FROM PAGES PAST 1921: George Dean guilty of murder of Jerome Conley

Yates County History Center
The Yates County Jail, circa 1921.

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

December 14, 1871

How To Cook Old Fowls — For the possible benefit of some of our young housekeepers I wish to tell them how to cook an old chicken. Prepare as for roasting, then boil three hours in a covered pot with one quart of water, to which add two table-spoonfulls of vinegar; after which put into a pan in a hot oven for about one hour to brown. The liquor in the pot to be prepared for gravy; should the water boil away too much, more should be added. The is, the meat is as tender as a young chicken, and some think richer and better.

George Adams’ Steam Mill -- Mr. Editor: In my travels the other day I saw an institution which interested me much. Passing through Larzelere’s Hollow, my attention was attracted to the excellent Steam Grist Mill then in operation, owned and conducted by Mr. George Adams. I had been thinking what might happen to us if the drouth kept on till all the mills propelled by water were compelled to stop. The people would not consent to starve, if we had no mills at all, so long as there was grain to be had. You know the pioneers, when they had no mill to go to, hollowed out the top of a stump, and by means of a pestle propelled by a sweep, cracked the corn and prepared it for cooking. Some men now living, have seen that back-woods machine, known as the Plumping Mill, Hominy Block, Samp Mortar, or Corn Cracker. Along with the spinning wheel it has become obsolete, and such are the resources of civilization that we shall have no occasion to return to that or any cognate contrivance, however dry the streams become, so long as water enough is left for the generation of steam, the great motor of human progress.

This brings me back to that trim and tidy little mill of George Adams’, in Larzelere’s Hollow. It is a real jewel. It works so elegantly, runs so perfectly and with such little waste, and does such perfect work, no wonder people come to that mill from long distances, and come again because the work suits them, and they get it done promptly. The proprietor is fortunate in having steam works that are exactly adapted to his wants, and that run with such nicety and perfection as to challenge admiration. The mill is truly an establishment of which Jerusalem may well be proud. Its proprietor can well afford to be proud of it.

Guernsey. - Jerusalem, Dec. 11, 1871.

Runaway sleigh -- On Monday we had a novel runaway. Young Robert Miller had harnessed a pet calf to his hand-sleigh and was having a fine time, when all at once the calf became frightened, commenced kicking furiously, next, with head and tail erect, he plunged down the hill towards Penn Yan at a 2:30 gait. The sleigh, striking some obstacle; flew up in the air and lodged on the calf’s back, which in turn increased his speed until he was lost in the distance, with “Bob” doing his best on the trail. We believe he caught his pet near the bridge, with sleigh unharmed.

100 Years Ago

December 14, 1921

George Dean Found Guilty -- Jury Took Case at 5:30 and Arrived at Verdict Two Hours Later. Sentence Pronounced at Once — “Twenty Years in Auburn Prison or for Natural Life.”

The trial of George Dean indicted jointly with his brother, Gilbert, for murder in the first degree for the death of Jerome Conley, of Middlesex, was found guilty of “murder in the second degree” by the jury at 7:30 Wednesday evening. The case went to the jury Tuesday morning after a day given to securing a jury. This is the shortest trial ever held in Yates county. The testimony of the some twenty witnesses sworn at this time did not materially differ from that given at the trial of Gilbert Dean when he was found guilty of murder in the second degree.

With his gaze trained unflinchingly into the jury box without a quiver of emotion, George Dean, the16-year-old boy on trial in Yates County Court in Penn Yan for the murder February 20th of Jerome Conley, Middlesex farmer, tonight at 8:15 o’clock (Dec. 7) heard Jury Foreman R. Lee Edmonds pronounce the words that shattered his hopes.

“We find the defendant guilty of murder In the second degree,” said Mr. Edmonds in a low voice, in answer to the question put to him by Court Clerk Frank R. Durry.

A minute or two later still with no outward sign of emotion, the youth stood before Justice John B. M. Stephens and answered without flinching the stereotyped questions regarding his age, schooling, religious instructions, and occupation. "Have you any reason to believe a fair and just verdict has not been rendered?” inquired the judge. George, the schoolboy defendant, threw back his head, ‘‘No, sir; except that I absolutely am not guilty of the crime they have charged me with,” he said.

Grape Prices Received by Association -- It may be of interest to those who have helped to make the Keuka Lake Grape Growers’ Co-operative Association a success to know something of the amount of grapes that the Association handled and the average prices received.

  • 28 cars of Concords averaged $109 per ton.
  • 15 cars of Catawbas averaged $110 per ton.
  • 6 cars of mixed grapes were shipped at an average price of: Delawares, $94.78; Niagaras, $95.20.
  • 2 cars of Catawbas in pony baskets averaged $.215 per basket.

The expense of handling the grapes was moderate and there will be an additional amount of nearly two dollars per ton returned to the shippers from the amount assessed to carry on the business. All things considered, the Association feels that they have completed a very successful season’s business.

