Thursday, December 18, 2014

Support Great History and Fire Safety Education

Support Great History & Fire Safety Education for Children!!!

Fire companies in service at Engine Co.45s
quarters - This firehouse is now home to the Cincinnati Fire Museum

     Greetings Greater Cincinnati Firefighters, fire buffs, and history lovers alike!  One of the primary sources for the material I use to conduct my research is the Cincinnati Fire Museum and its archive.  The museum has been in the business of preserving the history of the the fire service in the Cincinnati region for decades now.  More importantly the fire museum has reached thousands of children with its vital message of fire safety.  If you love this history please consider taking the time to support the museum in one of several of which it totally FREE.

The Cincinnati Fire Museum
Former Home of Engine Co.45

How can you support the mission of the Cincinnati Fire Museum:

#1 - Totally FREE - Sign up for Kroger Community Rewards:

Go to and click Create An Account. Follow
the prompts to register a new account. You are asked to enter an email address
and to create a password.

Once registered, go to, sign in, and click
Enroll Now.

When the "Find Your Organization Screen" go to Cincinnati Fire Museum with and organization number 80344 and click

It only takes a couple of minutes and it is a totally FREE way to support the 
Fire Museum

#2 - Join the Museum!!!

Follow the like to establish membership in this great organization:

#3 - Donate to the Museum

To make a simple donation to the museum click on the link below:

Members of Engine Co.45 & Water Tower Co.01

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Superstition or Premonition - A Dream of Death Becomes Reality

A Premonition of the Death of Henry Miller

     On February 1st 1904 the phone rang at Engine 29s quarters.  Substitute firefighter Moller was calling from the Winton Place firehouse.  He was concerned about a dream he'd had overnight and wanted to pass along a message to Pipeman Henry Miller.  Moller told Miller that he had seen him killed in his dream along with Captain Davies.  Moller was clearly concerned that his dream was more than just a tired delusion, he was fearful it might be a premonition of a disaster soon to take place.  The day passed without such a disaster.

     It was that night that an alarm from Box 46 called firefighters to the scene of a blaze at the Henry Nurre Picture Frame Manufacturing Factory at 1409 Plum Street.  A 10 Blow was quickly put in and soon most of the department was rushing to the scene.  Engine 29 was tearing toward the blaze with Miller and Davis on board.  As they sped to the fire the men joked about the dream Moller had warned them about earlier that day.

     Upon arrival the men found a 5 story brick factory situated along the canal.  Fire had been at work on the structure long enough to bring the roof down.  The tall masonry walls stood without bracing as the fire continued to rage within.  Engine 29 arrived on scene and the company took up a position on the south side of the factory.  Captain Davis, Lieutenant Bickel and Henry Miller were operating a stream from a "Y" shaped ledge of ground near a 15' hole at the foot of the factory.  It was extremely cold and the men were quickly suffering the effects of the spray of icy water from their hose.  Other lines were being operated from Plum Street.  Water access had been made easy by virtue of the proximity of the building to the canal.  Once holes were punched in the ice the water was easily drafted into the engines to supply the hose.

     Suddenly the warning of "collapse" was shouted across the fire ground.  Patrolman Shaeffer recognized the precarious position of the crew of Engine 29 and he yelled to them to run.  The men held fast.  They did not want to drop their hose without first having it shut down but they were undermanned.  A recent department directive required a man be taken from the companies and placed on watch in theaters during shows.   With only 3 men they did not have a fourth to send to the engineer to shut the line down.  The men called to a bystander to deliver the message but it was too late.  Shaeffer watched as the bricks crashed down around the men.  Once the shower of debris stopped men rushed in to find the crew.  Lieutenant Bickel was found along the gutter of the building.  Captain Davis and Henry Miller had been tossed into the hole under the ledge they had been working from.  The men were quickly pulled from the hole and delivered to the hospital.

Headline - 2/2/1904
Cincinnati Enquirer

     Fire, building collapse, ice, and cold were not the only hazards braved by the responders on scene at the Nurre Blaze.  In an effort to make the scene more secure an electrician with the power company moved to cut the power lines to the building.  A mass of lines fell to the street near patrolman Hubner.  The officer was shocked and tossed into the canal unconscious.  Fortunately for Hubner the ice held and he was dragged from the ice.  He was lucky to survive the incident.

