This is a blog version of a Facebook posting from November 15, 2022.
What’s the history of the city’s colored fire companies, as they were called, back in the day? Shown is a clipping from the Statesman on February 7, 1874, via North Carolina Newspapers.
Great research topic for someone and made easier by the ever-expanding collection of digital newspapers on that site. Here’s a video by Legeros with research tips, for the site.
- 1873, Apr 19 –Statesman editorial opines that a colored fire company would benefit the town.
- 1873, Jun 6 – Statesmen story that the colored men of the town “resurrected the old castaway fire engine” formerly used by the McLean Fire Company, and “made a trial of its capacities.” It threw a “volume of water upon the ball above the clock on the town market building.” The newspaper added “let the new company organize and elect officers; and let its members be exempted from the payment of a poll-tax to the town.”
- 1873, Jul 12-Statesman story mentions that a colored fire company celebrated the fourth of July with a parade. Also cites an engine house of theirs.
- 1873, Oct 16 – North Carolina Gazette reports “last Friday afternoon the colored fire company were out on practice and parade. A short time after its going back to quarters, the alarm of fire was given for the 7th ward, which brought out the whole fire department of the town. It proved, however, to be a false alarm.”
- 1874, Feb 7 – The Stateman notice, shown, names the colored fire company as the Frizzel Fire Company.
- 1874, Sep 3 – North Carolina Gazette reports on a fire and mentions the colored fire company that “worked splendidly, as it always does; and, notwithstanding the fact that the alarm was given when the majority of the members were at home at dinner, they would have saved the building if there had been a sufficient supply of water.”
- 1875, Apr 8 – North Carolina Gazette reports on recent state legislature act authoring a (re)organization of the fire department, which was followed by a town ordnance. The new FFD consisted of a Chief Fire Warden and seven assistants, the white Engine Co. No. 1, the black Engine Co. No. 2, the black Hook and Ladder Co., and the white Bucket Co. Each company would have a captain, four assistants, a secretary, and treasurer.
- 1875, May 13 – North Carolina Gazette reports that the Frizell (sic) Fire Company took their engine and equipment to the Market House and “surrendered them to the municipal authorities.” They apparently disbanded and in protest to a matter involving the Registrar refusing to allow the votes of certain men who claimed to be fire company members.
- 1875, Aug 28 –Educator notice, signed by “many citizens,” condemning the “many false reports and misrepresentations” being circulated about the town’s black population, with regard to the colored fire company, their disbanded in May, and what reads like politics that were in play.
- 1877, Sep 20 – North Carolina Gazette reports that a parade will be held that day with the town’s two colored fire companies along with a company from Raleigh.