Author Topic: GAMEWELL Fire Alarm Telegraph Station Box  (Read 9993 times)

Offline Editor

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GAMEWELL Fire Alarm Telegraph Station Box
« on: March 17, 2008, 04:49:15 PM »
On ebay here

Thanks to Bob Leafe.

Information From the Firefighters Museum, Minneapolis:

Gamewell Fire Alarm Telegraph Station after 1879

Fire Alarm Boxes produced by Gamewell after the company reorganization in 1879, and purchased by the twin cities, were smaller and somewhat different in appearance with improvements to the operating mechanism. Still sporting the cottage style outer shell, their dimensions now measure 16-3/4 high, 10-1/2 wide, and 5 deep.  Cast into the peak above the door is the new Gamewell trademark of a hand grasping lightning bolts.  The cast inscription on the outer door reads:  Fire Alarm Telegraph Station, The Gamewell Fire Alarm Telegraph Company, New York".

John Nelson Gamewell was born in Camden, South Carolina, in 1822 and died at Hackensack, New Jersey, on July 19, 1896.  He saw the Channing and Farmer fire alarm system, recognized its value, and in 1855 purchased the rights to construct the fire alarm in the southern and western states.  In 1859 he purchased all of the patents and launched his career in the Fire Alarm Telegraph field devoting his entire business life to its introduction and improvement.
His business venture was cut short from 1861 to 1865 during the Civil War.  As a southerner, Gamewell had returned to South Carolina and the U.S. Government confiscated all his patents on the Fire Alarm Telegraph system and proceeded to sell them at public auction.  An employee, John Kennard of Boston, went to Washington prepared to pay $20,000 for the patents.  He bought them for the meager sum of $80.00 and returned them to Gamewell after the war. Shortly after the wars end, Gamewell again actively pursued the business under the name American Fire Alarm Telegraph, John N. Gamewell & Company, Proprietor.

In 1879, John Gamewell reorganized his company under the new name of Gamewell Fire Alarm Telegraph Company, made significant changes in the size and appearance of the fire alarm box and made improvements in its signaling mechanisms.  The American Fire Alarm Telegraph era came to an end but under the reorganization, the name Gamewell would become synonymous with Fire Alarm Telegraph.

 



Offline just watching

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Re: GAMEWELL Fire Alarm Telegraph Station Box
« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2008, 08:01:07 AM »
Gamewell must have been one of the "Copperheads" when he lived in Hackensack.  I'm told Hackensack's notoriety dates all the way back to the Civil War when a great many residents here supported the Confederacy and gave large sums of money to the southern cause.  These were reportedly some of the same families that were the major land holders. Someone by the name of Cooper, from Hackensack, was a General and a senior military advisor to Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

It's interesting that they named a street after him, how ironic is it that the street starts at UNION Street.  Union as in The North.  Is that what Union Street stands for, can anybody shed light on that.

Offline irons35

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Re: GAMEWELL Fire Alarm Telegraph Station Box
« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2008, 11:12:53 AM »
union st, as in union county...

like, Atlantic, Bergen, Essex, Salem, Mercer, Passaic, Sussex, Warren, Camden, Hudson, Morris.   

Offline Editor

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Re: GAMEWELL Fire Alarm Telegraph Station Box
« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2008, 11:45:04 AM »
Yes, Gamewell Street is named for John Gamewell.  See History of the Hackensack Fire Department.

Someone also recently asked me about why there was a Kansas Street in Hackensack.  I did some research that happens to be related to the two prior posts:

Kansas Street appears on the AH Walker Atlas Map of 1875, so we know it dates back as far back as that.  A past president of the Bergen County Historical Society opined that it might be a reference to Bleeding Kansas and the events leading up to the Civil War.  Based on his opinion, I looked at the names of some other streets in that area to see if there was any connection to the Civil War or Kansas.  In a manuscript for a Hackensack history book called Heritage to Horizons, I found this:
 
In speaking of roads and transportation, we should note that about the time of the Civil War, through the influence of Judge John Huyler, the established cross streets in Hackensack (evolved from those early farm lanes) were named for the counties of New Jersey. We still have Passaic, Camden, Salem, Mercer, Warren, Bergen, Morris, Hudson, Essex, Sussex and Atlantic Streets.
 
