enter name and hit return
OUR FIREMEN : THE OFFICIAL HISTORY OF THE
BROOKLYN FIRE DEPARTMENT
FIRE HEADQUARTERS STAFF, ETC., (Continued)
- VETERINARY SURGEON HEARD
EDWARD H. HEARD, the Veterinary Surgeon of the Department, was born in the
County Clare, Ireland, on Hallowe'en night, 1844 and with his parents came
to this country one year later. His father, who was County Inspector of
Constabulary, in Ireland, died in this country in 1887. In 1858, young
Edward, having obtained all the education which the common schools afforded,
and being a great lover of horses, was sent to study for a surgeon, at the
Veterinary College in Edinboro, Scotland, from which institution he
graduated four years later with the title of M. R. C. V. S. E. On his
return to America, he took up his profession in New York City, remaining up
to 1871. In that year, Dr. Heard went to Parkville and set up a training
and veterinary establishment. Breeders of trotting horses found in him just
the man they wanted to develop and bring out their young stock, and to give
medical and surgical aid to the ailing ones, and it was not long before this
rising young veterinary had more business than he could well attend to.
He was a first-class driver as well as a good trainer, and gave many a young
horse his fastest record. He sat in the sulky when " Harry Gilbert " made
a mile in 2:24; when " Ellen Mary " circled the course in 2:30; and when "
Phil" trotted a mile heat in 2:23¼.
In those days " Blind Tom " had the fastest record as a pacer. Dr. Heard
had in his stable that famous young pacer, " Rowdy Boy," who was afterward
known from Maine to California, with whom he hoped to break the record of
"Blind Tom." He did not succeed in doing this however, but captured the
next fastest record, which was 2:13¼. He gave " Parole " his record of
2:26; "Whitestone " 2:35; " Sophia" 2:34; and drove many other young horses
when they made creditable records for themselves.
Dr. HEARD opened the first hotel on the Brooklyn Boulevard. It was
known as the " Club House," and became the resort of all the noted sporting
men of the country. Later on he became the proprietor of the "Hawthorne
House," which was equally as well patronized. In 1886, he passed a civil
service examination for the position of veterinary surgeon to the Fire
Department, and out of eleven applicants was the successful competitor.
Dr. Heard is married, and lives at No. 474 Ninth Street. His love for
animals has increased as the years have come and gone, and he is now the
proud possessor of many fine and valuable horses. He is a member of the
Constitution Club; the Twenty-second Ward Democratic Club; the Prospect
Club; the Varuna Boat Club, and many other well-known clubs. He is
likewise a member of the National Provident Union; Court United, A. 0. F.,
and the American Legion of Honor.
- SURGEON ROBBINS
SURGEON NATHANIEL A. ROBBINS.
Dr. Nathaniel A. ROBBINS, the senior Surgeon of the Fire Department, was
born in Salem, Mass., in the year 1840. He studied medicine with the late
Dr. PIERSON, of that city, and afterward went through a course of studies at
the Harvard Medical College, from which he was graduated with high honors in
the year 1864. During the war, he served in a medical capacity on the
United States barque, " Gemsbok," and later entered the army as assistant
surgeon, and for several months was on the Retiring Board. When the war
ended Dr. ROBBINS came to Brooklyn and took up the practice of his
profession, which has since grown to be a very lucrative one. For many
years he was surgeon of the Brooklyn City Dispensary. In 1884 he was
appointed Surgeon in the Fire Department, and since that time has examined
many thousand applicants for membership in that Department. At present he
is examiner for the Mutual Life Association of America, and also for the
Provident Fund Society. He is a well-known man in Brooklyn, both socially
and professionally, and during the period of his connection with the
Department has gained the good-will of both officers and men in the
Western District companies. He resides at No. 94 Pineapple Street. His
brother, Brigadier-General Charles A. ROBBINS, was for many years Inspector
of Rifle Practice on the governor's staff.
- SURGEON SMITH
SURGEON JOSEPH E. SMITH.
Dr. Joseph E. SMITH, Surgeon for the Fire Department in the Eastern
District, was born in the Fourteenth Ward on the 10th day of March, 1853.
After receiving a preliminary education at the public schools in
Williamsburgh, he took a medical course at Jefferson Medical College,
Philadelphia, from which he was graduated on March 10, 1875. He began the
practice of his profession in the Nineteenth Ward, in which
during the past fifteen years, he has acquired a very extensive and
lucrative private practice. He has for many years been a member of the
King's County Medical Society, and is visiting physician to St. Mary's
Hospital. Dr. SMITH was the first man appointed under the civil service
rules for the office of Surgeon of the Department, to which position he was
appointed March 31, 1886. He is highly esteemed among the Eastern District
firemen, and has the kindest regards of the officials of the Department.
In the social world he has a host of friends, and in professional circles
ranks among the first.
- ASSISTANT INSPECTOR FLYNN
ASSISTANT INSPECTOR JAMES H. FLYNN.
James H. FLYNN the Assistant Inspector of the Department, was born in
Ireland in the year 1845. When he was nine years old his parents came to
this county and established their first home in the Fourth Ward of the City
of New York He attended the parochial and public schools until 1856, when
the family removed to Brooklyn and settled in the Seventh Ward, in which
ward Mr. FLYNN has ever since resided.
When he reached the age of seventeen, he left school and went to work in
an oil House on Water Street, in the city of New York. One year later he
secured the position of draftsman in the United States Coast Survey service,
where he remained for three years. In the capacity of a surveyor he
travelled all over the United States and gained an experience which could
only be acquired by personal observation. Subsequently he became
superintendent for the firm of Root & Connell, No. 134 Water Street. In
1870, William A. FOWLER, then President of the Water Board, appointed Mr.
