Page 2

Weedsport History 2

(Jan. 2015 Through most recent date)


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

(Aug. 2005 through Dec. 2014)



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

Auburn Citizen Newspaper.






(Jan. 2023)

       As I was looking through old Cayuga Chief newspapers a couple of weeks ago I found and jotted down enough interesting (at least to me) articles for several of these columns. That works out well, since I don't have to dig up something to write about. These paragraphs were taken from the June 29,1878 issue.

A "wild cat" engine #227, with John McGraw as engineer dropped through the draw bridge at Cayuga just as a canal boat laden with coal was passing through. The boat sank in 9 feet of water, no one was hurt, but financial loss was heavy. The 5 year old son of Robt. Brown and grandson of Horace Christian went home from school with slight illness which grew worse & he died Mon. following. It was thought that he was injured by larger boys while at play. Geo. Rude has not run away, but is in Auburn. No poison was in the post mortem of the body of his wife & her will is being contested.

The Hamilton family will have a picnic of their own in the grove west of the village on July 4. Negotiations for the sale of Sylvester Wright's "Jericho" farm to John W. Bibbens has been going on for some time. A.B.Harmon of Weedsport advertises the "Star Stove" that does away with the excessive heat, dirt, litter and ashes of a cook stove. Trouble with the old fashioned (Neptune) fire engine of Weedsport, operating when J.M. Bryant's barn burned failed and was ordered by the Chief Engineer to be repaired on Sunday, for which he was criticized by some. J.E.Rogers and Geo. R. Nash, once members of the Fire Department on paper, but never turned out a a trial of engines, etc., but escaped the $1.00 poll tax by their memberships now censure the Chief Engineer for something they know nothing about. (My note--his bad mouthing Mr. Nash is probably not coincidental, as George Nash published a rival newspaper in the village)

Mr. Eli Hamilton was hurt (severe bruises) when his horses were frightened by the fire engine Sat. evening when several wagons colllided. Rev. T.R.Peters has taken possession of a new house on Liberty Street next to the Baptist Church , built by M.C.Remington. Ephraim W. Childs of the southern part of this village produces fine vegetables and fruit. Over 300 quarts of currants sold this year. Prunes are coming on well. James Bell's horse attached to a lumber wagon started to run away from Brutus Mills on Mon. Mrs. S.D.Skelton has a cactus with over 300 blooms on it. Wm. R. Weeds of Keokuk, Iowa visited his brother the Hon. C.W.Weed in this village. Mrs. L.B.Gilmore gave some of her capital recitations to a select party at the Willard House parlors. Philo Healy of Sennett intends to become a citizen of Weedsport for the purpose of education of his children in our Union School. (my note--somethings never change---realty ads in this paper often note 'Weedsport schools' as an enticement
to potential purchasers)

Arthur W. Faatz has returned home from attending school at Manlius. Miss Catherine Richards was found dead & thought to have been gored by a bull, but developments point to Myron Buell, who threw her into the bulls pen, to conceal his crime(of murder). He was arrested, but so far, proof is lacking. Winding up this column, I'll strike a bit of a personals note. R.R.Stillwell of Port Byron has purchased the beautiful residence on North Main St. in Port Byron formerly belonging to Mrs. Wethey, wife of our ex-banker for a consideration of $2500.00. In 1962 I lived in that house and it was still called the "Wethey house" More from the news of the day in the late 1800's next time.

Denny Randall,

Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society




(Dec . 2022)

       As most of you know, I love to go through the old copies of the Weedsport Cayuga Chief newspaper that we have in the museum.    We have the original papers and a number of years ago we had them put on microfilm and invested in an optical reader to more easily access them.   We have now gone one step more up the technology ladder and have purchased a gizmo that will digitize the rolls of microfilm and the whole shooting match will probably fit on a couple of flash drives.   

The column this month will be articles from the first Cayuga Chief , Jun 16, 1877.   I admire greatly the writing style of using very short paragraphs containing a lot of information.  In fact news writers of the day were referred to as "paragraphers" because of this style of writing.    I have to say that I much prefer it to the blah-blah dished out day in and day out by the never ending bunch of talking heads on cable TV.

OK   Here we go--- Austin Bros. & Co have purchased the steam planing mill and lumber yard of Cowan & Finch in this village.   A. B. Harmon's Hardware has in stock new style patented screens.   There will be a prayer meeting of the Y. M. C. A. at their rooms on  Brutus  St. , Sunday P.M. at  3 1/2 o'clock.  The fire department will meet at the engine house on  Furnace St.   Schedules of trains of N. Y. Central and Southern Central R.R. as well as mail arrival times are posted at the P.O.  (My note--the Southern Central became the Lehigh Valley).

H. D. Brown started a print shop 3 years ago.  After urging of friends is now starting to publish this paper.   Subscription  $1 annum in advance.   Thieves tried to enter the brick dwelling of W.L.Cowell on the Sennett Road, south of this village on Sunday night last.  They removed lattice work and blinds from cellar window, but probably frightened away by a dog.  The same night they entered the dwelling of V.B.Whiting, but got only change & other articles from his pants pocket.    "Doc" Barnard & a woman he sometimes calls wife were arraigned before Justice Parsons on Monday for breaking windows, etc.   He sentenced to 4 Mo. in Onondaga penitentiary and she fined $5.

Mrs. N. D. Caldwell lost some valuable flowering plants taken from her door-yard. last season Dr. Brown lost a young pear tree and a thief stole a street lamp from South St.   John B. Smith of  Cato Rd. lost a valuable steer , which over ate of young clover.     St. John's Epis. Ch.  ladies are having a lawn social  at the residence of Mrs. W.E.Billey.    Davis and Dickey of Port Byron have created a new cigar "Cayuga Chief".  Burrill and company are stocking them here in the village.   Rev. T. R. Peters is taking   a summer vacation and there will be no services at the Bapt. Ch. in his absence.  Faatz & Co have their hardware and grocery store in running order.

Unless Edwin Hines returns soon from the west there will be no croquet  in Weedsport this year.  Wayde Hampton and other reconstructed rebels  were recently in Auburn to attend the anniversary of the Shield Guards.  I'll close with this bit of information---At Auburn, last Friday , Herbert Bard, son of D. B. Bard of Sennett was prostrated by the heat.   He had his hair clipped in the A.M., then stood in the sunshine.
More another time.    Denny Randall    Past Pres.  OBHS


Denny Randall,

Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society




(Nov. 2022)


       We have been on a project to rearrange the files in the museum to make them more user friendly and to facilitate searching for specific items.   To that end I'll give them a test drive this month for this column.  Colleen has worked tirelessly on this project for several months with a little help from Tom Sevier and me.

     Who recalls hot dog roasts in Putnam's woods, or Lucky Monday sundaes at Zimmer's Drug Store?  Did anyone but me set pins at the Baptist Fellowship bowling alleys.   It was a terrifying experience.  There was no overhead rack.   You had to make sure that all pins were off the alley and into the pit between shots and then had to step on a pedal which raised small dowels up from the floor of the alley which you then had to place the pins on carefully in a hole drilled in the bottom of each pin.   I mentioned that was no overhead rack which left you exposed to the flying pins created by the likes of Art Jorolemon and his fast straight ball.  Seldom did you go home without a noticeable limp!   When Church member Burt Ogden came looking for volunteers years later to remove the alleys and build Sunday School rooms in their place , I was glad to help.

     Did anyone ever have Sunday dinner at  the Lindberg House at the corner of Jackson and Brutus?  It was formerly the Quick house , After the fire in March of 1940 which destroyed his restaurant on the four corners, Bill and Ida May Saroodis operated their Bill-May restaurant there.  It was then the private residence of the Ernest Barber family for many years, and  the John Zimmer family for about as many.  It is now being completely refurbished.  As long as we're talking restaurants , how about the Hazmore restaurant run by Hazel and Morris Gifford, which then became the Cozy Corner, operated by Ruth and Francis Holman and then by Mildred and "Hap" Hunter and finally in it's final iteration as a restaurant , St. John's Restaurant, operated by Olive St. John.  It was then demolished and a gas station built , now the location of Quick-Fill.

     Who remembers fondly going down to the New York Central depot and watching the mail get snatched from the gantry at about 60 miles per hour.  At the same time incoming Weedsport mail would be flung onto the platform as the train thundered on by.    Once in a while the arm snatching the canvas mail bag off the gantry would miss and tear the bag.   Stationmaster Otto Stevenson would round up a few of us kids and we would pick up mail all the way to Max Appleby's house.   It's worth noting that Otto was a second generation Stationmaster, as his father Fred was Stationmaster before him.  

     Enough of trivia, but we now have easy access to a lot of info!   I would be remiss if, as a member of the Class of a Lifetime--WCS '57 that I did not put my 2 cents worth in retiring the Warrier logo.  Without question,  I'm in favor of reverting back to being "Johnny Greens"

     On another subject, it's that time of year again when the annual Christmas tree show is on at the O'Hara Ag. Museum.  Every year a group that I belong  to (Auburn History Club)  sponsors a tree with a  local historical theme.  This year Jane Owen has worked tirelessly for a couple of months assembling and decorating our tree with actual photos of many of the more than 60 railroad stations in Cayuga County in use before Henry Ford loused it up with his Model T.   Stop in at the museum which is now heated and check out well over a hundred trees.   Ours has moved from the school  house area to the lower level near the E.D.Clapp fire bell.   Vote for us!!!   And speaking of museum displays , at OBHS we have decided to once again have Rich Wieczorek's terrific train set up on display.  This is a large layout takes up most of our meeting room.   Other antique historical exhibits will be displayed including some of Mike Randall's incredible toy collection.  Scope us out on December 17th and 18th.    Both the Christmas tree show and our museum are always free and open to the public.

     In closing,  we recently lost a wonderful member of our Class of a lifetime , Lorna Jones Sande.  It is appropriate to close  this column with her quote in our recreated 50 year yearbook, now 16 more years ago.  "Yesterday is history"
         "Tomorrow is mystery
         "Today is a gift"


Denny Randall,

Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society




(Oct. 2022)

      The recent re-paving of Seneca Street (Rt.34) through the Village of Weedsport was certainly a tribulation, although long overdue. It was so rough you couldn't stay on the seat if your seat belt wasn't buckled.  I had to buy some stamps to send out my bills last month (I still do it the old fashioned way, they send me a bill during the month and at the end of the month I send them a check.) , all snail mail.  At any rate , I tried getting to the Post Office from all directions and I just couldn't do it.  I finally ended up parking at the hardware store on Erie Drive, walked up DB's parking lot, stagger stepped across Seneca Street and finally got my sheet of Purple Hearts., Then I had to reverse the process to get back to my car.  All told it took me about a half hour to buy a sheet of stamps

For all the aggravation this was, in talking to one of the State engineers, he told me that this was only a temporary fix, as they only milled the top surface of asphalt off down to the original brick pavement installed in 1916.  In a couple of years according to him they are going to take it right down to the base and totally rebuild the road from scratch, including all sidewalks and curbs.   I can hardly wait!  We at the Museum were lucky on this go around as we had 4 badly spalled side walk slabs that we had intended to replace, but they included it in the project and replaced them gratis.

One can only imagine how happy the people of the village were in 1916 when the street was first paved.  Although at the time that was certainly little vehicular traffic, there were plenty of horses and what with the horses doing what they do, which when mixed with the normal mud of the street, it's not pleasant to even think of the results.  At least with the pavement the excrement  could be swept and shoveled up for the DPW crews to pick up. On June 3, 1915 a special election was held and a 20 year bond issue was passed overwhelmingly to borrow $16,600  to pave the length of Seneca Street with brick. Concrete curbs were also included in the proposal.  It is interesting to note that the bond issue included the stipulation that property owners with street frontage would have to pay to the village one fourth of the cost of the pavement and curbing in front of their business.  When the job was done the village decided to hold a big celebration, or as they called it a "Jollification".  I attach a copy of the showbill advertising this Jollification.

I was amazed to see one of the suffragette proponents was Miss Harriet May Mills, for whom the building at the State Fair Grounds  where I have held forth with the MIGHTY WurliTzer for nearly 60 years was named after her.


Denny Randall,

Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society


Showbill Street paving




(Oct. 2022)

      It's about time i wrote another "Do you Recall Column", so here goes.

     Who remembers when the village DPW was on South Willow St.?, or the Odd Fellows Hall upstairs over Harry Tanners IGA grocery store?   How many businesses can you recall being in the building now being renovated where the late Shawn Coyle ran "Nickle Back Jack's " bottle redemption center?  I can remember several, among them Doctor Willard Herrling, dentist on the 2nd floor, and luncheonettes run by Peter Canolesio, Jack and Mary Miller, the Butler family, George and Madeline Westcott, the Hiron's family and there were probably more eating places there.  The building also housed Elvin Dolph's barber shop for many years,  a real estate office, and a Magazine shop operated by Gary Sine.

     Who recalls Barber Welding being squeezed into the space behind the Presbyterian Church where their parking lot is now located?   Actually, before Barber a large livery stable was operated there.  Who knew that the name of Adder Tool Company operated by Derwood Salsbury was a combination of his and his wifes first names  ADeline and DERwood.    Does anyone remember fondly the pizza and hoagy shop behind the bowling alley   owned by the  Zimmer family, but operated by Ralph Mazzoli Jr. They made the best meatball sandwiches in town!   Does anyone (but me) still have their  WCS class pin purchased at L.L. Compson Jewelers?   Who recalls the days when all gas stations also did service and repair work?  Now no gas station does automotive repair work, they sell groceries instead, one local one also sells full meals, but no fan belts, it's amazing to me.  Speaking of cars , how many will recall when just about anything but the engine on a car was optional when you bought it?   Heater, optional, Defroster, optional,and so forth for brake lights , back up lights, turn signals, etc.

     How about the great air shows that were held at Whitford's Airport?    Who can remember when Weedsport had 2 TV repair shops. In fact one of them was located where our museum is now.  How about Allen Lamphere put-puting in the state buoy boat from Weedsport to Cross Lake and then back to Mosquito Point filling the buoys on the canal with kerosene. This was an every day job, no matter the weather while the canal system was open.  How many of you lived in the village as a kid and walked home for lunch at noontime?  It seems like eons ago that you had to get up and walk across the room to change channels on the TV, but did you know that the convenience of the infra red remote control used to control just about everything was conceived of by Theodore Case in Auburn, who, of course is known for his sound on film work, but the infra red remotes were related to the work he did for the Navy on Owasco Lake.   But I digress--

     Who remembers their first taste of Pizza?  How about Yogurt?  I never even liked the name!  Who can recall milk cans sitting along side the road waiting to be picked up and taken the the Dairymen's League milk processing plant on East St.?    The pasteurizer at the plant burned bituminous (soft) coal , so every morning the village had that distinctive soft coal smell.  At one time we had several grocery stores operating at the same time--The aforementioned IGA, Coyles Red & White, Baran's Supermarket, Hoopers , O'Hara & Cuddy, the A&P, and Ken Heffernan's .  We have been down to one now for many years, first the Big M and now Shurfine.   My son and his wife who live in Tully now have to get groceries in Nedrow, or Homer after their local store closed, so please support your local merchants. I'll close by asking if anyone, but me has a phonograph turntable capable of all 4 speeds of records?
16 2/3 RPM, 33 RPM, 45 RPM and 78 RPM.   Remember we have lots of surplus WCS yearbooks for sale at the museum.   From all reports the Gettysburg trip we sponsored went very well and chances are we'll do it again next fall.

Denny Randall,

Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society




(Sept. 2022)


  Weedsport was typical of nearly every upstate community during the period of time known as the industrial revolution. Every community had a manufacturing base that provided many jobs and considerable wealth for the local inhabitants. Alas and alack, most of those industries are now long gone, leading to the area being referred to as a rust belt. Listed below are some of the earlier concerns.

W. G. Adams made and sold "Oriole" phonographs, of which we have several in the museum. Skadan, Kerns and Co manufactured ladies apparel, especially skirts and nightgowns for turn of the century women. The Security Co. made dress skirts, wash shirts, underskirts, blouses, yard goods, hoop skirts and even horses fly nets. The Abram Walrath Steam Bent wood works used steam to bend wood for sleigh runners, chair parts and silo staves. The Weedsport Construction Co, owned by Charles Whitman built and installed bridges from 1902 until 1912. The former iron truss bridge over the Seneca River was built by them. As various bridges in the area have been removed, we have snagged the builders plates and have them on display in the museum.

Speaking of Mr. Whitman he and C.C. Caywood joined forces to produce the Whitwood truck. 7 were built before the company went out of business. They were a little unusual sporting a single huge center mounted cyclops like headlight, chain drive and hard rubber tires. The first vehicle produced was sold to Edward Guyder for use in his coal and feed business. F. D.Lanphere's concern sold Studebaker wagons and various lines of farm equipment and early automobiles including Dodge, Essex, Ford and others.

Charles Cusick and Co. sorted tobacco grown locally, dried and bundled it and shipped it from their Graham street factory to cigarette and cigar manufacturers The venerable Tudor and Jones farm machinery brokerage has been in continual operation since 1887. The largest business in the past was the Barr Manufacturing Corp., originally producing typewriters, a couple of which we have on display. During WWII they produced parts for airplane magnetos, bombs, machine guns and other war time parts and employed as many as 800, many of whom were women. After the war they made clocks, toys, decor items, electric frying pans and many other consumer goods. Leonardi Mfg. started out making frames for ladies hand bags and has evolved into a state of the art custom machine shop. Among their current products are carbide stump grinder replacement teeth.

Other concerns have been Jaymar Corp which produced printed circuit boards, Adder Tool making injection molds for the plastic industry, Phoenix Tool which was a drop hammer forge shop, Corostone Silo, Zonolite Corp, made insulation. Barber welding does not only general welding work, but markets a line of large boats of their own manufacture, specially built to cut and remove weeds from bodies of water. Whitman and Robinson made the first "Bobcat" tractor as well as Sagen boat hoists and nautiloy marine hardware. Weedsport Tool and Machine made high precision machine parts produced on Hardinge lathes which were built in Elmira. Unfortunately nearly all of these concerns are long gone, with Leonardi, Barber Welding, and Tudor & Jones being the exceptions. More another time.

Denny Randall,

Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society




(Aug. 2022)

 I have been reading a old copy  (Sept. 22, 1853)  of the "Weedsport Advertiser" a weekly newspaper published in Weedsport in the mid 1800's.   i enclose as a photo the masthead of this particular paper.

Although it contains general news, including world wide events, as well as local news, I found most interesting the advertising, and I'll quote several of the ads in this column.    "  WANTED  At Remington and Close's Foundry, 100 tons of old iron, for which the highest market prices will be paid"   The foundry was located about where the pond is on the Stevenson farm across from the Thruway entrance.  O.W. Burritt ran a big box ad:  " STOVES!   STOVES!   A large assortment of the best cooking stoves in use, comprising the Atlas, that queen of cooking stoves, the Cultivator, with a large double oven, , the best cooking stove for use and the cheapest to be found in the country, as hundreds are ready to testify., sold with, or without furniture."   Burritt also ran a more modest ad--"-EAVES TROUGHS of all kinds , kept on hand , to be furnished on the shortest notice and made in the most workmanlike manner and of good stock."

