Defiance Fire Company No. 2 of Statesville

In February, the City of Statesville posted a retrospective with new-old photos and information about Defiance Fire Company No. 2. They were an all-black volunteer fire company that was organized around 1894, and one of many in the state that formed in the mid- and late-19th century.[1]

[1] In 1905, black fire companies were serving in locations including Princeville, Greenville, Henderson, Warrenton, Washington, Raleigh, Elizabeth City, Salisbury, Charlotte, Monroe, Concord, Rocky Mount, Oxford, Durham, Tarboro, Edenton, Statesville, and Winston.

Defiance Fire Company No. 2 started with just 15 members and included these officers elected in May 1894: J.P. Murphy as President, Fred F. Chambers as 1st Director, S. G. Grey as 2nd Director, George W. Steward as 3rd Director, R. D. Baily as Secretary, J. A. Richardson as Treasurer, and J. W. Gaither as Janitor.

By 1905, the company had a roster of 125 volunteer members[2]. Reported the statistician of the North Carolina State Volunteer Firemen’s Association that year[3], they operated a hose reel with 500-feet of hose. The company was led by Chief C. Carmer.

[2] The number of 125 volunteers was cited in a Statesville Sanborn Fire Insurance map of 1905. Was that perhaps a typo? The aforementioned statistician’s report of the same year cites 25 volunteers, with statewide company membership totals ranging from the 10s to the 50s.
[3] See this blog post for source document.

The last of their members retired in 1958, some 45 years after they joined. Melvin Feimster and J. Quincy Davidson were featured in the Statesville Record and Landmark on August 2, 1958. See comments the clipping. The story was reprinted in Hose & Nozzle magazine, see the story

Will dig a bit more into the history and update the above Early Black Firefighters in North Carolina page accordingly. Great research by Captain Matt Thompson and Dr. Steve Hill, as cited in the city’s history posting.

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