D. M. Hamilton Steamer Company #2 – Ladies Auxiliary
Transcribed by Sharon Palmateer from the Greene County Volunteer Firemen’s Association 1889-1989 One-Hundred Years of Fire Service History
The Coxsackie Fire Department has officially existed since the incorporation of the Village in 1867, and initially consisted of only Hudson River Engine Company #1 which was formed in 1860. When the Village was formed, the new trustees published a new set of By-Laws and more than 35% involved the fire department. The duties of the chief engineer, hose companies, pumper companies, and ladder companies were laid down even though the Village had a single pumper. In 1872, a second company was added with the formation of D. M. Hamilton Steamer Company #2; and the introduction of a gravity fed water system in 1894 lead the way to the organization of two hose companies -- Coxsackie Hose Company #3 - 1894 and D. W. Morgan Circa Hose Company #4 - circa 1894.
In the early years, there was a great deal of dispute over the election of chiefs, distribution of funds and other department matters. Prior to the formation of the Fire Council, cooperation and meetings between the companies was sporadic and the appropriation of Village funding was haphazard. Most of the early apparatus (up to 1930’s) was purchased either partially or completely by the members. The first pieces of equipment were purchased with money raised by subscription (donations), or notes of credit taken by the members. One of the first motorized pieces cost $2500, and the members took several notes of credit from citizens and businesses. The notes ranged in value from $100 to $250. The people who lent the money were paid back one at a time as the members had the money. The Village’s solution to funding the early fire department depended on special elections to levy a tax each time some equipment was needed. This is how much of the Village’s routine business was handled; and thus, the citizens of Coxsackie spent a great deal of time voting. The Fire Department did not receive a regular appropriation from the Village until circa 1902. In 1902, the budget included $750 in appropriations and $750 in disbursements. By 1937, the appropriations had increased to $3373.32 and included $7.58 in scrap brass sales.
In the summer of 1910, a committee consisting of representatives from each company met to start an organization with a set of by-laws and constitution to govern the operation of the department, especially the election of chief engineer and his assistants. The committee proposed a system by which the chief engineer was rotated between all four companies. The proposed by-laws were accepted by the four companies that fall, and the Coxsackie Fire Council was formed.
On May 12, 1913, the D. W. Morgan Hose Company #4 was abolished due to a lack of funds and members. Very little information about this company is readily available; but we know that David Wallace was the first foreman, and that the company occupied a building built by the Village on the Upper Landing. The hose house was on Riverside Avenue just north of the Noble Street intersection. In 1987, the G. H. Scott Hook and Ladder Company #1 (formerly Hudson River Engine Company #1) was abolished by the board of trustees upon the recommendation of the Fire Council.
At the present time, the Coxsackie Fire Department is very active under the direction of Chief Donald A. Daoust; 1st Assistant James Huff; 2nd Assistant Paul Canniff; and Secretary/Treasurer Rene VanSchaack. The Department includes D. M. Hamilton, Coxsackie Hose Company #3 and the Coxsackie Rescue Squad. In 1988, the Department had 79 fire calls and 488 rescue calls. The current inventory includes six fire trucks and one ambulance. The population in the forty-six square mile protection area is approaching 7000, and the community is experiencing a period of growth in the business and residential sectors.
HUDSON RIVER ENGINE COMPANY #1
Early in 1860, the Lower Landing area of Coxsackie (presently Reed Street) was devastated by a conflagration that resulted in the loss of thirty buildings. The fire virtually wiped out the entire Riverside business area. Shortly after the fire, a group of prominent businessmen and local citizens met to organize a fire brigade to protect the Village. On June 6, 1860, the first company was formed under the name Hudson River Engine Company #1 (HREC) under the leadership of J. C. Mackey, Foreman, and W. Martin, Chief Engineer. When the company was formed, no one had any idea of the future of one young member named G. H. Scott and his destiny in firematics.
The fire quarters for the Company was in a building that cost $250, with the money raised by subscription. It was in the area of Reed Street and South River Street. In 1879, HREC was moved to a brick building built by the Village for $1000. It was build on Riverside Avenue just north of Mansion Street on the site of the Village’s first lockup.
