Old News – Death of Westinghouse

More news from the past.


Wednesday, March 18, 1914


Invented His Famous Air Brake When a Youth.


Engineer, Dead at Sixty-seven, Was One of the Most Remarkable of Nation’s Great Men—Introduced and Developed Alternating Current System For Electric Light and Power.

westinghouse-georgeThe late George Westinghouse was more than an American, says the New York Times editorially. He belonged to the world and had been a conspicuous figure in it for nearly fifty years. He died comparatively young, only four months over sixty-seven, but he was still a youth with which his career began. The air brake; with which his name will always be associated, was in successful use when he was only twenty-two. It is said of that invention that it has saved more lives than centuries of warfare have destroyed. It has made possible the development of railroad traffic as it is known today—the trains of great length, high speed, large capacity and increasing frequency. For this invention Mr. Westinghouse received great reward and worldwide recognition.

Turned to Electricity.

He made many other contributions to individual progress. If any of these deserve mention more than another it is probably his work to introducing and developing the alternating current system for electric light and power. In the early days of the electrical industry it was soon found that the direct or continuous current, could not be transmitted economically and efficiently beyond a “short  distance” from the generating stations.

Mr. Westinghouse always alert for new ideas and new methods, found that in Europe apparatus had been devised for utilizing the alternating current. By these devices current generated at high pressures could be transmitted over long distances and lowered to pressure at any desired point. He bough the patents, undertook to improve and develop them and labored, against much opposition, until the alternating system became universal.

His career, continues the writer, was a happy illustration of what Tyndall called “the scientific use of the imagination.” He had a wonderful faculty for transforming visions into acts. He became eminent as an engineer, as an inventor and an manufacturer, Fifty thousand employees and $200,000,000 of capital were needed in the many organizations which he founded in America and Europe.

His genius was never shown in brighter light than when he took up some task which other men described as impossible. He must have heard frequently that the air spring for motor vehicles was impossible. The world told him that the geared turbine for driving ships’ propellers and especially his application of it could never succeed. But he made it succeed, and just before his fatal illness he learned that two new battleships are to be fitted with these inventions.

Arthur Warren, close friend of the inventor, says:

“He thought in flashes, and his action seemed almost as quick as his thought. He could and did outwork many men. Every day but Sunday was a working day.”

Top Songs of 1964; #4

beatles-she-loves-youAfter a month and half a new song was to knock the Beatles, “I Want to Hold Your Hand” off the top of the music charts. But it was another Beatles song; “She Loves You.” It had been released on 16 September 1963 in the US but didn’t have any initial success until Beatlemania took hold. It helped make the song more popular by having the Beatles play it on the first two of their three appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show in Feb. 1964.

She Loves You” would only stay on the top of both the Cash Box and Billboard Hot 100 charts for only two weeks (March 15 – 28) to be knocked off by another Beatles song.

The Beatles have an Official website that also includes a link to download songs from iTunes. (Beatles songs can not be downloaded from Amazon.)

1902 Atlas of Livingston Co., NY

1902-livingston-co-atlasThe Rochester Public Library recently added the New Century Atlas of Livingston Co., NY to their collection of digitized books. This 1902 atlas is another one of those that they have been scanning in PDF format. This is another one of those atlases that shows houses with names of owners. It also has schoolhouses, churches and cemeteries. This is the only one I have seen that shows the names of larger farms. This is a large file (38mb) so it may take a little time to view or download.

I was only able to find one relative, George Stockweather, my great granduncle. If you have any family that lived in Livingston County around that time, see if you can find them on this great atlas.

Scrapbooks of Biographies of Men

Cover of Vol. 6

Cover of Vol. 6

The Rochester Public Library has scanned and uploaded a set of 20 scrapbooks with newspaper clippings. This set contains biographies of men that are mostly in the form of obits. The time period of these scrapbooks are from about 1924 to 1942. It appears that these scrapbooks were a project that never was completed as most of the clippings are of men with surnames A – G.  This is the index of these scrapbooks. It has links within the index that you can click on and it will open the scrapbook. The scrapbooks are in PDF format so you will need the free Adobe PDF reader to view both the index and scrapbooks.

