Lakes Country – Arch Merrill

lakes-countryI scanned Arch Merrill’s book “The Lakes Country” from 1944. In this, his third book, he tours around most of the Finger Lakes here in NY State. He visits Conesus Lake, Hemlock Lake, Canadice Lake, Honeoye Lake, Canandaigua Lake, Seneca Lake and Keuka Lake. He also writes about Canandaigua, Watkins Glen, Geneva and even Sampson Naval Base as this was still the time of WWII when Sampson was very active.

This book wasn’t ever reprinted as far as I can tell. Instead in  1951, the chapters were reordered and chapters on Cayuga Lake, Owasco Lake and Skaneateles Lake were added and the new book was titled “Slim Fingers Beckon.”

I did something different this time. Instead of putting the book on the GenWeb website, I put it on I uploaded it in PDF format and they were able to add other formats like for Kindle, ePub and even a fairly good text version that you can download to whatever device you have. Check out The Lakes Country and find out the history of the Finger Lakes region.

Old News – Editorials

The Erie Canal is opening for the season. It has been expanded and the new name is the Barge Canal but most everyone still referred to as the Erie.


Wednesday, April 21, 1915


ads-1915-04-21The “Raging Erie,” according to the official announcement of Superintendent of Public Works Wotherspoon, will be in open to traffic on May 15. 160 miles of the new Barge Canal will be in operation. This will include 20 miles in Wayne county and a greater portion of the length between Rochester and Tonawanda. Fairport residents are always glad when the “Bog Ditch” is annually filled. It means a chance to fish, a place to motor and canoe, but the canal is never looked upon as a means of transportation for freight or produce that materially affects Fairport one way or another. If the dreams of the promoters of the Barge Canal are realized it may be that in the future the opening the canal, annually, may mean an increase of business for out village.

“Men may come and men may go,” but it looks as if the men who tinker with the laws at Albany have sufficient gray matter to realize that a goodly number of the men who operate the Jitneys and a large portion of the patrons of the quicker transportation facilities afforded by the operation of the Jitneys are voters.

NY State Historical Newspapers Website

The NY State Historical Newspapers is  a website that  contains about 3,700,000 newspaper pages scanned by libraries throughout the state. At one time each region in NY State had their own website but now they all have been combined. Best of all it is absolutely free.

From the main page you can click on a county to see what newspaper and dates are available. This is the website that I use each week to select the “Old News” postings. The reason I use this website is that you can search by a date range. Then I can save a page either as a PDF or PNG picture file that I can save to my computer and edit as I do with the old ads.

The video, below, explains how to do a search  on the website.

Kodak History Notes – Velox Paper

velox-paperVelox photographic paper was the first to require a chemical solution to develop the prints. It was invented by Leo Baekeland in 1893. He is better known for his invention in 1907 of Bakelite plastic. In 1899 Baekeland and his business partners sold their company that produced the paper to Eastman Kodak for $750,000. Velox paper was only used to make contact prints; that is; that the negative would be placed on the paper and exposed to light. Then chemicals would be used to produce the print which was of blue-black color. Velox paper was produced until about 1963. To see directions for making Velox prints see the Velox Book (1938) on

Notice in the ad for Velox paper that Kodak is asking people to check the back for the name. Kodak would later use similar advertising to promote Kodak papers in the 1980s and 1990s.

The name, Velox, still exists in Rochester. Velox Street is a one block long street that runs east and west, north of Eastman Avenue (near Kodak Park).

WDYTYA – Bill Paxton

Bil Paxton (courtesy of TLC)

Bil Paxton (courtesy of TLC)

Actor Bill Paxton will be searching his paternal line on the next episode of Who Do Think You Are? (WDYTYA). He begins by solving a long-standing mystery by determining that he is related to Texas hero Sam Houston. What is amazing is that Bill is portraying him in a mini-series (Texas Rising) starting out late next month.

Bill finds that his 4x great grandfather, Benjamin Sharp, served as a spy during the Revolutionary War. Bill then heads off to a historic battle site in South Carolina. He also finds that Benjamin Sharp became a civil servant after the War. He then moved to Missouri about 1814. Bill ends up visiting Ben’s grave in Warren Co., MO.

This episode of WDYTYA airs at 10 p.m. (eastern & western times) on the TLC channel April 19th.


