This Day in History – February
The first electric lights were turned on at 7:46 PM, “illumed the streets of the village”, with the Electric Committee having the honor of throwing the switch. The Thompson-Houston system has 83 lights with several more to be added. Little Falls’ citizens were highly pleased. Mill whistles and church bells heralded the occasion.
An early morning disastrous blaze destroyed two hotels, including the Hinchman House, and ten businesses in the heart of the city. The fire originated in a big new barn fronting on Albany Street, and it took the assistance of local and area firefighters, and those from Herkimer and Utica, brought to Little Falls by a special train, to tame the fire.
The scale of wages agreed upon by contractors and painters of this city for the coming season is $2.50 for nine hours work. Heretofore it had been $2.50 for ten hours work.
The Grange store on South Second Street in Little Falls was closing after 60 years in operation. The newly remodeled Gray’s Super Market on East John Street, Little Falls, was set for its formal opening. Ignatz Gray began the business in 1918. The store had been known as Red Star Market the WGY Food Store.
Revolutionary War hero, Major Andrew Finck , who served at Saratoga, Valley Forge, Johnstown, New Jersey, and Canada, passed away today at age 69. He was proprietor of the tavern at Finck’s Ford on the Mohawk River.
Produce brought to Little Falls (1,200 inhabitants) and sent to market is principally cheese, clover-seed, barley, oats, potatoes, and salt with an estimated value of $200,000. The village contains 9 dry good stores, 5 store houses, 1 distillery (uses 2,200 bushels of rye and corn,) 3 paper mills, 2 iron foundries, 2 fulling mills, 1 brewery, and 3 malt houses.
The Hinchman House, on Main Street, the premier hotel in Little Falls, was destroyed by a fire of unknown origin. Also destroyed were Oppel’s Jewelry Store and Vosburgh’s Boot & Shoe Store. Losses exceed $50,000.
The mortality rate in New York State for the month of January was the highest ever recorded. Little Falls ranked second in the state with a death rate of 43.76 deaths per 1000 people. The worldwide flu pandemic killed over one million people. (Note: The population of Little Falls in 1890 was 8,783.
As a result of a severe blizzard, Robert MacKinnon sent teams for his female operatives who lived a distance from the mills and were unable to get out. He provided them with dinner at the mill and had them conveyed home at night.
The Hoffman Paper Company was incorporated and a mill was built near the end of West Main Street. When the company failed in 1913, Charles Burrows reorganized the business as Burrows Paper Company.
The Dudley Burwell Trust Fund amounting to nearly $17,000 has been turned over to the city with the death of William G. Milligan, trustee of the Burwell estate. The money is to be used for the care and maintenance of the grounds known as “Moreland Park” for use by the people of Little Falls.
Chief James Long, in his report for January, indicated that forty-four arrests were made including those for public intoxication, assault, and second degree grand larceny. Other arrests were for disorderly conduct, rape, and running a disorderly house, all of these in connection with the vice expose in the city.
The grounds were cleared and work was started on the Octagon Church. also known as the “Pepper Box.” It was completed in 1818 and torn down in 1842. The church was to be 60 feet in major diameter, having a slopped roof leading to a cupola topped with hollow gilt balls. Papers were placed inside the balls that were normally placed in a cornerstone. The church would have a capacity for 300 people.
The Christ Evangelical Lutheran church was organized by the vision of local residents of German extraction. Initial preaching and teaching was in the German language, but the congregation soon introduced services in English.
The toboggan slide of East Monroe Street is now completed and ready for business every afternoon and evening when the weather is cold enough to freeze water. The slide is a safe and exhilarating sport and provides a run of about one quarter mile.
A bitter debate ensued a the council meeting when it was learned that Mayor Kingsbury purchased horses for the fire department without consulting his colleagues on the horse-buying committee. The horses were “rejected” but not returned and continued to eat at $2.25 per day per horse. A long time passed before the horses were finally returned to Utica.
William Alexander, son-in-law of John Porteus, and agent for the Ellice Estate, leased to himself the lot on the south side of Main Street extending to the Ann Street corner for the sum of three dollars a year. Crane’s Tavern was built on the site, the first tavern in Little Falls. It became the leading gathering place in the early history of the village.
The village sold the right to cut ice on the reservoir to B. & B. Casler for $375. This ice could be used in drinks, unlike the river water, so was in greater demand.
A Little Falls veteran of the Civil War, with a great war record, passed away today. Alfred Casler, a member of the 121st Regiment, had to his credit 35 battles, some of the bloodiest of the war. He was at Appomattox when General Lee surrendered.
An announcement was made of the approval of a federal grant of $350,000 toward the $1,450,000 cost for a new motel in the city by the Little Falls Motel Associates, Inc. Representative Donald Mitchell made HUD official s aware of the importance of the motel complex to Little Falls’ overall development effort.
