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northNorth Street runs through the Allentown neighborhood of Buffalo, between Symphony Circle and Jefferson Avenue.  A small portion of East North Street exists east of Jefferson, divided by the Kensington Expressway.

North Street was originally known as Guide Board Road.  In front of the Episcopal Church of the Ascension at the corner of Linwood and North is a sign that states “Guide Board Road directing pioneers from the east to the Black Rock Ferry”.  The Guide Board Road was established shortly after Buffalo was settled. Pioneers cut through the woods so that early residents could get from Main Street to the Black Rock Ferry.  The road was used by many covered wagons of pioneers and ox carts of the early farmers.

Guide Board Road sign, on North Street near Franklin Street

Guide Board Road sign, on North Street near Franklin Street

During the War of 1812, when Buffalo was burned Dec 29, 1913, Guide Board Road was bathed in blood.  While retreating, American soldiers from Buffalo and Black Rock used Guide Board Road to get to Main Street to escape to Williamsville or Batavia.  Many of them were overtaken by the Native American allies of the British troops, scalped, tomahawked and robbed of their clothes.  Their bodies were left by the roadside.

northstreet cemeteryThe street was the northern boundary of the City of Buffalo when it was incorporated in 1832, hence the name North Street.  The City founders felt that the North Street boundary would give the City plenty of room to expand.  The road was also known as Lover’s Lane and Cemetery Road.  As cemeteries were being moved to outside the boundary of the City, North Street was bordered by six cemeteries at one time!

The Erie County Almshouse (and associated cemetery) was located near the location of D’Youville College today.   The area around North Street was first settled by residents of Buffalo looking to build houses in the Country.   Additionally, immigrants settling in the Buffalo area bought the land along the road west of Delaware for orchards and truck farms.  This section became known as Shingletown.  Buffalo continued growing and quickly grew to be larger than the Village of Black Rock.  Just 21 years after the City was incorporated, the New York State legislature gave permission to extend its boundaries and absorb Black Rock.

City Planning Committee Map of the Extension of City Limits

City Planning Committee Map of the Extension of City Limits Over Time

Plans had been discussed many times over the City’s history to extend North Street.  This was discussed as early as 1884 when a resolution was passed to extend North Street from Jefferson to Genesee Streets, but the idea was protested.  Plans were resubmitted in 1887.  Portions of East North Street east of Jefferson were built.

In the 1920s,  a plan was put forth to widen North Street and extended it to connect to the east with Humboldt Parkway.  The Buffalo City Planning Association proposed this link, which would connect the waterfront to the eastern part of the city to create a crosstown connecting parkway within a short distance of the downtown business district.  The new parkway would connect D’Youville College, Holy Angels Academy(which later moved to North Buffalo), the State Normal School (later Grover Cleveland High School), Masten Park High School(now City Honors), the 106th Regiment Armory, the proposed municipal stadium at the corner of Jefferson and Best Street (which became War Memorial Stadium aka the Rockpile, now John Wiley Sports Complex), and the proposed Natural Science Building to be located in Humboldt Park (today the Science Museum).  The proposed parkway would be a double roadway and was intended to provide relief from congestion currently occurring on streets such as High Street.  The planned width of the street would be 105 feet wide with two 27-foot roadways separated by a wooded park strip.  One unique thing about the proposal was that the road was planned to take North Street over Main and Ellicott Streets, as well as to tunnel Franklin, Linwood, Delaware and Elmwood Avenues under North Street.  The road was designed to separate the crosstown traffic from the north and south traffic. This road was never built.

If you could redesign any street in Buffalo, which would you change?

Learn about other streets by checking out the Street Index.

 

 

Sources:

“Urges Action on Widening of North Street”. Buffalo News, July 13, 1923.

“Cross-Town Street Plan is Explained”.  Buffalo Evening News, February 17, 1928.

“War Wealth Park of North Street History”. Courier Express, Feb 9, 1956.

Picture Book of Earlier Buffalo.  Buffalo Historical Society Publications:  1912.

 

choateChoate Avenue is located in South Buffalo, running between South Park Avenue and Abbott Road.  The street cuts through land once owned by Rufus Choate, a man who helped build South Buffalo.