     Captain James Conway and the Salvage Corps also had a close call.  They had been working in a 3 story tenement across the alley.  They were helping panicked residents to remove and protect their belongings when the call of collapse was heard.  The men rushed to exit the structure but stopped before stepping into the street just in time to avoid the shower of rubble from above.

Headline - 2/3/1904
Cincinnati Enquirer

     Things had developed quickly on the fire ground.  The collapse that caught Engine 29 occurred in the first 30 minutes of operating time at the scene.  Miller and Davis had been carried to the hospital.  Their families were notified as quickly as possible of the situation.  Mary Miller, Henry's wife, received word of the collapse and she frightfully rushed to the hospital.  As she arrived Henry died of his injuries.  He had sustained a skull fracture and had been crushed by the falling debris.  He died at 12:25am on February 2nd.

     Miller was 40 years old and in addition to his wife he left behind a 3 year old daughter.  The family resided at 1079 West Liberty Street.  A substitute detail was assigned to Engine 29s quarters so the regular members could participate in the funeral a couple of days later.  The men were decorating the hose wagon that would carry Millers body from his home to the services when smoke was seen coming from a residence at 1071 West Liberty.  The firemen prepared for the funeral procession were at the ready and they broke from their positions to extinguish what was found to be a burning box of waste.  The subs from Engine 29 arrived and took over.  Soon the procession was making its way past the Gifts house.  A bell from the Gifts tolled a final time in honor of Miller as he was carried to the German Protestant Cemetery on Vine Street.

University of Cincinnati Rare Books

     Superstitions of one kind or another are not uncommon among firefighters.  Indeed many people occasionally put stock in superstitious beliefs.  People sometimes experience dreams that seem to carry some meaning in our conscious lives.  Such was the reason for the concerns of Moller.  Perhaps is was simple coincidence that he called to tell Miller of his dream just hours before Miller was killed.  Fortunately for Captain Davis the premonition was only partly accurate.

     This tragic story of superstition, premonition, death, and sacrifice had been lost to history.  The following will be added to the Roll of Honor in recognition of the heavy price paid by Miller and his family in service to the CFD and the City of Cincinnati:

Henry G. Miller
Pipeman - Engine Co.29
Died 02 February 1904
Crushed in wall collapse at fire scene 

Henry G. Miller Headstone
Vine Street Hill Cemetery (German Protestant Cemetery)

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Tragic Story of William and Patrick Haley

The Tragic Story of William & Patrick Haley

     William and Patrick Haley lived at 950 Martin Street with their 63 year old mother and another brother James in 1900.  Their mother Margaret was a widow as was Patrick.  The first tragedy the family would experience unfolded in this year.  William was just down the street from his home at Kruse's Saloon when he got into an argument about politics with his friend Tim Reardon.  Haley was very vocal and attracted the attention of a number of other patrons.  As things became tense the men were directed to leave the saloon and they complied.  Reardon walked away as he wanted to avoid a confrontation but the other men were more inclined to continue the dispute.  A fight quickly ensued.  Haley was outnumbered and did what he could to defend himself.  He was knocked to the ground and the men began to kick him.  The noise from this fight roused the men of Engine Co.6 who came running to the scene.  The crowd backed off and Haley rose to his feet.  Not having had enough, Haley continued to boast that he could take any man among the crowd.  Harry White came forward and they went to the ground.  Haley was getting the best of Harry when Edwin White, Harry's brother, pushed forward and kicked Haley solidly in the head.  Firemen broke the crowd up and dragged Haley back to their quarters.  The crowd followed and soon it was clear the men were going to rush the firehouse.  Firemen grabbed nearby tools to arm themselves.  As the crowd surged into the firehouse someone yelled "cops" and the men scattered.  Two officers arrived and Haley requested they escort him home.  He complained of being injured.  While on their way to his home, Harry White appeared and claimed Haley had cut him.  Officers decided to arrest both men and they were taken to the Hammond Street Station.  White posted bond and was released by Haley did not make bond and was told he would spend the night in jail.  Around 4:30 in the morning on the 24th of September Haley was found dead in his cell by the turnkey.  The White Brothers were later arrested and charged with murder.

