John Link

John D and Annie Link

Information on John Link comes from
Kentucky: A History of the State, Battle, Perrin, & Kniffin, 7th ed., 1887,
Campbell Co. and the Campbell County Historical Society

John D Link was born in Wheeling, Va., February 28, 1836, a son of Jacob and Jane (Hays) Link.  He left Virginia at the age of two years.  Removed from Wheeling to Maysville, Ky., and resided there seven years.  Jacob Link was born in Germany, and on coming to the United States landed in New York, thence moved to Pennsylvania, where he married Jane Hays, a native of the latter State; his death took place in 1857.

John Link was taught mechanical engineering as a profession, and after a residence of five years in Marietta, Ohio, lived in Maysville, Ky., seven years, and settled in Newport, Ky., in the fall of 1849, and followed his trade until September, 1861, when he enlisted in Company B, Twenty-third Kentucky Infantry, Federal Army, and was discharged August 12, 1865.  During the Civil War, Private John Link was shot three separate times while serving with the 23rd Kentucky Infantry, but still lived to be 86.

On 16 May 1866, he married Annie Cronin, of Cincinnati, and to this marriage have been born six children, of whom five are living: Charles, William, Cora, Jeney and John. Mrs. Annie Link, a member of the Catholic Church, was stricken with apoplexy in 1872, which resulted in her death. (Kentucky State Journal listed John Link's wife Annie died 16 Oct 1883)

On his return home he acted as engineer for the Newport Rolling Mill, eighteen months, then for two years was with the Cincinnati Rolling Mill, and then finally settled in Newport.  On June 1, 1868, he entered the fire department under Chief Thomas Williams; in 1872 was made engineer of that service, and in 1877 was appointed chief of the department until 1890.  The Washington Fire Engine and Hose Company No. 1 had come into being December 1850 with a civilian volunteer force. 

In 1876 John Link married Miss Sophia, daughter of Christopher and Sophia Rich, of Campbell County, and to their union was born one son, George. (see family information below; George was born in 1886 so it is more probably that John married Sophia Rich in 1885)

John Link became chief over the fire department again from 1897 to 1902.  The long tenure of fire chiefs gave this organization a degree of stability that was lacking the police force.  He had a salary of $500 per year.  A typical fire company in the late 1800s had eight men, five horses, three hose reels, a ladder truck, 165 fire plugs and 27 signal boxes.  Under the "chief engineer" as they were called until 1897, John Link in 1894 operated three fire stations.

Because of the spoils system, job insecurity heightened each election.  When a new mayor took office from an opposing party, he usually fired entire departments to reward friends and followers.  The firemen filed suit in 1889 to stay in office but lost their case. 

The greatest fire occurred on July 20, 1898 at the Unnewher Sawmill in West Newport.  It eventually destroyed the mill and 16 homes.  An investigation showed that water mains were 4" instead of 6" making the water pressure weak, the hoses clogged, and the fire engine was not able to throw water more than two stories.  Link had warned repeatedly that his department needed more powerful engines to protect multi-story buildings, but the city council dismissed his warning earlier that year.

In 1899 Chief John Link testified that the city wide dismissals were having serious ramifications for the city.  He noted that after Mayor Edward Blitz had replaced Mayor Paris Brown's firemen with his own inexperienced backers, fire insurance rates doubled in Newport.

John Link was a Blue Lodge and Chapter Mason, and a Democrat. He died January 25, 1926 in Newport and was buried in the Evergreen Cemetery.

Children of John D Link and Annie Cronin

1. Charles Link b-1867 in Newport
2. Elizabeth Link b-1870 in Newport; d-2 Nov 1872 in Newport; br-Newport Cemetery
3. William Link b-Mar 1872 in Newport
4. Cora Link b-1876 in Newport; d-2 Sep 1906 in Newport; br-Evergreen
5. Jennie Link b-1878 in Newport
6. John Link b-27 Dec 1880 in Newport; d-17 Oct 1917 in Ft Thomas; br-Evergreen; never married
7. Florence Link b-Dec 1882 in Newport

Children of John D Link and Sophia Rich

1. George Link b-22 Feb 1886 in Newport; d-8 May 1970 in Los Angeles California
2. Harry Jacob Link b-8 Aug 1890 in Newport; d-27 Feb 1952; br-Evergreen
3. Walter Link b-2 Apr 1893 in Newport; d-29 Apr 1938 in Ohio; br-Evergreen

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