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Archive for the ‘West Side’ Category

ketchumKetchum Place is a small street on the Lower West Side of Buffalo.  The street runs for just one block, between York Street and Jersey Street.  The street is named after Jesse Ketchum.

Mr. Ketchum was born in Spencerport, New York on March 1, 1782.  His mother passed away when Jesse was six, and he and his ten siblings were distributed among various family and neighbors. The eldest Ketchum Sibling, Seneca, was 16 and was able to live on his own after the death of their mother.  Jesse spent much of his childhood working on a farm from sunrise until sunset; he longed to go to school but was never allowed.  It’s said that as an adult, he rarely spoke of the time between the age of six and adulthood.

Jesse Ketchum

Jesse Ketchum

At the age of 17, in 1799, Jesse went to Little York, now Toronto, to where his older brother, Seneca Ketchum, lived.  He went by foot to Oswego, where he was able to work for passage on a boat to Kingston, Ontario, and then on another boat for passage from Kingston to York.  When Jesse arrived in York, Seneca put his brother in charge of his extensive farm.  Both Jesse and Seneca fell in love with Ann Love, a young widow who worked as their housekeeper.  They drew lots to decide who would marry her, and Jesse and Ann were married.

Jesse and Ann had six children.  In 1804, Jesse moved to the outskirts of York.  He was successful in establishing a tannery there.  During the War of 1812, he became rich while making shoes for Canadian and English soldiers.  While in Canada, Jesse Ketchum served as Constable of York and a member of the Dominion Parliament.

After Ann’s death, Jesse married Mary Ann Rubergall and had three more children.  He recognized that Buffalo was becoming an important shipping hub due to the Erie Canal.   In 1845, he moved to Buffalo. He purchased land on Main Street between Allen and High Streets to build a tannery.  He continued to do good business at his tannery.  He was successful at the buying and selling of farm lands just outside of Buffalo, north of North Street.

Once he had made his fortune, he decided he was more interested in giving it away for the good of the community, rather than accumulate more wealth.  He was considered a philanthropist around town, giving money to those who needed it during the cholera epidemic of 1849.  During the Civil War, well into his 80s, Mr. Ketchum funded for the care of the families of enlisted men.

One of Mr. Ketchum’s other activities in Buffalo was buying of homes and farms.  He would “rent” homes and farms to deserving tenants.  He would then take the rent they were paying and apply it towards the eventual purchase price, allowing people to own land who might not otherwise be able to afford.

The Ketchum House on North Street

The Ketchum House on North Street

Mr. Ketchum lived in a 3-story brick home on North Street called “Tulip Garden”.  The house was located at approximately 267 North Street.  The home had 264 feet of frontage along North Street and the lawns and gardens extended to Summer Street.  The house was a popular place for his children and their friends.  A miniature train that was an exact replica of the then-new steam train connecting Niagara Falls and Buffalo ran trough his grounds.

Mr. Ketchum served as President of the Board of Trustees of Westminster Church.  He donated the land the church was built upon and donated $5,000 to the building fund.  Mr. Ketchum also donated the 5-acres of land to build the Normal School (now Grover Cleveland High School).  Ketchum Place is located close to the school.

He was very interested in the City Public Schools.  He would visit the schools and urge the children to be thrifty and abstain from tobacco and liquor.  He’d teach them about how to be proud Americans (particularly during the Civil War) and would reward students who did well with prizes.  He would visit every room in every school each year to deliver books to every student and teacher.  It is said he did this to make up for his longing to read books as a child.  Students referred to him as “Father Ketchum”.

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Jesse Ketchum’s Grave

Mr. Ketchum died on September 7th, 1867.  He was on his way to visit one of the schools when he felt a chill and returned home, where he died the next day.  His funeral was held at Westminster Church and was one of the largest and most impressive ever seen in Buffalo at that time.  The schools were closed as a tribute to their benefactor.  He is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery.

Jesse’s son-in-law, Barnabas Brennan, inherited the estate.  Mr. Brennan made a gift of $10,000 to Buffalo Public Schools for the awarding of medals for academic excellence, in honor of Jesse Ketchum. The first medals were awarded in 1873 and are still awarded today.  Originally, medals were awarded to high school seniors and to grammar school students in the last two grades of grammar school. Since 1950, the medals are only awarded to 8th grade students.  Approximately 15,000 medals have been awarded since 1873.  The Jesse Ketchum medal is the longest running medal for academic excellence in the country.