Between 1861 and 1863 the Company took possession of a new Button Hand Engine at a cost of $1400 that was raised by voluntary contributions. The engine was a goose neck type and could accommodate as many as twenty men on each of her two handles. The engine was the top of the line model manufactured by L. Button and Son of Waterford and, for many years, was famous for her water throwing ability. The pumper was acquired by the Village under some interesting circumstances. When the committee from Coxsackie went to L. Button and Son to purchase a pumper in 1860, they were told that due to heavy demand, none were available as the last one had been shipped to Charleston, South Carolina on the steamer ‘Star of the West’. On January 9, 1861, the ship pulled into Charleston harbor and was fired upon by Confederate troops who mistook the Star for a Union army ship to resupply the besieged troops at Fort Sumter. The Steamer was run out of the harbor without delivering the pumper, and these early shots in the Civil War allowed Coxsackie to purchase their first fire engine. With the introduction of a municipal water system, the engine became obsolete and was taken out of service. For a short period of time, it was on loan to Springfield, Massachusetts. In 1897, Springfield offered to purchase the hand engine for $1200, but many of the veteran firemen in Coxsackie objected and the engine was returned to the Village and turned over to the newly organized Coxsackie Veteran Fireman’s Association. They kept the engine until their dissolution in 1927, when the last order of business at the last meeting was the transfer of the pumper to the Firemen’s Museum in Hudson. The engine is currently on display at the Home.
The ‘old deluge’ was often entered in pumping contests along the Hudson Valley and her reputation was quickly established. In 1872, a challenge was issued by the J. J. Grays of Cambridge, New York, for a pumping contest with Hudson River Engine Company #1. The Grays proposed a purse of $1000, with the contest to be held in Troy. This started a long series of debates published in the Troy Gazette as the two companies tried to come to terms over the rules of the bet. The Grays wanted to meet in Troy as it took their engine three days to travel to Hudson and back, while the men had to ride from 4:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Coxsackie wanted to meet in Hudson because they felt that the fact that the Grays engine was formerly housed in Troy gave them a hometown advantage. (The engine was deeply beloved by the people of Troy.) The following was the last published debate prior to the contest: “We (J. J. Grays) are firm in the belief that your company dare not meet us on anything like equal terms and that if we acceded to all your propositions and agreed to play in either San Francisco or at Hudson, you would find other subterfuges for refusing the challenge...The main thing is to either accept our challenge or throw up the sponge and crawl.” These were clearly fighting words. Later, another article was published with great controversy concerning a certain man “brought by the Boys of Coxsackie”. Lafayette was described as follows in the Troy Gazette: “Being of African descent and none of your short slouchy darkies, but a genuine staff of liberty towering above his fellows like a Maine lumberjack with his axe upon his shoulder just beyond the range of the naked eye”...This caused a big stir as it was pretty obvious that Lafayette was a ringer and the role of blacks in small town firematics was not well defined during this period.
Hudson River Engine Company #1 and its hand engine remained in service until 1879 when the company was disbanded. Some accounts say that their funds were stolen and the company was left broke. In the Village minutes, on May 10, 1879, the trustees approved the use of the Village’s attorney to defend the company in a lawsuit brought by the owner of the Larabee Hotel. In July of 1879, the Village held a special election to decide if the citizens would support a tax levy of $400 to pay the indebtedness of HREC, but it was defeated. In July, the Village retook possession of the hand engine and hose cart and both were placed in storage. On February 7, 1881, thirty-two members, led by G. H. Scott, met to reorganize the company. Scott was elected foreman, and the hand engine was refurbished and placed back in service. By 1894, the Village had installed a gravity water system to supply the Village with water and the hand engine was made obsolete. In November of 1894, the Company started to look for a new piece of equipment that would give them a new role in the Department. They purchased a horse-drawn hook and ladder truck and changed their name to G. H. Scott Hook and Ladder Company #1. Under this name, they were incorporated on August 10, 1895, with G. H. Scott as the first president. The ladder truck was pulled by two horses and carried several ladders, fire hooks, lanterns, pails and chemical extinguishers. It is not known how they acquired a team of horses when the alarm rang as they did not keep their own stable.
