Harry R. King, Fire Chief of the First Fire District From 1911 to 1913
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In about early 1906, the Sanborn Map Company proposed to construct a major map printing plant on the far outskirts of the tiny Village of North Pelham. It selected a location believed by many, as one report put it, to be "far out in the wilderness." The company built and operated the plant at a location adjacent to Chester Park near where Fifth Avenue becomes upper Pelhamdale Avenue. The Chester Park neighborhood was still in its infancy. The new plant stood near the end of the North Pelham trolley-car line. At the time, there were few structures yet standing along Fifth Avenue anywhere between the Pelham Train Station and the new Sanborn Map Company plant.
Harry King came to North Pelham to work in the new Sanborn Map Company facility. He was on the job the day the plant opened on December 13, 1906. He became an engineer at the plant and worked at the facility for thirty-five years until his retirement on December 31, 1941. He lived for many years at 19 Chestnut Avenue, Chester Park, in the Village of North Pelham.
Harry King quickly became an involved and respected member of the North Pelham community. He joined the volunteer firefighters as a member of the First Fire District and quickly rose to the rank of Fire Chief, a position he held from 1911 to 1913.
It appears that he left the fire department to become a Town Constable for a number of years. Indeed, as a Town Constable in 1915 he was accompanying First Assistant Fire Chief William Lyon in a madly-rushing horse-drawn buggy with its siren blaring on the way to a brush fire along Highbrook Avenue not far from Washington Avenue. Lyon was driving the buggy with King as a passenger. The buggy was headed along First Street toward New Rochelle. It nearly made it through the intersection of First Street and Fifth Avenue when an automobile owned and driven by George Kingsman of Mount Vernon sped through the intersection and clipped the left rear wheel of the buggy, spinning it, smashing it "to little pieces," and throwing both Lyon and King from the vehicle. Both were badly injured.
Lyon's account of the aftermath of the accident demonstrates how truly catastrophic it was and how both men were lucky to be alive. According to a newspaper account, Lyon said:
"I had started my electric going as soon as I left my home and it was ringing as I approached Fifth avenue and First street. Absolutely no horn was sounded by the automobile, which was going at a very fast speed. He could have slowed down a little or have avoided striking me, but evidently the driver of the auto didn't try to do either. I had almost cleared the street and he struck me in the rear. The wagon was smashed to little pieces. I awoke 50 feet away. I was lying on the ground, the reins still in my hands and my horse standing over me, looking into my face. I don't know how I got there, but I must have been knocked that far."
Harry King fared no better. He was thrown from the vehicle, knocked unconscious, and suffered "a bad lacerated left eye lid, and bruises of the left arm and left leg." Both men were taken to the Mount Vernon hospital where they recovered.
In addition to serving as a Town Constable, Harry King served as a Truant Officer appointed by the local School Board for twenty-five years. In 1921 he also became "Custodian of the Voting Machines" in the Town of Pelham, a position he held for many years as well.
Upon his retirement from the Sanborn Map Company at the end of 1941, it was noted that he was "Florida bound," although the report was unclear whether it was for retirement or vacation. Nevertheless, no record yet has been located of his death. In life, however, Harry R. King was an important, notable early citizen of the Village of North Pelham.
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Fire Chief Harry King is attending the International Firemen's Convention in New York today.
William F. Doty, who was elected a member of the Liberty Engine Company Tuesday evening signed the roll at the Commissioners meeting Wednesday evening.
Miss Florence Hollinger, of North Pelham, has been the guest at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Frank J. Moneuse, of Palmer avenue. -- (Port Chester Item.)"
Source: Personal Doings, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Sep. 5, 1913, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], p. 11, col. 2.
"On Fire Prevention.
Fire Chief Harry R. King in going over the condition of the Pelham fire district in preparing his report to the state fire marshall, has found that the precautions taken in this village are carefully made and that there is at present only one dangerous building from a fire point of view in the village and that at the corner of Sixty street and Fifth avenue and known as the Sixth street flats. The building was partially destroyed by fire several months ago and the owner has not made any repairs as yet with the result that the structure is now in a dangerous condition. The chief will take action upon the matter. He may either make the necessary repairs to make the building safe from falling, or tear it down. The latter will be most likely done if the owner does not do it himself. Drills continue at the Sanborn Map factory. The buildings are equipped with up to date fire alarm signals. The public schools also come under the jurisdiction of the chief now and he is arranging to have drills held at intervals. There have not as yet been any drills held at the Hutchinson school on Fourth street, this having been deferred until Principal Hill had organized the classes and the pupils had become acquainted with the halls and exits."
Source: On Fire Prevention, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Oct. 4, 1913, p. 15, col. 2.
"PELHAM FIREMEN IN A SMASH-UP
Going To Fire, Assistant Chief and Ex-Chief Run Into Auto
OF MOUNT VERNONITE
Stories Differ as To Who Is Responsible For Accident, Each Blaming the Other
FIRST FOR SPEEDING
And Next For Not Sounding Warning -- No One Seriously Injured
North Pelham, Nov. 18. -- William Lyon, first assistant fire chief of this village, and Constable Harry King, ex-fire chief, were injured and the buggy in which they were driving was wrecked last evening when as they were responding to a fire alarm they were struck by an automobile owned and driven by George Kingsman of 434 First avenue, Mount Vernon.
