Bicentennial Snapshot No. 54: Gone, but Not Forgotten

Bicentennial Snapshot # 54: Gone but not Forgotten
Monroe County Bookmobile in front of the old town hall, 1955 from the Rochester Public Library Local History and Genealogy Division

Today, as we acknowledge all those who helped us produce these Bicentennial Snapshots, please enjoy photos of places and businesses no longer part of the Greece landscape.

We would like to thank the following individuals with their contributions to the snapshots:

First of all, we are tremendously thankful for all the photos provided by Society president Bill Sauers. He has a vast archive of photographs that he generously shared with us.

Edgewater Hotel from Bill Sauers
Odenbach Shipbuilding, 2012, photo by Bill Sauers

If he didn’t have a photo we needed, he went out and took one, especially for the snapshots.

We greatly appreciate Greece town historian Keith Suhr giving us permission to use photos from Greece Images.

Dutch Mill, 2017, from the Office of the Town Historian
Mount Read Chase-Pitkin

Thank you also to our other photographers or those who provided photos for various episodes: Alan Mueller, Ben Kerr, Bonnie Stemen Fiser, Carolyn Kerheart, Dick Halsey, Deborah Cole Meyers,

Douglas Worboys, who worked at Chase-Pitkin and helped you find the tools and supplies for that home improvement project you had going on in your home,

Maiden Lanes Bowling Alley, photo by Mike Callen

Gene Preston(Retired North Greece Fire Department / Kodak Fire) and owner of Preston Fresh Produce on Long Pond Road, Gina DiBella, Gloria LaTragna, Gretchen Howe, Dr. George Sanders, “Booze, Barns, Boats and Brothers” by H. Dwight Bliss III, John Cranch, Jane Grant, Author of Barns of Greece, Kathy Gray who provided pictures of Frank Siebert that were added to the snapshot on Ridge Road Fire District, Jo Ann Ward Snyder co-author of Pioneer Families of the Town of Greece, Joan Winghart Wilcox Sullivan who wrote about her father, Bernie Winghart, Gordon Massecar,

Joe Vitello, Marie Poinan co-author of Pioneer Families of the Town of Greece as well as the co-author of two books with Maureen Whalen, one book with the late Tom Sawnor, and 5 books on her own, RRFD/Greece Ridge FD Historian and District Photographer Matthew Pillsbury, Battalion Chief Brian Gebo for providing Ridge Road/Greece Ridge Fire Districts 100 Years logo for our use,

Rochester Gas & Electric, Russell Station from GHS
Lincoln First Bank postcard at Dewey and Haviland

Patricia Conklin, Paul Pakusch who let us use the personal home video that he recorded on his way to work at News 10 (WHEC) NBC in 1991 during the ice storm, Mike Parker, Robert Bilsky, Ralph DeStephano, Ed Spelman, Tom DiBello, Travis Beaver, Francis Howard Whelehan, Stanley Hwalek, Mason Winfield the Author of “Haunted Rochester”, William Aeberli, Helen Edson Slocum, Virginia Tomkiewicz, Shirley Cox Husted

We would like to thank the following organizations, news outlets, local colleges and libraries

North Greece Fire Department, Greece Ridge/Ridge Road Fire District, Barnard Fire Department, Barnard Exempts, FDNY(Fire Department of the City of New York), Greece Police, Center for Governmental Research,

Island Cottage Hotel, 1977, from GHS
Streb’s Steak House from GHS

Rochester Public Library, Buffalo and Erie County Public Library’s Recording Studio in the Launch Pad Maker Space at the Central Library, The University of Rochester, Rochester Institute of Technology, Wayne State University, Princeton University, University of Iowa, nebraskastudies.org, SUNY School SOAR

Democrat and Chronicle, 13 Wham TV, WHEC, WROC, Spectrum News, Histrotic Detroit, The Hilton Record, Rochester Times-Union, The American Issue, New York Daily News, Global News a Division of Shaw Media, newspapers.com, Rochester Gas & Electric News Publication, Rochester Daily Advertiser,

Verhulst Brothers Farm Market from GHS
Our Lady of Mercy Rectory designed by James H. Johnson from GHS

Our Mother of Sorrows Church, Greece Baptist Church, Greece United Methodist Church,

Greece Central School District, Archive.org, BoxRec.com, US Treasury National Archives, FBI, National Archives, Department of Defense, U.S.C.G.S. ( United States Coast Guard), Library of Congress, USDA, Wikipedia, IMDB, National Weather Services, NOAA, NASA, Canadian Ice Service, US PTO(Patent and Trademark Office), Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), Rochester Baseball Historical Society, Monroe County GIS Map Gallery which contains 11 interactive maps that were used in some of the snapshots as well as the parcels map that was used to verify data on certain properties,

District School #5, 2007, photo by Bill Sauers
999 Long Pond Road from GHS

The Landmark Society of Western New York, Rochester Museum and Science Center, Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, mcnygenealogy.com, New York State digital archive, Monroe Historical Society, Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse, Cobblestone Museum, Buffalo Maritime Center, New York State Department of Transportation, Bob Johnson Chevrolet

We relied heavily on past newspaper accounts and are so grateful that the Greece Historical Society secured grants to have the Greece Press, Greater Greece Press, and Greece Post digitized.

Bull at Scarlett’s Island Cottage from GHS
Lake Shore Drive-in Sign from GHS

History writers of the future will have a more difficult time documenting the past with fewer newspapers available.

Cine 1234 Ridge Rd (FB Gina Beebee)

The maps digitized by the Rochester Public Library’s Local History and Genealogy Division are a marvelous resource.

St Charles Borromeo school photo by Bill Sauers
Movie Theatre in Stoneridge Plaza from GHS

If these Snapshots brought back memories or taught you something you didn’t know, then we succeeded in our endeavor. They will remain a resource for future students of local history.

We encourage you to get out and photograph what will be tomorrow’s history. Keep a journal documenting your lives and bequeath them to future generations.

Johnny Maier’s Hotel and Restaurant, 4454 Dewey Avenue, from GHS
Friendly’s Restaurant on Dewey Avenue from GHS

Lastly, we invite you to visit the Greece Historical Society and Museum to learn more about the history of the town of Greece.

Greece Volunteer Ambulance (GVA)
Greece Volunteer Ambulance (GVA)

This is Maureen Whalen, on behalf of the Greece Historical Society, Pat Worboys, and myself, saying thank you to our loyal viewers and wishing you the best as Greece begins a new century.

Frear’s Garden Center, 2022, photo by Pat Worboys
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Happy Birthday Monroe County

On February 23, 2021, we celebrated the Bicentennial of the founding of Monroe County. Named for President James Monroe, the county was carved out of land taken from both Ontario and Genesee Counties; it became a new county on February 23, 1821, by decree of the New York State Legislature.

After the Revolutionary War, a treaty of 1783 established the Great Lakes as the northwestern border of the United States. This treaty was referred to as “The Thirteen Council Fires” by Native Americans who were attempting to peacefully co-exist with the new Americans. Unscrupulous speculators often attempted to swindle the natives by tricking them into surrendering their land. Meanwhile, George Washington had sent General Sullivan into western New York to forcibly remove the Seneca by burning their crops and destroying their villages.

