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Weedsport History 2

Continued from Page 1 - (Click link below for page 1)



This page contains the articles written by Denny Randall, which are posted monthly in the

Auburn Citizen Newspaper.









(Nov. 2018)



     On Monday evening the 19th at 7:30 the Old Brutus Historical Society will hold their last regularly scheduled meeting of the year.  We'll resume on the 3rd Monday in March of the new Year at the usual time.  This month's program will be our annual "what izzit" where our members bring in strange items and let the other members guess what they are.  We've had some mighty weird stuff over the years!

     This month's program will be special in that we will have a grand reopening of the front lobby, Historians office and workroom.  Perhaps some will recall the hideous 1950's era blond paneling 8 feet high on the lobby walls and painted over that to the ceiling.  There was no insulation--just firring strips fastened to the concrete walls and paneling nailed over that. Similarly, the worn out carpeting on the floor was deplorable.  At the June Board meeting it was decided not only to redecorate the lobby, but to take it back to the basic walls, frame out the walls, insulate, sheetrock and paper them with a period correct wallpaper in an effort to turn the room into a Victorian parlor.  Accordingly, in due time  the walls were done, 3 layers of flooring were removed revealing the original golden maple hardwood flooring which was refinished and new "old " looking lighting fixtures were installed, along with additional receptacles.  The front display windows also have new lighting which is controlled by automatic timers. Tasteful historic paintings by local artists, illuminated showcases contain various Weedsport products from the past and period furniture complete the décor--it is stunning!

     Similarly, the Historians office has been cleaned, painted, the floor refinished and is also now a showpiece. Finally, the workroom, which has always been an absolute eyesore was overhauled and completely paid for by Dave and Elinor Fults.  Most of the bull work on all of these projects was done by a dedicated  small group of members who deserve the highest of accolades.  COME CHECK IT OUT!

     Refreshments will be served as usual and as always all of our presentations are free and open to the public.

     I would be remiss, if while I have this bully pulpit if I didn't mention our plans for the holidays season.  Since the village "Old Tyme Christmas" program stopped operating, we have felt left out  of any local holiday celebration.  To make a long story short, we decided to run our own on the weekends of December 8 & 9 and 15 & 16.  Rich Weiczorek will set up his huge model train layout which takes several days to accomplish, Mike Randall will have on display several of his amazing antique toys and Pat Rudney will exhibit several of her antique dolls.  Please plan to join us.

Denny Randall,

Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society



(Oct. 2018)



      Those of you who have read these columns over the years know that I like to write occasionally about famous, or near famous Weedsport residents.  This month's article is one that would have seemed more likely to come out of Hollywood, California than Weedsport, New York

      As Adolph Hitler started his relentless and cruel attempt to take over the world, starting first in Europe, countless innocent people were torn from their homes and treated with unbelievable cruelty in many different ways.  One of the families so affected were Nicholas and Gerda Suszynska of Poland.  Both were college educated, he taught in an agricultural school and she taught math in a high school.  In 1940 when the Russians invaded Poland, Mr. Suszynska joined the Polish army and was subsequently captured by the Russians and sent to work in a camp in Siberia.  Eventually the whole family was sent to Siberia  where they were reunited with their father.  After unbelievable hardships including hunger and cold during which the 2 smaller children died, they were finally released in 1945 after an agreement was reached between the U.S. and Russian governments.  After traveling through India and China, mostly on foot, they came to America to live as DISPLACED PERSONS (D.P.s).  They settled on a small farm on River Rd. in the hamlet of Emerson and the two younger girls, Alexandra and Mary enrolled in Weedsport Central School.  They were well received in the Weedsport community and were once again a happy family.

     Fast forward 6 years to 1951 when Mary, by then a beautiful honey haired 16 year old sophomore at Weedsport became elected to be New York State Fair Queen in a state wide beauty contest.  Besides the honor of being the queen , she received a weeks vacation in Bermuda for her and her sister, traveling via Pan Am Clipper--a far cry from walking across China!  Her wardrobe, which included her coronation gown was furnished by Flah and Co. of Syracuse.  She participated in the opening ceremony held in the State Fair coliseum, toured the fairgrounds for two days performing many queenly duties, including passing out the prizes at the annual Indy car race.

     The fair opening ceremony was attended by Weedsport Mayor Lester Partelow, Postmaster J. Austin Howe, School Principal William F. Lampman, Lions Club President Merle Johnston, Governor Thomas E. Dewey, Syracuse Mayor Thomas Corcoran and many other dignitaries.  She noted during her remarks that she was confident that she should would become a U.S. citizen before the end of the year.  A reception  in her honor for the public was held locally the next week in the School auditorium and checks were presented to her from the village residents and her school classmates.  The family enjoyed a happy life in Weedsport. Eventually the girls married and moved away and the parents went to their reward, resting in Weedsport's St Joseph's cemetery.

     Is this not a story worthy of Hollywood?  The attached photo show Mary receiving checks from Mayor Partelow representing the village and Dick Lippoldt for the school student government while her mother looks on.

Denny Randall,

Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society


You may click on the thumbnail below, to view a much larger picture:


(Sept. 2018)



      I thought it was time that I wrote another "DO YOU REMEMBER" column since people are always asking me why I don't write about this, or that.

   A month ago I wrote about "Smitty" and several people asked why I did not mention his number one hired man Edgar "Speedy" Millis zooming around town on his grey Ford 8N tractor.  Consider him mentioned and let me further note that when he passed away several years after Smitty, his fellow patrons of Carl's Grill took up a collection and furnished him with a handsome headstone featuring the tractor and his ever present smoking pipe carved on it. It may be seen on his final resting place in Section 4 of Weedsport Rural Cemetery.  Who can recall as a kid standing on the sidewalk in front of O. J. Kusche's blacksmith shop and marveling at the smith at work?

   We have been doing some renovation work at the museum and I wonder who will remember that after the Cayuga Chief newspaper left the building it was owned by Jack Holihan as a TV repair shop (can you imagine getting one repaired today?).  Mrs. Holihan who had been Town of Brutus Clerk for many years and whose office was in her home on W. Brutus St. then used the office which is now the Historian's as the Town of Brutus Clerk's office.  Speaking of the Town's office who remembers that where the Town office building now stands was the Town highway garage, which was a repurposed building, formerly the Abram Walrath Steam Bent Wood Works. who manufactured silo staves , sleigh runners, chair parts and other steam bent wooden parts. The building featured a huge brick chimney to accommodate the large boiler needed to make steam for the process.  Just beyond that building was a large house that Olive St. John purchased and converted to her first restaurant

   Much has been said about the conversion of Weedsport School to 8 man football.  I for one am glad they did this to maintain Weedsport's football identity instead of having a merged team which does not.  This is not the first time Weedsport has played 8 man football, and as a mater of fact, when I was in school we, along with the rest of the Cayuga County League played 6 man ball very successfully. Who recalls the WCS band playing as a pep band during the games and performing at halftime?  I fully expect to be sitting  with fellow alumnus Dave Fults and long retired faculty member Keith Davis on the top row at the 50 yard line as we have for more years than I like to recall. Our class ran the concession stand at times at the games and one of the things we sold was Ma's Cola--does anyone remember drinking a Ma's Cola?

   Speaking of Ma's Cola, it was also sold by O'Hara's Restaurant which was the last place that I know of where you could got a Lemon Lime Phosphate.  Most people who read this know that I have a 1930 Model A Ford car which still requires a "grease job"  which modern cars do not.  Joe Yurko complains that it takes a whole tube of grease when I bring it in for it's annual service. Who recalls having to change spark plugs, ignition points and other car parts regularly to keep them running decently?   Often times we would grease or otherwise maintain our own vehicles with  the help of Fancher Follett's open service pit at his Cities Service Station where the Pit Stop is now.  The pit was out doors with a simple protective chain around it and after business hours he didn't mind if we straddled the pit to wire up a muffler or some such needed repair.  The school bus garage had a similar pit on a much larger scale to service the busses, speaking of which who remembers the Weedsport school busses being painted green and white?

    Using a bit of editorial license I'd like to thank everyone who turned out for our program last month on the opening of the Robert Scarry Jr.  Erie Canal Resource Center at the Museum.  We particularly would like to thank the contingent who came up from the Moravia area and who had been friends, students and co-workers of Mr. Scarry , He would have been so pleased.  We sincerely apologize to those who could not be seated and had to stand. Please come in during regular hours for a private showing.  After some time , our web site is now correct--check with that, or Facebook to see what we are up to.

Denny Randall, Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society


(Aug. 2018)



        On Monday, August 20th , at our regular monthly meeting and program we will officially open our "Robert J. Scarry Jr. Erie Canal Resource Center".  This is our first truly interactive exhibit which allows visitors a hands on opportunity to select and view  about 1000 canal slides from the life work of Mr. Scarry.  Robert Scarry was a history teacher in Moravia for many years and became a foremost authority on the Erie Canal.  His interest in the canal came to him early and naturally as he was brought up in Waterford not far from the canal.  He even used the Erie Canal as the subject for his wonderfully done Master's thesis.

        Soon after he passed away, his widow , Harriet came to us as a leading museum in the area which was actually on the canal and asked if we would consider being the repository of his lifework.  It sounded like a win-win deal to Historian Jeanne Baker and in the fullness of time  about 2 cubic yards of material  was unloaded at our museum and trundled up the handicap ramp in a pouring rain.  The material consisted of all his lifetime notes and research, as well as about 1000 35 mm slides in carousel trays and much more.

        We parked it in a convenient corner and really were unable to do much with the slides and notes.  After several years, his daughter who lived in the Rochester area at the time came to us and asked if she could digitize her father's work.  This was a relatively new technology at the time and we readily agreed.  Accordingly, for the next couple of years, every time we were open she would lug her equipment from Rochester, set it up in the museum and scan thousands of documents and slides into a digital program.  She eventually finished this massive project and gave us a copy of her efforts.

        None of us at the museum were smart (read that young) enough to put together a program on the subject.  Enter recently retired school teacher Tom Atkins who did a masterful job of putting together a program and actually added about 40 of our own canal pictures to the presentation.  The program will include the canal slides of Mr. Scarry from Teal Avenue and Erie Blvd. East in Syracuse west to Weedsport. Also included will be those local photos Tom found and scanned in.  The program will be digitally projected as a slide show and Mr. Atkins and I will make the presentation.

        As always, our programs are free and open to the public at the museum, 8943 N. Seneca St. in Weedsport, across from the post office. Refreshments will be served.   We hope to see you there as a tribute to Mr. Scarry and his daughter.  Many of the photos show Erie Drive (Rt.31) in the 1950's and 60's,and there's even a photo of a 14 year old Rollie McWethey fishing in the canal!

Denny Randall, Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society




(July 2018)


      Although Weedsport, like any small town has had it's share of "characters" (I might even be one myself) over the years, one name that stands out  in my generation was simply "SMITTY".  Mr. Earl E. Smith came to Weedsport from Nebraska, orphaned and virtuously penniless in 1936. It did not take him long to become a property owner, eventually owning 34 farms here and in other areas, including Texas.  At first he lived on the farm where the Francis Gross family now lives, just north of the Seneca River on Route 34.  He always had great sounding names for his farms and the barns were always painted  in a tell tale yellow, when most other barns were almost always painted red.  The Gross farm was the "Lone Star Farm", while further north on Route 34 where Howard Sherlock at one time lived was the "Echo Valley Farm".  Eventually he bought the former Caywood and later Snook farm in the center of the village and named it "Smitty's Wee Ranch"

      He had arrived in town with $50.00 to his name and over the course of his life was to become very wealthy indeed.  He passed away on June 10,1984 after a short illness.  It is hard to imagine anyone in the village, or surrounding area that did not know him, or know of him.  He operated a tremendously successful horse sales and auction house in Weedsport for many years.  His business cards and calendar art carried the words "If you can't stop, smile as you go by"  His generosity was unbounded.  For many years before Olive St. John graciously gave the local fire department the land on which their field days are held annually, Smitty moved his livestock and the field days were held at the Wee Ranch on West Brutus Street

      Smitty loved a parade, and led nearly  every parade in this area starting in Moravia right after World War II.  For about 20 years he rode a black Morgan horse named "Sunny Hawk", dressed in his trademark western outfit and sitting astride a saddle trimmed in solid silver.  In later years, since he was President of several Palomino associations he rode mostly palominos, although he also had a Tennessee Walking Horse that loved to dance to the band music in a parade.  One time before a parade there was a band practicing nearby and the horse jumped out of the trailer, over the cab of the pickup truck and commenced dancing!  Earlier I mentioned his generosity--one time he was visiting a friend in the hospital and a nurse admired his fancy western shirt and he took it off and gave it to her--literally gave her the shirt off his back.  Another time Sherry Patchen's 6 year old brother wanted a pony badly.  They went to one of Smitty's auctions and he sold the boy a pony for one dollar, and then gave him a saddle and bridle!  Smitty donated the land to the Village of Weedsport where the Wastewater Treatment plant, the DPW and recycling center are now located as well as the land for the street that leads to them, thus EARL ST.  Even our OBHS Museum benefitted from his largess.  We have a beautiful old dog/goat powered treadmill to operate a corn sheller or such that he donated.

      When he passed away, in accord with his wishes the funeral procession through the village to Weedsport Rural Cemetery was completely horse drawn with his widow riding at the head of the procession holding the American flag and leading the riderless Tennessee Walker with Smitty's trademark red patent leather cowboy boots reversed in the stirrups.  The photos show him about to lead a parade somewhere on the black Morgan and the top of one of his calendars.

Denny Randall, Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society

Click on the thumbnails below, to view a larger sized photo





(June 2018)


     Over 50 years ago I belonged to a group called the International Management Council, which had a local Syracuse division.  I guess my employer thought if I attended these meetings I'd be smarter.  One of the gentlemen that I met there was a man named Jay Lopez, who also lived in Weedsport on Oakland Road. Jay was a master carver, working for Syroco making the originals for clocks, wall décor and the like.  He had emigrated from Mexico many years before.  He was volunteering some time in the evening hand carving ceiling trim panels in the closed Loew's State Theater, which was about to become the community owned "Landmark" theater. I ended up joining him there a few times and one night he said "there's even a fancier theater down the street that they're abut to demolish, let's go take a look". We walked up Salina St. to the RKO Keith's theater, which was in fact being torn down to make room for a Sibley's department store.

     As it happened, I never went back to the Landmark, because I discovered that they were removing the theater pipe organ before the building came down.  A large hole had been knocked out of the back side of the building on Clinton Street and the organ pipes and workings were being hoisted out of the building through that hole.  Huge long pipes and boxes and boxes of bits and pieces of the organ were being carefully disassembled and taken to a proposed new home at the New York State Fairgrounds.  I frankly didn't think it would ever play again, but it was only a couple of years until it was reassembled in The Harriet May Mills building and the "mighty Wurlitzer" again was entertaining the public.

     Eventually a group was formed with headquarters there called ESTMIM, the Empire State Theater and Musical Instrument Museum.  We have not only the Wurlitzer, but many player pianos, band instruments, 35 mm projectors, phonographs, parlor organs and many other unusual musical instruments.  Concerts are held with the theater organ several times a year, often accompanying a silent film which is what the instrument was built for.  Wurlitzer referred to it as "a unit orchestra" as it was capable of producing most of the sounds of a full orchestra.  Not only does it have the usual string , horn and flute pipes of most pipe organs, it has many actual individual instruments played from the organ manuals.  Among them are an upright piano, glockenspiel, xylophone, bass drum, snare drum, cymbals, chrysoglott, chimes, tuned sleigh bells and many others.  It also has many sound effects, specifically designed for silent films including fire sirens, auto horns, door bells, wind and sea sounds, etc.

      At one time there were 26 theater type organs in the Syracuse area and Wilma, as we call her is the only one left.  In fact we believe she is the only Wurlitzer of that type in the United States to have survived and be used in completely original condition.  I am still involved and every day during the State Fair I may be found there  showing people how a player piano works, or Simplex projectors exactly like the ones I used to run at Zimmer's Weedsport Theater, or giving tours of the chambers of this amazing surviving


Denny Randall, Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society



(May, 2018)



          Adam Helmer, who lived from 1754 to 1830 was a Revolutionary War scout and hero in the Mohawk Valley region of New York State.  He was made famous by Walter D. Edmond's historic novel DRUMS ALONG THE MOHAWK published in 1936.

          Born in the Palatine area of German Flatts, New York, he joined a militia force under Colonel Nicholas Herkimer in 1775 at the age of 21.   In 1776, as the situation calmed down a bit in the Mohawk Valley, General Herkimer allowed many of his regulars to return home to tend to their farms.  About 1 out of 15 including Adam Helmer were retained to act as rangers, or scouts.

         In the summer of 1977,  Herkimer, by then a Brigadier General was warned by friendly Oneida's of the impending siege of Fort Stanwix (then Fort Schuyler) by British troops under the leadership of Lt. Col Barry St. Leger.  Herkimer sent 3 runners, or scouts, including Captains Hans Demuth, Hans Folts and Lt. Helmer  to Fort Stanwix to relay the news of the impending attack.  Meanwhile Herkimer led an ill fated attack on St. Leger's army.  They were ambushed in a ravine in what was to become known as the "Battle of Oriskany" .  Helmer lost both his father and brother in that battle.

         In September of 1778, Lt. Helmer and 8 scouts under his command were sent to the Unadilla river valley to spy on Joseph Brant's Indians who were camped there. When they reached Edmeston  they were attacked  by a large group of Brant's men, but Helmer escaped.  He took off running North East toward Schuyler Lake warning settlers and obtaining fresh footware as he went.  When he reached Fort Dayton, severely torn up from his run through the brambles he told Colonel Bellinger that he had encountered at least 200 attackers.  The straight line distance of his run was about 30 miles but his run was anything but direct. it was said that he slept for 36 hours straight.  During his sleep, the farms of the area were attacked and destroyed by Brant's army.  The losses recorded were 63 homes, 59 barns, 3 gristmills, 235 horses, 229 head of cattle, 279 sheep and 93 oxen.  Only 2 men were killed, by refusing to leave when warned by Helmer.

         Helmer married the daughter of his commanding officer,  Anna Bellinger and they eventually settled on a Revolutionary War plot on Cottle Road in the Town of Brutus.  The couple had 10 children and farmed and sold off portions of the plot.  Walter Edmond's book romanticized Helmer and soon a movie was made of the book.  Tourists flocked to his grave site and chipped off pieces of his gravestone as souvenirs.  Enter into the picture Ellis Robillard's  sister Mildred Robillard Staunton who taught school in Mount Vernon.  She became a student and champion of her great, great grandfather Adam Helmer, writing ADAM HELMER'S FAMOUS RUN,  which is considered to be the most accurate and best authority on his life. She also had the New York State Education Department erect a historical marker sign at his gravesite (see Photo).  She was concerned that soon there would be nothing left of his tomb stone, so she donated a plot in the Robillard lot in Weedsport Rural cemetery and had new granite stones placed there as a memorial, although the Helmer's remain interred on Cottle Road.

        The Robillard's are direct descendants of Adam Helmer, My late uncle Ellis was the great, great, grandson of the scout, My late cousin Dick was great, great, great, grandson and Russell (Rusty) is the great, great, great, great grandson.  Ellis Robillard's wife Mildred Randall was a sister of my father's and that's how I climbed on the Helmer shirt tails.

