FROM PAGES PAST: 1922: The Yates County Home burned

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

June 27, 1872

Dead-Heads -- It is common for certain classes of people to look upon Editors as “dead-heads” par excellence. But the truth is, there is no class of people so remorselessly and continuously filched from and imposed upon by dead-headism, in myriad shapes, as those very newspaper Editors themselves. We will give an instance or two, by way of illustration.

There is the man who has patented a new sort of thingumbob for ‘regulating’ the heat of stoves. He comes to us with a specimen of his thingumbob, and tells us it is the greatest blessing ever invented; it will save lots of money for poor people; only let it get into general use, and the community will rise up and call him blessed. He wants us to publish his invention through our columns for nothing ; he pesters us with it, till we ate strongly tempted to rise up and call him the reverse of blessed, and show him the door. However, we don’t; we are too good-natured and too overwhelmingly polite. We don’t even tell him he is a dead-head.

There are the associations that get up schemes for benevolent purposes. Of course the Editor must do their advertising for nothing; “won’t cost him anything” to give them a free notice. Perhaps he obliges them, and perhaps he shows them his advertising rates. Some of them are no doubt very excellent people, and really believe themselves in the right. Whatever else they are, however, they are dead-heads.

There are the temperance societies and missionary associations, and moral reform agencies and associations for the furnishing of the Hottentots with flannel drawers and cod liver oil. “Can you ask us to pay for our advertising? Can you refuse to put in our notice of meetings, and so on, and have the hardihood to ask us for money when the poor Hottentots are perishing with cold? ” Certainly not, dear dead-heads. Fetch on your notices; we will print them, provided they are not too long, but remember you are dead-heads.

There is the man who is a “regular subscriber, sir,” and replenishes our exchequer to the tune of possibly ten cents a year, profit on his Republican, who gets married and wants us to advertise him for nothing — who loses his great uncle and wants us to give him ten dollars worth of obituary notice for nothing. He wouldn’t be a more complete deadhead if he was where his great-uncle is. And we can’t oblige him.

There is no use in continuing the catalogue, however. We would be right glad to trade off all our dead-head “privileges” in return for exemption from the dead-headism of those who “cheek it” on us. Some day people will learn that Editors, like doctors, shoemakers and other men, do business for a living.

Newspaper Totals -- The total annual circulation of newspapers printed in the State of New York is 492,770,868, being more than twice the number printed in any other State. The next greatest number of copies is in Pennsylvania, where 233,380,332 copies are annually printed. Massachusetts also prints 107,691,953; Illinois, 102,686,204; Ohio, 93,594,438. Then comes California with 45,869,408 newspaper sheets per annum.

100 Years Ago

June 23, 1922

The Yates County Home Burned -- Spontaneous Combustion in The Ice House Caused a Big Loss --  About 12:30 o’clock Tuesday afternoon the ice house at the Yates County Home, five miles from Penn Yan, in Jerusalem, was discovered on fire. The ice house was near the southeast corner of the main building, and not far from the east porch, and in a very few minutes the blaze had attacked the wooden parts on the outside of the old stone structure and was soon leaping up to the cornice and spreading inside.

There were 34 inmates at the time of the fire — 20 men and 14 women. Four of the invalid women were carried out in chairs and removed to the Penn Yan Hospital. Others of the inmates were provided with temporary quarters in the laundry and other buildings, and some were brought to Penn Yan and made as comfortable as possible in the county jail. Superintendent John W. Ball and family moved into the house on the property across the highway from the County Home, which was bought by the county a few years ago.

The main building at the Home was erected in 1879. It was three stories high. The walls were plastered stone, and supposed at that time to be semi-fire proof. Only the walls are left standing.

The Penn Yan fire engine and two of the large trucks were sent to the scene of the fire. The truck hauling the old Keuka steamer got stuck on the hill just outside the village and was delayed. Water was secured from the reservoir on the property on the opposite side of the road, and the fire was prevented from destroying other buildings on the place, but the interior of the big building is completely gutted and it is reckoned a total loss. There is $10,000 insurance on the buildings, $2,000 on the contents, and $700 on the ice house.

