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Hager Street shown in red. Approximate boundary of Hager Farm shown outlined in blue/purple color.

Hager Street is a street in the Hamlin Park neighborhood of the East Side of Buffalo.  The street runs for two blocks, between Northland Avenue and East Delavan Avenue.  The street is named for early Hamlin Park resident and developer, August Hager.  Mr. Hager developed Hager Street, along with Viola Park, Pansy Place, Pleasant Place, and Daisy Place.

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August John Hager. Source: ancestry user Christine Middleton

August John Hager was born in Bliescastle, Bavaria on June 7, 1830 to John and Theresa Hager.  Mr. Hager came to Buffalo in 1849.   His first job in Buffalo was at a hotel. He worked at the hotel for a year and a half, before he became involved in the business of selling the types of fuel used in oil lamps as a door-to-door salesman.

In 1852, Mr. Hager went into the liquor sales business with Charles Gibbons as Gibbons & Hager. He worked hard and saved his money.  During the Civil War, a war tax was put on liquor.  Mr. Hager anticipated this tax coming and made a large order to have a full stock right before the tax went into effect.  Mr. Hager and Mr. Gibbons each made $20,000 ($370,300 in today’s dollars) more than they would have after the tax.  By 1865, he sold the liquor business and considered retiring at the age of 35, having raised enough money to live comfortably.  That only lasted a short while before he decided to open a small grocery store  in 1870 at the corner of Bennett Street and Batavia Street (now Broadway).  The grocery store was also very successful, so he sold that business and entered the wholesale tobacco business.  His tobacco business was located at 270 Batavia Street (now Broadway), with a large warehouse in the rear.  The business was one of the largest tobacco businesses in the City of Buffalo and dealt with all varieties of tobacco from Connecticut, New York, and Ohio.  In 1880, Mr. Hager’s business was doing approximately $50-60,000($1.5 to 1.8 Million in today’s dollars) of business annually and carried a stock value of about $15,000($443,000 today).

Mr. Hager married Mary Ann Backe on September 21, 1852, at St. Mary’s Church on Broadway.  They had nine children:  John Baptiste, Mary Ann , Otillie, Charles August, Jacob, Frank, Edward August, August John, and Rose.

Mr. Hager served as Alderman of the old Fifth Ward from 1865-1868.  At the time, the Fifth Ward was bounded by Broadway and Eagle Streets, between Michigan Avenue and approximately Fillmore Avenue.  While Mr. Hager was Alderman, one of the issues for the entire country was how to deal with the Civil Rights Amendment passed after the Civil War.  A Black man named Henry Moxley petitioned Buffalo’s Committee on Schools, requesting that his children attend Public School 32.  At the time, the City Charter prohibited the admission of Black children to the Public Schools, but required the City to provide one or more free schools for Black children.  The Common Council was upholding the fact that the Black children could not attend the Public Schools, only the schools provided expressly for them.  There was only one school for Black children, while there were Black children living throughout the school district, so it was difficult for many of the children to travel from their homes to the Black school.  During the discussion about this at the  Common Council meeting, Alderman Hager pointed out that the Civil Rights Bill gave Black children equal rights with white children and questioned if the Common Council of Buffalo or the City Charter was superior to the laws of Congress.  Alderman Hager put forth a resolution that “the superintendent is hereby directed to admit the children of Henry Moxley, a colored citizen and taxpayer, to Public School No 32, and to admit all colored children to the respective public schools in the boundaries of which school districts their parents reside”  The resolution was referred to the Committee on Schools, giving the Committee the power to make recommendations on admittance of Black children.  The Committee refused to put forth a recommendation for three months, stalling in hopes it would be forgotten.  This led to parents across the city, led by Henry Moxley, to withdraw their children from the Black School and send them to District schools beginning on September 1, 1867.  Eighteen Black children entered the district schools.  On September 16th, the Committee on Schools recommended denial of admission for the Black students in district schools.  On September 24th, Superintendent Fosdick (Father of the Fosdick of Fosdick Street) inspected the Black school, determined it to be sufficient and began physically expelling the Black students from the schools.  Althia Dallas, at age 13, insisted on remaining and claimed she had the same right to attend as white kids.  According to Fosdick, he then “took hold of her and led her out of the school”.  Go Althia for standing up to the superintendent!  On October 11, 1867, Fosdick was charged with assault and battery for forcibly ejecting the children from the school in violation of the Civil Rights Act.  On January 10, 1868 the case of Althia Dallas against John S. Fosdick came to trial before State Supreme Court Justice Charles Daniels.  Daniels ruled in favor of Fosdick.  The case was appealed on May 4, 1868.  The judges reaffirmed the earlier judgement.  Buffalo’s Blacks had not yet succeeded in integrating the schools.  After the passage of the 15th Amendment in 1872, Superintendent Thomas Lothrope worked towards integrated schools.  While Mr. Hager was no longer an Alderman, Common Council once again took up the issue and Black children were given the right to attend the District Schools.  By 1880, there were 75 Black children attending 16 different Buffalo Public Schools and only 35 students at the Black School, so the Black School was closed.

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Hager House on East Delavan.  Source:  Ancestry User Christine Middleton

In 1874, Mr. Hager purchased a farm on East Delavan approximately 30 acres in size, near what was then the outskirts of Buffalo.  At the time, East Delavan was still a mud road.  He built a large 3-story, ten room house.  The house was on property bounded by Delavan, Florida, Pleasant Place and Hager Street.  Their property also included a large barn, green house, hennery and fish pond.  The property was surrounded by large shade trees along with cherry, apple and pear trees.  The house stood about 200 feet back from Delavan, with a landscaped lawn and groves of evergreens and willow trees.  The property sloped to the rear to a small pond fed by natural springs and surrounded by old elm trees.  The property was known as Elmwood Park and was sometimes referred to as Hager Park.

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The rear of the Hager Park Property and Pond in 1906. Source: Buffalo Times, February 11, 1906.

He used his business savvy to develop the property around his house and gave houses and land to each of his children as they married.  Mr. Hager formed a land company which developed Viola Park, Daisy Place, Pansy Place, and Pleasant Place.  Pansy, Viola, and Daisy were named after some of Mr. Hager’s favorite flowers.

He was appointed Parks Commissioner in April 1898, a post that he served until his death.  Mr. Hager was described as “an honest, fearless and efficient representative of the public” in his municipal offices.   He was a strong advocate for the improvements of the park system in Buffalo.  Mr. Hager was very interested in flowers, and had a large greenhouse at his home so he could have flowers all winter long.  He took a great interest in helping to select flowers and trees for the parks during his time as Commissioner.

Mr. Hager served as director of the Roman Catholic Cemetery Association at Pine Hill and was one of the first directors of the German Roman Catholic Orphan Asylum.  He was also a member of St. Vincent’s Church (now the Montante Center at Canisius College) and a member of the Catholic Mutual Benefit Association (C.M.B.A.)  He was immensely proud of his American Citizenship.  His brother, Edward, returned home to Germany each summer, but August never returned to his homeland.

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August Hager’s grave in Cheektowaga

August Hager died on November 14, 1901. He is buried in Pine Hill Cemetery (the United German and French Cemetery, now part of the Mount Calvary group of cemeteries) in Cheektowaga.  After August’s death, the property on Delavan was listed for sale.   August’s wife Mary died a year later in December 1902.

The house was still listed for sale in September 1903.  The children were looking to sell the house to close out their parents estate.  In 1905, J.P. Staderman, husband of the youngest Hager daughter Rose, was using the home as “Home for Pets”.  Mr. Staderman was working with the Humane Society to board animals while their owners went away for summer vacations.  Boarding a cat cost $2/month ($67/month in today’s dollars) or 75 cents a week($25.15 today).  Boarding for dogs varied according to the size of the animals.  They also boarded canaries.  The Home for Pets only lasted one summer.


Lutheran Church Home’s Original Location on Walden Avenue. Source: Buffalo Courier, June 1896.

In February 1906, the Hager Homestead was sold to the Lutheran Church Home for the Aged and Infirm for $13,000($435,985 in today’s dollars).  The Lutheran Church Home was founded in 1896 to provide care for seniors, particularly for those from German, Swedish, and English Lutherans in the City.  Eleven churches – St. Johns, German Trinity, First Church, Lancaster, Holy Trinity, Christ’s, Swedish Trinity, Concordia, Church of the Atonement, German Church of the Redeemer and English Church of the Redeemer – came together to form the Church Home charity.  The Lutheran Church Home’s first location was in a rented home at 390 Walden Avenue near Goodyear Street.  Within a year, the Home had outgrown it’s space and expanded to 388 Walden Avenue as well.  The two houses were connected by a second floor hallway.


Hager Home on East Delavan. Source: Buffalo Times, February 11, 1906.

In 1906, the Lutheran Church Home purchased the Hager House from the heirs and moved their 25 residents into the Hager family house.  The Lutheran Church Home celebrated their 10th anniversary in Hager Park in June 1906.  The large grounds allowed the property to be used by the Lutheran community for events, particularly fundraising days for the Church Home and large open houses were the public was invited to come visit the Church Home and meet residents and enjoy the property.

A large building to allow them to provide accommodations for an additional 60 residents was constructed along East Delevan in front of the Hager house.  The new building was connected to the Hager House and opened in December 1907.  The Hager House was demolished in the 1950 when an addition was placed on the rear of the Lutheran Church Home Building.

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Lutheran Church Home Postcard, circa 1905

In 1956, the rear portion of the Hager Park property became the location of the Niagara Lutheran Home.  The property was donated by the Lutheran Church Home to the Niagara Lutheran Home.  Niagara Lutheran Home was organized by 59 Lutheran churches in Western New York and provided housing for 99 individuals needing critical care.  In today’s terms – the Lutheran Church Home was an assisted living facility, whereas the Niagara Lutheran Home provided skilled nursing and rehab.  When Niagara Lutheran Home opened in May 1956, it was the first nursing home of its kind in New York State.  It was also the first institution in the United States outside of hospitals in which nurse’s aides and Gray Ladies would serve. Gray Ladies were American Red Cross volunteers who provided friendly, personal, non-medical services to sick, injured and disabled patients.  The facility was not limited to Lutherans, members from all Protestant faiths were admitted.

In the 1990s, Niagara Lutheran Home expanded and added a facility at 1040 Delaware Avenue in addition to their site on Hager Street.  In 1996, the Niagara Lutheran Health System was incorporated and 52 acre of land on Broadway in Lancaster was purchased to become the location of Greenfields Continuing Care Community.  In 1998, the 120 residents of the Niagara Lutheran Home on Delaware Avenue moved to the Lancaster site and the Delaware Ave Home was closed.  In 2001, 92 residential apartments at Greenfield Manor and 49 assisted living apartments at Greenfield Court were opened in Lancaster.  In 2006 the Greenfield Outpatient Rehabilitation Clinic was dedicated in Lancaster.

In 2006, the Lutheran Church Home became a part of the Niagara Lutheran Health System.  In 2013, after 107 years on East Delavan, the residents of the Lutheran Church Home moved to Greenfield Terrace in Lancaster.   When the Lutheran Church Home building closed, the complex included 65 resident rooms, a full commercial kitchen that had been remodeled in the 1990s, a 75-seat dining area, a social hall, a library, a chapel, three elevators, a detached two-level masonry garage and parking for more than 35 vehicles.  In 2014, the Lutheran Church Home sold the property at 217 and 227 East Delevan to 217 Group LLC (an entity of Ellicott Development Company) for $450,000.


Modern view of 217 Delavan Ave.  Photo by Author

The former Lutheran Church Home building became home to the Community Music School of Buffalo in 2019.  The Community Music School was founded in 1924 and serves more than 500 students each year!  Their mission is to share the gift of music with the diverse communities of WNY and make it affordable for families of all incomes.  Community Music School shares the building with CCNY Inc, PIE Analytics, and Lakeshore Connections.

In 2015, the corporate offices of the Niagara Lutheran Health System moved from 64 Hager Street to a new office building at Greenfields.  The Niagara Lutheran Home was sold at the end of 2015 and the 164 residents were moved to Greenfields, consolidating the care to one site in Lancaster, consolidating the Niagara Lutheran Health system out in Lancaster. The former Niagara Lutheran Home facility on Hager Street operates under new ownership as Humboldt House, a skilled nursing facility.


Soldiers and Sailors Monument. Designed by Charles Hager.  Photo by Author.

Some of the other members of the Hager family also accomplished some important things in Buffalo.  August Hager’s son Charles Hager owned a contracting company which built the J.N. Adam Memorial Hospital in Perrysburg, many of the grain elevators along the waterfront and the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Lafayette Square.  August’s son Jacob Hager was a city plumbing inspector.  August’s son Edward August Hager was a dairy farmer.  He had 20 cows on his property on Delavan Avenue.  At the time, the Hager farm part of the city was quickly developing, and as houses came closer to the pasture, Edward A. Hager gave up his cows.  He then was involved with the city parks and streets departments managing the hundreds of city-owned horses.


EM Hager & Sons Planing Mill Building on Elm Street

You may have also heard about the Hager family due to the EM Hager & Sons Company.  August Hager’s brothers Edward M. Hager came to America and lived with August when he ran the grocery store.  Edward worked at the store for awhile, then went to Newark N.J. to learn the carpentry trade.  When he returned to Buffalo, he established the EM Hager & Sons Company in 1868 on Mortimer Street.  The company built many of Buffalo’s early factories, grain elevators and other buildings.  E.M. Hager and Sons moved to 141 Elm Street in 1883.  The company was in operation until the 1980s.  The Elm Street building has recently been renovated and is know referred to as the Planing Mill.  It is a mixed used development with apartments and office space.

Want to learn about other streets? Check out the Street Index. Don’t forget to subscribe to the page to be notified when new posts are made. You can do so by entering your email address in the box on the upper right-hand side of the home page. You can also follow the blog on facebook. If you enjoy the blog, please be sure to share it with your friends.  Interested in getting even more content from me?  You can become a Friend of Buffalo Streets on patreon.   You can go to https://www.patreon.com/buffalostreets/


  • “August Hager”  Memorial and Family History of Erie County, New York.  The Genealogical Publishing Company, Buffalo:  1906.
  • Smith, H. Katherine. “Hager Street is Memorial To Former Chief of City Parks”.  Buffalo Courier Express Sept 22, 1940. Sec5, p6.
  • “August Hager, Leaf Tobacco”.  Commerce, Manufactures and Resources of Buffalo and its Environs.  Commercial Publishing Company; Madison, Wisconsin:  1880.
  • “August Hager Appointed Park Commissioner by Mayor Diehl”.  Buffalo Times.  April 30, 1898, p8.
  • “Houses for Sale”.  Buffalo News.  July 5, 1902, p8.
  • “Houses for Sale”.  Buffalo News.  September 15, 1903, p10.
  • “Home for Pets for the Summer”.  Buffalo Commercial.  July 20, 1905,  p13.
  • “A Noble Lutheran Charity”.  Buffalo Commercial.  April 8, 1896, p11.
  • “Hager Homestead Has Been Sold”.  Buffalo Commercial.  February 3, 1906, p12.
  • “New Lutheran Church Home:  Pretty Site for Old Folk”.  Buffalo Morning Express. February 3, 1906.
  • “To Build a Home for Old People.”  Buffalo Morning Express. February 11, 1906, p10.
  • “Dedication of Lutheran Church Home for the Aged”.  Buffalo News.  November 30, 1907, p4.
  • “Ellicott pays $450,000 for Lutheran Church Home”.  Buffalo News.  August 8, 2014, p38.
  • “Lutheran Home is Dedicated as Symbol of Faith”.  Buffalo News.  May 8, 1956, p21.
  • Watson, Stephen T.  “Lutheran Health Selling Facility”.  Buffalo News.  September 11, 2014, p39.
  • White, Arthur O.  “The Black Movement Against Jim Crow Education in Buffalo, New York”.  Phylon, Vol 3, No4.  pp. 375-393.  (accessed via https://sci-hub.ru/10.2307/274041)
Angela Keppel_Hamburg October 22 2019 (1)

Myself speaking to a group

Want to hear me speak in person?  I will be presenting again through Erie County’s University Express program this semester!  I will be giving another Discovering Buffalo, One Street at a Time talk.  I will technically be presenting Part 6 of the talks, but don’t fret, there’s no need to have attended previous talks to come to this one.

Here’s the course description:

“Did you ever wonder how streets get named? Who was Mr. Goodell? What does Cordage Alley have to do with Great  Lakes Shipping? Learn about how our local history is written on our street signs and about some of the people who gave their names to our streets.”