 Denny Randall, Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society







     Our exhibit theme for this year at the museum is the "History of Movies In Weedsport".  Our many manikins are dressed as movie stars and much materiel is displayed about the Burritt Opera House and it's successor, Zimmer's Weedsport Theater.  Our first monthly program included a talk by a former projectionist (yours truly) who explained the mystery of the dots in the upper right hand corner of the movies which were the projectionist's cues.  A silent movie completed the program, starring Weedsport actor Justus D. Barnes.  The movie was "The Great Train Robbery" generally considered to be the first Western on film. The movie was filmed in 1903.

     Mr. Barnes was born in Little Falls, NY in 1862.  In 1908, he was hired as an actor in the stock company of Thomas Edison Manufacturing Company and in 1910 he signed on with the Thanhouser Company in New Rochelle, NY   Between 1910 and 1917 Justus appeared in more than 70 films usually in the role of a villain.  He played Ham Peggitty in "David Copperfield", the earliest known film adaption of Charles Dicken's novel. He also played in "Nicholas Nickelby" and "Aurora Floyd" in 1912 as well as in "A Dog of Flanders" in 1914.  He made his final onscreen appearance in "Cy Whittaker's Ward" in 1917.

     After retiring from the movies as one of the leading actors of the day, he moved to Weedsport, where he worked as a milkman and owned a cigar store, living in Weedsport until his death on February 6, 1946.  He is at rest in the Weedsport Rural Cemetery.  In an odd touch of fate, he lived for a time  in the house directly across the street from me where Scott and Sue Randolph now live.

      In 1988 Mr. Barnes was honored on a U. S. Postage stamp, commemorating the "Great Train Robbery"  The photo shows Justus as he appeared in that film.

Denny Randall, Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society


Justus Barnes




(March, 2018)



          Bowling in Weedsport has been an enjoyable pastime for now well over a century and this article will try to recap the long and storied history of organized bowling in the community.  The information contained herein has been, for the most part shamelessly plagiarized from various copies of the Cayuga Chief Newspaper and an article written by the late Janice Robertson.  Although certain aspects of bowling have changed over the years, such as alleys to lanes, gutters to channels, and the balls themselves from wood to hard rubber, now to various compounds of plastic, the premise remains the same---knock down the pins with the ball.

          The first organized bowling league in Weedsport was formed in 1901 and bowled at an alley set up in the greenhouse of the Wilbur Howe residence (Now the Chirco family home) on Jackson Street.  The league was organized and the team names chosen were: The 5th Avenues, The Continentals, the Cayugas and the Senecss.  In 1902 Mrs. Howe invited the ladies of the community to bowl and a ladies league was started.  The April 11, 1903 edition of the paper stated that after the bowling season a joint banquet was held with both the men and women at the greenhouse.  The tables had been laid out on the croquet grounds and covers were set for 60 diners. A five course dinner was served, which included: Blue point oysters, Sweet Breads, wafers, patties, radishes, olives, salted almonds, pressed chicken, Saratoga chips, fruit salad, jelly, angel food cake, lemon sherbet, and chocolate cake.  After the feasting, attorney John Kingston, Toastmaster assumed charge and expressed the thanks of the group to Mr. & Mrs. Howe for their generosity.   Several speakers delivered messages and notable was one by Mrs. F.W. Benedict, whose topic was "The Sphere of Woman". She quoted an author to prove that the woman's sphere was silence and sat down before her  audience had any idea she had begun.

         In our museum, we have several photos of the greenhouse/bowling alley which have been generously donated to us by Barbara Howe Ward, granddaughter of Wilbur Howe.  The next major step in bowling in Weedsport was the erection by Weedsport architect, builder and Assemblyman Michael Grace of The Baptist Fellowship Hall in 1922.  The Hall, located on Furnace Street was built with 2 bowling alleys in the basement.  In the fullness of time a very busy schedule for both men and women was
set up.  I know that I date myself when I mention that I set pins in the fellowship building.  The alleys were unusual in that there was no overhead rack to set the pins.  All of the pins remained in the pit after the first ball and then the  pinsetter jumped into the pit and stepped on a pedal which brought dowels up out of the floor and the bowling pins had to be laboriously set on them, them the pedal was released and the next bowler could bowl. On top of this slow paced operation was the very real danger of being struck by a flying pin as there was no place to hide!  I believe I have scars on my shins to this day from being clobbered by a pin flying from the fast straight balls of Art Jorolemon, or Austin Howe. It was actually a pleasure for me in helping to build Sunday School rooms in the basement during the 1960's to help tear out those alleys which had caused me such misery.

         Right after World War ll Earl Zimmer built the Weedsport Recreation Center adjacent to the Weedsport Theater which was also run by him.  The Rec. Center contained 4 alleys, a pool hall and snack bar. The alleys were equipped were overheads racks to place the pins in after the first ball was thrown and after the second ball you merely had to pick up what pins had been knocked down by the second ball, pull the rack handle down and the pins were automatically set in the right place.  What a revelation!  Eventually the racks were electrified and all you had to do was pull a string to bring the rack down.  A definite  side benefit was that the rack in front of you prevented an awful lot of black and blue marks.  Eventually the Zimmer family retired and Rainbow Lanes opened in the 1960's on Route 31, just east of town by the Rizzo family. Theirs was a fully automatic setup which has been improved on many times over the years and is still a state of the art facility today and is one of the homes of the annual Citizen bowling tournament

Denny Randall, Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society



(Feb. 24th, 2018)



     While at the museum I sometimes like to look back through some of the old CAYUGA CHIEF newspapers that we have there.  We have them all, both in print and on microfilm.  The following are from 60 years ago, 1958, in more, or less chronological order.

     Weedsport had a real New Year's baby-a son Dennis Charles, born to Mr. & Mrs. Charles Decker. Mrs. Decker was the former Jean Burlingame.  James Dumary retired as Manager of the First Trust and Deposit Company, successor to The First National Bank of Weedsport. The senior Ball was held at the Jr. Sr. High School. Miss Carol Christopher and Mr. Lynn Costello were selected King and Queen.  Edgar Jorolemon is enrolled in the Albany College of Pharmacy, class of 1960. Stuart Parkman and Carl Gierke have retired as rural mail carriers from the Weedsport Post Office with a combined 72 years of service.  The Weedsport Village Board announced a reduction in the 1958 budget to assure $1 less per $1,000 assessed valuation.  Reverend and Mrs. Claremont Hoyt have moved into the Baptist parsonage, coming from Middleburg, Ohio.  Gregory Tincnell of Jackson St. was injured when he fell on the ice in front of a slowly moving car driven by Dennis Randall.  2 Dollar Days held by Weedsport merchants were very successful.

     Zimmer's Weedsport Theatre has undergone some interior improvements.  D. O. Blumer retail business has changed it's name to Blumer Supply.  The overhead bridge of the Lehigh Valley Railroad over E. Brutus St. has been removed.  Announcement was made of the retirement of Charles H. Owen of Sennett as Cayuga County School Superintendent.  Rayymont Sant  of Cato was named his successor.  Charles Shepherd retired from the Weedsport School Board after 10 years of service.  The Weedsport PTA presented a play "WEEDSPATCH BLUES OF 1958".  John Cowell was elected Commander of the Clark-Heck Post.  Bernal Parkman was elected to the school board.  Mr. Otto Ehrlich was honored by the Crouse Hinds Corporation for his 60 years of service.   James Skvorak and Susan Tincknell were crowned King and Queen of the Junior Prom.  Ernest Barber made a plane trip from here to Raleigh N. C. and returned in 23 hours.  David Whitman has been appointed to the USAF ACADEMY.  142 were inoculated for Polio at the Weedsport Clinic.

     The Weedsport Watsons have racked up 12 wins in a row in the State League.  The Weedsport Babe Ruth League team is again Cayuga County Champs.  The Weedsport Community Fair was held with record breaking crowds.  25 men take their oath as Civil Defense Auxiliary Police with George Plunket as Chief and William Humphrey as C. D. Director.  The former livery stable, ice house and storage barn on Furnace St. owned by Clint Hazzard has been torn down to make way for a much needed village parking lot. The eagle weathervane again stands atop the firehouse bell tower thanks to the efforts of Allyn Schoonmaker, who has restored it. Lyman Bush is a patient in Auburn Memorial Hospital after being critically injured in a fall at work.  One of the largest fires in years took the old Cusick Tobacco building (Whitman & Robinson)on Graham St. to the ground.  Assemblyman and Mrs. Charles Cusick are parents of a son, Charles Barry. The Weedsport Watsons were beaten in the State League play-offs 7 to 1 by East Syracuse.

     I hope some of these have brought back memories.

Denny Randall, Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society




(JAN. 28, 2018)


     Weedsport was founded on the basis of transportation.  Prior to the community being called Weedsport, it was a sleepy hamlet of several homes in what is now the Rude St./Seneca St. area called Macedonia.  With the coming of the Erie canal, and the construction of a turning basin on the canal, about where the parking lot for Nickel Back Jack's is now, the hamlet morphed north and became Weed's Basin, named after the brothers Elihu and Edward who had built the basin, eventually to become Weedsport.  As time went by and the railroads took over transportation in the country, Weedsport held it's own as a hub with an incredible 34 departures a day from the 4 railroads in the village.  The railroads were in order of importance, The New York Central, The West Shore, The Lehigh Valley and the Syracuse and Rochester Electric.   With the coming of a vastly improved interstate highway system, which resulted to a large extent upon Dwight Eisenhower's admiration of the German Autobahn and larger and more powerful trucks, the railroads started to go the way of the canal.  This column will note the opening of the New York State Thruway exit 40 in Weedsport.

      Although the Thruway exit is actually north of the village in the Town of Brutus, it has always been known as the "Weedsport" exit. Construction of this section, which had started in 1952 was completed in 1954 and this part of the Thruway was opened officially on June 24th, 1954, with then Governor  and perennial presidential candidate Thomas E. Dewey as principal speaker.  Local businessman Ernest Wethey was in charge of the local program, which drew thousands.  In a joint statement issued by the Weedsport Village Board and the Brutus Town Board "The opening of the Thruway places the Town of Brutus and the Village of Weedsport directly on the great new avenue of transportation which is destined to be---the Main Street of New York State".  I remember the ceremonies well, with a parade of vintage vehicles--Guy Lanphere in his 1919 Chevrolet, Ted Trice in a 1920 Studebaker, George Harris is his Watkins Glen winning Cadillac Allard J2 and many others.  Also involved in the program was the Weedsport Central School marching band, Weedsport Clark Heck post 568 Color Guard, Weedsport Mayor David Coyle, Weedsport First Baptist Church Pastor Payson Derby, Brutus Town Supervisor Bert L. O'Hara, State Senator George Metcalf, Weedsport State Assemblyman Charles Cusick , and  others.  I for one was sorry to see the end of the construction, as I had for a couple of years plied the areas between Bonta Bridge and the foot of Oakland Hill on a bicycle pulling a home made wagon selling cold soda to the construction crews.  I made enough money to purchase the first lightweight bike in Weedsport!

    Other local members of the committee included Cayuga Chief Editor George Valentine, Frank Tuxill, Fred Kinney, Frank Watrous, Harvey Dusinberre, Clayton Miner,  Salvator Leonardi and Fred Rowe.  The National Anthem was played by the school band and sung by local baritone Earl Marks.  Governor Dewey spoke from a decorated "low Boy" trailer donated by world famous Weedsport house movers F. H. Tuxill and Son.  Such was the celebration that the Auburn Milk Dealers Association passed out free ice cold cups of milk to the crowd at the ceremony.  In May of 1957 24,484 vehicles left the Thruway at Weedsport, by 1966 that number had grown to, 107,250 and it is now in the tens of thousands per day.  As was the situation when the Erie canal opened and the community moved north, so has been the status of the gradual move toward the Thruway, with little business remaining in the old "downtown" area,, however, having said that, without the Thruway Weedsport would have without doubt suffered the same near extinction as many other canal towns.  Photos include the Thruway and interchange nearing completion in 1954 and a copy of the inside of the official welcoming program.

Denny Randall, Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society


Please click on the thumbnails below, for a much larger photo:

(Photos include the Thruway and interchange nearing completion in 1954,
and a copy of the official welcoming program.)

Thruway opening program Thruway opening program Thruway Nearing Completion




      Most people in the community noticed a year, or so ago that the rather homely pale blue concrete block building sitting by itself in a field east of the High school driveway had been demolished.  Those who follow such activities around town also noted a "For Sale" sign on the land this past year.  The building was the pumphouse to the Village of Weedsport's deep well.   The land has subsequently been sold to  a private individual and with it went the Village's last remainder of their original water system.

      Most village residents are unaware that for nearly a hundred years the water utilized municipally by community residents was provided locally, at first by a private company utilizing springs found in the Barker Road area of the town.  In 1896 approximately 50 acres of land was obtained with a spring on it capable of flowing considerable water (35,000 gallons per day).   The land was obtained by the Taber family of Moravia who formed a corporation and sold stock in the name of "THE WEEDSPORT WATER COMPANY).  Shares were sold for $100.00 per share.  Shown is a copy of one of the original stock certificates of the company.  Construction immediately started bringing the water down Pump Road, across Cottle Road and down what was then State Route 31B to the village.  Approximately 10 miles of cast iron pipe was laid in 8,6 and 4 inch diameters.  An open reservoir was also constructed on top of the hill at the corner of Rude and South streets, the site of the present day water tank. Elevation was high enough so the whole system was fed by gravity.  In a short time fire hydrants were installed in the village and the Village had a good clean adequate supply of water.

     The "Spring Line" as it came to be known was purchased outright by the village in 1925 for the sum of $45,000, most of which was bonded.  The last bond was paid off in 1953.   As a note aside, to entice property owners along the route  to allow the water line to cross their premises the company agreed to allow any one along the route to connect to the line, thus most resident on Cottle Rd. and Rt.31B enjoyed municipal water service long before it was ever considered a normal thing to have in the country.  Several farms also enjoyed this convenience.  Imminent domain could not be used as it was a private concern.

     In due time, due to population increases, and more commercial and industrial use of water in the village, the capacity of the "Spring Line" became marginal and several times the village underwent a water shortage emergency.  A solution to the problem was proposed, whereas a deep well was to be put down in the area where the pump house had stood until recently.  The well performed admirably, flowing some 450,000 gallons of water per day, with one problem--the water was extremely hard and contained much iron.  It wasn't bad to drink, but you couldn't get a bit of suds from any amount of soap and the iron stained fixtures, consequently the well was only ever used in dire emergencies.

     In the 1970's a small seismic occurrence altered the flow of the original springs and from that point it was necessary to back pump from the village, who was by now enjoying Owasco Lake water purchased from the Town of Sennett.  The original water mains laid in 1896 had also become very problematic with costly repairs having to be borne by village taxpayers to pipes outside the village.  Eventually the town of Brutus formed a water district which included the "Spring Line" and the village was happy to be out of the business of providing water to this area, thus the demolition of the pumphouse and sale of the property.

     Now you know what that strange little building was that sat by itself in the middle of that field for so long.  In the 1960's an effort was made to try to alleviate some of the hardness by installing a telephone pole near the pumphouse running a firehose from the pumphouse up the pole to a "distributor" nozzle which had been borrowed from the fire department.  A distributor, or cellar nozzle functions exactly like a gigantic lawn sprinkler.  They were made to flood a cellar fire when access to the cellar could not be attained.  A hole was chopped in the floor near where the fire was supposed to be, the nozzle dropped through the hole on a length of hose and turned on. They worked pretty good for their original purpose and actually it was pretty impressive spinning atop the telephone pole. The thought was that the hard water pumped from the well would be softened by it's seepage through the soil on it's way back to the well--it didn't help a bit, but it sure made a colorful rust ring on the ground under it.

Denny Randall, Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society


Weedsport Water Company Stock Certificate:

(Please click on this thumbnail below, to see a much larger view --- )

Weedsport Water Certificate






     Last month I touched on some of the rules of the Weedsport Board of Health in the early 20th century.  This month I'll write of some of the ordinances (local laws) that were on the books as adopted by the Board of Trustees on May 7, 1913.  Again, these were among the many records culled from the village archives recently.  We are grateful that they were passed on to us and not just relegated to a dumpster.

     ORDINANCE 1---Indecent Exposure-Any person who shall indecently expose his, or her person, or who shall during daylight hours bathe in the waters of the Erie Canal, or other waters within the corporate limits of the village shall forfeit and pay a penalty of not less than two, or more than ten dollars for each offense. (I guess it was OK to skinny dip in the canal after dark!)

     Ordinance 2---Discharging Firearms, or Squibs-Any person who will fire, or discharge any firearm, squib, crackers or any other explosive, or combustible material within the corporate limits without written permission of the Board of Trustees shall be liable to a fine of not to exceed five dollars for each offense. (Does anyone know what a "squib" is?)

     Ordinance 3---Any person who shall play at ball in any street, alley, or lane within the corporation shall be liable to a penalty of not less than one dollar, or more than three dollars for each offense.

     Ordinance 4---Fast Driving-Any person who shall drive, or ride immoderately any horse, or other animal within the corporate limits shall be liable to a penalty of not less than two, or more than ten dollars for each offense.

     Ordinance 7---Dogs-All unmuzzeled dogs are prohibited running at large and any unmuzzeled dogs  so running at large shall be killed and no person shall become liable to a fine for shooting such unmuzzeled dog within the village. (See ordinance 2 above)

     Ordinance 14-Riding Bicycles, Etc.-Any person who shall ride a bicycle, tricycle, or other wheeled vehicle upon any sidewalk within the corporate limits of the village shall be liable to a fine of not less than one dollar, or more than three dollars for each offense. (notice nothing mentioned about the fledgling automobiles)

     Ordinance 16--Erection of Wooden Buildings-No person shall erect, or cause to be erected any wooden building on either side of Seneca Street, from Liberty Street to Franklin Street, or on either side of Brutus Street from the Erie Canal to South Street, or on either side of Furnace Street without first having  obtained the consent of the Board of Trustees. ( This was a result of the great fire of 1871 which wiped out  the business district of the village)

     Ordinance 18--Children on Streets-No child under 16 years of age unless accompanied by it's parent, or guardian , or engaged in actual lawful business shall be upon the streets, alleys, or parks in the village after nine o'clock P.M.  For violations, the offender is subject to a penalty of one dollar.

     Ordinance 20--Obscene, Profane, or Vulgar language-All persons using profane, obscene, or vulgar language on any street, alley, or other public place within the village who shall violate this ordinance shall be fined not less than three dollars, or more than ten dollars for each offense. (It's a good thing the writers of this ordinance does not hear some of the language commonly heard on the streets of today. Probably the income from the fines would eliminate the need for village taxes.)

     The ordinances were signed by Frank M. Parsons, President (Mayor) and Chauncey D. Van Alstine, Village Clerk.

     I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all who have read about 15 years worth of these columns and wish all a very Merry Christmas and happy holiday season!