Front of the Jesse Ketchum Medal - with a portrait of Mr. Ketchum

Front of the Jesse Ketchum Medal – with a portrait of Mr. Ketchum

Rear of the Jesse Ketchum Medal - the latin reads "A Wise Man Will be Wiser"

Rear of the Jesse Ketchum Medal – the latin reads “A Wise Man Will be Wiser”

Ketchum Hall, one of the five original buildings built at Buffalo State College (formerly the State Normal School), is named after him.  In 1856, Mr. Ketchum donated land in the Village of Yorkville for a public park and for a “Free and Common School”.  The school was replaced by a new school building, which was named the Jesse Ketchum School.  Jesse Ketchum’s descendants founded Ketchum Manufacturing, a company still located in Brockville, Ontario.

Learn about other streets by checking out the Street Index!

Sources:

  1. “Ketchum Place is Memorial to Donor of Scholarship Medals”.  Buffalo Courier-Express, Sept 28, 1941, p. 15.
  2. Severance, Frank Hayward.  The Picture Book of Earlier Buffalo.  
  3. Hathaway, E.J. Jesse Ketchum and His Times.  McClelland & Stewart, Toronto:  1929.
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Sheridan Drive

Sheridan Drive

There are actually two roads named Sheridan in Buffalo.  The first is Sheridan Drive, a road that most Western New Yorkers are probably familiar with.  Sheridan Drive runs from the Niagara River and River Road east into the Town of Tonawanda, the Town of Amherst and into the Town of Clarence, where it ends at an intersection with Main Street.  The western end of Sheridan Drive is assigned NY Route 325 from Niagara Street to Grand Island Boulevard.  East of Grand Island Boulevard, Sheridan Drive is designated as NY Route 324.

Sheridan Terrace

Sheridan Terrace

The second Sheridan is Sheridan Terrace.  Much of Sheridan Terrace no longer exists due to construction of the I-190 and the Peace Bridge entrance ramps. Sheridan Terrace had been a Frederick Law Olmsted designed road that led from “The Bank” (a circle located at Massachusetts Street, Sixth Street – now Busti Ave – and Niagara Street) across the front of Fort Porter into Front Park. The portion of Sheridan Terrace that remains functions as the exit ramp from the I-190 to Busti Avenue.

Unfinished monument in Sheridan Drive, 1925 (still looks the same today)

Unfinished monument in Sheridan Drive, 1925 (still looks the same today)

Sheridan Drive and Sheridan Terrace are named after General Philip Henry Sheridan.  Tonawanda historians claim that Sheridan Drive was named after Sheridan Road in Chicago and not General Sheridan; however, the road in Chicago was also named after General Sheridan.  In 1925, when Sheridan Drive was opened, a monument was built on Sheridan Drive near Delaware Avenue.  The monument had intended to have a statue of General Sheridan, but taxpayers felt that too much money had been spent on what they felt was an “unnecessarily fancy highway through rural lands”.  A completed statue of General Sheridan stands on the steps of the Capitol Building in Albany.

Sheridan Monument in Albany, New York

Sheridan Monument in Albany, New York

Philip Henry Sheridan was born in march 1831.  He claimed to be born in Albany, New York.  His parents were immigrants from Ireland.  Some skeptics claimed Mr. Sheridan may have been born on the ship coming from Ireland, and that he said he was born in Albany in order to claim natural-born citizenship to be eligible for presidency.  As a boy, he worked at general stores.  In 1848, one of his customers, Congressman Thomas Ritchey, appointed him for the US Military Academy.  He graduated in 1853.

Mr. Sheridan became a United States Army officer and Union General during the Civil War.  He defeated confederate forces in the Shenandoah Valley, one of the first uses of scorched earth tactics during the war.  The troops were instructed to do damage to the railroads and crops, to leave the valley a barren wasteland to prevent the confederacy from using it as a productive crop land.

Sheridan's Ride at Cedar Creek, from the Library of Congress

Sheridan’s Ride at Cedar Creek, from the Library of Congress

In 1865, his Calvary was instrumental in forcing the surrender of General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox, which occurred in April of 1865.  General Sheridan and his troops helped to block Lee’s escape.  “Sheridan’s Ride” became the subject of songs and poems, talking of Sheridan’s valiant efforts.  Ulysses S. Grant said of Sheridan, “I believe General Sheridan has no superior as a general, either living or dead, and perhaps not an equal.”

