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Archive for the ‘Elmwood Village’ Category

Rumsey Road and Rumsey Woods

Rumsey Road and Rumsey Woods

Rumsey Road is located along the southern edge of Delaware Park.  The road is named after the Rumsey family, a prominent Buffalo family, one of the leading families during the early development and growth of Buffalo.  The portion of Delaware Park near there is called Rumsey Woods.

The parents were Aaron and Sophia Rumsey.  They had three children – Bronson, Dexter, and Eleanor.   The family moved to Buffalo while the children were still young.  Aaron Rumsey established a tannery located on the south side of the Main and Hamburg Streets canal, near Alabama Street.  The sons joined the company as they grew to adulthood.  Aaron Rumsey died in 1864, and the business was handed down to them.  They turned A. Rumsey & Company into one of the leading leather firms in the United States.  The business was eventually absorbed by the United States Leather Company in 1893.

The brothers believed in the future of Buffalo, and showed it by investing much of their fortune into real estate in the City.  It is said that at one point, they owned 22 of the 43 square miles that comprised Buffalo.

bronsonBronson Case Rumsey was born in Warsaw, Wyoming County, NY on August 1, 1823. Bronson was the first president of the Buffalo, New York & Philadelphia Railroad, a director of the Manufacturers’ and Traders’ Bank from its inception and a member of the Park Commission when it was first formed in 1869.  Even after Bronson retired, he was still involved in financial, industrial and civic matters of the city.  He remained on the Park Board until his death.  He was a successful banker, merchant, and capitalist.

Bronson married Eveline Hall.  They had four children – Laurence Dana, Mary Lovering, Bronson II, and Evelyn.  Bronson built Rumsey Park in 1865.  Rumsey Park comprised the land bordered by Delaware Avenue and Carolina Street, Tupper and Tracy Streets.  The land had been previously used as a lumber yard owned by Mr. Hodge.

Sanborn Map showing Rumsey Park in 1889

Sanborn Map showing Rumsey Park in 1889 (click to view larger)

The Bronson C. Rumsey house at 330 Delaware Avenue was likely the first French Second Empire (mansard roof) house built in Buffalo.  The house overlooked a spring-fed lake with a Swiss chalet boathouse, a Greek temple pavilion, terraced gardens, fountains and wooded paths.   Bronson’s children also lived at Rumsey Park:  Mary Lovering Rumsey and her husband Edward Movius lived at 334 Delaware Avenue, Evelyn Rumsey married Charles Cary and lived at 340 Delaware Avenue, and Bronson II lived at 132 West Tupper Street.  The eldest son, Laurence, lived at 1 Park Place, in the house the family had lived in prior to construction of Rumsey Park.

The rear of 330 Delaware Ave. Source: WNY Heritage

The rear of 330 Delaware Ave. Source: WNY Heritage

Bronson Case Rumsey's name in the Rumsey Family Plot

Bronson Case Rumsey’s name on the Rumsey Family Marker

Bronson Rumsey died in 1902 and is buried in the Rumsey Family plot in Forest Lawn Cemetery.The expansion of Elmwood Avenue south to connect with Morgan Street, cut through the center of Rumsey Park. The lake was filled in and the property was subdivided.  Development of the property into lots began around 1912, as the Rumsey family sold the off the properties.

The second Rumsey son, Dexter Phelps Rumsey, was born in Westfield, Chautauqua County on April 27, 1827.   Dexter donated greatly to charities, particularly those committed to children, his favorite charity was the Fresh Air Mission.  Dexter served as Director of Erie County Savings Bank and was President of the Buffalo Club.  He was also an original trustee of the Buffalo City Cemetery, which established and operates Forest Lawn Cemetery.

Dexter Rumsey

Dexter Phelps Rumsey

Dexter was married three times: first to Mary Coburn who died in 1859, to Mary Bissell who died in 1886 and to Susan Fiske. Dexter had four children.  Cornelia married Ainsley Wilcox, who passed away two years later. Mary Grace then married Ainsley Wilcox in 1883.  The Wilcox Mansion (now known as the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site) was a wedding gift from Dexter to Mary Grace and Ainsley.  Ruth married William “Wild Bill” Donovan.  Dexter P. Rumsey, Jr was friends with F. Scott Fitzgerald during his time in Buffalo.  F. Scott Fitzgerald’s writings referred to Dexter as among his “fascinating army” of childhood friends.

dexter-house

Dexter Rumsey House, 742 Delaware Ave

Dexter and his family lived at 742 Delaware Avenue, at the southwest corner of Delaware and Summer Street.  The house was owned by the Rumsey family from 1857 until 1945.  The house was one of the oldest in the City, first portions of it were erected in the 1830s.  The house was still located in the countryside when Dexter moved in and he kept cows on the property through the 1860s.  Mr. Rumsey is said that to have bought the house where he did because he was confident of Buffalo’s northward expansion.  Dexter’s stables remain near the grounds of his old Delaware Ave mansion, and are used by Westminster Presbyterian Church.  Dexter’s confidence in Buffalo’s growth was also said to be why he purchased the large tracts of woodland in the vicinity north of today’s Delaware Park, sometimes referred to as the Rumsey Farm.

