FROM PAGES PAST: 1971: Serious fire at Penn Yan Boats

Staff reports

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

November 9, 1871

The Election — The election results are in and Yates County Chronicle Editor Stafford Cleveland has been soundly defeated in his bid for the New York State Senate by Democrat Scribner. Cleveland did not carry any of the nine townships in Yates County. He wrote in this week’s edition: "For our part we feel beat, yes, left out in the cold among the elect of our county and district. It is not just now our purpose to review the field, but to recognize the fact that we are not elected Senator of New York. To those who have brought about this result, we commend a careful analysis of their professions as compared with their acts, and a fair interpretation of the same, in view of the future of the party they so much love and revere. We, however, bow submissive to the will of the people, but live in the hope to demonstrate that they have been strangely misled in their confidence in the lead of men whose principles and patriotism are always to be found in their pockets and stomachs. Truly, today are they 'straight Republicans' and blazing representatives of temperance — the javelins with which they have attempted to impale us."

Bush’s Hall — The Davenport Brothers of world-wide renown will give one of their wonderful seances at Bush’s Hall tomorrow (Friday) evening. They perform the most remarkable feats by some invisible agency, which they claim to be spirits from the other world.

Uniforms For Keuka Fire Company No. 1 — The new organization of Keuka Fire Company No. 1 held a business meeting on Monday night. Among other matters they discussed the question of uniforms. The “City Fathers” had been interviewed upon the subject, but ineffectually, as "there were no funds in the village treasury that could be appropriated for that object.” Finally a resolution was adopted by the company, appointing a committee of five members to feel the financial pulse of the businessmen of the village and solicit subscriptions for the purpose. It seems to us that the “boys" should have uniforms, and that the money to buy them should be the cheerful contribution of those of our citizens who own property here. The company is a good one and will be very efficient if properly encouraged. The members are willing to ‘work for nothing and find themselves;’ but it is too great a tax upon them to expect them in addition to provide their own uniforms; and a company without any is just the kind that no spirited young man wishes to belong to. When the soliciting committee call, think of these things and remember that it is your property, as well as that of others, that they are willing to protect in emergencies.

100 Years Ago

November 9, 1921

Penn Yan, A Thriving Village — An All-Wise and Over-Ruling Providence has favored some sections and some localities more than others in our vast domain, with the natural blessings which automatically continue to make human life and all dependent upon it, happy, prosperous, and beautiful. Penn Yan, a thriving village of 5,000 inhabitants in the little county of Yates, state of New York, at the foot of Keuka Lake, is one of those favored spots. Every natural resource, every advantage, every intuitive outside the bowels of the earth, the Maker of all good things has bestowed abundantly. More than a century of struggles by an industrious and hardy people, engaged with the daily concerns of active life, in agricultural and allied pursuits, have brought the community into a position to command bigger things and to reach out and obtain a just share of the world’s traffic. Perhaps it may be said, and truthfully too, that Penn Yan has been neglectful and backward in keeping pace with forward movements of activity; backward in embracing opportunities that have from time to time offered themselves for her consideration; backward in doing the things that make a village grow in population, wealth, and influence. That time is past, however, and today Penn Yan is on the verge of a boom such as it has never had before; factory building, residence building, village improvements, and many other ventures are underway. The time has come and the opportunity presents itself to the people of Penn Yan and the surrounding country, in fact Yates County as a whole, to make a vigorous effort to obtain her place in the sun that she is entitled to; now is the time with the beginning of the new era that is about to establish itself, not only in our own country, but in all the countries of the world as a result of the Great War. — E.P. Swift

Sampson Theater — This week the theater offers an engaging choice of movies. Matinees - 11¢; Evenings - 11¢ and 17¢ ... Tom Moore in “BEATING THE GAME” From a “second story” worker to the esteemed mayor of a country town is the pace that Moore leads us in his latest comedy. A picture that opens with a big punch—action all the way, and a mighty thrill at the end. For a gloom chaser see “Beating the Game.” Herbert Rawlinson in “THE MILLIONAIRE.” A very clever and entertaining comedy, with Universal’s new star, Herbert Rawlinson, and we are sure you will find him a very engaging personality. Douglas Fairbanks in “THE NUT.” Doug has broken away from the traditional screen stories and produced a rip-roaring comedy, which is entirely different — full of action, dominated with surprises that pack a tremendous wallop and furnish extraordinary amusement. Full of stunts that no one except Fairbanks could perform.

Temporary Hospital — A temporary hospital is established on the site of the future Soldiers & Sailors Hospital while funds are being raised. Many of the 330 patients who were treated in the temporary memorial hospital during the first ten months of its operation were emergency cases, and some of them probably could not have lived to reach the Canandaigua or Geneva hospitals. If you have not paid your subscription, you should do so at once.

75 Years Ago

November 7, 1946

The Holmes Inn around 1910 from a postcard. Today it is the site of the Colonial Motel on West Lake Road.