The local chapter of the I. O.  of O. F. (Odd Fellows) note the following---"Brutus Lodge Number 146  I. O. of O. F.  meets at Odd Fellows Hall in Weedsport over the "Advertiser"  office on Wednesday evenings at 7 1/2 o'clock."   G.H.Otis Sec'y     Another interesting ad-- " FIRST COME--FIRST SERVED is the motto at the Brutus Mills.   Please keep this in mind   as you call, for we will wait on you with anything we have in our line of business for the cash and grind your grain for you as the best.   For master don't intend to be mean, just drive up your team, and he your grain will grind, and no fault will be found for all kind"    Signed by A.W. Dean, Asst. Miller

One more  from the T.S. Bentley and Co. , Which was located on  Seneca St. , opposite the Eagle Hotel.  They advertise every variety of stove ", both cook and parlor, among which may be found the following: Vulcan Air Tight, Phoenix, Woodland, Eagle, Congress, and Premium.  Also, Granger's,  Souvenir, , Ben Franklin, Persian, Shield Air Tight, Ottoman,  Sylvan,  Race's Self Regulator,  and Cottage. "

We have recently acquired another supply of  Weedsport yearbooks from the 50's, 60's, 70's and 80's.  If your book has been lost, or you lost custody of it during a divorce settlement, or if you couldn't afford one while you were in school they are available for sale at a paltry $15.00 each.  Stop at the Museum Wednesday evenings, Thursday mornings or during one of our monthly programs.

Denny Randall,

Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society


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




(July 2022)


     This month I'll ventures beyond the confines of Weedsport and the local community , and back in time to 1814 when a young virtual prisoner on a British ship watched and listened to the bombardment of Fort McHenry, as the war of 1812 slowly moved to closure.   The man's name of course was Francis Scott Key and the words that he wrote that night have stood the test of time as the STAR SPANGLED BANNER.   Many people do not realize that there are 4 verses to our national anthem and only because I think they're beautiful and seldom heard beyond the first verse, and the fact that it's my column, I will set them down here.

  Second verse-- On the shore, dimly seen thro' the mists of the deep,
                           Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
                            What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
                             As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
                             Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam
                             In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream
                             'Tis the star-spangled banner, Oh! long may it wave
                              O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave!

  Third verse--      And where is the band who so vauntingly swore
                             That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion
                              A home and a country should leave us no more?
                              Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps pollution.
                               No refuge could save the hireling and slave
                               From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave.
                               And the star spangled banner in triumph doth wave
                                O'e the land of the free, and the home of the brave.

Last verse--             Oh! Thus be it ever when freemen shall stand
                                Between their loved home and the war's desolation
                                Blest with vict'ry  and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land
                                Praise the power that hath made and preserved as a nation.
                                Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just
                                 And this be our motto, "In God is our trust".
                                 And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
                                 O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

It would surely gave Mr key pause ,  in this day of turmoil throughout the world from the poor peaceful citizens in Ukraine to the flock of crazies storming our nation's capital led by a clearly unbalanced chief executive .  He would wonder I'm sure if any progress has been made in a couple of hundred years.   Clip this out and sing these beautiful words to yourself once in a while .   Back off my soap-box to Weedsport next time. 

Denny Randall,

Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society





(July 2022)


     We have in the museum over a hundred years of copies of the "WEEDSPORT CAYUGA CHIEF" , a weekly newspaper published in the very building where our museum is now located.   Many years ago we had them put on microfilm which made it a good deal easier to  research items in the papers.   We have recently taken another step forward in that process.  We have purchased a gizmo that scans the 3 inch diameter rolls of film and makes a digital record of them capable of putting several years of newspapers on a single flash drive, which can then be watched on a monitor, or even on our 70 inch smart TV.   Pretty amazing stuff.   Having said all that, I'm old enough to be classified as a non-digital person and I'll probably continue to use the old optical viewer.   At any rate, this month's column is taken from articles in a copy of the Cayuga Chief from January 7, 1954, when I was a freshman in high school.

The Grange reports that plans have been completed for remodeling the kitchen in the Grange Hall, which is of course the former trolley station.  A covered dish supper will be served to members at 7:00 PM on Saturday , and the Saturday night dance committee will be appointed at that time.   An oyster supper will be held on Saturday, January 15 in the Fellowship Building by the Kupples Klub of the Baptist Church.

Assemblyman Cusick has been appointed Vice  Chair of the state commission on the revision of fire laws.  The Weedsport  Central School High School band will hold a concert next Tuesday at 8:00 PM, featuring a french horn quartet of Mary Jane Shepherd, Bessie Webster, Dorothy Spier and Esther Stebbins, under the direction of Caesar Struglia.   The girls basketball team lost to Sherwood by a score of 55 to 22.   Members of the team include Joan Muth, Wanda Smith,  Agnes Van Duzer, Janet Fults,  Ann Whitman, Cora Chamberlain, Jackie Pratt, Marilyn Edmunds, Gracia Harding and Jeanne Waldron.   20 boys from Troop 59 of the BSA went on a 5 mile hike on the 2nd and 3rd of January in the sleet and rain.     Meals were prepared and served by Bill Humphrey, Vic DeMoors, Chris Nelson and Joe Moody.

A Teen Canteen will be starting soon weekly in the school gym featuring dancing, ping pong, basketball, cards,  and refreshments.  The committee consists of  Dan Webster, Gracia Harding, Carol Witherell, Phil Shepherd,  Allen Chapman, Tresure Johnson,  Esther Jordan, Phyllis Tierney, Ed Cartner, and  Fred Hinman.   Faculty advisers will be Joe Berle,  Charles Jeffries and Mary Ann  Sullivan.

The New York State Canal Authority report that in 1953  4 million tons of freight were transported on the Barge Canal.  Fred  and Nellie Kinney have purchased the Howe mansion on Jackson street with the intent to open a funeral parlor there, as well as it becoming their residence.   Mr Kinney, an Army veteran has recently received his mortuary credentials from the Simmons School of Embalming and Mortuary Science.   The Kinney's will hold an open house shortly.  The home was designed and built by the late Assemblyman Michael Grace.

Some of the advertising included were CRAX,  cracked eggs sold by GLF for 50 cent a dozen,  Fult's Furniture Store advertised Serta extra firm, full or twin size mattresses for $39.75.    Ken Heffernan advertised custom curing of ham, bacon, and other cuts.   Sausage making a specialty.  Can supply meat in quarters, halves, or whole carcasses, cut and wrapped to order.   Finally, Subscription rates for the newspaper were $3.00 yearly including postage, or 7 cents the single copy.  More  another time.

Denny Randall,

Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society




(June 2022)

     In 1859 a couple of men in  New York City decided to form a partnership to sell tea and coffee at a discounted rate.   Their names were George Gilman and George Huntington Hartford.  After a couple of name changes the company they founded became known as " THE GREAT ATLANTIC AND PACIFIC TEA COMPANY--- A & P for short.  They placed their first ad in the May 11, 1867 issue  of Harper's Weekly.  At first the company was a mail order house where customers could place orders in large quantities.  Upon the strength of these advance orders the company bought directly from overseas at a savings of from 50 cents to a dollar a pound, a substantial saving in the 1800's
     In a short time Mr. Hartford bought out his partner and by 1876 he had established 76 branch retail houses.  By 1910 A & P had grown to 372 stores, expanding to general grocery lines in addition to the original tea and coffee.   A & P staffed their small stores with a Manager and oftentimes a Meat and Produce Manager as well.  They decorated their storefront  with a large uniform signboard with the company name in red and white.  The company grew by leaps and bounds and by 1918 there were 4000 places of business and by 1930 there were 15,500 stores!   Every town of substance had an A & P.  They had become the biggest chain store  enterprise in the nation.  Their greatest stock in trade was their private label canned , bottled and packaged groceries marketed under the ANN PAGE name and always priced a few cents cheaper than name brand goods
      Their quality was  excellent, with baked goods delivered to the Weedsport store daily in the wee hours of the morning from their bakery on Erie Blvd. in Syracuse.  The baked goods would be stacked on the front steps of the store awaiting the arrival of Harry Traver to take them inside and stock the shelves with them.  Imagine doing that today--you would be lucky to have enough left to make a sandwich.  Manager Oliver French ran the Weedsport operation, assisted by his wife Marge,  the hard working Harry Traver , Edna Patterson, and several others over the years including my dad's youngest brother Clyde, before he got drafted into the infantry in 1942
      I remember walking uptown quite often with my brother Dave to get some groceries from the A & P, stopping next door to get a 3 pound bag of cheap Pilgrim hot dogs at Ken Heffernan's Weedsport Meat Market and then going across the street to Edie LaPlante's Luncheonette for a few pieces of penny candy from her amazing selection.   Those were the days!

      The accompanying photo shows Elihu Lush in his horse and buggy  participating in a Weedsport Community Fair parade in 1949.   Plainly visible behind Mr. Lush are the storefronts of The Winton Shoppe, the A & P and  farthest north , the Weedsport Market of Ken Heffernan.  By the way, don't send me any letters--my computer will not accept the fact that Heffernam has no M.  When the A&P closed in the early 1960's the Winton Shoppe expanded northward and took up the space formerly used by the grocery.   
Denny Randall,

Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society


Elihu Lush in his horse and buggy  participating in a Weedsport Community Fair parade in 1949.   Plainly visible behind Mr. Lush are the storefronts of The Winton Shoppe, the A & P and  farthest north , the Weedsport Market of Ken Heffernan. 

Click on the thumbnail photo below, for a much larger view.





(May 2022)


Another famous Weedsport person was early stage and film actor Justus D.Barnes.   Justus was a handsome leading man, famous for his roles in silent movies of the western genre.   He made at least 77 movies between 1903 and 1917.    Sporting a fake bushy mustache and a sullen glower, his big screen debut was the film titled "The Great Train Robbery", which is considered to be the first "western" with a plot.   He was honored in 1988 on a postage stamp, perhaps the only Weedsport person so honored.   He is famous for the final scene in that movie where he lowers a six-gun at the viewers and squeezes off  six shots directly at the camera.  One of the accompanying photos is that scene.   In 1917 he retired to Weedsport and took work as a milkman, eventually buying a tobacco shop.  He lived in the house where Scott and Sue Randolph live now, directly across the street from my home on Hamilton Street.  He loved horses and had no use for the mechanical contraptions automobiles were in that day.  He always traveled by horse and buggy, even as an elderly man.  Justus passed away in 1946 and is buried in Section 8 of the Weedsport Rural Cemetery.   See Photo of gravestone.

We are now officially open at the Museum and are there every Wednesday between 5 and 7 PM.  Other times by appointment.  We have had 2 monthly programs, both well attended and we thank you for your support.    Our modest $10.00 annual dues are due, and as you can imagine we can sure use the money after being in neutral for over 2 years.   We still have a few seats still available on our September Gettysburg trip with John Lamphere, and finally we have many surplus Weedsport Central School yearbooks for sale at a modest $15.00 cost.    Only books printed since World War II are available.

Denny Randall,

Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society




Mighty WurliTzer Organ

(Apr. 2022)


By the time you read this it will be old news.  After a 2 year hiatus, we opened our Old Brutus museum Monday evening the 21st.  Since we weren't sure how the program would go after such a long lay off, we decided to go with one of our own members as the presenter, namely me.   I work cheap!   Some of you may know that I'm President of the Empire State Theater and Musical Instrument Museum (ESTMIM) at the State Fairgrounds.   I have been involved with them since 1967 and let me tell you how it came about.

In the mid sixties it was common for industrial and commercial concerns to have mid-level supervisory personnel attend motivational meetings, typically held monthly.   Oddly, I met a gentleman from Weedsport at one of those meetings.    We met at LeMoyne Manor once a month, listened to the same boring program and ate the same boring meal every month for a couple of years.  I worked for Lipe-Rollway for 23 years and he was a master carver employed by Syroco.  His name was Jay Lopez and he had  immigrated from Mexico many years before.  Jay and his wife lived on Oakland Road.  We had talked at these meetings presented by the International Management Council and he knew of my interest in player piano's and such.   We met one afternoon at the Big M  and he told me he was doing some volunteer work at the old Loew's State theater on South Salina St. in Syracuse and asked me to join him.  I was interested since I had worked for the Zimmer family as projectionist at their Weedsport Theater for several years.  The Loew's theater had been closed for awhile and a leaky roof had damaged some of the beautiful fresco's on the ceiling. Jay was working carving replacement panels for the ceiling.

A  group had gotten together and was trying to put the theater in decent enough shape so that Onondaga County would purchase it for a performing arts venue.   As a note aside they were successful and it became the Landmark Theater.

At any rate, about the 3rd time I went with Jay to Syracuse, he said to me "there's even a more beautiful theater just down the street that they're going to tear down and put up a Sibley's store--let's go snoop around"  Sure enough the RKO Keith's theater was being demolished.   We couldn't get in from the front of the building on Salina St, so we went around the block to the Clinton St. side and a group of men were working like ants in the rear of the building.   They had hacked an ugly hole in the brickwork about 15 feet up on the wall and they were hoisting out parts of what I recognized as a pipe organ.  I knew something  about the subject because I had lived next to the Baptist Church in Weedsport before I built the house on Hamilton St. and since I lived close by, the Minister at the time , Wellington Hardy asked me if I would help maintain the organ, since he also knew I messed with player piano's.  They were taking boxes and boxes and big pipes out of that hole in the wall with an ancient old scissors lift and loading it on trucks.  I asked where it was going and they told me that they had reached an agreement with the director of the State Fair to install it in the Harriet May Mills Building auditorium.   I fell right in with them and have been involved  with the Mighty WurliTzer ever since.  I have to be honest, looking at the boxes and boxes of "stuff" stored temporarily in the cattle barn  didn't think it would ever make a noise again, but within a year we opened for the first concert , with long time Loew's state organist Carleton James at the console

The  reference to one of these organs being called "Mighty" was by design.  When you ordered one of these instruments, it was right in the contract that if it was to be mentioned in advertising on the marquee, posters, radio, or anywhere else, that was how it was to be referred to.   Another bit of trivia--Why is WurliTzer always spelled with a capital  T in the center.   The people at the factory in North Tonawanda felt that their instruments had far better tone than other manufacturers, thus the capital T is for tone!

Denny Randall,

Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society




(Mar. 2022)

     I sometimes write in this column about famous, or near famous residents of our community.  Today I take the opportunity to pen a short story about a recently deceased man that I knew quite well and admired.  George Randolph Harris lll passed away recently at the tender age of 101.

     George and Peggy came to Weedsport  around 1950.  They purchased the apple and cherry farm preciously owned by Reginald (RP) Davis.  Davis had named the farm "Hidden Springs Farm".  The hidden springs that the farm was named for was and still is located on Hoyt Road, flowing down over the hill to the farm and used for irrigation and watering the stock.   The Harris' retained the Hidden Springs name and they purchased the farm with  the intention of raising and showing pure bred Arabian horses, one of Peggy's passions.  George purchased the W.H.Smith Buick-Pontiac dealership which was located where Lunkenheimer Craft Brewing and their parking lot is now.  Although the roadside Hidden Springs billboard type sign is long gone the sign on the barn front still proudly proclaims "HIDDEN SPRINGS FARM   ARABIAN HORSES.    As a matter of fact, horses are still boarded and trained at the farm.

     Peggy pretty much handled the horse part of the operation, but George had different horsepower in mind .  He was a world class Grand Prix road race driver, placing well in many races around the country. He drove a British Allard J2 race car, which was comparable to Ferrari at that time.  Unlike Ferrari however, Allard did not build their own engines--instead they relied on big American muscle power and you had your choice of either a monstrous Cadillac V8, or Chrysler's new fangled "hemi".  Since George owned a General Motors dealership, predictably he chose the Cadillac.  If you go online to Watkin's Glen Grand Prix history, you will find a nice picture of George crossing the finish line in the 1952 race a scant 1.1 seconds  behind a Jaguar to finish second.

     I was a car crazy 12, or 13 year old and I was star struck by that Allard!  I remember peering into the open bay doors of the dealership until I got chased away hoping to get a glimpse of it.  George would sometimes after tuning it up take a few laps (obviously with no license plates) around town to check it out. He used to drive north on Rt.34 (Cato Rd) to the river and then come roaring back, with that unmuffled Cadillac wailing like a banshee as he went through the gears on Stickle Rd.  It made my day!    Peggy  passed away several years ago and George will be interred next to her in Section 22 of the Rural Cemetery.  Their graves are almost directly opposite my chosen final resting place and perhaps sometime in the hereafter, I'll hear an Allard J2 come roaring up that hill, past my grave,  shifting down for the hairpin turn at the end of the section , and screaming back down the hill past George's resting place, and we'll smile.         
Denny Randall,

Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society




(Feb. 2022)


At one time it was common to get a "premium"  when making a purchase to encourage further purchase of the item in question.  I may still be using dish towels, or wash cloths obtained as premiums in boxes of laundry detergent. Other items so distributed included dishes, glassware ,  tableware and others. I still have a beautiful set of Funk and Wagnall encyclopedias obtained at the Weedsport Big M over the course of several months for buying X dollars worth of groceries a week.  They look nice on the shelf, but haven't been opened since I got my first computer.  If there's any thing to be grateful for, it's that they were free and didn't cost me thousands of dollars like the Encyclopedia Britannica and other high priced  sets of reference books.

I got thinking about "Something for Nothing" and snooped around the museum this past week and found a staggering amount of local advertising handed  out to customers , or potential customers at one time.   Calendars were always high on the list, in fact they are still passed out at years end by many concerns.  They ranged in scope from the large Currier and Ives models passed out by the Howe and later Howe-Ward Insurance Agency for many years to the beautiful combination calendar/thermometers issued by Lamphere &Van Hoover  for as long as they were in business.  Clarence Van hoover and Harold Lamphere operated a service station at the intersection of W. Brutus St.  and Erie Drive (now Muzzy's Italian Ice)  The service station was unusual in that they sold Sunoco gas on the Brutus side of the building and Tydol on the Erie Drive side. One of the accompanying photos shows the 1955 model.  The calendars were on the back.

As mentioned thermometers were a hot item, as were  post cards and trade cards,  can and bottle openers, pens and pencils, and in an earlier time ice picks, button hooks for buttoning up your shoes ( there were no velcro strips for portly people like myself  in those days!) , shoe horns, ladies fans, and many other handy items.    In later years, ash trays were common give aways, as were yard sticks, folding rules, litter bags for cars,  jar openers,  soda bottle resealers {speaking of which , when students returned to school in Weedsport each September the would find on their desk a couple of pencils and a 1 foot rule, compliments of Bill Spier, Manager of the Auburn Coca Cola Bottling plant)  The rule ws denoted as "THE GOLDEN RULE" and   inscribed on them  was "Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You "  Predictably, I still have mine!  

Matches were always popular, as were shot glasses, ladies fans, license plate frames, windshield scrapers, nail aprons, match boxes, jack knives, thimbles, miniature creamer glasses and many other useful items..   A couple of the more unusual items in our collection are a broom and mop holder given away by the Brutus Roller Mill and a 1950 Chevrolet model car given out by the Guy H. Lamphere Chevrolet agency. The second photo  is a business card, passed out by Smithler's Garage.  Bob Smithler ran a garage and body shop in the former Richfield, then Gulf gas station where Weedsport Electric Motors is now located.  The card notes on the back "Smile And The World Smiles With You" and by turning card ( in your case, the newspaper page upside down) It says "grouch And You'll Grouch Alone"  Check out the clever artwork!

Denny Randall,

Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society

You may click on the thumbnails below, to see larger views.



(Jan. 2022)


As I write this, I'm sitting in front of my wood stove enjoying the heat.  There's nothing like a wood fire to warm the body and soul.   It's been said that a wood fire warms you twice---when you cut , split and stack it and when you burn it!   I have a late 1800's parlor oak in the basement game room connected to a  six inch Metalbestos chimney up the back side of the house.  I burn all kinds of wood--whatever is available and free.  Scarcely a storm goes by that doesn't down some box elder, or cottonwood limbs in my yard. During a windstorm this past fall the big old apple tree in my front yard blew down straight across Hamilton Street.  This was the tree that the park  bench was chained to for nearly 50 years.  Perhaps it was lonely without the bench and committed suicide??  At any rate the fire department sectioned it up and dragged it out of the street.  The next day wonderful neighbor Scott Randolph and my long suffering brother Phil came over and cut it up and we stacked it behind the house, neatly stacked the brush which the Village of Weedsport chipped and the apple tree with it's beautiful white blossoms in the spring was history.

