Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Fair’s Fair
By Douglas H. Shepard, 1999 and 2011

Next time you attend a local fair, such as the Fredonia Farm Festival or the County Fair, take a moment to pay your mental respects to what is a truly venerable tradition. These events that seem such a natural part of our annual landscape actually have had a long, complex and fascinating history. Back in April 1819 when all of Pomfret boasted a population of 2306 souls, 309 of them engaged in farming, the New York State Legislature enacted a law to promote improvements in agricultural methods and products. It provided for a State Board of Agriculture and for County Societies to promote agriculture and household manufactures. $10,000 (later $20,000) was set aside to provide for premiums for the top entries at each Fair held by a county society.

Acting on that incentive, some residents of Mayville distributed a notice of a meeting to be held there for the purpose of establishing the Chautauque [the original spelling] County Agricultural Society. However, fearing Mayville domination, a deep, dark plot was laid by Judge Zattu Cushing, Col. Thomas G. Abell, and other Fredonia worthies. A small contingent from the Village traveled to Mayville via Westfield, the only wagon road then open, on the day before the meeting, deliberately giving the impression that they were the delegation. However, early next morning, a much larger group, on horseback and under the command of Col. Abell, made its way via the Old Chautauqua Road through the woods, and waited a mile or two outside Mayville until the last minute. They then proceeded directly to the court house, joined the earlier contingent, making almost 200 in all, elected Judge Cushing its first president and enough Fredonians to the other offices to guarantee control of the organization and its fairs, and went home.

The Fairs in Fredonia’s Barker Common

The maneuvering may have been a tactical triumph, but in fact, turned out to be a hollow victory. Although, under the Society’s aegis, fairs were held from 1820 through 1824, there were few participants and little interest was shown. It could not have been the fault of the location, Barker Common, since it had been a popular central site for a variety of activities since 1808 when the Common was first cleared of stumps. That made it a very special place indeed, for many years to come. Imagine that you are able to have a birds-eye view of the Village in 1808 or 1818 or even 1828. What would be the most striking aspect of the landscape? The thickness of the tree tops. Everywhere you look is an ocean of leaves broken by a few ribbons of dirt roads, including the unusually wide Main Street. Barely seen just off to one side or another are partially cleared house lots, and especially outside the Village, larger clearings – islands in the green ocean – cultivated fields where crops are being raised. There is only one small opening in that entire expanse that is not built on or planted on, and that is the Common. Made by man, it is the only clearing in the dense forest that is not intended for some private use. It was an impressive gift from Hezekiah Barker, who lived to see it used for a great range of activities.

On July 4th, 1813, during the War of 1812, there was a patriotic gathering on the Common accompanied by dancing at Barker’s tavern. That was the day when Judge Zattu Cushing’s Fourth of July oration was interrupted by the news that a skirmish was taking place at the mouth of Canadaway Creek. At the beginning of March, 1815, some 200-300 people from surrounding towns gathered to celebrate the end of the war. “The order of the day was first to meet at the old Tavern [owned by the Abells but still the building that Hezekiah Barker had put up in 1808], then march in procession across the Common to the school house, and there listen to an oration adapted to the occasion by John French, a lawyer, at that day of considerable talent, and who subsequently had the honor of giving the name of Fredonia to our village. From the school house (after passing through many evolutions on the Common) they returned to the Tavern and partook of a sumptuous dinner, got up in true pioneer style.” Levi Risley recalled the first of the “bower dinners,” as they were called, held by the innkeepers, the Abells, starting on St. John’s Day, June 24th, 1816. Tables were set up under a bower on the Common near Abell’s new tavern. (They had replaced Barker’s simpler log cabin with a larger frame building in the Fall of 1815.) The main course was roast pig, and these bower dinners continued until well into the 1830s.

Obviously, then, the Common was a favorite gathering place for a variety of community activities, and it was there in 1820 that the first Chautauque County Agricultural Society Fair was held. It seems to have been a very modest affair consisting of an exhibition of prime stock. The second annual “Chautauque County Cattle Show and Fair” was also held there on 3 December 1821. The bower dinners, the Fourth of July celebrations, traveling circuses, etc., unlike the fairs, all took place during times of good weather. However, that is exactly the wrong time to ask farmers to leave off work to go to a Fair. For that reason, the earliest agricultural fairs were scheduled in December when the time could be spared, and barring a snowstorm, travel on frozen roads was easier than on the rutted, mud-filled warm-weather roads. So perhaps it was the weather that helped keep the attendance low in the early years. In addition, the Fair drew only on a population close enough to visit for the day and still have time to walk or ride a horse home – not too many.

