What do berries and coal have in common?

Staff Writer
The Chronicle Express
The Hoyt Coal Company Weigh Station

Berries and coal, what do they have in common? Come learn about both at the Dundee Area Historical Society Open House.

The society's annual fall open house will be held Tuesday Sept. 10, 5 to 7 p.m. at the Old Schoolhouse Museum, 26 Seneca St., Dundee. Tour the museum, check out the basement where you can see treasures too large for displaying upstairs, and visit the old Hoyt Coal Company Weigh Station located next door where you can learn about the region's berry industry.

In the late 1800s, the weigh station was used as an office and contained the scales used to weigh the coal. A team of horses pulling a coal wagon would stop in front, with just the empty wagon sitting on top of the scales. Once filled with coal, the wagon would be weighed again. The difference, of course, was the weight of the coal. The cost of the coal was based on both the type and the weight.

Charles Hoyt, owner of the Coal Company, was an interesting man. In the late 1800s he was a prominent leader in the Yates County and Western New York Republican Party. He served as assistant index clerk in Albany. Then he went to Washington, D.C., where he was a clerk in the office of the disbursing clerk of the House of Representatives. Later, he was appointed assistant disbursing clerk, a position he held for 15 years. Meanwhile his coal business sold coal, wall plaster, brick, lime, salt, tile, sewer pipe, cast iron culvert pipe, and Leigh Portland cement. While Hoyt was busy in D.C., Otis Gannon, as the clerk, ran the business. Hoyt lost a bet with Remsen Kine, a Penn Yan coal dealer, over the 1916 presidential race, which resulted in him pulling a ton of coal from Dundee to Penn Yan with his car rather than a tractor.

Today, the weigh station houses the desk Hoyt used in Washington, the scales, a collection of old farm implements along with a wonderful berry exhibit. This area was known for the black raspberries that grew here. In its day it was a large industry. Berries were picked, packed, and dried here.

Executive Director Terri Grady will speak in the weigh station about the region's berry industry at 5:30 p.m. and at 6 p.m. Refreshments – punch, snacks, and wine will be served in the museum from 5 to 7 p.m. There's no charge, though a $5 donation would be appreciated. Stop in, visit a spell, and learn about our region's early history.

For more information, call the Society at 607-243-7047.

If you go

What: Open House Old Schoolhouse Museum

When: 5 - 7 p.m. Sept. 10

Where: 26 Seneca St., Dundee