FROM PAGES PAST: 1871: New steamboat to ply Keuka

Yates County History Center

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

The steamer Yates at Willow Grove on Lake Keuka.

150 Years Ago

October 5, 1871

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New Steamboat – Mr. Springstead is about to put out the stocks in this village for a new boat he is building for Joseph F. Crosby & Co. We learn from the parties who have this work in charge that this boat is to be just such a one as the people of Penn Yan will be particularly delighted with. It will be of light draft, and well adopted to rapid motion. It will be finished in elegant style and furnished with those comfortable and luxurious accommodations which will make it particularly attractive to the traveling public. All this we are glad to hear as regards the public accommodation, and the special convenience of Penn Yan. There is one feature of it, however, that we do not relish, and that is the prospect of rivalry and competition for the Lake business. There will not be enough of it to bear the strain of competing interests. All the boating interests on the Lake should be in the hands of a single person or company. Then it would pay reasonably well, and the public in the long run would be better served. We hope therefore that the competing interests will somehow be brought together and consolidated in an amicable way. We arc no enemy to Capt. Wood, and we should prefer that he either have the whole business, or be bought off at such figure as will fairly compensate him. There is no doubt the people at this end of the Lake desire a good, well equipped boat to run from here, and to be such a boat as will be pleasant for parties and excursions, large and small, and make its passengers fully comfortable. Such a boat will no doubt now be provided and will have the liberal patronage of the public. We trust it may result in no loss to any of the parties directly interested.

NOTE: This boat became the Yates, which was finally launched in the spring of 1873 and burned at the dock in Penn Yan ten years later.

100 Years Ago

October 5, 1921

‘The Magic Wheel’ at the Elmwood – 250 community members performed in this musical extravaganza at the newly opened Elmwood Theater in Penn Yan. There were three performances to raise money for the proposed Soldiers & Sailors Hospital.

New College For Women – The first class to enter the new Keuka College organized recently by electing Miss Ruth Cynthia Norton as class president. The girls are keenly interested in the pioneer work of establishing a new college for women. Already plans are being made for the establishment of student government and Young Women 's Christian Association. A college newspaper is to be published in October. Nearly fifteen per cent of the students in Keuka College hold University scholarships for excellence in their High School work. A pageant is being written by the professor of expression and physical culture to be given on October 7th at the time of the formal opening of the college.

Keuka Gardens, The Beautiful – Home builders Paul Ritchey, George Roberts, and Thomas Hassett were offering lots for sale in the area of West Court Street and Highland Drive in Penn Yan. Prices ranged from $100 to $500 - Only $10 down and then $1 a week. No interest or taxes for one year. “NEVER again will you have the opportunity to procure such ideal homesites, such fertile soil, such wonderful garden spots, on such easy terms, and this with a view unsurpassed in all Penn Yan. If you haven't availed yourself of one of these choice lots, do so at once, and five years from now you will find yourself in the center of Penn Yan's residential district. It is near to the churches, near to the stores, and near to the schools, with neither Main Street or railroad to cross to get to them. A great number of lots have fruit trees on them worth the price of the lot itself. It is an investment easily redeemable, for as Penn Yan increases in population Penn Yan real estate must increase in value.”

Odd Fellows Temple – The Odd Fellows Club of Penn Yan will hold its first annual meeting tonight (Wednesday). This club was formed last spring by some of the members of Keuka Lodge, No. 149, after they moved into their newly purchased Odd Fellows’ Temple on Main Street. The club charter was held open until now so as to give any Odd Fellow in this vicinity a chance to join, but the charter will now be closed. Club rooms have been furnished with substantial furniture and billiard tables. The club rooms all face Main street and consist of a reading room, card room and billiard room.

75 Years Ago

October 3, 1946

Keuka To Mark 25th Anniversary Of Its Opening As Women’s College – Keuka college will formally celebrate the 25th anniversary of its opening as a college for women at Founders’ Day exercises scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 12. Dr. Edwin T. Dahlberg, president of the Northern Baptist convention and pastor of the First Baptist Church of Syracuse, is scheduled to deliver the principal address. Keuka was originally founded as "The Keuka Institute,” a coeducational school, in 1890, but classes were suspended from 1915 until 1921. In January, 1919, the late Dr. Arthur H. Norton, vice- president of Elmira college, was elected president, and the college reopened on Sept. 21, 1921, as a college for women. The student body that year consisted of 36 freshmen, the majority from New York state within a 50-mile area, with two students from other states. The only college building available at that time for living quarters and classes was Ball Hall. Since its reopening 25 years ago, the college has graduated 982 liberal arts students, 32 nursing students have graduated from the school of nursing established in 1943, and certificates for the completion of the two-year business- secretarial course have been awarded eight students. Four dormitories, Richardson Hall, North Hall, the Winters’ Cottage, and Strong Hall, a co-operative dormitory, as well as Hegeman Hall, a classroom building, have been added to Ball Hall, the original college building. Today the student body numbers 436 from 13 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. The number of students on campus is 354 with 82 nursing students now engaged in clinical training at hospitals. The original faculty in 1921 numbered 12, while today the faculty totals 31 plus members of the administration.