University of Cincinnati - Birth and Death Records

     Tragedy would strike the Haley family again about a decade later.  In May 1909 Engine Co.6 relocated to its new quarters at Pearl and Martin Streets.  On July 16th Ladder Co.15 was organized from the same quarters.  It had been a year of growth for the fire department.  91 substitute firemen had been made regular firefighters during the year to accommodate a new schedule for firemen that gave them each every fifth day off.  The city had also been modernizing and their was a growing use of a new utility, natural gas.  On December 22, 1909, the department was stretched thin and the chief was forced to call on "outside subs" to fill the roster.  An outside substitute was not on the list of regular subs and had never had to submit to any physical or oral test.  They were used as a last resort on the schedule and were paid $2 per day for their service when on duty.

     Patrick Haley was called in to work on this occasion.  Unfortunately that is when a terrible accident struck the quarters of Engine Co.6.  The men must have smelled gas and Captain Newman and Patrick Haley went to the basement of the fire company quarters to check things out.  Something sparked an explosion.  Haley and Newman were rushed to Good Samaritan Hospital.  Haley had been badly burned and was given pain medication to help calm him.  On Christmas Day, several days after his arrival at Good Sam, Haley died of his injuries.  Captain Newman was expected to recover.  By this time Haley had remarried and resided at 996 E.3rd Street. 

Cincinnati Enquirer 26 December 1909

     Unfortunately for the Haley family, because of his status as an outside substitute, Haley did not qualify for a widows pension.  This loophole prevented his death from being recognized as a Line of Duty Death and his name has never been mentioned among the honored men lost in service to the department and the city.  Chief Archibald must have recognized this family had suffered and not gained compensation from the city.  Just a few days later on January 01, 1910 he appointed Thomas Patrick Haley a substitute at the same firehouse where his relative Patrick Haley was caught in the explosion of gas that cost him his life.  Though this appointment indicates Chief Archibald was sensitive to the loss suffered by the Haley Family, the chief makes no mention of Haley's death in his annual report for the year.  Indeed he reports, "I am pleased to state that no fatal accidents occurred during the past year."  The closest anyone comes to noting the death was the Fire and Police Department Surgeon Thomas C. Minor M.D., who in his annual report noted "within the past few months the so called natural gas introduced in this city has caused innumerable accidents to firemen many of whom have been blown up, even in engine houses and at fire cisterns, by this insidious and dangerous explosive introduced under the plea of public economy."  Though Haley is not mentioned by name it seems unlikely that Minor was not thinking of him when he wrote this in his report to city leaders. 

Cincinnati Enquirer - 28 December 1909

     Patrick Haley would ultimately be lost to history and his family never did receive the pension that would otherwise have provided some benefit to any other regular substitute or firemen in service of the city.  Haley likely acted in the role of outside substitute for a long time as the 1900 census listed both he and his brother William as firemen.  Patrick Haley's death certificate also listed his occupation as fireman.  Though he was not honored or mentioned by the department it seems appropriate to place his name among those who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to the department and the city.

     As a side note, natural gas would continue to be a problem in the city for some time to come.  Less than a year after Haley was killed in the basement of Engine Co.6, The quarters of Engine Co.11 would be the site of still another gas explosion.  On November 23, 1910 the quarters of Engine Co.11 at Eastern and Vance was rocked by an explosion that forced the house to be abandoned immediately.  Ironically the chief decided to locate Engine 11 at Engine 06s quarters until a new house could be built for the company.

Engine Co.6 - Pearl and Martin Street - Adams Landing
Courtesy Cincinnati Fire Museum

     The Haley Family experienced a number of tragic episodes including the loss of Patrick to the blast at Engine Co.6s quarters.  Patrick Haley will be added to the names of the men honored after having lost their lives in service to the department.  CFD Roll of Honor:

Patrick Haley
Outside Substitute - Engine Co.06
Died 25 December 1909
Injuries resulting from gas explosion in the basement of Engine 06 quarters

     Special thanks to Columbus Firefighter and Historian Chris Klein for providing much of the information used in the re-discovery of this incident.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Herman Krieger - LODD Update

Herman Krieger - LODD Update

     Herman Krieger - Assistant Engineer of Fire Co. 48 collapsed and died while operating the pump at the scene of a shed fire in the 6800 block of Carthage Pike on 02 May 1927.  Up to this point knowledge of his death was lost.  Krieger appears on a document produced by Chief Houston that lists department deaths from 1920-1930.