Longtime Little Falls High School baseball coach Ted Schoff was inducted into the Mohawk Valley Baseball Hall of Fame. Over 31 seasons, Schoff’s teams won 533 games, 12 Section III championships, 14 league titles and a state championship in 1982.
A letter from California tells of green peas, grapes, strawberries, raspberries, etc., all growing in the open air, with beautiful blossoms. Here in Little Falls, the open air products just now are pneumonias, catarrhs, neuralgias, rheumatism, and pleurisies, and the only nosegays are red noses and rum blossoms.
Rollin Smith, born in Little Falls in 1838 and admitted to the bar in 1863, passed away. He was a County Judge and one of the organizers of the Little Falls National Bank. In 1910 he made a will leaving his home on East Main Street and Waverly Place, to the village for a library, in addition to a substantial monetary bequest.
The Board of Public Works was authorized by the Common Council to proceed with the construction of a nine-hole golf course on city property, adjacent to the auxiliary reservoir. The $20,000 required for the project would be appropriated from the Surplus Water Fund, and revenues from the operation of the golf course will be credited to the same fund.
Senator Robert f. Kennedy gave his views on many different subjects before a large and welcoming crowd at the Little Falls High School. RFK responded to a number of different questions posed by students, and opined that the Vietnam War could not be won by military measures alone.
The firm of Snyder & Fisher, manufacturers of knitting machines and bicycles, has been dissolved. Homer P. Snyder will conduct the business alone. This is one of the most complete bicycle plants in the country, and their “Swell Newport” has given excellent satisfaction. They will continue to turn out the best bicycles in the country.
Jack Frost pushed forward relentlessly to new records of frigidity for the season with temperatures ranging from 30 to 35 below zero. The official temperature at the city reservoir shows 28 below. Owl’s Head, in the Adirondacks, registered -50F.
After years of study and often heated and contentious public debate, the Board of Education of the Little Falls City School District unanimously came to an historic decision – to reconstruct the Benton Hall Academy rather than build a new grade school on the outskirts of the city.
The warm rains caused the ice on the Mohawk River and West Canada Creek to break up and come down the river in large masses causing significant damage to the Railroad, Canal, and buildings in Little Falls. The water was estimated to be 25 feet above low water level. One house was swept away nearly to the Fink ferry bridge.
Four of the eight aldermen purposely “went on strike” and did not attend the Common Council meeting. Since business could not be conducted and bills audited, police officers were sent out by the mayor, with search warrants, to look for the absentees. They were not found. Five members are needed for a quorum.
Changes continue in the Cherry- Burrell Company and its ties with Little Falls grow fewer and fewer. David H. Burrell 3rd, Edwin Fisher, and Anthony Wening resigned as directors, and representatives of the investor group which recently bought into the company were elected to succeed them.
Numerous area residents had an opportunity to meet and talk with first lady and U. S. Senate candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton at her campaign stop at the Ann Street Deli in Little Falls.
James Tappan, better known as “Hunkey” Tappan, was arrested by Officer Holmes at the polling place in Skinner Hall for being drunk, and disorderly, and for trying to vote twice. He was discharged with a reprimand.
For a week or more, the water in the city reservoir was lowering six or eight inches a day. A resident noticed that Furnace Creek was unusually high, and a big break was found nearby in the dead line in Skinner Woods which was repaired.
Weber and Fields appeared at a stage show at the City Theatre.in Little Falls.
Opposition has arisen to the Academy project of building a new $65,000 schoolhouse at the site of the current academy at the corner of East Main and Alexander streets. A movement has started to build the school on West Main Street with the claim that this would be more convenient for the 141 students who live in that general area, but many of them attend St. Mary’s.
Thirty year-old Zaida Zoller was appalled by the condition of the horses in a circus travelling through the area in 1912, and had the owners arrested and the horses confiscated. On this date, through her work and strong public reaction, the Herkimer County Humane Society was incorporated.
Born in Little Falls, of Italian immigrant parents, John J. Riccardo, former President of Chrysler Corporation (1970-1975) and Chairman & CEO (1975-1979) died in Birmingham, Michigan. Active at LFHS, John was a World War II veteran, and graduated with degrees in economics at the University of Michigan. He quickly rose through the ranks at Chrysler.
The first house and store in Little Falls, was the home of Mr. John Porteous, commonly known as the “Yellow House” situated on lots 12 and 13 of the Burnetsfield Patent. It also became the first hotel in Little Falls. Past its doors on Sixth Street, near Furnace Creek, went the stages on their way to and from Albany and Utica, and at its table the hungry traveler’s appetite was satisfied.
