enter name and hit return
OUR FIREMEN : THE OFFICIAL HISTORY OF THE
BROOKLYN FIRE DEPARTMENT
COMPANIES OF THE FIFTH DISTRICT.
DISTRICT ENGINEER JAMES MCGUIRE.
- THE FIFTH DISTRICT IN OLD WlLLIAMSBURG
WITHIN the limits of the Fifth District is included what may be regarded as
the heart of the Eastern District of Brooklyn, the Williamsburg that once was
an independent city, having expectations of a future distinct from that of
the more extensive neighbor that has since annexed it, under the
Consolidation Act of 1855. The business and residential centre of this
thriving section of Brooklyn lies within the boundaries of the Fifth
District. The district adjoins 'the Fourth on the north and comprises all
that lies between the water-front from the Navy Yard to Grand Street,
Flushing Avenue, Graham Avenue and Grand Street. It includes also all the
Navy Yard itself. Of its four engine-companies three are congregated
within a few blocks of the water-front and of Broadway, while the fourth is
located in the remoter portion of the district in the Sixteenth Ward. The
buildings here comprise all the varieties that go to make up a city,
representing as they do the full development of the nucleus of the original
- EX-DlSTRICT ENGINEER GEORGE A. FROST : EVERYBODY'S FRIEND
In the death of the late George A. FROST, District Engineer commanding the
Fifth District, the Department lost an efficient officer and its members a
valued friend. Mr. FROST's first experience as a fireman was with No. I, of
Bushwick, in which place he was born, in 1834. When Williamsburg and
Bushwick were consolidated with Brooklyn, this company became Friendship No.
1, of the E. D., and soon after its organization Mr. FROST became its
Foreman. Later he served four years as assistant engineer, and, being
engaged in the butcher business, used his butcher cart to convey him to
fires. Ill health caused him to serve as bell-ringer, from 1864 to the
1869 reorganization, when he was made driver of No. 1, of which company he
became, eighteen months later, the Foreman. In 1872 he was appointed
District Engineer! Failing health had prevented his performing duty for a
year previous to his death, and he was contemplating retirement. His
funeral was attended by ten Foremen, ten Assistant Foremen, with a detail of
100 men; Commissioner ENNIS, Deputy Commissioner Moore, Inspector CASSIN,
Ex-Chief SMITH, of Brooklyn, and Ex-Chief Bates, of New York. Mr. FROST
was fond of sport, and was a member of the "Undine" club whose club-house is
at Rockaway Beach.
- DISTRICT ENGINEER JAMES MCGUIRE
A POSITION WON BY MERIT
Among the recent appointments of District Engineers, on July 18, 1892. one
of the most popular was that of James MCGUIRE, who, as Foreman of Engine
Company No. 11, had been Acting District Engineer since the death of George
A. FROST, his predecessor. Mr. MCGUIRE came out of his examination for
promotion with a percentage of 78, and showed in every way that during his
temporary incumbency the command of the district had been in the right
hands. Not only was he skilful, but he was one of the bravest of the
brave, and. although his service had won him no life-saving medal, not a man
in No. 11 will forget how he took his life in his hands to save one of his
own men from impending death. On the night of Feb. 5, 1890, a fire broke
out in the American cocoa-matting factory, which occupied the block between
Spencer and Walworth Streets. Firemen Charles E. BROWN and William
MCCLEARY were sent in on the ground floor of the building with the hose.
The smoke was dense and they had not been in the building long before they
found communication with the street cut off.
They felt that the smoke was overcoming them and BROWN, getting down on his
hands and knees, followed the line of hose to the entrance, where he fell
exhausted. His face and hands were badly burned. Foreman MCGUIRE went
into the building to look for MCCLEARY, who, in the meantime, had become
bewildered in trying to grope his way out, and, instead of going to the
front of the house, had worked his way back to the windows in the rear.
They were covered with heavy wire netting, and, while trying to break it he
fell exhausted. Foreman MCGUIRE had not proceeded into the burning factory
when he was driven back to the street. He tried it a second time with no
better success. " I will bring MCCLEARY out or die with him," said the
heroic man, as he dashed into the building the third time. It was a
perilous undertaking, but Foreman MCGUIRE never flinched from what he
believed to be his duty, and when his men had given up all hope of seeing
him alive again, he struggled out of the doorway, bearing MCCLEARY, whose
hands and arms were terribly scorched by the flames.
District Engineer MCGUIRE was born in this city, on March 12, 1838. He is
married and lives with his family at No. 234 Hewes Street, and, prior to
becoming a fireman, served in the navy. He was appointed a fireman on Dec.
21, 1872, and was assigned to duty with Engine No. 15. In May, 1874, he
was promoted to the grade of Foreman and assigned to Hook and Ladder Company
No. 6, and on July 23, 1877, was transferred to his last company command.