Sheridan's Camp at Yellowstone

Sheridan’s Camp at Yellowstone

Sheridan was an advocate for the protection of the Yellowstone area.  He fought against a plan to develop 4,000 acres in the park, lobbing congress to protect the park.  Sheridan’s efforts expanded the park, established military control of the park, and reduced the development to only 10 acres.  Mount Sheridan was named in his honor.

General Sheridan died in August 1888 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, on a hillside facing Washington DC.  His wife, who was 20 years younger than him, never remarried and was said to have stated that “I would rather be the widow of Phil Sheridan than the wife of any other living man”.

Sheridan's Grave

Sheridan’s Grave

 Learn about other streets in the Street Index.

 Sources:

  1. Martin, Susan. “Road Test – Sheridan Drive?  Porter Ave?  Who are all these streets and highways named after anyway?”  Buffalo News, July 7, 2002, p. E-1
  2. Percy, John.  “Named After Chicago Street”.  Letter to Editor.  Buffalo News, July 15, 2002.
  3. Morrison, Jed.  “Sheridan’s Ride”.  New York Times, October 14, 2014.
  4. Grossman, Ron. “Why It’s Called Sheridan Road – Or How The General Saved Chicago”. Chicago Tribune, December 11, 2014.

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ripleyRipley Place is a short, one-block street on the west side of Buffalo, running between Vermont and Connecticut Streets, near Richmond Avenue.

Mary A. Ripley was a teacher at Central High School from the 1860s through the 1880s.  She was born in Windham, Connecticut in 1831, but grew up in Alden, New York and attended local schools.  She was known around town as one of the few woman who dared in the 1880s to wear her hair short.

mary ripleyMiss Ripley taught for seven years at School 7.  In 1861, she became a member of the faculty at Central High School.  She was determined to make over the school.  At the time, the teachers often had to call in the police to stop the students’ riots.  Miss Ripley asked for the job of taking care of the boys’ study hall, which was where many of the riots originated.  The male teachers doubted she’d be able to handle the boys, but Miss Ripley kept order with little difficulty.  She would tell people her goal was to develop young people’s conduct and character.

In 1867, Miss Ripley published a volume of poems.  She also wrote a textbook of Parsing Lessons for small school room use and a book titled Household Service.  Many considered Miss Ripley a talented poet and writer; however, her heart was truly dedicated towards her students.  She made long lasting impacts on her students.

Several of her poems were featured in magazines.  The following comes from the Magazine of Poetry and Literary Review, Volume 6:

ripley poem

When the State Normal School opened in Albany, Miss Ripley was summoned there to become one of its first teachers.  She went to Albany to teach for a few years, but missed her old school so she returned to Buffalo.  She taught at Central until 1888.

Miss Ripley received many honors in her years teaching.  During the Civil War, at a Washington’s Birthday celebration, she was seated with former President Millard Fillmore.  In 1886, for her 25th anniversary of teaching at Central, she was given a gold watch and roses.  For her retirement, she was given a diamond ring from “Miss Ripley’s Boys and Girls”.  They formed the Mary A. Ripley Association, which met for several years.  Miss Ripley passed away in 1893.

Mary Ripley Library in the Union Hall.  Source:  WNY Heritage

Mary Ripley Library in the Union Hall. Source: WNY Heritage

The Mary A. Ripley Memorial Library was established in the Women’s Educational and Industrial Union building.  Miss Ripley was a member of the Board of Directors of the Union.  The Ripley Memorial Library was furnished at a cost of $2,000 and contained 500 volumes when it first opened.  The Ripley Memorial Library was established with the Public Libraries division of the University of the State of New York.  The library was widely used as a place to read and study.

The Women’s Educational and Industrial Union was established in 1884 by Harriet Townsend.  We’ll get to more about the Townsend men and Townsend Street on another day, but it’s women’s history month, so we’ll talk about her today!  Mrs. Townsend was made the CEO of the organization due to her intelligence, vision and management skills.  She had no children, which allowed her to work full time for the advancement of women, advocating for women’s rights all of her life.  The Union building was located on Delaware Ave at Niagara Square (site of the City Court Building) in the former Babcock house, which was later demolished to build a larger building.  During the dedication ceremony of the new building, Miss Ripley recited a poem she had written.