Henry Frisbee was not at all kind when he reported on the Second Annual fair in his new New York Censor of 11 December 1821. “The Chautauque county Cattle Show and Fair (such as it was), was held in this village on Tuesday last. The exhibition excited very little interest, so little that we were not able, yesterday, to ascertain on whom many of the premiums were bestowed. We are sure, however, that no extraordinary specimens of domestic manufacture were exhibited. The 1st premium, of $8, on the best cultivated farm, was awarded to Joel Harrington, and the 2d best, of $5 to Col,. Benj. Perry; the 1st premium of $5 for the best 25 acres, to Thomas G. Abell, 2d best, $4 to Nathaniel Crosby; -- best acre of corn and best acre of flax $5 and $6 to Thomas G. Abell. The 1st and 2d premiums of $8 and $6 on the first and second best 20 yards fulled cloth were awarded to the Hon. Zattu Cushing. While we have the most glowing descriptions of the celebrations of the farmer’s holiday in the eastern part of the state, [Frisbee had an article in the same issue about the State Fair] we are sorry to see so little importance attached to it by the farmers in this county. It is manifest that the society has decreased since last season; and it evidently appears that the liberality of the state is not met by a corresponding spirit on the part of our citizens. No more has been done than to comply with the strict letter of the law, and at each Fair a few individuals, with very ordinary exertions, have succeeded in carrying off the profits and the honor, (if any there is) without the body of the people participating at all in them.”

Not a very positive picture. However, whatever the cause, the ultimate result after another three years was the abandonment of the whole enterprise. With the Chautauque Agricultural Society’s Fair on the Common on December 22, 1824, the organization had a quiet, and apparently lamented, death. Not until twelve years later did interest become revived. In 1836 the organization was begun again with the encouragement of Jabez Burrows of Mayville. The first annual fair of the re-formed Chautauque County Agricultural Society was held in Mayville early in October 1838. The Mayville Sentinel called the fair “the first thing of the kind ever attempted in the county” and was roundly scolded by the Fredonia Censor for having forgotten “that an Agricultural Society was once before formed in this county, in which the people of this section took part.” Under the new leadership, fairs were held at various locations: Mayville, as we have seen, Panama, Delanti (now Stockton), Westfield, and in 1857, Fredonia.

The Fairs on Fredonia’s Forest Hill

At the 1857 business meeting – which began each year’s events – it was decided to have the fair in Fredonia again in 1858, and thereafter, to hold the fair in the same place for each of two years. The reason was the expense of obtaining an adequate site and putting up tents or temporary buildings. What seems to have prompted this new policy was the great effort that had gone into the very successful 1857 Fair and the gratifying response of those in attendance. The local committee had been able to lease 13 acres of the old Squire White farm in August 1857. White had died the previous April and the estate was being divided into various parcels to be sold off. The announcement of the estate sale included a description of the “home lot on the North side of Main Street, which is to be subdivided by opening a street (called White Street) through it to Free or Cemetery Street (today’s Lambert Avenue]. It contains twenty-one acres, including the greater portion of the beautiful lot occupied for the Agricultural Society’s Fair. It is divided into 13 lots, mostly small – about ½ acre each.” The piece used for the Fair covered what is now roughly the southern half of Forest Hill Cemetery. In fact, because the land originally was seen as fronting on “the North side of [East] Main Street” and extending back from there, the rear line of those lots paralleled East Main Street, which is why the southerly line of the Cemetery then (now Stillman Avenue) instead of running in from the entrance at a right angle to Lambert Avenue, ran northeasterly. It was below that line that part of the land was used for the Fair. It included an open field, a grove of trees, and a large, oval race track a half mile in length. A high wooden fence surrounded it all.

On September 16th, the local committee called for volunteers to help put up the Agricultural tent. It was the effort and expense of putting up temporary buildings or tents to house the various exhibits that had prompted the committee to recommend using a site two years’ running. By this time, the 1850s, these fairs had become much more than just an exhibition of prize animals. The Censor’s reference to “the annual gathering of the Farmers and Mechanics to compare the results of their industry and skill” (on 28 September 1857) indicates that agricultural products were only a part of the mix. In those days, “Mechanic” meant something close to “artisan” or “skilled craftsman.” The 1857 Fair had an exhibition of “pure blooded cattle,” a tent “assigned to the exhibition of agricultural implements, &c., and another to domestic indoor articles.” One very popular item was the small printing press used by J. R. Parker to stamp seed papers, the wrappers that Parker, the Risleys, and others used to package their garden seeds. The domestic tent included items such as “Ladies’ needlework,” “specimens of Dentistry,” and daguerreotypes. Another tent housed various prize fruits and vegetables, cane syrup and the like.

