Fire can be a great creator or a great destroyer. In 1936 several newspapers carried a story about annual Fire Prevention week, where it describes that Ahun, a little town of 2,000 people in central Frances, claimed a notable record of no fires for 600 years.
The story goes on to say that fires, like tigers, are most easily tamed when very young. Perhaps this thought is the origin of the name of the Tiger No. 1 hand-tub engine built for the Newmarket New Hampshire fire department in 1852.
I happened across two photographs on an online auction site of a man standing with this very same hand tub engine. The back of the photographs are marked, “Fire engine 100 yrs old, Dover NH June 1952. The device is marked “Tiger. No. 1.” This engine cost the town of Newmarket $1,000 to purchase, and its builder was a rather famous mechanic, Edward S. Leslie/Lesley, of Newburyport, Massachusetts.
Nowadays we take for granted that our firemen and women will be using the latest equipment and technology to put out fires. In 1852 when this engine was created, it was considered the latest invention, and much better than its predecessor. In this story I will be presenting the history of the Newmarket, New Hampshire fire department, and also a bit of the history of the man who created this amazing device.
In 1908 the Granite Monthly, A New Hampshire Magazine, Volume 40, page 79, printed a story called Newmarket on the Lamprey, where the history of the Newmarket, NH fire department is given as follows:
“The first fire engine ever owned and operated in Newmarket was purchased by the Newmarket Manufacturing Company. It was a very crude apparatus, operated by cranks the water had to be poured into its “tub” and a tiny stream was thrown, affording but little protection from the devouring flames. This was in 1832 and from this purchase dates the organization of the “Fire Department.”
Seven years later a brake machine was substituted for the first, which has been called “The Coffee-Mill.” This was not much of an improvement, however, for the water still had to be brought in buckets and poured into the box. They, however, were the sole protection until March 9, 1852, when the town voted to buy an engine, and a committee consisting of John Webster, who at that time was agent of the mills, Dr. George W. Kittredge and Joseph Taylor were authorized to raise $1,000 for the purchase.
On April 26, 1852, a fire company was organized, known as “Tiger, No. 1,” of which Thomas W. Willey, Sr., was captain. A company had been organized for the operation of the company’s machine, styled the “Ever Ready,” and it still continued its existence but Tiger No. 1 was the first equipped by the town.
In 1853 a lot was purchased and a house erected in which Granite Engine was installed. The department at this time consisted of Tiger No. 1 with 37 members, “Always Ready,” No. 2, 29 members and Hose Co. No 1, with six members, and it thus continued until 1858, when the manufacturing company, realizing the need of more efficient equipment, bought another hand-brake machine, known as “Granite,” and as the old “Ever Ready” was now useless, they took its number, viz., 2.
In 1894 and 1895 the town established its present efficient water system. Near the present site of the old nut and bolt factory, it has established a pumping station, utilizing for the purpose of the water privilege there. The sources of its supply are inexhaustible mountain springs and the reservoir is located on Great Hill, sufficiently high to afford pressure to safely cover the village, and the old engines, having served their day have been retired.
Newmarket has been particularly favored in the matter of fires. While several small losses have from time to time been sustained, only one serious conflagration has visited the town. This was on February 6, 1866, when many buildings were destroyed and a loss of upwards of $30,000 sustained.”
So now we know when Newmarket obtained this engine, but not yet much about the creator. It is noted in several publications that the man who built this device was a mechanic named Edward S. Lesley [also spelled Leslie] from Newburyport, Massachusetts. The North End Papers, describes him thus:
Mr. Lesley was a very ingenious machinist who in the early forties [1840’s] had a shop on the Merrimac street [in Newburyport] opposite the foot of Winter and next to No. 1 engine house, where he manufactured many things in his life. His shop with the engine house was burned in 1843 or ’44, and he afterwards occupied the brick building on the lower corner of Market and Merrimac street.
When he died in 1885, Edward Lesley’s obituary provided a wealth of information: “Mr. Lesley was born in Newburyport July 14, 1804. He leaves a widow, one son, Edward, now and for many years transfer clerk in the Treasurer’s office of the Eastern Railroad, and four daughters. Mr. Lesley was engaged in business in Newburyport nearly fifty years, and ranked very high in all matters connected with machinery and particularly steam engines and hand fire engines. As a builder of the latter he sent machines to Chicago, Milwaukee, Racine, and other distant points, and in addition had a large home market. He retired from business in 1871. Mr. Lesley was a thoroughly honest man, and during a life of more than four score years, enjoyed fully the confidence of all.”
Mr. Lesley had many involvements in the town of Newburyport. In 1837 he was appointed asst Engineer of the town by the Selectmen.
