John J. (John James) Currier.

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was wrecked near Emerson's rocks. The passengers and crew
were saved, but the vessel and cargo were lost.

The schooner \'irginia, two hundred and thirty-four tons
register. Captain Burgess, from Boston for Rockport, Mass.,
was driven high on the beach at Plum island October 13,
1885, and afterwards condemned by the underwriters and solt.l.

F'ebruary 10, 1886, the fishing schooner Lizzie H. Haskell,
Captain Marshall, went ashore on the beach, and was a total
loss. On the sixth of April following, the schooner Beta, with
a cargo of wood and a crew of six men, two adult passengers
and six children, was wrecked on the north breaker. One
man and three children were drowned. The vessel was sub-
sequently hauled off and repaired.

The schooner P'ranklin. Captain Upham, from Thomaston,
Maine, for New York City, went ashore three-quarters of a
mile .south of the life saving station November 13, 1886,
and was a total l(^ss.




The same clay the schooner Carrie H. Spofford was wrecked
about one-quarter of a mile north of the station. John D.
Parsons, Rev. James H. Van Buren, John W. Sargent, Philip
H. Creasey and Arthur L. Huse of Newburyport, by the use
of the breeches buoy, assisted in rescuing the captain, crew
and one passenger. The vessel was subsequently driven on
the beach, where she remained in a dilapidated condition, as
shown in the above half-tone print, until completely destroyed
by the action of the wind and waves.

November 3, 1887, the schooner John E. Sanford, loaded
with coal, from Glace Bay, C B., for Newburyport, went
ashore on the north breaker. A part of her cargo was saved,
but the vessel was a total loss. December 5, 1889, the
schooner Hannah Stone was wrecked near the same place.
The officers and crew were saved with great difficulty by men
connected with the life saving station.

August 19, 1 89 1, the schooner Lucy M. Collins, with a
cargo of coal, from New York for Ipswich, was driven ashore
near the southerly end of Plum island ; and on the sixth of
December following the schooner M. L. Wetherell, loaded



with sand, was stranded near Lighthouse point. Botli vessels
were a total loss.

May 4, i<S93. the schooner Brave, from Deer Isle, Maine,
was wrecked near the life saving station at Knobb's beach.
The captain and three men were drowned. Their bodies were
recovered and sent to Deer Isle.

June 30, 1895, the schooner Mary G. Powers went ashore
on Plum island. The vessel was only slightly damaged, and the
officers and crew, consisting of twenty-three men, were saved.
On the fourth of July following, the three-masted schooner
Abbie and Eva Hooper, with coal, from Philadelphia for
Amesbury, Mass., was stranded near the life saving station.
The officers and crew were rescued in an exhausted condition.
Ten or twelve days later the schooner was hauled from the
beach into deep water by the steam-tug " Right Arm " and
taken to Boston for repairs. The half-tone print on the next
page gives a view of the vessel when a portion of her cargo
had been removed by steam-tugs and lighters that came to her

February 9, 1896, the schooner Alianza, from Port John-
son, New Jersey, with coal, for St. John, New Brunswick,
went ashore about three-quarters of a mile south of the New-
buryport Life Saving station. The vessel was a total wreck.
P'our of the crew were saved, but the captain, cook and one
sailor were washed overboard and drowned.

December 23, 1899, a small steamer, Laura Marion, under
the command of Capt, William Pettingell, from Gloucester
for Newburyport, was swamped by a heavy sea on the bar,
while attempting to enter the harbor. All hands were lost,
and only a few articles of value were recovered from the

May 25, 1902, the steamer Globe, from Plum Island point,
with a cargo of sand, for Portsmouth, N. H., went ashore on
the bar, but was hauled off with the assistance of the crew

1 Reproduced from a iih()t()<;;raph taken by Selwyn C. Reed.



Connected with the Hfe saving station, and proceeded on her

August 15, 1904, the schooner Edwina, from Newport
News to Newburyport, was stranded on Plum Island beach,
and remained there ten or twelve hours, but was not seriously

October 21, 1905, the schooner Shenandoah, about eight
hundred and forty tons register, from Philadelphia for New-
buryport, with a cargo of coal, went ashore about a mile and
a half northwest of the Newburyport Life Saving station,
but was hauled off without difficulty, and the vessel and cargo

P'ebruary 3, 1906, the sloop Portuna, from Yarmouth,
Maine, for Boston, Mass., was stranded near the southerly
end of Plum island. She was navigated by two men, who
were completely exhausted by hunger and fatigue. They were
taken to the Ipswich lighthouse, near by, and provided with
food and dry clothing. The sloop remained imbedded in the
sand for several days, but was afterwards floated and taken to
Boston for repairs.

