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Archive for the ‘East Side’ Category

walden aveWalden Avenue is an east-west thoroughfare that begins at the intersection of Genesee and Best Streets on the East Side of Buffalo and runs eastward to Alden.  In Alden, Walden Ave meets back up with Genesee Street and turns into NY Route 33.  Outside of the City of Buffalo limits, Walden Avenue is designated as New York State Route 952Q.  The route is the longest non-parkway reference route in New York State.  The road is named after Ebenezer Walden.

walden_ebEbenezer Walden was born in Massachusetts in 1777.  He graduated from Williams College in 1799.  He then studied law and while he became well-known in the law community in Massachusetts, he decided to make his start in a young community that he could help develop.  He came to Buffalo in 1806.  Part of his trip included a 40-mile walk through the woods from Batavia.

Mr. Walden was the first lawyer in Buffalo. There weren’t enough people in the Village at the time to sustain a full-time lawyer.  Mr. Walden set up a law office in a hut on Willink Street (now Main Street) between Crow (now Exchange) and Seneca.  He filled his days serving as a clerk in stores and doing other odd jobs to maintain his livelihood.  He invested in what became known as the Walden Farm near what is now Walden and Fillmore.

In 1812, Mr. Walden married Suzanna Marvin.  The same year, he was elected to represent the area that now contains Erie, Niagara, Chautauqua and Cattaraugus Counties in the State Legislature.

Mr. Walden was committed to building up Buffalo and Western New York, and was considered by his neighbors to be kind and brave.  During the Burning of Buffalo, he was captured with Mr. Cyrenius Chapin.  When his captors left him for a moment, he escaped and ran back into town to help those left behind in the rubble.

Judge Walden's house to rear of picture

Judge Walden’s house at Main and West Eagle to rear of picture

Following the Burning of Buffalo,  Mr. Walden practiced law in Williamsville while the village was rebuilding. Mrs. Walden served as a leader in women’s war work.  After peace was restored, Mr. Walden was a member of the committee to appraise losses during the war.  The Waldens returned to Buffalo and built a brick home at the northeast corner of Main and West Eagle Streets.

In 1823, when Erie County was established, Mr. Walden served as the first county judge.  He served as a judge for five years.  When the Village of Buffalo was incorporated, he was one of the four trustees.  In 1828, he was a Presidential Elector for John Quincy Adams.   In 1838, he was elected Mayor of Buffalo as a member of the Whig party.

The Waldens House at Main and Edward

The Waldens House at Main and Edward

As Buffalo grew, the Waldens moved further up Main Street, near Edward.  Their property extended to Franklin Street and contained lawns, orchards and gardens.  Judge Walden purchased many other properties in the Buffalo region.  One of his properties was a large farm at Walden and Fillmore Avenues.  While the Waldens never lived on the farm, it was known as the Walden Farm, so when the road was laid out in 1873, it was named Walden Avenue.

The Waldens Home Lake View

The Waldens Home Lake View

After retirement, Judge Walden lived on a 272-acre farm in what is now Lake View, which he purchased in 1837.  He built a mansion which he named Lake View, which became the name of the hamlet that eventually developed nearby.  Much of the present hamlet of Lake View was part of this farm.  In 1853, Judge Walden deeded a strip of land across his farm to the Buffalo and State Line Railroad.   Judge Walden died in 1857 at 80 years old.  His integrity, benevolence, profound culture and unselfish patriotism were remembered in Buffalo long after his death.  He is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery.

Walden-Myer Mausoleum

Walden-Myer Mausoleum

The Lake View Hotel - still stands at 1957 Lake View Road

The Lake View Hotel

Judge Walden’s son James became the first postmaster of Lake View in 1868.  Judge Walden’s daughter Catherine built the Lake View Hotel in 1880 to serve the traveling salesmen who would come to Lake View on the daily trains to sell their wares.   The Lake View Hotel building still stands today at 1957 Lake View Road.

 Check out the Street Index to learn about other streets.

Sources:

  1. “Two Streets Perpetuate Names of Early Jurists”Courier Express Nov 2, 1941 sec 6 p 3
  2.  Picture Book of Earlier Buffalo.  Buffalo Historical Society, Buffalo, New York:  1912.
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fillmoreFillmore Avenue runs north-south through the East Side of the City of Buffalo, between Seneca Street in the south to Main Street in the north.  The street is named after President Millard Fillmore, the 13th President of the United States.

