John J. Scannell

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John Jay Scannell
John Jay Scannell circa 1910-1915.jpg
1st New York City Fire Commissioner
In office
January 1, 1898 – December 31, 1904
Preceded by n/a
Succeeded by Thomas Sturgis
Personal details
Born 1841
New York City
Died March 5, 1918(1918-03-05) (aged 77)
Queens, New York

John Jay Scannell (1841 – March 5, 1918) was a Tammany Hall politician who was the leader of the Eleventh Assembly District.[1] He was appointed the first New York City Fire Commissioner of the new consolidated New York City.


He was born in 1841 and had two brothers: Florence Scannell who was killed in 1869 in a bar-room fight; and Edward A. Scannell, who on Christmas Eve of 1875 killed a man named Henry Wilson, in what appeared to be a random attack.[1][2] However, John J. Scannell had already shot and killed Thomas Donahue in revenge for the killing of his brother in 1872.[3] He was arrested and was acquitted on the grounds of emotional insanity.[1] While he was imprisoned in The Tombs, he met Richard Croker, the future head of Tammany Hall and they developed a friendship. Croker was at the time also imprisoned and charged with murder, for which he was found innocent.[4]

In 1893 he was appointed a 6-year term as the New York City Fire Commissioner by Mayor Thomas F. Gilroy replacing S. Howland Robbins, the salary was $5,000 per year (approximately $133,000 today in current dollars).[1] He was appointed the 1st Fire Commissioner of the Consolidated City of New York by Tammany Hall Mayor Robert A. Van Wyck on January 1, 1898. He served in that position until the end of the Van Wyck Administration on December 31, 1901. In 1901 he was indicted for being involved in a kickback scheme for the purchasing of supplies by the New York City Fire Department.[5]

By 1902 he bought a farm on Newburgh, New York.[6][7] He later purchased Chateau Ophelia in Saratoga, New York for $53,000.[8]

He died on March 5, 1918 of pneumonia at St. Mary's Hospital in Queens, New York.[4]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Bernard F. Martin a Police Justice and John J. Scannell Reappointed Fire Commissioner". New York Times. May 2, 1893. Retrieved 2010-03-24. Fire Commissioner John J. Scannell is fiftytwo years of age and was appointed by Mayor Gllroy to fill the term of Henry D. Purroy in the Fire Board in January. ... In 1872 he shot and killed Thomas Donahue in revenge for the killing of his brother, Florence Scannell. He was acquitted on the grounds of emotional insanity. 
  2. ^ "Chief Croker's Assailant May Now Get a Double Dose of Justice. For Shooting Henry Wilson in 1875. He May Be Punished in Connection with the Attack on the Fire Chief". New York Times. September 15, 1895. Retrieved 2008-06-30. Edward A. Scannell, brother of John J. Scannell, the Tammany leader, and ex-Fire Commissioner, feels badly over the discovery of the box full of old indictments, found a week ago yesterday by attaches of the District Attorney's office. It developed yesterday that among the indictments was one against Scannell for a deadly assault committed Christmas Eve, 1875, on an inoffensive stranger named Henry Wilson. 
  3. ^ "A Man Deliberately Hunted to Death. Thomas Donoghue Murdered by John Scannell. Flight and Capture of the Assassin. An Angry Mob Endeavor to Lynch Him". Chicago Tribune. November 6, 1872. The Scannell-Donoghue feud culminated last night in the murder of Thomas Donoghue by John Scannell, brother of Florence Scannell, who was shot several years ago in a bar-room fight. The result of this most bitter feud was not unexpected, as Donoghue was known to be in constant danger of his life at the hands of Scannell, who succeeded in shooting him last... 
  4. ^ a b "J. J. Scannell, Old Tammanyite, Dies. Ex-Fire Commissioner and Ex-Fire Chief Expires of Pneumonia at 78 Years. Avenged Brother's Death. Acquitted as Insane, His Political Rise Followed Friendship Made with Croker in Tombs.". New York Times. March 6, 1918. Retrieved 2010-03-25. John Jay Scannell, ex-Fire Commissioner of this city, an intimate of Richard Croker, and one of the picturesque figures in New York Politics for many years, died yesterday in St. Mary's Hospital, Jamaica, L. I. from pneumonia. He was 78 years old, and his 
  5. ^ "Fire Commissioner John J. Scannell and 'Agent' William L. Marks were yesterday indicted by the Grand Jury as a result of the ten days' investigation into the manner of purchasing supplies by the Fire Department, which the official inquisitors completed yesterday.". New York Times. June 29, 1901. Retrieved 2010-03-24. Commissioner Scannell And Marks Indicted. They Are Accused of Conspiracy to Defraud the City. Fire Commissioner Also Charged with Willful Neglect of Duty. Says Investigation Will Justify His Actions 
  6. ^ "John J. Scannell's Purchase. Bids In the Springdale Driving Park of Two Hundred Acres While on His Way to Saratoga". New York Times. May 3, 1902. Retrieved 2010-03-24. To-day Gen. Duboist Brinckerhoff, a veteran horse owner and trainer, is thankful that ex-Fire Commissioner John J. Scannell of New York chanced along through this part of Dutchess County just as his home was about to be sold. 
  7. ^ "Mr. Scannell's $35,000 Bag. Fortune in a Grip He Left Behind to Catch a Train to Saratoga.". New York Times. June 28, 1902. Retrieved 2010-03-24. John J. Scannell, the Tammany politician who recently bought a stock farm here, pays occasional visits to inspect the many improvements he is making on the property. He made one of those visits yesterday, and paid a hurried call to his newly acquired farm, which includes a well-laid half-mile track. 
  8. ^ "John J. Scannel Buys Saratoga Land". New York Times. July 10, 1902. Retrieved 2010-03-24. Ex-Fire Commissioner John J. Scannell of New York, owns Chateau Ophelia, one of the finest country places about Saratoga, has purchased a lot of land on Clark Street ... for $53,000. 
Fire appointments
Preceded by
FDNY Commissioner
Succeeded by
Thomas Sturgis