Rufus Mortimer Choate is a descendant of the Choate Brothers who were among America’s pioneer settlers from England who settled in Massachusetts in 1643.   A more famous Rufus Choate was a senator from Massachusetts.  Mr. Choate was born in Clarence on October 4, 1840.  He attended public schools, the Classical Academy in Clarence and Bryant & Stratton’s Business College.  During the Civil War, he volunteer at the first call for soldiers, enlisting in 1861, but was never called to the front.  After the War, Mr. Choate began working as a clerk in the ticket office at the Buffalo Docks and for the U.S. Customs Office.  He served as a local passenger agent for all four of the ship lines which used the Buffalo Harbor from 1866 until 1888.  In 1888, he resigned to begin working in the real estate business.

In 1866, Mr. Choate married Ellen Strickler.  Millard Fillmore’s brother performed their ceremony.  The Choate family lived at 1365 Abbott Road, their home was known as  Windermere House.  At the time, it took an entire day to travel into the city to do your shopping and then home again.  Several rail crossings were located along the route.  When they arrived at the railroad crossings, the horses would often rear up on their hind legs due to fear.  Mr. Choate worried that his wife and children would be injured if the horse would lose control.  He worked to eliminate those at grade crossings.

Windermere House was one of the first houses in South Buffalo to be lit by natural gas.  It was an English villa style home, and was surrounded by a high brick wall with iron fence and gates.  The home had nine bedrooms, a billiard room and spacious rooms for entertaining.  The grounds consisted of orchards, gardens, lawns and a tennis court.

http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e3-71a7-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

Wndermere House  Source:  http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47e3-71a7-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

 

Windermere House became the first Mercy Hospital.  The Sisters of Mercy who were brought in 1858 by Bishop Timon to assist with schooling at St. Brigid’s.  The Sisters soon realized that a hospital was needed.  The original hospital was a 30-bed facility opened in the house in 1904.  The hospital is still located at the corner of Choate Avenue and Abbott Road and has grown to be one of the largest in Western New York.  The sisters also started Mount Mercy Academy, a high school for girls and Sancta Maria College (now called Trocaire, which means Mercy in Gaelic).

Mr. Choate owned a great deal of  real estate.  He sold off properties, developed houses along and named the streets of Richfield, Bloomfield, Whitfield, and Sheffield, as well as Choate Ave.  He served as secretary of the Woodside Land Company, which developed other real estate in South Buffalo as well.

When the Windermere House was taken over by the hospital, the Choate Family moved to 193 Cleveland Avenue  and then 61 Brantford Place in what is now the Elmwood Village.  The houses are still standing.

Mr. and Mrs. Choate had six children.  Sadly, at age 18, their oldest son, Rufus Jr., who went by “Rufie”, disappeared following an argument with his father.  His body was found 4 months later in the hayloft of his father’s barn, after an apparent suicide.

Rufus Choate is said to have done more than any other man toward building up South Buffalo.  He was instrumental in creating Cazenovia Park, as well as South Side and Red Jacket Parkways.  He contributed 12 acres of his own land for the parks system.  He was organizer and president of the South Buffalo Business Men’s Association.  Through the Association, he abolished the old toll gate at Seneca Street and Cazenovia Creek and the 16 hazardous grade railroad crossings of South Buffalo.

choate grave

Mr. Choate died in 1916 and is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery.

Choate Avenue was requested by a friend.  If you’d like to request a street, email buffalostreets (@) gmail.com and if information is available, it might get moved up in the queue.  Be sure to check out the street index to learn about other streets.

Sources:

  1. “Choate Avenue Honors Donor of Park Areas”.  Courier Express.  September 17, 1939.
  2. Our County and Its People:  A Descriptive Work on Erie County, New York.  Edited by Truman White.  Boston History Company:  1898.
  3. Memorial and Family History of Erie County, New York.  The Genealogical Publishing Company.  Buffalo, New York:  1906.
  4. “Rufus Choate’s Body Found at Last”.  New York Times. May 6, 1895.

South Park Avenue shown in Blue.  Ohio Street shown in Pink.  Elk Street shown in Teal.  Abbott Road shown in Purple.  Yellow lines show connections that are no longer extant.

