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Grosvenor Street

Grosvenor Street

Grosvenor Street is a street on the near East Side of Buffalo.  The street currently runs two blocks, between South Division Street and Eagle Street.  Historically, the street continued south to Seymour Street, and changed name to Heacock after crossing the railroad tracks.  When at-grade rail crossings were removed, the street was shortened, and Heacock Street was later changed to Larkin Street.  The street is named after Seth Grosvenor, who only was in Buffalo for a short while, but left an important impact on the City.  Heacock Street was named after family friend, business partner, and brother-in-law of Mr. Grosvenor, Reuben Heacock (we’ll learn more about him later).    The name is pronounced Grove-nor, with a silent s.  There is also a Grosvenor Road in the Town of Tonawanda.  The name also lives on in the Grosvenor Room at the Buffalo Library, which happens to be where I do most of my research for this blog!

Seth Grosvenor Source: New York Historical Society

Seth Grosvenor
Source: New York Historical Society

Seth Grosvenor was born on Christmas Day, December 25, 1786, in Pomfret, Connecticut.  Seth’s family consisted of sixteen children – Abigail, Lucia, Roswell, Marcia, Godfrey, Martha, Mary, Polly, Betsey, Eliza, Thomas, Abel, Peggy, George, Seth, Stephen.   The family moved to Columbia County, New York around 1800. Little is known about when Seth Grosvenor arrived in Buffalo, as reports from the times tell conflicting stories.  It is believed that Seth Grosvenor arrived in Buffalo in late 1812/early 1813 to settle his brother Abel’s estate and run his store following Abel’s death.  Abel had been attacked by a mob of volunteer troops from Baltimore who mistook Abel for Mr. Ralph Pomeroy, the keeper of the hotel at Main and Seneca Streets.  The story goes that Mr. Pomeroy offended the folks from Baltimore by stating he was a friend of the British, and a mob set out to kill Mr. Pomeroy.  They saw Abel and mistook him for Mr. Pomeroy and attacked him instead.  Abel Grosvenor left Buffalo with his family but died from his injuries a short time later.  It is believed that Seth came to town shortly thereafter, but some reports indicate that Seth had arrived earlier to help his brother at the store.

On December 31, 1813, during the Battle of Buffalo, Seth Grosvenor organized a group of 20 to 30 men to defend the village against the British and Native American Troops, by taking a stand at the corner of Main and Niagara Streets.  During the Battle of Buffalo, the Grosvenor store and all its merchandise were burned to the ground on December 31, 1813.  Four days later, on January 4th, Seth advertised that he was back in the dry goods business, selling out of the Harris Tavern in Clarence.  One of the amazing things about Buffalo’s resilience following the burning of Buffalo is the quickness with which people and businesses returned to the fledgling village.  On April 5th, the Gazette read:  “Buffalo village which once adorned the shores of Erie and was prostrated by the enemy, is now rising again; several buildings are already raised and made habitable; contracts for twenty or thirty more are made and many of them are in considerable forwardness.  A brick company has been organized by an association of most enterprising and public-spirited citizens, with sufficient capital for the purpose of rendering the price of brick so reasonable that the principal streets may be built up of that article”.  Mr. Grosvenor was a member of the brick company.  By May 24th, the Gazette reported the following completed structures:  “23 houses occupied by families, 3 taverns, 4 dry goods and grocery stores, 12 grocery and other shops, 3 offices, 39 or 40 huts (or shanties).”  Mr. Grosvenor had also returned to Buffalo from Clarence by April 24th advertising that he can be called upon “at the new house situate where the Printing Office of Salisburys’ stood, will find him opening an assortment of dry goods, groceries, hardware, cigars and tobacco.”  His shop was located at the northwest corner of Pearl and Seneca Streets, which is where the Pearl Street Brewery is now located.  Later that year, Mr. Grosvenor went into business with his youngest brother, Stephen.