Engine No. 11. His experience as Acting District Engineer prepared him
admirably for the discharge of the duties of the position with the full
official responsibility he now carries so well and so satisfactorily.
- ENGINE COMPANY NO. II
ON HAND AT ALL GREAT E. D. FIRES
Engine Company No. 11 was organized on Sept. 15, 1869, and is quartered in a
brick house with brownstone trimmings on Clymer Street, near Bedford Avenue,
Prior to the organization of the uniformed force. Victory Engine Company No.
13, of the Volunteer Department, had their quarters on the site of the
present building, and after the disbandment of that company, and upon the
formation of Engine Company No. 11, the latter occupied the old house up to
the year 1888, when the present engine-house was erected. The apparatus of
this company consists of a second-class Amoskeag engine, and a four-wheeled
tender. The engine horses are both fine, large bays and their driver calls
them " Bill'' and " Sam." The team for the tender consists of a black
horse, "Mike," who is extremely docile and a very steady worker. His mate
is " Charlie," a large, fine-looking dapple-gray, who is very frisky, but
not at all vicious.
While resisting the shoeing process in December, 1890, he dislocated the
right arm and shoulder of Driver William M. O'BRIEN, who was using his best
efforts to quiet the animal. " Charlie " is also credited with having
kicked Fireman James Sylvester PRYOR and breaking his knee cap in November
last, but the verdict of the company declared it fit to be a case of
"accidental kicking." PRYOR is still on the sick list. There is another
stall in the engine-house, occupied by a little black horse called " Jim,"
who was a great favorite of the late District Engineer George A. FROST, and
the horse seems to miss him as much as do the men with whom Mr. FROST was
daily associated. As to the men who compose the company, they are as brave
a lot as the Fire Department of Brooklyn can boast. They respond to calls
from 81 boxes on a first-alarm, and 82 additional on a second-alarm.
Among the buildings of note in the Eastern District over which the company
have to keep strict surveillance are the Amphion, Lee Avenue Academy, the
Novelty and Bedford Avenue theatres, and the Grand Museum, Christ P. E.
church; the First Reformed church, St. John's M. E. church, the Ross Street
Presbyterian church St. Peter's and St. Paul's Roman catholic church, thc RC
church of the Transfiguration, the Lee Avenue Congregational church, and the
First Baptist church. Within the boundaries of their district also are eight
public schools, Nos 16, 17, 19, 33, 37, 38, 48 and 50. Besides these,
there are many places of business, some of them from seven to ten stones in
height. Among the latter are Pratt's oil works, and the sugar refineries of
Havemeyer & Company. Brooklyn Sugar Refining Company, De Castro & Donner,
Moeller & Sierck, and J.A. Mullenhauer. The districted includes also the
Wa labout Market, Grand Bazaar, American Cocoa-matting Company, SMITH & Gray
s clothing house. Birch's paint works. Cross & Austin's lumber yard Healy's
iron works, Paul Wiedman's brewery and Dunlap's hat factory.
At all the great fires in the Eastern District, at which property has been
destroyed in amounts ranging from $100,000 to $1,000,000, the boys of No. 11
have taken a very active part. Some of the larger fires at which the
company has worked are those in the Heckler Iron Works, a block of
flat-houses on Nostrand Avenue, Church's soda water factory, Dick & Meyer's
sugar works, the Commercial Street sugar works Wiedman's cooperage, Palmer's
cooperage, Waterbury rope walk, Pratt's oil works, Dunlaps hat factory, the
Planet Mills, the fire on Court Street during the water famine Hyde &
Behman's theatre, the American Cocoa-matting Company, Sone & Fleming's
oil works, at which two firemen were burned to death; Jennings oil works,
Wallabout Market; a fire at the foot of Clymer Street, at which several hay
barges were burned the Delmonico Place fire, at which a woman and child were
burned to death; Mason's furniture factory, the Adelphi Academy, the Marine
Hospital, Kennedy's machine shop, the lubricating oil works on Steuben
Street; and the fire at Pierrepont stores, at which three ships, two
lighters and several hundred feet of warfage were destroyed, and several
firemen were overcome with the fumes of burning jute butts. The company
members particularly remember the fire at Lewis' mat factor, at Lorimer and
McKibben Streets on the day of the blizzard of 1888, for they went to the
fire with the engine runners, and one of the horses was stuck in a
snow-drift and died soon after from the effects of the exposure. They
remember, too, the fire at the Bushwick car stables in which 100 horses were
suffocated or burned to death. They call to memory with feelings of
sadness the Herseman bakery fire at Power's Street and Graham Avenue on June
23, 1884, at which Jonathan TYACK, Acting Foreman of Hook and Ladder Company
No. 6, and George W. HAIGHT of Engine Company No. 15, were killed by failing
walls; and they also vividly recall the terrible loss of life occasioned by
the fire at St. John's Orphan Asylum, in the winter of 1883-4. The last
big fire to which they responded on a special call was that in the SMITH,
Gray & Company building at the junction of Fulton Street and Flatbush Avenue.
