FRANCIS HOWARD WHELEHAN Q&A

Whelehan, Patrick family 1800s town historian

By Marietta

This is a transcript from a recording between Franci Howard Whelehan and Marietta of the Greece Historical Society recorded on July 5, 1990, at the Whelehan Allyndaire Farm the Audio will get digitized at some point to be able to be listened to with the text transcript.

Marietta: How are you today, Howard?

Howard: Very well.

Marietta: Good.. have a nice 4th of July?

Howard: Yeah, had a very nice 4th of July, a little warm.

Marietta: Record heat I think.

Howard: Record heat and record thunderstorms and everything else.

Marietta: Do you remember some 4th of July’s from the past?

Howard: A great many of them, of course as you well know when we were little we could use firecrackers but of course, as you well know they went out and a neighbor of mine a Mr. Kintz they were at a 4th of July party…probably you know about that.

Marietta: No.

Howard: It was outside and his wife was sitting at the end of the table and there are people in the crowd who you might say
like to be funny. Well this man had a firecracker, so unbeknown to her, he lit the firecracker and she stooped over and it blew the eye completely out of her head.

Marietta: Oh dear, I can see why they emphasis safety with firecrackers now. That was not a very good way to celebrate the 4th. Well, tell me about your early childhood.

Howard: Well in 1899 my father and mother were married and they moved into this new house on Latta Road.

Marietta: This house we’re in right now?

Howard: Right now. In 1903 my brother Donald was born here and in 1905 I was born here. My father’s parents were farm people they lived on the Island Cottage Road in the town of Greece. My mother’s people were farm people, they lived in the town of Macedon. My father was very much interested in agriculture. This was quite a big farm and he raised a great deal of hay and grain and after they were here for just a few years, he decided that he needed more barn room to hold the hay and grain. So in 1908, he had a new addition put on the big barn. But unfortunately for all of us he never saw any hay or grain put in it, because early in 1909 he died. Well, that was a great shock to our whole family. I often heard my mother say, “when she came home from the funeral that she had two things in life facing her 2 little boys and $5.” Well, we did have the farm. We did have cattle and horses and pigs and all that at the barn and they had to be taken care of so our neighbors were very good at that time…they came and did our chores. Of course, Donald and I were too small at the time we weren’t able to take care of them and my mother knew nothing about farming she was a school teacher all her life and in other words, she couldn’t take care of the big farm. So the people did come but naturally, she knew that we had to have help..had to have a hired man. So she inquired around and was told that there were 2 or 3 men that she might be able to hire..so but they all had the same little trouble they all liked to drink a little too much.
But that didn’t matter, who had to have someone, so she did hire one of those men. Well of course Donald and I were very small and we could help out. For example, we could feed the chickens, gather the eggs, feed the little pigs and little calves, and of course another thing that had to be done, to go out in the pasture in the late afternoon and drive the cows down. So in addition to all that just a day or two after the funeral there was a very wealthy man who lived just down Latta Road- his name was Mr. Yates. He owned several coal companies in the city and also in Buffalo, and he sent his hired man out the next day to see if the two little boys here would like a pony. So of course, we liked the little pony, so we did get him. His name was Romeo and he was getting rather old. He was a circus pony. And what he did or what he didn’t do in the circus was let anyone ride on him. So he was another pet. Well then there was no running water, we had a well at the barn and either Donald or I or the man you’d have to pump a pail of water or a couple of pails of water for the women of the house to use and we could do that and in addition to that, the animals had to have water so we would do our part to pump the water into the big trough for the animals to drink. So we did all that and then of course when we got a little older we would have homework to do but after the homework then it would be time to go to bed, which would be about 9 o’clock.

Marietta: Oh bedtime was early.

Howard: So but different things happened even then and I remember this little thing. I was in bed one night and my mother came upstairs and woke me up and said that the Mrs. so-and-so (I forgot her name) was downstairs and she was the next-door neighbor and they lived in a rather. old house. Her husband worked on the railroad. They got ten cents an hour for 10 hours of work. I believe that’s a dollar a day and they worked for 6 days, which would be $6. Well, back of this old house there was a dilapidated orchard that hadn’t been taken care of in a great many years. There were old dead limbs in the trees and on the ground, weeds growing up through it and everything. So my mother said that this lady was downstairs and she wondered if Donald and I would go over. Her husband (there happened to be a bar right over at the corner on the way home with his $6) he stopped at the bar and got a little too much to drink and the $6 was gone and they had no food or anything for the children. So of course they had a few words and the wife knew there was a big rope in the cellar.

The husband went down the cellar and he got the big rope and when he came up and told his wife he was going out in his orchard and go up in a tree and hang himself…he was going to commit suicide. She wanted to know if Donald & I would go over and walk around in the trees and find him hanging there and if we did find him hanging there to come in and let her know and the three of us would go out; she’d have a big knife and would cut him down out of the tree and drag him in put him in and put him on the kitchen floor all night. She said she’d feel better if he was on the kitchen floor rather than hanging up and swinging around in a tree. Well, I was always very scared in the dark and naturally this v.s sure didn’t help any..so the two of us started Over & I was scared to death. And we did start to look around in the trees . . . the wind was blowing some and it would blow the old dead limbs one against another and I thought it was the guy up there swinging his body was swinging. But we kept on going and finally, we heard a little crackling in the old dead brush on the ground. Well, then I was so scared I didn’t know what to do. So the two of us stopped and this noise would come on again. Neither one of us could move..well we stood there for a couple of minutes and finally what appeared in right front of us was a big black & white cow. There was a big barn just the other side of this old house with a little pasture around it and the cow broke out of that night and happened to wander into the orchard. The next morning the lady came over and told my mother that later that night after the husband sobered up a little and he came in and everything was made up so everything was back to normal again.

Marietta: That was quite a night.

Howard: We didn’t have many baths in those days. Not as many as now because it was a little harder to get a bath. Of course, when we’d be going to church on Sunday or if we had to go to a dentist or doctor naturally we would have to take a bath. So I’ll give you a little story about what we had to do to get ready for a bath. Well, take it in the middle of summer, when there wouldn’t be any heat in the kitchen stove. The first thing you’d have to do is get some papers, and some kindling, and some wood and start the fire. Well then we did have rather a big tub..that was used just for that purpose… I don’t know what you’d call it but it held two pails of water, and that would be pumped out of the cistern and you’d pour the two pails of water in this big container… it would take a good half hour to 40 minutes to heat that water. There were no lights then and no heat or anything like that. We did have a cement floor in the cellar but when the water was hot enough we’d get a dipper and dip that into a pail and light a lantern and take it down cellar, dump it in the tub and eventually take a bath..so that wasn’t very easy to do.

Marietta: No it was quite a process.

Howard: Not many baths were taken. As I said there were no lights or anything but for heating, we did have a kitchen stove as most every farmhouse had. Then in the late winter or late fall, they’d always set up in our parlor a little coal stove… they’d call it a pot-bellied stove and in the later part of the summer we would have a team harnessed and they would be hitched onto a box wagon and there was a coal yard (Yates Coal Yard) on Latta Road down about 2 miles and we would go down there and get 2 tons of chestnut coal and come home and put that in the cellar and that’s what would be used for heating purposes.

Marietta: Now would that coal yard be over towards Lake Avenue..that way.

Howard: That coal yard…there’s a lumberyard there right now.

Marietta: Greece Lumber?

Howard: That’s right there and there was a coal yard well right there on the same spot at that time. You could buy either lumber or coal, which made it very handy and I will talk a little more about that.. we used to ship apples and they would leave a car right there. Well in this parlor where the little stove was it was very nice. My mother would if a lady or people came at night.. she might bring them in there. And they would either visit.. we did have a piano in there.. they might play a game of cards or visit or play on the piano. So it worked out very well. Our meals on a farm were here and I imagine every place were good and I suppose the reasons was that we raised a great deal of that right on the farm. Potatoes and cabbage and of course we had our garden.. lettuce and everything berries so it worked out very well and then, of course, we did have our own meat. We raised our own little pigs and we would have our pork to eat in the winter and we did not have much red meat as
we called it in those days for two reasons. The first was I don’t know if it was the main one or not, we would have to hitch a horse to a buggy and drive to Charlotte which was 2 miles, and then the other drawback was the question of money. There wasn’t too much money in those days to buy such things. I might give you a little history of that. We did have hens as I said and we would get quite a number of eggs a day all that the family would want to use and then by the end of the week there might be 10, 11 or 12 extra dozen and they would be brought to the grocery store.
My mother, there would be a horse hitched up on a buggy and my mother, Donald and I would go down to the grocery store. Well, we knew the grocery men very well and he would always take my mother’s word that there were say 12 dozen of eggs there.

What he would do is write down or figure them up.. they’d come to say $3.25 and so he’d write that down and then my mother would have her list. At that time women didn’t buy anything at a grocery store because they didn’t have the money that they really didn’t need but of course, they did need the coffee, teas, spices, sugar, flour, and things like that. Well, she would read off the coffee I’ss just say 80 cents and he would write that down and then tea so many cents, and finally, he would say Mrs. Whelehan you’re getting near the $3.25 ‘and when she got near the $3.25 that was it there were no more groceries because she had no more money. Well that was that and that was how we lived but we did have a little bad luck there too. At that time men would come from the city with their horses and a little wagon and all papers were reused at that time and iron. On the farm, you’d have plow points and little pieces of iron and my mother would always keep them. Our chicken house was in and old house at the barn and she would keep papers and iron things right besides that… so this particular day this man came and wanted to know if she had any and she said yes she did. So they went over and they would have a little scales. They would weigh the papers and iron. So he weighed them up and paid her and went. And then the next morning, we went over to feed the hens… there wasn’t a hen on the farm. All were gone.

Marietta: Oh, he had stolen them?

Howard: Well that was our groceries and it left us very bad, but we did have nice neighbors, and the first thing we knew each neighbor would come with two hens, and the first thing we knew we had our hen house replenished.

Marietta: Wasn’t that great, oh.

Howard: And the hens were back and we got the eggs and we would begin to be able to eat again and of course we often kind of wondered where the hens went but we felt we sort of knew where the hens went.

Marietta: That’s right.

Howard: The ladies were all very good bakers on account of I just said it was too far and there were no stores near anyway.

Marietta: The closest store would have been in Charlotte?

Howard: In Charlotte.

Marietta: So that would have been quite a trip?

Howard: And so and I know all the ladies but my mother made the cookies, pies, and cakes and the bread. Of course, I don’t know how you make bread but she’d have a big breadboard and when she’d be getting short, she’d mix up flour and water and all at night and we’ll say in the winter and she’d mix that all up and then she had a big container like a pail only much bigger and she would put this dough in there and open the stove door…there’d be a nice hot fire there and she’d cover this pail and by morning it would have come right up to the top. And she would work that down on the big board and cut it down up into loaves and put it in the oven and it would turn out to be very nice bread the next day.

Marietta: Mmm fresh bread.

