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.

Monday, December 11, 2017

1910 Article on the History of Pelham's First District Fire Department

On April 23, 1910, the new local newspaper The Pelham Sun published its third issue in its first year of publication.  On the front page of that issue was a glowing article touting the success and professionalism of the volunteer firefighters of Pelham's First District Fire Department founded in the early 1890s before incorporation of the Villages of North Pelham and Pelham (today's Pelham Heights).  

Due to deteriorated tape placed long ago on the only extant copy of this issue of the newspaper, the text of the story is exceedingly difficult to discern in many places.  Today's Historic Pelham article attempts to decipher the article and presents it as part of efforts to document the history of firefighting units within the Town of Pelham.  The text appears immediately below, with a citation and link to an image of the original.


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Fire Dep't.

The Pelham Fire Department of the First District of the Town of Pelham embraces the villages of North Pelham and Pelham [i.e., Pelham Heights].  The present commissioners are E. E. Huber (president), Frank Chaloux (secretary), Jacob Heiser (treasurer), M. J. Woods, Philip Godfrey and Georg Boldin.

The organization of the department was deemed necessary some nineteen years ago after the village of North Pelham had experienced a number of fires.  When a fire totally destroyed the old Case homstead on Fifth avenue, the residents at that time few in number, decided to act.  

Two companies were formed:  Relief Hose and Ladder, No. 1, and Liberty Hose No. 1.  A small truck and [illegible] were then purchased, besides a hose [illegible].

With this new equipment, the two companies comprised thirty-five men each and avoided vice and saved much property.  About two years ago the district found itself in need of obtaining [illegible] and fire fighting machines, and the department was furnished with a steamer, a large hook and ladder truck, a hose or supply wagon and all other appliances necessary for an up-to-date equipment, thereby greatly increasing the efficiency of the deparment.  

The companies were increased to fifty men each.  

A short time ago a pair of horses were purchased y the Fire Commissoners to be used for the men.  Henry Straehle supplies a horse for the hose wagon and Dominick Smith of Smith Brothers, always sends a team of horses for the propelling of the large truck.  The Smith Brothers were both members of the Truck Company for years, and they have not charged a cent for the use of their horses.  This is showing pubic spirit.

The department is at present in fine working order, and the compliments bestowed upon it for its good work at the Town Hall fire were well deserved.

Many members of the companies wear ten years' service emblems, some even fifteen years, hence experience is here combined with affection for the department.

Kneeland S. Durham is now the Chief; Louis Epple is Deputy Chief of Relief Hose and Ladder Company.  John Rohrs, Jr. is Foreman and Albert Munroe, Assistant Foreman.  Daniel O'Leary is Foreman of Liberty Hose Company, and John Myers is Assistant Foreman."


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Below is a list of prior Historic Pelham Blog postings that touch on firefighting and the history of firefighting units within the Town of Pelham.

Fri., Nov. 17, 2017 Pelham Voters Authorized the Purchase of a "Suitable Fire Engine and Apparatus" in Town in 1891.

Tue., Nov. 14, 2017:  The Town of Pelham Had to Save Pelham Firefighters From the Wrath of Taxpayers in the Early 20th Century.

Wed., Nov. 01, 2017:  Pelham Manor Firemen Helped Their San Francisco Brethren After the Great Earthquake in 1906.

Tue., Sep. 12, 2017:  Sale of Antiquated Fire Equipment in 1922 Reminded All of the History of North Pelham Fire Fighting.

Fri., Jul. 21, 2017:  Pelham Firemen Turned Their Hoses on Trolley Construction Crew in 1898.

Fri., Jun. 23, 2017:  A Little of the Early History of Hose Company No. 2, the Pelham Heights Volunteer Fire Fighting Unit.

Fri., Jan. 20, 2017:  A Proud Pelham Fire Department Took Possession of a New American La France Fire Engine in 1914.

Thu., Jan. 19, 2017:  Revenge is a Dish Best Served Cold:  Don't Mess With a Pelham Fireman.

Thu., Jan. 12, 2017:  Six of Pelham's Earliest Firefighters Marched in the 36th Annual Fire Inspection Parade in 1930.

Tue., Dec. 06, 2016:  An Account of the Tragic Vaughan Livery Stable Fire in Pelhamville in 1907.

Wed., Nov. 16, 2016:  More on the 1889 Fire that Destroyed the Hunter House on Travers Island.

Tue., Oct. 04, 2016:  Harry R. King, Fire Chief of the First Fire District From 1911 to 1913.

Wed., Jun. 15, 2016:  Organized Volunteer Fire Fighting in Pelhamville Began as Early as 1885.

Tue., Jun. 14, 2016:  The First Annual Inspection of Pelhamville Fire Fighting Units in 1894.

Tue., Jun. 07, 2016:  When Did Pelham's Minneford Engine Company Acquire its First Fire-Fighting Steam Engine?

Mon., May 16, 2016:  Fatal Fire in 1902 at One Fifth Avenue Burned Down the Post Office and Pharmacy.

Fri., Apr. 29, 2016:  Famous Meyers Mansion in Pelham Manor Burned Down in 1897.

Thu., Apr. 28, 2016:  Pelham Manor Dutifully Extinguished a Fire That Nearly Burned Down its Hated Wooden Train Station in 1896.

Mon., Jan. 04, 2016:  Pelham Manor Voters Voted to Disband the Pelham Manor Fire Department in 1928.  

Mon., Dec. 14, 2015:  Early History of the Village of Pelham Manor Fire Department.