In addition to the above-mentioned disasters, a large num-
ber of small vessels, boats, and pleasure yachts have been
driven on the beach by stress of weather, and afterwards
floated and hauled off into deep water, comparatively unin-
jured. The facts and dates necessary to make the list of
these disasters complete, from 1875 to 1908, will be found in
the annual reports of the United States Life Saving Service.


Dr. John Sprague, who came to Newbury previous to 1738,
was a member of one of the societies organized for the pur-
pose of preventing, if possible, the destruction of property
by fire. .V leather bucket, formerly in his possession, bear-




ing his name and the date of 1746, is shown in the half-tone
print on this page. The bucket is now in the possession of
Miss Jane R. Wood of Newburyport.
Another bucket, an exact duplicate, is
in the possession of Mrs. Margaret
(Andrews) Allen of Madison, Wiscon-

The Dernier Resort Fire Society,
consisting of thirty members, was
organized as early as 1760. Ralph
Cross, Caleb Cross, Lemuel Coffin,
Nathaniel Knapp, Isaac Knapp, John
Mycall, Timothy Palmer, Leonard
Smith, Abraham Williams, Robert
Williams and others were members of
the society. According to the rules
and regulations adopted at that date,
and afterwards revised and printed, each member was required
to keep at his residence two leather buckets and a knapsack
containing two canvas bags ready for use at all times. Two
•of these leather buckets, formerly the property of Ralph Cross,
are now in the possession of the Newburyport ^larine Society.
Li December, 1775, the Marine Fire Society was organ-
ized. One of the articles of association adopted provided that
no person shall be elected a member of the society " unless
he be a member of the Marine Society of Newburyport."
The second article reads as follows : —

Each of us will also keep in good order, hanging up in some con-
venient place in our respective dwellings, two leather buckets, in which
shall be two bags, each bag measuring one yard and a half in length,
and three-quarters of a yard in breadth, being hemmed at the mouths,
and having strong strings to draw them close ; the buckets and bags
shall be marked with the first letter of the owner's Christian name and
with his surname at length, under a penalty of three shillings for each

1 Histor\- of the Marine Society of Newburyport, pages 482-485.



Moses Brown, Jonathan Parsons, Peter LeBreton, William
Farris, John O'Brien, Benjamin Rogers, Henry Lunt,Nicholas
Johnson, Charles Hodge, David. Coats, William Coombs,
Joseph Newman, Michael Hodge, William P. Johnson, Edward
Wigglesworth, Ebenezer Stocker, William Nichols and others
were members of this society. It was not dissolved until the
close of the year 1833, and perhaps later. Two leather
buckets, formerly the property of William Nichols, captain
and part-owner of
the privateer In-
dependence in the
Revolutionary war,
are now in the
possession of his
grandson, George
E. Hale of New-
buryport. A pho-
tograph of these
buckets, taken for
the illustration of
this sketch, is re-
produced in the
half-tone print on
this page.

The Union F'ire
Society was organ-
ized February 28, 1783. Benjamin P'rothingham. Edward
Toppan, William Cross, Daniel Balch, jr., Abraham Jackson,
Daniel Cofifin, Richard Pike and other well-known citizens
of Newburyport were members of this association. Meetings
were held usually at Wolfe Tavern. The half-tone print on
the next page is reproduced from an engraving in the
possession of the Essex Institute, Salem, Mass.






The Federal Fire Society was organized in 1791. At that
date the prominent members of the society were James
Hodge, Nathaniel Knap, jr., Isaac Knap, jr., Edward Sweat,
jr., Abraham Perkins, William Wyer, jr., David Wood, Joseph
Swasey, jr., and John Greenough.

^ y- »^ ^


^ /

ZMe- [ImySbciETr 0,
"^ ff // /



(/ah red "/(> a//€//(/.


lJ^ ^'


The Phenix Fire Society was organized in 1 794. The
names and residences of the members of the society were
recorded in a book kept for that purpose, and afterward printed
in a small pamphlet,' with the rules and regulations, from
which the following copy is taken : —

' This pamphlet is in the possession of Charles F. Smith.





Thomas Morrison,

Kent St.

John Burrill,

Olive lane

James Walsh,


Joseph Newmarch,

Boardman st.

Thomas Bartlet,


James Potter,


Samuel Hale,


Samuel Hoyt,


Joseph Hoyt,


John Buck,

High St.

John Somerby,


Nathaniel Marsh,


Henry Furlong,



Thomas Burrill, Winter st.