A portion (approximately 350 acres) of Rumsey Farm in North Buffalo was used for the Pan American Exposition in 1901.  The land was flat, treeless and landlocked.  A great deal of deliberation was made in regards to if the site represented enough of Buffalo, without a waterfront or hills.  The site had the benefit of being undeveloped and the lack of hills made it easy to build upon, therefore the site was selected.  The lack of trees was made up for by connecting the exposition grounds to Delaware Park.  After the Exposition, the leased lands were returned to their original state and the properties were subdivided for residential development.

Spirit of Niagara Poster

Many members of the Rumsey family and their in-laws were involved in the Pan-American Exposition.  Bronson’s grandson Charles Cary Rumsey was an artist who created several of the sculptures for the exposition.  The Centaur in front of the Buffalo History Museum is an example of one of Charles’ sculptures.  Charles’ uncle George Cary was the architect who designed the Buffalo History Museum.  Bronson’s daughter Evelyn created the Spirit of Niagara painting that was used for much of the Pan American advertising (one of my all-time favorite paintings!)  Most infamously, Dexter’s daughter and son-in-law Mary Grace and Ainsley Wilcox, were the owners of the house where Teddy Roosevelt was inaugurated following President McKinley’s death.

Dexter died on April 5, 1906 and is buried in the Rumsey family plot in Forest Lawn Cemetery.  When Dexter passed away, his wife and daughter Grace donated to the City Park Department the block of land adjacent to Delaware Park to add to the grove of trees to the park. The grounds are still known as Rumsey Woods to this day.

Rumsey Woods in Delaware Park

Rumsey Woods in Delaware Park

Bronson and Dexter’s sister, Eleanor, married William Crocker.  Eleanor had two children, William and Nellie.  She passed away in 1863 at the age of 36.  After Eleanor’s death, the Crockers relocated from Buffalo to Pennsylvania.  William Junior became a prominent lawyer in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

Want to learn about other streets?  Check out the Street Index.

Sources:

  1. Named for Bronson C and Dexter P Rumsey.  Courier Express April 28, 1940 sec 5 p 12
  2. A History of the City of Buffalo:  It’s Men and Institutions
  3. Buffalo architecture:  A Guide
  4. Larned, J.N.A History of Buffalo:  Delineating the Evolution of the City.  Published by Progress of the Empire State Company.  New York, 1911.
  5. Buffalo Times, Jan 22 1927

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Richmond Avenue

Richmond Avenue

Richmond Avenue runs north-south through the West Side of Buffalo, running between Forest Avenue and North Street.  The road was originally known as Rogers Road and served as a trail from Buffalo to what was known as a Shingletown area in the north.  Even when the City reached to North Street, Shingletown was still mainly open fields used for grazing animals and raising vegetables.  The most prominent building on the street was a tavern located on a terrace within a fruit orchard at the corner of Rodgers (now Richmond) and Utica Avenues.  The tavern allowed travelers heading between Buffalo and Black Rock a place to rest.  Residential development of the area increased in the 1880s and by 1900 the area resembled its current appearance.  The street was named in 1879 in honor of Jewett Richmond, who was involved in the salt and grain industries.

jewett richmondJewett Richmond was born in Syracuse in 1831.  He entered the salt business at a young age and began shipping salt to Buffalo and Chicago.  On his trips to Buffalo, he saw Buffalo’s potential to become a grain center.  He moved to Buffalo in 1854 and entered the grain business, building a grain elevator and establishing a company on the lakeshore.  He built the Buffalo and Jamestown railroad.  He was president of the Marine Bank, the Mutual Gas Light Company and the Buffalo Board of Trade.  He also served on the City Council.

At one point, in 1881, a delegation of prominent citizens wanted him to run for Mayor.  Mr. Richmond was among 5 people they asked to run for Mayor that year (Major Doyle was another).  Mr. Richmond suggested that they ask Grover Cleveland first.  Grover Cleveland accepted, and was elected to his first important political post.

Mr. Richmond was involved in many organizations.  He was a member of the Young Men’s Association, which established the Buffalo Public Library.  He was a trustee of the Charity Organization Society and the Forest Lawn Cemetery Association.  He was a charter member of the Buffalo Historical Society (now the Buffalo History Museum), the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences (now the Buffalo Museum of Science) and the Buffalo Academy of Fine Arts (now the Albright-Knox Art Gallery).   He was a founder of the Buffalo Club and the Country Club of Buffalo.