Rochester Public Library has scanned many other scrapbooks over the last few years. In order to see what they currently have available online, visit this web page.


25th Anniversary of the Web

Me and Cyndi Howells March 2013

Me and Cyndi Howells
March 2013

On March 12, 1989 Tim Berners-Lee who was then working at CERN in Europe wrote a proposal to use linking on the internet using hypertext. That was the official start of what would become the billions of web pages on the internet.

The web anniversary got me thinking of what genealogy website had been around the longest. After much digging, I think that the answer probably is Olive Tree Genealogy  by Lorine McGinnis Schulze. Her website has been around since February 1996. Lorine has many unique sources. She is from Canada so she has many Canadian resources. She also has many ship passenger lists from all over the world. For New York State she has records of immigrants to New Netherland (1628-1674.) and other early groups that came to the US including Palantines, Huguenots and Walloons. Her website takes a little work to find all the what the genealogy pages that you want but it could be worth your search.

A close second for oldest genealogy website is Cyndi’s List. Cyndi’s documentation and my research both indicate that she first published her list on March 4, 1996. At that time she only had 1,025 links. I found that on April 5, 1997 she had 17,200 links. As of today she has 329,765 genealogy links to all over the world.

Dick Eastman got on CompuServe in the mid 1980s. CompuServe was a limited network in that you had to subscribe and paid for use by the minute. I got on CompuServe about 1990 and Dick was already a manager of a genealogy forum. Dick started his famous email newsletter in January 1996. That would be considered part of the internet but the Web. Dick finally started posting his newsletter on the Web in about June 2004.

It is probably import to note that both Olive Tree and Cyndi’s List have moved around the internet over time. Neither started as their own domain. Those came years after they got started. I used “Wayback Machine”  on the Internet Archive for researching old websites. If you know of a genealogy website older than Olive Tree please post a comment.

Talk on Civil War

Heroes in the Attic_400In a secret room of an abandoned house, Dennis P. Bielewicz uncovered documents which led him to research and retell the story of the complete military service of H. Seymour Hall and Benjamin Coffin.  Dennis will present his background story leading up to the publication of his book Heroes in the Attic – the Untold Story of Two Civil War Soldiers. It is the true saga of two Livingston County college students who abandoned their classes and organized their student colleagues to leave college before graduation to train as volunteer soldiers at the beginning of the Civil War. Dennis will then detail their training, service in over twenty battles, their discharge from the military and the course that their adult lives took.

Dennis Bielewicz is a military veteran and retired school librarian, lives in Ontario, NY. Books will be available for purchase ($29.95 plus tax) and signing after the presentation.

The presentation is Tuesday, March 11th at 7 p. m. in the Greece Town Hall (One Vince Tofany Blvd.). Reservations are not necessary. Greece Historical Society members free. A $2.00 donation is appreciated from others.

Early Rochester Family Records; #4

Early-Rochester-family-recordsI added the fourth page of records from the old newspaper column “Early Rochester Family Records” that were published between 1910 and 1912. The records are on Page 44 of Biographies. Highlights of families on this page are:

  • Latta family of Charlotte, including a long autobiographical sketch by George C, Latta
  • Children & grand-children of Dr. Anson Colman
  • Isaac Hills of Rochester
  • Descent of Pocahontas (not sure why she was included)
  • Williams family of Henrietta
  • Jeremiah Olmstead, first permanent resident of Rochester
  • Perrin family of Perinton
  • Gates family of Gates and Henrietta
  • Eli Granger of Rochester
  • Bible records of the Asabel Beach family
  • Children of William Hincher of Charlotte
  • Northrup family of Perinton
  • Garnsey family of Pittsford
  • Jacob Howe of Rochester
  • Orlando Hastings family of Rochester
  • General Timothy Burr family  of Rochester
  • Isaac Stone family of Rochester
  • Garbutt family of Wheatland
  • Henry S. Potter family of Pittsford and Rochester

Plus lots of short other family records.

