STOCKTON FIRE DEPARTMENT
1850 - 1908
PHOTOS & BIOGRAPHIES
OFFICERS EXEMPT FIREMEN'S ASSOCIATION....With Mr. W. S. Fowler, whose sketch appears on another page, the gentlemen pictured above constitute the Board of Trustees of the Exempt Fire Company of Stockton. Mr. Douglass joined the "Webers" when they organized May 31, 1853, and is believed by the writer to be the only charter member of the company now living. He was nominated for the office of foreman of the company September 13, 1853, but declined the honor. Two months later he was elected second-assistant foreman and served in that capacity until he moved to Columbia, Tuolumne County, where, during the days of the mining excitement and that town's population six thousand, he held the office of Chief of its department. When he returned to Stockton, in 1869, he again joined the Volunteers and remained an active member for many years. Minord S., or, as he is familiarly known to as all the pioneer residents, "Mose" Thresher, was elected a member of the "Webers" May 4, 1858. Three months later he was chosen foreman, and, as will be seen by a perusal of the following pages, from that time until the dissolution of the company he remained as active fire fighter and one of the most popular members of the Volunteer Department. Mr. Eichelberger was also a member of the "Webers," his membership dating from July 7, 1863, when his name was presented by the late Louis Hansel. Previous to his arrival in Stockton he had been a member of the San Francisco department, and he has a fund of interesting anecdotes anent running with the "masheen" during the early days in the Bay City. Following the resignation of W. E. Shaw, on December 7, 1875, he was chosen to fill the vacancy in the office of foreman, and at the next annual election was again the unanimous choice of his company for the position. Subsequently he ably filled almost every office in the gift of his fellow-members. Mr. Webster joined Protection Hook and Ladder Company, September 5, 1865. While the nature of his business made it impossible for him to assume the duties of an officer in the company, he nevertheless found time to take an active interest in all its affairs. Whenever danger threatened he was actively to the fore and he could always be depended on to assist at festivities of a social nature, the making a success of which was, by the way, not the least of the accomplishments of the Volunteers.
M. McCANN, CHIEF ENGINEER.... Chief McCann was born in Ireland April 15, 1847. In the autumn of the same year his father emigrated with his family to America and located in New London, Connecticut. Seven years later he came west and settled in Stockton. Chief McCann joined San Joaquin Engine Co. of the Volunteer Department March 9, 1869 and from that date until adoption of a department he remained an active member of the volunteer organization. Upon the acquisition of Babcock Chemical engine by the company in 1873, he was appointed driver. He continued to fill the position until August 1886, when he resigned and was elected foreman of the company. Upon the inauguration of the system he was selected to fill the position of Chief Engineer and served in that capacity until 1891 when he was succeeded by Israel Rolf. He was re-appointed by the President Board of Fire in Police Commissioners in August of last year. While a strict disciplinarian, Chief McCann has at all times the respect of his men, and his record as a firemen, gained through twenty-two years of active service is considered by the underwriters and property owners as decidedly an enviable one.
M. D. MURPHY, ASSISTANT CHIEF.... "Dan," as he is familiarly known to his fellow-members of the department, was born in Cheyenne, Wyoming, January 15, 1877. When he was four years of age his parents moved to Stockton and he has resided here continuously since that time. He first entered the department June 1, 1899, when he was appointed call-man. In January, 1905, he was placed on the roll as a permanent full-pay member and for two years thereafter was stationed at Chemical house. When Chief McCann assumed control of the department he was selected to act as his assistant. With a record for efficiency as a firemen already established, Mr. Murphy has, since he took up the duties, demonstrated his fitness for his present position by the display of clerical ability of the high order. And by his genial temperament and courteous manner has made many friends among those whose business brings them in contact with the department.
CHIEF MCCANN & ASSISTANT CHIEF MURPHY IN CHIEF'S BUGGY AT HEADQUARTERS.... "Pete" the fine-looking equine that draws the Chief to the "scene of danger" has been in the service since 1903. During that time he has made and enviable record and by his gentle disposition and display of intelligence, at times almost human, has won the affectionate regard of all the firemen. Like some men, however, "Pete" has one weakness, and, despite all efforts to break him of the habit, if he is left standing near any green grass he will disregard all discipline and "hike" with the buggy to where he can get a "nip."
