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History: ‘Rough and Ready’ roster highlights

Officials from the Houston Fire Museum took a tour of the historic Fire Station No. 6 on Jan. 20, and contributed some more history to the building.

Museum executive director Tristan Smith supplied snippets of some of crew members who worked at the 1702 Washington Ave. location, which opened in 1903. Information on its personnel was published a year later. The information was compiled by former district chief Max McRae.

Fire Station No. 6 crew notes (all were union members of  American Federation of Labor No. 9629, which was formed in 1902):
Capt. Thomas H. Martin joined the Volunteer Department in 1873 at age 18. Martin was HFD chief from 1890-94. Martin was president of the Houston firefighter’s union that was formed in 1902. He also was president of the Houston Firefighters Relief and Retirement Fund and was a well-known member of the Knights of Pythias.

Lt. C.A. Dortic was in his 50s and had nine years of service as of 1904. He was born and educated in Augusta, Ga. He was married and a father of four.

Jack Donnelly, engineer — As of 1904, Donnelly was 31 years old and had 12 years in the department, starting in the Volunteer Department as a pipeman. Donnelly was awarded a gold medal for saving a child’s life under desperate circumstances. He was single and a member of the the Knights of Pythias. He previously was foreman of Curtain No. 9 for nine years and an engineer of No. 5 Steamer. Donnelly served under six fire chiefs.

J. C. Minster, steamer driver — Minster entered the department as a pipeman in 1899. He joined Fire Station No. 6 while in his 20s, and was a clerk before becoming a fireman. Minster was married with two children, and a member of the Woodmen of the World.

Otto Lutz, driver — A firefighter since 1892, Lutz, was a native of Scranton, Pa. He was 36 years old in 1904. He was married and a member of Knights of Pythias.

W. E. Thomas, extra driver and pipeman – Thomas abandoned the trade of bridge carpenter to become a firefighter in 1898. As of 1904, Thomas was 37 and married with no children.

Additional fast facts …

In 1915, Fire Station No. 6 was also known by its vehicle, “Auto Pumper No. 6.” At this time, Charles Fisher was captain; Ed Pittman was engineer lieutenant; C. Middlekauf was chauffeur; and R. Dietz, Gus Rose, L.T. Bouden and C.M. Harper were pipemen. On the old reel (hose reel) was C.A. Dortic, captain; G.W. Pratt, driver; C.W. Schoellkopf, pipeman; and J.W. Miller, watchman.

Sources:
W.E. Myers, “Houston Fire Department: Issued for the Benefit of the Firemen’s Relief Fund” (Houston/New Orleans: Allied Printing, 1904).
Charles D. Green, Member of Mechanic No. 6. Houston TX, 1915 “Fire Fighters of Houston: 1838-1915” (publisher unknown, 1915).

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