North Carolina Hand Engines Database

This page is a catalog of all hand engines that served in North Carolina. Contact Mike Legeros to contribute or correct information.
Click a column heading to sort. Last updated May 29, 2022

Department County Year Acquired Description Notes Survived Source
Beaufort Carteret 1885, by Combination chemical / hand engine. Also listed in 1899 NCSFA proceedings.   Sanborn
Belhaven Beaufort 1911, by Two Rumsey hand engines. Rumsey produced hand engines between 1860 and 1890.   Sanborn; HTJ
Charlotte Mecklenburg 1830 TBD     FD yearbook
Charlotte Mecklenburg 1856 TBD      
Charlotte Mecklenburg 1866 1866 Jeffers. Third and last of hand engines to serve Charlotte. Still used in 1894, per NCSFA proceedings. Hornet Fire Co., later used by Neptune Fire Co. More information. X HTJ; FD yearbook
Clayton Johnston 1909, by TBD     Sanborn
Edenton Chowan 1849 Simpson Suction engine built by Mr. William Simpson of Baltimore. With 5 1/2-inch cylinder, and a stroke of 10 inches. When tested before shipping, it threw water 177 feet. Source: Baltimore Sun, Apr 21, 1846.    
Elizabeth City Pasquotank 1891, by TBD     Sanborn
Enfield Halifax 1896, by TBD Enfield Fire Company No. 1. Listed in NCSFA proceedings in 1896, with 33 men and organized 1885. NCSFA
Fayetteville Cumberland 1832 TBD Bought new with donations from Boston FD members, after great fire in 1831.    
Fayetteville Cumberland 1885, by TBD x 2 First hand engines purchased after 1831 fire.

From 1892 NCSFA proceedings, FFD had one Button "double-brake" hand engine, not in use.
  FD Site
Fayetteville Arsenal Cumberland 1857 Button & Blake Purchased summer of 1857 for the U.S. Arsneal on Hay Mount. Could throw a stream to 115 to 120 feet, as well as two streams at once. Cost about $2,000, including 500 feet of hose. Fayetteville Observer, Mar 22, 1858
Graham Alamance 1904, by TBD     Sanborn
Greensboro Guilford 1849 Simpson Shipped by July 14, 1849. Built by Mr. Simpson on Holliday Street in Baltimore, MD. Named General Greene, is a 5 1/2 cylinder and brass mounted; box and panels of light and dark blue, wheels of purple and gold, white and blue, and the box has springs. Throws a stream 1870 feet. Source: Greensboro Patriot: Jul 14, 1849.    
Greensboro Guilford 1885, by TBD Unknown if same engine as after 1849.

From 1892 NCSFA proceedings, GFD had one hand engine in reserve.
Greenville Pitt 1849 Simpson General Green Fire Company. Suction engine with 5 1/2-inch diameter chambers and mountings "prinicpally of brass, gotten up in moden style." The box, which rode on springs, was painted a "deep blue, with panels handsomely etched in light blue" with wheels "painted a delicate purpole, striped with gold, white and blue." When tested before shipping, it threw water 170 feet. Would be shipped the day of the story. Source: Baltimore Sun, July 2, 1849.    
Greenville Pitt 1896, by Howe Head Hawk Fire Company, colored with 25 men from 1899 NCSFA proceedings, which also lists the hand engine as built by Howe Pump and Engine Co.

Howe produced hand engines between 1872-1908.
Henderson Vance 1882 TBD x 2 W.W. Reavis gave Henderson its first fire truck and Colonel W.H.S. Burgwyn gave the second truck in 1882. The two fire trucks were hand operated by firefighters. The trucks had two long handles on both sides and when properly pumped they could produce a fire stream of 100 foot or better.

From 1892 NCSFA proceedings, the Enterprise Fire Company, colored, 50 men, was still operating with their hand engine.
  FD Site
Hickory Catawba 1885, by TBD Also listed in 1899 NCSA proceedings.   Sanborn
Laurinburg Richmond 1898, by TBD     Sanborn
Lenoir Caldwell 1895 TBD Hand reel also purchased that year.   FD Site
Milton Caswell 1899, by TBD Hand engine was not in use by 1899.   NCSFA
Morehead City Carteret 1895 TBD     MHFD
New Bern Craven 1794, by TBD Called "water engine" in records, first reference in 1794. Purchase of an engine was authorized by the General Assembly in 1773, but none was purchased for at least 20 years. Was still in service in 1820. And possibily still in service in 1858.   Bartholf
New Bern Craven 1798 TBD Second fire engine, ordered after Tryon Palace burned in February 1798. Was still in service in 1820. And possibily still in service in 1858.   Bartholf
New Bern Craven 1809? TBD Purchase authorized in July 1809, from company in Philadelphia.    Bartholf
New Bern Craven 1829 TBD Purchased June 1829.   Bartholf
New Bern Craven 1861 TBD Mechanics Fire Company, formed in April 1861 and subscription fund was started to buy a new engine. It was delivered by July 27, 1861, and described as a "high pressure engine" that could shoot water over the tallest houses.   Bartholf
New Bern Craven 1871, by TBD Reliance Bucket and Axe Company. Was this the Mechanics engine, bought in 1861? Sold by city at auction on July 2, 1885. Bartholf
New Bern Craven 1873 TBD Purchase approved August 1873 for $250, for a double-decker engine for Excelsior Fire Co. No. 4.   Bartholf
New Bern Per Daniel Bartlhoff, NBFD had around nine hand pumpers. And supposedly they had seven during the Civil War, though likely not all in service.
Plymouth Washington 1899, by TBD Listed in 1899 NCSFA proceedings.   NCSFA
Raleigh Wake 1819 TBD Philadelphia-style   MJL
Raleigh Wake 1843 TBD Perseverance   MJL
Raleigh Wake 1853 John Rodgers and Sons x 2 Suction engines built in Baltimore, with 7-inch cylinders. Received circa March 1853. Shipped with a hose carriage and hose. Named Excelsior and Rescue. Source: Baltimore Sun, Mar 21, 1853.   MJL
Raleigh Wake 1875 Rumsey and Company Victor Fire Company, referenced in 1890 annual report. Fire Company No. 1., later named Victor Fire Company, formed in 1868. Rumsey produced hand engines between 1860 and 1890.   MJL; HTJ
Salem Forsyth 1785 One small, hand-carried
One larger, with wheels
Purchased as a result of a fire one year earlier that destroyed the first Salem Tavern. Either imported from Germany, or the metal parts were purchased in Germany, and the wooden engines were built by town craftsmen.

