Thomas “Uncle Tommy” Franklin Jr.

Thomas “Uncle Tommy” Franklin Jr.

Manhattan, New York County (Manhattan), New York, USA
Death 30 Apr 1830 (aged 68)
Manhattan, New York County (Manhattan), New York, USA
Burial Brooklyn, Kings County (Brooklyn), New York, USA
Memorial ID 116239418 · View Source
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Thomas Franklin – who was known with in the fire department as "Uncle Tommy" – became a fireman in 1783 with Engine Company 12. In 1791, he was elected the company's Foreman. He was a merchant by trade in partnership with George Newbold in the firm of Newbold & Franklin.

At least twice during his career, he endured extremes of prostration during fires; once in 1811 during a fire on Chatham Street when he "narrowly escaped being roasted to death" and in 1824 when he was felled by the one hundred degree weather during a large fire in Orchard Street.

In 1799, one year after the incorporation of the Fire Department of the City of New York, Thomas Franklin was appointed as an Assistant Engineer and on November 18, 1811, as the Chief Engineer. He held that post until 1824 when he retired after forty-one years of service to the people of the City. Even after his retirement, it is said that "on the occasion of each firemen's parade…the old gentleman would stand on the stoop of his house in Broome Street, between Broadway and the Bowery, in full uniform, hat on his head, trumpet in his hand, and review the procession, receiving the plaudits of his "dear boys" as company after company went by."

In addition to his service to the City with the fire department, Franklin was also elected City Register. As such, when the Common Council issued "fractional currency" during the War of 1812, it was Thomas Franklin's signature that was affixed upon the notes.

Thomas' brother Walter was also a merchant who owned a mansion at 3 Cherry Street on Franklin Square. In this house, George Washington took up residence upon arriving in New York on April 23, 1789 for his inauguration and lived there through February 23, 1790, (for $845 a year) making it the first Presidential Mansion. John Hancock lived next door at 5 Cherry Street. Walter's son Morris was a Foreman of Engine Company 24 and later was a fire commissioner. Thomas' great grandson, Edward Franklin Croker (1863 – 1951), was one of the most famous, perhaps infamous, Chiefs of the FDNY.

One of the everlasting tributes to Chief Thomas was the reproduction of his membership certificate in Valentine's Manual of New York. Often mistaken as a period piece, this very desired collectible fetches high prices.

He was married twice, first to Sarah Polhemus on December 26, 1783 until her death on February 16, 1791. Next he married Mary Havilland on June 12, 1793. He had three children (Deborah, Maria and Helen) with Sarah two who lived to adulthood and eight children (Sarah, Benjamin, William, Morris, Edward, Rebecca, Amelia and George) five who lived to adulthood.

Thomas Franklin passed away on April 30, 1830. A member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), he was interred at the Houston Street burial ground on May 3rd. In 1848 the land of the cemetery was sold and the remains were moved to the Quaker Cemetery in, what is now, Prospect Park in Brooklyn.

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  • Created by: Gary Urbanowicz
  • Added: 29 Aug 2013
  • Find a Grave Memorial 116239418
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Thomas “Uncle Tommy” Franklin Jr. (15 Apr 1762–30 Apr 1830), Find a Grave Memorial no. 116239418, citing Friends Quaker Cemetery, Brooklyn, Kings County (Brooklyn), New York, USA ; Maintained by Gary Urbanowicz (contributor 47731674) .