Cincinnati Enquirer - 03 May 1927

     According to the Cincinnati Enquirer Krieger was made a substitute firefighter on 10 Jul 1907 and was then promoted to regular firefighter on 11 Jul 1908.  At the time of his death he was 42 years old and resided at 2522 Cleinview Avenue.  A doctor was immediately called to the scene to tend to Krieger but he arrived and found no signs of life.

Spring Grove Cemetery Burial Card

The following information will be added to the Honor Roll of the Cincinnati Fire Department:

Herman Krieger
Assistant Engineer - Engine Co.48
Died 02 May 1927
Collapsed while operating the engine at a fire scene

Special thanks to Asst Chief Robert Kuhn for finding the report generated by Chief Houston.  The report contains the names of three other LODDs that are not on our list at this time.  Each of those situations are still being researched.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Union Terminal

Union Terminal - Repository of Fire Department History

     Union Terminal is a unique and special building in Cincinnati and Hamilton County.  Today the old Union Terminal serves as the home to the Cincinnati Children's Museum, The Cincinnati Natural History Museum, and the Cincinnati Historic Society Museum and Library.  The library of the historic society contains many of the earliest documents generated by the fire department.  Annual reports signed by Miles Greenwood and photographs of early fire disasters represent a small portion of the fire department collection at the historic society.  Protecting and celebrating the history of the fire department and the region is now the primary purpose of the Union Terminal.  It is critical that we value and protect our history.  Union Terminal is one of the most iconic buildings in the area and has come to be a natural fit for these institutions of preservation.  Today voters decide on Issue 8 which would give the museum center the funds needed to repair and maintain the building.  Saving Union Terminal has been a major issue in the past.  Efforts to protect it even included turning it into a shopping center.  Talk to a great many WW2 veterans who had to travel through the Midwest both to their point of departure and to return home and you will find that they often have fantastic memories of Cincinnati's Union Terminal.  The building and its institutions are a window into our past and a foundation for our future.  Please consider the importance of this building when determining your position on Issue 8. 

Union Terminal & Cincinnati Salvage Corps Apparatus
Courtesy - Cincinnati Fire Museum

Monday, October 27, 2014

Dempsey Licks Willard

Jack Dempsey Beats Jess Willard

     Firemen from around Cincinnati just squared off against police officers in a charity boxing match at Horseshoe Casino called Guns & Hoses.  The firemen managed to capture the overall victory.  15 out of the 22 fights were fought by Cincinnati firefighters.  The competition raised over $80,000 for charity.  Given this recent interest in boxing I thought it would be a good time to share the following entry found in the company diary of Ladder 06.

     On occasion an event of cultural significance is recorded in the diary of a fire company.  Such was the case on 04 July 1919 when Jack Dempsey beat Jess Willard to claim the heavyweight boxing championship.

T06 Company Diary 1919 - Courtesy Cincinnati Fire Museum
Note the Entry for the 4th of July

     Jess Willard was the world heavyweight boxing champion for over four years and was nicknamed the "Pottawatomie Giant."  On the 4th of July 1919 Jack Dempsey delivered a bloody beating and claimed the title from Willard.  When Willard went down in the 1st round it was the first time in his career he was knocked down.  Dempsey would put him to the ground another six times before the first round ended.  Willard was no pushover.  In 1915 he knocked out the heavyweight champ Jack Johnson in the 26th round to claim the title for himself.  Jack Dempsey, "The Manassa Mauler," went on to hold the title until 1926.  His aggressive style and dynamic fights made him on of the most popular fighters of all time.

     To better appreciate the aggressive style of Dempsey which made him so popular, check out this great video of his fight:

Toledo, Ohio

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Cincinnati's 1st Fire - Spring 1794

Cincinnati's 1st Big Fire - Spring 1794

     The 1st settlers in Cincinnati landed in December 1789.  These early pioneers built their cabins on what would become Front Street.  Because the cabins were very near the Ohio River there was little fear of fire.  After a few years of development the settlement had grown away from the river.  Land was constantly being cleared of trees and brush to make room for farming and planting.  By 1794 there was an area of town that started around 6th Street and extended north.  Here over 100 acres were contained inside a worm fence that had been built several years earlier.  One of only a few structures inside this area was a frame office constructed by the pioneer lawyer Thomas Goudy.  Goudy no longer used this building for work as it was found to be too far north of town to be convenient. 