Both firemen were knocked unconscious. Chief Lyon was picked up about 50 feet from Fifth avenue and First street, where the accident occurred, and with Constable King, who was pitched out of the buggy on his head, was placed in Mr. Kingsman's automobile and driven to the Mount Vernon hospital. There a diagnosis by the house surgeons, Drs. Restin and Weisharr, showed that both men had escaped without fractured bones.
Lyon was bleeding profusely from a scalp wound at the back of his head, while his back was bruised and his right shoulder and right leg were also found to be bruised. King had a bad lacerated left eye lid, and bruises of the left arm and left leg.
After their injuries were treated, they were placed in the men's ward
(Continued on page 5)
PELHAM FIREMEN IN A SMASH-UP
(Continued From Page One)
where they remained until this afternoon when they were discharged. Both are very lame and their faces show signs of hard usage as a result of their experience.
Stories told by both parties to the accident differ. Each blames the other for speeding and for failure to sound a warning on approaching the corner. Each also maintains that he took proper precautions. The facts in the case which are not disputed are that Mr. and Mrs. Kingsman, with their daughter, had driven to North Pelham yesterday afternoon to inspect apartment houses owned by Mrs. Kingsman on Fifth Avenue, near Fourth street. A little after 5:30 o'clock p.m. they started to return to Mount Vernon.
At 5:45 o'clock call 13 was sounded for a brush fire on Highbrook avenue, near Washington avenue, Pelhamwood. Chief Lyon hitched up his horse and after picking up Constable King, set out for the fire, going down Third avenue to First street, where he turned east and started toward Pelhamwood.
In the meantime, the Kingsman auto was proceeding sough on Fifth avenue toward First street, Chief Lyon, driving his horse, almost cleared the intersection of the streets when the auto struck the rear wheel of the buggy, slewing the buggy around and knocking both men into the street.
'Mr. Kingsman was going at a very slow pace because of the fire alarm which had been turned in,' said Stanley B. Kirk, of Mount Vernon, representing Mr. Kingsman, in giving his version of the accident today. 'He was watching carefully at each corner and blowing his horn because he thought that some fire apparatus might be coming along any minute.'
'Suddenly out of the darkness of First street the buggy was seen to come. It was too late for Mr. Kingsman to stop, and the front springs of the auto hit the rear wheel of the buggy, tipping the buggy over. The auto was not damaged at all, showing that Mr. Kingsman was driving at a very moderate rate of speed. Mr. Kingsman had no warning of the approach of the buggy.'
Chief Lyon was seen this morning at the Mount Vernon hospital, when he said: 'I had started my electric going as soon as I left my home and it was ringing as I approached Fifth avenue and First street. Absolutely no horn was sounded by the automobile, which was going at a very fast speed. He could have slowed down a little or have avoided striking me, but evidently the driver of the auto didn't try to do either. I had almost cleared the street and he struck me in the rear. The wagon was smashed to little pieces. I awoke 50 feet away. I was lying on the ground, the reins still in my hands and my horse standing over me, looking into my face. I don't know how I got there, but I must have been knocked that far.'
The brush fire was put out without any damage."
Source: PELHAM FIREMEN IN A SMASH-UP, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], Nov. 13, 1915, No. 7909, p. 1, col. 5 & p. 5, cols. 6-7.
"Harry King Retires After 35 Years Service With Sanborn Map Company
After 35 years of faithful service Harry R. King was retired by the Sanborn Map Co. on Dec. 31. He had served as an engineer for the local plant of the map company on Fifth avenue at Willow avenue ever since the plant was put into operation on Dec. 13, 1906, and during that time Harry King gave generously of his services to the Pelhams.
From 1911 to 1913 he was Chief of the First Fire District. In 1917 he was treasurer of the Village of North Pelham. He was truant officer of the local school district for 25 years and has been Custodian of the Voting Machines since 1921. His home is at No. 19 Chestnut avenue.
Now don't get an idea that Harry King is 'old.' Not by a long shot he'll tel you. He's only sixty-five and he's got plenty of years ahead of him in which to enjoy his leisure. Take a fire, for instance. Harry's no longer an active fireman, but (to quote him) give him 'a dozen of the older members of his old fire department and it would be a simple matter to put out any fire.'
'What's the attendance record of the Pelham schools, nowadays?' he asks, and follows it up with the reminder that it was his vigilance as truant officer over a period of years which was responsible for making 'hookey players' a forgotten pastime in Pelham. He can do it again, if need be, so children, take warning.
Mr. King came to Pelham from Mount Vernon, when people of that city were amazed at the proposal of the Sanborn Map Co. to erect their plant 'so far out in the wilderness.' It was actually at the end of the North Pelham trolley-car line. There was little on Fifth avenue between the railroad and the Sanborn Company building but the Town Hall and a store or so. And that's not so long ago, he says.
Now Harry is giving it all up and will take a rest. He's Florida bound, just as soon as he can get 'a little work around the house' completed."
Source: Harry King Retires After 35 Years Service With Sanborn Map Company, The Pelham Sun, Jan. 9, 1942, Vol. 31, No. 41, p. 5, cols. 5-6.
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