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Men dressed up as brides in popular fundraisers a century ago

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 30 May 2020 at 8:34 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Vol. 2, No. 28

ALBION – Over 100 years ago, “Womanless Weddings” were commonplace throughout the United States. Dating back into the 19th century, faux nuptials were held in the South as a means for raising money for charities, churches, and community organizations. As interest in their inherent humor began to rise, the events spread like a wildfire across the entire country.

The Womanless Wedding was an opportunity for men to dress up as women, don some makeup, and over exaggerate femininity. These gentlemen would kiss members of the crowd (men and women alike), flash their garters, adjust whatever they may have rigged up for breasts, and act in a generally “naughty” manner all for a few laughs.

Naturally, these became popular events as community members had no qualms about paying a little money to see their neighbors dressed as women. Publishers eventually developed scripts for such programs and each event became a true dramatic performance. One such set of lines from a 1936 program closes with the minister introducing the newlyweds:

Minister: “Then, in the name of I-wouldn’t-‘a’-thought-it, I pronounce you man and…Two dollars and seventy-five cents, please?”

Groom: “What’s the seventy-five cents for? You promised to splice us for two dollars.”

Minister: “That’s for having to look at the bride all during the ceremony…”

This image shows Eugene W. “Bud” Wilcox, Jr. dressed as Theda Bara for a Womanless Wedding hosted by the Albion Rotary Club for the benefit of the Crippled Children Fund. Quite the saucy personality, Bara was an early silent film actress who became well known as one of the earliest sex symbols in U.S. cinema.

Wilcox was born on February 20, 1891 to Eugene and Alice Wilcox, growing up on West Park Street in Albion. Following graduation from the Albion High School, Wilcox enrolled at Lehigh University where he became a prominent athlete while studying business and participating as a member of the Psi Upsilon fraternity.

After he completed his degree in 1915, “Bud” enlisted with the U.S. Navy during the First World War and was stationed in New Orleans as a Chief Storekeeper. Five days after the conclusion of the war, he was commissioned as an Ensign and remained in the U.S. Naval Reserves until the end of 1919. Upon his return to Albion he worked as a clerk in his father’s hardware store located at 98 Main Street, eventually taking ownership of the business. The building and hardware store still exist today, now as Family Hardware owned by Fred Miller.

Wilcox was a charter member of Albion’s Rotary Club, an active member of the Presbyterian Church, and a member of the Elks and Renovation Lodges of Albion.

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Norwegian ‘Slooper’ from Kendall persevered and made mark as engineer in NYC

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 23 May 2020 at 8:15 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Vol. 6, No. 19

KENDALL – This photograph shows the Stangland family burial plot at Greenwood Cemetery in Kendall. The cemetery is the final resting place for Benjamin Franklin and Emily Bridgeman Stangland. Born on January 20, 1848 in Noble County, Indiana, “Frank” was the son of Andreas Stangland, a Norwegian immigrant, and Susan Cary of Kendall.

Frank’s father arrived in the United States in early 1825 to prepare land in Kendall for the arrival of 52 immigrants from Stavangar, Norway. Docking at the Port of New York on October 25, 1825, the “Sloopers” as they were called travelled along the Erie Canal to Holley, where they embarked for the shore of Lake Ontario. Andreas was a bachelor and settled on a small parcel of land situated north of the Lakeshore and Norway Road intersection. Family lore says that while exploring his property, Andreas stumbled upon the home of John Cary where he met his future wife. Unable to speak English, he received lessons from Susan who was a teaching in a nearby schoolhouse.

Andreas and Susan had five children in Kendall including Eleazer, Lydia, Tallock, Bela, and Rosetta. Around 1839, a wealthy farmer from Indiana named Ole Orsland visited Andreas and offered to trade 600 acres of land in Indiana and $200 for Stangland’s 48 acres in Kendall. Believing Orsland to be a trustworthy man and presented with an unbelievable opportunity, Stangland accepted the offer much to the disapproval of his wife. When the Stanglands arrived in Indiana, they found that less than 25% of the land was tillable and the majority of the acreage was a swampy mess. The young couple welcomed four more children to the family while in Indiana; Maria, Andrew Jackson “Jack,” Mary Elizabeth “Libbie,” and Benjamin Franklin “Frank.”