Howard: Well the canning we had ‘our garden and naturally we had fruit and she would as all neighbor ladies would do a lot of canning and that worked out very well for the winter. They would open the jars and it would taste very good. Now in regard to an ice box.. we didn’t have any such thing and I don’t think that any rural houses around here did have any. We had a nice cool cellar cement floor and we had 2 tubs down there that were used just for that purpose, and before each meal, the butter, milk, and perishable things like that would be kept and the bread was kept in a big tin down cellar and someone would go down and get the milk and things and bring it up and then immediately after the meal someone would bring it right back and we got along very well then. We did in the town there were several ponds and the man who ran the pond, they would be used to cut ice in the winter and as the snow would fall and when the winter time would come and the ice under would be thick enough for him to walk on; he would push all that snow off and would let the cold air get to the little ice by late winter it might be 8-10″ thick and then he would call the neighbor farmers. We had a team and a big long sleigh. It would be cut into big chunks and loaded on our sleighs and then we would bring that to his ice house which would be near the pond and that would be packed away… I believe they put sawdust around the cakes and that would keep them from thawing in the winter and in the summer. I really don’t think that I had any favorite food. I will admit that I always liked sweet things and in the morning on the breakfast table after breakfast, there were always cookies on the table, and at noon there were always after the main meal either pies, pudding something like that, and then after the supper meal, there was always cake. So we always had those things and of course, I appreciated them very much.

There may have been 2 or 3 doctors in the town and I think there probably there were but we didn’t have any in our section of the town because we were so near Charlotte. There were two very good doctors down there Dr. Fleming and Dr. Sullivan… Our doctor happened to be Dr. Fleming and what would happen if a person in your household became sick very suddenly, someone would have to harness a horse depending on the weather and whether they hitched them onto a buggy or a cutter. They would drive down to Charlotte, up to his office and you’d wait your turn to see him. And if the person was seriously sick soon as he got through he would have to harness his horse and drive way out and hitch the horse to the hitching post and come in and administer to the person and but if the person wasn’t quite as bad and could be taken to the doctors…he or she would be taken to the doctor but even that was run a little bit different than it is now. If you go to a doctor or a dentist now you go by appointment 2 o°clock, 3 o’clock or something but then you would open the door to his reception room… I think you might call it. There might be one person in there, might
be none. But in other words, you had to wait your turn. What they gave for medicine, of course, I never knew but I did always noticed this that before you would leave them they’d have a little paper container with a little top on it and they would put some pills in there and seal it up and always write on the outside “Take one pill every 6 or 8 hours.”…and of course, we would always follow those instructions.

Around here it was known as Patty Hill and the Irish people and I guess they are all superstitious. I know my mother was and I am myself. I’ll give you a little case about my mother. She and Donald & I were going out one Sunday afternoon in our car. So we got ready and went out.. our car was out in the driveway and when we got in & turned the key on but the engine wouldn’t start. So we tried it some and after we tried it 2 or 3 times.., my mother said to leave it right there that maybe if we got out on the road that we’d have an accident and it would be much worse and that she would have the car fixed the next day. It was probably better the way it was. And another thing I could mention but it was always thought to be very unlucky. We’ll say a woman was going out of her house to go to a neighbor and really needed her glasses, but she went out locked the door and got a few feet away from the house, and thought she forgot her glasses, she would never turn come back and unlock the door because that was very bad luck. And of course, we know about an umbrella walking in the house with that. And of course, Friday was always a day you sort of had to watch out for they said.

Marietta: You didn’t start any big projects on Friday.

Howard: No, no big projects on Friday. Well, entertainment there wasn’t any. You might say for me in those days. Very little if any of course I was only 4 yrs. old and there were a few houses but far away and very few little children. My brother was only 22 months older than I was but he was a little on the smart side a lot and didn’t enjoy playing little games. In other words, he went on & I guess he got through Harvard Law when he was 22 years old which was quite young so I there was nothing much for me to do, so of course, there were no radios, no TVs, telephones nothing. So late in the afternoon over there was the other side of the barn there was an old house and in that house an elderly couple. The name was Mc Cabe that was a rather hard name to say so my mother always told us to the man’s name was Tom and the ladies’ name was Kate, to call them Mr. Tom and Mrs. Kate. So I would ask my mother some afternoons if I could go over and ask Mrs. Kate if she would come over and play cards with us…well she would always say yes. So I would go over and Mrs. Kate was a very large woman and she would always say yes. And you know at that time the women would always put a big shawl over their heads. So you’d see Mrs. Kate coming with a big shawl on her head and we’d play cards on the kitchen table. And I think it was about 8′ long and 6′ wide with two big leaves on it and I always had to sit in a high chair because I was so little even then I couldn’t hardly look up over the table. So I often thought in later years that it must have been a very interesting card game for Mrs. Kate and I always played Donald and my mother. Well when my father passed away, of course, my mother didn’t know anything about farming very hard. And her father was getting very old so he sold his farm and came up to help my mother out a little. So practically every night I guess I’d ask grandpa if he’d play cards with me and he always did. But it went on this particular night and I asked him if he would play cards with me and he had a very good reason why he couldn’t. So I asked him the next night and he had another reason that night but that was just as good and I asked him the third night and he still had another reason he didn’t
play with me. So by that time I guess I got a little superstitious or something so, I asked my mother why grandpa didn’t play cards with me. Well, she said this is Lent, and in Lent, you are not supposed to have any pleasure of any kind, and it lasts for forty days and at the end of forty days Grandpa will play cards with you again.

Marietta: Ah.

Howard: So I had nothing to do naturally.

Marietta: What kind of cards did you play?

Howard: I have no idea .. as I said it must have been interesting with those older people.. but anyway it sort of passed my time away a little. Well by that time they were beginning to sell farms around and the farms on either side of our place were sold and houses were built and naturally there’d be people in the houses and children so they would come over. I would have horses and they would be hitched onto wagons and they would get on the wagon and ride around and have a good time doing that. Then in addition to that, we had the big barns I’ve spoken about but I’d gone out of that kind of farming into fruit farming. So we had a nice big loft so I fixed that over and put two basketball baskets and the young boys would come and play basketball. Well then there were two old houses over there that we used as barns and I was through
with them so some of the little kids turned same as them into clubhouses. So there were several little clubhouses around. Well, then another thing right back of our house there was a large low spot. So I thought it would be nice for skating. So I went down to the east end with equipment and drew in a lot of dirt and made a big dam to hold the water. All the water comes down from the hill and it floods it down
there and the water can be very thick. That’s what I did and I put some posts in and had lights put on them and then I had a big tractor and a big snowplow on the front of that and I would push the snow off when it snowed so the water would freeze more. So this particular day I guess had just gone that that afternoon and I had come to the house for something and while I was in the house two little girls climbed up on the tractor and fell off the tractor down on their face and broke their arms and knocked out teeth.

Marietta: Oh dear.

Howard: So of course the ambulance had to be called and that didn’t make me feel very good. But still, I knew that I was insured so
that took a little of the sting out of it, but anyway, the officials came and knew more than I did. A great many would skate down there maybe there’d be a hundred or a hundred in fifty kids down there skating around and they would come from as far as Stone Road. So when the officials came he said well that isn’t private skating at all that’s public and you have to have a paid public, which I inquired and it would have cost about $7oo to insure that little thing down there. So anyway I went out of the skating business.

Marietta: You had one venture in the skating.

Howard: Well we did have every winter two big parties. One was held on the top of Patty Hill by a very nice family and the other on Long Pond Road. A few days before the party the lady who would be giving it she would of course invite and the ladies would go and help her get the house ready, wash dishes I suppose, and get chairs ready. And we would all look forward to the night and we would put on our best clothes and each lady was supposed to bring some little food or salad or cake or something like that and so we would go. And in those times people could do different things, they could speak pieces maybe, or there’d be a vocal soloist, a violin and different things like that when they’d all gather that would be carried out, each person would do what he …. and the first thing you knew you could smell the coffee and you could see the ladies bringing the lunch on so we would all have a very fine lunch and then they would go into a big room and there WOuld be the violins, and everything like that and they would play and sing until it got too late and then they would come home…all having a nice time.

Marietta: And that was in a private home.

Howard: Yes, a Leah (Leo) Whelahan’s home, and then over on Long Pond Road there was also a big house Mr. James’ house and it would be the same thing there. Well then another party we always looked forward to was the Farmer’s Picnic and which was held at Manitou which is a long way away when you have to drive there with a horse and buggy…I’d say it’s a good six miles there probably. No one had to be invited we were all…anyone could go. So we would look forward to that and on the day two things had to be thought of – of course, the women would prepare a lunch and but another thing that had to be brought along was a flynet for the horse. Because there would be so many flies around so we would drive way up there, to the picnic. And of course all had a fine time, of course naturally the lake was there and we had bath houses, crocket for ladies, pitching horseshoes was quite a sport then and there would be rides for ponies, merry-go-round, ice anything you want. They’d have it ‘there, so of course, we enjoyed that very much. The Slater family lived just the other side of our house a little and I often heard Senator Slater say in later years, that way they would on the way home discuss all the time about how they would plan for next year’s farmers’ picnic, because none of us had any pleasure between then.

Marietta: So it was a big thing.

Howard: I might mention one more that might not be to close to the Town of Greece but still it was beneficial. I guess probably we all know Frank Gannett. I guess we read his papers some and we in the Town of Greece you could belong to the Farm Bureau. No one would ask – I think it was $5 or $10 a year and when I started in the farming business, I had no father to tell me what to do. I never went to an agricultural college or anything like that – so I always tried to get all the information I could and of course Mr . Gannett was born and brought up on a farm and
was just as poor as the rest of us. But every year late in the summer, the ones who belonged to the Farm Bureau would get an invitation from his office. He’d invite us to a picnic on his farm – that was in Henrietta and it would be very beneficial to us because and I think we all know who Mr. Gannett was. At one time before the Republican Presidential Election, it had boiled down to 3 or 4 men who the candidate would be for the
Republican Party. And Mr. Gannett was one of three or four men but he missed out on that a little. But we would get an invitation for his picnic and what he would do from Cornell and Michigan State and other colleges, he would have those professors come to his farm and they would conduct experiments all year on his farm and then he would invite everybody around – the Greece people and we would go up it would usually be, it was always on a Saturday afternoon and for some reason, it was always a nice day and we would go up and the professors would all be there and they would explain their experiments to us, which would be very beneficial to us. For example, we didn’t know on the side hill
you couldn’t grow any crops on a side hill, but they told us that you could use it for pasture- that if you had a strip and then another strip of plowed ground you could sow something and then another strip of sod and so on. So those experiments were we learned a lot that’s why I’m mentioning it and there might be new machinery to help us out. Well then after that was shown, he had a real old farmhouse and we’d go down for the picnic. And he had a very large yard and that would be filled with tables and I never saw such food- truckloads. Soft drinks, anything you could mention, and then at a certain time over a loud speaker, they’d say that lunch is to be served so they would line up and you could go along. There would be a person there – anything you wanted and you could go back as many times as you’d like. Well then after that they had a little side porch with a little railing around it and after we were through eating then right out from the side porch there were dozens and dozens of benches and we would go and sit on the benches and when we were all placed there M/M Gannett would come and she would sit in a rocking chair on the little side stoop and he would stand up to the rail and tell us about his early days or the farm. Different stories which were very interesting and I do happen to remember this one. Their farm was just a speck east of the city – he named the town but I forget and of course, they worked on the farm and as he grew just a little he decided that he would like a watch but he had no money and his parents didn’t have any money, but he did ask his mother if she would stop in a store when she went up-city to find out how much a watch might
be. So she said she would and she went one day and came home and said that she could get a watch for $2.40 Well of course he didn’t have that kind of money at all but he did know there were seven houses, I think between he and the city and right at the end of the city there was a little store and every morning a newspaper company would leave the papers there so that when someone went in to buy something he could get a paper. So he thought it all over that if I could get that company to leave the seven extra papers every morning- maybe I could deliver them to the seven houses & maybe in the time get enough money to buy my watch. So anyway I don’t know who made the arrangements but the company said that they would leave those papers there. So he would get up mornings in the dark before school, walk up and get the papers and deliver them to the seven houses…and his grand total amounted to about 8 cents a home and he put that away and of course, he knew it would be weeks, months ..he had that all figured up. But anyway time went on and he got the $2.40. So he asked his mother naturally there was a big merry-go-round in that section & of course, we all know about the pier. People would walk out on the long pier and if they were in bathing suits they could dive in the water. And then right at the end of Beach Avenue, there was no Driving Park or no Stutson St. bridge then & right at the end of that road down there at the Lake at Beach Avenue there was a big flat boat with a little railing around it. And I’m pretty sure it was known as the “Windsor” and that ran on a chain. And if people wanted to go across to the other side they would get their ticket and every so often it would go back and forth. And of course, it would carry a horse and buggy and well anyway there is quite a big hotel on the other side. A nice hotel and at that time my mother used to raise quite a lot of potatoes. So the man who ran the hotel he got in touch with her one day to see if he could buy some potatoes, so she did sell a lot to them and Donald & I had to deliver them with a team & wagon and my mother always kept very nice horses and the teams we drove that day was one of them was a very strung horse. So we went down with the small load of potatoes and there were men on the little boat and they let us on and I knew this horse was scared but they kept him under control until they started the engine in the boat and it started to move; then he started to move and he stood up on his hind legs and everybody thought he was going to jump right over the railing into the river… but I often thought we were just two boys, we went across- we got across and unloaded the potatoes, what we must have been thinking of when we’re over there that and had to come back the same way.