THE LATE CAPTAIN CHARLES M. WEBER.... The first fire engine brought to Stockton was the property of Captain Weber. After the organization of the city government, in 1850, it was purchased by the Council at its cost price, $3, 799. It was delivered to Chief Nuttmann, for use of the Weber Engine Co. Number 1, on January 29, 1851. Major R. P. Hammond, acting as agent for Captain Weber, signed the necessary papers. The engine was a primitive affair, indeed, and was housed in Captains's barn on the peninsula. James Lynch, an employe of the Captain, acted as first Steward. It was the town's sole piece of apparatus for several years, and despite its insignificance, preform excellent service on a number of occasions when danger threatened. Captain Weber was born February 16, 1814, in Homburg, Department of Mount Tonnere, during the reign of Napoleon I. His parents were of German lineage. His father was a Protestant minister, and preparations were begun early in the life of the Captain to fit him for the same calling. While preparing for the University excessive study brought on a serious illness, and he was compelled to abandon studious pursuits. He thereupon turned his attention to business of a mercantile nature, in which he was engaged until he set sail for America. He landed in New Orleans in the winter of 1836. The following year he contracted the yellow fever. Upon his recovery he removed to Texas where he took up arms on behalf of his adopted country in its struggle with the Mexicans. In 1841 he was again taken sick and was advised, upon his recovery, to seek a cooler climate. Having read, with much interest, articles in the papers of that day describing the beauties of the country beyond the Rocky Mountains, he resolved to join one of the many caravans that were then starting for the new "land of plenty." He arrived in California and 1841 and accepted a position with Captain Sutter as overseer at the Fort in Sacramento. In 1842, with William Guinac, he opened a general merchandise store in the puebla of San Jose. They also started the first flour mill run by water power in that city. In April, 1845, the partnership was dissolved and the Captain was given possession of the entire Campo de los Franceses grant, comprising 48,747 acres of land on the east side of the San Joaquin river. He at once set about to build the city where Stockton now stands. From the day when he first landed on American soil Captain Weber was a patriotic and active supporter of the principles of his adopted country. In the Mexican war he gave his services and, when during the internecine struggle within the North and the South many loyal men were fearful of taking a firm stand for the Union, he came to the front with his characteristic vigor and flung to the breeze the starry banner. He erected a staff 120 feet in height on the island west of his residence, and after the receipt of the news of each Union victory he raised to it top the emblem of freedom. Subsequently the name "Banner Island" was applied to the spot, and it has since been known by that title. Captain Weber died on the morning of May 4, 1881, after an illness of three weeks' duration, the immediate cause of his death being pneumonia. His was a personality both generous and unassuming, and among the earliest settlers, those who knew him best, his friends were legion. His public spirit was manifested by the donation of grounds for church sites school-house sites, sites for engine houses, cemeteries, public squares, and in landing a liberal hand to anything and everything calculated to advance the interests of the community. His gifts of building lots to private individuals were numerous, and his hands were never closed against appeals of distress. As a man he stood high in the estimation of his fellowmen, and it's fitting that a monument such as is the beautiful city of Stockton, should have been erected as a reminder of its founder's character to its future generations of citizens.CAPTAIN WEBER's HOME IN 1851... Reproduced from a daguerreotype by W. H. Rulofson. In the background can be seen the bark "Otronto," laden with gold seekers and supplies "from around the Horn."
THE LATE R. B. LANE... Mr. Lane was the first gentleman regularly elected a member of the Eureka Engine Company after that organization adopted its constitution. His name was presented by the late William B. Clark, September 1, 1853. Three years later he was elected secretary of the company, and his popularity was attested by his re-election to that and the office of treasurer for a score of years. He also represented the company in the Board of Delegates and served as a president of the body in 1863-4. In 1863 Mr. Lane was the unanimous choice of the department for Chief Engineer, but the demands of his private business necessitated his declining beyond. He was elected Mayor of the city in 1868, and subsequently served on the Board of Aldermen. He passed away and an advanced age in June, 1907.