John Boardman, Washington st.
Stephen Frothingham, Market st.
John B. Titcomb, ditto

Obadiah Horton, Merrimack st.
Thomas Ham, ditto

Ebenezer Gunnison, Titcomb st.
Thomas M. Clark, Green st.

Angler March, Market square
Daniel Hunnewell, Water st.

Eleazer Johnson, ditto

Samuel Newman, Federal st.

The Active Fire Society and Friendly Fire Society were
probably organized in 1803. They rendered efficient service
in the great fire of 181 1, and responded to a general
alarm for assistance in 1820, but no additional facts relating
to them have been discovered.

The Agile Fire Society was organized in 1805. William
Stocker, Ebenezer Stedman, John Chickering, jr., Prescott
Spalding, Zebedee Cook, jr., William Hooker, Ebenezer Hale,
jr., William P. Johnson, John Rand, John R. Hudson, Hector
Coffin and others were admitted to membership in the society
at or soon after the date of its organization.

The Mgilant Lire Society was organized in 1810. Daniel
Smith, James Caldwell, David Peabody, Alexander Caldwell,
jr., Henry Pardee, Eleazer Johnson, 3d, Joseph P. Towne,
Thomas ( )rdway, Charles Long and others were members of
the society at that date, or were admitted to membership a
few years later.

The Leonidas Fire Society was organized in July. 181 1.
It was dissolved a few years later, and reorganized in Febru-
ary, 1820. William Balch, George Greenleaf, William Stone,
Edmund Swett, Mark Symons, Stephen Tilton, Henry Tit-
comb and others were members of the society at the last-
named date.



The Brutus Fire Society was organized July 19, 1824. The
prominent members of the society were John Andrews, Rob-
ert Cross, Samuel T. DeFord, Nathaniel Foster, Thomas Fos-
ter, Joseph Marc|uand, Stephen W. Marston and Richard S.


Nathan Hale, Enoch Plumer, Jonathan Titcomb and others
purchased a fire engine and built an engine house, at their own
expense, as early as 1755, for the protection of property in the
town of Newbury. -

In 1762, another company was organized to take charge of
a fire engine which had been imported by Michael Dalton and
others from London in the preceding year. When a part of
the tow^n of Newbury was set off and incorporated by the
name of Newburyport, in 1764, there were three engines
within the limits of the new town.

March 23, 1764, the inhabitants of Newburyport voted
" that the men belonging to y*^ several Engines in this Town
be excus'd from serving in any other office in the Town."^

The members of Company No. One were John Brett, Enoch
Plumer, Eliphalet Noyes, Benjamin Cole, Somerby Moody,
Benjamin Howard, Nathaniel Howard, Richard Lowell, Joseph
Edwards and Joseph Frothingham. The members of Company
No. Two, " engine near Queen's wharf," at the foot of Market
street, were Samuel Nowell, Benjamin Pike, Obediah Horton,
John Stone, Michael Toppan, Isaac Johnson, jr., James Gid-
dings, John Stickney, Wyman Bradbury, Samuel Coker, Enoch
Pilsbury, Richard Kent, Joseph Rowell, Benjamin Pidgeon,
Leonard Smith, Abraham Gallashan, Joseph Titcomb, Abiel
Somerby and Ofifin Boardman. Company No. Three, " engine

1 For further details relating to the Agile, Vigilant, Leonidas and Brutus fire
societies, see small pamphlets containing their rules and regulations.
* History of Newbury (Currier), pages 285 and 286.
^ Newburyport Town Records, volume I, page 17.


at the lower end of the town," was composed of Gideon
Wood well, Thomas Cross, Jonathan Parsons, John Nowell,
Joshua Norton, David Whitmore, Charles Cook, Jonathan
Whitmore, Benjamin Knight, Nathaniel Hunt, William John-
son, Isaac Noyes, Amos Knight, Benjamin Gerrish, Daniel
Johnson, Hezekiah Colby, jr., Joseph Rolph, John Follansby,
Jacob Rolph and Francis Hodgkins.

March 18, 1768, the selectmen were ordered to provide,
at the expense of the town, " three Fire Hooks with the ap-
pertinances or Furniture thereof," and also a ladder and suit-
able badges, or staffs of office, for the use of the fi rewards.'
Subsequently the following by-law was adopted by the inhab-
itants of Newburyport and approved by the court of general
sessions held at Salem December 27, 1769: —

A Bye Law of the Town of NewburyPort to prevent Damage by
Fire in faid Town.