Land speculators Oliver Phelps and Nathaniel Gorham purchased over six million acres in western NY from Massachusetts in 1788. The land extended all the way from Lake Ontario at the north to the Pennsylvania state line on the south. Phelps also negotiated a treaty with the Seneca, who had originally refused to sell any land west of the Genesee River. Phelps “convinced” the native Americas to part with an area 12 miles wide by 28 miles long for the construction of a mill on the west side of the Genesee. This area became known as the “mill seat tract” and was the site of the first mill built by Ebenezer “Indian” Allan in 1789 (the mill site was just west of today’s Court Street Bridge).

When Phelps and Gorham were unable to pay their debts, their unsold lots were sold to Robert Morris of Philadelphia in 1790. Morris was a financier who quickly turned over the sale of a million acres of Genesee land the very next year to Sir William Johnstone Pulteney. Due to a NY State law that said that a foreigner could not pass title to any New York property, Charles Williamson became Pulteney’s land agent and he held the legal title to the Genesee lands. He opened a land office in Bath, Steuben County.

The settlements on the east side of the Genesee became the Town of Northfield created in 1796. This land was originally a part of Ontario County with the county seat at Canandaigua. It later was known as “Boyle.” The towns split off from Northfield were: Penfield (1810), Perinton (1812), Pittsford and Brighton (1814), Henrietta (1818), Irondequoit (1839) and Webster (1840). Mendon was taken from Bloomfield in 1812 and Rush was taken from Avon in 1818.

March 18, 1806 record
book of Northampton
mentions money payable
to Asa and Frederick Rowe.

Settlements on the west side of the Genesee River were part of the Town of Northampton created in 1797. Originally a part of Genesee County, the county seat was at Batavia. Towns split off from Northhampton were: Parma and Riga (1808), Gates (1808*), Sweden (1813), Ogden (1817), Clarkson (1819), and Greece and Chili (1822). (The reason for the asterisk after Gates 1808 is due the fact that the petition was presented to Albany in 1808, but it took four years to pass in the legislature and an additional year to take effect!) Wheatland was originally called “Inverness” when created in 1821 and Hamlin was originally called “Union” when formed in 1852 before being renamed in 1861. The county seat of Northampton was at Batavia.

In March of 1801, Abel Rowe built a cabin in Batavia and Joseph Ellicott moved his Holland Land Company office into Rowe’s cabin. Abel Rowe soon became a pioneer settler of Gates (later the Town of Greece) and marries the daughter of William Hincher of Charlotte in 1804. Their son Asa would become the famous nurseryman of Ridge Road in Greece.

In 1805, Pulteney land agent, James Wadsworth (1768-1844), offered land for sale in a letter written at Geneseo in 1805. (see at right- New Lands for Sale)

At first, there were very few permanent settlers in our area. Pioneers included Orringh Stone, Daniel Penfield, Glover Perrin, and William Hincher who built log cabin in 1792 on the bluff where the Charlotte Genesee Lighthouse now stands. The “Genesee Fever” pretty much wiped out the settlers at King’s Landing where Gideon King and Zaddock Granger had bought 6000 acres in 1796. The earliest settlers of the Town of Greece are buried at the Hanford Landing and the Charlotte Village Cemeteries.

The 1971 Monroe County Sesquicentennial booklet, Preface to Tomorrow, referred to our area as: “a God-forsaken place, inhabited by muskrats, visited only by straggling trappers, and through which neither man nor beast could gallop without fear of starvation, or fever or ague.” Nevertheless, in 1803, Charles Carroll, William Fitzhugh, and Nathaniel Rochester contracted to buy the “Genesee Fall mill tract” property (100 acres) from Sir William Pulteney, through his attorney Robert Troup.

But it was the area’s waterways that were key to the early growth of Monroe County. The arrival of the Erie Canal was a huge boon to the local economy by providing a cheap and efficient way to get bountiful crops to market. The waterfalls of the Genesee River provided power to its flour mills, mills that shipped over 200,000 barrels of flour in 1826, the very next year after the Erie Canal opened. Schooners and steamers at the busy port at Charlotte brought in lumber from Canada and exported finished wood from its sawmills and flour from its gristmills.

Early settlers planted fruit orchards and grain fields of wheat and barley. Wheat was ground into flour and the excess was turned into whiskey. An early census of western New York noted that there were more distilleries than gristmills.

The population of Rochesterville was less than 5000 people when it became an incorporated village in 1817. That number grew to over 12,000 residents when it received its charter as a city in 1834 and annexed another 4000 acres of land obtained from the surrounding towns of Gates, Greece, Brighton, and Irondequoit.

Both Genesee and Ontario Counties fought the establishment of Monroe County and it took four more trip to Albany to persuade state legislators. But the locals grew tired to long and arduous journey to either Batavia or Canandaigua to record land transactions. Monroe County was approved by the NYS Legislature on February 23, 1821.

Today, the County of Monroe has a total of 19 towns. The current Monroe County Office Building is on the same spot that the first courthouse building of 1829 occupied. After two hundred years, most of the farmland is now gone, but Monroe County can trace its roots back to the farming pioneers who came to the area after the Revolutionary War.

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Bicentennial Snapshot No. 48: Gordon A. Howe

Today our topic is Gordon A. Howe, longtime Monroe County and Greece political leader whose career spanned 43 years.

Gordon A. Howe

When he died in 1989, Gordon A. Howe was eulogized by US Representative Frank Horton: “He was a great leader and an unusual person in that everyone respected him. He made tremendous contributions to county government and to Greece.”

Gordon Howe was born January 19, 1904, the son of Frank Howe from Hamilton County, New York, and Agnes Murray, a native of Scotland. He was one of five children. They moved to Greece in 1919, residing on Denise Road (where the Pine Grove apartments are today).

Gordon A. Howe
Charlotte High School from the Office of the Town Historian

Howe was an all-around student at Charlotte High School this was when the high school just getting ready to move across the road to its new location to house more students.

Charlotte High photo by John Cranch
Charlotte High photo by John Cranch
1922-23 City Basketball Champions from the Office of the Town Historian (Howe holding the basketball)

an outstanding athlete,

Student Council 1924 from the Witan (Charlotte High School Yearbook) from Rochester Public Library Local History and Genealogy Division (Howe center of the third row from the bottom)

member of the student council, president of his class his senior year,

Yearbook staff, 1924, from the Witan (Charlotte High School Yearbook) from Rochester Public Library Local History and Genealogy Division (Howe center row second from the right)

and on the yearbook staff.

He even drew the cover for the 1921 Witan.

Pen and ink sketch by Gordon Howe, 1921, courtesy of Marie Poinan
Senior class president 1924, from the Witan (Charlotte High School Yearbook) from Rochester Public Library Local History and Genealogy Division

He graduated in 1924 and although he wanted to go to Columbia University and major in journalism, he had to forgo college and worked several years for Rochester Gas And Electric (RG&E).

However, it didn’t take him long to find his true calling—a life dedicated to political service. He became involved with Republican politics as soon as he could vote. In 1930 at the age of 26, he was elected to the position of Justice of the Peace—he was the youngest person in the state at the time ever elected to be a JP. He was self-educated in the law.

Gordon A. Howe after his election in 1930 at the age of 26 from GHS

In 1933, due to the Depression, he lost his job as an insurance adjuster. He said: “I had to do something” so he decided to run for Greece Town Supervisor in 1934. He won at the age of 29, and continued to win, ultimately serving 13 two-year terms as Supervisor.

Greece Press, November 5, 1937
Wedding picture 1937 from GHS

In 1937 Howe married Lois Speares, a former schoolmate.