Millard Fillmore was born in Locke, Cayuga County, New York on January 7th, 1800.  His parents, Nathaniel Fillmore and Phoebe Millard were among the pioneer settlers of the so-called Military Tract.  Nathaniel was a farmer and built a log cabin for his family.  Millard worked on his father’s farm and attended local schools until he was 15 years old.

Millard Fillmore portrait from the National Portrait Gallery

Millard Fillmore portrait from the National Portrait Gallery

In 1815, Millard served as an apprentice in a carder and cloth-dressers business in Newhope, New York (carding is the process of preparing wool for use as textile).  While working for the shop, he began to self educate himself, reading everything he could get his hands on.  When Millard was 18, he taught school for the Town Of Scott for a term.  He decided that he wanted to study law, and entered into the law-office of Judge Walter Wood at Martville.  In 1821, he arrived in Aurora to teach a winter school in East Aurora.  In 1822, he came to Buffalo and taught at a district school while also studying law under Asa Rice and Joseph Clary.  While in Buffalo, one of his students was  Alvan Dodge.

In Spring 1823, Mr. Fillmore was admitted to practice in the Court of Common Please, and opened his office in East Aurora.   The Fillmore house in East Aurora is now the Millard Fillmore Museum.  In 1827, he was admitted as an attorney of the Supreme Court and became counselor in 1829.  In 1830, he moved to Buffalo to form a law partnership with Joseph Clary.

Fillmore House on Franklin Street

Fillmore House on Franklin Street

He lived at 180 Franklin Street in Buffalo (near Franklin and Huron…the house has been demolished).  He practiced law until 1848, when his duties as a politician forced him to give up his private practice.  The firm he was a part of still practices in Buffalo today as Hodgson Russ, LLP, one of Buffalo’s oldest law firms.

Mr. Fillmore was elected to the New York State Assembly in 1828.  He served in the Assembly until 1832, when he was elected to Congress.  He served in Congress until 1842, when he declined renomination.  In 1847, he was elected New York State Comptroller, and in 1848, he was elected Vice President of the United States.  When President Taylor died in July 1850, Millard Fillmore became President of the United States.

President Fillmore came into his presidency at a critical period of national affairs.  He took great pains to complete his presidential duties with what has been described as unswerving conscientiousness, purity and patriotism.  In 1856, Fillmore was nominated for the Presidency by the National American Convention, but he did not win the election.

Millard Fillmore House on Niagara Square

Millard Fillmore House on Niagara Square

President Fillmore retired from public life after his presidency.  He passed his days at home in Buffalo advancing scholarly activities.  After his presidency, he and his new wife, Carolyn decided that the Franklin Street house was not fit for a former president.  He purchased a large mansion on Niagara Square in 1858.  His house was located where the Statler Hotel is today.

Millard Fillmore contributed significantly to Buffalo’s growth and development.  He helped to frame the charter that established the Village of Buffalo into the City of Buffalo.  He was one of the founders of the University at Buffalo in 1846, and served as the school’s first Chancellor, a position he served until his death.   While Fillmore was a Unitarian and is often criticized for being “anti-catholic”, he contributed substantial money to the construction of St. Joseph’s Cathedral.   During his time in Congress, he secured funding to enlarge the Buffalo Harbor and to expand the Erie Canal.  He helped to found the Buffalo Historical Society (now the Buffalo History Museum) in 1862 and served as its first president.  He served as Chairman of the Buffalo Committee of Public Defense and helped incorporate the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy (now the Albright Knox Art Gallery).   He spearheaded a campaign to raise money for Buffalo’s Society of Natural Sciences (now the Buffalo Museum of Science).  In 1867, he helped to found the Buffalo Club, the city’s first exclusive social club, and served as its first president.  He contributed financially to the construction of the Buffalo General Hospital, which opened in 1858.  In 1870, he served as President of the Buffalo General Hospital.  From 1870 until 1874, he served as a trustee of the Grosvenor Library, one of the predecessors of the Buffalo Public Library and one of the nation’s most comprehensive reference libraries.  He founded the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and served as its vice president.