I’ll be giving the talk seven times so you’ll have lots of chances to catch it.  I’ll be at the following times and places:

  • Thursday May 4 at 1pm, Tosh Collins Senior Center
  • Thursday May 18 at 6pm, Amherst senior Center
  • Wednesday June 7 at 12:15pm, Baptist Manor
  • Friday June 16 at 1:30pm, Orchard Park Senior Center
  • Wednesday June 28 at 10:30am, Schiller Park Senior Center
  • Tuesday July 11 at 10am, Clemmon Hodges Sr Community Center
  • Monday July 24 at 1pm, Town of Evans Senior Center

University Express really puts together a great program of classes – everything from “Balancing the Middle East” to “Women in the Civil War” to “Great American Poets” to “Cooking with the Commissioner” and everything in-between.  There’s really something for everyone!  For more information and to learn about the other classes being offered, you can see the entire University Express Catalog here:  https://www4.erie.gov/universityexpress/sites/www4.erie.gov.universityexpress/files/2023-04/final_000003_university_express_spring_2023_catalog_1.pdf


Panel discussion for Buffalo in 50 Maps – Vicky, myself and Jessie

I was recently on a panel with Vicky Johnson-Dahl in celebration of the release of Vicky’s book Buffalo in 50 Maps, hosted by Talking Leaves Books and Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center.  Jessie Fisher and I joined Vicky to talk about maps and Buffalo and more!  The discussion was filmed, so you can watch the panel discussion here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQRQS-8WUPM

You can get a copy of the book from Talking Leaves, either in person on Elmwood or ordered via the Talking Leaves website.


Giving a Downtown Walking Tour

Now that it’s finally getting warm again, I’m going to be launching walking tours again this spring/summer!  Tours will likely start next month and run through the fall.  I want to get some feedback about what people are looking for from tours, so I put together a very brief survey (only 4 questions) about what topics people want to learn about and what times are better for tours.  If you’re interested, please click this link to take the survey:  https://forms.gle/xzh64GAqGGEt6mxU7

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Elfreth’s Alley, Philadelphia

And so you don’t feel deprived, here’s some history factoids for today.  I was in Philadelphia last week for the National Planning Conference.  I stopped by Elfreth’s Alley.  This narrow street dates from 1703!  The houses were developed between 1703 and 1836 along the alley. It’s considered to be the oldest continually residential street in America!  The street is named for Jeremiah Elfreth, a blacksmith and property owner.  As time passed, there were more factories and other development around the Alley.  In 1934, the Elfreth’s Alley Association was founded to preserve the history of the alley.  Part of what they did was to restore the name Elfreth’s Alley (it had been changed to Cherry Street over the years!).  People still live in the homes along the alley (two of the houses are a museum, but the rest are privately owned).  Since it’s a tourist destination, I’m sure it gets crowded and noisy at times, but can you imagine living in a house where people have been living for 320 years?  Pretty amazing if you ask me!


William Penn’s Plan for Philadelphia in the courtyard of Philly’s City Hall

Did you also know that Philadelphia was the first American city with a planned street grid?  William Penn’s Plan of 1682 laid out the blocks with wide main streets (100 feet wide – wider than any street in London at the time!) and narrow side streets between.  The location he chose was strategic for trade – centered between the two rivers, the Delaware and the Schuylkill.  It’s designed as a two mile by one mile rectangle. It was also the first plan in America to set aside land for public squares and spaces for recreation, as well as to set aside areas for future growth and development.  As other cities were established, many of them were based on the Philadelphia model.  The plan creates a nice compact Center City which is part of Philly’s charm for sure!  Hoorah for street grids!  If you’re wondering, Buffalo’s is from 1804 and was laid out by Joseph Ellicott, but most of you who follow this blog likely already know that! If you don’t, you can read up on it at this link

Interested in getting even more content from me?  You can become a Friend of Buffalo Streets on patreon.   You can go to https://www.patreon.com/buffalostreets/    Patreon is a site where you can help support creators like me.  As you know, I have been telling the story of Buffalo’s streets here for more than a decade!  This blog is my hobby (and my passion).  But it’s something I do, without pay, in my free time.  Becoming a patron can help support the blog and keep it going.  The money will go towards helping to provide for fees for website hosting, as well as memberships to newspapers.com and ancestry.com which help me complete my research. Supporting on patreon will help to keep buffalostreets.com free and accessible to everyone.  If you sign up at the $5/ month tier, you will get monthly newsletters from me with bonus content.  The content will consist of the kinds of interesting tidbits I find while researching that doesn’t quite have a place here on the blog – and observations when I travel, like the info from Philadelphia.  If you’d prefer to make a one time contribution, you can also do that at paypal.me/akepps Thank you to those who have already signed up or who have contributed.  It really does mean the absolute world to me!!

Don’t worry, you don’t have to contribute – I’ll still be posting the same free content you’ve all come to know and love over the years!  Thank you to everyone for your support over the years, it really means a lot to me!

We’ll be back to more regularly scheduled content soon….what street do you want to learn about next?

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Map Showing the Block of Little Summer Street

Little Summer Street is a one block street on the West Side.  It is technically the block of Summer Street, between Richmond Avenue and York Street.  Historically, it was named West Summer Street until the late 1890s, when it was renumbered and became a part of Summer Street.  I found references calling it “Little Summer Street” as early as 1883.   Little Summer Street and the adjacent street, Union Place, formerly 16th Street, were originally developed by Edward and Lydia Cox.

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Edward Perkin Cox. Source: Greg Green on Ancestry.com

Edward Perkins Cox was born in Long Clawson, Leicestershire, England on January 3, 1802.  He was the fifth of seven children of Charles Cox and Anne Perkins Cox.  After attending local schools, he taught in Long Clawson for several years while living at home with his father, who was a gardener.

Edward married Lydia Boyer in 1837.  Lydia Boyer Cox was born in 1816 in Leichestershire, England, the third of ten children of William Boyer and Phoebe Wooten.  After marriage, Lydia and Edward Cox came to America.

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Lydia Boyer Cox. Source: Greg Green on ancestry.com

The Cox family first settled in Black Rock on the River, where Edward became a gardener.  He became friends with Jesse Ketchum while he was working for him.  In 1840, he bought a large tract of land from Mr. Ketchum – the property which is now crossed by Elmwood, Summer, Richmond, North, Jersey, York and Ketchum Place.  The land was primeval forest and meadow at the time.  Mr. Cox planted a large market garden and built a farm house, near the corner of Jersey and Ketchum.  The farm house was replaced by the brick house at 414 Jersey street around 1842 and at some point, a second house was built in front of the first house.  Mr. and Mrs. Cox lived in the front house at 414 Jersey until both of their deaths in the 1890s.

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1872 Atlas of Buffalo. Note the property owned by Edward P Cox in upper right of map. This is the block bounded by York, Richmond, Ketchum and Jersey Streets today

In the 1860s, they began building a number of one-story brick cottages along what became West Summer Street and the end of 16th Street (now Union Place).  The built about 30 houses.  They were referred to jokingly as “Cox’s Plantation” or “Coxtown” or “Cox Settlement” and more commonly as “Shingletown”.   At the time, the city limits were to North Street, so beyond the area was still fields and forest.  Shingletown consists of the area between what is now Symphony Circle and about West Utica Street.  It was a swampy area covered with lots of cedar trees.  Shingles were made from the trees for many Buffalo Houses.  It called Shingletown because “nothing but shingles and lumber could be seen on the roads”.  The Rogers Road section (now Richmond Avenue) was mostly used for cattle grazing and truck gardening.  A truck garden is a garden where fruits and vegetables are raised for sale at markets.  The houses in the area were “ramshackle, out-of-date, ill-repaired dwellings which are offered at low rates” and were surrounded by fields.  By 1888, Shingletown had passed to history, being replaced with a desirable place to live.  The Olmsted Parkways (1868-70) changed the Circle, Richmond Avenue and the neighborhood greatly.  When Richmond Avenue was paved, it was referred to as one of the “finest streets in the city”.  It was called simply “The Avenue” because it was such a grand important street.  The Elmwood Avenue Streetcar line  in 1889 opened up the area to additional development. The shacks were replaced with cottages and homes for the well-to-do and middle classes.  The dwellings in Shingletown shifted from rental properties to owner occupied.  Old time neighbors still referred to the area as Shingletown, with the Rhode Island Businessmen’s Social Club on West Utica still electing a “Little Mayor of Shingletown” up into at least the 1940s.


Example of one of the cottages on Little Summer Street. Source: buffaloah.com

These cottages built on Little Summer Street and Union Place are famous in Buffalo today, especially on Garden Walk weekend.  The story that is often told about these cottages is that Lydia Cox was homesick wanted to recreate the streets of her hometown in England so they built the cottages.  Both Lydia and Edward came from large families – Lydia had 9 siblings and Edward had 7 siblings!  Many of the family was also in town in Buffalo.  Lydia’s brother William Boyer came to Buffalo and had nine children.  Those 9 children each got married and also had children.  At least two of Edward’s great nephews (his sibling’s grandchildren) also came to live in Buffalo – Edward Cox and Henry W. Kitching.  Most of the cottages were filled with relatives of Lydia and Edward.  I was able to find evidence of at least ten of the houses on Ketchum Place, W Summer Street, and Union Place being occupied with various family members, though it is difficult to trace additional family members due to there being so many nieces who got married and had and name changes.  The family members I was able to find were those remembered in both Edward and Lydia’s wills.

In the 1870s, Mr. Cox began selling off his property as Buffalo was growing around to the area.  Most of the Cox property was sold off by the time he died. As the area began to grow, Mr. Cox and Mr. Ketchum established the first Methodist Episcopal mission house here in Buffalo.  The first chapel stood near where Richmond Avenue and Symphony Circle intersect.  Mr. Cox and Mr. Ketchum then built a larger Methodist Episcopal Mission house on the lot bounded by Thirteenth, Fourteenth, Jersey and York Streets (the land became the State Normal School).  When the congregation disbanded, Mr. Ketchum and Mr. Cox became members of Asbury M. E. Church which had just been re-organized in 1872.

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Cox Hall postcard at what is now Roberts Wesleyan College. Postmarked 1911.

Mr. Cox served as a Vice President of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.  In 1890, he donated $8,000 in to the Chesbrough Seminary in Chili, New York to build an academic building.  The school had been founded in 1866 as Chili Seminary by Benjamin Titus Roberts, a friend of Mr. Cox.  This money was used to build Cox Hall, which was dedicated in 1892.  The building contained a chapel, library, classrooms, science laboratories, cafeteria, administrative offices and dormitory space for the school.  In 1949, Chesbrough Seminary became Roberts Wesleyan College.  Cox Hall is one of two remaining original buildings on campus and is used by the music department for performances, classes and meetings.  In 2017, the Town of Chili officially marked Edward P Cox Memorial Hall as a historic landmark.

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1899 Sanborn Map showing the land formerly owned by Edward Cox. If you look on the lower right, you can see Mr. & Mrs. Cox’s house at 414 Jersey, you can also see the three cottages that are now landlocked down a little lane off of Summer Street. In the empty space along Jersey is where Mr. Cox was trying to cram in additional houses and the neighbors fought back.

In 1892, Edward got into some hot water with his neighbors.  He had applied to get permits to construct two additional frame houses in the block bounded by West Summer, Jersey and Richmond Avenue.  Councilman George Hayward read a document with protest from 18 residents in the area requesting that the building permits be overturned.  It was declared that Edward Cox was trying to fill up the area left in the middle of the block by the sale of short lots, to cram in additional houses.  This was determined to be “flagrant abuse” because the houses that were already there were too close to the neighbors.  The permit was denied, so additional cottages were not built.  You can see on the map how houses were placed onto lots to maximize building potential, leading to houses at odd angles and on triangle lots.  More houses lead to more rental income for the Cox family, so it was their desire to build as many houses as possible to make more money.  The rental houses continued to provide income for the heirs long after Mr. & Mrs. Cox’s deaths.

Edward died December 3, 1893, a month before his 93rd birthday.  He was still active up until right before he died.  His obituary stated that just ten days before he died, he was putting in a sidewalk in front of his property on Ketchum Place.  Mr. Cox is buried in a family plot at Forest Lawn Cemetery along with 34 other family members.

Edward’s will was reported to give bequests to the following:

  • Thomas Boyer, $600
  • Elizabeth Boyer, $800
  • William Boyer, Jr, $100
  • Mary Boyer, $400
  • Clara Upper, $400
  • Hanna Quint, $300
  • Each of the four children of William Boyer, Jr, $50
  • William Cox, $1000
  • Edward Cox, $500
  • Edward Cox, house at 189 York Street
  • Rev. B. T. Roberts for the benefit of the Chesbrough School  [now Roberts Wesleyan College] at North Chili, $300
  • Rev S.K.J. Chesbrough of Chicago, managing editor of the Free Methodist Paper, $300
  • Asbury M.E. Church of Buffalo, $1000 to be used in paying off the mortgage against the parsonage [which was at 270 Georgia Street]
  • Free Methodist Church and Orphanage of Gerry, Chautauqua County, $1,000
  • Elizabeth Cooper of Hungerton, Lincolnshire, England, $12,000 in trust with instructions for how to distribute the trust fund to family overseas
  • Lydia Cox, the use of the residence of the estate of whatever name or nation during the term of her natural life.

Executors of the estate were Lydia, Edward Cox and Walter G Hopkins.  The will stated that after Lydia Cox’s death and the payments of the bequests, the remainder of the estate was to go to Buffalo General Hospital.  The value of the estate that was to be left to Buffalo General was estimated to be about $30,000 (a little over $1 Million in 2023 dollars).  The property was left via three pieces of property – known as the Dempster, the Spayth and the Stengel-Zimmerman mortgages.  Mrs. Cox argued that her husband did not leave the property to the hospital and a lawsuit ensured.  Lydia argued that her husband had sold the property to her and therefore, it was not going to go to the Hospital.  The Court found that the Dempster and Spayth properties, both on Richmond Avenue, were transferred to Lydia Cox.  However, the Stengel-Zimmerman mortgage property was not transferred to her and would come into possession by the Hospital.  The Stengel-Zimmerman mortgage property was on West Summer Street.

Lydia survived Edward for about 3 years before she died in 1897.  Lydia’s will left an estate consisting of real property valued at $45,000 ($1.6 Million today) and personal property valued at $65,000 ($2.4 Million today).  Lydia’s will granted bequests to 48 people, with amounts ranging from $50 to $500($1800 to $18,000 today).  Niece and Nephews Elizabeth, Thomas and William Boyer of Buffalo were named as executors of the estate. They hired William Newbrook to act as lawyer for the estate.  William Newbrook had been Lydia’s lawyer for several years and had created her will.

Mr. Newbrook embezzled some of the funds from Lydia’s estate in two separate instances.  He lost the money in gambling dens.  The first instance in November 1898, his father and father-in-law covered the $5,000 in costs to the estate.  This fact was kept secret, and was only known to William Newbrook, his father George Newbrook and his father-in-law Mr. Brock.  William continued gambling and lost more money.  In the second instance, in August 1889, Mr. Newbrook lost $8,701.90 ($315,000 in today’s dollars) by gambling away the funds deposited with the Empire State Savings Bank and the Fidelity Trust and Guarantee Company.  He asked his father again for help, but this time, his father refused and informed the executors.  The Executors engaged another attorney to examine the books and when they met with Mr. Newbrook, he confessed and admitted he had no money left.  It was found that he had started gambling again just two weeks after his father and father-in-law had bailed him out in the fall.  William Newbrook promised to stay in Buffalo and help them figure things out, however, he quickly fled the country instead.  William’s father George announced that he would make publicly known the names of the men to whom William lost the money, since the gambling dens were operating illegally.  He had hoped that threatening to release the names would convince them to return the funds.  However, George dropped his case, deciding not to fight his son’s battles for him.   At the time, the estate had $42,658 cash in the banks and $50,790 in real estate.  It was determined that Newbrook had forged checks which the bank had cashed.  The estate sued the banks for cashing forged checks.  It took several years of litigation to remove Newbrook from their accounts and for the banks to make good on the shortages.  William Newbrook’s whereabouts was still unknown to his wife when she divorced him in 1905.  I was unable to find information about William after he left Buffalo.  When William’s father George Newbrook died in 1923, his obituary and made no mention of William but includes George’s other children.

While this was all happening, the Lydia Cox Estate also suffered due to the bank failure of the German Bank.  The bank had $26,000 ($942,390 in today’s dollars) on deposit for the estate when the bank failed.  It took another lawsuit to recover the funds, which was partially successful.  Both Mr. & Mrs. Cox’s Estates had so many lawsuits, the newspapers would report them as “another court sensation”!  In 1904, Buffalo General ended up selling the land on West Summer Street back to the Estate for $1.  Other property was divested from the estate over time.  In December 1908, the Cox house at Jersey and Ketchum was purchased by John W. Klauck.  The adjoining property along Jersey street was purchased from the Cox Estate by John D. Larkin.   After more than a decade of lawsuits, the final distribution of the estate was sent to about 20 nephews and nieces living in both England and America in 1909.