By resolution of the directors, the fair was to be held in the same place in 1858. Ambitious plans were laid, which included issuing a promotional newsletter, the Agricultural Bulletin which first appeared on 3 September 1858. By that time, a fence was being put up again, the track graded, and tents were being raised. The work was worth it. The entries were up, 1434 as compared to 1857’s 920. Attendance was an unprecedented 25,000 over the three days. Total receipts in 1857 had been $1600. In 1858 they were: $143.77 remaining from 1857, a matching $143.00 from the State, $76.00 ground rent (for refreshment booths, etc.), and $1661.81 in admissions, for a grand total of $2024.58 [worth at least $55,000 in 2011], and that was without counting the amount to be received from selling “the timber in fences and building fixtures.” It must have been the overwhelming success of the Agricultural Society that brought about the formation of a parallel local group, the Chautauque Farmers’ and Mechanics’ Union, on 14 March 1859. Under New York State law, an agricultural “society” represented a county, while a “union” represented more than one town. Another motivating factor may have been that the home lot of the White estate had been marked off in building lots, and the opportunity to rent all those acres would probably soon be gone, so the Union’s first order of business was to consider buying the grounds.

A general meeting was held on 20 July 1859, at which it was agreed to buy 13 acres, which included a wooded grove, the race track area, and some open ground for buildings and booths. (There were actually five separate parcels acquired between 1859 and 1866 that made up the Fairgrounds.) Once the Union had secured the major lot of 13 acres, they arranged to hold their own fair on September 28, 29 and 30, 1859, so as not to interfere too much with the Chautauque County Fair at Jamestown on September 13, 14 and 15. This pattern continued for some ten years, with the County Fairs every two years at various locales throughout the County, and the Union Fairs at their own grounds in Fredonia, which were also rented out for other events during the rest of the year. The Union Fairs in Fredonia, like the County and other local Fairs, gradually added more and more non-agricultural items and events. In addition to souvenirs and trinket booths, refreshment stands and the like, there were foot races, hurdle jumps, ball games and the ever-popular horse racing.

Those races were always trotting races, using the heavy, old-fashioned sulky. Flat racing was “foreign,” suspect, and close to sinful. (That’s what Meredith Wilson had in mind in Music Man, when he had Harold Hill deplore as modern decadence the idea of some upstart actually sitting up on Dan Patch, the famous trotter.) As popular as the races were, they were always a concern, because they shifted the emphasis away from displays of superior blooded stock to speed for its own sake. Besides that, it encouraged gambling. The other serious problem was the unseemly noise and turmoil if there happened to be a burial ceremony going on just over the fence in Forest Hill Cemetery.  Nevertheless, the trotting races were very popular, and one of their major proponents was William Moore, a prominent local cattle dealer and horse breeder. Shortly after the first Union Fair, a group calling itself the Chautauque Horse Association, William Moore, President, J. C. Mullett, Secretary (who was also secretary of the Union association) was formed. They planned an elaborate two-day “First Annual Horse Show” at the Union’s Fairgrounds, with the proceeds to go to the Union’s fund. Unfortunately, bad weather postponed it, and it had to be put off until the following year. Moore also continued his involvement with the Union as Superintendent of Horses.

Over the years, with a permanent location available, permanent buildings were added to the Fairgrounds and old ones were repaired and extended. In addition to stalls and pens, there was Mechanics’ Hall, displaying furniture, leather work, tinware, etc; Vegetable Hall; and Floral Hall, which included displays of fruit, honey, and flowers. In 1928, G. E. Montague described what he remembered of the Union’s October 1865 7th Annual Fair and Cattle Show. “The grounds were enclosed by a high rough board fence, and facing this were pens in which were the cattle, horses and swine. There were two buildings about 35 by 60 feet in size, designated as Floral Hall and Agricultural Hall, in which the displays of flowers, fruits and vegetables were held. There were at that time only two breeds of cattle in this vicinity, the Durham or Shorthorn, and the Devonshire, neither of which was considered a purebred. The greatest attraction, perhaps, was the number of oxen and steers with yoke. I think there were as many as 25 pairs, old and young at that fair. And the boy who received a blue ribbon and perhaps a two dollar bill for the best yoke of calves or yearlings, well broken, was as proud as the man of today who gets many prizes with his registered stock. There were of course the races. ‘Oh Boy we thought them great!’ The sulkeys [sic] used were high wheeled heavy affairs which needed a good harness to draw. The horses were mostly locally owned and driven by the owner. Among the drivers we recall the names of George Risley, Levi Harrison, George N. (Nelt) Frost, Hial Fox. Best time about 3:30. Then there was a foot race by Indians from the reservation, which created a great amount of fun among the boys, and considerable betting among the men.”