Assistant Foreman PETER WILLIAM CARTWRIGHT was born in County Kildare,
Ireland, on March 31, 1844. He served five years in the Volunteer Fire
Department with " Northern Liberties," Engine No. 5, and on Aug. 1, 1870,
was appointed to the uniformed force and assigned to Hook and Ladder No. 6.
He remained with this company for a few weeks only and was then transferred
to Engine No. 12, where he remained for nineteen years. On July 1, 1889,
he was promoted to the grade of Assistant Foreman and assigned to duty with
Engine No. 11, where he has since remained. Mr. CARTWRIGHT was in charge
of Engine No. 12, during the fire at Donald's oil works on Sept. 15, 1882,
when Charles KEEGAN, a member of the company, was burned to death. While
responding to an alarm of fire on June 23, 1890, the engine struck an iron
column of the Elevated Railroad at Johnson Avenue and Broadway and
Mr. CARTWRIGHT was thrown off and had his collar-bone broken. Mr.
CARTWRIGHT is married and lives with his family at No. 104 North Ninth Street.
Engineer ALFRED ELY GRUNDMAN was born in New York City, on Dec. 14,
1838. He was an engineer in the Volunteer Department from 1857 till 1869,
when he became a member of the uniformed force and was assigned to duty with
the company to which he is now attached. He is temporarily detailed to the
Assistant Engineer PHILIP WISCHERTH was born in New York City on Feb. 17,
1859. He is single, and lives at No. 12 Locust Street. He was appointed on
Jan. 30, 1882, and assigned to Engine No. 12, where he remained for one
year, and was then transferred to Engine No. 11. From this company he was
transferred to Engine No. 21, and after two years' service with that
company, was sent back to No. 11. While responding to an alarm of fire in
1884, the tender on which he was riding broke down and he had his leg badly
CHARLES E. BROWN was born in Calais, Maine, on April 18, 1854. He is
married, and lives at No. 247 Lee Avenue. In his younger days he went on a
whaling voyage. For seven years he served in the merchant marine service,
and also served as a seaman in the navy on the " Yantic " and " Nipsic." He
became a fireman on Jan. 1, 1887, and was assigned to Mo. n. He was for
short periods attached to Engine No. 13 and Hook and Ladder No. 6. Mr.
BROWN had a terrible experience on Feb. 5, 1890 at the burning of the
American cocoa-matting factory on Walworth Street, from which building he
escaped after being nearly suffocated and having his hands, arms and face
WILLIAM McCLEARY, whose life was saved by the heroic efforts of Foreman
MCGUIRE at the American cocoa-matting fire, was born in this city on Jan.
30, 1858. He is married and lives at No. 163 Lee Avenue. He was appointed
on April 1, 1885, and assigned to Engine No. 11, where he did active duty
until the time of the fire. His hands were so badly burned at that time
that he can no longer do active duty work and he is now detailed to duty at
the Bell Tower, at North First Street and Bedford Avenue.
Driver WILLIAM M. OBRIEN was born in Williamsburg on Dec. 27, 1841. From
May 19, l862, till April 23, 1865. he served in the United States Navy on
board the war vessels "Adirondack" and "Memphis." He was appointed a
fireman on Sept 15, 1869, and on Dec. 21, 1871, was promoted to the grade of
driver and assigned to the company he is now attached to. He had his right
arm and shoulder dislocated by one of the tender horses on Dec. 29, 1890,
and still feels the effects of the injury Mr. OBRIEN rescued Mrs. Jane
TAYLOR from the top floor of No. 363 South First Street in Apr, 1887. Mr.
OBRIEN's home was nearly opposite the house in which Mrs. TAYLOR
Lived. He was looking out of his window and saw flames coming out of the
window of Mrs. TAYLOR's room. He seized his heavy overcoat, rushed across
the street, burst open the door of the woman's room and found her enveloped
in flames and unconscious. He threw his coat about her and smothered the
flames, and in doing so scorched his hands and arms. Mrs. TAYLOR was taken
to the hospital, where she afterward died from her injuries. Mr. OBRIEN is
an old volunteer fireman and was attached to Protection Engine No. 2. He is
married and lives at No. 350 South First Street.
JAMES SYLVESTER PRTOR was born in the Fourteenth Ward on May 9,1855 He
was appointed on Feb. 17. 1887, and assigned to Engine Company No. 17 where
he remained one month and was then transferred to Engine Company No. 11. While
acting as driver of the steamer on Nov. 29 last he had his knee cap broken by a
kick from one of the tender horses, which disabled him for many months.