It is said that Mr. Grosvenor remained a bachelor all his life due to a bad romance between himself and Mary Merrill of Buffalo.  Before the Battle of Buffalo, Mary was said to be engaged to Mr. Grosvenor.  Following the Battle, many Buffalonians sought shelter and safety at Harris Tavern in Clarence.  Miss Merrill was said to have been affected by the charm and heroics of Captain Harris.  Two months later, in February 1814, Mary Merrill became Mrs. Harris.  Their breakup is also said to be one of the reasons Mr. Grosvenor left Buffalo for New York City in 1815, after teaching his brother Stephen the ins and outs of business and leaving Stephen in charge of the business.  Stephen Keyes Grosvenor was an active member of the Whig Party, and later served as Justice of the Peace in Buffalo.   Despite Seth only spending two years here, he had established many close ties during those years, and he kept close to Buffalo even after he left.  Mr. Grosvenor lived at 39 White Street in Manhattan.  Following his death, his estate expanded the home and later built a new building, which still stands on White Street.

Seth Grosvenor Grave

Seth Grosvenor Grave

Mr. Grosvenor died in October 1857 and was originally interred in Manhattan at New York Marble Cemetery.  His remains were later removed and re-interred at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn in 1862.  He is buried next to his sister Eliza.

Mr. Grosvenor is often referred to as the “City’s greatest benefactor”.  He donated money to build the Grosvenor Library in Buffalo (as well as money for the New York Historical Society and Library in NYC).  In 1857, while living in New York City,  he announced that he was leaving $40,000 to the City of Buffalo, to be paid two years after his death.  The first $10,000 was to be used to purchase a lot and build a building for a public library.  The remaining $30,000 was given, to be invested forever, and its income to be used for the purchase of books, to be kept open for the use of the public, and the books not to be lent out nor rented, only used for reading within the building.

Grosvenor Library Source: A History of the City of Buffalo: It's Men and Institutions

Grosvenor Library
Source: A History of the City of Buffalo: It’s Men and Institutions

The City accepted the bequest in 1865.  The library first used in space within the Buffalo Savings Bank Building at Broadway and Washington Street, and the library was opened to the public in 1870.   The City set aside $4,000 a year to operate the library.  Over time, a building fund was put together, and in 1891, the trustees erected the Grosvenor Library at the corner of Franklin and Edward Streets.  In 1897, the library was passed into the control of the City of Buffalo and by 1908, the library contained more than 75,000 books and 7,000 pamphlets for reference use.  The library operated for free use for citizens of Buffalo, temporary residents and strangers alike.  By 1920, the collection had grown to 162,000 volumes and the library was open from 9 am to 10 pm Monday through Saturday and 2pm to 6pm on Sundays.

The Grosvenor Library was open until 1956.  Of note are the Grosvenor Library’s collection of music as well as one of the largest genealogy collections in the country~  At the time, there were three different libraries in the Buffalo area – the Grosvenor Library, the Erie County Public Library – which was founded in the 1940s and provided bookmobile services to rural towns and villages, and the Buffalo Public Library – which developed out of the Young Men’s Association as early as 1836.  In 1953, the three institutions were combined by an act of the New York State legislature, creating the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library.  In 1963, the collections of the Buffalo Public and the Grosvenor Library were integrated on the shelves in the new Central library, which opened at Lafayette Square in October of 1964.  The Buffalo and Erie County Public Library inherited the collections, which form the core of the Grosvenor Room at the Downtown Buffalo Library.    The Grosvenor Library Building was demolished in 1974.

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

Sources:

  1. Rooney, Paul M. 150 years, 1836-1986 : Buffalo and Erie County Public Library.  [Buffalo, N.Y. : Grosvenor Society, 1986].
  2.  “Grosvenor Street Reminds City of Donor of Library”  Courier Express Jan 11, 1942, sec. 5 p 5
  3. “Seth Grosvenor and Buffalo” Grosvenor Library Bulletin, Volume 3, Number 4.  June 1921
  4. A History of the City of Buffalo:  It’s Men and Institutions.  Buffalo Evening News, Buffalo. 1908.
  5. Grosvenor Library Bulletin, Vol III.  September, 1920.
  6. “History of the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library”.  Buffalo and Erie County Library.  175th Anniversary of the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library.
  7. “The Grosvenor Family in Connecticut”.  Grosvenor Library Bulletin, Volume 1.

