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rileystRiley Street is a street in the Masten Neighborhood of the East Side of Buffalo, running from Main Street to Fillmore Avenue.  The street is named after Major General Bennet Riley.  Note 1:  sometimes his first name is spelled Bennett, but his gravestone says Bennet, so I’m using that spelling.  Note 2:  There was another famous General Riley in Western New York, General Aaron Riley, whose house still stands in East Aurora.  As far as I can tell, the two men are not related.  Riley street in East Aurora is named after Aaron Riley and Riley Street in Buffalo is named after Bennet Riley.

19547819_122948017206Bennet Riley was born in St. Mary’s, Maryland in 1787.  He served as an apprentice in a cobbler shop as a young man, later serving as a foreman in a shoe factory.

Riley volunteered for service in the War of 1812.  In January 1813, he was appointed Ensign of Rifles.  He saw action at Sackets Harbor, New York, in the second of two battles to control the shipyards on Lake Ontario.  He was promoted to first lieutenant in March 1817.  He later advanced to captain in the 5th US Infantry and in 1821, he was transferred to the 6th US infantry.  He was promoted to brevet major in 1828 and lead the first military escort along the Santa Fe Trail in 1829.

Mr. Riley married Arabella Israel of Philadelphia in 1834.  They had eight children, including  twins William and Samuel who died in Fort King, Florida in 1841 and Bennet, Jr. who served in the Navy and died aboard the war-sloop USS Albany which disappeared with all hands in 1854. In Buffalo, the Riley Family lived in a frame house at Main and Barker Streets (1238 Main Street – where Delta Sonic is now located).  The house was later known as the Cobb Mansion, was home to St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute in 1897 before they moved to Kenmore Avenue, and the site was then the location of Bishop Fallon High School.  It is said that Riley enjoyed purchasing second-hand furniture to furnish his house, and he purchased so much that while he was away, Mrs. Riley would send it downtown to be sold at auction.  One story survives that says that General Riley returned home and attended a sale, and ended up buying back many of his items, without an inkling that he was actually purchasing items that he had previously owned!

In 1837, Riley served as major of the Fourth Infantry and was stationed at Fort Gibson on the Arkansas River.  From Fort Gibson, he was ordered to Florida, where he was an active part of the Seminole War.  In 1842, at the close of the war in Florida, he was ordered to Buffalo, where he served at the Buffalo Barracks.

1840 Map showing the Buffalo Barracks. Source: National Parks Service, Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site

1840 Map showing the Buffalo Barracks.
Source: National Parks Service, Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site

The Buffalo Barracks was built near what was then the northern edge of the city in the fall of 1839.  The federal government leased the land from Ebenezer Walden to use eighteen acres of land, bounded by Main, Allen, Delaware and North Streets.  Buildings were erected and were occupied during winter 1839.  The Barracks was built in response to the Patriot’s War with Canada in 1837.  At the time, Buffalonians still remembered the Burning of Buffalo during the War of 1812, which had occurred just 25 years earlier during the winter of 1813-1814.

The facility was also known as the Pointsett Barracks, named after the Secretary of War, Joel Pointsett.  The buildings formed a rectangle around the parade grounds on the northern end of the barracks.  Buildings included company quarters (enlisted men’s housing), officer’s quarters, storehouses, a guardhouse and stables.  The first regiment to occupy the barracks was Col. James Bankhead’s 2nd Artillery.  And was later occupied by Lt. Col. Crane’s 4th Artillery, and then by Bennet Riley’s 2nd Infantry.  The military post became a center of social life in Buffalo, who enjoyed watching military parades and listening to the military band.  Many of the officers became an important part of Buffalo social society and ended up marrying Buffalo women.

