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John Edward Ross, District Engineer - April 3, 1883 (#15)



Killed in the discharge of his duty, on the 3rd day of April,
1883. JOHN EDWARD ROSS, District Engineer of the
San Francisco Paid Fire Department, eldest son of Thomas
Andrew Boss, of Armagh, Ireland, and was at the time of
his death forty-five years of age.
In youth, being of a romantic turn of mind, he went to
sea, at the age of fourteen years, and continued in that
occupation for some years. He arrived in San Francisco
in the year 1849, and was in the employ of the
Pacific Mail Steamship Company for some years.
He became a member of Knickerbocker Engine Company
No. 5, of the Volunteer Department, and remained until its
disbandment. "When the present Paid Department was
organised he was appointed Foreman of Engine Company
No. 5, and continued as such until promoted by the Board
of Fire Commissioners as District Engineer,
which position he held at the time of his death.
He died at his post in the faithful discharge of his duty,
a brave and gallant fireman, respected and beloved by his
fellow-officers and members of the Department.



1883 April 5

The following persons, besides those already reported, were injured at the gas explosion at the Palace Hotel Tuesday : James Callinan of Engine No. 9; Fire Commissioner Edwards, slightly burned about the hands and face ; James U. Black, son of John Black of Black & Lacoust, hair and left hand burned, and a Japanese servant at the hotel. John J. Kavanaugh, Jr., was removed yesterday as his recovery is considered likely, as he inhaled but little gas flame. Callinan is at his home. No 77 Natoma street. The only danger apprehended by his physicians is erysipelas. Captain White improved yesterday and the swelling of his face was reduced considerably, enabling him to see. 

The injuries which District Engineer J. E. Ross received resulted in his death last eight at twelve o'clock. Since the time of the accident he had been in a delirious condition, and last night his physician observed the throat to be in a swollen and inflamed condition and pronounced his condition hopeless. The unfortunate fireman suffered internally all yesterday and last night until death relieved him of his pain. Mr. Ross was native of New York, about 40 years of age and was unmarried, and came to San Francisco in her pioneer days, and in 1861 was appointed special police officer. He was also a member of the Volunteer Fire Department, being enrolled in Knickerbocker Engine No. 5. When the Paid Fire Department was organised he was appointed Foreman and was subsequently  promoted to District Engineer. In his social relations he was pleasant and affable, and in the Department be was respected by every one. The life he chose proved within the last year full of adventure and incidents, which bought him to an untimely grave. About six months ago he was almost asphyxiated in a fire at Kelly's paint store on Market street and sustained such injuries to the lungs that his condition was considered critical. The last accident affected him in a similar manner, and his constitution, unable to stand the double strain, gave way. The great bell at the tower on Brenham place was tolled last night on the news of his death.
Source: Daily Alta California, Volume 35, Number 12034, 5 April 1883 — DEATH OF A FIREMAN. [ARTICLE]



John Edward Ross, District Engineer, of the San Francisco Fire Department, who lost his life in gas explosion at the Palace Hotel last Tuesday, was buried from the rooms of the Fire Commissioners yesterday with higher honors than are usually accorded to mortal remains. The deceased was without relatives in the state, where he was a pioneer and the funeral arrangements were accordingly left the Chief Scannell who considered it fit that his last ride should be from headquarters of the men of his profession. Acordingly at an early hour yesterday morning the remains were removed from the Morgue to the Commissioners office., in old City Hall, where they lied in state until 1 p. m. the hour set for the services. Long before that time the large double parlors were packed to suffocation with friends of Ross, and Kearny street outside was filled with an immense concourse, compelled to satisfy itself with a sight of the cortege. The handsome casket stood on a bier in the arch between-the rooms and was nearly burled-beneath the wealth of floral tributes of the most magnificent description


The bouquets were countless and the large pieces were over ten in number, requiring three wagons to transport them to the grave. Among notable designs were a large white cross bearing the initials " J. E. R." across the bar, from No. 1 Engine Company; a column of camellias, bordered with black violets, from Eugene Dewey; a large cross and anchor from the Board of Fire Underwriters; a column of pure white roses from No. 6 engine; a bed of white buds containing a large heart in pansies and violets from which, a white dove was rising from the corporation yard employees; a large fire hat in white flowers, with violet border, and bearing an engraved silver badge from William Mallady and Thomas Smith; an anchor and a dove from No. 1 engine; a wreath of ivy and immortelles inscribed, "To the bravest of the brave” from Raphael Weill. The other large-pieces were-from Mrs. Howard Coit, who was an honorary member Knickerbocker No. 5 Engine Company, to which the dead fireman be¬longed in the old volunteer department; from No. 2 Engine Company, No. 9 Engine, Company, No. 1 truck, No. 4 Engine Company, Peter Hopkins. Senator Dougherty, Samuel Rainey, the Sacramento and San Jose departments and others..


Owing to the disfiguring nature of the poor fellow's injuries, the casket was not opened, and many old " vamps" were sadly disappointed at having to leave without a last look at their comrade's features. The idea was to have all remember him as he was in life.-and it was a proper one. The ; religious exercises opened with singing by the California Quartet, composed of Messrs. Frillman, Wyatt, Morant and Hol¬land, of "We Bless Thy Name," "Justin Jesus," "Thy Will Be Done" and a funeral anthem. Rev. W. L. Githens of the Church of the "Advent delivered' a short sermon, in which he dwelt eloquently on the bravery and good traits of the deceased, touching' feelingly on the fact of death overtaking him in the discharge of his duty. At 2 o'clock the tolling of the bell gave the signal for the cortege to move and the sad knell continued until the procession was out of sight. The casket was borne to the hearse by eight pall-bearers, who were Assistant Chief Engineer James Riley of the local department, Senator T. McCarthy, Edward Keating of No. 4 engine, Raphael , Weill, Chief-Engineer Hill of Oakland, Assistant Chief Weber of Stockton, Assistant Chief O'Meara of Sacramento and Assistant Chief Hoelbe of San Jose.


