FROM PAGES PAST: 1921: Elmwood Theatre Opens to the Public

Yates County History Center

The Chronicle-Express : Consolidation, Jan. 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 

June 1, 1871 

Greeley for President – Somebody in Kansas wrote Mr. Greeley some time ago enquiring if he would be a candidate for the Presidency. Mr. Greeley said in reply what he usually says in response to such enquires, that he did not propose to seek office, but should accept whatever his fellow citizens might impose upon him, if circumstances would permit. He said further that he was in favor of a Candidate committed to the one term principle. This is interpreted by most of the newspapers as placing Mr. Greeley before the country as a candidate for President. 

Major Struble, in the course of his address on Decoration Day, read a list of the soldiers buried in our own cemetery, and others belonging in this place. In this list one important omission occurred to us. That was the name of George Wolcott, one of the finest boys ever sent forth from Penn Yan. He was a son of Chauncey Wolcott, a mechanic long resident in this village, who died of consumption, and whom many will recollect. George, when he enlisted, was a student of the State Normal School at Albany. He was a young man of much promise and possessing many manly attributes. In one of the early battles of the war he was instantly killed, receiving a bullet in his head. Though his body was not brought home for burial, George was one of the soldiers whose memory should be cherished. 

There was an earthquake shock at Buffalo and in other portions of Western New York and Canada on Sunday morning, May 21st. It was quite distinct in many places. 

Mr. James Miller, who has supplied Penn Yan with milk upwards of seven years, has sold out his milk wagons, horses, harness, cows, &c., to Mr. Abraham Williams, late of Fishkill, N.Y. who will hereafter distribute the milk, of which Mr. Miller will continue to furnish the supply. Everybody will be sorry to part with Mr. Miller, as he has always furnished milk of the best quality, with promptness and in good supply. His successor is well spoken of and will only need to equal his predecessor to be a popular man. Mr. Miller will now have an opportunity to attend more strictly to his extensive farming operations in which he has decided capacity and skill. 

100 Years Ago 

June 1, 1921 

Little Incentive for Improvement – Will someone tell me why men, women, and children along our streets scatter their gum wrappers, peanut and candy bags, and torn strips of letters and notes on the lawns of our fair village? I have been busy the whole spring, trying to keep the papers off my lawn, and it seems a hopeless task. There is little incentive to well-kept premises if one must pick up papers morning after morning from the lawns, where they have been thrown by thoughtless people. This spring I spent $3 or $4 for seed and fertilizer for a small lawn in the village limits. I have mowed it carefully and sprinkled it religiously, trying to make “two blades of grass grow where only one grew before,” and then I wake up each morning with a lawn covered with bits of paper, candy bags and similar nuisances. Must we protect our lawns by fences as was done 25 or 30 years ago in Penn Yan, or can we educate the people to a more orderly frame of mind? 

The “Imperial” Goes to Albany – W. H. Messimer, of Albany, was in Hammondsport and Penn Yan last Wednesday. He has purchased the fine fast 30-foot boat belonging to Gotley Frey, of Hammondsport, known as the “Imperial,” and had it taken to Dresden, where it will be launched and by its own power go to Albany through the state canals and rivers. The “Imperial” was one of the fastest boats on the lake. Mr. Frey had it built at great expense to compete in races, and it is said to have a record of better than a 25-mile clip per hour. Owen Hoban transferred the craft from Lake Keuka to Seneca lake. 

Deans are Guilty, Says Grand Jury – Return First Degree Bills Against Both of  Alleged Slayers of Jerome Conley, Middlesex Farmer.  The term of Supreme Court adjourned Wednesday noon. 

There was an indictment against Gilbert Dean, who is charged with the murder of Jerome Conley, of Middlesex, for murder in the first degree, and Gilbert and George Dean jointly for first degree murder. Judge Thompson assigned Spencer F. Lincoln as counsel to the Dean brothers. He asked permission of the court to demur to the indictments at a special term of Supreme Court, to be held in Canandaigua June 13th, which was granted. A plea of not guilty was entered for his clients. On Saturday, July 2nd, court will be reconvened to draw a panel of jurors when court will again adjourn until Monday, July 18th, when these indictments will be moved for trial. Hon. C. J. Huson will assist District Attorney C. W. Kimball in the prosecution of these indictments. 

