Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘buffalo history’

russell

Map showing the locations of Russell, Fairfield and Greenfield Streets and Orchard Place.

Russell Street is a street in the Parkside neighborhood of Buffalo.  It runs for four blocks between Parkside Avenue and Greenfield Street.   Greenfield and Fairfield Street, as well as Orchard Place, were also named because of the Russell family.  You can explore the Parkside neighborhood at the Parkside Tour of Homes on Sunday, May 20th.  The tour starts this year at the corner of Russell Street and Parkside Avenue.  The tour runs from 11 am to 4:30 pm and you can get more information and buy tickets by clicking on this link.  All money raised goes to support the Parkside Community Association and all the good work they do in the neighborhood.

Russell Street is named after Washington Adams Russell II and his family.  His name is sometimes misprinted (including by myself on my blog post about Elam Jewett) as Washington Russell III.  A Russell relative currently living in New York City, the Great Grandson of Washington Adams Russell II, corrected me and provided some of the information provided below.  There were three Washington A. Russells.  The first two were Washington Adams, the third one’s middle name was Alfred.

Washington Adams Russell, the first, was born in 1799.  He built the oldest home in the Parkside area around 1841.  Mr. Russell was born in Middletown, Pennsylvania (near Harrisburg).  The Russells were a prominent family in Middletown, and Russell Street there was likely named after Washington Russell’s father, James Russell, who had fought in the Revolutionary War.  James named his first-born son after the first two presidents – Washington and Adams (the only two presidents at that time!)  Washington Adams Russell came to Buffalo with his father-in-law, Rudolph Barr (originally Bar), a Swiss brewer.  Mr. Barr had a brewery near Ferry and Main Street.  The Barr family operated Cold Spring Tavern there from 1826 until about 1849.  Mr. Russell bought 200-acres of land in what is now Parkside and built the first brick home in the Parkside area in 1841, at 2540 Main Street.  The house still stands and is now a church.

Washington Adams Russell had two children.  His daughter Eliza was born in 1827 and married Baron Atkins, a Great Lakes ship captain.   The son, Washington Adams Russell II, was born in 1828.  Mr. Russell the elder died in August 1876 and is buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery.

Buffalo map 1872 (1)_Page_1

Map depicting land owners. Washington Russell’s land is near the center of the photo.  His father-in-law, Henry Mochel’s land can be seen across Main Street to the northeast of the Russell Farm.    Source: 1872 Hopkins Atlas of Buffalo

Washington Russell II went to California in 1849.  He returned to Buffalo and married Mary Magdalena Mochel in 1867.  Mary Russel’s parents ran a tavern across Main Street, near what became Bennett High School.   Washington II and Mary had four children.  Their first-born son, Washington Alfred Russell (called Fred), was born in 1869. A second son, James, was born in 1877.  Daughters, Nellie and Lilian were born in 1872 and 1880 respectively.  The family lived in the Russell House on Main Street.

Washington Russell II, along with Elam Jewett and Dr. J. White, formed the Parkside Land Improvement Company in 1885.  The men began to develop and sell off the lots.   Russell Street was the cowpath the family’s cows would walk to drink from the spring in the Delaware Park Meadow.  Fairfield and Greenfield were the names of pastures on the Russell farm, near where the streets are today.  Orchard Place was the site of the family’s fruit orchard.   The streets were laid out in 1886 by the Parkside Land Company and dedicated to the city in 1889.  Olmstead had planned for Parkside to be comprised of large lots for quiet villas, the developers opted instead to decrease the size of many of the lots from 300 feet to 100-200 feet, in order to maximize profits by allowing more lots to be sold and more houses to be built.  As such, the neighborhood has Olmsted’s curving streets and building setbacks, but not the large lot sizes.  Russell Street was originally known as Russell Avenue, but at some point was changed to Street.

IMG_0133 (3)

Washington Adams Russell II standing in front of his house (on the right of the photograph). His son’s more ornate Victorian era home at 2532 Main Street is behind him to the left of the photo. Both houses are still standing today. Photo from Robert Russell’s family collection

Washington Russell II. died in November 1904 and is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery.

James Russell, brother of Washington of Parkside Land Improvement Company, was grandfather of Robert Russell who provided information for this post.  James was sometimes considered a black sheep of the family, because he married a Catholic girl.  Her father also ran a tavern.  James and his family lived at 39 Fairfield Street, which backed into the property at 2540 Main Street where his father lived.   James’ daughter Jean was born in 1908 and was part of the first graduating class of Bennett High School in 1926.  James’ son was James Washington Russell, and James Washington Russell’s son was Robert Russell.