Millard Fillmore as Captain of the Union Continentals

Millard Fillmore as Captain of the Union Continentals

During the Civil War, Fillmore denounced secession and supported the Union War efforts.  He commanded the Union Continentals, a corps of men over the age of 45 from Upstate New York.  The Continentals trained to defend Buffalo in the event of a Confederate attack.  The corps performed military drill and ceremonial functions at parades, funerals and events.  The Union Continentals guarded Lincoln’s funeral train when it came through Buffalo, and continued operations following the war.  Fillmore remained involved with them until his death.

Millard Fillmore died on March 8, 1874.  He is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery.  Since 1937, a celebration to honor Fillmore’s legacy in Buffalo occurs every year at the Fillmore grave on his birthday.   His home in East Aurora is a National Historic Landmark and operates as the Millard Fillmore House Museum.

Fillmore Grave Plot

Fillmore Grave Plot

When Frederick Law Olmsted designed Buffalo’s park and parkway system for Buffalo, Fillmore Avenue was extended to Abbott Road and upgraded south of Best Street as a parkway.  In Olmsted’s plans, the Avenues (such as Fillmore) were designed with a single drive lane with a double row of trees on either side.   The thoroughfare was linked by Abbott Road (now South Park Avenue) to Heacock Park, an existing park in South Buffalo.  Heacock Park forms the start of the South Buffalo park system.  The difficulties in creating a parkway connection were complicated by the Buffalo River and numerous railroads.  Buffalo City Engineers argued that if there was an at grade railroad-crossing, the road could not be considered a parkway.  Alternatives included a bridge which would have carried Fillmore Avenue over the railroads and the Buffalo River into South Buffalo.  The design of Fillmore Avenue was never fully realized and Fillmore Avenue was opened to commercial traffic in 1906.

To read about other streets, check out the Street Index.

Sources:

  1. Hillman, Jordan.  “Millard Fillmore:  Buffalo’s Good Samaritan”.  National Portrait Gallery.   May 5, 2011.
  2. Smith, Lester, editor.  Guide to the Microfilm Edition of the Millard Fillmore Papers.  Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society.  1974.
  3.  White, Truman, Editor.  Our County and Its People:  A Descriptive Work.  The Boston History Company.  1898.
  4. Buffalo Park Commission.  The Projected Park and Parkways on the South Side of Buffalo. 1888.

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Lovejoy Street

Lovejoy Street

Lovejoy is a street, a neighborhood and a council district on the East Side of Buffalo.  The street used to run to Fillmore Avenue but when the railroads near the Central Terminal cut Lovejoy Street in half, the portion in the Polish neighborhood was renamed Paderewski.

Sarah Johnson was born October 21, 1771.  Sarah married Joshua Lovejoy.  The Lovejoys came to Buffalo in 1807 or 1808 from Avon on the Genesee River.

Etching of the Burning of Buffalo

Etching of the Burning of Buffalo

Sarah Lovejoy was the only woman killed in the defense of Buffalo when it was burned by the British in 1813.   When the British came, most of the men went to Black Rock to defend against the attack.  Sarah remained with her 12-year-old son, Henry.  On December 30th, 1813, she sent Henry into the woods as the British Native Americans arrived in Buffalo.  She was afraid they would take him prisoner but felt that they would not harm her since she was a woman.  Henry is said to have grabbed his musket and went towards Black Rock, rather than hiding as his mother asked him.

As the Native Americans went ransacked her house, she fought hard to save her treasured belongings.  The house was located at 465 Main Street, across from the St. John House.  The St. John family tried to convince Sarah to come to their house, but she chose to stand her ground and defend her home.  It is said that she stated “When my property goes, my life shall go with it.”  As she tried to pull a shawl out of the intruders hands, she was stabbed with a tomahawk. Her body was dragged into the yard.

When the troops left, her body was carried into the house and placed on her bed by the St. Johns and Ebenezer Walden.  The British returned the next day to finish their pillaging of Buffalo, and her house was burned with her body in it.  There is a cenotaph in Forest Lawn Cemetery to honor Sarah and also a memorial in Mumford Rural Cemetery near her parents.

Sarah Lovejoy memorial in Mumford Cemetery

Sarah Lovejoy memorial in Mumford Cemetery

Henry Lovejoy

Henry Lovejoy

Joshua Lovejoy married Sarah Grey Ferriss, a war widow who’s husband had died while bringing supplies to Erie during Commodore Perry’s victory on Lake Erie.  Joshua Lovejoy died in 1824 at age 53.  Sarah and Joshua’s son, Henry Lovejoy became a well-known surveyor in Buffalo.  Henry laid out the streets and ran lot lines in most of the older parts of Buffalo.  Henry died in 1872 and is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery in the Lovejoy family plot.