I have transcribed genealogies from 13 months of this newspaper column and have another 9 months worth to be transcribed. Then the newspaper column abruptly disappeared from the newspaper.

Happy Genealogy Day

balloons3Today  (March 8th) is Genealogy Day. If you didn’t know it was, neither did I until about an hour ago. Genealogy Day is part of “Celebrate Your Name Week” which was created by Jerry Hill in 1997.

A quick search has found that some libraries and genealogy societies around the US are celebrating with special events. No events are scheduled locally so you can celebrate by doing a search on your favorite website.


Ben Lason dies at Andersonville Prison; 150 yrs. ago

My ancestors Silas P. and Nancy Ann (Gibson) Lason (pronounced Lay-son) had 5 sons and 2 daughters. The three eldest sons all volunteered to served in the Civil War. The third eldest, James, served in Co. L,  5th US Cavalry (along with George Custer). James died 27 May 1862 at the Battle of Hanover Courthouse, Virginia.

Benj. F. Lason tombstone

Benj. F. Lason tombstone

The second eldest son, Benjamin Franklin Lason, was born about 1843 in Pennsylvania where the family had lived for only a couple of years. Ben was in Co. F, 6th NY Cavalry. He was captured near Thoroughfare Gap, VA on 22 Oct. 1863. He was sent to Andersonville prison in Georgia. That was an infamous prison that was known for its unhealthful conditions. Of the 45,000 prisoners that were at Andersonville prison during the war nearly 13,000 died. Food was in very short supply and the prison ended up with many more men than the prison could hold. Most of the prisoners died from scurvy, diarrhea, and dysentery. Ben managed to live until 6 March 1864 when he died of a fever. He was buried at the cemetery outside the prison.

Ben’s eldest brother, George Washington Lason also served in the Civil War. He was in Co. B, 76th NY Volunteer Infantry. George was wounded in his left arm at Gettysburg (July 1863) He was captured at the Battle of the Wilderness in May 1864. As fate would have it, he was also sent to Andersonville prison. He didn’t find out until after the war that his brother had died there a few months before he got there. Andersonville prison was liberated in May 1865. George had to be carried out on a stretcher and stayed at a hospital for a month or so before returning home. George was the only one of the three Lason brothers to survive the war.

Old News – March Snowstorm 1914

More news from the past.


Thurs. March 5, 1914


Brockport streets were never in more impassable condition than on Monday morning after the heavy storm on Sunday night had piled them high with drifts in some places so high that entrance to buildings was impossible until three or four feet of snow had been shoveled away.

The east side of Main street fared better than the west but the drift near the corner of Clinton and Main streets presented the aspect of a snow fort built by small boys, and stood nearly eight feet high. There were few placed along the street where the snow was less than three feet deep.

Eighteen inches of snow were registered between Sunday night and Monday morning. The strong north-west wind made the storm seem even worse than it was. Brockport fared even better than many towns father east. Penn Yan was milkless, Auburn was isolated until noon, Geneva was trainless and Clifton Springs cut off. All the milkmen around Brockport experienced great difficulty in getting into town but managed to make it, remembering the many hungry babies on their routes. A peculiar sight was witnessed yesterday at the Normal school as a result of the snow. The snow on the roof of the Gymnasium very slowly began to slide until a snow and ice formation, about 12 inches thick, 25 feet long and 7 feet wide was hanging about seven feet over the side of the building. The bank represented probably from four to six tons of snow and fell with a crash about 11 o’clock. Trolley service although somewhat impaired was fairly good, thanks to constant use of snow plows. N. Y. C. trains arrived nearly on time from the west but service from the east was entirely broken up.

Several teams and a force of men have been busy since Monday carrying away the immense snow banks on Main street.