A typical worm fence or snake fence

     In early spring 1794 one of the settlers in this northern section of town was using fire to clear brush along the western end of the fenced in area.  The brush and downed trees prevented the planting of crops.  A strong wind suddenly turned the small clearing fire into an uncontrolled wildfire.  The wind drove the blaze east and soon this entire northern section was burning.  The entire population turned out in an effort to save what they could.  Men with buckets took up position around Goudy's office while others worked to protect the fence.  Ultimately the building was saved but the fence was largely destroyed. 

     History does not record what ultimately caused the fire to be checked.  It likely burned through the available dry and loose brush covering this area before burning itself out.  Certainly the citizens did what they could to extinguish the fire as well.  After the excitement had subsided it was clear to the citizens that the risk of fire was not to be taken lightly.  From that point forward greater care was taken to clear brush off areas settled so as to prevent future wildfires that might threaten the settlement.  As the population continued to expand and more buildings were constructed the citizens of Cincinnati would soon consider more substantial means with which to control and prevent fire.  Soon laws would be passed to govern how citizens should respond to these emergencies.

1 - Centennial History of Cincinnati and Representative Citizens by Charles Theodore Greve
               Volume 1, published 1904
2 - A History of the Cincinnati Fire Department in the Nineteenth Century by Kathleen J. Kiefer
               University of Cincinnati M.A. Dissertation - 1967

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Martin Farrell LODD - CFD Roll of Honor Update

Martin Farrell LODD - Cincinnati Fire Department Roll of Honor - Newly Found LODD

Sunday 13 May 1877
The Mohawk Fire Co.12 diary records that the company was notified by Jakey Hughes that Martin Farrell was paralyzed while traveling on the engine to Box189.  Martin died that evening.

Mohawk Engine Co.12 Diary - 1877
B.Houston Collection

Mohawk Engine Co.12 Diary
The entry for Sunday May 13th records the death of Martin Farrell. 
Tuesday the 15th is indicated as the day of funeral services.
B.Houston Collection

The Cincinnati Enquirer reported:
Cincinnati Enquirer
14 May 1877
     Engine 16 was riding at full speed to Box 189 when Martin Farrell fell off of the apparatus and onto the street at the corner of McMillan Street and Montgomery Road.  The engine continued to the scene of the fire and went to work despite Farrell's fall.  Farrell managed to stand up and walk to the curb.  When he was approached by people on the street he was found to be paralyzed and unable to speak.  Farrell had suffered a previous bout of paralysis about a year prior to this accident.  He was taken from the scene of the accident to his home where he died in the evening.  Farrell had previously served the fire department on Engine Co.09 and Engine Co.14
The story of Ferrell's accident was conveyed by The Cincinnati Enquirer to its readers on 14 May 1877 as follows:

The Cincinnati Enquirer
14 May 1877

     Martin Farrell's death was ultimately attributed to "paralysis."  He is listed as being married and 54 years of age.  He was born in Ireland and worked as a Fireman.  Dr. J. Jones pronounced him dead.  The undertaker Sullivan was given care of his body and he was buried at St Joseph's New Cemetery in Price Hill. 

Cincinnati Vital Statistics - Death Record
The following entry will be made to the Roll of Honor of the Cincinnati Fire Department:
Martin Farrell
Pipeman - Engine Co.16
Died 13 May 1877
Fell from engine while en route to Box189 - Died later that evening

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Thanksgiving Tragedy - Newly Found LODD William Greve

Thanksgiving Tragedy - Billy Greve Killed - Newly Found LODD

The Cincinnati Enquirer
 27 November 1903


     26 November 1903, Night watchman John Myer was about to start his shift.  He was expecting a quite night as the warehouse he worked in had been idle all day in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday.  His expectations were dashed when he opened the door only to discover the building charged with smoke.  He quickly rushed to the rear of the structure and found a working fire in the engine and boiler room.  Bolting for the exit he gave the call of fire.  George Frese, a passerby, heard the cry and pulled fire box 263 at 4:38p.  The fire department arrived on scene within minutes and a second alarm was pulled.  In all Engines 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 9, 14, and 22 responded to the scene along with Hooks 1, 6, and 7. 