In 1867 the Union decided to build a new Floral Hall in the form of a Greek cross, two stories high, and big enough to hold all the indoor exhibits. In 1869, the Good Templars had a restaurant with hot meals near the speaker’s stand, and the Children’s Missionary Society of the Presbyterian Church sold ice cream, coffee and cake at a stand at Floral Hall. In addition, there was a croquet match, an Indian war dance and the trotting races, which were not as interesting as they might have been, since William Moore’s “Chautauque Belle” won so many of the heats. Despite that, it was a fine fair, but, it turned out, the last. Forest Hill Cemetery as it then stood was beginning to fill up and the noise and dust from the Fairgrounds continued to be an annoyance, so negotiations had begun for the Cemetery Association to buy the grounds from the Union. It was discussed at the Union’s Annual Meeting in January 1870 and quickly agreed to. At the same time, William Moore and others were appointed a committee to identify another location for their fairgrounds.

The Fairs on Central Avenue

After they reported back on February 12th, the decision was made to buy what was then called the Abell lot, just off Central Avenue in Dunkirk, and to lease “Hunt’s Grove” adjoining it. Ultimately, the deal fell through and the Chautauque Farmers’ and Mechanics’ Union ceased to exist. However, as a substitute, William Moore took part of his land just off McAllister Road, called the Kapple farm, and built a half-mile of trotting track on it. A small association was formed with Horace White as President, P. H. Stevens, Secretary, to oversee the annual horse fairs and races held at what was variously called the Fredonia Driving Park, the New Fairground, and Moore’s Driving Park. Those annual events continued, although never with enormous success, through 1880. In January of that year, a local group met to consider creating yet another “agricultural society and driving track for northern Chautauqua,” representing Sinclairville, Fredonia, and Dunkirk. The association was incorporated and began considering locations for a permanent Fairgrounds. Again the Abell lot was looked at, and this time, the sale went through. With that competition in sight, Moore’s Driving Park was abandoned, and the land returned to farming. Moore himself died in December of 1881.

The Agricultural Society of Northern Chautauqua offered an impressive set of grounds and buildings. Initially there was an ornamental gateway, a secretary’s office, the main exhibit building (also in the form of a Greek cross), a grandstand seating 1240 with refreshments underneath, and a judges’ stand. As usual, the grounds were also rented out for other events during the year. The Society did well for a number of years, but by 1890 it fell into default, and the grounds and buildings had to be sold off. A group of local businessmen bought the grounds, intending to keep up the race track. In the meantime, the Chautauqua County Agricultural Society, which had been holding annual fairs since 1836, at Jamestown in recent years, cancelled the fair for 1896 because attendance in the past few years had been so poor. It was suggested that their fair alternate between Jamestown and the Fredonia-Dunkirk grounds, to maintain interest, but when the Society looked into the possibility of purchasing those grounds, it was found that there was a conflict of title. It seems that in November 1890, the land was sold at a Sheriff’s sale to a group headed by M. M. Fenner; however, in the previous October, the County Treasurer had sold the same land to someone else for unpaid taxes. A court battle finally, in May 1898, settled the suit in Fenner’s favor. In the following August, he sold the property to a new group, the Chautauqua County Fair Association, and he became the Superintendent of the Grounds. He had the buildings refurbished and ready to go for the First Annual Chautauqua County Fair in 1900.

For various reasons, this Society also languished, and no fair at all was held in 1916, at which point the grounds reverted to the Fenner estate. Under the aegis of Arthur R. Maytum, he, along with the Merchants Exchange of Dunkirk, organized yet another group, the Chautauqua County Agricultural Corporation, on 6 July 1917, which took over the old property on Central Avenue. Since the group was a corporation, it issued stock, 15,000 shares by 1918. Over the years, however, the identity of the shareholders was lost, and it became necessary under new and more stringent laws to reorganize once again. In March 1971, this was done, and the Chautauqua County Agricultural and County Fair Association was formed. In 1972, it formally “merged” with the older corporation to complete the reorganization. Meanwhile, in a move that might have gladdened the hearts of Zattu Cushing and the other Village founders, a Fredonia Farm Festival was begun on July 31, 1969, on the very spot where, 150 years before, Cushing, Abell and the others had planned to have their Agricultural Society Fair. Of course, the Farm Festival has survived for over 40 years, and with the County Fair at the Fairgrounds, continues a long, sometimes sporadic, but venerable tradition. As we said at the beginning, next time you attend, enjoy what the present has to offer, but give a thought at the same time to its long, eventful past.
The Fredonia Food Preservation Industries
Douglas H. Shepard

The Darwin R. Barker Historical Museum
September 2009
A note on addresses.

