March 10: A massive fire, of mysterious origin, enveloped the Dasey block
“A massive fire, of mysterious origin, enveloped the Dasey block and caused extensive water and smoke damage to the big Luries department store, Dasey dry goods store, and Miss Burns’ millinery shop. Losses were estimated at $45,000. Later in the month, Luries had a “Big Fire Sale” selling its entire stock.”
March 10, 1932, Cooney Archives
In 1806, a water company was formed, the Aqueduct Association, which sold company stock to homeowners of Little Falls. For a monthly fee, the homeowners could have water delivered to their home through hollowed out cedar pump logs. With the use of springs and reservoirs that were located within the boundaries of Little Falls, this log system distributed spring water throughout the village.
The Little Falls Fire Company Number One was formed soon after, in 1808. At this time, everyone was a “Fireman” with a water fire bucket standing by the entrance to their home. When a fire call was sounded, everyone was required to help extinguish the fire by grabbing their fire buckets and going to where the fire was, taking water from home, the Mohawk River or a nearby reservoir. In 1810, the first fire captain was chosen, being Fire Captain Solomon Lockwood and a gooseneck hand operated pumper was purchased for the sum of $250., which had to be placed uncomfortably close to the fire, since it had no hose.
In 1811, a village Charter was passed, which contained a law that stated that every adult member within a household would have their own water fire bucket. On the 29th of May 1827, a revised third village Charter was granted, with an election held at the old stone schoolhouse, which included the election of fire wardens for the village. On June 14th of that year, new rules were included within the charter for preventing and extinguishing fires. The rules included chimney cleaning, premise clearing, and that each home in the village be inspected monthly by the fire wardens. To make sure that each adult member in the household followed the new laws, they would incur a fine of $1. per day, if they didn’t comply.
According to the Cooney Archives: THIS DAY IN HISTORY… “ON SEPTEMBER 18, 1839, the village purchased a lot on Garden Street for an engine house from Richard Ray Ward for $43.56. It later became a city garage, American Legion Post, and a hair salon.”
According to the Cooney Archives: THIS DAY IN HISTORY… “On MAY 11, 1858, the village rented a building owned by McChesney & Furnan, at the southwest corner of Albany and Second streets, for a firehouse for Protection Engine Company #2 at a rate of $100 a year. As a result of this move, the south side of the river will have no fire protection.”
A serious fire took place on the 3rd of July 1866, destroying the east side of Second Street, from Main to Albany Street, which would be where the present-day M&T Bank and parking lot is located. The equipment that Little Falls had at the time proved inadequate, so a hand drawn steam fire engine was purchased by Company No.2, with it being stored in the Petrie Street Armory, which is the present-day location of the former German Christ Lutheran Church at 14 Petrie Street, which reconstructed the armory in 1901 into a church. In 1871, No.1 Company had purchased a hand drawn steam engine and No. 3 Company also made the purchase of one in 1877.
In the early years, the fire alarm system was someone shouting “Fire” and running to the watchtower to ring the fire bell. On the 20th of November 1873, Little Falls received a fire alarm whistle that was activated by steam and was located at the Mohawk Mill, which is the present-day location of the Inn at Stone Mill at 410 Canal Place.
According to the Cooney Archives: THIS DAY IN HISTORY …”ON AUGUST 14, 1884, the Protection Fire Company held an excursion to Catskill for two dollars, round trip. Two trains took 2,560 people to Albany, then by boat to Catskill. The revelers returned to Little Falls at 4:00 am the next morning – tired and happy. Before the Motor Age, recreation was of a group nature rather than the individual system.”
VOLUNTEER FIRE HOUSES WITHIN THE VILLAGE
By 1899, Little Falls had six fire companies with over 700 volunteer firemen to cover their 2,011-acre fire area. Little Falls at this time had an estimated population of 11,000 people. On the 16th of June 1827, the Little Falls Fire Company No.1 was reorganized as the Victor Adams Hose Company with the purchase of twelve water fire buckets, which was located in the present-day location of the parking lot next to the Adirondack Bank on North Ann Street, being the beginning of volunteer fire companies within the village. At a later date, this company was to become known as the Cascade Fire Company.
The No. 2 Company, being the Protection Asterogan Company, was organized the 19th of June 1835, and was originally located on the northside of German Street. This station was lost to a fire in 1877 and a new engine house was built on the southwest corner of Albany and Second Street. The company also received a name change, it eventually became known as the Mohawk Valley Hose Company.
At the foot of Ann Street Bridge, being the present-day park of Benton’s Landing, stood No. 3 Company, the South Side Fire Company, which was built in 1834, with Zenas Priest being elected as fire captain.
The Hook and Ladder Hose Company, No. 4 Company, was organized in 1834, with their hand drawn hook and ladder truck being housed in a brick building on Garden Street, being the Garden Street Hose House, which is the present-day location of the business of “Laura’s Hair Salon” at 506 Garden Street.
The General Herkimer Company, also known as the Erina Chemical Engine Company, No. 5 Company, held their meetings at the Cronkhite Opera House and housed their engine at the Garden Street Hose House and was organized in 1857.