Lovejoy family plot in Forest Lawn Cemetery

Lovejoy family plot in Forest Lawn Cemetery

Check out the Street Index to learn about other streets.

Sources:

  1. Ketchum, William.  An Authentic and Comprehensive History of Buffalo.  Rockwell, Baker & Hill, Printers:  Buffalo, NY.  1865.
  2. Smith, Henry Perry.  History of the City of Buffalo and Erie County.  D. Mason & Co, Publishers.  Syracuse, NY:  1884.

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Bailey Avenue alignment shown in red, approximate boundaries of Bailey Farm shown in green

Bailey Avenue alignment shown in red, approximate boundaries of Bailey Farm shown in green

Bailey Avenue is one of the longest roads in Buffalo, and a major north-south corridor,  running from Abbott Road in South Buffalo to Ridge Lea in the Town of Amherst.  U.S. Route 62 follows Bailey Avenue for most of its alignment.  The Route 62 designation has applied since the 1930s.

William Tracey Bailey came from a pioneer American Family.  His first American ancestor, John Bailey, crossed the Atlantic in 1630.  William Bailey was born in Connecticut in 1804.  At age 26, he felt the pioneer spirit of his ancestors and traveled through the wilderness of Western New York.  He arrived in Buffalo two years before Buffalo became a city.

Mr. Bailey married Mary Esther Clark, of his hometown.  His wife’s father was a wealthy Revolutionary War veteran and provided many beautiful things for the Bailey family’s homes.  The Bailey first settled in a large white house at Main and Pearl Street (the site later became the Teck Theater).   At one point, the house was raided by Native Americans.  The Native Americans were fascinated by the fancy carpets, which they had likely never seen.  They cut pieces into the carpets to make moccasins.

The Baileys later moved to a farm on the outskirts of the City.  When William Bailey first bought his property, it was at the intersection of Williamsville Road and Batavia Street. Mr. Bailey extended and improved the narrow Williamsville Road to better facilitate the removal of lumber from his property for sale.  In recognition of his improvements, the name was changed to Bailey’s Road.  When the street became a part of the City of Buffalo, Mr. Bailey donated a mile and a half of his land that is now Bailey Avenue to the City.  Batavia Street later became Broadway.

William T. Bailey

William T. Bailey

The Bailey farm and woods were bounded approximately by Dingens Street, Broadway, the Erie Railroad tracks, the West Shore tracks and the Village of Cheektowaga.  In 1854, New York Central railroad built tracks across the rear of the Bailey Farm.  Mr. Bailey sold the railroad the rights-of-way, as well as stone from his quarry for bridges, culverts and shops for the railroad.

The Bailey family had five sons and three daughters.  There was no school near the Bailey farm, so Mr. Bailey hired a teacher to instruct his children and his neighbor’s children.  He later built a school on Broadway and allowed the teacher to live at the Bailey home as a guest of the family.

The Bailey family attended Washington Street Baptist Church in Buffalo, where William was a deacon.  After church, many of the families would enjoy a horseback ride or a walk in the woods to visit the Bailey farm for a feast.

At the time, Buffalo was booming, but there were years that there simply were not enough jobs for the immigrants who continued to arrive in Buffalo.  Mr. Bailey would allow the poor to cut wood on his farm, and every two weeks, Mr. Bailey would provide their families with flour, beans, lard, coffee and other foods.

William and Mary Bailey Grave

William and Mary Bailey Grave

In 1856, Mr. Bailey built a house on Franklin Street near Tupper.  The house was well-known in Buffalo because it had the first plate-glass windows in town.  The house was later sold to the Altman family and was known as the Altman House.

Mr. Bailey died in 1860 and is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery.

After Mr. Bailey’s death, his son Earl operated the limestone quarry on the farm.  The quarry was located near where the NY Central railroad tracks cross Bailey Avenue.

Check out the Street Index to learn about other streets.