The swampland would take its toll on the Stangland family, as Rosetta (my 5th great grandmother) developed “swamp fever” every year and was forced to spend time with her grandparents in Kendall to recuperate. While Andreas spent most of his time trying to drain his farm, he contracted pneumonia and died August 31, 1847, nearly five months before the birth of Frank. Susan suffered immensely following the passing of her husband and was said to have died of a broken heart on November 4, 1848. Frank was sent to the home of a Mrs. Squire Young to be nursed over the winter while the children awaited the arrival of their grandfather from Kendall.

At the Cary Farm in Kendall, Frank’s uncle Richard Cary offered to adopt his young nephew. Instead, his uncle Alex Cary picked him up and said, “Mother, I think we will keep Frank,” and left the room. From that point forward, Frank remained on the farm, becoming a full-fledged farm hand by the age of fourteen. After his grandfather died, he would take wheat to Kendall Mills so it could be ground into flour.

Frank attended the one-room schoolhouse at the corner of Norway and Lakeshore Road, where his mother taught his father how to read and speak English. Wishing to continue his scholarly pursuits, Frank attended the Brockport Normal School at the age of sixteen before moving to Indiana to live with his brother, Tallock. It became apparent rather quickly that Frank was not cut out for the farm life. He returned to the Cary Farm in Kendall before traveling to Rochester to commence studies in business at Bryant & Stratton & Co.

Fresh out of business school, Frank applied to work as a shipping clerk at Forsyth Scales in Rochester. Preferring sales to clerking, the firm sent him on the road which led him to Chicago in 1870. On October 9, 1870, that city suffered the massive conflagration known as the Great Chicago Fire. Asleep in his bed, two neighborhood boys alerted Frank to a massive fire on the city’s southside. He sprung out of bed and rushed to the store where he “watered” the store’s wooden back platform.

As the fire spread and nearby clerks fled, Frank rushed into the store, opened the safe, and loaded the company’s financial ledgers into a trunk. He tied to the trunk to a handcart and spent the better part of the night pulling the cart across the city. Having located his boss, Mr. Forsyth said, “You needn’t have taken the trouble to take the books out Frank, for you know we made that safe and it is perfectly safe.” Six weeks later, they dug the safe out from the ruins only to find that the remaining documents within the safe were turned to dust.

During his time in Chicago, Frank kept in touch with his sweetheart back home, Emily Sedgwick Bridgeman. Her parents were quite skeptical of a “prosperous looking young man who traveled,” so the couple settled on a ten-year “understanding” rather than a traditional engagement. They wed on October 25, 1876.

During his time with Forsyth, Frank developed a process of counting small watch parts by weighing them on delicate scales. Shortly after his marriage, Frank and Emily relocated to New York City where Frank commenced work as a mechanical engineer with Howard & Morse. He quickly became an expert on ventilation and drying ovens, installing ventilator systems in some of the largest buildings in the United States.

The Stanglands owned a summer home on Rt. 18 near Kendall and upon Frank’s retirement in 1932, he and Emily made the house their permanent residence. He died July 31, 1941 at the age of 92 and was interred in this lot in Kendall.

Of the many interesting anecdotes relating to Frank Stangland, perhaps none is as interesting as his participation in a major New York City murder trial. In 1890, Carlyle Harris, a medical school student at the New York College of Physicians and Surgeons gave his wife Helen Potts a lethal dose of morphine placed in capsules. Frank was one of twelve “well-educated” jurors that sat for the trial. Carlyle was found guilty and sentenced to death, which was carried out in 1893 in Sing Sing’s electric chair.