The escort to the cortege consisted of an advance guard, of thirty-two police officers, with shrouded stars and Sergeant Nash of Company A in command; Chief Kinsella, of San Rafael, with a delegation of twenty-five men; fifty members of Knickerbocker No. 5 of the volunteer department, an equal number from the exempts, delegates San Jose, Sacramento, Stockton' and Oakland departments, Chief Scannell and his aids and four delegates from each local-engine company, four from each truck company and two from each hose company, all with crape-covered badges. The carriages covered, a distance of ten blocks and the streets were thronged with gazers. The line of march was along Kearny to Market street and to Ellis, where the footmen drew up in "two lines and were dismissed after the cortege passed through. The line then continued out Ellis, Van Ness avenue, and Bush street to Laurel Hill Cemetery, where the body was interred In the plot reserved by the exempts for the burial of engineers and officers of the Volunteer Department: So far but two bodies occupy its precincts, that of poor Ross and Fred Kohler, an ex-Chief of the volunteer department, who died half a score of years since. Rev. Githens gave a short prayer, a burial hymn was sung and the obsequies of Engineer Ross were ended.




1883 April 9

A sad gathering assembled yesterday afternoon at the rooms of the Fire Commission to assist in the funeral services of the dead fireman, John E. Ross, who had lost his life in the discharge of his perilous duties. The assemblage was composed of all citizens, men of influence, men who have gained renown in the history of the state and city, and men of humbler spheres of life, all congregated alike to testify their respect to the memory of their friend who had been cut off in the prime of life, while endeavoring to save the lives and property of the fellow-men from destruction. The chambers of the Commissioners were crowded to suffocation, and outside in the streets was immense throng, who, being unable to get inside, contented themselves with observing the funeral carriage. In the centre of the room, on a bier, rested the casket. The nature of the injuries which Mr. Ross received precluded the idea of exposing the features to view, and many who came during the morning with the hope of taking a farewell look at the well- known face, went away disappointed. The coffin was almost hidden by the


Many of which displayed artistic taste in their beautiful designs expressive of the reward and happiness awaiting the sprits in the future life. . Grouped about the remains were a number of large, beautiful pieces, and many were placed on surrounding tables, there being in all about 60 different tributes. Several were sent from the Fire Department of the interior, with messages of condolence. Among the most notable were a cross from Engine No. 1, with---J. E. R. in red violets, in such a manner that it appeared to be draped in mourning; from Eugene Dewey; a cross and anchor entwined; from the Board of Underwriters ; a column of white roses from Engine No. 6; a dove surmounting a bed of flowers containing a heart of violets, from the Corporation Yard . A fire hat from William Mailady; an anchor and dove from Engine No. 1; Mrs. Howard Coit, who in early days was well known to the fire boys as Lillie Hitchcock, and an honorary member of Engine No. 5, of which the deceased was also a member, sent a beautiful floral gift. Raphael Weill sent a large wreath of ivy and immortelles with the inscription, “To the bravest of the brave” Besides the above there were innumerable “Rests”: and minor pieces. The services were opened by the California Quartette, consisting of Messrs.’ Morant, Frillman, Wyatt and Holland, who rendered in an effective manner “Thy will be Done,” “We Bless Thy Name,” “Next Is Jesus,” and a funeral anthem. The sermon was preceded by Rev. W. I. Gilhens of the Church of Advant, who spoke feelingly of the


And referred in a touching manner to his heroic death. He was called away in the flower of life, but it was the wish of the Lord, and we must submit to the will. It was for the best; he had borne the cross and now enjoys the crown. To the sorrowing friends the speaker offered words of consolation and spoke of the benefits of religion when grief is overpowering. The ceremony was delivered in an eloquent manner and not without emotion, and when the “Amen” was whispered by the hushed audience there was many a moist eye in the room. The body was then taken to the hearse by the following pall-bearers: Ex-Senator Timothy McCarthy, Raphael Weill, Assistant Chief Engineer James J Reilly, Edward Keating of No. 4 Engine, Chief Hill of Oakland, E. F. Weber of Stockton, M. O’Meara of Sacramento, and R. Heeloe of San Jose. The remains were escorted to the cemetery by a procession consisting of a platoon of thirty two police, commanded by Sergeant Nash: members of Knickerbocker Engine No. 5. old Volunteer Fire Department; a delegation from each Company, the Sin Rafael Hook and Ladder Company in uniform, members from the interior Fire Departments and members of the Exempt Fire Company of San Francisco. There was a long line of carriages. Along the route of procession the sidewalks were crowded with men, women and children. The bells of the fire houses were tolled as the remains were borne to their last resting place in the engineers’ pot of the Volunteer Firemen’s burial ground, at Laurel Hill.
Source: Daily Alta California, Volume 35, Number 12038, 9 April 1883 — SUNDAY EVENTS. [ARTICLE]

Extracted from original sources with grammar and spelling as published.

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