Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Friday, May 06, 2005

The Great Furniture Battle at Pelhamville's Relief Hook and Ladder Company in 1896

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The colorful history of fire fighting in Pelham includes an odd event involving the Relief Hook and Ladder Company in Pelhamville in 1896. Today's blog posting will detail a little about that event.

It seems that a dispute arose between the Fire Commissioners and the members of the Relief Hook and Ladder Company over whether the Commissioners should have the right to appoint a Fire Chief of their choice or the members of the Company should be permitted to elect their Fire Chief.

Pelhamville Firemen with Horse Drawn Equipment
Standing Before the Old Firehouse

The dispute simmered until mid-April 1896 when a majority of the members of the Relief Hook and Ladder Company, led by Foreman Frank M. Lyon, decided to take action. They resigned, declared the Company disbanded, and carted away the firehouse furniture!

The Chief of the Fire Department, J. Heiser, was also a member of the Company. He was not, however, among those who participated in the uprising. He went to court, appearing before Justice Swinburne in New Rochelle on Saturday, April 18, 1896. The Judge issued a writ of replevin requiring return of the furnishings. The furniture was "carted back to the firehouse and placed under lock and key by a Deputy Sheriff".

A hearing was scheduled in the matter on Tuesday, April 21, 1896. Prior to the hearing, Foreman Lyon stated that he and his colleagues "will carry the matter to the higher courts and fight until the get possession of the furniture."

Source: Pelhamville's Angry Firemen, N.Y. Times, Apr. 22, 1896, p. 3.

Somewhere in the dusty files of the New York State Court system may rest the files that will reveal how the case turned out. For now, we are left to wonder whether the little wooden firehouse in Pelhamville was left without furniture and the members of Relief Hook and Ladder Company.

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