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Historian’s immigrant ancestors from Poland certainly made a mark after moving to Albion

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 16 May 2020 at 7:44 am

Romanski family worked in quarries, helped establish a church, ran a restaurant and did some bootlegging

ALBION — A photograph, taken around 1900, shows my immigrant ancestors from Poland.

Seated at center are Joannes Romanski and Anna Szybanska. Their children stand behind them, including, from left, Rozalia “Rose” Romanska Crane, Franciszek “Frank” Romanski, Maria Smolenska Romanski, and Valeria “Fannie” Romanska Wilson.

Rose is likely around 14 years old in this photograph, while Frank and his wife, who were wed on Nov. 20, 1899, were likely enjoying the honeymoon phase of their marriage.

Joannes Romanski was born on July 5, 1852, in the small village of Rybieniec, Poland, then situated in Prussia. Anna, his wife, was born Nov. 12, 1852, in the nearby village of Wabcz.

The couple brought their three young children to the United States, arriving at the port of New York on April 4, 1887.

As was typical for new immigrants arriving to Orleans County in the latter quarter of the 19th century, Joannes commenced work as a laborer in one of the numerous sandstone quarries within the vicinity of his home on the eastern end of Albion. Records from St. Mary’s Assumption Church suggest that he was one of the earliest movers and shakers who worked to establish one of the first rural Roman Catholic mission churches for Polish immigrants outside of the city of Buffalo.

Little is known about the family’s economic disposition in Poland, but Joannes opened a restaurant on Densmore Street shortly after his arrival in Albion. He operated that business through the early 1910s with the help of his family, until he suffered a stroke that left him paralyzed for the last remaining years of his life.

He died on Nov. 30, 1914, at the age of 62.

Anna continued to operate the family business in the years following her husband’s passing.

Frank followed in his father’s footsteps and purchased the Continental Hotel in Batavia, likely relying on the business experience gained while working in the family restaurant. His luck, unfortunately, was short-lived.

The hotel was taken over by a receiver in 1907 who was attempting to retrieve debts for various creditors. Meanwhile, “Frank [was] scooting around and enjoying life with an auto[mobile].” Following his short tenure as a restaurant owner, he pursued a job as a detective on the New York Central Railroad and stationed himself out of Batavia for several years. Romanski earned quite the reputation in law enforcement, finding himself at the center of attention, and appearing frequently in the local newspapers for various acts of “heroism.”

In July 1909, he was violently assaulted by a well-known lumber dealer in Batavia, which Romanski claimed was unprovoked. John Wade and an accomplice stumbled across Romanski patrolling the local NYC tracks and pummeled him with pieces of three-inch sewer pipe.

The following month, Romanski was involved in a gunfight with railcar burglars, resulting in one officer receiving a gunshot wound to the thigh, and one burglar receiving six gunshot wounds in his thigh, legs, ankle, and heel. Frank became quite familiar with gunplay as he surprised Frank Stybus as he riffled through a railcar in November of 1910, shooting the burglar as he ran off.

Three years later, Romanski was accused of collaborating with railcar burglars, tipping them off to potential threats in return for a fair share of the loot.

The Romanski sisters were just as culpable in their own unscrupulous practices during Prohibition.

After the passing of their mother in 1924, Rose assumed control of the family’s restaurant with her second husband, Frank Crane. According to family lore, Frank Crane would brew hard cider in the basement of their home, which was sold to local patrons out of a secret room in the back of the house.

Of course, this lore is corroborated by the numerous liquor raids on the restaurant, including one in June 1930 when Rose was served with a warrant to appear in front of a U.S. Commissioner. When their own homebrew was unavailable, they relied on Rose’s sister, Fannie, to ship liquor to Albion from Fannie’s store in Port Colburn, Ontario.

Even though Frank and Rose Crane fought the good fight, I suppose we all have skeletons in the closet!

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Billiards was a popular, competitive pastime at the Orleans House in Albion

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 2 May 2020 at 8:24 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Vol. 6, No. 17

ALBION – This photograph, taken circa 1920, shows the billiard parlor in the Orleans House located on the southwest corner of Platt and East Bank streets in Albion. Anson Dunshee was the proprietor of the hotel at the time, so it is possible that he is the man pictured here.