South Park Avenue shown in Blue. Ohio Street shown in Pink. Elk Street shown in Teal. Abbott Road shown in Purple. Yellow lines show connections that are no longer extant. (click map to zoom in)

South Park Avenue runs from Downtown Buffalo to the Buffalo-Lackawanna City Line (and beyond down into Hamburg where the road changes to Buffalo Street).  Ever wonder why South Park Avenue has some weird intersections?  It’s because the street was originally a bunch of different streets!  Not all street names are changed to honor famous or influential people.  In 1939, a proposal was presented to change the name of four streets to allow motorists to travel from the Lackawanna city line all the way to Main Street in Downtown Buffalo along one continuous road.

1899 View of Triangle Neighborhood

1899 View of Triangle Neighborhood

The proposal began thanks to efforts of the Tri-Abbott-South Park Businessmen’s Association.  They proposed that portions of Ohio, Elk, Triangle and Abbott Road  be named South Park Avenue.   Yes, there was a Triangle Road in the Triangle Neighborhood!  Triangle Road ran from Abbott Road to what is now Southside Parkway.  Southside Parkway was originally part of South Park Avenue, which ran from Ridge Road to Abbot Road).  Southside Parkway was renamed McKinley Parkway and a portion of South Park Avenue was renamed Southside Parkway.

The intent of the name change for South Park Avenue was to allow those entering the City of Buffalo from the Southtowns to be better able to find the downtown district.  At the time, when you were entering the City from Lackawanna, you would take South Park Avenue to Triangle Street, to Abbott Road, to Elk Street and to Ohio Street before you arrived at Main Street.  You saw five different street names, even though the roads were essentially a continuous thoroughfare.

Buffalo Memorial Auditorium

Buffalo Memorial Auditorium

The proposal to change the name was made around the time of construction of the new convention hall (Buffalo Memorial Auditorium) so it was anticipated that more people would be travelling into Downtown Buffalo for events.  Additionally, many people were expected to stop in Buffalo on their way to the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City.

The proposal was approved by the City Council on May 26, 1939.  At the time, the Council kicked around the idea of renaming the road “South Main Street”; however, they decided upon South Park.  Of the 38 organizations who comprised the South Park Taxpayers Improvement Association, 35 of them voted in favor of calling the “new” road South Park.  Representatives from near the Elk Street business district wanted the route to be called Elk street.

 Learn about the origins of other street names by checking out the street index.

Sources:

  1. “South Park Ave name chosen for proposed continuous thoroughfare.” Courier express April 29, 1939, p 7
  2. “South Park – Triangle – Abbott- Elk- Ohio route -what shall it be called” Courier Express Apr 21, 1939, p 7
  3. “South Park Avenue Lengthening Urged” Courier Express March 3, 1939.  Buffalo Streets Scrapbook Vol 2, 159
Timon Street

Timon Street

Timon Street is located on the East Side of Buffalo, running between High Street and Northhampton Street, parallel to Jefferson and the Kensington Expressway.  It’s one of my favorite streets in Buffalo, with its bricks and beautiful sycamore trees.  The street is named after Bishop John Timon, the first Bishop of Buffalo.

timon street

Timon Street

John Timon was born in Conevago, Pennsylvania in February 1797, a child of immigrant Irish parents.  His family moved to the frontier town of St. Louis Missouri, where his father opened a dry goods store.  John was an astute businessman, and the store had great success after he took over from his father.  John Timon was said to be polite and handsome.  He was described as a social lion and “an object of interest for all anxious mothers with marriageable daughters”.  One biographer commented that many though the store business became successful due to women coming to see John.  The financial panic of 1823 hit the store to the point of financial ruin.  Around this time, John had been engaged to young woman, who became sick and passed away.   He saw these two things as the ordeal of suffering in the realms of which vain men find themselves:  fortune and the heart, and decided to enter the priesthood.  In 1823, he entered into the order of the Vincentians and was ordained in 1825.

johntimon8He first served as a missionary.  He later spoke of the rough conditions as a missionary that the harder his labors, the more he felt pushed to spread the light of the gospel.  He served all people in the locations he visited, not only the white settlers, but the Native Americans and the slaves.  He journeyed hundreds of miles through unsettled countryside on horseback for 20 years.  He ministered in missions in Texas, Kentucky, Missouri, Arkansas, Indiana, Mississippi and Louisiana, at a time when developments were far and few in-between in the west.