Wednesday night the fire was still burning, and Supt. Ball, fearing that the large pile of coal in the cellar might be destroyed, asked for help, and the Sheldon Hose Company went out there again.

Already there is talk of a new location for the County Home, there being some objections to the present site. Mr. Struble has offered Esperanza for consideration by the Supervisors. This would be a wonderful place for a home. The view from the front porch, showing the west branch of the lake, nestling between the rugged hills on both sides, in the foreground, with the east shore of the lake, and the horizon, in the distance, is a spectacle more beautiful than any painter’s canvass has ever portrayed.

The Story of Marcus Whitman --Rushville’s Most Noted Citizen, of Whom But Little is Known Here -- The story of Marcus Whitman’s journeys across the continent from Rushville to the State of Oregon is one of the most thrilling episodes in the history of this county, and forms an important link in the history of the United States.

A bust of Marcus Whitman. One hundred years ago, the Community House in Dresden hosted a Marcus Whitman Night celebration.

Tuesday night, at the Community House in Dresden, was Marcus Whitman night. It was planned to have a speaker from Ontario County deliver a lecture on Whitman, but he was unable to be here. Mr. Miliken, of the Canandaigua Times, who has long been a prominent figure in the Ontario County Historical Society, sent a copy of an address delivered by Frank H. Wisewell, of Canandaigua, September 14, 1913, entitled “The Story of Marcus Whitman.” Portions of this were read Tuesday night by Hon. Calvin J. Huson, who took the place of the lecturer.

Marcus Whitman was born in what is now Rushville, near the Yates County line in 1802. His parents came to this section from Windsor, Mass., in 1799. In 1800 they conducted a public house in Rushville.

Marcus was the third son born to his parents. His father died when he was eight years old, after which Marcus was sent to Massachusetts, to the home of his paternal grandfather, Deacon Samuel Whitman, for education and training. He remained there ten years. He wanted to be a minister, but was persuaded by his older brothers to take up medicine. He became an M. D. in 1824. His first practice was in Canada, but in a few years he returned to Rushville.

Dr. Whitman had never lost his desire for the ministry, and when he was 33 years old, he responded to the call of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missionaries, and set out to do missionary work among the “Flat Head Indians,” in the great north-west. This was in 1835. At that time the north-west was a vast 'wilderness — “Continuous woods Where rolls the Oregon and hears no sound Save his own dashings.”

In the fall of that year Dr. Whitman returned east to secure help for his Oregon mission. He brought with him two Indian boys, Richard Sac-i-tu-i-tus and John I-tes, that he might show the people of this part of the country specimens of the aborigines of the west. These boys attended school in Rushville in 1835-’36.

Before starting back, Dr. Whitman married Narcissa Prentice, who was born in Prattsburgh. Mr. Wisewell’s lecture contains the following paragraph :

“For his colleagues in service he secured Rev. H. H. Spaulding and his young bride. Mrs. Whitman and Mrs. Spaulding not only together share the honor of being the first American ladies who ever spanned the continent on a bridal tour, but they were also the first white women who ever crossed the plains and threaded the defiles of the Rocky Mountains. Gatlin, the Indian painter, and others of like western experience, counselled the party to turn back, assuring them that no white woman could cross the plains through hordes of hostile Indians without certainly meeting all the horrors of unreported captivity.

“What civilizing or anti-civilizing forces did these Christian men and women find when they reached that uncivilized land to which they had come to found homes, schools and churches. Besides the natural barrier of heathen cruelty in the savage nature of the Indians, they found one great anti-civilizing force that was formidable indeed — the famous Hudson Bay Company — one of the greatest commercial monopolies the world has ever known. This company for half a century had been pursuing its policy of holding and reserving North America for fur. This company was authorized by Great Britain to raise wild animals for their fur, and had the only and absolute right to kill and skin them.”

It should be remembered that at the time of Dr. Whitman’s pilgrimage, Oregon was a vast area, containing what is now the states of Washington and Idaho, and according to the claims of our government, a good part of British Columbia as well. So keen was the rivalry between the United States and Great Britain over territory and boundary lines in the northwest, they entered into a joint treaty of occupation in 1818, for ten years. At the expiration of that term it was renewed indefinitely. In 1846 this treat came to an end, when the Oregon treat was concluded.

