Vol. 4, No. 47
While digging through a box of negatives, I discovered this image of the Oak Orchard River and Marsh Creek from the 1920s. Absent from the photograph is the Route 18 bridge that crosses over the Oak Orchard, so at this point in time the little hamlet pictured here was known as “Two Bridges.” Thinking about the origin of names, a letter within the Department of History’s files provides some insight into the source of the Oak Orchard name.
The letter, addressed to Samuel C. Bowen of Medina, is from Arthur C. Parker, the Secretary Treasurer of the Society of American Indians (and grand-nephew of Gen. Ely S. Parker). In the letter, he writes “Albert Cusick the Onondaga authority defines Ti-ya-na-ga-ru-nte creek as “Where-she-threw-a-stick-at-me,” which was the label for a river to the east of Johnson’s Harbor. Parker offers an alternative name for the creek; “two-sticks-approaching” from the Seneca name “Da-ge-a-no-ga-unt.” This name is recorded in other records, along with “Skano-dario,” the Mohawk word meaning “beautiful lake” and the origin of the name Ontario.… More
A pioneer settlement as depicted in the Historical Album of Orleans County (1879)
Vol. 4, No. 30
On September 10, 1810, eight men from Stockbridge, Massachusetts signed a contract binding one another to a settlement on the Holland Land Purchase in Western New York. These men were unsure of what they would encounter in the virgin woods of the Genesee Country where land was scarcely settled, and neighbors few and far between. When gazing upon the text of this agreement, the articles read like a manifesto built upon a foundation of communism. Now this is not to say that these pioneers sought to establish any semblance of a communist society in the wilderness of Carlton, but the premise of this collective was to share the fruits of labor.
The first line of Article 1 read, “…for the purpose of our better accommodation and mutual benefit, we do and have resolved ourselves to one respective body or company…” That organization established under the name of the “Union Company,” was formed with the purpose of sharing labor while providing the freedom to purchase land without limitation by the group.… More
Volume 3, Issue 38
This photograph, taken in the summer of 1922, shows the construction of the bridge over Marsh Creek at “The Bridges” in Carlton. Originally known as “Two Bridges,” the span over Marsh Creek predates 1861 when a committee was put in place to explore the replacement of the bridge.
On November 29, 1861, Almanzor Hutchinson reported that $800 was available to replace the bridge over Marsh Creek and upon the motion of Mr. Abell, Daniel Howe was placed in charge of overseeing the replacement. The following day, for a reason unbeknownst to this historian, the Board of Supervisors released Daniel Howe from his responsibilities and authorized David Fuller to oversee the work.
The bridge faithfully served the community for nearly 44 years when the town of Carlton determined that the structure was in dire need of repairs. This 128-foot-long, 18.5-foot-wide span with a 16.5-foot-wide concrete surface was completed in August of 1922.… More
Volume 2, Issue 49
At a time when trips into town took hours instead of minutes, the rural grocery and dry goods stores provided an essential an efficient service to those living in the country. This image shows the wagon belonging to Gifford D. Fowler, the owner of a general store at Two Bridges in Carlton. A native of Parma, Fowler was brought to Carlton as a young man by his father Benjamin who purchased the store in 1877 from Lemuel Palmer.
For nearly ten years, Benjamin operated the store and it is extremely likely that Gifford worked for his father in various capacities during the late 1870s and into the early 1880s. After his marriage to Belle Simpson of Carlton, Gifford purchased his father’s interest in the store in 1886 and took sole ownership of the business. This photograph was taken in September of 1888, just a short while after buying out his father.… More
Volume 2, Issue 41
In 1867, the U.S. Federal Government allocated approximately $87,000 to construct a set of piers and a lighthouse at Point Breeze. The result was this beautiful local landmark situated along the west side of the Oak Orchard River.
This picture, taken around 1900, shows two women and four men standing along the piers that were said to extend upwards of 1,600 feet out onto Lake Ontario. Where is the fourth man you may ask? While the five individuals stand on the walkway, a sixth person is standing on the lower level to the left of the group, peering into the water. The man on the far right appears to be extending a long pole into the water, possibly fishing.