In January of 1895, Dunshee ordered four new Babcock billiard tables for installation in this parlor at a cost of approximately $1,000. Three of the four tables in this image appear to be the same style, consisting of square legs, slate tops, and leather mesh pockets. At the time this photograph was taken, eight-ball pool was already popular in the United States.

Three of the tables are racked with a mix of solid and striped balls, typical of that particular version of the game. Eight-ball pool originally consisted of a point-based system where each player was awarded points for sinking each ball based on the ball’s corresponding number. A total of 120 points could be earned and the first player to reach 61 points, or one more than half of the total points, won the game. This was likely the version played at this venue. Readers will notice two wires running along the upper portion of the photograph near the ceiling. Known as the “wire” or “across the string,” these beads formed an abacus used for scoring the game. A darker bead marked one point while a lighter colored pendant marked every ten points.

The fourth table, situated front and center of this photograph, has no pockets. This type of table was used in carom billiards, also known as carambole billiards, where players scored points by bouncing the cue ball off the rails and two other balls situated on the table; points were awarded based on the complexity of the shot. The darker ball is visible in the corner of the table while two lighter colored balls are also situated on the felt. Players typically engaged in several variations of carom billiards including straight rail, cushion caroms, balkline, and three-cushion billiards. Cue sticks are held in racks mounted on the walls and mechanical bridges can be seen underneath the tables.

In May of 1876, the Orleans House hosted Frank “Yank” Adams, a professional carom billiards player known for his ability to manipulate the cue ball with his hands. Combining his proficiency in bowling with billiards, Adams was able to make trick shows with his digits rather than using a cue, which earned him the nickname, “Digital Billiard Wonder.”

During the 19th century, pool rooms were typically associated with betting parlors for horse racing. The billiard tables provided bettors with an activity to pass the time between races. The term “pool” became synonymous with billiards as the game was commonly associated with collective betting or antes. This would explain the presence of the “No Gambling Allowed in this Room” sign hanging over the doorway into the barroom.

Although the available identifying information suggests that this image was taken around 1920, the exact date is likely a few years earlier. Around 1922, Dunshee proceeded to renovate the billiards parlor and adjoining barroom into a restaurant. The inability to gamble and recent enactment of the 18th Amendment likely killed any interest in billiards. Earlier in that same year, the hotel was raided by Sheriff Scott Porter under the suspicion of selling illegal intoxicating liquor (v. 3, no. 22).

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Medina expanded sewer system in 1908 in a challenging public works project

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 25 April 2020 at 8:41 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Vol. 6, No. 16

MEDINA – In 1907, Gov. Charles Evans Hughes signed a law allowing the Village of Medina to raise approximately $60,000 to expand the sewer system. It was expected that the new pipelines would connect the southern and eastern sections of the village to a preexisting trunk sewer that previously discharged into the Oak Orchard Creek.

Upon the commencement of construction, the State Department of Health expressed concerns about potential issues that might arise from the increased flow of sewage into the main sewer line. Prior to 1903, sewage discharged at a point opposite of the intersection of Glenwood Avenue and Gulf Street.

The construction of A. L. Swett’s sixty-foot high dam created Glenwood Lake and in anticipation of changing sewage disposal needs, Swett constructed a pipe below the lake in order to discharge sewage beyond the dam. Even though this extension was constructed nearly five years earlier, the preexisting trunk sewer was never connected to Swett’s extension and sewage was discharged into Glenwood Lake. The Health Department understood that the increasing flow of sewage would eventually turn the beautiful waterway into a cesspool as solid waste settled on the lakebed.

Following the completion of this project, the Village encountered legal trouble with Dingledyne & Patton, the contractors assigned to complete the eastern section of the sewer line. Medina argued that the contractors failed to complete the necessary sewer work, which required the Village to assume responsibility of finishing the job and thus expending additional funds in the process.

