Tag Archives: Pennsylvania

Little-Known Black History Fact: Molly Williams

Posted by BuellBoy

Drawing of Molly Williams pulling fire pump through snow storm

Drawing of Molly Williams pulling fire pump through a snow storm in 1818

A slave named Molly Williams was the first known female firefighter in the United States. Little is known about her life, but female firefighters know her heroic story.

Owned by a New York merchant named Benjamin Aymar, Williams became part of the Oceanus Engine Company firehouse in 1815 and would be known as Volunteer Number 11. The members of the house credited her for being as tough as the male firefighters. She would fight amongst them in a calico dress and checked apron.

Besides the bucket brigades, Molly pulled the pumper to fires through the deep snowdrifts of the blizzard of 1818 to save towns. On December 27, 1819, the Fire Department reported that the fire buckets were rapidly being superseded by the use of hose, so the era of fire buckets ended.

Even as a slave, Williams had gained the respect of her fellow firefighters. Her story and strength paved the way for other women, including one the first paid Black female firefighters and the most tenured in the country – Toni McIntosh of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who served for over 11 years.

Today there are many African-American women working as career firefighters and officers in the United States, along with a number of counterparts in the volunteer ranks. The African American Fire Fighter Museum is a non-profit organization dedicated to collecting, conserving and sharing the heritage of African American firefighters.

The Museum is housed at old Fire Station 30. This station, which was one of two segregated fire stations in Los Angeles, between 1924 and 1955, was established in 1913, to serve the Central Ave community.

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Little-Known Black History Fact: Augustus Nathaniel Lushington

Posted by BuellBoy

Dr. Augustus Nathaniel Lushington (1869-1939)

Dr. Augustus Nathaniel Lushington (1869-1939)

When the students at the University of Pennsylvania enter its veterinary school, one of the first portraits they see is of Augustus Nathaniel Lushington. Lushington, a native of Trinidad, became one of the first Black degreed veterinarians in 1897.

Looking for job opportunities, Lushington left his British West Indies home with his new wife and ended up with a vet degree. Ironically, he had come to America looking for opportunity and ended up finding discrimination and racism.

He did most of his work out of Lynchburg, Virginia, where he would walk miles to treat sick animals in farm country. White farmers often requested his services but then refused to pay, and as a black man in the South in the early 1900s, Lushington had no rights for taking legal action or right to refuse services to the non-payers. Working for little pay, he took on other jobs, including meat inspector and a weekend probation officer.

Though he was subject to the social depression of blacks in the 19th century, Lushington’s work spoke volumes, and he gained national recognition. He held memberships with the Federal Department of Agriculture and Lynchburg Chamber of Commerce.

Lushington worked until he died in 1939. His practice was passed down to a father-son team, George Jackson Sr. and Jr.

Note: It was not until the veterinary school at Tuskegee Institute was established by Dr. William Henry Waddell IV that the number of African-American veterinarians in the United States began to increase.

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Filed under African-Americans, Animals, Black History Month, Civil Rights Movement, Culture, Education, History, Holidays, Students, Teachers, Uncategorized, US