Marietta: That’s right that return trip….of dear.

Howard: Well just this side then of course there was Lake Avenue and on the East Side of that there were 3 or 4 buildings- yeah they would call them buildings and one would sell ice cream cones, and the other one soft drinks and the other one candy and so on and as luck would have it on the West Side – and there was competition naturally would be the same buildings almost and they sold the same things ice cream, candy and all. See but they all did but on the West side they had it over the East side a little in this respect because just the other side a block or so up was a bar and of course, they would attract some men and they would often go there. But of course, the Lake was there for swimming purposes there were 2 or 3 bath houses and then in the summer when things would really get going good they would line up the sidewalks facing West..running West and there would be all kinds of shops along. These might be ones where little rabbits came up & if you could shoot them and places where you could buy cars and there might be a little places where real rabbits, little children could see the rabbits and maybe this or something and then there were always a little- I don’t know what you’d call it but there 2 or 3 ponies they’d have them tied and if a person wanted a little child to have a ride a ticket could be bought and the child could ride on the pony and then there was a barn there and of course horseshoe p~tching there were a lot of them and they did have a barn there with a horse in it and a big sign on it that the only horse in the world that his head was where his tail should be. So of course that sounded kind of funny to people and when a big crowd would come the people would sort of start to go there and they had two men just for that purpose they would go in and come out laughing as hard as they could – well then people would think that there was something to it and they would go in again and come out laughing harder than ever– well after 2 or 3 times there would be a man there to sell tickets.

Quite a number of people would buy a ticket and go in..well the horse would be standing in just the opposite direction. His head would be just in the opposite direction. So they would do little things like that and anything that you’d mention— Ferris wheels and anything like that was there and well of course it was known as the Little Coney Island. Well then of course another big attraction was the Manitou Line and that was…we would in the house I live in you could always hear the whistle. Different whistles but it started there and they were very nice cars. There 2 or 3 steps leading up to the car and then in the car was as I recall maybe one big long seat but they didn’t mind nobody checked if you wanted to stand on the step going up. You could so people would get on that… they would ride to Manitou or you could get off where ever you wanted and they would stop and start and pick up people and that went to Manitou which was always also you could have a thing there to do and something that always interested me – or the other end of the line near Manitou and of course I never quite could understand how they had it fix- ed but the little railroad that carried the cart went right over the lake you might say they had big posts driven in the ground and then the tracks laid on that and it carried the little cars very well over so it really was a very wonderful place. People would either walk there or you’d drive your horses there or take the street car there. Well then up West of that about 2 miles west of that was Island Cottage and that was also very nice of course it wasn’t nearly as big as Charlotte but of course, the Lake was there and the bathhouse and 2 nice stores you could buy anything- little food that you wanted to and there was a hotel there the Island Cottage Hotel was a nice ground there with picnic tables in and shade trees and people could drive there and then in addition to that there was a nice baseball field and our town always had a good baseball team and whoever was in charge would play usually on Sunday afternoon and during the game, some men would go around with his hand and collect a few pennies around.

Of course going up from Charlotte to Manitou not only could you see the Lake all along but there were 2 or 3 ponds you would pass by and they were very nice and for some reason would always grow in ponds and men would go there and I don’t understand that but at the time were used in the making of a chair and the men some men down around there would cut in the winter in the marsh and they would cut it like dry corn and bring it up to dry ground and put into shalks like corn and tie it and evidently it would dry and then in the early spring/summer a buyer whoever would be interested in it; they would come and buy it from the men and quite a few of them made very well on that. And then another occupation, you might call it, naturally with the marsh there were little animals furry and quite a number of men did trapping. And they would trap these little animals and skin them and sell that and do very well with that – so that line was a very nice thing for people of the Town of Greece.

Well, we did have two railroads near us. One went through Barnards Crossing that was up Dewey Avenue maybe 2 miles or a little more and the branch from that as I have mentioned before there was a branch from that that went down to our (Yates) coal company on Latta Road and lumber yard…..or to put a car we could use it to ship apples on – but the main line that went through up there was for coal and I think that came from Pennsylvania probably and there were 2 big car ferries that drew this coal to Canada. We evidently sold a lot of coal and I understand that each car ferry would hold 12,14, 16 car loads of coal and I don’t know just how they’d do it but where the big boat would
come it would back up to the railroad line. It was all fixed with tracks in the boat and they could run the cars right on to the ferry and then they would take that over to Canada and that was that line.

Well then back of us right next to my farm there was another railroad. And I don’t kow how far down East that went but I heard maybe 40 miles or so and it did run..as far West as Buffalo I understood. And that was a real farming section and we raised different things there would be potatoes in one, cabbage and then you all know about Duffy-Mott. They bought great amounts of apples, of course, they needed cans and all that was shipped on that line in addition to that, there were two passenger trains every day and at each little station there would be a little side track and a little weigh-in station would be standing there with scales on it. And for example, if a farmer sold his cabbage a car would be placed near him you might say and the farmers would bring their cabbage there and weigh them on the scales and fill up the car, and then it would be taken away. Now I believe that that line is gone now, it has been out now for about 8-10 years but before that was put in I was told when I was a small boy by an elderly man- and he had seen it before that railroad was there, there was a road there a dirt road and there were little specs of log cabins or places to live and he told me then he said I could take you and show you 2 or 3 wells right now so it proved that there were houses along there at that time.

Marietta: So that was the HOJACK LINE – that’s north of your farm?

Howard: Well that’s – I’ll get to that. That road was there first- well as I say it was right long my farm and I was always very much interested when I was back near there. It’s kind of exciting to see a big train coming – it was then of course today their run on electricity, I guess – to see the smoke puffing out of them and then chugging along and another thing that was interesting – I don’t know why – I would read where they were from.. might be apples from the State of Washington …and they would be from all over, but an interesting thing and I never quite knew why of course it would be in summer and I might be back there working the horses and the train would come along… I would usually stop and for some reason the motormen he would be at the window and he would always wave at me, of course, we didn’t know each other…and I would wave back and then there was always the little question about how it got its name and I guess maybe this they decided on this…as I say it went to Buffalo and right near the stop the trains got in every night at about 5 o’clock and there was a little boy who lived in a house right near, he would ask his mother if he could go out and see the train come up, he was very much interested, so she would always say yes. So he would go out and finally, he would see the train come puffing up and it would stop there and the engineer would shut off all his controls and climb down the ladder and the little boy he would always be so excited he’d shout “hol Jack” because we couldn’t say “Hello Jack” and they think this is how the railroad got its name. Well, of course, I guess we have come along to wars and we have always had them and they aren’t very good things. There were several cases around here, I know a boy who went to school with me, he’s a little bit older, he went over there and while over there both eyes were lost, so from that day until the day that he died a few years ago, he sat in a chair, with people having to wait on him. Well then too, there were airplanes then but people traveled by train and so the government would send a notice to some boys to be at the railroad station at a certain time such as 8 o’clock. So this particular night two boys near here were to go, one was a close relative and the other we knew him very well, so we would go up, people would go up and of course, it would be a very sad sight for the parents to see them go and we all knew, everybody knew they might come back and they might not come back. Well in that particular case after the war was over my cousin didn’t come back but the other boy did come back. We did it was in 1971, eight of us went to Hawaii. My brother and all and Bob and all they were helping me good on the farm. My brother was a lawyer in New York he had given out and wouldn’t take any money so I brought eight people to Hawaii and while there we went to Pearl Harbor. Have you ever been there?

Marietta: No I’ve never been there.

Howard: Well, of course, they had a man on a boat that would tell us and he would go along and I think the first thing that we went by was a huge boat. Just the top of it was sticking out of the water with a pole up with a big 9Americanflag on it and in that boat even then were the bodies of over 1200 young men that was sunk that night or day and then after the war was over they sent some men in to see if they could get the bodies out but the irons and all were so twisted in there so sharp and all that those men would have been killed so they left it right there. So then we went on and when we got to about the end, there was like a big mountain and straight across…it’s kind of hard for me to describe it and then there was quite a spot that there was a desert you might call it and that’s where the planes came over to kill the people and that was right there was of course when they did come over well… I used to buy my spray material from Agway and there was a young man who worked for them and he would come here and he sold to me. And then he had to go to war and he was in Pearl Harbor when it came and he came back and told me all about it. He said he was a pretty good musician and there were 15 or 20 boys at this particular time playing instruments and standing around; they were singing and having a good time and all. Then all of a sudden the planes came over this division in the mountain and of course let the bombs down and he was knocked out, he had to be taken to the hospital, but he said there were 20 of them playing in the band or whatever you call it and over half of them were killed. And then right near there of course that day or night I don’t know which it was a great many of the boats were sunk. But there was a huge boatyard right beside and they had the equipment, and they raised those boats almost immediately and got them in working condition and they helped defeat the enemy. Well along the side was a huge hill or almost a mountain and for as far as you could see was nothing but little white tombstones, with the young men lying there.

Marietta: All the boys we lost?