Kansas Street lies one block south of Essex Street.  Huyler Street intersects with Kansas Street. On the 1875 map, the Estate of John Huyler appears at the intersection of what is now Kansas Street and Huyler Street.  In short, it appears that John Huyler named (or influenced the names) of several streets in that part of the city. 
 
According to Wikipedia, John Huyler was elected as a Democrat to the Thirty-fifth Congress, serving in office from March 4, 1857 - March 3, 1859. He was an unsuccessful candidate as a Lecompton Democrat for reelection in 1858 to the Thirty-sixth Congress. The Lecompton Constitution was the source of much debate in Kansas and the nation, as it enshrined slavery in the proposed state and protected the rights of slaveholders. (Wikipedia). Based on a cursory review of online materials, it appears that Huyler supported the Lecompton Constitution. There are more references to John Huyler and the Kansas Issue in Jersey Blue, Civil War Politics in NJ.
 
Based on John Huylers involvement in Civil War politics and his influence in the naming of streets, I think Huyler may have named the street bordering his estate Kansas Street, perhaps to muster local support for the Lecompton Constitution. Unfortunately, our official records only date back to 1891, so I cannot produce a formal resolution dedicating the street.
 
A map of the area and a picture of John Huyler appear below. On the 1875 map, Huyler Street continues the length of South State Street.

« Last Edit: March 18, 2008, 11:51:22 AM by Editor »

Offline just watching

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Re: GAMEWELL Fire Alarm Telegraph Station Box
« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2008, 09:12:41 PM »
Thanks for the great research on Kansas Street.  Sounds like Huyler was one of the Copperheads.  It's interesting that he was a NJ Congressman who supported slavery.  Perhaps HE is the primary source of indignation against Hackensack, that made us an infamous place.  What's scary is that he was VOTED INTO OFFICE, so a majority of citizens in the Congressional District that included Hackensack and surrounding areas of NJ must have supported his positions.  What a disgrace.

Mr. Editor, please enlighten us on Union Street ?

Sure, it is possible that it was named for Union County, as irons35 stated. What do historic sources say on this.  All of the other streets named for Counties, except Hudson, go east and west. Actually the beginning of Hudson Street goes generally east as well before bending to the south generally towards Hudson County.  None of the other County-named streets go exclusively north and south.

I thought it was State Street for the state, and then Union Street for preserving the Union of States that we call the USA.  These are parallel streets, and there is some logic there. 

Well, if Union Street was called Union Street BEFORE the Civil War, I'll concede the point that it was named after Union County.  If it was named just after the Civil War, then I'm not so sure.  Aren't you the city historian ? I bet you have any old maps with dates on them, what do they say ?

Offline prospectgirl

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Re: GAMEWELL Fire Alarm Telegraph Station Box
« Reply #5 on: December 20, 2008, 10:18:57 PM »
Does anyone else know any other details to contribute to the historical role of Gamewell on September 11th, 2001? I learned that on 9/11 Gamewell was able to use its  still-then-existent telegraph system for emergency communications when most of the nation's phone service was jammed. A close family member of mine told me about it during the first few days of the crisis. Imagine my surprise to stumble on this posting! Heretofore, I had been unaware of Gamewell's history in Hackensack NJ.

Furthermore, I was saddened by the reminder of the story of the horrific event at the Ford dealership; it weighed on my heart at the time of the event and saddened those of my family members whose lives touched the victim's families. Hackensack's firemen are of the highest caliber and have been esteemed in my family all the years of our residence and remain in my heart today.

Great historical posting. Hackensack Pride!
« Last Edit: January 17, 2009, 06:38:52 PM by prospectgirl »