Engine Co.10
Stelter Collection
     The machine shop of Smith, Meyer & Schnier was situated on Front Street.  At this end the brick building was 2.5 stories in height.  In the rear the complex butted up to the river bank and was 1.5 stories high.  Access to the building was made difficult by the other factories on either side as well as the river.  The only point of attack open to the fire laddies was to be the Front Street entrance.  The men worked efficiently as they brought their lines to play on the blaze.  Crews from Engine 04 and Hooks 06 worked on the eastern side of the building.  Engine 01 and Engine 22 made way to the second floor and Engine 10 accompanied Engine 02 in making an attack from the first floor.  Several lines were in operation but the flames were still pushing toward the Front Street entrance driven by a steady wind off the river.  The men in the building had taken their places among the many heavy machines inside.  Hanging over the men working on the second floor was a massive mobile crane used to move machines around on the floor below. 
     Without warning the roof gave way.  The great crane came smashing down onto the second floor which then collapsed onto the first.  Firemen were scattered all around and on the building.  The crew of Engine 01 was on a ladder in the front of the building, two men were thrown clear of the debris while two others were partly buried.  Others jumped from windows or under machines after hearing the first rumbling of the structure as it failed.  Most were struck by falling bricks and beams as they made efforts to escape the building. 
     Chief of Police Millikin was watching from outside.  Upon witnessing the calamity he signaled for his patrol wagons to pull forward.  Immediately the firemen on scene were joined by policemen bearing stretchers.  The firemen of Engine 10 had been in the most unfortunate position.  They had been fighting the fire directly under the collapse.  Lieutenant Dennis Doherty managed to reach a doorway before being struck down.  Doherty's roughnecks, Billy Greve and James Keegan, were not so lucky. 
      Injured firemen were rushed via patrol wagon to the City Hospital.  As the wagons sped from the scene, citizens took notice and a rumor spread that a great many firefighters had been killed.  A large crowd began to make its way to the scene.  Policemen and Firefighters continued to pull men from the debris.  Fire Chief Archibald with the help of Assistant Chiefs McAvoy and Hurley took accountability of their companies.  James Keegan, Captain O'Neil, and Billy Greve were found to be the only members still missing.  It was felt the men were under the main portion of the debris.  The area was filled with choking smoke and hoses continued to play over the debris pile so as to protect the men that were still missing from otherwise certain death from the heat and fire that was still burning.  James Keegan was located first.  He had been pinned under heavy timbers and it took great effort to free him.  His right leg had been fractured in two placed above the knee.  Captain O'Neil then appeared, having managed to free himself from the debris and escape serious injury.  Greve was now the lone missing firefighter. 

The Cincinnati Enquirer
27 November 1903

     James Connry of Hooks 01 was feeling his way over the debris pile about 25 feet into the front of the structure when he spotted Greve laying on his back, pinned at the neck and stomach under large beams.  Flames were burning the beams very near his body and his expression made clear the agony he had suffered.  He had suffocated under the beams, pinned in a position that left him unable to protect his face from the smoke and water that surrounded him.  After hours of work with axes, saws, and crowbars the body was finally recovered. 
     A great many of the firemen working the scene that day experienced close calls.  A.J.Carroll of Engine 06 had jumped under a heavy machine for cover.  The machine shielded him from the beams that fell from above.  Dick Rathkamp of Engine 01 was found hanging from the cornice of the building with flames licking all around him.  Len Westcott reached him as his grip started to fail and helped him down a ladder.  Fred Huesmann, pipeman of Engine 22,  was trapped between a machine and the wall.  His cloths began to catch fire as the men reached him.  They managed to free him and pulled him out a nearby window just as the floor collapsed around him. 