 

holland placeHolland Place is a one block long street in the Masten Park neighborhood on the east side of Buffalo, running between Riley Street and Northhampton Street.  The street is named after Nelson Holland.

Nelson Holland was born in Belchertown, Massachusetts in 1829.  The Holland family was a pioneer American family, John Holland had settled in Massachusetts in 1633.  Seven years after Nelson was born, his father brought the family to Western New York and bought a farm in Springville, New York.   Nelson attended rural schools and the Springville Academy (now the Griffith Institute).

nelson hollandIn 1850, Nelson Holland moved to Buffalo to work for his uncle, Selim Sears, who at the time was operating a mill in Michigan.  Nelson later purchased a portion of a saw mill, which stood where the Michigan Central Railroad station is (look this up).  He then purchased 4,000 acres of pine lands in Michigan.  In 1855, Mr. Holland purchased a mill in St. Clair, Michigan.

In 1864, Mr. Holland purchased 4,000 acres in Buffalo and came to Buffalo to look after his purchase, leaving his St. Clair mill in the hands of his brother Luther.  Mr. Nelson purchased interests in many mills and lands, stretching into Canada.  He owned lands stretching from Buffalo to Texas.

Mr. Holland’s holdings held firm through the ups and downs of the lumber industry, and survived the panics of 1857, 1873 and 1893.  He had controlling stakes in as many as 4 different lumber companies at the same time.  Even after 40 years in the business, Mr. Holland was said to “retain much of his old-time vigor, ambition and force with which to carry forth plans of future operations”.

In 1877, the Buffalo firm of Holland, Graves and Montgomery was organized.  They handled more than 500,000,000 feet of pine lumber.  Mr. Holland was considered to be a master in the art of manipulating pine forests to get product into marketable form.  It was also said that he had probably cut and consumed more pine lumber than any other man.

Mr. Holland was also prominent in lake transportation interests and was proprietor of the Buffalo Standard Radiator Company, which made radiators.

Holland Family Plot

Holland Family Plot

He was a member of North Presbyterian Church and served as President of its Board of Trustees, and then later became a member of Westminster Presbyterian Church.

Mr. Holland married Susan Ann Clark of Silver Creek in June 1857.  They had four children – Jessie Clark, Helen Lee, Grace and Nelson Clark.  Their son Nelson II took over the lumber business from his father. The family lived in a large brick home with sandstone trimmings on the northwest corner of Delaware and Bryant. Mr. Holland died in 1896 and is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery.

 

 

 

 

Sources:

  1. Our County and its people:  A descriptive work on Erie County, New York.  Edited by: Truman C. White.  The Boston History Company, Publishers: 1898.
  2. Memorial and Family History of Erie County, New York.  The Genealogical Publishing Company:  Buffalo:  1906.
  3. Larned, J.N.  A History of Buffalo:  Delineating the Evolution of the City.  The Progress of the Empire State Company:  New York.  1911.

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.
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.

loveringLovering Avenue is a street in North Buffalo, running between Hertel Avenue and Taunton Place.  The street is named after Sarah Lovering Truscott as well as her niece and daughter.  The three Lovering women were  influential women of their time in Buffalo.

Sarah Mitchell Lovering Truscott was born in September 1828 and came to Buffalo as a young child with her family from Boston, Massachusetts.  The family traveled to Buffalo via the Erie Canal and lived at 37 Eagle Street, which was one of the most fashionable neighborhoods in the City at the time.  In 1851, Sarah married George Truscott, a banker with Manufactures & Traders Bank (now M&T) who also served as water commissioner.