Nellie and Lillian lived in the old house at 2540 Main Street.  Lillian had married Merritt Cook, but they had no children.  Robert Russell notes that in her old age, Lillian was stooped and had a screechy voice, so she fit “the old lady living in an old house is a witch” trope often perpetuated by neighborhood children.

highland lodge

Historic Image of the Highland Lodge on Main Street

Washington Alfred Russell (known as Fred) attended University of Rochester and University at Buffalo Law School.  He was a lawyer and 33rd degree Mason.  The Highland Lodge #835 is at 2456 Main Street.  The building was built by Green & Wicks Architects in 1905 and was used as the community center for Central Presbyterian Church for some time.  The lodge is still standing today.  Fred lived at 2532 Main Street, adjacent to his parents, his house can be seen in the photograph above.  The house is also still standing today.  Fred died in 1944 and is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery.

 

1928_Olympics_4x100m_relay

Henry Russell at the Olympics.    Source:  U&U 1928

Fred had a son named Henry Argue (called Hank).  Hank was born in 1904 and ran track at Cornell.  In the 1928 Olympics Trials, Hank placed third in the 100 meter at the finals.  in Amsterdam at the 1928 Olympics, Hank was eliminated in the semi-finals of the 100 meter, but he anchored the 4 by 100 relay, winning a gold medal and tying a world record.  He later left Buffalo to work for DuPont.  Hank died in 1986 in West Chester, Pennsylvania (near Philadelphia).

The Washington name continued thru the Russell family for another generation.  Robert Russell had an uncle, Washington Arthur Russell.  His son was named W Arthur Russell, as his mother couldn’t quite accept the Washington name.

Don’t forget to stop by the Tour of Homes on May 20th and impress all your friends with random facts about the Russell family while on the tour!  Tickets can be purchased here.  Very special thanks to Robert Russell for all of his insight and sharing of his family story.  Got a story to share about your family?  I’d love to hear them!

To learn about other streets – check out the street index here.

 

Sources:

  • Severance, Frank H, editor.  “Mr. Hodge’s Reminiscences”.  Buffalo Historical Society Publications.  Volume Twenty-Six.  Buffalo, New York, 1922.
  • Powell, S. R., Rushing the Growler:  A History of Brewing in Buffalo.  Apogee Design, 1996.
  • History of the Great Lakes.  Volume II.  J.H. Beers & Co, Chicago:  1899.
  • Parkside East Historic District.  National Register Nomination Form.  National Register:  90OR3175.  New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
  • Recollections of Robert Russell.  Spring 2018.
  • Cichon, Steve.  “Parkside After the War of 1812”.  blog.buffalostories.com/parkside-after-the-war-of-1812/
Advertisements

Read Full Post »

gill alleyGill Alley runs between Breckenridge Street and Auburn Avenue in the Elmwood Village.  Gill Alley is one of a common type of alley that exists in Buffalo, particularly around the West Side.  These alleys give access to carriage houses and garages via the rear of the properties along the adjacent streets.  Housing ads in the early parts of the 1900s used frontage along the alleys as a selling point for homes.  Many of these carriage houses have now been converted into apartments.

Gill Alley is named in honor of Helen Gill.  Mrs. Gill was the daughter of Guy C. Martin, who came to Buffalo from Vermont via canal boat.  He lived in Griffins Mills, a hamlet in the Town of Aurora.  There, he began working at the Rumsey tanneries.  He became superintendent of the Rumsey tannery in Holland and later of their Louisiana Street tannery.  He died in 1921 at the age of 102.  Helen was born in 1845, one of nine children.

Helen married Thaddeus S. Gill, the superintendent of Bush & Howard Company, a tannery that was located at Chicago and Scott Streets.  The family lived on North Division Street, when Mr. Gill passed away in 1888 at the age of 44.  Shortly before his death, the family had been discussing building a house further out of the congested areas of the city, in the new residential sections being developed north of downtown.  Between 1880s and 1900, the Elmwood area was being developed as a streetcar suburb, allowing residential living away from the hustle and bustle of downtown.

Helen decided after Thaddeus died that she would still build the house, despite her husband’s death.  She lived in a time when a woman’s place was considered to be in the home, but the man was the master of the house.  She purchased the property herself and even sketched out the original plans of the house.  The architect in charge of the construction only made minor changes to her design.