Membership into the Union was $1. Union reports stated “We no longer listen to the selfish moralist who cries ‘Let the woman stay in her home, her only safe haven'”, and that “it is not, an association of benevolent, well-to-do women, joined for the purpose of reaching down to help the poor and persecuted women, but a Union of all classes and conditions of women”.  The concept was unique at the time.

Union Building on Niagara Square c. 1890.  Source:  WNY Heritage

Union Building on Niagara Square c. 1890. Source: WNY Heritage

The Union building contained the first gymnasium for women in Buffalo, kitchen space for instruction in nutrition and cooking, and provided classes on various topics not provided in public schools.  The Union gave scholarships to women to attend Bryant and Stratton and trained women for low wage jobs, such as cooks, domestics, and seamstresses.   The Union taught members how to navigate the bureaucracy of government.  The Union lobbied to establish equal guardianship rights for women in case of divorce.  The Union successfully got a women appointed to the School Board and fought for rights for all women.

The Union dissolved in 1915, finding that its work was finished – most of its groundbreaking programs had been adopted by educational, governmental and civic organizations.  These Women’s Union began programs we take for granted today such as vocational education, physical education, night school, free kindergartens, probation officers, Legal Aid, etc.  The building then became Townsend Hall, part of the University at Buffalo and was the college’s first College of Arts and Sciences, named after Harriet Townsend.  The building was razed in 1959 after it was destroyed by fire.  The Townsend Hall name was transferred to a building on South Campus.

Learn about other streets in the Street Index.

Sources:

  1. “Ripley Place is Memorial To Beloved Central High Teacher” Courier Express Oct 5, 1941, sec 5 p 3
  2. “Streets Have Historical Link” Buffalo Courier Express. Dec 7 1952 p 7-8
  3. The Women’s Educational and Industrial Union of Buffalo.  Compiled by Mrs. Frederick J. Shepard.
  4. “Harriet A. Townsend:  The Women’s Union.”  Susan Eck.  Western New York Heritage Press.
  5. The Magazine of Poetry, A Monthly Review.  Charles Wells Moulton.  Buffalo NY 1894.

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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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clevelandCleveland Avenue is a street in the Elmwood Village, running between Elmwood Avenue and Delaware Avenue.  Cleveland Avenue is named after one of Buffalo’s most prominent citizens, President Stephen Grover Cleveland!  Today (March 18th) is Grover’s birthday.

Grover Cleveland’s story is a rare one.  He rose to political fame from the position of an unknown lawyer in Buffalo in a period of only three years.  He was not connected via his lineage, but rather worked hard and represented himself with integrity, which led to his success. While much has been written about President Cleveland’s campaigns and White House years, I’m going to focus on his time before he was president.

Grover Cleveland Birthplace, now a museum Source

Grover Cleveland Birthplace, now a museum
Source

Mr. Cleveland’s family came to America in the 1600s, settling in Massachusetts from England. Stephen Grover Cleveland was born on March 18, 1837 in Caldwell, New Jersey, the son of a Presbyterian minister.  He was named after the previous pastor at the church where his father now preached – Dr. Stephen Grover.  The first name was dropped; however, and he always went by Grover.  He was educated in public schools in Fayetteville, New York and at the Academy in Clinton, New York.  He served as a grocery clerk in Fayetteville as his first job.  He later became an assistant in the Institution for the Blind, New York City.  

Grover Cleveland as a young attorney

Grover Cleveland as a young attorney

In 1855, Mr. Cleveland came to Buffalo.  He was heading to Ohio to seek fortune, but first came to visit his uncle, Lewis Allen, who lived on a farm.  Mr. Allen convinced Grover to stay in Buffalo, by giving him a place to stay and introducing him to members of a law firm.

Mr. Cleveland studied law with Bowen & Rogers and was admitted to the bar in 1859.  One of the local legends is that when Mr. Cleveland first started at a law firm in Downtown Buffalo, he made such a little impression on the lawyers while he studied, the lawyers forgot he was there, and locked up the office for the day while he was still in the office.  He vowed that “someday, I will be better remembered”.

