FIRE COMPANIES AND FIREMEN.
1810 wells, pumps and buckets were the only appliances Camden had for
the extinguishment of fires. On March l5th of that year the Perseverance
Fire Company was organized. Thirty years later the Fairmount, afterwards
named the Niagara, and, later still, the Weccacoe, was formed. In case
of fire, the water used to extinguish it was obtained from wells by
means of buckets filled with it and passed from hand to hand. When the
engine was reached and its well received the water, the bucket was
returned for a fresh supply. Meanwhile a number of strong men grasped
the lever-arms and worked them up and down, thus forcing the water upon
the flames. To fight a fire was the work of the entire community a
half-century ago. An alarm was followed by a general turn-out of the
people— old and young, of both sexes— each secured a bucket, and,
when the scene of action was reached, long lines of people were formed
between the engine and the nearest well. The empty buckets were moved
toward the wells along one line and the full ones towards the engine on
fully-equipped fire company possessed an engine and a cart to carry
buckets, and householders were expected to keep a supply of buckets on
hand. Wells and pumps were equally essential, hence the City Council
encouraged the digging of wells and the placing of pumps in public
places by paying part of the cost. In 1883 Joseph Kaighn was paid
sixteen dollars as part cost of placing a pump in a well he had dug on
Kaighn Avenue, and George Genge’s bill for a pump on Market Street was
also paid, while Abraham Browning was allowed part cost of enlarging a
well near Front Street and Market. Richard
Fetters, Richard W. Howell
and Auley McAlla presented a bill of fifty dollars at a Council meeting,
held August 27, 1830, for a fire-engine purchased of the Fairmount
Company, of Philadelphia. It was but five feet high, and eight men could
barely get hold of the levers. In 1835 this engine was repaired, and its
name changed from Fairmount to Niagara. In 1848 it was bought by the
Weccacoe, and in 1851 came into possession of the reorganized Fairmount
Company. It was eventually, after long usage, stored away until 1864,
when Robert S. Bender purchased it for twenty dollars, and sold it in
Woodbury for fifty dollars. It was accidentally burned soon afterward.
1834 the city was divided into three fire districts, Cooper Street and
Line Street being the dividing lines. There was virtually no Fire
Department, however, for several years later. In 1848, after the
erection of water-works, a better fire system was put into effect. The
Council appointed a committee on fire apparatus, who exercised
supervision over the companies, which, by the year 1851, hid increased
in number to six. In 1864 the Independence procured the first steam
fire-engine; the Weccacoe, the Shiffler and the Weccacoe Hose Company
also soon after purchased steam-engines. More prompt, daring and
efficient firemen than those of Camden were hard to find, but each
company was independent of the others, and misdirection often caused
loss of property, to remedy which the City Council, 1866, reorganized
the system, and, by an ordinance, provided for the selection, subject to
its approval, of a chief marshal, by the companies. James W.
the Weccacoe Engine Company, was elected and served two years, when, in
1868, he was succeeded by Wesley P. Murray, of the Weccacoe Hose. Both
were popular men and good organizers, but the volunteer system, with its
rivalry and frequent insubordination, was supplanted in 1869 by the Paid
Fire Department under an ordinance passed September 2, 1869, which
provided for the appointment, annually, of five fire commissioners, one
fire marshal, and two assistant fire marshals.
writing about the Paid Fire Department and its companies is below
The Perseverance was
organized March 15, 1810, and was composed of leading citizens. A
hand-engine, made by "Pat." Lyons, of Philadelphia, was bought
and placed in a building on Front Street, above Market, subsequently
removing to a frame, one-story house on Second Street, adjoining the
State Bank, where it remained until the company erected the two-story
brick building on the east aide of Third Street, below Market. The
eldest living member of the company is Samuel Elfreth, father of the
present efficient chief of the Fire Department. On March 15, 1832, the
company was incorporated; the names appearing in the charter are Nathan
Davis, Gideon V. Stivers, Jeremiah H. Sloan, John Lawrence, Samuel D.
Weasels, Isaac Cole, Ledden Davis, Joab Browning, Joab Scull, Richard W.