Howard: So it was an awful thing. Of course then back here we weren’t in quite such bad shape but you could hardly buy anything. If you had a car you couldn’t go out except maybe to a hospital or something like that. You couldn’t buy any sugar or there was a great many things you couldn’t buy or couldn’t do. There was an elderly man, he was a carpenter but he had given it up, but he would come and do little things for my mother; fix a window or something at the barn. So he came one day and said that he and his wife were getting old and with our cold winters that they were going to live in Florida. So he went to Florida, they went to Florida and in the meantime, he heard that he had quite a little bit of money in those days – we heard he had $40,000 which is a lot of money then. He had it in stocks, bonds, and banks. Well then, of course, everything went then banks and all failed so he stopped in one day came to the door, and said Mrs. Whelehan would you have any work for me? He said I don’t have l cent, we hardly have enough money to buy food for my wife and myself. He said every single penny is gone. So my mother said yes that she did have – she wanted a stoop put on – so she said he could put the stoop on and of course, he was very pleased to get the money. But that were the conditions but everything seemed to go bad in those days, but I think it was in 1934 that a cold night came along and I think it went down to around 26 or 27 degrees and I know during the night we could hear; of course we all orchards you could hear your trees cracking open. it sounded like there was a man at the barn with a big board hitting the barn just as hard as you could hit it. Well, we went out the next morning and you could put your arm right through any tree; they were all completely slit open.

Marietta: Would this have been in the early spring?

Howard: Well it was in the middle of winter.

Marietta: Oh middle of Winter…I See.

Howard: Of course, it had to be when it was that cold. It never went that cold before. Well, of course, that was our living but the city people, would some of them not all of them couldn’t buy heat, coal or anything, then they couldn’t get any work, and so the government I don’t understand that but they got in on that and they hired these men that wanted to work for 25 cents an hour and for example in our orchard there would be about 25 brought here every day on a big flat wagon and five or six men would go to a tree with a shovel and an ax and they would dig the dirt away and cut the big roots, and while they were doing that there’d be a man he’d have a big heavy rope .. he would be climbing the tree and go up in the top and tie that rope onto a big limb up there and then when the men on the ground would have the tree pretty well dug; they would call and eight or ten men would come and they would get ahold of this rope and work it back and forth; giggle the tree and finally the tree would go out of the hole and tip over and then it would be ll sawed up by hand. Crosscut saws and ax and things like that and of course they would fill the hole in and all then that wood it would be cut into lengths for our stove or fireplaces and the government did allow us to keep a little of that wood. But then big wagons would come and of course, somebody knew who needed heat and that wood would be brought to those people.

Marietta: So it went for a good purpose, but you lost your trees.

Howard: It worked out very well but of course, it made it very hard on us orchard people because everything was gone. Well, in regard to town government, I never got into that very much…I guess I had enough to do without that but the voting was a little different then from now I think. Now when we go to vote we go to a beautiful hall with lights and heat big nice tables and everything. But then our district was over at the corner of Dewey and Latta Road. The booths were a little bit of a wooden hut you might say. They were kept someplace in the town, I don’t know where and just before the election a big wagon or something would go and one would be loaded on and our’s would be brought over here and put off on the corner- naturally off the road and then in a day or two a little stove to hold wood and a little wood would be brought along and then the day of voting well that would be the same. There would be two Republicans and 2 Democrats sitting at a big table and right behind them were 2 kerosene lamps in brackets and you would go and vote. It was on a paper ballot, I guess and you would put that in a box, and then you couldn’t hold 2 or 3 extra people in them but if there were extra people in at 9 o’clock..the same as now I believe they would be asked to leave and the people would count the ballots and so that was how it was done then. And we did have quite a big man in the town, not only in the town but in the whole county. His name was Al Skinner. I guess everybody knew him quite well. And he won every election for a great many years except his last one. He lived down along the lake I believe and he also had a place to keep little boats, and he was very nice to everybody and then at the same time about was Gordon Howe. He was the town supervisor for a great many years and I did happen to know Gordon very well. We went to Charlotte High School together… but he was a year or two behind me. He was a very fine basketball player and a few years ago we happened to meet in the grocery store and got talking about our earlier days. I guess so he had one thing that he was always sorry about in his life, he had. Of course, he was a fine basketball player, I knew that, everyone did, he did too. But that was his ‘trouble, he spent a little bit too much time playing basketball and thinking about basketball and it was largely on that account that he never went to college.

Marietta: Oh-h.

Howard: And of course, he went way up in the world, was a fine speaker and all but he never went on to college. But he did say as we know…well he didn’t say but we know that he was responsible for M.C.C. being built.

Marietta: Mmm…that’s right.

Howard: So he became very much interested in it but I didn’t happen to belong to the same party as those two men but they helped me out and I was in the fruit business then and I did have a big truck, a big flat bottom truck and they would have a parade every year. So somebody would come and ask me if I would take the band on the truck – so of course, I would be in the parade and they would come and decorate the truck and then I would go where they would say to go and the band would get on and they would play and we would go aroung and finally land at the place for a little picnic. So that worked out very well and they would all do nice things for me but at about that time the Democrats had always run the town…but about that time the Democratic Supervisor got in which wasn’t liked very well by the people, so the next year a Republican Supervisor got in and of course, as we all know they’ve been in ever since, the Republican Supervisors. But up until that time, everything was you might say sort of at a standstill in the town, but Eastman Kodak Company was there and they were growing, they were hiring people from not only the city but outside. They were building houses. We began to improve our roads, water lines were put through, sewer lines were put through, electric lines, and then the people…We were never told how many people were living in the town at that early stage. I know a few thousand and today they tell me there could be around 100,000 people living in the town of Greece and they all seem to be living well, especially in the western part of our town…it’s just building right up and they all are driving their cars by here. All seem to be enjoying it. I’ve lived in this house for 85 years ..it seemed like home to me and I hope I can always live in this home. So I might close by saying… “Be it ever so humble there is no place like home in the town of Greece.”

Journey of the Fetzner Knipper Fire Wagon Story an Interview with Bud Steeb

Kay Pollok’s interview with Bud Steeb when Kay was Vice President, of the Historical Society of Greece September 25, 1972.

This interview with Bud tells the story of the Fetzner Knipper Fire Wagon:

Kay: Bud, how and where did you acquire this fire wagon?

Bud: I first became aware of the existence of this antique piece of fire equipment at a garage sale in Rochester in April, 1970. The owner, Mr. Henry Griffin of Paddy Hill Drive, Greece, took me to the nearby residence of his father-in-law where it was stored in the garage along with a hose reel which was used to carry additional hose. This is a picture of the equipment taken when it was owned by Mr. Griffin. Both vehicles were lettered for the Greece Ridge Fire Department Greece Ridge had them on display in the old firehouse and had lettered them for their company. When the old firehouse was torn down to make way for the new one, this equipment was returned to Mr. Ray Fetzner who was the real owner. This is a picture of the equipment as it was stored in the basement of Ray Fetzner’s garage. Actually, the units were never owned or used by Greece Ridge, as it was always privately owned. Mr. Griffin said that he understood this was the first wheeled fire equipment in the Town of Greece and that he wanted to dispose of it to a museum or a collector, and that he had owned it for a very short while I was afraid that it might be purchased by someone out of the Rochester/Greece area and immediately began to negotiate for its purchase. Mr. Griffin and I reached an agreement and it was acquired by me on April 21, 1970.

Kay: How did you learn the history since the man had only owned it a short time?

Bud: At the time of purchase Mr. Griffin disclosed that he had purchased it from Ray Fetzner, prior to the time Fetzner’s garage on Ridge Road was razed to make room for the expansion of the Greece Towne Mall. I knew Mr. Fetzner slightly and through various talks with him, I was able to put together a history of the fire wagon, which at this time was not complete and is subject to future additions. Ray Fetzner’s story is as follows: During the 1870s and into the 1900s Ray’s father and uncle operated the JMF Fetzner Carriage Manufatury which included blacksmithing and painting. This is a picture of the Fetzner business as it existed in the 1870s.

This business was conducted in two wooden buildings connected by a third structure also of wood construction. A photo of this business exists in the Greece Historical Society archives through the courtesy of Mr. Fetzner Adjacent to the Fetzner family business and a short distance to the west was Peter Knipper’s Hotel, which was later operated by his son-in-law, William Buckert, and known as Buckert’s Hotel. Sometime in the 1890s a fire damaged a Fetzner property since there were no organized fire companies in Greece, the Fetzner and Knipper families decided, for their mutual protection, they had better seek a better way to combat any future fires than by the old and only method known then, the bucket brigade. The result was the purchase of a then modern and sophisticated for the time, piece of firefighting apparatus which is our subject of discussion.

Where it was purchased and exactly when and by whose foresightedness, it’s not known today. But in retrospect, it certainly must have been a wonderful addition to the Ridge Road scene in those happy and uncomplicated Victorian days. Ray Fetzner, who admits to being in his mid-seventies, states that it was housed in a small shed between the Fetzner and Knipper establishments as far back as he can remember. This picture shows the firehouse we referred to and believe it or not, that is Ray Fetzner holding the hose This was apparently a demonstration of the fire-fighting equipment. Mr. Peter Knipper, who was the first chief, stands under the street light and Ray Fetzner’s father stands in the doorway of the firehouse Ray, as a young man, helped to pull the equipment to fight fires. A picture of the firehouse and the Fetzner garage which Ray operated for so many years, is also on file in the Greece Historical Society archives. Again, through Mr. Fetzner’s kindness.

Kay: Bud, who were the builders of this equipment?

Bud: Well, whether the fire wagon was imported to the United States complete as it now exists, or whether only the pressure tanks were imported, is not known. On each of the two tanks, which are solid brass of riveted and brazed, construction, are two identification tags which are soldered on. One square embossed brass tag has the following description: “Fire extinguisher, F Carlier’s patent, U.S. Monnet and Company, Paris, France, 40 Rue Notre Dame, Pat. March 30, 1869”. The other tag is oval in shape and is embossed “Bate and Pinkham, pat. March 30, 1869”. They apparently were the importers.

The hose reel is obviously a carriage shop fabrication and very nicely done. Ray Fetzner is not sure who made it, but in all probability, it was made in the Fetzner Carriage Shop. This is a purely personal opinion based on my examination of several commercial and manufactured hose reels.

Kay: How was this equipment operated, and how was it moved to a fire?

Bud: Essentially, this equipment comes under the classification of a soda acid, pressure-operated, hand-drawn extinguisher. This picture shows the equipment hand-drawn in the 1972 Barnard Firemen’s parade. It operates on the same principle as an extinguisher still used, which hangs on a wall on a hook and is activated by tipping upside down. The tanks on the fire wagon, which are mounted vertically,
employ a crusher to release a sulphuric acid which mixes with the soda water solution in the tank, thereby generating tremendous pressure. While I do not know exactly how the equipment was handled, I assume that the tanks were charged with a soda water solution, and a two-quart bottle of acid was placed in the crusher which was incorporated in the pressure-type cap The crusher was a brass cage built on the bottom of the cap so that when the cap was screwed on tight against the heavy gasket by means of a 26-inch spanner, the bottle was inside the tank ready to be broken by the crusher which was screw-operated from the outside of the cap. A seat placed between the tanks was occupied by a fireman with his feet placed on stirrups at the bottom level of the tanks, who on the way to the fire operated the crusher handle so that on arrival at the fire, the front tank was pressurized When the front tank was exhausted, the rear tank was used while the front tank was recharged This was accomplished by a system of valves and piping known as a Siamese manifold.

