Archive for March 25th, 2023

Screenshot (57)

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.

edward cox

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.

Lydia Cox

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.

1872 atlas of buffalo

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.

cox hall

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.

little summer 1899

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.

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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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