Ad from 1873 for Thomas Clayton’s Greenhouse at the corner of Rogers (now Richmond) and Summer Street. Source: Buffalo Commercial

The street continued to change over the years.  The last evidence of Shingletons truck farms and gardens was the greenhouse at the corner of Richmond and West Summer Street.  This greenhouse was owned and operated by Thomas Clayton for more than 40 years.  The greenhouse was sold was sold in 1916.  He had operated the greenhouse at the corner of Richmond and West Summer Street for more than 40 years!  The lot was sold to Frank L Kissock to build a residence there.  Supposedly, the final apple tree from the orchards of Shingletown was cut down in 1920 to built the Stuyvesant Arms Hotel on Elmwood.  The orchard had been filled with pear, cherry, plum and apple trees and ran between North and Summer Streets.  The trees had been planted in the 1860s and over time the fruit trees were lost to development.

dodds dairy

1925 Sanborn Map showing Dodds Alderney Dairy at the corner of Summer and York Streets

Around 1909, the former butcher shop at 159 York Street and their barn was sold to Dodd’s Dairy.  Dodds had incorporated in 1904, owned by brothers William, John and David Dodds.  Dodds Dairy was the largest dairy operation in New York State outside of New York City.  The dairy operated on York/Summer Street for many decades.  The building had become vacant by the 1970s and was purchased at the city tax auction in 1975 and converted into apartments.

dodd's milk

Ad for Dodds Dairy from the Buffalo News, 1931.

By the 1920s, the intersection of West Summer and Richmond had become a common spot for car accidents.  A traffic signal was installed to help reduce accidents.  In 1924, the road was made one way, with traffic traveling west only.  In 1944, the Board of Safety restricted traffic on Summer Street to one-way between York and Richmond Avenue (switching the one-way to east bound) and restricted parking to one side of the street.

In 1996, the end of 16th Street between York and Richmond was renamed Union Place.  By the early 2000s, the area started to be referred to as The Cottage District due to the distinct cottages located on the streets.

Want to learn about other streets? Check out the Street Index. Don’t forget to subscribe to the page to be notified when new posts are made. You can do so by entering your email address in the box on the upper right-hand side of the home page. You can also follow the blog on facebook. If you enjoy the blog, please be sure to share it with your friends.

Interested in getting even more content from me?  You can become a Friend of Buffalo Streets on patreon.   You can go to https://www.patreon.com/buffalostreets/    Patreon is a site where you can help support creators like me.  As you know, I have been telling the story of Buffalo’s streets here for more than a decade!  This blog is my hobby (and my passion).  But it’s something I do, without pay, in my free time.  Becoming a patron can help support the blog and keep it going.  The money will go towards helping to provide for fees for website hosting, as well as memberships to newspapers.com and ancestry.com which help me complete my research. Supporting on patreon will help to keep buffalostreets.com free and accessible to everyone.  If you sign up at the $5/ month tier, you will get monthly newsletters from me with bonus content.  The content will consist of the kinds of interesting tidbits I find while researching that doesn’t quite have a place here on the blog.  If you’d prefer to make a one time contribution, you can also do that at paypal.me/akepps Don’t worry, you don’t have to contribute – I’ll still be posting the same free content you’ve all come to know and love over the years!  Thank you to everyone for your support over the years, it really means a lot to me!

We’ll be launching tours again this summer, more information about that will be coming soon.  I’ll also be on the schedule again for this upcoming semester through University Express through Erie County.  I’m scheduled for six classes throughout Western New York!  The schedule comes out in mid-April, so stay tuned for that!


  • “Death of An Old Resident”.  Buffalo News.  January 4, 1897, p16.
  • “General Hospital Wins”.  Buffalo News.  July 10, 1896, p4
  • “He Founded “Shingletown”.  The Buffalo Enquirer.  December 9, 1893, p2.
  • “Will of E.P. Cox”  Buffalo Morning Express.  February 22, 1893, p7.
  • “Mrs. Lydia Cox”.  Buffalo Times.  January 4, 1897, p5.
  • “Death of an Old Resident”.  Buffalo News.  January 4, 1897, p8.
  • “Forty-Eight Legatees.”  Buffalo News.  March 3, 1897, p 13.
  • “Left a Large Estate”.  Buffalo Commercial.  March 31, 1897, p2.
  • “Shingletown No More”.  Buffalo Sunday Morning News.  April 8, 1888, p1.
  • “To Ballot Tomorrow”.  Buffalo News.  October 23, 1940, p42.
  • Palazzetti, Agnes.  “The Little Houses on Summer Street”. Buffalo News.  May 1, 1983, p204.
  • “Edward P. Cox’ Will”.  Buffalo Enquirer.  February 22, 1894, p5.
  • “Quarrelsome.  That is, Councilmen Refused to Agree with Alderman.”  Buffalo Courier.  1892.
  • “Not Much Discussion”.  Buffalo Morning Express. June 16, 1892, 5.
  • “Greenhouse Lot Sold”.  Buffalo Enquirer.  April 20, 1904, p10.
  • “Gambling Dens Responsible for “Billy Newbrook’s Downfall”.  Buffalo News.  August 5, 1899, p19.
  • “Defalcation.  Attorney Newbrook Squandered About $8,000 of Lydia Cox Estate.”  Buffalo Commercial.  August 7, 1899.
  • “Lydia Cox Estate to be Distributed:  Since her Death in 1897 There Has Been Much Litigation Against Executors and Others.”  Buffalo News.  March 10, 1909, p6.
  • “Buffalo Hospital:  Important Decision Affecting One of Its Legacies”.  Buffalo Courier.  July 9, 1896.  P5.
  • “Estate of the Late Lydia Cox Say William G Newbrook Stole $8,701.90”.  Buffalo Review.  January 11, 1900, p5.
  • “Did Lawyer Gamble Away His Friend’s Money and Lose His Reputation”.  Buffalo Evening Times.  August 7, 1899, p5.
  • “Newbrook’s Shortage May Be Made Good”.  Buffalo Review.  August 8, 1899, p1.
  • “Executors Ordered to Account:  Estate of Lydia Cox has Developed Another Court Sensation”.  Buffalo News.  December 11, 1899, p1.
  • “One Way Traffic Remains in Part of Summer Street”.  Buffalo News.  November 17, 1944, p8.
  • “Deeds”.  Buffalo Courier.  April 13, 1904, p9.
  • “New Traffic Regulations in Four Thoroughfares”.  Buffalo Courier.  October 2, 1924, p7.
  • “A Traffic Suggestion”.  Buffalo Morning Express.  December 11, 1923, p10.
  • “Old Apple Tree Las of Famous Buffalo Orchard”.  Buffalo Express. September 5, 1920, p44.
  • “Rural Buffalo.”  Buffalo News.  September 5, 1952.
  • “City Briefs”.  Buffalo News.  June 30, 1904, p4.
  • “Three Houses Burned”.  Buffalo News.  September 15, 1883, p1.
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Marion Street in Black Rock

What’s the connection between Marion Street in Black Rock and Wade Avenue in the Leroy Neighborhood?  Marion Street runs between Reservation Street and Elmwood Avenue, just north of Amherst Street.  You cannot drive from one end of Marion Street to the other because of the railroad corridor which bisects the street into two halves.  Wade Avenue runs between Fillmore Avenue and Holden Street near Main and Fillmore Avenue.  These two streets are both named after Marion Wade Nicholson!  Marion was the daughter of real estate developer James Nicholson, who built and developed the streets.

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Wade Avenue in the Main-Leroy Neighborhood

Today’s post is a partnership with Buffalo Women’s Caucus for Women’s History Month.  Buffalo Women’s Caucus is an organization to empower women in all fields to become leaders and changemakers.  You can follow the Buffalo Women’s Caucus by clicking this link:  https://www.instagram.com/buffalowomenscaucus/  Today (March 8th) is International Women’s Day, a global holiday celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.  I’m glad to feature Marion Wade Nicholson today.  I think when we think of women’s history, we often remember the big changemakers, but I think it’s important to remember all the women who lived fairly regular lives.  Marion was a daughter, a wife, a mother, an insurance saleswoman and a singer.  Unlike most people streets are named for – she never held elected office, own large amounts of real estate or run successful businesses.  She had success in her musical endeavors, but she would probably have considered herself a normal woman of her time.  And I think it’s important to celebrate these women, remembering that our lives today is built on these women.  Behind every man I’ve written about, there was almost always a woman on the sidelines.  Many of those women are forgotten to history, their names written as Mrs. Husband’s Name.  Even more are completely forgotten to the pages of history all together.  So, remember those women as we learn today about Marion.

James W. Nicholson  was born in Buffalo on May 5, 1862.  He attended school in Hamburg and later moved to Buffalo with his family, who lived at 154 Fifteenth Street, near Vermont Street.  He operated a real-estate business in Buffalo from the 1880s until he retired in 1930.  His office was in the Erie County Savings Bank Building.  Besides Marion and Wade, other streets on which he built homes were Woodlawn Avenue, St. Paul Street and Otis Place.

456 ashland

456 Ashland Avenue. Home to the Nicholson Family for more than 50 years!

James William Nicholson married Ella Riley in 1887.  Their first child, a son Wesley Nicholson was born later that year.  The Nicholsons moved into 456 Ashland Avenue in 1890.  Mr. Nicholson was a member of the Richmond Avenue Methodist Church, joining on April 7, 1895.  He also served on Official Board and the Board of Trustees of the Church.  He was active in the Pan American Exposition in 1901.  He was a part owner of the Philippine Village, helping to make arrangements to bring people from the Philippines to the Expo.  (Note from Angela: these types of exhibits with “native” villagers on display, often referred to as human zoos, were common at the time.  News reports from Buffalo in 1901 reported that the Philippine Village was one of the most visited exhibits of the Exposition, considered to be a great hit – people enjoying the way that it matched “amusement with instruction”.  The Philippine Village was set up to be an exhibit in order to showcase the Philippines as America’s newest imperial possession.  The exhibit was guarded by American Soldiers guarding a large, war-torn gate, a model of the fort in Manila Bay which represented a commemoration of war and the American triumph overseas.   Newspapers also reported that the residents of Philippine Village were suffering in the cold Buffalo weather as the summer weather turned to fall.  We do not condone these types of exhibits.)

Marion Patterson

1927 Picture of Marion. Source: The Buffalo News.

James and Ella’s second child, Marion Wade Nicholson, was born in April 1895.  She grew up in the house at 456 Ashland.  When she was 4 years old, Marion Street was named for her.  She attended School 56 and Buffalo Seminary.  While she was in high school, Wade Avenue was named in her honor.   When interviewed about her streets, she sad “I was about thirteen when Wade Street was opened, and I told all my schoolmates about it at once.  I still tell people about my streets”.  H. Katherine Smith wrote of her interview that “(Marion) is the only one of more than 100 persons with streets named for them who admitted to me she got a thrill from being so honored”.

Marion was well known in the Buffalo musical circles.  She sang in the choir of Westminster Presbyterian Church and played the piano.  She was associated with Margaret Adsit Barrell’s studio; Mrs. Barrell was a founder of the Community Music School.  Marion also sang on the radio and worked with many welfare organizations in Buffalo, often singing for those groups.


Marion Nicholson concert announcement in the Buffalo News, November 1926

Marion married Lester Adam Paterson on October 1, 1917 and became Mrs. Lester Paterson.  The wedding was held at the house on Ashland, which was decorated with roses and autumn flowers, ferns and smilax.  Marion wore a gown of white satin with court train and a veil fastened with orange blossoms and carried a bouquet of bride roses, sweetheart roses and gypsophyllium.  Marion’s brother Wesley was the best man.  Marion and Lester took a honeymoon road trip to Boston, New York and Philadelphia before returning to live at the house on Ashland with her parents.  They had two children – Sara (Sally) Wade Paterson, born in 1923 and Jean Marion Paterson, born in 1930.

In June 1935, Marion traveled to Reno to file for divorce from Lester on non-support charges.  At the time, divorce was not as common and was suppressed by state laws that discouraged the dissolution of couples.  In New York, up until 1985, the only way to get a divorce was to prove your spouse had committed adultery!  Reno, Nevada became the Divorce Capital of America in the 1930s.  The grounds for ending marriage had a liberal interpretation there. Women would travel to Nevada for six weeks to establish residency.  During the 1930s, it’s estimated that more than 30,000 people went to Reno to get a divorce.  Hotels and guest ranches were established near the Court House to house the women who came.  Marion’s divorce decree was granted on June 28, 1935.


Marion Nicholson in costume for an Easter Play at Westminster Church. March 1937. Source: Buffalo News.

After her divorce, Marion worked as a saleswoman for the Phoenix Mutual Life Insurance Company.  She was a member of the Buffalo Life Underwriters’ Association, the Business and Professional Women’s Club, the Wednesday Morning Musical Club, the Junior Musical Club and the Women’s Evening Club of Westminster Church.  She had considered a career in music, but once she got her job, music became her hobby.  It was reported that she played or sang every single day, no matter how busy she was with work or her daughters.  She said “I play or sing every day.  Music still is an important factor in my life.  Playing or singing affords me immediate relaxation.  I can lose myself in music and forget everything else.”  She was one of founding members of the Wednesday Morning Musicale Club, which started in October of 1925.  The group was formed by several women who were interested in making music together on a regular basis.  At the time, there weren’t as many outlets for women.  Women didn’t play in the the Philharmonic at the time, unless the song required a harpist.  Marion was interviewed as a member of the Wednesday Morning Club, 60 years later in 1985, still singing and playing the piano at the age of 90.  The group is still active today, nearly 100 years after it’s founding!


Marion (seated at piano), from the Buffalo News, August 1967

Marion continued to live in the house on Ashland as an adult. The family had been in Buffalo since the 1830s.  Marion’s Great Grandmother had arrived to the small town of Buffalo via the Erie Canal.  The Great Grandmother brought her belongings in a chest which was still in Marion’s possession more than 100 years later.  The family also had heirloom fiddleback chairs of mahogany, a walnut chest of drawers, a dropleaf table, and the family’s old China place settings which had served the family for generations and had places of honor in Marion’s home.  In 1940, Marion was quoted as saying of the old china:  “It’s beautiful, of course, but so fragile, I feel anxious from the moment it appears on the table until it’s safely back in its place.”

Marion served as a director of the Graduates’ Association of the Buffalo Seminary.  Her daughter Sally also attended the Seminary.  Her other daughter, Jean, attended the School of Practice of the Buffalo State Teacher’s College (aka the State Normal School).

The Nicholson family summered at Shore Meadows in Angola, where they swam and did other outdoor sports.  Shore Meadows was developed by the Lake Shore Real Estate company for business men in Buffalo who couldn’t afford the “fashionable higher priced colonies along the Lake Shore”, but wanted a respectable quality house. In 1946, Mr. Nicholson, Marion and the girls ended up moving from the house on Ashland to their summer house in Shore Meadows on Shore Cliff Road.  Marion married Dr. Carlton Roberts sometime before 1948 and became Mrs. Carlton Roberts.  Dr. Roberts was the first dental consultant to the Erie County Department of Social Welfare.  In 1936, he set up the dental procedures for the guidance of the Department, which was the first of the type in New York State!  Mr. Roberts died in 1965 after three years in the Gowanda State Hospital.

After the death of her second husband, Marion Roberts moved back into the city.  She sold the house in Angola and moved to 515 Ashland Avenue in September 1965.  Her new home was just a block away from her childhood home.  Marion Wade Nicholson died August 14, 1987.  She is buried, along with her family, at Prospect Lawn Cemetery in Hamburg.


Sara Wesley Paterson’s bridal announcement.  Buffalo News, July 1948.

Marion’s daughter Sara (Sally) Paterson was a 1941 graduate of the Elmwood School and Buffalo Seminary.  She earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from University of Buffalo in 1945, graduating with honors.  She taught for a few years in Bradford PA and Middleport, NY.  In 1948, she married Raymond W. Garris, a chemical engineer in the oil industry.  She and her husband in many places across the South and Midwest.  They lived in 22 states and 8 countries, including six years living in Saudi Arabia, where he was an advisor to the Minister of Petroleum.  They moved to Daphne, Alabama when he retired in 1985.  She died in 2000.

Jean Paterson

Jean Marion Paterson Yearbook Photo, Millard Fillmore School of Nursing1953.

Daughter Jean Paterson attended the Millard Fillmore School of Nursing.  She married James Elliott Dunning of Los Angeles in August 1961.  They lived in San Diego, California and she worked as a registered nurse in a hospital.  She died in 2007.

Both Marion and her daughters were a well known part of Buffalo society.  Even after Sara and Jean moved away, there were articles in the paper when they’d visit town or come home for Christmas.  In 1955, the Buffalo News reported that Marion was making her special plum pudding for her girls who were coming home for Christmas from Baltimore and the family was looking forward to being together and singing their traditional Christmas carols.


Marion (third from left) with her daughter Sara (standing) when Sara made a Saudi Arabian lunch on a visit home. Buffalo News. August 1978.