A mass meeting was held at Temperance Hall regarding the canal enlargement project at which J. N. Lake gave a rousing speech in favor of the project indicating what it could do for the growth of the village. The next day the Little Falls vote was 504 for and 75 against. State-wide the vote was 185,000 for and 60,000 against.
The affairs of the old Herkimer County National Bank were closed up after an existence of over fifty years. The dissolution was due to the desire of the stockholders to increase its capital stock, and in order to do so a new bank, National Herkimer County Bank, had to be organized. The 1833 building is now the home of the Little Falls Historical Society.
A St. Valentine’s day storm dropped a blanket of snow, and together with 32 below zero weather, all but paralyzed transportation and business in Little Falls. Firemen fought three blazes during the storm. Trains were stalled for four hours.
Bronner’s Garage at 7 West Lansing Street advertised for sale the following automobiles: Model 90 Touring – $985, Model 90 Country Club – $1145, Model 89 Touring, 6 cylinder, 7 passenger – $1625, and Model 88 Willys Knight Touring, 8 cylinder – $2750. They are also distributors of Republic trucks and Case tractors.
The Mohawk Valley Flying Service was formed in Little Falls by Wells Davy and Maynard Seymour. Seymour Field was just west of the city on the flats across from the Mohawk Valley Country Club.
A natural gas explosion and subsequent fire, felt as far away as Ilion and St. Johnsville, leveled two homes and badly damaged several others on the south side of West Main Street in Little Falls. Three people received minor injuries and were treated at area hospitals, and seven families were affected by the fire. Windows were shattered throughout the city.
Herkimer County was formed. It extended to the St. Lawrence and Lake Erie, until other counties were set up. Its east line was at the beginning of the rapids which separated Little Falls. In 1817 Manheim and Danube were added to Herkimer County.
Considerable excitement is now on as it is reported a case of smallpox is in our village.
Grand Knight G. Gerald Fiesinger announced the sale of the Knights of Columbus Home which will be razed for a new office building. The K of C has secured new quarters over Walach’s Men & Boy’s store, on Main Street.
Little Falls natives, and brother and sister duo, Raymond Goldstone and Ann Marcus (Dorothy Goldstone) won the Writers Guild of America award for their writing for the daytime TV series “Search for Tomorrow.” They had also been nominated for a Daytime Emmy for “Days of Our Lives” in 1978 and 1979. They passed away in California in 2008 and 2014.
The male communicants of the Episcopal church met at the stone schoolhouse for the purpose of incorporating themselves into a parish. Nathaniel Benton and George Feeter were elected wardens.
The Martha Washington Reception and Centennial Tea Party, given at the Skinner Hall by the ladies of the Presbyterian Church, was successful in every respect. The hall was tastefully decorated by a central pagoda containing thirteen booths with the ladies in traditional costume.
A fleet of 53 trucks passed through Little Falls today. It took the fleet fourteen days to travel from Buffalo to Albany.
It was the coldest day of the year as the mercury plunged to minus 32 degrees at the city reservoir off Top Notch Road. Old Forge tied a state record with minus 52.
George H. Feeter, born in Little Falls in 1789 and admitted to the bar in 1811 when Little Falls became a village, died today. He was an agent for the Ellice Estate, District Attorney from 1825 to 1828, a defense lawyer in the famous Nat Foster murder trial in 1834, and village president from 1849 to 1850 when Little Falls became known as “Rockton.”
The wonders of Edison’s “Projectoscope” were exhibited at the Skinner Opera House. There were 14 views, one an express train, which appears to be rushing down upon the audience. Admission was 25 cents; children 15 cents.
J. D. Frederiksen, cheese industry icon, inventor, author and manager of the Chr. Hansen Laboratories in Little Falls, died in Florida. Born and educated in Denmark, Mr. Frederiksen came to Little Falls in 1879. Very active in the community, he helped establish the Pine Crest tuberculosis sanatorium in Salisbury. He will be buried in Church Street Cemetery.
Standard Oil magnates from New York City are now absolute owners of the gas and electric plants in this city and surrounding communities. Representatives of the company gathered in the options for the purchase of the plants with money appearing to be no object.
Little Falls has too many dogs! Many complaints of savage dogs roaming the community have reached the police, and Chief Long has said he would get a Gatling gun and organize a dog extermination expedition. The Common Council was asked to appoint a dog catcher. Possibly one in each ward.
The Cheney Hammer Company, a fixture in Little Falls since 1854, was sold to the Collin Company of Collinsville, Connecticut. All the machinery was removed and sent to the Connecticut facility. The company had made a line of hammers for carpenters, machinists, and miners that were considered the best in the world.
Those who advocate the extending to women the right of suffrage will hold their first area meeting in Little Falls. Mrs. E. L. Calkins, vice-president of the Indiana state W.C.T.U. will deliver a lecture on the subject. Susan B. Anthony, one of the prominent workers in this cause, will speak at some area meetings.