Denny Randall, Past President of OBHS
Old Brutus Historical Society



Some of the ordinances issued by the Village Board of Health in 1910


     The Village of Weedsport recently cleaned out their archives and delivered the gleanings to us at the museum.  While much of it is rather mundane, such as tax bills, and receipts, outstanding debts paid, etc., some of the material is very interesting indeed.  One such  piece is a journal kept of the building  of the firehouse and village offices in 1884. Remember that the village offices were on the 2nd floor where the fire department administrative offices are now, and the part of the building that is now offices and court was the original apparatus floor. This journal contains the cost and source of every single nail and brick in the building.

     This month I'll write of some of the ordinances issued by the Village Board of Health in 1910.  Dr. F.W. St John was the village Health Officer.

         Sec.1--Whatever is dangerous to human life, or health, whatever building, or part of cellar thereof is overcrowded , or not provided with adequate means of ingress and egress, or is not sufficiently supported, ventilated, sewered, lighted, or cleaned and whatever renders soil, air, water, or food impure, or unwholesome are to be declared nuisances and to be illegal and  every person having aided  in creating, or contributing to the same, or who may support, continue, or retain any of them shall be deemed guilty of a violation of this ordinance and shall be liable for the expense of the abatement, or remedy required.

         Sec. 2--No privy pit, cesspool, or reservoir into which any privy, water closet, stable, sink, or other receptacle of refuse, or sewage is drained shall be constructed, or maintained in any situation, or in any manner whereby through leakage, or overflow of it's contents may cause pollution of the soil near, or about habitation, or of any well, spring , or other source of water used for drinking,  or culinary purposes, nor shall such overflow be permitted to discharge into any public place, or waterway, or in any way, whereby danger to health may be caused.  Any such pit, reservoir, or receptacle shall be cleaned and the contents removed at such times and under such precautions as the Board of Health  may prescribe.  Violation of any provision of this ordinance shall subject the offending party to a penalty of $10.00 for each day's continuance of the nuisance  after notice to abate is given from an authorized officer.

         Sec.4--No household offal, refuse, garbage, dead animals, decaying vegetable matter, or organic waste substance of any kind shall be thrown upon any street, road, or public place and no putrid, of decaying animal, or vegetable matter shall be kept in any house, cellar, or adjoining outbuilding for more than 24 hours. Violations of this ordinance  shall subject the offending party to a fine of $10.00.

         Sec.6--No meat, fish, bird, fruit or vegetables, milk, or anything for humans to eat, or drink, not being then fresh, or properly preserved, sound, wholesome and safe for such use , nor any flesh of any animal which died by disease, or which at the time of it's death was in a sickly, or unwholesome condition, nor the carcass , or meat of any calf  which at the date of it's death was not at least 4 weeks old, or any lamb which at the date of it's death was not at least 8 weeks old or of any pig which was not at least 5 weeks old at the time of it's death shall be brought within the limits of this municipality, nor offered , or held for sale  as food therein.  Any violation shall subject the offending party to a penalty of $20.00 and the seizure and destruction of such unsound, unwholesome, or immature  food substances

    The entire ordinance is 18 sections long and another time I may quote some of the other statutes.  It's easy to see that early on the Village of Weedsport was a proponent of clean, healthy living.

      Denny Randall, Past Pres. OBHS
- Old Brutus Historical Society


Big Doings in Weedsport in the 1940's


     The Cayuga Chief of 3-27-45 carried an article that noted Weedsport auto dealer Clayton E. Miner had purchased the lot on the south east corner of South and E. Brutus Streets for the purpose of erecting a Ford dealership and service facility there.  The site had been owned by Fancher Follett for many years and had once been owned by Weedsport founder Elihu Weed in 1831.  Mr. Follett had allowed a bandstand and grandstand to be put up there for the purpose of having school band concerts at the site. The bandstand was destroyed when the siren on top of the firehouse  became unbalanced and exploded sending large pieces of shrapnel through the roof of the bandstand.

     Mr. Miner was obliged to seek a new location for his dealership as his original place of business at the location of the Weedsport Tool and Machine building on N. Seneca Street had been pre-empted by the Barr Typewriter Corp. who were under pressure from the War Production Board to increase their output of parts for Navy PT boats and Scintilla magneto parts for airplanes.    In April of 1943 the grand opening of the new Barr building was attended by more than 600 people.  Admission was the purchase of a "War Stamp".  $382.50 worth of War Stamps were sold  and an additional $7,837.50 was taken in by the sale of "War Bonds" sold at a booth operated by The First National Bank of Weedsport.

     The smooth new concrete floor and the state of the art fluorescent lighting was a splendid setting for the stirring patriotic tunes played by the school band, under the direction of Maurice Rose.  The building was crowded all evening with men and women stopping in to look and listen.  Many remained to look at a display of sample parts produced  by the firm.  The parts included many small items destined for either the Army Air Corp. or the Navy. The ratio of parts produced were 65% going to the Air Corp. and 35% to the Navy.  Among the many products were electric switches and many other small electrical components, including parts for the famous and top secret Norden bombsight.  Before the dancing started, a Willys Jeep which had been on display was driven around and around in the building by a soldier with a WAAC standing on the seat by his side.  Harold Henderson's orchestra provided music for dancing following an address by Charles B. Hughes, General Manager of the Barr works.

     After the war the building became the wood shop of the Barr corporation, who never went back to building typewriters.  Instead, in that building they manufactured clock cases, wooden parts for baby strollers, and ride on toys, and the wooden bases for their beautiful line of spring loaded trinket boxes and wooden bases for their anniversary clocks.  When Barr went out of business, the building was purchased by the Kane family and operated as Weedsport Tool and Machine for decades.  The rest of the story is that Clayton Miner who had to give up his building for the war effort went on to have a very successful Ford-Mercury dealership at the South and Brutus Street location until he retired.  In the late 1960's the Ford garage was used by H.E.P. for their business until they built a new facility on Grant Avenue.  Air-Krete has now been in the building for many years.

Denny Randall, Past Pres. OBHS, Old Brutus Historical Society



           The last couple of articles that I wrote dealt with fires, so it only seems appropriate that this time I talk about floods.   The Weedsport area has dealt with many floods over the years, some worse than others.  This article will speak to  the flood of July 1938, remarkable not only for it's severity, but the fact that it occurred in the middle of summer.  According to the Cayuga Chief of July 29th, the wind and rain caused catastrophic losses to local farm crops, as well as inundating all low lying areas. While the cumulative  losses to crops, highways, bridges and property was extensive, the greatest losses were suffered by farmers in the lowlands where water soaked fields still make it impossible for them to return to work.

           Damage in Weedsport proper  was reported far less severe than in the rural areas. Flooding streets and falling limbs seemed the worst  of the storm's 12 hour siege.  Lightning bolts hit the home of Lester Hazzard at the corner of South and Liberty Streets, a barn on the Michael Harmon farm in North Weedsport and a tile silo on the O'Conner farm on the Oaklands, but did not fire the buildings.  A concrete culvert was washed out on Hamilton Road near the Hawley farm and numerous temporary bridges used by farmers for access to fields were destroyed and trees were uprooted throughout the storm stricken area.  Sweeping a path a half a mile wide the storm broke late Friday afternoon and tore eastward from Centerport through Brutus to the Jericho District.  In it's path it flattened practically every wheat, barley, oat, corn, potatoes and bean crop. Tons of new mown hay and grain which had been cut before the storm were drenched and beaten down.  Potatoes were washed from their hills and left exposed.

           In Weedsport the storm sewers were unable to handle the  water and many streets were flooded by more than a foot of water.  One of the most severely flooded areas was the village fairgrounds at the corner of W. Brutus Street and Oakland street.  The 1/2 mile race track which extended to where Oakland Park is now located was completely flooded and there were doubts that it could be used again until next year.  The ball diamond, also on the fairgrounds was under at least a foot of water. The photo which accompanies this article shows the measure of the water on the diamond.

           As a brief note aside, I'd like to thank all those who have helped me and wished me well as I battle illness.  Growing old is HARD WORK!

Denny Randall, Past Pres. OBHS, Old Brutus Historical Society


Please click on the photo below to see a larger view:

Weedsport Flood 1938




(June, 2017)


      Last month we wrote of the Burritt Opera House fire in 1935.  Fast forward 12 years and another devastating fire took place practically next door at the Presbyterian  Church.  This conflagration occurred in mid February of 1947, during the winter's  worst blizzard.

     Firemen were summoned in a general alarm at 1:05 PM by twin brothers Paul and Charles Gifford of Bell Street.  Both were Navy veterans and members of the congregation who heard an explosion and saw smoke pouring from  the basement as they were walking by.  Firemen shortly surrounded the church with 5 hose lines and 2 booster lines, but found it difficult to battle the blaze  because of the heavy smoke rolling outward from windows and doors.  They were also hampered by a stiff cold west wind that churned falling snow and froze the spray from their hoses into solid ice.

     At times, the smoke was rolling from the front of the church in the direction of Liberty Street in such denseness that visibility on Seneca street was zero.  Firemen bumped into each other as they tried to work within the smoke screen.  The most stubborn part of the blaze was in a rear addition to the auditorium housing the pipe organ, which had been installed in 1908 as a gift of the late Andrew Carnegie. Flames flared upwards into the mechanism and chambers of the organ, which was a total loss of at least $35,000.  At about 4:00 PM it was deemed safe to enter the building to survey the loss.  Many of the commemorative stained glass windows were damaged, or destroyed, and the alter was severely damaged. Pews  and hymnals were ruined by fire, or water.

     The church boasted the first electric chandelier in the village which was virtually destroyed in the fire.  The Presbyterians saved the pieces of that chandelier and a few years ago they gave the remnants of the fixture to our museum.  We were able to obtain a grant and had it restored and it now graces our meeting room.  The First Baptist Church immediately offered the use of their Fellowship Building for the use of the Presbyterians to worship in.  In due time the building was repaired and restored, however the pipe organ was replaced with an electric organ.  The work and efforts of the firemen were praised by the Pastor, congregation and townfolk in general.

Denny Randall, Past Pres. OBHS, Old Brutus Historical Society



Weedsport Burritt Opera House - 1936



       At one time in our history, every community of any size, or stature boasted  of having an opera house.  Weedsport was no different, enjoying an opera house for many years where one could see live theatre staged by one of the many traveling thespian companies. The Burritt Opera House also hosted vaudeville and minstrel shows, as well as locally produced performances and musical programs. In it's later years first run motion pictures were also shown on the newly installed screen. Local celebrations and special events were among the many other functions.  Until 1939 When the Weedsport School centralized and the building addition necessary to accommodate all the one-room schools absorbed by the newly formed district included a combination auditorium and gym, school plays and even graduations were held in the opera house.

      Unfortunately the opera house was destroyed by fire in 1936 in a spectacular blaze which threatened the Weedsport business district.   By 5:45 PM when the evening show was to have started, the theater was a smoking ruin, a total loss.  In a bit of irony the film to be shown that night was to have been "THE FIREBUG" starring Ricardo Cortez. The building had been under lease to Earl Zimmer, who also owned all the movie equipment, including some brand new sound equipment so "talkies" could be shown.

      For nearly 3 hours 3 Weedsport companies and Engine 4 from Auburn poured water into the structure, hampered by the steel sheathing which builder O.W. Burritt put on most of his buildings, thinking it made them more fireproof--actually the opposite was true the metal sides and roof contained the fire and prevented the firemen from attacking the flames. The building burned very slowly and several artifacts in our museum were rescued from the flames. Included among these is one of the auditorium seats, a large spotlight from the stage and even a piece of the gold stage curtain.

      The fire was discovered by Undertaker Abner Hoyt whose parlor was directly across the street from the opera House. He saw smoke pouring from a basement window under the theater office facing the sidewalk.  He immediately pulled the alarm box that was located directly in front of the opera house.  Aid was requested from Auburn and Chief Fred Washburn responded with engine 4 and a hose wagon.  Firemen chopped holes in the metal roof through which several hose streams were able to be played inside the building in a vain attempt to get at the flames.  In all 7 lines of hose were in operation.  Weedsport, under Chief Amos Clark and Assistant Chiefs O.J. Kusche and Fred Smith worked the sides and front of the building, while Chief Washburn and the Auburn crew held forth at the rear.

      The building to the north which sustained some damage was The Lanphere auto dealership, above which was the Weedsport exchange and switchboard of Bell Telephone.  Despite the danger and a building full of smoke,  operators Miss Frances Howland, Mrs. Agnes Klink of Weedsport and Miss Marie McPeak of Jordan remained steadfastly at their posts. NOTE ASIDE  Yes, that was the same Miss McPeak who went on to become one of the most beloved teachers at WCS.

       The opera house was immediately demolished and a new concrete block building erected on the site by Mr. Zimmer, who showed first run movies until the early 1960's when TV began to slowly eliminate not only the small town theaters, but the movie palaces of the cities.  Since the last film was shown, the building for many years housed a Grand Union grocery store, Fult's Furniture store and is currently a Dollar General.

       Mayor Titus praised the Weedsport and Auburn Fire service for confining the blaze to the opera House.  One of the architectural features of the opera House was a small balcony out over the sidewalk where performers from the 1890's to the late 1920's could show themselves to the Weedsport public prior to the show.  The photo shows Weedsport firemen setting up for the initial attack. The balcony can be seen in the photo.

Denny Randall, Past Pres. OBHS, Old Brutus Historical Society

Please click on the thumbnail below, for a larger view:

Weedsport Burritt Opera House




(April 23rd, 2017)


     After WWll considerable material became surplus and was sold by the government,  among the items sold were hundreds, if not thousands of huge arc lamp aircraft spotting searchlights.  Entrepreneurs bought them and rented them out for business grand openings, and festive occasions.  Who recalls driving many miles to see what was opening  up where following the moving searchlights in the night sky?  Speaking of the sky who remembers when they last saw a skywriter?  Not a plane towing a banner, but a bona-fide skywriter, which used to be very common.

    How many will recall that every gas station offered "Free Air", typically dispensed from a bright red "ECO TIREFLATOR"?  How many remember being able to get only the 3 Syracuse channels on the TV, and you had to get out of your chair to change the channel. It was also necessary to constantly fiddle with the controls--vertical hold, horizontal hold, focus, etc, etc.  I believe that our class of "57 was the last Weedsport class that had to learn to write with a nib type pen and liquid ink.  I for one was very grateful when ball point pens came along. Speaking of which who remembers ink blotters being given out as advertising material.  The attached photo is a blotter passed out in the early 1950's by George E. Wethey. Note the phone number with no exchange.

    Who recalls being able to buy coal by the ton delivered at several establishments in town?  For that matter how about the huge coal pile outside the boiler room at the Jackson St. school?  The school custodians would fill large galvanized ash cans with coal and send it down on an outdoor elevator to the boiler room and bring the ashes up the same way in the same cans. Speaking of the school who remembers what fun it was decorating the gym for the annual Junior Prom and Senior Ball?  The planning and making of hundreds of crepe paper roses was a part of the dance experience which probably cannot even be imagined by todays students. As I see the fleet of rolling stock now operated by the school, tractors, mowers and trucks I am reminded that Roy Bennett did the whole thing with one vehicle--a 1925 Dodge "doodlebug" homemade tractor with which he would drag a set of 3 gang mowers in the summer and in the winter plow with it.  It must be remembered that the thing had nothing but a seat on the frame with no protection whatsoever against the weather. Additionally the plow had to be raised and lowered by hand with a large wheel on the right hand side of the machine.

     Who recalls the dreadful smell in the spring from the Cornell experimental farm operated by Harold Hawley.  This was the first anyone in Weedsport had to deal with the odor of liquid manure.  Another Spring activity was spearing suckers in local creeks.  A few months ago I wrote about the 1939 Autocar tanker operated by the Weedsport Fire Department. The FD obtained the truck as a gift from the Socony-Vacuum (Mobil) Oil Company. Who remembers that It had run out of their tank farm behind the Riverview(Devaney's) Hotel for many years. I recall that it always dragged a length of heavy chain behind it, supposedly to discharge any accumulated static. I  remember, even as a kid I thought it passing strange that a chain would be dragged along under a tanker full of gasoline with the sparks just flying.  I guess maybe others saw my point of view because you sure don't see it any more.

     Who remembers having to hand choke their car to start it?   I still have to with my Model A Ford, and in fact until Studebaker invented the vacuum advance for distributor timing, it was also necessary to retard the spark to start the engine without taking a monumental risk of spitting the starter Bendix out, which meant you had to resort to the crank and that's no fun. Speaking of old cars who recalls when a heater was optional?  Yeah, you're right, my Ford doesn't have one of those either!  More Do You Remember another time.

Denny Randall, Past Pres. OBHS, Old Brutus Historical Society


Please click on thumbnail below, for a much larger view:

Wethey Sign

On the bottom left, of the sign, you can read:

Wethey Sign Lift Thine Eyes



(March 26th, 2017)


**If you think today's presidential election and the ongoing drama accompanying it is unusual, consider the following, as reported by S. D. Lee, Editor of the Weedsport Times in the late 1850's

     Previous to the year 1855 most voters residing in our village had been members of either the Democrat, or Whig parties.  For a dozen years prior to this agitation of the slave question had resulted in the building up and strengthening of the Democratic party and the gradual decay of the Whigs.  For some time there had been a growing conviction in the minds of many men that there was a need for a new party, devoted to the restriction of slavery and to the curbing of the arrogance and insolence of the slave holding aristocracy.  It was for the purpose of organizing such a party that a large and enthusiastic convention of prominent men, dissatisfied with their former political affiliations met in the city of Auburn on September 15, 1855.  There were 7 delegates from the Town of Brutus: Solomen Giles, E.W.Turner, William Baird, George Cramer, Harvey Lamphere, John Smith and John Bostwick.  After a County organization had been formed, the delegates returned home and so effective had been their efforts that the new party was successful throughout the county.  Solomen Giles of this village and the new party was elected District Attorney.

     All this was done although these times were never more prosperous, and the Democrats claimed responsibility for making them so.  Shortly however a commercial panic swept the land  and was not checked until the outbreak of the civil war in 1861.  Meanwhile the presidential election of 1860, a bitterly contested campaign occurred.  The new Republican Party in this part of the state were much better organized than the opposition.  Republican marching clubs were formed in Weedsport and the surrounding towns.  The members of the clubs wore caps and matching capes, alike in form and colour and each man carried a torch--a blazing oil lamp suspended on a pole 4, or 5 feet long.  These marching clubs were semi-military companies.  Marching men, brilliantly lighted streets and martial music attracted many voters from the opposing party.

     In 1860 the northeast corner of Seneca and Brutus Street, where Franklin Hall would eventually be built was a vacant lot.  Into this lot the marching clubs coming down S. Seneca Street proceeded, winding round and round until the whole place was ablaze with torchlight.  Eventually, some member of the group would hold aloft a log with the image of a man straddling it.  Strings attached to a small ax made the ax rise in fall as happens in the splitting of rails, as candidate Lincoln in his younger years was a rail splitter.  In the election of 1860 the republicans carried every northern state except New Jersey, California, and Oregon.  Lincoln was elected, the south aroused and civil  war followed shortly thereafter.   So you see, tumult and a general lack of civility is nothing new in Presidential elections.

Denny Randall, Past Pres. OBHS - Old Brutus Historical Society



(Feb. 12, 2017)


     A couple of months ago I wrote of the supposed curative powers of Weedsport's malodorous sulfur spring water.  It's really quite amazing what "stuff" was supposed to be good for you, or cure you of one thing or another.  I list below a broad spectrum of materials which you probably have right on hand to fix whatever's ailing you!

