From Geneva Gazette 30 May 1890

Local Reminiscences

Seeing your remarks in the last GAZETTE upon the improvements on North Main st. north of Seneca, recalls to my mind scenes of early days around the "five points," Main, Milton and Castle sts.  My recollection begins back in the twenties. When the Geneva Bank building was erected, (now Chase's office) Anthony Hemiup kept a grocery and general variety store at the corner of Main and Seneca sts. where Geo. Bennett is now located.   An ascent of several steps landed you inside.  The Stainton family occupied the house north, and Mr. John Stainton (father of Levi, Bryan and several other boys and girls) owned the entire block north to Coursey's alley, and on Seneca street down to the McKay property.  Next to Stainton's residence came Chester Francis, who moved in from the White Springs woolen mills and started a steam woolen factory north of Sherman H. Rose's carriage shop --  the latter standing where is now the Harrow works, and whereon the GAZETTE received its baptism of fire several years ago -- at which fire the writer chanced to be first on the ground, burst open the doors, and did his best to preserve books, records, papers, &c.

North of the Stainton-Coursey alley stood a small building.  In this house "Bubby" Keeler taught school.  In the yard back of it stood a small wood-colored house occupied by Tom Harris, also colored, who was a prize fighter and the accomplice of Hubbard in robbing David S. Skaats of his tin box containing $1,500.  Adjoining this school-house on the north was a red house occupied by a Mr. Sutton.  He manufactured churns, and had two sons -- Walt and Newt.  It was in this house I received my first temperance lecture.  Geneva at that time was not under the "Carson League," although there were three "meetin' houses."
Anthony Hemiup, the groceryman, had emptied about a bushel of "whiskey cherries" in the middle of Main street, and these boys, together with many others, ate to their fill of the spirit fruit.  The Sutton boys were taken home and laid out on the bed. Dr. Kimber came over but could do nothing for them.  I was taken into the room to see the dead (drunk) boys; there they lay, white as marble.  I was then told of the evil effects of the use of whiskey -- and if they should die then they would go down, down to that other place!  That sufficed for me.  I made up my mind never to drink any whiskey cherries.  The next morning the boys were all on deck, but with swelled heads.  The next building stood over the creek, Nathan Daskam's bakery and cooper shop. Next came George Hemiup's stable, and on the corner of Main and Castle streets, his tavern. Between the tavern and stable was Hemiup's chair shop.  West of this, or on the corner of Main and Milton streets, stood "Granny" Mills" house. Her garden ran south to the creek, having in front of it five beautiful poplar trees.  West of this garden of sunflowers, hollihocks and artichokes was the "Pound".  Next south came the Kimber block.  In the building fitted up by the late Dr. Budd, Wm. Giffing resided and carried on silver smithing.  I now have spoons of his make.  Giffing had charge of the fireworks at the time of the explosion, July 4th, 1842, the the Rev'd. John Easter and Joseph Fulton were killed. On the south side of Milton st., near where the Baptist Church now stands, and next west of Granny Mills' house, stood the large yellow house Dey house. Between that and Pulteney street was the old barn where Aaron Young began the manufacture of lead pipe.  The next house was around the corner on Pulteney street, south of the cemetery, occupied by Lorin Bennett -- now I believe by Platt Demming.  At the head of Milton st. and on the west side of Pulteney street stood the Axtell mansion, bounded on the south by what is now called High street.  This road ran through the colored settlement up to Reed's woods and sugar camp.  South of this road as far as William street was Fellows' hickory grove, surrounded or enclosed by a rail fence.  Not a house in this grove for some distance up the road.  Russell Robbins I believe was the first to break sod in this square, B. W. Springstead next, and so on.

