This Week in History – Week of Aug. 9th
The first Mohawk & Hudson train ran from Albany to Schenectady.
Live Shakespeare returns to Little Falls with the Little Falls Theater Company’s (“LiFT”) production of “Twelfth Night” during the 27th annual Canal Celebration. Under the guidance of director and performer Matt Powers, performances will be held at both Benton’s Landing and Sterzinar Park.
A letter from William Shirley, Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, directed Captain Marcus Petri to proceed from the little falls to the “Canoeing Place” from the Mohawk River to the Wood Creek. Petri was to defend the area from incursion of French & Indian forces.
Six hundred people left Little Falls and Valley towns, by train, on a grand excursion to the Thousand Islands under the auspices of the Gen. Z. C. Priest Steamer Co. Upon arrival in Clayton, the party will leave immediately on the splendid new steamer, “T. S. Faxion” which has been specially chartered for the excursion on the St. Lawrence River.
The whole town seemed congregated on Ann Street in front of the Rialto Theater, anxious to find out who would be the winner of a new automobile given away by local merchants. Mayor Santry, master of ceremonies, presented the auto to Elizabeth Kling of West Main Street.
During the annual Canal Days celebration, an estimated 1,500 people toured the newly rebuilt and renovated Benton Hall Academy. A large number of them were former students and senior citizens. They were impressed by its architectural beauty and sensed its historical significance.
The United States Patent Office granted to David H. Burrell, of Little Falls, New York, a patent for the first technically sound oil burner. Burrell’s work was done to provide a method to heat large vats of milk, and maintain a constant temperature throughout the liquid. The technique was later adapted to home heating systems. On the centennial of his invention, he was honored by President Reagan.
The new Benton House has opened (later Girvan House) to the public under the directorship of Mr. Giles Orcutt of Binghamton. It is pleasantly situated at the corner of Main and Ann streets, a short distance from the Rail Road Depot and the Packet boat landing.
A man named Donaldson walked a tight rope suspended across from the Petrie building to the Loomis building, in a bag and blindfolded.
Work on the Little Falls Roller Skating Rink at the corner of Main and John streets is to be commenced this week at a cost of $4,000. The skating floor will be 49 by 128 feet – all appointments to be first class.
The last shipment of starch was made from the Gilbert’s factory ending many years as the village’s leading industry. The raw material had been unloaded to the large storage building on the Erie Canal and conveyorized across Seeley Island to the factory on the Mohawk River for processing. The building will be converted to a knitting mill under the direction of J. J. Gilbert.
Manager Tittle of Camp Jolly launched the new barge “City of Little Falls” to be used to transport up to 500 passengers to the campgrounds a few miles east of the city. The double-decker is 55 feet long and 14 feet wide and will be lashed to the “Victor Adams” which can accommodate an additional 200 people. There is room on the barge for dancing.
“Kite Day” will be introduced to hundreds of Little Falls kiddies, under the age of 12, when they have the opportunity to make a kite and flying it the highest altitude in a contest under the auspices of the Y.M.C.A.
Dan Vickers (later Dr. Dan Vickers), son of Dr. and Mrs. H. W. Vickers, and Wells Davy, both of Little Falls, made their first solo flights at Seymour field near Little Falls. They are members of the Little Falls Flying Club where nine other members are learning to fly.
The Eastern Herkimer County Industries Inc. has purchased 24 ½ acres of land from the New York Central Railroad Company. This land, between the railroad tracks and the Mohawk River, comprises the Riverside Industrial Park. The city recently received $280,000 from the United States Department of Commerce to develop the Riverside tract.
Stephen “Pitt the Painter” Nicholas won the blue ribbon at the first Mohawk Valley Center for the Arts regional art show. ”Pitt” made his living as a sign painter, and was skilled in eglomise or reverse painting on glass. He is most known for his painting of “The Man on the Bateau,” an image seen throughout Little Falls.
Bicentennial celebration ceremonies continued throughout Little Falls with a Liberty Tree observance (planting of a pine oak tree at Bellamy Park purchased by LFHS students,) and a Proud Heritage Day program at St. Mary’s Hall.
Nelson Rust passed away today. In 1831, Rust took over the tannery established by Eben Britton on the site of the Rialto Theatre on North Ann Street. In 1844 he moved it to East Mill Street. Rust also ran a leather goods store on Second Street and served as village president in 1851. The tannery was sold to J.J. Gilbert and William Weeks in 1874, who in turn sold the tannery to J.S. Barnet & Brothers in 1885.
The Protection Fire Company held an excursion to Catskill for two dollars, round trip. Two trains took 2,560 people to Albany, then by boat to Catskill. The revelers returned to Little Falls at 4:00 am the next morning – tired and happy? Before the Motor Age, recreation was of a group nature rather than the individual system.
James Riley has erected a large dancing pavilion on the vacant lot at the corner of German (Flint Avenue) and Jefferson streets, opposite his hotel. The opening party will be held tonight when the Pelican Club will give the first of a series of dances.
The survivors of the 121st Regiment of the Grand Army of the Republic and their wives, visited the Southern battlefield.
Miss Helen T. Hooley, the first woman lawyer in this area, passed away today at her home in Little Falls. Born in this city, a graduate of Little Falls High School and later Eastman Business College in Poughkeepsie, Miss Hooley spent her whole life here. She was admitted to the bar in 1903, and was appointed to several terms as clerk of the Surrogate’s Court.
WW II Era – In a spontaneous demonstration, wildly whooping crowds swept the city and cheered the news of the end of World War II. The celebration almost defied imagination, as the three years and eight months of struggle ended in victory. Crowds were gay and loud and orderly – grills did a big business.
The Little Falls Little Leaguers defeated Williamsville-Buffalo 5-4 in the semifinals, but lost to Staten Island 4-0 in the finals of the New York State Little League Championship. The same group of boys won the high school state baseball championship in 1982.
The inaugural Little Falls Canal Celebration started today. Former resident and businessman, Al Lovenheim, conceived of the idea as a way to replace the always-popular and well-attended St. Mary’s and St. Joseph’s parish celebrations. Jayne Ritz is given credit for the name, to distinguish Little Falls from other communities having canal days or canal festivals.
Thirty mailboxes were strategically located around the village to facilitate mailing letters. The more remote locations had two or three pickups daily, while boxes placed along the main streets had pickups each day at 6:30 am, 9.00 am, 10:10 am, 11:10 am, 1:30 pm, 3:10 pm, 5:30 pm, and 8:30 pm.
Henry Hall, resident of New York City, Little Falls, and Nunda, is in jail in Binghamton charged with bigamy, allegedly the husband of twelve living women located throughout the country. Hall, a painter, resided here for only a few months in 1890, won the affections of, and married Miss Sara Cronk who was employed in one of the mills.
The Health Board has “put a lid down” on the city as it discourages visitors during the summer months, especially those who come from places affected by infantile paralysis. Residents were required to report to the board all incoming visitors to the city, and any violation was to be classed as a misdemeanor.
A large crowd witnessed the opening of the overhead crossing over the New York Central railroad tracks and John Street, heralding the elimination of the dangerous grade crossings in the city. Gate tender Bill Reynolds had the honor of riding in the first auto to cross the bridge. The Ann Street pedestrian subway also opened.
Police have issued a warning to youthful motorists against squealing their tires, an apparently popular pastime with some young drivers. An eighteen year old boy was arrested at the corner of Ann and Monroe Streets and paid a $10 fine.
This Week in History” is brought to you by the Little Falls Historical Society. Please Visit the Little Falls Historical Society Website and please consider supporting the Museum by becoming a Member. Download the membership form here!