In 1978, Sara came for a visit while living in Saudi Arabia.  She prepared traditional Arabian food while home in Buffalo.  The main course was “Kabsah (the national dish of Saudi Arabia) and homos [sic] with Arab bread and fresh vegetables” and a traditional Saudi dessert which they did not know the official name of.  Here are Sara’s recipes which were printed in the paper:


4 cups rice
4 whole medium tomatoes
1 small can (8 oz) tomato sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tablespoon salt (or to taste)
2 medium onions, chopped
4 tablespoons oil
2 to 2 1/2 pounds chicken or lamb, cut up

Brown meat lightly with chopped onions. chop tomatoes;; add to the meat.  Add the spices and tomato sauce; simmer for 10 minutes.  Add 8 cups of water and cook for 20 minutes.  Add rice and more water if needed.  Simmer for 30 minutes.  Serve on a platter with the meat piled in the middle surrounded by rice.  Platter may be decorated with lemon or tomato slices.

Saudi Arabian Dessert

About 2 cups whole wheat berries
Dried figs, cut up, about 1 cup
Dried apricots, cut up, about 1 cup
Dates, cut up, about 1 cup
3/4 cup sugar
Pine Nuts

Soak wheat overnight in water to cover.  Drain.  Add clean water, covering wheat by about 5 inches.  Add sugar and simmer slowly until wheat swells and liquid thickens.  Just before it is finished cooking, add dried fruit and continue to simmer for about five minutes.  Mixture should be as thick as pudding.  Remove from pan, place in a dish with cover.  Sprinkle top with a small handful of each time of nut.  Cover and cool.  Particularly delicious with thick whipped cream.

So the next time you drive past Marion St and Wade Ave, think about Marion!  Remember all the women who lived in Buffalo over the years.  Let me know if you try one of the recipes!  To learn about other women with streets named after them check out this post here:  Women’s History Month – Some Buffalo Women You Should Know .  Want to learn about other streets? Check out the Street Index.  Don’t forget to subscribe to the page to be notified when new posts are made. You can do so by entering your email address in the box on the upper right-hand side of the home page. You can also follow the blog on facebook. If you enjoy the blog, please be sure to share it with your friends.


  • “Sara P. Garris, former teacher, Buffalo Native”.  Buffalo News.  February 4, 2000.
  • “James W Nicholson, 89; Retired Real Estate Man”.  Buffalo News.  December 20, 1951, p8.
  • “Garris”.  South Florida Sun Sentinel.  October 20, 2014, pB8.
  • “Paterson-Nicholson”.  Buffalo Courier.  October 2, 1917, p9.
  • “Local Woman Asks for Divorce”.  Buffalo News.  June 27, 1935, p21.
  • “Miss Paterson in White Organdy Over Taffeta”.  Buffalo News.  September 18, 1948, p14.
  • “Buffalo  Native Home on a Visit Cooks a Saudi-Arabian Meal”.  Buffalo News.  August 16, 1978, p22.
  • Voell, Paula.  “60-Year Old Musicale Is Outdated in Name But Youthful in Spirit”.  Buffalo News.  November 18, 1985, p28.
  • Smith, H. Katherine.  “Two Buffalo Streets Named For a Musician – Saleswoman”.  Buffalo Courier-Express.  October 6, 1940, p6-9.
  • Marks, Ben.  “Remembering When Reno was the Divorce Capital of America”.  February 14, 2019.  https://www.bitchmedia.org/post/remembering-when-reno-was-the-divorce-capital-of-america
  • “Welcome Back”.  Buffalo News.  September 30, 1965, p4.
  • “Reasonable Country Homes Aim of This Corporation”.  Buffalo Enquirer.  March 25, 1922, p8.

Black History Month

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Streets Named After Black People Shown in Red

Last week we talked about President’s Day.  This month is also Black History Month.  Did you know there’s kind of a connection between the two?  Black History Month started with celebrations of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass’s birthdays on February 12 and 14th respectively.  They both figure largely into Black History in the United States – President Lincoln for issuing the Emancipation Proclamation and Frederick Douglas was a Black abolitionist, author and orator.  After their respective deaths, the Black Community began celebrating their contributions to African American liberation and civil rights on their birthdays.  In 1924, Carter Woodson, who pioneered the field of African American Studies, introduced “Negro History and Literature Week”.  It started as being recognized by his college fraternity, Omega Psi Psi.  In 1926, it was launched as Negro History Week by Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH).  By the 1940s, some communities began to recognize February as Negro History Month.  As the  Civil Rights movement arose in the 1960s, the week became Black History Month in additional places.  By 1976, the month had become widespread and President Ford urged Americans to participate in the observance of the month.  Rooting Black History Month in February, the month honors the legacy of Lincoln and Douglass, and includes the history and achievements of Black History in general.

history week

Notice in the Buffalo Times newspaper from 1930 about Negro History Week in Buffalo.

Negro History Week was recognized in Buffalo as early as 1924.  Local lectures were given at the Michigan Street YMCA, an important institution in Buffalo’s Black Community and information about the week was reported in the newspapers, including the Buffalo American (a Black Newspaper) and The Buffalo News.

The Black Community has early roots in Buffalo.  The first recorded Black man to live here was Joseph Hodge in the 1790s.  A Black Community grew in Buffalo, centered around Michigan Avenue.  In 1831, the Colored Methodist Society was organized as a religious body, the first African-American faith based institution in Buffalo.  The congregation worshipped in a house on Carroll Street and in 1839 they moved into a frame building on Vine Street.  Vine Street is no longer extant, it was off of Michigan Street between Eagle and Broadway; it was removed when William Street was rerouted.  In 1845, the original Vine Street Church was replaced by a new brick structure. The Vine Street African Methodist Episcopal Church remained on Vine Street until 1928, when they moved to Eagle Street, where they were located for another 25 years.  They moved to Michigan Avenue in Cold Spring in the 1950s and still operate as Bethel AME Church.


Michigan Street Baptist Church

The Michigan Street Baptist Church was founded in 1836 and in 1845, they built their church around the corner from the Vine Street Church.  The Michigan Street Baptist Church is still standing on Michigan Avenue, and is an anchor institution of the Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor.

Michigan Street was home to a large celebration in April 1870 to celebrate the ratification of the 15th Amendment, which granted African American men the right to vote.  There was a 38-gun salute, worship services and a parade that ran down Michigan to Seneca, Seneca to Main, Main to Virginia, Virginia to Delaware, Delaware to Eagle, Eagle to St. James Hall.  The Hall was full for a celebration and a reading of President Grant’s proclamation upon the adoption of the Amendment.

Over the years, some streets have been named after members of Buffalo’s Black Community.

  • Nash Street – Named after Jesse Nash, one of Buffalo’s most prominent African American citizens in the first half of the 20th Century and the long time pastor of the Michigan Street Baptist Church.  His house is still located on Nash Street and now operates as a museum.  You can visit the Nash House Museum

    Dr. Nash’s Portrait on Buffalo Freedom Wall. Source: Albright Knox Art Gallery

    on Saturdays from 11am to 4pm.

  • Mary Johnson Blvd and Gladys Holmes Blvd – Named for Mary Johnson and Gladys Holmes, two community advocates in the Ellicott Neighborhood
  • Mary B Talbert Blvd – Named for Mary Burnett Talbert, who was named the most famous colored person in the country during her time.  She worked to advance rights for Black people and was a part of the Niagara Movement – which had it’s first meetings at her house on Michigan Avenue.  Three posts are dedicated to her, you can read them here:  Part OnePart Two, and Part Three


    Mary Talbert’s Portrait at Buffalo Freedom Wall. Source: Albright Art Gallery

  • Delmar Mitchell Drive – Named for Delmar Mitchell, the first African American elected to City-Wide Office
  • Ora Wrighter Drive – Named for Ora Wrighter, A Community Activist who fought for the people
  • Minnie Gillette Drive – Named for Minnie Gillette, the first African American County Legislator


    Minnie Gillette Portrait on Buffalo Freedom Wall. Source: Albright Knox Art Gallery

  •  King Peterson Drive – Named for King Peterson, the First (Acting) Black Mayor of a Major City.  He served as Acting Mayor in 1956 while the Mayor and Common Council president was out of town.  It was such big news that a Black man was a mayor, even temporarily, it was printed in papers across the country, including Chicago and LA.


    King Peterson Portrait on Buffalo Freedom Wall. Source: Albright Knox Art Gallery.

  • William L. Gaiter Parkway – Named for William Gaiter, former president of BUILD (Building Unity, Independence, Liberty and Dignity) the activist Black organization.


    Bill Gaitor Portrait on Buffalo Freedom Wall. Source: Albright Knox Art Gallery

As you can see, despite Buffalo’s strong Black Community since it’s founding, there are still few recognitions of the accomplishments of our Black Community Members in the form of street names.  Many of these street names have only been designated in the last few decades.

To learn more about important Black Buffalonians and the Black history of Buffalo, I encourage you to visit the following websites:

  • Uncrowned Community Builders – This website is run by the Uncrowned Queens Institute for Research and Education on Women, Inc, founded by Barbara Seals Nevergold, PhD and Dr. Peggy Brooks-Bertram, PhD..  They have been working to research, document and preserve the regional histories of African American women and men in WNY since 1999.  The project began as a part of the Women’s Pavilion Pan Am 2001 for the 100th anniversary of the Pan American Exposition to document the contributions of African American women and African women’s involvement in the Exposition and the contributions of African American women in the century after the Exposition.  They expanded their mission to also include “Uncrowned Kings” in addition to the “Uncrowned Women” and their website became Uncrowned Community Builders.  Their website is a tremendous resource and they have compiled biographies of more than 1200 African American men and women!
  • African American History of Western New York – This website is run by The Circle Brotherhood Association, a group of African American men practicing, and dedicated to, the quality of life, successful manhood and parenting, economic growth and development, and the pursuit of excellence and spiritual development.  Their website looks at the historical presence of Blacks in Buffalo, Rochester, Jamestown, Syracuse, Geneva, Ithaca, Corning, Niagara Falls, Canandaigua, Fredonia and WNY from 1700 to 2000.

I was really moved last week by the words of Judge Susan Eagan last week during the sentencing of the racist responsible for the May 14th massacre at Tops on Jefferson.  Judge Eagan spoke about the history of systemic racism and how it’s the responsibility of all of us to ensure that we put an end to it.  Here is an except from her statement:

The ugly truth is that our nation was founded and built in part on white supremacy, starting with the treatment of Native Americans by the first European settlers to the cruel, inhumane economic engine nation building practice of slavery, to indentured servitude, to Jim Crow laws, to government policies creating segregated public housing with communities of color often placed in environmentally hazardous locations, to the manner in which expressways were built, dividing urban neighborhoods to create easy access to government-subsidized developments in the suburbs with restrictive covenants prohibiting the sale of suburban homes to African Americans, to redlining practices in communities of color further devaluing those neighborhoods, to the GI Bill, a well-deserved financial boon to our servicemen unless of course, you were a serviceman of color, to the war on drugs and mass incarceration disproportionately of men of color to the school-to-prison pipeline, to inequities in education, employment opportunities and compensation to the existence of food deserts and inadequacies in health care.

Our history is replete with both individual and systemic discriminatory practices, many of them still firmly in place today. In fact, it is these very policies and practices that contributed to and made this atrocity possible.

The effects of these policies, some current and others decades and centuries old, created the segregation in our city and enabled this defendant to research and identify this target to maximize the impact of his evil intent. All of these policies and systems either sponsored or tolerated by the government and implemented by individuals were designed to destroy the very fabric of family life, opportunities for success, the creation of generational wealth and even the mere existence of hope in communities of color. The harsh reality is that white supremacy has been an insidious cancer on our society and nation since its inception. And it undermines the notions of a meritocracy in the land of opportunity that we hold so dear.

However, white supremacy is not inevitable, or unstoppable. It has been carefully cultivated and nurtured by individuals and the government for centuries. This is the history that we have all inherited. It has been passed down from generation to generation. We must acknowledge that history, see that history for what it is, recognize it and learn from it, or we are doomed to repeat it.

Let ours be the generation to put a stop to it. We can do better. We must do better. Our own humanity requires it. As an individual, we must call out injustice in our daily lives when we see it.

We must reject racism in all of its forms. We must be conscious of the power of our words and actions and the impact they have on those around us, both intended and unintended. We must demand better of our public servants in their efforts to address inequity and we must embrace government policies aimed at creating and fostering diversity, equity and inclusion. We must make the outpouring of support, love and compassion that followed this heinous act an everyday practice. We are stronger together.

These are hard and challenging times. Our characters are being tested. The future of our nation is at stake. Are we up to the challenge?

I believe that we are.

In the words of poet laureate Amanda Gorman, “There is always light. If only we are brave enough to see it. If only we are brave enough to be it.”

Perhaps soon we will have more streets named for Black people.  Of the more than 230 streets I’ve written about, I’ve only uncovered 9 streets that are named for Black people. Many of the streets are short, one-block streets as opposed to major thoroughfares.  Street names reflect our local history and commemorate figures and events that are deemed to be important to the local community.  Street names tell us a lot about our community – geographically of course they tell us where we’re going, but the names also show us what’s deemed important politically, socially and historically.  There’s a reason there’s so few that are named after Black people, and it’s a problem.  I know that naming a street doesn’t make up for all of the systemic racism that has plagued our city, but it could be a start.
Want to learn about other streets? Check out the Street Index. Don’t forget to subscribe to the page to be notified when new posts are made. You can do so by entering your email address in the box on the upper right-hand side of the home page. You can also follow the blog on facebook. If you enjoy the blog, please be sure to share it with your friends.
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Streets Named After Presidents

Happy President’s Day!  Buffalo has a fairly rich presidential history!  I thought today we could talk about streets named after Presidents.

A Buffalonian is actually part of the reason there’s a President’s Day as a national holiday.  In 1874, Buffalonian Julius Francis took up the cause of preserving and promoting the memory of President Lincoln.  He petitioned the state and federal governments to establish Lincoln’s birthday as a holiday and spent the rest of his life fighting to accomplish his dream.  He collected Civil War artifacts and memorabilia to house in a museum.  Mr. Francis owned several drug stores and was a bachelor.  He declared his cause to memorialize Lincoln as “my wife and my life.”  He held the first seven observances of Lincoln’s Birthday at his own cost, renting a hall, arranging speakers and allowed the public to attend free of charge.  He succeeded in persuading New York to create a State Holiday, but failed to get the US Government to follow, despite many petitions.  He founded the Buffalo Lincoln’s Birthday Association.  He left his house at 145 Eagle Street as well as six $1,000 bonds to the association when he died in 1881.  The funds were used to hire New York sculptor Charles E. Niehaus to make the statue of Lincoln which now sits on the Buffalo History Museum portico, looking out over the Gala Waters/Hoyt Lake.  Although Lincoln’s Birthday has never been designated as a National Holiday, Mr. Francis did succeed in getting several states to designate Lincoln’s Birthday as a legal holiday.  While we refer to today as President’s Day, and it is a day where we honor the legacies of all of our presidents, the official Federal Holiday is actually Washington’s Birthday.  Thanks to Julius Francis, Buffalo has celebrated Lincoln’s Birthday every year since 1874, which is the longest continual celebration of Lincoln’s birthday – longer even then the places where Lincoln lived!  The celebration is now held annually at the Buffalo History Museum.


Lincoln’s Birthday Celebration, February 12, 2023. Photo by author.

There have been 45 men who have been president (serving 46 presidencies – Grover Cleveland had nonconsecutive terms).  Of those men, there are streets in Buffalo named after 17 presidents.

There are 10 streets which have presidential names, but I don’t have documentation that they were named after the President, as I am unsure of the name’s origin at this time.  There are 3 more streets which have presidential names, but are named after someone else with the same name!  There are 15 Presidents who do not have streets in Buffalo named after them.  These are mostly the modern era presidents, because Buffalo was already built out and new streets weren’t being built.

Here’s the breakdown of which presidents have street’s named for them.

Streets Named After Presidents:

  • Washington Street – “First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen” is the famous quote from George Washington’s eulogy….we can also add, first President to get a street name in Buffalo to his list!  In 1825, North and South Onondaga Streets merged to become Washington Street.  There’s also a short street named Mount Vernon Ave in South Buffalo, which was the name of Washington’s plantation in Virginia.
  • Adams – There are several streets in the Pratt-Willert neighborhood of the near East Side which bear the names of many of the early presidents.  These streets were originally developed around the same time, so perhaps the developer was a presidential fan!  In addition to Adams, the following other streets are located in the neighborhood:
    • Madison
    • Monroe
    • Johnson – which is not to be confused with Johnson Park, which is named for Buffalo’s first Mayor, Ebenezer Johnson. 
  • Jefferson  – Of course, Jefferson Avenue is one of the major north-south corridors on the East Side of Buffalo.  It is named for President Jefferson.  There’s also a Monticello Place, not far from the intersection of Jefferson and Main Streets, named for Jefferson’s Virginia plantation.
  • 20200225_130032

    Statue of Millard Fillmore outside of City Hall. Photo by Author.

    Fillmore – Millard Fillmore lends his name to Fillmore Avenue, another major north-south street on the East Side.  Was originally an Olmsted Parkway.   Millard Fillmore brought us many of our institutions here in Buffalo.  While he was president, he also signed the Compromise of 1850 into law.  While he was the first chancellor of University of Buffalo, UB has recently removed his name from the campus.  