Howell, Auley McAlla, Dr. Thomas Lee, William H. Ogden, Richard
Fetters, Abraham Browning
and other prominent citizens.
charter of 1832 having expired, a new one was obtained in 1852, with the
following-named persons as incorporators: James C. Morgan, William E.
Gilmore, Samuel Hanna, William Hanna, Lewis P. Thompson, Joseph D.
Folwell, Pancoast Roberts, Alfred Hugg, Richard H.
Lee, William Matlack,
Alfred Wood, Frederick Benedict, William Hugg, Amos Stiles, Jr., Samuel
Cooper, Nathan Davis, Jr., Samuel Ashurst, Andrew Zimmerman, David
Sheppard, John W. Carter, Henry Kesler, John Warner, John Ross, Charles
A. Garret, Thomas Sulger. The company prospered until the breaking out
of the war, in 1861, when most of the able-bodied members enlisted in
the company commanded by Captain Richard H.
organized October 7, 1830, and purchased an engine of the Fairmount Fire
Company, of Philadelphia. The name "Fairmount" was painted on
the sides of the engine, and it was then the Camden company decided to
assume the same appellation, which was continued until 1835, when the
word "Fairmount" on the engine became dim and needed
repainting, which would cost as much as to have something else painted,
and they changed the name to Niagara. By this name the company was known
until it was reorganized as the Weccacoe, in 1848. In 1845 the
headquarters was moved to the City Hall lot, on Federal Street. John
Laning, Josiah Atkinson and Samuel Jenkins were among the original
members of the Fairmount. William Hanna joined in 1835, James M. Cassady
in 1838 and James W. Ayers (afterwards fire marshal) in 1843.
Weccacoe Fire Company No.
2, was the result of the reorganization of the Niagara in 1848. At a
meeting of the City Council, September 1, 1848, Richard Fetters
presented the names of Edward Steer and thirty-two other persons who had
organized as a fire company, with a constitution and by-laws. The
Council then recognized them and gave them the old Niagara fire-engine,
which was used for a few months, when the company was supplied with a
better one in 1850, when a second-hand one was bought of the Southwark
commissioners for seven hundred and fifty dollars and was rebuilt, in
1853, by John Agnew at a cost of eight hundred and fifty dollars. A
steam-engine was procured in 1864. At the headquarters of the Weccacoe,
between a pair of high poles, was hung a bell weighing thirteen hundred
pounds, which served to alarm the town in case of fire. The house used
as the headquarters was enlarged, but, after several incendiary
attempts, the building was burned February 17, 1854. In 1856 the company
moved into their two-story brick house, on the site of the old Columbia
Garden, on Arch Street, above Fifth. In 1852 the company was
incorporated as the Weccacoe Fire Company, No. 2, by John Laning, James
M. Cassady, James W. Ayers, Isaac Shreeve, Wesley P. Murray, Joseph F.
Murray, Joshua S. Porter, Daniel B. McCully, Richard G. Camp, James
Doughten, Stone H. Stow, Charles H. Thorne, Matthew Miller, Jr. James W.
Ayers was made president of the Niagara in 1845, continued as such under
the reorganization, and, except in 1854, when he was absent from the
city, held the office until the company was disbanded. Richard G. Camp
was the secretary and Charles Thompson treasurer until 1854, and Joseph
L. Bright was his successor until the end. Efficiency and good order
were the characteristics of the Weccacoe from the beginning to the
ending of their career as firemen.
Mohawk Fire Company was
formed in the spring of 1849. It had a short and turbulent life, and in
the confusion the record of its birth was lost. The meeting-place of the
company was in the three-story building northeast corner of Third Street
and Cherry. Lambert F. Beatty was president and William S. Fraser
secretary. The company was strong in numbers and contained many
excellent men, giving promise of a career of usefulness, but a lawless
element gained admission, after a time, and brawls, riots and, it was
feared, incendiarism, resulted. On April 23, 1851, it was determined to
Independence Fire Company No. 3, organized
with Lambert F. Beatty, president; William S. Fraser, secretary; and
Joseph Wagner, treasurer. Among the early members were Jacob Prettyman,
David Page, Thomas Stites, Andrew Stilwell, Francis E. Harpel, Restore
Cook, John Wallace, Claudius W.
