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Former U.S. president visited Albion in 1920

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 20 February 2017 at 7:56 am

ALBION – In honor of Presidents Day, we’re digging into the Orleans Hub archives for an article that former Orleans County Historian Bill Lattin wrote for his “Vintage Orleans” column.

Lattin, in an article posted on April 14, 2014, writes about former U.S. President William H. Taft paying a visit to Albion on March 8, 1920. Taft is pictured third from the left in the front row. The group is in front of the Orleans Hotel with members of the Albion Chamber of Commerce. (The Orleans Hotel was located at the corner of Platt and East Bank streets.)

Others in the photo include: Herbert Reed, Spencer Tanner, Wm Karns, Bernard Ryan, Thomas A. Kirby and County Judge Gerald Fluhrer at far right.

“Taft was given a reception at the Elks Club and later gave a forceful address in the High School Auditorium on why the U.S. should join the League of Nations,” Lattin wrote. “Taft and Teddy Roosevelt are the only two former presidents who have visited Albion.”

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Statuesque, NY: Monument in Lewiston thanks Tuscaroras for saving Americans in 1813

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 February 2017 at 6:15 pm


Photos by Tom Rivers

LEWISTON – The Tuscarora Heroes Monument was dedicated on Dec. 19, 2013, on the 200th anniversary of when the Tuscaroras, despite being badly outnumbered by British and Canadian soldiers, came to the aid of American civilians in Lewiston.

It’s hard to imagine today, but the United States faced a grave threat from the Canadian border more than 200 years ago. British and Canadian soldiers were there and the War of 1812 was being fought. (It lasted until 1815, with no changes in the border.)

The Americans burned Niagara on the Lake (then called Newark) before the Dec. 19 attack in 1813.

The angry British and Canadians crossed the border early on Dec. 19 and quick took over Fort Niagara. They then charged down River Road to the frontier town of Lewiston, seeking retribution for the burning down of Newark. The group was reportedly armed with torches, guns and tomahawks. They came upon a poorly defended Lewiston, and killed some of the civilians including small children.

The massacre would have been worse but the Tuscarora Indians came to the rescue, running down a hill from their village atop the Escarpment. Despite being outnumbered 30 to 1, the Tuscaroras offered the first defense against the enemy, and the Tuscaroras “diversionary tactics” made it appear they were in great numbers. The British and Canadians left Lewiston.

Two hundred years later, the Lewiston community said thank you with a $350,000 monument that includes three bronze statues, interpretive panels, bronze plaques, flagpoles, lighting and security cameras. (Private donations and Niagara River Greenway funds covered the cost of the project.) The monument is located at the southwest corner of Portage and Center streets.

The monument was dedicated as part of the 200th anniversary observance of the War of 1812. The Tuscarora monument was the largest display as part of the bicentennial observance. It is also believed to be the only monument from a community expressing gratitude to Native Americans.

The monuments show two Tuscarora men rescuing a local woman and her baby from the attack.

The Tuscarora intervention had been relatively unknown until it was highlighted in 2010 book, “Tuscarora Heroes,” by Lee Simonson. He led the committee to have the monument created for the Tuscaroras.

The bronze statues were created by artist Susan Geissler of Yougstown, who in 2009 earned acclaim for her statues of the “Freedom Crossing Monument” at the Niagara River. (Click here for more on Geissler’s work.)

A bronze plaque lists the names of the Tuscarora Heroes, along with the names of those killed in the attack.

The platform for the sculpture is on concrete in the shape of a turtle’s back, which reflects the Iroquois’ belief that the world was created on a turtle’s back. The turtle’s head points toward the American flag representing the American-Tuscaroran alliance since the American Revolution.

Six northern white pine trees represent the six nations of the Iroquois Confederacy. The Iroquois flag also flies at the site.

The Tuscaroras were one of a handful of Native American nations that supported the United States in both the American Revolution and the War of 1812.