So far this season I have burned Box Elder, Mulberry, Cottonwood, Apple, Arbor Vitae, Sumac, Ash, Black Walnut,  Black Locust and Butternut.   As trees get trimmed, or taken down by various of my friends, or family  they bring me the wood and I'm glad to get it!  Rich DeMoors even brings me the wood when he trims his daughter's trees in Fulton!   Scott Randolph alone has given me dozens of cords of wood, all split and he even brings it down and stacks it.  These are the kinds of friends and neighbors to have!

When I  was a kid we heated the whole old uninsulated house with a round oak stove, similar to mine.  When times were good, we burned coal which was shot down a chute through a basement window to a coal bin in the cellar.   It was delivered usually by Jim Gilfus who worked for Fancher Follett Coal & Gas, whose place of business was where the Pit Stop is now, but their coal yard was along the Lehigh Valley railroad tracks just south of Erie drive ( Rt. 31).  When times were not so good, we burned wood. My dad had gotten permission from Jimmy Dunn to cut up downed trees in his woods ( where the Weedsport Rod and Gun Club is now located) at the end of Trombley Road and over the Lehigh Valley tracks.  I remember some of the deadly equipment he used to cut up that wood---an ancient Mall 2 man chainsaw with a 40 inch bar, and an even older Ottawa drag saw with a big hit and miss engine powering it.  eventually coal was too expensive and wood was too much work as a steady diet and the round oak went, to be replaced by a modern looking "Heatrola" which was fired by kerosene, again delivered by Follett Coal and Gas in 5 gallon cans carried on the side of their tank truck.  The kerosene was poured into a 55 gallon drum using a giant funnel and then transferred using a hand pump into the removable tank from the back of the "heatrola".  I guess it was alright, but it wasn't the  great immediate heat you got from a wood fire.

Fast forward several years until after I was married and lived in a house on Liberty Street, which had an oil furnace.  I hated the smell of that fuel oil every time the 275 gallon tank was filled.  Also, I thought it was pretty expensive at 15.9 cents a gallon!  At any rate, I was in the process at that time in the mid 1960's of designing a new house to be built on teachers row (Hamilton St.) and in 1969 I did just that and moved into the first all electric house in Weedsport, and i enjoyed carefree, maintenance free and all the other wonders that electric heat gave me.  At that time it was actually cheaper than gas, but that was about to change and in 1978 I was forced  to have the house converted to gas, not an easy thing since I had no duct work, or any provision for a furnace, but convert I  did, giving up my precious quiet and trouble free electric heat, but when I changed over I kept the electric heat in place and every couple of years I shut off the furnace for a couple of days , turn on the breakers and enjoy the silence and comfort of the electric heat once again.

This was sure a long winded soap box justification of my sitting here soaking up the heat from the round oak!

Denny Randall,

Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society





(Dec, 2021)

   I belong to a loosely organized group that meets mostly bi-weekly at the O'Hara Ag Museum.  We call ourselves the Auburn History Club, although since I belong it is not totally relegated to Auburn members. We have members from most of the towns surrounding Auburn and even a couple from out of the county.  The Christmas tree show is now open at the Ag Museum, and for the second year we are proud to again sponsor a history related tree, thanks to some of the ladies in the group, notably Doris Lindsay.
Last year the tree was decorated with photos of various New York State historical signs in the county and some of the products produced in the past.   I donated an Auburn Spark Plug and some Columbian Rope advertising souvenirs to the cause.  This year we have framed photos of 40 famous, or near famous county residents of the past.  We decided to only include deceased individuals.  There are sheets by the tree with the reason for their fame.   Take one of the sheets and in the dreary months ahead look up some of our cast of characters.   You may be surprised!

     Although we are not yet completely open at Old Brutus, we are there every Wednesday from 5:00 to 7:00.  Stop in and we'll be glad to show you around, including some of the building and exhibit improvements done while we've been in neutral  A couple of weeks ago during the monsoons we had a scary time with water coming into the basement (former Historian Jeanne Baker insisted that it was not " the basement, but the lower level exhibit area" ).   We finally got ahead of it with 3 wet vacs.  No damage was done to any exhibits, but it was very scary.   Subsequent investigation revealed that the roof leaders (downspouts) apparently don't lead anywhere, but just dump the water along the foundation wall.  Temporary repairs were made to lead the water away from the building and into the parking lot, but this is a problem that needs to be addressed.   We hope to be completely back in business the first of the year , unless we have another surge of covid in the county.   We are sponsoring a bus trip to Gettysburg in September.   John Lamphere will be conducting the tour and if you've ever been on one of John's tours, you will know that his knowledge of the battlefield is exceeded only by his entertaining dialog.

     I have heard several people say what a shame it is that Weedsport is not included in the proposed Erie Canal rewatering project.  A brief check of history will show you why this is not feasible.  Shortly after WWll  New York State decided to make Route 31 a major east-west road across the state, running from Niagara Falls to Vernon.  Prior to this remake it had consisted of a series of small segments loosely held together as a state route. As it ran through Weedsport it included W. Brutus St., parts of Seneca St., all of North St. and on to join what was to become Clinton Rd.   It was decided to fill in the canal where it ran through the village as it had long been relegated to not only a dump where old refrigerators and car bodies could be seen, along with lesser run of the mill trash, but a nasty open sewer .  Local homes and business sanitary drains simply ran right into the canal with the expected dreadful odor during warm weather.  At any rate , the canal was filled in, the village built a sewage treatment plant and Erie Drive( Rt.31) resulted.
Other villages made out a lot better, including Jordan, where they ran the road around the village allowing them to enjoy their beautiful sunken gardens built in the canal bed.

     More another time.   
Denny Randall,

Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society




(Nov, 2021)


     In this column I'll go back a long ways to the beginnings of Weedsport as a "Port" on the Erie Canal.  The first spadeful of dirt for the canal was dug on the Fourth of July, 1817 in Rome, New York.  Construction proceeded rapidly, and in July of 1820 boats began running from Montezuma to Utica.  This middle section was opened before either end and the whole canal was opened to traffic on October 26, 1825.

     The canal was first built 363 miles long,  40 feet wide and but 4 feet deep , all dug largely with pick and shovel.  There were 84 locks, each 90 feet long.   The original canal was enlarged and improved starting in 1835 and was completed in 1862.   As improved, the length was reduced to about 350 miles, largely by straightening out jigs and jogs, one of which was as it passed through downtown what was then called Weeds-Port.  The width was increased to 70 feet and the depth to 7 feet.  The number of locks was also reduced to 74.   Early on, the largest boat on the system was able to carry 90 tons of freight and after improvement boats routinely carried up to 300 tons.

     Before the construction of the canal, the cost of transporting a ton of freight from Buffalo to Albany was around $100.00.   By 1835 via Erie Canal it was about $5.00, and after the tolls were abolished in 1882, the cost was reduced to less than a dollar for carrying a ton of freight the length of the canal.  The tolls were abolished by virtue of the fact that the construction costs had long been paid.   As a note aside, a similar arrangement was originally proposed for the Thruway, but-----.

     By the early 1900's it became obvious that the old canal had been overtaken by the times and improvements were necessary to stay with those times and accommodate larger and more powerful vessels.  To that end in October of 1917, the Superintendent of Public Works in Albany ordered all boats off Section 7 (our area)  of the canal so that contractors could take down the beautiful aqueduct over the Seneca River at Montezuma in order to complete what was to be known as the New York State Barge Canal.  This canal was 12 feet minimum depth, 200 feet wide in rivers, 94 feet wide in rock cuts and 75 feet wide in land cuts.

     Water was left in the old canal during the 1918 season as far west as Lock 52 in Port Byron, and in the fall of 1918 a tug which been under construction in the H.F. Tanner Dry Docks in Port Byron steamed east and thus became the last boat to pass through Weedsport.  The canal eventually became less and less important commercially by the advent of the national railroad industry who themselves would meet the same fate in the mid twentieth century by the motor truck industry and the interstate highway system.

Denny Randall,

Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society




(Oct., 2021)

     Those who know me well know that I enjoy cooking.  I have 100's of cookbooks, mostly old ones.  I particularly like making pickles and every year about this time I get the pickle urge and end up "putting up" jars and jars of pickles, most of which I give away.  I decided to make Bread and Butter pickles this year, along with green tomato pickles and pickled onions in balsamic vinegar.  For years I have used a recipe for B & B pickles that I acquired from an Amish lady at a book signing many years ago in Pennsylvania.  I was looking for her book and I came across one which I had forgotten I had.  It's titled  WEEDSPORT COOK BOOK , and although undated, I can tell by the names that it was done in the early 1920's.  Here then are a few of the recipes from that book which was published by the ladies of the Weedsport Methodist Church.

     Swiss steak---2 pounds round steak, cut thick.  Pound steak full of flour and sear over hot suet. Add 1 large tomato and 1 small onion chopped fine, cover with water and cook slowly for 2 hours.  Mrs. A. B.Hoyt.    Abner Hoyt was a local funeral director.
      Italian spaghetti sauce---2 pounds cross-rib of beef, 1 can consomme, 1 large can tomatoes, 6 onions, 1/2 cup olive oil,  1/8 pound butter, 1 can mushrooms, 1 pint water.   Melt butter, add olive oil, and brown beef in it.  Add all other ingredients and cook slowly for several hours until meat is done and sauce is thick.  Remove meat and serve over spaghetti.   Mrs. George Valentine.    Mr. Valentine was the Publisher of the Weedsport Cayuga Chief newspaper.
     Creamed potatoes---1 cup milk, 1 tsp flour, 1 tbs butter.  Put butter in a fry pan,, when hot add the flour and stir until smooth, then add the milk. Let it boil up once and add cut up cold boiled potatoes and heat to serve.   Mrs. E.G. Treat         Mr. Treat was President of the Weedsport First National Bank.

     I finally found what I was looking for and here is Edna Eby Heller's recipe which I have used for years for bread and butter pickles.
     1 gallon cucumbers sliced paper thin. 8 small white onions, 2 bell peppers, red, or green, 1/2 cup pickling salt.
Scrub cucumbers and slice very thin.  You can do this with a knife, or a food processor, but a mandolin  is the easiest and best way to do it.  A WORD OF CAUTION!  Keep your mind on your knitting when using one of these gadgets because it's awful easy to lose your finger prints!    Slice onions and peppers as well,  mix salt with the 3 vegetables, add a quart of cracked ice, mix well, cover and let stand 3 hours stirring occasionally.  Meanwhile, make syrup of the following--5 cups sugar, 1/2 tsp each turmeric and ground cloves,  1 tsp celery seeds, 2 tbs mustard seeds, 3 cups white vinegar and 2 cups of water. Heat to almost boiling.
     Drain pickles thoroughly-do not rinse, add to syrup and bring back to boil.  Pack pickles in sterile jars, pour syrup over the top and seal.  Makes about 10 pints.  I cheat a little and add  1/4 tsp of  calcium chloride, sold by Ball as "Pickle Crisp" to each jar  and they will stay crisp  and crunchy forever.  Enjoy!

     On another subject--The long awaited Vietnam Veterans memorial has been installed at the Aqua duct park.  It was set by Barnett Memorials on September 30th.  Kudos to Bill Barnett and his crew for finally getting this accomplished.    The work done previously by 4 Seasons and the Committee have been realized in the final memorial.  It is stunning!!!    Check it out!

Denny Randall,

Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society




(Sept., 2021)


 It never occurred to me that I would be writing a historical column on typewriters, but----

I learned to type as a senior at Weedsport Central.  I already had enough credits to graduate, but I had to fill in my schedule with something.   Of the electives offered, I chose typing.  I learned to type on an old cast iron open frame Underwood, whereas the better (read that as serious) students, mostly girls had much nicer Royals, or Smith-Corona machines with nice looking sheet metal enclosures.   I didn't care, I had kind of a hard touch anyway and that old Underwood and I seemed made for each other.

During the winter, I was messing around with my dad's table saw and I learned a valuable lesson about using using power equipment while wearing gloves, as I managed to traumatically amputate the small finger of my right hand.  This did nothing to improve my typing skills and I think that business teacher Joe Abraham felt sorry for me and I may have gotten better marks with 9 fingers than I would have with 10.

We have no less than 15 typewriters in  our collection at the museum, surpassed only by our collection of flatirons.  We have several brands, including those mentioned above, but Remington,  Oliver and a couple of Barr's as well.  Barr typewriters were of course built across the street from the museum in the building now known as Purple Monkey.  During WWll they converted to the war effort and never resumed typewriter production after the war, although they did produce a myriad of consumer products for several years.  I was able to purchase a new ribbon for one of the Barr's and it is fully functional.  One of the Barr's is labeled MACY'S as it was apparently built as a private label for the giant New York department store.

As it happened,I was fortunate that I chose typing as an elective course because nearly all of my 30 plus year career in manufacturing I would have to fill out reams of local, state and federal forms for various things, oftentimes in triplicate.  I needn't tell anyone who ever made a mistake on one of theses forms what a task it was to correct.   At any rate, I had in my office for many years an old Smith-Corona manual typewriter with a wide carriage, perfectly suited for filling out forms.   I got so I could index those lousy forms pretty easily just by releasing the carriage back and forth and unlocking the platen (roller) and rolling it to the correct line.  It was much faster and easier than setting tabs, etc.   There came a day now, also many years ago that my boss came in and saw me filling out a form on the old manual Smith-Corona.  This is B.S. was his assessment of the situation and over my protests, I soon had a brand new IBM  Selectric sitting on my desk which was capable of doing anything except what  I  wanted it to in a timely fashion., besides, I previously mentioned my hard touch and I was continuously having to correct errors, not fun on a 3 part form.   But I outsmarted him and hid the old S-C in a paper closet out of sight and continued to use it.

Eventually, even the Selectric became obsolete and I was forced to go kicking and screaming doing the forms online with a #@%$ computer on my desk.  I soon came to love this however,  because of one key "backstroke" and the ease with which corrections could be made.   These columns are an ongoing test of my typing skills, and I'm not sure what Lake Life Editor Dave Wilcox thinks of them when he gets my monthly copy.  A few years ago I was giving a group of Elementary School students a tour of the museum and when we came to the typewriter exhibit, one of them was heard to remark "wow, look at all these old computers"   All in good time kid, all in good time.

Denny Randall,

Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society




(Aug. 2021)



 Continued from last month---Does anyone recall the large cypress water tank that used to be on the roof of the now Purple Monkey building?   The tank was a left over from when the building was a textile mill, which had previously burned with a large insurance pay out to the owner.   When the plant was rebuilt, the insurers insisted that it be equipped with a sprinkler system, almost unheard of at that time, especially in a small community like Weedsport, whose water system was no where near robust enough to operate a sprinkler system, thus the water tank, on the roof, feeding water through gravity to any open sprinkler head.    This concept is still used today in areas of marginal water flow in case of fire, although today the tank is generally on the ground and aided by a large diesel, or electric pump.

Does anyone remember George Wethey's propane dock on  Erie Drive?   How about the Socony Vacuum tank farm behind the Riverview Hotel?    Dan Fisher used to deliver Mobil products from there to service stations in the area using an old Autocar tank truck, which when they were done with it was donated to the Weedsport Fire Department and served as their first tank truck until 1962.   Who can think back about being sent to the office in school for some infraction, or other and being made to crank the Ditto machine, producing tests and the like.   The Ditto machine ( spirit duplicator)  used stencils which had to be typed, inserted into the machine and then cranked , producing purple copies, and usually purple hands and clothes.  For that matter who recalls that the better typewriters of the day had 3 positions  for ribbon selection--black, red and blank--the blank produced no print but was for the purpose of cutting the above mentioned stencils for Ditto machines,  Addressographs, etc.

Does anyone remember when you wanted to call the Village police  department, you dialed their number which caused a red light over the call box on the four corners to flash and an officer driving by, or walking a beat could take the call.  Yes,  the village officers did walk a beat , religiously checking all businesses for unlocked doors or suspicious activity.  Speaking of police do you remember that when Bill Humphrey was Police Chief he drove a very fast Hudson Wasp.  He was also our school bus driver and occasionally when we missed the bus, he would come back and pick us up with the Hudson.   We lived for those days!

Who recalls the village owning a pair of Whitman & Robinson's Bobcat tractors, the original Bobcat?    The village used them for many things, one was fitted with a V plow for plowing sidewalks, the other had a large snow blower mounted on it for snow removal in the downtown area in the winter.  During the better weather they were used for general construction and one towed a large orchard sprayer around the village for mosquito control, even going into wooded areas and backyards.  Does anyone except me (a Mopar man) recall that all Chrysler products left side wheels had left hand threads on the lug nuts.  Not only that, if you were changing a tire on any Chrysler product you had to be very careful not to get a finger between the tire bead and the rim as they had what they called a safety bead which as you aired up the tire would snap into place with great force.

Who remembers that the area around where I live on Hamilton Street was called "Teachers Row"  because of all the school teachers living here.   How about the upper part of Bonta Bridge Road being called  Berry Hump Road after John DeWispelier's  Berry farm?   More another time.

Denny Randall,

Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society




(July 2021)


      Hi -  Let me take this opportunity to use this bully pulpit to express my sincere thanks to those who have sent cards, thoughts, prayers , visits and general well wishes during my recent health issues.  It's hard work getting old!!   It even caused me to miss my newspaper deadline last month for the first time in nearly 20 years of writing this column.  At any rate I have decided to do another " Do You Recall"  this month.

     Speaking of writing, when was the last time you saw a sky writer, or for that matter one of the giant searchlights rotating in the night sky to announce the grand opening of an auto dealership, grocery store, or some such.  I can remember following one of the searchlights all the way to Camillus one time.     How about the road that is no more--Maple Park and then called Station Road which ran from the intersection of Becker Road and Rt. 34, along the toe of the slope of the railroad overpass approach to the New York Central passenger station.  There was one house on the road, very near the tracks where the Maitland family lived.  The house was torn down and the road done away with during the last iteration of the overpass refurbishment.   Remember also there was a set of poured concrete steps all the way to the top of the overpass which the Maitland kids climbed to get on the school bus.  The steps were not put there for that purpose however, they were for folks traveling from the north to get down to the railroad station.  The steps went away at the same time as the road.   The station had been long gone by that time.

     Who remembers the longgggg slow freight trains on the West Shore Railroad as it crossed Goff Street, Seneca Street, Horton Street, South Willow Street and East Brutus Street at grade?   Can you imagine the snafu they would cause with todays traffic?    And on the subject of transportation,  does anyone recall the last barge they saw on the Seneca River (Barge Canal) ?   The year I was a senior in high school I worked as a deck hand on the tug "Coyne Sisters" shoving a barge full of creosote from Buffalo to Kearny N.J.  It was quite an experience.  By the way, the Coyne Sisters had an Alco engine, made in Auburn.   In the days before the common use and availability of "sneakers"  one wore regular shoes, or went barefoot typically in the summer.  I can remember my mother telling us to " get those shoes off, do you think they grow on trees?"   When they had outlived their useful lives, down they went to Agosti Pantusi's shoe repair shop on Seneca Street where new "Cat's Paw" heels were hammered on and perhaps a pair  of "Neolite" half soles would be stitched on with his fascinating big sewing machine. At the museum we acquired all of the left overs, tools, etc.  from his shop when he closed up. Mr.  Pantusi must have been the eternal optimist, because he apparently thought high button shoes were going to come back into style, because there were bottles and bottles of buttons for them which are now in our collection.

     Unfortunately, the Weedsport Firemen's field days were canceled again this year, but who remembers the late town Judge Rev. Hook and your writer running a wine wheel where a thin dime placed on the right number would get you a bottle of cheap wine?  We made a lot of money for the purchase of ambulances and other equipment over the years 10 cents at a time.  It's almost lunch time so I'll close with a couple of food queries.   Who remembers the first slice of pizza they ate, and does any one recall buying apples from the underground  storage facility  at R. P. Davis's Hidden Springs Farm?    How about buying Ann Page products at the local A & P?   One more --who had the odious task of mixing the orange coloring in the margarine before coloring it at the factory became legal in NY which was second only to Wisconsin in dairy production.     More another time.