Source:

“Bailey Avenue Named for Area Pioneer”.  Courier Express Mar 3, 1940, sec. 5 p.9

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Timon Street

Timon Street

Timon Street is located on the East Side of Buffalo, running between High Street and Northhampton Street, parallel to Jefferson and the Kensington Expressway.  It’s one of my favorite streets in Buffalo, with its bricks and beautiful sycamore trees.  The street is named after Bishop John Timon, the first Bishop of Buffalo.

timon street

Timon Street

John Timon was born in Conevago, Pennsylvania in February 1797, a child of immigrant Irish parents.  His family moved to the frontier town of St. Louis Missouri, where his father opened a dry goods store.  John was an astute businessman, and the store had great success after he took over from his father.  John Timon was said to be polite and handsome.  He was described as a social lion and “an object of interest for all anxious mothers with marriageable daughters”.  One biographer commented that many though the store business became successful due to women coming to see John.  The financial panic of 1823 hit the store to the point of financial ruin.  Around this time, John had been engaged to young woman, who became sick and passed away.   He saw these two things as the ordeal of suffering in the realms of which vain men find themselves:  fortune and the heart, and decided to enter the priesthood.  In 1823, he entered into the order of the Vincentians and was ordained in 1825.

johntimon8He first served as a missionary.  He later spoke of the rough conditions as a missionary that the harder his labors, the more he felt pushed to spread the light of the gospel.  He served all people in the locations he visited, not only the white settlers, but the Native Americans and the slaves.  He journeyed hundreds of miles through unsettled countryside on horseback for 20 years.  He ministered in missions in Texas, Kentucky, Missouri, Arkansas, Indiana, Mississippi and Louisiana, at a time when developments were far and few in-between in the west.

In 1847, Father Timon was nominated by Rome as Bishop of the newly created Western New York diocese.   The Diocese was first established to include 20 counties in Western New York.   Bishop Timon’s arrival in Buffalo was fought with opposition from the trustees of St. Louis Church, which was at the time the largest Catholic Church in the Country.  St. Louis was a French and German parish, and Bishop Timon remembered his humble beginnings and had a strong affinity for the poor Irish settlers and lived with those who were more in need.  He moved from St. Louis Church to an apartment near St. Patrick’s Church (formerly located at Ellicott and Broadway) to better tend to the Irish.  The Catholic Church in Buffalo had a strong divide between the German, French and Irish Catholics before Bishop Timon arrived, and it grew stronger following his arrival.  After putting up with the opposition at St. Louis Church for years, in 1857, Bishop Timon excommunicated the men and closed the church for a year.

At the time, the majority of Buffalo’s Institutions were protestant.  Bishop Timon worked to meet the needs for the Catholic immigrants who were in need of services ranging from orphanages, hospitals, schools, etc.  After trying to work with some of the Protestant institutions to provide Catholic needs, as many of the residents of the facilities were Catholic, Bishop Timon realized he would need to create his own institutions.  He brought the Sister of Charity to come to Buffalo from Baltimore to help him.

Sister's Hospital, 1870 source

Sister’s Hospital, 1870
source

In 1848, the Sisters of Charity opened the first hospital in Buffalo.  While it was run by the Sisters, it was open to all residents, regardless of religious denomination.  The hospital got its start in a house at the corner of Pearl and Virginia Streets.  The hospital had several locations, including Main and Delavan, and is currently located at the corner of Main and Humboldt Parkway.    This hospital is today known as Sisters Hospital.  The hospital was run for 166 years by the Sisters of Charity and more than 850 Sisters have served at the hospital during that time.  The Sisters had a presence in the hospital until June of this year, but the Sisters have passed their legacy on to the lay people who run the hospital.

Bishop Timon was considered to have an extra kind heart.  He was known to give his coat to beggars he’d pass on the street.  A cholera epidemic in 1849 inspired him to established St. Vincent’s Infant Asylum, located at Ellicott street and Broadway adjacent to St. Patrick’s Church.  The Asylum was created to receive children whose parents died, and was known to carry the children to the Asylum himself.   Cholera epidemics occurred again in 1851, 1852 and 1854.  The disease was rampant among the Irish along the waterfront.  Since the disease spread through contaminated water, both parents would ingest the water so if they passed away, the children would be left parent-less.  The needs for the orphanage grew, and along with it, young widowed mothers also needed relief.