They first lived in the historic Dennis Denise home at 486 Denise Road not far from his parents.

486 Denise Road photo by Bill Sauers
Gordon with his children Gordon II, Gretchen, and David circa 1954, GHS

They had three children, Gordon II, Gretchen, and David.

In 1941, they purchased the historic Larkin-Beattie home, which was then located at 3177 Latta Road. Today it is the home of the Greece Historical Society on Long Pond Road.

Howe House in winter
Aerial view of the Howe property, 1940s, from the office of the Town Historian

The house came with 25 acres of land, perfect for hosting the annual picnic for the Greece Republican committee or the Barnard Fire Department of which Howe was a former volunteer.

Howe, along with his good friend and fellow Republican Al Skinner, who was Monroe County Sheriff from 1938 to 1973, dominated Greece politics for years.

Howe and Skinner from GHS
Kirk Road Bridge, WPA project 1937, from the Office of the Town Historian

During the Depression years, Howe secured WPA funds to improve roads, including filling in marshland to extend Edgemere Drive from Island Cottage Road to Manitou Road and Braddock Bay,

Greece Press, June 21, 1935

providing employment for 1500 Greece families on welfare. Another project was the installation of sanitary sewers in the Dewey-Stone area.

During Al Skinner and Gordon’s Political term, they also had to deal with the Second World War 1940-1945. More on World War II and its effects during Gordon’s Term.

Greece Press, March 28, 1957

While supervisor, Howe saw the town grow from a population of 12,000 to well on its way to becoming the largest Rochester suburb. The population of Greece rose 402% between 1930 and 1960.

The frist recorded population for the town of Greece was in 1825 it showed that the town had One Thousand Five Hundred Forty Seven people living in the town. In 1830 Depending on the U.S. Census or Landmarks of Monroe County Published in 1895 reports two different populations either it is 2,574 or 2,571 Depending on which data you are looking at in terms of the population.

The biggest change in population amount from 1910 to 1930 was when the city of Rochester wanted the Port of Rochester and the Lake Ave corridor this caused the town to lose population from 7,777 in 1910 and in 1920 to a population of 3,350 and a lose of 56.9% of the towns population. But in 1930 after the dust finally settled from the annexations of parts of the town of Greece it rose 261.60% to a population of 12,113, and every year after 1930 the town grew in leaps and bounds and in 2010 the town reached a population of 96,095. In 2019 the town started to see the population dip under 96,100, some of that is because of how New York State is ran, but also people move to where the work is and able to make more income and have better life for their families.

Historical population Of Greece 1825-2019(Est.)

YearPopulation
18251,547*
18302,574 or 2571*
18403,669*42.50%
18504,219*15.00%
18552,702**
18604,147*−1.7%
18614,177
18704,314*4.00%
18804,848*12.40%
18905,145*6.10%
19005,579*8.40%
19107,77739.40%
19203,350 §-56.9%
193012,113261.60%
194014,92523.20%
195025,50870.90%
196048,67090.80%
197075,13654.40%
198081,3678.30%
199090,10610.70%
200094,1414.50%
201096,0952.10&
2019(Est)95,499-0.6%
U.S. Decennial Census of Greece, New York

U.S. Census Report

* Landmarks of Monroe County – Pub 1895

** Census of New York State – Pub 1855

§ City of Rochester annexed Charlotte 1916

Hilton Record, October 21, 1965

Under Howe’s leadership, Greece set the standard for housing tracts, requiring developers to meet requirements regarding the installation of asphalt highways, concrete curbing and sidewalks, street lights, and sanitary and storm sewers.

In 1948 Howe was elected as chairman of the Monroe County Board of Supervisors a position he held until 1960 when the Board appointed him County Manager.

Gordon Howe with Glen Bedenkapp, 1949, from Rochester Public Library Local History and Genealogy Division
Civic Center proposal graphic from mcnygenealogy.com

During his twelve-year tenure, Howe was responsible for building the Civic Center Plaza,

And expanding the airport

Postcard of Rochester’s airport, from Rochester Public Library Local History and Genealogy Division
entrance to Ontario Beach Park from mcnygenealogy.com

He was a pioneer in consolidating county and city services “moving the community toward a more metropolitan government. Parks, health services, and social services were taken over by the county when he was manager.”

Others have praised him for his “far-sighted” initiative of the Pure Waters Project beginning the process of cleaning up Lake Ontario and the Genesee River by halting the discharge of sewage into them. One editorial said: “Today at a time when other metro areas face disastrous water-contamination problems, the Monroe County Pure Waters System, in the opinion of many, is the finest in the country.”

Monroe County Water Authority’s Shoremont Treatment Plant and Imperial North Apartment on Dewey Ave with Round Pond in the background from the Office of the Town Historian
Oil Painting of Gordon Howe with MCC behind him.

For Gordon Howe, personally, was proudest of establishing Monroe Community College, as seen in this oil painting it was once in the dining room at the Society but has since been transferred and put in archive storage for safekeeping and better preservation of the picture.

Portrait of Howe in County Office Building, from the Office of the Town Historian

Howe served as County Manager until 1972. Former long-time Monroe County Sherriff Andy Meloni said about Howe: “He was a quiet man…a good man…a very kind man who could settle disagreements and never provoke animosities.”

After his death in 1989, the Monroe County Office building was named for him.

And the Portrait seen on the left is located in the Gordon A Howe Monroe County office building on the first floor.

And in 1988 the House where he raised Gordon II, Gretchen, and David grew up was moved to the location it is today as it became the home to the Greece Historical Society and Museum.

Gordon A. Howe Monroe County Office Building from mcnygenealogy.com

Thank you for joining us today, next week we’ll tour the Dewey Stone neighborhood.

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Bicentennial Snapshot # 41: Northgate Plaza

Today we are talking about Northgate Plaza.

Two-page ad announcing the opening of Northgate Plaza, Greece Press October 29, 1953

On October 29, 1953, “the first major suburban shopping center in Monroe County and one of the largest open-air malls in the eastern United States” opened at 3800 Dewey Avenue. On the site of the Dobson Farm.

Northgate, as the plaza was called because it was “the northern gate of the city” of Rochester, was the brainchild of developer Emil Muller. A Swiss émigré, Muller was a self-made, multi-millionaire known for his “expertise in building shopping plazas.”

Emil Muller developer of Northgate, from his obituary, Democrat & Chronicle, November 28, 1989
Dobson farm on 1902 Map

Muller built Northgate on land he purchased from the Dobson family. On this 1902 map, you can see the Dobsons farmed on both sides of Dewey Avenue. Dewey Avenue at that time was called Barnard’s Crossing and Denise Road was Clinton Avenue.

Muller chose Dewey Avenue for its demographics—it was densely populated and Greece was growing by leaps and bounds. On this Aerial view of the Northgate Plaza, you can see the following Greece Schools from closest being English Village School, then Britton Road School, and Lakeshore School, in the top left is Rochester Gas and Electric Rusell Station Power Plant, and in the top right of the aerial view is the pier and the Genesee River.

Aerial view of Northgate area to the Lake, circa 1960s, from GHS
Original L-shaped layout of Northgate, from GHS

The plaza had 24 stores grouped in an L shape. The more familiar horse-shoe layout would follow in 1956 when it expanded to 30 stores.

Another first for the plaza and Greece, when McCurdy’s opened a store here it was the first time a large downtown department store extended “on-the-spot service to a local suburban area.”

