Fire Buffs promote the general welfare of the fire and rescue service and protect its heritage and history. Famous Fire Buffs through the years include New York Fire Surgeon Harry Archer, Boston Pops Conductor Arthur Fiedler, New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia and - legend has it - President George Washington.

Friday, August 19, 2016


On Aug. 22, 1928, Denver Fire Dept. Pumper 21 collided with a coal truck at Virginia Avenue and South Clarkson Street, killing Thomas M. Hyder, 29, the pumper's driver. T
hree other firefighters were injured. The driver of the coal truck was also injured and said he didn't see or hear Pumper 21 until he was in the intersection, according to historical research by Assistant Chief Gregory Taft posted on the fire department's Facebook page.


Photo: Greeley Fire Dept.
Greeley Fire Dept. ladder drill - 1962


Yee Geow, the assailant 

On Sept. 10, 1920, John S. Federhen, 30, a member of the Cheyenne (Wyoming) Fire Department, was shot to death inside the city fire station by a Chinese man fleeing an immigration official.

Federal agent Thomas Holland, 48, was also wounded and died about a week later.

The assailant, Yee Geow, was executed by hanging on 
March 11, 1921.


John S. Federhen, 30, veteran of the world war and member of the Cheyenne fire department, was murdered, and Thomas Holland, 48, agent of the department of justice, was perhaps mortally wounded, by Yee Geow, 23, Chinese, at 4:40 o'clock Friday afternoon. The murderer was captured immediately and is in the Laramie county jail. The shooting of Holland took place on Pioneer avenue just north of the city fire station, and that of Federhen inside the station, into which Geow pursued W.R. Mansfield, inspector for the immigration service, with the intention of murdering him. Mansfield escaped unharmed and assisted Fire Lieutenant Charles Kammerer in arresting the Chinese.

Mansfield, who is the chief immigration inspector for this district, arrived from Denver Thursday. Yesterday he and Holland, local agent of the department of justice, as is done periodically, made the rounds of local Chinese establishments for the purpose of checking up the inmates at a Chinese laundry on Pioneer avenue, near Lincoln Way, they found Geow, a youthful Chinese of such slight proportions that they assumed him to be merely a boy, and Mansfield made inquiries regarding him of the other Chinese present. One of these informed him that the stranger was a cousin of Yee Dow, who is a kind of head man of the local Chinese colony.

While the inquiries were being made Geow, who previously had given no intimation that he understood what Mansfield was talking about, suddenly leaped to his feet and fled into an adjoining room. Mansfield gave chase and after passing through two rooms cornered the Chinese in a toilet. Geow for a time declined to leave the toilet, but eventually did so.

In the meantime Yee Dow appeared on the scene, denied that Geow was related to him and informed Mansfield that the youth was without papers showing him to be entitled to be in the United States. Dow expressed the opinion that Geow was in this country illegally.

Geow at this manifested a knowledge of English and asserted that he rightfully was in the United States. He made no protest when informed that he must accompany the officers to the sheriff's office for investigation. His appearance was so youthful and his demeanor too meek that it does appear to have occurred to either Mansfield or Holland to search him for weapons.

Mansfield. Holland and the prisoner started for the sheriff's office, Dow accompanying them. Holland walked ahead with the prisoner and Mansfield, who was conversing with Dow regarding Geow and total Chinese matters, gradually fell back until he and Dow perhaps were thirty feet behind Holland and the prisoner when the Pioneer avenue fire station was reached.

Just north of the station, Mansfield stated, he was startled by the sound of a shot. Looking ahead, he saw Holland in a half stooping position, with one hand pressed against his leg, and the Chinese backing away, revolver in hand. At that moment Holland made a lunge at the Chinese and the latter fired a second shot then turned and made straight for Mansfield, firing at the latter. The bullet missed Mansfield and the officer, who was unarmed, leaped into the open door of the fire station and ran toward the rear. Geow pursued and Mansfield ran past the fire-fighting machinery and into a lounging room where Federhen and Charles Kisselback, members of the fire department, were playing cards while James Cole, also a fireman, looked on.

Mansfield states that as he ran through the room he shouted a warning that he was pursued by a man who was attempting to shoot him. The three firemen, it appears from the somewhat conflicting accounts of what took place, attempted to get through one door, into the main room of the fire station, while Mansfield took refuge in a small room adjacent to that in which the card game had been in progress, slamming the door behind him. Geow ran through the door into the room where the game had been in progress, gun in hand, and, having lost sight of Mansfield, fired and Federhen dropped at the door's threshold. Kisselback stumbled over the body of his friend and that fact perhaps saved his life, a bullet fired at him by the Chinese grazing his body as he stumbled.

Geow, holding his revolver in readiness, walked past the prostrate Federhen and toward the front doors, of the building. Newell Bell, veteran driver, who was at the rear of the building when the shooting began and who had hastened inside to see what was the cause of the noise, observed the Chinese and shouted at him;

'"What's going on here? Drop that gun!"

Geow turned toward Bell, his revolver held in both hands and pointed toward the floor, and seemingly from nervousness discharged the weapon, the bullet entering the floor at his feet. He then threw his arms above his head, casting the revolver aside, and did not resist when grasped by Bell.

At that moment Fire Lieutenant Charles Kamrnerer, who also had been at the rear of the building, arrived on the run and also grasped the Chinese, Mansfield emerged from the room in which he had taken refuge and he and Kammerer immediately rushed the prisoner to the sheriff's office, two blocks distant, this prompt action possibly preventing the murderer meeting summary vengeance from friends of the slain fireman and wounded officer.