Kay: Bud, what are the physical characteristics of a fire wagon?

Bud: Well, the length is seven-foot-three, the draw-bar length is six-foot-six, with a quick detachable rig on it. The overall length of the wagon is 13 feet nine inches. The width is five foot eight, the height is five foot five. The estimated weight is 1,500 pounds. The tanks are 18 inches in diameter by 35 inches high of brass plate, tapered at the top like a thermos bottle. The front wheels are 38 inches in diameter. The rear wheels are 43 inches in diameter with brass hub caps and iron tires. The front toolbox has compartments for eight bottles of acid. The rear toolbox holds 50 feet of high-pressure hose and nozzles, a fire axe, a pinch bar, a spanner wrench for tank caps, wagon jacks, wrenches, etc. Other equipment consists of two kerosene fire department lanterns on brackets, two 100-pound pressure gauges (one on each tank) test petcocks, Siamese manifold with necessary valves, four coated fabric fire buckets, a leather embossed belt “alert hose #1” and a white chief’s helmet with a hand-painted tablet showing side arm hand pumper with initials PK which stands for Peter Knipper who was the first chief of this fire company. The hose reel is four foot six inches long with a draw-bar four foot four inches long, giving an overall length of eight foot ten inches. It is 48 inches wide and the wheels are 49 inches in diameter. It carries an eight-inch wooden drum with eight 18-inch winding handles on each side of the drum.

Kay: This equipment is now the property of Mr. Bud Steeb, who feels these historical items should not leave this area, but should always be associated with the Greece Historical Society. Thank you, Bud, for a job very well done.


(Bud Steeb sold this fire wagon to the Greece Historical Society for $1,500 in 1979.)

Typed: 5/24/88 Digitized: 11/07/2022

Bicentennial Snapshot # 16 – ‘ADA’ Ridge Hamlet

Map with each hamlet listed click to view a larger image

In the early years of the town, there were little hamlets or unincorporated villages that people called different sections of Greece, for example, you have ADA Ridge which is the intersection of Mitchell Road Long Pond Road, and Ridge Road, Jekin’s Corner/North Greece is located at Latta Road and North Greece Road, South Greece is at Elmgrove Road at the Erie Canal, Dewey Stone Hamlet is right at where Dewey ave meets Stone Road, Paddy Hill/Read’s Corner is at Mount Read and Latta.

This week we explore the Hamlet of Ada which is at the intersection of Mitchell Road, Long Pond Road, and Ridge Road, this is where the center of town offices was except for the Department of Public Works until 1997 when the complex moved to the Greece Center area just north of Latta on Long Pond. We first told you about how the ridge was a glacial ridge, then the stagecoach route in episode 11, and the toll plank road from Long Pond Road to Elmgrove Road in episode 12, we introduce you to William Anderson General store and that was the post office for Ada in episode 14. You might have learned about the early Rowe family with the settlement at King’s Landing in the 4th snapshot. and we look at Asa Rowes’ Nursery business in snapshot 13.

Anderson’s General Store

In Snapshot 14 we told you that there were many general stores that people would shop at to get items for everyday living and one of these stores was William Anderson general store. William H Anderson was born in October 1849 in a small community called Ada Michigan, and he came to Greece, New York later in life with his wife Lois E. (Hyatt) Anderson. It was in Greece that he became a postmaster and opened his general store on the southeast corner of Ridge Road and Mitchell Road.

William H Anderson General Store
William H Anderson General Store

Did you know that a portion of Ridge Road was a toll-based planked road?

1872 map by F. W. Beers
1872 map by F. W. Beers

Note on the map on the left the Y-shaped conjunction of Long Pond Road, then known as Greece Centre Road, on the left, and the road that borders the property of farmer Erastus Walker on the right. In the 1860s there was a section that was planked it was from Long Pond Road to Elmgrove Road (Henpeck Road). It was a 2.5-mile stretch that was plank which means the road was made of wooden planks it was thought to have been 9 1⁄2 miles (15.3 km) and chartered on October 23, 1848, and there was a court case involving Kenyon vs the Seeley over the tolls that were collected on this plank road. Locals didn’t think it was necessary to pay to use the road. Erastus Walker used to cut across his fields to bypass the toll gate. After being used by so many, so often it became a right of way. Just south of the Walker property was land owned by the Mitchells. Eventually, the Mitchells would own the Walker Land and the name of the road changed to Mitchell Road.

Greece Baptist Church

Greece Baptist Church was one of the first churches in the town. The first building for Greece Baptist Church was built in the 1830s at the corner of Ridge Road and Long Pond Road. Picture in the video was its home until 1962 when the new home for Greece Baptist church was built at the end of Walker St a street that runs east-west and parallels just north of the ridge it runs just behind Buckman’s Plaza and now it connects the newly formed Greece Baptist Church Parkway. The Cole and Kenyon families are founding members of the Greece Baptist Church, Cousins Deb Myers and Maureen Murphy are descendants of the families who attended this church and help found Greece Baptist Church. The reason for the Church to move 700 feet was the community was growing by leaps and bounds after world war 2 and Ridge road expanded from one lane in each direction to a four-lane with two lanes going eastbound and two lanes going westbound. It recently turned 190 years and in ten years it will be celebrating its own bicentennial.

The Rowe Tavern

The original Rowe tavern that Asa’s father started in the early 1800s no exact date of the day it opened but we believe it was somewhere around circa 1804 but with no exact records or proof other than on a map showing that shows where it was located. The Rowe Tavern burned down in 1845 while being operated by R.P. Edgarton at that time while Asa was running his Horticultural and Nursery farm. It was later rebuilt.

St. Johns Church, the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church.

1875 Picture of St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church
1875 Picture of St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church
St Johns 1964 Church
2014 Picture of St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church Now photo by Bill Sauers

St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church was founded as a satellite parish of Our Mother of Sorrows Church. The original 20 congregants met in the Rowe tavern building from 1865 until 1876 when they were able to construct a church on the site. The tavern building became the priests’ rectory. Later on, the Church would expand to add a school and then a completely new structure set back further from the road to its new Church which is featured in two separate recordings about the Architect James H. Johnson (May 2012) and the Architecture of James H. Johnson (May 2019) but later on the church would sell the old rectory and school. The St Johns school lot became a Royal Car Wash.

We also had a Tuesday program with one of the families that were part of the original St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church her name is Carolyn Kerhaert a descendant of the VOLKMAR family who came to Greece about 1865 and help found St. John’s Church.

Up Close with Two Greece Pioneer Families – the Volkmar and Cole/Kenyon families May 10, 2022

The Falls Hotel

A little way down no more than 30 feet was the Falls Hotel. It opened under the ownership of William Fall, later it was operated by T. B. Hiett this would explain why the street Hiett Rd runs parallel to the Ridge and ends when you enter into the parking lot of St. Johns Church, the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church.

Second Falls Tavern from GHS
Second Falls Tavern from GHS

The Falls hotel also had a fire this was not till 1883 when the hotel was under the management of Willam Gentle who was the proprietor at the time of the fire. The Falls Hotel would later be reborn but it took some skills and lots of logs to basically move the Old Rowe Tavern from where the old Rectory for St. Johns Church stands today and move it across the road to where the entrance to Red Robin at the Mall at Greece Ridge is at today. The deal made to move the Tavern involved the congregants, the Pastor of the church, and the proprietor of the building moving it across the way to build the church.

The Fetzner Family

Fetzner Blacksmith and Carriage shop

The Fetzner family ran a Blacksmith and Carriage shop also they were one of the first families that ran a fire company in the hamlet of Ada at the intersection of Ridge, Long Pond, and Mitchell Roads. In 1876, two brothers, Frank and John Fetzner, opened the Fetzner Brothers Blacksmith and Carriage shops on West Ridge Road across the street from the St. John the Evangelist Church and next door to the Falls Hotel. Peter Knipper who was married to the Fetzner’s cousin, Mary Mura, bought the Falls Hotel in 1889.

In this 1960s picture on the Left is Fetzner Garage | Richards on the Ridge to the right
In this 1960s picture on the Left is Fetzner Garage | Richards on the Ridge to the right

They were one of the groups of merchants who went in on a soda acid chemical to fight fires in the area of Ada in the museum we have a soda acid chemical hand-pulled truck.

Buckman’s

Stay tuned for a snapshot of Buckman’s Dairy and Bakery but in the meantime, we have a program on Buckman’s Dairy History recorded in July 2017, and here is an article from our newsletter titled Buckmans Dairy. Homer J. Buckman – Sold Milk, Cream, and Lollipops!!! – From the historian’s Files.

Facebooktwittermail

Bicentennial Snapshot # 15 – Erie Canal

We explore the impact that the canal had on the Town of Greece, in the state of New York. In 1817 the idea was formed to create an easy way to get products from Lake Erie, and the other Great Lakes to New York City and back.

According to Wikipedia, The canal was first proposed in the 1780s, then re-proposed in 1807, and the survey was authorized, funded, and executed in 1808. Its construction began in 1817 after proponents of the project gradually wore down its opponents; and it opened on October 26, 1825. The canal has 34 locks with an overall elevation difference of about 565 feet (172 m),[1] starting upstream with Black Rock Lock and ending downstream with the Troy Federal Lock. Both locks are owned by the United States Federal Government[2].

Sea level elevation of the Canal route
Sea level elevation of the Canal route

The Canal Started at Lockport and ended at the Hudson River.

The Erie canal had received some nicknames for the Erie Canal project because of New York Governor DeWitt Clinton, his project received some interesting names, and his political opponents wanted to call the project, here are a few of the names they called the Erie Canal, the first name it was derided as was “Clinton’s Folly”, another one was “Clinton’s Big Ditch”, and “Clinton’s Ditch”. Over time the folks realized that the Erie canal helped bolster the port at New York City with a strong advantage over other port cities on the eastern seaboard and helped make it easier to travel by water than it was to portage the goods to stagecoaches or other modes of early transportation in the interior of the United States.

The Erie Canal was one of the great civil engineering projects of its time, and the cost to build it was $7,143,789. The total length of the Canal is 363 Feet(584 km) and 50 Locks made up the canal to traverse the change in elevations of sea levels to get it from the Hudson River elevation to the elevation of Lake Erie.

Asa Rowe Ad in the Genesee Farmer Monroe Horticultural Garden
Asa Rowe Ad in the Genesee Farmer Monroe Horticultural Garden

If you remember when we told you about Asa Rowe and his Monroe Horticulture Garden and Nursery he took full advantage of the Erie canal for shipping all his plants and seeds to other states, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconson, featured in Bicentennial Snapshot # 13.

Terry Burns

As the canal was dug by hand it required an army of laborers. Some of those laborers, such as Terry Burns, one of the pioneers of Greece, decided to stay after working on the canal, settling in Greece in 1823.

South Greece did have one Lock and it was only used when they did the expansion in 1919 till about 1923 then after it was used as a dry dock for the rest of the 1920s on the canal but later it was decommissioned and blocked off the dock is now just being overgrown with trees and other wild plants.