Old News – Brockport Bridge

A long article about the lift bridge over the Erie Canal being built on Main Street in Brockport. Although the bridge has had some re-builds over the years, it basically looks the same as it was 100 years ago when it was finished.


Thursday, April 15, 1915



Will Cost About $90,000, To Be Ready on Opening of Navigation.

Lift Bridge; April 14, 2015

Lift Bridge; April 14, 2015

Twenty-five years ago this spring, contractors installing the machinery to furnish hydraulic power for the Main street life bridge, were encountering the same difficulties that Contractors, W. S, Cooper & Co., have recently overcome in complementing the machinery pits of our new bridge. These pits have been put down 32 feet, until solid rock was struck, necessitating working through quick sand, gravel and much water. Few realize what this means, as the dimensions of the pit, 18×45 feet do not permit employing a large force of men to combat the difficulties as they are encountered and work at best is a slow preceding. Of the time and expense, the underground work has greatly exceeded that above ground.

However, we are now realizing the tangible results of their tedious work and new lift bridge will be ready for operation by the time traffic is open, on the canal. Where the old lift bridge was but eighty feet long the new one is one hundred thirty feet. It measures twenty-seven feet between the main trusses and has a clear roadway of over twenty-five feet with six foot sidewalks on each side. It has a lift of fifteen feet three inches an d is operated by two 12 H. P, motors either of which is sufficient to operate the bridge. Power is to be furnished by the Sweet Electric Co. So nicely balanced is the mechanism that the bridge can even be raised by hand if necessary. All the machinery weighing about 31 tons is underground in the pits and each pit contains a counterweight weighing over 100 tons which affects the balance the whole bridge weighing over 200 tons. Where the old bridge, hydraulically operated, was suspended from above with the machinery exposed, all this is done away with now and the new bridge looks like a fixed bridge. Westinghouse electrical equipment is to be used.

The Main street approach has been raised about two feet which will mean a considerable improvement in the appearance of the street. The north approach has the same grade as the old one but is much longer. The operator’s cabin will be of concrete and will be extremely commodious. It will be heated by electricity and equipped with a semaphore and light similar to those used by railroads, for warning approaching boats as to the position of the bridge. Street traffic will be warned at night by red lantern signals and a date constructed of a series of bars, will absolutely block off traffic when the bridge is up.

Since the work commenced in June 1914, about 10,000 cu. yds. of excavation has been done and about 60 tons of steel reinforcement and 100 bbls. of Lehigh Portland cement has been used in the 3000 cu. yds. of concrete placed. The steel bars used in the concrete were manufactured by the Carnegie Steel Co.

Those not informed on the subject of bridges often wonder that the heavy pieces of steel used in the construction are not found to have flaws and thereby cause accidents. The greatest of caution is taken however, at the mills where the steel is fabricated and whenever a “Heat” is run a test is immediately made both for chemical composition and physical strength. These tests are made very quickly and the entire heat is rejected if it is not up to the specifications. Then the shapes and plates are rolled and machine punched for rivet and bolt holes and edge milled where required. Each of those operations is rigidly inspected. The trusses of our bridge are the only part of the bridge which are assemble and fitted together at the shop and then shipped together with other pieces. These parts were manufactured by the Rochester Interstate Co. The riveting and fitting is inspected here in the course of construction.

Naturally the erection of the bridge has brought numerous outside workers to our village, the average force now being sixty. Incoming freights have also been greatly increased, twenty-five car loads of cement alone having been received here. Gravel from the Niagara River was shipped here for the concrete work. Altogether it is estimated that the bridge will have st about $90,000 upon its entire completion about July 1st although it will be ready for use when navigation opens as has already been stated. Because of so much adverse criticism the contractors have changed their original intention of painting the bridge red, it will be black.

The W. S. Cooper Co. of Cleveland are also erecting bridges in Middleport, Medina and Lockport.

Talk on George Eastman

Kathleen A. Connor

Kathleen A. Connor

This Tuesday night there is a talk at a meeting of the Greece Historical Society titled “Philanthropy With a Purpose – a Look at What George Eastman Supported” by Kathy Connor. This will deal with George Eastman’s philosophy of giving and how it changed and evolved over his lifetime.  It will highlight the way he was influenced by his mother in the early  years from the abolitionist movement to dental care.  It will also address his efforts to make Rochester one of the best cities in which to live and raise a family and discuss his final act of philanthropy, when he changed his will and left most of his estate to the University of Rochester.