Denny Randall,

Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society



(June 2021)


      As we enter our second year of  curtailed  parades and activities due to this dratted  Covid crisis,  It seems appropriate to direct our thoughts to our Veterans, both past and present that have done and continue to do so much to keep this the country that we know and love.  Veterans locally have been represented by Post 568 of the American Legion, having been chartered  on October 17,  1919 at the conclusion of the great war  WW1.    It was chartered as the Clarence Clark Post , named for Marine Pvt. Clarence Clark killed in action in 1918.   The Post was renamed Clark-Heck Post 568 after WW2 in honor of  John Heck who was lost in battle in Europe .   There were 16 Charter members and the group has always led the community in honoring the memories of their fellowship.  The annual Memorial Day parade has been sponsored by them since before World War 11 and they are involved in nearly every aspect of what you expect in "small town" America.

      Before the American Legion was chartered however and operating simultaneously with it for a period of years was  another veterans group made up wholly of Civil War vets.  The local Post of the G.A. R.   The Grand Army of the Republic Post 166--The J. C. Whiteside post was named in honor of  John C. Whiteside, who was killed in action in the war between the states.  It boggles the mind to realize how many of our local boys went off to serve the Army of the Potomac during the horror story that was that war!  No less that 197 men went to fight on southern soil from the small community of Weedsport , N.Y. , many of whom never again were to return.   Those that did return organized the Whiteside Post.  14 members comprised the charter group which eventually grew to over 90 men. At that point the grim work of time began it's slow but steady thinning out of the ranks until they ceased to meet in 1928.  Francis M.  Hunting who went to his reward in 1934 was our last Civil War Veteran to pass away.  The GAR held magnificent conventions throughout the North for many years and we have recently put on display at the museum several frames of beautiful convention delegates ribbons and medals from all over the state convening in Weedsport.

       The site work at Aqueduct Park for the new Viet memorial  has pretty much been completed by the Town and hopefully the new memorial will be erected shortly.   Remember, our museum is now  open on Wednesdays from 5:00 PM until 7:00 PM.   The accompanying photo shows the Whiteside post  in the early 1920's    Francis Hunting is the dapper man 3rd  from the left in the 2nd row from the top.  The bugler in the front row was Joseph Hebert.

       Get vaccinated so that we don't have to go through another year without parades and celebrations.    More another time

Denny Randall,

Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society


J. E. Whiteside Post 166

Click on the thumbnail below for a larger view



Weedsport Trivia

(May 2021)


 Here we go with more Weedsport stuff---Do you recall seeing the giant Mack trucks operated by the world famous F. H. Tuxill & Son  house moving firm around town?  These monster rigs were actually repurposed tank retrievers purchased  as war surplus and retrofitted for the herculean task of moving buildings.  They used to be parked in a vacant lot where the Kinney Drug store is now and when we were kids we would play in them by the hour.  If you would like a trip down memory lane and see these brutes at work, google Tahawus  Village Move 1963.  Tahawus was a hamlet in the Adirondacks which was owned by the National Lead Company.  Residents were employees of the local lead mine and lived in the homes basically rent free, so they didn't have any choice when the company decided to move the town to expand the mine.  The Tuxill firm from Weedsport was hired for the job, and over the course of the next 2 years they moved 67 homes, 2 apartment buildings, 2 churches and a general store 12 miles down the road to Newcomb, NY.   This fascinating film was shot by a local resident on 8 mm film and has since been redone digitally.  The original is in the local history museum at Newcomb.  Notice the trucks are mostly painted bright red with yellow lettering, but a couple had morphed into the more sedate dark maroon that Carl Tuxill apparently favored.

Who remembers the village clock in the Methodist Church steeple?  It was actually purchased by the village--not only is the clock gone, but the steeple and for that matter,  the whole church that held it is long gone from the landscape.  Who remembers the Cayuga Chief newspaper being printed in the very building where our museum is now located?  Does anyone recall going down to the New York Central Railroad station a couple of times a day to see the mail bags snatched from the trackside gantry by a hook extended from the mail car?  Did you ever enjoy the concerts held by the Weedsport Central School Adult Education Orchestra ?  I recall that butcher Ken Heffernan played 1st violin and Fran Sine played tuba, which was kind of unusual in those days for a woman.  Up the street from me and on the other side Fred Fellows had beautiful fields of Gladioli--all houses now.   There are a few of us still around that recall when the Weedsport Fire Department operated ambulances built on "professional car" chassis---Buicks and Cadillacs.  I recall how disappointing it was to drive  one of the new fangled "truck bodied"  rigs when they first came out.

How about the toboggan run down  Science Hill, or the ice skating rink between the school on Jackson St. and the hill?  For that matter who recalls the roller skating parties in the gyms with special skates provided by the skating company that didn't mar the floor?  Does any one recall that the Barr Building (now Purple Monkey)  had a large shipping dock that took up most of the sidewalk in front of the building and when a truck  was at that dock traffic on N. Seneca St came to a virtual standstill.  After the Thruway opened this was no longer acceptable because of the increased traffic and the dock was removed.  Does anyone recall the cast iron cat that live on Fred and Leone Rowe's roof for decades? Speaking of animals, who remembers that Fred and Shag Hinman had a pet fox?

I could go on and on,  but I'm a car nut kind of guy and who remembers having to retard the spark manually as I have to on my Model A to start the engine. To fail to do so will likely result in your starter Bendix lying under the car in pieces as the engine kicked  back against the starter.  I recall knowing everyone by the kind of car they drove---now they all look the same!   More another time.

Denny Randall,

Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society


(You can click on the thumbnail below to see a larger view)


Stephens Brothers Decoys

(April 2021)


     Firstly, over the nearly 20 years of writing this column, I have seldom, if ever fielded more calls and e-mails than I did with last months story on Dr. Parkman / Al Hibbler.   One of the callers was a member of Mrs. Parkman's family who noted that when the 2 doctors developed the Rubella vaccine they patented it for "general use".  That is,  anyone was free and clear to manufacture and use it without  profit to the patent holders.  In other words, they did not make a penny from this earth shaking patent.   If you knew Dr. Parkman you would have expected no less.   The other part of the column had to do with the late Al Hibbler, who had the first popular recording of "Unchained Melody" in the mid 1950's.  Several people checked it out on line and were impressed.   Many people have done it, but none better than the blind man they called "HIB", Al Hibbler.

Periodically I write about famous, or near famous people from the past in our small community.  This month I'll speak of the Stevens brothers,  specifically Harvey, George and Fred as they were the ones involved in the manufacture and sale of some of the finest waterfowl decoys ever built anywhere and despite the fact that they were carved by hand for the most part more than a hundred years ago are highly prized by collectors today, with a recent offering of a mallard drake on e-bay with an opening bid of $9000.00!

Make no mistake, this was a large and successful industry, and in fact of all the products built in and around Weedsport over the years including the first Bobcat tractor, pocketbook frames , clocks, textiles,  silos,  chipper teeth,  aquatic weed cutters, typewriters and many,  many other products,  none have ever attained the lasting appreciation that the Stevens brothers decoys have.  Originally carved by Harvey in a small shed which was referred to in their sales literature as "the factory",  sales eventually obliged him to press his brother George into the business and ultimately his brother Fred and at busy times, other relatives and residents who had some artistic talent.  The "factory" was located at the extreme southern edge of the village on Seneca St., near where Darlene Dolph maintains a seasonally decorated giant round hay bale.  In fact Darlene's father-in-law, Elvin Dolph is a recognized authority on the Stevens brothers and their decoys.

Harvey first started carving and selling his decoys in about 1870 when he was 20 years old.  He soon started advertising in the prestigious publication "Forest and Stream", noting that his decoys were "the finest in the world".  This was not an idle boast,  time and the trade have proven it to be true.  Alas, Harvey was to pass to his reward in 1894 at the age of 47 and he would be followed in 1905 by his brother George at age 49, both of consumption, or tuberculosis , perhaps as a result of working in that cold drafty old shed, burning wood scraps for heat.  Brother Fred had no desire to continue the business after  the death of his brothers.   Distant cousin, the late Eula Lamphere told of when she was a young girl  she and the neighborhood kids would play in the old decrepit "factory" and throw finished decoy heads at each other and play baseball with them!  A lot of today's collectors would have liked to been in on those games!

At the museum we have a few (less than 5) of what is probably the most complete story of the Stevens decoys for sale.  The book is " The Stevens Brothers--Their Lives, The Times, and Their Decoys". The author is Dr. Peter Muller.  The attached photo shows some representative examples of Stevens decoys.
More another time. 

Denny Randall,

Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society


(March 2021)

   I was pleased to read Robert Harding's interview story with Weedsport's favorite son, Dr. Paul Parkman in the January 24th Citizen.  Let me reprise part of a column I wrote on Dr. Parkman in 2006.

I wrote that in June of 1940 WCS Valedictorian Phyllis Parkman  was bed ridden with German measles at the end of June and despite having a 96.4 GPA she could not take her Regent's  exams until the following January, thus no Regent's diploma until then.  Measles was a serious illness, not in the fact that it caused young ladies to miss graduation, but  the dreadful effects  to  the unborn whose mothers  had been exposed to  someone with the disease  was the true horror of Rubella, or German Measles.  There was a very high risk of newborn death ,mental retardation, blindness, or deafness in children with mothers so exposed.

In 1950, 10 years after his sister had missed graduation, her brother Paul graduated from WCS as Salutatorian, and while he didn't have the measles, his name is synonymous  with any discussion of the disease around the world.  After graduation he did undergrad work at St Lawrence University and completed his 4 year degree in 3.  He then entered medical school at SUNY Upstate in Syracuse.  A scant 4 years after his graduation from medical school, and just 11 years after he walked the halls of Weedsport High, he changed the World!  He isolated the Rubella virus and then joined with Dr. Harry Meyers to develop the vaccine that has led to the virtual elimination of this scourge world-wide.

In 2000 Dr. Parkman was honored by his Alma Mater by being named the very first WCS "GRADUATE OF DISTINCTION", which leads me to as the late Paul Harvey used to say "The Rest Of The Story".  One of my favorite songs Is "Unchained Melody".  It was not written by, or for the Rightious Brothers as some people believe.  Nor was it written for the "Ghost" movies which used it as a theme.  It was however written as a movie theme by Alex North, with lyrics by Hy Zoret for the movie "UNCHAINED" in 1954.  This was a forgettable film, in which starred of all people famous football player Elroy "Crazylegs" Hirsch.  The movie score was sung by operatic baritone Todd Duncan.  As a matter of fact, more than 1500 artists groups, or bands have recorded it worldwide, however the one that sticks in my mind was a black blues singer  named Al Hibbler.

Mr. Hibbler had sung with Duke Ellington for years and in 1951 had left and signed a recording deal with Decca Records .  He sang this plaintive love ballad in 1954 as it was meant to be sung and I wore out my first 45 RPM record of it!   He went on to have a great singing career until he joined the civil rights movement.  He marched with and was arrested with Dr. King and others several times.   The big record companies had little taste for such activity and his career tanked..  His last public performance was singing at the funeral of Louis Armstrong in 1971 at the request of "Satchmo"  What you would ask has any of this to do with Dr. Parkman?   Al Hibbler was born totally blind as a result of his mother having measles while pregnant.   Do me a favor and google "UNCHAINED MELODY AL HIBBLER and listen to this beautiful song sung 54 years before the R Brothers.

I was looking through a 1950 WCS yearbook "SPARKS"  and the frontispiece has a picture of Paul Parkman and his high school sweetheart Elmerina Leonardi, who has now been Mrs. Paul Parkman forever.   Guess what the caption under the picture says?   GIRL AND BOY MOST LIKELY TO SUCCEED.   Likely to succeed indeed!

As a note aside Elmerina Leonardi Parkman is the older sister of fellow Citizen columnist Bob Leonardi   More another time


Denny Randall,

Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society




(Feb. 2021)



     Before this goes to print, I'll have attained my 82nd birthday.  Truthfully I have kind of disdained all birthdays since the 50th one.  I suppose however they're not bad when one considers the alternative as Twain said.   Everyone knows that I am a collector,  NOT A HOARDER, but a reasonably neat collector of just about anything.   I have no less than 7 filing cabinets full of "stuff".  People ask me how I can remember this, or that and truthfully I can go into my never ending files and look it up (if I can 
find it, but that's another story!).

A short time ago I decided to see if I could cull some of these files, so I opened one, and picked out a hanging folder easily 3 inches thick labeled "memorabilia".  It took me hours to go through it and I found everything  from my first drivers license to a playbill for every show I've ever gone to--Broadway, Toronto, Merry Go Round, I've got them all.  Let me list some of the other important things I've kept for all these years:

     A1958 program from the Weedsport Speedway,  A listing and description of coins of the Bible, A paid up note for a 1955 Dodge , a 1957 DeSoto, a 1965 Dodge convertible and just about any other car that I've owned.   Menus from various restaurants from the Siam Inn Too and  St Anthony's in New York City to Zum Deuchen Eck and Little Bohemia in Chicago.  Temporary registration for a 1951 Chrysler Imperial, I've got it.  1972 dog license for a Collie named Lady--yup , it's there.  how about a program from the Green Valley Inn in London Ontario, featuring for your dancing and listening pleasure, the music of Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians.

But wait--there's more, lots more!   Perhaps an "exhibitor" tag from the Weedsport Community Fair, or a boarding pass for a one way trip from Newark to Syracuse.  Perhaps a 1964 "blue light" authorization card for my car,  or a 1957 polio vaccination record  (I wish I could add a Covid one to the collection!)   Maybe a book of Wheelock Ride tickets from 1955 ,  or a notice from the Post Office from 1954 that my class ring had arrived  COD please pick it up $20.42 due. would interest you.   School dance programs up to 1963,   A paid bill from Mendel Parker Buick-Pontiac for 106.21 to repair the transmission of the above mentioned DeSoto.  An invite to a stag party for Doug Short, a short wave call card K2LFC from Curt LaForce

A parking pass at the Niagara Frontier is there, as well as an A certificate issued to me as a "painter A"  by Bert Ogden, Chairman First Baptist Church Maintenance Committee,  A program from the Sacred Heard Sports Dinner from 1988 signed by Ray Nitschke. Son Michael was the designated driver to pick him up and return him to the airport and on the way he stopped at the house, knowing I've always been a Green Bay fan.  I was pretty surprised to find Ray taking up quite a lot of the kitchen.  I found my certificate that I had taken driving in school which allowed me to drive after dark at 17--a big deal!.  A MPG calculator  from Hugh Carey, Gov.  Several photos printed on silk????,  Various snowmobile registrations, an entry ticket to Ted Trice's Old Stuff Corners Museum in Sennett,,   a repair bill for Mike's trombone, a ticket to the 1965 Worlds Fair, and a coupon worth a quarter at the Weedsport Fair

Perhaps the specs for all 1957 cars would interest you,, or how about a 1959 Syracuse football schedule.  I've got a 1959 Jordan Swimming Pool membership card and a ticket stub for the first game in the Carrier Dome, a bill of sale for a 1962 Daimler sp250,  A Chicago Fire Department House assignment list from 1978.  A copy of my lease of a house in Port Byron-yes, I lived in Port Byron for a year when i was first married at 224 N. Main.,  I have an appointment card with Dr. Charles  Ryan for follow up in 1956 when i learned a hard lesson about saws.    i have all the early programs of ESTMIM from when we moved the mighty Wurlitzer to the fairgrounds from the RKO  Keith's Theater downtown.

The more I look at this stuff, the less inclined i am to part with anything.  In the words of Fagin in "Oliver",   "I am reviewing the situation--I guess I'll have think it out again"

Denny Randall,

Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society




(Jan. 2021)


     Weedsport was incorporated as a village on April 26,  1831.   By an act of the New York State Legislature passed February 28, 1789 the state Surveyor General was directed to lay out 25 townships of land in this part of the state.  Eventually 28 such townships were surveyed.  Each township was to be 10 miles square and to be divided into one hundred lots, each one mile square.  All the lots in each township were to be numbered from 1-100.  Each lot contained about 640 acres of land.  One of these 28 townships laid out in the years between 1789 and 1791 was named Brutus and the Village of Weedsport when incorporated  comprised the whole of lot number 65 in that town.

    Most of the lots of 640 acres of land were given as a bounty, or grant to soldiers of the Revolutionary War, some of whom sold them for a few dollars, or traded them for a suit of clothes, or something else of value or desired.   So it came about that the land now covered by the Village of Weedsport was drawn by lot  by James Fairlie in 1791 as a reward for his service as a Lieutenant in the war.  By 1801 the entire lot was in the possession of Jedidiah Sanger.   The first settlements were made in 1802 and in the years immediately following by Jonah and Nathan Rude, Abigail Powers, Thomas Gould, Elezer Mosely and William Stevens.  These persons owned nearly all the 640 acres of lot 65, thus the boundaries of our village are one mile each way.

     About the time the village was incorporating, the business of transporting freight between the Erie Canal in Weedsport to the manufacturing hub of Auburn had grown so large that a company was formed in Auburn and a charter was obtained from the state to build a canal along the Owasco River (Outlet) from Owasco Lake to Port Byron.  After spending over $70,000 including building a huge dam to raise the lake level, the project was abandoned.  This was basically due to the construction of a railroad from Rochester to Syracuse though Auburn  (the Auburn Road) , much of which is still used today as part of the Finger Lakes Railroad.  This also had a terrible effect on passenger service on the Erie canal, although there was still much freight service, as water transport is by far the most cost effective way of getting freight from point A to point B.   As a matter of fact  about this time William Fargo of Weedsport and Henry Wells of Port Byron started the freight company which became the world famous Wells Fargo Express company and also now one of the largest banking concerns in the world.  Apparently they did well (no pun intended) as it allowed Mr. Wells enough loose cash to establish Wells College, who to this day uses Wells Fargo Express coaches for their graduation ceremonies.

More another time.   
Denny Randall,

Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society





(Dec. 2020)

I'll continue on this month with more information from the  "History of Cayuga County"  1789-1879.  

"The first settlements on the site of Weedsport were made in 1802 by Jonah and Nathan Rude near the south line of the corporation, in the area known as Macedonia , known today as Rude Street after the original settlers there.  Abel Powers came along shortly thereafter.  In 1817 when the construction of the Erie Canal was begun, most of the settlements which by then had gathered in Macedonia morphed north to the line of that great aquatic highway.  When this section was completed in 1821,, Elihu and Edward Weed, sons of wealthy merchant Smith Weed of Albany settled on the site of the village, constructed a basin along side the canal in the area of what is now Nickle Jack's parking lot and extending up what is now Furnace Street.  They also erected a warehouse on the site."

"From them the settlement acquired the name "Weed's Basin" , and in 1822 a post Office was established by the name of "Weed's  Port" and Elihu Weed was named Postmaster.  With the advent of the Weed's and the development of their business projects an impetus was given to the growth of the place which continued unchecked until the opening of the Auburn and Syracuse Railroad in 1836 and the Auburn and Rochester Railroad in 1840.   Weedsport was the canal landing for Auburn, and a large business was done in short term storage, transfer and carriage of goods between the two places..  The principle public buildings were storehouses erected to accommodate this business and the chief vocation of the inhabitants  was that of  attending to the receipt,  shipment,  and carrying of  merchandise to Auburn and contiguous places."