McCurdy’s at Northgate, 1957 from GHS
North end of the plaza, 1957, from GHS

Among the other original stores were Sherwin-Williams Paint Store, Fanny Farmer’s Candy, Scrantom Book & Stationary, Security Trust Bank, Woolworth’s, and not just one but two supermarkets, Star Markets, and Wegmans. To keep customers safe while walking to the stores and to protect them from inclement weather Muller erected an eight-foot-wide marquee that covered the sidewalks. Parking was free. There were 3,000 parking spaces but sometimes that wasn’t enough.

A favorite of children was Gray’s Hobbies which later became Wynken Blynken and Nod.

Wynken Blynken and Nod, 1960, photo by Tom DiBello
Publicity still for Cisco Kid (Duncan Renaldo)
Cisco Kid Ad
Cisco Kid Ad

The three-day grand opening event featured appearances by currently popular tv characters the Cisco Kid and Poncho.

The Cisco Kid is a 1950–1956 half-hour American Western television series starring Duncan Renaldo in the title role, the Cisco Kid, and Leo Carrillo as the jovial sidekick, Pancho. The series was syndicated to individual stations and was popular with children.[1] Cisco and Pancho were technically desperados wanted for unspecified crimes,[2] but were viewed by the poor as Robin Hood figures who assisted the downtrodden when law enforcement officers proved corrupt or unwilling to help.[3] It was also the first television series to be filmed in color,[4] although few viewers saw it in color until the 1960s. The show would run for 6 seasons with 26 episodes per season for a total of 156 episodes you can find episodes of The Cisco Kid on a variety of streaming services. Here is a link to a Google Search that will let you find and watch whichever episode you would like to watch https://g.co/kgs/RQEhd1. In Rochester, Cisco Kid aired on WHEC-TV/WVET-TV channel 10 at 6:30 PM.

Fun Fact Duncan Renaldo and Leo Carrillo did do most not all of the horse riding themselves they were very talented horse riders.

One of the streaming services you can watch the Cisco Kid is Freevee on Amazon Prime

The Cisco Kid. (2022, December 7). In Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cisco_Kid_(TV_series)

Publicity still for Poncho (Leo Carrillo)
Ad for Miles Shoe Store, Greece Press, October 29, 1953

There were added incentives to draw customers, such as a free handbag from Miles Shoes, but they probably weren’t necessary. 60 to 70 thousand people attended over the three days.

Needless to say, Christmas brought scores of people out to shop in Northgate Plaza.

Northgate Christmas ad Greece Press, December 8, 1955.
Nearly full parking lot at Christmas, 1957

By 1957, there were 30 stores in the plaza including J. C. Penney’s which opened in 1954, and W. T. Grants in 1956. The parking lot was nearly full during the Christmas season. It was quite a distance to walk to your car from McCurdy’s to the front entrance.

W. T. Grants Logo c. 1951-1965
J.C. Penney’s logo 1951–1962
Northgate sign, 1960
Greece woman drives home in wrong car, Times-Union, May 3, 1958

Finding one’s car could be problematic. Such was the case for the mother of our Society’s President, Bill Sauers. And it wasn’t even Christmas.

On May 2, 1958, Mrs. William Sauers drove to Northgate Plaza in the new Chevy Impala that they had owned for only a few days. After finishing her shopping, she returned to her car but had trouble getting the key into the ignition. She complained to her husband that she shouldn’t have had that much trouble with a brand-new car. Well, the police showed up at her house at 11 pm to tell her that she had driven away in someone else’s car, a Chevy Bel Air. The police who had been called by the owner of the Bel Air were able to determine who had taken her car when the only car left in the Northgate parking lot had tags registered to the Sauers and they righted the unintentional car switch.

’58 Bel Air
’58 Impala
Northgate sign 1980s from the Office of the Town Historian

Northgate had a difficult time competing with the new indoor malls that were constructed, particularly Greece Towne Mall and Longridge Mall in the 1970s—and by the time the two malls were combined in 1997 Northgate was in terrible shape. We discuss the Mall at Greece Ridge in BICENTENNIAL SNAPSHOT # 12 – THE RIDGE PART 2

The south end of Northgate Plaza, June 2010
North end of Northgate Plaza, June 2010

There were still businesses on the south and the north ends of the plaza.

Middle of Northgate plaza, June 2010, photo by Travis Beaver

But the middle section that once housed McCurdy’s was crumbling and had to be cordoned off.

Panoramic view of Northgate, 2009, photo by Bill Sauers

Now there were more seagulls in the parking lot than cars.

Tearing down where Big Lots was in Northgate Plaza

Walmart purchased the plaza property in 2007 and after several years of legal wrangling, got the go-ahead to build a Walmart Supercenter and reconstruct the plaza. Some of the issues for the area where the amount of shoplifting that occurred at Wal-Marts, traffic issues that could cause backup on Dewey Ave, English Road, and Denise road, and no Auto Center at this Wal-Mart Location.

The new Northgate sign, 2017, from the Office of the Town Historian

The new Northgate opened on August 12, 2012. and just to the left about no more than 15 feet, you will come across this Historical Marker that was unveiled at the ceremony marking the grand opening a historical marker was erected acknowledging the Haudenosaunee who used to camp on the site, the pioneer Dobson family, and the “first major suburban plaza in Monroe County.”

Historical Marker at Northgate, 2012, photo by Bill Sauers
Northgate Plaza Shopping Center By Marie V Poinan

If you would like to read more about the history behind Northgate Plaza, the Society’s publication, Northgate Plaza Shopping Center, compiled by Marie Poinan, is available in the Museum’s gift shop.

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Bicentennial Snapshot No 38: Our Town in World War II

Today we’ll tell you about the town of Greece during World War II.

Panorama of the Opening of the World War II Exhibit
Panorama of the Opening of the World War II Exhibit – Presenting the Colors
Aerial view of Long Pond Road at Latta where Wegmans supermarket is today, 1940s, from the Office of the Town Historian

Encompassing more than 50 square miles, the town of Greece in 1940 was primarily made up of farms and the population was 14,925 as of the 2010 census the town of Greece’s Population was 96,095 people that’s 3,905 people shy of 100,000 people in the town.

The town was protected by a ten-member police force led by the town’s first police chief, Milton Carter, and four volunteer fire companies.

Chief Milton Carter (Right)
Charlotte High School, Lake Ave 1940s
Aerial view of John Marshall High School Ridgeway Ave Rochester, NY

There were nine churches. However, there was no town public library, nor high schools; students attended Charlotte or John Marshall High Schools in the city.

That meant if you went to school at one of the many smaller elementary schools or 1 and 2-room schools in the town of Greece you by the time it came for 9th grade you would either end up doing trade by the 9th grade or attend High School at Charlotte High School on Lake Ave in the Villiage of Charlotte prior to 1916 and in 1916 it would have been under the City of Rochester or attended John Marshall High School on Ridgeway Ave in the City of Rochester. More on the education system prior to the modern education system in a 2 part snapshot coming soon.

There were 39 registered organizations for men, women, and young people including a large chapter of the American Legion, eleven PTAs, political clubs, Grange Hall, Boys and Girls Scouts, and Fireman’s Associations as well as 38 church-related groups.

