Fire Bucket, Protection Volunteer Fire Company, 1761

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Folk Art paint decorated fire bucket from the Protection Volunteer Fire Company, dated 1761, and made for “P. Rice.”

Lower Manhattan, Fulton and Ann Streets, New York City, New York, 1780 – 1815.

Painted leather with brass handles rings.

What makes it special? The Protection Volunteer Fire Company, Engine Company Number 5, was one of the first Fire Associations organized in New York City.  The date 1761 on the fire bucket refers to the construction of the “North Dutch Church”, around which the company was soon established.  The Protection Company was located in Lower Manhattan, first in Smith Valley, near Pearl Street, between Wall Street and Beekman Street.  According to “Our Firemen, The History of the NY Fire Departments”, by Augustine E. Costello, published in 1887, page 569:  ” This company was undoubtedly one of the oldest in the Volunteer Fire Department. The old “North Dutch Church” was founded in the latter part of the year 1761, and in 1762, No. 5 Engine was located on Smith Valley, near Pearl Street, between Wall and Beekman Streets, the locality being then a fashionable place of residence. It afterwards became Queen Street and was improved by handsome brick edifices. Here was found, identified with No. 5, Jonathan Black, who was a lieutenant in the second battalion of the Firemen’s Military Organization. Associated with Black was John Somerendyck, Gerit Peterson and Henry Shut. For many years No. 5 did duty as a bucket company, carrying a number of the buckets in use in those days, which were filled at the nearest water supply, and passed from hand to hand in a line to the fire. The earlier minutes of the company have been lost or destroyed, making it impossible to obtain correct data of its younger days. It is on record, however, that Francis Arden, John Cole, and Abram and Frederick Easthart were members in 1786. The records of 1793 show that Frederick Acker was foreman, Garret Vandewater assistant, James Aymar secretary, and as privates Wm. McKenny, Peter Thompson, John Cole, Caleb Pell, A. Acker, and Wm. Pinckney. They did not increase their membership for some years afterwards. John Leonard, Joel Sagers, and H. W. Rosenbaum joined about the year 1812, and later on Adam W. Spies, Thomas P. Geolet, and David M. Prall became connected with the company.”  By 1813, the Protection Fire Company was located at 105 Fulton Street and after 1847 at 61 Ann Street.  A 19th century brass and silver Speaking Trumpet from the Protection Fire Company is in the collection of The New York City Fire Museum, Catalog Number 00.074.  The finely crafted speaking trumpet features engraved decoration of the number 5, for the engine company’s official designation, as well as a beehive basket, referring to their nickname as the Honey Bees.   As noted in the museum’s catalog entry:  ” ‘Honeybee’ Protection No. 5 was one of the oldest volunteer companies in New York City, dating back to the 1760’s.  Their house was located at 105 Fulton Street.”  The Protection Fire Company ended service in 1865.