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.

Top Songs of 1966 – #21

Lil_redThe next song that ended up on the top of the record charts in 1966 was “Lil’ Red Riding Hood” by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs. Sam, whose real name is Domingo Samudio, got his start singing in a school radio broadcast when in second grade. He formed the Pharaohs in 1961. The group didn’t have a hit record so they disbanded in 1962. Then in 1963, Sam got some new members and named the group Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs. In 1965 “Wooly Bully” was the band’s first hit. It reached #2 on the record charts.

“Lil’ Red Riding Hood” was the number one song on the Cash Box record chart for the week of July 31 – Aug. 6, 1966. On the Billboard Hot 100 chart it only reached #2.

After 1966 the group had a string of novelty songs that never went very far up the charts.

Old News – Robbery

Was there a professional criminal traveling around western Monroe County in 1916? This robbery makes it seems as though there was.

Also look at the prices of homes in Brockport. I think that for those days the prices were rather high. The house for rent seems a better deal at $2.50 per week.


Thursday, Aug. 10, 1916


Thief Familiar With Vault, Which Was Loose From Safe


No trace as yet has been found of the sneak thief that visited the Brennan & Adams Hardware store on Tuesday noon. Shortly after the employees of the store had left for the noon hour. Mr. Brennan who was working on the books, counted the money and looked over the cash to see if it would be necessary to make a deposit that day, and then returned the box to the safe. This part of the safe was a steel vault about ten inches long which locked with a combination and fitted in to the center of the safe. Ordinarily this box cannot be removed from the safe but at the time of the fire, it had been taken from the safe and removed to safety.

A short time after counting the money, a customer entered the store and Mr. Brennan went with him by elevator to the second floor of the building where they selected a rope and returned to the ground floor. the whole transaction occupied only about three minutes and it must have been during that time that the robbery occurred. From that time on until one o’clock when Mr, Brennan missed the vault, he was in close proximity of the safe which is located about midway between the front entrance and the door. Doors leading from the workroom to the alley stood wide open and it is possible that the thief entered by the rear of the store, or perhaps came in by the back door. But how anyone could have carried out such a bulksome parcel without detection is a puzzle to Mr. Brennan.

The box contained an accommodation of papers covering the past twenty five or thirty years. There were also many notes and checks which have. no value to anyone but the firm of Brennan & Adams and although they have record of them, they will be put to the inconvenience of securing duplicates. However, if the person or persons who took the box would but return it containing the papers, by express, freight r messenger or would even leave it where it might be found, they would be welcome to the money, according to Mr. Brennan’s statement.

The store of Upton & Brown in Spencerport had a similar experience on Monday when a thief broke into the store while Mr. Upton was out at luncheon. They secured about $115, in this case, however. A chisel was used to pry open a secret compartment where the cash was kept. None of he checks were taken. The money drawer was not disturbed as this would have brought the thief in front of the window.

Both robberies would seem to be either the work of professionals or serious well acquainted with the stores. In the case of the Brennan & Adams deal, it would seem peculiar that anyone not acquainted with the store should have discovered that the vault was loose in the foundation and could have been extracted without opening the door.

Guide: Some Chapters Written

Monroe-CountyI uploaded 9 chapters to the revised Genealogical Guide to Monroe County. A couple of the chapters ended up being major re-writes. A lot of genealogy sources have been put on the web in the last ten years since I wrote the last last paper edition.

This online edition has the chapters as PDF files that you can view online or if you want you can save them to your computer. Then those chapters have online links to websites and web pages discussed in the chapter.

I have read each chapter over at least three times but I know that even then there might be some spelling mistakes. If you find any please email me. Also email me if any of the links don’t work. Sometimes links are “dynamic” and change every time a new person views a web page.

Old News – Buffalo Bill

Buffalo Bill Cody has a unique connection to Rochester. He had residence here for about three years while he was touring in his first stage show. His wife did not tour with him in those days. They also have two children buried in Mt. Hope Cemetery. Kit Carson Cody died of scarlet fever in 1876 while the family lived here. Then daughter Orra Maude Cody died in 1883 in North Platte, Nebraska but was buried next to her brother in Mt. Hope Cem.

Buffalo Bill brought his Wild West show to Rochester in 1883 which was soon after it was formed. He would have great success with that show but in 1901 there was a railroad accident which destroyed horses and the railroad cars that they were in. That brought the show to a halt. In 1908 Buffalo Bill joined with Pawnee Bill who also had a western show but that combined show went broke that same year. In 1916 Buffalo Bill joined with the 101 Ranch which is the show that visited Rochester and is described in the newspaper article and in the poster at the bottom of this post. Buffalo Bill would die at his sister’s home on 10 Jan. 1917 in Denver, Colorado.


Thursday, Aug. 6, 1916

Cowboys and Red Men in Camp To-day on Show Lot

Arrives Rochester; Sunday 5 a. m.
Trains unloaded at Circle street.
Military and Wild West camp at North Goodman street and Fernwood heights.
Two performances Monday, at 2:15 and 8:15
Buffalo Bill “in the saddle,” at 2:15 and 8:15.
Military and Frontier Day parade at 10:30 Monday. Route, Goodman street to Main street east, to Plymouth avenue north, to Church street, to Portland avenue to Bay street, and return to grounds.
Downtown ticket office at Chapman’s music store, No. 63 State street.

buffalo-bill“There is a fascination about a Wild West show in Sunday quarters that even the circus does not possess, and this year the interest is accentuated by the fact that Buffalo Bill himself is with the show. The old scout and Indian fighter, it is announced, has a special tent near the entrance to the dressing tent of his show and this is always the center of interest to the Sunday crowds.