Erie Canal Completion Medal, 1826 this one is in The Henry Ford Museum
Erie Canal Completion Medal, 1826 this one is in The Henry Ford Museum

During my Visit to the Henry Ford Museum in August, I saw this sitting in the Driving America Exhibit in front of an 1891 Abbot Downing Concord Coach.

The Buffalo Maritime Center is in the process of building a replica of a packet boat at the Longshed at Canalside in Buffalo at the end of the Commerical Slip and they believe it will take at least 2 years to complete the boat project and set sail in 2025 for the 200th anniversary of merging of the waters. In 2025 they will be traveling the Erie Canal and stopping in each community along the Erie canal so people explore the replica, as well as displays about building the boat and how they built it, and the materials they used in the process you can learn more about the project at https://buffalomaritimecenter.org/

1. Finch, Roy G. (1925). The Story of the New York State Canals (PDF). New York State Engineer and Surveyor. Retrieved June 28, 2022.

2. “Locks on the Erie Canal”The Erie Canal. Retrieved June 28, 2022.

Facebooktwittermail

Bicentennial Snapshot # 14 – General Stores

This week on our Bicentennial Snapshot we explore two of the most visited General Stores out of two neighborhoods the first one will be H.C. Phelps Located on the southwest corner at Latta and North Greece and the second one is Gilbert (Burt) J Wagg’s Groceries and Provisions Located where Tim Horton’s is today at Lake Ave, Ridge Road and Pullman Ave.

Disclaimer The references to tobacco products in this Bicentennial Snapshot are for historical purposes only, recounting an individual’s reminiscences of a bygone era. The Greece Historical Society does not encourage the use of any tobacco products.

Today we take it for granted how easy it is to buy food, clothing, and other products from various stores and within easy travel distance or online via Amazon, eBay, and other online retailers. But in the 19th century and even into the 20th century, Greece residents depended on General Stores for their purchasing needs.

When the American colonists mainly started expanding west word they would set up General Stores that would be where the travelers or residents of the small villages or towns would gather to buy, trade, or sell items that they needed for a day-to-day living unlike how it is now that you purchase Clothing from Store A and then go to store B to get you Garden supplies, then maybe you go to Store C for your meats, and then finally get to the Produce Market for all your fresh produce these good would last longer or shorter depending what the product was intended for like planned obsolescence.

The invention of the Ice Box did help out with some growth of General stores but some of the General stores evolved with the times where they kept up with the changes evolving into smaller corner stores which some people will call the store a bodega, especially in New York City. In other parts of the country, the Mom and Pop General stores are somewhat making comebacks in your rural communities because these are now becoming small access points for online orders and delivery hubs for pickups for places like Amazon, UPS, FedEx, DHL, LaserShip and even the post office still because the cost is still worth them to operate just to help the people that cannot get the packages delivered to the porch of the local farmer or rancher, or even the smallest campgrounds.

Question of Week:

How long do you think it would take for you to get from Hoosick Cemetary (West Greece) Manitou at West Ridge Road to G.C. Latta House at Lake Ave, and Latta Rd in Charlotte?

But for this question, we will be starting at the Hoosick Cemetary Manitou Road at West Ridge Road, proceed heading north on Manitou road until you come to Latta Road, and then make the right on Latta Road passing H.C. Phelps General store on the right at North Greece and Latta road, and continuing on Latta you will be passing Green Acres on your left, you then continue on Latta and cross over Long Pond Road, maybe stop at Apple Anne’s for some apples, after that you maybe stop to worship at Mother of Sorrow’s church and then head down the hill and cross over Dewey ave and a much smoother path on Latta road you pass on your left the Fleming Homestead now a nursing home to then you should get to your destination at Lake Ave and Latta in front of the G.C. Latta House

Here is the formula to solve for each type of mode of transportation

time = distance/speed

Your Distance is 9.5 Miles

Your Speed is based on the mode of transportation you take to get to the destination.

Traveling by car at 35 mph

Traveling by a Horse at 5-8 mph

Traveling by a pedal bike can vary depending on how fast you can pedal it can be as low as 8 mph and high as 26 mph

Traveling by public transit is not available for this example.

The answer to this will be at the end of this post with the solution to this question.

H.C. Phelps.

H.C. Phelps is located on the southwest corner at Latta Rd and North Greece Rd.

Henry C. Phelps built his store on the North Greece Road in about 1870. The area was then known as Jenkins Corner at Latta Rd. By 1900 it had the name, North Greece, as it’s known today. Henry carried a varied lot of merchandise. Just about anything that would fit in the store and would sell found a place on the floor or a shelf. He catered to the farmer and his family. It helped that the local U.S. Post Office was also in the building. The opening of the Manitou (seasonal) Trolley in the 1890s expanded the number of cottages along the lake and bays. Several times a week Phelps would send out his horse and wagon filled with fresh vegetables, fruit, and sundries. Going door to door, the “huckster” (an old term for a peddler) would often empty his wagon by the end of his route. After Mr. Phelps retired the store continued under several owners and name changes well into the 20th century. The post office moved to its own quarters and other business enterprises took over the site until we arrive at the 21st century. Except for the loss of the front porch and several horse hitching posts, the building remains much as it was built over 145 years ago. An insurance office is now the proud caretaker.

Gilbert “Burt” J Wagg

Gilbert (Burt) J Wagg’s Groceries and Provisions is Located where Tim Horton’s is today at Lake Ave, Ridge Road, and Pullman Ave.

Wagg’s Grocery and Provisions store could hardly be called a general store in the same sense as Henry Phelps’s business. Gilbert (Burt) J. Wagg started in business in the early 1900s with several small grocery stores in Rochester. Since he was a natural salesman and “go-getter” (a favorite saying of the day), he decided to open yet another store on the north-western edge of the city. Streets along Lake Avenue were developed because of the expansion of the Eastman Kodak Company, and Kodak Park Works. An ideal place for Burt’s new store was on the east side of Lake Avenue near Kodak. The business grew, with departments added almost yearly. A bakery, a meat department, groceries, and produce were sold there from the start. Furniture, china, yard goods, clothing, shoes, phonographs later called gramophones now called record players or turntables depending on your generation, and records all became integrated into Wagg’s, especially after the business was moved nearby to a building with ample floor space about 1912. The business eventually took a building on Lake Avenue as well as a number down Pullman Avenue.

Burt is at the telephone in one of the photos and his sister Grace is at the adding machine to his right.

One photo ( 1920) shows the business with a bus at the corner of Lake and Pullman. Most people referred to it as Wagg’s Corner. The mini-department store then employed 28 clerks and drivers to cover the departments and five delivery wagons. Burt is at the telephone in one of the photos and his sister Grace is at the adding machine to his right. Grace was as astute about the business as her brother. Burt passed on in 1944. Grace took over and ran it until it became clear newer and more modern stores had opened on West Ridge Road. The business closed in 1964 and the building was torn down in 1988. Parts of the other shops that were to the right of the G.J. Wagg’s store are still standing but now are apartments at 17 thru 29 Pullman Ave. Pullman ave was redesigned to come back a bit from the corner that Lake Ave and Ridge Road to prevent sharp turns onto Pullman ave from coming from the Veterans Bridge or from lake ave turn on to Ridge Road and then a sharp left onto Pullman Ave and then the raised median makes it impossible to turn on to Pullman ave after the light on at ridge and lake coming from the Veterans Bridge.

Answer to the Question

How long do you think it would take for you to get from Hoosick Cemetary (West Greece) Manitou at West Ridge Road to G.C. Latta House at Lake Ave, and Latta Rd in Charlotte?

Your Distance is 9.5 miles in one direction

Your Speed is based on the mode of transportation you take to get to the destination.

Mode of TransportationSpeedOne Way TripRound Trip Time
Car 35 mph15-17 minutes30-34 minutes
Pedal Bike †8 mph1 hour, 11 minutes, 15 seconds2 hours, 22 minutes, 30 seconds
Pedal Bike †26 mph0 hours, 21 minutes, 55 seconds0 hours, 43 minutes, 51 seconds
Horse Trot‡5 mph1 hour, 54 minutes, 0 seconds3 hours, 48 minutes, 0 seconds
Horse Trot‡8 mph1 hour, 11 minutes, 15 seconds2 hours, 22 minutes, 30 seconds
Walking §3 Hours 10 Minutes6 Hours 20 minutes
Calculation of Time

† Traveling by a pedal bike can vary depending on how fast you can pedal it can be as low as 8 mph and high as 26 mph

‡ Traveling by a Horse at a trot at 5-8 mph

Traveling by public transit is not available for this example based on the chosen route that was selected

Facebooktwittermail

Bicentennial Snapshot # 13: Asa Rowe, James Vick and the Beginning of the Nursery Industry

Rochester went from being the flour city to the Flower city.  But actually, the nursery industry in Monroe County started in Greece!

Topics and Facts in this Bicentennial Snapshot:


Interesting Facts

Question: Did you know Rochester went from being the flour city to the Flower city?

Answer: Actually, the nursery industry in Monroe County started in Greece. This was because of the amount of fertile land and the vast openness for the growth of Flowers, Produce, Fruits, and other plants that would grow in the region.

Question: What was Rochester known for first as the Flour or was it Flower?

The answer may surprise some of you it first was known as the flour city because of the gristmill that Ebenezer “Indian” Allen had at one point and in Aqueduct Park there is a sign that tells about the gristmill that was located at 47-59 E Main St, Rochester, NY 14614 which is the at the corner of East Main Street and Geneva St in the City of Rochester. The City then became known as the Flower City in 1859.


Asa Rowe (Brith: 25 Feb 1806, Death:23 Nov 1894 (aged 88) )

Asa Rowe
Asa Rowe, 1806-1895, A Pioneer, Tavernkeeper, and Nurseryman
Learn more from this short paper on Asa Rowe, edited by Lee Strauss

Asa Rowe was born February 25, 1806, and was the son of Abel Rowe and Ame Hincher, and grandson of two of the first families of Greece. His father, Abel Rowe, and his grandparents Daniel and Ruth Granger Rowe were settlers at King’s Landing featured in the Bicentennial Snapshot number 4. His mother was Ame Hincher, the daughter of William and Mehitable Hincher; she came to Charlotte in 1792 with her parents and they were the first European settlers to reside west of the Genesee River.

Asa Rowe established the first nursery business in Monroe County in 1826 when he opened the Monroe Garden and Nursery on the north side of Ridge Road near where today, Mitchell, Long Pond, and Ridge Roads intersect.

His Dad Able Rowe ran the Rowe Tavern, more on the Rowe tavern appeared in Bicentennials Snapshots 11 & 12 The Ridge parts 1 and 2, and 16 ADA Ridge.

Take a look at the slideshow, the first image is the cover of the Genesee Farmer, where Asa would place ads for the Monroe Horticultural Garden and Nurseries he ran. The next image in the slideshow is one of the ads Asa ran. The final image in this slideshow is the ad is the same ad but note the text that is in the odd style circle Asa mentions that he takes advantage of the Erie Canal otherwise Known as Clinton's Ditch which will be explained in two weeks in the Bicentennial Snapshot # 15 - The Erie Canal.