Grange Hall on Ridge Road, 1945, from the Office of the Town Historian

That All changed on December 7, while it was just getting to lunchtime on the East Coast the sun was just coming, on that day Stanley Hwalek one of the veterans that we interviewed for the exhibit was stationed at Pearl Harbor here is a quote from him in 2015 for the exhibit and you can read his entire veteran’s profile by picking up a copy of Our Town in World War 2 book in the museum gift shop.

Picture of Stanley Hwalek taken in 2015 for the exhibit

“Well, December 7th was just a regular Sunday morning. We were up at 6:00 because on Sundays they let us sleep a half hour longer. Usually during the rest of the week, reveille was at 5:30, but Sunday you were able to sleep until 6 o’clock and they had breakfast from 6:30 until 7:30. After breakfast, I went out on deck with one of my shipmates and I had the morning newspaper. As I’m reading the paper there about 7:30 or so I looked up, we were near this Navy air station at Ford Island, I saw a lot of smoke coming out of the hangars. I said to my shipmate, ‘Look. The Army must be having maneuvers or something because they’re making a lot of smoke out there.’ All of a sudden a plane comes over our ship and starts strafing.”

Stanley was one of the many veterans that survived the attack at Pearl Harbor that December 7th, 1941. On Monday, December 8th, 1941 in a full joint session of Congress President Franklin Delano Roosevelt addressed the Nation and asked for Congress to approve the Declaration of War against Japan and to respond to the attacks at Pearl Harbor.

Headline from Greece Press, December 12, 1941

Grecians answered the call to join the war effort. By March 1942, 1500 men and women had volunteered for civilian defense positions.

By the end of 1944, town residents had collected 165.5 tons of scrap metal, 384 tons of waste paper, 3 tons of rubber, 4 tons of old rags, and 200 bags of milkweed. This gun, captured from Germany during World War I, was donated to the war effort for scrap metal. These stats are from Accept, Buy and Volunteer: The Homefront Experience of the Town of Greece, New York, 1941-1945 by Timothy Dobbertin.

You can read also read the following article that the Society’s President Bill Sauers wrote and published in the Greece Post titled “A German Gun Helps Win the War” about Police Chief Milton H. Carter, who acquired a 105 mm German Howitzer. https://greecehistoricalsociety.org/2008/11/13/a-german-field-gun-helps-win-the-war/

Gordon Howe, Town Supervisor, lays a wreath on Memorial Day at the Town Hall, 1941, from the Office of the Town Historian
Victory Garden Enrollment Form, Greece Post, March 20, 1942

Residents were encouraged to plant Victory Gardens with vegetables, but to also continue to grow ornamental flowers as they would be morale boosters.

Headline, Greece Post, March 20, 1942

By the spring of 1942, 300 had enrolled. By the spring of 1944, there were more than 25 acres of Victory Gardens under cultivation in the town.

The Odenbach Shipyard was the main employer in Greece during the war years, employing thousands of workers at the 4477 Dewey Avenue plant. They made cargo barges, Y-boats, and cranes for the United States Army. At the height of production, they averaged one ship every two weeks.

Kodak, Bosch & Lomb, were also employing workers from Greece and other parts of the community as well but because of the City Annexation of where Kodak’s Lake ave facilities were, they were no longer considered the main employer located in the town boundaries.

Workers at Odenbach Shipbuilding Corp., 1943, from the Office of the Town Historian
The flag of stars flew at Greece Town Hall to call attention to the number of Greece Men and Women in service during World War II. Additional stars were added as the numbers grew. From Left to Right Town Supervisor Gordon Howe, Police Chief Milton Carter, and Lucius Bagley World War I Veteran

Almost 2,000 town residents served in the military.

War Mothers Service Organization, 1943, from the Office of the Town Historian

Families waited at home hoping and praying for the safety of their husbands, sons, and brothers.

cemetery of fallen soldiers and veterans
Photo by Veronika Valdova on Pexels.com

Thirty-four Greece residents made the ultimate sacrifice for their county. They were:

Clip 45:

Back Cover of Our Town in World War II

Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, there are now only about 150,000 still living. In 2015 to mark the 70th anniversary of VE day, the Greece Historical Society opened Our exhibit, Our Town in World War II.

In the Video, we Hear from William Sauers the President of the Greece Historical Society & Museum. Don Riely, was our Master of the Ceremony. Color Gaurd from VFW Post 468. 2015 Greece Town Supervisor William D. Reilich Speaking about what it was like on the homefront during World War II. Jack Foy talked out his tour of duty during World War II. Senator Joe Robach read the list of 32 soldiers. Finally Maureen Whalen the exhibit chair gave a brief overview of the exhibit. can view the entire program below.

Twelve veterans of the war were interviewed for the exhibit. Today, only one of them is still living. But their recorded interviews are available at our museum.

You can explore a digital copy of the museum exhibit that is located in the past exhibits section.

We had a great turnout for the exhibit and when the museum went to the Museum Association of New York the following year we received an award for the exhibit.

You may read about these vets and Greece during the war years in the Society’s publication Our Town in World War II by Maureen Whalen and Marie Poinan.

Thank you for joining us today. Next week our topic is Paddy Hill, What a journey we have had so far exploring the History of Greece through each snapshot that Maureen Whalen and myself Pat Worboys, and thanks to Joesph Vitello, William Sauers, and many our other contributors to these snapshots. These help you learn what life was like through different eras in the town of Greece.

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Bicentennial Snapshot No.36: Centennial Celebration of North Greece and Ridge Road Fire District

North Greece 100 Years Service Patch
North Greece 100 Years Service Patch
Greece Ridge / Ridge Road Fire District 100 years
Greece Ridge / Ridge Road Fire District 100 years
Greece Bicentennial 200

Today we are spotlighting the two Greece fire districts that are celebrating their centennial years and they are the North Greece Fire Department and the Greece Ridge/Ridge Road Fire District

Bucket Brigade from Monroe Historical Society

As a rural agricultural community in the 1800s, there was no formal fire brigade or fire department in Greece. Fires were common “in an era when most buildings were made of wood, when candles and fuel lamps provided lighting, and when wood stoves were used for cooking.” Bucket brigades fought fires. Water was taken from whatever source was nearby—streams, lakes, ponds, or cisterns—and a line of men formed to pass the buckets from one man to the next until it reached the fire. It was an ineffective way to fight a fire.

In 1890, John Fetzner of Fetzner Carriage shop and Peter Knipper, owner of the Falls Hotel, (we told you about them in Snapshot 16), imported a chemical fire wagon from France. They stored the fire wagon in a shed on the hotel property next door to Fetzner’s carriage shop making it readily available to serve them and their neighbors. The apparatus was on a wheeled carriage base and had to be pulled by volunteers on foot. A chemical reaction between sulfuric acid and a premixture of sodium bicarbonate in one tank propelled water in the other tank through a hose; it could create a stream of flame retardant up to 30 feet high. This is the oldest piece of fire equipment in Greece, and one of the oldest in Monroe County. It is on display in our museum. You can read the full interview on how Society acquired the fire wagon from Bud Steeb by Kay Pollok.