As Kammerer and Mansfield with the prisoner between them passed Holland, the latter, who had not fallen when wounded, was easing himself into a prone position on the slanting approach leading from the sidewalk into Reed Hollister's motorcycle shop.

"Did he get you, Tom?" asked Mansfield.

"Yes, he got me." Holland responded, and collapsed until he lay on his side in the doorway.

Perhaps ten minutes elapsed before an ambulance arrived to carry the wounded Holland to the hospital. Meanwhile Police Sergeant Jack McFarland and volunteer assistants had difficulty in keeping the curious crowd from clustering so closely about the wounded man that there was danger that he might be trampled underfoot. Holland. who was conscious and suffering keenly, made no sound and patiently awaited the arrival of the ambulance, into which he was lifted with difficulty, because of his great weight, by Sergeant McFarland, Undersheriff Lon C. Davis and others. Immediately after the arrival at the hospital he was placed on the operating table.

Meanwhile Dr. J. H. Conway had arrived at the fire station and was ministering to Federhen. The surgeon found that the bullet had passed through the fireman's body just above the heart and that the wound almost certainly was a mortal one. Federhen was placed in a fire truck and, with the physician accompanying him, was rushed to St. John's hospital. He died enroute, but that fact was not ascertained until after he had been carried into the institution. As his body was being carried out it was passed by the stretcher-bearers who were carrying the wounded Holland into the hospital.

Dr. Conway immediately gave attention to Holland on the latter's arrival at the hospital and decided that an operation must be performed. Assisted by Dr. J. T. Henneberry, he operated, the surgeons finding that one bullet had struck Holland just to the right of the naval and had ranged downward, penetrating one loop of the intestines and the bladder and lodging just beneath the skin low down on the buttocks. The other bullet passed through the calf of the officer's left leg, the wound which it inflicted being inconsequential in comparison with that through the body. The operation was an extremely difficult one because of the obesity of the patient and Holland was on the operating table approximately two hours. He emerged from the ordeal in remarkably good condition and may have an even chance for recovery.

Wyoming State Tribune, Sept. 11, 1920


Cheyenne Detective Succumbs to Gunshot Wounds Inflicted by Chinaman—Funeral to be Held Sunday

Thomas Holland, who was shot down last Friday by Yee Geow, a Chinaman, near the Cheyenne fire station, died at 2 a. m. today from the result of the wounds.

The deceased was born in Fort Collins. Colo., September 15, 1871 and was 49 years old last Wednesday. He was the elder son of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel P. Holland, highly respected Cheyenne pioneers, who passed away only a few years ago. The Hollands came to this city in 1876 and Tom entered the Cheyenne schools. When a young man he became a fireman on the Union Pacific and was promoted to engineer about 1893. He acted in a similar capacity on the Colorado & Southern railroad running north out of the city.

Former Fire Chief

In 1903 he was a member of the Cheyenne police department, serving about three years. He was a member of the old Cheyenne volunteer fire department, and its chief from 1908 until 1910, when the department was taken over by the city and placed upon a salary basis.

Mr. Holland then organized the Cheyenne Detective bureau, which he has conducted ever since, and in recent years had acted as a special representative of the department of justice, in which work he was engaged when shot by the Chinaman, who was technically under arrest for entering the United States without passports.

Funeral Sunday

Tom Holland was a member of the Elks' lodge and the Knights of Pythias. He was a man of pleasing disposition and made many friends and no enemies. He leaves no immediate relatives except a younger brother, Alvin Holland, who resides in the old home on Van Lennen street.

The funeral will be held at the Elks' home, probably at 3 o'clock Sunday afternoon.

The following jurors have been summoned by Judge Edwards to sit in the inquest over the body, at the mortuary of Early-Bricker brothers. Friday afternoon at 4 o'clock: William Dinneen, J. F. Jenkins and William Hoshaw.

Drs. Henneberry and Conway held an autopsy upon the body Friday morning.

Wyoming State Tribune, Sept. 17, 1920

Dead Fireman Was Known By Sight To Many Local Folks

John S. Federhen Carried Marion Jeffries Down Ladder In Movie-Tom Holland Has Chance For Life

John S. Federhen, city fireman, who was shot to death by a desperate Chinese Friday afternoon, was more widely known in Cheyenne than many people who read of his tragic death were aware. Of the thousands of persons who saw the movie "The Girl from Cheyenne," or who witnessed the filming of it, many noted the fireman who carried Marion Jeffries down the ladder in the fire scene, enacting a role he might have been called to take at any time in real life. That fireman was John S. Federhen, the victim of the assassin's bullet.

The other target of Yee Geow's revolver, Tom Holland, is resting easily, and chances of his recovery are now held out. Despite the extraordinary wound he received, and the difficulty of the operation, which was accentuated by his fleshiness, he is doing as well as might be expected under such circumstances.

That John Federhen met his death as the result of wounds maliciously and feloniously inflicted by Yee Geow was the verdict of a coroner's jury Saturday morning. After examining the evidence presented to them, the jury decided that the Chinaman shot without provocation, and at a time when his mind was presumably free to knowledge of the nature of his act. The testimony of the witnesses all agreed on this phase of occurence.

Relatives of the dead man, who live at Springfield, Ill., were notified of the tragedy Friday night, and they replied with a telegram Saturday morning, requesting that his body be sent to that city for burial.

Cheyenne State Leader, 
Sept. 12, 1920