Dingledyne & Patton issued a countersuit, claiming that the Village owed them more than $15,000 for completed work. An appeals court later issued judgement in favor of the contractors, noting that the Village illegally paid for work not completed and issued payment for work which laborers were required to work beyond eight hours per day.

This particular image shows a rather rocky section of East Center Street, looking west towards downtown Medina at the intersection of State Street. In June of 1908, an alteration was made to the proposed sewer line. The original plan involved running this line through a private right-of-way in order to avoid a rock vein. It is clear that the property owner understood the lucrative nature of this predicament and demanded an excessive sum for the right-of-way. Instead, the Village opted to run the line down the center of the street.

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Western Union Telegraph & American Express operated in downtown Albion in early 1900s

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 18 April 2020 at 7:53 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Vol. 6, No. 15

ALBION – This image, taken around 1900, shows a brick building on the north side of East Bank Street in Albion at the present site of Phoenix Fitness. In the years following this photograph, the office service as the telephone building prior to its relocation to Platt Street.

Based on identifying information on the obverse side of the photograph, we know that J. B. Gamble of Eagle Harbor produced the image. A handwritten note states that Freeman Herrick is the man seated atop the express wagon. A quick look at the 1900 U.S. Census shows us that Freeman Herrick, of State Street, was working as an expressman in the village. His work in this office began around 1880, working first as a commission agent, then as an express messenger operating the Albion to Buffalo line. The wagon is fully loaded with boxes, either prepared for transport to the railroad depot on Clinton Street, or awaiting delivery to residents in Albion.

The sign over the storefront indicates that this building was an American Express office. Started in 1850 at Buffalo, NY, the American Express company handled express freight shipments by railroad. Growing exponentially in the latter quarter of the 19th century, the company’s total assets by 1903 totaled approximately $28 million; only second to the assets held by the National City Bank of New York. In 1857, American Express launched their money order business in order to compete with the U.S. Postal System’s money order option.

To the right of the American Express office was the Western Union Telegraph Office. Established at Rochester in 1851 by Samuel Selden and Hiram Sibley, their New York and Mississippi Valley Printing Telegraph Company eventually combined with another company to form the Western Union Telegraph Company in 1856. Just as the American Express Company had established in 1857, Western Union developed their own money transfer service in 1871.

The identity of the two men and boy standing in the doorway are unknown, though it is presumed that one of the men is the office agent. In early 1901, John Napier was sent from Batavia’s express office to assume management of the Albion office. In turn, A. W. Myers of Albion was sent to Batavia to replace him.

As an aside, Freeman Herrick’s daughter, Margaret, met a young man in this office around 1903 and the two fell in love. According to local reports, Margaret was “addicted to the liquor habit” and her new beau attempted to break her habit. In December of 1903, Margaret wrote to the man and asked him to see her. When he refused, she committed suicide by taking a lethal dose of carbolic acid in Rochester.

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The steamer, Arundell, reigned as Queen of Lake Ontario

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 11 April 2020 at 8:22 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Vol. 6, No. 14

This image shows the steamer Arundell approaching Oak Orchard Harbor around 1904 or 1905. Built by the Bell Iron Works at Buffalo in 1879, this iron hull steamer was operated along the southern coast of Lake Ontario during the summer months through 1910.

When this photograph was taken, the Arundell was owned and operated by the Cole & Holt Lines of Bay City, Michigan and was brought each spring to Lake Ontario by way of the Welland Canal. The steamer frequently carried Orleans County passengers during picnic days and pioneer events.

The company advertised “Good meals on steamer at 50 cents,” and “No dust, cool breeze and a pleasant time guaranteed” for its excursion trips across the lake. These relaxing jaunts included stops at Olcott Beach, Point Breeze, Charlotte, Sodus Point, Fairhaven, Oswego, Cape Vincent, and Clayton; the typical cost of a round trip ticket from Olcott to the Thousand Islands was $5.00 per person. During the earliest years of operation around the Buffalo Harbor in the 1880s, a ticket would run approximately 50 cents for gentlemen and 25 cents for women and children.

