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Manuscript Minute Book of the "Engineers of the Northern Liberty Fire Engine No. 1", Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Dated 1813 -1844.

Folio, 261 manuscript pages, bound in quarter leather, marbled boards, red morocco label on front board reads "Minutes of the Engineers of the Northern Liberty Fire Engine No. 1".  Spine leather chipped, pieces missing,  rear board loose, inner hinge of front board starting as well, boards worn at edges, corners worn through, scuffed and rubbed, a couple of leaves loose, written in ink, in a legible hand, entries dated from  March 3, 1813 to  January 29,1844.

Front inside board has the contemporary printed book plate of James D. Pratt, the first Secretary of the Engineers of the Northern Liberty Fire Engine No. 1. The rear inside board has affixed to it a "Permit to the Northern Liberty Fire Company, of the Incorporated District of the Northern Liberties" to open "Fire-Plugs within the Incorporated District of the Northern Liberties, for the purpose of cleansing your Fire Apparatus." The permit is signed by the "Superintendent of the Watering Committee of the Northern Liberties" and dated "April 1st, 1831."

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 This ledger records in highly detailed minutes the first thirty plus years of this Philadelphia fire hose company, which was founded when the District of the Northern Liberties was still a self-governing district, within Philadelphia County. In 1854, the entire county of Philadelphia was consolidated into the city within Philadelphia's current boundaries.

The volume includes an initial list of Engineers at the beginning of the ledger, as well as the periodic updates as members joined, left, or died off. Minutes include reports of committees, the annual elections, fines assessed, and starting in 1834, the fires that the company responded to.

The initial organizational meeting of the company was held on March 3rd, 1816, at which the members, chose officers, created committees for storing ladders, procuring buckets, drawing up "by-laws for the government of the Company" and to "affix Fines & duties for the different committees." A committee was created to "fix on a suitable Badge to be worn by the Members at a Fire."

At the very next meeting, held on March 17th, 1816, the by-laws were submitted, which laid out the plans for the organization and running of the hose company. Additionally agreed upon were the various fines and fees that would be incurred for such infractions as: absence from a meeting - 25 cents; absence of a roll call - 12 ½ cents; refusing to do duty when met - 50 cents; refusing to assist home with engine - 50 cents; refusal to obey the command of lead engineer at a Fire - 50 cents; amongst other items.

Most of the founders of this fire hose company lived in the southeast corner of the District of the Northern Liberties bounded by today's Delaware River on the east to Second Street on the west, from Green Street at the north, to Callowhill Street on the south.

Beginning at a meeting of 3 May 1834, the Northern Liberty Fire Company No. 1's secretary started to list in the minutes, the number of fires the company either fought or set out to fight. The details are provided whether they participated or not. In the first report of 3 May 1834 there were eleven fires reported as follows:

"The first Fire was in Gillises Alley on the 21st March it proved to be two Frames Houses in Gillises Alley the alley running northwest from South Street between 5th and 6th St. loss estimated at $500.00,. the apparatus not in service.

                                                                                                John Simpson, Engineer

The second Fire was in Second Street above Walnut the Merchants Coffee House. March 22nd the Engine stood front in Second street and had one attachment of Water from the Northern Liberty Hose Co..

                                                                                                John Wolf, Engineer

The third Fire was in Fourth Street above George's St. two Carpenters shops, April 4th. The Engine stood in the Board Yard broad side of the fire and had one attachment of Water form the United States Hose Co.

                                                                                                John Morgan, Engineer

The fourth Fire was back of South and Front Street, April 12th, the Engine stood in South Street and had one attachment of Water from the Fame Hose Co.

                                                                                                John Morgan, Engineer

 The fifth Fire was in James Street below Tenth St a Carpenters Shop occupied by Mr. [Leibe], April 12. The tender got to the Fire and was in service.

                                                                                                John Merkle, Engineer

The sixth Fire was Back of Bushkill a Frame House, April 16, the Hose was laid but not water came through it.

                                                                                                John Merkle, Engineer

The seventh Fire was in Water Street below race Street, a Roof of a House, the Engine stood in Water Street and had two attachments of Water from the Humane Hose Co.,April 17th.

                                                                                                John Wolf, Engineer

The Eights Fire was in Dilwyn Street below Noble Street April 20th it proved to be two Carpenters Shops and a Blacksmith Shop. The Engine stood in Noble's Tan Yard back of the fire and had four attachments of Water Viz. one from the Northern Liberty Hose Co., one from the Humane Hose Co. , one from the Independence Hose Co., one from the William Penn Hose Co. and played the whole time during the fire.

                                                                                    John Merkle, Engineer

The Ninth Fire was in Market Street between Schuylkill Fourth and Fifth Streets, April 22nd, the Engine being out of order the Tender went to the Fire and attached to the Diligent hose and put the Water into the Hope Engine and forced it on the Fire.

                                                                                    John Morgan, Engineer

The Tenth Fire was in Marlborough Street, Kensington,, April 24, the Engine stood in Queen Street at a Pump and forced the Water from the Hose on to the Fire.

                                                                                    Ira Braddock, Engineer

The Eleventh Fire was on the Ridge Road above Twelveth Street, April 25th, it proved to be a Stable, the apparatus repaired to the spot but was not in service.

                                                                                    Isaac Miller, Engineer"

After this initial report the fires which the company were involved with are reported thereafter at the meetings till the end of the ledger, which ends on January 29th, 1844. As can be seen from the above, the Northern Liberty Fire Company No. 1 was not limited to its Northern Liberties neighborhood. It went anywhere in the city or county where it was needed. There is even evidence that the fire company boarded a ferry and went to Camden, New Jersey, to fight a fire:

"The alarm of Fire on Monday morning about 7 o'clock, November 24th (1834) proved to be the property of Mr. Vansciver in New Jersey at Camden. The Fire originated in the work shop. The engine repaired to the ferry of Mr. Burr on the lower side of Market Street and was taken to Camden by the Steam Boat Delaware, our Engine arrived in time to go into service the Engine was situated on the West of the Fire at the Waters edge the water was put into the Engine by buckets from the River from then to the Fire through Hose by two streams. The Hose belonged to the Perseverance and Neptune Hose Companys, the loss is Estimated at Seven Thousand Dollars. The Engine returned across the river in the Steam Boat Delaware about 11 o'clock, there was eight members present."

The company met at the house of Silas Wilson in its early years, eventually meeting at the "house of the Widow Schnieder," between March 1819 and 28 February 1825. Thereafter, the company simply stated that the met at the "usual place," the "usual place" being the Widow Schnieder's house. On January 5, 1829, the company finally started to mention that they were meeting elsewhere, however they spent a good decade meeting at Schnieders. On May 7th, 1838, the company started to meet at the "Engine House," which became a permanent meeting place and eventually it was called the "Hall" and this is where they met until the ledger ends.

There is a detailed four page description of a rather fierce fire that took place on October 4, 1837, which consumed upwards of forty houses and business, killed two men, both fire fighters, one a firefighter from the Goodwill Engine Company. The fire also injured at least ten other fire fighters from various companies. The fire appears to have started on a wharf near Chestnut Street, destroying a good bit of the wharf as well as buildings along Water Street, Front Street, and Chestnut Street. This fire was a rather famous one and reports exist in old newspapers and histories of the city.