Kathleen A. Connor is presently the Curator of the George Eastman House and George Eastman Legacy Collection. She is responsible for the care and maintenance of George Eastman’s mansion and all aspects of collection care and interpretation for the George Eastman Legacy collection

This talk will be given at 7 p.m. on Tuesday (April 14th) at the Greece Library at 2 Vince Tofany Blvd. in Greece. The public are welcome, Reservations are not necessary, Greece Historical Society members are FREE.  A $2.00 donation is appreciated  from others

Top Songs of 1965; #8

freddie-and-the-dreamersThe next song to hit the top of the record charts in 1965 was “I’m Telling You Now” by Freddie and the Dreamers. The song was written by Freddie (yes, that Freddie) Garrity and Mitch Murray. Although the group had other songs that were popular, this was the only song that went to #1 in the US. The group’s act was based around the comic antics of the 5-foot-3-inch-tall Freddie Garrity, who would bounce around the stage with arms and legs flying. A later song, “Do the Freddie” told how to do the dance (or just see the video below). You would simply stand in place; then, in rhythm with the music first extend the left leg and left arm; then the right leg and right arm. Repeat. “Do the Freddie” only made it up the charts to the #18 position in June 1965.

The group changed many members over the years but continued with Freddie as the front man until December 2000. Freddie died in 2006.

I’m Telling You Now” was the number one song on both the Billboard Hot 100 and Cash Box record charts for the weeks of April 4 – 17.

Download songs by Freddie and the Dreamers (for under $1 ea.) from

WDYTYA – America Ferrera

64443_001.tifOn the next episode of  “Who Do You Think You Are?” (WDYTYA) America Ferrera sets out to search for a connection to her father, who left his family when she was just seven years old. America’s family came from Honduras in the mid 1970s and her father went back to Honduras. So the first time, WDYTYA travels to Honduras to help America explore her family. She finds out that her great grandfather left a job as a tax collector to join a military campaign to help the President’s party fend off a plot to overthrow them. The great grandfather became a General but eventually had to leave Honduras as the government changed.

This should be an interesting genealogical search as it will tell what kind of records are available in Honduras.

You will probably remember America for her title role in the TV series “Ugly Betty” which ran from 2006 to 2010. She won a Golden Globe Award,  a Screen Actors Guild Award and an Emmy Award for her portrayal as Betty Suarez. She has been a few movies but you may not know that she had been the voice on Astrid in two “How to Train Your Dragon” movies.

This episode of WDYTYA airs Sunday (Apr. 12) at 10 p.m. (eastern & western times) on the TLC channel.

Old News – Ladies

A couple of articles relating to women’s rights and opinions on the War in Europe.


Fairport, NY
Thursday, April 8, 1915


Victory in New York Encourages Its Advocates.

Secretary of State Hugo of New York, signing woman suffrage bill.

Secretary of State Hugo of New York, signing woman suffrage bill.

Throughout the Union wherever women have not the right to the vote the present year is regarded as one of the most important in the history of the woman suffrage movement. In New york, the most populous state, the male voters will register next fall their opinions on the question, according to the terms of a bill passed by the state legislature. The passage of the bill is considered a victory by the suffragists. Three other states will vote on the question next fall. They are Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and New jersey. In each case the enactment of a constitutional commandment granting the suffrage is involved. The voting will take place at the regular fall election.

In Arkansas the necessary stages for the submission of a suffrage amendment to the voters have been passed through. According to the constitution only three amendments to the constitution can be submitted at one time, and between the action of the senate and house a petition for a third amendment was filed with the secretary of state. This makes it necessary for the suffrage amendment to wait until 1916, in Tennessee the amendment must pass one more legislature before it goes to the people.


Women Will Not Use Anything That Has War Glamour.

A fight against the military note in spring fashions for women is planned by the Cleveland Circle of the Women’s Peace Party. Members of the party decline to lend their approval of the European conflict by wearing near military trappings.

“We shall ignore this fashion flurry by wearing our old clothes or waiting until the manufactures give us what we want,” said Mrs. Milton R. Schatz, official mouthpiece of the Cleveland circle.

Mrs. Frank M. Kimball, a member of the advisory council, believes that the acceptance of military modes is due to the glamour of war as reflected in the striking applications of buttons and braid.