The smaller one could throw a steam about 50 feet with its 1/2-inch nozzle. In 1885, it was recorded as bearing the bulider name "Johann Thomas Puehler, Gnadenberg, 1784." [People's Press, Nov 26, 1885]
X Old Salem site

Old Salem brochure
Salem Forysth 1850, circa? Rodgers & Co. (likey) hand engine Acquired from Watchmen Fire Company in 1858. Retired 1884. X MJL
Salem Forsyth 1884 Button hand engine Delivered by May 1, 1884. Cost $1,000. Could power two streams at once. Fire company also collected enough money to purchase a "neat carriage" for the 1000 feet of new hose. The engine was operated by some 30 men at a time, positioned alongside the engine. Traded for steam engine in 1886.   MJL; People's Press, May 1, 8, 1884
Salisbury Rowan 1817 TBD First piece of firefighting equipment.   FD Site
Salisbury Rowan 1892, by TBD x 2 Unknown if either from 1817.

The 1894 proceedings of the NCSFA listed both hand engines not in use.
Smithfield Johnston 1906 Howe hand pump Delivered 1906. Howe produced hand engines between 1872-1908.   MJL; HTJ
Statesville Iredell 1895, by TBD Defiance Fire Company. Listed in 1895 NCSFA proceedings.   NCSFA
Tarboro Edgecombe 1878 TBD Tarborough Southenrer on May 1, 1878, reported town commissioners had ordered 200 feet of "carbolized hose" for the new fire engine. On June 13, the paper reported that another trial of the new engine was conducted on Monday evening.    
Warrenton Warren 1897, by Combination chemical and hand engine. Plummer Engine Company. Listed in 1897 NCSFA proceedings.   NCSFA
Washington Beaufort 1885, by TBD x 2 From the Gazette, Oct 31, 1889, a volunteer company of boys was organized Nov 3, 1888, and "given a worn-out hand engine." They soon purchased a "first-class, small hand engine capable of throwning a good stream 100 feet." Also, the Salamander fire company first used "an old-fashioned hand engine, heavy and cumbersome" but they have since receved "a handsome and powerful engine, very light and easy to manage."   Sanborn; Gazette.
Washington Beaufort 1891, by New Rumsey engines x 2 Rumsey produced hand engines between 1860 and 1890.   Sanborn; MJL
Wilmington New Hanover 1756?   Shipped from England.    
Wilmington New Hanover 1773   From Philadelphia.    
Wilmington New Hanover 1820 Hunneman #64     HTJ
Wilmington New Hanover 1843 Hunneman #221 Fire King Fire Company

From Wilmington Chronicle, Jul 19, 1843: Purchased new "from the manufactory of Hunneman & Co., Boston" and "cost upwards of $900" and described as "the most approved construction, with complete suction apparatus, and throws two streams of water. We understand that in Boston with the force of forty men it carried water to the distance of 130 feet."
Wilmington New Hanover 1852   Ordered by September 9, 1852. Named the Howard, to be manned by a white fire company. Daily Journal, Sep 9, 1852.    
Wilmington New Hanover 1868 Hunneman & Co. Delivered January 18, 1868. Named John Dawson, operated by re-organized Howard Fire Company. Cost $1703.50, including delivery, plus about $1,000 for hose. Source: Wilmington Post, Jan 16, Jan 18, 1868.    
Wilmington New Hanover 1872, by TBD x 2 From the Wilmington Post, Feb 29, 1872, and Mar. 13, 1872. During the past year, WFD was reorganized. With the purchase of a steamer for the Cape Fear company, most of the hand engines were "rendered unnecessary" and four of the companies disbanded.

One hand engine, with the new colored Brooklyn Fire Company, is located on the east side of the Cape Fear River. On the west side, another "little hand engine" has been placed there, the A. A. Willard, and a fire company organized to operate same.

Presumably one was the 1868 engine.
Winston Forsyth 1849, after TBD     FD yearbook



Search Mike Legeros

Copyright 2023 by Michael J. Legeros