In December 1839, Riley is promoted to Lieutenant Colonel of the 2nd Regiment of Infantry.  His officers quarters are located near where Allen Street and North Pearl Street now meet.  In mid-1840, the officer’s quarters were likely moved to the Barracks property.  In 1841, Lt. Colonel Riley is promoted to full Colonel, becoming the 4th and final Commandant of the Buffalo Barracks.   In Mid 1845, Col. Riley and his 2nd infantry are ordered to the Mexican Border.  The government abandoned the post at the Buffalo Barracks shortly after, breaking its lease with the land.  Relations with Canada improved by the mid-1840s and Fort Porter opened in 1845, rendering the barracks redundant.  The property was sold for $2,250 and the buildings were demolished, except for the quarters that house the Commandant and the Post Surgeon.  This building is now the front portion of the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site.  The quarters made up the portion of the house that includes the present-day library and exhibit room and the second floor above.  The house was originally one of a row of three identical houses, each designed as duplexes to house two officers and their families, one on each side.  The house was renovated into a single family house by Judge Masten and his family.

californiaIn summer of 1846, Riley was ordered away to Mexico to join the army of General Taylor.  After the war with Mexico, Riley served at Fort Hamilton, New York in 1848.  He then commanded the Military Department in Upper California in 1849 and 1850.  He served as the provisional Governor of California.  At the time, congress was debating on the issue of California statehood, which made his role complicated.  The California Territory was transitioning from Mexican to American lawn and the Gold Rush at the time was violent.  Riley commanded eight companies of infantry, two artillery and two dragoons between San Diego and San Francisco.  The military had a hard time preventing the slaughter of California’s native population and was unable to suppress the violence in the often lawless gold camps.

riley grave forest lawnAfter the administrative service concluded in California, Riley was next sent to a regiment on the Rio Grande.  His declining health prevent his further military service, so he retired. He returned to his home in Buffalo, where he was greeted with a grand ovation.  The Mayor and a committee of citizens received him, along with a military escort and a procession of civil societies and citizens.  Of his return, it was recalled in 1892, “flags and banners flying, everything conspired to give a festal appearance to the city”.   There was some talk that he should be nominated to be President (a member of the Whig party).  He claimed that he “never got the presidential bee in his bonnet” and that he ” was far too sensible for that”.  He died of cancer on June 9, 1853.  He had a full military funeral, escorted by the 65th Regiment and the Independent Guard, commanded by Major Bidwell.  He is buried at Forest Lawn.  Riley Street was laid out in 1859 and dedicated in commemoration of his death.

Major General Riley is one of only three generals for whom military posts were named.  In June 1852, Camp Center (Kansas Territory) was renamed Fort Riley in Bennet Riley’s honor.  Riley County, Kansas is also named in his honor.

 

Sources:

  1. “Souvenirs of Major General Bennet Riley.”Publications of the Buffalo Historical Society, Volume 25.
  2. https://www.nps.gov/thri/buffalobarracks.htm
  3. “Streets Have Historical Link”.  Buffalo Courier Express, Sunday December 7, 1952.  p 7.
  4. “An Old Buffalonians Recollections of Gen. Bennett Riley”.  Buffalo Evening News.  April 16, 1892.  p4.

 

 

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This week marks five years since I started Discovering Buffalo, One Street at a Time.  I started this blog in part because some of my friends were sick of me constantly telling them about the history of Buffalo.  I needed an outlet to share the stories, so the blog was born.  My little hobby has grown and I love the community we have built.

Here are some stats from the last five years:

  • The blog has covered 144 streets.
  • There are 5,627 people who follow the blog.
  • The blog has had 181,839 views.  That is an average of about 100 views a day!
  • I was able to purchase the buffalostreets.com domain.
  • Early in 2014, I started giving presentations of the streets research.  I have presented at Forest Lawn, to church groups, at Senior Centers (via Erie County University Express), on Winging It on WIVB-TV, on the Penny Wolfgang show on the radio, and to other various groups.

I appreciate all of you so much!  Thanks to everyone who sends me comments and emails, and everyone who shares their stories with me.  I hope you all know how much I appreciate hearing your ideas and memories of things just as much as I love giving you the facts.  One of the highlights of my life as a history blogger was when I was recognized as the streets girl by a former congressman!