Fetzner-Knipper fire wagon photo by Bill Sauers
Clip 3: Call for Service Map from Future of the Fire Service in Greece Evaluating the Existing Conditions in and Considering Options in the Town of Greece, June, 2020, prepared for: Barnard Fire District, Lake Shore Fire District, North Greece Fire District and Ridge Road Fire District by the Center for Governmental Research
Call for Service Map from Future of the Fire Service in Greece Evaluating the Existing Conditions in and Considering Options in the Town of Greece, June 2020, prepared for Barnard Fire District, Lake Shore Fire District, North Greece Fire District, and Ridge Road Fire District by the Center for Governmental Research

The Town of Greece does not have a centralized fire department; there’s no GFD on the back of our firefighters’ turnout coats. Rather the town is served by four separate fire districts: North Greece, Ridge Road (once called Greece Ridge), Barnard, and Lakeshore. North Greece and Ridge Road (once called Greece Ridge) have three stations, Lakeshore had three stations but decommissioned the station near in Braddock Bay Heights area, and Barnard has only one, which makes nine total in the town. Some calls may receive mutual aid from other fire districts they are Hilton, Spencerport/Odgen Fire, Gates Fire, and the City of Rochester, depending on the type of assistance that is needed.

North Greece Fire District

North Greece 100 Years Service Patch
North Greece 100 Years Service Patch

Founded June 1922

In June 1922 the Carriage and Blacksmith shop once owned by Lewis Combs became North Greece Fire District's first firehouse and the town’s first fire station and their…

North Greece Fire Station, 1926
North Greece fire department testing Pierce Arrow truck, circa 1928, from the Office of the Town Historian

…Pierce-Arrow truck was the first motorized fire truck in the Town of Greece. This is their centennial anniversary.

In 1958, North Greece added a second Station on Latta Rd at Mt. Read Boulevard. Up until the mid-1980s, the fire district had an all-volunteer force.

Dedication ad from the Greece Press, July 24, 1958
Station 1, the 1960s, the Office of the Town Historian

The North Greece Fire District Headquarters were moved from Station 1 at North Greece and Latta to Station 2 at Latta and Mount Read in 1970.

In 1983, a third station was opened on English Road.

North Greece Fire District Station 3
North Greece Fire District Station 1 North Greece and Latta Roads, 2022, photo by Bill Sauers

Encompassing more than 27 miles, today, the North Greece Fire District serves the largest geographic area in the town and a population of about 41,000. As of January 2020, the district had 45 career firefighters and 33 volunteers.

Between 2016 and 2018 they responded to an average of 3,539 calls per year; 62 percent were EMS-related. [1]

Fire at Harris Dairy Farm, English Road, 1938, from the Office of the Town Historian
North Greece Fire District Headquarters, 2022, photo by Bill Sauers

In 2019, the Insurance Services Office (ISO) rated the North Greece Fire District at a 2 which places it in the top 3% of fire departments in New York State.

Greece Ridge / Ridge Road Fire District

Greece Ridge / Ridge Road Fire District 100 years
Greece Ridge / Ridge Road Fire District 100 years

August 3, 1922

The Greece Ridge Fire Department, now Ridge Road Fire District, was established on August 3, 1922. It was first located at 2550 Ridge Road West, the northwest corner of Long Pond Road and Ridge Road. The building was shared with three businesses on the upper floor: H. A. Herrick Civil Engineer and Land Surveyor, J.V. Gallagher Realtor Real Estate Insurance, and A.R. Koerner Contractor Builder. At the back of the site was Buchman’s Dairy then a Walgreens and now an Orvilles Appliance store.

First Greece-Ridge Fire Station at 2550 Ridge Road West, circa 1924, courtesy of Bill Sauers
RRFD fighting a fire at Fetzner’s Garage, 1969, from ridgefire.org

By the way, Peter Knipper and John Fetzner also helped found this department.

Like North Greece, the Ridge Road Fire District is celebrating its centennial.

Long Pond Road sign, 2022, photo by Bill Sauers
Long Pond Road sign, 2022, photo by Bill Sauers
Helmet of A.R. Koerner - 2015.03.01
Helmet of A.R. Koerner - 2015.03.01

In 1922, A. R. Koerner besides being a building contractor became the first Fire Chief of the Greece Ridge Fire Department (Ridge Road Fire District). He served as Chief from 1922 to 1939, encompassing three different town administrations: Frank J. Mitchell from 1922-1927, William F. Schmitt from 1928 - 1933, and finally Gordon A. Howe from 1934-1939. Gordon A Howe was the Town Supervisor from 1934 to 1960. A.R. Koerner's chief helmet was received into our collection in 2015 and has been on display since with the chemical fire wagon that is pictured at the beginning of this snapshot.

Like North Greece, Greece Ridge started with a Pierce-Arrow fire truck which was built in Buffalo, NY.

1st motorized apparatus 1924 Pierce Arrow pumper
1st motorized apparatus 1924 Pierce Arrow pumper
Amelia & Frank Siebert, courtesy Kathy Gray via Facebook

In 1930 Frank Siebert, a co-founder, and volunteer with the department became the district’s first paid firefighter. The firehouse was remodeled and included an apartment for Siebert and his wife and children.

Amelia & Frank Siebert (Kathy's Great-Grandparents) with Jack - Kathy Gray's Father, courtesy Kathy Gray via Facebook
Firefighters are pictured here in front of the 1922 Pierce Arrow pumper, celebrating their 3rd Annual Field Day. The Greece Ridge Fire Department was incorporated on August 3, 1922. The first firehouse opened in 1924 on the corner of Ridge Road and Long Pond Road. Office of the Town Historian.

He was on duty 24 hours a day, with about 8 hours off per week. He was assistant chief and later chief commanding volunteer operations during fires.  He and his wife continued to reside at that apartment above the station at least until 1953 and most likely until his retirement in 1959 at the age of 79. Frank and A.R. Koerner are in this picture to the left but without notes, on this picture, we are not sure who is all in this picture.

As the population of Greece soared, so did the demands on the department. A new firehouse was opened in 1962 at 1299 Long Pond Road. It is the district’s Headquarters. Today the district serves a population of 27,000 in an area of just under 14 square miles.

Ridge Road Fire Station, 1299 Long Pond Road, 1967, courtesy Bill Sauers
Stoneridge Station, 2020, photo by Bill Sauers

The Stoneridge Station (Station #2) was opened in 1971 and was renovated in 2001, while

Headquarters of Ridge Road Fire District
third district station at 2300 Ridgeway Avenue opened in 2007 - Matthew Pillsbury, RRFD Historian

The third district station at 2300 Ridgeway Avenue opened in 2007.

Quint 250 parked outside at Ridge Road Station #3 on Ridgeway Ave

A hallmark tradition of the Ridge Road Fire Department, begun in 1935, is that their fire trucks are white rather than the traditional red or even yellow.

Frank Siebert and the Volkmars, Democrat and Chronicle, October 8, 1962, photo by Gordon Massecar

It is often a family affair for Greece residents who answer the call to fight fires as it was for this Greece Ridge family. At the dedication of the new firehouse in 1962, three-year-old Stephen Volkmar receives a salute from his father Chief at the time John Volkmar, his grandfather, former chief Alfred Volkmar, and his great-grandfather, none other than Frank Siebert. Although the Ridge Road fire district started as a volunteer company, today it does not have any active volunteer firefighters and has not had any for the last 20 years.

You can read more about the Volkmars as well as the Fetzner and Knipper families in the Society’s Pioneer Families of the Town of Greece available in the gift shop.

