EX-CHIEFS OF THE VOLUNTEERS
J. E. NUTTMAN and A. C. BRADFORD were chosen to act as chief and assistant chief respectively on June 26, 1850. We have been unable to find any record showing the length of time the above named gentlemen served, but presume that Chief NUTTMAN remained at the head of the department until he removed to San Francisco, a short time previous to the election of E. W. COLT to the office, January 11, 1854. George H. TINKHAM in his "History of Stockton" mentions Frank Q. BROWN as an assistant chief in the list of the "pioneer firemen" who served the city in the earliest days of its existence. Andrew LESTER held the latter office September 13, 1853, and was elected for another term January 11, 1854.
August 18, 1855, Wm. B. CLARK and Samuel L. BALDWIN were elected first and second assistant chiefs and E. W. COLT was re-elected to the commanding office. Mr. CLARK presented his resignation and Wm. B. COOMBS was selected to fill the vacancy thus occasioned on December 12, 1855. August 12, 1856, A. S. RIDER was elected chief. Samuel L. BALDWIN and John REMSHART were chosen to act as first and second assistants. RIDER and BALDWIN tendered their resignations two months later; Mr. REMSHART was advanced to the rank of first assistant and on December 8th, J. M. Van SYCKLE and M. L. BIRD were selected to perform the duties of chief and second assistant respectively.
Mr. Van SYCKLE tendered his resignation to the Board of Delegates on June 9, 1857, but that body prevailed upon the gentleman to reconsider his action and he continued to perform the duties of the office in an able manner until August 11th, when, at the regular annual election John REMSHART was honored by election to the office. On the same date M. L. BIRD and E. B. WHITMAN were elected assistants. August 10, 1858, Messrs. REMSHART and BIRD were re-elected but as Philip NEISTRATH of the "San Joaquins" had received the larger number of votes he was, under the then existing rules, declared entitled to rank above Mr. BIRD as assistant. The latter gentleman declined to serve and the secretary was instructed to call a special election for the purpose of naming his successor. No record of such an action appears, however, in the minutes of the board.
At the regular annual election, August 9, 1859, John W. HART, D. J. OULLAHAN and C. F. WURSTER were chosen to act as chief, first assistant and second assistant chiefs respectively. George H. SANDERSON of the "Hooks", Philip NEISTRATH and W. T. SMILEY of the "Webers" were elected to fill the offices, ranking in the order named, on August 14, 1860. One year later the two first named gentlemen were re-elected and P. W. DUDLEY of the "Eurekas" was chosen second assistant. August 12, 1862, Mr. SANDERSON, who subsequently moved to San Francisco and later was elected Mayor of that city, was continued in the chief's office by the unanimous vote of the department. M. A. ROBINSON of the parent company and R. S. CONLEY of the "Eurekas" received the majority of the votes for the offices of first and second assistants. Mr. ROBINSON resigned and Philip NEISTRATH was chosen to fill the vacancy thus occasioned on August 25th, but he, too, declined to serve. Mr. CONLEY tendered his resignation November 11, 1862, and all the duties of commanding the department fell to the lot of Chief SANDERSON until December 9th, when P. W. DUDLEY and Joshua BARSTOW were elected assistants.
At the regular election August 11, 1863, R. B. LANE was the unanimous choice of the department for chief and M. SEVERY and A. DURANT were elected first and second assistant chief respectively. All declined to serve and August 29th was set as the date upon which a special election would be held but no record of the same appears. The next annual election should have been held on August 1, 1864, and A. DOHRMANN, L. E. YATES and Byron GALLUP were appointed judges for the conduct of the same. No candidates put in an appearance and the judges, at a subsequent meeting of the Board of Delegates, expressed their belief that unless Chief SANDERSON continued to serve, the department would be without a commanding officer, as it was impossible to find a member of the department willing to allow his name to be placed in nomination for the office until such time as the Common Council should show its appreciation of the organization's efforts by appropriating a stipulated amount monthly as a salary for its chief officer. At a meeting of the City Fathers held Monday, October 10, 1864, the following resolution was adopted: "Resolved, That this Council fix the salary of the Chief Engineer of the Stockton Fire Department at the sum of twenty dollars per month, and that the department be requested to hold an election forthwith." On the day following the adoption of the above Chief SANDERSON tendered his resignation. Thirteen days later Thomas CUNNINGHAM, Philip ROHRBACHER and G. C. HYATT were elected to the several offices, ranking in the order named. All were re-elected the following year.