Bradshaw, William H.
Christopher J. Mines, Henry Bradshaw, William E. Walls, William Howard,
Albert Dennis, Elwood Bounds, Samuel H. Stilwell, Albert V. Mills, Robert S. Bender, Lewis Yeager,
Thomas McCowan and
William W. Mines. The
company met in a building at Third Street and Cherry for a year, when it
was burned. Lewis Yeager gave the company free use of a lot on Third
Street, above Cherry, where an engine-house of slabs, donated by Charles
Stockham, was built. In 1853 a lot on Cherry Street, above Third, was
purchased and on it a frame house was built. This was used until 1859,
when, owing to a defect in the title, the sheriff advertised the
property for sale. When he reached the ground on the day of the sale he
found the house, with its contents, and a number of the members of the
company, on an adjoining lot belonging to James B. Dayton, who permitted
the action. The following year, 1860, they bought and built, on the
north side of Pine Street, above Fourth, a three-story brick, then the
most complete fire-engine house in Camden, and which was sold for four
thousand five hundred dollars to the city. The Independence was a hose
company until June 4, l864, when they secured an Amoskeag engine, being
the first fire-engine in use by the fire companies of Camden. Early in
1869 they purchased a larger engine and when the volunteer firemen were
scattered, in the latter part of that year, they sold the Amoskeag to
Millville, and the later purchase was kept until 1874, when it was sold
to the city. Lambert F. Beatty and Timothy C. Moore were presidents of
the Mohawk, and L.F. Beatty, John Wallace, William H.
Hawkins, J. Kelly
Brown, William W. Mines
and Edward Gilbert were presidents of the Independence, while its
secretaries have been William L. Fraser, William
W. Mines, Mortimer C.
Wilson and Thomas
McCowan; and the treasurers Joseph Wagner and Robert S. Bender, who, elected in 1854, served until October 13, 1874, when,
with a roll of sixty members, they met, President Gilbert in the chair,
paid all claims against them and formally disbanded.
Shiffler Hose Company No. 1,
was organized March 7, 1849, and recognized by the City Council August
30th of the same year. The original members of the company wore George
W. Thompson, president; George F. Ross, secretary; Joseph Brown, W.W.
Burt, Charles Cheeseman, Robert Maguire, Samuel Brown, John G.
Hutchinson, Armstrong Sapp, Richard Cheeseman, Albert Robinson, George
F. Ross, William Wallace. A fine hose-carriage was obtained from the
Shiffler Hose Company, of Philadelphia, for the nominal sum of ten
dollars. It was placed in a carpenter shop on Sycamore Street, below
Third, and that remained the headquarters of the company until the
two-story brick house on Fourth Street, below Walnut, was built. In
March, 1852, the company was incorporated by William W. Burt, Armstrong
Sapp, George W. Thompson, Robert Maguire, James Sherman, William
Wallace, John G.
Hutchison, Samuel Brown and William Harris. John G.
Hutchison became president, and in 1857 was succeeded by Jacob C.
Daubman, who held the position during the continuance of the company. On
March 29, 1864, a new charter was obtained under the name of the
Shiffler Hose and Steam Fire-Engine Company. A steam-engine was
purchased, and the company maintained a high state of efficiency until
disbanded, in 1869.
New Jersey Fire Company was
organized May 1, 1851, by James Carr, Samuel Ames, Thomas Butcher, Aaron
Giles, John Wood, David H. Sparks, William Garwood, E.B. Turner, William
Woodruff, Henry Coombs, Adam Newman and Caleb Clark. Henry Coombs was
elected president and David H. Sparks secretary. On July 21, 1851, the
company secured the engine which previously belonged to the Mohawk, and
placed it in a stable near Broadway and Spruce Street, where it remained
a considerable time, until better accommodations were secured on Walnut
Street, above Fourth. A lot was subsequently bought on the south side of
Chestnut Street, above Fourth, where a two-story, brick engine-house was
built. The company was incorporated in 1854 and ceased to exist as an
organization twelve years later. The presidents of this company in order
of succession were Henry Coombs, James Carr, John Crowley, Joshua L.