Pioneer Families of the Town of Greece by Marie Poinan, and Joann Ward Synder

In 1947, Ridge Road responded to 52 alarms; in 1959 it answered 126 alarms. Between 2016 and 2018, the district had an average per year of 7,390 calls for service, 68% of which were EMS calls. [1]

RRFD is the only one of the four districts in Greece and one of three in New York state to be accredited by the Commission on Fire Accreditation International, CFAI. The District first achieved accreditation in 2005, and again in 2010, 2015, and 2020. In 2017 it also received a rating of 2, from the Insurance Services Office (ISO) which places it in the top 3% of fire departments in New York State.

With all the training and resources that these firefighters do on a daily basis from doing routine inspections of fire systems in every business, drills, learning new techniques to battle fires, rescuing you from a motor vehicle accident, providing assistance to medical facilities for lift assist and other services they provide, could not prepare them to save ten guests at the Holiday Inn on West Ridge Road, from the town's deadliest fire at the Holiday Inn in 1978 even though the hotel had some of the fire prevention systems in place and yet it failed and Ridge Road Fire District had the equipment to fight the fire and resources to rescue the guest from the hotel and fire companies within a 6-mile radius of the hotel came to assist Ridge Road Fire District to get the fire under control, we will dig a little deeper next week into the Holiday Inn Fire.

We at the Greece Historical Society & Museum would like to congratulate the Ridge Road and North Greece Fire Departments on Celebrating their Centennial anniversary.

Thank you for joining us today.

Citations

[1] source from Future of the Fire Service in Greece Evaluating the Existing Conditions in and Considering Options in the Town of Greece June, 2020, https://www.cgr.org/greece-fire/docs/GreeceFireStudyBaselineOptions.pdf

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Bicentennial Snapshot # 28 – Jerome Combs, The Cobblestone Baseball Catcher

Jerome Combs from RGE news September 1938
Jerome Combs from RGE news September 1938

This week we introduce you to Jerome Combs, the cobblestone baseball player. Did you know that some baseball players would use cobblestones as baseballs?

Well, one player could catch cobblestones and played for the North Parma baseball team and practiced catching them, which people said could not be done.

This snapshot is dedicated to the late Tom Sawnor (1961-2021). We appreciated Tom’s contributions to the Greece Historical Society and Museum. We will miss him and may his love for sports live on.

Jerome A. Combs was born on September 12, 1861, to Lewis Combs and Sarah Anne Combs. His parents moved from the town of Middlesex, in Middlesex County, New Jersey, to North Greece, in Monroe County, New York around 1840 to 1850 based on census data dated 1855 for Lewis A. Combs. The birth of Lewis Combs’s first son born in 1855 in North Greece, coincided with Doctor Abdiel Bliss Carpenter living in the area as well. Dr. Carpenter may have been the doctor who helped Sarah Anne Combs deliver both Jerome A. Combs in 1861 and his brother Lewis A. Combs in 1855, or more likely it was his son, Dr. Abdiel Milton Carpenter.

Map of North Greece 1872
Map of North Greece 1872
Jerome A Combs property in 1902 North Greece
Jerome A Combs property in 1902 North Greece

Lewis Combs owned two businesses and had a reasonable sized farm as well. The first one was the Blacksmith and Carriage shop where the North Greece Fire Department started in 1922 at the northeast corner of Latta and North Greece Road. The second business was a butter churn factory. He had a truck farm as well. His sons Lewis and Jerome helped worked the farm when they came of age. Both Combs boys went to School Number 6 on College Ave. Combs’s Truck Farm would take fruits and vegetables to local wholesalers or the Rochester Public Market in the city. They would load the truck or horse and wagon and be on the way by 4 am to the public market and would spend a good portion of the day selling what products they had from the wagon or truck depending on the day of the week. Some of the Combs’s fruits and vegetables may have been sold to H.C. Phelps General Store, Wagg’s General store on Lake Ave, or Anderson’s General store at Ridge and Greece Center Road (otherwise known as Long Pond Road). Also, the Larkin Hotel may have bought produce from the Combs to serve at meals for patrons at the hotel.

1954 Town Seal on the Town Flag
1954 Town Seal on the Town Flag
N Greece Fire House 1926
N Greece Fire House 1926
Directory of the Clio Lodge, 1927, from hipstamp.com
Directory of the Clio Lodge, 1927, from hipstamp.com

Jerome Combs was the town assessor for twelve years, and he was a volunteer with North Greece Fire Department for twenty years. Jerome Combs was one of the founding members of the North Greece Fire Department. He was a member of Clio Masonic Lodge in the village of Hilton once called North Parma.

North Parma Baseball Team, Jerome Combs is seated in on the left in the first row,  from RGE News September 1938
North Parma Baseball Team, Jerome Combs is seated on the left in the first row, from RGE News September 1938

But in the late 1880s and the early 1890s, Jerome Combs was the star catcher for North Parma’s semi-professional baseball team. In the team picture attached to the left here, Jerome Combs is seated in on the left in the first row. He propelled them through long winning streaks. But what was more interesting and made him legendary in the semi-pro leagues was his unique ability… What might that be? Was it his hitting stances? Was it his ability to communicate his signals to the pitcher?

cobblestone baseball
cobblestone used as a baseball
1887 Baseball Card from "The Baseball Glove Comes to Baseball, 1875," www.eyewitnesstohistory.com
1887 Baseball Card from “The Baseball Glove Comes to Baseball, 1875,” www.eyewitnesstohistory.com

It was none of those. It was his ability to catch barehanded. Jerome would catch either baseballs or cobblestones (that were used as baseballs when no baseballs were available to use) with his bare hands. Seen here is an 1891 catcher’s mitt vs. a modern catcher’s mitt; look at how different they are in terms of how the glove sits on the hand and how the ball rests in the pocket of a modern baseball glove.

E. H. Decker's GATGHERS GLOVE
E. H. Decker’s Catcher’s GLOVE
Wilson A2000 2021 1790SS 34″ Catcher’s Mitt

If you want to learn more about the evaluation of catcher equipment can be found on the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) website. https://sabr.org/journal/article/the-evolution-of-catchers-equipment/

Jerome would catch baseballs thrown as far as 150 feet and as close as 3 feet, but for the pitching distance, it was 50 feet. One of Jerome’s quotes from the days he played baseball was

“I guess, I was the only man who had the reputation of being willing to catch any pitcher at fifty feet using cobblestones for baseballs. Folks who didn’t know me used to bet it couldn’t be done.”

Old Time Baseball played  on the grounds of the Town Hall 5-14-16
Old Time Baseball played put on by the Rochester Baseball Historial Society on the grounds of the Town Hall 5-14-2016 – https://rochesterbaseballhistory.org/

One day he was summoned from the fields where he was working to catch for John Smith, a pitcher with a Rochester team, one of those who said it could not be done. They started throwing at 150 feet. Then, it gradually shortened the distance to fifty feet. Combs, described as a gentle giant of a man, came through with flying colors as he always did.

Did his hands suffer any damage?

They did not. He explained his technique: “I learned to absorb the shock of the stones and the baseballs at fifty feet by pulling back my hands with the catch at fifty feet. Then I kept them in shape by soaking them in hot water after each game.”

And on the day, he died his obituary headline read “Former ‘Barehand’ Catcher, Jerome A Combs, taken by death” on August 30, 1940.

If you want to learn about some of our local hometown athletes that have gone on to the pro level or just had some records set at local high schools besides Jerome A Combs, then get yourself a copy of our publication written by Marie Villone Poinan the late Tom Sawnor.

