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
Old-Time Orleans, Vol. 1, Issue 31
This image shows the old “Two Bridges Hotel” located in Carlton near the Oak Orchard River and Marsh Creek. Residents of the area may recognize this building as it stands today as “Narby’s Superette and Tackle.”
The hotel area of the structure was located on the west end. Two doors are located on the front end of the building, one marked “Bar Room” and the other marked “Hotel Entrance.” A sign outside of the main doorway shows that oysters were being offered in the dining room.
Along the west side of the building, “Two Bridges Hotel” is painted between the windows on the second floor and the name of the hotel is again depicted at the peak of the building on the front side. The two bridges that gave the area its name are shown; the covered bridge spanning the Oak Orchard River and the bridge crossing Marsh Creek.… More
Old-Time Orleans, Vol. 1, Issue 25
This past week I had the pleasure of visiting the Fredericksburg Battlefield Park in Virginia and Gettysburg Battlefield Park in Pennsylvania, both with connections to local soldiers from Orleans County. Each visit was a moving experience and I thought perhaps I would share several stories of local men from our area over the coming weeks.
This image shows the gravesite of Pvt. Charles McOmber (misidentified as McCumber), burial number 2296.
Charles McOmber was born in 1844 at Carlton – his uncle Col. Calvin Otis was in command of the 100th New York Infantry and a noted architect in Buffalo. His father Van Rensselaer later enlisted with the 8th New York Cavalry at the advanced age of 54 and his brother Otis would serve with the 76th New York Infantry, spending 9 months at Andersonville Prison. Another brother Lorenzo would enlist with Orleans County’s 17th Light Independent Artillery, dying from typhoid fever in the summer of 1864.… More