THE LATE JOHN T. DOYLE... Mr. Doyle was born in New York City January 9, 1850. He came to California in 1875, and on March 17th of that year located in Stockton. He joined Protection Hook & Ladder Company of the Volunteer Department in May, 1880, and remained an active member of the organization until the inauguration of the paid system. For several years he represented the company in the Board of Delegates. When the Exempts organized he was chosen to act as their first president. Mr. Doyle devoted many years of his life to the public service, and was held high in the esteem of his party. In 1882 he was elected to the City Council from the First ward. He served until the spring of 1884 when he declined re-nomination. He was one of the Freeholders chosen to draft a new city charter, which went into effect in 1884, and shortly after he was again elected to the Council. He was re-elected in 1886, 1888 and 1889, and during one term he officiated as its president. He served as chairman of the Board of Police and Fire Commissioners during the term of Mayors Inglis and Harrison. He was offered the unanimous nomination of the Democratic party for the office of Assemblyman, but declined for business reasons, and subsequently the same motive prompted his refusal of the nomination for Mayor. By his genial personality, honesty and faithful performance of the duties of his many offices, Mr. Doyle became one of Stockton's most popular citizens, and his death, which occurred on March 7, 1907, was deplored by the entire community.
ISRAEL ROLF, EX-CHIEF... Mr. Rolf was appointed Chief Engineer of the paid department to succeed Chief McCann in 1891. He had served as the head of the Volunteer organization ten years previous, and for many years had been recognized as an able and fearless fireman. He held the office eight years, when he was succeeded by James P. Carroll. During the time Chief Rolf was at its head the department maintained a high state of efficiency and his administration of its affairs was considered by the taxpayers and underwriters as satisfactory in every respect.
JAMES P. CARROLL, EX-CHIEF... Mr. Carroll was appointed Chief Engineer to succeed Israel Rolf in 1899. He filled the office in an able manner until 1903, when Will H. Knowles was appointed. In 1905 Chief Carroll was again chosen to have the department and he continued in the position until August of last year, when he was succeeded by Chief McCann.
W. S. FOWLER, FINANCIAL SECRETARY OF THE EXEMPTS.... Mr. Fowler was born in Orange County, North Carolina, April 29, 1832. He crossed the plains in 1853 arising in Los Angeles December 8, of that year. The following year he moved Tuolumne County, and in 1857 took up his residence and Angel's Camp, where he engaged in mining and various pursuits until 1868, when he came to Stockton. He opened the Young American Hotel and later, when that house was replaced by the Commercial, was associated with the late Frederick Hahn in the management of that popular caravansary. He was elected a member of the City Council in 1878 and served two years, during which time he was chairman of the Fire and Water Committee. In 1882 he was elected to Chief of Police and his popularity was attested by his re-election to the office the following year. He was again appointed to fill the latter position under the new charter on July 15, 1889. He was a member of Eureka Engine Company of the Volunteer Department, joining the body in 1882. At present Mr. Fowler is confined to bed having been seriously ill for several months past.
R. C. TUMELTY, CITY ENGINEER AND SURVEYOR .... For many years Stockton's fire department has been handicapped in its efforts by the poor condition of the city streets, certain of which were, at times, well-nigh impassable. Under the able administration of Mayor Hudson and other gentlemen composing the municipality's present governing body the work of improving them has been prosecuted with a vigor that has resulted in giving us highways of an excellence seldom seen in a western city of Stockton's size. In this important work the authorities have been ably assisted by Mr. Tumelty and Mr. O. E. Wright, Superintendent of Streets. A photograph of the last named genial gentlemen, we regret to say, was not provided in the time for publication herein.
T. N. MOORE, CITY ASSESSOR, TREASURER AND TAX COLLECTOR .... Mr. Moore is also ex-officio Treasurer of the Fireman's Pension and Relief Fund and the law provides that he shall retain from the pay of each member of the department 2 per cent of their monthly stipend to be placed to the credit of the fund. This amount monthly constitutes the funds chief source of income.
Transcriber Nancy Pratt Melton.
© 2002-2007 Nancy Pratt Melton.