            There were three different systems for numbering buildings in the Village of Fredonia before the current one was adopted in 1899. The first, in the mid 1850s, assigned numbers to local businesses along Main Street beginning at the West Main Street bridge. The numbering ran east to just past Eagle Street with no reference to “East” or “West.” The second, primarily for dwellings, was devised in 1883 probably to help fire fighters locate the houses when needed. The third began appearing in the early 1890s directories.
            In 1899 a uniform system was adopted which we still use today. Those are the numbers used in this history.

            There is one other caution which involves Cushing Street. Originally, Green Street ran south east from East Main Street, then made a bend southwest. Cushing Street ran from that bend southeast. In 1918 the Village gave the beginning leg of Green Street to Cushing Street, so that it then began at East Main Street. Green street numbers had to be totally changed. The numbering on the first leg, now Cushing Street, remained the same. However, the rest of Cushing Street had to be renumbered. It is those post-1918 numbers that are used in this history.

The Food Preservation Industries of Fredonia

            Food preservation — treating fruit, vegetables, fish or meat to prevent natural early spoilage — takes many forms. Drying, smoking, salting or pickling were processes used in most households in the early period in Fredonia. The first local attempts to do any of this on a commercial scale seem to have been in 1847.
            Daniel W. Douglass, whose sister Lydia had married Jacob Houghton, came here as a boy in 1811 with the Houghton family. In 1818 he clerked in his brother-in-law’s village store. Going into business with Todd & Robbins as Todd, Douglass & Robbins, he built a distillery in 1824 just past 63 Water Street, using fatting cattle to grind grain for his mash.
            In 1832 he moved his general store to 37 W. Main Street, a new three-story brick building on the corner of Main and Center streets. In 1838 he took his nephew into the business as D. W. Douglass & Co., and early in 1847 they tried kiln drying Indian corn at the old distillery, turning out about 15 bushels per hour. The Fredonia Censor of  13 April 1847 commented that “The enterprise is one deeply interesting to the citizens of Chautauqua county, since the exportation of their surplus crop of corn, in unprepared condition, with all of the present means of transportation at command, cannot be made profitable business. We trust it will succeed, and open a new source of profit to our farming community.” Although it was the only such establishment in western New York, and in three days they could do about 400 bushels, nothing more is heard of this particular venture.
            A. S. Moss and A. C. Cushing were pioneers in planting Concord grape vines around 1859, according to Edson’s History (p.421). They grew other fruits as well. Early in 1864 they began a recruiting effort to form a Grape Growers’ Association in Fredonia. On 27 February a meeting was held which then adjourned to 5 March. Although no follow-up account appeared in the newspapers, Moss was listed as President of such an association in 1866. In the spring of 1867 Moss and Cushing along with P.H. and D.H. Stevens formed the Fredonia Fresh Fruit Canning Co. They bought 40 acres to raise fruit and tomatoes and put up two buildings at 60 Prospect Street in May 1867.
            It was probably the improved can-making system that had been developed during the Civil War that encouraged them to begin this effort. However, in January 1868, the plant was destroyed by fire and no canning establishments were attempted again until 1881. On 26 February 1868 the owners advertised a sale at public auction of 20 acres on Prospect Street and 18 acres on Kapple Street (Lakeview Avenue) containing choice grapes, strawberries, raspberries and apples. Also to be sold a one horse spring market wagon, a steam boiler, and a press. In that 26 February issue of the Censor also appeared an article about an independent A. S. Moss enterprise that he had begun in 1867. It was a new method of preserving produce called “Smith’s system” consisting of scalding the fruit and then exposing it to “sulphurous acid gas” which prevented decay. Alternatively fruits or vegetables were preserved by “deoxygenating with charcoal.”
            Nothing more is heard of any other fruit drying enterprises until 1877 when the  18 July issue of the Censor carried an article headed “American Apples Abroad.” It included the statement, “We notice the report of a very large export trade in dried fruits last year, mostly apples, which amounted to over $2,000,000. The large fruit product of this county this year should be provided with a foreign market. Who will start a drying apparatus?”  