SAMUEL H MADOLE was born in Williamsburg, on Dec. 19, 1841. He saw
active service with the 84th N. Y. Volunteers in the late war, and was
disabled at building of Fort Cass on Arlington Heights. On his return from
the army he joined the Volunteer Fire Department. He was appointed to the
uniformed force on April 20, 1878, and since that time has done service with
Engine Companies Nos. 16, 22, and 11.
While doing active duty at a fire in Kennedy's machine-shop at North Third
Street and Kent Avenue, he fell down an open hatch into the sub cellar and
received severe injuries to his arms and back. While going to another fire
the tender broke down and his spine was injured. Later he was thrown from
the back of one of the fire horses and had his head injured. During the
large fire at Watson's stores he was overcome with smoke from the burning
jute butts and was laid up for several days in the Brooklyn Hospital. Mr.
MADOLE is a widower, and has a grown up son and daughter with whom he
resides at No. 208 Rodney Street.
Isaac Brower GEISCHARD was born in this city, Dec. 22, 1838. He served his
country in the Civil War for one hundred days with Company H. l3th Regiment,
N. G. S. N. Y., and subsequently served six years with Washington Engine No.
1 of the Volunteer Department. He received his appointment as fireman on
April 23, 1872, and has since done duty with Engine No. 11. He is the
stoker of the engine.
HENRY J. PAUL was born in England on Nov. 11, 1836, and was appointed a
fireman on Aug. 3, 1875. . He has done active service with Engine Companies
Nos. 16 and 11, and, being a mason by trade, is now detailed at Fire
Headquarters to make such repairs in the engine-houses as are needed in his
JOHN STRIFFLER was appointed on March 23, 1891 and assigned to Engine No.
21. In February, 1892 he was detailed to Engine Company No. 11, where he has
since shown himself to be a courageous, efficient member of the force. At
the Nostrand Avenue flat-house fire in December, 1891, Mr. STRIMER with the
assistance of Fireman Richard BROWN rescued District Engineer FANNING when
he fell through the roof. He was born in New York City, on Oct. 9, 1865, is
a married man and lives at No. 154 Varet Street.
PATRICK J. MEAGHER was born in Brooklyn on Sept. 23, 1863. Prior to his
appointment to the uniformed force, on July 1, 1892, he was a driver for
- ENGINE COMPANY NO. l6
TWENTY YEARS OF HARD WORK
Engine Company No. 16 occupies a house that was built nearly forty years
ago. It was first used as the quarters of Bucket Company No. 6, of the
Volunteer Department, which some years later was merged into Eagle Engine
Company No. 6, the latter company eventually being reorganized as Hose No.
6. The house is in a dilapidated condition, the sleeping apartment of the
men being the best part of it. The interior arrangement of the house is
different from that of any other company in the Department, in that the
horses' stalls are in the front of the house instead of the rear. The
team, " Bill," a very intelligent black horse, and " Jim/' a dark bay, stand
on either side of the engine, while " Joe," the tender horse, has a stall
right along side of the two- wheeler. The company was organized in Sept.,
1872, and by actual showing are called on to do more active duty than any
company in the Department. In 1891 the total number of runs was 216, while
up to June, 1892, they had responded to alarms from 106 boxes. They are
quick workers, their average time in getting out of the house after the
signal being five seconds. They are located in a very dangerous district
for fires, there being two houses on each lot, most of them frame tenements
three and four stories in height, and any number of large manufactories and
other buildings in which are stored materials which make hot work when once
the flames get a foothold. The district covered by this company on a
first-alarm is bounded on the north by North Second Street, and Union
Avenue; on the east by the Second bridge of Newtown Creek; on the south by
Park and Nostrand Avenue and on the west by South Eleventh and Berry
Streets. There are 84 boxes within these boundaries. On a second-alarm
they respond to calls from 188 boxes, which takes them anywhere from Classon
Avenue to Hunter's Point Bridge.
In their own district are Ketcham's tin factory, Schulz's bakeries, McKee's
refrigerator factory, Greenfield-s candy factory, Fallarfs brewery,
Williamsburg Brewing Company, Metropolitan Brewing Company, Otto Huber's
brewery, Abbotfs brewery, Burger's brewery, Sietz's brewery. New York and
Brooklyn ale brewery, Och's brewery', St Catherine's Hospital, Kalbfleish's
chemical works, Benzer's chemical works. Brookfield s glass works, Huber's
glass works. Herseman's bakery, Worn's furniture factory, Thomas shoe
factory, an electric light plant, Bossett's moulding mills. Hardy &
Voorhis' moulding mills, Reynolds- coal and wood yards, Waterbury rope-walk
Wan s rope-walk, Och's moulding mill, Peter Cooper's glue factory.