Hometown Sports Heroes of Greece NY
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Bicentennial Snapshot # 19- Henpeck, Hoosick, and Hojack, What’s in a Name? Part 2

This week we explore some of the myths of some of the nicknames of the communities in the town. This week we look at street names, elevations, and finally the Hojack Line. Some have myths about the name, while some are named after a person or where one of the settlers came from and decided to call the Town of Greece their home.

Street Names of Greece

There are more than 1,050 streets and roads in the town. It should be no surprise that more than 80 of the street names in Greece are related to the farm families who lived along them. In 1935, town supervisor Gordon Howe proposed that some streets be renamed to honor early pioneers. The first change voted on by the town board was to rename what had been Sage or Ottaway Road to McGuire Road in honor of Felix McGuire who settled in Greece circa 1805. Here is a little bit from the Article written in the society’s newsletter by Bill Sauers you can read more by the link below the quote:

Map of Greece, 2022, from monroecounty.gov
Map of Greece, 2022, from monroecounty.gov

For the trivia aficionados, in the Town of Greece, there are only 25 Streets and 173 Roads but there are approximately 369 Drives, 160 Lanes, 94 Courts, 94 Circles, 40 Avenues, 25 Ways, 7 Boulevards, 21 Trails, and fewer of Commons, Coves, Estates, Landings, Boulevards, etc.*

There are over 80 streets named after the original farm families who lived there. We have some named for the seasons: Spring, Summer, and Autumn, but no Winter. There are animal streets: Fox, Deer, Hawk, Owl, Eagle. Several have female names: Judy Ann, Jackie, Laura, Roseanne, but very few have male names and there are 14 named after saints. There are “state streets”: Kentucky, California, and Florida, but no “State Street” (although one wing of the mall calls its self Main Street but that doesn’t count), and even some named after the pilgrims; (Miles) Standish and (John) Alden. Wood seems to be the most popular with 97 containing the word wood in them, but surprisingly, for a town once known for its orchards, only eight with Apple. Then there are 40 Creeks and 14 Brooks, but no Stream. We even
have one named after a card game, Canasta. Of course, some developers couldn’t resist sneaking in their own names: Willis, Britton, and Alfonso (DeNardo).

*The numbers are approximate and may vary somewhat from what is stated in this story.

June 1, 2018 – Streets and Roads by Bill Sauers | Greece Historical Society and Museum

Scott Road, Eddy Road, Mt. Read Blvd.

Scott Road

Scott Road was the section that ran from Stone road to Emerson St.

On Mount Read, a famous female pilot, and no it was not Amelia Mary Earhart, but Blanche Stuart Scott, she was a Pilot, Automobile Adventurer, Actress, a museum curator. Blanche Stuart Scott, America’s first female pilot, was born in 1885 on her grandparents’ farm in Greece located on the north side of Lexington Ave, the south side was in Gates. Reading from her unpublished autobiography during a recorded interview, she said.

“My name is Blanche Stuart Scott and I come from a pioneer family, a Rochester pioneer family, who came to Rochester in eighteen hundred and ten.  And settled out on what was then the old Scott Road and is now Mt Read Blvd.”

Blanche Stuart Scott

The land that was the Scott Brothers lot is now where Delphi Automotive a division of General Motors is located today and is now located in the city of Rochester.

1910 Map of Greece from the Rochester Public Library History and Genealogy Division.
1910 Map of Greece from the Rochester Public Library History and Genealogy Division.

Eddy Road

Eddy Road ran from Stone road to Latta. The road was named after Thomas Eddy who lived at 3205 Mount Read Blvd.

Thomas Eddy Homestead

Mount Read

At the corners of Latta and Mount Read on the Southeast corn where Our Mother of Sorrows Church was the land once owned by Nicholas Read a pioneer family of the town of Greece and the Paddy Hill area which we will cover more in a later snapshot either on Our Mother of Sorrows Church and or Paddy Hill. It wasn’t until sometime in the 1920s that the entire stretch from Buffalo road to Latta Road would become Mount Read Boulevard.

Elevations in the town

Below is the list of different elevations in the town listed from the lowest point to the highest point the town. If you want to explore the elevation where you live you can check out the site topographic-map.com which is a great digital representation of the data from the United States Geological Surveys topographical data with color-coded elevation lines blow is low elevation and very red is higher elevations.

  • The lowest Elevation in the town is 243 feet and that is along the ponds at the lake which covers all the beach hamlets along the lakefront.
  • Mt Read at Latta Road Elevation is 345 above sea level.
  • North Greece Elevation at the intersection of Latta Road and North Greece Road is 338 feet above sea level
  • The spot where the Native American fort and Hanford Tavern were at Maplewood drive at Bridgeview drive is only 386 feet above sea level.
  • Barnard / Dewey Stone Area is 400 feet above sea level
  • King’s Landing Elevation is 415 feet above sea level
  • Ridge Road at Apollo Drive Elevation is 441 ft above sea level.
  • West Greece Elevation is 455 feet at the Hoosick Cemetary.
  • Ridgeway ave right at the entrance to Ridge Road Fire District Station #3 is 525 feet above sea level.
  • South Greece Elevation at School 12 at Old Ridgeway and Elmgrove Road is 525 feet above sea level.
  • The highest point in the town is where the BJ’s Wholesale Club is located on Bellwood Drive which is 558 feet above sea level.

Hojack Line / Lake Ontario Shoreline Railroad /
Rome, Watertown, Ogdensburg Rail Road (R.W. & O.) line
and New York Central Railroad

If you are in your 30s or older at least once in your lifetime saw the swing bridge rotate for the trains to cross over the Genesee River at Port of Rochester. The Lake Ontario Shoreline Railroad began operating in 1871. Ownership and the name of the railroad changed hands over the years including the Rome, Watertown, Ogdensburg Rail Road (R.W. & O.) line and New York Central Railroad. But it was colloquially known as the Hojack line. There are to this day speculations of how the line became known as the HoJack Line.’

Hojack Line Myth # 1

“It seems that in the early days of the railroad, a farmer in his mule-drawn buckboard was crossing the tracks when the mule stopped and wouldn’t move.  When the farmer saw the fast-approaching train, he began shouting, “Ho-Jack, Ho-Jack.” Amused by the incident, the trainmen began calling their line the “Ho-Jack.”

Hojack Line Myth #2

According to a story published in the Greater Greece Post in 1965, “when it was necessary to hurriedly assemble a train crew in the wee small hours of the night, the call Ho Jack would boom through the halls of the rooming houses where railroad men stayed.”

Hojack Line Myth #3

A farmer, turned train engineer by the name of Jack Welch would yell Whoa, Jack when he stopped the train as if he were still stopping a horse. It was picked up and passed on as Hojack.

The More Plausible answer to the Hojack Line Myth

From a scientific standpoint if you listen to the sound of a train whistle as the sound travels thru the air it sounds more like hojack or Whoa Jack but even this could be seen as a myth to the nickname of the line.

Want to Explore More on Snapshot 19

Consider the following the following books for more information on the information in this snapshot:

The Hojack Line Remembered Oswego to Lewiston by Richard Chait is available in the gift shop at the museum and where ever books are sold just not available in our online store.

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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 Homer J. Buckman – Sold Milk, Cream, and Lollipops!!! – From the historian’s Files. Also Homer J. Buckman will be featured in the upcoming Pioneer Families Volume II coming Late 2023 stay tuned to our Facebook page when the book goes live for orders.

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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