August 14, 1866, the duties of shaping the course of the department fell to the lot of Frank SEILNACHT. Samuel HEWLETT and Thomas ECKSTROM were chosen to act as his assistants and the satisfactory manner in which they performed their duties was made evident by their re-election the following year. August 11, 1868, Thomas CUNNINGHAM was once more called upon to direct the energies of the Volunteers, Fred YOST and W. A. STILLSON ably filling the positions of first and second assistant. Messrs. CUNNINGHAM and YOST were re-elected the following year; Chas. A. MARTIN succeeded Mr. STILLSON.
August 9, 1870, Philip ROHRBACHER, Israel ROLF and Chas. A. MARTIN ranking in the order named, were elected to the offices and one year later John NICHOLS, George KROH and Ben. F. KOHLBERG were the gentlemen honored by the majority of the votes of their fellow members of the department. The three last named were re-elected on August 13, 1872, and at the next annual election NICHOLS, KOHLBERG, and Henry ESHBACH were chosen. Chief NICHOLS was again re-elected in 1874 as was also first assistant chief KOHLBERG. The office of second assistant was ably filled by Jas. W. FREELEY. August 10, 1875, James BROWN succeeded John NICHOLS as chief while Henry ESHBACH and Eli CONFER were elected assistants.
Mr. BROWN again received a majority of the votes at the next annual election and Henry ROHRBACHER of the "San Joaquins" and John HAMPTON of the "Hooks" were chosen to fill the other two offices. The election of 1877 was held July 10th. Pope MOUNTJOY received 89 votes and Henry ROHRBACHER 87. Both gentlemen were candidates for the office of chief. A recount of ballots cast was requested by San Joaquin Engine Company No. 3, of which Mr. ROHRBACHER was a member and the president appointed Messrs. J. A. LOUTTIT, M. S. THRESHER and Gilbert DON a committee to conduct the same. The recount revealed no discrepancies in the report of the judges of the election and the committee recommended the issuance of a certificate to Mr. MOUNTJOY, who is said to have been the youngest man to hold the office of chief engineer during the existence of the volunteer department. Henry ESHBACH and John B. BUCKLEY filled the offices of first and second assistant chiefs respectively during Mr. MOUNTJOY'S term.
From the above date the records of the department are missing, hence our inability to include a complete list of the gentlemen who officiated as assistant chiefs during the two years next succeeding. Henry ESHBACH was elected chief engineer August 16, 1878. He was succeeded in 1879 by John B. BUCKLEY who served two terms. Israel ROLF was selected to act as the head of the organization in August, 1881, during the year he was ably supported by W. B. WOLLAM and J. W. BRADY. Ben. F. KOHLBERG was the unanimous choice of the department in 1882 and, assisted by Edward WEBER and J. C. ZIGNEGO Jr., he administered its affairs in an exceptionally able manner until the year following when Henry ESHBACH was once more called upon to assume the duties of the office. Mr. ESHBACH was re-elected in 1884. During his first term he had as first and second assistants John D. GALL and J. C. ZIGNEGO Jr. The names of the assistants elected in 1884 are not recorded.
In 1885 the work of shaping the destinies of the department fell to the lot of John D. GALL, who was assisted therein by Joseph KALCK and Henry CULKINS. Louis J. WAGNER held the office when in June of the year following the apparatus was purchased for the city by the Council. In pursuance with the agreement entered into with the last named body the Volunteers maintained an active organization until the adoption of the paid system by a majority of the voters, and in August, 1887, elected James BROWN chief engineer to serve until the inauguration of the officers of the new regime.
Transcriber Sally Kaleta.
Proofreader Betty Vickroy.
© 2002-2007 Nancy Pratt Melton.