In 1895, the Coxsackie Fire Department had four fire companies including G. H. Scott Hook and Ladder. The 1895 edition of ‘The Handbook of Water Work Statistics and Fire Department Equipment’ listed the following for the Village of Coxsackie: The population was 1,611, and the area of protection for the fire department was 300 acres. The department inventory included one steamer, one hand engine, two hose carriages, 1600 feet of good hose and 500 feet of bad hose. The total value of the department’s equipment was $5500 and total yearly expenditures were $70.
On May 1, 1898, the first By-laws of the Greene County Firemen’s Association were laid before the Company but were not accepted until May 27, when the company was better represented at a special meeting. They also voted in favor of attending the first convention to be held in Catskill on July 15-16. The company traveled by boat to Catskill and attended the convention with other local companies. There was some debate at the next regular meeting as some members did not want to pay the bill for the fireworks used on the trip home.
During the era of hand- and horse-drawn equipment, the Company maintained a hose cart in a private barn at Sylvestors Corners (Church Corner). The barn was on land that is currently part of the elementary school field. For many years, the rent ($1 per year) was paid to J. Strang. By 1916, the Company was starting to investigate the purchase of a motorized truck and sale of the old ladder truck. During 1917, they investigated a Sterns Chassis and a complete Republic Fire Truck that was available for $850. In April 1920, the truck committee reported that they could not find a suitable truck without exceeding the $200 limit set by the Company. The spring of 1921 saw the purchase of a 1920 Ford Model T Chassis which was renovated and equipped in the summer and fall of 1921. The Company obtained permission to take the reel off the hand hose cart. The following bills were submitted in connection with the outfitting of the truck: Ladders $16.52, Iron Work $17.02, Supplied (C. Defrate) $19.40, Paint $4.19 and Lettering $5.00. The Village was asked to furnish two nozzles—7/8” and ¾”. The truck had no pump and carried 2 ½” hose on the old hose reel. The members made wooden boxes to store the rubber boots and coats. In 1926, the Company wanted to purchase a new larger chassis, and they investigated a 1919 Packard owned by Mrs. Haas and a Cadillac. After some time, they decided to purchase a ready made truck, and a drive to raise subscriptions was started. A 1927 Jaeger Triple Combination Truck was purchased from the Jaeger Fire Equipment Company. It was made with a Chevy chassis and was highly praised by the Company as the ‘first triple combination truck’. It is not known if they were referring to the first in the county, village or even nation. The truck cost $2,950, but the local Chevrolet dealer gave them a $590 rebate. By 1928, the old ladder truck had been stripped of its equipment, and the 1920 Ford was given to D. M. Hamilton #2 and served them until 1932.
During the Depression Years (1934), the Village had to turn to the Company for a loan to purchase each Company a shut off nozzle. The three nozzles cost $23.45 each, and the trustees promised to repay the Company in June when the taxes were collected. In the early forties, the Company was assigned as civil defense leader for taking the equipment out of the Village. In 1949, the Jaeger was replaced with a ladder truck that was purchased from the City of Hudson. This was a new role for the current members, as the Company had not been in the ladder company business since the old horse-drawn truck was retired in 1920. In 1953, G. H. Scott started to look for a ladder truck, and they approached the Village trustees with a tentative price of $12,000. The Village offered to give the Company $9,000, with the members required to raise the remaining $3,000. By May 1954, the price had risen to $16,000 and a truck was picked. It was an International with a 750 gpm pump, a booster tank, and several ladders (including a 45’ Bangor ladder). The truck was accepted in February 1956 and is still in service in the Coxsackie Fire Department.