In 1904, the company operating the steamer was charged in the death of George Reed of Niles, NY, a passenger who boarded the previous year for an excursion trip to the Thousand Islands. Reed’s wife claimed that the employees and agents on board the Arundell got her husband “beastly drunk” and stowed him away in a bunk below deck. When reaching Fairhaven, the crew allegedly carried the semiconscious man to shore and left him there. At some point the man regained his composure and attempted to find his way inland but stumbled into the water and drowned. The $15,000 lawsuit did not appear to have any long-term effect on the operation of the steamer.

The steamer suffered an unfortunate accident in 1908 when she travelled too close to the shores of the St. Lawrence River and ran aground on the Fineview Shoals near Wellesley Island. She was towed to Kingston and placed in dry dock for several weeks for repairs; the accident set the company back several thousands of dollars.

Shortly after this image was taken, the steamer was sold to the Crawford Transportation Company of Chicago, who used her as a ferry on Lake Michigan until she suffered a tragic fire and burned in 1911. Although her time as a transportation vessel was not over, her time as the “Queen of Lake Ontario” was complete. The Arundell was rebuilt, sold, and renamed Brewster in 1921. The steamer sank after a collision with the Sterling Lake on the James River in Virginia in 1922.

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Erie Canal made Knowlesville a hotspot, busy enough for a hotel

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 4 April 2020 at 8:29 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Vol. 6, No. 13

I received two friendly phone calls from Bill Lattin and Betsy Hoffman (Town of Carlton Historian) last week correcting last week’s article (v. 6, no. 13). Although the information was correct, the photograph is of a hotel that once stood at Knowlesville. So as a correction, I thought it would be worthwhile to write a short piece about the hotel in the photograph!

Isaac Signor’s Landmarks of Orleans County, New York notes that the earliest hotel in this area was likely kept by William Knowles in the first framed house built at that location in 1825. The opening of the Erie Canal in 1825 created the need for a stopping point at this location, a much-needed place for rest. An 1860 map of Niagara and Orleans counties shows the “American Hotel” situated on the property shown in this photography. The building was situated on the southeast corner of Knowlesville and Presbyterian roads and a storefront was connected the hotel to the north, which is visible on the left-hand side of the image.

Similar to the hotel at Point Breeze, this hotel was destroyed by fire on July 21, 1913. The July 22, 1913 edition of the Medina Daily Journal ran the devastating conflagration as its headline story; “KNOWLESVILLE VISITED BY A $27,000 FIRE LAST NIGHT.” Caused by an overheated chimney in the hotel’s kitchen, the fire spread quickly through the large frame structure. According to the paper, “…in a short space of time dense smoke was pouring from the windows, quickly followed by the licking, eager flames. With no immediate and adequate fire protection, the situation quickly became a very serious one.” A bucket brigade was formed as the community eagerly awaited assistance from fire companies in Medina and Albion.

Despite the efforts of the firefighters, the flames spread to the building of Dr. Edward G. Hall, which was occupied by Fred Hall’s drug store, Dr. Laverne Waters’ office, Frank Higgins’ barber shop, and Ross Achilles’ electrical office. While the fire raged in the hotel proper, nearby residents assisted in emptying the drug store, the attached post office, and removed several pool tables and other equipment from the hotel. The flames eventually spread to the transformers of the Swett Electric Company, forcing the shutdown of electricity to the community. This prevented the use of the lift bridge, bringing traffic on the Canal to a halt.

According to the Daily Journal, “Forty years ago this same section was devastated with a fire. Frame buildings were erected – a business block and hotel – and for over thirty years the little village has been left in peace.” The total loss included Harry Barnum’s Knowlesville Hotel ($15,000), the Hall Block ($10,000), Frank Hall’s Harness and Shoe Shop ($400), and private residences owned by John Whitwell, George Ames, and stores owned by John Whitwell and M. W. Tilden. Fire insurance in the area cost approximately $3.45 per hundred, which made adequate coverage cost prohibitive. The total value of the loss, not covered by insurance, was around $20,000.