Whereas moft of the Buildings in the Town of Newburyport are of
Wood, and ftand fo nigh to each other that if any of them should take
Fire in a windy season, ahnost the whole Town would be endangered ;
& as many Houfes have old & decayed chimnies & many People are
carelefs of their Chimnies & do not get them fwept fo often as the fafety
of their own & their neighbours Houfes requires. — For preventing
which Evil, be it Enacted by the Freeholders & other Inhabitants of the
Town of Newburyport by Law qualified to vote that the Firewards of
said Town for the Time being, or the major Part of them are hereby
authorifed to infpect all fuch Houfes, or other Places within faid Town,
wherein they apprehend any Danger to arife, from the Want of Repairs
or not laying any fecure Foundation for any Fire Place ; or keeping any
Hay, or other combustible matter, fo near, or fo expofed, to any neigh-
bouring Fire, as to be likely to be let on Fire thereby ; or that there has
been a Neglect of fweeping any chimneys fo long as to expofe them to
catch on Fire and to order the owner or occupant of any fuch Houfe or
Place to make fuch amendments, alterations, or Repairs in fuch Houses
or Places as they fhall think necefsary for the publick fafety, & to re-
move fuch Combustible Matter out of the Hazard of Fire, & to order
fuch Chimnies as they find foul to be fwept : all to be done within fuch
Time after Notice from said Firewards, as the said Firewards shall

' Newburj'port Town Records, volume I, page 126.



think reafonable, & every owner or occupier who shall refufe to admit
the said Firewards, or the major part of them into fuch House or Place,
as they shall think it necessary to inspect after having been informed of
their Bufinefs & Defire, shall on every fuch Refusal forfeit & pay the
Sum of twenty Shillings : and every owner of any Houfe, who shall re-
fuse or neglect to make such Repairs, amendments, or alterations as
shall be ordered by the Firewards to be made in any Chimney or Foun-
dation, or any Fire Place, for the space of ten Days longer than the
Time allowed therefor by the Firewards shall for every such neglect or
Refufal, forfeit & pay the sum of twenty Shillings : & any Occupier of
any Houfe or Place, who shall keep any combustible matter in such
Place as the Firewards determine to be hazardous ; or shall neglect to
have thofe Chimnies swept which the Firewards determine to be foul any
longer than the Time set by the Firewards for removing such Combusti-
bles, or sweeping such Chimnies, shall forfeit & pay for each offence the

sum of twenty shillings, And be it further Enacted that every Houfe

of two Stories high which has four Fire Places shall be provided with
one Leather Bucket, fit for, & to be ufed, in Cafe of the breaking out of
Fire ; & every iuch House with six Fire Places shall be provided with
two such Bucketts at the Charge of the Occupant of such Houfe, within
fix months from the first Day of January next, & if any Houfe as afore-
said shall be occupied by more than one Family, the Fire ward aforesaid,
shall determine in what Proportion the Bucket or Bucketts to be pro-
vided as aforesaid shall be purchal'ed by the several occupiers of Houfes ;
& If any perfon or Perfons, shall neglect lb to provide, a Bucket or
Buckets according to the Tenor & meaning of this Act he or they shall
forfeit & pay the fum of ten Shillings for every such fix months neglect
as often as they shall offend : provided neverthelefs that If any perfon
shall be thro" Poverty unable to purchafe Buckets as aforesaid they may
be exempted || therefrom || by a Certificate under the Hands of the Fire-
wards or the major Part of them if they think fit.

At a meeting of the inhabitants of Newburyport, held Sep-
tember 12, 1 77 1, the proposed removal of the engine house
at the foot of Market street was vigorously opposed by Tris-
tram Dalton and others, and, after long debate, defeated.

Voted, to finish the Engine House near Queen Wharf where it now
stands and to accept of Mr. Tristram Dalton all the remaining Interest
in the Engine now in his Possession, that never was Subscribed or payed
for, which he says is at least forty pounds lawful money: which he re-


nounces on Condition tlie said Engine is kept there, or near (2ueen
Wharf, and not on the side of the Landing next his Ware House.'

September 17, 1781, the firewards of the town were in-
structed to keep the fire engines in good order and condition,
and the firemen were excused from drilling with the militia of
serving as night watchmen or jurors.-

March 10, 1789, the firewards were requested to examine
the buildings "where fires are kept" to see if they were de-
fective in any way or needed to be repaired or rebuilt.

[March 10, 1789] Voted to accept of a Fourth fire Engine which
was purchased by a number of the inhabitants of this Town and pre-
sented to the Town by Mr John Mycali and others, — the subscribers, —
the said Engine being manufactured by Mr Benjamin Dearborn of Ports-
mouth in New Hampshire.