I may not have time to reply to every single comment – but I do read and appreciate them all.  I notice when you share blog posts on facebook or twitter, and I appreciate that as well.  Sometimes, if I don’t reply, it’s because you piqued my interest and I’m trying to do some research for you before I reply.  Buffalo’s history is a rich fabric and it’s likely we’ll never completely know everything.  But I’m happy to be a part of it all and sharing what I can.  I wish I had time to post more often, but this is still just a hobby for me.  A wonderful, rewarding, satisfying hobby that I will keep up for a long time.

A question I often get is “will you write a book?”  This is on my long range plan.  It may be a long, long, long range plan, but hopefully eventually I will find a way to make it happen.  Until then, I’ll keep plugging away, and discovering Buffalo, one street at a time.

Lots of Buffalove,

Angela Keppel

PS.  Sneak Peak:  The story of Maj. General Riley and what was at the Teddy Roosevelt site before it was the Teddy Roosevelt site will be coming soon!

 

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scatcherdScatcherd Place is a short road off of Peabody Street.  The street has never been more than just a short road leading to a driveway. Historically, this road led into Scatcherd and Son lumberyard, which later became Atlantic Lumber Company and is now owned by Battaglia Demolition.  While the street might not be on many people’s radars, it is legal city-owned right-of-way, and was named after a prominent father-son team who may have been forgotten.

James Newton Scatcherd was born in Wyton, Ontario in 1824.  He grew up on his father’s farm in London, Ontario.  James’ father, John, was a prominent Canadian citizen and a member of the Canadian Parliament for many years.  James’ brothers Thomas and Robert both also served as members of the Canadian House of Commons.

Scatcherd and Son Lumber Yard, 1900.  (Scatcherd Place is the lot between 136 and 142 Peabody Street)

Scatcherd and Son Lumber Yard, 1900. (Scatcherd Place is the lot between 136 and 142 Peabody Street)

James Scatcherd was taught about lumbering from an early age, as it was an important industry in his neighborhood.  Mr. Scatcherd moved to Buffalo in 1852 as an agent of Famer, de Blaquiere & Deeds, lumber manufacturers, dealers and shippers.  James took over the lumber firm in 1857 and became one of the principal lumber dealers in the United States.  In 1879, James’ son, John Scatcherd, joined the firm and the firm was renamed Scatcherd & Son.  The firm’s specialty was expensive hard woods.

James Scatcherd made two important contributions to the welfare of Buffalonians:  First, when he became chairman of the Buffalo Water Commission, he found the water supply was controlled by favoritism and political influence.  Politicians and friends obtained water for a small fee, while other consumers were charged more.  He served for 4 years as chairman of the Water Commission and established equal rates for all consumers, and established efficient management of the water system.  Secondly, Mr. Scatcherd served as president of the Board of Trustees of the Buffalo General Hospital.  At the time, the institution was burdened with large amounts of debt, and was cutting services due to budget constraints.  Within ten years of James’ leadership, the hospital was completely out of debt.

Mr Scatcherd married Annie Belton of Fairfield, Canada.  Mr. Scatcherd was a founder and trustee of the Delaware Avenue M.E. Church (built by Selkirk, now known as Babeville).    James and Annie had one son, John, and a daughter, Mrs. Seward Cary.  James died in 1885 and is buried in Forest Lawn.

John Scatcherd

John Scatcherd

John Scatcherd was also a prominent member of Buffalo society.  He was a leader in the lumber industry and served as president of The National Wholesale Lumber Association and the Buffalo Lumber Exchange.  John had a part in business interests including the Batavia and New York Wood Working Company, the Bank of Buffalo, and the Ellicott Square Corporation, all of which he was President.  He was a director in the Buffalo Railway Company (which became the I.R.C), the Market Bank, the Third National Bank, and the Buffalo Loan, Trust and Safety Deposit Company.