Fri., Dec. 11, 2015:  Evidence of An Early Independent Firefighting Unit in Pelham Named "Indians."

Thu., Dec. 10, 2015:  Grand Fire-Fighting Competition and Parade Held in the Town of Pelham in 1891.

Wed., Dec. 09, 2015:  Pelham's Minneford Engine Company Built a New Fire House on City Island in 1894.

Mon., Dec. 07, 2015:  The Code Used on the City Island Fire Bell in the Late 19th Century Used for Fire Alarms.

Mon., Nov. 30, 2015:  Another Detailed Account of the 1901 Fire that Destroyed the Clubhouse of the New York Athletic Club on Travers Island.

Fri., Nov. 20, 2015:  Account of 1894 Fire in One of Pelham's Earliest Newspapers.

Wed., Sep. 30, 2015:  Was it Arson that Destroyed the Prospect Hill School at Jackson and Plymouth Avenues in 1917?

Thu., Sep. 17, 2015:  An Account of the February 28, 1925 Fire at Pelhamdale, A Home on the National Register of Historic Places.

Fri., Jun. 12, 2015:  The Tumultuous Reign of Pelham Manor Fire Chief J. Louis Cunningham in the Early 1900s.

Tue., Jun. 09, 2015:  Reminiscences of Firemen Who Served From 1893 Until 1923 in North Pelham.

Wed., Jun. 03, 2015:  The Bell in Firemen's Memorial Park at First Street and Wolfs Lane.

Tue., Jun. 02, 2015:  Important Early Images of the Pelham Fire Department.

Fri., May 22, 2015:  History of Pelham's Beloved "Nott Steamer" Known as "Jim Reilly's Boiler."

Thu., Mar. 26, 2015:  Fire Destroyed the Old Pelham Manor Post Office in 1945.

Fri., Mar. 20, 2015:  Fire in 1932 Devastated the Bolton Priory in Pelham Manor.

Tue., Feb. 17, 2015:  More on the Early History of Organized Firefighting in the Settlement of Pelhamville.

Mon., Feb. 16, 2015: The Great Furniture Fight of 1896: Company of Pelhamville Firemen Resigned En Masse.

Thu., Feb. 12, 2015: Rare 19th Century Image of Pelhamville Firemen Who Served in Relief Hook and Ladder Company No. 1.

Fri., Dec. 12, 2014: Parade and Housewarming Hosted by Pelhamville Fire Department in 1894.

Thu., Dec. 11, 2014:  Pelhamville's First Attempt to Create a Fire Department in 1893 Failed Due to a Legal Technicality.

Thu., Jul. 24, 2014: Dedication of the New Fire Headquarters in the Village of Pelham on December 29, 1927.

Wed., Jul. 02, 2014: Election Shenanigans Involving Fire Commissioner Election in 1898.

Thu., Apr. 24, 2014: Information About the History of Fire Departments in the Town of Pelham Published in 1927.

Thu., Jan. 30, 2014:  The Night Pelham's Town Hall Burned.

Fri., Jan. 24, 2014: Early Days of Organized Fire Fighting in Today's Village of Pelham.

Thu., Jan. 23, 2014:  Another Account of the Devastating Fire that Destroyed the Travers Island Clubhouse of New York Athletic Club in 1901.

Wed., May 12, 2010:  Fire Partly Destroyed Pelham Town Hall in 1908.

Fri., Jan. 15, 2010: Photograph of Augustine C. McGuire, President of the Board of Fire Commissioners of the First District Fire Department in 1913.

Thu., Jan. 14, 2010: 1913 Report of the Firemen's Benevolent Association in Pelham.

Thu., Dec. 10, 2009: More 19th Century Baseball and Firefighting References.

Tue., Dec. 08, 2009: The Darling Triplets: Three Brothers Among Pelham's Earliest Firefighters.

Thu., Oct. 08, 2009: Firefighting Units on City Island in Pelham During the Early 1890's.

Fri., Sep. 04, 2009:  1901 Newspaper Article About Fire that Burned New York Athletic Club Clubhouse on Travers Island.

Mon., Aug. 31, 2009: Contest in 1891 To Determine Which Steam Fire Engine Company Could Throw a Stream the Greater Distance.

Fri., Aug. 28, 2009: Reorganization of the Minneford Engine Company on City Island in February, 1891.

Thu., Aug. 06, 2009: Brief History of the Fire Department in the Village of North Pelham Published in 1913.

Wed., Aug. 05, 2009: Pelham Manor Fire Chief Pleads for Taxpayers to Authorize Purchase of Village's First Fire Engine.

Wed., July 15, 2009: Liberty Hose Company Election in 1898.

Thu., Feb. 19, 2009:  The Old Hunter House Burns to the Ground in an Arson Incident on Travers Island on April 4, 1889.

Thu., Jan. 19, 2006: Pelham Manor's Earliest Fire Fighting Equipment.

Wed., Jan. 18, 2006:  Newspaper Report of the Infamous Vaughan's Livery Stable Fire in North Pelham in 1907.

Mon., Oct. 17, 2005:  The Firemen's Memorial of the Pelham Fire Department.

Mon., Aug. 01, 2005: An 1896 Inspection and Drill of the Fire Department in Pelham.

Tue., May 31, 2005:  The June 6, 1940 Fire That Destroyed the George M. Reynolds Mansion (Part I of II).

Wed., Jun. 01, 2005:  The June 6, 1940 Fire That Destroyed the George M. Reynolds Mansion (Part II of II).

Fri., May 06, 2005:  The Great Furniture Battle at Pelhamville's Relief Hook and Ladder Company in 1896.

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