The Gill house is located at 482 Ashland Avenue.  When the Gill’s family home was built, the area was a part of John J Albright’s cow pasture.  Wild blackberry bushes grew around the pasture, which Mrs. Gill baked into pies.

helen gill graveMrs. Gill developed a large garden in the rear of her home.  She was a member of Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church and a Vice President of the Crippled Children’s Guild.  She lived for nearly thirty years in the home she had built for herself.  She died in 1919 and is buried in Forest Lawn.

Helen’s son, Howard M. Gill, was born in the North Division Street house, and continued to live in the Ashland house after his mother died.  He attended West Side School on School Street and Masten Park High School.  He worked for the New York Central Railroad, American Car & Foundry, and Goodyear Rubber Company.  He managed his mother’s estate following her death.

To learn about other streets, check out the Street Index

Source:  Buffalo Courier-Express, June 2, 1940. p 14-W.

 

Read Full Post »

Tracy Street is a short street in Downtown Buffalo, running for two blocks between Delaware Avenue and Carolina Avenue, running parallel to West Tupper and Johnson Park.  Tracy Street is unique to the downtown area, as it is mostly residential homes, most of which date from approximately the 1860s.

o58tra1

Houses on Tracy Street

The street is named for Albert Haller Tracy.  Some places spelled his middle name as “Hallar”, but his gravestone uses Haller, so I will use that here.  Tracy Street was opened in 1838.  Mr. Tracy originally owned the land occupied by the street.  At one point, Mr. Tracy tried to sell the land and the houses along the street to Mr. Lewis Allen for $500 (approximately $12,000 in today’s dollars).  Mr. Allen turned down the offer, saying that it was not worth that much money.  By the 1860s, the land along the north side of Tracy Street was part of Rumsey Park, owned by one of the richest men in Buffalo.

Albert Hallar Tracy was born in Norwich Connecticut in June 1793.  His father was a physician and Albert originally intended to follow his footsteps and study medicine.  However, after deciding medicine was not his passion, he went to Batavia to study law.  In 1815 he was admitted to the bar in the Village of Buffalo.  He practiced law in partnership with James Sheldon and later with Thomas C. Love.

Mr. Tracy was elected to the House of Representatives in 1819, when he was only 24 years old.  He ran on the Whig ticket and represented nearly all of Western New York.  He turned 25 during the time between election day and his inauguration.  He served three terms in Congress and was friends with many statesmen of the time, including future President Martin Van Buren.

During his time in Congress, one of the major issues at hand was the admission of Missouri to the Union.  Mr. Tracy argued on the house floor against allowing Missouri as a slave state.  Mr. Tracy stated:

“We  are called up on now to act with  promptitude and decision upon this question; that posterity will hold us responsible if we consent to entail this evil upon it; an evil which can only be eradicated hereafter by civil commotion and perhaps bloodshed….slavery engenders pride and insolence in him who commands, and inflicts intellectual and moral degradation on him who serves, that it is abominable and unchristian.  Then why should we not apply this restriction?  Why should we hesitate to prohibit such an institution in a State whose geographical position alone ought to exclude it?”

Missouri was eventually accepted as a slave state (with Maine as a free state) in what became known as the Missouri Compromise.

Mr. Tracy was considered to have an unusually brilliant and logical mind, which contributed to his success.  In 1829, Governor DeWitt Clinton appointed him a circuit court judge; however, Mr. Tracy declined the post.  Shortly after, he was elected to the New York State Senate, where he served from 1830 to 1838.   During his term as a Senator, he served in the State Court for the Correction of Errors, in which the Senate was included.  Mr. Tracy wrote more than 150 legal opinions during his time in the State Senate.

Mr. Tracy was one of the nine original members of the Buffalo Harbor Organization, which organized in 1819.  He was also a member of the first Board of Directors of the United States Bank, which incorporated in Buffalo in 1826.  In 1846, he helped to incorporate the University at Buffalo.  He also served as President of the Buffalo Water Works Company from 1855 to 1859.

Later in life, Mr. Tracy moved from the Whig to the National Republican party.

tracy graveMr. Tracy married Harriet F. Tracy.  Albert and Harriet had two sons – Albert Haller Tracy, Jr. and Francis W. Tracy.  The Tracy family lived at the northeast corner of Court and Franklin Streets.  Mr. Tracy died on September 19, 1859 and he is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery. Harriet died in March 1876.  Albert Jr died in 1874.