Mrs. Truscott was considered to be an efficient executive and was very involved in leading numerous charitable causes.  She was a member of the women’s board of Buffalo General Hospital and promoted the nursing school, which was Buffalo’s first training school for nurses.  She helped to organize and was president of the board of Children’s Hospital.

Former Unitarian Church, Eagle and Franklin Streets

Former Unitarian Church, Eagle and Franklin Streets

The Truscott family lived at 340 Delaware Avenue until 1918, when they moved to 335 Delaware Avenue.  The family was active in First Unitarian Church, which was located at the corner of Franklin and Eagle Streets.  The building was remodeled to add a third floor after it ceased to be used for church purposes and still stands, one of the oldest buildings in Buffalo.   The church congregation still exists, having merged with the Universalist Church, worshiping on Elmwood Avenue.  Sarah passed away in 1918 at the age of 90.

Sarah’s niece, Mary Lovering, was considered to be one of the first local gentlewomen to earn her living outside the house – she conducted a dancing school.

Sarah’s daughter, also named Sarah Lovering Truscott, was born in 1857.  Sarah Lovering Truscott was one of the city’s pioneer women in the real estate business.  Sarah was often see riding her bicycle to make a sale.  At the time, bicycles were just coming into fashion, mostly for men.  Many women began to ride bicycles as well, which many men scoffed at.  However, bicycles allowed women a greater freedom and mobility  to travel outside their homes and outside their neighborhoods.  Sarah was involved in many causes including:  assistant treasurer of Woman Suffrage headquarters, member of Buffalo Political Equality Club,  member of the Equal Franchise League, president of Woman’s Civil Service Reform Association of Buffalo, member of the Executive Committee of the Neighborhood House ( a settlement house), and member of the Peace and arbitration Society of Buffalo.  She was also a member of the Twentieth Century Club.  Sarah Lovering Truscott died in November 1943 at age 88.

To learn about other streets, check out the street index.

Sources:

  1. “Few Streets Named by City Government”  Courier Express, February 26, 1954.
  2. “Lovering Avenue Memorial Early Woman Philanthropist”.  Courier-Express, June 23, 1940, p. 3.

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.

griderGrider Street is located on the East Side of Buffalo, running north-south between Leroy Street and East Delavan Avenue.  The street is one of the main thoroughfares through the Delavan-Grider neighborhood. The Erie County Medical Center (ECMC) is located on Grider Street.

Daniel Grider (also spelled Greider) was born in Pennsylvania in 1787.  He came to Buffalo in a covered wagon drawn by oxen in the early 1820s.

Daniel Grider's great-granddaughter.  Courier-Express, February 4, 1940

Daniel Grider’s great-granddaughter with the family cornerstone. Courier-Express, February 4, 1940

Daniel Grider bought a 48-acre farm for 50 cents an acre.  He built a frame house opposite the site of the Buffalo City Hospital (now ECMC).   Mr. Grider’s family spoke German in his youth.  One way that Daniel would save money was to hire newly arrived German immigrants to work on his farm in Buffalo, giving them food and board and teaching them English.  By 1835, he had prospered and built a larger, more substantial house in its place.

Mr. Grider and his wife Nancy, had two daughters, Fanny and Nancy.  He was well respected in Buffalo, but never ran for public office.  Mr. Grider served as a representative from Erie County for the Canal Convention regarding upgrades to the Erie Canal in 1837.

The Grider farm was subdivided when the Erie and Lackawanna railroads passed through Buffalo.  At that time, the farm was cut into building lots and streets were laid out.

Mr. Grider passed way on March 25, 1855.  The family operated a burial plot on the Grider farm.  When the property was sold, the family members’ graves were moved to Mount Hope Cemetery at Pine Ridge.

Learn about other streets by checking out the Street Index.

Source:  “Grider street Recalls Name of Land Owner”  Courier Express Feb 4 1940 Sec 5 p 4

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