     Anise-to alleviate cramps, promote digestion , relieves flatulence, treats insomnia, improves appetite.
     Caraway-Relieves uterine cramps, improves appetite, promotes milk production, treats flatulence.
     Cinnamon-reduce blood glucose, breath sweetener.
     Cloves-Antiseptic, relieves toothache, relieves nausea and vomiting.
     Coriander (cilantro)- Antispasmodic, appetite improver, relieves flatulence, quells stomach pain, aphrodisiac.
     Ginger- Treats cold symptoms, promotes perspiration and flow of saliva, mild stimulant, breath sweetener
     Hops- I wonder if it should be taken as an ingredient in beer? Diuretic, sedative, nerve tonic, diarrhea, eases fever, insomnia.
     Mustard-Appetizer, digestive, purgative, skin irritant,  bronchitis, pleurisy, rheumatism, sciatica, peritonitis,
     Nutmeg-Stimulant, hallucinogen, Caution is advised-2 whole nutmegs can cause death!
     Parsley-Antispasmodic, diuretic, expectorant, promotes menstrual discharge, eases dropsy, jaundice, asthma , cough and conjunctivitis.
     Sage-Reduces perspiration, treats diarrhea, gastritis, nervous conditions,  vertigo, laryngitis and tonsillitis, and insect bites.
     Sassafras-Diuretic, antiseptic, stimulant, rheumatism, arthritis, resolves skin problems, cures venereal disease.  Who knew a root beer could do all that?

    As you can easily see, you have wasted your time and money going to the drug store, or pharmacy when a cure for almost anything is as close as your kitchen.

Denny Randall, Past Pres. OBHS - Old Brutus Historical Society





(Jan. 23, 2017)


     People hereabouts usually  think of tobacco as a southern crop, but the fact of the matter is it was at one time a very important cash crop in this area.  For more than 100 years some of the finest tobacco grown anywhere was produced locally, basically in the Brutus, Cato, Ira regions.  As an example, in 1864, 364,379 pounds of tobacco was grown in this locale.  Tobacco growing was a very labor intensive, time consuming process usually all done by hand until about 1910 when the industrial revolution and machines began to influence the process.  One of the jobs done in the tobacco fields was the employment of children as young as 3, or 4 years old to  pick the worms (similar to a tomato worm) off the leaves.    Leaves with holes in them could not be used for cigar wrappers and so were very diminished in value.
     Harvest time was usually the first 2 weeks of September.  The tobacco was cut by hand, then "spudded" (hung on strings) in sheds to dry.  During winter the leaves were sorted, graded (remember those worm holes), packed and pressed  into bales for sweating and finally sold the following year.  We have a bale of locally grown tobacco in the museum and believe me it has  been done "sweating" for a good many years!
     The ready availability of tobacco and easy access to mass transportation (Erie Canal and the railroads) brought dealers, cigar makers, and processing plants into the community.  One such plant (pictured) was located on Graham Street in the village of Weedsport, with frontage directly on the Lehigh Valley Railroad.  It was owned by Charles Cusick and Sons who also owned facilities in Cato and Plainville. If the name sounds familiar, the Charles Cusick who was Attorney and Assemblyman from this area was a grandson of the founder. The industry flourished until about WWI and finally ended in 1965 when Clarence Blumer Sr. of Bonta Bridge Road harvested his last crop.
     The photo shows the number of employees at the Weedsport plant around 1905.  As a note aside, the young lad in front of the work force was Frank Drabel Sr.  At one time there were no less than 7 cigar manufacturers in Weedsport, along with the Cusick firm. The firms included: Hoyt and Kilgus, M. A. Flint and Co., E. C. Stainer and Co.,Clinton Burdick, Milton Cortright & Son, Ernest Hunter, and Charles L. Smith whose advertising stated that he was putting a new brand on the market christened  "The Charlie Ross, long lost, but found at last" and the Flint firm produced a smoke called "Happy Dreams" ,for when you want a good smoke!"

Denny Randall, Past Pres. OBHS - Old Brutus Historical Society

Please click on the thumbnail below, for a much larger view:

Weedsport plant about 1905:

Charles Cusick Tobabcco Plant




(Jan 2, 2017)


     In the latter part of the 1800's and early 1900's New York State was  ranked number 1 in the country on the production and sale of various mineral waters. Producers of mineral water, which was thought to have healing, or curative properties ranged from the huge operation of Saratoga Springs (still in business today) to the much more modest operation in Weedsport known variously over the years as Arrowhead Springs, Weedsport Mineral Springs and C. E. Skillman mineral water.

     "mineral water" was a term with a broad spectrum of products, from lightly carbonated water to waters very heavy indeed with various chemicals, such as iron, salt, or Sulphur.  Weedsport water was in this category, with the following analysis per gallon done in 1908: Sodium Chloride 2.1 grains, Sodium Sulphate 2.18, Magnesium Sulphate, 12.87, Calcium Sulphate 85.33, Calcium Carbonate 17.18, Iron Carbonate .59 and Carbon Dioxide 26.54, making the water a lightly carbonated Sulphur water.  It was reputed to have curative powers for: kidney disease, chronic constipation, dyspepsia, gout, flatulency and indigestion.
     The spring was located in what people in my generation called "Smitty's pasture" directly behind where the Rodeway Inn is presently located.  Although it was closed long before I was roaming the streets of Weedsport, the tumble down building and remnants of the spring remained.  As kids do, several of us used to play in the area and my mother could always tell by the smell of Sulphur where we had been.

     At about the opening of the Erie Canal, a man named Raynor built a small sanitarium over the spring and for a time it was filled with patients.  It was reported that people came from as far away as Albany on horseback to partake of the waters.  After the proprietor died , the san was closed , the buildings decayed and the spring forgotten.  Over the years, a number of attempts were made to organize a stock company and reopen the spring and place it's water on the market, but all fell short until 1908.  A partnership was formed in that year between C.C.Caywood upon whose land the spring was located and Michael Coyle who had retired from various circus operations, including Adam Forepaugh, Barnum & Bailey and Wild Bill Hickok's show.  On excavating for a new building many arrowheads were found and thus the spring became known as ARROWHEAD SPRINGS. After the deaths of the principles, the operation became known as WEEDSPOORT MINERAL SPRINGS, and still later C.E.SKILLMAN MINERAL WATERS, finally closing for good in the 1930's.

     The product was shipped all over the north-eastern U.S. in both 12 ounce and 1 quart bottles which were produced by the Clyde Glass Works. The bottles, which are still pretty common today on E-Bay were made in clear, dark amber and aqua.  The photo shows the cover of a 20 page advertising brochure of the Arrowhead concern.  Note the arrowhead logo and the small print "DEATH TO DISEASE"

Denny Randall, Past Pres. OBHS - Old Brutus Historical Society

Please click on the thumbnail below for a much larger view:

Arrowhead Water


Skaden & Kerns Dress and Shirtwaist factory

(Dec. 5, 2016)

       A short time ago, Jennifer Kelley called me and wondered what the big gray building next to the firehouse was that she took a shortcut by on the way to school (quite a while ago) Jennifer has gone from a little kid walking to school to a long retired member of the faculty!  She recalled that the building sat down in a depression and she is correct.  The building was the Skaden & Kerns Dress and Shirtwaist factory.  It was built on the former site of a water powered sawmill.  The low area where the basement of the building was located was part of the millpond for the sawmill which had been drained when the sawmill closed.  The rest of the millpond was gradually filled in by using it as the Village dump, which causes problems to this day with settling and cracking of the south wall of the firehouse as it slowly settles on the unstable fill.

       Weedsport was known for many years as the "shirtwaist capital of New York" with hundreds of employees producing shirts, dresses, blouses, skirts, nightgowns and other such textile goods out of several factories ,including Skaden & Kerns, The Security Company, Crotty & Mitchell and others. The factory closed in the 1930's and the building was used for several years as a warehouse for the antique furniture business of Edmund Skaden, one of the building owners.  In it's last iteration in the 1960's it was used to warehouse sheet metal for George E. Wethey's heating company.  After that, it sat vacant for many years.  When the firehouse was expanded southward in the early 1970's, more parking area was required and in 1972 the building was demolished by members of the fire department.
       The building was a construction marvel, being built entirely of horizontally laid matched (tongue & groove) 2 X 4 lumber. from the foundation to the eaves. Very few nails were used in the construction as the walls were held tightly  together by 2 x 4 diagonal braces nailed to the inside of the walls.  Skaden and Kerns not only produced their own fine products but also made product for others under  private label.  The photo show Fanny and Ed Skaden in a buggy in front of the plant on South street about 1915.


Denny Randall, Past Pres. OBHS - Old Brutus Historical Society

(Please click on thumbnail photo below, for a much larger view:)

Skaden 1915



What's A Malt House?

(Nov. 6, 2016)


     A while ago I wrote in this column where a group that I belong to (we call ourselves the Auburn History Club) was trying to locate and restore New York State Historic Road Signs in the county. Libby Sperduti of Weedsport has kindly volunteered to  restore the signage in the Town of Brutus. Before the weather turned she had completely refurbished the marker at the Centerport Aqueduct Park. It looks brand new!  If you see Libby, give her a thumbs up for her work.

     Last month I wrote about a malt house sitting where our museum is now located and I have had several people ask me "what's a malthouse?"  That's a good question and I guess you have to know what malt is first.  Malt is made by steeping grain (usually barley) in warm water.  It was allowed to partially germinate (sprout), then dried and cured for a period of time.  Malt was, and is, used in the manufacture of beer, among many other purpose--think chocolate malts, malted milk balls ,etc.  In the days prior to reliable refrigeration, breweries were usually of a somewhat local nature, and as a result there was a continual and tremendous need for barley malt.  In the early 1880's Weedsport had 3 large malt houses:  Miller &  Kirby, Van Marter and Hoffman Malt.  The buildings were all on N. Seneca St with the rears to the canal.

     The Van Marter Malt House burned in December of 1885, while the Miller and Kirby building was demolished around 1918.  The Hoffman building survived into the 1950'S. Some will remember it being the birthplace of Ernie Barber's Welding business, then for many years it was the shop and headquarters for the world famous F.H. Tuxill & Son  building moving concern.  In it's final iteration it was the truck maintenance garage for the G.L.F. (Agway) egg  marketing group.  It finally gave way to become a parking lot for the Village Diner.  Although the Weedsport Fire Department was and is a completely volunteer organization, in 1885 Chief Henry Brewster petitioned the Village Board to grant pay of $5.00 per 25 hours of labor working on the smoldering piles of grain left in the aftermath of the fire. 20 firemen worked for many days hand shoveling smoldering grain.

     Attached is a photo of the Hoffman Malt House shortly before it's demolition in the late 1950's  Notice the Post Standard paper box in the foreground.  I hope this answers the question "what's a malthouse?"

Denny Randall, Past Pres. OBHS - Old Brutus Historical Society


Click on thumbnail below, for a much larger view:

Hoffman Malt House



Commercial Establishments - Which Are No More

(October Article 2016)


     Last month I wrote of long gone manufacturing concerns in Weedsport.  That put me in mind of commercial establishments which are no more.  Since we have to start someplace, let us first consider grocery stores.  The chain grocery "Market Basket" was lost in the Saroodis Restaurant fire, as was the restaurant itself.  In the 1950's when I was a teenager wandering the streets, there were no less than 4 grocery stores in town, The A & P on N. Seneca St, and Tanner's IGA, Coyles Red & White and Baran's Supermarket, all on E. Brutus St.  The Baran store was the first grocery in town where you walked around and picked your own goods.  In addition to the grocery's there were also 4 meat markets,  Ken Heffernan's was on N. Seneca St, Roy Lee was on S. Seneca, O'Hara & Cuddy was on Furnace St and R.W. Hanlon was on Rt. 34.  We're down to one combo grocery/meat market now although some grocery items are available at the drugstore and the dollar store.

     I was one of a large family and I can remember going into O'Hara & Cuddy and asking for 5, or 6 pounds of cube steak.  Dan Cuddy would take a large top, or bottom round steak out of the case, slice it into narrow strips, which he would then feed into the cubing machine repeatedly until the proper thickness was obtained. I remember being amazed at how many cube steaks you could get out of one roast.

     After world WWII village barber John Rockwell was ready to retire from his shop on the 4 corners, so by then Fred Rowe had gotten done crawling around the beaches of Okinawa, came home, went to Barber School and took over Johnny's shop which he operated for nearly 40 years until his retirement.  For many years, an adjunct to that job was blowing the noon siren before the village purchased a clockwork mechanism to do the job.  Similarly, Elvin Dolph was looking for something to do after the Thruway was completed. My first memory of Elvin was of him driving a Euclid belly dump on the Thruway construction site. He also decided to go to barber school and open a shop, which he also operated for about 40 years. Elvin was my barber for all of that 40+ years, and as a matter of fact the high school yearbook for many years carried a picture of me sitting in the chair in Elvin's ad.  Elvin is also a history buff and has for several years been President of The Old Brutus Historical Society.  Other barbers included Harold and Bob Schram and Harold Morrison.

     A full line of men's clothing could be obtained at the Winton Shoppe, and stuff like you now see at the dollar stores was available from the Weedsport 5 cents to a dollar store, both owned by the Picciano family. There is no longer a concern in town where you can purchase appliances, Whitman's Hardware and George E. Wethey are both long gone. Tire dealers, we had several over the years,  Roy Washington, Gene Priebe, Bud Gauthier  and Gordon Stickney come to mind.
When the Erie Canal was running, we had several hotels, some classier than others.  By far the best was the Willard House (pictured).  The photo was obviously taken prior to 1916 as you can see  Seneca Street is not yet paved.  It was paved with locally produced bricks in 1916.  The other photo shows the Kirby & Miller malt house which stood where our museum and DB's ice cream now stand.  Malting barley was a big business in those days. Due to lack of refrigeration, beer had to be made more or less locally and thus the need for malt.  More memories another time.

Denny Randall, Past Pres. OBHS - Old Brutus Historical Society


Willard House Kirby and Miller




(The loss of, over time.)

(September Article 2016)

     We have all been exposed to the loss of manufacturing base in our communities, for one reason, or another. Syracuse has lost Solvay Process, Carrier, Chrysler, G.E., Lipe Rollway, Syroco and many others.  Auburn has lost the carpet companies, Alco, I.H., Dunn & McCarthy, and Columbian Rope, among many other concerns. Weedsport is no different. Here are some of the firms listed in no particular order that are no longer in town:

     Durbin & Bust Carriage works on S. Seneca Street.  Henry Ford made their demise inevitable.

     W.G.Adams Piano Company--dealt in pianos and manufactured "Oriole" phonographs, of which we have 3 in our collection. All things being equal, if you were going to deal in pianos, wouldn't you seek a facility on the ground floor? Not so Mr. Adams. Some may remember the large overarm that extended from the building over the top of Heffernan's Meat Market. The pianos and other freight were hoisted to the second floor by means of a large bull wheel.  The last I knew, the wheel was still on the second floor!

     The Abram Walrath Steam Bent Wood Works (say that 3 times fast).  They also pretty much left with the carriage and sleigh trade. The building on N. Seneca St. was used for many years as the Town of Brutus Highway Dept. garage.

     The famous Steven's Decoys went away with the passing of the brothers.  Today they are among the most collectable and priciest decoys, often being valued in the tens of thousands of dollars.

     The Weedsport Bottle Works, also known at one time, or another as Arrowhead Springs, C.E.Skillman Bottle Works, and Mineral Springs Bottle Works was located directly behind the Rodeway Inn.  The water was basically sulfur water which supposedly was beneficial to drink. It was shipped all up and down the eastern United States in clear, amber and turquoise bottles embossed with one of the aforementioned names, Weedsport, N.Y.  The bottles are quite often offered on E-Bay.

     Skaden & Kerns manufactured skirts in a factory where the firehouse parking lot is now.

     Cusick Tobacco on Graham St had over 40 empployees at one time.  The building then became Whitman & Robinson, who produced one of the first skid steer (Bobcat) tractors. Also associated with them were Sagen Boat Hoist and Nautilloy marine hardware.

     The Security Company and successors Vulcan Knitting Mills and the Weedsport Shirt and Waist Co. made Weedsport the shirt waist capital of New York State.

     O.W.Burritt made beautiful tools, including a patented crimper for making the seams in a standing seam steel roof.

     Barr Typewriter stopped making typewriters during WWII to make parts for Norden bombsights and bomb fuses.  After the war they never resumed building typewriters, but went on to make a slew of products, including Poole Clocks, baby strollers, ride on toys, cigarette boxes, electric fry pans and many other beautiful and practical items.

     Ray Hammond's Machine Shop,was directly across the street from the Catholic Church.  When he ran his drop hammer the church shook!

     Miller Ceramics operated out of one of the Barr buildings producing and marketing clay, slip, and supplies for the ceramic trade.

     More recently we have lost the long time Weedsport Tool and Machine company where for generation the Kane family produced high tolerance machine parts on their high precision Hardinge lathes.  Corostone and Grange silos are gone as is the Zonolite Insulation Co. Jaymar Terminal boards which was operated by Joe O'Hearn on E. Brutus Street has left and lastly for this installment we have in our collection a one horse walking plow which has cast into the share " Cayuga Chief #2, Weedsport, N.Y."  We have no idea where this factory was.

      More next time.
     Denny Randal, Past President OBHS - Old Brutus Historical Society



Do you Remember?

(August Article 2016)


    Every now and then, mostly in response to people reminding me, I like to write about things that I recall, or someone has jabbed my memory about in the Weedsport area.  Here goes again with another "Do You Remember" column.

     While I was at the Pageant of Steam show in Canandaigua this past week the smell of the soft coal being burned by the large traction engines reminded me of the Dairymen's League milk processing facility on East street where every morning that end of town had that same smell from the milk plant burning bituminous coal in their pasteurizer.  Who remembers coming into town from Auburn on Rt.34 and entering what looked like a tunnel, with the huge old maple trees touching over the road?  How about getting your milk at lunchtime in school in a half-pint Colvin Dairy miniature bottle, with a little insert that you could punch out in the bottle cap to insert your straw?  Do you remember Harry Tanner's IGA on E. Brutus St. where a good bit of his business was groceries ordered over the phone and delivered by Harry on his way home after work?  He also let customers have a running account so that kids could run to the store for an item, which he billed for weekly.

     How many of you recall swimming in Ball's Creek on Hamilton Road and having to pick leeches (we called them bloodsuckers) off each other when we got out?  Before the Weedsport Speedway was built who remembers Ralph Mazzoli, Bob Lanphere and Eddie Schmidt racing their stock cars at the Brewerton Speedway?  How about "putting up" jelly with a paraffin seal on top of the jar? The paraffin was also good for preserving colored leaves in the fall. The swimming pool at the high school was recently rededicated to Principal William F. Lampman.  How many of you in the village have sidewalk slabs in front of your homes with WFL in the corner of the slab.  Being school principal was not always the lucrative position which it is now and to earn extra money during the summer, he laid concrete, which was mixed by hand since their were no "ready-mix" trucks yet.  Does anyone recall Fult's Furniture Store when it was located on North Seneca St. where the Key Bank is now?

