
was established, and John DOUGHTY appointed to fill the position.  
At this time the system of annual appropriations was also introduced, and the 
amount of $300 was raised for Fire Department purposes.

On the 18th of October, 1817, the trustees organized the First HOOK & LADDER Co
limiting the membership to fifteen, 
Samuel BIRDSAIL was chosen foremen, 
the following were made members of the company:  
Cornelius VAN CLIEF,  
Egbert K. VAN BUEREN, 
Wm. K. DEAN, 
Robert W. DOUGHTY, 
Stephen SCHENCK, 
Isaac DENYSE, 
Walter NICHOLS, 
William PHILLIPS, 
Samuel WATTS, 
Robert DYKEMAN, 
After their organizartion it was some time before they obtained their truck, 
and in consequence they were frequently compelled to carry their ladders and 
hooks by hand in going to and returningf from a fire.  When their truck was 
handed over to them the right to membership was increased to twenty-five men.

In 1817 William FURMAN was chosen Chief Engineer, and held the position 
until 1821, when John DOUGHTY was again the recipient of the honor.

of any importance occurred on the 21st of August, 1822.  
At this fire a number of buildings under the Heights were destroyed, in 
which were stored naval stores and cotton to the amount of $85,000.  The 
fire is memorable from the fact of its having been the scene and the 
occasion of the first accident and death of any of its members.  
Mr. Walter McCANN there received injuries from the slipping of a fire hook 
and its striking him on the head, resulting in his deathe.

About this time Lafayette Engine Co. No. 5 was organized.  
Its first officers being 
John F. L. Dution, foreman; 
Ralph MALBONE, Assistant; 
Thomas TAYLOR, Secretarey; 
John B. JOHNSON, Treasurer; and 
John P?ASE, Steward.  
This ws the first engine that had a reel attached, and the 
other companies were not long in adapting the improvement.

On the 16th of April, 1823, and act was passed incorporating the 
Fire Dpartment of the Village of Brooklyn.  It provided that the affairs 
of the department should be managed by a Board of Trustees, which should 
consist of a President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, and nine 
trustees to be chosen out of the whole body of the engine men and hook 
and ladder men, there bing no provision made for hose companies.  This act 
was amended April 18, 18??, providing for a member from each hose company.

The first President of the Board of Trustees was John DOUGHTY, 
the first Vice-President Joshua SUTTON, 
the frist Secretary Richard CORNWELL, 

the remaining members of the Board were 
Jeremiah WELLS, 
George FRICKE, 
Gamaliel KING, 
Simon BACK, 
Joseph MOSER, 
Parshall WELLS, 
George L. BIRCH.

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