It was in this grove that I smoked my first cigar. I had seen Sam Kimber "chaw" tobacco in Keeler's school with several boys of his age with indifferent success, but the difference was decidedly against them when they tried to induce me to take some of it in my mouth, for I was not favorably impressed with the color of their faces; and when they left the party and ran round behind the school house, I decidedly said "No, no, boys, none for me -- I won't chaw."  But the desire to be a man still lingered within me.  Not many years after this I made up my mind to have a quiet 4th of July all by myself.  I purchased two packs of fire crackers, went to Caleb Yeomans' grocery, next door north of Doolittle's "Elephant" tavern, opposite DeZeng's Eagle store; there I secured a cigar for one cent ! -- Hemiup charged three cts.  I then made tracks for the grove. Arriving there I at once commenced operations by lighting my first cigar.  You know there must be a first.  Well, I then broke open the fire crackers, and I did have a jolly good time for awhile.  But there are pleasures that have an end and so I found it. After a while the crackers would go off two and three at a time.  I would burn first one finger, and then another; then the fence would come up against my head and give me such a rap!  And finally the tree by which I was sitting fell up and gave me an awful rap; I really did not know what to make of it.  What had I done to that tree?  There was something wrong here ! I knew I had not drunk any whiskey cherries, yet verdant as I was I could not but think there was some of the Sutton whiskey cherries in Caleb's cigar.  (I was under 16 then.)  And now, really, to tell you the truth, I was not feeling very well myself, and in that mood I started for home.  The last I remember I was lying by the fence on Milton street in front of the lead factory.  If you wish a description of my complexion consult Mr. W. H.

Thus ended my 4th of July celebration.  Moral -- Don't smoke, don't chew, don't drink whiskey cherries.

Several years later this grove was the scene of a far more pleasant 4th.  Gideon Lee, ex-Mayor of New York, had purchased and moved on to the White Springs farm.  The 4th of July committee took it into their heads to call upon this newcomer for a sub--they did so.  On looking at the sub, the committee were astonished when they read, "Gideon Lee, $100.00."  This was a stunner !  Gideon was at once voted President of the day -- hickory grove the place for a grand blow-out -- Nathan Daskam chosen caterer, and he did provide a grand dinner.  Young America must needs do their best, so Jack Young, George Northop & Co. took their little "peacemaker" early in the day, broke the quiet and slumber of father Gideon. Although it was yet early right royally were they entertained by the President.  It was a big day for Geneva.  I didn't smoke that 4th.

P. S.  This before General Cass was a candidate for President of the U. S.  


From Geneva Gazette 6 June 1890

Local Reminiscences

As related in my first article, the tavern on the corner of Castle and Main street was kept by George Hemiup, who also manufactured chairs.  His sons were Morris W., Norton and Charles L., all still living.  East of this on Castle lived the Lums, the boys were Dave, Stute and Will.  Adjoining them came Peter Thomas -- the boys were named Jack, Pete and Joe; then we came to Wm. Green.  His only son was Henry. Below them came Moses Hall, his only sons were William, John and Henry. Opposite came Samuel Green.  His sons were Samuel and John.  The next lot was Handfield's, where Elm street now runs.  Next west was the two story dwelling, much as it now is, where at different times lived John, Henry and Robert Daskam, brothers of Nathan, who were all bakers and coopers.  Their thatched shop was back in the garden. The two boys, as I remember, were John and William.  Next west was Jacocks, a carpenter, and joining that for a time lived George Bennett. His sons were John, Charles, Henry and George.  On the corner opposite the tavern stood a small wood tenement house, variously occupied, a family by the name of Castle I remember -- afterwards as a cooper shop. Continuing north on Main street, we've come to the Colt's meadow; and directly opposite Joseph Fulton's dwelling (now occupied by Thomas Shanley) stood Colt's barn. Continuing north we come to the Marshall dwelling.  This house stood on the south of Castle creek, the creek passing partly through the garden. Mr. Marshall's sons were George and Daniel, who now reside in Cleveland, O.  The former once occupied the Mayor's chair of that City. These three buildings covered the entire ground from Castle street to what is now is known as Lewis street.