In 1847, Father Timon was nominated by Rome as Bishop of the newly created Western New York diocese.   The Diocese was first established to include 20 counties in Western New York.   Bishop Timon’s arrival in Buffalo was fought with opposition from the trustees of St. Louis Church, which was at the time the largest Catholic Church in the Country.  St. Louis was a French and German parish, and Bishop Timon remembered his humble beginnings and had a strong affinity for the poor Irish settlers and lived with those who were more in need.  He moved from St. Louis Church to an apartment near St. Patrick’s Church (formerly located at Ellicott and Broadway) to better tend to the Irish.  The Catholic Church in Buffalo had a strong divide between the German, French and Irish Catholics before Bishop Timon arrived, and it grew stronger following his arrival.  After putting up with the opposition at St. Louis Church for years, in 1857, Bishop Timon excommunicated the men and closed the church for a year.

At the time, the majority of Buffalo’s Institutions were protestant.  Bishop Timon worked to meet the needs for the Catholic immigrants who were in need of services ranging from orphanages, hospitals, schools, etc.  After trying to work with some of the Protestant institutions to provide Catholic needs, as many of the residents of the facilities were Catholic, Bishop Timon realized he would need to create his own institutions.  He brought the Sister of Charity to come to Buffalo from Baltimore to help him.

Sister's Hospital, 1870 source

Sister’s Hospital, 1870
source

In 1848, the Sisters of Charity opened the first hospital in Buffalo.  While it was run by the Sisters, it was open to all residents, regardless of religious denomination.  The hospital got its start in a house at the corner of Pearl and Virginia Streets.  The hospital had several locations, including Main and Delavan, and is currently located at the corner of Main and Humboldt Parkway.    This hospital is today known as Sisters Hospital.  The hospital was run for 166 years by the Sisters of Charity and more than 850 Sisters have served at the hospital during that time.  The Sisters had a presence in the hospital until June of this year, but the Sisters have passed their legacy on to the lay people who run the hospital.

Bishop Timon was considered to have an extra kind heart.  He was known to give his coat to beggars he’d pass on the street.  A cholera epidemic in 1849 inspired him to established St. Vincent’s Infant Asylum, located at Ellicott street and Broadway adjacent to St. Patrick’s Church.  The Asylum was created to receive children whose parents died, and was known to carry the children to the Asylum himself.   Cholera epidemics occurred again in 1851, 1852 and 1854.  The disease was rampant among the Irish along the waterfront.  Since the disease spread through contaminated water, both parents would ingest the water so if they passed away, the children would be left parent-less.  The needs for the orphanage grew, and along with it, young widowed mothers also needed relief.

Providence Lunatic Asylum, Corner of Main and Humboldt Park, 1880 source

Providence Lunatic Asylum, Corner of Main and Humboldt Park, 1880
source

Bishop Timon established the House of the Good Shepherd, the first Catholic institution in the country to care for unmarried mothers and help them make a fresh start in life.  The organization received, nourished, clothed, and lodged these women until better situations were found for them.   The house accepted any girls, regardless of religion and allowed them to stay as long as they needed.  Bishop Timon sent one of his Sisters to visit the poorhouse Erie County had built in the north part of Buffalo.  She was shocked by the conditions for the insane.  Inmates were shackled to the walls and tied to furniture.  During the opening of the Providence Lunatic Asylum in 1860, Bishop Timon made a statement that the inmates were to be treated with humanity and not mastered by brute force.  This statement was revolutionary at the time.