FLYNN on the Water Surveyor's staff. In I872 he was appointed Inspector of
New Streets, and later general superintendent of all repairs in the city
except street repairs. Commissioner of Public Works John W. FLAHERTY was in
politics an Independent Democrat, and Mr. FLYNN was a straight out and out
party man. Both men had been friends for years. The time came when Mr.
FLYNN was called upon to vote the Independent ticket, but he declined. It
was a question of principle with him, and he sacrificed his position in the
Public Works Department, although he could not well afford to do so, to
maintain that principle. He soon found employment with the Metropolitan
Washing Machine Company in New York City, and continued in that line of
employment until he was appointed an officer in Judge Henry A. MOORE's
court. For fourteen years he filled that position conscientiously and
faithfully, and resigned from it in the early part of the year 1892 to
accept the position of Assistant Inspector of the uniformed force of the
Fire Department. In this position, his duties are to ascertain the origin
of all the fires and the probable losses attached thereto.
While a resident of the Fourth Ward of New York City, he became a member
of Hose Company No. 10. He is an active member of the Seventh Ward
Democratic Association, the Thomas Jefferson Club, the Catholic Benevolent
Legion, a charter member and trustee of the Andrew Jackson Club of the
Seventh Ward, and for the past twenty-three years has been a member of the
Democratic General Committee.
As a member of this committee, he was presented by his colleagues at a
meeting held in March, 1880, with a handsome gold watch and chain, as a
token of their esteem. At a dinner tendered him by the citizens of the
Seventh Ward on the evening of Dec. 21, 1891, at which the heads of the
several Departments of the city and about two hundred prominent citizens of
that ward were present, Mr. FLYNN was made the recipient of a very handsome
diamond badge, which in design and workmanship it would be difficult to
excel. On the centre of a heavy solid gold shield is a circle of gold and
blue enamel on which is the inscription "James H. FLYNN, Assistant
Inspector." In the centre of the circle is a monogram of red, white and blue
enamel. The front of the badge is ornamented with a gold eagle with
diamond eyes, an axe of silver and gold, a gold trumpet, two ladders
crossed, two sections of hose with pipes attached, one diamond weighing
three carats, and two others weighing two carats each. On the
reverse side of the badge is engraved "Presented to James H. FLYNN, Dec. 22,
1891, by his friends of the Seventh Ward, Brooklyn, N. Y."
In 1858 Mr. FLYNN married Miss Mary Lewis, who presides over his home at
No. 218 Franklin Avenue. He started life without a penny, and by
perseverance, strict attention to duty, and an ever kindly feeling for his
fellow-men, he has attained a position where he enjoys the confidence and
respect of all who know him.
- SUPERINTENDENT WATSON
PRESCOTT L. WATSON.
Superintendent of Telegraph.
During the last twelve years the telegraph bureau of the Fire Department has
been under the management of Prescott L. WATSON. His skill and practical
knowledge of electrical appliances has enabled him to gradually develop in
the fire-alarm department one of the finest systems in operation upon the
continent. Mr. WATSON was born in Wilmington, Vt., Nov. 5, 1848. Although
orphaned in early boyhood, he obtained for himself an education at
Wilbraham, Mass., and at Amherst College, Mass.
In 1867 he secured a position in the book-keeping department of the
Western Union Telegraph Company. He was promoted to the auditing
department, and in 1869, he was placed in charge of the manufactory and
storehouse of the company at Fifty-fifth Street and North River. It was in
the latter position that he acquired his first knowledge of electrical
appliances. With a view to making himself more proficient he took a course
of instruction in telegraphy at the Cooper Institute night school, from
which he graduated and received a diploma for proficiency in telegraph
operating. In 1872, the American District Telegraph Company and the
Western Union Company consolidated, and Mr. WATSON was placed in charge of a
telegraph office on Broadway, New York, where he remained one year. The same
year he was transferred to Brooklyn and was placed in charge of thirteen
district offices of the Western Union Company, a position he held for five
years. In 1878-9 he served as Inspector of Contracts and Supplies.
On March 2. 1881, he was appointed a telegraph operator in the Brooklyn
Fire Department by Commissioner Jacob WORTH. He was reappointed by
Commissioner PARTRIDGE, Feb. 21, 1882, and was made Inspector of Telegraph.
On Sept. 6, 1883, he was made Acting-Superintendent and was appointed
Superintendent, Nov. 22, 1883.
A number of important and acceptable changes have been wrought in the
telegraph department by Superintendent WATSON. He was instrumental in
having the City Hall bell worked by electricity and he superintended the
placing of alarm gongs in the engine and truck houses.
- JAMES T. WAFER.
Inspector of Fire Boxes,
James T. WAFER, the Inspector of Fire Boxes and Engine House Telegraph
System, is one of the best informed men in that line of business in the
country. Beside being an expert operator, he has a general knowledge of
fire-alarm systems. He was born in Brooklyn, Sept. 15, 1857, and received
his education at the public schools. At the age of fourteen he was
employed as a messenger by the Bankers' and Brokers' Telegraph
Company. There he displayed an aptness for the business rarely found in a
boy of his years, and it was not long before he could receive and send
messages correctly and rapidly. He accepted a position as operator with
the Atlantic and Pacific Telegraph Company, and a couple of years later
found more lucrative employment with the Western Union Company. He
advanced rapidly with this company, and at the time of the
telegraph strike in 1883, he was manager of the Western Union office in the
Oil Exchange. He was one of the telegraph reporters of the New York Stock
Exchange, when Commissioner ENNIS, on Aug. 1, 1888 appointed him Inspector
of Telegraph of the Brooklyn Fire Department. This position he has since
filled with credit to himself and with entire satisfaction to his superiors
- SUPERINTENDENT NEVINS
Superintendent of Repair-Shops.