     How many of you remember Chapman Lumber company which was located on the West side of North Seneca St. from Leonardi Manufacturing to where the Town office building is now.  Speaking of the town office building how about the town highway garage which was there previously.  Remember the huge chimney at the rear of the building which was a left over from when the building was the Abram Walrath Steam Bent Wood Works, manufacturing silo staves, sleigh runners and other steam bent wood products.  Who recalls what a nasty thing the abandoned Erie Canal was running right through town before the state turned it into Route 31 (Erie Drive)?  Does anyone remember the Celtic Glove Company, run by Prof. Skvorak out of his garage?  How about a time when we had at least 3 meat markets in town and 2 large grocery chains (A&P and Grand Union) as well as several independent groceries?  Who remembers the clock in the Methodist Church bell tower, or for that matter, when Barber Welding was located where the Presbyterian Church parking lot is now?

     Who recalls Manly Erb Upholstery on Washington Street, or having to fix pots and pans with a hole in them with little kits sold for the purpose?  Do you remember going home, or downtown for lunch from the Jackson Street school? As a kid did you stand on the sidewalk and be enthralled watching blacksmith O.J. Kusche at work at his forge on N. Seneca St?  How about when Ralph St. John sold Chrysler and Plymouths on the corner of West Brutus and Erie Drive. At that time we had several car dealers  in town----C.E. Miner Ford and Mercury, Guy H. Lanphere Chevrolet, H.O. Smith Buick and Pontiac, Willis Hammond Willys, and Eidman Motors Hudson.  Before the days of instant camera  shots being developed while you wait who recalls Fred Burlingame's Day-Lee photo service offering same day development?  Finally, for this go-around how many remember the wonderful products made by Barr Typewriter after their war contracts expired?  Clocks, spring loaded cigarette cases, kids toys, baby strollers, and electric frying pans were just a few of their products.

    Denny Randall, Past President OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society



Signs from History in our area

(July article, 2016)

     A couple of months ago I wrote that a group of history minded folks in the Auburn area have undertaken a campaign to locate, refurbish, or replace if necessary state roadside historical markers.  We have divided the list up by townships and predictably I got the Town of Brutus. It was amazing to me that as I drove around reading these signs that I have lived in Weedsport all my life and despite the fact that I'm a history buff I don't know as I had EVER stopped to read one of them!  Weedsport resident and Victory Historian Beverly Sayles has agreed to check out the Victory list.  For those of you in the same boat as I, here are my findings on the signs of the Town of Brutus. I list the signs, location, condition, the legend contained thereon and who erected the sign.  Most signs erected between the early thirties and early fifties were put up by the state education department.  Others have been put up by municipalities, non profits, commercial entities and even individuals.  Most signs erected over the past several years have been funded by the Pomeroy Foundation.

     3 of the signs originally in the Town of Brutus have disappeared over the years--these include one on Rt. 34 near the southern village limits that noted the early name of Weedsport was Macedonia. I found it interesting that in 1951 at the last accounting of these signs in the county, it was already missing.  2 other signs have disappeared, one in Centerport and one on Rt. 5 at the county line. My guess is that they either were taken down for road maintenance and never put back up, or were destroyed in an accident. The existing 8 signs are listed below in no particular order:

     TOWN OF BRUTUS  Formed from Aurelius 1802. First settlement in town made by Aaron Frost in 1795.  He built the first grist mill. Sign is located at Whittler's Green Park on the SE corner of W. Brutus St. and Erie Dr. (Rt. 31). Erected in 1935 by the State Ed. Dept.  Good condition

     WEED'S BASIN  Named after Elihu and Edward Weed who constructed a basin on the old Erie Canal in 1821.  P.O. established 1822  Weedsport Inc. village 1831.  Located at 8896 S. Seneca St, near the Furnace St. intersection. Erected by the Village of Weedsport.  Needs Paint.

    FIREHOUSE  Constructed 1884 of local brick to hold the newly purchased 1878 Silsby steam powered pumper.  Belfry bell is original. Located in the firehouse parking lot on South St.  Erected by the Pomeroy Foundation in 2015.  Good condition.

    FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF WEEDSPORT  Has been placed on the National Register of historic places in 2003 by The United States Department of the Interior.  Located at 2707 Liberty St.  Erected by the Pomeroy Foundation in 2014.   Good Condition.

    GOD'S ACRE  First community cemetery in the Town of Brutus 1801-1863.  Most stones removed 1916. Declared Town Park in 1974  Located at 8801 S. Seneca St. (Rt.34)    Erected by the Town of Brutus in 1976.  Needs paint.

    WILLIIAM McCREEDY AND FAMILY BURIAL SITE..  Soldier in revolution. Born 1755-died 1824.  Early Methodist meetings held in the nearby family home. Located one tenth mile south of the intersection of Rt. 34 and Down's Rd. Erected by the Town of Brutus in 1976.   Needs paint.

    BURIAL PLACE OF LIEUT. ADAM HELMER AND WIFE ANNA BELLINGER HELMER.  A famous Mohawk Valley scout in the Revolutionary War.  Purchased this farm in 1803.  Located 1/2 mile from Brutus Street Rd. (Rt. 31B) and Cottle Rd. intersection.  Erected by the Cayuga County Historian.  Good condition.

    CENTERPORT AQUADUCT PARK  Supervised for the State of New York by the Town of Brutus. Dedicated 31 May 1976.  David E. Coyle, Supervisor, Councilmen Kenneth Weller, James Sullivan, Ernest D. Blumer, Kenneth Spingler, Located one tenth mile west of Village limits on Rt.31. Erected by the Town of Brutus 1976.   Needs Paint.

     If anyone has any knowledge of the 3 missing signs, or would like to take on a little project of painting one of the existing signs, please contact me at 834-9475.  Please see the attached photo of the Historical Marker on Adam Helmer's grave on Cottle Rd.

     Denny Randall Past President Old Brutus Historical Society,


To see a larger view, please click on the THUMBNAIL below:

Aadm Hechmers Grave



Weedsport Central School History -

The Top Achieving School System in the County.

(June 2016)

    As another school year comes to an end it seems appropriate to look back on the long and storied history of  Weedsport Central School, which is year after year the top achieving school system in the county.  Weedsport Academy was organized in 1838, however there were at least 2 schools existing in the area before that.  Over the course of time more and more schools (typically of the one room variety) were built in the area.  It was necessary to have many schools due to the difficulty of travel as Henry Ford and his associate manufacturers were not yet on the scene. For the purpose of this column let us fast forward to 1939 when Weedsport became a "Central" school and in so doing absorbed many area country schools in the towns of Sennett, Cato, Mentz, Conquest, Elbridge and Throop as well as Brutus and the Village of Weedsport.  These schools included the following in no particular order:

    Bonta Bridge Road School-District 13 erected in 1871 and still standing.
    Christopher District School-Town of Cato at Christopher's Corners (The intersection Of Bonta Bridge and Jorolemon Rds.) Still standing as a private residence. 
    Lemon School-Town of Conquest District 10 was located at the intersection of Town Line and Lemon School Rds.
    Van Nostrand School-Town of Conquest-located on Slayton Rd., between Cato and Conquest.
    White School-Town of Cato-Located on Smith Rd.
    Emerson School-Town of Cato-Still standing in the Hamlet of Emerson.
    River Road School-Town of Cato.
    Brick Church School-Town of Cato, District 2.  On Rt. 34 at the intersection of Shortcut Rd.  Preserved intact as a museum by the CIVIC organization.  Built in 1871 and still in good condition. To give you an idea of cost increases, the building was built in 2 weeks at a cost of $75.00!
    Everett School-Town of Elbridge District 8.  On Clinton Rd. just beyond the intersection of Bonta Bridge Rd.  Built in 1885 and still stands as a private residence.
    Bates School-Town of Brutus District 4.  Located on Clinton rd. at the Bates Rd. intersection, also now a private residence.
    McCreedy School-Town of Brutus. Near the intersection of Rt. 34 and Downs Rd.  Probably the first school in the area.
    Pump School-Town of Brutus on Pump Rd.
    Jericho School-Town of Brutus .Located at the intersection of Jericho and Ryan Rds.  Now a private residence.
    Cobblestone School-_Town of Sennett.  Located on Rt. 5 near the Jericho Rd intersection-used until 1912.  Now a private residence.
    Pantico School-Town of Sennett District 1. Located at the intersection of Center St. and Parsell Rd. Now a beautifully preserved private home.
    Sennett Village District 7-Located near the intersection of Turnpike Rd. and the Weedsport Sennett rd. at he location of the present Sennett firehouse.
    Mutton Hill School-Town of Sennett.  Located between County House Rd. and Rt. 5. Now a private residence.
    McMaster School-Town of Throop. Located near the intersection of Turnpike Rd and Rt. 34 (McMaster's Corners)
    Ingalls School-Town of Throop. Located on Highbridge Rd. across from the cemetery.
    Bentley school-Town of Brutus District 5.  Now a private residence at the intersection of Rt. 34 and Bentley School Rd.
    Centerport School-Town of Mentz-many student took the trolley to school.
    Oakland School-Town of Brutus. Located at the intersection of Compton  and Townline Rds.
    Soule School-Town of Sennett. Now a private residence on Chestnut Ridge Rd.
    Mudcoe School-Town of Sennett District 11.  Located at the corner of Miller Rd. and County Line Rd. Now a private home.
    Freeman St. School-Town of Sennett District 9 Located near Depot Rd. Eventually torn down and merged with District 7.

    With the advent of dependable transportation all of these schools became what is now Weedsport Central!  Congratulation to the Class of 2016 and may they prosper and enjoy each other as much as the class of 1957 has over the years!

   Denny Randall, Past President of the Old Brutus Historical Society,
and WCS Class of '57!




(May 22, 2016)


      As those of you who read this column know I write periodically about famous and near famous local people.  Today I write about one of my hero's--Edward Smiley Robinson.                                          

     From the Syracuse Post Standard of 6-8-1947--"Central New York farmers will have a new service-crop dusting by helicopter within a few weeks.  Edward Robinson of Weedsport yesterday made preparations to accept delivery of a Bell Aircraft agricultural helicopters in Buffalo tomorrow.  Mr. Robinson was licensed last month as the 1st commercial helicopter pilot in the country after graduating from the Bell Flight Training school in Buffalo.  He will fly his helicopter, dubbed the "BUGBEATER" to Syracuse on Wednesday with a load of parts from the Buffalo Ford plant to E.M. O'Donnell Ford in Syracuse.

     Robinson is President of "Helicopter Aircraft Service", which is among the first to receive a Bell Cropduster .  35 of the machines will go to the U.S., Canada, Sweden and Argentina within the next 2 months.  General charter work planned for the company include high tension power and telephone line patrol, aerial photography, and radio broadcasting of news & sports.  Robinson, who lives at 200 S. Seneca St. in Weedsport learned to fly in Troy and entered the Navy on March 19,1942. He served until August 10, 1946 when he returned to civilian life as a Lieutenant Commander. He has over 2300 hours on his log book.  The BUGBEATER will be based at Hancock Field.  Contracts have already been let to dust tomatoes at the State Experimental Station in Geneva, onions in Savannah and Oswego, as well as melons and cucumbers in the Albany area."

     Edward Robinson is considered the father of commercial helicopter service in the United States and his Bell 47B-3 was one of the first successful commercial helicopters.  On July 2, 1947 the BUGBEATER was damaged in a forced landing when it dropped 8 feet into a grape arbor near Penn Yan.  He escaped injury and a loaner was obtained from Bell until repairs were made.

     The BUGBEATER was a familiar sight in the village during the late 40's and 50's , along with the specially constructed Ford COE moving van that had been built to transport it on the ground.  One of my favorite memories of Ed was him delivering Santa Claus to the roof of Bill's Esso Servicenter in the center of the village.  Ed went to his reward at the age of 88 on May 22, 2003 and is still missed by all who knew him. He was a 1933 graduate of Weedsport High School, and went on to USC and Syracuse University.  He had a wide array of interesting jobs in his lifetime.  Besides operating his BUGBEATER he was a seaman on a freighter going to and from the orient, station manager of WTRY in Troy, Asst. to the President of the Central New York Broadcasting and laid cable across the St. Lawrence River with his helicopter. In his 60's he was owner of Robinson Insurance Co. Director of Sales for Channel 9 TV in Syracuse and spent 2 years in India teaching helicopter dusting methods for the Indian government

     He was always active in the community, a life long member of the Presbyterian Church, President of the Cayuga County Boy scouts Council, an Eagle Scout, and a member of the local Masonic group, as well as being a very active member of the Auburn Rotary.  Those of us in the Village remember him fondly. Attached is a photo of the BUGBEATER at work.

     Using a bit of editorial license, I join a group of folks who are interested in local history who meet every other week, usually at the Ag Museum. We call ourselves the "AUBURN HISTORY CLUB" and we are on a crusade to locate, restore and replace missing roadside historical markers, many of which have gone missing, particularly in the City of Auburn during urban renewal.  If you know the whereabouts of any of these signs please call me at 834-9475 and we will try to get them returned.

Denny Randall, Past Pres. OBHS


Please click on the thumbnail below, for a much larger view:





(April 24, 2016)




     Weedsport is currently without a resident physician. Over the years we have had at times 3, or 4 doctors living and practicing in town at any given time, but life changes and it's now apparently more practical to go to the emergency room, or clinic for health issues and it's also I guess more economical for doctor's to join a group, so it would seem that the time of the small town physician is numbered.

     Our displays are changed out annually and this year we have an interesting exhibit on remedies and cures of the past.  Some of the more interesting items on display include a "Vapo-Cresoline" lamp, which functioned much as a modern potpourri device does now.  The creoline solution was put in a small pan over the top of a miniature decorative hurricane type lamp which boiled the material creating a beneficial mist.  One has to think it probably smelled like burning railroad ties.  It was purportedly instant relief for the symptoms of: Croup, Whooping Cough, Asthma, Catarrh, Colds, Diphtheria, Hay fever, Bronchitis, Scarlet fever and Measles. It may also be used for respiratory relief in horses,  dogs and fowl!

    Also on display are several models of electrical discharge machines which include the "New D.D. #4" (dry cell battery included), and the much more elaborate "Energex" device containing many attachments.  Sears Roebuck advertised one of these machines in their 1908 catalog for $2.98 for the whole caboodle.  Maybe they weren't so far off the money because a modern TENS unit operates in much the same way.  These units were advertised as a sure cure for Arthritis and Rheumatism.  Also on display are hearing trumpets, hernia trusses, mortars and pestles, pharmaceutical scales, atomizers, Incense burners, leather wrist and ankle braces and other paraphernalia.

    Also on display are many bottles and containers of medicines and preparations of the past.  Here are listed a few--see how many you remember: Fletcher's Castoria, Goodies Headache Powders, Daw's Drugs spirits of ammonia, Merck essence of juniper berries, oil of peppermint and cloves, Rexall Mercurochome, Phillip's Milk of Magnesia, Collerium eye wash, Carter's Little Liver pills, Lip Lickers Balm, Cook's Great Stuff liniment, Pandermit (removes crusts and scales from the skin), Bayer aspirin, Boric acid for washing eyes, Nature's Remedy tablets for stomach, liver, kidney and bowel disorders, Thayer's Slippery Elm lozenges for sore throat, Cloverine salve, United glycerine and rose water for skin softening, Dr. Lyons tooth powder, Helps throat lozenges, Derma Medicone for skin irritations, Keating's cough lozenges and Smith Brother's cough drops among many, many other items.  Just to show off how much useless trivia I have stored in my head, Who remembers the names of the Smith brothers, as shown on the box? Answer Trade and Mark.

    For many years Weedsport Bottling Works sold sulfur water all over the eastern  United States as a curative drink.  The springs were located behind where the Rodeway Inn is now located. Over the years they went by several names including "Weedsport Bottling Works", " Arrowhead Springs" and "C. E Skillman Bottling Company".  They produced product in 8 and 10 ounce sizes and also quarts.  The bottles include aqua, clear and amber.  They are still quite common on E-Bay. We have a fully stocked medicine cabinet in our kitchen  display area.  One time when the grade schoolers were making their annual visit to the museum one the kids asked why isn't the medicine cabinet in the bathroom--a perfectly logical question, which had a perfectly logical answer.  You have to remember where the bathroom was in those times and  who would want to go out there in the cold and dark for a bandaid!  More next month.

Denny Randall, Past Pres. OBHS



(March 27, 2016)



         As you all know I like to look back at our old copies of Cayuga
Chiefs, Sentinels and Post Dispatches for interesting tidbits, which frankly
I miss in today's newspapers. Here goes again!

         According to the June 2, 1940 copy of the Cayuga Chief the State
census figures have been given out by census supervisor Fred Wiggins of
Auburn.  The village of Weedsport stands now at 1,499, or a gain of 105
since the census of 1910. The Town of Brutus also gained 217 inhabitants for
a total now of 2,438.

        Uniformed members of the Weedsport Fire Department traveled to
Palmyra this past Thursday to participate in the annual Northern Central
New York Volunteer Fireman's Association  convention parade which was held
there.  Mrs. Frank C. Purce entertained members of the Etalpu Flinch club
last Friday at her Green St. home.  Mrs. Charles L. Trufant is seriously ill
at her home on the corner of Franklin and N. Seneca St. and her recovery is
not expected.  A. J. Howe and daughter Miss Mabel of New York City have
arrived in town for the summer.

        In the January 19th edition of the same year it was noted that Billy
Rude had been accepted as a resident of the Firemen's Home in Hudson N.Y.
Jimmie O'Neil was baggage master  at the New York Central station and was
considered quite a wit. The story was related in the paper that one night a
very dignified and pompous lady came to the depot and asked Jimmie " what
time is the next train due here?"  Jimmie replied 8:35.  Why she said " I'll
have to wait an hour and a half. Isn't there a fast train for New York City
before then" "Yes ma'am" answered Jimmie "There's one in about 15 minutes"
"Can you stop it for me?" asked the lady.  Jimmies reply was typical.
"Lady, I wouldn't stop that train for a carload of angels going to the last

       On November 24th, 1954 the Cayuga Chief noted that Daniel Gladwin
underwent a major operation Monday at Auburn City Hospital.  He has been a
patient there about a week.  William Vess and Michael Hulik won the turkeys
at the annual turkey frolic sponsored by the Weedsport Watsons baseball
team.  Mr. and Mrs. James Compton of the Oaklands will spend Thanksgiving
with Mr. and Mrs. Rupert Woodcock and family.  Mrs. Clyde Eidman, Roger
Eidman, the misses Myrtle and Doris Eidman, Mr. and Mrs. William Vess and
son Billy all of Weedsport and Lou Chomyk of Auburn will go to Sodus for
Thanksgiving at the home of Mrs. Peter Bartelson.

       And in the December 13, 1956 paper it was reported that Mr. and Mrs.
Joseph D'Alberto and children Joey and Diane were dinner guests last week at
the home of her father Jerome C. Mapes of Bell St.  While in town Joe had
the good fortune to get a deer in Sennett back of the Spier residence.
Members of the Baptist Church Kupples Klub met in the Fellowship Building
for the purpose of decorating the Christmas tree.  Mr. and Mrs. Burton Ogden
and Mr. and Mrs. Elvin Dolph were hosts.  Refreshments were be served when
the work was done.