Here is the inscription on a bronze plaque:

Tuscarora Heroes Monument

“In honor of the brave members of the Tuscarora Nation who defended and saved local residents during the War of 1812:

On the morning of December 19, 1813, Lewiston was attacked by British forces and their native allies from Canada. The British had captured Fort Niagara hours earlier and were intent on destroying Lewiston, in retribution for the burning down of Niagara on the Lake (then called Newark) days earlier by the Americans.

Poorly defended, Lewiston residents could only run for their lives in hopes of escaping the atrocities. Civilians were killed in the rampage and tormented parents found themselves helpless in trying to save their children.

At the moment when Lewiston citizens had lost hope, a small group of Tuscarora men ran down from their village atop the escarpment and offered the first resistance the enemy had seen. Their ingenious tactics gave the impression that “their numbers were legion.” Fearing a trap, the enemy stopped in its tracks, allowing time for the citizens to escape.

Despite being outnumbered 30-to-1, the Tuscarora Heroes risked their lives, took their courageous stand, and came to the aid of their Lewiston neighbors, saving the lives of dozens of grateful citizens.”

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Undertakers in Albion also sold furniture, glassware

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 18 February 2017 at 6:30 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Volume 3, Issue 8

ALBION – One of Orleans County’s oldest funeral homes is likely that of Merrill-Grinnell, which dates well beyond the 1870s. This image shows two predecessors to the current business, Cassius M. C. Reynolds and William S. Flintham, standing in front of their store on North Main Street in Albion. Reynolds purchased this business from his father-in-law George W. Ough, who was a prominent businessman and president of the Albion Board of Trustees.

It is thought that the lineage of this business dates back as far as George M. Pullman, who ran a furniture making business in Albion during his tenure in Orleans County. The business later transitioned to Ough, then to Reynolds and Flintham who operated the outfit into the 1920s. Reynolds & Flintham were known locally for dealing crockery, glassware, and furniture in addition to their work as undertakers.

This image clearly showcases the stock of crockery and glassware carried by the business, visible both through the store windows and on the table standing outside. Several chairs are situated in front of the building and a number of prams are on display; from simple models to the more ornate such as the piece parked next to William Goff, which features a suspension system, ensuring a comfortable ride for the passenger.

Mr. Goff’s tenure with the business dated back to Ough’s ownership when at the age of 16 he first applied for a job. He became somewhat of a local celebrity in regards to his work as a funeral director and embalmer; his claim to fame was being the first to cover a casket in cloth for use in Orleans County. In his earliest years working with Ough, caskets were made to order, but he watched the industry develop as he worked over 40 years through the ownership of Ough, Reynolds & Flintham, and Merrill.

In 1926 the business was sold to John B. Merrill of Holley, who partnered with his son Roy to start J. B. Merrill & Son. Goff remained with Merrill for nearly 13 years before his own retirement and upon his death he was regarded as one of the oldest funeral directors and embalmers in Western New York at the age of 83. Today, J. B. Merrill & Son exists as Merrill-Grinnell Funeral Homes.

One other notable feature of this image is the reflection in the windows of the storefront. The beautiful white fence and trees were situated in front of the mansion of Lorenzo Burrows, which still stands today as the home of Key Bank.

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Albion man was critical to helping George Pullman become railroad mogul

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 11 February 2017 at 8:37 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Volume 3, Issue 7

The records of Orleans County history are quite definitive concerning the role in which George M. Pullman played in the development of his famed sleeping cars. What appears to be left for interpretation is the specific role in which local politician Benjamin Collins Field played in that venture. It is clear that without the aid of Mr. Field that Pullman’s vision for the palace car may never have come to fruition.

Born June 12, 1816 at Dorset, Vermont, Ben was brought to Albion around 1828. His father Spafford was a marble dealer and operated a business out of the Lockport area for a number of years in conjunction with his son Norman. As a young man, Ben read law with Alexis Ward of Albion before his admittance to the bar. He worked with his father’s business, engaging in headstone lettering and marble cutting before determining that politics was of interest.