"The Village was incorporated  April 26th 1831, but owing to the destruction of the records by the disastrous fire of 1871 (which coincidentally was also the year of not only the great Chicago fire, but also the Peshtigo, Wisconsin fire which still has the dubious distinction of causing the most deaths yet recorded in a fire), not much is known about the early  days of the village.  The opening of the railroads  was a serious blow to Weedsport and took  from it a  prestige which has required years of sustained energy and patent industry to recover"  

The photos show the "Weedsport Cornet Band" playing for  some celebration in the middle of the street at Seneca and Brutus Street. (The 4 corners)  The  gentleman sitting in the middle facing the camera with a cornet  was band leader Dr. Horace Stone,  Dentist..  The other photo shows what recently would have been the  " Old Erie"  restaurant from across the street. The building next door to the north (left) is the Kanaley Grocery and next to that was the 3 story Congress Hotel , while beyond that is the large building operated by the Security Company.  The Security Company was a knitting mill, which explains the large water tank on the roof to feed the sprinkler system which was required by insurers even at that early date to prevent fire in that type of business.  The building looks much the same today as the " Purple Monkey"    More another time . 

Denny Randall,

Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society


(You can click on the thumbnails below to see a larger view)





(Nov. 2020)


Weedsport in 1879, as noted in  this huge book, published in Syracuse 
by D. Mason and Company in 1879.

Since our museum is pretty much shut down for the duration of the virus, we have been taking the time to do some house cleaning.   Our library has been overstuffed for years with many volumes, some pertinent  to local history and many not.  There were also many duplicates and we have been sorting these books for a couple of months and deaccesssioning material where appropriate.  Several huge volumes of agricultural studies have been donated to the Ward O'Hara Museum, as well as several duplicates of other old tomes.  I was delivering several of these books to O'Hara and I decided to keep one for awhile and read it.  We had 3 copies of  "The History of Cayuga County 1789-1889"  This is a huge book and not an easy read since to begin with, it weighs 11 pounds.  In this column I will quote unashamedly from that book as respect to Weedsport in the late 1880's.

"Weedsport is  eligibly located , and has some nicely graded, well kept and handsomely shaded streets.  It's  private and public buildings are generally plain, but neat and substantial, conspicuous  for the absence  of very fine, or very poor ones.  The population is about 1500. " Not much different from today. " There  are 5 churches in the village Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist, Episcopal and Roman Catholic.  Also   a union graded school, 3 good hotels, 4 general stores, 8 groceries, 2 hardware stores,  3 drug stores, 3 booksellers, 3 clothing stores,, 3 jewelry stores, 1 furniture store, 1 undertaker, 1 boot and shoe store, 2 milliners, 2 newspaper and printing offices, , 2 banks, a flour and grist mill and  2 sawmills.".

Also in the village was "  a bent wood works, a pump manufacturer, a foundry, a machine shop, 4 carriage shops, a cigar manufacturer, 3 malt houses, a brewery, 3 warehouses and a marble and granite works."   As you can see it was a pretty busy place with east-west rail service provided by the New York Central R.R and north- south by the Southern Central (later Lehigh Valley)  These two rail systems were later joined by the West Shore R.R and the Syracuse and Rochester Electric R.R.  At the height of  rail travel there were no less than 34 departures a day from Weedsport.  Of course, the Erie Canal was also still in operation although pretty much relegated to freight only by that time.

The business  district of Weedsport had been devastated by a huge fire in 1871 and in the aftermath a very progressive man , Henry Brewster was elected Chief of the Fire Department.  His first issue was the modernization of the Fire department and accordingly he went on the stump to erect a new firehouse to replace the several frame sheds that had been used up to that point.  He also ordered from the Silsby Manufacturing Company in Seneca Falls a newfangled 2nd class steam powered pumper capable of throwing water at 600 gallons a minute,  tirelessly, which was a lot more than could be said for the "black Crook" hand pumper used until then.  By the time this book was published, Chief Brewster had been elected President (Mayor) of the village and he went on to become a founding father of the New York State Volunteer Firemen's Home in Hudson, N.Y.. 

As a note aside Chief Brewster was married to the favorite sister of L. Frank Baum, author of the Wizard of Oz, and the Baum family were frequent visitors to Weedsport., as a matter of fact, he is buried in the Baum plot in Oakwood Cemetery in Syracuse.   More from the book another time.  The accompanying photos show the Weedsport fire house as it was completed in 1884. Note the arched doors and hose drying tower. Amazingly, it is still in use today although remodeled in 1950 and 1974.  The other photo was the luxurious  Willard House Hotel.

Denny Randall,

Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society



Additional note from Denny:

The bell is in the cupelo toward the front of the building.
The hose drying tower (which was removed during the 1950 rebuild
when they bought an electric dryer)
is the tall structure at the rear of the building.
The hose (50 foot lengths) was hauled up with a hand powered hoist,
and allowed to drain and dry, otherwise it mildews and rots.
(fire hose is made of canvas).


(You can click on the thumbnails below to see larger views)




(Oct. 2020)


As we near Halloween I am reminded of an annual ritual that used to take place at the end of October every year.   That was the placing of a purloined outhouse under the stoplight at the four corners of Weedsport.  This went on for many years until there were simply none left in the area that could be moved.   It has to be realized that it took considerable planning to accomplish this and there were several  pit falls to avoid, not the least of which was falling into the pit while moving the building itself.

Other considerations were scouting out an appropriate privy--it had to be framed--brick ones simply could not be moved.   You had to scout out what time the residents of the property involved went to bed, You had to round up enough help to accomplish the deed and you had to find a kid with access to a pick up truck (not so common then) , in fact it almost always involved  getting a farm kid in on the deal.

The normal operation was to wait until around midnight, and have some accomplices set off fireworks in another area of town, descend on the 4 corners and unload the privy under the stoplight and be gone before the local police had a chance to get back to watching the intersection.  I can remember a couple of years when the local cops couldn't be  drawn away with fireworks, or a leaf fire or two and it was necessary to go to alternate "plan B" .  That was to rope the aforementioned 1, 2, or 3 holer up on top of the school bus garage.  This was done in times of desperation only as it was a lot more work and took a lot longer, with the added risk of being caught--especially in the school bus court, with only one way out.

By the 1950's most local residents had indoor plumbing and the little houses were not much used anymore, and it's possible some people were glad to be rid of them , How's that for rationalization? With many humorists and pundits continually writing stories about them,  one such writer by the name of Charles (Chic) Sale  managed to make a living writing about outdoor toilets to the extent that his name-Chic Sale became synonymous with an out door privy.  I have in my collection a small book that he wrote about a carpenter specialist friend if his by the name of Lem Putt who was , as the story goes the "champion privy builder in Sagamon County."   I won't go into many of his thoughts on the proper construction and placing of an outhouse.  One of his recommendations was to never place one under a nut, or a fruit tree, as " there ain't no sound so disconcerting in nature as the sound of apples dropping on the roof"
Outhouses for some reason had always been an object of  interest and in our museum we have a well used  3 hole seat on display and the grade school kids can almost  always guess what it is , but they can never guess what the box of corn cobs on it were used for   When told they were the toilet paper of the day, their comment is always the same "  EWWWW"

Our museum is not yet open for regular hours , however  the Historian is there with some of the staff on Wednesday evenings from 5:00 and we'll be glad to show you around.

Denny Randall,

Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society





I imagine some people wondered why they would have ever named "Weedsport Rural Cemetery"  rural.
Why not "Gates of Heaven" or " Evergreen Hill", or some such great sounding name?  The answer is that Weedsport was part of a movement started in 1831 in an area between Watertown and Cambridge Mass. where it was decided to build a new cemetery,  "Mount Auburn Rural  Cemetery", which would be set  in a rolling terrain, breaking with traditional churchyard and colonial era burying grounds where it was important to get as many people in the ground in the limited amount of space available. It was their feeling that a cemetery should be beautiful and parklike--in fact the word cemetery is derived from the Greek to mean a sleeping place, rather than a graveyard .  The 174 acre Mt Auburn Rural Cemetery is important because it started a "Rural" cemetery movement across the country.

The "Rural" type cemetery was intended to convey a park like atmosphere to those interred there and visitors alike. Other cemeteries were soon to follow including Oakwood in Syracuse, Mt. Hope in Rochester and Albany Rural as well as Weedsport Rural in 1860.    In Weedsport, " God's Acre" on S. Seneca St. was nearly at capacity, with no room for expansion and it was obvious that the growing community must  find a new site.  A committee was formed of several town movers and shakers,  W. J. Donovan, M. C. Remington, C.C. Adams, O.W. Burritt,  C.C. Caywood and S. W. Treat.  At a subsequent meeting attended by many interested townspeople article of Incorporation were drawn under the name  the Weedsport Rural cemetery Association" as they had decided to follow the lead of Mt Auburn and others.  In due time a Board of Directors was appointed and on July 2, 1860 it was decided to purchase the original 8.75 acres for $ 787.50.  By 1880 it was necessary to purchase much more land as  the original areas  had been to a large extent used  up by "death's silent tenants" form neighboring  towns and villages eager to be interred in the beautiful parklike setting of Weedsport Rural which be now had been planted with the pines (which are now huge).

Indeed it was beautiful and daylong excursions were encouraged. The roadways all had street signs, the triangle in front of the private vaults was planted with spring bulbs and flowering perennials , as was the triangle in front of the receiving vault. A windmill at the top of section 22 provided water for the underground piping before  the village supplied water from their spring line.  Their was even a commodious (forgive the pun) 4 hole outhouse  which was only torn down within the last 10 years.  Many family plots were lined with ledger stones, or cast iron decorative posts and chains.  The entire cemetery was surrounded by a wrought iron fence. There were many  fancy cast iron hitching posts, several of which are still in place.

Gravestones were encouraged not to be of a same kind and shape as continuous uniformity must always be avoided .  Variety provides a much more pleasing effect. Early on the lot holders were responsible for mowing and their own maintenance, although the association would do it if necessary and bill accordingly.  Unfortunately Henry Ford pretty much did away with the concept  of the truly "rural" cemetery in the 1920's , when instead of spending a peaceful day in the cemetery  you could hop into your Model T  and go anywhere.  Having said all this, Mt. Auburn retains it's original concept and is a registered National Historic Site.

The photo shows the original front gate which was just around  the bend on E. Brutus St Rd... The entrance was relocated farther up the hill many years ago because of the trouble  that coming up on a slow moving funeral caused when you suddenly came around the bend in the road.

Denny Randall,

Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society


(You can click on the thumbnail below to see a larger view)


(Sept. 2020)

In accord with your wishes, here's a summary of my more than half a century, as far as the State Fair and I go.

In 1966 I was involved a little bit in the restoration work going on at the former Loew's State Theater on Salina St. in Syracuse. I was working with another man from Weedsport, the late Jay Lopez, who was a master carver who had immigrated from Mexico many years before. We w ere trying to get the theater looking decent enough so that Onondaga County would purchase it for a community theater so it wouldn't get torn down. I had a natural interest in movie theaters as I had worked as a teenager as projectionist for the Zimmer family in their Weedsport Theater.. Our efforts must have been successful, as the county did buy it and renamed it the Landmark Theater.

One afternoon as we were about to enter the building Jay said "there's an even more ornate theater just down the street that they're tearing down for a Sibley's store" We walked down the street and sure enough they were tearing down the RKO Keith's theater. We walked around back to the Clinton Street side of the building and a group of men were working like ants taking box after box of "stuff" out of a hole in the brick work about 15 feet up in the air. It turned out that same group had scrounged up enough money to purchase the "Mighty Wurlitzer" theater organ from the RKO people.. On June 14, 1966 a sold out benefit concert had been held featuring a silent film, with original organist Carlton James at the console. Also featured were Louella Wickam, Karl Cole and Paul Forster. Additionally, there were no less than 12 vaudeville acts.. The rest, as they say is history and I never went back to the Landmark!

I became part of what was eventually dubbed ESTMIM and here I am more than 50 years later, Vice President of ESTMIM --- the Empire State Theater and Musical Instrument Museum. We're located in the Harriet May Mills building on the state fairgrounds, which is where the RKO mighty Wurlitzer ended up...In July of 1967, the Wurlitzer again roared to life and again with Carlton James at the console. In the fullness of time I have become very familiar with the organ and routinely give tours of the chambers and explain what all the gadgets do on the console to interested audience members after performances. We ( Prior to covid) had a 4 to 6 concert schedule yearly with visiting organists from around the world playing and every day during the fair it is played twice. We're the only state fair in the country to boast having our own theater organ.

. During the fair I hold forth on the 3rd floor where we have a museum featuring unusual instruments including player pianos, a player Hammond organ, a nickelodeon, a fancy Wurlitzer juke box, several parlor organs and many other instruments and much theater equipment including a couple of 35 mm Simplex projectors exactly like the ones I used to run at the Weedsport Theater all these years ago. The featured instrument is a 1910 Koehler & Campbell upright player piano where I may be found nearly every afternoon showing fairgoers how it works and encouraging sing a longs. As it happens, I know quite a lot about player pianos since I bought a 1922 Baldwin at a Lions Club auction here in Weedsport when I was 14 for $7.00.. It sat for many years and eventually with the help of the late Hugh Wallace of Elbridge we restored and refinished it. I enclose a photo of it!

I guess the sum and substance of this column is that I'm going to have to make my own sausage sandwich this year for the first time in MANY years.

Denny Randall,

Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society


(You can click on the thumbnail below to see a larger view)



(August 2020)


      I don't know if anyone but me, reads the bridge condition reports issued periodically, or for that matter looks up when they go under a bridge, almost any bridge in New York State at least and are concerned when they see the incredible rust , lack of paint and just plain general lack of routine maintenance that exists.   In the wake of the ongoing pandemic it seems to me  that whoever is elected President in  the upcoming election would do well to emulate Franklin Roosevelt and create something like the CCC to do two things--take  care of the aforementioned problem and put the thousands and thousands of people who are going to be unemployed to work.
      The CCC was established on April 5, 1933 by the President as part of his New Deal to combat gross unemployment during the great depression (he had earlier started a similar program while Governor of our state).  The CCC aimed at recruiting unemployed men (in those days, there were not many women in the workforce) between the ages of 18 and 25.  They were paid $30 a month and were given free room and board at a CCC camp.  They were required to send home $22 each month to  help support their families..  As a note aside, in 1933, a skilled  man would expect to earn about $39 per month, so a CCC son's contribution to the family income was huge.
      CCC corps also received basic education if needed.  It is estimated that some 57,000 illiterate men were taught to read and write.  The CCC also enrolled WW1 veterans, skilled foresters, and approximately 88,000 Native Americans who were living on reservations.   African Americans were also recruited, but were required  to live and work in separate camps.  In the 1930's the Supreme Court had not yet made any segregation rulings.
       By 1935 more than 500,000 corpsmen were spread over 2900 camps across the US.  It is estimated that close to 3 million men--about 5% of the US population had taken part in the CCC over the course of it's 9 year history. Since many of the camps were in the west and most of the members lived in the east, the army took a huge part in the transportation issue.  The trade unions highly criticized the program, opposing the training of unskilled men when many skilled union members were also out of work. They feared the army involvement would lead to government control of organized labor.  Ever the consummate politician President Roosevelt appointed  the Vice President of the International Machinists Union as the first Director of the CCC.
     Some of the accomplishments of the CCC are taken for granted today--more than 3.5 BILLION trees were planted on barren land created by forest fires, natural erosion and aggressive farming( think dust bowl).  More than 700 new state parks were created, Including Fair Haven Beach and Fillmore Glen locally. Onondaga Lake Parkway between Syracuse and Liverpool was another CCC projects, as well as dozens of others in this general area.  With the advent of WW2 the CCC was discontinued as the personnel were needed for more pressing things, however  the camps were often used  for other purposes, including one camp in Kentucky that was used to train the Code Girls.  It is important to remember that our State and National park services  grew out of the CCC.  The CCC helped our country at a  time when it needed it most and it continues today to benefit us--imagine  not having  our parks.
      At any rate, it seems to me that there is a place for such a program again, instead of just handing out money!

Denny Randall,

Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society


(July 2020)

Many people in this region are familiar with the story of the scythe tree in Waterloo..  The story went  that a young man hung his scythe in  a small cottonwood  tree and went off to fight for the Union in the Civil War., with the instructions to his parents  too leave it there until he returned.  Unfortunately he was killed and buried in North  Carolina and never returned..  His parents refused to accept that and left the scythe hanging in the tree, where  what remains of it may still be seen today on Rt.5 & 20 near the State Police station.

Until recently, I had my own scythe tree in my front yard.  In 1972, shortly after I built my house on Hamilton St., I went to a City of Syracuse surplus auction and purchased an old wrought iron park bench which had been built around the turn of the century and was about 70 years old even then.  It was still in good shape however, so I painted it up and  chained it to an old apple tree in my front yard  right along the street..  In this area of Hamilton St. there are no sidewalks and I thought it would be nice for people walking in the street  to have a place to sit and rest.

My supposition was correct and  over the years, many people enjoyed it.  Neighbor Ed Rafferty used to sit there and watch the cars go by,  neighbor up the street Bud Goss used to sit there and rest on his daily walks,  boys and girls walking to and from school used to sit there and hold hands, in no particular hurry to get where they were headed.  At one time my kids delivered the  Syracuse "Herald American" to the entire Village of  Weedsport.  The Herald American was a large combined newspaper published on Sundays of a combined morning Post Standard and afternoon Herald Journal.  When they dropped the bales off in the garage there were always several extras, so I got in the habit of leaving one on the bench on nice days and weighting it down with a small rock , so people could sit on the bench and read.

Predictably, in the fullness of time, because it was chained to the tree and couldn't move away as the tree grew, the bench became grown into the tree trunk and had been forced down into the ground about 6 inches from the weight of the tree growing on and around it.  A short time ago my son Mike said that he and Kathleen would like to have it for their yard.  Accordingly we spent an entire Saturday morning extricating it from the tree., using an axe, Sawzall, hammer and chisel and lots of other equipment including a shovel.Finally released from it's imprisonment it was loaded on to Mike's truck ( still very heavy)  and headed for the" higher elevations" of Tully.  It has since been welded up, sandblasted and powder coated in it's original forest green color.  With any luck, it will last another 120  years, or so.

The photo shows it , looking brand new in it's new home under a maple tree overlooking the cornfields of Tully.  Several people (actually 3) had asked me what became of it, so I decided to use this bully pulpit to let everyone know that it lives on and has entered it's 3rd term of duty.

Denny Randall,

Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society




(June 2020)

As I write this column it is Flag Day, so I bounded (well, make that crawled) out of bed this morning, put the 48 star flags on the Model A and did my one man parade around town as I did on Memorial Day--it just doesn't seem right to stay home.  For 62 years  the Weedsport Central School Class of '57, the Class of a Lifetime as we like to refer to ourselves  has held a class reunion in conjunction with the school Alumni Banquet.   We still feel fortunate to live in a community where there is enough school pride to have a well organized and active Alumni Association , passing out thousands of dollars every year in scholarships to deserving seniors..   Unfortunately after over 100 years of holding annual banquets the association found  it necessary to cancel this year's celebration because of that lousy bug,  although they're still going to pass out the scholarships.   Accordingly  , we (the class of '57  have also regretfully canceled our annual get together, although we are going to meet via ZOOM at the same time the banquet would normally be held.  Small solace, but better than nothing. Over the years we have met at various classmates homes dined at different local restaurants and in recent years have settled on a format of renting a hall for the Friday, Saturday and Sunday of Alumni weekend.   We have meals catered in , attend the Alumni Banquet en-masse, and adjourn on Sunday with a brunch at a local restaurant..  As you can imagine, it takes a bit of doing to keep it going and over the years the local committee has consisted of Connie Goodrich Bolton, of Liverpool, Judy Williams Lofft of Port Byron, Alicia Rosecrans Procino, of Auburn, Bruce Christopher, Burt Ward and I who still live in Weedsport.