At one point Edward Lesley was also connected with the mills. In 1845 the State Legislature of Massachusetts enacted that Charles H. Coffin, Edward S. Lesley, and Albert Currier made a corporation of Globe Steam Mills for the purpose of manufacturing cotton in the town of Newburyport.
In 1853 he was advertising that he provided gas pipes and fixtures. When the Newburyport Five Cents Savings Bank was organized April 24, 1854, one of the incorporators was Edward S. Lesley.
He spent most of his life in Newburyport, Massachusetts, marrying, raising a family, and finally dying there.
=====PARTIAL GENEALOGY OF
THE LESLEY/LESLIE/LASSLEY FAMILY OF
NEWBURYPORT MA & NEW HAMPSHIRE=====
[Editor’s note: After I researched up to Jonas Lassley of Brookline and Hollis NH, I came across some research in the New Hampshire Genealogical Record, Jan-April 1994, Vol 11, No. 1 and 2, compiled by Janet Ireland Delorey, that corroborates my belief that this Jonas Lassley was the son of George, shown directly below. Some of the pre-Jonas information shown below is from that source. A copy of this document is available from the NH Genealogical Society. In addition, it is my personal belief that George Laslee directly below was possibly connected or descended from the Ilsley family of Massachusetts]
George Laslee / Lessley / Lesley, b before 1709 [based on the age of 16] and residing in Dunstable MA as early as 30 August 1725 when he served as a private under Capt. John Blanchard of Dummer’s War from 30 August to 1 October 1725.
Children of George & ? (?) Lesley:
1. George Lesley, baptized 28 March 1735/36 Groton MA [from records]. Possibly the same George Lesley of Hollis NH who served in 1775 (the old French War) under Capt. Peter Powers of Hollis. No more definitive info.
2. Mary Lesley, bap 28 May 1738 Groton MA [from records]. She m. 1 July 1762 William Waters of Townsend MA.
3. Jean Lesley, b. –; m1) Hollis NH 6 May 1755 to Matthew Wallace, son of John and Elizabeth Wallace. He was b. 3 April 1721 in Stowe MA and died intestate at Raby NH (now Brookline) before 28 January 1778 when his wife Jenny/Jane was appointed administratrix with her bondsmen being Joseph Lesley and Jonas Lesley of Hollis NH. He m2) 7 March 1782 to George Woodward. She had several children by her first husband.
4. +Jonas Lesley, b abt 1747 [SEE]
5. Joseph Lesley, b. –; was “of Hollis [NH]” when he m. Pepperell MA 15 Feb 1770 Mary Gilson [from recs]. He was taxed in Hollis in 1775 on the “east side.” Possibly they had no children, and a nephew Matthew Withington, son of Mather & Nancy (Gilson) Withington.
6. Sarah Lesley/Lastley, b. abt 1755; m. at Townsend MA 20 July 1782 to William Clark. Probably the William Clark who died 1849 Fitzwilliam NH. They had several children whose births were recorded at Chesterfield NH.
7. John Leslie, b. –. “laborer and of Hollis.” Two conveyances of land from George Lesley of Hollis lands to him including one with the start of a house.
8. Samuel Leslie, b –; “trader” of Hollis when land was conveyed to him and Joseph by George Lesley on 9 Oct 1764. He settled in Andover VT.
9. James Leslie (possibly) perhaps the James Lesley of Gray Maine. He m Jane/Jenny –. She m2d) 15 July 1784 at New Gloucester Maine to Thomas White.
10. Robert Leslie (possibly), m. 7 April 1763 at Boston MA Ann Smith.
11. William Leslie (possibly) m. 7 Dec 1767 at Boston MA to Rebecca Brown. She is possibly the same Rebecca Leslie who m. 6 May 1777 at Boston MA to Thomas Snoten. Possibly this William is the same who served in the Revolutionary War in 1775 credited to Groton.
Jonas Lassley/Lesley/Lessley/Lesly, probably son of George Lesley, b abt 1747-1750 NH, d. 19 March 1816 in Brookline NH. He also resided in Hollis NH. He m. 13 Jan 1774 to Elizabeth Dow [marriage from History of Brookline NH, marriages] [death notice from Columbian Centinel:”Lesley, Jonas, died in Brookline, N.H. Mar. 19th aged 69 (c.c. April 20, 1816)” Tax list Brooline NH 1801: Jonas Leslie. He served in the American Revolution from Hollis NH [see several references to this below].
From Alphabetical List of Hollis Soldiers (from Worcester’s History) showing what year they enlisted and how long they were in service.
LESLEY, Jonas, ’76 Wh. P. 5 m. [Wh.P. = at White Plains] Enlisted 1776, for 5 months.