Patrick NEVINS, Superintendent of the Repair-shops of the Fire Department,
was born in New York City on Dec. 27. 1852. He attended St. Mary's parochial
school and public school No. 27. At the age of sixteen he apprenticed
himself to the firm of Sleight & Hughes, from whose shops he graduated as a
first-class engineer and machinist and accepted the position of engineer in
a large shop on Commerce Street. In the meantime, Mr. NEVINS had taken up
his residence in Brooklyn. In 1876 his standing as a skilled workman secured
for him a position in the repair-shops of the Fire Department, from which
position he was promoted to Superintendent in April, 1891. He is a brother
of Chief Engineer NEVINS and lives at No. 124 DeKalb Avenue.
- EX-SUPERINTENDENT LYNCH
Late Superintendent Repair-Shops,
James LYNCH, the late Superintendent of the Department Repair-shop, was born
in Ireland in the year 1832. His parents emigrated to America in 1836, and
settled in Brooklyn. While quite a young lad he apprenticed himself to the
Burdon Iron Works Company, and by his zeal and industry soon worked himself
up to the position of assistant foreman of the establishment. He was an
active member of the Brooklyn Fire Department for over thirty-five years,
having connected himself in 1850 with old Constitution Engine Company No. 7,
of which he became Foreman six years later remaining in command until 1861,
and during that period made it the crack company of the Volunteer
Department. Mr. LYNCH was elected an Alderman from the Fifth Ward
in 1862, but after six months' service to the city in that capacity he
resigned to take the office of City Auditor. He remained an active member
of No. 7, while holding political office, and took a deep interest in all
matters pertaining to the welfare and good-fellowship of that company. When
the present Department was inaugurated, Mr. LYNCH was appointed
Superintendent of the repair-shops, with the rank of Foreman, a position he
creditably filled up to the time of his death, which occurred on April 25,
1891. As a machinist and practical engineer for a number of years, he
became an expert in the repairing of any portion of a steam-engine, and his
knowledge of the business enabled him to control intelligently the large
corps of detailed men under him.
- FOREMEN MCGRONEN, KELLOCK, BlRCK, NORTON, SHUTE, BRENNAN, CAMPBELL, BURNS
FOREMAN JOHN MCGRONEN.
Foreman John MCGRONEN, detailed in charge of Harness-shop, was born in
County Tyrone, Ireland, on the 24th day of June, 1827. Notwithstanding the
fact that he has nearly reached the age of three-score and ten and is one of
the oldest men in the service, he is still as active as many a younger man
in the Department. Educated in the schools of the old country he came to
America in 1846, and settled in New York City, where he opened a
harness-shop. He joined the New York Volunteer Fire Department in 1851,
and was a member of Clinton Hose No» 17; Friendship Hook and Ladder No. 12;
Liberty Hose No. 10, and United States Engine No. 23, at different times.
When the Paid Department was organized in that city, he was put in charge of
the Harness-shop, remaining in that position until the organization of the
Brooklyn Fire Department in 1869, when he removed to this city, and was made
a 'Foreman and detailed in charge of the Harness-shop of the Brooklyn
Department. This position he now fills to entire satisfaction to those in
authority. Mr. MCGRONEN is married and lives at No. 364 Fourth Street,
Superintendent of Bureau of Combustibles.
Foreman James KELLOCK, detailed as Superintendent of the Bureau of
Combustibles at Fire Headquarters, was born in Fifeshire, Scotland, on the
15th day of Nov., 1848. In 1851 he came with his parents to Brooklyn.
After six years in Public School No. 7, he was, at the age of eleven, sent
to the glass-house on Plymouth Street to learn the trade of a glass-blower,
at which business he continued until he was twenty-three years
of age. Since 1860, he has lived in the Seventeenth Ward, Greenpoint. In
the days of the Volunteer Department, he was an active member of Ridgewood
Hose Company No. 7, of Greenpoint. He was appointed a member of the new
Department Feb. 2, 1871, and assigned to Hook and Ladder Company No. 6. In
July, 1882, Commissioner PARTRIDGE detailed him to the Bureau of
Combustibles as an Inspector. The Superintendent of that bureau, Charles
E. MILES, died July 20, 1883, and three days later, Mr. KELLOCK was detailed
as Acting-Superintendent of the bureau. On July 1, 1885, Commissioner
Richard H. POILLON promoted him to the grade of Foreman and made him
Superintendent of the bureau, his present position. In the winter of 1872,
at a fire in INGERSOLL's chair factory, in Greenpoint, Mr. KELLOCK was
crushed between the falling beams of a floor which gave way under him, and
was so badly injured that it was nearly two months before he was again able
to do active duty. For five years he has been the president of the "
Greenpoint Burns Club," which on the 25th of January in each
year celebrates the anniversary of the birth of the poet Robert BURNS. Mr.
KELLOCK is also a prominent member of the Seventeenth Ward Democratic Club.
FOREMAN PETER W. BIRCK.
Foreman of Detailed Mechanics.
