Old News – Rochester Statistics

This issue of The Catholic Journal was 16 pages instead of the usual 8. I’m not sure why they had this special issue. It did have some extra advertising and also had some scenes of Rochester which were terrible looking in the online versions. There was this column that gave statistics of Rochester and the area  at that time.

It is interesting to note that the current population of Rochester is just over 210,000.


Friday, Aug. 25, 1916

Facts About Greater Rochester in 1916


  • Population 260,000, including Charlotte annexed. 23 Wards.
  • Live Chamber of Commerce, 2,100 members.
  • Pure water by gravity from City-owned lakes 30 miles distant.
  • Lake Ontario 7 miles from City center.
  • Genesee River drops 267 feet in city, developing 50,000 horsepower.
  • Capital investment, $96,000,000.
  • Total employees, over 75,000.
  • Salaries and wages paid annually, $30,000,000.
  • Assessed valuation (1915), $226,200,260.
  • Valuation in building permit issue (1915), $9,108,333.
  • Total enrollment in public and parochial schools (1915), 58,714
  • Tax levy in 1915, %,457,946.16.
  • Tax rate, $19.73.
  • Theaters, 6.
  • Fire companies, 34; firemen, 360; policeman, 371.
  • New State Armory.
  • Hotels, 57.
  • Hospitals, 9.
  • Libraries, 6.
  • Churches, 133.
  • Large Convention and Exposition Hall.
  • Value of woodworking output over $6,000,000 annually.
  • Large and spend idly equipped public market.
  • Largest preserving establishment in the world.
  • Seven steam railroads and seven trolley roads enter the city.
  • Erie Canal transportation facilities.
  • Over 149 miles of trolley road inside city.
  • Annual output of beer and ale, 250,000 barrels.
  • 2 Car ferries making round trips daily the entire year between the port of Rochester and Cobourg, Canada.
  • Manufacturing establishments over 1,400.
  • Over 325 distinct commodities manufactured.
  • Rochester is the world’s headquarters for photographic goods and supplies.
  • Rochester is one of the largest shoe centers of the United States.
  • Forty-six boot and shoe manufactories.
  • Total output, $17,000,000.
  • Total output of leather and leather goods, $25,000,000.
  • Total output of high-grade men’s clothing, $23,000,000.
  • Increase of $775,000 per year during the last ten years.
  • Largest manufacturers of filing devices and office systems.
  • Largest custom fur tanning establishment in the United States.
  • Largest thermometer plant in the world.
  • largest optical works in the world.
  • Sixty percent of the carbon paper and typewriter ribbon made in United States is made in Rochester.
  • Rochester produces more high class ivory buttons than any other city in the Uited States.
  • Rochester and its immediate vicinity are the headquarters of the nursery business in the United States.
  • Total area, 16,000 acres; five large and twenty-five small parks containing 1,603 acres; lake park area, 502 acres.
  • Exposition Park (now Edgerton Park), area 42 acres; buildings 8, including auditorium, exposition building, zoo, aquarium, shop school, band stand, etc.
  • Estimated value of property, $600,000.
  • Bank deposits in 15 banks (1915), $185,000,000.

More Rochester School Yearbooks

1932_January.pdfThe Rochester Public Library added more yearbooks to their online collection. These new yearbooks are mostly from the 1930s. It appears that most of the High Schools in Rochester at that time had two graduating classes per year; January and June. Some years there are two separate yearbooks and other years the two classes are in one yearbook.

Added to the existing collection for East High School were; 1931, Jan. 1932, Jan. 1933, 1936, 1937, 1938, 1940.

New to their collection are yearbooks for Benjamin Franklin H. S. for Jan. 1933, June 1933, Jan. 1934, June 1934, Jan. 1939, June 1939 and 1940. Then for Jefferson H. S. they have one for 1924 when in was a Jr. High and 1935 and 1936 when it became a Senior High.

Madison started out as a Junior-Senior High School. They have a publication called “Madigraph” that was a literary magazine from Jan. 1929 – April 1933. Then in the June 1933 book it also had pictures of the seniors. Starting with the 1934 yearbook, the name changed to “Madisonian” and it became a full fledged yearbook. Besides 1934, RPL has 1936 – 1940.