During the Civil War, Mr. Cleveland was drafted. His two younger brothers enlisted. At the time, the Enrollment Act of 1863 allowed draftees to pay $300 to have a substitute go to war for you.  Grover borrowed money to pay a substitute, so that he could stay in Buffalo and take care of his mother.

In 1866, Mr. Cleveland formed a partnership with I.K. Vanderpool.  The two worked together for 4 years.  He then worked with P. Laning and Oscar Folsom, working with them for two years when Mr. Cleveland was then elected to be Sheriff of Erie County in 1870.

Mr. Cleveland was considered to be just and fair in his term as Sheriff.  He showed a disregard for partisan interests and he was considered a reformer.  He served as Sheriff until 1874, using his down time to continue his studies.  When he returned to the bar after his time as Sheriff, he was more confident and was considered to be a better lawyer.  He never became wealthy as a lawyer but was distinguished among the law community for his hard work and strong ethics.

Statue of Cleveland at Buffalo City Hall

Statue of Cleveland at Buffalo City Hall

In 1881, the City of Buffalo was considered to have a corrupt government that was driving the city towards ruin.  The population was growing quickly; politics and business were intertwined, and there was a demand for reform.  Citizens were looking for a mayoral candidate who could bring about reform.  They found their man in Grover Cleveland.   With some convincing by Peter Doyle, he decided to run.  He was elected with a majority that was the largest ever given to a candidate up until that time.  His main principal for his official life is expressed by one of his messages to the Common Council:  “There is, or there should be, no reason why the affairs of our city should not be managed with the same care and the same economy as private interests”.

Mr. Cleveland clung to and fought for what he thought was right.   He was known as the “Veto Mayor” (and later the “Veto Governor” and “Veto President”).  As Mayor, he was careful with city expenditures.  Mr. Cleveland’s term as Mayor was noticed throughout the state and led to his nomination for Governor.

Mr. Cleveland’s strength in the gubernatorial campaign lay in the fact that he was relatively unknown, and, therefore, not part of the machine that had run New York politics.  He had never met many of the representatives of the Democratic Party until the night of the convention.  He was elected in 1882, defeating Charles Folger by nearly 193,000 votes.

On election night, Grover wrote to his brother William, “But the thought that has troubled me is Can I well perform my duties and in such a manner has to do some good to the people of the State?  I know there is room for it and I know that I am honest and sincere in my desire to do well, but the question is whether I know enough to accomplish what I desire.”

Grover Cleveland as Governor

Grover Cleveland as Governor

His guiding principles while Governor were retrenchment, economy, integrity and reform.  He worked from early morning until late at night, carefully and deliberately undertaking the tasks at hand.  It is said that he did little to attract the attention of the party leaders outside of New York State, but in doing so, his honesty and personal habits set him apart from the pomp, circumstance and parade of importance around which many public servants surround themselves.

When the Democratic National Convention met in Chicago in 1884, Mr. Cleveland was nominated for Presidency.  He won the election by beating James G. Blaine, and became President of the United States.  After being defeated by Benjamin Harrison in 1888, Cleveland returned to New York City to work as a lawyer.  In 1892, Cleveland defeated President Harrison and became the first president to be elected for non-consecutive terms.

President Cleveland's Wedding to Frances Folsom

President Cleveland’s Wedding to Frances Folsom
Source: 1886, Harper’s Weekly

During his first term as president, in 1886, Mr. Cleveland married Buffalonian Frances Folsom.  He is the only president to be married during his term, with the wedding taking place in Blue Room of the White House.  When Oscar Folsom (Cleveland’s business partner and Frances’ father) died, Grover became executor of his estate, but was never the legal guardian of Frances, as many believe.  Frances was the youngest first lady in history, 21 at the time of their wedding.  She was a popular first lady, people purchased souvenirs bearing her likeness and copied her hairstyles and clothing.  Frances was born in Buffalo; her house still stands on Edward Street.  A slice of  the Clevelands’ wedding cake from 1886 is in the collection of the Buffalo History Museum. Frances and Grover had three daughters and two sons.

Grover Cleveland's Grave

Grover Cleveland’s Grave

In 1896, Cleveland declined the nomination for a third term, and retired to his estate, Westland Mansion, in Princeton, New Jersey.  He became a trustee at Princeton University.  He also served as a consultant to President Theodore Roosevelt.  He died of a heart attack in 1908.  His last words were “I have tried so hard to do right”.  He is buried in the Princeton Cemetery.