Colt's meadow mentioned above extended from Main to now Genesee street.  This field was sometimes cultivated, but used mostly as a meadow or pasture, and parade or training ground.  Here I first saw the sun glass.  It was harvest time. There were probably a dozen German men, women and children, dressed out in their gorgeous colors of red, yellow and blue.  At their noon just east of the barn, squatted on the ground, they partook of their rustic meal, then lit their huge pipes of tobacco with the sun glass.  This was previous to the day of lucifer matches.  It was just about upon this same spot where the great fight came off between Tom Harris (colored) and an Englishman -- I think a connection of the Ask family.  Seeing a great crowd going towards the meadow, I followed.  The crowd went over the fence; there was to be a big fight; the two men stripped to the waist -- a large ring was formed.  The darkey (sic) turned his back to the fence, thus facing the sun.  Some one said "go at it!"  The two men advanced toward each other.  The Englishman elevated his pair of fives.  After a few moments of this manoevering, Harris backed a few steps, eyed the Englishman with meteoric eyes, made a furious rush for his opponent with head down, and arms flying much after the manner of a windmill.  The Englishman stood as erect as a statue -- his arms at "due gard" and as cool as a cucumber. When Harris got within say five feet of him, The Englishman dropped his arms, closed his thumbs together, slipped them under Harris's chin and held him out at arm's length.  Not a blow was struck.  The Englishman gently closed his thumbs and fingers around Harris's breathing apparatus until the crowd said "lay him down," which he did, and there on the grass lay Mr. Harris, the bucking colored gentleman, about as mum as we now frequently see the canines after some friend (?) of theirs has visited the Apothecary's.  But the appearance of that face in action!  Reader, you have undoubtedly seen the moon in an eclipse.  Well, multiply that by two, and you can imagine the rest. This was my first and last appearance at a prize ring.  Hi. Suydam and Pete Thomas were there.

Continuing our journey north we pass Lewis street.  Just on the side hill is the Robinson house, and near by it is Genl. Dobbin's dwelling.  Moses R. Hand lived next, his sons were Mose and Silas.  Between this and the north or Waterloo road there was a small rough barn sometimes used as a slaughter-house.  Near this, and not far from S. H. Parker's present dwelling was Hemiup's brick yard.  At that date there were five dwellings and two barns on the east side of Main north of Castle street. Between the Carter or Middle road and the Lyons road or Water street, on the north side, were but the two dwellings of Dr. Rose and Thos. D. Burrall.  A little east of the Burrall mansion and near where the R. R. crosses was situated the Burrall foundry.

Returning to Main street; opposite the brick yard and on the west side stood the residence of John T. Clemmons.  His sons were named Anson, William and Charles.  Over Castle creek stood Joseph Fulton's slaughter-house, and opposite of Lewis street near the present residence of John McKay was the Lewis property.  North of this to the North road were the Doremous, Elliot, Clemons and a butcher by the name of Spendlove (no relation to our departed friend Harry.)  At the foot of Main where Mrs. W. W. Wright now lives the General Trainings were sometimes held.  In the field between the creek and the Lewis residence where the German Evangelical Church now stands were frequently held the muster, or June drills.  Next south of the slaughter-house stood a double dwelling.  An English shoemaker by the name of Castle occupied one end of this house.  The John Prue lot next.  Then came Miss Diamon's school; next Fulton's; his sons were James, William and Joe.

John Brazee lived on the corner where now stands the Universalist House of Worship -- he had one son, John.  There were two dwellings between Fulton's and Brazee's.  From this corner going west we first meet the Snyder property; the second from that was the Dr. Merryweather residence.  The Doctor was a noted personage.  Having been brought up a slave, he was master of sufficient suavity to slush the ways of a steamboat when the sixpence was in sight.  He was porter at the Franklin.  We next come to Aaron Young.  His sons were John, Frank and Will -- all still living.  

The house has changed very little, and the same may be said of the Edwin Barnard house that stood next west.  Next came Reuben Bedell -- one son, Ambrose.  The Allen Pump factory came next; there were two Allen boys -- two sons, Henry and William.  Then the Hayes house.  Next east of the Castle creek stood the brick cottage of Giles Parker.  He had seven sons: Ira and John the two oldest, and Henry, the fifth, have passed to the other side.  On the Hill beyond lived Philip C. Ruckle, a retired New York merchant.  His sons were James, Philip and John.