In October, 1842, Dr. Whitman was called to Fort Walla Walla to visit a patient. While there he overheard a plan by which England hoped to seize and hold that vast territory. Dr. Whitman decided that he would thwart the scheme if possible, and he set out for Washington on horseback. Amos Lawrence Lovejoy volunteered to accompany him. Together they started. A treacherous guide attempted to lose them, but failed.

Mr. Lovejoy was unable to complete the trip, and Dr. Whitman made it alone, arriving in Washington March 3, just five months from the day he started. He was clad in furs, and had undergone the severest kind of hardships. He saw President Tyler and set in motion the machinery that saved that northwestern territory to the United States. On November 29, 1847, after Oregon had been saved and the tide of American immigration had increased to upwards of 10,000, Marcus Whitman and thirteen associates were murdered by the Indians.

The state of Oregon has named one of its principal institutions of learning Whitman College; it has a Whitman County; and it has a monument to mark the place where Whitman fell.

What have we here?

75 Years Ago

June 26, 1947

Main Street is a Mess – But Don’t Blame The Mayor -- Commenting that both he and the village board “appreciated the patience and cooperation of the public during the interruptions to traffic and the noise and bother created by the present repairs to Main Street,” Mayor Mervin Rapalee holds out hope for a cessation of the difficulties soon.

The Mayor explains that the work which is now underway is being done by contractors for the New York State Electric and Gas company. They are installing new service mains, gates and other facilities, and making repairs so that when the highway has been resurfaced it will not have to be torn up immediately to do such work.

The street from Geer’s garage to the Methodist Church is to be completely resurfaced by the state with black-top. The only expense to the village is the raising of the manholes, which makes the driving so uneven and a trifle tricky just now. The new surface will be applied, one side at a time, so that one-way traffic can be maintained during the operation. It is expected that the work will be completed by late July.

Helicopter Crashes In Garrett Vineyard -- Pilot Not Injured But Plane Is Demolished -- A helicopter which was being used to dust the Garrett vineyards at the end of Bluff Point crashed against the side of the Bluff Saturday morning. The pilot, Edward “Smiley'* Robinson, 21, of 200 South Seneca St, Weedsport, climbed out uninjured but the plane, which caught fire immediately, is almost a total loss. Mr. Robinson has been in this area since Wednesday dusting vineyards, the first time a plane has been used for this work in this vicinity and the first time a helicopter has ever been seen by many of the local residents.

Saturday morning, Mr. Robinson was working at a very low altitude and apparently misjudged the steepness of the slope for in turning the rear rotor struck against one of the grape posts and broke off. This put the plane out of control and it crashed against the steep side of the Bluff right in the vineyard. The accident occurred about a couple hundred feet above the new road and only a few rods down hill from the Garrett Memorial Chapel. When the plane crashed the rotor propeller hit another post and broke off, the plane overturned and almost immediately caught fire. The pilot climbed out, and with the help of Ray Kinyoun, Garrett farm manager, succeeded in putting the flames out with dirt.

Mrs. Jennie E. Barden, Descendant Of Pioneer Family, Dies Friday -- Mrs. Llewellyn James (Jennie E.) Barden passed away June 20, 1947 at Penn Yan at the age of 94. Mrs. Barden was born Jan. 12, 1853 in Benton, daughter of Hon. George R. and Elmira Southerland Barden. Her brother and two sisters, Ashley W. Barden, Lucy Swarthout, and Theda H. Pangburne, predeceased her.

On Nov. 19, 1874 she married Llewellyn James Barden, who later served nine years as Yates County Superintendent of Schools and in the New York State Assembly. They lived at Bellona Station, where he was postmaster and produce dealer, until 1913, when they moved to Mesa, Ariz. Mrs. Barden returning east each summer to visit her family. Her death occurred during her annual visit here this summer.

Her husband died in 1938. She is survived by her four children: Mrs. Stuart Mc Alpine, Batavia; George L. Barden, Penn Yan; Miss Elmira Barden, Mesa, Ariz., and Harold H. Barden, Lockport; eight grandchildren and 15 greatgrandchildren. Burial was in the family plot at the Benton Cemetery, all four children being present for the services. Bearers were grandsons—Bryce Barden, Webber Young, John Burke, Seward G. Smith, H. Monroe Barden, Richard R. Barden, and John K. Barden.