Valentine's varnish works, Dunlap's and several other large hat factories,
Lewis' wood matting factory Laurence rope-walk. Cable Wire Works, Harvey &
Pease's saw factory, silk weaving Mills, SMITH's shoe factory, Klofs lime
brick, coal and lumber yards, the Lyceum theatre, eleven public schools,
Nos. 18. 19, 21,23, 23, 36,43, 49, So, 69 and 71, GermanLutheran church.
South Third Street Methodist, Union Avenue Baptist, Zion African
E. church, Old Bushwick Dutch Reformed, St. Mary's Roman Catholic,
HolyTrinity, St. Nicholas Roman Catholic, and the Church of the Transfiguration.
Foreman THOMAS CLEARY was born in Dublin. Ireland, Aug. 24, 1856, and was
educated in that city. At the age of fourteen he came to this country and
worked at whatever his hands found to do until he was old enough to become a
railroad man. At this he continued until he was appointed a member of the
Fire Department on Jan 12. 1882. He was then assigned to Engine No. 17,
transferred to Engine No. 13 then to Engine No. 12, and while a member of
the latter was promoted to the grade of Assistant Foreman on March 1, 1887.
On June 1, 1891, he was advanced to the grade of Foreman and placed in
command of Engine No. 29 and afterward of this company.
In August, 1891, Mr. CLEARY assisted in the rescue of three persons who were
found unconscious on the top floor of a bakeshop and dwelling on Meeker
Avenue. Although he has been in many perilous positions since he became a
fireman he has fortunately escaped without injury.
Assistant Foreman JOHN O'BRIEN, like every man connected with the company
has seen some hard service to which at times great peril was attached. He
is one of the fortunate ones who in his fourteen years' connection with the
Department has escaped being injured. Mr. OBRIEN was born in Brooklyn on
Dec. 25, 1848, and was appointed to the uniformed force on Jan. 1, 1878.
His first duty was with Engine No 13. After his transfer to Engine No. 16
and on Feb. n, 1890, he was promoted to the grade of Assistant Foreman and
sent to Hook and Ladder Company No. 8, from which company he was transferred
to this company in 1891.
Driver WILLIAM C. BONNER was born in New York City, on Sept. 20, 1854, and
his appointment to the Brooklyn Fire Department dates from Sept. I, 1885.
Since that time he has done duty with Hook and Ladder Company No. 6 and
Engines Nos. 11, 18 and 16. At a fire in a dwelling-house on South Third
Street, he was sent through the house to open it up. On the top floor he
stumbled over a woman who had been overcome by the smoke and unaided carried
her down a ladder to the street, where she was brought back to
Engineer ANDREW TAYLOR was born in Birmingham, England, on Nov. 2, 1844.
He was an engineer in the Brooklyn Volunteer Department from 1865 till 1869
and was attached to Neptune Engine Company No. 7. He was appointed to the
new Department on Sept. 15, 1869, and was the first engineer of Engine No.
13, from which company he was transferred to this at the time of its
PHILIP ANDREW BAILEY was born in Brooklyn, on Sept. 16, 1858, and became a
member of the uniformed force on Dec. 15, 1885. He did his first fire duty
with Engine Company No. 15 and was transferred to Engine No. 24 at the time
of its organization. He was afterward transferred to Hook and Ladder
Company No. 4 and from that company to Engine No. 16. In 1888 at a fire in
a desk factory on Hopkins Street, Mr. BAILEY with Fireman MADOLE was left on
the third floor of the building with the pipe. The smoke was so dense that
the two men could not stand it longer and they began to grope their way
along to find the staircase. MADOLE crawled along the floor and after
reaching the stairs lost consciousness and rolled down. BAILEY followed
the line of hose and as he was crawling came in contact with a member of
Engine No. 9 who was lying across the hose unconscious. Fireman BAILEY,
although nearly exhausted himself, rolled his unconscious comrade along the
floor ahead of him to the stairway and that was the last he remembered until
he was picked up with the other two men at the foot of the stairs by members
of his own company who had come into the building to relieve them. In 1890
at the white lead factory fire on South Third Street, Fireman BAILEY
was standing on a ladder holding the pipe in one of the windows of the top
story. Suddenly the flames burst out from the windows of the floor below him
and enveloped his feet and legs. He was badly burned and was laid up for a
Stoker JOSEPH BRISCOE was born in Brooklyn, on July 10, 1846. He served in
the United States Navy on board the " Savannah " during the war, and was in
the Volunteer Fire Department for five years as a member of Northern
Liberties Engine No. 5. He was appointed a member of the uniformed force on
Sept. 20, 1872, and has done duty in Engine Companies Nos. 12, 15 and 16 and
Hook and Ladder No. 4.