The quartering of the Company involved many buildings over the years. The first two we know the Village built, but by 1940 or 1941 (probably earlier), the Company was renting space from Mrs. Howland. In 1941 the Village tried to force D. M. Hamilton to make room in their quarters to accommodate G. H. Scott Hook and Ladder and also the Chief Justice and Police Chief. Both of the companies strongly objected and threatened to withdraw as members of the Department. G. H. Scott remained in Mrs. Howland’s building and picked up the tab for rent from their own money. In 1942 the Village built the Company new quarters and an addition was added in 1948 to house the new ladder truck. Though it is not known for certain, it appears that this new building was on the site of the old quarters on Riverside Avenue. The remains are still there and the design matches other fire houses of the period, and an addition was clearly added.
In the Mid-1950’s, the Village gave the Company space in the old Superior Projector Building on Mansion Street. The Company remained here until they were abolished and the International Ladder truck is still stationed here along with the Rescue Squad. Members of the Company organized the Rescue Squad in the mid-1960’s.
D. M. Hamilton Steamer Company #2
By July 1869, the Village of Coxsackie had grown to a point where the citizens were again worried about fire protection. A petition from the citizens resulted in the trustees declaring a special election to raise funds for the purchase of another fire truck and a lot to build a fire house. Some of the money was to be used to build several cisterns around the Village. The Board of Trustees proposed a tax levy of 2% to meet these needs. The proposal was defeated by the voters, and the subject was not raised again until January of 1871. At this time, the voters approved a proposal to levy $3,500 for a fire truck and hose. The election was held February 6, 1871 at the Cummings Hotel.
A committee was established in February 1871 to investigate the merits of hand pumpers and steamers. The committee reported favorably for a steam engine, and they were directed to evaluate, by trial, the steamers made by L. Button and Son in Waterford, and Clapp and Jones of Hudson. Around this time, a petition was presented by some citizens in opposition to purchasing the steamer. The matter was tabled by the trustees and never acted upon. The committee went and investigated the different steamers and decided to purchase one from L. Button and Son. It is not known exactly what the steamer cost, but with hose and equipment the total was around $3,500. On March 30, 1871, the committee reported to the trustees on the steamer’s performance. It was described as “more full and complete than proposed in his schedule of agreement”. The results of the trials were reported as follows: “From the time a fire was started under the boiler, it took 7 ½ minutes to pull water up out of a cistern and 8 ½ minutes to discharge water from 100 feet of hose. Water was pumped trough 700’ of hose up a 70’ elevation, and a water stream 150’ long was projected from a 1 ¼” nozzle.” The committee reported that they pumped for a considerable period of time, and they were satisfied that the steamer could maintain the stream of water for an indefinite period of time even though they were burning a poorer grade of blacksmith’s coal. The Steamer was pulled by hand when the fire was close by on the Lower Landing, but calls to the Upper Landing and West End often required the use of a team of horses. The Company was blessed with the presence of a livery two doors away (currently vacant lot to north).
In March of 1871, the trustees started to look for a place to house the steamer but did not set a committee until August. The Village held a special election on September 30, 1871 to levy a tax of $2,500 to construct an engine house The voters did not approve the levy and another election was not held until almost a year later, in July 1872, when the measure was approved. W. K. Reed made a motion to have Jacob A. Hotaling design a brick engine house. In July of 1887 bids were opened and J. Roberts and Company was awarded the job for the bid of $2,190. A lot was purchased from the business of Morgan and McNeil. The lot cost $850 and was on the corner of River Street and New Street. A separate contract to build the foundation was taken with another individual, Henry McGriggins, for a price of $1.22 per yard. This build is still occupied by the D. M. Hamilton Company, and they currently are the oldest remaining company and have the oldest fire house in the Village. In the 1950’s, the round top doorway was squared off, but the build is basically the same as when it was built. At some point the village tacked an addition on the rear to accommodate the Village lockup and police officers. These rooms are now used as a recreation room and kitchen. The members have done a nice job remodeling the building.