Foreman Peter W. BIRCK, Foreman of Detailed Mechanics, was born in
Copenhagen, Denmark, Sept. 26, 1832. His parents came to America, during
his infancy, coming to Brooklyn when he was sixteen, settling on a
comfortable little place on the old Clove Road. Young Peter attended the
Flatbush Academy until the first public school in Flatbush was opened. His
father was a printer by trade, and Peter worked on a farm during the spring
and summer months. At seventeen he went to learn the carpenter's trade, at
which he served his time. In 1862 he enlisted in Company H., 1st New York
Engineers, and served in the army until the close of the war, when he
returned to Brooklyn and again took up his trade. In 1872 he was
appointed an Inspector in the Building Bureau, and the next year was
promoted to 'the grade of Foreman. When the Commissioners were reduced to
three, Mr. BIRCK was discharged from the Department without cause. He was
re-instated, however and remained in the Department until 1880, when. under
the " Single-head" Commission he was discharged for political reasons. Mr.
BIRCK carried the matter into the courts under the " Schroeder Act." which
provided that no member of the uniformed force should be discharged without
cause. The suit was decided in his favor, and he was reinstated in his old
position of Foreman of Detailed Mechanics, which he still holds. Mr. BIRCK
organized the Carpenters' Union in Brooklyn in 1868, and is now the second
vice-president of the National Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners. He
lives in the Twenty-fourth, formerly the Ninth Ward, where he has resided
FOREMAN EDWARD J. NORTON, Clerk.
Foreman Edward J. NORTON, detailed to clerical work at Fire Headquarters was
born in England, April 11, 1854. His family removed to this country in
1865 and settled in the Tenth Ward of Brooklyn. At the age of twelve, he
had acquired all the education to be had at the public school, and applied
himself to the trade of a wire-worker up to Feb. 15, 1879, when he was
appointed a fireman, serving with Engine Companies Nos. 8 and 4 and on Dec.
5, 1883, was promoted to the grade of Assistant Engineer. While a member
of the latter company, he was detailed as an operator to the Telegraph
Bureau, in which capacity he acted up to Dec. 3, 1885, when he was assigned
to clerical work at Headquarters. Mr. NORTON was promoted to the grade
of Assistant Foreman, July 1, 1889, and to Foreman, June I, 1891. Although
not obliged to perform fire duty he always takes an active part at big
fires, and at the SMITH & GRAY fire was the man who took the pipe up to the
roof of the Johnson building opposite the burning building, and is one of
the most courteous, brightest, best-informed officers in the Department.
FOREMAN EBEN H. SHUTE.
Clerk to Chief Engineer.
Foreman Eben H SHUTE was born in the Sixth Ward, Brooklyn. January 4, 1844,
but snow. resident of the Twenty-fifth Ward. He received his education in
the public schools, and when he graduated became a clerk. Later on he
became the private secretary of Herman LIVINGSTON, of the firm of Mansfield,
Lovell & Co. custom house brokers, of No. 7 New Street, in which he remained
five years. In 1862 he became a member of the Hope Hose Company No. 9, of
which Chief NEVINS was then Foreman, and did active duty up to the time of
the disbandment of the Volunteer Department. On Jan 14, 1870, he was
appointed a member of the new Department and assigned to Engine No. 4. One
year later he was appointed to Chief NEVINS and has held that position for
over twenty years.
FOREMAN JAMES H. BRENNAN.
Foreman James H. BRENNAN, detailed in charge of the Veterinary Department is
a man as well known to the old "vamps" as he is the members of the present
Department. He was born in the Seventh Ward, Oct. 5, 1846, and in boyhood
attended public school No. 12 for a time, then went to Father MAGUIRE's
parochial school and finished his education in public school No. 45. At
the age of fourteen he started out to earn his own living as a rope-maker at
Tucker's rope-walk in Williamsburgh. After he had acquired a thorough
knowledge of rope-making, he took up the trade of hat-finisher. In 1868 he
retired from that business to take a position in the Navy yard. On Sept.
15, 1869, he was appointed a fireman and assigned to duty with Engine
Company No. 9, as a private. He was promoted to the grade of driver July
7, 1871, and detailed to the Veterinary Department in May, 1886. He was
advanced to the grade o Assistant Foreman. July 1, 1889, and to Foreman,
June I, 1891. In the days of the Volunteer Department he was a member of
Phoenix Engine Company No. 12. Mr. BRENNAN can recall many thrilling
experiences of those days, and yet carries the mark of a bullet fired by a
runner of an opposition company. He lives at No. 135 Canton Street, and is
the father of eleven children, six of whom are dead. He is genial in
manner, a good hand at telling a story, and strictly faithful in the
discharge of his duty.
FOREMAN MILES CAMPBELL.
Foreman Miles CAMPBELL, detailed to Repair-shops, was born in the city of
New York in Nov. 1849, and attended Public School No. 27 until he was
fifteen years of age when he went to learn the tin roofer's trade. He
became an expert at the business and continued to work at it up to Sept. 20,
1872 when he was appointed a fireman and assigned to duty with Engine
Company N0. 3. In March, I887, he was promoted to the grade of Assistant
Foreman, and in July, 1889, was advanced to the rank of Foreman, and
detailed to the Repair-shops as tinsmith of the Department. As a member o
No. 3 he was detailed to the unpleasant task of assisting in the removal of
the bodies from the ruins of the Brooklyn Theatre fire and at the old
Glass-house fire in State Street in 1885, he assisted in the rescue of a
German woman and her daughter who were burned beneath the debris when the
walls fell. During the "blizzard " in March, 1888, on the way to a fire,
he was thrown out of the District Engineer's wagon and had one of his ankles
severely injured. On April 2, 1891, while attempting to jump on Truck 5
as she was leaving the house, he missed his footing and fell, the hind wheel
passing over his leg and foot breaking the bones and otherwise injuring him
so that he was laid up in St. Peter's hospital for nearly three months. In
the days of the Volunteer Department, he was an active member of Hope Hose
No. 9. Notwithstanding the injuries he has received in the discharge of
his duties, he is still a strong, active, robust man, genial in disposition,
and conscientious in the discharge of his duty. He is well
known throughout the Department and is highly respected.
