FROM PAGES PAST: 1921: Robert Ingersoll birthplace to be restored

Staff reports

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 7, 1871

Weather in May 1871 – The first week cold and wet. Second week clear and cold. The first half was 12 degrees colder, on the average, that the last half and 11 degrees colder that the first half of any last year. Ten frosts in May this year, to none last year. Average this year 54 15-100 degrees; last year 60. There have been some very hot days: The 20th and the 29th the thermometer was 100 degrees in the shade, and several days it was above 90 degrees. The last part of the month has been dry, with fine showers the 26th and 31st. Cultivating corn was begun in May this years. We had 20 mornings and 18 evenings clear.

Decoration Day at Dundee – On Tuesday last, at 2 o’clock, r. M., the citizens meet at the Methodist Church where notwithstanding the extreme heat of a noonday sun, there was a large audience present, Mr. George N. Wilson was elected President of the day; Palmer Bassett was chosen Marshal, and Wm. Herrington, Assistant Marshal. An excellent address was made by L. J. Wilkin, Esq., appropriate to the occasion. Good music was furnished by the Dundee Brass Band, and the Choir. The procession was formed in the following order:1 Marshal and Assistant; 2 Brass Band; 3 Clergy; Decoration Committee; 5 Soldiers; 6 Choir; 7 Citizens. The procession marched to the Presbyterian Cemetery where the following graves were decorated: Sergeant-Major Henry S. Cook, Sergeant Foster Cook, Andrew Houghtaling and Samuel Headly. Here some very touching remarks were made by Rev. Geo. W. Abrams. The procession then marched to the Baptist Cemetery where the graves of Andrew Putnam and E. Campbell were decorated. An address was here made by Rev. James Bradbury, suitable to the occasion. The procession then marched to the new Cemetery, where the following graves were decorated with floral offerings: Sergeant A. A. Raplee, Corporal B. F. Carpenter, Byron Blain, James Shedd, Charles Bassett (drummer boy), George A. Jenison, H. A. Merritt, Dr. Hamilton Shaw, Alson Seymour, F. H. Howell. Here, remarks suitable to the solemnity of the occasion were made by Rev. Charles Drysdale, when the people dispersed in various directions as the procession broke up. Too much praise cannot be bestowed upon the ladies of Dundee and vicinity for the interest manifested in preparing the floral decorations. - S. C. Starkey, June 3, 1871.

A Curiosity — Mr. Robert W. Osborne, of Bellona, picked up on the farm of Mr. Henry R. Coleman, two or three years ago, a singular carved stone of small size which we conclude would be a puzzle to most folks to determine its origin and use. It has a back somewhat the form of a duck, with a neck and head setting at an angle of forty-five degrees with the body, and each side of the head has a prong representing an ear. Holes are ingeniously drilled in the under side, apparently to tie it fast. We do not attempt to describe it accurately. But it will strike any one as a decided curiosity. It weighs nearly three ounces, and has evidently been wrought as an ornament, an idol, or for some mechanical use not ineligible except to the archaeologist.

A Vicious Bug — Mr. John Smith, of Torrey, informs us that a pestiferous bug has destroyed for him the first planting of an entire field of corn. The insect is a little, hard, shiny rascal, that proceeds to eat off the young blade with great voracity. Mr. Smith had a suspicion that this new enemy was the dreaded Potato Bug of Colorado, now making its way over the country from west to east, and which must reach us in a very few years. Probably the bug that troubles Mr. Smith's cornfield is not the Colorado devastator. It has not reached us yet, and will perhaps be from two to three years coming yet. When it does come, the people will find it a scourge of no slight quality.

Drunkenness is decidedly waning here – A drunken man is now as great a rarity as a peach in December. Yet Mr. James B. Colgrove, stage proprietor, offers by a printed poster to deliver liquors free of charge for cartage. How liberal! We voted at our municipal election to have no liquor sold here, and still an outsider is endeavoring to defeat the will of the majority by purchasing liquor in an adjoining county and bringing it hero, ostensibly for medicinal uses, but this pretext is too flimsy to deceive any one.

Liquor License – Mr. Barney Borgman again applied for liquor license to the Town Board, which was refused as before. We have not learned that Mr. Borgman made use of any offensive language; but we are informed that a resident of Penn Yan (not in the town of Jerusalem, we believe) tried to intimidate the Board, saying, “All officers opposed to license will be spotted, and cannot be again elected to any office" — which is, we think, strong language for a non-resident.