            This was followed up in the next issue by an item signed “F.M.K.,” very likely Francis M. Kidder who had a cider mill on Chestnut Street. In part he wrote, “With the abundance of fruit in this section, there should be other methods of disposing of it aside from making it into the conglomeration of an article called cider, which would not be fit for vinegar, if it did not work itself clear from the leaves and filth that is raked up with a majority of the apples that are carried to a cider mill. (We have got through making that article as above described.)
            “And now where is the man or men that will take an interest in a drying apparatus to convert the golden apple into an article adapted for food to be shipped to all climates. The small clean picked apples, with cores and peelings of manufactured fruit can be converted into boiled cider, jellies and vinegar. — Such an institution will pay, and besides all this there are hundreds of idle, willing hands that would be usefully employed, for a few months at least, that would otherwise remain idle. Who will be the benefactors of our town?”
            The answer came in 1878. U. E. Dodge and G. D. Hinckley, who had taken over the Risley Seed Co., began the “Fredonia Fruit Drying Co.” at Hinckley’s seed store at 51 West Main Street. This process dried fruits such as raspberries and apples, as well as sweet corn, using a heat source placed below racks of wire cloth on which the produce was spread.
            There are positive comments about the company in the Censor in July and again in October 1878, and then silence, although George W. Sisson of 110 East Main Street, advertised himself as an Agent for the Pacific Fruit Evaporator in the Censor of  26 May 1880. Another very short-lived attempt was the Union Fruit Drying Co. at 304 East Main Street, the residence of R. W. Gardner (as with Dodge and Hinckley, another early seed man), which appeared in 1881 and then promptly disappeared.
            On 7 April 1881 a new Fredonia Canning Co. was incorporated. The company began making cans in L. B. Greene’s old tannery building behind 23 East Main Street until permanent buildings could be put up. They were going up in May and June of 1881 about at today’s 180 Eagle Street. By 1883 the company was experiencing difficulty and in April 1885 the factory was auctioned off. Part of it was leased by a Mr. Flynn of Buffalo for an apple barrel factory.
            The property was sold to T. S. Hubbard and Henry W. Thompson, two of the principal stockholders, who leased it at a nominal rent to E. D. Fisher, who had been in charge of their food processing operation since 1883. (He lived at 139 Eagle Street.) Fisher tried to find new backers but with little success. In 1886 the factory stood idle while A. H. Hilton and G. M. Tremaine tried to find a purchaser. Finally, Winter & Prophet, a canning company in Mount Morris NY bought the business and installed Thomas Yardley of Lock Haven PA to run it as Thomas Yardley & Co., with Winters and Prophet making up the “company.” Once again the operation languished and, in the summer of 1889, the factory once more stood idle. The property was sold by Winters & Prophet to the Fort Stanwix Canning Co. of Rome NY, the Jones Wholesale Grocery Co. of Akron OH and A. F. French of Buffalo, in April 1890. French moved here to manage the business, which he did for eleven years while Nathaniel W. Farrand was in charge of the canning process. During the off season, part of the factory was used to manufacture grape baskets.
            Some disagreements arose between stockholders and, in 1896, Jones and French became the owners of the Fredonia factory. J. Lloyd Jones, who lived in Buffalo, became  President although the local newspapers always referred to the operation as the French canning company. In 1899 the two added another facility in North East, and in 1900 French bought property on East Main Street preparatory to beginning a new company of his own.
(The Dunkirk Evening Observer of 4 August 1988 carried the first of a two-part series on local canning industries. One paragraph reads, “In 1899, a company from Sheridan moved into the plant once owned by the U. S. Canning Co., a subsidiary of the Cudahy Packing Co. of Chicago, at 180 Eagle Sreet in Fredonia. Under the management of Charles Gervas, the former Sunset Co., begun in 1882 by Al Domenico, became the Gervas Canning Co.” This is a terribly confused account. Albert Domenico wasn’t born until 1924. His father Anthony and grandfather, Frank Domenico didn’t come to the U.S. until 1894. In a 14 July 1982 interview, Charles Barresi said that “Gervas” started the Sunset Canning Co. on Fort Hill [45 Lakeview Avenue] in 1899. However, Charles & Russell Gervas are not supposed to have begun a small canning factory there until 1917, perhaps taking over the earlier factory building. These businesses will be taken up separately in the order of their beginnings.)
            In 1898 Dr. William Park, a dentist at 38-40 E. Main Street, began the Fredonia Fruit & Vegetable Co. at 111 Eagle Street, but it only seems to have lasted a year or two. He also designed and built a catamaran, the “Fredonia,” that cruised the Thousand Islands, and he was associated with John S. Parker in making and selling Fredonia Washers. Around 1898 he rented 111 Eagle Street out to Burt A. Flagg as a wine cellar and, in 1909, used it to raise mushrooms.