St. Joseph's Cathedral,  Franklin Street

St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Franklin Street

Bishop Timon worked tirelessly to build a cathedral in Buffalo.  He saw in the 1840s that Buffalo was going to be a great city and felt that a great city needed an impressive cathedral.  The Catholic cathedral was originally to be located on Washington Street near Tupper where St. Michael’s church is currently located.  The opportunity then came for the Catholic diocese to purchase the Webster Garden Estate, located in the heart of downtown Buffalo, part of the “loveliest district with a beautiful park and rolling terraces stretching down to the shores of Lake Erie”.  Bishop Timon invited Patrick Keeley, an architect from New York city to design the cathedral.  Many of the laborers were Irish catholic immigrants who were too poor to donate to the cathedral, so they would donate their labor.  They’d often work all day as a laborer at their day job and then come work on the church.   The Cathedral was dedicated in 1855.  (Note:  a “new cathedral” was built at Delaware and Utica in 1912, but the construction was faulty – designed for Rome temperatures and not Buffalo winters, so the building had to be demolished in 1977, at which time St. Joseph’s became once again the cathedral in Buffalo).

Among other things, Bishop Timon also helped establish Nardin Academy, St. Mary’s School for the Deaf, Niagara Seminary (now Niagara University), St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute, St. Bonaventure,  and several orphanages and schools.

Bishop Timon was a man of great scholarship.  He learned Spanish in a matter of a few weeks, just prior to a trip to Mexico.  He spoke several other languages as well, to be able to converse with the Pope and other European monarchs and the needy immigrants arriving in the City.  Bishop Timon’s friendship with the King of Bavaria convinced the King to donate a generous contribution to build St. Joseph’s Cathedral, along with donations from others in Europe and Mexico.

Plaque at St. Joseph's remembering John Timon

Plaque at St. Joseph’s remembering John Timon

Bishop Timon died in 1867 at the age of 70 of erysipelas, contracted from administrating religious sacraments in hospitals.  An estimated 100,000 people came to view his body, lining the streets of Buffalo to view his casket.   He is entombed in the crypt in the Cathedral that he built.

Read about other streets by clicking the street index.

Sources:

  1. “Memorials to Early Clerics In Street and Square Here”.  Buffalo Courier Express.  November 23, 1941.
  2. Bohen, Timothy.  Against the Grain:  The History of Buffalo’s First Ward.  Bohane Books:  2012.
  3. Deuther, Charles George.  The Life and Times of the Right Reverend John Timon.  Published by the Author:  1870.
  4. Tokasz, Jay.  “Daughters of Charity to Leave Sisters Hospital for Other Ministries”.  Buffalo News.  June 7, 2014.

Often a group of streets will be named after a theme.  This is often seen when a developer may name a bunch of streets after his family members or friends.  Many people know that Washington, DC has streets named after all 50 states to form the City’s grid (crossed by alphabetic and numbered streets).   The City of Buffalo has streets named after 32 of the 50 states.  Many of these state street names originated in one of Buffalo’s original street grids.

Map of Village of Black Rock, 1816 Source:  New York State Archives

Map of Village of Black Rock, 1816
Source: New York State Archives

Many of the streets named after streets are located in what was the original development of the Village of Black Rock.  The Black Rock streets were originally laid out  two years before Joseph Ellicott came to Buffalo!  New York State purchased a one mile strip of land along the Niagara River known as the New York State Reservation in 1802.  The State laid out the streets of the Village of Black Rock.  For 20 years, Black Rock would serve as Buffalo’s rival.  In 1825, Buffalo won its fight to be the terminus of the Erie Canal, became a booming city, and annexed the Village of Black Rock in 1854.

State named streets in Black Rock include Georgia, Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Jersey, York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Hampshire.  All of the original 13 colonies are represented by these streets, other than Delaware, which was originally located where Hudson Street is today.  When Buffalo and Black Rock merged, duplicate street names were changed to prevent confusion.  These streets all lay parallel to each other in what is now the West Side of the City of Buffalo, but was originally known as the South Village of Black Rock or Upper Black Rock.  When originally laid out, these streets formed a grid with numbered streets.  The streets were laid out by Lemuel Forester, a Surveyor for New York State.  You can read about the numbered streets in Buffalo by clicking here.  These streets form what was known as Upper Black Rock.  Peter Porter was an important person in the early days of Black Rock.

It is important to note that it is difficult to differentiate between states such as North and South Carolina or Virginia and West Virginia, as the cardinal directions (north, south, east, west) are used in street naming conventions.  Early maps of Black Rock show Jersey, York and Hampshire as New Jersey, New York and New Hampshire, but as time elapsed, the convention to name streets “New” to differentiate between different alignments of a street which changed over time, of which the alignment’s name may be “New _____ Street” or “Old ______ Street”.