  • 20230212_120316

    Wreaths at the Lincoln Statue at the Buffalo History Museum celebration of Lincoln’s Birthday, Feb 12, 2023. Photo by author.

    Lincoln – Lincoln Parkway is an Olmsted Parkway.  Olmsted named these parkways after civil war heroes – Bidwell and Chapin, and Lincoln.  Thanks to Julius Francis, Buffalo is home to the longest running celebration of President Lincoln’s Birthday, which has been held ever year since 1874!  The Lincoln Statue at the Buffalo History Museum was commissioned by the Buffalo Lincoln Birthday Association to be placed in the new building that was constructed in 1901.  A Lincoln life mask is also on display now in the Museum’s Continuum Exhibit on the second floor.  There’s a second Lincoln Statue on Lincoln Parkway in the rose garden at Delaware Park. It was sculpted in 1935 and presented to the City of Buffalo in memory of Louis Spitzmiller and Julia Spitzmiller.  Mrs. Spitzmiller left a $250,000 bequest in her will for the statue to be built.  

  • Grant – The street was laid out and the name was decided in March of 1864.  At that time, Ulysses S Grant would have been Commander General of the US Army.  I believe the street was named in his honor, but I am not 100% sure.
  • Garfield – Garfield Street in Riverside is named for President Garfield.  The streets were built on land that had been owned by William Bird.  The executors of his will gave land for two parallel streets – one to be named Garfield and the other to be named Arthur, after Vice President at the time, Chester Arthur.
  • Arthur – see Garfield.
  • 2012-05-13 14.56.55

    Statue of Grover Cleveland outside Buffalo City Hall. Photo by Author.

    Cleveland – Grover Cleveland is one of Buffalo’s presidential connections.  Cleveland Avenue bears his name today.  Become Sheriff, Mayor, Governor, President…Get a Street Named After You.  

  • McKinley – After President McKinley died here, there was almost immediate calls to name a street for him.  One of the suggestions was to rename Lincoln Parkway for him (since he was shot not far from the parkway) and then rename Bidwell and Chapin to Lincoln and Garfield.  In this way, the three streets which form Soldiers Circle would have represented the three martyred presidents at the time.  Seems a little ominous, so thankfully they named the new parkway in South Buffalo after President McKinley instead. 
  • 5ef2acf0bc503

    Theodore Roosevelt statue outside the TR Inaugural Site on Delaware Avenue. Source: Buffalo News.

    Roosevelt Ave – named for Theodore Roosevelt.  There’s also Theodore Roosevelt Plaza in Downtown and the Roosevelt Apartments, a senior housing building on Main Street.  And of course, the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site Museum, the location where Teddy’s presidency started in 1901.

  • Taft – Taft Place is located in the Central Park neighborhood.  It is nearby to Sagamore Terrace, which is named for Sagamore Hill, President Roosevelt’s home. 
  • Coolidge – Coolidge Road in South Buffalo was built in 1926, right when President Coolidge was becoming president.
  • Kennedy – There is a Kennedy Road in Cheektowaga, and JFK High School in Cheektowaga was named for Kennedy.  It is reportedly the first high school in the Country to be named after him!

Streets with Presidential Names, but are Not named for the Presidents:

These are streets have the name of a President but are named after someone else.

  • Hayes – Hayes Place is not named for President Hayes, but rather after engineer Edmund B. Hayes, who also gives his name to Hayes Hall at UB.
  • Wilson – Wilson Ave often gets listed as a street named after a president since it’s close by some of the streets named for other presidents.  It’s named for Guilford Reed Wilson
  • Clinton – Sorry, Bill, our Clinton Street is named for either Dewitt Clinton, Governor of New York from 1817 to 1823 or his son, George William Clinton, an early Mayor of Buffalo.  Governor Clinton is often best known for “Clinton’s Ditch” a name that was used to describe the construction of the Erie Canal, which ended up being much more successful than expected!  Governor Clinton first visited Buffalo in 1810.  During that trip, he wrote in his diary, “the Village has a population of 500.  It has 5 lawyers and no churches”.  Bill Clinton visited several times while he was President, and most recently while campaigning with Hillary Clinton.  We’ll have to ask him what he wrote in his diary about his visits!

Possible Presidential Streets:

These are streets which have a Presidential name, but I do not yet have documentation as to the origin of the name.

  • John Quincy Adams  – There is a Quincy Street off of Broadway.
  • Jackson – There is a Jackson Ave in Sloan.
  • William Henry and Benjamin Harrison – There is a Harrison Street in the Seneca Babcock Neighborhood.
  • Tyler – There is a Tyler Street in University Heights.
  • Polk – There is a Polk Place in North Buffalo
  • Taylor – There is a Taylor Place in South Buffalo.
  • Pierce – There is a Pierce Street in Kaisertown.
  • Harding – There is a Harding Ave in South Buffalo.
  • Hoover – There is a Hoover Ave in the Village of Kenmore.  I am unsure if it is named for President Hoover, though it likely is as Hoover Elementary School elsewhere in the village was named for him.

No Streets:

There is no Van Buren Street or  Buchanan Street.  Most of the Presidents after President Hoover don’t have streets named after them.  This is because Buffalo has been fully built out since Hoover was president, so very few new streets were being built.  This is likely why Hoover is in Kenmore and Kennedy is in Cheektowaga.  The suburban areas were still building new streets whereas the city was built out.  There is a Johnson Street, but it is named after Andrew Johnson and not Lyndon Johnson.  Perhaps someday they were rename a street after one of the more modern presidents.  

Did you know that Lincoln’s birthday is one of the reasons we also celebrate Black History Month?  Check back next week for more on that and a list of streets named after Black Buffalonians!  Want to learn about other streets? Check out the Street Index. Don’t forget to subscribe to the page to be notified when new posts are made. You can do so by entering your email address in the box on the upper right-hand side of the home page. You can also follow the blog on facebook. If you enjoy the blog, please be sure to share it with your friends.

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Spaulding Street, shown in red on the map

Spaulding Street runs for two blocks between Hopkins Street and South Park (formerly Triangle Street in the Triangle Neighborhood of South Buffalo.  The street opened in 1890 and is named after Elbridge Spaulding.

Elbridge Gerry Spaulding was born in Summer Hill, Cayuga County, on February 24, 1809.  His ancestors arrived in Massachusetts in 1630 and many of them fought in the Battle of Bunker Hill.  Mr. Spaulding attended the common schools in his area.  When he was 20, Elbridge began his study of law in the office of Timothy Fitch in Batavia.  He completed his studies in Attica, at the offices of Harvey Putnam.


Elbridge Gerry Spaulding

Mr. Spaulding moved to Buffalo 1834 to practice law in the office of Potter and Babcock, the leading attorneys in Buffalo at the time.  He became a partner in Potter and Babcock.  Just two years after arriving in Buffalo, Mr. Spaulding was appointed City Clerk in March 1836.  Also in 1836, he was admitted to practice as an attorney of the Supreme Court and in 1939 as a counselor of the Supreme Court and the Court of Chancery.

In the 1840s, Mr. Spaulding was law partners with John Ganson.  Mr. Spaulding’s law practice was large.  In 1841, Mr. Spaulding was elected as Alderman of the Third Ward and became Chairman of the Finance Committee.


Spaulding Exchange Building. Source: Buffalo Express

Around 1845, Mr. Spaulding acquired what became the Spaulding Exchange, which was a five-story building with many shops and stores on the first floor and offices on the upper floors.  The Exchange was located at the corner of Lower Terrace and Main Street and became the hub of Buffalo’s financial industry.  It quickly became one of the most important office buildings in the City and was home to lawyers, bankers, insurance agents and real estate dealers of the time. Mr. Spaulding’s office was located in the building, as well as the Farmers & Merchants Bank and the Bank of Attica (two banks which Mr. Spaulding was involved with).  The building was destroyed by fire in 1851 and reconstructed shortly afterwards.  The building was remodeled again by the Spaulding Heirs in 1917.  The Spaulding Exchange building was still owned by the family when it was was demolished for construction of Memorial Auditorium in 1938, after standing for nearly 100 years!


Elbridge Spaulding. Source: History of the City of Buffalo and Erie County.

In 1847, Mr. Spaulding was chosen as Mayor of the City of Buffalo by the Whig party.  While he only served a year, his administration was considered one of progress and achievement.  While he was Mayor, State Aid was obtained to enlarge the Erie and Ohio Basins to improve facilities for lake and canal commerce in Buffalo.  He also oversaw the construction of an extensive sewage system.  The Buffalo Gas Light Company was also organized while he was Mayor, bringing light to the city’s streets and houses.

Mr. Spaulding was elected to the New York State Assembly in 1848. While there, he was Chairman of the Canal Committee.  He also served on the Canal Board, helping to secure a $9 Million loan on State Credit to enlarge the Erie and Oswego Canals.

Mr. Spaulding was elected to Congress in 1849, as a Whig candidate.  He was a member of the Foreign Relations Committee.  He also worked with factions of both the Whig and Democratic parties to oppose slavery.  Particularly, fighting against extending slavery into the new states of California and New Mexico, which was an issue at the time.  He supported President Taylor’s policy to admit California as a free state and opposed the Omnibus Bill which is better known as the Compromise of 1850.

In 1853, Mr. Spaulding was elected Treasurer of New York State.  He was the founder and President of Farmers & Mechanics National Bank in Buffalo from 1852 until his death.

Mr. Spaulding was elected back into Congress in 1859, this time as a Republican.  In 1860, he gave speeches in Buffalo and Washington at meetings held to ratify the nomination of Abraham Lincoln.  The speech denounced the Democratic Party and it’s pro-slavery views.  He said:

“A change is essential to the stability of the Constitution and the Union.  We must unitedly resist the Democratic party, and redeem the country from thraldom into which it has been placed by corrupt leaders.  Why should we thus unite?  I answer, because the perilous condition in which the country is placed demands it.  Who is responsible for the agitation of the slavery question?  Who obstruct the public business by agitation?  Who threaten disunion?  Who are sectional in their speeches and action?  and who seek to extend the area of slavery and slave representation in Congress?”

He urged Republicans to support Abraham Lincoln for the US Presidency.

During the Civil War, the U.S. Government had to be loaned money to finance the war.  The Banks of New York, Philadelphia and Boston had loaned the US Government $150 Million in gold. Their resources were so depleted that there was a danger of national bankruptcy and panic.  Mr. Spaulding was the Chair of the Ways and Means Committee in the House of Representatives.  The committee was instrumental in formulating the most important legislation authorizing war loans.  In December 1861, Mr. Spaulding presented Congress with a speech proposing the currency bank bill, later known as the Legal Tender Act and teh National Currency Bank Bill.  These bills allowed treasury fundable notes to be circulated as money as a war measure.  It also expanded the nation’s credit and bolstered confidence in the American dollar.  These acts are what makes paper bills legal tender, and why American money says “This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private”. The issuance of our paper money is still based on the Legal Tender Act, as presented by Mr. Spaulding.  Because of his finance experience and knowledge, his proposal for the Greenback won respect from his fellow members of Congress.  For this reason, he is often referred to as the Father of the Greenback.

Elbridge Spaulding was married three times.  First to Jane Antoinette Rich in 1837.  Jane was the daughter of G. B. Rich, proprietor of the Bank of Attica.  Mr. Spaulding encouraged the bank to move to Buffalo and became an officer of the bank.  Jane died in 1841 at just 22 years old.  They had no children.  Elbridge married Nancy Strong in 1842.  Nancy was considered to be one of the most beautiful girls in Buffalo.  Nancy and Elbridge had three children – Charlotte, Edward Rich, and Samuel Strong.   Nancy died in 1852.   After her death, he married Nancy’s sister Delia.  Elbridge and Delia bonded over their grief of the loss of Nancy as well as Delia’s grief over becoming recently widowed herself and was also mourning the loss of her 16 year old daughter Mary who died in 1847.  Delia and Elbridge were married 40 years.

spaulding house mainIn 1850, the Spaulding Family moved into a in a mansion at 775 Main Street, at the corner of Goodell.  The house was originally built for William Hollister in the 1830s.  The house was built on what had been the site of Jabez Goodell’s Broadwheel Tavern.

In 1860, The Spauldings lived with Patrick Cunnington, a 25-year-old Irish man who served as coachman; and servants John Myer, a 17 year old boy from Prussia; Ellen Match, a 22-year old woman from New York; Catherine Ott, a 22 year old woman from Bavaria; and Caroline Riehl, a 17 year old girl from New York.

In 1870, the Spauldings lived with seamstress Sarah McConkey, a 30-year-old woman from Canada; and Domestic servants Mary Kraemer, a 26-year-old woman from Mecklenburg-Schwerin; Johanna Roth, a 36-year-old woman from Ireland; and Peter Duringer, a 21-year-old man from Hesse-Darmstadt.

In 1875, the Spauldings lived with “jack of all trades” Peter Dearing, a 26 year old man from German; Rachel Bradley, a 25- year old cook from Ireland; Katie Cofield, a 25 year old “dining room girl” from Prussia; and Mary Flynn, a 25-year -old seamstress from England.

In 1880, the Spauldings lived with cook Rachel Bradley, a 29-year-old woman from Ireland; Marianne Cofield, a 23-year-old servant from Ireland; and seamstress Caroline Schroeder, a 27-year-old woman from Bavaria.

spaulding Riverlawn

River Lawn, the Spaulding Estate on Grand Island.  No longer standing.  Source:  Lost Grand Island

The Spauldings also built a summer home, called River Lawn, on Grand Island around 1870.  At this time, Grand Island became an ideal recreational place for many of Buffalo’s wealthy families.  They would arrive on Grand Island by small steam boats.  River Lawn was located between the Beaver Island Club, a private hunting and fishing club and Lewis Falley Allen’s estate, Falconwood.  The River Lawn house was built in the Stick Style.  River Lawn’s 350 acre estate overlooked the Niagara River and encompassed a half-mile of riverfront, broad woodlands and cultivate fields. The estate included a farm, where Mr. Spaulding bred Holstein-Fresian cattle.  Many of the estates and resorts began to close around WWI, as a result of fires, the development of the automobile and the opening of the Canadian lakeshore resorts.  Between 1925 and 1930 the State of New York began to purchase land on Grand Island.  The State ended up purchasing 780 acres, including the Spaulding Estate and other estates.  In 1935, Beaver Island State Park opened for public use, the same year the Grand Island bridges opened.


River Lawn Boathouse, built in 1870 by Mr. Spaulding

The boathouse from River Lawn was also built in 1870 by Mr. Spaulding.  A fancy Victorian era structure, with balconies, arched windows, and French doors.   When River Lawn became part of Beaver Island, the boathouse was going to be demolished.  It was saved by Mr. Spaulding’s grandson, Frank St. John Sidway.  Frank floated the boathouse upriver to his property.  The Boathouse is not part of the state park, it is privately owned.  The Boathouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in July 1998.

In 1875, for the centennial of the Battle of Bunker Hill, Mr. Spaulding erected a granite cenotaph in Forest Lawn Cemetery in honor of “100 Years of Progress”.  Mr. Spaulding dedicated it in memory of his family members who had fought in the battle, which included Elbridge’s grandfather and 8 other family members!

battle of bunker hill monument

Battle of Bunker Hill Monument at Forest Lawn in the Spaulding Plot

Mr. Spaulding was involved in many organizations in Buffalo.  He was a life member of the Young Men’s Association (the predecessor to the Buffalo Library), a life member of the Buffalo Historical Society, a member of the Society of Natural Sciences, and a member of the Buffalo Club.  He was president of the International Bridge Company and a stockholder in several local banks.  He was also involved in the early Buffalo Street Railroads.  He helped found the University of Buffalo in 1846 and was a member of the University Council until his death.  The Spauldings were member of First Presbyterian Church.

Mrs. Delia Spaulding died on August 12, 1895.  Mr. Spaulding died May 5, 1897, at 89 year old, after suffering a stroke.  They are buried in Forest Lawn.  The Spaulding Plot at Forest Lawn is home to more than 30 Spaulding relations.  The most recent burial in the plot was Elbridge Gerry Spaulding’s great grandson in 2013!  In addition to the street, Spaulding Quadrangle at University of Buffalo is named for Mr. Spaulding.

spaulding building

Spaulding Building on Main Street in 1908. Source: A History of Buffalo

Mr. Spaulding left behind an estate estimated to be valued at between $12 and $14 Million (approximately $430 to $502 Million in today’s dollars).  Mr. Spaulding’s will stipulated that the house at 775 Main was to be demolished after his death.  Daughter Charlotte and son Edward developed the site with two buildings.  The Spaulding Building was built at 763 Main Street in 1906 by Edward Rich Spaulding.  The Spaulding Building is a three story commercial and residential building with Classical styling.  The building was designed by McCreary, Wood and Bradney.  The building was purchased by Nick Sinatra in 2015 and is still residential and commercial mixed use.