Patent Attorney C. J. Lundstrom is completing arrangements to start a factory in Little Falls to manufacture his patent filing cases. Hitherto, Mr. Lundstrom has had them manufactured for him, together with his patent bookcases, at the P. W. Casler plant.
D. H. Burrell & Co., of Little Falls, is among the firms which believe a measure of their prosperity belongs to the workmen. On the last pay day, each employee found an envelope with a check for a nice sum in addition his to regular wages.
The City of Little Falls was awarded a national first place in a “register to vote” competition for cities 9,000 to 10,000 population sponsored by the American Heritage Foundation. Of 5,325 people eligible to vote, 5,297 voted.
The South William Street bridge (Seeley Island bridge,) deemed as being unsafe, was closed to all vehicular and pedestrian traffic. The foundation was built about January 22, 1886 and the steel bridge was erected about May 1, 1886 at a cost of $7,500.
Little Falls native Richard Buckley, has released his latest book “Unique Place, Diverse People” through the Little Falls Historical Society. Buckley’s major work recounts 300 years of the social and political history of Little Falls. His main topics were the story of the black community, women’s contributions, and the accounts of the immigrant workers.
Little Falls Earns First Prize From Heritage Foundation
(Special to the Evening Times)
Little Falls, N.Y. today was awarded a national first prize in the National Non-Partisan Register and Vote Competition sponsored by the American Heritage Foundation for “the most intensive and most effective non-partisan register and vote effort by a city with a population between 9,000 and 10,000.” Thomas D’Arcy Brophy, president of the Foundation said, in announcing the award:
“We extend our congratulations to the people of Little Falls. They won this award only because so many of them worked tirelessly together in helping to bring out a record vote last November – the largest demonstration of active citizenship in our history.”
Severe snow storms over the past week nearly buried the train coming to Little Falls from Dolgeville. Near Crum Creek the train was stalled in a big drift about ten feet deep. All that was visible of the engine was the smoke stack. Shovelers had great difficulty in freeing the iron horse from its position. Passengers on the train amused themselves by playing cards.
Roller skating has returned this week to the Redman Hall at 569 East Main Street.
The P&K Dress Corporation will begin operation on the fifth floor of the building at 560 East Mill Street. The proprietors, Eugene Pawluk and Erich Kupfer, will manufacture bathrobes, and dresses. The firm is expected to start operations with 50 employees and gradually increase production.
The home talent, three act farce “Henry’s Wedding,” sponsored by the Junior Welfare League, pleased a large audience at the High school auditorium. In all there were 125 prominent local people in the show including Wilbur Crisp as “O’Flaherty, Chief of Detectives.” The production also tickled a gathering of school kiddies at a matinee yesterday afternoon.
Voters, in a special election, defeated a proposal to build a municipal swimming pool in Little Falls, 1452 to 4761. A similar referendum had passed in 1952.
George Frank, whose experiences in the baking business is well known to most of our villagers, has bought the bakery at the corner of Ann and Church streets, recently occupied by E. Walsh. He will serve his customers with a variety of bread, crackers, cakes, confections, etc.
Seventy-three year old Hiram McChesney, a master blacksmith in Little Falls for over 56 years, died of exhaustion after carrying a heavy furnace grate through deep snow from his shop on Second Street to the Reddy Brother’s foundry on Seeley Island.
Architect Dwight J. Baum, of Riverdale, N.Y., will draw the plans for Frank Simpson’s new home on Salisbury Street. Mr. Baum is a former Little Falls boy, and his talent as a draughtsman, early apparent, stands him in good stead in his profession. He eventually designed several other distinguished homes in Little Falls.
The New York Telephone Company protested a plan to finance a municipal pool in Little Falls with a two percent telephone tax. The pool referendum was defeated 1,452 to 476.
The Little Falls Paper Company plant on East Mill Street was consumed by flames resulting in damages estimated at $75,000. It is believed the fire was started by an explosion of an oil stove. The conflagration got a big start when firemen went in the wrong direction in response to a telephone alarm.
“Yourself and your lady are respectfully invited to be present at a Social Party to be given at Indian Castle Hall” said the invitation from Shall & Snell proprietors. Music is by Crumwell in person with his full orchestra. Tickets, including supper, are $1.25.
The first boys homemaking class at Little Falls High School was in full swing. Students included Thursty” McKusick, Fred Urich, Tito DiTata, and Ted Van Slyke. Laura Ehman was teacher.
Clemens Drug Store at 507 East Main Street advertised ice cream at 25 c per pint and 39 c per quart. An electric corn popper with a can of Jolly Time Popcorn sold for 98 c.
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