HOOK & LADDER COMPANIES
From Barbara Eastman notes
In the Spring of 1852, Colonel Thomas Nugent Casneau, owner of the Columbia Exchange Hotel, organized a Hook & Ladder Co. and a military company of militia which would later be called the Columbia Fusiliers. Meetings of both companies were held in "The Exchange." Both companies paraded in the 4th of July celebration of 1852, the first to be held in the county. The Hook & Ladder Co. was presented with their first banner by Mrs. Campbell, a well known actress. Late in February they gave a ball at the Italian Saloon, and on March 4th a Grand Inaugural Ball at Dan Patterson's Saloon.
July 10, 1854 fire destroyed most of town and the valiant efforts of the volunteers caused damage to the equipment of the Hook & Ladder Co., and the company temporarily disorganized. Lee & Marshall's Circus did a benefit to aid in replacing their apparatus, in November.
July 31, 1854 - "The people of Columbia were somewhat excited by the examination of 'Babe,' who was charged with setting their town on fire three weeks ago. It is understood the testimony was entirely circumstantial, and it appears that the evidence is insufficient to warrant the Justice in committing him. However, from the general feeling envinced by the citizenry, Babe would be wise to spend his time in some other locality, least he wear the hemp collar and hang from the flume." - Sonora newspaper.
March 31, 1856 John Leary organized the Hose Company. They built a two-story frame house on Fulton Street with quarters for their hose carriage and equipment on the lower floor with their meeting place upstairs.
August 25, 1857 fire broke out in a Chinese shanty on the north side of Jackson Street. Most of the wood structures were lost and the brick buildings survived (except for Brown's store, which exploded). After the fire the Hook & Ladder Co. reorganized and called themselves the "Phoenix Hook & Ladder Co."
January 1858 John Leary assists in the creation of the Columbia Hose Company. The town trustees allowed them $450 for a brick carriage house and a new hose. To be constructed on Fulton Street.
September 1858 town cries for better fire fighting methods.
November 28, 1858 John Leary is attending a fireman's ball and in the uniform of the fireman when he was called out as Constable to do his duty and was killed by robbers. Many mourned his death.
Early 1859 the Tuolumne Carrier carries a few articles signed "Fireman" who demands that something be done and suggest hand pumps.
September 16, 1859 a group of Columbia women put on an "Engine Festival" at Cardinell's Theatre. Tickets were $3 which included dinner and dancing. Other women collected from willing donors and within a week the "Ladies Committee" had raised nearly $2000. Some small minded men felt outdone and were angry.
October 1859 Fireman Harry Tinkum examined a handtub in San Francisco. With the help of Brigadier General T. N. Cazneau, now of San Francisco, they went to investigate the machine.
1859 October 14 - $1800 is paid for Papeete. Cazneau was instrumental in getting the Steam Navigation Company to take her to Stockton, gratis and Fox & Co. took her to Columbia by big wagon, again at no charge. The engine was painted rose-red, striped with black and heavy gilt, with brass mountings and ornaments, two magnificent lamps, bell, buckets, axes, etc. On either side of the high frame, above the body of the engine were "splendidly executed Sandwich Island angels, something like the complexion of a new saddle." They were much concerned as to what the Columbians would think of these nude bathing figures and so he had taken the responsibility of having "nice screens fitted over them, till you can arrange with Joe. Spier for a full set of extra-full hooped fixings."
October 21, 1859 Papeete is renamed by the Ladies Committee, "Tuolumne Engine No. 1"
October 22, 1859 Papeete arrives and is installed at Marshall's brick building on Broadway.
November 1859 Another subscription was made and $2000 more raised for a second engine.
November 23, 1859 Columbia Engine Co. No. 2 is organized for the second engine (Monumental) at Colombo Saloon.
December 1859 Columbia Engine Co. No. 2 prefer to remain independent and the Phoenix Hook & Ladder Co. and Tuolumne No. 1 join forces and become the City Fire Dept.
December 31, 1859 Tuolumne Engine Co. No. 1 has their first Annual New Year's Ball at Cardinell's Theatre. They continue these Balls for forty years.
January 7, 1860 second engine named "Columbia No. 2" (this engine is a Torboss built in 1856), arrives in Bensonville and is housed in Hughes Barn. Later brought to town and set up at Alvin Evan's Stable at the southeast corner of Columbia and Jackson Streets.
February 22, 1860 Tuolumne No. 1 and Columbia No. 2 demonstrated in Sonora to the delight of the Sonorans who did not yet have an engine.
May 23, 1860 Columbia No. 2 is removed to C. Humbert's building on the west side of Main Street, two doors above Jackson.
MORE: The Hand Pump Companies Battle.
Some info obtained from - www.hantubs.com and Edward R. Tufts book: Hunneman's Amazing Fire Engines.
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Floyd D. P. Oydegaard
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