       The local stores usually closed on Wednesdays will be open all day on
Wednesdays from now until Christmas for your shopping convenience.  The
Weedsport Grange will meet on the 15th with a covered dish supper at 7:15.
The business meeting will begin at 8:00.  Mr. Harold Hawley, President of
the Farm Bureau will be the speaker.

More next time
Denny Randall, Past Pres. OBHS



(Feb. 28, 2016)


      No history of Weedsport would be complete without writing about Michael Grace.  He was born in County Tipperary, Ireland in 1856 and came to this country when he was 9 years old with the family settling near Centerport.  He was pretty much a self made man, being educated in the public schools of the area, which were basically one room rural schools where all students were taught by one teacher.  In Mike's case, they must have taught him well because he became an accomplished  architect, engineer and builder without the benefit of a formal education in those fields.  He designed and built many of the homes that you still see today in Weedsport and other areas as well

      Some of the examples of his work include the several stately homes seen on the west, or left hand side of S. Seneca Street as you enter the village on Route 34 from Auburn.  Other examples of his work include the Catholic rectory and the James Sullivan home north of the Elementary School front lawn on Jackson Street.  No one would argue that his most beautiful effort was the huge Victorian home built in 1894, that he erected for the Wilbur Howe family on Jackson St.  It will be recalled by many as the Kinney Funeral home for many years.  It is now the residence of the Norman Chirco family who have restored it to the beautiful bright Victorian colors which were correct at the time.  Through the kindness of Amy Chirco please see the photo of Michael Grace's masterpiece as it appears today. The interior woodwork is Cherry, Bird's Eye Maple, White Maple, Red and White Oak, Sycamore and curly Whitewood with a natural hand rubbed cabinet finish.  Inside blinds are of the same wood as the rooms in which they are located. The ceilings were plastered and tinted to match the Baldwin & Dabelstein wallpaper.  The dining and bathroom were finished in oil with raised figures on a clouded background. Steam heat was provided by an "Equator"  No. 8 boiler, with an air pressure tank in the basement providing hot and cold water on all floors and for sprinkling the lawn.  This description of the premises was taken from the Post-Express of Feb. 15, 1896

     In addition to his building career, he was interested in politics his entire life.  He served two terms as Village President (Mayor), 4 terms as Town of Brutus Supervisor, and although he was a Republican, he always had the endorsement of the local Democratic party.  He was then elected to two terms as State Assemblyman.  In 1918 he served as Deputy Clerk of the state Senate for several years.  He was for 50 years a member of the Republican County Committee and was a delegate to scores of state and county conventions with his advice being sought often by party leaders.

     Although he and his wife Katherine Sullivan had no children, they raised his nephew, the late William Sullivan as his own. Mr. Grace passed away in 1941 at the age of 85. Bearers at his funeral included Congressman John Taber, several state Senators and Assemblymen.  A photo of Michael Grace in his early years accompanies this article.  Although Mike is gone, nearly all of his beautiful homes live on to remind us of the genius of this self made man.

     Denny Randall, Past Pres.  OBHS

     His talent was not relegated strictly to building

Click on thumbnails below to see a larger view:

Michael Grace House



(Jan. 31, 2016)

       As you probably know if you read these columns, I sometimes write about the famous, or near famous from Weedsport, or the surrounding area.  This month I'll make note the life of W. F. (Bill) Lampman, Principal of Weedsport Central School from 1931 until 1969, and Mayor of the village from 1968 until 1972.  Mr. affected literally thousands of students and townspeople over the course of his career in public service and it is prudent that we list some of his accomplishment in this column. He came to Weedsport in 1931 after serving briefly as Vice Principal at Mount Morris, NY.
       He was immediately faced with a building project as a gym/auditorium, Home Economics room and boiler room were added to the Jackson St building.  In 1939 the district centralized, with Weedsport absorbing 21 small one room schools in the rural areas. This involved another major building project with the addition of a second story, the north wing and a bus garage.  Important in this iteration was the first installation of flush toilets! The current Jr. Sr. high school was built in 1955 and I was the proud President of the first class to attend school there in 1957.
       Less than ten years later the baby boom had created yet another space crisis, which required the kindergartners to be schooled in the Methodist Church Sunday school rooms.  There were over 500 students in the high school which had been built for 350 and the Jackson St. building , with a capacity of 600 now held 666, not including the kindergartners who were farmed out.  accordingly in 1966 district voters turned out in record numbers to authorize yet another building program by a 683 to 153 vote.
       The original plans called for a doubling of the size of the gymnasium to meet the state guidelines for space dedicated to physical education.  At the strong recommendation of Mr. Lampman, a swimming pool was proposed as an extra cost option in place of the expanded gym.  In Bill Lampman's words "Everyone should learn to swim--no life was ever saved by a basketball court."  Mr. Lampman who was now nearing retirement, stumped furiously for support from the public and after a public referendum, a change order was placed in the building contract to add the pool which had received 620 votes for and only 197 opposed.  The pool is now being refurbished and an open house is scheduled in the near future. At Mr. Lampman's retirement the pool was named the " William F. Lampman Swimming Pool" in honor of the man who worked so hard to see it become a reality. 
        After retirement he went on the become Mayor of the village, during which time the village was able to retire all short term debt and operated on a cash basis. Three new streets were paved and provided with water and sewer lines. Over 3000 feet of other new water line was laid. 2 new DPW trucks, a street sweeper, a sewer cleaner and a new heating boiler for the village hall were purchased for cash. All village sewers have been separated at considerable cost, also paid for in cash.  The village tax rate had remained the same for the past 4 years and  would not increase in 1972.  Mr. Lampman was President of the Cayuga County Assoc. of Villages, was a former volunteer fireman, ambulance attendant, Chamber of Commerce member, United Fund Chairman, President of the Old Brutus Historical Society , Community Fair board member and many other committees and boards which included youth groups, the Aqueduct Park project, the county redistricting committee, the Planning Board and the Weedsport Methodist Church, among many others.
        For recreation he built furniture, gardened, hunted and fished and was a fine cook.  As you walk around the village  today you will still see sidewalk slabs with WFL in the corner.  For extra money he even did masonry work , painted houses and wallpapered! In the words of Kipling:
                    "He talked with crowds and kept his virtue.
                     He walked with kings and kept the common touch.
                     And he was a man!"

 Denny Randall, Past President OBHS

Click on thumbnail below, for a larger view:

Wm Lampman
Lampman Wm





    As I start the 12th year of writing these columns about Weedsport and the surrounding area, I'd like to thank those who take the time to read them and hopefully learn something that they didn't know about their community. This month I will put in the paper a compilation of Weedsport historical trivia put together by Town and Village Historian Jeanne Baker 10 years ago in 2005.

    When the Auburn & Syracuse Railroad began business in 1839, William G. Fargo of Weedsport became the first freight agent.  He would later team up with Henry Wells of Port Byron to form the famous Wells-Fargo Company, now one of the largest banks in the world.  In 1869 Weedsport was connected to the rest of the world by rail via the New York Central Railroad.

    Furnace Street in Weedsport was so named for the iron works located there which made plow shares (The Cayuga Chief Plow)  We have a Cayuga Chief #2 plow in our museum.  The Abram Walrath Bent Wood Works (say that 3 times fast) was located where First Niagara bank is now-they made sleigh runners and wheel felloes by steam bending wood. The Erie Canal followed the route of what is now Rt. 31 (Erie Drive) through the village.

    In the last century and earlier, fine quality tobacco was grown in the Weedsport area and to that end, Charles Cusick built a plant on Graham Street which employed 42 workers to process that tobacco.   Dr. Haskell,  at the turn of the 20th century had a home and maternity hospital in a Greek revival style building on East Brutus Street where Henry and Marie Zimmer now live.  East Brutus Street was once part of the old Montezuma Turnpike, and what is now Route 34 was once part of the Auburn-Cato plank road which was a toll road.

    Weedsport once boasted a sanitarium which served it's patients water from the Weedsport Mineral Springs, thought to have healing power.  Starting in 1908 the water , under the name of "Arrowhead Water From The Famous Weedsport Mineral Springs" was bottled and shipped up and down the East coast.  The Brutus Gazetteer newspaper reported in 1824 that "silk is produced to a great amount in the area"  In 1869, you could attend a dance at Franklin Hall on the Northeast corner of Brutus and Seneca. The dance floor was suspended on springs to "add bounce to your step"

    Weedsport was incorporated in 1831 and had 120 homes.  The Burritt Press published a newspaper in the 1830's.  The Burritt Opera House located where Dollar General now is was built in 1895 and seated 600 people for the first performance  "Uncle Tom's Cabin".  It burned down in 1935.  Fred O'Neil, catcher for the famous Weedsport Watsons baseball team was said to have the aim of a bullet when he threw the ball.  John Skvokak, came to Weedsport immediately after graduating from St. Lawrence University in 1927.  Football teams under Skvorak won 80% of their games during the many years he coached.

     Weedsport Methodist Church had it's roots in a gathering of 5 people in 1816. The church was on the Southwest corner of Liberty and South and is now a private residence. The Weedsport First Baptist Church was built in 1870 using the foundation of the original 1840 church.  St Joseph's Church was first built on the south side of Green Street wear Willow.  Father David O'Donahoe was Pastor of the church from 1881 to 1907. and acquired the property on Oakland Street for the Catholic cemetery.

     Elihue Weed was the first postmaster.  The Post Office was located at the corner of South Seneca and Furnace Streets.  Centennial St. was first called  "McCarthy" Street.  The name was changed in 1876 celebrating the 100th birthday of the country. James Street was known as Rogers St. and Jefferson St. was Mann St. originally.  The Weedsport Electric Light Company began generating power at 110 volts, 25 cycles 1n 1898.
     The most famous hotel was the "Farmer's Exchange, later The Willard House, and still later the Hotel Weedsport on S. Seneca St.  The Baptist church was organized in 1837 with 31 members.  The "Oriole" phonograph was manufactured in Weedsport by the W.G. Adams Piano Company. We have 3 of them in our museum!

     I have to stop sometime, so I'll wind up with the fact that Harry "Zip" Northrop played with the Weedsport Watsons baseball team for several years before joining the Cuban Giants.  Mr. Northrop was of the same family which inspired the book and movie "12 years a Slave" We have a depiction of him in our museum with him dressed in his trademark red and blue (one of each)stockings.  He said he did that so everyone would know which player he was--never mind the fact that he was the only black player on the team and one of only very few playing organized baseball at that time.

    More next month.
    Denny Randall, Past President  OBHS




Every now and then I like to look back through old copies of the Cayuga Chief which we have in the museum.  According to the June 27, 1924 issue (their 47th year according to the mast head) the voters in the village approved the purchase of the old Erie Canal at the rear of the buildings downtown from the state for the sum of  $1,500.  It is the intention of the village to install a new sewer line in the old canal before filling it in as the state has been complaining for some time about the condition of the sewer on Seneca Street.  By building a new sewer to the rear of the buildings it will not be necessary to tear up the brick pavement on Seneca Street which was only installed 8 years ago in 1916.  In a bit of irony, shortly after WWll the state reacquired the land from the village and created Route 31 (Erie Drive) through the village. Knowing how things work, I suspect the state did not repay the village the 1,500 bucks!

    The same paper reported the elaborate festivities marking the Weedsport High School's graduation ceremonies at the Burritt Opera House.  Members of the class included: Myrtle Aldrich, Louise Edminster, Helen Hobart, Marjory Lanphere, Dorothy Lockwood, Marjory Whitman, Anna Passage, Doris and Vera Penney, Blanche Waldron, and Doris Whitman.  Boys included: Cecil Colvin, Leland Mitchell, John Murray, Leland Sheldon, Stacey Shepherd, Kenneth Scott, Keith Tallman, John Whitman and Class President Winthrop Hamilton.

    A freak thunderstorm, or mini cyclone hit the area on June 21st.  Considerable damage was reported with several bolts of lightning causing  extensive damage, include the loss of a piano in the Wilbur Demmon home on the Oaklands. The house was not set afire but all the strings in the piano were melted. Miss Mary Nicoletti, 15 of Montezuma was fatally injured when she jumped from an automobile doing more than 25 miles per hour!  Mary and 2 other girls were taking a ride with her brother when the engine started backfiring and the girls became frightened and jumped out of the machine,  Mary fell on her head and suffered a skull fracture.

    The Whittler's Club is taking it's annual auto drive to The Pathfinder Boat Club in Fulton , leaving today at 9:00 AM.  Work is progressing nicely on the Weedsport-Jordan Highway  (Clinton Rd.). When it is opened to traffic, it will be one of  the most beautiful drives in this area. The Weedsport Sales Company advertises a brand new Ford Model "T" touring car for $295 FOB Detroit. (demountable rims and electric starter add $85.00). The same company also noted that on June 28th, representatives from the Ford Motor company will be giving demonstrations of the powerful new Fordson tractors, being produced by Ford at the new River Rouge plan in Dearborn, Michigan. My Note--The "ROUGE" was and remains the largest manufacturing complex in the world.

    So much for that for the time being.   This past week I  was pleased to be invited to the office of County Historian Linda Frank for a reception honoring the family of the late Herbert Trice for their donation of his huge collection of Lehigh Valley memorabilia and photos to the county.  The size of the collection is staggering--with more than 45 boxes of material.  I have to tell a short Weedsport story about Herb--His father and grandfather had both worked for the Lehigh so his love for the line came naturally.  The local railroad people were very tolerant of the young Mr. Trice and he told me he used to skip school and get to ride in the locomotive cab.  At one time farmers typically had their milk picked up by train--they would construct a platform along the railroad closest to their farm and put the milk cans on that for pick-up by the milk train.  As with everything else rail wise the milk train was becoming obsolete, as it was easier for the farmers to have a platform right in front of their farm and have the milk picked up by truck.

    On a certain day the milk train which ran from Auburn to Sterling Station was making it's last run and Herb skipped school  and hopped on.  They got to Sterling and headed back and when they got to Weedsport, they were flagged down as in their absence a West Shore heavy freight had derailed underneath the Lehigh Valley bridge on East St. and a car had actually hit the bridge knocking one end sideways on the abutment and actually off setting the tracks by "more than a foot" .  What to do?  The milk which of course was being transported in an unrefrigerated boxcar was getting warmer by the minute. Finally the engineer asked everyone else, even the fireman to leave the train and walk up Willow St on the other side of the bridge.  He then crept the engine and 4 cars across the bridge without incident. We all miss Herb and his stories.

    Don't forget Weedsport's Old Tyme Christmas on Saturday the 19th.  Stop at the museum-Rich Weiczorek is setting up a large train layout and Mike Randall is bringing several of his antique construction equipment toys to exhibit.

Denny Randall, Past President




During the 1950'S when I was a teenager in Weedsport, there were no less than 6 auto dealerships in town. C.E. Miner sold Ford and Mercury, Ralph St. John-Dodge, Plymouth and Chrysler, Harris Buick-Pontiac, Eidman Motors sold Hudsons, and last, but certainly not least, Guy H. Lanphere sold Chevrolets.  At that time in our lives, nothing was more important than cars! Automobile manufacturers coordinated the release of next year's models about this time of year and the new styling was a closely held secret, with new cars being transported under tarps and then kept hidden away until exactly the same time on the same day all across the country.

Dutifully, most of the boys and a few of the girls would traipse down to the  various dealerships to render our expert opinion on the new vehicles. Although none of the dealers actually threw us out on our collective ear, Guy Lanphere of the Chevy dealership welcomed our presence. He fed us cookies and punch and treated us like customers, although between us we probably didn't have 5 dollars in our pockets.

The Lanphere business was started in 1900 by Guy's father, Fred Lanphere, selling horse drawn road and farm equipment as well as Studebaker wagons. He took over a large building which had been the Durbin and Bust Carriage works located where the Dollar General parking lot is today.  Guy gradually took over more and more of the operation, eventually quitting school to help.  In 1915 they took on the agency for the short lived Pullman automobile.  In 1916 the Pullman line was discontinued, and they took on Dodge and Chevrolet. Ford cars and trucks were added in 1917 and were retained until 1920 when they acquired the agency for Willys-Overland and added Hudson and Essex shortly thereafter.  Guy joined the Navy during WWl and to relieve the boredom of shipboard duty he did beautiful macramé work and highly detailed carvings, often in miniature. We have several of his pieces of work in the museum and in fact, I have a couple of his beautifully carved and painted miniature Mallard drakes. When he returned from the Navy, it was back to business as usual and they acquired the Chevrolet dealership exclusively in 1933.  Upon the death of his father in 1943 Guy became sole owner.

He opened up his own shop in an old grain elevator building at the end of North Seneca Street, which backed up to the Erie Canal.  When the state filled in the canal and turned it into Route 31 (Erie Drive) he built a new attractive building across the street where Arby's now stands.  It was to that building that we trudged each fall on our annual pilgrimage.  In 1961 Guy retired and sold the business to Bill Humphrey and Tom Spingler.  Guy was an extremely clever and talented mechanic.  He took a small American Austin sedan and converted it into a limousine.  He loved driving his beloved 1919 Chevrolet in local parades.  He was very active in the American Legion and one of his Legion projects is fondly remembered.  He built his "Leapin' Lena" for the county 40 & 8 society and enthralled people in local parades for years with it.  Lena was a severely modified car with the rear axle set well forward, so when the car was accelerated it would "rare" up on it's hind wheels and travel that way for blocks doing pirouettes and figure 8's as it was driven along. Steering was accomplished by the use of individual brakes on the rear wheels, much like a farm tractor. I include a couple of pictures of "Lena".  The photo which shows the front wheels just starting to leave the ground has Guy himself at the wheel.  In the rear of that photo may be seen the brand new Miner Ford Dealership (now Air-Krete) and in the background may be seen the hose drying tower at the firehouse, which was taken down in 1950.   

Denny Randall, Past President

Please click on the thumbnails below to see much larger photos:

Lena 1  


     I've recently been reading a compendium of old tyme remedies and cures, many of which go well beyond the pale!  All I have to say is thank heaven for the FDA.

     I'll note some of the more bizarre potions and cures here, but fair warning--If you're faint hearted, or inclined to queasiness, perhaps this column is not for you.  For instance, an excellent  blood purifier may be obtained by combining 1 pound of sasafrass, 1 pound of spikenard, 1 pound of wild cherry bark, 1/2 pound of bloodroot, 1/4 pound of mandrake and 4 gallons of water.  Boil until reduced to 1 gallon. Strain and add 1 quart of rye whiskey and 1/2 ounce of peppermint oil.  Administer by mouth 1 tablespoon full 3 times daily.  I'm not sure that just the whiskey would have worked just as well.  Here's a sure cure for apoplexy (stroke).  Shave and cup the head and apply a mustard blister to the back of the neck and head as well as to the feet.

     An immediate cure for asthma may be had by placing a muskrat skin over the lungs, fur side down.   To stop bleeding from cuts, bind on goose feathers, pressing them into the wound.  Allow to remain until they fall off, or if goose feathers are not readily available, pack the wound with soot from the stovepipe. This however will leave a black mark which cannot be removed.  For "gathering a breast".  I have to admit that despite my EMS background I haven't a clue what that even means.  Nonetheless-despite my lack of knowledge on the subject, one must melt together mutton tallow, beeswax and flaxseed oil in equal parts. Apply to the affected breast as hot as can be borne.  When cool apply another.