The most important member  of our group is Joan Spier Higham, who lives in New Port Richey Florida.  She is our webmaster, and she is a webmaster's webmaster!   Included on our website is a complete directory of names, addresses, phone numbers, e-mail numbers, birthdays, etc , etc. There is also a bulletin board updated regularly noting special events,  illness, or anything else of note.  It's also the only place other than The Old Brutus Historical Society and the Citizen Archives where you may read all of the "stuff" that I have written for this column for now approaching 20 years. Hop on our website some time and see what we're up to.  Just Google Joan and we'll be there like magic.  We graduated 50 classmates and regretfully there are only 37 left to soldier on, and soldier on we will. Our Flower Fund is administered by Barbara Tallman Welch from Myrtle Beach.

It seems like everything I'm interested in has been squelched.---Car shows, Museums--naturally ours has been closed, along with the O'Hara Ag Museum  and with that goes our Auburn History Club bi-weekly meetings, the Martha Shaw monthly lecture series "Harvesting History", and the rest of the programs held at this wonderful facility.   For more than 50 years I have been involved with the Empire State Theater and Musical Instrument Museum at the State Fairgrounds.  Our whole season of theater organ concerts had to be cancelled.  It's anyone's guess when the Mighty Wurlitzer will again be heard, as the State Fair itself is in doubt.

I guess I've gone on about this aggravating turn of events long enough but let me close with a nod to our local fire department, who were forced to cancel their annual field days for the 1st time since they started having them in 1957.  The money made during this event has purchased  much needed equipment over the years, including several ambulances outright saving the taxpayers a ton of money  Please consider sending a small donation to the fire department to help make up this loss and finally, with a nod to fellow columnist Joni Lincoln , hopefully the roast beef dinner at the Spring Lake Methodist church will resume shortly.  A better dinner cannot be bought at any price anywhere.
More next month

Denny Randall,

Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society


The Class of a Lifetime  WCS '57





Local businesses used to be conducted without benefit of an actual mercantile, or business establishment

(May 2020)


Has it occurred to anyone else now that gas is cheaper than it has been in years we can't drive anywhere?   While sitting here under "house arrest"  the thought struck me that many businesses in the village and surrounding area were conducted without benefit of an actual mercantile, or business establishment.   These businesses were often in addition to another regular line of work.   There are of course some that still operate in that fashion.    Let me list some of the hundreds that have done business in this manner locally over the years:
      Frank Hayden had  a backhoe service and when he passed away, the old Ford 8N backhoe went to Charlie Kreplin and he offered the service for many more years.  Bob Green painted signs, as did Fred Rowe just down Seneca St.   Glenn Wood on Washington St. rototilled gardens,  and a couple of doors down Manly Erb offered furniture reupholstering.    Vic Sine sold insurance from his home on West Brutus and across the street Ralph Black sold and repaired 2 way radios for the emergency services. A couple of doors down from him Jack Holihan operated a TV repair shop in his home and for that matter his wife Doris who was Town of Brutus Clerk at the time ran the Clerk's office from their home.

     Ethel O'Neil sold and delivered eggs in the village from the farm in Emerson and Eva Oliver and John DeWispelere sold produce in front  of their homes.  Doctor Goodwin and Doctor Prokopiw had offices in their homes on S. Seneca St. as was fairly common for physicians .   Similarly it was common for funeral directors such as Fred Kinney, Dwight Kelly, Ab Hoyt,  Dickinson's and Ward's as well as many others over the years to utilize their residence as a mortuary.  Katherine Gary ran a tourist home and her husband Lawrence (Lefty) centered his carpentry business form their home on Jackson St.  Ernie Luke did his blacksmithing from his home and Bob Flansburg sharpened saws on South St.

     Morris Gifford and Pete Ozark operated a successful masonry business from their respective homes and brothers  Ross and Ernie Marshall, as well as second generation  home builder Joe always worked from home.  The several dairies in the area were nearly all operated from home.  Ernie Holmes' sold and serviced Skiroule snowmobiles on Hamilton St.   Legenday coach John Skvorak had his successful Celtic Glove Co. at home and  Principal William F. Lampman did concrete flatwork around the village during the summer.  There are probably still sidewalk slabs in the village with his WFL in the corner.   Roger Donahue and Dave Keel ran a lawn care business for many years and Clara Symula had her hairdressing salon in her apartment on E. Brutus St.

     Leland  (Squint) Jorolemon operated a hay and coal trucking firm from his home on West Brutus and  Dr. William Tierney operated a large animal veterinary service from his home on Jericho Rd.  Frank Drabel sold and serviced septic tanks from his home.  M.J. Almstead  had his optometry practice in his home, the former Burritt mansion on Van Buren St. and Everett Hazer operated his plumbing company from home on South St.  With a little thought I could go on and on, but you get the idea.   I'm sure this is one of those columns where I get lots of jabs asking why not ---I'll probably have to pen an addendum.    Other than the occasional Dr.'s appointment my calendar which normally overflows is empty.  Oh well--this too shall pass.   More next time.

Denny Randall,

Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society



The 1918 Influenza pandemic vs. Corona 19 currently ongoing

(May 2020)



    The 1918 flu epidemic had great similarities  to the vexation that we are all dealing  with today. Their were nearly 200 deaths in Cayuga County and eventually over 650,000 nationwide and more than 100 million worldwide!  I'll set down a timeline obtained from the CDC on how the disease progressed.

April 1917---U. S. enters WWl  with 378,000 in the armed services.

March 1918---Outbreaks of flu like illness are first detected in the United States  More than 100 soldiers at Camp Funston in Kansas become ill with influenza--within a week the number quintuples.  Flu  spreads unevenly  through the U.S., Europe, and Asia over the next 6 months.

April 1918---1st mention of Influenza appears in an April 5 weekly public health report telling of 18 severe cases and 3 deaths in Haskell, Kansas.

May 1918---Hundreds of thousands of soldiers travel across the Atlantic each month as they are deployed to Europe for WW1.

September 1918---The 2nd wave of Flu emerges at Camp Devens outside of Boston.  Between September and November  this second wave is highly fatal and is responsible for most of the death attributed to the pandemic.   

October 1918--- 195,000 Americans die during October alone.  In Philadelphia more than 500 bodies await burial--some for more than a week.  Meat storage plants were used as temporary morgues. New York City requires all cases to be isolated at home, or in a hospital.  Most large cities close theaters, movie houses, schools and prohibit public gatherings.  San Francisco requires residents to use masks in public.  New York city reports a 40% decline in shipyard productivity in the midst of the war.

November 1918---The end of WW1 enables a resurgence of the disease as people celebrate Armistice Day and soldiers begin to mobilize.

December 1918---Public health officials began educating people about the dangers of coughing and sneezing and careless disposal of "nasal discharges"  ,  People were urged to walk to work when possible to avoid overcrowded public transportation.

January 1919---A 3rd wave of Influenza occurs in the winter and kills many more.  

April 1919--- The worst of the pandemic is over, however at the Versailles Peace Conference while negotiating the end of WW1 with other world leaders U. S. President Woodrow Wilson collapsed from the flu, and although he ultimately recovered, he was never the same.  During WW1 there were 53,402 combat deaths in the military and over 45,000  attributed to flu.  Congress noted that "Dollars cannot be considered."

The similarity between what happened  a hundred years ago is to me unbelievably similar!  The attached photos show  how little things have changed.  Note the sign on one of the ladies on the railroad platform  "WEAR A MASK, or go to jail".   As a note aside in the other photo that old open frame typewriter reminds me of the Underwood I used in typing class at WCS 65 years ago!

Denny Randall,

Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society


Please click on thumbnails below, to see a larger view

The attached photos show  how little things have changed. 

Note the sign on one of the ladies on the railroad platform  "WEAR A MASK, or go to jail".  

As a note aside in the other photo that old open frame typewriter
reminds me of the Underwood I used in typing class at WCS 65 years ago!




(April 2020)


     The thought occurred to me the other day that hardly anyone gives anything away any more .  It used to be very common when making a purchase of just about anything you would get an "advertising premium" as a gift.  I'm sure that I'm still using dish towels received in a box of laundry detergent more than 50 years ago.   I decided to take a stroll through the museum recently to see what we have acquired  over the years by way of  "free" advertising gifts.  I list below a small fraction of what I found:
      Some of the more unusual were: Sanitary hats issued by the Dairylea plant on East St.,  Shoe horns by E.C. Fuller Shoes,  Paper fans by J.R. Putnam Drug Store,  Ice picks and pot holders by Hazzard Trucking, Storage and Ice,  Chevrolet model cars by Guy H. Lanphere Chevrolet.,  Jar gripper by Bill's Esso Servicenter,  Ink blotters by George E. Wethey Plumbing, fireproof matchbox by J.R. Putnam Drug Store, and a hand mirror from Fult's Furniture Store.
      Much more common were  the aforementioned linens, and  encyclopedias and china from the grocery store. As a note aside I have a beautiful set of Funk and Wagnall's acquired over about 2 years  at the Weedsport Big M.  Never mind that they haven't been opened since I bought a computer.    Probably the most common giveaways over the years have been pens and pencils, as well as note pads to go with them.  Among our treasures , we have  many of them in our collection of Weedsport related "stuff":  Tudor & Jones,  Joe Marshall, Builder,   H.R. Follett & Sons Interior Decorating, E.W Hazer, Plumbing, Victor L. Sine, Insurance,  Joseph O'Connor Seeds,   First National Bank of Weedsport,  Eidman Motors Hudson,  Weedsport FFA,  Harry Tanner IGA,  Chapman Lumber,  Leonardi Mfg.,  B. W. Mower, coal, wood & farm supplies,  Spingler Chevrolet,  F. J Burns, Coal,  Ron Case Construction and many others. 
      We have match holders from Burn's and Rice Coal Co.,  and Brutus Roller Mill,    Bottle openers and matches from many sources,  ash trays from E Traver and Son's Grocery and Guy Lanphere Chevrolet as well as a sewing kit from Harris Buick Pontiac.  Calendars and thermometers were popular giveaways--we have dozens of calendars, many with beautiful Currier and Ives artwork.  Among the local merchants providing them were: Howe Insurance Co.,  Smitty's Wee Ranch,  Kinney Funeral Home  and F.J. Burn's Coal, Cement and Plaster.  We have thermometers from Cayuga County Patron's Insurance Co.,  Lamphere & Van Hoover,  Farmer's Mutual Indemnity,  Ralph St. John Dodge-Plymouth,  Hoyt Funeral Home  and N.G. Taylor Jeweler. among other's.  The attached photo is a beautiful thermometer issued by Lamphere & Van Hoover in 1955.
      Maps were given away at all service stations and we have key chains and ice scrapers from Fox Dodge, Plymouth, Chrysler ,  H. Spingler Chevrolet, and Harris Buick-Pontiac. Also popular were yardsticks and paint stirring sticks.  We have them from Abram Walrath Lumber,  Chapman Lumber, Whitman's Hardware and Geo. E Wethey..  Among the oddest "premium in our collection is an asbestos hot pad from Rising and Son Grocery.  This "stuff" and much more is in our museum and in closing, who of my age can forget the 2 pencils from Coca-Cola on your desk when you returned to school in September  along with the "Golden Rule", a 12 inch ruler suitably inscribed with "Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You."
      Our museum is of course closed in accord with Federal and State guidelines and we are taking advantage of this downtime to do some needed maintenance and renovation.  It is hoped that we will be able to  re-open when the schools do.

Denny Randall,

Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society


This photo is a beautiful thermometer issued by Lamphere & Van Hoover in 1955.






(March 2020)



....Recently retired Town and Village Historian adds an addendum to my addendum in last month's column.  With regard to the ongoing saga of the Roy Lee/Jay Hooper meat market, she recalls that during WWII when nearly everything was rationed to support the war effort, Roy Lee's market  was the designated receiver of the very tightly rationed weekly meat shipments for the area.
     During the winter when temperatures were  cold, the meat deliveries would be left outside the store near the front door if the store was not yet open.  One week, after the delivery was made, which in those days were sides and quarters of beef, half hogs, crates of whole chickens, etc. ( there was nothing pre-packaged at that time.) another truck came along , loaded it on and presumably sold it on the black market. The entire community was obliged to go "meatless" that week.  This type of overnight delivery  on the "honor" system was not  that unusual.  I can plainly remember boxes of bread and "Ann Page" baked goods stacked on the sidewalk in front of the A & P on N. Seneca St. waiting for Harry Traver to  open the store and take them inside.  You can imagine how long they would stay there today!
     Bob Jorolemon tells me that  the proposed Vietnam Veterans  war memorial is  well underway  The huge pieces of black granite which were mined in India are now in Canada being polished and engraved. Work will begin on the base as soon as weather  permits in the spring.  An important addition to the monument's  overall plan has been made--an "IN MEMORY" section will be added to the memorial.  This program will honor those men and women who served in the war and later passed away  as a result of their service.  Any one from Cayuga County who died subsequently from such issues as Agent Orange, PTSD suicide, Parkinson's, Heart Disease, cancer or diabetes would be eligible to be included.
     In order to apply visit VVMF on line at Memory Apply and fill out the simple form.  You will need the following to fill out the form: Form DD214, a copy of the death certificate and 2 clear photos of the honoree.  When you receive notification from VVMF of acceptance, merely contact Four Season's Memorials at 315 255-1234. 
     If you have further questions contact Dave Gould, Bob Jorolemon, Tom Minicucci, Lou Patti, or Nick Valenti.  NEVER AGAIN WILL ONE GENERATION OF VETERANS ABANDON ANOTHER

Denny Randall,

Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society



(February 2020)

In the 20 years, or so of writing this column I never got so much  flack as I did last month about the demise of Weedsport's business center, to the extent that I feel compelled to write an addendum which is probably going to be longer than the original column!  So much for my memory.

Ted Marshall asked me if I had forgotten his grandfather's store--actually, I hadn't, but I couldn't remember who came first --Roy Lee, or his grandfather,  Jay Hooper.  Naturally I guessed wrong.  The store was located in the Masonic Block in the area just north of the pedestrian walkway that separates the buildings.  I couldn't find a photo of the store as Jay and Billy Hooper ran it, but I did find one with Roy Lee behind the counter which I'll print as a penance.  Note the sign on the wall below the small cooler advertising  Hooper's milk and cream. After Roy sold out he went to work for many years at the Town of Brutus Highway Department.  I had to bring in Elvin Dolph as additional counsel on this issue.

Other blanks in my memory included: On South Seneca Street Pantusi Shoe Repair, The aforementioned Masonic Hall, Kelly Funeral Home, and the Grange Hall, formerly the trolley station and now a private residence.  The Grange sponsored a well attended round and square dance every Saturday night.  On North Seneca St. I omitted New York State Electric and Gas, Howe Insurance, Attorney James Stafford, Esq. , Weedsport Tool & Machine,  Biss-Whiting Laundramat,  and Angie Conley's beauty Salon.

On East Brutus . I omitted the Library, Art Bradley Signs, the Post Office, the Odd Fellows Hall, Clara Symula's beauty salon and Charlie Legg, who sold Gulf Gas next to the Brutus Roller Mill and Dr. Kempton's office.  On Furnace St. I am ashamed to say I left out Clint Hazzard's Ice House which was operated after Clint retired by my friend and classmate Bob Hirons

On Erie Drive I omitted Helen Priebe's Fish Fry, who sold the best fish sandwiches I have ever eaten to this day , GLF Egg Marketing, and my biggest most glaring error of all , the gas station at the intersection  of West Brutus and Erie Drive where Harold "Turnip" Lanphere and Clarence Van Hoover had the unusual arrangement of selling Sunoco on Brutus St. and Tydol on Erie Drive.

I fielded  couple of questions on old Weedsport dairies   These dairies included : Kunkel, Densmore, Howe, Mills, Follett, Dolph,  Hooper,  Spingler, Hewitt, Oakland, Cold Springs, and Colvin.  As a note aside the Mills Dairy was where the Terry Delmar family is beautifully restoring the large brick house at the top of the hill on South St. and Colvin Dairy was located in the huge Mack Mansion on S. Seneca St. which was recently sold. Most family dairies that sold bottled milk went out of business in 1947 with the advent of mandatory pasteurization because the amount of milk sold did not justify the cost of the equipment.  More another time.

Denny Randall,

Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society

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

Roy Lee


(January 2020)



     As I was driving around the village  a few days ago, it dawned on me how little actual commerce is done in town any more.  Even the Tattoo parlor and Vape shop have closed.   I couldn't help but think of what seems like yesterday, but was really 60 years, or more ago, when I was running the streets of the village how vibrant the business section of town was.

     For instance, when was the last time that you got a TV fixed?   Back then there were two TV repair shops, virtually across the street from each other. Joe Kosters ran one in the end of what has been the Old Erie Restaurant in recent years and Jack Holihan ran a TV sales and service shop in what was to become our museum.  Now TV's are just discarded, and even that is not easy.

     There were several grocery stores, among them the A & P on N. Seneca St, Tanner's IGA,  Coyle's Red & White and Weedsport's first supermarket,  Baran's Weedsport Market all on E. Brutus St..   Meat Markets?  We had at least 3 --  Ken Heffernan on N. Seneca St, Roy Lee on S. Seneca and O'Hara & Cuddy on Furnace St.  Luncheonettes included Jack & Mary's (later Hiron's)  on S. Seneca St.,  O'Hara's , Edie LaPlante's and Don Atkin's Village Diner on N. Seneca St.  LaPlante's was also  the Greyhound bus station where several times a day buses would drop off , or take on passengers.  O'Hara's was also the local Western Union office and it was very common to sit there and all of a sudden the electric teletype machine would come to  noisy life rattling out a message, which then had to be cut, pasted and delivered  to someone locally.

     There were several auto dealerships right in town--Clayton Miner sold Fords and Mercuries  at the corner of E. Brutus and South St.   Guy Lanphere sold Chevrolets where Arby's is now located, George Harris had a Buick-Pontiac dealership where the parking lot for the new brewery is located, Ralph St. John sold Dodge, Plymouth and Chrysler at the intersection of Erie Dr. and W. Brutus St, Willis Hammond sold Willys on W. Brutus St and Roger Eidman sold Hudsons on S. Seneca St.  If a new car was not in your budget,  used cars could be purchased from Don Atkins on N. Seneca St, or Wally Goodman on Erie dr.

     Other downtown businesses included Roy Compson Jeweler,  Brewster's Dry Cleaners, the Winton Shoppe, Weedsport 5c to $1 store,  Donetta Lansbury Gift Shop,  Seger's Flower Shop, Donna Rae Beauty Salon,  Barber Welding, Fult's Furniture store, Whitman's Hardware, Geo. E. Wethey, L.P. gas, Bill's Sporting Goods, Frank Drable Septic Service,  Jean's Specialty Shop, Pysnak's Weedsport Liquor Store,  D. O. Blumer, coal, feed and farm supplies,  Chapman Lumber Co,  Ken Biss Insurance, Brutus Roller Mill,  Erie Fish Fry, Weedsport Hotel,  D.C &C. G.  Jones Insurance, Coyle's bakery, McWetheys Tire and Battery shop, Tudor & Jones farm supplies, and several taverns which included Van's, The Keystone and Eddie's, all in the downtown area. We had plenty of service stations for your car too , Bud Gauthier sold Texaco, Al Simkulet sold Shell , Roy Washington sold Richfield, Bill Saroodis sold Esso, Fancher Follett sold Cities Service and Gene Priebe sold Gulf.  All of the auto dealerships also sold gas

     There were at least three barbers in town, Elvin Dolph on S. Seneca St, Fred Rowe on the 4 corners and Harold Morrison on Furnace St.  For amusement you could go to the movies at Zimmer's Weedsport Theater,  bowl a few games, or shoot some pool next door at their Recreation center. There were at least 5 soda fountains, Zimmer's, Hiron's, O'Hara's, LaPlantes and Atkin's.  I'm sure my failing memory has missed some downtown businesses and for that I apologize, but it's hard work getting old!   Before someone takes me to task about Barber Welding not being in the business  district, I assure you that it was--it was where the Presbyterian church parking lot is now

Denny Randall,

Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society









(December 2019)



     After more than 25 years as Village of Weedsport/Town of  Brutus Historian, Jeanne has decided to step down.  Jeanne has been Historian since shortly after returning to the village to care for her elderly mother after a successful teaching career in Maryland.  It was only natural for her to assume this position, since she is the daughter of long time Weedsport Central School Principal and Mayor of the village William F. Lampman.    Her father was one of the founders of  the OLD BRUTUS HISTORICAL SOCIETY in the late 1960's.  Jeanne has been the workhorse of the organization for many years, doing extensive genealogical work, not only for local residents, but for people from across the country whose ancestors at one time lived in the area.  For many years she has decorated one of the streetside  front windows of the museum monthly and she has saved thousands and thousands of dollars obtaining grants for the museum from copy machines to a new boiler.  She is also responsible for the acquisition of the mannequins which are the envy of other museums.  She put the arm on Charles Chappell when his chain of ladies ware stores in the area closed and so it was that a truckload of nude mannequins were brought from Syracuse to the amazement of  passers by.