Teddy Roosevelt (on left) in Buffalo in 1901

Teddy Roosevelt (on left) in Buffalo in 1901

From 1900-1901, Mr. Scatcherd spent most of his time working as Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Pan-American exposition.  When President McKinley was shot at the Exposition, Vice President Theodore Roosevelt was summoned to Buffalo.  Due to President McKinley’s seemingly improving health, Mr. Roosevelt left Buffalo.  When the President died, the scramble to get Mr. Roosevelt to Buffalo for the Oath of Office left him without a suitable hat.  John Scatcherd loaned Theodore his hat and Mr. Roosevelt was inaugurated as the 26th President. (You can learn more about Roosevelt’s inauguration by visiting the TR Inaugural Site on Delaware Avenue)

John Scatcherd married Mary Eunice Wood in 1879.  They had two children, a daughter Madeline Steele Scatcherd and a son, James Newton Scatcherd.  John Scatcherd died in 1917 and is buried near his father in Forest Lawn.

Scatcherd Grave

Scatcherd Grave

Be sure to check out the Street Index to learn about other streets.

Sources:

  1. Memorial and Family History of Erie County New York.  The Genealogical Publishing Company:  New York-Buffalo, 1906.
  2. “Scatcherd Street Honors Memory of Civic Leaders, Father and Son”.  Courier Express, April 9, 1939, sec. 5, p.10.

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Happy New Year Update

Hello to all my new blog readers!    The blog has gotten a lot of press in the last few weeks!  I’d like to welcome all the new subscribers.  And Happy New Year to all the subscribers who have been here since the beginning.  I love you all.

I was on WKBW Channel 7 news on Monday night, discussing the 200th anniversary of the Burning of Buffalo.   I can’t seem to find the story online, but let me know if you happened to see it.

If you want to hear about some of Buffalo’s streets in person, I will be speaking next month at Forest Lawn Cemetery.  I have been attending their Sunday afternoon lectures for several years now, and I am thrilled to be working them.  For more information, or to buy tickets, please visit the Forest Lawn website here:   http://www.forest-lawn.com/page/calendar/title/buried-in-forest-lawn-alive-on-our-city-streets/

I am working on a few neat posts coming up in the next few months.  I’m hoping to stick to my two posts a month schedule for the new year.

Do you have any neat Buffalo related New Year’s resolutions?  I’d love to hear them.

I hope everyone is staying warm and bundled up like buffaloes today!!

1528548_840787303811_867214175_n

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Through my research, I have learned that street names often change over time.  Street name changes often come for a variety of reasons.   Some of Buffalo’s street names changed as early as 1825 after Joseph Ellicott left town. Other streets change as neighborhoods change.  For example, Lovejoy Street was named after a family of early Buffalo settlers during the War of 1812.   The neighborhood centered around Broadway and Fillmore was settled mostly by German and Polish immigrants.  When Central Terminal opened in 1929, it cut Lovejoy Street in two pieces.  The piece located in the polish neighborhood was named Paderewski Drive, after a Polish pianist and activist for Polish national freedom.

Over time, the neighborhood by the Central Terminal has changed again.  During the 40s and 50s, many of the German and Polish families moved away from the East Side of Buffalo towards suburbs, such as Cheektowaga.  Some of this move was financial – due to new Federal Programs making it easier for people to chase the “American Dream” of a house in the suburbs with a white picket fence.  Other reasons for leaving was the growing African-American presence in the city, which is referred to as “white flight”.   Perhaps now that the neighborhood has changed, we should think about changing the name of Paderewski Drive again?

clybourneRoad Less Traveled Productions will be putting on the play Clybourne Park from November 8th – December 1st.   Clybourne Park is a commentary  on the history of a house in an evolving neighborhood.   The play deals with segregation, white flight and cultural insecurities.

As part of promotion for the play, Road Less Traveled is encouraging Buffalonians to share their stories on neighborhoods they’ve lived in.   What was your neighborhood like?  Why did you move away?  Why did you stay?  You can visit the website and add your story to the map to help tell the story of Buffalo’s neighborhoods.  Click here to go to the website.  Many viewers of my blog have shared their wonderful stories with me; please share them on the website and let other people read about what life was like for you and your family in Buffalo.