Although he never practiced law, Field dealt largely with contracts and worked with Tousley, Lee & Co. in constructing several railroads in the Midwest. During the 1850s, he was elected as a New York State Senator from the 28th District for the 77th and 78th New York Legislature (1854 and 1855). He would later serve as a representative to the New York State Constitutional Convention in 1867 from the 29th District, along with Sanford E. Church of Albion.

The discrepancies in Field’s involvement with Pullman’s interest start in 1857 when records show that he developed a partnership with George Pullman, a fellow resident of Albion and close friend. As accounts from Pullman show, Field facilitated the contract with the Chicago, Alton & St. Louis Railroad that called for the construction of the first sleeper cars. It was shortly after that Field traded his interests in the business for future loans as he was more concerned with political ventures than entrepreneurship.

Accounts of the Field family genealogy suggest that Ben Field was responsible for the concept of the sleeper car, that Pullman traveled with Field from Chicago to Western New York when the idea for improved sleeping quarters on railcars was hatched. It is recorded in these accounts that Field provided Pullman not only the idea but the funds to finance his operation, which Pullman later bought Field out of in the early portion of the 1860s. This humble take on the partnership makes sense considering Field was regarded as a hardworking, fair-minded, honorable man who frequently assisted friends and family with business ventures through funding.

Field was a Whig, early on, and aligned himself with the Republican Party upon its formation. During the 1872 election, he aligned himself with Horace Greeley and “transitioned to liberalism” to which he remained an ardent supporter of until his death in 1876. Regardless of the specifics regarding his involvement with the Pullman Car Company and the development of the sleeper car, his influence through support and funding was essential to the establishment of George Pullman as a railroad mogul.

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More than a century ago, Kendall store suffered multiple fires

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 4 February 2017 at 8:28 am

 “Overlooked Orleans” – Volume 3, Issue 6

This photograph shows the interior of James Trivit Lacey’s store located on east side of Kendall Road near the intersection of Kenmore Road.

Born at Tunstead, Norfolk, England in 1859, Lacey arrived in the United States at the age of 25 in 1884 and lived in the Yates/Carlton area for several years before relocating to Kendall. It was at this location that he would operate a shoe shop, confectionary store, and billiards parlor.

On May 6, 1901, Lacey closed up shop for the day and departed the business for his home located up the street. All was quiet until a fire was discovered in his storefront by a passerby, who alerted nearby residents. The church bells tolled to call community members to the town square and the process of extinguishing the fire began. Despite their best efforts, Mother Nature had other plans and a swift northeasterly wind pushed the flames to nearby buildings.

With Lacey’s store fully engulfed, the fire jumped to the drug store of Charles Spring to the south and the hardware store of Ephraim Fuller to the north. The fire continued to spread, setting the meat market of Otto Seigel and a nearby residence ablaze. As the wind continued to blow, the flames crossed the street and set fire to the stores of Sherrill Sanford and Nelson Stevens.

Firefighters labored through the night with little hope of extinguishing the blaze, which as Ray Tuttle recalled in the 1950s caused “folks [to] believe the world was coming to an end because the good book had stated that someday it would all be destroyed by fire.”

Kendall’s business district was nearly a total loss from a fire causing over $40,000 in damage. When all was quiet yet again, Lacey had suffered a loss of $500 with no insurance to cover his merchandise. Nelson Stevens, who had just opened his business the same year, suffered damages topping $2,000 with no insurance to cover the loss.

Lacey reopened his business in the office space owned by Seth Jones in Kendall and while the town wished him well in his new venture following this devastating fire, he would yet again suffer from a similar catastrophe nearly 12 years later. On September 16, 1913 Lacey’s store yet again burned as a result of a fire starting in the hardware store of Payne & Wright. The building in which Lacey was leasing was a total loss, resulting in over $25,000 in damages. Unfortunately, in addition to the loss of his business, Lacey lost his beloved hunting dog in the fire.