Providence Lunatic Asylum, Corner of Main and Humboldt Park, 1880 source

Providence Lunatic Asylum, Corner of Main and Humboldt Park, 1880
source

Bishop Timon established the House of the Good Shepherd, the first Catholic institution in the country to care for unmarried mothers and help them make a fresh start in life.  The organization received, nourished, clothed, and lodged these women until better situations were found for them.   The house accepted any girls, regardless of religion and allowed them to stay as long as they needed.  Bishop Timon sent one of his Sisters to visit the poorhouse Erie County had built in the north part of Buffalo.  She was shocked by the conditions for the insane.  Inmates were shackled to the walls and tied to furniture.  During the opening of the Providence Lunatic Asylum in 1860, Bishop Timon made a statement that the inmates were to be treated with humanity and not mastered by brute force.  This statement was revolutionary at the time.

St. Joseph's Cathedral,  Franklin Street

St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Franklin Street

Bishop Timon worked tirelessly to build a cathedral in Buffalo.  He saw in the 1840s that Buffalo was going to be a great city and felt that a great city needed an impressive cathedral.  The Catholic cathedral was originally to be located on Washington Street near Tupper where St. Michael’s church is currently located.  The opportunity then came for the Catholic diocese to purchase the Webster Garden Estate, located in the heart of downtown Buffalo, part of the “loveliest district with a beautiful park and rolling terraces stretching down to the shores of Lake Erie”.  Bishop Timon invited Patrick Keeley, an architect from New York city to design the cathedral.  Many of the laborers were Irish catholic immigrants who were too poor to donate to the cathedral, so they would donate their labor.  They’d often work all day as a laborer at their day job and then come work on the church.   The Cathedral was dedicated in 1855.  (Note:  a “new cathedral” was built at Delaware and Utica in 1912, but the construction was faulty – designed for Rome temperatures and not Buffalo winters, so the building had to be demolished in 1977, at which time St. Joseph’s became once again the cathedral in Buffalo).

Among other things, Bishop Timon also helped establish Nardin Academy, St. Mary’s School for the Deaf, Niagara Seminary (now Niagara University), St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute, St. Bonaventure,  and several orphanages and schools.

Bishop Timon was a man of great scholarship.  He learned Spanish in a matter of a few weeks, just prior to a trip to Mexico.  He spoke several other languages as well, to be able to converse with the Pope and other European monarchs and the needy immigrants arriving in the City.  Bishop Timon’s friendship with the King of Bavaria convinced the King to donate a generous contribution to build St. Joseph’s Cathedral, along with donations from others in Europe and Mexico.

Plaque at St. Joseph's remembering John Timon

Plaque at St. Joseph’s remembering John Timon

Bishop Timon died in 1867 at the age of 70 of erysipelas, contracted from administrating religious sacraments in hospitals.  An estimated 100,000 people came to view his body, lining the streets of Buffalo to view his casket.   He is entombed in the crypt in the Cathedral that he built.

Read about other streets by clicking the street index.

Sources:

  1. “Memorials to Early Clerics In Street and Square Here”.  Buffalo Courier Express.  November 23, 1941.
  2. Bohen, Timothy.  Against the Grain:  The History of Buffalo’s First Ward.  Bohane Books:  2012.
  3. Deuther, Charles George.  The Life and Times of the Right Reverend John Timon.  Published by the Author:  1870.
  4. Tokasz, Jay.  “Daughters of Charity to Leave Sisters Hospital for Other Ministries”.  Buffalo News.  June 7, 2014.

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howard streetHoward Street is a street located in the Babcock neighborhood of the East Side between Jefferson Street and New Babcock Street, running parallel to Clinton and William Streets.  The street is named for Major General Rufus Lombard Howard, the man who put the world’s first successful mowing machine on the market.

Rufus Lombard Howard was born in Litchfield, Herkimer County, on October 30th, 1818.  He attended schools there until he was 15.  He then became a clerk in the Country Store in Schuyler.  From 1836-1837, he served as Assistant Postmaster at Frankfort.  He came to Buffalo in 1839 as a clerk to H.C. Atwater, grocers and ship-chandlers.

During the Cholera Epidemic in Buffalo, Mr. Howard went to stay Batavia.  While in Batavia, he met William Ketchum.  Mr. Ketchum had invented a machine.  Mr. Howard made suggestions to him, and together they perfected the mower in 1851.  Mr. Howard invested the capital necessary to produce the Ketchum Machine.  The machine was manufactured at the Howard Iron Works at 281 Chicago Street.  Howard Iron Works was known as one of the largest and best known general machinery and foundry works of its time.  By 1859, nearly 20,000 of the mowing machines had been sold.   Howard Iron Works was bought by J.D. Cousins and Sons in 1904, which became J.D. Cousins in 1967.  The company is still in business today, more than 160 years later, on Tifft Street!