Opposite this place we find the Sam'l Codington family.  His sons were Charles, John, George, Henry, William and Edward, and two daughters -- Catharine and Caroline.  Here was the celebrated dam and saw mill.  West of this were situated the Gregory dwelling and tannery.  Opposite the tannery was Smith's woods and Fisher family, and where Sterling built, and where T. C. Maxwell now lives.  West of these woods and where Wm. Smith's Observatory is situated were cultivated fields. General trainings were sometimes held here.  No dwellings until we come to King Swayles, now the State Farm, east of the Indian burying ground.  To this mound the Indians would often resort, but I never have seen over ten or twelve there at any one time, and never saw them hold any ceremony whatever.


From Geneva Gazette 29 April 1892


There are a few left of Geneva boys born in 1821-22.  Memory is quite vivid with most of them as to men and things in 1832 and onward.

Said John D. Young in talking over old times recently, "you recollect that queer old codger Ayres, who came in from the country on the Castle road.  Usually had his wife with him.  What a rig he drove; a 2-wheeled vehicle with a little hay in it. Instead of a whip he wielded a large whipstock or cane with which he incessantly punched the old "hoss" to keep him on a lazy trot.  In one of my mischievous pranks I found opportunity to unhitch the traces and fasten the driving lines to the hame rings. You ought to have seen the old man's surprise when he punched up the horse and the brute pulled out of the thills, almost hauling him over the dashboard.  I put in an appearance about that time and fairly convinced the old man that he made the mistake in hitching up.  'Mebbe I have -- I'm getting pretty old.'

"And then there was another quaint old fellow -- a regular Johnny Bull in his swallow-tail coat, knee breeches and buckle shoes. That was Billy Swales.  He owned and lived on the farm now constituting the the State Agricultural Station.  He afterwards sold it to Charles Godfrey.

"And then there was Israel Crittenden, who used to ride to and fro between his farm and the village on horseback and at a pretty lively gait for one who carried so much 'ardent' in his skin.  But I never knew him to meet with an accident.

"Jerome Loomis, the Revolutionary patriot, 'driving his old horse "Lark,"' was another familiar figure in his long white queue often seen on the Castle road.  The boys always looked upon the old soldier with admiration.  Three only of his very large family remain.

"Then there were two positive characters in our immediate neighborhood -- Adam Wilson, the English cavalryman who fought under Wellington at Waterloo.  He still retained his huge broadsword, and when he got pretty full, as was too often the case, he was prone to imagine that his wife and children were dastard followers of the hated Napoleon, and he would flourish his weapon too dangerously near their inoffensive heads.  Often they would have to flee to neighbors for protection during his warlike moods.  A boon companion of his was the little sawed-off, round-shouldered Daniel James.  How often I have seen them 'holding up the fence' along by Pete Earle's house.  And when they parted it was invariably with the assurance of the stalwart soldier, 'we're frens for life, Daniel -- we're frens fer life!'

And Pliny Jennings.  Will you ever forget Pliny Jennings?  What an old sardine he was; how he loved to gossip; knew everybody and everybody's pedigree.  And how he loved to tease poor old Mary Carey, another character as quaint as any going to make up our community.  Homely !  It's no name for it.  Wall-eyed, and face so wrinkled you couldn't put a pin point on a smooth place.  She resided till her death on Catharine street -- now dignified by the name West Avenue.

"Charley Campbell -- he was another never-to-be-forgotten character.  What fun we had with old Charley.  And he enjoyed the fun too, and would take any amount of boys' nonsense until they began to pull at his coat-tails -- then look out for stones -- he always carried a few for such emergency in his pockets.  I wish you could put in type so as to be understood the queer sound that came from his throat in emphasizing a retort to our badgerings.  He made a special 'circus' for us at general trainings.

"Poor old 'Granny Mills'.  Do you remember the occasion when her house burned down over her head?  It stood on the spot where Brundage's carriage shop now stands.  It was with difficulty she was restrained from rushing in and perishing with the destruction of her humble dwelling.  What a search was made by us boys for the gold and silver treasure supposed to be buried in the ruins.  The 'finds' however did not make any of us rich.

"Well, this will do for one chapter.  Let us get together again and talk over 'old times.' "  (Agreed.)

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