Sunday, May 12, 2013
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
There are lots of interesting names in the record of students. As for Miss Coulter; she first started teaching in 1885. In 1906, she married local druggist Charles Vaughan who was a boarder at her mom's house. But in Vaughan's obit, it states that she had moved back to Port Byron after leaving him and hoping he would come home to be around those who would support him.
Look at the names. Many still can be found in the village, so there are lots of grandparents in this photo.
Saturday, April 13, 2013
This time, I am featuring a letter I found in the files. It is a great look back at the village and what was going on in the Erie Canal times. This letter was written by the Rev. Harry King to his brother Richard T. King, who many will recall was the publisher of the Port Byron Chronicle. The letter is wide ranging and covers a lot of topics. I have tried to research and clarify in my added comments which are in . I have left words that I could not read as ****. All comments in () are Rev. Harry’s. I also reached out to Jack Miller, who has done a lot of research into the King family. His comments will appear in italics. Jack wrote: “I did enjoy reading the Harry King letter and I do remember Dick King who lived in Spring Lake with his sister Nell. I graduated from PBCS in 1951 and will attempt to provide input as I best recall. I do know that Bruce Carter worked hard on collecting the King family history to write “King of the Drumlins” which I do not think he ever finished. My mothers classmate and relative Nell King was also related to Richard and Harry King and lived in Springlake and married Dr. Willoughby Waterman, an educator and family friend who taught in Brooklyn. This letter was very interesting to me and I am sending it on to my sister, Dottie Paredes who lives in Tampa, Florida, I am sure that Ted Wilt of Green Street if he is still around would find the letter very historic.
Santa Monica, Calif[ornia]
Nov 21, 1955
Dear Brother Dick,
With the exception that Elijah Wilson who lived on Green Street was a workman who made barrels there, I know not of the owner of the Cooper Shop, except Henry Dougherty. It reposed gracefully on the bank of the Owasco Creek at the west end of the bridge which spanned the creek at Rochester Street just beyond George Zeluff’s place (?) which was formerly owned by John Harnden. Later Sam Harnden who I remember. This was in the days of old Jake Decker, who was a black, grizzled old pirate, who lived in the Harnden apartments directly in front of the King Manor just east of Tony’s abode. [A check of the 1904 New Century maps shows many of the names listed here. This cooper shop is shown on the northwest side of the Rt 31 Bridge over the Outlet.]
L.H. [Lasuvious Harrison] King Sr.was Supt [superintendent] of Section 7 of the Erie Canal at the time of what was known as the “Nine Million” appropriation for the enlargement of the Erie and the installation of the double lock, permitting the locking of two canal boats at one time. The family name Lasuvious has always troubled me for the word lascivious according to Dictionary.com is defined as a girl-chasing old man. It was a big undertaking those days, and Nine Millions was a lot of money. Charles Barrett was Deputy Supt of New York State (Public works) and he and Tuffs, who married Julie Hayden of PB lived on street going by the School, had charge of the work. [It was during this period of the 1895 Nine Million dollar enlargement when the canal was deepened from 7 to 9 feet and parts were widened. In some circles, this is called the second enlargement. Mostly, it was a failure and directly led to the construction of the Barge Canal in the early 1900’s. There was a lot of work in Port Byron at the time as much work was done in and around Lock 52 and the drydocks. Harry is not correct in saying that the lock was doubled, it was built as a double in the 1850’s and lengthened in 1887. But his error is understandable, as the locks were rebuilt during this period.]
Stephen Kearns had a grocery on the south side of the locks and Tony Debottis on the north side of locks. This Stephen Kerns was my great grandfather. It was at that time the Italian uprising occurred, when Frank Vanacora and Tony Debottis, Sr had a horde of Italians from the muck and laborers on the canal in an assault on the white workers of the administration at the locks, knives and guns were much in evidence, but no murders occurred, just sore heads and bodies, Tony Debottis and one or two others were sent to Auburn Prison by their part in the fray. At that time, the Italians on the canal enlargement, under LHK came marching a thousand strong up the canal from Weedsport way with picks and shovels. Looked like a revolution, but it spent itself and the Wali** [It appears that Harry was using a slang term for Italians, such as “Wallione”] sat down, pulled the coarse bread and bologna from the rubber boots, fed up, felt better and went back to work, a group of them occupied on Ma Kings lawn under the locust trees and ate themselves to peace. Those were interesting days for a boy like HK [Harry King]. [It is difficult to pin-point what Harry was describing here. The papers describe an 1897 uprising by Italian workers who marched from Port Byron to Weedsport, with many people thrown in jail because of the riot. What Harry describes is a riot at Lock 52 with people coming from Weedsport. Harry may have seen something else take place as a result or as part of the larger work place action.]