It is likely that this image, with James Lacey standing behind the counter, was taken prior to the 1901 fire that destroyed the store. The back counter is filled with materials used for making harnesses and shoes and the glass display cases are filled with cigars. The most noticeable feature in the building are the billiards tables located in the back room. Although the cause of the fire was never definitively known, the oil lamps hanging from the ceiling could be a good indicator of a possible cause.

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‘Out of the Past’ looks at highlights in February from years ago

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 1 February 2017 at 10:38 am

Editor’s Note: County Historian Matthew Ballard has a new monthly column, “Out of the Past,” that lists interesting events happenings from various milestone years (50 years ago, 75, 100, 125, 150, 175, and 200).

50 Years Ago – 1967

February 2nd

Holley officials begin planning for the centennial celebration of the incorporation of their village.

February 19th

Otis Bartlett of Riches Corners died at Lakeside Hospital after a brief illness. He was injured in a fall while hunting nearly 20 years earlier, spending the remainder of his life in a wheel chair. Following this accident he crafted a small tractor, giving him the ability to continue the sport of hunting every year.

February 23rd

Clayton Root dies in a tragic accident after he is trapped inside his burning trailer home which had been overturned by high winds. Root was a horse trainer by trade.

75 Years Ago – 1942

February 12th

Half back Tommy Colella of Albion – the Albion Antelope – the 1941 Canisius College captain signs a contract to play professional football with the Detroit Lions of the National League. – During his career, Colella would also play for the Cleveland Rams, Cleveland Browns, and one season with the Buffalo Bills in 1949 before retiring from football.

The 1946 Cleveland Browns – Tommy Colella #92, front row

February 19th

Photographers send images of four buildings in Orleans County to the Fine Arts Division of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. The archived photographs would provide a record for restoring the buildings in the event of war damage; those buildings included the Lanson House, the Whipple House, the Hunn House, and the T. V. Saunders House (cobblestone homes).

1942 photograph of the Whipple House, sent to the Library of Congress. This unique cobblestone building showcases the “herringbone” pattern where flat, rounded stones are set at an angle. The home is located on the south side of Ridge Road, east of Kenyonville Road in Gaines.

February 26th

Francis H. Blake is elected as Mayor of Albion to succeed Jacob Landauer, winning a victory with a voter turnout of 129, the smallest in recent memory.

February 26th

Eugene E. Barnum, Jr. of Albion is among six WNY men who completed basic flight training at the Army’s West Point of the Air, Randolph Field, Texas. He would continue on to an advanced training base for instruction that would result in his 2nd lieutenants’ bars and wings. – Barnum died in action on December 2, 1944 less than five months after his younger brother, Lt. William J. Barnum, was killed in the breakout at St. Lo in France; it was one of the most devastating losses for an Orleans County family during WWII.

“Gene” Barnum (center) recaps a recent mission with several other pilots from his unit.

100 Years Ago – 1917

February 6th

The McMann Hotel at Albion experienced a fire in the 2nd floor stock room. The building filled with smoke, but George Foster, Fred Chapman and his wife, all employees of the hotel were able to escape from the third floor barely clothed. The thermometer registered two degrees below zero.

February 14th

Michael Cleary, a NYCRR conductor, was killed at Holley when he fell off a freight car and was run over. He died while being taken to a Rochester hospital. He leaves a wife and three children.

February 15th

Charles Stielow

The most important case to come before grand jury this month is the special investigation ordered by Gov. Whitman into the case of Charles Stielow of West Shelby – George Bond of Syracuse is set to be the special prosecutor.

The German immigrant, Charles Stielow, is wrongfully convicted of a double murder in 1915 at West Shelby. Escaping the electric chair on several occasions, Gov. Whitman finally agreed to reopen the case after Erwin King confessed to committing the crime.

February 15th

Local stories surface of a wild pack of wolves running around Orleans County. It is determined that an old pet wolf and her litter of puppies got away from their owner.

