Howard Stevens Hearings -- Oct 1889 -- Danbury News

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A hearing was held by the Fire Committee in regards to the discharge of Howard Stevens from the volunteer fire department due to his derogatory and violent treatment of Chief Meyers. Howard Stevens asked for reinstatement, but was denied after the second hearing.


Howard Stevens approached Chief Morris Meyers at his cigar store regarding a bill for work he had done as the engineer of the fire steamer. Meyers informed him that he would not indorse payment for work that he had not sanctioned. This information sent Stevens into a hateful rage which he verbally took out upon the chief in his place of work. Meyers ordered him to leave, only to be harrassed by Stevens the next day in a public place, with the threat of bodily harm.
The Fire Committee adhered to Chief Meyer's decision to have Howard Stevens removed from the department, and his plea for reinstatement was denied.




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[Danbury News – Oct 15, 1889]
Howard Stevens Appeared Before the Fire Committee for an Explanation and Hearing.

A short time ago an item appeared in THE NEWS to the effect that Howard P Stevens had left the fire department. This was by order of the chief, the latter’s action being endorsed by the fire department committee. The committee held a meeting last evening, and Mr. Stevens was present for the purpose of a hearing and to make an explanation on the charges preferred against him. The first thing he asked was, what were the charges preferred.
Secretary Halstead read the charge of abusive language to the chief at his place of business and in public places.
Mr. Stevens asked if the chief had authority over the members of the department outside of the hours of duty.
The replay was that he had.
Mr. Stevens said that heretofore he was not aware of that fact. The trouble between him and the chief, he explained, arose through the chief accusing him of being a firebug, and that his replies to that accusation were what the chief based his charges of abusive language on. Since his appointment to the steamer he had been pestered and picked at by the chief. It was always “You mustn’t do this and you mustn’t do that.” He had also been shadowed by detectives for months. Mr. Stevens concluded by saying that such a dismissal after nearly seventeen years of duty was not exactly fair. He wanted a reinstatement to his company, which would probably disband in a couple of months on account of the department becoming a partly paid one.
Mr. Scott said that the chief must be respected. If he did not force obedience he would lose the respect and control of his men. The committee however, was willing to grant the hearing asked for, and Monday of next week was appointed, when Chief Meyers will be present. Mr. Halstead said that Mr. Stevens must not blame the chief because he was shadowed by detectives, as he had nothing to do with it; in fact, Mr. Stevens was appointed to the steamer on the chief’s recommendation.

[Danbury News – Oct 22, 1889]

The Fire Committee Adhere to Their Former Action to Support Chief Meyers.
The fire department committee met last evening, principally on the Stevens hearing, and to do any other business proper to come before them. The case has attracted some attention among fire men in the city, and others. Chief Meyers was the first to put in an appearance, and while waiting for Mr. Stevens the committee transacted what business was before them.
At 8 o’clock Howard Stevens entered the room and his case was immediately taken up. Chief Meyers was asked to state the charges against Mr. Stevens in order that he could have a chance to reply.
Chief Meyers said in substance:
“On Saturday, September 28th, Howard Stevens came into my stare with reference to his bill against the city. He said that Frank Eastwood’s bill was paid and wanted to know why I had not indorsed his bill also. My reply was that I could only indorse the part that I knew of. I further notified Mr. Stevens not to do any more work on the fire steamer, only what he was ordered to do by me. By this way I could be able to indorse his bills when brought against the city. I further informed him that the fire committee had his bill under consideration, and not me. To this, Mr. Stevens called me a d_____d s______. He continued this abuse and I ordered him out of my store.
“The next day he met me at the Lake. He had left his team to come over to me, and shaking his fist under my nose applied abusive epithets to me, his language being particularly severe. He invited me to fight. This I declined to do. I was afraid that if I did I would receive bodily harm.
“Prior to the presentation of his bill we were always fast friends. I do not think Mr. Stevens is a competent person to belong to the department, considering his existing feeling towards his superiors.”
Charles McDermott testified that he was in Chief Meyers’ store at the time and substantiated the chief’s statement. The argument, he said, commenced about a bill.
Howard Stevens asked permission to put a few questions. This request not being denied he asked Chief Meyers what it was he said to him when he crossed the threshold of his store when ordered out.
Chief Meyers replied: “Remember you are not addressing an Elm street tailor.”
Mr. Stevens then said that he had called the chief the names imputed, but probably this would make no difference, as the committee had already made up their minds about the matter.
Mr. Halstead asked Stevens if he ever had spoken derogatory about the chief’s ability as a fireman among the members of the department?
Mr. Stevens admitted that he had. He thought he had a perfect right to criticize and express an opinion.
Mr. Scott asked if that was a proper thing to do, being a member and receiving orders from the chief?
“As long as I didn’t help to elect him to the office I thought I had” was the reply. Mr. Stevens then brought up the fire bug business, in which it was intimated that he knew something of the incendiarism.
E.J. Lewis, driver of the truck, who happened to be present, was asked the question by Mr. Halstead, if he ever heard Howard Stevens speak derogatory about Chief Meyers in the hose houses.
Mr. Lewis said that he had heard Mr. Stevens express such sentiments in the truck house.
Chief Meyers said that he could bring almost every member of the fire department to testify to that fact, but hoped the committee would not ask questions of the members of the department, as he did not want them implicated in this controversy. The chief also stated that he had been cautioned by citizens to be on the lookout for Stevens, as he had made threats against him. He was very much surprised to learn that Stevens had asked to be reinstated after being expelled in the summary manner5 he was.
Mr. Scott gave Mr. Stevens his opinion on the subject of what a fireman’s duty was, and then clinched the matter by making a motion that the committee adhere to their former action in the matter. The motion was agreed to. This ended the controversy and the meeting shortly after adjourned.




“Howard Stevens Hearings -- Oct 1889 -- Danbury News.” WCSU Archives, 9 July 2019. Accessed on the Web: 23 Sep. 2019.


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