FOREMAN JAMES BURNS.
Foreman James BURNS, detailed as driver for Chief NEVINS, is on the roll of
Engine No. 3, and makes his headquarters in that company's house. He was
born in Brooklyn, March 8. 1855, and was appointed to the force Sept. 15,
1879, and assigned to Engine No. 3. He was promoted to Assistant Foreman
Feb. I, 1887, and advanced to the grade of Foreman Feb. 1, 1890. Mr. BURNS
is married and lives at No. 191 Luqueer Street. On Feb. 20, 1889, while
going to a fire at Myrtle and Grand Avenues with Chief NEVINS, one of the
wheels of the wagon caught in a switch, overturned the wagon and threw out
Chief NEVINS and Mr. BURNS, the former being so badly hurt that he was laid
up for a month. Mr. BURNS received injuries to his shoulder which laid him
up for fifteen days.
- ASSISTANT FOREMEN NASH, SODEN, HEFFERN, HARRIS
ASSISTANT FOREMAN THOMAS HEFFERN.
Assistant Foreman Thomas HEFFERN, detailed at headquarters as fire
messenger, was born in the Fifth Ward, Sept. 19. 1850. He attended Public
School No. 7, and in early life filled the position of pressman in a New
York printing-office. "Tommy," as he is familiarly called around
Headquarters, began his career as a fireman in the days of the old Volunteer
Department and was a great favorite with the boys of Constitution Engine No.
7, of which company he was an active member up to the time of the foundation
of the present Department. In Jan, 1870, he was appointed messenger at
Fire Headquarters, and on Sept. 25, 1879, was made a fireman and assigned to
Engine Company No. 6. He never did active service with this company,
however, as his services were more in demand as a messenger. He was
promoted to the grade of Assistant Foreman, June i. 1891, and detailed in
the same capacity. He is one of the landmarks of the present Department
and is an undisputed authority on all matters affecting data and incidents
relative to the old and, especially, to the new Department.
ASSISTANT FOREMAN WILLIAM HENRY HARRIS.
Assistant Foreman William Henry HARRIS was born in the Fifth Ward, Nov
16. 1843. He attended Public Schools No. 7 and No. 12. His father, at
this time, had charge of the " rigging loft " in the Navy Yard, and when the
young man finished his studies, he decided to follow the trade of a
sail-maker, at which he subsequently became very proficient. In 1862 he
went to the war with the l3th Regiment of Brooklyn, and remained out for
three months. In 1864 he became a volunteer fireman and did active duty
with Union Engine Company No. 5 until the organization of the new
Department, when he was made Foreman and put in command of Engine
Company No. 10. He was, subsequently, transferred to Engine No. 9, and,
after twelve years' service, resigned from the Department. Two years later
he was reappointed and sent as a private to Engine Company No. 6. He was
afterward promoted to Assistant Foreman and placed in charge of the supply
store at Headquarters, in which position he now is. Mr. HARRIS is married
and lives at No. 652 Gates Avenue.
ASSISTANT FOREMAN THOMAS J. NASH.
Assistant Foreman Thomas J. NASH is detailed at the Repair-shop, in charge
of the plumbing work of the Department. He was born in the Fifth Ward of
Brooklyn, in the year 1855, and was appointed a fireman, June 15, 1887, and
assigned to Engine No. 9. His promotion dates from Feb. 13, 1892. At the
Planet Mills fire, in 1889, he fell through a hatch, but escaped with slight
ASSISTANT FOREMAN EMMET SODEN.
Assistant Foreman Emmet SODEN, detailed at the Repair-yard, was born in
New York City, July, 1857. When he was five years old his parents removed
to Brooklyn and located in the Eighteenth, now the Twenty-seventh Ward.
For seven years he attended Public School No. 24, and then went to learn the
sash and blind branch of the carpenter's trade, from which he graduated a
skilled workman a few years later. He was appointed to the uniformed force
on Sept. 15, 1873, and assigned to Engine Company No. 6. A few months
later he was transferred to Engine Company No. 17, where he did active duty
until six years ago, when he was detailed to the repair-shops. He was
promoted to the grade of Assistant Foreman, June I, 1891. In July,
1884, at the Brooklyn Moulding Mills fire on Bushwick Avenue, he was cut off
in the building and burned so severely that he was laid up for some time.
Mr. SODEN is married and resides at No. 47 Cedar Street, in the
- FIREMEN DETAILED
JOHN FARRELL is one of the oldest men on the uniformed force, having been
born in the County Westmeath, Ireland, in the year 1832. His opportunities
for obtaining an education in the old country were exceedingly limited, and
when he arrived in New York at the age of thirteen, he found employment in
the paper store of Cyrus W. FIELD, No. 111 Cliff Street, as light porter.
Subsequently he learned the trade of a blacksmith, and as he grew to manhood
attached himself to the Metropolitan Hose No 39 of the New York Volunteer
Department, in which service he remained for seven years.