Revolutionary War Rolls, the State of New Hampshire, rolls of the soldiers in the Revolutionary War 1775 to May 1777 [FamilySearch], page 419
“Jonas Lessly 6.0.0
1776-Colonel Baldwin Regt cont’d, Capt. William Read’s Co.
Mustered by Abiel Abbot Muster master. 43 men per receipt
Wilton, Spt 26, 1776, Exeter 19 October 1776
This company was raised in the6th militia regiment
Massachusetts Society of the Sons of the American Revolution
JONAS LESLEY 1746-1815
Private, Captain William Road’s Company, Colonel Baldwin’s Regiment, in the battle of White Plains, October 28, 1776; discharged in December, received L6 for wages and bounty. [Rev Rolls N.H.]
SCOTT FITZ BICKFORD
Children of Jonas & Elizabeth (Dow) Lassley of Hollis NH:
1. Elizabeth Lassley, b. 5 Nov 1774 Hollis NH
2. +Jonas Lassley, b. 1 March 1776 Hollis NH [baptized as LESSLIE, 23 April 1780 in Groton MA]
3. +Samuel Lassley, b. 26 Feb 1778 Hollis NH [baptized as LESSLIE, 23 April 1780 Groton MA alog with 2 other siblings]
4. Sarah Lassley, b 25 Feb 1780 Hollis NH [baptized 23 Apr 1780 as LESSLIE in Groton MA]
5. +Joseph Lassley, b. 7 April 1782 Hollis NH
6. George Lassley, b. 9 Feb 1785 Hollis NH
Jonas Leslie/Lesley, b 1 March 1776 in Hollis NH [or Pepperell MA], d. March 1860 in Gilford, Belknap Co. NH of old age. He m. 6 Dec 1801 to Susanna Lindsey in Newburyport, MA. Living in Raby now Brookline NH in 1790, having a family of one male over 16 years, 3 males under 16, and four females. As an Innkeeper of Newburyport MA he sold real estate 12 Sep 1805 for $900 to Joseph Bartlett of Newbury, yeoman. In 1850 living with Gilson Family in Brookline NH. [Samuel & Rebecca Gilson]
Name: Jonas Lassley
Birth Date: 1 Mar 1776
Birth Place: Hollis, Hillsborough, New Hampshire, United States
Father’s name: Jonas Lassley
Mother’s name: Elisabeth
FHL Film Number: 1001015
Name: Jonas Leslie
Location: Boston Massachusetts
Occupation(s): cooper wood/furniture/carriage trades(m)
Address(es): back of 9, Newbury street, Boston, Massachusetts
Source Date: 1810
Source Info: Listed in The Boston Directory [for 1810], 1810, COTTON, Edward. Boston; Published by Edward Cotton, No.47, Marlboro’ street. Printed by Munroe and Francis
Children of Jonas & Susanna (Linsey/Lindsay) Lesley:
1. George Lindsey Lesley, b. 6 Oct 1802 Newburyport, MA
2. Susannah Caroline Lesley, b 26 Dec 1803 Newburyport MA, died 30 Nov 1898 in Laconia NH, age 94 widowed.; m. John Semple. She is buried in Union Cemetery. They had several children including: Amanda M. Semple who m. Charles Hamilton; Caroline M. Semple who m. Charles F. Rolfe; Ida L. Semple who m. —- Hayward; Emma F. Semple; Harriet E.J. Semple who m. — Stone, and Mary A., who m. — Carlton.
3. William Henry Lesley b 9 Nov 1806
Samuel Lassley/Leslie/Lesley 26 Feb 1778 Hollis NH; d 29 Dec 1814 ; m. 23 Jan 1802 [int.] to Betsy Swain. The Essex Institute Historical College, page 480 states: “cooper…He enlisted 10 Jan 1814 as a sergeant in Capt. McIntosh’s company, U.S. Light Artillery, and died in the service in the line of his duty 29 Dec 1814. Act of 16 Apr 1816 a certificate for $66 per anum from 15 Feb 1815 to 15 Feb 1820 or five years’ half-pay in lieu of bounty land on account of his service, issued 12 Aug 1817 to Betsey Lesley, guardian of his four children–Lucy Ann, Edward Swain, Betsey and Mary Stone of Essex County, Mass.”
Children of Samuel & Betsy (Swain) Lesley:
1. Lucy Ann Lesley, b. 17 April 1802 Newburyport MA, d. 6 June 1881 in Newburyport MA; she m. 25 June 1826 to George Fitz
2. +Edward Swain Lesley, b. 14 July 1804 Newburyport MA
3. Elizabeth Smith Lesley, b 10 Oct 1807, d 9 Sep 1894 in Newburyport MA; m. 3 Jan 1847 in Newburyport MA to Charles Butler, widower, age 55 baker, son of Nathaniel and Ann Butler.