Firemen Sponsor Biggest Parade Ever Seen in County – All roads led to the Yates county seat Wednesday afternoon when more than 8,000 persons gathered from all over the Finger Lakes area to watch Penn Yan’s first big firemen’s parade in which an estimated 2,000 persons marched. The reviewing stand was set up on the main four-corners with the village board of trustees, the fire board, Mayor Roy Wheeler of Penn Yan, and the three judges, Al Sisson of Rochester, Percy Griffiths of Penn Yan, and James Green of the Seneca Ordnance Depot, standing at attention for the marchers. Mr. Griffiths, who has coached many school and military bands for participation in just such events and knows what can be expected of correctly trained groups, said, “This is the finest and largest parade Penn Yan has ever had. There are so many unusual groups, and so many unusually good, that it is going to be very difficult to decide the winners.” Mr. Sisson, who has attended more than 30 of these firemen conventions this summer, cemented that this one was “grand.’ “It is the largest and finest I have seen this year.” Mr. Green of the Ordnance made a very conservative statement. “It is a very nice parade,” he said. Then he realized that was very much of an understatement and added, “Such darned nice outfits. I don’t know how anybody is going to pick a winner. Just look at those kids drill!” They finally decided it this way. Canandaigua received first prize for having the largest company in full uniform marching, Geneva was second. That was easy. The next was harder, but Geneva received first prize for having the best appearing and most attractive company, Montour Falls was second.

50 Years Ago

October 7, 1971

Nursing Home Dedication – The Penn Yan Manor Nursing Home adjacent to the Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hospital in Penn Yan was dedicated at formal ceremonies held Tuesday afternoon. Around 100 people attended and heard an address by Edward E. Strevy, Assistant Director, Bureau of Hospital Construction Financing, State Health Department, Rev. William Kirkpatrick is the president of the Nursing Home Board of Directors. In discussing the motivation and the realization of the existence of a nursing home in Penn Yan, the board of directors, through its president, Rev. Kirkpatrick, issued the following statement for the official dedication ceremonies: “Penn Yan Manor is a reality because the people of Yates County cared enough about the needs of the elderly to become involved in the planning, negotiating, hard work, and money raising. The thoughts of creating a nursing home facility for Yates County goes back at least 10 years. However, the thrust of our present facility began in August of 1966 with the formation of a citizen’s committee concerned about establishing a badly needed nursing home facility.”

J.J. Newberrys' 40th – Newberrys celebrated their 40th year on Main St. in Penn Yan with a Discovery Days Sale with discounts on various household goods: Waste baskets 99¢, Kitchen towels 77¢ and Stainless steel pans 99¢.

The Wagner Opens At New Location – Another chapter of the historic Wagner Hotel was recorded this week with the opening of The Wagner on East Elm St. in Penn Yan. Mr. and Mrs. Everett Jensen, owners of the business since 1964, have completely remodeled their East Elm St. property into an attractive dining facility. Jensen purchased the hotel and restaurant business in 1964 from the Penn Yan Wagner Corporation, headed by Daniel Laux of Elmira. Prior to entering this field, Jensen was owner of the Jensen Machine Shop specializing in engine rebuilding. The Wagner Hotel has a history as interestingly involved as it is long. In 1825 Elijah Holcomb, a retired English sea captain opened the Washington House tavern on the Main St. site. He ran the business until 1829 when Dr. Oliver Wolcott became proprietor, but the building soon became a boarding school, “The Yates County Academy and Female Seminary.” The Academy continued until the middle 1840s. About 1847, Ebenezer Jones, a Penn Yan merchant, bought the property and built the present residential part of the building. Later it was acquired by Mrs. Hebe Ellsworth, wife of General Samuel Stewart Ellsworth. Subsequent owners were Charles Sheppard, John Sheppard, and Oscar Murray. In 1932, the residence was purchased by Walter Wagner, former mayor of Bath and owner of the hotel there that carried his name. He converted the Penn Yan residence into the Hotel Wagner, the name by which it has been known ever since. The Wagner’s new site was bought by Everett Jensen from the Sutherland Corporation in 1953. It has housed the machine shop since then. The Wagner occupies the first floor with restaurant and bar, and has a capacity for 225. The Jensens plan to serve lunches daily except Saturday and Sunday.