Other things named after Cleveland in the Buffalo Area:

  • Grover Cleveland Hall at Buffalo State College (Cleveland served on the Board of Directors when it was the Buffalo Normal School)
  • Grover Cleveland High School in Buffalo (the building now houses the International Preparatory School)
  • Grover Cleveland Golf Course
  • Cleveland Hill Neighborhood and School District in Cheektowaga
  • Cleveland Avenue, Niagara Falls
  • Cleveland Drive, Cheektowaga
  • Cleveland Avenue, City of Tonawanda

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

Sources:

  • Triplett, Frank.  The Authorized Pictorial Lives of Stephen Grover Cleveland and Thomas Andrews Hendricks.  New York:  E.B. Treat, Publisher.  1884.
  • Memorial and Family History of Erie County, New York.  Volume 1.  New York-Buffalo:  Genealogical Publishing Company, 1906.
  • Peckham, Caroline.  The Pre-Presidential Career of Grover Cleveland.  University of Wisconsin:  1922.
  • “Mr. Cleveland is Dead at 71”.  New York Times:  June 25, 1908.

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porterThe Porter family was very influential in Buffalo/Niagara during its formation and early years of settlement.  There is Porter Ave in Buffalo, Porter Road in Niagara Falls, a Town of Porter in Niagara County and the Porter Quadrangle complex at University of Buffalo.   Porter Avenue is located in the Front Park neighborhood on the West Side of Buffalo and is an Olmsted Parkway.   The street was originally known as Guide Board Road and predates Joseph Ellicott’s time in Buffalo.  It was an Indian Trail used during the Revolutionary War to a ferry which led to Canada.

Guide Board Road sign, on North Street near Franklin Street

Guide Board Road sign, on North Street near Franklin Street

The original street alignment went straight west towards the Niagara River.  When Frederick Law Olmsted designed the City’s parkway system, he decided to turn a portion of York Street into Porter Avenue, in order to connect to Front Park and Fort Porter.  This allowed the connections between parks that completes our parks system.

Castle at Fort Porter Postcard

Castle at Fort Porter Postcard

The former Fort Porter was located on the Lake Erie shoreline just north of Front Park.  Olmsted included the Fort’s grounds into his original plans for Front Park.  The Fort was torn down to build the Peace Bridge.  The Porter Family included Augustus and Peter Porter.  Augustus was prominent in Niagara Falls, living on and owning Goat Island  His brother Peter Porter was prominent in Black Rock/Buffalo.  

Peter Porter

Peter Porter

Peter Buell Porter was  born on August 14, 1773 and was raised in Connecticut.  He attended Yale and Litchfield Law School.  He moved west to Canandaigua for his law practice in 1793.  He served as Clerk of Ontario County from 1797 to 1804 and was elected to the New York State Assembly, representing Ontario and Steuben Counties in 1802.    

While in the Assembly, Peter Porter was influential in working with Joseph Ellicott to promote road construction in Buffalo.  However, shortly thereafter, Peter Porter began to develop a community two miles north of Buffalo called Black Rock.  At Black Rock, there was what was called a “safe and commodious” natural harbor, and the land was owned by New York State, unlike the majority of Western New York which was owned by the Holland Land Company.   Peter purchased land with his brother Augustus and Benjamin Baron to form Porter, Barton and Company.  New York State gave their trading firm a monopoly of the transportation business on the portage around Niagara Falls and it handled much of the trade on the Upper Great Lakes.

Around 1797, Joseph Ellicott tried to convince Porter and his friends to purchase property from the Holland Land Company.  Instead, they bought state lands along the Niagara River.  The laid out a town site, built warehouses and other trading facilities, establishing Black Rock.  This angered Paul Busti and other Holland Land Company agents, who then tried to purchased land from the State for the Holland Land Company in order to sabotage Porter’s plans.   As the town of Black Rock developed, the Holland Land Company tried hard to push Buffalo’s interests by using political influence in Albany.  However, Porter was equally determined to make Black Rock successful and had his own power in Albany.