Lately she has been beaten down, but not broken by the loss of her husband and the chronic wasting illness of one of her daughters, but nonetheless she has soldiered on.  As recently as about 5 years ago she undertook a project that involved putting together a walking tour of the village and having it bound into a booklet, of which we have some for sale at the museum for not much money.  This involved checking out about 85 properties in the village  and writing a brief history of each!  The report is accompanied by a village street map with the noted properties identified on the map.

I quote below a couple of the properties noted to show you the degree of her work:

   "  THE OSTER HOME---(Bell, Wolford, Gorton,)  2687 Rude Street   Once the home of General Isaac Bell, this house is a  classic Federal Colonial.  Because of it's location on the Auburn Road and Erie Canal, and because of General Bell's signing of documents protesting slavery, his home is considered to have been a stop on the Underground Railroad of the middle 1800's  The barn, no longer standing probably provided a hiding place for the runaway slaves..  General Bell  also owned property on a street to the north, which became known as Bell Street.  His daughter married O. W. Burritt, a prominent merchant in the village of the late 1800's."

  " THE FEY HOME   2702 Van Buren Street  This large house has a well traveled interesting history.  It started it's existence in about 1840 on North Seneca Street ( currently the site of the Lin Bo Chinese restaurant).  That property was acquired  for the purpose of building a bank and it was moved to the southwest corner of Horton and Van Buren Streets.  From there it was relocated again to the opposite corner on the southeast to provide space for O. W. Burritt to build his mansion.. It has been beautifully renovated and the original cupola is still on the roof."

These are just a couple of the entries to show you how complete her attention to detail went.  In an attempt to show her our gratitude for her years of devoted work in the community a reception has been set for Monday the 16th at the Town of Brutus office building on N. Seneca St, from 5:00 to 7:00 PM . Refreshments will be served.  Please stop in and say Hi to Jeanne!

On another subject, since the Weedsport Chamber of Commerce folded and with it Weedsport's Olde Tyme Christmas, we at the museum have been deprived of our largest attendance day of the year. Accordingly we have  for the past couple of years set up holiday displays and had special opening days for people to enjoy them.   Once again this year we will  present  CHRISTMAS AT THE MUSEUM  on Friday Dec.13 from 4 to 7:30 PM, Sat. Dec 14 from 2 to 6 PM and Sun. Dec 15 from 2 t0 6 PM.  We will feature delicate wooden hand carved arts, a huge model train layout, wonderful antique toys and dolls and our many mannequins in winter garb!  We will also be selling some handmade stilts.  Come join us.

Denny Randall,

Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society




(November 2019)


     In my last column I reported on the heroics of Weedsport Police Chief Walton Gallup during the fire at the four corners of Weedsport "AFTER WWII".   I must have had a brain spasm because I knew full well that the fire was in March of 1940.  As a penance , in this column I'll report on the fire itself and the aftermath.   I'm surprised no one caught me on that.
     As reported previously an out of control tractor trailer sliding down the E. Brutus St. hill jackknifed right into the front entrance of Saroodis' restaurant.  Fortunately it was 1:55 in the morning and the building was unoccupied.  This was  before the days of diesel powered trucks.  They were fueled as were cars by highly flammable gasoline.  When the truck went into the building one of the saddle tanks on the truck burst, the hot engine ignited many gallons of fuel which was right in the  front of the building.
     The restaurant was on the ground floor of a building known as Franklin Hall, which had several retail establishments in addition to the restaurant.   Also lost in the blaze were Alsever's Drug Store, The Market Basket grocery store and on the north side of the building Brutus Hardware.  The second floor was used as a banquet hall and dance floor.   The building used up the foot print of where Scott's Auto Service garage and parking lot is, as well as the small office building located east of the garage.  All tenants had plans to reopen.  By the next week The Hardware company had already reopened  in the old Post Office in the Putnam block and the Market Basket has leased property a 8 South Seneca St.  Mr. Saroodis planned to reopen his restaurant in the large house on the corner of Jackson and E. Brutus St. , now the residence of the Zimmer family  Mr. Melvin Alsever, owner of the drug store was indefinite as to his long range plans.
     14 other buildings on E. Brutus and N. Seneca St. facing the fire suffered heavy losses from broken windows and smoke damage.  It is probable that the building will not be rebuilt as it is owned jointly  in various parts by Saroodis, Charles Whitman and his sons Sterling and Harold, and Mr. & Mrs. Warren Dursten.  Several of the buildings across Brutus Street never had the cracked windows repaired and until it was torn down along with others to create the municipal parking lot Coyle's Bakery and Red & White grocery still sported cracked windows on the second floor as reminders of the conflagration of long ago.
     Although this was well before days of an official mutual aid system, Port Byron , Jordan and Auburn sent engines to help their neighboring community.  The situation was helped somewhat by the fact that the building was brick, which helped with exposure issues.  Auburn Hose Company 4 which was somewhat delayed in responding because of icy roads,  under the personal direction of long time Chief   Fred Washburn worked at cooling exposures.  After the fire was out Chief Washburn had nothing but good to say of the work done by the Weedsport firemen. His comment "the Weedsport laddies could not have done a better job today"  was appreciated by the local boys.  Another testimony was contained in a letter to the Editor of the Cayuga Chief newspaper from  Captain Robert Kramer of the Syracuse Fire Department.  His comments were  "Chief Smith and the members of the fire department are to be congratulated for the fine accomplishment in controlling the blaze, following a gasoline explosion, which in all cases spreads rapidly."  The over view  photo  was taken by Syracuse Post Standard flying photographer Gene Badger and the view of the flames was taken by an unknown photographer through the booster reel atop what was Weedsport Engine 1 (a 1937 Dodge/Cayasler 500 GPM pumper) at that time.

Denny Randall,

Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society


The over view  photo  was taken by Syracuse Post Standard flying photographer Gene Badger
and the view of the flames was taken by an unknown photographer
through the booster reel atop what was Weedsport Engine 1
(a 1937 Dodge/Cayasler 500 GPM pumper) at that time.

(You may click on the thumbnails below, for a much larger view.)


(Oct. 2019)


I write this month of the complete remaking of what village residents of my generation would call the " Gallup house".  One generation later it would be known as the "Riggs Home".  It had in fact been converted to a nursing home catering to veterans.  It would be impossible to speak about the house without writing a bit about the most famous owner over the years.  That man was Walton Gallup, the very well respected Chief of Police for the Village of Weedsport, appointed annually from 1922  until 1947 when he passed away in office.

The house was the farm house on a 132 acre dairy farm located at the eastern edge of the village on E. Brutus Street.  The farm was where the Jr.-Sr. High School is now located.  The farmhouse, 2 large barns and a big steel and glass greenhouse were located on the property.  Let me write a little about the Gallup's.  Walton Gallup bought the farm in 1918, and when he was appointed village Police Chief he asked for the privilege of working the night shift so he could operate his farm and greenhouse business days.  He was so well respected that during WWII he received a federal appointment as Chief of Security at the Barr Typewriter plant, where up to 800 employees, mostly women made top secret parts for the war effort..  He phased out of the dairy business at that time, but continued to run the greenhouse, raising plants and selling flowers with the help of his wife Florence.

His nighttime police activity brought him quite a lot of adventure. He was walking a beat near the 4 corners one cold winter night after the war and he saw a tractor trailer sliding down the E. Brutus Street hill on the ice.  He watched in horror as it jackknifed  into the gas pumps at Vassos Saroodis' gas station and erupted in flames.  He ran across the street and yanked the dazed driver to safety just before the truck exploded in a ball of fire.  Not quite done yet with his heroics, he then dashed back across the street and used a pull box to call the fire department and since he was also a member of the fire department worked all night and most of the next day helping to put out what was historically Weedsport's 2nd worst fire.  We have a lot of material of his at the museum, including his Federal badge from Barr and even his personal set of handcuffs.  He passed away in 1947 after a short illness and his wife continued to live in the home and operated the greenhouse for many years, eventually selling most of the farm to the school district. Another parcel on the west side of the house was sold to the David DeLoria family and a mobile home was set there for many years until the Weedsport Free Library bought the property.  This left the house the only part of the original 132 acre farm still there.

After Mrs. Gallup's death the property was sold to the Charles Riggs family, and as mentioned above functioned as a nursing home for many years and then eventually went back to being a private residence.  As time wore on the house which at one time had been a beautiful home deteriorated to what the present generation has seen for the last several years a house so dilapidated that a few years ago it suffered  what is the final disgrace for most homes in that state, a big red X on the front door indicating to responding firefighters that it was unsafe to enter and that any fire fighting had to be done from the outside.  Most homes never are able to recover from that indignity, however last year the property again changed hands and immediately hope sprung eternal in the breast of Weedsport humankind.

An unbelievable transformation began taking place before the eyes of the thousands of visitors to the School and the Library--instead of passing  what had been arguably the worst eyesore in the village, daily, almost miraculous improvement was seen and it is now nearing completion as a beautiful home once again.  Kudos to the new owners!  Swing up by and check it out.  The accompanying photo shows the farm as it was when the school bought the property in the mid 1950's.xxxxxxxxx

Denny Randall,

Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society


(You may click on the thumbnail below, to see a much larger view: )

1950s Gallop Farm House


xBeing in the right place at the right time.

(Sept. 2019)


  xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxBeing in the right place at the right time.

     I'm still in recovery mode from my annual sojourn at the State Fair.   For several years I have held forth in the Empire State Theater and Musical Instrument Museum on the 3rd floor of the Harriet May Mills Building at the fairgrounds.   My purpose in being there is to  show myriads of fairgoers young and old  how a player piano works.  We have a 1913 Koehler and Campbell player piano there for anyone to give it a try, along with many song rolls.

     I have to back up about 70 years to my childhood.   At the time there was a farm oriented show which ran from 5:00AM to 8:00 on WSYR radio every weekday morning hosted by a man named Robert (Deacon) Doubleday.  His opening theme  (NOLA) was played on an old upright player piano which he called the windjammer.  One of the features of his show was that you could call in and chat with him while he was on the air, and at the end of the show he would invite  anyone who called in to climb aboard the barnyard gate and he'd "grab it and slam it and I'll see you in the morning".  I couldn't resist so I would call in often enough so he referred to me as "his young friend from Weedsport"  This started my love of player pianos

     One day as a young teenager I attended a Lions Club auction held in the quanset behind Guy H. Lanphere Chevrolet and I bought a Baldwin player piano for $7.00.  A couple of guys volunteered to take it home for me and it went on the front porch under a tarp until after I was married when I went about restoring it.  I bought a book on the subject published by the Vestal Press in Vestal N.Y. and with the help of the late Hugh Wallace of Elbridge I managed to get the piano operating perfectly  The biggest job was sanding off the old ebony stain and varnish to discover beautiful red mahogany underneath.  Eventually I sent a letter to the Baldwin Piano company giving them the serial number and asking what they could tell me about it.  The got right back to me and told me it was a 1922 model and had gone to Clark Music in Syracuse originally and they even knew to whom it had been sold in Weedsport.  I had sent them a photo of it as I had restored it and they noted that in refinishing it I had removed the decal.   Accordingly they enclosed a pair of gold leaf BALDWIN decals at no charge.

     At any rate, I've been messing with player pianos ever since, even going to work as a second job evenings in Hugh Wallace's AMPHIONOLA Shop In Elbridge  repairing player pianos.  As I have mentioned in other articles I have been associated with ESTMIM more, or less for over 50 years when the mighty Wurlitzer was removed from RKO Keith's Theatre just ahead of the wrecking ball and taken to and reinstalled at the fairgrounds.  I guess they figured I wasn't going to go away and last year I was elected to the Board of Directors of the Empire State Theatre and Musical Instrument Museum (ESTMIM).   This year as we were setting up our exhibit at the museum, the Board decided to put a real nice studio size Aeolian player piano in storage.  This piano was the last player piano built the traditional way.   Stepping back just a bit , for a couple of years we have struggled to keep a Koehler  & Campbell player operating at the O'Hara Ag Museum.  The problem with player pianos is that they are mostly made out of wood and wood dries out and shrinks during the heating season

    Paul Saxon and Tim Quill set up a little humidifier in the bottom of the piano and tented it with plastic and it helped but every day it was like carrying water to the elephants.  By and large pianos in general and player pianos in particular were not popular after central heating became the norm and certainly not with the super insulated homes of today.  We had been looking for a piano that was electrically operated, as I felt that would stand a better chance of being used in the winter time when the heat was on.  At any rate being in the right place at the right time I asked the ESTMIM board if they would consider an outright transfer to another accredited museum and after thinking for about 30 seconds they said they would.  I borrowed a phone, called Paul Saxon and in an hour and a half the piano was on his trailer headed for O'Hara.   The piano can of course be operated with pedals, or electrically, it has a transposer capable of playing in any of 5 sequential keys,  it has the "Rinky Tink"attachment and best of all, the valve bodies are plastic, which sounds like a "cheap" deal, but the fact of the matter is plastic is not affected by humidity, so it ought to play beautifully all winter.

     The plan is to have it set up  to play Christmas music during the annual Christmas tree program, stop by and check it out.
Denny Randall,

Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society





(August 2019)


On Saturday, August 10th I attended the 47th annual AACA car show which has now been held for several years in downtown Auburn as part of the annual Founders day Celebration.   I have attended most of them over the years including many years before I had an  appropriate vehicle.  The first 2, or 3 were held near the merry go  round at Emerson park and I think there were 11 cars at the first one.  I was pleased to ride up with my friend Andy Henderson in his magnificent 1930 Packard Phaeton.  Eventually the show got bigger and moved several times, ending up on the island before moving to the center of town

There's a moral to my story today, so please bear with this convoluted tale.  At this year's show my 1930 Model A Ford Fire Chief's car was parked below Wegman's on Genesee St.   Parked next to me was the beautiful 1984 Excaliber roadster owned by City Manager Jeff Dygert's family and driven by Jeff.  I have the habit of allowing young kids to sit in the car, whereas many car owners won't let a kid within a country mile of their vehicle  I may have to re-think my policy because sometime during the day one of my guests turned the headlights on and even worse the ignition key was on and draining the battery.  6 volts doesn't go very far in these circumstances and when I went to leave the battery was dead flat.

Backing up a bit during the afternoon a gentleman from Mottville stopped in and told me he had just bought a 1930 Fordor  (Hey don't blame me, that's how Henry spelled it)  In the course of our conversation, he mentioned that he had to get a crank as it didn't have one.   I reached under my front seat and gave him my crank--I had another one home in my garage that my lifetime best friend retired Chief of the Auburn Fire Department had given me years ago, after it was given to him by his grandfather.  I was very pleased to pass it on to someone who needed it.  I'm sure Mike was smiling down at the transaction.

At any rate, here I am with a dead battery and I'd given my crank away!  I was pretty well convinced that with a slight shove I could jump start it and head for the barn in Weedsport.  Accordingly, the unfortunate City Manager and another young gentleman who I did not know commenced pushing!  They pushed me the length of the Loop Road and all the way to the Citizen building on Dill Street where they were predictably gasping for breath.   About this time I discovered that another one of my guests had pulled the choke out all the way and left it out and worse, on these vintage Fords, by turning the choke knob you control the air/fuel mixture to the carburetor and it had been left wide open flooding the engine so there was no possibility of it starting.

While sitting there on Dill St. trying to decide what to do, the young gentleman who had helped push said his sister probably had some booster cables--I was willing to try anything although we were going from 12 volts to 6, I figured the battery was dead enough to tolerate it.  Very shortly his sister showed up, we connected the cables after a bit of trouble and--A MIRACLE  The old Ford fired right up. and after a bit of tinkering with the mixture control, it straightened right out and went back to it's reputation as "The car that always got you home."

I mentioned a moral to the story--If Mike Harmon had not given me that crank, many years ago, and if I had not passed it on to a needy stranger, perhaps I would not have gotten the help I needed to get running again. It has always been my feeling that kindness begets kindness. My eternal thanks to the City Manager and his pushing friend for their help!

The attached photo is the Ford last year after being awarded the Mayor's trophy by Mayor Quill.

Denny Randall,

Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society


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


1930 Model A Ford



The virtues of Weedsport Central School's very first "Graduate of Distinction"

(July 2019)


     In May of 2006 (that seems like a long time ago)  I wrote a column extoling the virtues of Weedsport Central School's very first "Graduate of Distinction"   In light of recent developments in the topic I will repeat that column to some degree this month.   

     In June of 1940, Weedsport Central School Valedictorian Phyllis Parkman was bed ridden with a case of German, or old fashioned measles at the time of graduation and despite having a grade point average of  96.4% , she could not take her scheduled Regents exam and consequently did not receive her Regents diploma until the following January when the tests were next scheduled.   Old fashioned Measles, or Rubella was a serious illness, not  in the fact that they caused people to miss graduation ceremonies, or even that they were a terrible illness to those who had them.  The dreadful effects of the virus on the unborn  whose mother's had been exposed to them was the horror of Rubella.  There was a very high risk of  new born death, blindness, deafness, or mental retardation associated with children borne of mother's so exposed.  In this county alone hundreds of such catastrophic births were recorded each year.

       In 1950, ten years after his sister had missed her graduation, her brother Paul graduated from Weedsport Central School as Salutatorian, and while he didn't have the Measles, his name is now synonymous with any serious discussion of that dreaded disease around the world.  Paul was an honor student, was senior class President, Editor of the yearbook and played in the school band.  Following graduation, he began undergraduate studies at St Lawrence University and then entered medical school at the state University College of Medicine at Syracuse.  A scant 4 years after his graduation from medical school and just 11 years after he walked the halls of WCS, Dr. Paul Parkman achieved something so remarkable that it would literally change the world!  Dr. Parkman isolated the Rubella virus!  After successfully isolating the virus in 1961, he joined forces with Dr. Harry Meyor to develop the vaccine which has led to the virtual elimination of this dreadful disease in most progressive countries.  Please remember that I wrote this in 2006.

       After his work with the Rubella vaccine he went to work for the Food & Drug Administration  and was eventually named Director of  the Center For Biologic Evaluation and Research. and was the AIDS coordinator for the agency.  He is the author of over 100 scientific papers.   Dr. Parkman's list of accomplishments and awards is astounding and cannot be shown in this brief column, however he received Presidential Citations from both Lyndon Johnson and George Bush.  He received the prestigious Kennedy International Award for Distinguished Scientific Research and the E. Mead Johnson Award from the American academy of Pediatrics.  He also received the Parent's Magazine Medal for distinguished Service to Children. 

        Dr. Parkman is now mostly retired and lives in Maryland with his childhood sweetheart Elmerina Leonardi who he married in 1955.  The Parkman's are still frequent visitors to Weedsport and I have had the occasion to speak to him several times lately about the recurring  issue of measles in this country and others.  As you can easily understand he is upset by the failure of parents to inoculate and the fact of the matter is that scientific research and parental concern should take precedent over what drivel one reads on the internet, of for that matter personal religious belief .  The health and welfare of the children of this nation, and all nations must come first.  To quote the late Frank Sinatra , who was to appear on a TV show with Dr. Parkman in Chicago many years ago, the singer asked the Dr." what do you do ?", to which Dr. Parkman replied "I developed the vaccine  against German Measles.   Mr. Sinatra's reply was "What took you so long?"