\'oled that the Selectmen be requested to provide a suitable house for
the reception of the Engine and to place it as near to the Centre of the
Town as may be. 3

Firemen were appointed by the selectmen, January 30, 1 792,
and January 29, 1794, to take care of "The First Engine,"
"The Fourth Engine," "The North Engine" and "The
South Engine," and keep them in good working order.-*

[October 6, 1794.] X'oted to have sunk at the towns expense four
Conduits to supply water in case of fire, provided the owners of the land
grant liberty, viz : — one at the North end near Mr Mariner Kent's house,
one at the west end of Mr. Hoyt's wharf, one in Liberty street at the
bottom of Mr. John Greenleaf Juns garden, one in Mr. Cross' dock at
the bottom of Lime street.5

A committee was appointed to sink additional " conduits,"
or cisterns, if necessary, " provided the whole number shall

' Xe\vbur)port Town Records, volume I, page 154.

'■* Newburjport Town Records, volume I, page 363.

•' Xewburjport Town Records, volume I, page 532.

^ Newbun,port (Selectmen's) Records.

* Xewburjport Town Records, volume II, page loi; Morning .Star. C\-t()ber 14,




not exceed twelve," and the selectmen were instructed to
purchase another good fire engine " and eighteen Leather
Buckets for each engine."

Voted that all Carpenters and others who make use of axes in their
business be requested, in case of fire, to take their axes with them, which
if damag'd or lost at the fire, the Town will pay for them.'

Voted that it be recommended to all the inhabitants of the town, in
case of fire, to take their buckets with them and to fill them with water
at the most convenient places to be ready when they come to the Fire.^

March i, 1805, the selectmen were authorized by a special
law enacted by the General Court to add " not exceeding six
men " to each engine company in Newburyport,^ and the year
following the town voted to sell or repair engine No. Four.'*

[March 18, 1807.] Voted to accept of such ladders, fire hooks, and
other fire implements as may be offered to the Town by any of the fire
societies ; the same to be placed under the care and direction of the fire-
wards. 5

[March 17, 1808.] Voted to purchase a large fire engine for the third
engine company.^

At a meeting of the firewards, February 26, 1808, the
town was divided into four nearly equal districts, and each dis-
trict placed under the supervision of five firewards. The first
district extended from the northern boundary of the town to
the centre of Market street ; the second from the centre of
Market street to the centre of State street ; the third from
the centre of State street to the centre of Federal street ;
and the fourth from the centre of Federal street to the divid-
ing line between Newburyport and Newbury, on the south.

' Newburyport Town Records, vohime II, page loi; Morning Star, October 14,
2 Newburyport Town Records, volume II, page 102.

* Acts of 1 804- 1 805, chapter 66.

* Newburyport Town Records, volume II, page 335.

* Newburyport Town Records, volume II, page 346.

* Newburyport Town Records, volume II, page 359.


The firemen connected with the several engine companies
were directed to form in two Hnes at a fire, one to pass buck-
ets filled with water to the engines, and the other to pass the
empty buckets back to be refilled.

At that date there were five organized engine companies in
Newburyport. Moses Davenport and Sewall Toppan were
appointed to take charge of a new company April 19, 18 10.'
Just previous to the great fire in 181 1 the engine houses
w^ere located on Merrimack street, between Kent and Federal

Engine No. i, at the bottom of Market street, John Top-
pan, captain.-

Engine No. 2, at the bottom of Federal street, Thomas
Stan wood, captain.

Engine No. 3, at the bottom of Kent street, Moses Ed-
wards, captain.

Engine No. 4, in Temple street, near Rev. Mr. Milton's
meeting house, Hale Knight, captain.

Engine No. 5, in Market square, Theodore Pearson, jr.,
captain. 3

Engine No. 6, near the work house on Federal street,
Moses Kent, captain.

In October, 181 1, long and short ladders, fire hooks, fire
cloths, ropes and chains, to be used in case of fire, were pro-
vided by the selectmen, and the town was divided by the fire-
wards into six districts, each district to have one engine
company, with six firewards in charge of the same.

The use of lighted lamps and candles, at night, in work-
shops and stores, ropewalks, stables, or other buildings, "where
hay, straw, or shavings abound," was forbidden, and stoves
could not be used in any house or shop unless placed upon a

' Records of the Newbur)-port Firewards.

'^ This house was removed, in 1S14, to High street, near the hay scales, and in
1821 to Merrimack street, at the bottom of Winter street.

^ This building was removed, in 1S21, to Middle street, and in 1S30 to Pleasant

Online LibraryJohn J. (John James) CurrierHistory of Newburyport, Mass. (Volume 2) → online text (page 2 of 50)