            Tony R. Liberty began a macaroni factory in 1898 at 73 Prospect Street. In 1902 he took his son George into partnership as T. R. Liberty & Son. The business is no longer listed in the directories after 1909; however, the Magazine of Industry discussed the thriving business in an issue of 1912, and the Sanborn Insurance maps show the Tony Liberty Macaroni Factory in place through 1951.
            The Pomfret Fruit Co. of Sherman J. Lowell and Arthur W. Marsh, both fruit and grape farmers in Milford (Lamberton), ran from 1900 to 1910, but Downs History, Vol.2, p.201 says it was “a fruit shipping concern.”
            When A. F. French began his own company on East Main Street in 1900, the United States Canning Co. continued at 176-188 Eagle Street. In 1902 they put up a new factory in Farnham, but in 1908 they stopped using the Fredonia facility. In November 1909, the company bought the defunct Erie Preserving Co. and the hope was that they would begin to use the Fredonia plant again. They did to some extent, although they also had factories at North East, Westfield, Wampville (Niagara County), Buffalo and Rome where most of the work went on. In December 1909 they began installing new machinery in the Fredonia building, but in 1910 they went into receivership and the company closed down.
            A. F. French’s canning company, beginning in 1900, the Fredonia Preserving Co., was at 180-186 East Main Street. The articles of incorporation listed John F. Mixer, A. F. French, B. H. Phillips, H. G. Huntley, and F. E. Brockett (of Rome NY) as directors. Huntley and French were the majority stockholders.
            In May 1902 they added a building for grape juice and, in 1903, Adam P. Chessman, who had started the Sinclairville Canning Co. in 1899, consolidated his business with the Fredonia Preserving Co., becoming Vice President. At the same time, the Shumakers brought in their Silver Creek Preserving Co.  When the United States Canning Co. failed in 1910 and its various plants were sold off, the Fredonia plant at 176-188 Eagle Street was taken by French, as was the Model City plant near Niagara Falls NY. They also built additional plants at Wilson and Newfane NY.
            There was an extensive fire at the Eagle Street site in October 1914 in which the buildings the company had there were destroyed. In 1918 the largest building on East Main Street, the wooden factory building, burned, although the warehouse and other structures were saved. New buildings were put up and the company continued to operate.
            In May 1933, Carl Spoto, who had worked at the Fredonia Preserving Co. since 1903, bought the facilities at 186 East Main Street at a foreclosure sale and planned to run it as the Brocton Preserving Co. Plant No. 2. (He had owned the Brocton company since 1928.) Although tomatoes were to be the primary product, Spoto expected to turn the plant into a wine cellar as soon as Prohibition was repealed. His plant processed many types of vegetables and fruits under a variety of private and buyers’ labels into the 1950s before closing down.
One of the early wine makers was Henry Card. He and Levi E. Cowden started a small wine and grape juice company, Henry Card & Co., in 1901 at 112 West Main Street, a two-story building they had put up for that purpose. In May 1905 they began construction of an additional storage building that was 50’ by 75’. With the advent of Prohibition, they began producing only grape juice. (Mr. Robert Maytum, Sr. remembered a story that the Henry Card & Co. grape juice casks had instructions, in the form of warnings, on how to make the juice into wine. However, a similar story exists about William Russo and associates.)
By 1921 Henry Card & Co. had moved to 123-125 Cushing Street, but Card then bought the bankrupt Grape-Ola concern, then at 112 West Main Street, and moved back there, where the business continued under that name for a short time. By 1923 it was listed as Henry Card & Co., Grape Products and, by 1925, as Henry Card & Co., Soft Drinks. Nathan P. Taft joined H. C. Card in making grape juice concentrate for about two years.
Another grape juice concern of the time was the Gleason Fruit Juice Co. of Ripley which established a plant in Fredonia early in 1902. After receiving permission from the Village to extend the spur line (serving the canning factory) across Union Street, they built a plant on the corner of Union and Cushing streets (123-125 Cushing Street) to make “unfermented wine,” the first such venture in Fredonia.
In March 1902, W. A. Holcomb, head of the company, announced that a contract to build a two-story brick factory 60’ x 85’ had been let to Sly & Coddington. Seven carloads of five-gallon glass carboys had already been ordered for storage, and the building was well along in May 1902. By 1908 the company was in difficulty and in December it was bought by a Mr. Walker of Erie, who represented a syndicate, but it did not survive past 1909. The building stood vacant through 1911 and then was taken by the Joy (Gioia), Bellanca & Co. macaroni makers.