The Point Breeze Lighthouse was officially completed in 1871 and was accompanied by a light-keeper’s home located on the western shore of the river. The keeper would carry containers filled with lamp oil along the pier to refill the lantern – oil was stored in a square iron building on shore, that building remains on exhibit at the Cobblestone Museum.… More
Volume 2, Issue 39
This image shows the steamer Arundell approaching Oak Orchard Harbor around 1904 or 1905. Built by the Bell Iron Works at Buffalo in 1879, this iron hull steamer was operated along the southern coast of Lake Ontario during the summer months through 1910. When this photograph was taken, the Arundell was owned and operated by the Cole & Holt Lines of Bay City, Michigan and was brought each spring to Lake Ontario by way of the Welland Canal. The steamer frequently carried Orleans County passengers during picnic days and pioneer events.
The company advertised “Good meals on steamer at 50 cents,” and “No dust, cool breeze and a pleasant time guaranteed” for its excursion trips across the lake. These relaxing jaunts included stops at Olcott Beach, Point Breeze, Charlotte, Sodus Point, Fairhaven, Oswego, Cape Vincent, and Clayton; the typical cost of a round trip ticket from Olcott to the Thousand Islands was $5.00 per person.… More
Volume 2, Issue 27
Orleans County boasts a long an impressive lineage of entrepreneurs, inventors, and local celebrities so it should be no surprise that this week’s column features yet another area native who developed an illustrious career for himself. The child of John Babbage and Fanny Wescott, Edward Frederick Babbage was born along the Oak Orchard River in Carlton, New York around 1841. His mother was an English immigrant arriving in the United States in 1837 and marrying her husband the following year.
After spending their earliest years in Orleans County, the Babbage family relocated to Rochester where the father worked as a fruit peddler. It is said that Edward was always on the “large” side, being exceptionally big at the age of six and weighing in at 200 pounds at the age of fourteen. His interests were varied, so much of his early working career was spent experimenting in various vocations; first as a hotel porter, then as a hotel manager, a traveling salesman, museum manager, and eventually a glassblower.… More
Volume 2, Issue 15
Taken around the turn of the century, this image shows the West Carlton Methodist Episcopal Church more commonly referred to as the Kuckville Methodist Church. The Greek Revival building was constructed in 1835 near the mouth of Johnson’s Creek thanks in part to the diligence and hard work of George Kuck.
A native of England and resident of Canada, Kuck arrived at Carlton in 1815 having absconded to the region from York, Upper Canada (now Ontario). He was issued a commission as an Ensign with the 3rd Regiment of York Militia in 1812 and later attained the rank of Lieutenant. When his step-father, Matthias Brown, was accused of high treason for deserting the 3rd York, Kuck was forced to leave Canada with fears that he may be implicated in Brown’s case.
Kuck was an industrious an intelligent man who made quick work of establishing a grist mill at Johnson’s Creek and opened the first store north of Ridge Road in 1816 to serve the infant settlement.… More
Volume 2, Issue 11
Constructed in 1876, the Rome, Watertown, and Ogdensburg trestle over Oak Orchard Creek provided a crossing point for the rail system in its earliest years. This particular image shows the first trestle constructed on that site in Waterport using lightweight iron trusses and planks. As the railroad grew, a new bridge was constructed in 1892 to facilitate increased traffic.
The RW&O Railroad was first established in 1842 with the purpose of linking Watertown and Rome. As the years progressed, the rail system merged with various lines throughout New York to produce a somewhat successful system of transportation along the southern shore of Lake Ontario. Although the line was popular amongst excursionists the railroad developed a reputation as a poorly maintained rail system, earning the eloquent nickname “Rotten Wood & Old Rusty Rails.” The railroad later earned the nickname “Hojack.”
The source of the name “Hojack” is unknown, but the most common origin story describes a farmer riding in a buckboard drawn by a stubborn, bulky mule.… More
Volume 2, Issue 3
This image, taken the morning after the accident occurred, shows the crowds gathered at the wreckage of the Steamboat Express. Nearby residents assisted in pulling corpses and wounded passengers from the wreckage into the early morning.
At 9:48p.m. July 27, 1883, Orleans County experienced one of the most devastating disasters in local history. The excursion train “Steamboat Express” was traveling eastbound on the Rome, Watertown, and Ogdensburg Railroad with a load of passengers bound for the Thousand Islands. On this particular evening a terrible storm had developed in the region bringing rain, lightening, and terrible gusts of wind.
The train departed the Lewiston station approximately 20 minutes behind schedule, departed Lyndonville’s station nearly 30 minutes behind schedule, and then proceeded on the four mile journey to Carlyon’s station. The train reached speeds of 25 miles per hour, normal pace for fair weather travels, and progress was on schedule despite the delay in departures from the previous two stops.… More