To man the new steamer, a second fire company was organized on February 6, 1871 and was called Kuxakee Engine Company #2. At the Company’s first regular meeting on February 18, they voted to change the name to D. M. Hamilton in honor of the Village’s largest taxpayer. Hamilton was an original member of the Village Trustees and early Village minutes show clearly that he was a strong advocate of firematic matters. He was also one of the first presidents of the National Bank of Coxsackie, owner of the Coxsackie Ferry, part owner of the New York and Hudson Steamship Company, and the first president of the School Board. The first officers of D. M. Hamilton were W. K. Reed, Foreman; J. B. Miller, Assistant Foreman; A. Parker, Treasurer; E. O Beatty, Secretary; W. Cook, Fireman and J. Newbury, Chief Engineer. By June of 1871, Hamilton was comfortably settled in the Department, and W. K. Reed was elected Chief Engineer of the entire Department. On September 13, 1892, the Company was granted status as an incorporation for a period of 50 years. In 1941, a committee was set to investigate the renewal of the incorporation, but it was never done—probably due to the war. At its inception, D. M. Hamilton Steamer Company #2 counted among its members some of the wealthiest and most prominent men of the community. May of today’s local inhabitants can trace their roots directly or indirectly to past members of the Company.
The steamer saw many years of service in the Village and was often called to fight fires in other parts of the Village. Circa 1923, a large fire broke out at a local lumberyard and the steamer was called into service. At this fire, the cooper crown sheet was burned out of the boiler and the steamer was considered unrepairable. This was, to some degree, due to the fact that the other two companies had already moved to motorized apparatus and the steamer was no longer a practical way to pump water. The steamer was sadly retired as technology made the once great machines obsolete. After the demise of the steamer, the Company had only a hand hose cart. They used the cart until 1928 when the G. H. Scott Company gave them Scott’s Old Ford Model T. Truck. The Ford was used until a fire at St. Mary’s Church on March 3, 1932, when it was damaged beyond repair, the bands in the transmission burned up and the Village did not want to repair it as it was uncertain if the Scotts had given or lent the truck to the Company. The Hamiltons were again left with only a hose cart. Attempts to sell the steamer were unsuccessful and it sat in the Hamilton’s quarters for several years. It was finally moved outside to an alley when room was needed for elections. The steamer sat in the alley for some time, until it was slowly stripped by scrap salvagers and people wanting parts off of it.
When the old Scott truck was destroyed in 1932, the Company made many attempts to have the Village buy a new truck, but they had no success. During the winter of 1934-35, the Company acquired a used hearse and converted it to a fire truck. It carried ladders, hose and a 45 gallon chemical tank. The Company inventory as reported in 1933 included the following items: 24 lengths of hose, 4 ladders (1 extension), 2 nozzles, 2 hooks, 1 shutoff nozzle, 2 hydrant and 1 coupling wrench, a chemical tank, a siamese and 6 rubber coats. The Hearst Chemical Truck was used for many years and was replaced by a truck that we cannot identify. It was purchased most likely in the early to mid-forties. Pictures of the truck are available, but there is no mention in the Company minutes and we cannot tell exactly what equipment it carried. In the mi-1950’s, the Company formed a committee to find a new truck. A 1957 GMC Pumper was purchased. It had a 750 gpm pump, and had ladders and hose. This truck was a work horse and at one point was used to pump water to the Village when the water system pump was broken. It sat up at the reservoir and pumped for two weeks without stopping. The gas tank was filled while it ran and the oil and other fluids were kept full. When the author joined the Company in 1974, this truck was in service. At that time, the truck had electrical problems and the members often had to push start the truck. In 1978, this truck was replaced by a Ward LaFrance (Maxum Series). The truck has a 1500 gpm pump and carried 3” hose. The state of fire apparatus had gone a long way from the 250 gpm pumps of the late 1920’s to the 1500 gpm pumps that are common now. It is interesting to note that some of the original water system that was used to supply pumperless hose line in the early days is still in place and is used by the larger pumpers in service today.
In 1941, the Company went to battle with the Village Trustees over the Village’s plans to move G. H. Scott Hook and Ladder Company and the Police into their quarters. This did not make the members very happy as their quarters were already cramped. The Village figured they could save $451 a year. The Village also offered to buy the Department a new truck as a bribe, but they did not make either Company happy and both resolved that they would leave the Department if the issue was forced on them. The Village backed off, and we are not sure, but this may be when the truck we cannot identify was purchased. (Note: The truck was a 1941 Chevrolet pump.)