     For many of the old remedies, the concocter had a definite  scatological bent, making use of the excrement of mice, birds, oxen, horses, geese, hens, sheep and cows, among others  here are a couple which are sure to gag you!  To relieve cholic, grind 50 grains of dried mouse dung, add 2 tablespoons cinnamon brandy and a little sugar.  Taken orally only once the cholic will appease so quickly that it will be difficult to believe it, or perhaps this would suit you better:  Take a broth made from the dung of an ox.  How about for measles--take a tea made of sheep dung.  This will bring out the measles and allow the disease to run it's course. ( I  wonder if Weedsport native Dr. Paul Parkman who developed the measles vaccine was aware of this??)One more and we'll get off this subject as I'm getting a little queasy myself.  To cure pleurosy  , take a large walnut shell full of hen's dung (the hardest and whitest you can find), add the same quantity of hemp seed and a small lump of brown dough.  Pound these all together in a mortar with a gill of spinage water, strain and give to the patient to drink.  You may repeat up to 3 times.

   If you can imagine anything more disgusting than the above, think if you will of this: For instant relief of epilepsy, take some afterbirth of a woman, wash it well and pound it well together with rye flour.  Bake and give to the patient in the amount of 1/2 ounce morning , noon and night every 1st day of the 1st quarter of the moon. like wise, take some tobacco, pound it make a paste and apply it to the head of the patient on the same days.  To surely cure dysentery, or loose bowels, take pulverized human bones with red wine. (even back then one has to wonder where they got human bones to pulverize??)  To cure dropsy bake a lobster in the over until dried, grind into powder and take with some white wine every morning. To cure gout enclose a maggot in a flannel cloth over the afflicted part. Cure will be nearly immediate.

    One more--I can't take it any more!  As a sure cure for hemorrhoids place a turtle in a covered pot until well burnt.  Reduce to a powder and apply to the hemorrhoids after having washed that area thoroughly.  After 2 or 3 applications ,the patient will be cured. Thanks to Betty Walowsky for this informative book.  Next month I'll try to return to Weedsport history, but I couldn't resist sharing some of these concoctions.


     As one who likes to hold a newspaper in his hand every morning, I lament greatly the tendency of todays media to go digital, by one means, or another.  I have similar feelings about books--No Kindle for me, thank you!  In this article I'll touch back on some of Weedsport's newspapers of the past.  Weedsport is currently without a regularly published newspaper, and I for one frankly miss the homey articles written by those who were referred to as "paragraphers"

The oldest newspaper in our Old Brutus files is a copy of the " Weedsport Advertiser", published on Wednesdays by Frederick Prince. He started publication of the Advertiser in July of 1827 and only a few copies exist.  It is unknown when the Advertiser cease publication, but in 1880 Mr. Prince was also publishing the "Northern Phoenix" in Weedsport, but again it is not known when publication ceased.  By 1853 the Advertiser was being published by R.J. Becket.  In 1860 D.C. Van Allen started publishing the "Weedsport Monitor" and continued for about two years.  The printing plant was idle until February of 1867 when John Gibb and Son began publishing the "Weedsport Sentinel". Four years later, the Sentinel was taken over by S. D. Lee and Brother, and on October 12, 1872 George R. Nash became owner and publisher.  Mr. Nash continued in this capacity until his untimely death by alleged suicide in 1933.  Mr. Nash was a true individualist and seldom did one wonder what was on his mind.  The verbal battles between him and his rivals in the industry were print worthy in and of themselves.  In fact, on the masthead of each issue was this statement--"I know not what the truth may be, I tell it as 'twas told to me."

Mr. Nash's chief adversary was the equally cantankerous Dr. Ira Brown, who started publishing the "Cayuga Chief" on June 16,1877.  The Chief was destined to become Weedsport's longest lived newspaper. Upon Dr. Brown's death in 1899, his son Harry continued publication and eventually formed a partnership with Eugene Beach  and together they published the "Chief" and the" Northern Christian Advocate", a Methodist paper.  Eventually the partnership was dissolved and H.D. Brown again became sole owner of the Chief until his death in 1915.  One of Weedsport's most famous volunteer firemen, George W. Churchill took over the operation for the Brown estate until the paper was purchased by George G. Valentine of Rockaway Beach, Long Island in 1916.  In 1933 Mr. Valentine built the building now occupied by our museum.  After George Nash's death Mr. Valentine absorbed the Weedsport Sentinel but ceased publishing it as an independent paper. Also in 1933 Elfred C. Valentine joined his father as Editor. His desk displayed a sign, paraphrasing The N. Y. Times famous "All the news that's fit to print".  His sign read " A small town where everybody knows what's going on and they read the local paper to see how much of it they dared to print"

In 1947 the Valentines purchased the rights to also publish the "Port Byron Chronicle" and in 1956 F. Howard Hosmer purchased the whole ball of wax and consolidated them into one publication, the "Chief-Chronicle".  The concern was sold again in 1960 to Theodore Miller and publication was moved to Red Creek and eventually the venerable "Cayuga Chief" faded into oblivion. At present Weedsport's only printed media is the "Inport" published as a "newsy-note" type of paper jointly by individuals from Weedsport and Port Byron.  It is worth noting that after their retirement and after the OBHS purchased the building the Valentine family had the flagpole installed in front of the museum.    

     Using a bit of editorial license, I'd like to thank everyone for their thoughts, prayers and concerns during my recent illness.  I'll not soon forget the kindness of many friends and relatives.    

   Denny Randall, Past President, OBHS




   We have recently acquired at the museum a small handbook, passed out as a promotional item in 1930 by the GOOD ROADS MACHINERY COMPANY  of New York City.  The booklet is chock full of useful data, as well as a day timer for the year, a world atlas, and a calendar for 1931, 1932, and 1933. Also included are many photos of their road building product line including snowplows, sanders, gravel screens, rock crushers, and several models of graders, both powered and horse drawn.  I attach photos of a Galion road roller and a Champion bituminous (asphalt) distributor mounted on a Mack "Bulldog"  chassis with chain drive and hard rubber tires!  One of the first pages is THINGS TO BE REMEMBERED--These include the make of my car and the serial number of same, the serial number on the case of my watch, my height and weight on what date,  sizes including shoe, hosiery, glove, collar and cuff as well as many other things that one should not forget.

   An interesting series of pages shows the 1930 census of all American cities over 30,000 in population. (Auburn is listed at 34,192), Under USEFUL INFORMATION FOR CONTRACTORS we find that 1000 shingles laid 4 inches to the weather will cover 100 square feet of roof and it will take 5 pounds of roofing nails to keep them there.  8 bushels of lime, 16 bushels of sand and 1 bushel of horsehair will make enough plaster for 100 square yards.  1 cord of cut stone, 3 bushels of lime and a cubic yard of sand will lay up 100 cubic feet of wall.  The next info includes pages of geometrical rules and formulae including how to find the surface area of a ball (multiply the square of the diameter by Pi).  To find the  volume inside that same ball multiply the cube of the diameter by .5236. Who knew?  One cubic foot of hard coal weighs 58 pounds whereas the same amount of soft coal weighs but 47.  For purposes of steam generation 1 ton of coal is equal to 2 full cords of well seasoned wood.  A typical boiler has 9 square feet of heating  surface for every square foot of grate.  Each horsepower of a steam boiler will require 30 pounds of water an hour.

   Other tidbits include : to sharpen files lay them in sulfuric acid until they are deep enough.  Tables include surveyors, linear, cubic, square, volumetric measure and  weights, along with metric equivalents for each.  Other tables include electrical terms and formulae, the degrees F in which various substance melt, boil and freeze, from lard to cast iron.  Also in the book are what is due for wedding anniversaries from 1 to 75, Tables for computing single and compound interest are followed by several ledger pages and a compendium of business law.  Next is a "standard" time table for all US time zones, as well as for all major cities in the world, both earlier and later than New York time.  Here's an interesting chart--the number of shrubs, or plants required to plant an acre, from quinces to gooseberries.  Other tables include strength of ice at various thickness, capacity of cisterns, Glazer, painter and paper hanger measures, the common name of 50 chemical substances, and current postage rates (1st class 2 cents).

   Several pages are devoted to 1st Aid, capacities of boxes, bins , barrels and silos, How to calculate baseball stats, including batting averages, How to preserve eggs, how to clean various materials from alabaster to windows.  A list of the Presidents (Washington-Hoover) and all their personal data. Several pages show you how to read your gas and electric meters.  Also a complete lumber chart, the states nicknames, all Easter Sunday dates to the year 2000 and a page for important telephone numbers and on and on!  All this and much more is contained in a tiny booklet 2" X 4" X 3/8 inch thick!  Amazing.

Denny Randall,
Past President, OBHS

Please click on Thumbnails below for larger views

Weedsport 1930 Pamphlets




(July 2015)

   The 2 walking tour articles prompted a bunch of queries why I don't do another article on "Do You Remember?", so here goes---
      Do you recall the sporty Buick demonstrator that Ralph Mazzoli drove for Harris Buick-Pontiac with the candy striped roof?, or how about The gift shop owned by Eleanor Skvorak before it was sold to Donnetta Lansbury?, or for that matter the Celtic Glove Company, owned by Prof. Skvorak?
Who remembers the big pea vinery located on the north side of Rt. 31B beyond the Lawson farm?  We used to chase the slow moving trucks and tractors as they pulled the E. Brutus street hill and relieve the farmers of a few handfuls of peas.  Do you also recall a few weeks later when that wretched smelling pea ensilage was hauled back through the village for cow fodder?

     Who remembers Ray Hammond's hammer shop, located right across the street from St. Joseph's church, when at any time of day or night the air could be split by the sounds of that steam hammer?  How about Friday night sales night in the village where the stores were all open late, with sidewalk sales and entertainment?  You hear a lot now days about a portable fish fry who come around and cook fish and split the profits with various organizations.  This is not a new concept!  Recall Stub Whitman and his Egypt Fryers, who did the same thing 60 years ago.  How about Eddie Robinson and his "Bug Beater " service?  One of the first, if not the first aerial spraying operation by helicopter in the country.

     How about going down to the New York Central   railroad station and watching the mail bag get snatched off the hook at 70 miles per hour?  For that matter who remembers Station Master Otto Stevenson delivering Railway Express packages to your door?  I remember a group of us ordered a selection of fireworks (illegal then as now) and they came in labeled "Hot Peppers".  Otto delivered them after cautioning us to be careful with the peppers!  Otto was no fool!  How about the post office on E.Brutus Street, where every afternoon about 5:30 the street would be blocked up by the mail truck backing up to the little alleyway that led to the PO?

     When Ab Hoyt went out of the funeral home business he gave his hearse to the fire department for use as an ambulance, to replace the 1929 Nash  ambulance then in service.  The fire department used that big black Buick hearse for many years and then upgraded to a Caddilac, whereby they sold the Buick to a group of guys from the class of '56.  They had a map of New York State painted on the sides with a star showing where Weedsport was
and they drove it all over the northeastern united states that summer.  It was still equipped with red lights and siren and it was reported that they avoided the law several times by the use thereof!

     How about the big Corostone silo display every year at the State Fair?  It's hard to imagine how many silos were produced here.  Who can remember buying cracked eggs at the GLF, later Agway for 25 cents a dozen?  How about when to call the Weedsport police, you dialed a certain number and a loud bell and a red gooseneck lamp  would flash on the four corners until the callbox was opened and the call answered? Those same people that remember that would also recall that every evening a beat cop would check the doors of every business in the village.  Who recalls swimming in Ball's creek and then having to pick the leeches off afterward?  (we called them bloodsuckers). How about the West Shore Railroad screaming through the village, which had several unguarded crossings.  The Seneca Street crossing was guarded by a watchman and eventually when they put up gates, several of us used to see how high we dared to ride on the gates before jumping off.

     Does anyone remember the Rod and Gun club building a clubhouse at the end of a long drive way off Hamilton Street?  It is now a private residence since their move to larger quarters on Trombley Rd.  How about Frank and Eva Oliver's produce stand, or Streeter's Rabbitry?  Finally, one of my best memories, standing in front of the penny candy counter in Edie LaPlante's Luncheonette trying to decide what to spend my few pennies on.   More another time.

Denny Randall, Past President

JUNE 2015

     To continue our walking tour of Weedsport's businesses and concerns in the mid 1950's, we pick up the trail again at the 4 corners (intersection of Seneca and Brutus Streets).

    As mentioned previously, the south-east corner was held down by Fred Rowe's Barber Shop.  Heading east on Brutus Street was the jewelry store run by L.L.Compson and his wife.  Next was Weedsport's first supermarket, where you selected your own groceries and put them in a cart to take to the check-out.  The store was Baran's Supermarket.  Next door was Coyle's Bakery, with bread baked fresh daily. You could also get the best Bavarian filled "long John" donuts you have ever eaten.  Coyle's also sold Red & White groceries.  Proceeding east, we came to a gift shop operated by Donnetta Lansbury, then the Weedsport nickel to a dollar store operated by the Picciano family.  Who our age can forget their wonderful toyland on the second floor during the holidays season?  Next was a stairway leading to the Odd Fellows hall on the second floor.  Art Bradley also ran a sign painting studio on the second floor.  Still going east, next we came to the IGA store run by Harry Tanner, where many families in the community kept a running tab which was paid either weekly, or monthly.

    After the IGA was the Post Office and then the office of Dr. E. J. Kempton.   Crossing South Street, we came to the Ford-Mercury dealership owned by Clayton Miner.  Clayt also ran a successful gunsmith shop in the rear of the dealership.  Next going up the hill was a Gulf station operated by Charlie Legg, and in the same large building was the Brutus Roller Mill, operated by the Marshall family.  Crossing Brutus Street brought you to the Weedsport Free Library, formerly the Episcopal Church building. Next, heading back west, was the Brutus Street entrance of Whitman's Hardware. And then the Esso Servicenter and sporting goods store operated by Vassos Saroodis.  After crossing Seneca Street and Erie Drive we came to the unusual service station operated by Harold Lanphere and Clarence Van Hoover, where Tydol gas and products were sold on one side of the building and Sunoco on the other.  Farther down West Brutus Street was the 2 way radio sales and repair operation of Ralph Black, and a little ways further Jack Holihan sold and repaired televisions. This was also the office of the Town of Brutus Clerk as Doris Holihan conducted business there since there was no town office building.  Heading back uptown on the other side of the Street was the Hay and Grain hauling business of Leland Jorolemon, and then  farther toward uptown was the court room of long time town justice Willis Hammond.

    At that time there was very little development on Erie Drive (Rt.31).  Barber Welding was where the Presbyterian Church parking lot is now, and Frank Drable ran a septic tank service across the street. The Zimmer family ran a sub shop type operation right behind the bowling alley. On the opposite side of Erie Drive north of Brutus Street Wally Goodman ran a large used car lot. Then Blumer Supply, a farm supply store where among other farm related items they sold Cockshutt tractors.   A little farther down the street was a propane gas dock run by George Wethey which was about where the motel is now. Directly across the street from Leonardi's was the tire shop and Gulf Station operated by Gene Priebe.  Next door was the Erie Fish Fry run by Helen Priebe where she served up the best fish sandwiches I have ever eaten.

    Backtracking to Furnace Street, on the south side of the street was a large building where George and Ernie Wethey ran a tin shop, next door was the barber shop of Harold Morrison and then the meat market run by Dan Cuddy and Jim O'Hara.  The Baptist Fellowship Building was next, where they operated a bowling alley in the basement.  Crossing Furnace Street to the north side, where the large parking lot is now was a big building where Clint Hazzard ran a moving and storage concern as well as an ice house with ice deliveries made 3 times a week.  Next to the ice house was the appliance business owned by the Wethey family.

    There were other businesses located around the village-the Kinney Funeral Home was on Jackson St. as was the insurance office of Hazel Meeker.  The village court room of Justice Ed Guyder was on Green Street.  The Whitman and Robinson firm operated on Graham Street in the former Cusick Tobacco factory where they manufactured the first skid steer( Bobcat type) tractor, Sagen Boat hoists and Nautalloy marine hardware.  There were undoubtedly other small operation on other streets, but you get the idea, those who say Weedsport never changes are absolutely wrong!

Denny Randall, Past President

MAY 2015


  I've lived in Weedsport all my life and people from other areas will continually say in idle conversation "how can you live in a little town like that where nothing ever changes?"   I took myself on a mental walking tour of Weedsport recently and the results of my tour even surprised me!  Of all the businesses and concerns that were in Weedsport 60 years ago when I was in high school only one remains--Leonardi Manufacturing, now on it's 3rd generation of family ownership is still right where we left it!  Before my tormenters start on me, they'll say "what about Tudor & Jones, or Barber Welding?"  Well, it's true that they are still in business, but the venerable Tudor & Jones firm now operates out of the Town of Mentz and Barber Welding left their long time location behind the Presbyterian Church where the church parking lot is now to move to the western edge of the village on Rt. 31.

   Join me in my walking tour and you'll be surprised!  This will take a couple of columns, so bear with me.   Arbitrarily starting at the Bell/Hamilton/Seneca Street intersection, On the east side of the street, directly across from the church was the hammer shop operated by Ray Hammond. Proceeding north on the corner of Van Buren St. was the office of Dr. Walter Hafner, then skip a couple of houses to the office of Dr. C.E. Goodwin, and then to the Weedsport Grange in what used to be the trolley station. Crossing Liberty St. took you to the undertaking parlor owned by J. Dwight Kelly and then to the Weedsport Hotel.  Crossing Furnace St. brought you to Van's Tavern and then to Roy Lee's meat market and then to the Masonic Lodge with Fred Rowe's barbershop holding fast on the corner of Brutus St.

   Crossing the street brought you to Bill's Sporting Goods and Esso service and then Whitman's Hardware.  Next was Edie LaPlante's Luncheonette , then Angie Connelly's beauty salon, Ken Biss' Insurance agency and Don Whiting's Laundramat. Where the Old Erie Restaurant is now was Joe Koster's TV repair, and next door was Donnetta Lansbury's gift Shop. Occupying one of Barr Typewriter's buildings was Weedsport Tool and Machine. First National Bank was next and then in another of the Barr buildings was a division of General Electric.  The main Barr build (now Purple Monkey) was at that time operating as a division of Weedsport Manufacturing making Poole clocks. Where the Post office is now was the home of the Ralph Ketcham family and in fact all the way down to the north end of town were all private homes. At the end of N. Seneca St. was the City Service facility owned by Fancher Follett.  He also delivered coal from a coalyard located on the Lehigh Valley Railroad up around the corner. Crossing  Erie Drive took you to a brand new Chevrolet dealership owned by Guy Lamphere. Many will remember Guy driving his 1919 Chevrolet in parades, as well as his "leaping Lena" that he built with the rear axle set forward so it would "rare up " on it's hind wheels when it was accelerated.  Steering was accomplished by means of individual brakes on the rear wheels similar to a tractor.  It was the hit of every parade.  Another vehicle that he put together was an English Austin which he stretched in a sorta limousine.  I enclose a picture of this strange Austin.