The play is being performed at 710 Main Theatre (the old Studio Arena), from November 8th to December 1st.  You can buy tickets here.  Showtimes are Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons.   I encourage you to support Road Less Traveled’s tenth anniversary season and go see the play!   I also encourage you all to go to the Clybourne Park Buffalo website to share your stories, and talk with your friends and neighbors to share your stories.  Our stories are what make up our City.   While I focus mostly on this blog about telling the stories of people who may be long gone, those of us still here have stories to tell and our stories are important too!

We’ll be back to the regular streets posts with the next post!

 

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This week marks two years since I started my Buffalo Streets project.  It  started when I began researching how Keppel Street was named.  I started to uncover these stories, and I needed to share them with the world.  I am blown away by all of your love and support; I amazed that anyone reads what I write.  It makes me really proud of our city and our heritage that so many people are interested in learning more about it.   Our history is something to be proud of, and as we are redeveloping and revitalizing our City, I think it’s important to take note of where we have been.

I apologize that I don’t get to update more frequently.   I prefer to have well developed posts, rather than quick updates.  Life, work and exploring the city often gets in the way.   I hope to update more often this summer.  I’m making it my goal to write a post at least twice a month for the coming future.  I have lots of research on many streets that I have not published yet, so if you  ever have a question about a certain aspect of Buffalo history, feel free to email me (buffalostreets (at) gmail.com to ask.  

Also, I have been doing a few speaking gigs, presenting on Buffalo history and architecture.  Let me know if you’re interested in having me speak to your group.  

Thanks to everyone who reads the blog and shares it with their friends.  It’s been an adventure to really dig into our city’s history.  I have so much more to learn.  Thanks for coming around for the ride!

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I normally wouldn’t go into something this personal on the blog, but it ties into the City of Buffalo and the street I am going to discuss today.  I was recently attacked and robbed while waiting on the Subway platform at Allen Street.   I am alright, a little bruised and a little shook up, but otherwise alright.   This is my public service announcement to you all – Please be safe!!

Anyways, this event is your luck, because as I was soaking my sore muscles in some Epsom salts, I realized that I needed to write about Mineral Springs Road!

mineralsprings

Mineral Springs Road

Mineral Springs Road is located in the southeastern edge of the City of Buffalo, extending into West Seneca.  The street runs between Seneca Street in Buffalo to Union Road in West Seneca.  The Mineral Springs (also known as the Sulphur Springs) were located in a grove of trees near the corner of Mineral Springs and Harlem Road.  From my estimations of the old maps, it appears that they were located approximately where the I-90 crosses the Buffalo River, which is technically in the Town of West Seneca.

The springs were known to the Seneca as Dyos-hih, “the sulphur spring”.   On August 10, 1830, a notice was posted in local newspapers advertising that “a medicinal spring possessing the properties of the Spring at Avon has been discovered on the Indian Reservation about three miles from Buffalo Village near the junction of the Hydraulic Canal and Buffalo Creek”.  The waters in this area were reputed to have healing powers for the sick.

In 1848, a brochure was published by A.F. Lee to advertise the Springs.   Mineral springs were known as an ancient cure, going back to at least the time of the Greeks.  The waters didn’t have the medicinal properties when they were bottled, so people would drink them directly at the spring.  The sulphur springs contain sulphuretted hydrogen.

Construction of Aix La Chapelle

Construction of Aix La Chapelle

Other famous sulphur springs include Aix-La-Chapelle which was built during the time of Charlemagne, the Sulphur Springs of Virginia, the waters of Harrowgate in Yorkshire, England, and the Avon Springs in Avon, New York.  The springs at Buffalo was believed to be superior to all of the other springs.   A chemical analysis of the springs was done by Dr. Chilton of New York City in 1844.  The water was found to contain sodium chloride, calcium chloride, magnesium chloride, lime carbonate, soda carbonate, magnesia sulphate, and lime sulphate.  The springs contained 12 times more sulphuretted hydrogen than most springs and double that of the spring at Avon.