800px-Agnes_Ethel_001Francis (Frank) married Mary Robinson in 1862 and they had a child named Harriet in 1867.  Frank suffered from alcoholism and Mary divorced him in 1871, and was awarded custody of Harriet by the court.   Frank then married Agnes Ethel in 1873.  Agnes was a popular broadway actress of the time.  Frank died in 1886 at the age of 47.  Frank’s will was contested by Mary on behalf of Harriet, but Agnes was awarded all of Frank’s fortune.

Read about other streets by checking out the Street Index.

 

Sources:

  1. “Tracy Street Linked to Lawyer Who was a Congressman at 24″Courier Express June 26, 1938, sec 5 p 2
  2. Biographical Directory of the United States Congress – Albert H. Tracy (id:  T000343)
  3. “In the Matter of Probate of the Last Will and Testament of Francis W. Tracy”.  New York State Reporter.  Surrogate Court, Erie County, Filed November 18, 1886.
  4. Proctor, L.B. The Bench and Bar of New York. Diossy and Company:  New York, 1870.

Read Full Post »

cary-streetCary Street is a two block street on the western side of Downtown Buffalo, running from Delaware Avenue to just past Elmwood Avenue.  The land upon which Cary Street sits was originally a wedding gift from Trumbull Cary to his son, Dr. Walter Cary.  The property included the Genesee Hotel (now the Hyatt), and the site of the Cary Home at 184 Delaware Avenue.  The Cary family played a role in Buffalo and Western New York’s development for generations.  Trumbull Cary established the first bank west of Albany, the Bank of Genesee, in Batavia in 1829.  His son, Dr. Walter Cary was a leader in Buffalo’s cultural and social life.  Three of Walter’s sons, Thomas, Charles and George made important contributions to Buffalo.

The first of the Cary family to arrive in the Americas was John Cary, who sailed arrived in Massachusetts from England in 1634.  When Joseph Ellicott came into the wilderness of Western New York during the early 1800s as the agent for the Holland Land Company, he brought with him as his right hand man, a surveyor named Ebeneezer Cary.  Ebeneezer Cary stayed in Batavia and in 1805, he hired his brother Trumbull, who had been living in Mansfield, Connecticut, to fill the position.

Trumbell Cary

Trumbell Cary

Trumbull Cary became postmaster, banker and a leading merchant in Batavia.  He founded the Bank of Genesee, served as adjutant in the War of 1812, and was elected to serve in both the State Assembly and Senate.  Trumbull Cary was married to Margaret Eleanor Brisbane.  Their large mansion, built in 1817, was a center of hospitality and culture in Batavia.  Trumbull Cary died in 1869.  The mansion was demolished in the 1960s.

Trumbull Cary and his family traveled often to New York, Philadelphia and Washington DC in days when stagecoach trips were tiring and often hazardous.  The Carys had one son, Walter.  Trumbull Cary died in 1869 and is buried in Batavia Cemetery.  The Bank of Genesee became the Genesee Trust Company and in 1956, the Genesee Trust Company merged with Manufacturers& Traders Trust Company to become the Batavia branch of M&T.

Dr. Walter Cary and Julia Love Cary

Dr. Walter Cary and Julia Love Cary

Walter Cary was born in Batavia in 1818.  He graduated from Union College in Schenectady in 1839, and then studied medicine at University of Pennsylvania.  He also studied at many leading European Universities and hospitals, at a time when the trip across the Atlantic meant six to seven weeks on a sailing ship.  Dr. Cary entered into the practice of Dr. Charles Winne in 1845.  Dr. Cary was well respected for the zeal and skill he executed during Buffalo’s second cholera epidemic.

Dr. Cary married Julia Love, daughter of Thomas Love, judge and congressman.  The Loves lived on the site of the YMCA prior to its construction (at Mohawk and Genesee Streets, now the Olympic Towers).   Judge Love named many of Buffalo’s streets – Edward for his friend Judge Edward Walden, Niagara for the River, Batavia Street (now Broadway) for the village, Genesee for Genesee County, North and South Division because they divided the business section of the city from the residential section, and Exchange Street, for the barter with the Indians conducted there.

Dr. Cary and his wife lived in the American Hotel, which was located where the Main Place Mall is currently located.  The apartment was considered one of the most beautiful apartments in town, modeled from the apartments Dr. Cary had visited in Paris.  Their first son was born there.  The apartment was  destroyed, along with much of the Carys belongings in the historic American Hotel fire.