All these new yearbooks and earlier yearbooks are linked to on the School Heritage Collection web page.

If you have any yearbooks that RPL is missing they would appreciate donations.

Top Songs of 1966 – #22

Lovin_Spoonful_1965The next song on the top of the record charts in 1966 was “Summer in the City” by The Lovin’ Spoonful. In 1965 the group released “Do You believe in Magic” which made it to the number 9 spot on the charts and also “You Didn’t Have to Be So Nice” which made it up to #10. Earlier in 1966 they had a hit with “Daydream” which was their first number one hit song. After that the group would slowly fade away until they broke up in 1969. In the early 1990s the group got back together again but without front man John Sebastian. Both the group and Sebastian still tour. Check The Lovin’ Spoonful website and John Sebastian’s website for each of their tour dates.

“Summer in the City” was written by John Sebastian, Mark Sebastian (John’s brother) and Steve Boone (bassist). t was the number one song on the Cash Box record chart for two weeks (Aug. 7 – 20). On the Billboard Hot 100 chart it was number one for three weeks (Aug. 7 – 27).

Guide: Surrogate Court Records

courthouses-seventh-monroeI uploaded a chapter to the Genealogical Guide on Surrogate Court Records. The local office has about 75% of the files on their computer. You can take a USB flash drive and download the entire contents of a file. One estate file for a possible ancestor of mine is 185 pages.

I also tried to explain how to find some of the records online at FamilySearch. They filmed record volumes not entire estate files. That makes it complicated to find a person’s records. It is a three step process looking in an alphabetical index, a secondary index and then finally record volumes.One downside is that wills in the Will Books are transcriptions while if you can go to the Surrogate Court office what you download off their computer is an original will with a person’s signature.

Strand Theater – 100 years

ad-1916-08-17The Strand Theater in Brockport opened Aug. 19th 1916. The building that houses the theater was built in 1907 as stores. Then in 1908 the Lyric Theater opened on the first floor. It was in 1916 that the Strand replaced the Lyric as it appears that the Lyric merged with another theater (The Globe) in Brockport. It has had the same name since then. In 1946 the theater was completely re-furbished inside and out with an art moderne design by architect Michael J. DeAngelis. In recent years the theater was split into 3 screens.

A larger ad in the Brockport Republic of Aug. 17, 1916 says that:

The Strand Theater will open on Saturday evening August 19th, 7:30 P. M., with a week of Paramount Pictures. We feel that in giving the people of Brockport and vicinity the best in Motion pictures that the Strand will become a popular and permanent place of amusement.
There will be a new feature at the Strand every night. Nothing but the best, and most refined attractions will be booked. There will be Matinee performances for ladies and children, which will include the same beautiful attractions as in the evening. The famous Bray Cartoons. Pictographs, Burton Holmes Travel pictures, Pathe Weekly (two absolutely new weekly’s a week showing the news of the world in pictures from 5 to 10 days after the happenings) and many other clever features to delight the young and old. Our reel of fashions “A day with Betty Young” will be of special attraction to ladies.

Mary Pickford was known as “America’s Sweetheart.” Her co-star in “Cinderella” was Owen Moore who she was married to at that time. In 1919, Mary, along with D. W. Griffith, Charlie Chaplin, and Douglas Fairbanks formed United Artists pictures. She would marry Douglas Fairbanks in 1920.

Programs for the next week were:

  • Monday – Marguerite Clark in “The Pretty Sister of Jose.” Also Paramount Pictographs.
  • Tuesday – Sessue Hayakawa in “The Typhoon.” Also Pathe Weekly.
  • Wednesday – Edgar Selwyn in “The Arab.” Also Bray Cartoons.
  • Thursday – John mason in “Jim the Penman.” Also Burton Holmes Travel Pictures.
  • Friday – Marguerite Clark in “The Pretty Sister of Jose.”
Strand Theater in 2015.

Strand Theater in 2015.