   Moving to the west side of the street was Olive St. John's restaurant, and then Chapman Lumber Co. Up next was the Town of Brutus garage, and then right where it still is today Leonardi Manufacturing Company and then a big brick building used as a truck repair facility by GLF (Agway). Next was the Richfield Gas Station owned by Bill Vess, then a Texaco station operated by  Frank Campbell and then Bud Gauthier.  Across Cottage Park was a Shell service station operated by Al Simkulet and then Bobbett Coal and farm machinery.  I believe Our museum building was next as the Cayuga Chief Publishing company and next door was the Weedsport office of the New York State Electric & Gas Co.  After that was Tudor & Jones,  then the car lot and facilities of Harris Buick -Pontiac.  McWethey Tire & Battery shop was next, followed by Seger's Flower Shop and Ken Heffernan's meat market.  The A & P grocery was next, followed by the Winton Shoppe, O'Hara's restaurant and the Putnam drug store. Again crossing Brutus street going the other way was the keystone Grill, Eddies Grill, the office of Dr. Willard Herrling DDS and the restaurant operated by George & Madeline Westcott. 

   Continuing south on Seneca St. was the Hudson automobile dealership operated by Roger Eidman, then Brewster Cleaners, Elvin Dolph's Barber shop, Pantusi shoe repair, Weedsport Liquor store, The Weedsport Recreation center, bowling and billiards, The Weedsport Theatre and Zimmer's Drug store,

   Next month we'll go east and west on some of the streets and we'll see if anyone can trip me up!

   Denny Randall, Past Pres.

Please click on the thumbnail below, to see a much larger view:

(English Austin)

Car English Austin



APRIL 2015

(Pertaining to Old Radio Shows)


     Boy am I glad to be back from Florida---NOT.  To amuse myself on the way down and back I bought a series of 15 tapes of old radio shows a while ago at a yard sale.  It's amazing what memories the tapes stirred up.  In the late afternoon every day there were the usual run of soap operas, " Stella Dallas"," Just Plain Bill" and others.  I always kind of liked "Just Plain Bill" because it used as a theme song the catchy old Italian song "Funiculi, Funicula".  At any rate right after the soapers got done right at 6:00 there was a half hour program of recorded big band music featuring the Dorsey Brothers, Music in the Morgan Manner with Russ Morgan, Artie Shaw, Paul Whiteman, Benny Goodman and others including the Jackie Gleason Orchestra.  Yes the same Jackie Gleason who decided he could make a lot more money as a television and movie comedian had a well respected big band orchestra.  As a matter of fact the theme song for the "Honeymooners" TV show is "melancholy Serenade" and it was composed by him and was performed by the orchestra of the great one himself!

    Other shows in the evening included "Duffy's Tavern" where at the beginning of each show the phone would ring and be answered thusly-"Hello, Duffy's Tavern, where the elite meet to eat, Archie the manager speaking"  I don't remember Duffy at all, but there was always "Archie the Manager" and  a series of hangers on.  How about Jim and Marion Jordan real husband and wife who lived at 79 Wistful Vista?  They performed as Fibber McGee and Molly.  Perhaps you'll recall the" Aldrich Family", which always started out with a woman's voice screaming "Henry, Henry Aldrich, and a contrite young voice replying "coming mother"  This list could go on and on including such shows as the "Bickersons", "the Great Gildersleeve", William Bendix in the "Life of Riley", "The Red Skelton Show", " The Jack Benny Show", "Phil Harris and Alice Faye", " George Burns and Gracie Allen", Edgar Bergan and his cast of zanies, including of course Charlie McCarthy.  One of my favorites was the adventures of "Amos and Andy". Other comedy routines included Bob Hope, Milton Berle and Ozzie and Harriet.  Jackie Gleason wasn't the only one who morphed from a big band orchestra to the airwaves. Ozzie Nelson also had a well respected orchestra and as a matter of fact Harriet Hilliard was his lead singer before they married and had musically inclined kids of their own!

     On the more serious side there was always "Mr. District Attorney,"  "Perry Mason", "Sky King" and many other such shows. Those types of shows didn't hold my attention very much, but I never missed the weekly performance of "Paul LaValle and his Cities Service Band of America", or the Bell Telephone Hour with  the orchestra conducted by Donald Voorhees, another favorite of mine was the "Firestone Hour" featuring famous opera and popular singers with an orchestra and chorus conducted by Howard Barlow.

     Local stations also had plenty to offer in the golden days of radio--What teenager in the 1950's didn't have all 5 buttons on their car radio tuned to WNDR in Syracuse where Dandy Dan Leonard would spin platters and entertain us all.  Jim DeLine had a morning show on WSYR which featured an in house orchestra.  Norm Coleman played trumpet, Sox Tiffault played piano and Claude Bortel played very classic sounding viola, the rest of the names of the musicians escape me but they put together a great show every weekday.  My favorite all time radio show was a show (that) aired at 5:00 every morning (I have to admit that I was usually not up at that hour)  however I usually managed to catch part of this farm related program, and as I grew older I became acquainted with "Deacon Bob Doubleday" and although he passed away quite young he left an impression on me that has lasted a long time.  He used as his main studio prop an old player piano, or as he called it "the old windjammer"  Such was his impression on me that as a callow youth 12, or 13 years old I went to a Lions Club auction in the quanset behind Guy Lamphere Chevrolet and purchased my very own player piano.  It didn't work and I bribed a kid with a pick up truck to bring it home  for me where we off loaded it in the carriage barn behind the house. That worked out OK until Hurricane Hazel blew down the carriage barn, never touching the piano.  We dragged it out to the front porch of the house and it stayed there covered with a tarp until after I was married.

    At that time I repossessed it and set about restoring it.  Over the course of a couple of years, with the help of the late Hugh Wallace of Elbridge the piano played and looked like new. (still does)  Over the years I have  collected probably more than 200 rolls for it, but if you ever listened to the Deacon in the morning you can guess what my first roll was-- his theme song  NOLA played every morning on the old windjammer.  By the way the Deacon's radio studio is set up as he left it in the agricultural museum at the state fair including the windjammer.  I'll close this column with reminders of a couple of Saturday morning shows "Big John and Sparky" where at the beginning of the show Big John would intone loudly "It's Saturday and there's no school today!" and then there was Smiling Ed McConnell who oddly lived in a shoe along with his dog Tige.  I guess because Buster Brown shoes sponsored the show that's where they had to live. I'll close this column with another of Deacon Doubleday's lines.  Anyone who called in or was featured on the show in any way got the privilege of riding on the barnyard gate as it was closed at the end of the show.  The Deacon would ask if every one was aboard and then announce then " we'll grab it and slam it and we'll see you in the morning ", followed by the sound effects man's pretty good rendition of a gate slamming

     Denny Randall, Past President

MARCH 2015


     I have mentioned several times before that Fire Chief Henry Brewster was very progressive and nationally known which is saying a lot for a small town volunteer fire chief.  Not only was he progressive locally, literally shaming the village fathers into buying a  steam powered pumper and then a decent building to house the machine, but he was a progressive go-getter state wide and even nationally.

     His day to day employment was "State Assessor" .  This was a job which required him to establish fair market value for lands to be acquired for various public works including by eminent domain.  Remember, this was a time of tremendous infrastructure growth in the state--roads, canals, various facilities, bridges and the like.  His office was in Syracuse and he took the train daily to and from work.  He was married to the favorite sister of L. Frank Baum (of Wizard of Oz fame) and they had a daughter who perished as an infant and is buried in Weedsport Rural Cemetery.  Some of his other works were acquiring for the Fireman's Association of the State of New York (FASNY) a plot of land outside Hudson, New York for the purpose of establishing a retirement home for indigent volunteer firemen in the state.  The 120 acre site was originally destined to be an insane asylum for women, but he was successful in diverting it's use to the fire service, where it remains in operation today, a testament to his foresight.  He was elected to the first Board of Trustees of the Home and not until your writer was elected in 1988 was anyone else from Cayuga County so honored.

   Another of his projects was co-founding the Order of American Fireman, or O.A.F. This was a going operation for many years but eventually petered out in favor of more regional groups.  The 1894 National Convention was held in Weedsport, sponsored by--yup you guessed it The H. D. Brewster Council No. 13 of Weedsport! We have the program for that convention in the museum and the print is so small on it that it would not copy to this article, but they even had their own song. The song had many verses and was sung to the tune of "Auld Lang Syne"  I won't  write all the words, but a couple of verses should suffice: 

********************* **WE MEET AGAIN IN '94,
                                  LET'S GIVE THE HAILING SIGN,
                                  AND PROGRESS LET OUR WATCHWORD BE,
                                  AS IN DAYS OF AULD LANG SYNE.

                                  WITH EVERY MAN IN LINE,
                                  WE'VE WON THE GOAL, GO MARK YE WELL,
                                  AS IN DAYS OF AULD LANG SYNE.

                                  IN WEEDSPORT TOWN THERE IS "A CLAN",
                                  THERE'S NONE THAT CAN OUTSHINE,
                                  WITH MAIDENS FAIR AND LADDIES BRAVE,
                                  AS IN DAYS OF AULD LANG SYNE.

                                  WITH EVERY MAN IN LINE,
                                  AND HERE'S SUCCESS TO BRAVE "THIRTEEN",
                                  AS IN DAYS OF AULD LANG SYNE

     There are many verses, but you get the idea!  Henry Brewster was the man!!  Chief Brewster  eventually moved to Syracuse to be nearer to his work, served on the board of several businesses and banks and is buried with his wife Louise in the "Baum" plot in Oakwood Cemetery.

     Last month I showed you a photo of Weedsport's first tanker.  They actually used that wretched looking thing until motorized fire apparatus became feasible and it was possible to carry water on the apparatus.  The next tanker operated by the fire department was a 1939 Autocar model "U", that the village acquired second hand from the Socony-Vacuum (Mobil) company.  It was originally based out of the tank farm that used to stand behind what is now DeVaney's Grill, and spent it's working life delivering petroleum products in this area.   In the late 1940's Socony decided to buy a new rig and the Autocar became surplus.  It was a big awkward thing and just a devil to drive.  There were only a handful of guys in the department that cared to deal with it.  Joe Berle, Leo Ryan, Floyd Bush, Lee Jorolemon, and Ray Swim were among the few.  The picture shown shows it in repose at the side of what is now Coyle Rd., the dead end created when they built the thruway.  My mother always called it "Dewey Drive" with a dig at Governor Dewey who put his Thruway through our garden.  This accident occurred just after the Route 34 bridge over the Thruway was completed.  This happened directly in front of what is now Warren's Fur Shed. This is another example of no good deed going unpunished.  Fire Chief Ray Pichany was delivering a load of water to the Riverview Hotel, whose well had run dry in a drought, with his young son "Butch" as helper/passenger.. At any rate the new fill on the bridge approach gave way and over the bank she rolled, pretty as you please, landing on it's roof all the way across Coyle Rd..  I told you the thing was tough--Autocar's in fact were known for their toughness.  Notice the spilled water in the ditch.  A crane was obtained, it was set upright and little harm done other than the broken windshield and the spilled water! It went on to serve until 1962.

Denny Randall, Past President

Please click on the thumbnail below, for a much larger view:

Weedsport Fire Rig
Weedsport fire rig



     If you've driven past the firehouse in the past couple of weeks, we hope you noticed the new New York State historical marker placed recently.  The sign was funded by the Pomeroy Foundation of Syracuse and is the result of a terrific lot of research done by us here at the museum

     The firehouse was built of locally made bricks in 1884, directly as a result of the disastrous fire of 1871, which virtually destroyed the business section of the village.  One of the near casualties of the fire was the existing engine house on Furnace Street, which was severely damaged.  A further result of the fire was a big push by nationally known Fire Chief Henry Brewster to purchase a modern steam powered fire engine. Taxpayers, then as now were reluctant to lay out a lot of money for a relatively new concept in firefighting.  In fact, in a letter to the editor of the Cayuga Chief many years later in 1935 the writer asked "who remembered that Chief Brewster persuaded the Village Board to purchase a new steam engine if it would stand a certain test.  The test was to throw a stream of water over the steeple of the Presbyterian Church.  Some of the tightwads on the Village Board thought this was impossible. A demonstrator engine was shipped from the Silsby factory in Seneca Falls via rail.  A large crowd had gathered to see the test. There were the usual remarks from the crowd-some said it couldn't be done, others kept quiet.  All at once with a roar like an aeroplane over the top of the steeple went a powerful stream of water.  The Village Board watched with their mouths wide open, stuck by gum on the best thing that ever  happened to good old Weedsport" The engine was ordered and delivered but it would not fit decently in the old dilapidated firehouse on Furnace Street.

     Next issue -build a suitable firehouse.  All early fire department records have been lost to time,  but by reviewing a couple of years of the Cayuga Chief, which we have on microfilm at the museum we were able to piece together the following timeline for actual construction of the firehouse:  January 13, 1883, fire department sent resolution to the Village Board declaring present firehouse unsafe and inadequate.  May 12, 1883,Taxpyers meeting-Village Board instructed to prepare plans and get cost estimates for a new house at the present site.  April 11, 1883-plans were submitted as ordered.  September 8, 1883, proposal defeated.  September 28, 1883, the fire department went on strike until the issue was resolved. October 18,1883, new proposal submitted.  November 10,1883, Proposal approved.  November 24, 1883, Bond issue published.  May 8, 1884, location debated.  May 15, 1884 Location stipulated-East side of South Street at the head of Furnace Street.  May 8, 1884, Foundation walls being laid up.   May 17, 1884, Foundation walls complete.  August 9, 1884 Bricklaying commenced in earnest.  August 23 1884  Furnace Street graded to enhance the view of the firehouse from Seneca Street.  September 20, 1884  New engine house starting to "loom" up on the skyline.  September 27, 1884 New Engine house a credit to the village.  Oct. 4, 1884 Old Furnace Street building sold.  October 26, 1884 New  Firehouse will prove a permanent investment  My note-they must have meant it-we're still using it 130 years later!  Dec 6, 1884 New bell installed. December 18, 1884 Eagle weathervane installed (in December of 1984, at the age of 100, someone stole the weathervane.)  January 10, 1885, Building complete.  January 31, 1885  Dedication. If you think the village wasn't proud of that steamer, look up at the cornices of the firehouse and you'll see cast into the building an "H" and an "S".  Hose and Steamer!

     Of course, with anything new, there were some collateral problems.  You don't have to be a fireman, or a stationary engineer to know if you run out of water You've got trouble.  If the pump runs out of water, you won't put any fires out and if the boiler runs out, well you know what happens then and it's not good!  Not a problem in the village where there were hydrants but a major problem outside the corporation  Accordingly, they came up with the contraption shown in the photo.  Obviously an old boiler shell converted to the WFD's first tanker. Drawn by a pair of mules, acquired when needed this huge tank held plenty of water (I would estimate the tank capacity of at least 1500 gallons) and at 8.34 pounds per gallon of water weight, those mules would have some job getting over 6 tons of water weight alone over some of the hills leading out of Weedsport

     Our research was eased somewhat by the fact that in the museum we have the original build plan, down to the last brick and nail.

Denny Randall, Past President

Please click on photo thumbnail below, to see much larger photo:

Weedsport Old Firehouse Water Tank
Weedsport Old Fire Water Tank




 Those of us locally who are even remotely interested in Auburn area history will lament greatly Joe O'Hearn's decision to cease publishing his historical newsletter.  While we will miss the monthly wealth of information that we got from "O'Hearn's Histories" we can certainly understand  the work that goes into a project like that.  Joe, his wife Evelyn and their late daughter Katie put a tremendous amount of work into researching, compiling, editing, printing, soliciting ads, and even delivering the publication to outlets like our Old Brutus Museum.  In retrospect, I guess we would have expected no less--Evelyn is after all a Weedsport girl!  Thanks to both of you for your years of dedication and hard work.

 Anyone who researches, or writes about Weedsport history will eventually peruse what we all refer to as "Hopkins".  The original hard covered book " FACTS REGARDING WEEDSPORT, NEW YORK " was written by Lazelle Remington Hopkins and published in 1933.  Mr. Hopkins' was from 1881 to 1921, a period of 40 years a teacher and Principal at Weedsport High School.  Unfortunately, he did not live to see the fruits of his labor in print as he passed to his reward at the end of December, 1932.  His friends Herbert Morrison, E.H. Kerns, and George Churchill picked up the ball and had the book published.  The originals are a scarce commodity and one was recently offered on E-Bay for an opening bid of $100.00.  We have for sale at the museum a number of reprints done in 1988 (they're even getting old) by the former Tallcot Bookstore in Union Springs.  They are available from us while they last at a modest $5.00

 As many times as I've used this book as a reference there is a notation inside the front cover which I had never paid any attention to.  The notation is " This Book Set Up And Printed By The Livingston Press, Operated By Patients At The Potts Memorial Hospital, Livingston, Columbia County, New York."  My friend Linda DeMoors who is inherently curious (some would call it nosy) did some research and uncovered the amazing tale of Potts Hospital which goes on to this day.

In 1904 Ida Potts, spinster 54 year old sister of Stephen Potts inherited the family farm and a huge fortune from her brother.  The large stone farmhouse was built in the early 1770's.  During the next 17 years of her life she gave to many organizations in Columbia County.  The Hudson Hospital, The Hudson Orphanage, and the Livingston Library were all built with the help of Miss Potts.  Ida, like her brother died with no children and left her considerable fortune to family, friends and employees of the farm.  The most striking part of her will stipulated that a hospital, or sanitarium would be built in Columbia County specifically for the treatment of Tuberculosis.  Ida wanted the hospital to be call "Potts Memorial Hospital".  After Ida drew up her will and prior to her death Columbia County had already built a sanitarium in Philmont, a short distance away.

The estate executor in association with several doctors and nurses hatched a plan which would substantially meet the requirements of her will.  The plan was to create a "Halfway House" for TB patients who had been discharged from the hospital, but were not yet strong enough to resume ordinary life.  The site would be the Pott's farm and dormitories were started in 1925.  While at Pott's Hospital men and women from 18 to 50 years old who were recovering from TB could stay for a basic fee of $15.00 per week and work at least part time at one of several jobs available and be paid for it, which usually offset the weekly charge, until their strength was such that they could return to society, however no one was ever turned away due to inability to pay.  Pott's quickly became a self supporting operation with not only the farm, but a woodworking shop, a clothing factory, a candle making facility and a PRINTING PLANT.  The old mansion was used as a school and residents could learn English, business skills, table service, maid work and lab techniques.

In the 1940's miracle drugs nearly eradicated tuberculosis and facilities such as Pott's were no longer needed.  In the early 1950's they closed and the still considerable endowment left by Ida became the Pott's Memorial Foundation specializing in research for diseases of the lungs and thus following as closely as possible the long ago wishes of Ida.  The foundation is still going strong today! After a short vacancy the property was purchased and converted to a magnificent retirement home by the Adventists, who have additionally built on the property a 120 bed nursing home. The old mansion itself is now 3 apartments. Thanks to Linda for saving me all this research!  The most amazing thing is I was on the Board of the Firemen's Home in Hudson for 10 years and then served 13 years as Curator of the American Museum of Firefighting in Hudson and I was completely unaware of this history 11 miles away in Livingston and the long ago connection to Weedsport.

Denny Randall, Past Pres.