Denny Randall,

Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society




(JUNE 2019)


     While standing in front of the American Legion Post during Memorial Day services, I was reminded of another day over 62 years ago when I was part of a large crowd which had gathered to watch what , for Weedsport was an enormous event.  Let me back up a bit.  The American Legion Post which was originally named after serviceman Clarence Clark who was killed in WWI, and then renamed Clark-Heck after John Heck died in WWII had for years been meeting in rented rooms on the 2nd floor of  several different downtown buildings. and had for years longed for a home of their own.

     In 1957 the frame church which the local Catholics had worshipped in for exactly 100 years was deemed dangerously unsafe, probably helped along  by the pounding of the heavy freights on the West Shore Railroad a short stone's throw away.  The church was shortly demolished and it was decided that the Parish House also had to go to make room for the new church building.  The Parish House was situated directly north of the church and had originally been the Morehouse home. The church had acquired it in 1898 and rented it out as a private residence until 1928 when it was remodeled  for use as a parish house.  It was remodeled again in the early 1950's so that the Weedsport Central School could use it as a second grade, which they did for several years.

     Almost directly across the street from the Parish House was a small dwelling that had been the home of Louis Stivers, the long time (55 years) Sexton of the Catholic Cemetery.  Mr. Stivers had recently passed away and the American Legion bought the property and razed the house.  Meanwhile a deal had been struck with the church to acquire the Parish House and the world famous F.H.Tuxill and Son House Movers had agreed to move the building gratis!  Accordingly, a large basement was dug and a foundation laid up on the Stivers property, and on May 28, 1957 at exactly 9:00 AM the Parish House started moving, and by noon, it had crossed the West Shore tracks, Rt. 34 (S. Seneca St.) and was backed in over it's spanking new foundation.  It took exactly 12 minutes to cross the tracks, with railroad men there to stop rail traffic.

    Weedsport Police Sergeant Robert Goodsell handled highway traffic control and crews from NYSE&G and the Bell Telephone company were on hand to deal with overhead wires.  Legion Commander Fred Rowe noted that  this had been a long time coming.   The Reverend Leo Jones of St. Joseph's Church stated that church services will be held in the building at it's new location until fall when the new church is completed.

     The building has been remodeled a couple of times since including the addition of a large commercial kitchen to facilitate pancake breakfasts and other meals to earn money to support the Legion.
Denny Randall,

Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society




(May, 2019)



     I have been reminded that it's been a long time since I wrote one of these "Do you recall" columns, so here goes.  Before the Cayuga Chief Weedsport had another paper, the Sentinel, owned and edited by George R. Nash.  Mr. Nash was able to save much time and money by never writing copy, or doing much investigation into the veracity of his articles.  He had an unusual system, which seemed to work quite well for many years.  At the head of his personal column he always printed this clever little rhyme--"I know not what the truth may be, I tell it as it's told to me".  Remember when the 3 protestant churches all had pipe organs?  The beautiful Steere  & Turner tracker style organ is the only one left in Weedsport, and it is a treasure, very similar to the one at Willard Chapel. Who remembers in 1958 when the Parish House from St. Joseph's Church was moved across the street by the world famous F.H. Tuxill and Son House Movers, to become the new home of the American Legion?  And speaking of Tuxill, who remembers seeing those giant trucks around town?

     Every now and then I have a craving for a Carrolls 15 cent hamburger!  Recall at one time it was very ordinary on rifle practice day to see students trudging up the streets of the village with a 22 caliber rifle over their shoulder and a pocket full of 22 shorts. Who can remember back when the more noise your car made, the cooler it was?, Speaking of which Long time Fire Chief Ray Pichany who was the school bus mechanic found a second calling building mufflers for fire trucks out of old school bus drive shafts.  As the stock mufflers failed on the apparatus he would fabricate one of his "mufflers" which did anything but muffle. It was something coming back from a fire at about 2 in the morning.  Shifting down on Seneca St. in front of the A&P and Winton Shoppe you should have heard those plate glass windows rattle.  Does anyone recall the Library Bookmobile?  As Memorial day is upon us who recall seeing the Indy cars race at the State Fair Grounds?  Speaking of racing who can remember back to seeing George Harris' Cadillac Allard J2 which acquitted itself well at Watkins Glen and other races.

     How about Pantusi Shoe Repair, or the hose drying tower at the firehouse?  Recall going down to  the North Weedsport RR station and watch trains, or watching the mail bag get snatched at 72 miles an hour from the arm that held it beside the track.  Once in a while you would be lucky enough to see a barge being pushed on the Seneca River.  Does anyone recall the skating parties at school?  And speaking of school who remembers that it was mandatory to attend baccalaureate  and the Alumni Banquet.  Failure to do so would result in not being able to participate in graduation ceremonies--no Pomp & Circumstance, no cap & gown. You were presented your diploma in the school office on the following Monday by a steely eyed Professor William F. Lampman.  Speaking of the end of the school year, who remembers the huge lost & found table outside the office?    How about the big master clock just inside the office which ensured that every clock and bell in the building were incorrect!

     Remember when Baran's Supermarket was Weedsport's first store  where you filled a shopping cart yourself.  Who can recall The Town of Brutus highway garage on N. Seneca St. where the town office building is now. Prior to the town use it was the Abram Walrath Steam Bent Wood Works, with a huge chimney for the boiler used to make steam for bending the wood. They manufactured sleigh runners, chair parts, silo staves and many other bent wood products.  Who remembers the Post Office on East Brutus Street and the traffic snafu every day when the mail truck backed up to the front of the building?  How about the Lehigh Valley circus train?   Who recalls Bill Smith--Weedsport's last Drum Major?  How about the band playing at football games?
Does anyone still yearn for a "Lucky Monday Sundae" from Zimmer's drug store?  Or for that matter, a lemon lime phosphate from O'Hara's?  Finally who recalls barber Fred Rowe's carousel horse barbers chair for small boys?  More another time.
Denny Randall,

Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society





(April 2019)


     It has been said that the Vietnam war is the forgotten war.  A group has been formed to ensure that this is not the case, at least in Cayuga County.  The VIETNAM VETERANS OF AMERICA CHAPTER 704, in conjunction with the CAYUGA COUNTY VETERANS MEMORIAL COMMITTEE have been working tirelessly for several years to see that an appropriate memorial be established in remembrance of this unpopular war and the brave sons and daughters who fought it with ever lessening public support and far longer than any other conflict in our history.

     The committee has been frustrated several times by a seemed lack of interest in getting a site for the proposed memorial.  After being turned down by several entities, the Town of Brutus graciously told them that they were welcome to erect a suitable monument at the Aqueduct Park on Route 31 just west of the Village of Weedsport.  Accordingly, the committee has gone ahead and has received quotes to erect a beautiful monument in tribute to the veterans who fought there, so far from home and particularly to those from our county who died there in the jungles of Vietnam.

     The memorial will include a cameo of each serviceman killed in Vietnam.  A map of southeast Asia will be included showing the location of each fatality.  The reverse of the center panel will have a historic timeline preserving the history of the war and serving as a teaching aid for future generations.  As in any endeavor of this type funding is the number one concern (next to finally getting a venue), thanks to the Town of Brutus.

     If you wish to contribute to this worthwhile and long overdue project please send your tax deductible donation in any amount to:

BOX 1484
AUBURN, NY 13021

Checks should be made out to the Cayuga County Veterans Memorial Committee and to the attention of Mr. Lou Patti , President VVA Chap.704, or Mr. Nick Valenti, President CCVMC, or Mr. Bob Jorolemon.  Although I typically write only about local history, soon enough this war will be ancient history and it is the goal of the two organizations listed above  to ensure that it is NOT forgotten history.  I urge your support for this great effort.  We look forward to the day when this beautiful memorial takes it's place with the rest of the Veteran's monuments at Aqueduct Park.   The photo is a work up of what the monument will look like.  Approximate length is 17 feet and height is 8 feet.  The two dark areas on each side of the map will hold cameos of those who were lost from Cayuga County

Denny Randall,

Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society


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


Vietnam Memorial Cayuga




(March 2019)



      I have been reading about the terrible flooding going on in the heartland of America, especially the Missouri valley and I was reminded of several severe floods here locally over the years.  The last one was 1959, and it was the final straw.  Congressman John Taber interceded and got the Army Corps. of Engineers to take care of the problem which was causing the flooding.
To understand the cause, one has to recall that Weedsport was an Erie Canal town.  There were several businesses in the village that used water power to operate their equipment, among them Brutus Roller Mill and a sawmill which stood on South St. just beyond where the firehouse is now.  The water to power these operations came from the creek east of the village near Rt.31 B, (now E. Brutus St. Rd.).  The water flowed down a millrace to a pair of ponds which were across the street from the high school driveway.  The ponds were called "Square" pond and "Circle" pond.  Water from them went through large culverts underground, under most of the businesses on E. Brutus St crossed under Seneca Street and emptied into the Erie Canal harmlessly.  In 1959 an unusually high snow load had suddenly been melted by 3 days of torrential rain in January.  Ice dammed up at the bridge on Rt.31 B and virtually the whole creek flow was diverted into the village through the old mill race system.

      The old race way culverts may still be seen in some of the basements on E. Brutus St. and S. Seneca St. Hardly a business in the downtown area was spared damage, or destruction.  Tanner's IGA store had a large chest type freezer floating around in 4 feet of water.  A freezer unit at Coyle's Red & White was destroyed as was a large transformer at the five and Ten. Baran's Supermarket had five feet of water in the basement destroying much equipment and stock.   The Weedsport Fire Department, with help from Cato and Port Byron pumped continuously for 3 days until a timely freeze up alleviated the problem. As a little story aside Weedsport engine 3, which was a 1925 Sanford pumped without shutdown for over 72 hours at Baran's Supermarket. Bear in mind that the engine had served the village at that point for over 34 years and had earned a quiet retirement.  Gasoline was poured into it with jerry cans and because of the unusual floating dipstick, oil was added the same way.   The Corps of Engineers straightened out the creek some, built a new wider and higher bridge to prevent damming and filled in both Square and Circle ponds.  Gertrude Marshall as owner of the Roller Mill and the last user of water power sold the water rights to the Village of Weedsport for a nominal sum and the old mill race became a non issue.

      Some readers may realize that on the 2nd Thursday of the month various programs under the auspices of Martha Shaw are presented at the O'Hara Ag Museum.  I was scheduled to present a program on Burma-Shave signs on Jan. 10th, but we got snowed out.  I will now make the presentation on April 11th at 6:00 and with any luck at all, the snow will be long gone!

Denny Randall,

Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society



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

Weedsport Sanford

An additional note from Denny:


After the village finally retired it in 1962,
Doc Goodwin bought it for a small sum,
and it sat outside his "Port 40 " motel as advertising for many years. 

When Doc died, his family donated it to the American Museum of Firefighting
where I happened to be Curator for 13 years. 

We spent over $34,000 restoring it to concourse condition.



We Auto Still Have Local Car Dealers

(Feb. 2019)



       I have lamented previously in this column about the lack of local car dealers in Weedsport.   When I was roaming the streets as a kid, if you were bored you could go admire the new cars at various dealerships in town.  Clayton Miner sold Fords and Mercuries, Ralph St. John sold Dodge, Chryslers and Plymouths, George Harris sold Buicks and Pontiacs, Willis Hammond sold Willys, Eidman Motors sold Hudsons and Guy Lanphere sold Chevrolets.   By far the oldest concern was the one run by Lanphere.  The company started out prior to the turn of the century in the 1880's selling horse drawn road graders, Cortland road carts, and eventually added Rambler bicycles, Edison phonographs and other lines, among which were Studebaker carriages, buggies and wagons.
       Originally owned by Fred D. Lanphere, he took over a building located where the Dollar General parking lot is now which was previously owned by carriage makers Durbin and Bust. Other lines of merchandise were added including farm implements, harness and paints. His son Guy had early on expressed an interest in and a capacity for business and when his father's health failed in the spring of 1913 he left school and became a full time worker in the enterprise.  he eventually went to Central City Business Institute  (CCBI) in Syracuse for some accounting courses, but had no further formal education. It was inevitable that as time wore on the wagon and carriage business would add a line of automobiles and in 1915 Fred Lanphere took on the agency for the Pullman Automobile, who bragged that they were the "biggest car in America for $740".  The Pullman did not sell well and were dropped in 1917 in favor of Dodge and Chevrolet.

       Meanwhile  Guy had become a partner with his father in 1915 and the company became F. D. Lanphere & Son.  Ford cars and trucks were added in 1917 and retained until 1920 when Ford decided to have their dealerships only selling Fords.  In 1920 they added the Willys-Overland line and Hudson-Essex in 1926.  By now all auto companys were demanding that their dealers sell only their own brands and accordingly the parnership was split up with Fred staying with Hudson at the old stand and Guy moving next door in the Scalero block with Willys-Overland.  Even though the sales organizations were seperate the shopwork  was still done in common.  Guy  eventually took on Oakland , which became Pontiac, Studebaker and Dodge.  He obtained the Chevrolet franchise in 1933 and held it until 1961 when he sold out to Humphrey-Spingler.

       As you can imagine the dealerships become somewhat dormant during WW2 existing on used car sales and mechanical repair work.  In 1928  Guy had moved his busines to the old Solomon Giles warehouse at the north end of the village. When the canal was filled in and became Erie Drive (RT 31), the old warehouse was demolished and Guy built an attractive modern dealership across the street (the site now of Arby's)  He moved into the new quarters in the fall of 1949.  The Lanphere story is the story of the evolution of wheeled transportation in America from the horse and buggy to the cars and trucks which we so casually accept today.

       When Guy retired he became a charter member of a group that was gaining momentum in the village which was to become the Old Brutus Historical Society, and in fact Guy held the mortgage for our building!  When it was paid up, he commented "I never expected to see this money again".  Guy had been a member of the "Whittlers" club and he gifted friends and aquaintences hand carved and painted Mallard drakes. I'm proud to have received one many years ago.  The photos show Guy's dealership in the mid-thirties in the old Giles warehouse and the other is an ad for Studebaker buggies which I found in the Lanphere file.

Denny Randall,

Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society



You may click on the thumbnails below, to see a much larger view:




(Jan. 2019)


     For well over a hundred years Weedsport has had a public school system to educate the children of the community. Nearly always an annual journal of the yearly activities was produced.  Sometimes called a yearbook and sometimes some other designation, but generally listing the students, staff and activities.  100 years ago it was decided to call the yearbook "SPARKS" and so it is known to this day.

     For a lot of years a student newspaper was also produced quarterly during the school year and as a play on words, it was called the "SPARKLER".  The paper contained gossip, who was seeing who, or not and why, summaries of the sports team activities and reports of the various clubs and other such information.  At various times in it's history it was taken very seriously with an editorial board, reporters, writers and photographers.  When I was in school it was a 3, or 4 page ditto pamphlet which we waited for eagerly.  At other times over the years  it had a good deal more formality, including being printed in the local newspaper "THE CAYUGA CHIEF".  While looking through some old Chief's at the museum recently I was surprised to come across one of the Sparkler editions written in November of 1935 and taking up a full half page of the paper.

     The Editorial Staff was listed with no less than 22 associates.  Barbara Klumpp was Editor, who, like Jim Boeheim at Syracuse University came to Weedsport and never left!  After graduation she stayed on as secretary to Principal Lampman and was still signing her large BEK as executive secretary when I graduated in 1957 and for years thereafter.  I was amazed to learn the Assistant Editor was my mother Margaret Clarke!  Here then are excerpts of the Sparkler staff attendance at the Syracuse University high school press conference held on Nov.1 and 2, 1935 at S. U.  written by my mother:  5 members attended, Miss Klumpp, Mom, Marcia Bowden, Marjorie Brewster and Elsie Mazzoli.

    " The first visit was to Yates Castle on the campus for registration and then to room 207 at Slocum Hall for criticism of our paper and presentation of awards. In the evening a banquet was held in the University Commons in Slocum Hall with Dr. M. Lyle Spencer presiding.  On Saturday we breakfasted at the Commons and attended sectional meetings for advisors and editors.  Each member of the staff of the S. U." DAILY ORANGE" told us what part they took in the daily publication of the school newspaper.  Other activities included a lecture on "The objectives of a school newspaper", a Convocation held in Slocum hall, where Dean Spencer presented the Journal Contest Award.  Finally we attended the SU-Penn State football game in Archbold Stadium and returned to Weedsport."  Space doesn't permit the printing of the rest of that SPARKLER but it was well done and very interesting.  The report of the French Club was even written in French!

     As a note aside, My mother's class of '35 was one of the few classes, as children of the depression who could not scrape enough money together to publish a yearbook, so these articles are a treasure to us.  Actually the tradition of writing continues--My son Mike who has an unbelievable collection of antique toys and who is a master modeler writes regularly for the national magazine "TOY TRUCKER & CONTRACTOR

Denny Randall,

Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society



Santa  Sleigh

(Dec. 2018)


   Miss Lena E. Morris was Weedsport Free Library Librarian
for many years during the 1940's and 50's. 

Miss Morris was born in Canada and lived most of her life in Weedsport,
passing away in 1963. 

During her time in the library she handcrafted a book
"The Day Before Christmas In Santa Claus Land". 

The book was hand inscribed and illustrated beautifully in watercolors
by Ella Joyce Schoonmaker. 

The handmade book was apparently intended for young visitors at the Library
and is now in our collection. 

In the spirit of Christmas, I plagiarize shamelessly her work:




'Twas the busiest day in Santa Claus Land, when Santa with all of his elves, was sorting out boxes and bundles and bags, and busily clearing the shelves.

Mrs. Santa was packing up candies and nuts, toys, dollies, dresses, and mittens with mates,
while nearby 3 elves were packing a bag, with skis, sleds and skates.

Santa meanwhile, after sorting has bags, had put on his big boots and the elves standing near heard him say to his wife with a gay little laugh,
" I almost forgot to feed those reindeer."

So out to the barn he hurriedly sped,
and soon the whole 8 had been watered and fed. 

He smoothed down their coats till they looked trim and neat,
and inspected with care each deer's tiny feet.

He went over their harness, saw that each tiny bell rang,
making silvery notes, to which Santa sang,

Then saw that the sled was all staunch and strong,
for the round-the-world journey and back before dawn.

He fed the 8 reindeer and put them to bed,
then back up the path in a jiffy he sped.

With a shout and a whistle, both joyous and clear,
while behind him romped gaily a tiny reindeer. 

HO Ho my young rascal, Santa Claus cried,
"It's 40 below, so let's hurry inside."

In a trice little Frisk had his head thrust inside,
every box, bag and bale that the elves put aside. 

He nibbled each tag and inspected each label,
on dolly, or toy, till it seemed he'd be able
to help Santa Claus to select just the toy,
that would be just the one for each girl and each boy.

Meanwhile, good old Santa had closed his big book,
and with such a chuckle that his sides fairly shook,

He looked at the clock and said " Ho Ho and Yo Ho"!
Said he," Mrs. Santa, it's about time to go"

She bustled about and got his red suit,
his gay tassel cap, and saw that each boot
was shiny and warm, and his mittens as well,
for the journey so long over mountain and dell.

Soon the sled was all ready with packs piled high,
the 8 gallant reindeer stood harnessed close by,
then jolly old Santa emerged from the door,
as always before.

With a crack of his whip and a gay "Cheerio",
Santa, sled and 8 reindeer were gone through the snow.

Those of us at Old Brutus wish you a joyous Christmas season and don't neglect to  stop in on December 15 and 16 to see our holiday display of electric trains , dolls and antique toys of all types.

Denny Randall,

Past President of OBHS Old Brutus Historical Society



(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.