During the Second World War, members of D. M. Hamilton and the other two companied were organized into brigades to cover the Village during blackouts. The Village was split into four sectors and each sector had eighteen men that were assigned to cover it. When the blackout alarm sounded, the members were required to respond to the firehouse and stand by in case of fires caused by “enemy bombers”. At one point, in 1941, the Chief found it necessary to come to each company and stress the importance of appointing a driver with sufficient ability to drive in the dark.
The D. M. Hamilton Steamer Company #2 is presently 117 years old. It enjoys the distinction of being the oldest continuous fire company in the village. The Company is still quartered in the original building built in 1872, though it is a little tight for the modern equipment they have at this time. The Company is currently led by Hank Wienert, Foreman; Joe Pocyciwinski, First Assistant; David Moore, Second Assistant; Grant Lezette, Treasurer; Ken Wich, Secretary; James Huff, First Assistant Chief.
COXSACKIE HOSE COMPANY #3
The Village of Coxsackie continued to grow away form the Lower Landing along Academy Street (Mansion Street) and towards the Old Kings Highway (9W). As the West End continued to grow, a group of concerned residents organized a meeting to establish a new fire company to protest that end of the Village. On November 30, 1894, they held a meeting at the school house and twenty-four persons of legal age signed the company charter. One anxious youngster, who was present that night, was just shy of his 18th birthday, but George Sweet was later the first member elected by ballot at the first meeting. This was the start of a long and dedicated period of service to the Coxsackie Fire Department. Their first official meeting was held on December 15, 1894, and the constitution and by-laws were accepted by the members. The first officers elected included: L. B. Bergman, Foreman; J. D. Rea, First Assistant; B. B. Powell, Second Assistant; W. B. Townsend, Secretary; Myron Bedell, Treasurer.
The Company was formed after the introduction of a gravity fed water system in the Village. This allowed a fire company to attach hose to the forerunner of our modern hydrants. The fire was fought with the static pressure in the water system and no pumps were used. At the time of the company’s formation, there was a great deal of opposition from older residents of the West End. There had been no fires in forty years, and they could see no need for another company. Shortly after their formation, the Hose Company was kept busy and soon justified the decision to start the Company.
In the early years, the Company had no formal meeting place or garage, and they had to rent or borrow space. The first meetings were held at Brother Rosa’s place and he provided barn space for the hose cart. This was in exchange for having his cistern filled by the Company. A few months later the company moved to the Faith Lodge Hall over Conine’s Store. The rent was $1.00 a month and the Faith Lodge furnished lamp oil, stove coal, and cleaning. In 1896, they started to hold meetings in Barlow’s Hall for $.50 a month, and the hose carriage was moved to the parsonage barn. In June of 1896, the West Shore Railroad offered to rent the Village a small parcel of land on the West side of the tracks (north side of Mansion Street). The Company went to the Village asking them to rent the lot for $5.00 a year and to build a firehouse on the site. In 1897, plans were submitted to the Village in May, while the Company continued to meet at such places as Sweets Market, Hallock’s Opera House, Barlow’s Hall and others. On December 22, 1897, the Company held their first meeting in the new quarters built by the Village. The Company used the building until 1929 when it was sold and moved to make way for the railroad underpass. There was a small snag with the sale of the build, as the insurance company lawyers ruled that 4/5 of the building belonged to the Company while 1/5 belonged to the Village. It took some debate to get the Village to sign off their share so it could be sold. The Company had added an addition (doubled downstairs) in 1915 to house the old hose cart. The building was valued to $1,800 and in Jun 1929 was sold to V. J. Webb for $800.
