enter name and hit return
OUR FIREMEN : THE OFFICIAL HISTORY OF THE
BROOKLYN FIRE DEPARTMENT
FIREMEN 'S MONUMENTS.
On a high eminence in the plot of the old Eastern District Volunteer
Fire Department in the Evergreens Cemetery, Brooklyn, N. Y., stands a
strikingly fine monument over the grave of William BALDWIN, late Foreman of
Engine No. 16. It was erected by his comrades, as a testimonial to the
fidelity of a fireman who was the first member of the new Department that
died at his post of duty.
At seven o'clock on the morning of January 14, 1880, a fire broke out in
Otto HUBER's brewery, on old Bushwick Avenue. Engine No. 16 assisted in
fighting the flames. In half an hour the fire was under control; when
without a second's warning one end of the building collapsed. Six firemen,
including BALDWIN, were buried in the debris. Willing hands rescued them,
and all recovered with the exception of Baldwin, who died six days afterward
in St. Catherine's hospital. He left a wife and three children to mourn his
loss. BALDWIN had always been a favorite with his brother firemen, and his
death threw a gloom over the whole Department. He had been with it for
eight years; five years of which he was Foreman of Engine Company No. 16.
The interment took place on Thursday January 22. The funera1 service was
read in the South Third Street M.E. Church, and the body was laid in the
firemen's plot at "The Evergreens." At the graveside were Chief NEVINS
and his subordinate engineers, the Foreman and two men from every company in
the Eastern District; the entire company with which the deceased was
connected; members of the Fire and Building department and many others. On
Friday evening, February 20, a performance of Camille was given in the
Academy of Music, and also one at the Novelty Theatre, which realized $5,505
for the widow and children She also received $250 from the Fire Department
Fund, of which, the dead fireman was a member.
A few days after the funeral, President Hugh MCLAUGHLIN, Chief Engineer
NEVINS and Assistant Chief SMITH met and resolved that something should be
done to perpetuate the memory of the brave man. A meeting was held
consisting of one man from each company, and it was decided to erect a
monument, a plan for raising the money being adapted which yielded the sum
of nine hundred dollars for the purpose. The monument was unveiled May 24,
1881, by Mayor HOWELL, in the presence of thousands of
of spectators, among whom were representatives of evey department of the
city government and societies to which the departed hero belonged. The
monument consists of white marble statue of BALDWIN, in the full uniform of
the Fire Department his right hand resting on a fire hydrant at his side.
The statue rises from a pedestal eight feet high, made of polished Quincy
granite, the foundation of which is a lighter colored stone. On the
pedestal are inscribed the name of William BALDWIN and the story of his
heroic death as a continuing inspiration to all who would be remembered for
The Evergreens Cemetery of which this monument is one among many
adornments, became a chartered institution on October 6, 1849. It embraces
about 300 acres of land. Its main entrance is on Bushwick Avenue and
Conway Street. The selection of its site was made after a careful and
thorough survey, by its promoters, of the entire vicinity of New York and
Brooklyn. The location is appropriately secluded from the noise and bustle
of the great world of life, and the grounds are absolutely unequalled in
their fitness for a burying-ground. To its admirable natural advantages
have been added the elaborate adornments of art. which unstinted outlay on
the part of the Trustees has supplied. Broad, substantial stone roads,
bordered with paved gutters, furnish at all seasons a pleasant drive of many
miles, enabling the visitor to reach every part of the cemetery. Few
cemetery sites in the world have been more highly susceptible of development
in their natural possibilities, and the genius of the landscape gardener has
here won some of its most noteworthy and admirable triumphs. Considered,
therefore, with reference to its position of nearness and accessibility; the
availability of its entire surface for the purpose of interment; the extent,
diversity and beauty of its grounds; its natural forest growth, and the
loveliness of its surroundings, the "Evergreens" compares most favorably
with all other rural cemeteries. The Evergreens is organized under the act
authorizing the incorporation of rural cemetery associations, passed April
27, 1847, and the several amendments thereto. The statutes contain every
desirable provision for safety, permanence and government of the cemetery,
while the rights of lot owners are also carefully guarded thereby. The act
exempts the cemetery lands forever from liability to be sold on execution or
for the payment of debts by assignment under any insolvent law, and
prohibits any public road avenue or street from being laid out or opened
through the grounds of the cemetery.
Besides this monument erected to the memory of BALDWIN, in Evergreens
Cemetery, there are many other monuments which chronicle the heroic
sacrifice of other members of the Department. It is the commendable custom
of the members of the Department thus to honor the memory of every one of
their comrades who may meet his death in the discharge of his duty. There
are two designs for this purpose. That used for members of engine-companies
is the same as that described as commemorating BALDWIN a pipeman apparently
looking for the best point to which to direct the stream.
This has been called " Ready for Business." The other, for truckmen,
represents a fireman with one hand resting on a hydrant and in the other
holding a short hook. The name given to this design is "Waiting for Orders."
Both these figures were designed by ex-Assistant Chief John W. SMITH, during
his term of office. Six of these monuments, in the different cemeteries, are
already standing, and another is now being provided for. They have cost
the members of the Department $1,500 for each, and the funds for them have
been raised in a novel manner proposed by Chief Engineer NEVINS,
while returning with Assistant Chief SMITH from the funeral of William
BALDWIN. Whenever it becomes the misfortune of the Department to lose one of
their number by accident at a fire, each member of the Department
contributes toward the monument the sum of one cent a day for one year.
This happy idea has worked uniformly well, and it reduces to a minimum the
burden on the members, while it insures to the martyrs to duty each a worthy
memorial. During the twenty-one years of its existence the Department has
been fortunate enough to have lost from their number by accident at fires
only six, two others having been thrown from the apparatus on the way to a
fire and run over and crushed to death.
The names of those who have been honored with monuments and the
circumstances of their death, are as follows:
Foreman of Engine Co. No. 16, killed Jan. 14, 1880 (details as given above).
Foreman of Hook and Ladder No. 4, killed at fire in oil
works at Meeker Avenue and Newtown Creek, Sept. 15, 1882. Monument erected
in Calvary Cemetery, May 15, 1884.
Robert MC DOUGAL,
Hook and Ladder No. 3, killed at fire in Harbeck's stores,
July 25, 1883. Monument erected in Greenwood Cemetery, Sept. 28, 1886.
Acting Foreman of Hook and Ladder No. 6, and George W.
HAIGHT, Engine Co. No. 15, killed at Hersemann's bakery, Graham Avenue and
Powers Street, June 22, 1884. Monument erected in Cypress Hills Cemetery
Nov 8, 1886.
Charles MC HUGH,
Engine Co. No. 12, died from injuries received by being
thrown from tender at Greenpoint and Manhattan Avenues, Aug. 8, 1889.
Monument erected in Calvary Cemetery, Oct. 29, 1889.
William J. CHIN,
Engine Co. No. 20. died Jan. 5, 1883, from injuries
received by being thrown from supply wagon at fire in oil cloth works, 19th
Street between 8th and 9th Avenues. Monument erected in Greenwood
Cemetery, Aug. 4, 1891.
Hugh MC GOWEN,
Hook and Ladder No. 5, killed at fire in 17th Street. Jan. 4,
1891. Monument to be erected in Flatbush Cemetery when completed.
Transcribed for the Brooklyn Pages by Mimi Stevens
BROOKLYN FIRE DEPT. Chapter 4
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