4. Mary Stone Lesley, b. 18 June 1811 Newburyport MA; d. 30 Nov 1838 in Newburyport MA, age 27
Edward Swain Lesley, son of Samuel and Betsy (Swain) Lesley was born July 14, 1804 in Newburyport, Massachusetts, and died 18 March 1885 in Newburyport MA. He m. 27 May 1830 to Sarah Frothingham. She was b. abt 1804 in MA, and d. 20 Dec 1896 [Lesley, Sarah F., widow of Edward S., died Dec. 20, 1896 per 1898 Newburyport MA directory, page 99 ]. Mechanic, mill owner and fire engine builder. This story is about him, read above. [Editor’s note: as of the completion of this story I have not been able to obtain a photograph of Edward S. Lesley. If any of my readers know of one, I would love to include it, giving you full credit.]
Thursday, March 19, 1885; Boston Journal (Boston MA), page 4
Mr. Edward S. Lesley, died at his home on Market Street, Newburyport, Wednesday night of heart difficulty, after a short illness. Mr. Lesley was born in Newburyport July 14, 1804. He leaves a widow, one son, Edward, now and for many years transfer clerk in the Treasurer’s office of the Eastern Railroad, and four daughters. Mr. Lesley was engaged in business in Newburyport nearly fifty years, and ranked very high in all matters connected with machinery and particularly steam engines and hand fire engines. As a builder of the latter he sent machines to Chicago, Milwaukee, Racine, and other distant points, and in addition had a large home market. He retired from business in 1871. Mr. Lesley was a thoroughly honest man, and during a life of more than four score years, enjoyed fully the confidence of all.
1880 US Census > MA > Essex > Newburyport
Edward S. Lesley 76
Sarah F. Lesley 76
Edward Lesley 43
Mary A. Lesley 39
Lucy M. Lesley 33
Children of Edward S. & Sarah (Frothingham) Lesley:
1. Edward Leslie, b 6 Jan bap Jan 14 1838, died at 17 months on 20 June 1834
2. Sarah Leslie, bap. 19 July 1835; m. 20 Sep 1858 to James N. Balch. He was b. 26 May 1832 Weatherfield VT, head of the firm of Balch, Price & Co. importers, manufacturers and dealers in straw goods, furs, hats and millinery goods in Brooklyn NY where they resided.
3. Edward Leslie, bap 14/18 Jan 1838 Newburyport MA; d. 11 Dec 1911 in Newburyport MA. He lived at 5 Market Street, Newburyport MA. He is buried in Oak Hill, Newburyport MA. In 1860 he attended Comer’s Commercial College in Newburyport MA, grad 1859-60. In 1898 he was of Boston but had the 5 Market Street House in Newburyport.
4. Mary Ann Leslie, bp 15 — 1840; In 1906 his sister “Miss Mary” was boarding with him at 5 Market Street. In 1920 Mary A. Lesley 79, and Sarah A. Balch 84 are living at 5 Market Street.
5. Elizabeth Toppon Leslie, bap 19 Nov 1843, d. 27 Oct 1897 Newburyport MA
6. Lucy Maria Leslie, b 11 June 1846 Newburyport MA, died 16 Feb 1905, Newburyport, Massachusetts, unmarried.
Joseph Lesley, b. 7 April 1782 Hollis NH; m.26 Dec 1808 in Seabrook NH to Hannah Raymond of Hampton Falls NH 10 Dec 1808 [int], prob dau of Lt. Joseph Raymond of Hampton Falls who m. Hannah Dodge there 16 April 1784. Possible of the Joseph Leslie family living in Hollis NH in 1790 with a family of two males over 16, one male under and 3 females. In 1825 he moved from Newburyport to Brookline NH, settling in the north part of the town. They are buried in the South Cemetery, Brookline NH.
Children of Joseph & Hannah (Raymond) Leslie:
1. Hannah Dodge Leslie, b. 2 July 1810 Newburyport MA, d. 29 August 1830
2. Joseph Raymond Leslie, b 2 March 1812 Newburyport MA, d. 28 Jan 1830
3. Eunice Dodge Leslie b 10 Feb 1818 Newburyport MA, d. 28 Jan 1882, m. William Burge. One child Lizzie Burge b 12 Dec 1836.
4. Sarah Smith Leslie, b 18 June 1820, died 23 Sep 1821, age 15 months
5. Sarah Elizabeth Leslie, b. 14 Jan 1828 in Brookline NH; m. 27 April 1852 in Brookline NH to Newton Worcester Colburn. He b. 29 April 1827 in Brookline NH. Their children [COLBURN]: (1) Nellie b 21 Oct 1860; m. 10 April 1888 John Dobson; (2) Grace E., b. 14 Oct 1862