Yates County Jail Inspected -- Case W. Blodgett, sheriff: there are also a jailer and matron. At the time of inspection there was only one inmate, a minor, awaiting trial, having been detained for nearly months. The highest number of inmates during the present calendar year was 3; lowest 1 The total number of admissions during the year ending June 3, 1921, was 33; this is 2 less than the preceding year. This is a modern two-story jail containing 14 cells and 2 large detention or hospital rooms. There is also a large room in the basement which is used by the Village of Penn Yan for police prisoners and lodgers, 66 such persons having been cared for during the present year.

Three meals a day are provided. When this jail was constructed the corridor doors were not provided with food passes, and it is necessary to unlock these doors three times a day. This resulted in a serious assault upon the jailer and the near escape of persons charged with murder. This should be corrected by installing new corridor doors containing such food passes, or cutting openings in the present doors.

Since the last inspection a new toilet has been installed in the tramp room. A modern one-piece jail toilet was recommended but a common toilet with wooden seat was installed. The objection to this type of toilet is that the wooden seat is easily broken by this class of inmates, and they are not so sanitary or easy to keep clean as the approved type of jail toilets operated by flushmeter.

Respectfully submitted,

Clifford M. Young, Chief Inspector.

75 Years Ago

December 12, 1946

Penn Yan Stores to Be Open Evenings -- For the convenience of the citizens of Penn Yan and Yates county most local merchants are keeping; their stores open evenings until 9 o’clock the four days preceding Christmas and also on Wednesday afternoons until Christmas. “Through the chamber they are working in many ways for the benefit of the community in general and request that the public show its appreciation by shopping early and taking advantage of the lengthened store hours and additional help to do their buying locally.”

Army Kettles, Bell Ringers Collect Christmas Funds -- The familiar red Salvation Army kettles will be spotted along Penn Yan’s Main street from now until Christmas. Captain Francis Spellman is expecting the cooperation of volunteers during the remaining days before Dec. 25 in manning the kettles. In former years members of the Rotary and Kiwanis clubs have helped out with this job, which is sometimes pretty tedious in the usual blustery cold of late December.

Among the many activities of the Salvation army at Christmas time is the distribution of baskets containing the “makings” of a Christmas dinner to needy families. Toys and clothing for children who would not otherwise be remembered is another big annual project.

Do You Know? -- The newsprint shortage is still acute. We are endeavoring to use no more paper than seems necessary to provide this community with newspaper service adequate under present conditions. Often, therefore, we cannot print as many pages as we would in normal years. Last week several columns of news were omitted. This week also we have had to edit the material we are using to conform with space available. Present indications are that there will be no relief from this shortage for months. We trust the public will recognize the situation and continue to help us more accurately judge the number of pages necessary to run in any week’s edition by getting all copy—news or advertising—to the office by Monday or earlier, whenever possible.

Elmira Couple Purchase The Commodore Restaurant -- Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Benn, of Elmira, have purchased and on Monday took over operation of the Commodore restaurant on Main Street, Penn Yan. Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Linkhorn, who came here from Naples a year ago and have been operating the business, will continue to make their home at Indian Pines. Mr. Benn for the past 15 years has been engaged in the food business. Mrs. Benn served as pastry cook at the Norden plant in Elmira and at Crotty Brothers, Elmira. In Ithaca she was with a cafeteria “on the hill,” and in the Normandie restaurant. They plan to reside in Penn Yan if they can locate an apartment or house. Their daughter, Jean M. Benn, graduate of Elmira Free Academy last spring, will also assist them in the business.

Shades Of Paul Revere -- A local taxi company, translating Mayor Wheeler’s ban on the use of all outdoor display, advertising, and window lighting, to include the light they used in an office window to signal their drivers, reached way back in history for a substitute and came up with a lantern. Penn Yan taxis do not cruise about for fares, they go out on calls. Between times, if such occur, they park near their home office and conserve gasoline and tires.

During the recent brown-out, about head high outside the window of their office, the Wren Taxi company has fixed a stout peg. Replacing their electric sign, if there is a call they hang the lantern on this peg. If there is none the lantern sits on the ground. That it is a red lantern, company officials declare is purely accidental. The familiar lines, “One if by land; Two if by sea," have been paraphrased in the Yates county seat to: “On the wall, there’s a call; lf it’s dark, you may park.’’

50 Years Ago

December 12, 1971

Judicious pruning is vital to the productivity of vineyards. Four sections of a grape pruning school were held in the grape growing region of the Finger Lakes in 1971under auspices of the Extension Service and the processors.

Vineyard Pruning Vital To Grape Crop -- Pruning is one of the most important of vineyard practices. No other single operation will have as much effect on the overall performance of the vineyard. Pruning schools were held last week in four locations in the vineyard area of the Finger Lakes at Hector, Penn Yan, Naples and Hammondsport.

Cooperative Extension Specialist for the grape industry is Gilbert C. Smith of Penn Yan. The Grape Industry program of the extension service was in charge of the grape pruning schools, with instructors furnished by the major processors in the area, namely Taylor, Gold Seal, and Widmer Wineries.

The grapevine is pruned to control the quantity and quality of both fruit and wood growth. The aim is to leave enough of the best fruiting wood to obtain optimum production of high quality grapes and to remove the surplus to prevent overbearing and its consequent inferior wood growth. Pruning is also used to shape and form the vine for the desired training method and to help achieve uniform distribution of the foliage on the trellis.