The announcement is made that the horse tents, the Indian village and the military camp will be open for public inspection to-day. The 101 Ranch has always been noted for the wildness of its broncos; the Indian village houses scores of Sioux and other Far Western Indians under the leadership of Chief Flying Hawk, successor to Chief Iron Tail as head of the Sioux nation; and Uncle Sam’s “boys in khaki” are said to represent the very pick of the army. All these are always in evidence Sundays.

There are, however. other interesting personalities to attract the attraction of the Sunday crowd. The cowgirls, always so attractive feature of a Wild West show, don their best bibs and tuckers for Sunday inspection; the cowboys wear their highest heeled boots and their fuzziest “chaps” for the delectation of the crowd on “arrival day;” the Mexicans look a little swarthier and slightly more villainsque the usual in their best sombreros; and the old scouts and long-haired plainsmen swap stories for the education of the gaping crowd with a seat that seems to bare an especial adaptability for Sunday’s free scenes of entertaining novelty on the “set.”

This year, in addition to the big congress of cowboys, cowgirls, Indians, Mexicans and border and ranch people, there is a large number of interesting people from far lands. There is a troop of Arabs, the fighting, dancing, whirling-dervish kind; a company of Japanese, who make a natty appearance in their uniforms of the Mikado’s cavalry service; a detachment of the Czar’s Siberian Cossacks, and other foreign contingents, and all these interesting people, it is announced, are most effective, especially in the military “Preparedness” pageant, which is this year’s biggest feature.

The fact that probably for the first time in history of the United States the War Department not only has lent soldiers from the regular army for exhibitional purposes with a tent show, but also has introduced a recruiting tent with the show,, are things for the Sunday crowd .

There will be two performances in Rochester, and they will take place at 2:15 and 8:15 to-morrow. Prior to the opening performance there will be a characteristic and picturesque military and Wild West parade, which Buffalo Bill will lead. It will leave the grounds at 10:30 o’clock. Seats will be on sale downtown Monday at Chapman’s music store.


Top Songs of 1966 – #20

Napoleon-XIVI said it back in January that the record charts in 1966 had some pretty odd hit songs. The strangest song of the year was the novelty song “They’re Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!” by Napoleon XIV. That, of course, was a stage name for the artist who was found out to be Jerry Samuels. Jerry had written “The Shelter of Your Arms,” a top 20 hit for Sammy Davis, Jr. in 1964.

The song was about a man going crazy after a relationship. Part of the song changes the pitch of the voice to make him sound even crazier. In the last verse we find out he is talking about his dog. If this song isn’t strange enough, the B side of the record had the same song, only backwards.

The song was the number one song on the Cash Box record chart for the week of July 24 – 31, 1966. On the Billboard Hot 100 chart it only reached up to number 3 for the week of Aug. 7 – 13.

Listen, if you dare!

Old News – Church Fire

The original East Penfield Baptist Church was of brick. After the fire described in this 1916 newspaper article, they rebuilt but that church was made of wood. The picture is an old photo of the church after 1916. The church still looks the same except that there is a large steeple added at an unknown date.


Thursday, Aug. 2, 1916


Barn, Horse and Auto Also Destroyed by Flames Early Monday Morning


East Penfield, July 31 — Fire of unknown origin caused a loss of about $11,000 early this, Monday morning, when the East Penfield church, at Lovett’s Corners, the barn and contents on the William Quick farm adjoining the church property and a straw stack on the Furman place were destroyed by the flames. the church and the furniture were insured for $1,275, but there wasn’t a cent of insurance on the Quick barn or contents.

The church parsonage, the church sheds, and other places nearby, as well as the Ginnegaw house at least a quarter mile away, caught fire, owing to the high wind, but all were saved..

In the Quick barn two horses, valued at $160, were burned to death, one belonging to Mr. Quick and the other one to a neighbor, William Slosson. A quantity of hay, a new Ford auto and farm implements valued at $250 were entirely consumed. The “Brick” church, as the old landmark is familiarly called, is a total loss only the bare walls standing..

The fire was discovered about 3:30 o’clock by Mrs. Slosson, a neighbor, and at that time the barn on the Quick place was ablaze all over and by the time enough people were aroused to do efficient work it was too late to save anything in the barn. The church caught fire on the roof and attention of the men and women who were fighting the flames with buckets of water, was turned to saving the church, but owing to the wind and lack of ladders long enough to reach quickly the blaze the church was soon despaired of and the best that the people could do was to put out the numerous flames on surrounding buildings.

Help was summoned from Fairport and Penfield, but those who responded were of little aid to the people who were doing the best that they could with their bucket brigades, as the fire had gained much headway.

The Brick church, a landmark of the days of our grandparents, was built in 1836 and dedicated the following year. The bricks for the church were made on the Donald Conant farm. now owned by Charles Huber. Mr. Conant gave the bricks for the building of the church. The first pastor of the church was Elder Parker, the present pastor is Rev. L. R. Jonson. The only things saved from the church were a few of the pews.

Special edition of “Old News” coming on Saturday about a celebrity that came to Rochester in 1916.