The Richmond family lived at 844 Delaware Avenue.  The property originally encompassed all of the land between Delaware Avenue and Richmond Avenue and was landscaped with gardens and some of the oldest trees in Buffalo.  In 1879, a petition was submitted to City Council to rename Rogers Road to Richmond Avenue in Mr. Richmond’s honor.

844 Delaware Avenue

844 Delaware Avenue

In January 1887, the Richmond house was destroyed by a fire.  In 1888, a new home was built at 844 Delaware Avenue.  The house is often referred to as the Lockwood house, as the 2nd owner of the house was Thomas B. Lockwood.  The house is currently owned by Child and Family Services.

Mr. Richmond died in 1899.  In addition to the street, two stained glass windows are also dedicated to his memory – one in Westminster Church and one in the Richmond Chapel in St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Richmond Monument in Forest Lawn Cemetery

Richmond Monument in Forest Lawn Cemetery

1920s version of the Richmond Avenue Extension

1920s version of the Richmond Avenue Extension

During the late 1920s and early 1930s, there was a proposal to extend Richmond Avenue further south of North Street.  During the late 1930s, residents of Richmond Avenue petitioned to have the city change the name from Richmond Avenue to Richmond Parkway in order to preserve the residential nature of the street.  In Olmsted’s plan, the “Avenues” were single drive lanes with double rows of trees on either side, while the “Parkways” were the double drive lanes with a carriage path in the center.  The residents were determined to keep the street as only a street of “homes and churches”.  Another proposal to extend Richmond Ave came to life after the construction of the Skyway in the 1950s.  This proposal would have connected Richmond Avenue to the Skyway.  None of these proposed extensions were built.

Check out the Street Index to learn about other streets.

Sources:

  1. Times, Oct 26, 1929, “Days of Auld Lang Syne” Buffalo Streets Scrapbook, vol 2
  2. Richmond Ave may extend to downtown Courier Express July 10 1935, p 13
  3. Named after Jewett Richmond “Richmond Avenue Perpetuates Memory of Cleveland Sponsor” Courier Express Oct 16, 1938 sec 5 p 3
  4. “Name Change Asked:  Richmond Would become Parkway” Courier Express December 2, 1938.  Found in Buffalo Streets Scrapbook, Vol 2 p 134

 

 

 

 

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hoytstreetHoyt Street is a street within the Elmwood Village neighborhood of the West Side of Buffalo.  The street runs between Ferry Street and Forest Avenue, parallel to Elmwood Avenue and Grant Street.   Interestingly, there was historically an earlier Hoyt Street.  The original Hoyt Place was located west of the Buffalo State Hospital (now Richardson Complex) and is now known as Bradley Street.  The street was renamed likely around the same time that the Hoyt Street we know today was developed, during the 1880s.  Bradley Street is shown in orange on the map to the left, while Hoyt Street is shown in red.

Erie Canal Survey showing Joseph D. Hoyt's Land

Erie Canal Survey showing Joseph Hoyt’s Land

The historic Hoyt Place was named after Joseph Dibble Hoyt, the original land owner of the property Hoyt Place/Bradley Street was developed on.  Joseph Hoyt was born on December 23, 1785 in Danbury, Connecticut.  He was the child of Moses Hoyt and Amerillas Dribble.   In 1811, he moved to Buffalo, NY.  During the War of 1812, he was taken prisoner of war during the Burning of Buffalo by the British and Native Americans.  He was imprisoned in Montreal.  After the war, he returned to Buffalo and became a prominent and influential citizen.  Mr. Hoyt owned a tannery on Carroll Street, which was originally called Tan Alley because of the tannery located on it.

Mr. Hoyt married Sarah St. John in 1809, they had one child, Harriet Hoyt.  He later married Polly Wright in 1814.  Mr. Hoyt died in 1838 and is buried in Forest Lawn.  I’m not sure that these Hoyts are related to Buffalo’s other Hoyt family, but perhaps someone more familiar with the family’s genealogy would be able to say for sure.

William Ballard Hoyt

William Ballard Hoyt

Hoyt Street is named after William Ballard Hoyt.  William Hoyt was born in East Aurora on April 20th, 1858.  He was the son of Doctor Horace and Josephine Ballard Hoyt.  He attended the Aurora Academy and Buffalo High School.  In 1877, he entered Cornell University to study history and political science.  After graduation, Mr. Hoyt came to Buffalo and entered the firm of Humphrey and Lockwood.  He was admitted to the bar in March 1883, and the firm became Humphrey, Lockwood & Hoyt.  The firm went by several different names as partners changed.  Mr. Hoyt and his firm served many prominent industrial and business concerns in Buffalo, such as New York Central, Vanderbilt properties, Western Union Telegraph Company, Western Transit Company and others.  Along with Mr. Baynes (more about him on a different day), Mr. Hoyt developed several of the streets around the street that bears his name.