Streets in Buffalo Named After States

Streets in Buffalo Named After States  (click to view larger image)

The City also has streets named after the following states:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • North and South Dakota (as Dakota Street)
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

There are several streets named after states that used to be located in Buffalo.  These streets names have been removed for various reasons:

Portion of 1900 Sanborn Map depicting locations of Idaho and Arizona Streets.

Idaho Street and Arizona Streets- were located in North Buffalo off Military Road, north of Sayre Street.  The Buffalo Foundry was located here, and industrial facilities eventually absorbed the streets.

1951 Sanborn Map showing the former location of Indiana Street

 

Indiana Street was located near the foot of Main Street.  The street was eliminated when Crossroads Arena (aka Marine Midland, aka HSBC, aka First Niagara Center) was built.  The street is currently buried under First Niagara Center.

1925 Sanborn Map Showing Alaska Alley

1925 Sanborn Map Showing Alaska Alley

Alaska Alley  – was closed on February 24, 1960.  This was a small alley off of Chippewa near Genesee and Washington.   The block where Alaska and Seward Alleys were located is now parking for the Electric Tower building.

Iowa – used to be the part of LaSalle Avenue from Bailey to Eggert (near Minnesota Avenue).  However, they changed the name when they wanted to rename Perry Street to Iowa Street.  They then decided that Perry was too important to change the name of the street.  At this time, they also tried to change the name of Fulton Street to Oklahoma, but also decided that Fulton was too important of a person to change the name of the street.

In 1901, the City wanted to rename Indian Church, Hudson or South Division Street to Missouri.  Residents complained because it sounded like “Misery” to them, and they did not want to live on “Misery Street”.

There is no Maine Street, because it would be confusing because it sounds like Main Street.

I was unable to find evidence of streets in Buffalo named after the following five states:

  • Kansas
  • Nebraska
  • New Mexico
  • Utah
  • Hawaii

Buffalo Ex-Pats living in the Washington, DC area will be happy to know that Columbia Street, in the Cobblestone District near the arena, is named after the District of Columbia.

To answer the “which street named after a state is your favorite?” question – mine is York Street.  My dad moved to Buffalo (from Central New York….and after time spent in the Navy) in 1978 and his first apartment here was on York Street.  My parents lived there when the first got married.  This is where my branch of the Keppel family started in Buffalo.  :)

To read about other streets, click the Street Index.

Sources:

  1. “Many Changes Made in Names of Streets Here” Courier Express, August 26, 1928
  2. “New Names for Streets” Buffalo Express Oct 7, 1901
  3. “Council Closes Alaska Alley” Buffalo Courier Express, February 24, 1960.

howard streetHoward Street is a street located in the Babcock neighborhood of the East Side between Jefferson Street and New Babcock Street, running parallel to Clinton and William Streets.  The street is named for Major General Rufus Lombard Howard, the man who put the world’s first successful mowing machine on the market.

Rufus Lombard Howard was born in Litchfield, Herkimer County, on October 30th, 1818.  He attended schools there until he was 15.  He then became a clerk in the Country Store in Schuyler.  From 1836-1837, he served as Assistant Postmaster at Frankfort.  He came to Buffalo in 1839 as a clerk to H.C. Atwater, grocers and ship-chandlers.

During the Cholera Epidemic in Buffalo, Mr. Howard went to stay Batavia.  While in Batavia, he met William Ketchum.  Mr. Ketchum had invented a machine.  Mr. Howard made suggestions to him, and together they perfected the mower in 1851.  Mr. Howard invested the capital necessary to produce the Ketchum Machine.  The machine was manufactured at the Howard Iron Works at 281 Chicago Street.  Howard Iron Works was known as one of the largest and best known general machinery and foundry works of its time.  By 1859, nearly 20,000 of the mowing machines had been sold.   Howard Iron Works was bought by J.D. Cousins and Sons in 1904, which became J.D. Cousins in 1967.  The company is still in business today, more than 160 years later, on Tifft Street!