The Stansead Journal reported that the Ketchum Mowing Machines costs in June of 1860 were as follows:

  • One-horse mowing machine , 31/2 foot barr, weight 450 lobs, $75 (2,083 in 2014 dollars)
  • Light two hours do 4 feet bar, weight 475 lobs, $85
  • Heavy two-horse do 4 feet bar, weight 630 lbs, $90
  • Heavy two-horse do 4 feet 8 in bar, weight 650 lobs, $96
Ketchum Mowing Machine

Ketchum Mowing Machine

In 1851, Mr. Howard also became connected with the 8th Division, National Guard of the State of New York (NGSNY)  as aide-de-camp, with the rank of Major.  He was made an inspector and promoted to the rank of Colonel.  In 1865, he was selected to by the Governor as General.  During this time, the 65th and 74th regiments were housed together in the State Arsenal, which was crammed.  He appropriated money to purchase a lot and build an armory, the Fremont Place Armory (Fremont Place was part of what is now known as Elmwood Avenue).  The Armory was replaced by the Armory located on Connecticut Street in 1894 due to a growing size.  The Fremont Place Armory was located approximately where the Family Dollar is now located at Elmwood Avenue and Virgina Street.

General Howard accompanied Governor Hoffman and his staff in laying the corner-stone of the State Asylum for the Insane at Buffalo (now known as the Richardson-Olmsted Complex).  He also was part of the unveiling of the statue of General Bidwell.   General Howard retired in 1878.  During his military command, many distinguished guests were entertained at his residences, including three Governors of New York – Fenton, Hoffman and Dix.

General Howard’s interests also included agriculture, which he considered his favorite recreational activity.  He purchased 200 acres in the 13th Ward of Buffalo, which was known as Sander’s Farm.  At the time, this part of the city was wilderness.  To clear this land for agricultural purposes, he hired over 200 unemployed men, of which there were many due to the panic of 1857.  The farm was located on Tifft Street, across the railroad tracks from George Tifft’s operations.  General Howard also purchased 350 acres near the lake shore in the Town of Hamburg, between Big Tree Road and Howard Road, where he built his country home, known as Meadow Farm.   Meadow Farm was the first to have Jersey cattle in Western New York.   He served on the board of the Erie County Fair Association, and exhibited from his farm at the fair.

In 1891, General Howard decided to discontinue horse breeding, as the land on his farm in South Buffalo had become too valuable.  In March of that year, General Howard sold his stock of horses, bringing in good prices, including a reported $15,000 for one horse!  The farm was developed by railroads to serve the Donna Hanna Furnace Company and Republic Steel.

Ascension Window at Trinity Episcopal

Ascension Window at Trinity Episcopal

General Howard married Maria Field in 1842.  Five of the Howard’s six children died in childhood.  The sixth child, Gibson Field Howard, died in his early 30s.  This encouraged General Howard toward the betterment of youth, and his contributions to the Young Men’s Association, of which he was the first president.  General Howard served on the building committee of Trinity Episcopal Church, helping build things for the church through Howard Iron Works.  General Howard and his wife donated one of the stained glass windows in honor of one of their daughters.  When not at their farms, General and Mrs. Howard lived at 247 Delaware Avenue.  He died on June 28, 1896 and is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery.

So, this summer, when you’re mowing your lawn, think of Rufus L. Howard and the Ketchum Mowing Machine.  (And Ketchum Street was not named after the machinebut we’ll get to that another day!)

To learn about other streets, check out the Street Index.

Sources:

  1. “Howard Street Named for Militia Officer, Developer of Mower”Courier Express June 4, 1939, sec 6, p 2
    Manufacturing Interests of the City of Buffalo. Second Edition.  Published by C.F.S. Thomas.  Buffalo, 1866.
  2. Contemporary American Biography:  Biographical Sketches of Representative Men of the Day.  Atlantic Publishing and Engraving:  New York, 1895.
  3. National Cooper’s Journal.  February 1911, page 16.
  4. Vintage Machinery:  Howard Iron Works, Buffalo NY.  http://vintagemachinery.org/mfgindex/detail.aspx?id=3423
  5.  ‘Wilkie Collins at Home”.  Wallace’s Monthly.  Volume XV, No. 7. September 1889.

