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Howard Engine Company No. 3

Date Organized:  June 14, 1850

Merchant Street, between Montgomery and Sansome Streets. 1860 California Street, south side, between Battery and Sansome Streets.
A wooden building, almost worthless, on a desirable lot, city property, (1860).
1862 A three story fireproof brick building in good order, city property.

1850 Franklin E. R. Whitney
1860 Henry W. Burckes
1862 Franklin E. R. Whitney
1964 H. W. Burckes

1851 Engine: Hunneman No.379, Boston, “Howard No. 3,” third class, 6 inch cylinders, shipped February 8, 1850. This engine was destroyed in the 1906 Earthquake & Fire.  Hose carriage, two wheel.
1860 The Hunneman engine is in order but in need of paint.

1855 - 65
1860 - 65
1863 - 60
1864 - 57
1866 - 51


William D. M. Howard

HOWARD ENGINE COMPANY, NO. 3.  This is one of the old companies that has nobly stood the test of time. It was organized June 14th, 1850, by various citizens, who had been old Boston firemen.  The prime movers in the enterprise were Messrs. Franklin E. R. Whitney, John S. Eagan, Thomas K. Battelle, and G. Lewis Cook. A few days after their organization they were placed in possession of a fine Hunneman engine, which had arrived from Boston in the ship Windsor Fay, having been ordered early in 1849, on private account, by the well-known and public-spirited citizen, William D. M. Howard, who without delay placed the engine in the possession of this company. As a compliment to this gentleman, who had been exceedingly liberal in the expenditure of money in the formation of the department, the company resolved to adopt the name of “Howard.” Their efficiency has been repeatedly proven. The engine has no superior in the city, and is very beautifully painted. Its house, a fine brick building with stone front, is in Merchant Street, between Montgomery and Sansome Streets. The lower floor is appropriated as the engine room; the meeting room is in the upper story, and is very elegantly and tastefully furnished.
Source: Frank Soulé, John H. Gihon, M.D., and James Nisbet. The Annals of San Francisco. 1855: San Francisco

Howard Engine Company Visits Stockton

Another close friendship was that of the Stockton firemen for the firemen of other cities. The Howard Engine Company No. 3 of San Francisco visited Stockton June 19, 1855. It was one of the most notable events of that day, as the Howards were the high-toned engine company of the metropolis, and their foreman, Frank E. R. Whitney, was one of the founders of the Dashaways, a temperance society, and a temperance man, something very unusual firemen. The Howards brought with them their beautiful double-deck engine presented to them by W. D. M. Howard at a cost of $5,000, and the American Brass Band. They were given a cannon salute of fourteen guns at day­light, ten guns when the reception committee received the visitors, and minute guns were fired during the moving of the parade. About 7 o'clock the Howards were welcomed to the city by the reception committee and escorted to the Protection engine house; from there they marched to breakfast at the Weber House. At 8 o'clock there was a firemen's parade, with two bands. At 6 o'clock the entire department marched to I. Zachariah's garden on Park Street, now the asylum grounds, "where they were served with a sumptuous repast by the proprietor. The following day by invitation of Dr. R. K. Reed, the resident physician, the visitors visited the Insane Asylum. The Howards then visited the home of Dr. E. S. Holden where they were entertained and partook of a collation gotten up in the doctor's best style." The third day they returned to San Francisco on the steamer Bragdon, the Stockton department escorted them to the boat, and the Howards from the hurricane deck gave cheer after cheer for Stockton and the ladies. Arriving home late that night they were received by the First California Guard and the entire fire department of 700 firemen and escorted to their engine house. Chief Engineer Colt spared neither time nor money in entertaining the San Francisco firemen. Remembering this, a short time afterward, the company sent Chief Colt a fine fire hat valued at forty-five dollars, appropriately inscribed on the visor. On every parade Colt wore this hat, and of handsome features, commanding appearance, wearing his heavy white coat and carrying his silver speaking trumpet, he was the observed of all observers. 

Eurekas Make Return Visit

Early in June, 1856, the Howards invited the Eurekas to be their guests. The Stockton firemen accepted the invitation for July 4th, as the common council had refused to appropriate any money towards a celebration here. Early in the afternoon of July 3rd the company, fifty-five in number, led by Condy's Cornet Band and escorted to the steamer by their brother firemen, were cheered all along the streets, "and their machine was as bright as a new dollar and beautifully decorated with flags, ribbons and flowers."  Arriving at San Francisco, as the steamer neared the Pacific Street wharf, they were welcomed by a cannon salute fired by the French artillery company of the Vigilance Committee. They were received by the entire San Francisco fire department, numbering over 700 men, in full uniform. On landing their machine, four men were detailed from each San Francisco company to man the Eureka's engine, and the firemen paraded the streets for nearly one hour, passing each engine house during the parade. Then entertained by the Howards until 4 o'clock they were permitted to go to bed. Aroused early the following morning, for a fireman is supposed to never grow weary, they were kept going throughout the day, and that evening attended the American Theater. On Saturday the Howards and the Eurekas took the Stockton machine out for a wash, and the company at the brakes played 185 feet through an inch nozzle and 100 feet of hose; the San Francisco firemen then trying their muscle played 181 feet. That afternoon the Eurekas visited the Monumentals, the "big 6," as she was called, on Clay Street hill, the company for which the song, "The Engine House on the Hill" was composed. There a collation was given the visitors, and toasts given and songs sung. That evening the Eurekas were tendered a complimentary banquet at the American Exchange. It was one of the finest banquets ever given in San Francisco, the feast alone costing over $5,000. The bill of fare was printed on the richest of dark blue silk, in ink of pure gold.  The following day, Sunday, they attended the service of the eloquent divine, Rev. Dr. Scott. On the afternoon of June [July] 7 they returned to Stockton, escorted to the steamer Urilda by the fourteen engines and three hook and ladder companies of the metropolis. The firemen declared that they had been treated like royalty. They couldn't spend a dollar, everything was paid for in advance by the Howards.

 The motto of the Stockton firemen was "Where duty calls there we obey," and they believed it their duty not only to extinguish the destructive material fires, but to inspire and encourage the fire of patriotism in every American heart. During their existence they celebrated every natal day by a parade, and every member not in line was heavily fined unless he sent a qualified substitute. The citizens were not so patriotic, and in 1852 there would have been no celebration except for the action of Protection No. 1. Appointing a committee, they solicited subscriptions for a celebration, and finally aroused the do-nothings to action. The day was ushered in by the thunder of cannon from 2 o'clock in the morning until 10 o'clock. A procession was then formed upon the plaza, comprising the Hook & Ladder Company of forty men, with their truck handsomely trimmed; the Masonic order and citizens. Marching to the Methodist Church on Washington Street, they listened to an oration by A. C. Bradford, the reading of the Declaration of Independence by J. A. Donaldson, and patriotic music by the church choir. Dinners were then provided by the different hotels and the day ended with a grand ball in the dining room of the Crescent City Hotel.

On another occasion in 1859, Minard S. Thresher, foreman of the Weber Engine Company, made a motion at the monthly meeting that they celebrate Washington's birthday with a grand ball. In support of his motion he declared that "It is one of the many duties of a representative body of citizens like the Weber Engine Company to keep alive in the community the patriotic spirit with which the fathers of our magnificent country were imbued."

History of San Joaquin County, California with Biographical Sketches - Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, CA - 1923

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