The Stansead Journal reported that the Ketchum Mowing Machines costs in June of 1860 were as follows:

  • One-horse mowing machine , 31/2 foot barr, weight 450 lobs, $75 (2,083 in 2014 dollars)
  • Light two hours do 4 feet bar, weight 475 lobs, $85
  • Heavy two-horse do 4 feet bar, weight 630 lbs, $90
  • Heavy two-horse do 4 feet 8 in bar, weight 650 lobs, $96
Ketchum Mowing Machine

Ketchum Mowing Machine

In 1851, Mr. Howard also became connected with the 8th Division, National Guard of the State of New York (NGSNY)  as aide-de-camp, with the rank of Major.  He was made an inspector and promoted to the rank of Colonel.  In 1865, he was selected to by the Governor as General.  During this time, the 65th and 74th regiments were housed together in the State Arsenal, which was crammed.  He appropriated money to purchase a lot and build an armory, the Fremont Place Armory (Fremont Place was part of what is now known as Elmwood Avenue).  The Armory was replaced by the Armory located on Connecticut Street in 1894 due to a growing size.  The Fremont Place Armory was located approximately where the Family Dollar is now located at Elmwood Avenue and Virgina Street.

General Howard accompanied Governor Hoffman and his staff in laying the corner-stone of the State Asylum for the Insane at Buffalo (now known as the Richardson-Olmsted Complex).  He also was part of the unveiling of the statue of General Bidwell.   General Howard retired in 1878.  During his military command, many distinguished guests were entertained at his residences, including three Governors of New York – Fenton, Hoffman and Dix.

General Howard’s interests also included agriculture, which he considered his favorite recreational activity.  He purchased 200 acres in the 13th Ward of Buffalo, which was known as Sander’s Farm.  At the time, this part of the city was wilderness.  To clear this land for agricultural purposes, he hired over 200 unemployed men, of which there were many due to the panic of 1857.  The farm was located on Tifft Street, across the railroad tracks from George Tifft’s operations.  General Howard also purchased 350 acres near the lake shore in the Town of Hamburg, between Big Tree Road and Howard Road, where he built his country home, known as Meadow Farm.   Meadow Farm was the first to have Jersey cattle in Western New York.   He served on the board of the Erie County Fair Association, and exhibited from his farm at the fair.

In 1891, General Howard decided to discontinue horse breeding, as the land on his farm in South Buffalo had become too valuable.  In March of that year, General Howard sold his stock of horses, bringing in good prices, including a reported $15,000 for one horse!  The farm was developed by railroads to serve the Donna Hanna Furnace Company and Republic Steel.

Ascension Window at Trinity Episcopal

Ascension Window at Trinity Episcopal

General Howard married Maria Field in 1842.  Five of the Howard’s six children died in childhood.  The sixth child, Gibson Field Howard, died in his early 30s.  This encouraged General Howard toward the betterment of youth, and his contributions to the Young Men’s Association, of which he was the first president.  General Howard served on the building committee of Trinity Episcopal Church, helping build things for the church through Howard Iron Works.  General Howard and his wife donated one of the stained glass windows in honor of one of their daughters.  When not at their farms, General and Mrs. Howard lived at 247 Delaware Avenue.  He died on June 28, 1896 and is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery.

So, this summer, when you’re mowing your lawn, think of Rufus L. Howard and the Ketchum Mowing Machine.  (And Ketchum Street was not named after the machinebut we’ll get to that another day!)

To learn about other streets, check out the Street Index.

Sources:

  1. “Howard Street Named for Militia Officer, Developer of Mower”Courier Express June 4, 1939, sec 6, p 2
    Manufacturing Interests of the City of Buffalo. Second Edition.  Published by C.F.S. Thomas.  Buffalo, 1866.
  2. Contemporary American Biography:  Biographical Sketches of Representative Men of the Day.  Atlantic Publishing and Engraving:  New York, 1895.
  3. National Cooper’s Journal.  February 1911, page 16.
  4. Vintage Machinery:  Howard Iron Works, Buffalo NY.  http://vintagemachinery.org/mfgindex/detail.aspx?id=3423
  5.  ‘Wilkie Collins at Home”.  Wallace’s Monthly.  Volume XV, No. 7. September 1889.

rohrstreetRohr Street is a street in the Martin Luther King, Jr., Park neighborhood on the East Side of Buffalo.  The street runs between Walden Avenue and Northampton Street, a few blocks from the park.