James Vick (1818-1882) from Vick illustrated catalog
James Vick (1818-1882) from Vick illustrated catalog

James Vick (Born November 23, 1818 - Death 16 May 1882 (aged 63))

James Vick was born November 23, 1818, in Portsmouth, Portsmouth Unitary Authority, Hampshire, England to parents James Vick and Elizabeth Vick. James brothers were George Vick, William Vick, Joseph Henry Vick, and Charles Frederick Vick. George also had a knack for the seed business as well as his brother James. But for this snapshot, we will mostly focus on James Vick.

Coming from Portsmouth, Portsmouth Unitary Authority, Hampshire, England he did make one friend before leaving England any guesses as to what famous author was born in Landport, Portsmouth, United Kingdom?

It's no other than the boyhood home of the famous author Charles Dickens the author of A Christmas Carol and A Tale of Two Cities as well as some other books. James Vick enjoyed having a life-long friendship with Charles Dickens.

James Vick emigrated to America in 1833 with his father's family. Like many of the Rochester horticulturists of the nineteenth century, Vick was closely entwined with the publishing world. He first came to Rochester from New York City in 1837 as a printer, and shortly thereafter became associated with the Genesee Farmer as a writer and editor, and finally as owner and publisher during the period 1849-1855. Also, James helps a famous Abolitionist in Rochester print his newspaper the North Star you are probably thinking of Frederick Douglas. If you were you are correct he help Frederick print his newspaper to help slaves make it to freedom and tell stories that would not be printed in the other papers at the time that the North Star was printed.

After the death of Andrew Jackson Downing, the great landscape architect, Vick purchased The Horticulturist from Downing' s estate and moved it to Rochester where he published it from 1853 to 1855 with Patrick Barry as editor. Vick later edited and published The Rural Annual and Horticultural Directory from 1856 to 1857 when he sold it to Joseph Harris who continued it until 1867. Vick also edited The Rural New Yorker from 1857 to 1862. While Vick was publishing and writing he was also experimenting with seeds in his spare time.

This sideline soon grew into a viable business venture and by 1866 Vick acquired some land on East Avenue, now Vick Park A and Vick Park B, and quickly developed this plot into one of the most famous seed gardens in the United States. Until 1870, he packed most of his seed in the attic of his home before moving to a four-story building at State and Market Streets.

The grand opening of his new headquarters was happily attended by many people, so many that hundreds had to be turned away at the door. The Union and Advertiser reported that "in the evening the crowd was fearful and the efforts of the police, who were detailed for that purpose, were tasked to their utmost to preserve order and to keep the stairs, halls, and rooms from being choked up with a struggling mass of humanity. "

Vick's Seed Warehouse at the corner of State and Market Streets
Vick's Seed Warehouse at the corner of State and Market Streets
Vick's Seed Farm in Greece at Manitou and the Erie Canal

Vick's four sons, James Jr., Charles, Frank, and Edward, attended to the various affairs of the business. Edward supervised the storage of bulbs and seeds; Charles was in charge of the bindery; James Jr. was head of financial affairs, and Frank oversaw the packing room. James Vick's two brothers, Joseph and William, were in charge of the company's fifty-acre seed farm in Greece. At Vick's seed farm on Manitou Road at the Erie Canal that the flag was created out of Aster Flowers and people would travel on the Erie canal to just come to look at the display each year when springtime would come around.

By 1872 the Vick Seed Company was sending out more than 200,000 illustrated catalogs each year and was advertising in 3,300 newspapers and in all of the American agricultural and horticultural journals. The advertising bill in December 1870 amounted to $15,000. $4650 was spent just on stamps.

His thriving vegetable and flower bulb nursery was on Dewey Avenue where the Villa of Hope (formerly St. Joseph’s Villa) is located today.

Villa of Hope (formerly St. Joseph’s Villa)
Villa of Hope (formerly St. Joseph’s Villa)
The Greenhouses in this picture came from Vicks on Dewey Ave

Also, You won't believe this but the greenhouses that were located at Vick's were purchased by The Frears Family and sit at Frears's Garden Center. We at the Greece Historical Society found that information out today with an interview with the grandson of E. Frear.

More on the Frear's Garden center coming later on in its own snapshot. But for now, here is the Farwell To Frears Article with some additional photos of that garden center.

A Farewell to Frear’s Garden Center

More on the Erie Canal in Snapshot # 15

Facebooktwittermail

Greece Historical Society’s Annual Strawberry Festival Fundraiser

Strawberry & Dessert Tasting Festival

🍓 🍓🍓 🍓

Strawberry Festival June 20th 4 p.m to 7 p.m. $8.00 Adults, $ 5.00 for Kids 6-12, Free for Kids Under 5

Date And Time:

Monday, June 20, 2022
4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Location:

Greece Town Hall Pavilion
3 Vince Tofany Blvd, Greece, NY 14612

Admission:

$ 8.00 – Adults
$ 5.00 – Children 6-12
Free for 5 & Under

FREE PARKING

The Admission includes

Strawberry Short Cake and other Cake Samples from

Dessert Samplings from The following vendors

Barton’s Parkside Hots

Hots, Burgers, Sausages, etc. will be available for purchase.

Music for the event is provided by:

DJ Flyin Brian of Party Productions

Other Activities include:

  • Children Activities
  • Grease Paint Alley Clowns
  • Community Displays
  • A Square Dance demonstration at 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.
  • There will be Door Prizes
  • A Chinese Auction
  • As well as a chance to win one of these interesting Bicentennial Pioneer Families Signs
    • The Tickets are $ 5.00 for one
    • 3 for $ 10.00
    • The Drawing for this Raffle will be done on July 10th, 2022.
    • You Could Win one of these five Unique designs
Second Prize
First Prize
Fifth Prize
Fourth Prize
Third Prize

Sponsors of this Year’s Strawberry & Dessert Tastings Festival

Facebooktwittermail

Bicentennial Snapshot # 10 – Samuel and Lydia and George and Frances Latta

This week we introduce you to Samuel and Lydia and George and Frances Latta, one of the preeminent families of the Town of Greece. They were members of the Valliant 33 group that fought to defend Charlotte and the port from the British in the war of 1812 Part 3 snapshot.

Samuel Latta Bio

George C Latta Bio

Samuel Latta

Samuel Latta

He was born 14 Apr 1776, in Walkill, Ulster co., New York to James and Sarah Jackson Latta. Some of his many accomplishments as a pioneer family of the town of Northhampton which covers both Towns of Gates and Greece until 1812 when the town was renamed, Gates then in 1822 the two towns split into Gates and Greece. Samuel Latta served as Town Supervisor in 1810 as seen in this map here. He was the first to build a warehouse at the port of Charlotte and was the first Collector of the port which was described in the snapshot Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse. He surveyed and laid out a road from the river to Parma, today’s Latta Road.

Among Samuel’s accomplishments: he built the first warehouse at the mouth of the Genesee River, the first in all of this part of the country; he was the first collector of the Port of Charlotte; he surveyed and laid out a road from the river to Parma, today’s Latta Road.


George C. Latta

George C. Latta was born in 1795 in Walkill, Walkill, Ulster co., New York to James and Sarah Jackson Latta and brother to Samuel. George has some of the same talents as his brother did but he was an entrepreneurial powerhouse. He was the quintessential “self-made man.” The broad range of his investments and businesses included mercantile, forwarding, manufacturing, farming, and nursery operations.

One of the mercantile companies was for a clerk in the Frederick Bushnell and James K. Guernsey mercantile business in Charlotte.

After working in the mercantile business he went on to be the town supervisor from 1845 to 1849, a trustee of his church the Lake United Methodist Church, and he donated the land for the Charlotte Cemetery which is located at 20 River St in Charlotte is right across from where District 4 school was located and now is the site of Rochester Engine 19 Station.

W. M. Britton and Edward Frisbee were not the only town supervisors and or families that help with education and land to be used for a school, In 1837 George Latta donated a site at the North side of Stutson St. A new one-room brick building replaced the old one. In 1837 bricks used for the building were made on site. In the 1860s the school was overcrowded with 1 teacher handling 80 students. In 1868 a new school was built at the corner of Latta Rd and River Streets. In 1893 a two-story addition was completed at a cost of $ 6,200. In 1907 a second school was constructed on-site. After annexation, Rochester built school # 38 on Latta Rd in 1928 and put on an addition in 1953. The evolution of education in the town may be another snapshot altogether as some other things that George C Latta did as supervisor of the town of Greece can be viewed on the digital kiosk at the museum in the section labeled supervisors of Greece.

Grave stone of George C Latta
District 4 on the land that George C Latta donated for the construction of this school

An Article was written by Joan Sullivan about George C Latta a Pioneer, Merchant, and Entrepreneur those who would like to read that article can it be read here

For more about these two pioneer families check out our pioneer families displays in the dining room at the museum Sundays from 1:30 pm to 4 pm. If you are into reading you might want to pick up a copy of Pioneer Families of the Town of Greece: Volume 1 now available in our gift shop or on amazon. Also, some of this information is in Eight Miles Along the Shore as well which is another great book about the town’s history.

All video and post-production are done by Pat Worboys and Narration and script are by Maureen Whalen. Most of the photos in the clip are from the Greece Historical Society’s archives, Greece Town Historian’s Office, and the Greece Post, the rest are creative commons licenses which are provided in the video.

Facebooktwittermail

Bicentennial Snapshot # 09 – Giles H Holden

This week we introduce you to Giles H. Holden, the first keeper of the Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse. Holden, a veteran of the War of 1812, came to Greece in 1817 to be the Deputy Collector and Surveyor of the port. In 1822, he became the first lighthouse keeper, a position he held until 1834. He was also a Greece Justice of the Peace, a Supervisor of the Town of Greece, and head of the Charlotte Board of Health during a cholera epidemic and he was also a Commissioner of Common Schools for the town of Greece from 1825-1830 while he was the lightkeeper.

Although born in Charleston, New Hampshire circa 1788, Giles Holden grew up in Middlebury, Vermont.  He was attending the University of Burlington in Vermont when the War of 1812 began.  Holden enlisted; in fact, so many of his fellow students enlisted that the school had to close until the end of the war. After the war, he moved to Perinton to teach school. 

On March 9, 1817, he married Susan Bennett, who had been one of his students. The next month they moved to Charlotte after Giles was appointed Deputy Collector and Surveyor of the port.  They traveled by horseback, Susan riding behind her new husband. This description of Susan’s reaction to her new home gives you an idea of what the area was like in that era.

“I stood the journey very well, until we reached the brow of Hopper Hill (Hopper Terr, today).  Pointing ahead, Giles said ‘Yonder lies Charlotte.’ I looked and seeing nothing but woods, dense woods, a feeling of lonesomeness came over me, and I burst into tears.”

Susan Bennett

They took up residence in a home Giles had built.  In 1819, Giles purchased 100 acres of land adjoining the village on the west and farmed it. 

Holden became the first lighthouse keeper after the lighthouse was constructed in 1822. He held that position until 1834.