WILLIAM HENRY McCORT was born in New York City, on March 24, 1852. He
has been a member of the Brooklyn Fire Department since Feb. 17, 1887, and
during that time has been connected with Engines Nos. n, 16 and 18. During
the fire in the flats on Nostrand Avenue he found a kitten in a burning
building and tenderly carried it to the street. At Palmer's cooperage fire
on May 29, 1887, he was about to step from a 35-foot ladder onto the roof
with a line of hose on his shoulder when he went over the side of the ladder
and fell three stories to the ground. His left arm was broken, his hip was
dislocated and he was otherwise so badly injured that he was not able to
perform active duty for seven months.
JOHN HINESON, besides being a very efficient member of the present Fire
Department, is a veteran of the Volunteer Department and also of the late
war. He was born in the town of Mill Creek, Penn., on Aug. 25, 1856.
During the war he was a member of the 56th N. Y. Volunteers. As a
volunteer fireman he ran with Red Jacket No. 1, formerly Red Jacket No. 10.
He was appointed to the uniformed force on June 5, 1880, and assigned to
duty with this company. From April, 1886, till November, 1890, he was
detailed as bell-ringer in the Fourteenth Ward tower.
THOMAS JOSEPH FLAHERTY was born in Bath, Maine, on Sept. 15, 1849, and has
been connected with the Brooklyn Department since Dec. 30, 1878, during
which time he has seen some hard service with Engines Nos. 6, 11, 22 and 16.
In the dark early morning of a bitter cold day in December. 1885, he was
precipitated down a half-burned hatchway to the cellar of a factory at South
Eighth Street and Kent Avenue. When he was picked up by his comrades he
was believed to be dead, but on his arrival at the hospital it was found
that his injuries were confined to the back and that no bones had been
broken. It was six months before Mr. FLAHERTY was able to go out and he was
then detailed to the Fourteenth Ward tower as bell-ringer, where he remained
for about three years.
THOMAS BOLAND was born in Brooklyn on March 11, 1866, and he has been a
fireman since July 20, 1890. He did his first fire duty with Engine
Company No. 20, and was transferred from that company to this in 1891. Mr.
BOLAND, although but two years in the service, has proved himself to be a
valuable acquisition to the force.
ABRAM L. TURNER was born in Middletown, Orange County, N. Y., on Nov. 27,
1866. He was following the occupation of saw-making when he received his
appointment to the Department on July 1, 1892.
There is another member of this company who performs duty but whose name
does not appear on the pay-roll at Headquarters. She is known as "Topsy,"
and is as black as the ace of spades. Nine years ago Fireman HINESON
brought " Topsy," then a kitten, into No. 16's house, and there she has
remained ever since. She is a very intelligent cat, and the men say she is
worth her weight in gold as a ratter.
In a list of big fires at which this company have performed many hours of
hard labor are the Havemeyer sugar house, Dick & Meyer's sugar house, the
Commercial Street sugar house, Pratt's oil works (three times), Kingsland
Avenue oil works (three times), Knickerbocker ice stables, Horseman's
bakery. Church's soda works. Palmer's cooperage, (twice), Heckler Iron
Works, (twice), Nostrand Avenue flat-houses, Harbeck stores, Watson's
stores, Ovington Brothers' crockery store, Hamburg Avenue flat-houses, the
Delmonico Place dwellings, color works on Tenth and Eleventh Streets,
Hubert's glass house, Wallabout Market (twice), Waterbury rope-walk. Wall's
rope-walk, Kalbfleisch'schemical works, Reubert's moulding mill, Solon's
moulding mill, Remsen's carriage factory, Warner Institute, also St. John's
Home, and the Home of the Little Sisters of the Poor.
- ENGINE COMPANY NO. 21
SEVEN YEARS WITHOUT AN ACCIDENT
Engine Company No. 21 was organized on June 16, 1885. Its home is in South
Second Street near Bedford Avenue, and a very comfortable place it is.
There are three equine members of the company, and their names are "Tip,"
"Bill" and "George," and they furnish the power for transporting the engine
and two-wheeled tender to and from fires. There is also a feline member
whose name is " Jumbo," but so far as the size of the animal is concerned
there is nothing to warrant the name. The district covered by this company
on a first-alarm is bounded by Bushwick Creek, Union Avenue, Broadway and
the East River. In it there are seventy-seven boxes, and the
company responds to calls from ninety-nine additional boxes on a
second-alarm. Important buildings in the district are the large sugar
houses along Kent Avenue extending back to the river-front. Palmer's
cooperage, Pratt's oil works. Hinds and Ketcham's electrotyping
establishment. Central Stamping Company, Electric Light Works, Industrial
School, Public Schools Nos. 37, I/, 19; Primary School No. 2, and the branch
of No. 19, Homoeopathic Hospital, Eastern District Hospital, Eye and Ear
Infirmary, the Novelty, Grand, Bedford, Amphion and Lee Avenue theatres,
Christ Episcopal church, St. Paul's Episcopal church, St. Mark's Episcopal
church, St. Peter's, and Paul's Roman Catholic church, Bedford Avenue M. E.
