Molly Williams was the first known female firefighter in the United States. An African American, she was held as a slave belonging to a Benjamin Aymar, a merchant in NYC, who was affiliated with the Oceanus Engine Company #11 in 1818. During her time in the company she was called Volunteer No. 11.
Williams fought fires in a calico dress and apron and was said to be “as good a fire laddie as many of the boys.” Her service was noted particularly during the blizzard of 1818. Male firefighters were scarce due to an influenza outbreak, but Williams worked with the men on the ropes and pulled the pumper to the fire through the deep snow.
Again, thanks to Dave Gardiner for introducing me to this trailblazing woman.