Different springs were cured different diseases.  The spring at Buffalo was good for the following diseases: obstinate cutaneous diseases, rheumatic and gouty affections, cases of neuralgia, indolent ulcers, dyspepsia, early stages of tuberculosis and consumption, and was also “useful in some complaints peculiar to females”.

The spring was endorsed by several doctors in Buffalo.  The following doctors wrote letters of support of the medicinal properties of the spring:  J. Trowbridge, Bryant Buruell, A.S. Sprague, M. Bristol, Austin Flint, Frank Hamilton, Erastus Wallis, J. Barnes, Jno. S. Trowbridge, and Chas. W. Harvey.

The springs were owned by Messieurs Burr and Waters of Buffalo.  A three-story frame structure with a large porch was built as a bathing house.  The springs were a resort for Buffalonians for a short while, but the roads were well not well maintained and the springs were eventually abandoned.

Postcard Showing St. John's Hom

Postcard Showing St. John’s Home

The bathing house from the resort became the  home for boys as part of St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Orphan Home in 1874.  The church and the original orphanage was located on Hickory Street.  The home for girls stayed on Hickory Street while the boys moved out to the Springs.  The boys home was destroyed by fire in 1876 and a new building was erected.   In 1898, a new building was added to the Sulphur Springs property to transfer the girls from their original home in the city and consolidate the home to one site.

The orphanage was run by the church.  The children usually remained at the Home until the age of sixteen, when they were placed out into the families of the congregation.  The grounds were 105 acres, included a hospital and schoolhouse with a gymnasium.  The students had tennis courts, a baseball diamond, a two-run toboggan slide, an orchard, and a picnic grove with shelters and grills.  In 1956, a swimming pool was added to the grounds.  To help raise money for the pool, donations were collected at neighborhood taverns.

Operating costs rose steadily for the Home following WWII as state regulations became more stringent.  The Home suffered a fire on November 14, 1959.  The increased budget due to regulations and the fire damage forced the Home to close its doors in 1960.

st johns dining hall

St. John’s Dining Hall at LCLC

Although the Home was closed, the Board was still allowed to donate money to those in need.  In 1965, $50,000 was given to Lake Chautauqua Lutheran Camp for the construction of St. John’s Hall.  The Gustavus Adolphus Home for Children in Jamestown was also given a $275,000 grant in 1967.

A portion of the property actually still provides for youth, as it is now the location of the Renaissance House, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility for adolescents.

In 1891, the Buffalo Parks Commissioners had considered using a grove of trees near Mineral Springs as a location for a park.   A report was made describing several places as potential for parks in South Buffalo.  The grove at Mineral Springs was described as “wet, except in the driest months of the year”, and the grove had been known informally as “Old Red Jacket Park” and was used as a picnic resort.    The park was rejected for this location and the Cazenovia Park site was chosen as the site to build the new park.  This grove of trees was referred to as “Old Red Jacket Park” until at least the 1920s.  This grove of trees still exists along the north side of Mineral Springs Road.

So the next time you use some bath salts, be sure to think of the mineral springs in Buffalo!  Be sure to read up on other streets in the street index.

Sources:

  1. “Street Names Link South Buffalo to Its Indian Past” Buffalo Evening News 9-14-1960
  2. “The Indian Reservation Sulphur Springs, Near Buffalo NY with an Account of its Analysis, Medicinal Properties, and the Diseases for Which it is Applicable”.  A.F. Lee, Printer:  1848.
  3. http://buffalo-orphanage-studies.com/StJohns.html
  4. Thirteenth Annual Report of the Buffalo Park Commissioners, Buffalo:  Press of the Courier Company,  January 19, 1883.
  5.  Verlag and Druck Van Reinecke & Zesch, History of Germans In Buffalo and Erie County: Buffalo, 1898.  Part I, pgs 282-286.
  6. Alexander, W.P. “What Spring Means to the Lover of Flowers”, Hobbies Magazine,  Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences, May 1920.

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