Rohr Street is named for Mathias Rohr, president of the Volksfreund German Newspaper.  Mr. Rohr was editor of the Volksfreund for 14 years.  Although he wrote his editorials for the paper in his native German, Rohr was 100% proud to be an American.

rohr2Mr. Rohr was born in Germany in 1840.  At the age of 16, he became a teacher in his village of Zemmer. During his school days, Mr. Rohr had heard of a man from his village who had gone to America as a poor teacher and returned to Germany as a rich man.  Mr. Rohr longed for the freedom in America, so he dedicated himself to learn the English language.  At the time, studies outside of the traditional curriculum were forbidden at his school.  He also studied French and German literature, which was helpful in his later job as a journalist.  At the age of 28, he came to America.  A representative of the Central Zeitung, a German newspaper in Buffalo, met him at the dock and offered him a position as editor.  Two years later, he joined the editorial staff of the Buffalo Volksfreund.  Starting in 1883, he also served as a representative for the New York Life Insurance Company of Germania.  In 1904 he became president of the Buffalo Volksfreund.  Under his leadership, the Buffalo Volksfreund became one of the most important German-American newspapers in the country.   In 1913, he sold his interest in the paper.

Ad for the Buffalo Volksfreund from 1891.   The daily newspaper cost 25 cents every 2 weeks, or $6 per year if prepaid.  For this price, the paper would be mailed to readers in the local area in both the United States and Canada.  The weekly version could be sent to Europe or other regions for $2.60 per year.

Ad for the Buffalo Volksfreund from 1891.
The daily newspaper cost 25 cents every 2 weeks, or $6 per year if prepaid. For this price, the paper would be mailed to readers in the local area in both the United States and Canada. The weekly version could be sent to Europe or other regions for $2.60 per year.  The Volksfreund offices were at 14-16 Broadway.

He was a member of the first board of the Buffalo Public library and was an original subscriber to the former Buffalo Orchestra and a contributor to the original music hall.  He was considered a gifted writer and in addition to his journalistic writing, he wrote numerous poems, essays and novellas that were published in newspapers and periodicals.  He published a book of poems in German written about Niagara Falls “On Niagara” in 1900 (which can be read here in German).  He also published a book titled Oreola, the Pearl of the Iroquois and Other Stories of Indian Life.  He served as President of the Broadway Brewing & Malting Company.

rohr

Mr. Rohr married Miss Sophie C. Reichert in 1869.  The couple had 11 children.  Mr. Rohr owned property on Rohr Street, but he never lived there.  His home was at 186 Edward Street, near Virginia.  The house on Edward Street is still standing.  Mr. Rohr was also an active member of the Catholic Church.  In 1874, he was selected as a delegate of the Catholic Union of Buffalo to Rome and Lourdes.  He was also a member of Orpheus, the German Literary Society, and the Knights of Columbus.

rohrgraveMr. Rohr passed away in 1920 and is buried in the United German and French Cemetery in Cheektowaga.

Mr. Rohr’s son Frank was the founder and president of the Broadway Businessmen’s Association.  This group was the organization that abolished the fenced park that was once Lafayette Square.  Under their leadership, Broadway cut through the Square to Main Street.  Since the Holland Land Company had deeded the Lafayette Square property to the City on condition that it be maintained as a park, surrounded by a fence, when traffic congestion had dictated that the road cut through the park, public condemnation notices had to be published in the newspapers of the Netherlands to be read by any surviving persons interested in the Holland Land Company.  Mr.  Frank Rohr also worked with the association to bring the Broadway Auditorium to open.

Sources:

  1. “Rohr Street Memorial of Volksfreund Editor” Courier Express Feb 19, 1939, sec 5
  2.  White, Truman C, ed.  Our County and its People:  A Descriptive Work on Erie County, New York.  The Boston History Company:  1898.
  3. The History of the Germans in Buffalo and Erie County. Published by Reinecke & Zesch.  Buffalo, NY: 1898.
  4. Mueller, Jacob.  Buffalo and Its German Community.  German American Historical Society:  1911-12.
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