The Cincinnati Enquirer
27 November 1903

     The fire left a lasting mark on all the men that were there to experience it.  Some of the men would also suffer physically for years to come.  James Keegan, who had been at Greve's side at the time of the collapse, was disabled by the fire and it was uncertain if he would ever serve the fire department again.  Their officer, Lieutenant Dennis Doherty sustained a skull fracture and internal injuries but he was expected to recover.  Bart Fanning of Hooks 06 fell and injured both his legs.  Fanning would later die from an accumulation of injuries sustained while working as a firefighter.
     Word of the tragedy continued to spread through the city as the members of Engine 10 slowly returned to quarters.  The men had suffered the loss of their fellow firefighter and fiend Billy Greve and others of their company were now being treated in the hospital.  As they turned onto 3rd Street and their firehouse came into view they had still more pain to witness and endure.  Greve lived with his family across the street from the firehouse.  His children never missed the chance to run along side the engine as it left quarters and they were always present to welcome their father home upon its return.  When the engine neared the waiting children they could not see their father among the men on the engine.  Firemen provided evasive answers when questioned.  It was at that moment that Ella Greve, Billy's wife, burst from the doors of their apartment building.  She was sobbing and grief stricken, having just learned the news from a friend.  It was only then that the children realized their father had been lost. 
     Services for Greve were conducted at Saint Xavier Church on Sycamore on Monday December 01.  The hose wagon of Engine 01 that had carried Greve to the scene of the fire on Thanksgiving now carried him to his final resting place in St Joseph's Cemetery. 
     It was later learned that Greve had been sleeping in the firehouse when the alarm came in.  His Captain, Peter O'Neil had returned from servicing his hydrant and it was Greve's turn to ensure his assigned hydrant was free of water, such was the procedure in cold weather.  Rather than wake Greve, the captain decided to take care of Greve's hydrant as well.  This kept Greve in quarters and thus he was able to respond on the initial alarm where O'Neil was delayed in his arrival at the scene.  Had Greve been awake and set out to service the hydrant he might not have arrived at the scene in time to find himself in the middle of the collapse. 

     The Enquirer noted that, "Greve gave up his life, but as long as the department exists his memory will be cherished."
     The Following will be added to the Cincinnati Fire Department Roll of Honor in memory of our line of duty deaths:
Firefighter William Greve - Engine Co.10 - Killed 26 November 1903 - Box 263 at  621 to 627 West Front Street (Smith, Meyer, & Schnier) 2 Alarm Fire - Building Collapse/Suffocation

Cincinnati Fire Department


UC Birth & Death Index - Rare Books Archive

Friday, September 12, 2014

LODD Update - Ephrem Stewart

Update: Memorial LODD List
       The Line of Duty Death memorial list is a relatively recent creation.  Prior to the compilation of the list, members lost in service to the fire department were noted in the fire departments annual reports.  Often more detail was recorded by local news sources.  Until the recent past the department did not maintain a list of these names.  The research and efforts of several members of the fire department were joined together to generate the LODD list as it stands today.  These members spent countless hours pouring through newspaper microfilm and old department reports to gather as complete a list as possible.  From time to time names of firemen past that made the ultimate sacrifice are still uncovered.  This update represents one such situation. 
     The company diary pictured below was being utilized to research The Gay Fire.  This fire was the deadliest single event in history for members of the CFD.  Five firemen were killed that day on December 11, 1880.  The diary records the time of the event and the names of those firefighters lost.  It then goes on to note that "Eve Stewart died the same night from injuries from Box 21 on the 8 December while putting the Engine No10 to work."  A later entry for December 14, 1880 further indicates that "Eve Stewert on this afternoon was buried."  The LODD list will soon be updated to reflect the addition of Stewart's name.
 Ephriam Stewart
Engine Co.10
Stoker/Former Captain
LODD - Dec 12, 1880 from injuries received at the scene of a fire at the Gould, Pearce & Co
(3rd & Culvert Streets) December 8, 1880.
Stewart was struck in the groin by a brass connection while separating hose from a hydrant.

This is the original article in the Cincinnati Enquirer that notified the public of the death of Stewart:

Cincinnati Enquirer: Among the Ruins, The Scene of the Horrible Holocaust
Article Date 13 Dec 1880

This Cincinnati Enquirer article conveyed the story of the Stewart and his life and death.  Stewart was said to have been the third man sworn into service of the paid fire department.  At the time of his death he was the oldest member of the CFD.

Cincinnati Enquirer: Buried at Wesleyan, Ephriam Stewart Laid to Rest - Article Date 15 Dec 1880

Engine Co.19 Diary - Bill Houston Collection
The entry for December 11, 1880 records the deadly results of the Gay Fire and notes the passing of firefighter Eve Stewert.  On December 14th it is also indicated that he was laid to rest.