Old Sam Dougherty had a grocery directly on the banks of the Erie at the foot of the stone steps on the River Street Bridge. It was, as you know, the canal ground floor of a good sized *****, where several families dwelt. Sam lived there, and later T.E. Dougherty, the Mincemeat man and finally * Henry lived on the ground floor (north) with a neat and commodious lawn reaching to the street. Maurgarite Henry Crane was my mother’s classmate. The Cranes had a dry goods store along with Bob Lowe. This later was turned over to the common herd. I think Ward Green lived there at one time (top side at bridge) as did also one of the McClelland woman, a widow at the time. Beyond the bridge, down the incline, was the home of B.C. [Benson C] Smith, father of Dora and Lizzie. [BC Smith ran a bending a carriage shop near Port Byron Depot]
When the locks were put in service, after competition of the double locks, entirely new, such historic patriots as, George Washington Marsh, Nathan Elliott, Bill Hatfield, and George Washington Dinehard, with some others my mind detours, kept the citadel, let the boats thru, and played the favorite game of pinochle for many hours each day and evening. It was here at Frank’s grocery store that Harvey (one arm) Emmons, the great constable, brought a young desperado who was in his custody. The jail bird tangled with Tom Daggett, and drew a revolver on Tom which he swept around very menacingly, and caused some of us nearby spectators to hastily get out of range. Harve put his iron hook in the Cisco Kid’s ribs and things returned to normality.
Port Byron, during this lengthy face lifting of the locks and the canal bed, grew to large proportions, about 5000. I believe and all sorts of boom town advantages were imported to the town. We had a lady barber shop, and Doc Lowe had a store with a boxing emporium in back, which drew many well known low down fighters to our doors. Black Frank [real name was Joe Dunfee], said to be the champion of Canada, came as a conquering hero, and there were not a few who sought honor locally in the fistic arena. At that time the travelling medicine show “Isdell’s Hot Drops” in the glamour of rattlesnake oil and jasmine ginger was ably presented by a group of experts who chanted “.25 a bottle, a 1000 bottles at .25 cents a bottle, a million people, two million eyes, a million bottles at .25 a bottle, there’s millions in it.” Well the days of the old Erie are exciting tales of pioneer adventure. [Isdell’s Hot Drops were made in Baldwinsville, NY]
The Port Byron Academy late was burned down by a mysteries fire. The old Free School and Academy was destroyed by fire in 1898. My inside confidential fixes responsibility on the Students Debating Society. They met there, heated the stove shaker in red hot coals, and branded the initiates forthwith, the immediate contact being a cold poker. Of course the red hot poker was waved in front of the victim before the branding with the cold wrinkle. These were grand old Erie days, but the school burned when the shaker was not properly retrieved.
Up in the heights of the old mill lot on Rochester Street, was the Canal Feeder, known as the ditch bank. Here the boys used to swim each summer day. There was a feeder house where the water went into a pipe line underground, to feed water into the Canal to keep at a proper level. [This structure remains to this day, although the iron pipe is rusting away] Your father tended this at one time where he learned telegraphy and entered journalism to become the Great One that he did. Remember, humble beginnings characterized the lives of many illustrious men. Great fields of sweet flag grew on both sides of Rochester Street, principally on the North Side, and all the boys used to pick the ears and eat them avidly and actually.
Life was simple those days, and Old Ben Sly and his slimy bride lived, as you know, at the end of the old Blacksmith Shop. Poor Old Addy and Ben are long forgotten.
I now pause for Station Identification.