Heath’s Restaurant and Holmes Inn Sold — Heath’s restaurant in the business section of Penn Yan and Holmes Inn, about a mile south of the village on the West Lake road, have changed hands. Gust Pappas of Bath is now owner of the restaurant and Mr. and Mrs. Hollis Mallory of North Main Street, Penn Yan, are the new owners of Holmes Inn, which for years has been empty. Mr. Heath purchased the business from Charles Stratton three years ago in August, after coming here from Philadelphia. The late Mr. and Mrs. Dudley Holmes took over the scenic structure built about 40 years ago overlooking Lake Keuka and planned for serving meals to the public who could arrive by trolley, steamboat, or auto. With the building, the Mallorys acquired some 4 1/2 acres of land. NOTE: Heath’s is now Angel’s Restaurant, and the Holmes Inn is now the Colonial Motel.

Atomic Bomb Expert to Speak — The Middlesex Chamber of Commerce is planning for one of the most outstanding programs since its organization when Prof. Robert E. Marshak, associate professor of physics at the University of Rochester, speaks at the regular meeting Tuesday evening, Nov. 12. The professor is the co-author of the book, “Our Atomic World,” and in his speech will use material from several chapters of this work. He will touch on such topics as “What Can an Atomic Bomb Do?” “What Defense Is Possible against Atomic Bombs?" “Is International Control of the Atomic Bomb Feasible?" “How Near Are Industrial Uses of Atomic Power?” “Non-military Uses of Neutrons and Atomic Radiations.” During the war he was associated with the radiation laboratory at MIT and later was deputy group leader in theoretical physics at the Los Alamos Atomic Bomb laboratory in New Mexico. At one time he served as chairman of the fact-finding committee of the Association of Los Alamos Scientists. He has given numerous talks on the atomic bomb before such groups as the University Club of Mexico City, University of Mexico, church and lay groups, etc.

Seneca Falls Rolls Over PYA Eleven 20 to 0 — A highly touted Seneca Falls team uncorked a brilliant running attack that enabled them to score a 20 to 0 victory over Penn Yan at the Liberty Street field on Saturday, Nov. 2. In the last period Seneca Falls scored twice to sew up the game and take the league championship. Their first touchdown came at the end of a 40-yard drive down field with Shaertl plunging over from the four-yard line for the score. The other touchdown was also made by Shaertl who intercepted a pass on his own 40 and ran 60 yards for the score. Penn Yan passed desperately in the closing minutes of the game but was unable to produce a score much to the disappointment of the large crowd that attended the game.

50 Years Ago

November 11, 1971

Fire at Penn Yan Boats — Arson is not being ruled out as fire officials continue their investigation of the blaze which swept three warehouses at the Penn Yan Boats Inc. plant early Monday morning. Damage was estimated at more than $50,000 by company officials. At about 2:30 Monday morning, a Yates County Sheriff’s Deputy, Herb Thayer, spotted the blaze. At about the same time a telephone call to the fire control center reported the blaze. The three sheds, each about 25 by 50 feet in size, contained heavy oak and plywood, mahogany paneling, and louvered doors for boats. There also were a few machines for “rough cutting” wood parts for boats in one warehouse. Robert B. Stuart, president of the company, said, “It looks suspicious. It apparently started in the back corner of the warehouse nearest the Keuka Lake Outlet. We have not figured out the cause.”

Community Improvements — All work on the new parking lot behind the business section on Main Street, Penn Yan has been completed except for the installation of parking meters. The entrance will be off East Elm Street. Also, the new educational wing of the First United Methodist Church at Penn Yan will soon be complete. Consecration services are slated Jan. 9, 1972, with Bishop Ralph Ward in attendance

According to New England Apples, the Wagener is a boxy apple, mostly rich red with yellow or green highlights. It has crisp, juicy, cream-colored flesh, and a lively, sweet-tart flavor. It is good for fresh eating and cooking, and it keeps well. Wagener is ready for harvest in late October.

The Wagener Apple — Over 100 varieties of hardy apples originated in New York State before 1850. The earliest of these was Yellow Newtown which started in Newtown in 1750. The next earliest and one that was to become the most popular was the Wagener which came into existence in Penn Yan in 1791. David Wagener, lured from his rich Pennsylvania farmlands by the Universal Friend, came into the wilderness of the Genesee Country in 1790. A year later he was followed by his son Abraham. This 17-year-old youth brought with him some apple seeds from their old farm which he planted on land given him by his father. This tract in the wilderness is now the very center of Penn Yan. The first Wagener apple tree grew on the spot where the Knapp Hotel now stands. Perhaps an historical marker should be put there. Because by 1848, against great competition, this apple achieved a first class rating plus an additional premium and diploma. The answer to the mysterious waning in popularity of this excellent apple lies in the fact that as canneries began to flourish and become mechanized in the 1900s the unusual shape of the Wagener apple did not fit as well into the peeling and coring machinery as other apples, and was not as much in demand in mass production. Anyone who has missed the great treat of munching a dark red luscious apple called the Wagener, named for the father of our village, should rush out and try to locate one before it becomes extinct. (Submitted by Mrs. Charles Beaumont)