Arcade Refreshment Stand – The Undersigned has been to considerable expense and pains to fit his Refreshment Stand in the Arcade Hall In a manner to meet the demands of the public. He has put in operation a splendid SODA FOUNTAIN! And keeps always on hand CARPENTER’S ROOT and LEMON BEER, and an extra line assortment of Choice Confectionery! Just received from Rochester. By close attention to business, and a careful study of the demands of my patrons. I hope to receive a liberal patronage Penn Yan. Charles N. Nichols

100 Years Ago

June 8, 1921

Robert Ingersoll, the American lawyer, writer, and orator  nicknamed "The Great Agnostic" who campaigned in defense of agnosticism during the Golden Age of Free Thought in America, was born in Dresden. His birthplace was purchased in 1918 and restored in the 1920s as a memorial to him.

ROBERT INGERSOLL’S BIRTHPLACE – Three years ago, members of the late Colonel Robert Ingersoll’s family purchased the residence in Dresden where he was born. Plans are now under way to restore the building to something like its original form. A grandson of Mr. IngersoII has been stopping with Col. and Mrs. Hardman, at their lakeside home, this week. It is planned to have a caretaker on the premises and maintain it as a memorial to the late Colonel Ingersoll. Mr. IngersoII was born In Dresden on August 11, 1833, and memorial exercises will be held at his birthplace on the anniversary this year. His widow and two daughters live in New York City. A grandson was an aviator in the world war. A bronze tablet, with suitable inscription, will be placed on the outside of the house.

Pavement For Clinton Street, Board of Trustees Advocate a Progressive Plan –Dear Sir: On the 21st of this month, the Board of Trustees are submitting to the taxpayers a proposition to put permanent pavement on Clinton Street from the railroad track down to the brick pavement on Main street, and in order that the people may know for just what they are asked to vote and as to the cost of the improvement, you are asked to give this publicity. We have had from our engineer, Mr. James W. Brennan, of Geneva, estimates on brick, concrete, asphalt concrete, bitulithic and bituminus macadam running all the way from $19,000 for brick down to $11,000 for the bituminus macadam, such as they are now using on state roads, and after seeing these different constructions it is the judgment of the board that the asphalt concrete, estimated to cost $16,500 would best suit the needs of that street, inasmuch as its wearing qualities are equal to brick, is dustless and much handsomer in appearance. The taxpayers are asked to vote this amount, or so much of it as shall be needed, one-half to be assessed against the village at large and one half against the abutting property owners ... What we would like to do is to build a small section of a permanent pavement each year, outlining a program for each succeeding board to follow, so that in a few years we will not only have beautiful streets but streets that will he lasting. Board of Trustees

Weather Bureau To Help Farmers – A special weather forecast service, to be given out through the farm bureau offices, will be tried out by the weather bureau this season in about ten counties. If it proves as successful as the county agents think it will, next year it is hoped it can be made more general. The service starts June 15. The forecasts will be telegraphed each morning to the county agents who are cooperating, and any farmer having telephone connection with the farm bureau office can obtain them after 11 o’clock. The forecasts will give the opinion of the weather bureau forecast as to the kind of weather to be expected on the following day, and, when conditions warrant, for two or even three days in advance. The weather bureau folks do not claim to be infallible, but the figures show that they are right about 88 times out of a hundred. A similar service has been given in the larger cities for many years for the benefit of shippers of products affected by temperature changes and in one season alone one western shipper figured he saved at least $50,000. The success of the service will depend to a great extent on the farmer keeping in close touch with his farm bureau office while putting up his hay and grain. In announcing this service, the weather bureau states that it realizes that the bureau has never done much for the farmer, in spite of the fact that he pays as much taxes as anyone else, and so thinks it is now time to give him something for his money.

75 Years Ago

June 12, 1946

Homecoming For Cole Circus Is Gala Event

Even the weather cooperated to make Jimmy Cole's return to his home town an outstanding success. Moving to the Penn Yan fair grounds from Geneva on Sunday, a constant stream of visitors watched the unique business of a circus setting up all Sunday afternoon. The power-driver for tent stakes and the unbelievable power of Freida’s mighty muscles when the truck loaded with heavy tent poles bogged down in the soggy sod and the elephant pulled it into position, brought pop-eyed looks to the faces of the children — and some of the adults, too. Until dark the visitors kept coming, the children thrilled a$ much by the sleek ponies and chattering monkeys as by the lions and bulky Freida. Then in the bright sunshine of Monday, the. first full day of sunshine the show had seen in eight weeks, the many friends that Jimmy has made in Yates County thronged to the fairgrounds to see the real performance.