The hotel was eventually rebuilt as the structure that now sits on the same corner.

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The Point Breeze Hotel offered respite on shore of Lake Ontario

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 28 March 2020 at 8:53 am

“Overlooked Orleans” – Vol. 6, No. 12

POINT BREEZE – This glass plate negative was recently found in a collection of images within the Department of History. Although the collection is not labeled, it is believed that the photographs are from the Carlton and Point Breeze area. Based on the content of the other images, this photograph appears to show a hotel once operated by Lewis Rogers. This photograph was likely taken before 1911 when the building was destroyed by a fire.

The history of the Point Breeze Hotel dates to around 1840 when, according to Isaac Signor, a small hotel was constructed on this site. Shortly after Capt. Jonathan Murray arrived in the area in the late 1840s, he acquired this property and expanded the hotel building as part of a larger warehouse and ship building operation.

Around 1876, the property was transferred to Moses Broadwell and Chester Warner who operated the hotel until 1881 when Lewis Rogers and L. Sydney Crooker acquired the property. That particular transaction involved a land swap including acreage in Wisconsin and financial interests in property associated with the Central Hotel in Batavia for ownership of the Orleans House at Point Breeze.

Around 1901 the property was sold by Rogers and Crooker to Mary Virginia Bascom of Boston, Massachusetts for the sum of $4,000. The property transfer seems to suggest that Rogers was unable to continue payments on his mortgage. Even though Mrs. Bascom took ownership of the hotel, Lewis Rogers continued to operate the hotel on site.

In late March of 1911, a fire started in the hotel’s kitchen around 3:30 a.m. while Rogers was visiting friends in Vermont. Although the neighborhood responded to fight the fire, gusty winds off the lake made it nearly impossible to control the blaze. The $6,000 building and over $3,000 in personal property owned by Rogers were only partially covered by insurance. Cutting his losses, Rogers transitioned into the role of proprietor of the Cottage House (now the Black North Inn).

The local newspapers noted a peculiar notice that appeared on the fire-damaged structure on May 18, 1911:

“This land is not for sale and no other lands that Mrs. Bascom owned prior to May 18, 1911 and no deed will be valid unless given by C. A. Deavenport, who owns every foot of land, every building, every stick of lumber of every name and nature and who has a bill of sale for every foot of land which Mrs. Bascom owned prior to May 18, 1911.”

The reason for the rather abrasive sign is unknown, but Deavenport purchased several old lumber sheds previously owned by A. V. Clark with the intention of converting the structures into lakefront cottages. It was believed that he intended to construct a bungalow on the site of the old Point Breeze Hotel for his personal use, but the hotel was rebuilt and operated under the name “Lakeland Hotel.” After remaining under the proprietorship of Lewis Rogers for more than 30 years, the property was sold numerous times over the coming years. In 1921, Deavenport sold the property to his son Carl, who then sold it to Clarence Egbert in 1922. It was transferred to Buffalo Parkside Properties, Inc. in 1929, then sold to Emma Kelemen the same year, once again sold to Clara Norton in 1931, then to Dorothy Valtas in 1933.

Around 1940, the hotel property was sold to Joseph Winghart of Lyndonville who changed the name to the “Winghart Hotel.” Winghart and his brother Bernard were known rum runners during Prohibition. The hotel again burned in the early 1940s and although the origin of the fire was never determined, Winghart was certain arson was the cause. Other sales included a transfer to Fred and Annabelle Hollenbeck who changed the name back to the Lakeland Hotel, sale of the property to Harvey Bardo of Rochester in 1946, and transfer of the hotel in 1956 to Herbert Seiler.

Although this building is long gone, locals will remember the property as the The Lakeland, The Barbary Coast, and was most recently the home of Gene and Joette Haines.