When the Company vacated the hose house, they had no formal replacement. They met where they could find the space. The truck was kept in William Hallenbeck’s garage and later Defrate’s. For several years, the Company investigated lots upon which to build a new hose house. They decided they wanted land that was no further east than Sylvestors Corners and no further west than the Second Reformed Church. At the Annual Meeting on April 4, 1933, a committee was directed to investigate the purchase of the Iroquois Inn. The Inn was on the corner of Mansion Street and Bailey Street, and it had been damaged by fire in March of 1932. The committee of W. Hallenbeck, G. Sweet and A. W. Pierce was given full power to close a deal, and they purchased the building for $15,000. The fire damage repair cost $1,107.82. The Company is still quartered in the building. Several garages have been added as the truck inventory grew. It now houses four trucks. The first meeting in these quarters was on August 16, 1933. A party was held in 1944 to “burn the mortgage”.
The first piece of equipment owned by the Company was a four wheel horse-drawn hose carriage. The Company did not keep its own stable, and therefore, relied on local liveries to bring the cart to a fire. This cart was used only a short period of time, as the Company switched to a smaller two wheel “jumper” hose cart (drawn by hand). This cart was much easier to maneuver and did not require the time to harness a team. In 1911, the Village added to the hose cart by purchasing the Company a hand drawn chemical tank. It was a 45 gallon American LaFrance, and it cost $300. The chemical cart and jumper hose cart were used until 1921, when the first motorized truck was obtained from the American LaFrance Company. This first power truck was a combination chemical tanker and chemical hose truck, and it cost $2,500. The Company had been raising funds for the truck since 1915. According to department “old timers”, there is an interesting story about the first motorized equipment. It seems that during the spring and summer of 1921, G. H. Scott Hook and Ladder Company #1 was secretly building their first truck in a member’s secluded barn. They wanted to surprise the Village with the truck when it was completed. Meanwhile, Hose Company #3 went and bought a factory built fire truck and secretly brought it into town on a tarp covered trailer under the cover of darkness. It was hidden and brought out at the 1921 Convention. The people were surprised, but not as much as the members of G. H. Scott who were still working on the truck they were building. This first truck was purchased with $1,000 down and three yearly note of $500 at 6% interest. The first insurance policy cost $25. In 1934, the Company got the permission of the Village to place a pump on the truck.
By 1940, the truck was approaching twenty years old and was in poor condition. There was a crack in the cylinder head, poor steering and bad tires. The truck was put back in order at the company’s expense as they were getting poor cooperation from the Village. In the summer of 1944, the pump was out of order and the company demanded immediate action. It is not certain how they go along without the pump, probably used chemical tank, as a new truck was not to be approved until 1946. The truck was an Oren and was purchased partially by the Village and by money donated to the Company. The Oren had a pump, booster tank, and hose reels. The Oren was used until 1968, when the Village bought an American LaFrance pumper. This truck is still in service and has a 1000 GPM pump, 500 gallon booster tank, booster reel, 1 ½” pre-connects and 2 ½” lines for supply. The truck is scheduled to be replaced in 1989-90.
In March 1896, eighteen men appeared before the Company and stated they intended to form a fifth company to be called Hose Company #5. Hose Company #3 proposed that the men be elected into Hose Company #3 and that consideration be given to changing the company name. The men were accepted into Hose Company #3 and the fifth company was never formed. The members did decide that they did not want to change the company name and they remained Hose Company #3. On July 18, 1906, the Coxsackie Hose Benefit Association was formed by the Company, and a set of by-laws and a constitution was approved by the members. William Hallenbeck was the first president, and the organization existed until May 18, 1955. The committee was used to provide a death benefit for widows and families of deceased members. A the time of its abolishment, it had paid 101 benefits; and the balance of their funds were transferred to the company’s welfare account.
On November 3, 1933, the Ladies Auxiliary of Hose Company #3 had their first meeting. The first officers elected included Mrs. William Hallenbeck, President; Mrs. C. DeFrate, Vice President. Several times the women bailed out the men when they were broke, and they donated the money to purchase the first district siren.
As early as August 1942, a committee had been set by Foreman E. Foster to investigate the formation of a fire protection district. On December 15, 1948, the Company signed a contract to provide protection to the Town of Coxsackie for $1,500 a year. The formation of the FPD required the purchase of separate equipment as Village equipment could not be used. The first truck was a Studebaker Tanker purchased in January 1949. It was sent to Hannay Hose Reels to be outfitted with a pump, reels, tank and other fire equipment. A limit of 15 men form the district was set for new members, but they were to have no say in Village matters. The final approval of the FPD was given in April 1950, and its boundaries were limited to two miles by road. It was later increased to three miles and the members discussed contracting part of New Baltimore. As a side note during this period, department officers were attending special training in fire fighting tactics for atomic explosions.
