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Posts Tagged ‘Elmwood Village’

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.

 

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Granger Place is a short road in the Elmwood Village, running less than 1/4th of a mile, between Elmwood Avenue and Lincoln Parkway between Forest Avenue and Bird Avenue.  The street was originally known as Elmhurst.   The street is named for Erastus Granger, one of Buffalo’s earliest residents and the Village’s first postmaster.

Erastus Granger was a businessman raised in Connecticut.  He was sent by a group of New England businessmen to look after their investments in Virginia and Kentucky.  While in the south, he met and befriended Thomas Jefferson.  He worked on Jefferson’s campaign for President, and when Jefferson took office, he sent Erastus Granger to Buffalo and appointed him postmaster of the Village in 1803.  When Mr. Granger arrived in Buffalo Creek (which is what Buffalo was called at the time), there were only 16 huts, three blacksmith shops, a taverns, a drugstore and a jail.   He sent up his post office in a desk at Crow’s Tavern on Exchange Street.  You can visit Mr. Granger’s desk and see a replica of Crow’s Tavern in the Pioneer Gallery at the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society!

Mr. Granger built a house near where the Main Street entrance of Forest Lawn cemetary is today.  His farm extended north to West Oakwood and west to Elmwood Avenue.   Granger Place is located on a small portion of his 800-acre estate, which he called Flint Hill, due to the rock in the soil.  His estate included all of the lands now containing Forest Lawn, Delaware Park, Buffalo State College and the Richardson Complex!    He built the Buffalo Harbor lighthouse in 1817, which was replaced in 1830s by the current Buffalo lighthouse.

During the War of 1812, Mr. Granger worked with Red Jacket and other indian leaders to get them to sign a treaty of neutrality.  The Native Americans kept the treaty until the Indians from Canada invaded their territory, at which time they joined the Americans.    Mr. Granger opened his property as a safe haven for refugees of Buffalo after the British burned the Village.

During the Winter of 1812-1813, The Army of the Frontier under General Alexander Smythe set up camp at Flint Hill in anticipation of invading Canada.  Nearly three hundred soldiers died there.  The dead were buried in Granger’s meadow, in the present Delaware Park.    A plaque at Main Street and Humboldt Parkway, and a stone in the Delaware Park meadow memorialize the Flint Hill Encampment and the 300 soldiers buried there.

Erastus Granger’s grave is located on land that he once owned in Forest Lawn cemetary.   Red Jacket delivered the Eulogy at his funeral.

Sources:

“Granger Place Honors Memory of First Buffalo Postmaster” Courier Express Sept 18, 1938, sec 6 p 10

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