FROM PAGES PAST: 1921: Murder in Middlesex; two brothers arrested for shooting man in front of his wife

Staff reports

The Chronicle-Express

Consolidation, January 1, 1926, of the Yates County Chronicle (1824) and the Penn Yan Express (1866); the Rushville Chronicle (1905) and the Gorham New Age (1902)

The Yates County History Center’s volunteers have gleaned these entries for your enjoyment from their digitized newspapers. You can access them at the free site For more information about the YCHC, visit

150 Years Ago

Feb. 23, 1871

Yates County Medical Society – The semi-annual meeting of the Yates Medical Society was held at the office of Dr. Wm. Oliver in Penn Yan on the 2d Tuesday of February inst., pursuant to previous public notice. The President being absent, Dr. Alexander B. Sloan, Vice President, took the chair and declared the meeting constituted. The offices of Secretary and Treasurer being vacant, Dr. John D. Wolcott was appointed acting Secretary, and Dr. William Oliver acting Treasurer until the next annual meeting of the Society. There was a respectable number of physicians and surgeons present at the meeting, which was exceedingly interesting and entertaining. Dr. Oliver, State Delegate, who represented the Society in the State Medical Society at Albany at its annual meeting, held in that city on the 1st Tuesday of February inst., gave a very interesting report of the proceedings of that body. Drs. Wemple H. Crane of Benton Center and Frank H. Smith of Penn Yan were duly admitted as members of the Society.

The Agricultural Society meeting last Saturday was well attended, and a deep interest taken in the proceedings. The course adopted by the majority was very earnestly opposed by a goodly number of the best members of the Society. They offered two reasons for their action, in which we do not doubt their sincerity. One is an apprehension that the control of the Society will pass into the hands of those who favor the trial of speed in horses and the immoral concomitants of that kind of business. Another is the fear that the Society will assume a burden it cannot carry. We hope our friends who entertain these fears will live to see them exploded. The Executive Board who have control of the affairs of the Society this year, in addition to the President, Secretary and Treasurer, are Peter H. Crosby, William J. Rector, F. M. Kennedy, William Blanshard, Woodworth N. Perry, Charles D. Davis, Peleg Gardner, Thomas J. Conklin and William D. Swarthout. Do not let us be alarmed, yet awhile, in regard to the fast tendencies or recklessness of these men.

Mr. Editor: — In behalf of the Catholics of St. Michael’s church we protest against the outrage of holding dancing parties weekly of late, put up by lukewarm Catholics and counter jumpers and tampered by Free Masonry, greasy butchers, bad whisky and rum sellers. — In behalf of the good Catholics of Saint Michael’s church in Penn Yan, we protest against this outrage lately practiced against Christianity. Female virtue is in danger; as the old saying is, the devil is ready to set the snare the moment the foot is inside the ball room. What a grand and virtuous thing it would be if it was holding temperance meetings. — See what Consolation it would bring to the firesides of many, in place of this abominable ball room, and if it continues I hope our worthy Pastor and Rev. Bishop will put a stop to this dance business. A Catholic.

100 Years Ago

Feb. 23, 1921

Jerome Conley Of Middlesex Shot To Death By Gilbert Dean – Looks Like Case of Cold-Blooded Murder - Gilbert and George Dean Call Conley from his House and After a Fistic Encounter Shoot Him in the Presence of His Wife - Claims Self-Defense. The most cold-blooded murder that has ever taken place in this county was perpetrated Sunday about noon when Jerome Conley, a young farmer who resided on the C. M. Washburn farm in the town of Middlesex, was shot down in his own dooryard and in the presence of his wife by two men who had absolutely no provocation for the deed. Following the shooting the two men went away across the fields. The neighborhood was immediately aroused and Arnold Button, Theron Miles, and other neighbors followed the tracks of the murderers in the snow to the home of Charles Page about one mile distant, where Sheriff Bert Darling arrested Gilbert (Jack) Dean, aged 25 years, and his brother, George Dean, aged 17, as they were seated in the kitchen. The trackers found the revolver a little distance from the tracks in a field where it had evidently been thrown. The sheriff took his prisoners to the Conley home, where Mrs. Conley identified them as her husband’s assailants. Their shoes were also fitted into the tracks which the murderers had made in leaving the scene. Both denied any knowledge of the crime, but were taken to the county jail at Penn Yan as the evidence against them seems conclusive. The story of the shooting is as follows: About noon there was a rap at the Conley’s door and Mrs. Conley opened it. The younger prisoner stood there and asked to see Mr. Conley, who immediately came out of the house. The older brother then stepped out from behind the wood pile and announced that they had come to settle some of their difficulties and asked Mr. Conley to come out back of the barn. Mr. Conley refused, saying that they could settle them all right there. The two brothers then struck Mr. Conley, who was doing his best to defend himself, when his wife grabbed the broom as the only weapon near at hand and came to her husband’s assistance. The younger brother was obliged to turn his attention to warding off the blows from the broom, and the older brother was left to finish his fight with Mr. Conley alone, when he suddenly pulled a revolver and fired twice and Mr. Conley fell. Mrs. Conley rushed to her husband’s side and tried to raise him up, then begged his murderers to help her carry him to the house, but they immediately turned and went away across the fields.

