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Yates County History Center

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 

August 24, 1871 

RATTLESNAKE IN NAPLES – Mrs. David Rector, residing near High Point, in the western part of the town of Naples, Ontario Co., killed a rattlesnake on Monday, July 24th, that had twelve rattles. Several have been killed there this season, but this one was a clever fellow 15 years of age. 

JERUSALEM WHEAT – Dear Sir: I see you are inclined to concede to Starkey the banner for wheat, but hold a little, Jerusalem will speak. Charles Beeman raised and threshed from four acres, 202 bushels wheat, machine measure. The farm it was raised on is now owned and occupied by Wm. Hurd, formerly owned by F. P. Hurd. Beeman has subsequently cleaned and sold his share at Branchport, and tells me it held out 44 bushels to the acre by weight. Now let Mr. Webb weigh his wheat, this machine measure don’t always come up to the scratch. We have a few more fields of wheat to thresh and be heard from up here. ~ A. B. Cowing, Jerusalem. 

PRINCIPAL BARR TO GENESEO – Prof. Samuel D. Barr, Principal of the Penn Yan Academy, has been elected Vice Principal and Professor of Mathematics in the State Normal School about to be opened at Geneseo. The election is subject to the approval of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Should he be confirmed, Prof. Barr will vacate the position he holds in the Penn Yan Academy, and render the selection of a new Principal necessary. 

THE ANNUAL PICNIC – We believe the time is not far distant when the great Dutch tribe of the Swarthouts are to hold their annual meeting for 1871. We understand they are to meet near the Asylum, in Ovid, on the eastern shore of Seneca Lake. The tribe includes all who have any grade of Swarthout in them, and all who have married into the family, and hence will embrace full one-half of the people from Cayuga Lake to Lake Keuka, for 20 miles north and south. They are almost legion. Every man of them is expected to bring his basket of grub along, so as to be able to be ready to evince hospitality if necessary. The numerous family of Swarthouts are no longer Dutch, though their ancestry takes it root in the Dutch nationality. They are now simply Americans. Their annual Pic-nic will be held at Ovid Landing, near the Willard Asylum, on Thursday, August 31st. Those who go by stage and steamer from this quarter will need to be up early in the morning. 

WHAT CLOVES ARE – Cloves are the unopened flower of a small evergreen tree that resembles in appearance the laurel of the bay. It is a native of the Malacca or Spice Islands, but has been carried to all warmer parts of the world, and it is now cultivated in the tropical regions of America. The flowers are small in size and grow in large numbers, in clusters, to the very end of the branches. The cloves we use are the flowers gathered before they are opened and whilst they are green. After being gathered, they are smoked by a wood fire and dried in the sun. Each clove consists of two parts of a round head, which are the four petals, or leaves of the flower rolled up enclosing a number of small stalks or filaments; the other part of the clove is terminated with four points, and, is in fact, the flower-cap of the unripe seed vessel. All these parts may be distinctly seen if a few cloves are soaked for a short time in hot water, when the leaves of the flower soften and readily unroll. Both the taste and the smell of cloves depend on the quantity of oil they contain. — Sometimes the oil is separated from the cloves before they are sold, and the odor and taste in consequence much weakened by such unfair proceeding. 

100 Years Ago 

August 24, 1921 

YATES COUNTY POULTRYMEN NOW SHOWING FIVE CARLOADS – E. W. Tripp & Son, of Dundee, are one of the largest exhibitors of poultry and water fowls now exhibiting at the fairs. They have been breeding and exhibiting poultry for years. Last fall, they bought out Maring of Littletown, Pa., and recently made their first showing for 1921 at Caledonia. This week they are at Warsaw and they will be in Penn Yan next week. After that they will split the exhibit into two sections and show at two fairs a week, coming together a little later at Binghamton. From there they expect to go into Pennsylvania. The five carloads comprise about 1,500 birds. There are 200 pairs of pigeons of all colors, a good showing of pheasants and turkeys, and all of the show breeds of chickens and water fowls. They value the exhibit, at about $4,000. The entry fee at each fair averages about $400. At the close of the season a large part of the stock will be for sale. 

PUBLIC USE OF LAKE SHORES – A number of villages and cities in the Finger Lakes region are awakening to the necessity of preserving some portion of the shore line along the lakes nearby for use and benefit of the public. The desirable cottage and picnic sites are being bought up rapidly and the public is being shut out from the lake shores. It is highly advantageous for every municipality to have a portion of the water front reserved for the use of its people, and the awakening to that need has come none too soon. At the present rate of purchase, it will be only a short time before every bit of desirable lake shore is bought up for private use. Some portion of it should be reserved for the public. 

HOT WEATHER HURTS CROPS – In common with all of the other states with all other states along the Canadian border as far west as the Rockies, New York will have unusually poor crops this year. From present indications the yields per acre will be 17 per cent below the average during the past ten years. This is chiefly due to the dry weather of May and June, which in most of the northern and western counties and around Lake Ontario continued through July and into August. Most crops except corn were also unfavorably affected by the exceptionally hot weather, the average July temperature over most of the state this year being nearly as high as the usual July temperature in Washington, D. C., or in Springfield, Ill., in the heart of the corn belt. 