Elmwood Theatre Opened to the Public – Beautiful New Play House Is Great Credit to Penn Yan. Large Attendance Opening Night. 

Another chapter was added to Penn Yan history Friday evening, May 27th, when Harry C. Morse’s new Elmwood Theatre was opened to the public for its initial performance. Words of warm admiration for the excellence of this handsome structure were heard frequently from the six hundred people who were fortunate enough to attend the opening performance. The theatre, which will be dedicated principally to the motion picture art, is commodious, well-ventilated and of an artistic decoration such as few towns of this size may boast. The lobby of the theatre, with its three double doors and stained glass transoms, presents an attractive appearance to the street. The ample space in the foyer will provide a comfortable rest room to patrons of the Elmwood. 

The auditorium, with a seating capacity of over 600, is so designed as to offer a free and unobstructed view of the stage from every seat. There is knee space of 33 inches between the rows of seats, which is three inches wider than that demanded by law. The balcony contains seats for about 150 people, and immediately in the rear are located the manager’s office and the operator’s cages. 

New Ice Cream Machinery – Peter Costes has installed an ammonia refrigerating plant, which will do away with the expense of using ice in the manufacture of ice cream. The machine is driven by electricity and is practically a small artificial ice making plant. 

The ice cream is made on the same principle as a power churn, and when the prepared cream is thoroughly mixed and of the proper consistency it can be drawn into other receptacles and placed in a refrigerator which is kept below the freezing point. The cream then becomes solid, ready for the trade, and can be kept indefinitely in this condition. There is also a small ice making plant connected with the equipment, with a capacity of about 1,000 pounds a day. The ice is used only for packing the freezers used when on sale in the store or sent out to customers. 

One of the strong points for this machine is that the hands do not come in contact with the cream at any time, as the work is all done by machinery. The plant is what is known as of flour-ton capacity and is the style of machine used by large manufacturers, as it cuts down the expense of labor, ice and loss of time. 

Matchless Finger Lakes Region – The Finger Lakes region is receiving nation-wide advertising, and as a result is traversed by automobilists in great numbers. Probably no part of the world of similar area offers greater attractions to the tourists than does Central New York, which is one of the most fertile sections of the Empire State and, indeed of the United States. The fame of the region has extended far beyond the borders of the state, and indeed of the United States, even to Southern California, itself heralded as one of the world’s beauty spots. Attractive as is the Finger Lakes region, many of its dwellers must plead neglect in visiting its beauties outside of their own immediate locality. 

75 Years Ago 

June 6, 1946 

Mass Meeting to Discuss War Memorial Planned in Penn Yan – The mass meeting for the public suggestion of ideas for a suitable war memorial for the veterans of World War II will be held in the Junior High school auditorium Friday evening, June 14. More than 500 letters have been sent out to key persons in all county communities and organizations inviting them to attend, according to William Glen, chairman of the planning committee. The public is also invited. 

Checking on the possibility of getting financial assistance from the state for such a project, Mr. Glen reports that the New York State Memorial commission will provide two per cent of the cost of drawing up the plans for whatever building, park, monument, or other project the county or community decides on. That is all. 

Several plans have been suggested as possibilities but public opinion does not seem to be behind any one. It is with the hope of crystalizing the present rather nebulous desire to express appreciation to the veterans that the meeting is being held. 

Stopping for a few days at his home in Penn Yan before striking out on the 1946 circuit, Jimmy introduced some of his talent and helpers to members of the Kiwanis and Rotary clubs.

Recall Prewar Days When Jimmy Cole Was Showing His Circus Inside – Monday will be a red letter day in Penn Yan and Yates County – and those red letters, screaming from hundreds of billboards and emblazoned on the sides of scores of gaily painted wagons and trucks, spell one magical word, dear to the hearts of all kids, from 8 to 88— CIRCUS.  Actually Jimmy Cole’s first postwar circus made itself felt in this community several days before it assembled in Pennsylvania early in April to start its tour under a fireproof big top that will seat 3,500 persons. Stopping for a few days at his home, in Penn Yan before striking out on the 1946 circuit, Jimmy introduced some of his talent and helpers to members of the Kiwanis and Rotary clubs.

