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PRINCEVILLE

Princeville was established in 1865 by freed slaves had an all black fire volunteer fire company sometime in the late 1800's.

RALEIGH

James H. Jones
Photo Courtesy of Department of Archives, North Carolina, N53 15. 5203

Being the capitol city of North Carolina does not exempt it from fire. Many devastating fires plagued Raleigh in its infancy. Several fire companies formed and later disband. A hose company composed of black fire fighters was organized in 1869.

One of those assisting in putting the organization together was James H. Jones. Jones had been born a free black in 1831. He was not formally educated but relied on experience . Jones worked as a brick mason and plasterer in his youth and in order to maintain himself he hired out as gentleman's servant and waiter in the winter months of 1850.

In the summer of 1862 the Yankee's were threatening Richmond, and Jefferson Davis sent his wife and family to Raleigh to keep them out of harms way. Jones was hired to serve the Davis family while in Raleigh. Later that year Mrs. Davis and her children returned to Richmond taking Jones with them.

Jones served the president of the confederacy as courier and coachman until the end of the war. He was driving the president at the time of his capture and arrest near Irwinsville Ga. He accompanied Davis to Fortress Monroe , Va. before returning home to Raleigh.

In 1868 Jones was appointed head door keeper for the North Carolina Constitutional Convention. Later that same year he was appointed deputy sheriff of Wake County and held that post until 1876.

The hose company that Jones helped organize was chartered by the state legislature in 1872. He was elected foreman and served in that capacity until 1882.

A black bucket company had been organized sometime prior to September 13, 1877 for on that date The Weekly Register gave an account of a fire in the kitchen of Mr. Z.W. Gill on Person St. that was burned down on Wednesday last. The dwelling was saved through the exertions of the colored bucket company. This was apparently a kitchen separated from the dwelling house, which was the custom of that time .

The Victor Hose Company, which Jones helped organized served the city of Raleigh for a number of years. In the 1880s the Victor Hand Engine company and the bucket and ladder company were housed in Metropolitan Hall. The bucket company gave way to more modern equipment and the hand engine and hose company continued to serve until motorized equipment was introduced

The first company of colored firefighters in Raleigh was formed by January 27, 1869. They were named Fire Company No. 1 and operated an early 1851 hand engine. On October 20, 1870, the fire company participated in a presentation competition of hand engines at the 10th annual State Fair. They were the winners and were subsequently called the Victor Fire Company in the following days' newspaper accounts.  They were described as having about 40 members and with new uniforms that consisted of black pants, red shirts trimmed with blue, and black belts and blue caps trimmed to match the other parts of their uniform. The Victor Company received a charter from the General Assembly on January 23, 1872. The incorporators were James H. Jones, H. C. Jones, H. P. Buncombe, John E. Williams, W. B. Mitchell, Charles M. Hunter, Samuel Stewart, Sylvester Dunston. They were housed in the basement of Metropolitan Hall after the building opened on May 17, 1870. The Victor Company received a new Rumsey & Company hand engine after June 1874. 
 
Before the formation of the NCCVFA and the accompanying state conventions, the Victors traveled to cities such as Charlotte, Wilmington, and New Bern in the early 1880s. After November 6, 1885, the Victor hand engine was drawn by horses. On March 1, 1890, the Victor Company received a two-horse hose reel. By February 28, 1891, the Victor company had relocated to a single-story engine house at the City Lot at the corner of Salisbury and Davie streets.. On August 9, 1892, the Victors hosted the annual NCCVFA tournament in Raleigh. On April 7, 1897, the Victor engine house burned. The night fire started when one of the lamps on the hose reel exploded. It was quickly extinguished by the nearby Rescue Company, but not before partially consuming the structure and killing a pair of horses. The city was already planning to construct replacement quarters for the fire company, and construction on the project proceeded. 
 
The Victors were later housed in a warehouse as temporary quarters until their new station at 135 East Hargett Street opened on April 2, 1898. By this time, the Victors had received a new horse-drawn hose wagon by July 20, 1897. On August 26, 1902, the Victors again hosted the annual NCCVFA tournament in Raleigh. On December 23, 1912, a fully-paid Raleigh Fire Department was placed in service. The equipment and facilities of the volunteer fire companies were utilized. The Victor station reopened on February 10, 1913, as Station 3. The Victor Company, along with the other volunteer companies, were declared out of commission on March 7, 1913.
 
A second company of colored firefighters organized by September 11, 1872. Called the Bucket Company, they received a charter from the General Assembly on February 28, 1873. The incorporators were A. L. Gorham [sic], J. W. Winslow, J. W. Butler, Ephraim Johnston, G. E. Lane, and others. The fire company was also called theBucket and Ladder Company. They were housed in the basement of Metropolitan Hall. They received a new hand-pulled truck by May 19, 1876. Installation of fire hydrants in 1887 improved firefighting techniques in Raleigh, and lessened the need for hand-powered aid such as hand engines and buckets. The Bucket Company was disbanded and their apparatus sold after January 8, 1892.

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Photo by North Carolina Department of Sate Archives
 
Victor hose company in front of old station #3. Disband Dec.23, 1912.

This circa 1913 photograph shows the Victor Company engine house. This is Fire Company #3 of the now fully-paid Raleigh Fire Department, which was placed in service in December 1912. The former Victor Company engine house served as Station 3 until 1951. The structure was subsequently demolished. Pictured from left to right are (in the back) Charles F. Gaston, Luther C. Thompson, and W. Ernest Holland; (in the front ) Eugene E. Jones (standing), Henry M. Parrish, and Matthew J. Barker (driver). Source for names: North Carolina State Archives.
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