Melvin, Samuel Hickman, John Warrington, Jeremiah Brannon, Richard C.
Mason, C. De Grasse Hogan.
United States.— On July
4, 1852, the Fairmount Fire Company was organized by William C. Figner
(president), William J. Miller (secretary), Frederick Breyer
(treasurer), William H.
Hawkins, John W. Hoey, Henry A. Breyer and
Alfred H. Breyer. They rented a one-story frame building on Pine Street,
below Third, which the Shiffler had vacated, and the City Council gave
them the old Fairmount engine. George W. Watson, Anthony R. Joline,
Thomas Francis, John L. Ames, George W. Howard, William F. Colbert,
Francis Fullerton, John S. Ross, Joshua Spencer, Lawrence Breyer,
William H. Lane and James Scout were enrolled as additional members. On
February 17, 1853, a charter of incorporation was obtained, and on
February 10, 1854, the name of the company was changed to "United
States Fire Company, No. 5." James Scout was chosen president, and
George Deal, secretary. They secured a first-class engine, bought ground
and built a commodious two-story frame house at No. 239 Pine Street,
which continued to be the headquarters of the company until it
disbanded, with the other volunteer fire companies, in 1869.
Weccacoe Hose Company No. 2,
was organized on March 15, 1858, by Allan Ward, Edward T. James, Edward
J. Steer, John W. Garwood, George W. Thomas, Simeon H. Pine, Thomas C.
Barrett, Thomas Ellis, John Thornton, and the following officers were
elected: Thomas D. Laverty (president), Allan Ward (vice-president),
Edward T. James (secretary) and E.J. Steer (treasurer). The headquarters
of the company were with the Weccacoe Fire Company for nearly two years,
and they removed to a stable belonging to Isaac Shreeve, near Hudson and
Bridge Avenues, and later to De La Cour’s laboratory, on Front, near
Arch. In 1863 they bought ground on Benson, above Fifth, at a cost of
four hundred and fifty dollars, and erected a two-story building of
brick, costing two thousand two hundred dollars. On February 2, 1860,
the company was incorporated. In 1868 the company purchased a steam
fire-engine at a cost of five thousand eight hundred dollars, which they
expected to pay, by subscription, but the agitation of the question of a
paid department prevented the collection of the money, and when they
went out of service, in 1869, they were five thousand dollars in debt.
Instead of disbanding, they resolved to maintain the organization until
every obligation was liquidated and the honor of the company sustained.
To do this they utilized their assets, met regularly and contributed as
if in active service, and after fourteen years of honest effort,
September 8, 1883, they met, and after paying the last claims against
them, amounting to $14.25, adjourned.
Page(s) 425-444, History of Camden County, New Jersey, by George R.
Prowell, L.J. Richards & Co. 1886
PAID FIRE DEPARTMENT
The commissioners were
empowered to appoint the firemen, and the city was divided into two
districts. For the First District the city purchased the three-story
building of the Independence Fire Company, at Fourth Street and Pine,
and for the Second District erected a two-story brick building at Fifth
Street and Arch. Each station was supplied with a fire-engine and all
necessary apparatus, at an entire cost of thirty thousand dollars.
William Abels was appointed fire marshal; William W. Mines assistant for
the First, and William H. Shearman assistant for the Second District.