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Sidway Building image from 1979. Source: NYSHPO

Charlotte and her husband Franklin Sidway built the Sidway Building at 775-783 Main Street in 1907.  The Sidway Building is a six-story mixed use building, also designed by McCreary, Wood and Bradney.  When it opened, the Sidway Building was one of the largest buildings in this part of Main Street.  It was originally built as a four-story loft style building for light manufacturing.  Two stories were added in 1913.  In 1927, the building was remodeled into a modern office building.  In the early 2000s, the building was converted into 67 apartments on the upper floors.

sidway riverlawn

Spaulding-Sidway House at River Lawn on Grand Island. No Longer Standing. Source:  Lost Grand Island.

After Mr. Spaulding’s death, River Lawn was inherited by daughter Charlotte.  Charlotte and Franklin built a grand Georgian style home on the Estate.  The house was destroyed when it became a part of Beaver Island State Park.

Mr. Spaulding’s grandsons Steven Van Rensselaer Spaulding and Elbridge G Spaulding II were successful in the coal industry in the early 1900s.  Their company, Spaulding & Spaulding, merged with the Hedstrom Company to become the Hedstrom -Spaulding Company.


Restored Spaulding Portrait.  Source:  Buffalo News.

In the 1990s, Mr. Spaulding’s portrait from 1876 was found languishing in a closet in City Hall.  The portrait was restored by Buffalo State College’s Art Conservation Department.  The restoration of the portrait took a year.  Spaulding’s portrait was the first to be restored in partnership between Buff State and the Buffalo Art’s Commission, who oversees public art in the City of Buffalo.  Several Spaulding descendants were in attendance when the restored portrait was unveiled in Mayor Masiello’s office in 1996.

Want to learn about other streets?  Check out the Street Index.  Don’t forget to subscribe to the page to be notified when new posts are made. You can do so by entering your email address in the box on the upper right-hand side of the home page. You can also follow the blog on facebook. If you enjoy the blog, please be sure to share it with your friends.  As I post this, we are currently in the midst of the Blizzard of 2022 – I hope you all are staying safe and warm.  I hope you all have a lovely holiday weekend and a happy and healthy New Year!


  • Smith, H. Katherine. “Spaulding Avenue Named for Father of Greenback”.  Buffalo Courier-Express.  October 23, 1938, p12.
  • Vogel, Charity.  “1870s boathouse ‘jewel’ is placed on historic registry”.  Buffalo News.  July 22, 1998, p2.
  • Lost Grand Island.  isledegrande.com/preservation.htm (accessed December 2022).
  • Buckham, Tom.  “Former Mayor Basks in Restoration to Office.” Buffalo News.  December 17, 1996, p12.
  • Spaulding, E. G.  “The Republican Platform”.  Speech delivered at Buffalo and Washington, at meetings held to ratify the nomination of Abraham Lincoln and Hannibal Hamlin.  1860.  Found online here: https://archive.org/details/republicanplatfo00spau (accessed December 2022).
  • “Spaulding Funeral”  Buffalo News.  May 6, 1897, p17.
  • “The Late E. G. Spaulding.  Buffalo Morning Express. May 9, 1897, p3.
  • “Old Buffalo Landmark to be Improved.”  Buffalo News.  August 18, 1917, p13.
  • “Convention Hall to be Monument to City’s Past”.  Buffalo News.  February 18, 1939, p16.
  • “A History of Buffalo It’s Men and Institutions”.  Buffalo News.  1908.

Map showing Fosdick Avenue in Red

Fosdick Ave is a short, one-block, one-way street between North Street and Best Street.  The street is adjacent to City Honors High School, the former Fosdick-Masten Park High School.  Fosdick Ave is a relatively new street, especially for this part of the City of Buffalo.  The street was created in 1977.  Fosdick Ave is named for Frank Fosdick, principal of Masten Park High.  The street is referred to as Fosdick Avenue in many newspaper articles, city documents, and on Google maps, so I will refer to it as Fosdick Ave, however, the street signs do say Fosdick Street.

The Fosdick family has been in America since the 1600.  They have been in Western New York since 1819 when Solomon Fosdick, his wife Anna, and their nine children traveled across New York State in a covered wagon to settle here.  They stopped in Buffalo, which was still rebuilding after the Burning of Buffalo, and then headed to the Boston Valley twenty-two miles southeast of Buffalo.  Boston at the time was a tiny settlement on the banks of 18-Mile Creek, with about two dozen families.  Solomon was a carpenter and was involved in building many buildings in early Boston.

john fosdick

John Fosdick, Frank Fosdick’s Father

Solomon and Anna’s eight child was John Spencer Fosdick.  He was two years old when the family traveled to WNY.  John attended school in the schoolhouse in Boston and then attended Springville Academy (now Griffith’s Institute) and then the Boston Academy when it opened in 1834.  The school year at the time was only 3 to 4 months of the year, so John worked with his dad on carpentry and building projects when he wasn’t in school.  Solomon and John built the Presbyterian Church in Boston in 1837.  The church is still standing and is now the Boston Historical Society Museum.  In 1836, John became a teacher at the Common School in Hamburg.  John continued in the carpentry business during non-school months.  In 1841, John married Eunice Andrews and they moved to Randolph, NY, where he taught in the school there.  A son, Charles, was born in 1842.  A year later, Eunice died suddenly in September 1843.  Her death prompted him to move to Buffalo.  In fall 1843, he was appointed a principal of the Grammar Schools in Buffalo.  He worked within the Buffalo Public Schools for the next 26 years and was known around town as “one of the great teachers of his generation”.  In 1845, he married Mary Blain, daughter of Reverend Jacob Blain, minister of the Dearborn Street Baptist Church in Buffalo.  Mary was also a teacher with the Buffalo Public Schools.

John Fosdick was later Superintendent of Education for Buffalo from 1866-1867.  While he was superintendent, he instituted qualifying exams for teachers, which was a revolutionary idea at the time.  He decided that high standards in teacher were going to be enforced and maintained in all of the Buffalo Schools.  John and Mary moved to Westfield in Chautauqua County in 1869 and John Fosdick worked at the Westfield Academy for 9 years and served on the Westfield Board of Education for 3 years.

John was a member of the Free Soil Party, which was for free soil, free speech, free labor, and free men.  John reportedly served as a conductor on the Underground Railroad and helped bring runaway slaves across the Niagara River into Canada.  The Fosdick home at 677 Ellicott Street, the SE corner of Virginia Street, was a place where slaves would come to be taken across the river.   Unfortunately, the house was demolished during Urban Renewal of the Oak Street neighborhood.

frank fosdick

Frank Fosdick. Source: Buffaloah.com 

Frank Fosdick was born March 11, 1851 in Buffalo to John and Mary Fosdick.  Frank attended School 14 (Franklin Street School, between Edward and Tupper), where his father was principal and his mother was a teacher.  Mr. Fosdick attended Central High School and then received a Bachelor of Arts from University of Rochester in 1872.  After graduating from U of R, he became a teacher at Buffalo Classical School (sometimes called Dr. Briggs School).  In 1873, he was appointed principal of School  No. 25 (Lewis Street School, near William).  He also served in School No. 33 (East Elk Street School, near Smith) and No. 36 (Day’s Park) before becoming an instructor of Greek and Latin in Central High School (in the Burt Mansion on Niagara Square) in 1884.  He became head of the Classical Language Department in 1891.  In 1891 he was also made Principal of the High School Annex and later of the High School Annexes.  The Annexes were added to provide overflow space for students while new schools were being constructed.  The only high school in Buffalo was Central High School.  The High School Annex opened in 1891 at the corner of Clinton and Ellicott Streets, in the former Clergy House.  Buffalo was growing and did not have adequate school facilities to meet its growing needs.  In 1894, there were 798 high school students at Central High School, 400 in the Annex on Clinton Street and 400 throughout the additional High School Annexes located at schools in different parts of the city.  Students were turned away because schools was at capacity.

The City looked to built an East Side High School to be Buffalo’s second official high school.  The City first began looking at sites for a new high school around 1890.  They looked at multiple sites, mainly in the Fruit Belt and North Oak neighborhoods.  One of the sites proposed for a new school was Masten Place, a small park built by Frederick Law Olmsted in 1887.  Masten Place is named for Judge Masten, an early Mayor of Buffalo.

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1872 Atlas Map depicting the cemeteries between North and Best Streets. The Private Cemetery to the east – current site of the Masten Armory – and the Potters Field to the west – current site of City Honors. Note the small sliver of land that looks like a street west of the Potters Field, this is labeled as property owned by Day & Stevenson, it does not depict the location of Fosdick Ave, which lines up more closely with the end of Maple Street, just to the right of the larger number 7 on the map.

Masten Place had been built on the site of a former Potter’s Field for the City of Buffalo. The cemetery had been created around 1832 to house residents of Buffalo who died from a cholera epidemic.  Five acres of land was set aside for cemetery purposes, with the western portion of it for Roman Catholic burials.  About a year later, General Sylvester Mathews and Birdseye Wilcox purchased another 12 acres for additional cemetery purposes.  This second cemetery was often referred to as the “East North Street Cemetery”.  The Potters Field was used until Masten Place was constructed and bodies were moved to Forest Lawn Cemetery.  The Private Cemetery was used until 1901 when the Masten Street Armory was built.  Bodies  from both cemeteries were reinterred in Forest Lawn.  During construction of the high school building, as well as during more recent renovation activities, additional bodies were located at the site.  It was difficult to know where all of the bodies were buried on the site.  Because the Potters Field was used for indigents and unknowns, there weren’t always good records of where the burials were located.  In 2012, recognizing that other human remains still are on site, a stone monument was placed to recognize the site’s earlier use as a cemetery.


Olmsted’s “Plan for Potter’s Field” which became Masten Park. Source: National Parks Service.

The cemetery site was regraded to make it appropriate for park purposes.  It is located at one of the highest points in Buffalo and the land has a significant slope towards Best and Michigan Streets, which made it hard to maintain the turf of the park.  Olmsted’s plan for Masten Place included winding diagonal walkways crossing the park from each corner, with an open turf playground in the center.  A small shelter house provided toilet facilities and tool storage.  Thick plantings were planted on each side to screen the park from the hustle and bustle of the city.

When the site was suggested for a school, the Board of Parks Commissioners wanted to keep the site a park, so there was a lot of back and forth regarding the school site.  The Parks Commissioners went on record as being opposed, as was reported in the Buffalo Commercial:

“We protest most earnestly against any scheme to take possession of this or any other park property for any purpose. As a precedent alone such action may lead eventually to other encroachments of a most harmful character. It is especially important that every minor place in the heart of the city should be preserved intact. If the present generation is indifferent the next will feel keenly the evil results…”

Eerie words to read when you consider that it just took two generations after Masten Place was lost to turn Humboldt Parkway into the Kensington Expressway, creating detrimental impacts for the neighborhoods of the East Side.

Different school designs were considered to try to build the school and keep the park, such as putting the school on the very edge of the park and leaving the rest parkland.  The Parks Commissioners opposed the idea.  They said that if a portion of the site be used for the school, the whole property should be used and asked to be relieved of the property entirely rather than settle for a lesser park.


Historic Postcard View of the Original Masten Park High School

The school ended up being built upon Masten Place.  The school was constructed by ME. Beebe & Sons at a cost of $240,000(about $8.5 Million today) between 1895 and 1896.  Masten Park High School opened in 1897 to meet the needs of the growing East Side.  Its opening made Buffalo the second city in New York State to have more than one high school (the first being NYC).  Mr. Fosdick was principal of Masten Park High School from its founding until June 1926, for 29 years.  Students affectionally called him Pop Fosdick.  In 1884, he was awarded a Master of Arts degree by the University of Rochester and in 1903 was awarded the same by Princeton.

In 1912, Masten Park High School was destroyed by a 3-alarm fire.  The fire started in an attic on the fourth floor.  The fire was discovered around 12:50pm.  As the students left the building, several were hit by falling bricks.  Principal Fosdick heroically remained in the building until he was sure that all students were out.  After walking out of the building, he then went back into the building with several students to assist in retrieving school records.  When the records were safe, Mr. Fosdick entered the building again to take a final look to make sure no students had been overlooked.  He was injured by flying timbers when the roof and walls collapsed as he was trying to ensure that all students were safe.  Principal Fosdick was taken to his home to recuperate from his injuries.  By 2pm the school was a compete loss.  All students were accounted for with only minor injuries.  The students finished the term doing afternoon classes at Lafayette High School.


Postcard view of the 1914 building for Masten High School. Note the central tower, which no longer exists.

Between 1912-1914, a new building was built for Masten Park High School.  The building opened on September 8, 1914.  The Board of Education was able to build a school quickly by using the plans for Lafayette High School, which was fairly new at the time (opened in 1901).  The exterior surfaces and the shape of the towers are different, but the general layout of the schools are the same.  The new building cost $500,000(about $15 Million in today’s dollars).  The new Masten Park High opened at the same time as Hutchinson High School and Technical High School, providing education opportunities for students throughout the City of Buffalo.  South Park High School was under construction and opened a year later.  Buffalo went from having two high schools when Masten Park first opened to having five High Schools in less than 20 years!

In June 1921, Mr. Fosdick was awarded a degree of Doctor of Laws by University of Rochester.  On his 75th Birthday in 1926, Dr. Fosdick was publicly honored by the City of Buffalo and the school alumni at the Hotel Statler.  They presented “Pop” with a diploma for “29 years of faithful service” to signify his graduation into retirement.  More than 1500 alumni attended the dinner, along with many prominent educators from Buffalo and across the country.  The alumni raised funds to create a scholarship fund to send one male and one female student to college each year.   Dr. Fosdick’s son gave a speech where he calculated that Dr. Fosdick attended 1080 faculty meetings, ate 16,200 school lunches, and listened to 827,640 irate parents – and joked that it was amazing he was still alive at 75 after doing those things!  News of his honor was reported in newspapers across the country.  In October 1926, the University of the Sate of New York conferred on him the degree of Doctor of Letters in tribute to his more than 50 years service as a teacher.

Dr. Fosdick had married Amie Weaver of Westfield in August 1873.  They had four children – twins Edith Wellington and Raymond Blaine; Ethel Dunning Fosdick, and Harry Emerson.  Ethel died at just four months old.  Amie died in 1904.  Mr. Fosdick married his second wife, Mrytilla Constantine on March 18 1907.  Frank and Myrtilla had a daughter, Ruth Sheldon.  The Fosdick Children went on to be successful:


Raymond B. Fosdick. Source: Wikipedia

Son Raymond Blaine Fosdick went to Princeton and New York Law School.  He was appointed by President Woodrow Wilson to be the top representative to the League of Nations after WWI.  He resigned from that position when he was made President of the Rockefeller Foundation, a position he held for 13 years.  Raymond’s proudest achievement at the Rockefeller Foundation was the development of the yellow fever vaccine.  Raymond authored 14 books, including The Story of the Rockefeller Foundation, published in 1952 and a biography titled John D. Rockefeller, A Portrait, published in 1956.  Raymond married Winifred Finley in 1910.  Sadly, Winifred suffered from mental illness and ended up committing suicide and killing her and Raymond’s two children, ages 15 and 9.


Harry Fosdick on the cover of Time Magazine in 1930 Source: Wikipedia

Son Harry Emerson Fosdick attended Colgate University and Union Theological Seminary.  Harry was named after his father’s friend Harry Emerson.  Mr. Emerson and Frank Fosdick met in college and spent long careers in Buffalo Public Schools.  They promised to name their children after each other.  Mr. Emerson didn’t have any children, but Frank kept his promise and named Harry after his friend.  Harry Fosdick was founder and Pastor Emeritus of Riverside Church in New York City.  Several of his sermons were widely recognized and printed in publications and books.  From the beginning, Harry Fosdick ensured that Riverside Church was interracial, interdenominational and international.  Riverside Church is still known today for its liberal theology and social justice programs.  Harry Fosdick authored more than 25 books.  Reverend Fosdick’s sermons are considered to be an influence on Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., who called Fosdick “the greatest preacher of this century”.

Edith Fosdick yearbook

Edith Fosdick’s Vassar Yearbook Photo from 1906

Daughter Edith Wellington Fosdick attended Vassar College.  After graduation, she did settlement work in Buffalo at the Neighborhood House and in New York City.  She worked with the YMCA in France during WWI.  She also worked with the State Charities Aid Association.  She devoted her life to overseas teaching and taught at Kobe College in Japan, in Ginling College in China, the American College in Athens, and in Istanbul.  She retired in 1943 and lived at Butler Hall, Columbia University.

escape to freedom

The cover of Ruth Fosdick’s book, Escape to Freedom, about the Underground Railroad in Buffalo

Daughter Ruth Fosdick attended Mt Holyoke College and taught at the Elmwood School in Buffalo before moving to New York City and then Maine.  She wrote children’s books, including “The Boy of the Pyramids” which won the Jack & Jill Award for best manuscript in 1950.  Her book “Escape to Freedom”, published in 1956 is a story about the underground railroad in Buffalo, inspired by the stories of her grandfather John that were told to her by her father Frank.

