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faymayFay, May and St. Joseph Streets are three streets in the Emerson Neighborhood on the East Side of Buffalo.  The three streets run between Walden Avenue and the New York Central Railroad tracks (with May Street reaching north to Hazel Place).  The streets were named after Joseph, May and Fay, members of the Doll family.

Joseph Doll owned a farm that included the land that became Saint Joseph, Fay and May Streets.  He opened the streets and built the houses on them.  The first street, he developed to run from West Shore to Genesee Street.  He originally named it Doll Avenue.  The family name is pronounced “dole” as opposed to a child’s doll.  Doll Avenue was often confused with Dole Street, so Joseph was asked to change its name.  So, he named it May Street after his daughter.  He named the other streets after his granddaughter Fay and his patron Saint Joseph.

Joseph Doll was born on a farm at Main and Huron Streets in 1839.  His parents bought the land when they came from Baden, Germany in the early 1830s.  They came across the Atlantic on a ship that took 72 days.  The final portion of the journey came via the Erie Canal, which was at the time still under construction, so their voyage was partly via canal boat, partly via stagecoach and partly via foot, carrying their baby daughter (Joseph’s sister) at the time.  Their original farm was unsuccessful as there was yellow sand for soil.  They purchased another farm at what is now the corner of Niagara and Connecticut Streets.  That farm was also a failure.  They then bought a 43-acre farm at Bailey and Walden, extending to the present New York Central Tracks and halfway to Broadway.  They ran a general store and saloon out of their farmhouse, which stood at 535 Walden Avenue,  near what today is the intersection of St. Joseph Ave and Walden Avenue.

Joseph Doll took over the store as he got older.  Joseph also ran the farm, raising wheat, barley, cattle, oats, apples, pears, pigs, plums and cherries.  In 1882, West Shore Railroad bought seven acres from the Doll farm.  After the railroad was built along the southern edge of the farm, the Wagner Palace Car shops and other factories came into the area.  Joseph Doll decided to subdivide the property and build houses.  In addition to the streets named for his daughter and granddaughter, and his patron saint.  He also named St. Louis Avenue for St. Louis Roman Catholic Church (for which he was a founder).

1917 view of the Former Doll Farm after the railroad was built and the streets were subdivided and developed. Note "Doll's Park", the future location of Emerson Vocational School (now School 97, Harvey Austin School)

1917 view of the Former Doll Farm after the railroad was built and the streets were subdivided and developed. Note “Doll’s Park”, the future location of Emerson Vocational School (now School 97, Harvey Austin School)

 

joseph doll graveHe died in 1909 and is buried in Doll family plot the United German and French Cemetery in Cheektowaga.

Read about other Buffalo Street’s by checking out the Street Index.

Source:  “Three Streets Remind of Landowner” Courier Express Jan 22, 1939.  Found in Buffalo Streets Scrapbook, Vol 2 p 166

 

UPDATE:  April 29, 2016:  One of the best parts of writing this blog is getting information from you, my readers.  I recently received an email from a member of the Doll family.  Michael Schuessler’s Great Grandmother, Louisa (Doll) Williams, was one of Joseph Doll’s younger sisters.  Mr. Schuessler has been generous enough to send in this great photograph of the family at Mr. Doll’s store!   He also provided a copy of Mr. Doll’s obituary.  Thanks for sharing a part of your family history!

Photo 1.jpg

1909 Joseph Doll obit

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winspearWinspear Avenue and Northrup Place are located in the University Heights neighborhood of North Buffalo.    Winspear Avenue runs between the former Erie Railroad corridor across Main Street to Bailey Avenue.  Northrup place runs parallel to W. Winspear, meeting up with Winspear just across Main Street.

The streets were named after business partners who developed the streets in the vicinity of  the streets that were named after them and what is now the University of Buffalo – Charles Winspear and Eli Northrup.  Charles and Eli both grew up in Elma, New York, sons of two of the first settlers in Elma.