In 1861 he enlisted in the 10th Regiment. "National Zouaves," and after
serving two years was discharged by reason of a severe wound in the leg.
Returning from the war he located in Brooklyn, and became a member of
Phoenix Engine No. 12. He was one of the first men appointed in the new
Department, and is detailed to the Repair-shop from Engine No. 9. On one
occasion while going to a fire a car ran into the tender on which he was
riding and broke his knee cap.
DANIEL HURLEY has charge of the mason work of the Department, and is
detailed to the Repair-shop from Engine No. 12, to which company he was
appointed Jan. 28, 1882. He was born in New York City on Oct. 21, 1846,
and with his parents removed to Brooklyn two years later and settled in the
Sixteenth Ward He attended Public School No. 19, and afterward learned the
trade of a stone-cutter. In the days of the Volunteer Department he ran
with " Red Jacket " Hose No 10 At the outbreak of the war, he enlisted
with the one hundred day men and went out with the 56th New York Volunteers.
JAMES FITZPATRICK, detailed to Repair-shop from Engine No. 20, was born in
Ireland on Oct. 31, 1839, and came to Brooklyn when he was four years of
age. After completing a parochial and public school education he learned
the cooper's trade at which he worked up to Sept. 15. 1869; when he was
appointed a fireman and assigned to Engine No. 2. As a volunteer fireman
he was attached to Empire Engine No 10 afterward Empire Hose No. 19, and
Hibernian Engine No. 16.
BERNARD GRAY was born in the old Sixth Ward in the year 1842. He obtained
his education at Public School No. 6, and St. James parochial school. He
devoted several years of his life to the trade of a bricklayer and
plasterer, and on July 1. 1874 was appointed a fireman, assigned to Engine
No. 4, and detailed to the Repair-shop. He fell from a ladder at the Bagging
Factory fire on Front Street some years ago, and broke one of his legs.
Mr. GRAY joined the Volunteer Department in 1858 and ran for nearly four
years with Mt: Prospect Engine No. 16.
ANDREW TENNANT was born in Boston on Oct. 27. 1847, and when he was three
years old his parents removed to Brooklyn and settled in the Fourteenth
Ward. After finishing his studies at Public School No. 17, he went to
learn the trade of a machinist. On Sept. 15.,1860, he was appointed an
engineer in the new Department and assigned to Engine Company No. 22, from
which he is now detailed to the Repair-shop as a machinist Mr. TENNANT was
a member of Northern Liberties Engine Company No. 5. in the Volunteer
ALFRED ELI GRUNDMAN was born in New York City in 1838, and received his
education at the public school in Cherry Street. At the age of thirteen he
went to work in a cracker bakery, and three years later went to learn the
machinists' trade. In 1854, he came to Brooklyn and in Jan..1857, he became
a member of Victory Engine Company No. 13, and was the engineer of the first
steamer used in the Volunteer Department. In 1869, he was appointed to
the new Department and assigned as engineer to No. 11, from which he is now
detailed as machinist to the Repair-shop. He is a member of the Exempt and
Veteran Firemen's Associations. He has a record for saving the life of an
eleven year old child at a dwelling-house fire on Wythe Avenue, in the early
days of the new Department.
JOHN W. SMITH, JR., son of ex-Assistant Chief Engineer SMITH, was born in
the Fourteenth Ward, Oct. 24, 1886. He attended Public School No; 17, and at
the age of fourteen went to learn the trade of a machinist. He was appointed
a fireman Feb. 3, 1887 with the rank of engineer and was assigned to Engine
Company No. 25, from which company he is detailed to the Repair-shop.
JOSEPH G. GREEN was born in New York City in 1840, and early in life came
to Brooklyn, where he attended Public School No. 4. He learned the trade
of engineer and machinist, and when appointed to the Department, Aug. 15,
1870, was detailed from Engine No. 8 to the Repair-shop as a machinist. As a
volunteer fireman he served two terms as engineer and Foreman of Columbia
FREDERICK J. WOHLLEBER was born Feb. 2, 1856, in Summerset County,
N. J. His parents came to Brooklyn while he was in his infancy and located
in the Eighteenth Ward. When he left Public School No. 22 in 1870, he went
to learn the trade of a sign and carriage painter. He was appointed a
fireman Aug. 28, 1882, and assigned to Engine No. 10. Later he was
transferred to Engine No. 18 and was then detailed to the Repair-shops,
where he does all the fancy striping and lettering on the engines, trucks
and fire wagons. On the way to the Bushwick car stables fire, he was
thrown from the tender and severely injured. As a volunteer fireman, he
was a member of "Live Oak " Hook and Ladder Company No. 2.
- THE TELEGRAPH BUREAU.
A very important body of men connected with the Fire Department are the
operators stationed in the Telegraph Bureau. There are twelve in all,
three of whom are in the Sub-Telegraph Office, at South First Street and
Driggs Avenue, in the Eastern District. The nine operators of the Western
District are divided up into three relays, which are so arranged as to have
each man on duty twelve hours, and off twenty-four. The operators of the
Western District are:
EDWARD DOUGHERTY. the senior operator, was born in Brooklyn, on April 21,
1847. At the time of the organization of the Paid Department he was
appointed a bell-ringer and assigned to duty in the City Hall tower, and on
Jan. 9, 1883, was detailed to his present position in the Telegraph Bureau.
RICHARD C. LAMB, was born in Vermont, March 8, 1834. He served in the
United States Navy during the Civil War, and with the exception of the time
spent in that service, he was an active member of the Volunteer Fire
Department, from 1853 to 1869, being at one time Foreman of Hose Company No.