The Rotary club is sponsoring the showing of the circus next week Monday, not only in the hopes of filling his tent for both shows at 3 and 8 p. m. as a “welcome home” tribute, but also to earn a generous commission on the advance sale of tickets — the profits from which will help finance the youth recreation program in Penn Yan during the summer and next winter. 

Keuka Plans Baccalaureate – The Rev. William F. Davison, pastor of the First Baptist church of Rochester, will deliver the baccalaureate sermon to the graduating class of Keuka college Sunday, June 9, at 11 a. m. The services, to be held at the Garrett Memorial chapel on Bluff Point, will be conducted by the Rev. Hiram M. Rogers, pastor of St. Mark’s Episcopal church of Penn Yan. Each member of the senior class will be allowed one guest in attendance at the services. 

Mr. Davison graduated from Colgate University in 1923 and in 1926 from the Rochester-Theological seminary. He has served pastorates in Oneida, Royal Oak, Mich., Cortland, and since 1942 he has been pastor of the First Baptist Church of Rochester. 

50 Years Ago 

June 3, 1971 

Little Miss Pageant Set – Twenty-two lovely young ladies will vie for the title of Our Little Miss and Miss La Petite of Yates and Schuyler counties. They will compete Saturday, June 5th at Penn Yan Junior High at 7:30 p.m. Everyone is invited to come and watch this pageant, and see who will be crowned. 

Three winners will be picked to go on to compete for the New York State title. They will also receive trophies, crown, banner and many gifts from local merchants. First and Second runner-up in both divisions will be given trophies and certificates. Zimmer Florist and Johnson and Smith Florist will be giving flowers to winners and contestants. 

Land, Sea, and Air – Army Specialist Five Jack F. Mixter, 25. son of Mr. and Mrs. John F. Mixter. Reynold’s Mobile Park, Lake Road, Penn Yan, recently was graduated from the third U.S. Army Noncommissioned Officer Academy at Ft. McClellan, Ala. He received six weeks of training in leadership, instructor training, drill and ceremonies, physical fitness, personal appearance, and conduct. The soldier’s wife, Bernadetta, lives at Ft. Campbell, Ky. 

Pvt. Lawrence Eaves of USMC, spent the weekend with his mother, Mrs. Erma Eaves, his brothers and sisters and aunt, Susan Wheeler, all of Bluff Point. He left for California where he will be engaged in 16 weeks of schooling. 

Marine Lance Corporal Jack V. Harris, son of Mr. and Mrs. Elbert E. Harris of 62 Union St., Dundee, was graduated from an avionics course at the Naval Air Station, Millington, Tenn. He is presently serving at the Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point, N.C. 

Dundee Firm Completes Acquisition – Seneca Foods Corporation, Dundee, completed its previously announced acquisition of Castle-Hanson Corporation, Rochester, New York, Arthur S. Wolcott, President of Seneca said today. Castle-Hanson produces a wide variety of glass containers primarily for the food processing industry. 

Seneca, a major processor of grape and apple products, also has acquired within the past year paint and textile companies. Seneca announced for the six-month fiscal period ending January 31,1971 record growth in sale (up 57% to $15,515,000) and earnings (up 25% to $294,000 or 23c per share). Seneca Common Stock is traded over the counter. 

Danish Day Festival Set  – The third annual Danish Day festival is slated for Sunday, June 6, at Seneca Lake State Park, Geneva, beginning at eleven o’clock. Danish-Americans, their families and other Scandinavian families are invited to bring dishes of food for the smorgasbord table as well as their musical instruments. Folk music and dancing will be part of the day’s entertainment. 

Interest in this event has increased yearly. Its purpose is the preservation of the Danish culture by those whose parents and grandparents, or who themselves, were among the steady flow of immigrants from Denmark, especially from the 1880s through the early years of this century. Many of them settled in Upstate New York in the Penn Yan and Geneva vicinities, where they became noted as excellent farmers and craftsmen, while others went on to become homesteaders on the plains of the mid-western states. 

Victor Borge, well-known stage and television personality, perhaps voiced the thoughts of many of these Danish people when he stated: “In a way, Denmark and America have become like a mother and a father to me. As I loved my mother and father, so do I feel affection for the two countries that generously have given me happiness.”