To Hold Family Reunion Across the Continent - The Windnagle family, at least, four brothers and their families, will hold a reunion of three months or more duration this summer. About July, 1st Rev. F. M. Windnagle, of Milo Center: William, of Elmira; Jerome and T. Warner, of Penn Yan will start with their families across the continent, going by automobile, following the Lincoln Highway as far as Salt Lake City. From there they plan to go north to Yellowstone Park and on to Spokane, Wash., where they plan to visit a fifth brother, A. J. Windnagle, at Prosser, Wash. These five brothers are all natives of Yates County, but A. J. Windnagle has not been back here in eighteen years. After spending some time in Prosser, they plan to visit Seattle and other cities and points of interest on their way to Southern California, visiting nephews and friends. They may go into old Mexico, but, anyway will visit relatives in Texas and then strike north to the Lincoln Highway. They plan to camp in tents along the way, and it is expected the occupants of the four automobiles will have a fine time. Such a trip is a most delightful way to see the country.

In 1921: Four Windnagle brothers and their families will cross the continent this summer in four automobiles to reunite with their fifth brother and travel the West. They plan to camp in tents along the way, and it is expected they will have a fine time seeing the country.

75 Years Ago

Feb. 21, 1946

Lock of Washington’s Hair is Displayed at Penn Yan Public Library - Removed from its year-long repose in the safe at the Penn Yan Public library, the lock of George Washington’s hair owned by that institution is now on display in honor of the great man’s birthday. School children to whom this concrete evidence that the General really lived is giving a new zest for history, are gravely trying to decipher the sentence written in old style script, in faded brown ink, beneath the neatly tied wisp of white hair. “The above is the hair of General Washington,” the sentence reads, “presented to Mrs. D. O. Bradley by James A. Hamilton March 1, 1871.” The hair and writing are framed in an old-fashioned velvet picture frame which bears a plaque reading, “Given by Mrs. D. O. Bradley to Mrs. C. C. Sheppard.” The relic was given by the Sheppard family, one of the oldest in Penn Yan to the library some time ago.

A/C N. Howard Jorgensen is a patient in the Naval hospital at Memphis, Tenn., recovering from an ear complication. Howard, 19, a former V-12 student in the University of Rochester and Chapel Hill, N. C., has just completed his college studies in the V-5 Navy officer’s training program in St. Mary’s college, Oakland, Calif. He was transferred to the U. S. Navy Air station in Memphis after spending a five-day leave with his mother, Mrs. Lars Larsen of Benton. His present address is A/C Nelson Howard Jorgensen, V-5 USNR 446-L-2 Bks. 32, U. S. Navy Air Station, Memphis, Tenn.

50 Years Ago

Feb. 25, 1971

Census Notes Trend To Rural Living - The 1970 census report for New York State indicates a desirable move from the urban and suburban areas to the rural areas in several upstate counties including Ontario and Yates, it is reported. Yates County showed a 1960 figure of 18,614 as compared with 19,831 in 1970, with the village of Penn Yan showing a definite decrease in population from 5,770 to 5,168, or a total of 602. That portion of Penn Yan which lies within the town of Milo dropped 507 in population; that portion in the town of Jerusalem 77; and that portion in the town of Benton 18. The towns of Italy and Jerusalem showed marked increases in population (24.3 and 25.8 percent respectively) while the village of Rushville went from 306 to 374 in the ten year span since the last census. In Ontario County, the trend away from the urban areas is reflected in the growth rise of 15.8 percent, up from 68,070 in 1960 to 78,849 in 1970. The percent growth rate in Canadice and Victor in Ontario County was spectacular, indicating the heavy exodus from the city of Rochester as a major cause.

Barrington Loses Plows - Topping off more than two days and nights of round-the-clock efforts to clear heavily drifted Town of Barrington roads, a major catastrophe occurred last Monday afternoon February 15 when the massive FWD plow burst into flames on the Altay Road just west of Dundee. Despite the best efforts of Dundee firemen the blaze gutted the big vehicle. It had just undergone repairs to the drive shaft. Emmet Bailey, the driver and George Shannon, his assistant, were both forced to quickly abandon the flaming truck. The loss was the more severe, since a second heavy duty plow had previously broken down and repair parts presented a problem. At a special meeting of the Barrington Town Board Supervisor Glenn Castner authorized the immediate purchase of a new Oshkosh four-wheel drive plow and truck. Due to the emergency competitive bids were waived as delivery was promised for February 20. The cost of the new equipment will be about $38,000.