6, and afterward Assistant Engineer. He was appointed a member of the
present Department Sept. 15, 1869, and assigned to Hook and Ladder Company
No. 2, from which he is now detailed to the Telegraph Bureau.
FRANCIS H. MOLLOY was born in Brooklyn on Dec. 5, 1850, and was appointed to
the uniformed force on Dec. 28, 1876, and assigned to Engine Company No. 3.
On May 1, 1881, he was detailed to the Telegraph Bureau from Hook and Ladder
Company No. 1.
GEORGE A. FREETH was born in New York on Sept. 6, 1865. He was attached
to the Telegraph Bureau for nearly two years before he was appointed to the
uniformed force, which was on April 15, 1890. He was then assigned to duty
with Engine Company No. 28, and a few days later was detailed from that
company to the Bureau.
ROBERT T. FLYNN was born in the city of New York on Jan. 10, 1860, and was
appointed to the Telegraph Bureau on May 1, 1888.
MICHAEL FRANCIS GREGORY was born on Nov. 5, 1853, in the old Ninth Ward of
Brooklyn. On July 15, 1880, he was appointed to the new Department and
assigned to the Sixth Ward tower as a bell-ringer. When bell-ringing was
abolished he was detailed as an operator to the Telegraph Bureau.
EDWARD SINNOTT was born in Ireland, on April 21, 1844, and at the age of ten
came with his parents to Brooklyn. On Dec. 14, 1863, he became a member of
Engine Company No. 5 of the Volunteer Department and served with that
company up to the time of the disbandment of that organization. On May 2,
1874, he was appointed a bell-ringer in the new Department, and in Jan.,
1883, was detailed to the Telegraph Bureau.
JOHN S. HAWKINS was born in the city of New York on Sept. 16, 1840. He was
appointed a bell-ringer on July 15, 1880, and assigned to the Sixth Ward
tower. On April 7, 1881, he was transferred to the City Hall tower and on
Jan. 28, 1886 was detailed as an operator.
SAMUEL BURNS was born in Brooklyn, on Nov. 7, 1845. He was a member of the
Volunteer Department for eighteen months, during which time he ran with
Engine Company No. 7. When he became a member of the uniformed force on
Sept. 15, 1869, he was assigned to duty with Engine Company No. 8, from
which he is now detailed.
MATTHEW ENNIS is an acting operator in the Telegraph Bureau. He was
appointed on April 15, 1862, and is an expert at the business,
notwithstanding the fact that he does not rank as a full-fledged operator.
He was born in the city of Brooklyn, on St. Patrick's Day, 1867.
THOMAS Mc CAFFREY is an operator in the Sub-Office at the comer of Driggs
Avenue and South First Street in the Eastern District. He was born in New
York City, in Jan., 1830. In 1850 he joined the Volunteer Fire Department
of Brooklyn and was attached to Washington Engine Company No. I until the
disbandment of that Department. On Sept. 15, 1869 he was appointed to the
Paid Department and assigned to Engine Company No. 12. At the chalk
factory fire on South Third Street, between Kent and Wythe Avenues on Jan.
30. 1870, Mr. Mc CAFFREY was so badly injured by a falling wall that he was
obliged to go about on crutches for over a year. When he was able to throw
them aside he was detailed as messenger to Assistant Chief SMITH.
One year after he was assigned to duty with Hook and Ladder No. 4 and then
was transferred to Hook and Ladder No. 6, and from there to Engine 21, from
which company he is now detailed to the Sub-Office. At the fire at Solon
and Fleming's oil works Mr. Mc CAFFREY had his clothing burned from his back,
and at a brewery fire, comer of Scholes and Lorimer Streets, some time
after, he was struck on the head by a falling slab and knocked senseless.
While detailed as driver to Assistant Chief SMITH, he was. one day assisting
"Fatty" Irwin, the bell-ringer, stationed in the Fourteenth Ward tower, to
draw sulphuric acid from a carboy for use in the batteries, when an
explosion occurred which burned him terribly about the face and head.
About eighteen years ago, at a fire on Fifth Street, he rescued a woman and
her five children from the second story of a burning building, by means of a
WILLIAM IRWIN, better known as " Fatty" Irwin, (his weight being about 230
pounds) made himself famous in Sept., 1873, by his celebrated "slide for
life " from the burning bell-tower of the Fourteenth Ward. He was born in
New York. on April 7, 1834, and after leaving school at the age of sixteen
learned the trade of a boat-builder. He was at one time a member of Rutger's
Hose No. 26 of the New York Volunteer Department, but resigned from that
company in 1858 and removed with his young, wife to Williamsburg. There he
did occasional service with Continental Bucket Company No. 1. When Hose
Company No. 6 was organized, in 1858, he became an active member, and upon
its disbandment, in 1863, he joined Eagle Engine No. 6 and ran with her
up to the time of the organization of the Paid Department. In 1870 and
1871 he was Inspector of Pavements for the Eastern District. In 1872 he
was appointed bell-ringer and assigned to the Fourteenth Ward tower. It
was in this tower, in September, 1873, that he was cut off by the names, and
after sounding an alarm on the big bell made his perilous descent from the "
lookout " by the aid of a one hundred foot rope. Had it not been for a few
"cool-heads" who seized the lower end of the rope and pulled him out from
the building as he descended, he would never have lived to tell his
experience of that exciting episode. As it was he received a scorching and
his hands and legs were frightfully lacerated from the friction of the rope.
His money, watch, and extra clothing, together with the rope which saved his
life, were consumed by the raging fire which totally destroyed the tower.