More than Capacity Crowds – The advance sale of tickets by Rotary club members, who sponsored this first Penn Yan appearance of the new Cole Circus, was more than 2,100. Jimmy’s “big top” has a seating capacity of 1,600. At the matinee performance more than 1,700 tickets were collected at the main entrance and of course there were several who came in “for free” as Jimmy’s guests. At night, before the show got under way, every available chair had been requisitioned from the house cars and trailers of the personnel to supplement the tent bleachers. When the main entrance was packed with standees the attendants called a halt and the show went on. Two hours later they repeated the whole thing for another crowd of about 1,0000 who had waited patiently through the entire first performance, milling about the brightly lighted midway, going through the sideshow and “monkeying around in the monkey tent.”

They Shine for Jimmy – In honor of the visit to Jimmy’s hometown, the whole circus was cleaned and furbished and the acts went through their specialties with an added dash. Every little added touch which had been practiced since the show went on the road was incorporated in the acts here Monday. The tumblers put in an extra body twist when they somersaulted; the bareback act included a tiny little girl gathered in her father’s arms and carried as he vaulted to the back of a horse which already carried five of his brothers and sisters in the routine’s finale. Tama Frank’s baby son, “Butch” hardly higher that his father’s knee, did a lariat act with a rope of his own size: the animals wore bright new ribbon adornments. It was a gala day, especially to honor Jimmy, of whom everyone on the lot speaks with the deepest affection, even the roust-abouts. Comment on the mud which has harassed them for far this season, the lot foreman, a very black man from the South, declared, ”As long as us’s got two hands an Freida, this show’s gonna move.”

Little Jimmy Works Freida – Little Jimmy, just out after two weeks illness with a severe bronchial cold, "worked” Freida in her act in all three performances. Dressed in regulation trainer's uniform and cap, tailored strictly to size and carrying his elephant hook – all 14 inches long – he handled his huge charge and took his bows with all the aplomb of a seasoned trouper. Just arrived from Cuba and showing for the first time in the United States was Jimmy’s new tight wire performer, Tonio Alvarado, resplendent with velvet and sequin costumes.

Crowds Demand Three Shows – This playing three shows a day is getting to be routine with the Cole Circus. They did it in Easton, Pa., in the pouring rain, and they did it again in Pottstown, Pa. At Auburn they tallied 10,000 ticket sales for three performances. As the crowds came out, not hurrying but lingering to visit and look, the majority commented “It’s such a clean show.” They meant that literally. The white costumes were snow white. The animals shorn. The sequins all sparkled. The accessories of each act gleamed and the bleachers and chairs all wore fresh, clean paint. Even Freida’s immense toenails were lacquered.

Wholesome Family Atmosphere – Added to this is the wholesome family atmosphere that pervades the whole show. The Conleys of the bareback act, a mother and six children, one of them married with a tiny daughter of his own; Tama Frank and little “Butch,” who can’t work in the evening shows because they are past his bedtime; and of course, Mr. and Mrs. James Cole and little Jimmy. One town boy, seeing a circus youngster sent to bed in a house car because he had strayed out of bounds, which was off the fair grounds to a downtown street, turned away in bitter disillusionment “Huh,” he grunted. “He don’t have any more fun than I do, ’cept he’s got the elephant to watch.” Jimmy carries 135 people on his payroll. Of these, 47 are in the various circus acts. Counting the children and other members of families, concessionnaires, etc., about 150 travel with the show. For a time the circus carried a canteen for the field and tent crew but when the cook was taken ill that wagon was dropped off. Most of the acts do their own cooking in trailers or house cars but these other workers depend on the restaurants of the towns they visit for their food.

50 Years Ago

June 9, 1971

DAR History Awards Made – Gu-Ya-No-Ga chapter DAR presented American History Certificates to the outstanding students in the 5th grades in Branchport, Dresden, and Penn Yan. Mrs. Fenton E. Bootes, registrar, presented the awards on Wednesday at Dresden Elementary school to: David Miller and Brian Henderson, their teacher is Mrs. McNamara, and to David Samson and Jan Martens, their teacher is Mrs. Fien. Mr. John Martone, teacher of 5th grade at Branchport will present the awards to Tori Tietjen and George Taggart. The certificates were presented by Mrs. Bootes on Thursday in Penn Yan to: Brian Smither and Stephen Bartoli, teacher, Mr. Spanneut; Anthony Morehouse and Thomas Swarthout, their teacher is Mrs. Warren Horton; Pete Townsend and Gordon Spencer, teacher, Mr. Miles; Eleanor Farrell and Scott McLaughlin, teacher is Mr. Bowdler; and Douglas Rector and Donna Gesel and Mrs. Russell Soper. These American History Awards are presented annually by the National and N.Y. State DAR.

