LETTERS TO HENRY SAND, April, 1861: Don't let your sons grow up to be Zouaves! In these excerpts, the family of a soldier in the elite 7th New York State Militia give their eyewitness (and conjectural!) descriptions of those roguish New York Zouaves!
CATHERINE STREET and the HOT CORN GIRLS: J. Frank Kernan remembers the girls who made their living selling roasted ears of corn in the City.
RICHMOND ENQURIRER, July 30, 1861: Those rowdy New York Zouaves have upset their courteous Virginian captors!
SONG - DEAD RABBITS' FIGHT WITH THE BOWERY BOYS: A musical ditty describing the knock-down drag-out which occured in Bayard Street on July 4, 1857 when the Five Points gangs, loyal to the Municipal Police, violently protested the formation of the Albany-controlled Metropolitan Police force.
SONG - THE SHANGHAI ENGINE: One of many songs written (often anonymously) about a fire comapny, in this case "Mutual" Engine 51 which was quartered on 22nd Street and First Avenue.
SONG - ONE OF THE B'HOYS: Written from the perspective of Mose the Fire B'hoy, perhaps the 19th century equivalent of Popeye the Sailor Man.
SONG - ENGINE No. 15 - "OLD MAID": Engine 15's roots go back to 1785 when it was known as "Wreath of Roses." By the 1840s, it was located in Chrystie Street and had on its rolls Benjamin Baker, the playwright of the "Mose" series, and Frank Chanfrau, the actor who starred in them. No stranger to trouble, Engine 15 ended up being disbanded twice in a matter of six years because of several infractions of Department policies.
SECOND-HAND CLOTHING: In this passage from Hot Corn, 1854, the unscrupulous business dealings of the second-hand clothing business are described.
REFERENCES TO LADIES' CLOTHING: Hot Corn makes several references to womens' clothing and fashions of the 1850s, and tells the sad story of "Athalia, the sewing girl" which is paraphrased here.
MINUTES, BOARD OF FIRE COMMISSIONERS, August 2, 1859: Hose 18 and Engine 20 have gotten into some sort of trouble, such that the Board of Fire Commissioners wants to expel some of its members and disband Hose 18. It's a three-to-one vote in favor of the resolution; and it comes as no surprise that the dissenting vote is from none other than William "Boss" Tweed, who was probably sympathetic to the predominantly Irish firemen in question ó and to the votes they might bring him!
COMPLAINT, JAMES B. FITZGERALD vs. IRA M. CLAPP, March 6, 1861: While running to an alarm, Clapp of Hose 26 allegedly struck Fitzgerald of Hose 36, and later struck him againóin the presence of the Chief Engineer! Not a good move for Clapp...
LETTER FROM GENE SCHERMERHORN TO HIS NEPHEW PHIL, February 20, 1887: Gene wrote this letter, describing life among the volunteer fire companies in the 1850s, as part of a series to his nephew Phil in the 1880s.
LAST UPDATED: June 7, 2003