Peter Porter moved to Black Rock in 1809 and was elected to the US House of Representatives, furthering his influence from Albany down to Washington, D.C.   He was so influential as a congressman that he convinced President Madison to move the customs house from Buffalo to the smaller Black Rock during summer (the more active) months. 

Map of Black Rock prior to the War of 1812

Map of Black Rock prior to the War of 1812

During the War of 1812, General Porter served in the New York State Militia.  In congress, Porter was labelled a War Hawk as he fought for security of the Niagara Frontier as the conflict leading up to the war became heated.  He found strong allies in Henry Clay and John Calhoun and was named  chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee.  Porter was presented a gold medal from Congress on November 3, 1814 for “gallantry and good conduct” during the Battle of Chippewa, Battle of Niagara and Battle of Erie.

Following the War of 1812, Porter was able to assist in getting the War Department to use federal troops to repair and improve roads between Fort Niagara and Black Rock which were damaged during the war.  Porter also brought federal funds to the area to build roads and canals.  Porter and his supporters also wanted the federal government to build roads from the “Buffalo Frontier” to Washington to foster trade between the federal capital, the Atlantic Coast and the Great Lakes.  This led to conflicts between Black Rock (which was Peter Porter, because of his vast real estate holdings and commercial enterprises) and Buffalo’s leaders – including Samuel Wilkeson, Albert Tracy, David Day and Oliver Forward.  Buffalo’s leaders were on the side of Dewitt Clinton, Mayor of New York City at the time.  Porter and his friends were on the anti-Clinton political faction.

General Peter served as Secretary of State of New York from 1815 to 1816.   During a special election after the resignation of Governor Tompkins, Tammany Hall printed ballots with Porter’s name on them.  Porter received 1300 votes, despite not running for office.  Governor Dewitt Clinton won that election, despite Tammany Hall’s efforts.

General Porter was appointed to the Canal Commission created to examine possible canal routes.  Governor Clinton opted for a Hudson River to Lake Erie straight across the state.  General Porter preferred two canals, one joining the Hudson River with Lake Ontario and one around Niagara Falls, joining Lake Erie and Ontario.  Buffalo Leaders and Joseph Ellicott preferred Clinton’s ideas, but in 1814, it seemed that the Canal Commission might adopt Porter’s suggestions.   By 1816, Porter had not been reappointed to the Canal Commission as he had accepted the office of boundary commissioner to clarify the disputed sections of the US-Canada Border.  Joseph Ellicott replaced Porter on the Commission, Dewitt Clinton had been elected Governor, and the Erie Canal took the alignment we are familiar with today.

The rivalry then shifted to whether Buffalo or Black Rock would be the western terminus for the Erie Canal.  Black Rock had a large, natural harbor which would be easy to expand and for years it had been the center of east-west trade and was used even by the merchants in Buffalo.  Black Rock also provided an escape from the turbulent winds and swells coming across Lake Erie.  It also would shorten the canal a few miles, lowering construction costs.  Buffalo had advantages too:  it was out of the range of British canons on the Canadian Shore (which was important given the recent War with Great Britain).  Higher water levels meant the canal would feed better in Buffalo.  Samuel Wilkeson led the charge, along with a group of enterprising men, determined to make Buffalo the canal terminus.  A report by engineers stated that the terminus should be located in Buffalo as the Black Rock harbor was too vulnerable to British attack, too exposed to ice damage and too expensive to develop.  While several later reports supported Black Rock, the Canal Commission designated Buffalo as the canal terminus in 1822, on the advice of four out of five of its engineers.  Efforts by Porter and his friends to alter the decision were fruitless, and bills were passed in the legislature for a canal link from Tonawanda to Buffalo, completely bypassing Black Rock.

Porter House facing Niagara Street circa 1880s when Lewis Allen owned the house

General Porter built a house at 1192 Niagara Street (between Breckenridge and Ferry) in 1816.  He Porter married Letitia Breckenridge of the prominent Breckenridge family.   Breckenridge Street, which was originally called Commerce Street, is named after her.     When Grover Cleveland moved here to Buffalo, he lived in the Porter house, with his Aunt and Uncle, the Allens.   Peter and Letitia’s son Peter A. Porter went on to become a Civil War Colonel, killed in the Battle of Cold Harbor in 1864.  

General Porter donated the land for the Union Meeting House Church across the street from his house.  The church is located at 44 Breckenridge and is also known as the Breckenridge Street Church.  