75 Years Ago 

August 22, 1946 

GORHAM VETERAN THOUGHT DROWNED IS AMNESIA VICTIM – Leo Reifsteck, the young veteran who was thought to have drowned in Canandaigua Lake Aug. 7, and for whose body the sheriff’s departments of Ontario and Yates county dragged for eight days, wandered into a Canandaigua gas station Sunday afternoon in a dazed condition. Edward Scott, who attended Gorham Central school with Leo, recognized him and reported his appearance to the police. Leo stopped at the service station to inquire the way to Gorham. Taken into custody by Canandaigua law officers he was unaware of his own name, that he was thought drowned, or that he was married. When Earl Reifsteck arrived from Gorham he was not recognized by his brother, Leo, who said he was asking the way to Gorham because credentials in his pocket carried a Gorham address. Dr. Augustus W. Sainsbury examined the young man, who complained of a severe headache and an injured hip and later took him to Thompson Memorial hospital for treatment.  After resting at the hospital until Monday noon, Leo Reifsteck, who was discharged from the army last spring after 22 months service in Alaska, began to remember the events which happened after he pulled his fishing boat ashore near the Comstock Canning pumphouse north of Vine Valley a week ago Sunday afternoon. 

CAPT. JOHN L. SCHERER RECALLED TO ACTIVE DUTY – Capt. John L. Scherer of Penn Yan has been recalled to active duty with the Army, effective Aug. 26. His orders assign him to the Intelligence division with offices in the Pentagon building, Washington, D.C. Released from active duty with the Army Air force in October of 1945, Capt. Scherer had served three years as a pilot with the AAF, including 18 months of foreign duty in India and China. His new orders for recall to duty cover “an indefinite period of active duty.” Captain Scherer has told his friends that when he is again released from active duty he will return to Penn Yan to establish a permanent home. He will maintain his magazine publishing office in the Arcade building despite his departure on the Army assignment. Mrs. Scherer will remain in Penn Yan. 

50 Years Ago 

August 26, 1971 

AMBULANCE SERVICE DECISION DUE SOON – A meeting was held last Thursday evening to discuss the impending area crisis with respect to ambulance service. Representatives from the Penn Yan Village Board, Towns of Milo, Benton, Jerusalem, and Torrey, met to discuss possibilities for ambulance service. The crisis has developed because of the fact that the current operator, Triangle Ambulance Service, has informed officials that they may be faced with termination of service as of Jan. 1, 1972 unless different arrangements can be worked out financially. Fred Mashewske, owner-operator of Triangle, has informed the governmental agencies that he must receive $8,000 from the village, plus $1,000 from each township in order to continue. He currently receives $2,750 from the village plus $500 from each of the townships yearly. Those in attendance at the meeting authorized the Penn Yan Jaycees to initiate a survey of opinion in the area, plus gathering all facts and figures regarding the establishment of a volunteer ambulance service. This newspaper will cooperate in this project and it urges its readers to complete the survey coupon on this page and return to the address indicated as soon as possible. The survey asks questions as follows: Do you feel a volunteer ambulance service for this area is practical or feasible? Are you satisfied with the present ambulance service and would you be content to have it continue under the specified financial agreement? Would you be willing to volunteer for duty as a qualified, trained ambulance attendant or as a driver? Specify which. The Jaycee survey must be completed in time for presentation to a meeting of the Penn Yan village board on Sept.7. Calvin Backstrom, Municipal Board Manager, and prominent in Jaycee activities, is chairman of the survey team. 

1971: This opinion survey form was published in The Chronicle-Express. The results that were returned would eventually lead to the formation of the Penn Yan Area Volunteer Ambulance Corps.

RECOMMEND VILLAGE LOCKUP BE CLOSED – A Yates County grand jury last week recommended the Penn Yan village lockup be closed, a contractual arrangement be made with Yates County for housing of prisoners, and the lowering of State Commission of Correction minimum requirements for supervision and giving physical examinations to all prisoners charged with intoxication or believed to be intoxicated. The grand jury made the recommendations following the study of a case involving a prisoner found unconscious in a village lockup cell in May. Yates County Judge Lyman Smith ordered the special grand jury report be made public. The investigation of conditions and management of the village lockup was requested by the State Department of Correction after the prisoner, found unconscious in a cell subsequently was hospitalized for several weeks. The five-point findings and eight-point recommendations of the grand jury followed questioning of 11 witnesses, receipt of several exhibits and tours of the village lockup and the county jail. They said in part, “The Penn Yan Police Department does not always check prisoners in the Basin Street lockup on a half-hour basis (as required by the state)." The official record book maintained by the village police “contains some inaccurate entries" regarding the half-hour checks, the report said.

NYQUIST SEES AN END TO COMPULSORY ATTENDANCE – State Education Commissioner Ewald B. Nyquist hopes that public education can be made so appealing that New York eventually would abolish compulsory school attendance at every level. “I don’t think there ought to be compulsory attendance at all,” Nyquist says. “But before that will come, you’re going to have to make education so attractive, so appealing that parents want their kids to attend, that the kids themselves want to attend.” This proposed, major innovation is a dramatic example of the commissioner’s overall thinking about the direction in which education will move during the 1970s and into the final years of this century. Nyquist outlined both long range changes and some of his immediate concerns in a conversational interview with a team of Associated Press reporters. The commissioner says his overriding goal is to shape an educational system that will be “much more joyful, less authoritarian at the elementary and secondary level, much more experimental and less rigid.”