THE HERKIMER FIRE DEPARTMENT
From "History of Herkimer County", by F. W. Beers 1879
Main Street - Herkimer, N.Y.
Although very naturally, ever since the incorporation of the village of Herkimer, the citizens have duly considered the importance of providing means for protection in case of fire, and along up to the present time as necessity required made neccessary provisions, it was not until after the old church, a wooden structure and a venerable relic of the past, together with the court-house, was consumed by fire in the year 1834; and another extensive fire occurred in the year 1838, destroying nearly all of the north half of the block which now includes the Waverly Hotel, opera-house, etc., that any very definite measures were taken for the organization and equipment of fire companies.
In the early days of the village the owner or owners of any building in which fire was kept at any time were required, pursuant to an ordinance adopted by the village trustees, to keep in some convenient place in or near said building a fire bucket or fire buckets of dimensions to contain no less than nine quarts, and of good and sufficient leather. The number of buckets to be provided for each house or building was determined by the following rule, viz.: for a house two stories high, containing two or more chimneys, two buckets, and for a house one story high one bucket.
In relation to the organization of fire companies it was ordained that each company should consist of forty men.
On June 1st, 1841, a new engine was procured, and at a subsequent meeting James Trumbly, Henry Clark, David Weber, Asa G. Kelsey, William Howell, jr., Michael Schaeffner, jr., Gideon Dodge, Albert Webb, James A. Suiter, David P. Crosby, Philander A. Ford, Jeremiah Petrie and Charles W. Swift were appointed firemen.
A few months later the following named persons were instituted firemen of Engine Company No. 1: George Lake, Harvey Huyck, Gaylord Griswold, Philander A. Ford, Charles H. Hopkins, Gideon Dodge, Thomas Fetterly, Henry Clark, James Trumbly, Christian F. Spinner, Asa G. Kelsey, John P. DeGraff, Warren Caswell, jr., Benjamin Harter, Jeremiah Petrie, William Look, David Weber, William Hayes, Franklin Draper, Charles W. Swift, William Howell, jr., Alonzo B. Benedict, William F. Smith and Humphrey Williams, jr.
At the next meeting of the trustees the following persons were appointed firemen to Engine Company No. 2, viz.: Alexander M. Gray, Charles Spinner, James Hoffman, Peter I. Lepper, Hubbard H. Morgan, Smith Colyer, Grant Davis, Albert S. Howell, Alonzo Hall, Henry Shaw, James Dolan, Hiram Campbell, George M. Harter, Charles Smith, David Bowers, John Bowers, Samuel Earl, Harvey H. Lewis, William Weber.
Late in December of the same year a hook and ladder company was formed. The first members were Nathan Easterbrook, Joseph Bowers, Kellog Hubbard, Willard A. Gray, Alfred P. Peck, Frederick A. Helmer, William A. Caswell, Peter F. Bellinger, John Vincent, Mark Bachelder and William B. Houghton.
In 1876, under the stimulus of the great fire of 1875, the fire department underwent a reorganization. As the result, the village now has a fire department of which it is proud.
FORT DAYTON STEAMER COMPANY, NO. 2.
This company was organized September 30th, 1875, with forty-nine charter members.
The first officers were: Isaac Mason, foreman; Joseph Palmer, first assistant foreman; W. N. Wilson, second assistant foreman; L. A. Lawton, secretary; H. A. Marchres, treasurer; H. M. Quackenbush, engineer; James Clark, assistant engineer; J. R. Smith, fireman. The steamer is one of the Waterford make and is a good one. The apparatus of the company has thus far been stored in the engine house on Main street, in the vicinity of the court-house. The present membership of the company is fifty-four. The officers are: L. A. Lawton, foreman, Jeremiah Helmer, first assistant foreman; W. W. Barse, second assistant foreman, Ezra Small, secretary; George Graves, treasurer.
ACTIVE HOOK AND LADDER, NO. 3.
This company was first organized July 28th, 1874, in the old Good Templar's Hall, over Prowse's store, with the following charter members: W. C. Stewart, J. V. Mallery, Charles Paul, William Barse, John Dresher, M. M. Draper, Howard Harter, James Clark and John D. Moore. The first officers were: Charles Paul, foreman; John Dresher, first assistant foreman; Howard Harter, second assistant foreman; W. C. Stewart, secretary; John D. Moore, treasurer.
The company, after organizing, removed to the old Conquerer (now Fort Dayton) engine house, and took charge of the old Conqueror hand engine, and it remained in their possession until June 25th, 1875, when they ceased work upon it, and removed back to their old quarters in Good Templars' Hall. They were thereafter and until June, 1877, known as Active Hose Company; while working the hand engine they were known as Active Engine Company, No. 2.
During the time that old "Conqueror" was in their hands, they fought against two of the largest fires that ever occurred in Herkimer, that of Snell & Folts's saw-mill, sash and blind factory, &c., on the night of March 28th, 1875, and that of the Tower block and Allman House, on the night of April 14th, 1875.
In June, 1877, a hook and ladder truck was purchased and given in their charge, since which time they have been known as Active Hook and Ladder Company, No. 3.
The present officers are: M. M. Draper, president; Frank Miller, foreman; George W. Mack, first assistant foreman; Frederick Griffin, second assistant foreman; Charles J. Gould, secretary; C. W. Prescott, financial secretary; Charles Shepard, treasurer. The present headquarters are at Conqueror Engine House.
FORT DAYTON HOSE COMPANY, NO. 2.
was organized September 22nd, 1875, and incorporated December 7th, 1875. The first officers were: Foreman, George Susholz; first assistant foreman, E. A. Brown; second assistant foreman, A. B. Steele; secretary, W. C. Prescott; treasurer, W. C. Stewart.
In December, 1875, Susholz resigned, and E. A. Brown was elected to fill the vacancy. Mr. Brown has served in that capacity ever since.
The company now consists of twenty-five active members. The present officers are: Foreman, E. A. Brown; first assistant foreman, J. H. Huyck; second assistant foreman, M. Powell; treasurer, W. C. Stewart; secretary, Glen P. Munson.
CONQUEROR ENGINE COMPANY.
The Conqueror Engine Company existed for a long time as the only firemen's organization in the village. After many fluctuations in interest and strength it was entirely dissolved in 1874.
After the great fire of April 14th, 1875, the old Conqueror was reorganized with J. D. Henderson president; George Woolever, foreman; and competent assistants. It now numbers abouty fifty men, and has a hose company connected with it of twenty men. Its meetings are well attended and the interest well kept up.
The present officers are: J. D. Henderson, president; A. J. Perry, vice-president; J. G. Harter, foreman; J. M. Ausman, treasurer, James Howe, secretary.
Source: "History of Herkimer County" by F. W. Beers 1879 (Pg 154)
FIRST FIRE TRUCK--Herkimer bought its first fire truck, shown here, in 1912. With the truck were former Chief Harry Vincent, William Metzler, William Greiner, Eugene Cook and Charles Knoppka. Greiner is the only member of the 1912 fire department living today. The truck was junked in 1945 after long service.
(This article first appeared in the Herkimer Evening Telegram dated Feburary 19, 1955. Article was reprinted July 29, 2000 and is used here with the kind permission of The Telegram.)
Copyright © 2000 - 2001 Betsy Voorhees
Picture of Firetruck and Article Copyright © 1955, 2001 Herkimer Evening Telegram
All Rights Reserved.