Peter Porter was also President of Jubilee Water Works, the first company to bring water into people’s homes.  The water came from the jubilee spring (located in present day Forest Lawn…Crystal Lake is formed from waters from the spring) and was pumped through wooden pipes.  Some of Buffalo’s wooden water pipes still exist.

porter grave

Peter Porter’s Grave

In 1837, Black Rock was dealt another blow when General Porter sold his interests there and moved to Niagara Falls where he built a new home.  Peter Porter died in 1844, and Fort Porter was named in honor of the businessman-politician-soldier.  Peter and Augustus Porter are both buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Niagara Falls.  Nine years after his death, Porter’s beloved Black Rock was annexed to a thriving, expanding Buffalo.   Black Rock became a neighborhood in the City of Buffalo.

The next time you’re driving down the 190 along the Niagara River or driving through Black Rock, think about Peter Porter and what our region might look like if we lived in the City of Black Rock and the Erie Canal went from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario!

Learn about other streets by checking out the street index.

 

Sources:

  1. Courier Express, July 24 1938, sec 6, p.4.
  2. Grande, Joseph.  Peter B. Porter and the Buffalo Black-Rock Rivalry.  Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society Publications.

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Dart Street is a 0.5 mile street running between Forest Avenue and the Scajaquada (198) between Grant and Niagara Streets.  The short street is located in an industrial area that used to be used for manufacturing purposes, which is fitting because the street is named after the man who helped Buffalo to become an industrial powerhouse.

Joseph Dart invented the grain elevator.  Mr. Dart was born in Connecticut in 1799,  He came to Buffalo in 1821, when the Village had a population of approximately 1800.  He became a partner in the hat, cap and fur business with Joseph Stocking.  He learned the languages of the Native Americans in order to expand his business.  His store was located on the southeast corner of Main and Swan Streets.  During his downtime at his shop when the fur trade was slow, he toyed around with the idea to move grain from a ship to the land by a machine into an elevator.

Model of the Dart Grain Elevator

In 1841, he completed his blueprints and the first grain elevator was built on the banks of the Buffalo River.   Once his elevator was successful, elevators popped up all along the shores of the Buffalo Harbor and Buffalo River, giving rise to the grain industry which helped build Buffalo as an industrial powerhouse in the early 1900’s.  A historic marker is located on the spot where the elevator was located, close to where the entrance to the Erie Basin Marina is currently.

Mr. Dart refused to patent his invention, choosing instead to let it be a gift to all.  Most modern elevators still use Dart’s technology today.  However, the modern ships are a bit more automated, removing the need for grain scoopers.  The last scooper unloaded a ship in Buffalo in 2003.    You can watch a video of the last scooping in Buffalo here:

Mr Dart was also a prominent Buffalo citizen, involved in the Buffalo Water Works, a founder oft he Buffalo Female Academy (currently Buffalo Seminary), a member of the Buffalo Historical Society and active in the First Presbyterian Church.   The Dart Family, which included Joseph, his wife and seven children,  lived in a Mansion on the northeast corner of Niagara and Georgia Streets.  The Darts owned the first piano in Buffalo.  Joseph Dart died in 1879 at the age of 80.

I took this photo during the demolition of the GLF elevators, about two weeks before the one in the center collapsed this fall.

As a personal aside, the grain elevators are one of my favorite things in Buffalo.  They’re a huge part of our history, and these concrete mega structures are amazing.  I’ve been on several tours inside the elevators, and have a whole new appreciation for them.  A fact that many people don’t realize is that several of the elevators are still in use today, however, because they don’t show a lot of activity, they look vacant to most people.  Many of the vacant ones can be reused.  We currently allow salt and sand to sit on our waterfront, both of which could be stored in an elevator, protected from the elements.  To learn more about Joseph Dart and the grain elevators, I highly recommend the book Elevator Alley by Michael Cook, and the Buffalo Industrial Heritage Committee website.  There’s a wealth of information and lots of pictures of early Buffalo on their site.  Additionally, I recommend the walking tour given led Jerry Malloy, he is highly knowledgeable, and the tour is a must-do for people interested in learning about this important and fascinating part of our history.

Source:  “Dart Street Named in Inventor’s Honor” Courier Express Dec. 11, 1938 sec 5 p2

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