The out western limits of the FPD continued to grow, and the company decided to add an auxiliary unit in the Earlton area. In July 1954, a lot was purchased and a building erected. The Company bought two 1954 Studebaker pickup trucks; placing one in the new Earlton station and the other in their own quarters. Neither of the trucks had pumps, although one portable pump was added to the Earlton truck later. In 1962, Hose Company #3 accepted a proposal from the Earlton unit; and the firehouse and Studebaker were sold to them for $6,000 including interest. The deal depended on the Earlton unit getting their own fire protection district approved. In 1964, the Company (#3) replaced the Studebaker Tanker with a Ford that is still in service. The old tanker was given to the Village to use. In 1974, the Studebaker utility truck was replaced by a Ford Chassis with a utility box. In 1978, a 2,500 gallon tanker with a 1,250 gpm pump was purchased for the district. At the time of its purchase, it was the largest pumper-tanker in the county. These trucks still serve the district, though the 1964 Ford Engine-Tanker will be replaced in 1989-90.
It is interesting to note the introduction of technology to the Coxsackie Fire Department. In 1937, a bill for “gas masks” in the amount of $60.56 was paid, and it indicates an early awareness of the dangers of smoke. It is likely that they were used earlier than this, but it is doubtful that the Village had the oldest type of breathing system—masks with long tubes-that were used in the larger cities. In the mid-1950’s, the first “Scott” air packs were bought, and in November 1967, the first foam jet nozzle and 10 gallons of foam were purchased.
Hose Company #3 is still very active in their dual role of providing protection to the Village and Town. The current officers include Mark Evans, Foreman; Yale Frank, Jr., First Assistant; Steve Dresch, Second Assistant; Karl Kilts, Secretary; Robert Frank, President; Donald A. Daoust, Chief and Paul Canniff, Second Assistant Chief/Treasurer. The Company is still quartered in the Old Iroquois Hotel and currently has four pieces of apparatus. The Old Jumper Hand Cart is also in the company’s possession.
By: Rene J. VanSchaack
M. Hamilton Steamer Company #2 – Ladies Auxiliary
The D. M. Hamilton Steamer Company #2 Ladies Auxiliary was organized on February 27, 1945, with seventeen members. Those attending were: Ida Rehberg, Viola Bennett, Erminnie Moore, Mary Filkins, Louise Diamond, Susan Kniffen, Helen Jones, Louise Millett, Charlotte Searles, Evelyn Millett, Myrtle Searles, Julia Carroll, Armetta Hotaling and Gladys VanSchaack.
The first officers elected were Gladys VanSchaack as President, Mary Filkins as Vice President, Julia Carroll as Secretary and Charlotte Searles as Treasurer.
Dues were $1.00 per year and the sunshine collection was five cents a month. Membership pins were purchased for $1.25.
Bingo was held evenings in the firehouse to help the firemen pay for a sink, dishes, pots and pans, stoves and a hot water heater. Baked ham dinners with all the trimmings were held for $1.25 admission.
During the first year of the organization, there were 55 members, with an average monthly attendance of 21. Today we have 27 members, including 10 honorary—those with 25 or more years of service—and an average monthly attendance of 7.
The function of the auxiliary is to serve our firemen in all department activities when asked; whether it be making coffee at fires, cleaning the firehouse, preparing and serving meals, or assisting them with other firematic functions.
New members are always welcome provided they have a father, brother, husband, son, or uncle who is or was active, exempt or deceased within the Coxsackie Fire Department. Meetings are held at the firehouse the second Tuesday of the month at 8:00 p.m.
The current officers are: President – Frances Locke, Vice President – Louise Noeth, Treasurer – Frances Moore and Secretary – Julia Moore.
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