Oh, yes, one of the first owners and proprietors of the famous boat yard, which perched on the edge of the canal just east of the locks, was George W. Milliner, who eventually was succeed by O.B. Tanner. Tanner was a boat builder (canal boat) and great was the interest when he was about to knock out the blocks, and a fine canaler was sliding down the ways into the water, kicking up a great wave, and high heaven howls of delight from the assembled multitudes. Our old friend and Free Methodist George W. Ray was the owner and navigator of a fine fleet of boats, usually painted an orchid and white, a lively sight, as they sped along under the momentum provided by two three mule teams on the tow line. His sons, Ronald and Frank became exhorters for a brief time, and the gospel was full of power during each winter when boats were tied up. George Ray himself was no means **** of Holy Write. However Belle Root was the last of the notables filling the air and pulpit there. Daughter Carrie Belle Root wrote the History of Home in 1948.
Along the banks on tow-path side, between River Street and Main Street bridges, nearest River Street, were two bridge shops, one conducted by John Tanner, and the other by Alonzo Ames, relation of your present supervisor, and father of Arch Ames of late notoriety. This was a good family friend – Major Allen Ames. Alonzo lived exactly where the Freeway cuts the Conquest Road at the west end of Green Street. He was a stalwart citizen, a man of integrity and of few words. They made bridges for the mules to en cabin, etc.
Amos King ran a fleet of boats in Sam Dougherty’s Day and it was there he met Aunt Sarah. [He writes here of Amos King, who was born in 1821 and died in 1908. His wife was Sarah.] He enjoyed her as cook. She was a clever woman, and soon had Amos on the griddle. She knew many things, but never was a gran-Marion, altho a fluent and persuasion talker, as she fed Amos and all the relations including Pa [L.H. King] and Uncle Wells in good old apple cider and fried cakes for years on the old farm. The house of which was a famous Inn during the days of Clinton’s Ditch. Many prominent men had bedded down with eyes up on the great beams used even in its roof construction.
Excursion boats from Lake Onondaga, one the MacMillian, came to P.B. every summer, and carried Methodist, Baptists, and Presbyterians en masse to Cayuga Lake Park, Ithaca and others places on the old Crooked (Cayuga) Lake. I think Keuka Lake was known as Crooked Lake. [Jack is correct here, Keuka Lake was also named Crooked Lake.] The outings were much enjoyed, and tended to make all willing to live at home again without complaint.
Now, this is my contribution for the present. There is much more of local history which would interest you. I will write you a personal letter some day, if I survive, as present life is hard, and I can’t do to much. Thank God we are alive, have some food to eat and a place to stay, with some old clothes to wear. We pray for you and love you much. Don’t forget God he’ll forget you. Be Sharp now. Keep warm and cozy. Look out for the girls, they are on the march. Say your prayers, take your physical, from your ages and simple old brother, HK [Harry King]
This letter can be found in the files of the Lock 52 Historical Society.
Thursday, April 4, 2013
Standing on the Green Street bridge, we are looking upstream along the Owasco Outlet (south) toward the mill, mill dam and Erie Canal Aqueduct. The dam had a very low head, only a two or three feet. We can see that boards were placed on top to help increase the depth of the pool above.
By the end of 1917, the aqueduct would see its last boat and the canal would be closed. The mill was torn down in the fall of 2012.
Sunday, March 24, 2013
This photo is of a dam that goes way back to the 1820's. The dam was built by Charles and Amos Parks to back up water in the Outlet to run a small mill near the site. It was located just south of where Hayden Road crosses the Outlet. In 1830 when John Beach was constructing his large mill in Port Byron, he built a two mile long canal to receive water from this dam in order to get enough water pressure to turn his mills large wheels. We can still see the remains of this canal (mill race) today.
After the mill burned in 1857, the State took over the mill race to direct water into the Erie Canal. The little building you can see on the far bank covers the gate that allowed water into the mill race and canal. The foundation for this building can be seen even today from Rt 38. Not much of the dam remains today. If you happen to be walking up the Outlet, you might stumble over one of the iron spikes used to nail the dam together.
Monday, March 4, 2013
By July 22, 1948, the building was complete and the following story ran in the PBC.