It was during the rebuilding of the tower that an explosion of sulphuric
acid in the storeroom severely injured him and Driver MCCAFFREY. Mr. Irwin
could not see for several days thereafter, and to this day his eyesight is
impaired from the effects of the burns received. When the new tower was
completed, he acted as bell-ringer for some time and was then transferred to
the Sixteenth Ward tower and from there to the City Hall tower. When
bell-ringers were dispensed with, Mr. Irwin was assigned to duty in the
Sub-office as an operator, and that is still his occupation.
SAMUEL W. IRWIN, nephew of the above, is an assistant operator at the
Sub-Telegraph Office. He was born in Brooklyn, on Nov. 26, 1863, and was
appointed to this position Aug. 1, 1890.
Foreman JOSEPH J MC.CORMICK, detailed as an operator at the Sub-Telegraph
Office in the Eastern District, is marked for life with the evidences of the
dangers of a fireman's duty, and has shown what pluck will take a man into,
and from what dreadful experiences one may come out alive. Prior to Oct.
n, 1888, he was a stalwart, handsome man. On the morning of that day, as
Foreman of Engine Co. No. 15, he responded with his company to an alarm from
Box 399, located in Pratt's oil works, on Kent Avenue, between North 10th
and 11th Streets. It was at 5 :35 o'clock in the morning, and twenty
minutes later he was on his way to St. Catharine's Hospital in an ambulance,
burned, bleeding and disfigured for life. On the morning in question. Engine
15 had the hydrant nearest to the storehouse and tank sheds. There was an
alleyway dividing the storehouse proper from the sheds, in the latter of
which were two 15.000, barrel receiving tanks. MCCORMICK,
with firemen HELLEN and MCELROY of his company and O'KEEFE of Truck 6, were
taking the pipe into the narrow alleyway with the intention of reaching the
vessel lying at the dock beyond, and on which the fire had originated.
Once inside the alley gate, the men found the heat and smoke so intense as
almost to force them back. MCCORMICK turned half around and shouted back
to the engineer to turn on the water. Scarcely had the words passed his
lips, when an explosion in the tank shed occurred, and in an instant the
alley was flooded with a seething mass of burning oil, which enveloped the
men rapidly. MCCORMICK recovered first from the shock of the explosion and
regaining his feet he threw one arm across his face and with the other
outstretched began to grope his way through the fiery furnace toward the
street. John ASMUS, then a member of Engine 15, had reached the entrance
by that time and saw the outstretched hand. He grasped it quickly and
firmly, but the flesh on the hand and wrist was so cruelly burned that it
dropped away from the bones like a glove pulled from the hand. Not
one groan escaped from the lips of MCCORMICK as he walked to the office of
the Gas Light Company, about 250 feet away, where he asked for a priest, and
then sank into unconsciousness, in which state he remained for twelve days.
When Surgeon SMITH of the Department arrived, he. with the ambulance
surgeon, declared that there was no hope of saving MCCORMICK's life. The
flesh on his wrists and hands hung in shreds, and his face and head were a
horrible sight to look upon. He was taken to St. Catharine's Hospital and
John ASMUS was detailed to assist in nursing him. Everything that
medical skill could do to alleviate suffering was done, and much to the
surprise of doctors and friends, the unfortunate man clung to life with a
desperation never before witnessed. On the first of December following,
MCCORMICK was removed to his home, at his own request, and ASMUS was further
detailed to nurse him. Then followed operations to straighten the drawn
and crippled hands, and to preserve the eyes. Only on one occasion would
he allow the surgeons to administer ether while using the knife, and
that was when the eyes were operated on.
But after all that medical skill could do " Joe" MCCORMICK's hands are still
useless. The fingers have grown together, and the hands are drawn and
bent. His face is deeply scarred, and his eyes. though much improved by
the operation, still show that they have been through fire. His recovery
is considered a miracle. While he was in the hospital and undergoing
subsequent operations, he was visited by many surgeons in high standing from
all parts of the country, who declared that his recovery was a most
marvellous thing. This unfortunate man, who is an object of sorrow to those
who know him and love him was considered one of the most capable men in the
Department before he was injured, and his prospects were good for promotion
to the rank of District Engineer had his days of usefulness been extended.
"Joe." as he is best known among the firemen of both cities, was born in
Brooklyn, on May 9, 1850. In his youth he attached himself to Protective
Engine No. 11 and when the Paid Department went into operation he was
appointed a member and assigned to duty with Engine 11. For fourteen years
he served the city faithfully with this company, and when a competitive
examination was held for the foremanship of the newly organized Engine Co.
No. 15, MCCORMICK was the successful candidate, and was promoted on June
14, 1885, and placed in command of that company. By intelligence and
reliability he won the respect of his superior officers, and was selected at
one time to act temporarily as Engineer of the Sixth District, during the
absence of John H. PERRY. While acting in this capacity, he was thrown
from his wagon and received severe injuries to his head and shoulders. At
the Commercial Street sugar house fire, June 13, 1887, he was under a wall
giving directions to the company about placing the pipe. He happened to
look up, saw the wall swaying, shouted to the men, and then sprang backward,
just as the wall fell with a crash. His prompt warning probably saved the
lives of several men, whose attention was directed in another way Foreman
MCCORMICK has a host of friends in and out of the Department. He lives
happily with his wife and children at No. 168 South Third Street, in the
Transcribed for the Brooklyn Pages by Mimi Stevens
BROOKLYN FIRE DEPT. Chapter 8
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