Oscar V. Babcock

babcock-oscar-1The postcard, above.,started me on a search to see if I could find out who the performer was. I used the description “Death Trap Loop” to search on online newspaper websites. That quickly lead to the name of Oscar V. Babcock. Further investigation in newspapers told me that he performed his bicycle act at Ontario Beach Park for a week beginning July 15th 1907. The first part of his act was to climb the 60 foot tower and ride his nickel-plated bicycle down the ramp and around the loop. The second part of his act was to come down the ramp and jump 40 feet across to a platform. That second part at times was called “flying the flume” or “jump the gap.”

babcock-oscar-2Oscar started out as a bicycle racer. A newspaper reference has him participating in a 6 day race in New York City in 1898. The next year he was racing in Washington, DC. Oscar started his bicycle loop act in 1904. He only got into trouble once. In 1906 he was at Madison Square Garden and the loop moved. He ended up crashing on the floor but suffered only minor injuries. In 1910 there is a newspaper notice that Oscar was going to fly a biplane at Long Island. Sometime about 1917 Oscar used his same set-up and traversed the loop with an Indian motorcycle. He came back to Ontario Beach Park on July 4th 1917. Did he run the loop with with both his bicycle and a motorcycle? I couldn’t find any evidence that he had the motorcycle for that visit. In 1921 he also took his act to Havana, Cuba and in 1922 he went to Honolulu, Hawaii to open a new amusement park. Oscar did the bicycle loop all over the US  and parts of Canada until at least 1935.

Oscar in Minnesota in 1935.

Oscar in Minnesota in 1935.

There was a full page advertisement in the March 10, 1910 issue of Billboard magazine offering his act to parks and fairs around the US. In that ad he says that “(I) costume my act elaborately.” In fact, he dressed in a silver colored suit to match his bicycle. Also in the ad, he says “I carry six tons of apparatus. This is the biggest, most sensational and flashiest act in the world.” The picture at the bottom of this blog post is of Oscar about 1910.

Billboard - 1910

Oscar Varley Babcock was born on July 30, 1875 in New York City to Oscar and Harriet (Crofton) Babcock. Oscar married Mabelle Spindler (born May 13, 1880) on Feb. 26, 1907 in Boston, Mass. Mabelle died Jan. 25, 1919 in Winthrop, Mass. as one of the victims of the influence epidemic of that time. Oscar married a second time on June 7, 1924 in Warren County, Illinois to Ella Emergene Johnson. Oscar never had any children. Emergene died in 1953 and Oscar died in 1957 and is buried in Monmouth Cemetery, Monmouth, Illinois.

Oscar about 1910.

Oscar about 1910.

Walking to School

kidswalkingcartoonIn parts of the US some students have already returned for another school year. In the old days almost all kids walked to school. There is an old joke about an old man who says something like; “When I was a kid, I had to walk 10 miles to school and it was uphill both ways.” That brings up the question as to how far kids in the early 1900s have to walk to school.

In rural areas there would be one or two rooms schools in those settled areas that we sometimes call hamlets. It was possible that a few kids rode a horse to school or the parents could have taken them to school in the family wagon but most kids would have walked. I think that most kids would not walk more than 2 miles to school. A few kids might walk as far as 5 miles if their family farm was really rural. I know where my mother lived and went to school in the 1920s and it was only a mile.

The cities were more complicated especially as the city’s population grew. Grammar schools were erected so that the students didn’t have to walk very far. I doubt very many students had to walk over 2 miles. High school students had to go farther. Maybe as much as five miles. Growth of trolley systems, first horse cars and later electric trolleys, made longer distances easier to travel.

I thought that I had walked a long distance to my elementary school. Then I searched on Google maps and I found that it was only a half a mile. We lived on a busy street that didn’t have any sidewalks so I took an odd route to school. I would go through our back lot which was all weeds. Then cross a railroad and not at a official crossing. It wasn’t a big problem because there were only 2 trains a day. Next to the railroad tracks was the empty remains of the Chemung Canal which I had to go down into and back up the other side. Then through someone else’s back lot to a street where I met friends that I could walk with to the school.

From the 1940s to 1960s there was a movement to centralize school districts. That did away with most of the small schoolhouses. The meant that the schools ended up having to bus their students many miles. I suspect that there are students that now spend more time on the bus than their grandparents spent walking to school.