The Barden family is one of the oldest in Yates County and the descendants are prominent in the civic and industrial life of the county seat, several of Mrs. Barden's grandsons receiving high decorations for military service during the last war.

Child Immunizations in Potter -- Dr. B. C. Hurlbutt, health officer of the town of Potter, will hold the first in a series of child health and immunization ’’clinics, open to children up to school age, on Thursday, July 3, at the Methodist Church in Rushville. Later clinics at Rushville will be on July 24 and August 21. Clinics to be held at Potter Center will be on July 10, August 7, and August 28. At these clinics, physical and dental examination, and such of the following immunizations as the child needs and the parents wish him to have will be available: diphtheria and tetanus (lock jaw) combined, smallpox vaccination, and whooping cough inoculations. The series of six clinics will enable children needing all’ these protections to secure them, if they attend either the first clinic in Rushville or in Potter.

50 Years Ago

June 22, 1972

Pinckney Bros. Plan Open House Of Enlarged Hardware Store -- It’s spacious, the displays are “eye-catching” there’s room to browse. This is the Pinckney Hardware store, Elm and Main streets, Penn Yan, which will officially open its enlarged quarters at an house Thursday through Saturday.

The Pinckney Hardware building around 1970. Fifty years ago, the three Pinckney brothers - Robert, Donald, and Edward - hosted an open house for their enlarged store.

The three Pinckney brothers, sons of the late Edward Pinckney Sr., who retired in 1959, are now operating the store as co-owners. Robert Pinckney became associated with the store in 1945; Donald, in 1946 and Edward in 1953. They are assisted by Mitchell Wiber, high school senior. 

The Hardware Store is the third oldest business in the community. A hardware firm, under one name or another, has occupied the Pinckney corner at Main and Elm since the early 1820s. Approximately in the early 1800s Betts and Hanford came to Penn Yan according to Frank L. Swann, county historian, and opened a hardware store in a yellow building owned by Abraham Wagener on the approximate site of the present store.

Youngsters Raise $40 For Cancer -- Kids are really great. To prove the point, Barry, Sherry, and Iva Jo Wetmore, 185 South Avenue, Kathy D’Abbracci, 120 Sunset Ave., Vicki Bodine, 105 Sunset Ave., Diane Curbeau, 111 Sunset Ave., and Steve Benulis, 104 Sunset Ave., put their heads together a while ago and came up with the idea of having a neighborhood carnival. They offered several games and other tests of skill as well as refreshments, and netted $40.90 for their efforts. Then, they proudly presented their profits to the Yates County Unit of the American Cancer Society.

Two Steps Forward --  from the Editorial Page -- We are heartily in agreement with two proposals made by two county legislators at this month’s meeting. Legislator Elmer W. Grove of the Towns of Italy and Middlesex suggested that there be an agenda, prepared in advance, for each month’s session. The agenda would reach each legislator at least several days prior to the meeting to give each member a chance to study proposals, and if necessary, to have time to “look thoroughly” into any proposal which would involve the expenditure of money, change of personnel, legislation that would affect county taxpayers and residents, go a step further.

We suggest that each legislator planning to offer a resolution, file it with the clerk of the board at least a week prior to the monthly business session any resolution, not previously pre-filed, be not considered except by the consent of two-thirds of the legislators present at that day’s session. In this way, no important resolution, which should need study, would be brought to the floor without previous consideration; yet should an emergency arise, such a resolution could be enacted upon by the approval of two-thirds of the board present at that day’s session.

The pre-filed resolutions, which would give the committee and the committee’s chairman’s name would be mailed to all legislators several days prior to the meeting so that each could be fully informed as to the business to come before the board.

At the monthly meeting these pre-filed resolutions would be made available to the press and other news media so that there could not be any possibility of an error as to the resolution itself, or its sponsor. This too should help the board clerk in as much as she would have each resolution read to be approved or defeated and would not have to write the resolution as it is being made, or as sometimes happens, writing the resolution herself from proposals made “on the spur-of-the moment” by legislators.