The keeper was provided with a two-room dwelling.  But that wasn’t enough for the Holdens with their ten children; Giles enlarged it with two additions. While Giles was the keeper and the deputy collector of the port, the body of Sam Patch, America’s first daredevil was discovered near the mouth of the Genesee River (where the Monroe County boat launch is today).  It was five months after his unsuccessful leap of high falls on Friday, November 13, 1829. Holden sent this message to the Rochester Daily Advertiser newspaper:

In addition to his keeper duties, in 1827, Giles was elected Justice of the Peace in Greece.  In 1832 he was elected supervisor of Greece. In 1832, a cholera epidemic broke out in Rochester and the surrounding towns. In just six short weeks, the epidemic took almost 2,500 lives, or 1% of the population of the area.  During the months of July and August, business and travel were almost entirely suspended. The seemingly vigorous in the morning were carried to their graves before night. Giles Holden was head of the Board of Health for Charlotte and he closed the port and posted guards on Ridge Road to keep infected parties out of Greece.

Because it was a political appointment, Holden lost the lightkeeper position when Andrew Jackson took office in 1835. Those two additions he put on the house? He took them with him, moving them across the street from the lighthouse. Local historian Jack Kemp wrote about Holden “In later life, Giles was addressed as Squire Holden, attesting to the esteem in which he was held by his contemporaries.”  Holden died in 1867 and he is buried in the Charlotte Cemetery.

Facebooktwittermail

Bicentennial Snapshot # 04: King’s Landing

The Greece Historical Society presents these weekly Bicentennial Snapshots to mark the 200th Anniversary of the founding of the Town of Greece. Each week we feature a particular aspect of Greece, New York history. Each Bicentennial story will be unique in nature and over the course of the 52 episodes, you will learn about the people and events that comprise the vibrant history of Greece from its earliest days to the present.

King’s Landing
By Helen Edson Slocum

This week we consider King’s Landing, the First European Settlement, and Lake Port west of the Genesee River. Natives of Sheffield, Connecticut, in 1797. the King and Granger families established a settlement on the banks of the Genesee River. They cut roads, built a bridge over the ravine, cleared the land, built a wharf and a schooner, sailed to Fort Niagara with their first load of produce and wheat, killed rattlesnakes, and went about their daily lives until the settlement was decimated by malaria or Genesee Fever as it was called then. In 1807, the seven Hanford brothers renewed the King’s Landing settlement and built a mill, hotel, and shipping center. More on Handford’s Tavern involvement in the War of 1812 Part 1.

The King’s Landing Bicentennial Snapshot was compiled by Lee Strauss, and Joseph Vitello, using notes by Helen Edson Slocum, Narrated by Maureen Whalen.

Eight Miles Along the Shore
Eight Miles Along the Shore By Virginia Tomkiewicz and Shirley Cox Husted

More on King’s Landing check out: Eight Miles Along The Shore by Virginia Tomkiewicz and Shirley Cox Husted is the first book you should pick up.

And there is a copy of King’s Landing, A History of the First Settlement west of the Genesee River in the State of New York 1797 by Helen Edson Slocum is available in our reference library for research only.

Don’t forget to, check out the Digital Kiosk inside the Newcomb Museum Wing has a fully interactive exhibit on King’s Landing.

The mission of the Greece Historical Society is to discover, research, and preserve the history of the Town of Greece and to share that history with its residents and the local community through public programs, publications, museum exhibits, and accessibility to its archives and artifacts.

If you like to learn more about the Town of Greece’s history, consider Subscribing to Our YouTube Channel Greece History and when you are there don’t forget to click that bell icon 🔔, you will be notified when new content comes out for the Bicentennial Snapshots or other programs that the Society puts on about the Town of Greece and its past so future generations can understand how the town has taken us on multiple journeys.

As the line in West Ridge Elementary School theme goes, “We all come from different parts of the Greece Community.”

West Ridge Elementary Theme

The Bicentennial Snapshots video is assembled and produced by Pat Worboys, who manages video and Information Technology services for the Greece Historical Society and Museum.

All graphics that are used in the video are either from Public Domain Sources, Museum Collections, and contributions by members of the Greece Historical Society, and credit is given to each source either in the lower third or at the end of the video.

Facebooktwittermail

Bicentennial Snapshot # 03: The Hinchers

The Greece Historical Society presents these weekly Bicentennial Snapshots to mark the 200th Anniversary of the founding of the Town of Greece. Each week we feature a particular aspect of Greece, New York history. Each Bicentennial story will be unique in nature and over the course of the 52 episodes, you will learn about the people and events that comprise the vibrant history of Greece from its earliest days to the present.



This week on the Bicentennial snapshot, we take a look at The Hinchers. They were the first European settlers on the shore of Lake Ontario, on the west side of the Genesee, between here and the Niagara This week we introduce you to the Hincher Family, the first European settlers west of the Genesee River. William Hincher, the patriarch of the family, was a veteran of the Revolutionary War and a participant in Shays’ Rebellion. In 1792, he brought his wife, Mehitable, and their eight children to western New York, settling on the west bank of the Genesee River where the Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse stands today.

Eight Miles Along the Shore
Eight Miles Along the Shore By Virginia Tomkiewicz and Shirley Cox Husted

If you would enjoy reading books about history, then here is a list of books related to this snapshot: The Eight Miles Along The Shore by Virginia Tomkiewicz and Shirley Cox Husted is the first book you should pick up. Please visit the online gift shop located on our website or stop in to see our selection during our scheduled hours.

Sources and credits for the graphics used are given either in the lower third portion of an image or at the end of the video.

The mission of the Greece Historical Society is to discover, research, and preserve the history of the Town of Greece and to share that history with its residents and the local community through public programs, publications, museum exhibits, and accessibility to its archives and artifacts.

If you like to learn more about the Town of Greece’s history, consider Subscribing to Our YouTube Channel Greece History and when you are there don’t forget to click that bell icon 🔔, you will be notified when new content comes out for the Bicentennial Snapshots or other programs that the Society puts on about the Town of Greece and its past so future generations can understand how the town has taken us on multiple journeys.

As the line in West Ridge Elementary School theme goes, “We all come from different parts of the Greece Community.”

West Ridge Elementary Theme

The Bicentennial Snapshots video is assembled and produced by Pat Worboys, who manages video and Information Technology services for the Greece Historical Society and Museum.

.

Facebooktwittermail

Greece Pioneer Family Project, Vol. 2

Greece Pioneer Family Project, Vol. 2

If you are a member of a Pioneer Family who was living in the Town of Greece before 1872, we would like to hear from you. Co-authors Marie Villone Poinan and Jo Ann Ward Snyder are now accepting additional family submissions for Pioneer Families of the Town of Greece, Volume 2, which will be published in the fall of 2022.

This second volume will honor families who settled in the area before 1872 but were not included in volume 1. It will contain vignettes, photos, and input from current family members, highlighting each family’s contribution to the town.

If your family qualifies and you would like to be included in volume two, please download and submit the five documents below by August 1, 2022. You will be contacted by Marie or Jo Ann within 30 days.

Submit all supporting documentation, to us by e-mail at greecehistoricalsociety@yahoo.com or via US mail to: Greece Historical Society, PO Box 16249, Greece, NY 14616

Pioneer Families of the Town of Greece – Vol. 1 is available from Amazon, from our online museum gift shop, or by visiting our gift shop in the museum during our regular office hours. (Visit our “200 years” section above to see the complete list of included families.)

Facebooktwittermail

Pioneer Families Publications

Pioneer Families of the Town of Greece – Vol. 1

Pioneer Families of the Town of Greece - Vol. 1
Pioneer Families of the Town of Greece – Vol. 1

(Available from Amazon, from our online museum gift shop, or by visiting our gift shop in the museum during our regular office hours.)

This book, researched and written by Marie Villone Poinan and Jo Ann Ward Snyder, honors the families who settled in the area before 1872. It contains vignettes, photos, and input from current family members that highlight each family’s contribution to the town.

The following families are featured in Volume 1: Baker, Beaty, Bemish/Lane/Wilder, Britton, Captain, John Burns, Terry Burns, Butts, Carpenter/Toal, Cole/Kenyon, Denise, Eddy, Farnan, Fetzner, Joseph and Patrick Fleming, Robert Fleming, Goodwin, Hogan, Janes, Johnson, Kirk, Latta, Lay, Lowden, Mitchell, Mura, Nash, Newcomb, O’Neil, Perrin, Preston, James, Reilly, Reniff, Shearman, Speer/Carroll, Thorpe, Tiernan/McGee, Upton, Veeder, Veness, Volkmar.


Pioneer Families of the Town of Greece – Vol. 2 (Expected to be available in Fall 2022)

Submissions for Pioneer Families of the Town of Greece, Volume 2, which will be published in the fall of 2022. This second volume will honor families who settled in the area before 1872 but were not included in volume 1.

Pioneer Families of the Town of Greece - Vol. 2
Pioneer Families of the Town of Greece – Vol. 2

Apply for a Bicentennial Pioneer Certificate

Example of a Bicentennial Certificate
Example of a Bicentennial Certificate

If you have documentation that proves that your family was living in the Town of Greece before 1872, you can apply for a PIONEER CERTIFICATE to be issued by the Greece Historical Society. The certificate will include your family name, a GHS bicentennial logo, an embossed gold GHS “Pioneer Family” seal, and the signature of GHS president William Sauers. (Additional copies will be available for purchase.) To date, we have created and distributed nearly 200 individual Pioneer Family certificates.

If yours is one of the featured families in the Pioneers of the Town of Greece book, you will automatically receive a certificate for that family and do not have to supply the paperwork discussed below. If you have another family who was in Greece before 1872, you will have to submit an application and pedigree chart for that surname.

To  request a certificate, please download and complete the certificate application and “fillable” pedigree chart using the links below:

Submit those two completed forms, and any additional supporting documentation, to us by e-mail at greecehistoricalsociety@yahoo.com or via US mail to: Greece Historical Society, PO Box 16249, Greece, NY 14616

Facebooktwittermail

200 Years

In 2022, the Town of Greece will celebrate its 200th birthday. In recognition and celebration of the momentous event, the Greece Historical Society will be producing books and programs throughout the year to educate town residents on the people and events that contributed to establishing the town as we now know it.

This section of our site will be our conduit to share this information with you, our fellow residents. We expect to provide new information frequently throughout 2022 so please plan to stop by from time to time to view the latest additions.

INFORMATION VIDEOS

To understand the process that the writers went thru to research, create, and produce this two-volume publication, which highlights contributions to the town of families who settled in the area before 1872 with vignettes, photos, and input from current family members. This was recorded on November 9, 2021.


These brief videos will be posted by the Greece Historical Society throughout 2022 to mark the 200th Anniversary of the founding of the Town of Greece. They will share details about the people and events that influenced its evolution.


PUBLICATIONS

Pioneer Families of the Town of Greece – Vol. 1

Out Now
By here or Buy on Amazon

Pioneer Families of the Town of Greece – Vol. 1 & 2

These books are researched and written by Marie Villone Poinan and Jo Ann Ward Snyder. Want to learn more about the Pioneer Families of the Town of Greece? Click on each book to read the description about the importance and discover the pioneer families and where they came from to be members of Greece, New York.

Pioneer Families of the Town of Greece - Vol. 2
Pioneer Families of the Town of Greece – Vol. 2

Coming 2023