February 21st

The Orleans Republican notes that the NYS Legislature is to appropriate $25,000 to investigate the case of Charles Stielow of West Shelby. “While we are glad that there is an attempt being made to shift the financial burden off from Orleans County attendant upon this investigation, yet we feel that there is no good excuse for saddling $25,000 on the State of New York or anybody else in connection with this matter…” Apparently the wrongful conviction of Stielow and near execution by electric chair on multiple occasions was not a good enough cause for the Orleans Republican…

125 Years Ago – 1892

February 2nd

James Gotts of Medina committed suicide at his home north of the English settlement by hanging from a halter suspended from a timber. As a prosperous and respected citizen, there was no explanation for the rash act which left the widow Gotts and a daughter, Mrs. William Wheeler. Gotts’ brother John committed suicide nearly 10 years prior at Shelby Basin by drowning himself in the Canal.

February 11th

Orleans County Grand Jury returns and indictment against Philo Burch of Albion on a charge of bigamy. Burch married Lucinda Field, a widow at Albion, in 1866. After leaving his wife and children, he returned and married Nancy Beach of Medina.

February 18th

The Medina Tribune reports that coroner’s inquests cost the county $578.57 for the previous year, the most expensive case involving a Medina girl who strangled her illegitimate child, that case costing $161.27.

150 Years Ago – 1867

February 2nd

Rev. Joel Lindsley of Shelby, on trial at Albion for whipping his child to death, is found guilty of manslaughter in the second degree. Lindsley received a four year sentence at Auburn Prison.

February 21st

W. K. Townsend, Esq. represented George W. Root, a farmer from Holley, in an action for slander against A. B. Dauchy. Root alleged that Dauchy called him a “whore-master” while Dauchy denied ever making the statement; he was held on $300 bail.

February 28th

Elmore, son of Edward Wheeler at Kendall Mills, was kicked in the face by a horse. The boy’s right eye was severely injured and required that Dr. Carpenter remove all of the broken bones from the face. It was expected that the boy would recover.

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Furniture stores served multiple roles a century ago

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 28 January 2017 at 8:56 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Volume 3, Issue 5

KENDALL – This image shows the interior of Stevens’ Furniture Store located in Kendall, taken sometime in the early 1900s. The man standing in this photograph is likely Marhlon Stevens, the owner of the business.

Marhlon was the son of Nelson Stevens, a Herkimer County native who worked as a farmer, bookkeeper, and schoolmaster before testing out the furniture and undertaking business in Kendall.

Nelson Stevens brought his family to Orleans County in 1901 and operated this business for several years before he unexpectedly died of pneumonia in 1908. At that point in time, his son took over the operations of the outfit, which advertised itself as the “House of Quality.”

In the days prior to embalming and before funeral parlors were established, furniture dealers often doubled as undertakers who assisted families in preparing the home for wakes.

In this image we see a number of mattresses and rocking chairs in the center of the room. Along the right wall we see a roll-top desk, folding chair, and a “low-boy” dresser. Throughout the entire showroom are dishes and crockery, popular merchandise for these types of stores. The walls are adorned with various portraits, landscape paintings, and mirrors; one noticeable image is that of Da Vinci’s The Last Supper hanging on the back wall. It also appears that Stevens was selling boots and shoes as a number of them are on display in the rear of the showroom.

With many furniture businesses, the first floor provided space to showcase current and featured merchandise, while the upper floor offered space for crafting and repairing furniture. In a smaller outfit such as this, the upper floor likely provided additional storage space for extra furniture.

Marhlon Stevens operated this store for a couple of decades and was associated for a period of time with McNall & McNall Funeral Home. Marhlon passed away in 1951 and was interred at a cemetery in Palmyra, the location where his family lived prior to arriving in Kendall.

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Statuesque, New York: Frederick Douglass monument in Rochester first in U.S. to memorialize African American

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 22 January 2017 at 12:01 am

ROCHESTER – Highland Park in Rochester is home to an 8-foot-tall bronze statue of famed orator and abolitionist Frederick Douglass.