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rohrstreetRohr Street is a street in the Martin Luther King, Jr., Park neighborhood on the East Side of Buffalo.  The street runs between Walden Avenue and Northampton Street, a few blocks from the park.

Rohr Street is named for Mathias Rohr, president of the Volksfreund German Newspaper.  Mr. Rohr was editor of the Volksfreund for 14 years.  Although he wrote his editorials for the paper in his native German, Rohr was 100% proud to be an American.

rohr2Mr. Rohr was born in Germany in 1840.  At the age of 16, he became a teacher in his village of Zemmer. During his school days, Mr. Rohr had heard of a man from his village who had gone to America as a poor teacher and returned to Germany as a rich man.  Mr. Rohr longed for the freedom in America, so he dedicated himself to learn the English language.  At the time, studies outside of the traditional curriculum were forbidden at his school.  He also studied French and German literature, which was helpful in his later job as a journalist.  At the age of 28, he came to America.  A representative of the Central Zeitung, a German newspaper in Buffalo, met him at the dock and offered him a position as editor.  Two years later, he joined the editorial staff of the Buffalo Volksfreund.  Starting in 1883, he also served as a representative for the New York Life Insurance Company of Germania.  In 1904 he became president of the Buffalo Volksfreund.  Under his leadership, the Buffalo Volksfreund became one of the most important German-American newspapers in the country.   In 1913, he sold his interest in the paper.

Ad for the Buffalo Volksfreund from 1891.   The daily newspaper cost 25 cents every 2 weeks, or $6 per year if prepaid.  For this price, the paper would be mailed to readers in the local area in both the United States and Canada.  The weekly version could be sent to Europe or other regions for $2.60 per year.

Ad for the Buffalo Volksfreund from 1891.
The daily newspaper cost 25 cents every 2 weeks, or $6 per year if prepaid. For this price, the paper would be mailed to readers in the local area in both the United States and Canada. The weekly version could be sent to Europe or other regions for $2.60 per year.  The Volksfreund offices were at 14-16 Broadway.

He was a member of the first board of the Buffalo Public library and was an original subscriber to the former Buffalo Orchestra and a contributor to the original music hall.  He was considered a gifted writer and in addition to his journalistic writing, he wrote numerous poems, essays and novellas that were published in newspapers and periodicals.  He published a book of poems in German written about Niagara Falls “On Niagara” in 1900 (which can be read here in German).  He also published a book titled Oreola, the Pearl of the Iroquois and Other Stories of Indian Life.  He served as President of the Broadway Brewing & Malting Company.

rohr

Mr. Rohr married Miss Sophie C. Reichert in 1869.  The couple had 11 children.  Mr. Rohr owned property on Rohr Street, but he never lived there.  His home was at 186 Edward Street, near Virginia.  The house on Edward Street is still standing.  Mr. Rohr was also an active member of the Catholic Church.  In 1874, he was selected as a delegate of the Catholic Union of Buffalo to Rome and Lourdes.  He was also a member of Orpheus, the German Literary Society, and the Knights of Columbus.

rohrgraveMr. Rohr passed away in 1920 and is buried in the United German and French Cemetery in Cheektowaga.

Mr. Rohr’s son Frank was the founder and president of the Broadway Businessmen’s Association.  This group was the organization that abolished the fenced park that was once Lafayette Square.  Under their leadership, Broadway cut through the Square to Main Street.  Since the Holland Land Company had deeded the Lafayette Square property to the City on condition that it be maintained as a park, surrounded by a fence, when traffic congestion had dictated that the road cut through the park, public condemnation notices had to be published in the newspapers of the Netherlands to be read by any surviving persons interested in the Holland Land Company.  Mr.  Frank Rohr also worked with the association to bring the Broadway Auditorium to open.

Sources:

  1. “Rohr Street Memorial of Volksfreund Editor” Courier Express Feb 19, 1939, sec 5
  2.  White, Truman C, ed.  Our County and its People:  A Descriptive Work on Erie County, New York.  The Boston History Company:  1898.
  3. The History of the Germans in Buffalo and Erie County. Published by Reinecke & Zesch.  Buffalo, NY: 1898.
  4. Mueller, Jacob.  Buffalo and Its German Community.  German American Historical Society:  1911-12.

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