In 1889, Company No. 6 was organized, being the Charles King Hose Company, which was located on Loomis Street at the Tighe Building. Also in 1889, telephones had been recently installed throughout the city, when the first fire call was received, being known as a “Still Alarm.” The city also decided in 1889 to replace the volunteers with a paid fire department.
THE CENTRAL FIRE HOUSE
At the present-day site of the Little Falls Fire Department, stood the old Star Academy in the late 1890s, which contained a ballroom on the top floor and a livery stable and veterinary office below, which was razed in 1916 for the building of City Hall. The fire department’s horse drawn wagons and pumper were kept at this location, until the “new” Little Falls Fire Department building was built by contractor Sadler, on the southwest corner of Albany and Second Street, which is the present-day location of Kinney Drugs. Sheldon Frederick Jones, of S.F. Jones Trucking & Coal Co., stabled the fire department horses in his barn on Furnace Street, which were used to pull the fire wagons and pumper. This newly built fire station was called the Central Fire Department and Police Headquarters, completed in 1900.
The Central Fire Department had seventy-five members within the department, with permanent and call firemen. The department was required to have one call fireman spend the night at the station for the summer months and two call firemen to spend the night during the winter months. The firemen were required to participate in weekly department drills and received ten days of yearly vacation time.
Cooney, being the newly elected Fire Chief, organized the Firemen’s Relief Association that was supported with dues from the department members and by donations from the public. In 1902, the Erina Chemical Engine Company members presented Cooney with a gold lined, silver call trumpet, for love and esteem held towards him. The No. 5 Company, the Erina Chemical Engine Company, assisted the new Central Fire Department until the 1st of January 1903, without pay.
A TRANSITION TO CITY HALL | FROM HORSE DRAWN TO MOTORIZED
According to the Cooney Archives: THIS DAY IN HISTORY …” ON JUNE 27, 1902, at the request of the Fire & Police Board, Little Falls now had a fully paid fire department, and soon all evidence of volunteer fire departments would be obliterated. Within a few months the much-beset taxpayers were grumbling as the city charter had to be amended to increase the allowance from $10,000 to $12,000. The Board wants the allowance to be $15,000.”
According to the Cooney Archives: THIS DAY IN HISTORY …” ON NOVEMBER 25, 1902, under a new city ordinance, Chief Cooney is stationing firemen in public halls when they contain a gathering – tonight at the Skinner and Cronkhite Opera Houses, and the Beaumont for a dancing assembly.”
By 1911, Little Falls had received an electrical Gamewell Fire Alarm System. It contained twenty-four call boxes that were dispersed throughout the city.
According to the Cooney Archives: THIS DAY IN HISTORY …”ON NOVEMBER 9, 1914, the Board of Fire & Police purchased an Overland car for the fire chief. This was the first motor driven apparatus in the city. It carried two pyrene and two acid soda extinguishers.”
According to This Day In History…” On the 23rd of June 1916, insurance inspectors notified Fire Chief Cooney that residential fire rates may be doubled unless suggested improvements are made. Recommendations made include two new chemical engines and more men.”
According to The Cooney Archives: THIS DAY IN HISTORY … “On May 26, 1917, the Mack Fire Truck arrived in Little Falls. It was “a complete fire department on wheels,” weighing eight tons, with a four cylinder, seventy horsepower motor. It was first used to fight a fire on June 3rd.”
On May 17, 1918, the fire alarm system was moved to the newly built City Hall and Fire Chief Edward J. Cooney moved in that day to care for it. The entire fire department was moved in eight days later on the 25th of May, with the paid firemen being housed on the fourth floor of City Hall.
Not only did the fire department protect the community of Little Falls from fires, the department also helped in times of need, such as dispersing food during WWI.
FIRE CHIEF EDWARD J. COONEY
According to the Cooney Archives: THIS DAY IN HISTORY…”ON MARCH 8, 1898, the Cooney Brothers, harness makers, moved into new quarters in the old Methodist church parsonage.”
Edward worked with his father and brother, Edward SR and Daniel, in a shop at 30 Albany Street, making trunks and harnesses, prior to becoming the fire chief for the Village of Little Falls.
Edward J. Cooney married Margaret E. Coughlin, on the 15th of June in 1899 at Carthage, New York. They had a son, Edward Joseph JR on the 7th of April in 1900. Edward JR spent his life in Little Falls and served the city as a postal carrier and as the city historian.
Little Falls Fire Chief Edward J. Cooney retired from the Little Falls Fire Department after forty-seven years of service on the 1st of March 1947. Fire Chief Edward J. Conney was a member of the No.5 Company, the Erina Chemical Engine Company, since 1893. He was elected as the first paid fire chief on the 1st of May 1900, for the newly built Central Fire House.
Cooney’s death was in 1952 and he is buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery in Herkimer, New York.
*From The Cooney Archive’s: This Day In History by Louis Baum JR, Digitizing of historical photos by Gail & Mike Potter, Post compiled & written by Darlene Smith.
Development of Little Falls. A brief account of conditions and happenings which compelled the settlement and development of this city, with some reference to present conditions 1911 PAGES 62-66