Flag Essay Winner – Debbie Wolcott, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Sam Wolcott, a Penn Yan Junior High School eighth grader, is the New York State First Prize Winner in the DAR Flag Essay Contest. She captured the first prize in Yates County with her essay and was declared statewide winner in the recent judging. Her essay on the subject, “What The Flag of the United States of America Means To Me,”  follows:

To me the American Flag is a symbol of patriotism, like it is to most Americans. I have always been proud of it and respected it. Last summer I realized that the Flag stands for much more. We made a trip to Berlin (where my mother is from) to visit some relatives and see the city. In order to do this we had to go through the corridor from West Germany, through East Germany to West Berlin. Before we entered the corridor gate, the American Flag was flying. But as soon as we entered East German Control Zone, we were surrounded by barbed wire fences and armed policemen. This is not the atmosphere of freedom, but that of communism. They can hold anyone they want to and you can*t do a thing about it. The East German Police stopped us constantly and searched the car, checked passports, etc. The scary part about it all was that my mother is from East Berlin, and if they had found her name on one of their old lists, they would have held her and we would have never seen her again. Going through the corridor is supposedly a one hour trip, but with all the police checks and hold-ups it takes five hours. When we finally got through the last gate, we saw “Old Glory*’ flying. I had never been as happy and glad to see our flag as I was at that moment! Tears came to my eyes, and I realized that the American Flag is the world’s greatest symbol of freedom. Every American should treasure his freedom, regardless of his rank or position in life.

Dundee Wins At Gorham – Dundee Central School’s young musicians gave their band director, Curtiss Chase, a fitting farewell tribute last Saturday by taking first place honors in Class B in both marching and color guard, and third place in concert performance at the annual Gorham Festival of Bands. The band, comprised of 111 students, made the trip in a five-bus caravan. Mr. Chase, who has brought Dundee to the forefront among upstate bands, organized and developed an impressive color guard for the Dundee band also. He has accepted a position with the music department of the city school system in Auburn. During his stay at Dundee, the “Scotsmen” band attained a high degree of proficiency and captured many music awards at various competitions throughout the state.

“There’s Nothing the 770th Can’t Handle! ” – As in past years, the Army Reservists from Penn Yan tried to live up to that motto through a variety of projects during their two-week Summer Camp Tour, which ended Saturday. Heavy equipment operators were busy at two locations this year in cooperation with the 854th Engineer Battalion at Camp Drum. Members of the 770th supported “B” Company of the 854th in building a road along Fusa Boulevard. The 770th received support from “A” Company of the 854th in carrying out improvements on Carr Road. During the first week of training, more than 50 per cent of that project was completed, including the upgrading of the road, and the creation of new ditches alongside. Much of the support provided by the 770th comes from their operation of a rock quarry. The Quarry platoon has received special training in the operation from Regular Army personnel the past two years, and has assisted in quarry operations for three years at Camp Drum. The Asphalt Platoon this year put to good use knowledge received from Summer Camp training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, two years ago. They assisted the 13th Engineer Company of the 75th Engineer Battalion in setting up an asphalt plant. On-the-job training for the 770th is no longer limited to their annual summer camp training. The reservists will resume work with the Seneca Army Depot in Romulus during their regular weekend drills. For the past year and a half, the unit has been assisting personnel on that post in the construction of new roads, improvements to existing roads, and the operation of a shale quarry. Company Commander Fred J. Pirelli is enthusiastic about the training opportunities, and that’s why he proudly posted the new sign outside the Orderly Room. “I find morale is high when my men can become involved in projects where they can see results,” says First Lieutenant Pirelli. “The projects undertaken at Camp Drum, and the year- round training we receive at the Seneca Army Depot, provides a real service in doing work that has to be done, saving money for the taxpayers, building a sense of teamwork between the Army Reserve and the Regular Army, and giving “on-the-job” training to members of the unit!” And that’s why he says, “there’s nothing the 770th can’t handle!”