The organization has since been modified. The department is now under
the control of five members of the City Council, called "The
Committee on Fire Apparatus," who are appointed annually by the
president of the Council, with a chief and an assistant engineer each
appointed for three years by the Council. In 1874 the department
purchased the Independence fire-engine, and now (1886), owns three steam
fire-engines, two hose-carriages, one hook-and-ladder truck, one
supply-wagon, nine horses, three thousand two hundred feet of
serviceable hose, twenty-one fire-alarm boxes, with twelve miles of
wire, a connecting electric battery, with eighty-one gallon jars to
create power necessary for long distance alarms, striking the gongs,
lighting gas-jets, unhitching the horses in the stalls and stopping the
department consists of one chief engineer, at a salary of one thousand
dollars per annum, one assistant engineer, seven hundred and twenty
dollars per annum, eighteen regular men and twelve call-men. The regular
men devote their whole time to the service. The engineers receive sixty
dollars per month, and the hosemen, tillermen and laddermen each fifty
dollars per month. The call-men pursue their regular vocation, but are
required to be present at every fire, to assist, for which they are paid
seventy-five dollars per year. A full record is kept of all fires, with
time, duration, location, owner of property, occupant, business, value
of real and personal property, insurance, and with whom, cause of fire,
etc. The department is in a high state of efficiency, and the
expenditure sixteen thousand dollars per annum.
CAMDEN HOOK-AND-LADDER COMPANY,
No. 1, with headquarters at N.W. corner of Fifth Street and Arch, was
organized in 1869, and is connected with Camden Engine Company, No. 2.
The building is a two-story brick, twenty-four by fifty-five feet,
adjoining the building of the engine company. The company is equipped
with one ladder-truck (forty-five feet long, mounting nine ladders, one
being an extension ladder, of the "Leverich Patent,"
sixty-three feet in length), one battering ram, two fire extinguishers,
four buckets, two axes, four pitchforks, one crowbar, four lamps, etc.
In the stables are two large and well-trained horses. The roster of the
company is as follows: Tillerman, Amedee Middleton; Driver, Benjamin L.
Kellum; Laddermen, Thomas Walton and John W. Toy; Cell-men, William
Doughten, Peter S. Gray, John Gray and Charles A. Todd.
CAMDEN STEAM FIRE-ENGINE COMPANY,
No. 1, was organized in 1869. Their building, on Pine Street, near
Fourth, is a three-story brick, twenty by ninety-four feet in
dimensions, and was formerly used by the Independence, but is now owned
by the city. The equipments consist of one second-class steam
fire-engine, made by the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company, of Manchester,
New Hampshire; one hose-cart, made by the Silsby Company, of Seneca
Falls, N.Y.; three horses, sixteen hundred feet of good hose, axes,
lamps, etc. The third story of the building is used as a lodge-room, and
the second story used by the company, with sitting-room, bunk-room, etc.
The roster of the company for 1886 is as follows: Foreman, John A.
Stockton; Engineer, G. Rudolph
Tenner; Driver, William
William W. Laird; Hosemen, Wilson Bromley and Jacob F.
William Deith, Andrew
Miller, William Bogia and
STEAM FIRE-ENGINE COMPANY, No.
2, is located at the corner of Fifth Street and Arch, the head-quarters
of the Paid Fire Department. The building is a two-story brick,
twenty-four by seventy feet. The ground floor has two connections with
the hook-and-ladder building. The outfit consists of one steam
fire-engine, second-class, made by the Gould Machine Company, of Newark,
N.J., one No. 2 Amoskeag steam fire engine, one carriage and a
supply-wagon. In the second story is a large reception room, a sleeping
room with thirteen beds, and a battery room. The Gould steam fire engine is only used on extra occasions, or when the urgency of the
case demands. The following is a complete roster of officers and men at
Chief Engineer, Samuel S.
Engineer, Samuel S.
Buzine; Extra Engineer, Jacob W. Kellum; Foreman,
Harry C. Grosscup; Engineer, William Morris; Driver of Engine, C.B.
Harvey; Stoker, Frank Turner; Hosemen, Chas. Robinson, Isaac Shreeves;
Call-men, James Carey, Logan Bates, William Lyons, Howard Currie.
chiefs of the Paid Fire Department have been William Abels, Robert S. Bender
(second term), Robert S. Bender,
Henry F. Surault,
Samuel S. Elfreth,
Daniel A. Carter,
Samuel S. Elfreth
term). The committee on fire apparatus for 1886 are— Chairman, Saml.
R. Murray; Wm. B.E. Miller, Geo. S.
West, David B. Campbell, James
Godfrey; Clerk, D. Cooper Carman.