When it was unveiled in 1899 in front of New York Central Train Station, it was the first statue dedicated to an African American in the country.

The dedication ceremony for the Douglass memorial was attended by 10,00 people, including Theodore Roosevelt, who was then New York’s governor.

The statue was moved to Highland Park in 1941. Rochester officials didn’t think the spot by the train station at the corner of St. Paul Street and Central Avenue was a fitting location for one of the city’s most respected residents. That site was noisy and grimy.

Douglass was born a slave in Maryland in 1818. He escaped the South at age 21 and moved to Rochester in 1847. He stayed for 25 years.

The human rights advocate was a prominent speaker, editor and author, taking on many causes, including women’s suffrage.

(He attended the first women’s rights convention at Seneca Falls in 1848, the only African American male present, and delivered a speech that helped sway support for the suffrage resolution.)

“At any rate, seeing that the male government of the world have failed, it can do no harm to try the experiment of a government by man and woman united…” Douglass said then.
The monument at Highland Park includes excerpts from other famous Douglass speeches:

“The best defense of free American institution is the hearts of the American people themselves.”

“One with God is a majority.”

“I know of no rights of race superior to the rights of humanity.”

“Men do not live by bread alone; so with nations, they are not saved by art, but by honesty, not by gilded splendors of wealth but by the hidden treasure of manly virtue, not by the multitudinous gratification of the flesh, but by the celestial guidance of the spirit.”

“I know of no soil better adapted to the growth of reform than American soil. I know of no country where the conditions for effecting great changes in the settled order of things, for the development of right ideas of liberty and humanity are more favorable than here in these United States.”

The Douglass statue overlooks the Highland Bowl in Rochester.

Douglass, as a crusader, made Rochester a focal point of the abolitionist movement.

He published the North Star newspaper in Rochester and coordinated Underground Railroad efforts in the area.

Douglass lived in the city until an unexplained fire at his home. He then moved to Washington where he worked for the Garfield and Harrison administrations.

He died in 1895 and Rochester moved to honor him with the bronze statue. It was created by sculptor Stanley Edwards, who used Douglass’s son Charles as a model.

The statue has now been greeting visitors to Highland Park patrons for 76 years. It is located about 300 yards from the site of his South Avenue home. That site is now School No. 12.

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Platt Street named for man who ran packet boat business, operated hotel in Albion

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 21 January 2017 at 7:25 am

012117_PlattElizur“Overlooked Orleans” – Volume 3, Issue 4

We often wonder how streets received their names throughout Orleans County, so it is important to recall those stories that we know to be true concerning those origins. Platt Street in Albion was named for Elizur Platt, a native of New Haven, Connecticut.

Born to John and Abiah Foote Platt around 1803, Elizur came to Clarendon in the late 1820s. Having married his wife, Lydia Merriman of Bristol, Connecticut in 1825, the couple ventured west to start a new life in the wilderness that was Western New York.

Following Elizur were his sisters, Henrietta, Eunice (who married Asahel Merriman), and Melissa (who married William Bates) who all settled in the Clarendon area, all succumbing to the rigors of pioneer life shortly after their arrival. Henrietta was the first to pass in 1838, then Melissa in 1846, and Eunice in 1849.

While living in Clarendon, Elizur engaged in the mercantile business, operating a store for several years before David Sturges bought out his inventory. For a very short period starting in 1837, he operated a hotel in Clarendon before selling that interest and relocating to Albion.

Upon his arrival in Albion, Platt purchased the Mansion House located along the north side of the Erie Canal on Main Street; he operated that business until the building burned. While engaging in this venture he operated the Red Line Packet Company, running packet boats between Troy and Lockport, with each trip providing passengers with meals and lodging. Shortly after the family’s relocation, he constructed a beautiful Greek Revival home on Canal Street which still stands today.