church, African M. E. church, Dr. Well's Presbyterian church, and two
Assistant Foreman JOHN A. TRAVIS was born in Brooklyn on July 15, 1853, was
made a fireman on March 2, 1885, and advanced to the rank of Assistant
Foreman July 1, 1891.
Engineer GEORGE M. WILLETS was born in Brooklyn in 1854, and became a member
of the uniformed force on Jan. 24, 1887.
Driver THOMAS F. MAIN was born in New York on Oct. 4, 1858; he became a
fireman Jan. 12, 1882, and was promoted to driver on June 16, 1885.
WILLIAM.THOMAS SYLVESTER CANNING was born in Brooklyn on New Year's
Day 1861, and he has been a member of the Brooklyn Department since April 2, 1885.
FRANCIS SMITH JOSEPH O'BRIEN was born in Brooklyn on Oct. 30, 1849, and he
has been a fireman since Sept. 15, 1876.
JOHN SYLVESTER CARNEY is a native of Brooklyn, and was born Feb. 10, 1854
He was appointed Jan. 30, l882.
CHRISTOPHER S. LEAVY was born in New York on Sept. 7, 1843, and his
connection with the Fire Department began on May 4. 1871.
DAVID J. RYAN is a Brooklynite, and he was born on Dec. 25, 1862. He has
been a member of Engine No. 21 since he was appointed on Dec. 14, 1885.
James Thomas GEATONS was born Feb 9, 1866, in Brooklyn, and has been a
Fireman since Aug. 1, 1889.
RICHARD HAROLD BROWN was also born in Brooklyn, Nov. 20, 1867. He is
comparatively a new man in the business, having been appointed on Aug.1, 1891.
John STRIFFLER is also a new man in the service. He was born in New York
City on Oct. 9, 1865, and was appointed to the force on March 23 1891.
NAPOLEON DUCHARME hails from West Troy, N. Y., in which town he was born.
He has been a member of this company since he was appointed to the uniformed
force, on March 12, 1892.
Following are a few of the fires to which the company have been summoned on
first, second and third alarms, and where they have done credit to
themselves as well as the Department: - Pratt's oil works, the Commercial
Street sugar house, the North Seventh Street sugar house. Palmer's
cooperage, the Nostrand Avenue and Park Avenue flat-house fires, Hover's
glass house, Church's soda works, the Bushwick glass works. Young's bagging
factory, Furman Street stores, the Agricultural Works Contractor Clark's
stables, where one hundred mules were roasted alive.
- HOOK AND LADDER COMPANY NO. 4
FIGHTERS OF OIL FIRES.
Hook and Ladder company No. 4 has been active service since the
organization of the Paid Department. They are located in a district which
is bounded on the north by Union Avenue and North Seventh Street; on the
east by Hayward Street, on the south by Rodney Street and the Wallabout
Basin, and on the west by the Wallabout Basin and the water-front extending
up to North Seventh Street. In this district there are sixty nine boxes.
On a second-alarm of fire they respond to calls from ninety additional
boxes. They are supplied with a first class Hayes truck which has a" 85
foot extension ladder, and three powerful horses to draw it. The names of
the horses are "George" and "Frank," both bays, and "Mikado," a gray, who
takes his name from the comic opera of that name.
In the district covered by the company on a first-alarm is Batterman's dry
goodshouse, and other large mercantile houses on Grand Street; SMITH, Gray &
Company, clothiers; Cross & Austin's moulding mill, several large knitting
mills and machine-shops, Hinds & Ketcham's paint works. Johnson's moulding
mills, the Royal Baking Powder and Cleveland's Baking Powder Companies'
works, Vogel's tinware factory, the large sugar house on the water-front,
and the immense freight depots of the Erie, Pennsylvania and the Baltimore &
Ohio Railroad Companies. Also Palmer's cooperage,
Pratt's oil works. Central Stamping Company. Electric Light Works, Nugent's
electrotyping works, several public schools, three hospitals, the Lee
Avenue, Bedford, Amphion, Grand and Novelty theatres, St. Peter's and St.
Paul's Roman Catholic church, the Bedford Avenue, South Third Street and
Roebling Methodist churches. Dr. Wells' Presbyterian church, St. Mark's
Episcopal, Dr. Harkins' Episcopal, First Baptist and Central
Baptist, All Souls Episcopal, two Lutheran churches, African M. E. church,
St. John's M. E. church. Father Hoffman's Roman Catholic, St. Vincent De
Paul's, Calvary Church, St. John's Methodist and Christ Episcopal churches.