Three members of the Winspear family have held important public positions.  William Winspear settled in Elma prior to the Civil War and served on the Erie County Board of Supervisors.   William owned a mill on the south side of Big Buffalo Creek.  Winspear Road in Elma is named after William Winspear.  Captain Robert Winspear, William’s nephew served on the Buffalo police department for more than 30 years.

Charles W. Winspear

Charles W. Winspear

William’s son and Robert’s cousin, Charles, was born in 1854 in Elma and began his education in the rural schools.  Charles came to Buffalo as a young man.   At the age of 23, he was appointed clerk of the Erie County Almshouse and Insane Asylum, which later became what are now Crosby and Hayes Halls on the University of Buffalo South Campus.

The original Almshouse had been built around 1850.  The first Almshouse burned in 1854 and its replacement burned in 1862.  The almshouse was located where Crosby Hall is today.  The Insane Asylum building was constructed in 11874 to replace the outdated structure and is now Hayes Hall.  By 1900, the Insane Asylum had become the County Hospital.  Hayes Annex D and Wende Hall were also a part of the County Hospital Complex and have been around since at least 1900.

Winspear Avenue was laid out around 1880.  Around this time, development of the neighborhood was attempted by Alexander Ross. This attempt failed because transportation to this northern corner of the City of Buffalo was difficult.  The street car only went to Cold Spring (around Ferry Street and Main Street).  The City boundary did not include the area that became University Heights at this time.  Buffalo’s growing population and improved transportation spurred successful development further away from the downtown core.  The Buffalo and Williamsville Electric Railway trolley opened in 1893 and ran along Main Street.  In 1898, the City boundary had expanded to include this area.

Erie County Almshouse and Insane Asylum (source:  http://www.poorhousestory.com/ERIE.htm)

Erie County Almshouse and Insane Asylum
(source: http://www.poorhousestory.com/ERIE.htm)

In 1893, Charles became superintendent of the New York State Custodial Asylum for Feeble-minded Women in Newark, New York (in Wayne County_.  Although he lived in Newark until his death in 1916, he retained many connections in Buffalo.  Charles Winspear is buried in Newark Cemetery in Newark, NY.

Eli B. Northrup

Eli B. Northrup

While working in Newark Institution in 1909, Charles formed a partnership with Eli Northrup in the real estate business.  They bought large tract of land south of Englewood Avenue and developed several streets, including Winspear Avenue and Northrup Place.   West Northrup Place was originally called Morton Street, Northrup Place was originally Hillary Place and Winspear was known as Wilmer Avenue.

It is likely that Charles and Eli sensed that there was potential for growth as the University of Buffalo purchased the almshouse and farm from the County following its closure in 1909.  This was a unique location because you were close to the streetcar to take you into Downtown Buffalo via Main Street and also close to the Train Station to take you to Niagara Falls (it was located at Main Street and LaSalle Avenue).

Eli Baker Northrup was born in January 1836 in Holland, NY and raised in Elma.  His father, Lewis Northrup, had built the first house in the Spring Brook hamlet of Elma in 1843.  Northrup Road in Elma is named after Lewis.  Lewis Northrup built a saw mill on Cazenovia Creek in 1844 and a grist mill ten years later.  Eli Northrup inherited the saw mill and grist mill in 1866.  Eli remodeled the mills and built a stone dam in 1873.    Eli died in January 1912. and is buried in Union Cemetery in Elma, New York.

Learn about other streets by checking out the Street Index.

Sources:

  1. Winspear Avenue Memorial to State Charities Agent – Courier Express, Jan 29, 1939, Buffalo Streets Vol 2, pg. 167
  2. “University at Buffalo – Draft GEIS:  University at Buffalo Comprehensive Physical Plan”, SUNY at Buffalo, October 2011
  3. Jackman, Warren.  History of the Town of Elma, Erie County, 1620-1900.   Printed by G.M. Hasauer & Son, 1902.

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