Platt had built quite the reputation for himself and relocated his business to the corner of Canal and Market Streets (now Platt and Bank Streets) where he constructed a new hotel, which he would call the Platt House. With livery stables located around the corner, Platt managed a stagecoach line that transported passengers between Albion and Rochester; one of the few of its kind in the area at that time. A respected resident of the village, Platt became a trustee of the Albion Baptist Church and was one of the founding directors of the Bank of Orleans when it was incorporated in 1834.

Selling his business in 1859, Platt relocated to Wheaton, Illinois where he operated a hotel livery stable, also called the Platt House, until his death in 1875. Elizur Platt was active in Democratic politics and was a participant in state conventions during the 1840s.

Although his marriage brought four sons and one daughter into the world, only two of his sons and his daughter survived childhood. Following the death of his mother and sisters, he erected a monument in the Maplewood Cemetery to their memory; a testament to his loving nature and connection to family. His niece, Adeline Bates, was nine years old when her mother died; he cared for her until she reached adulthood.

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Statuesque, New York: Niagara Falls statue honors Tesla, innovator in electricity

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 January 2017 at 9:19 am


011417_Tesla1Photos by Tom Rivers

NIAGARA FALLS – This statue of Nikola Tesla is at Goat Island at Niagara Falls on the American side. Tesla was an incredible innovator who bested Thomas Edison in figuring out how electricity could be sent far from where it was produced.

Tesla designed the first hydropower plant at Niagara Falls. It was a huge victory for Tesla’s alternating current theory over Edison’s direct current and responsible for the electrification of the world.

Tesla’s achievement sent electricity from the falls to Buffalo, fueling Buffalo’s dramatic growth in early 1900s.

This statue of Tesla was given from his home country of Yugoslavia in 1976 in honor of Tesla’s 120th birthday and also the bicentennial of the United States. Croatian sculptor Frane Krsinic created the monument of Tesla.

I saw it last April not long before Tesla was moved by the State Parks to a spot by Stedman’s Bluff at the brink of the falls.

I liked the former location. It’s the first thing you see after passing through the arch. That entrance was part of the old Niagara Falls power plant that Tesla helped build in 1895. It was the first major hydro plant in the world.

Tesla is depicted sitting in a large chair. He appears to be looking over a plan or blueprints. (There are some shiny spots on the blueprints likely caused from where tourists would sit to get their selfies and photo-ops.)

Tesla doesn’t have the fame of Thomas Edison, but Tesla has become more popular, particularly after Elon Musk named his electric cars after him.


The Tesla statue is popular with tourists.


The statue sat on a black granite base. It was a gift to the United States from Yugoslavia in honor of the bicentennial and the 120th anniversary of Tesla’s birth.


The original power plant designed by Tesla was demolished after a larger, more efficient plant was built. The main entrance was taken down and re-erected at Goat Island with the Indian Medallion in the arch also taken down and recreated here piece by piece. This plaque notes that the entrance and arch work was performed by members of the Niagara Falls Building Trades Council, who donated their time to preserve this important piece of history.


Tesla looms large at Goat Island.

When I was at Goat Island last April, many people stopped to admire the statue, to learn about Tesla and his major feat at Niagara Falls. Some people climbed up to get a photo in his lap.

There is another bronze statue on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls that was installed in 2006 within Queen Victoria Park. But the statue at Goat Island is the first in North America to honor Tesla. When he was a boy in Croatia, Tesla saw a photo of Niagara Falls and set a goal of putting a wheel under the falls to harness the power of moving water.

Tesla gave this speech on January 12, 1897, the opening of the hydroelectric power station:

“We have many a monument of past ages; we have the palaces and pyramids, the temples of the Greek and the cathedrals of Christendom. In them is exemplified the power of men, the greatness of nations, the love of art and religious devotion. But the monument at Niagara has something of its own, more in accord with our present thoughts and tendencies. It is a monument worthy of our scientific age, a true monument of enlightenment and of peace. It signifies the subjugation of natural forces to the service of man, the discontinuance of barbarous methods, the relieving of millions from want and suffering.”

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