The station of Truck No. 4 is on South Third Street near Driggs Avenue.
Since the organization of the company the men have had some extremely bad
fires to handle, among them being Pratt's oil works, the Standard oil works
at different times, Palmer's cooperage, Havemeyer's sugar house, the
Commercial Street and North Seventh Street sugar houses, the flat-house
fires on Nostrand and Park Avenues, the Bushwick glass house. Young's
bagging factory, Church's soda works. Agricultural Works, dark's stables,
Harbeck stores, Pierrepont stores, and in fact nearly all the big fires
which have occurred since 1869.
Foreman HUGH GALLAGHER was born in County Fermanagh, Ireland, on March
25, 1856 ; and received his education at the common schools. He came to
the United States in 1872, and became a member of the Brooklyn Fire
Department on Nov. 30, 1881. He was promoted to the grade of Assistant
Foreman on March 1, 1887, and to the rank of Foreman on July 1, 1889.
Foreman GALLAGHER is one of the brave men in the Department who have rescued
their fellow-beings at great risk to their own life and limb, and he has
sustained injuries from accidents. On Nov. 13, 1885, he sat in the
tillerman's seat when the axle of the apparatus broke. He was thrown
violently to the pavement and sustained a compound fracture of the left
elbow. On Decoration Day, 1886, he was riding on the extension-ladder of
Truck no. 4, during the parade. The truck was decorated with a figure of
Liberty, and Mr. GALLAGHER's duty was to see that no overhead
obstructions swept it from its place. At Berry and South Ninth Street a
large branch ,of a tree hung so low that the truck could not pass under it
without disturbing the decorations. He was attempting to pull the branch
out of the way when it broke and knocked him off the ladder. He was picked
up unconscious two of his ribs were broken and his back was badly contused.
It was a long while before he was able to resume his duties. In Nov.,
1886, at a fire at No. 10 Jackson Square, he rescued an aged German woman
who lived on the third floor, who had been overcome while trying to
escape. On April 30, 1892, with the assistance of Firemen ROGERS and
WAYRICK he rescued the SCHOLER family, consisting of six persons, from the
third floor of a burning dwelling.
Assistant Foreman JOHN MCKENNA was born in Ireland, Dec. 17, 1845 and has
been a member of the Department since its organization. Mr. McKenna was
advanced to the rank of Assistant Foreman on June 1, 1891.
Driver DANIEL EDWARD KAIN was born in New York City, Nov. 19, 1854 and has
been in the Department since Jan. 27, 1882.
PATRICK KENNEDY, the tillerman, was born in Ireland, Dec. 2, 1845, and was
appointed a fireman. Dec. 19, 1872.
GEORGE ROGERS was born in New York City, Aug. 19, 1859, and his connection
with the Department began on June 15, 1885. While a member of Engine
Company No. 23, on Jan. 2, 1886, he saved a man from drowning at great risk
to his own life. At a night fire on April 30. 1892, at No. 191 Broadway. he
found a girl of seven years on the third floor, and carried her down the
ladder and placed her in the arms of her distracted parents.
GEORGE W. PRATT was born in Massachusetts, Dec. 14, 1856, and he has been a
most excellent worker since he became a member of the uniformed force, March
RUSSELL GLASIER GARDNER was born in New York City, Oct. 9, 1853, and has
been a faithful member of the Brooklyn Department since April 1, 1885.
JAMES V. RHODES was born in Williamsburg, Jan. 8, and has been in the
service since Sept. 1, 1878.
GEORGE WHITEHEAD KEIGHLER was born in New York City Dec 29 1842. He
served three years in the United States Navy during the war and in the
Volunteer Fire Department days was a member of Neptune Engine Company No. 7.
He became a member of the Paid Department on March 6, 1878.
FRANCIS XAVIER WAYRICK was born in Brooklyn on July 1, 1858. He served
three years and three months in the United States Navy, and was made a
fireman by Commissioner POILLON on April 1, 1885.
MICHAEL J. SHORT was born in Brooklyn, Oct. 15, 1854, and since he was made
a fireman on Jan. 30, 1882, has been a faithful and useful member of the Department.
WILLIAM JOHN STAPLETON was born in Brooklyn. Jan. 2, 1855, and on Jan. 30.
1882, was appointed a member of the uniformed force.
JAMES SMITH was born in this city, Oct. 20, 1864. He was a plumber prior to
his appointment on July 1, 1892.
Transcribed for the Brooklyn Pages by Mimi Stevens
BROOKLYN FIRE DEPT. Chapter 13
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