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In 1918, more than 2,000 people in Orleans got the Spanish Flu

By Matthew Ballard, Orleans County Historian Posted 21 March 2020 at 8:47 am

Historian urges people to document experiences during current coronavirus

“Overlooked Orleans” – Vol. 6, No. 11

As our community comes together to support one another during the current COVID-19 epidemic, we must remember to document our own stories for posterity. The local written record of events relating to the 1918 Influenza Pandemic is minimal and limited to statistical records gathered by the New York State Department of Health and scattered newspaper clippings.

Diaries and journals would provide the greatest detail from first-hand accounts. Although we have some limited oral histories from the 1970s provided by those who grew up during the pandemic, it is difficult to gain an accurate picture of the everyday lives of Orleans County’s residents. As a historian, I urge everyone to document the events we are living through so that future historians may have an opportunity to understand the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on our lives.

In 1919, the New York State Department of Health provided documentation on the Spanish Influenza (H1N1) pandemic as it spread across the country. Early documentation suggests that Kansas was the first location where the disease was encountered. The Department of Health wrote that “the use of the term ‘Spanish’ is unfortunate and has served to create the impression that a new and especially dreadful disease has appeared.” Historians have noted that the term “Spanish Influenza” likely resulted from the lack of press censorship in neutral Spain during World War One, where the influenza outbreak was publicized far more than in France, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The Spanish Influenza caused a variety of symptoms, the most prevalent being a temperature between 102-105ºF, body aches, nasal discharge, and a dry cough. Some cases included red or watery eyes, a slightly red throat, nausea, and diarrhea. Of course, atypical cases presented with minimal symptoms but remained highly infectious. Lacking antivirals and vaccines, physicians relied upon isolation, quarantine, good personal hygiene, disinfectants, and limited public gatherings to mitigate the spread of the disease. The fact that approximately 30% of U.S. physicians were deployed into military service limited access to health services in rural locations throughout New York.

The New York State Department of Health relied upon preexisting policies and procedures to limit the spread of the virus. According to Sanitary Code, spitting in public places, on sidewalks, and on the floors of public buildings was forbidden and considered a misdemeanor. The Public Health Council also pushed for legislation that made it a misdemeanor to cough or sneeze without properly covering your mouth or nose. Physicians treating infected patients were encouraged to wash their hands frequently and wear gauze masks whenever possible.

When quarantining those with influenza, individuals were expected to remain secluded inside of a well-ventilated room when families were around. Dishes and utensils used for eating were to be boiled after use and handkerchiefs, napkins, and towels were burned after use. In locations where large portions of the community were infected, the Department of Health encouraged no public funerals, keeping windows open to ensure adequate ventilation, and closing amusement locations (specifically movies and theatres).

Although the Spanish Influenza was deadly to children under five and adults over 65 years of age, the virus also affected a relatively healthy segment of the population, those between the ages of 20 and 40. In Orleans County between October and December of 1918, the Department of Health estimated 2,279 cases of influenza across a population of 33,919 (approximately 6.7% of the total county population). Comparatively speaking, outbreaks of other communicable illnesses such as the measles (79 cases), Scarlet Fever (35 cases), and Tuberculosis (33 cases) dwarfed in comparison.

Newspapers provide a glimpse at the local response to the influenza pandemic. In early October of 1918, Brent Wood presented as the first confirmed case of influenza in Albion. The son of Rev. Edwin Wood of the Pullman Universalist Church, Brent was taken ill at Buffalo where he was to enter military service.

In the coming weeks, the Gillett and Benton Corners School Districts in Barre closed due to influenza outbreaks and other school districts followed suit. Teachers received their regular salary if the school closed on account of sickness, however, teachers who proactively closed their school would not receive pay for the duration of the voluntary closure.

In mid-October, the Medina Board of Trustees mandated the closure of all churches, theatres, schools, fraternal organizations, and public meetings, anticipating a need to shut down for one to two months. Although cases locally subsided into late October, the celebration of peace on November 11, 1918 caused a spike in cases throughout Western New York.

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