Engine Co.19 Diary - Bill Houston Collection

The Cincinnati vital statistics card indicating the death of Ephrem Stewart.  Stewart is listed as being white and widowed.  He is 50 years of age.  The cause of death is listed as injuries to the abdomen (Peritonitis) and he is listed as being buried in the Wesleyan Cemetery. 

Cincinnati Death Index Card - UC Rare Books Library
View the current
of CFD members lost in service

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Steam Mill Fire of 1823

The Cincinnati Steam Mill Fire of 1823

          History records an early fire of substantial proportions which struck Cincinnati business interests in November 1823.  It was at this time that the great 9 story steam mill that was situated on the Ohio River was destroyed by fire.  By this date Cincinnati was rapidly rising to assume its place as the greatest of the western frontier urban centers, surpassing competitors such as Lexington, Louisville, and Pittsburgh.  The country and the west in particular was pulling itself out of a significant economic depression brought on by the end of war between the relatively new United States of America and the British.  Because Cincinnati relied more on its commercial interests than its industrial base it was faster to recover than its key competitors in the region.  Ultimately its recovery by the mid-1820's pushed the city into its leadership role among western urban areas.  City directories boasted of the 9 story stone steam mill on the river.  The buildings size served to some extent as a symbol of the potential of the city itself.  Visitors would arrive by river and immediately pass under the large structure.  By the time of the fire the city had grown substantially and with its growth came an increase in the problems faced by any urban center.  One of these problems was fire and how to ensure it would not sweep away the town and all its interests.  The burning of the Steam Mill further demonstrated to leading citizens the need for improvements in the cities fire protection capabilities.  This and other such events gradually generated a drive among the population to push city leaders to demand more authority in the realm of fire suppression and control.  

     Specific dates for this incident are varied.  The CFD History written in 1895 indicates the event took place on the 23 of November, The resource below shows the date as the 3rd of the same month, and still another source book of extra alarm fires in CFD history has the date as the 28th of November.  Thank you D.Jones for correctly pointing out that additional research regarding the specific date of the event is required.  


          An early image of the Cincinnati waterfront.  The steam mill can be seen on the far right of the picture and must certainly have been the dominant structure visible on the riverfront.

          An 1815 plan of the City of Cincinnati lists the large steam mill prominently as the first structure on the list, an indication of the buildings importance. 

     Comments and conversation regarding this and other posts are welcome.
Thanks for reading!

Source Note:
The Urban Frontier:  Pioneer Life in Early Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Lexington, Louisville, and St.Louis            The University of Chicago Press 1959 - Richard C. Wade

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

New Pictures - 05 Feb 1952 - 3 Alarm Fire - Cincinnati Wool Stock Co &The New Troy Laundry

     Recently I had the good fortune to acquire a photo album containing original snap shots of fires from the early 1950s.  There was almost nothing written on the pictures and it remains a mystery who took the images.  The album was found at a flea market in Cincinnati.  Many of the 106 images were blurry but some were in focus and provide a window into the past. 

     One group of these pictures was of the 3 alarm fire which occurred on the 5th of February 1952 in the Cincinnati Wool Stock Company and the New Troy Laundry.  Located at 832-844 West 6th Street, these buildings are gone now.  The neighboring building, across the street, was the Hudepohl Brewery.  It can be seen in some of the images and it remains standing today. 

     The fire alarm sounded for Box 3144 at 0405 and a 3rd alarm was requested at 0411.  Included with the group of pictures is the fire ground blueprint for the extra alarm fire.  I have not yet researched the fire itself but I wanted to share the newly discovered pictures. I will update the post with details of the fire at a later date.

Extra Alarm Blueprint - Cincinnati Wool Stock Co Fire - J.Peter Collection

 Note the Hudepohl Brewery in the background

A screen shot from Google Maps of the area at it appears today.

Update: Here is the F-47 report submitted by District 2 for the New Troy Laundry Fire provided by CFD Fire Photographer David Jones.

     If you have any additional information on this fire or if you have any old fire photos you would like to share with a community of people dedicated to he preservation of the history of the Cincinnati Fire Department please contact me.