In 1880, the Fosdick Family lived at 490 North Division Street in the Ellicott Neighborhood with a 22 year old German servant named Carrie.  In 1900, the family lived at 300 Baynes Street on the West Side with a 31 year old English servant named Mary Ann Folsom.  In 1900, they were at the same address but no longer had a servant;  Mrs. Fosdick’s mother had moved in with the family.  By 1920, the family and mother-in-law had moved to 114 Crescent Avenue in the Parkside Neighborhood.

Frank Fosdick was a Mason, member of the Washington Lodge and Adytum Chapter, a member of the Royal Arcanum, the University Club, Independent Club and other various societies.  He was the only person in Buffalo at the time to be a member of the American Philological Association.  He was a member of the National Education Association, the State Teacher’s Association and the Buffalo Principals’ Association.


Modern View of Fosdick Masten High School (City Honors). Note the lack of central tower compared to earlier image.

Dr. Frank Fosdick passed away on February 26, 1927 at the home of his son, Raymond Fosdick in Montclair, N.J.  The flags in Buffalo were hung at half mast following his death.  He is buried in Westfield near his parents and his first wife.  After his retirement and death, the faculty petitioned to have the Masten Park High School named in Frank Fosdick’s honor.  The resolution to change the name was passed by the School Board in March 1927.  The School was named Frank S. Fosdick High School, but later that year, the name was changed again to Fosdick-Masten Park High School.  The central tower of the school started to crumble and was taken down in 1927.  Students remarked that the very building itself was mourning Principal Fosdick’s death when the tower was removed.

In 1953, Fosdick-Masten became home to the Girl’s Vocational Program and was officially named Fosdick-Masten Vocational High School.  They offered classes in business, foods, clothing, beauty culture and practical nursing.   The Girl’s Vocational school operated at the site until 1979 when the program was discontinued.

woodson gardens

Woodson Gardens. Source:  University at Buffalo

In April 1968, Buffalo Urban Redevelopment Agency (BURA) purchased 39 parcels along Michigan Avenue between North and Best and tore down 29 buildings.  The Board of Education released some of the open space from Fosdick-Masten High School to BURA to build new apartments.  Fosdick Ave was built in 1977 to serve the new apartments, which were called Woodson Gardens.  The apartments were named in tribute to Albert L. Woodson, former chairman of Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority.  Woodson Gardens consisted of 160 units of townhouses and garden-style apartments.  At the time, the school was planning to move to Main and Delevan when their new school building was built.  This never happened and Fosdick-Masten graduated its last class in 1979.  The school became a warehouse and the interior was stripped, preparing to be demolished.  The alumni of Fosdick -Masten protested and the building was declared an Erie County Landmark and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  The demolition never happened. In 1980, the school became home to City Honors School, officially known as City Honors School at Fosdick Masten Park.

fosdick field plan

Plan for Fosdick Field. Source: https://restoreourfield.org/

Beginning around 2006, City Honors school officials began looking into purchasing the Woodson Gardens property.  The apartments were planned for demolitions as leases expired.  The Fosdick Field Restoration Project began to look to restore the open space in front of the school, for use as athletics fields for the school.  In 2013, the Woodson Garden apartments were demolished, restoring the open space around City Honors high school once more.  Ownership of the former Woodson Gardens Space was transferred to Buffalo Public Schools.  The school’s property now extends all the way to Michigan Street, which is larger than the property extended when the school was first built, as there were buildings along Michigan Avenue when Masten Place was first built.  Here are some images showing the property over the years:


1894 City Atlas showing Masten Place.  Note the buildings along Michigan Avenue.


1926 Sanborn Map showing the school, the field and the buildings along Michigan Avenue

fosdick field historc

1944 image of Fosdick Field. Source: restoreourfield.org

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2002 Aerial Photo showing the Woodson Gardens apartments between Fosdick Ave and Michigan Ave

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Aerial Photograph from 2014 showing the current configuration of the site – note the addition on the northern side of the school (along Best Street) and the open field between Michigan and Fosdick Aves.


View of Fosdick Ave from the corner of Best (note the street sign says St not Ave)

The City of Buffalo is looking into the removal of Fosdick Avenue to connect the field, which is being called “Fosdick Field”, to the remove the barrier between the two parts of the City Honors campus.  The restored field would include a small regulation FIFA field to be used for recess, physical education and athletics.  In addition to the regulation field, it would include pedestrian pathways, landscaping, seating, off-street parking and a tunnel.  The City has completed a traffic study.  The road is currently blocked off to traffic.  After 45 years, Fosdick Ave may be a relic of the past.

So the next time you are near City Honors, think of the Fosdick Family –  of the fugitive slaves who may have passed through our city led by John Fosdick, the people saved because of the yellow fever vaccine, the souls who were uplifted by Reverend Fosdick’s words, and the countless number of other students influenced by Pop Fosdick in his 50 years in the Buffalo Public Schools!

Want to learn about other streets? Check out the Street Index. Don’t forget to subscribe to the page to be notified when new posts are made. You can do so by entering your email address in the box on the upper right-hand side of the home page. You can also follow the blog on facebook. If you enjoy the blog, please be sure to share it with your friends.


  • “Name of Masten Park High Changed to ‘Frank S. Fosdick’.”  Buffalo News.  March 1, 1927, p1.
  • “Dr. F. S. Fosdick, Former Masten Principal, Dies”.  Buffalo Evening News.  February 28, 1827, p3.
  • “Masten Park High Destroyed by Fire”.  Buffalo News.  March 27, 1912, p1.
  • “Students Sing Alma Mater Over the Ruins”.  Buffalo News.  March 28, 1912, p16.
  • “Is it Feasable:  A Schoolhouse Site May be Proposed by the Mayor”.  Buffalo Morning Express. March 30, 1890, p15.
  • “High School on High Street”.  Buffalo Enquirer.  December 31, 1891, p5.
  • Fodick, Raymond B.  Annals of the Fosdick Family.  The American Historical Company:  New York, 1953.
  • “More Teachers Needed”. Buffalo Sunday Morning News.  September 30, 1894, p2.
  • “1500 Masten Park Alumni See ‘Pop’ Fosdick Graduated at 75”.  Buffalo News.  March 13, 1926, p26.
  • “William, Diedre”.  City Honors Campaigns for Restoration of Its Athletic Field”.  Buffalo News.  October 8, 2013, p21.
  • “Authority Names Projects to Honor Commissioners”.  Buffalo News.  September 29, 1982, p25.
  • “Masten Park”.  The Buffalo Commercial.  January 22, 1895, p5.
  • “Olmsted in Buffalo:  Masten Place”.  https://www.olmstedinbuffalo.com/masten-place/  (accessed November 2022)
  • LaChiusa, C.  “From Masten Park High School to City Honors:  The Story of a School Site”.  https://buffaloah.com/a/north/186/hist/tc.htm (accessed November 2022)
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Map of Pooley Place and Cordage Alley

Today we’re going to talk about two streets in the Grant-Forest Neighborhood of the West Side – Cordage Alley and Pooley Place. Pooley Place runs between Grant Street and Dewitt Street. Cordage Alley, also known as Cordage Lane or Cordage Place, is a small little alley that runs for one block between Pooley Place and Bird Avenue. It used to be the “center of one of Buffalo’s greatest industries”, the Pooley & Butterfield rope factory. Historically, this area was a part of Black Rock and was known as Upper Black Rock, with Lower Black Rock on the other side of Scajaquada Creek.  It was called “upper” because it was upriver of the Lower Black Rock as the Niagara River flows south to north.

George Pooley was a well-known resident of Black Rock. He was born in 1816 in Suffolk, England to Edward Pooley and Maria Smith Pooley. The family came to America around 1824 and settled in Wayne County, New York. In 1843, he married Mary Ann Clinton, who was born in Black Rock in 1821. They lived in Palmyra, NY and had two children – Maria Smith and Mary Clinton – and then moved to Buffalo in the late 1840s and had two more children – George Clinton, and a daughter who died before being named. Mary Ann Pooley died in May 1853 and was buried in Palmyra with her baby daughter.

162 BirdMr. Pooley got remarried a year later, in 1854, to Cornelia Pooley. George and Cornelia had four children – Mary Hubbard, Cornelia, Katie, Edward, and Harriet  Of Mr. Pooley’s nine children, only three lived to adulthood – Maria Smith Pooley, Harriet Pooley and George Clinton Pooley (we’ll call him George Jr). The Bird family lived at 162 Bird Avenue.

After coming to Buffalo, he created a rope-walk business as Pooley & Butterfield. His partner Martin Butterfield was a resident of Palmyra, New York. The rope-walk was an old fashioned industry. The workers were called rope-walkers.  Ship’s rope is made of a number of strands, typically three. The strands in turn are made of several threads, which makes a hawser. Three hawsers are twined together to form a cable. Ship’s rope was made from hemp, typically Manilla hemp from the Philippine Islands. Loose hemp fibers were brought into a shed where a man attacked them with a hacker, a gigantic curry-comb with teeth about the size of a ten-penny spike.  Oiling a handful of the hemp, the hemp was run through the comb again and again until all the strands face the same way, binding it into other strands.  Then the strands went to the rope-walker.  The rope-walker would walk through a long, open shed.  The shed was 16 feet wide and 1000 feet long, almost the length of Pooley Place.  The shed didn’t have sides, just a roof.  The rope-walker, who wore a long leather apron, would take a number of strands from the comb-man, wrap them tightly around his waist under his apron and hitch the end to a wheel at one end of the shed.  An assistant would turn the wheel, which was fitted with hooks to twist the loose stands together.  The rope walker, walking rapidly backwards, fed the room from under his apron until he reached the shed, clipped off the remaining strand and began again, walking back and forth..  To keep things uniform in strength and thickness, the rope-walker would have to go the same pace as the wheel-man.  The rope-walkers would make the strands into hawsers and the hawsers into cables.  Dozens of them would work at a time at the rope-walk.  At it’s height, the business employed 40 men who worked to put out about 3 tons of rope a day.

Rope Walk 1872 Atlas

1872 Atlas of Buffalo showing the rope walk on Pooley Place. Note the property of Geo, Pooley along Cordage Alley south of Pooley Place (near the number 153 on the map). Mr. Pooley’s house is shown along Bird Avenue on his property.

pooley 1858

Ad for Pooley & Butterfield from the 1858 Buffalo City Directory

Shipbuilders from all over the Great Lakes and even some that sailed on the ocean came to Cordage Place to buy their cordage.  This included ropes to hoist the sails of their schooners, ropes to hold anchors (before the days of chain cable) and ropes for all of the other thousands of uses for ropes on a sailing ship.  The ropes for all of the Great Lakes were supplied on Cordage Place, it was before Detroit, Chicago or Cleveland grew, so Buffalo provided the majority of supplies and materials for lake shipping.  The thousands of ships on the Lake would get their cordage in Buffalo.  This was not the only rope-walk in Buffalo, there were many, including one not far from Pooley, owned by Mr. Francis Wardell on Thirteenth Street between Massachusetts and Hampshire Aves.  Mr. Pooley’s rope walk was one of the largest.

Rope Walks were very much a part of life in the middle of the 19th Century.  Well-known American Poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, wrote a poem about it.  Longfellow is best known for poems such as Paul Revere’s Ride and the Song of Hiawatha.  His poem titled The Rope Walk, which was published in the Buffalo Morning Express on November 2, 1855:

In that building long and low,
With its windows all a row,
Like the port-holes of a hulk,
Human spiders spin and spin,
Backward down their threads so thin,
Dropping, each, a hempen bulk.

At the end an open door;
Squares of sunshine on the floor
light the long and dusky lane;
And the whirling of a wheel,
Dull and drowsy, makes me feel
all its spokes are in my brain.

And the spinners to the end
Downward go and re-ascend,
Gleam the long threads in the sun;
While within this brain of mine
Cobwebs brighter and more fine
By the busy wheel are spun.

Two fair maidens in a swing,
Like white doves upon the wing,
First before my vision pass;
Laughing, as their gentle hands
Closely clasp the twisted strands,
At their shadow on the grass.

Then a booth of mountebanks,
With its smell of tan and planks,
And a girl poised high in air
On a cord, in  a spangled dress,
With a faded loveliness
And a weary look of care.

Then a homestead among farms,
And a woman with bare arms,
Drawing water from a well;
As the bucket mounts space,
With it mounts her own fair face,
As at some magician’s spell.

Then an old man in a tower
Ringing loud the noontide hour,
While the rope coils round and round
Like a serpent, at its feet,
And again in swift retreat
Almost lifts him from the ground.

Then within a prison-yard,
Faces fixed, and stern, and hard,
Laughter and indecent mirth;
Ah! It is the gallows-tree!
Breath of Christian charity,
Blow, and sweep it from the earth!

Then a schoolboy, with his kid,
Gleaming in a sky of light;
And an eager, upward look;
Steeds pursued through lane and field;
Fowlers with their snares concealed,
And an angler by a book.

Ships rejoicing in the breeze,
Wrecks that float o’er unknown seas,
Anchors dragged through faithless sand;
Sea-fog drifting overhead,
And with lessening line and lead
Sailors feeling for the land.

All these senses do I behold,
These and many left untold,
In that building long and low;
While the wheels go round and round
With a drowsy, dreamy sound,
And the spinners backward go.

Pooley Place was opened in honor of George Pooley after several citizens, including G. Dewitt Clinton, petitioned to put a street there in 1866.  Pooley and Butterfield became George Pooley & Son after George Clinton Pooley entered the business.

Eventually, ships started to use wire cables, making the rope unnecessary and the rope-walkers fell to the wayside.  The name of Cordage Alley is one of the few reminders of the major shipbuilding that happened here in Buffalo.

George Pooley & Son Rope-Walk closed in 1888 and was absorbed by a larger trust – The National Cordage Company.  The National Cordage Company was a trust and owned nearly all of the cordage buyers and distributers in the country at the time.  Due to the trust, Pooley & Son wasn’t able to purchase hemp and therefore could not operate their role-walk.  They were offered stock in the company in return for keeping their works idle.  Mr. Pooley fought to keep his works in operation, as many of his employees had been with the firm for 10 to 20 years.  But he was unsuccessful.  The American Cordage Company absorbed the National Cordage Company in 1892.  American Cordage sold off the machinery, which hadn’t been used in several years, and ended up selling the land back to the Pooley family.  The Pooleys sold their stock when it was high.  They ended up making money in the deal and also still owned their land.


1894 Atlas of Buffalo showing how most of the ropewalk property was now developed with houses.

Mr. Pooley had built tenant cottages along Forest Avenue and three large houses on West Avenue to house their workers.  Around 1891, they began building houses on Pooley Place. Mr. Pooley was well known in Black Rock.  He was a member of Grace Church and served as Chairman of the Black Rock Business Men.

The building at 92 Pooley Place, formerly George Pooley & Sons rope-walk, was converted into a laundry used by the Buffalo Steam Laundry.  The building caught fire on February  10, 1895 around 7:30pm from an overheated drying-room.  Fireman battled the blaze for two hours, but the building was a complete loss.

pooley grave

Mr. Pooley’s grave in Forest Lawn

George Pooley died on February 8, 1898. He had been suffering from cancer for several years and had surgery to remove his arm at the shoulder in January.  He had recovered well from the surgery and was hoping to return to a regular life shortly after, when he became ill and died from kidney disease.  Mr. Pooley is buried in a family plot in Forest Lawn Cemetery.  When he died, he was almost 83 years old and was the oldest voter in the 24th ward.  It took two years to settle the estate through Surrogate Court.  Daughter Maria had to petition for her fair share of the estate.  The will was contested as it was believed to have been procured through coercion from son George Jr and George Jr’s wife Margaret.  Maria also alleged that her father was not of sound mind when the will was executed.  Interestingly, Maria’s name was also left out of some of the obituaries published in the newspapers, but her name was included in others.  During the trial, it came out that part of the will had been written by Henry Perrine, one of the executors of the estate, and not by Mr. Pooley himself.  The will did not make provisions for the division of the real estate, other than leaving the family home to his widow Cornelia.  The estate involved about $140,000 (about $4.6 Million in today’s dollars) in personal property and real estate.  The real estate was worth about $78,000 ($2.6 Million today) and was all rented out, and brought in about $3,000 to $4,000 ($98,000 – $131,000 today) in income each year.  The Pooley Home at 162 Bird, which was left to Mr. Pooley’s widow, Cornelia, was valued at $1,000 ($32,000 today).  The personal property estate was divided as follows – to Cornelia, widow, $30,000 set in a trust; to George C Pooley, son, $20,000; to Margaret Pooley, his wife, $10,000; to Maria Vosburg, daughter, $10,000; to Harriet E Manning, daughter, $20,000 to George Manning, grandson, $15,000.  The remainder was divided among grandchildren, nieces and nephews.  Maria was looking for the court to allow the sale of the real estate to pay off legacies.  The court held that it would be foolish to dispose of the remainder of the real estate at the time and divided the real estate between the three children – George, Maria and Harriet.  Deeds to the real estate were transferred to the respective heirs in July 1900.