In 1886, Mr. Hoyt became Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of New York, serving in this position until 1889.  In 1894, he was appointed as counsel to the United States Interstate Commerce Commission for the States of New York and Ohio.

Mr. Hoyt served as Director of the Buffalo Club for six years, Curator of the Buffalo Library for three years,  and was a member of the Board of School Examiners and President of the Cornell Alumni Association.

In 1887, Mr. Hoyt married Esther Lapham Hill.  The Hoyts had five children – John, Josephine, Esther, Albertine and Hilda. Mr. Hoyt died in 1915 and is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery.

william grave

 

 

Captain Hoyt

Captain Hoyt

Mr. Hoyt’s son Captain John Davidson Hill Hoyt was born in 1898 in Buffalo.  Captain Hoyt served in the Air Corps US Army. In 1936, he served as president of the Buffalo Niagara Association of Realtors.  He was killed in a crash off the coast of the Hawaiian Islands along with nine other crew members in January 1943.  Captain Hoyt has a marker among the Courts of the Missing from WWII in Honolulu and also a marker in Forest Lawn Cemetery.

john grave

Captain Hoyt Grave-marker

 

Bill Hoyt on the NYS Capital steps in the 1970s

Bill Hoyt on the NYS Capital steps in the 1970s

Captain Hoyt’s son William B. Hoyt II was born in 1937 in Buffalo.  He was educated at the Park School of Buffalo and Hamilton College.  He taught history at Park School for 11 years before entering politics.  He served as a member of Buffalo Common Council from 1970 to 1974.    William II ran unsuccessfully for Mayor of Buffalo in 1989, when he was defeated by James D. Griffin.  He served as  New York State Assemblyman for the 144th District from 1974 until 1992.  Mr. Hoyt died of a heart attack on the Assembly floor during a vote.

During his time on the Common Council, Mr. Hoyt proposed a plan to clean up the lake in Delaware Park.  He became a champion for the Lake.  Following his death, the lake was named Hoyt Lake in honor of William B. Hoyt II.

Hoyt Lake in Delaware Park

Hoyt Lake in Delaware Park

sam

Sam Hoyt

William II’s son, William B. Hoyt III, known by most Buffalonians these days as Sam Hoyt, was born in January 1962. Sam Hoyt attended local schools, graduating from Park School of Buffalo and attending Buffalo State College for political science.  Sam served as the WNY regional director for U.S. Senator Daniel Moynihan and director for the Buffalo Bisons.  In 1992, he took over the 114th District of the New York State Assembly, filling his late father’s seat.  He served in the Assembly for nearly 20 years prior to resigning in 2011 after being appointed as Regional President of the Empire State Development Corporation.  He also serves as Chair of the Buffalo and Fort Erie Peace Bridge Authority.

In 2004, Sam proposed that a group be created regarding the restoration of the historic H.H. Richardson Complex for use as for a cultural and educational activities, proposing that $100 million be put towards the restoration.  The progress on the Richardson Complex has been moving along, and the Hotel, Conference Center and Architecture Center are expected to open in 2016.  (Author’s aside:  I was interning for Sam during this time, and the Richardson building became my favorite building in Buffalo, as I fell completely in love with it when I first stood up on its steps during a press conference to announce the funding from the State.  Of Sam’s many accomplishments, I consider this to be my favorite, so I’m including it here.)

Think of the various generations of the Hoyt family the next time you go for a walk down Hoyt Street or take a walk around Hoyt Lake.  Maybe in a few years, I’ll have to update this entry to write about Sam’s sons!

Check out the Street Index to learn about other streets.

 

Sources:

  1. A History of the City of Buffalo:  Its Men and Institutions.  Published by the Buffalo Evening News:  Buffalo, 1908.
  2. Our County and its People:  A Descriptive Work On Erie County, New York.  Edited by Truman C. White.  Boston History Company:  1898.
  3. Buffalo Past and Present:  A Manual of Buffalo and the Niagara Frontier.  Reinecke & Zesch:  1994.
  4. Downs, Winfield Scott.  Municipality of Buffalo, NY:  A History.  1923.
  5. Memorial and Family History of Erie County, New York.  Genealogical Publishing Company.  1906.
  6. A Genealogical History of the Hoyt, Haight, and Hight Families: http://trees.ancestry.com/tree/36692239/person/20396668475/storyx/bb957757-2690-46ba-b30f-952be9ecd35e?src=search)
  7. http://www.bnar.org/about_us/past_presidents/index.html

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