Undated Photo of Cary House at 184 Delaware

Undated Photo of Cary House at 184 Delaware

After the fire, Dr. Cary built a home at Delaware Avenue and Huron Street.  A potato patch had been growing there, in honor of the potatoes, Mrs. Cary planted Japanese yam vines that grew over the house and bloomed with purple flowers each spring.  After ten years, Dr. Cary decided to stop practicing medicine to spend more time with his wife, daughter and six sons.  During the Franco-Prussian War, he took them all to Europe.  He had a coach built to order and they toured from Brussels to Naples.  The coach is in the collection of the Buffalo History Museum.  During President Grant’s presidency, Dr. Cary brought his family to Washington for the winter.  They were guests at many White House functions during this time.

Julia Cary’s sister, Maria Love, lived with the family and accompanied them on their trips.  Maria Love founded the Fitch Creche, Buffalo’s first day nursery.  She was the last member of the family to reside in the old Cary home, living there until her death in 1931.  The Maria Love Fund still exists today, continuing Ms. Love’s work in the community.

Walter and Julia had seven children – Trumbull – who followed in his namesake’s footsteps and became a bank president, Thomas – a lawyer, Charles- a physician, Walter – a journalist, Seward – a sculptor, George – an architect, and one daughter Jennie who became Mrs. Laurence Rumsey.  The Cary family were active polo players, the brothers began the first polo leagues in Buffalo, one of the first two leagues in the country.  Seward Cary is credited with bringing polo to Harvard during the 1880s.  A joke around town was that once when the boys were playing polo, one was injured and the game stopped.  When Mrs. Cary asked why the game had stopped, when she was told that her son was hurt, she replied they should just use one of the other sons to replace him.

Spirit of Niagara

Spirit of Niagara

The Cary family was also very involved in the Pan American Exposition.  The Cary family’s in-laws, the Rumseys, owned much of the land the Exposition was located on.  George Cary sat on the Board of the Exposition and designed the New York State Building for the Exposition (currently the Buffalo History Museum).   Charles Cary’s wife, Evelyn Rumsey Cary painted “the Spirit of Niagara” one of the popular paintings for the Pan American Exposition.

Thomas Cary was instrumental in founding the Charity Organization Society, one of the oldest organizations of its kind in the country.  Charles Cary, M.D., was Dean of the Medical School at University of Buffalo.

George Cary

George Cary

George Cary was a nationally renowned architect.  He apprenticed with McKim, Mead & White in New York City, and studied at Ecole des Beaux Arts in France.  Major buildings he designed included the medical school and dental college at UB, the Buffalo Historical Society, the Gratwick Laboratory (built for UB, part of the original Roswell Park Cancer Institute), the Pierce Arrow administration building, the first Buffalo General Hospital, Forest Lawn’s Delaware Avenue Gate and Administration Building, and many houses in the City of Buffalo.

Walter and Julia Grave

Walter and Julia Grave

The Cary siblings built the first crematory in Buffalo, the Buffalo Crematory, in memory of their father after his death in France in 1881.  The Cary family owned the house at 184 Delaware until the 1960s.  The house was used for a few years as a restaurant, which suffered a fire and the house was demolished in 1966 when the land was purchased by the federal government.  The Dulski Federal Building was built on the site, which was recently rehabbed into the Avant Building, at 200 Delaware Avenue.

184 Delaware in the 1960s

184 Delaware in the 1960s

 

Source:

  1. “Cary Street is Memorial to Leaders in Area Development”, Buffalo Courier-Express, May 13, 1940.
  2. “Obituary:  Death of HO. Trumbull Cary of Batavia”.  The New York Times, June 26, 1869.  
  3. “Cary House, 184 Delaware Avenue, Buffalo, Erie County, NY”.  Historic American Building Survey.  HABS NY, 15-BUF, 1-
  4. Editors.  Buffalo Medical and Surgical Journal.  Vol. XXI.  August 1881 to July 1882, Buffalo.
  5. “Last of the Cary Boys”.  Buffalo Courier Express.  Sept 9, 1948.

Read Full Post »

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

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

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

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

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

Ketchum Mowing Machine

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

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

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

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

Ascension Window at Trinity Episcopal

Ascension Window at Trinity Episcopal

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

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

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

Sources:

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

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

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!

Read Full Post »

Nonprofit AF

Exploring the fun and frustrations of nonprofit work

Gather by Image

An anagram. And a reason to write... to Grieve... to Heal

Planners On Tour

People, places and planning around the world by bicycle.

Queen City Simmer

Cooking + Eating in Buffalo NY

Let's Go Ride a Bike

Adventures in city cycling

Currant Events*

Thoughts too big to tweet from @UpPastryPlate

Cooking Up The Pantry

Feeding a hungry family!