By 1900, most remnants of the rope-walk were gone, and the property was fully developed with houses. In addition to George’s own house on Bird Avenue, several other houses built by George Pooley are still standing on Forest, Pooley Place and Bird.  The Grant Ferry Neighborhood Intensive Level Historic Resource Survey completed for the City of Buffalo lists the following houses as built by George Pooley – 162 Bird Ave, 172 Bird Ave, 201 Forest, 203 Forest, and 90 Pooley.  There may additional properties as well.

The next time you pass Pooley Place or Cordage Alley, think about all the rope that once was made in Buffalo!  Want to learn about other streets? Check out the Street Index. Don’t forget to subscribe to the page to be notified when new posts are made. You can do so by entering your email address in the box on the upper right-hand side of the home page. You can also follow the blog on facebook. If you enjoy the blog, please be sure to share it with your friends.


  • “Made Money in Cordage”.  Buffalo Weekly Express. May 11, 1983, p5.
  • “Overheated Drying Room”.  Buffalo Morning Express. February 10, 1895, p14.
  • “The Rope-Walk”.  Buffalo Morning Express.  November 2, 1855, p 4.
  • Holloway, Hubert.  “Notes and Quotes”.  Buffalo News.  February 13, 1958, p25.
  • “All Around Town.”  Buffalo Courier.  March 10, 1982, p5.
  • “A Hemp Trust”.  Buffalo Sunday Truth.  February 26, 1888, p 8.
  • “City and Suburbs:  Black Rock”.  Buffalo Times.  February 4, 1887, p4.
  • “Death of George Pooley”.  Buffalo News.  February 9, 1898, p1.
  • “Coercion Alleged”.  Buffalo Times.  February 17, 1899, p5.
  • “Pooley Estate Settled”.  Buffalo Morning Express.  April 27, 1900, p6.
  • “Pooley Will Under Dispute”.  Buffalo Enquirer.  October 20, 1899, p1.
  • “Pooley Will Case Settled.”  Buffalo Times.  March 12, 1900, p4.
  • “George Pooley Will Decision”.  Buffalo News.  March 12, 1900, p9.
  • “Deeds Filed.”  Buffalo Review.  July 25, 1900, p6.
  • “Ghosts of Old-Time Rope-Walkers Inhabit Cordage Place, Erstwhile Center of Vessel-hawser Industry”.  Buffalo Courier.  November 8, 1925, p63.

Screenshot (8)Connelly Avenue runs one block between Bailey Avenue and Olympic Avenue in the Kenfield neighborhood on the East Side of Buffalo.  The street is named after John Connelly, from Connelly Brothers Ship Chandlers, a waterfront business in Buffalo for more than a century!

john connolly from ancestry

Portrait of John Connelly. Source: Jennifer Connelly

John Connelly was born in Ireland around 1852.  His father, Michael Connelly as a sailor who visited nearly every port in the world.  On one trip Michael Connelly traveled to the Great Lakes.  He was impressed with Buffalo, which he called “a city of promises”.  In the 1860s, Michael’s two oldest sons, Michael and James sailed to America and came to Buffalo.  In 1866, they brought their brother, John, to the country.  John was about 14 years old and had already been working in the rolling mills in Wales for 50 cents a week since he was 10 years old.  He was excited to come to America, to get away from the cold, hunger and poverty of the old country.  

John and his brothers worked hard to establish a ship chandlery business for themselves here in Buffalo.  Connelly Brothers Ship Chandlers was established in 1870.  Brother James tragically died in 1872, drowning at the foot of Illinois Street. To start their business, John and Michael would take their rowboat to Tonawanda, load it with lumber and tow it to Buffalo, pulling the tugboat from the towpath the horses used along the canal.  It was noted that even as he got older and was successful and could work less, John would still get up early, get dressed, read the newspaper by gas light and get to work right at sunrise.  The ship company was located at the southwest corner of Ohio and Michigan Streets, at a site selected by John Connelly.  They built some of the first steamers built for shipping lumber on the Great Lakes.  In 1896, they built the last steamer that was built to ship lumber on the Lakes.  

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View of the Buffalo River, between 1900 and 1910. Note Connelly Brothers, the small building in the foreground to the left of the bridge abutment. Source: Library of Congress. Click here to see larger image.

mary sullivan

Mary Connelly. Source: Jennifer Connelly

John Connelly met Mary Sullivan on a trip along the Erie Canal. She was from Ireland and was visiting friends in Oswego, New York.  She returned to Ireland and Mary and John wrote letters to each other for a year.  He then made his only trip back to the old country in 1885 to marry her.  The Connellys lived on Michigan Avenue, which was called Michigan Street at the time.  It was still a quiet, residential street lined with trees.  Today, the site of their house is a parking lot across the street from the Seneca Buffalo Casino.  John and Mary had eleven children, six sons and five daughters.  Unfortunately, five of the children died in childhood.  Five sons and a daughter lived to adulthood – Boetius, William, John Jr, James, Mary and Arthur.  

connolly family ancestry

Connelly Family on the steps of their house. Source: Jennifer Connelly

In 1901, the Connellys moved to 126 Fargo Avenue.  The family lived there for many years.  The house is now a part of the Nickel City Housing Cooperative and is known as Plankton House.  The family also had a servant who lived with the family.  In 1900, their servant was Mary Giritt, a 19-year old woman from Germany.  In 1900, the servant was Annie Snyder, a 20-year old from Germany.  In 1920, their servant was Elizabeth Endres, a 27-year old woman born in New York state to German immigrant parents.  Because John had to leave school to work at a young age, he insisted that all of his children complete high school and offered them all a college education.  John Jr and William were the only two who went to college – both becoming attorneys.  William sailed on the Great Lakes to help finance his education, served in the U.S. Navy and specialized in marine law.  Boetius served in the US Army during WWII.  Mary and James worked for Connelly Bros.  Arthur worked in labor relations. 


Ad for Connelly Ave Lots for Sale from 1921. Source: Buffalo Times.

Connelly Street was developed in the early 1920s as Buffalo grew.  John Connelly did not see Connelly Street as a source of pride.  The street was named in his honor, which was a sign of his respect and esteem throughout the community.  However, Mr. Connelly could only think of the money he lost when the street was cut through his property!

Despite being eager to grow his fortune, Mr. Connelly was also known as an easy target for those down on their luck.  People would approach him for spare change, and Mr. Connelly would always empty his pockets for them.  Eventually, his family persuaded him to give his change to the bookkeeper every morning, so that he would not have cash on him while walking around town.  Mr. Connelly would then ask his bookkeeper for half a dollar to buy a handkerchief at the store across the street.  He’d buy a hanky and then give the change to the person who asked.  Because of this, he had many, many handkerchiefs!

Mr. Connelly died in 1928.  He is buried in Holy Cross Cemetery in Lackawanna.   After Mr. Connelly’s death, son James and daughter Mary Connelly Keene and Mary’s husband Russell Keene continued the business.  In 1933 Mary Connelly Keene became President of the company. 

Tewksbury Aftermath

Aftermath of the Bridge Collapse. Source: Buffalo News.

On January 21, 1959, the Michigan Avenue Bridge collapsed in what is often referred to as “the Tewksbury Disaster.”  That winter was very cold, with heavy snow and bitter temperatures.  On January 21st, there was an unseasonable thaw.  The 50 degree day combined with a wind storm broke up the sheet of ice along Cazenovia Creek around 6pm, pushing the ice from the creek into the Buffalo River.  The ice jam ran up against the hull of the MacGilvray Shiras, owned by the Kinsman Transit Company in Cleveland.  The Shiras was moored for the winter at Concrete Central Elevator and full of corn.  The Shiras broke free from its mooring around 10:40pm during wind gusts of 48 miles per hour.  A chain-reaction accidental crash when the steamer Shiras broke loose from a dock owned by Continental Grain Company.  The Shiras floated down river, where it struck the steamer Michael K. Tewksbury, which was stationed for the winter at the Standard Elevator and full of wheat.  The boats continued downriver, past the Ohio Street lift bridge which was under construction and out of service.  The story goes that the bridge operators for the Michigan Ave bridge were drinking at the Swannie House and not manning the bridge.  One rumor says that the bridge operator was in bed with his mistress!  William H. Mack testified in Federal Court that he did visit the tavern twice during that evening, from 8:20-8:40pm and from 10:00-10:20pm but that he was back on duty a half hour before the first warning call came in.  Shift change for the bridge came at 11pm.  One of the bridge tenders, Casimir Szumlinski, came on duty at 11.  A call came in at 11:10pm from the watchmen at Standard Elevator alerting the bridge that there was a loose boat coming their way.   It was said an earlier call came in at 10:45pm but the operators were waiting for Mr. Mack and Mr. Szumlnski because they did not know how to raise the bridge.  Mr. Szumlinski recollected to the Buffalo News in 1969, “I saw the boat about 1000 yards away.  It looked like a phantom coming out of the night – no lights, no flares”.  The efforts to raise the bridge came too late, they were only able to partially raise the bridge before they needed to abandon the bridge.  Two of the bridge tenders were injured as the boats slammed into the Michigan Avenue Lift Bridge at 11:17pm.  The bridge plunged into the river, also damaging a water main.  The two ships came to a stop near the wreckage of the bridge, abutting each other and wedged in the River amongst the wreckage of the bridge.  The Shiras had traveled almost 3 miles! 

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Approximate path of the MacGilvray Shiras on January 21, 1959

The ice jam created by the ships blocking the river caused intense flooding in the First Ward. The quick thaw and the rain that occurred caused one of  the worst flooding events in Metropolitan Buffalo History.  There was also major flooding that night in Tonawanda and Amherst along Ellicott Creek.  Delaware Park lake (now Hoyt Lake) rose several feet, closing Delaware Avenue.  The New York Central Railroad tracks between Forest and West Delevan were washed out from flooding on Scajaquada Creek.  Smokes Creek flooded an area 2 square miles in size, causing a state of emergency to be declared for Lackawanna. 

At 7:45am the next morning, the north tower of the Michigan Avenue bridge toppled, crushing the roof of the Connelly Bros building and kicking out the sidewall timbers of the Engine 20 (the fireboat) firehouse.  Connelly Bros lost the building, many marine supplies, a pier, and a 40-foot supply ship which sunk under the weight of the twisted bridge girders.  The boat was recovered several months later, found in the rubble in the river.  It took about two weeks for the Shiras and the Tewksbury to be freed from the wreckage, with tug boats and a coast guard ice-breaker cutting thru the ice.  51,000 bushels of wheat were unloaded from the Tewksbury to lighten the load to help free the ship from the wreckage of the bridge.  Suction equipment was used which pumped out the wheat into trucks.  With the Michigan Avenue bridge wrecked and the Ohio Street bridge closed for repairs, the Skyway was the only way to access South Buffalo from Downtown.  The trucks hauled the grain from the wreck site over the Skyway to Connecting Terminal, an 8-mile trip.  A channel was finally cleared on February 3rd preventing the risk of the River flooding again.  The Shiras was damaged and on February 12 was towed to the GLF elevators to be unloaded and then taken to the American Shipbuilding dry dock for repairs.  The Shiras ended up being towed to Hamilton, Ontario and sold for scrap in June 1959.  The Tewksbury continued operations, returning to winter in Buffalo in following years.  In 1962, the Tewksbury was renamed, but the ship saw service until 1975. The Michigan Avenue bridge reopened December 7, 1960.  

Connelly Bros Boat 1946

Connelly Bros Boat at their pier, 1946. Source: Buffalo News.

Connelly Bros Boat

Connelly Bros Boat Recovery in March 1959, after the bridge collapse. Source: Buffalo News.

At that time, Connelly Bros was 89-years old and were the oldest chandlery business in Buffalo.  The company lost an estimated $200,000 ($1.8 Million today).  It took many years for a ruling on how the three parties involved – The Continental Grain Co (owner of the dock), the Kinsman Steamship Co (owner of the steamer MacGilvray Shiras) and the City of Buffalo must share the payment of damages.  The City was held partially liable because it was determined there should have been adequate time to lift the bridge.  The case revolved on whether or not the Shiras was properly moored at Concrete Central elevator.  The lawsuit for the damages was appealed at least six times.  Final settlements for the 28 claimants was decided in 1966, totaling $1.8 Million ($16.5 million today) in damages.  The original damage claims exceeded $3 Million!  Connelly Bros ended up receiving $42,500 ($389,331 today) for business damages and $42,238.17 ($386,932 today) for damages to the building.

mary connelly 1974 ancestry

Mary Connelly Keene, 1974. Source: Jennifer Connelly

After the bridge collapse, the company leased space in a warehouse on Scott Street.  The company suffered another tragedy when the warehouse suffered a fire four years later on March 9, 1963.  Connelly Brothers moved to 43 Illinois Street on March 21, 1963, just 12 days later!  In February 1969, Mrs. Keene was presented a plaque by the Buffalo Propeller Club and the International Shipmasters Association which recognized her contributions to both groups.  Mary Keene was president of the company for more than 40 years!  A rarity for a woman of the time!

Shipping in Buffalo was changing.  The winter of 1974 was the first year since before the Civil War that no freighters spent the winter in Buffalo.  The grain ships, like the Shiras and the Tewksbury, used to spend the winter with storage grain for Buffalo flour mills.  In 1974, it was decided they could move grain in by train as needed.  At the height of grain shipping in Buffalo, there would be more than 100 ships wintering in Buffalo.  In 1973, there were just 12 vessels.  The loss of winter ships impacted the Buffalo economy.  Each ship that stayed in port typically spent about $75,000 (about $500,000 today) in Buffalo before leaving in the spring.  This includes towing, docking fees, shifting fees, shipkeeper pay, and electric and water bills.  Additionally, they’d spend money on food and repairs during the fit-out to prepare the ship for the spring lake season. At the time the entire business of Connelly Bros was built around marine trade.  The company branched out to serve ships across the Great Lakes, not just in Buffalo, trying to survive.  


43 Illinois Street, the final location of Connelly Bros. Source: Julia Spitz

Connelly Bros 1976

Connelly Bros Ad from 1976.  Source:  Buffalo News

Mary Keene’s son Gilbert Norwalk was president of the company after Mary retired. Mary Keene died in 1978 at age 81.  She is buried in Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Tonawanda.  As the marine business continued to decline, Connelly Bros eventually shifted to including Auto Repairs as part of their business to keep up with the times.  The company closed in 1984, after 114 years in business!  In 2014. the Illinois Street building was listed as part of the Cobblestone District local historic district.  

So the next time you’re down at the waterfront, think about Connelly Bros and the 114 years they spent working on helping ships in the harbor! Special thanks to Jennifer Connelly, Great Granddaughter of John Connelly, for allowing me to use some of her family photos in this post.  

Want to learn about other streets? Check out the Street Index. Don’t forget to subscribe to the page to be notified when new posts are made. You can do so by entering your email address in the box on the upper right-hand side of the home page. You can also follow the blog on facebook. If you enjoy the blog, please be sure to share it with your friends.


  • Smith, H. Katherine.  “Connelly Street a Memorial to Ship Chandlery Founder”.  Buffalo Courier Express.  January 12, 1942, p6.
  • Wood, Jerry.  “Company Crushed in Bridge Collapse”.  Buffalo News.  February 26, 1959, p1.
  • “US Judge Rules on Who Shall Pay in Bridge Disaster.”  Buffalo News.  May 1, 1963, p10.
  • Maserka, Ron.  “Damages in 1959 River Crash Are Set at $1.8 Million”.  Buffalo News.  April 22, 1966, p25.
  • “Mrs. Keene to get Plaque”.  Buffalo News.  February 3, 1969, p2.
  • Buckham, Tom.  “Waterfront’s Economy Hit Hart by Loss of Winter Grain Fleet”.  Buffalo News.  January 25, 1974, p34.
  • “Connelly Bros Leases Building”.  March 21, 1963, p33.
  • “Mary Connelly Keen Dies; Headed Ship Supply Firm”.  Buffalo News.  June 28, 1978.
  • Hariaczyi, Todd.  “January 21, 1959:  The Michael K. Tewksbury topples the Michigan Avenue Bridge”.  Buffalo News.  July 4, 2017.
  • “Mayor Aids Confer in Flood Emergency; Zero Cold Forecast”.  Buffalo News.  January 22, 1959, p1.
  • Kowalewski, Ed.  “1959 Bridge Crash Still Vivid.”  Buffalo News.  Janaury 21, 1969, p29.
  • Maselki, Ron.  “$1.8 Million Damage Found by Investigator of 1959 River Crash”.  Buffalo News.  April 21, 1966, p67.
  • “Crews Start A Task To Cut Away the Bridge.”  Batavia Daily News.  February 2, 1959.  P1.
  • “Conveyors Unloading Grain From Aft Hold of Tewksbury”.  Buffalo News.  January 29, 1959, p31.
  • “Visited Tavern Before Crash, Bridge Operator Tells Court”  Buffalo Courier Express.  May 3, 1961, p64.
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