An earlier macaroni maker was Frank LoGrasso, who had a macaroni and grape juice factory at 60 Prospect Street, across the tracks from the passenger depot in the former Moss, Cushing and Stevens Canning Co. building. A May 1902 article in the Censor adds “Adjoining the macaroni factory is the large wine cellar of Alfonso Mancuso.”  LoGrasso’s partner was Tony Liberty. The building was destroyed by fire in March 1904. There is also supposed to have been a macaroni factory at the corner of Orchard and Cleveland streets owned by Cosimo and Fillippo Drago in 1902.
Charles Spero began manufacturing wine at 149 Prospect Street by 1906. (The 1906 Directory has “49,” probably an error.) The company then became Spear & Martino (Charles Spear [sic] and Tony Martino) wine manufacturers at 149 Prospect Street. In the 1912 Directory the company is listed as the Spear Wine Co. at 149 Prospect Street. By 1923 they were manufacturers of grape juice at that location. They apparently split up after 1935. In 1938 Anthony Martina at 149 Prospect Street had the Martina Wine Co. which then ceased to exist.
            Gerardo Vinciguerra, who lived at 49 Lakeview Avenue, built a winery at 47 Lakeview in 1909. It ran for many years, closing down in 1925. In 1951 the site was used for the Sunset Frozen Foods Co.
The Joy (they later reverted to Gioia), Bellanca & Co. macaroni manufacturers consisted of Alphonse Joy and Philip Bellanca, who began their business in 1910  at 123-127 Cushing Street, the old Gleason Grape Juice Co. location.. By 1917 the business was Gioia Bros. (Anthony and Albert Gioia), which they continued until 1919, when they moved it to Rochester NY.
Another local macaroni manufacturer was Peter Elardo, who began by 1910 at his home at 111 Cushing Street. He had his macaroni factory in part of the canning plant buildings at 176-188 Eagle Street, which were destroyed by fire in October 1914. He had been making wine as well and he continued with that until 1921, at which point there was a fire at the winery. He tried manufacturing silk in 1923 at 80 Prospect Street but soon abandoned that effort as well.
The old canning factory buildings that burned in 1914 included a veneer factory that had been started by A. F. French in July 1912. He had Carl Wright cutting veneer there with E. J. Turk manufacturing grape baskets from the veneer culls. That enterprise, of course, also was destroyed by the 1914 fire.
Perhaps inspired by the Armour company’s acquisition of a plant in Westfield, the Cudahy Packing Co. explored the possibility of acquiring a grape-juice factory in Fredonia. In the fall of 1912 arrangements were made to lease A. F. French’s Fredonia Preserving Co. building at 182 East Main Street for a year. At the same time the company took an option from French on land adjoining his factory lot. Henry T. Wilbur was taken on as the buyer for grapes. Starting in October, the company pressed about 1,000 tons, resulting in 160,000 gallons, the company’s first venture into the grape industry.
After much local discussion, a group of citizens raised enough money to buy land along the DAV & P RR tracks on Newton Street to guarantee the company would build here. In May 1913 the agreement was finalized, the land presented to the company, and work on the factory’s foundation was begun. Locally, while the plant was to be known as the Puritan Pure Food Products Co., the grape juice was packed as Red Wing Grape Juice. A new warehouse was almost completed by October 1914 and another building was in preparation specifically for apples to be processed into juice, jelly and vinegar.
Other buildings went up during 1914 for putting up tomatoes in glass jars, and for processing strawberries and raspberries. In addition to Red Wing Grape Juice they produced catsup, jellies, jams, chili sauce, preserves, cider, cider vinegar and canned tomatoes. The local superintendent in charge of the operation was A. R. Miller. In an effort at consolidation and improved functioning, at the beginning of 1918, the general and sales offices were moved here from Chicago, at which point the Puritan designation was changed to that of its leading product, Red Wing.
In May 1919 the plant was enlarged, despite a brief strike by the construction workers, who wanted an increase from their 40 cents an hour wage.
In 1938 Red Wing bought out the Farm King Packaging Co. and moved it from its 123-127 Cushing Street location (where the Fredonia Macaroni Co. had been earlier), to their 196 Newton Street lot. The Farm King label was retained through 1945. During World War II Red Wing had some 20 Italian POWs working at the plant. In 1965 a new peanut butter operation was added, and in December 1966 Red Wing acquired the General Preserving Co. of Brooklyn, continuing production at the Brooklyn plant that had been in operation for over 40 years. In 1968 it was moved here. In 1971 Red Wing began producing mayonnaise, salad dressing, syrups and barbecue sauce.
In 1977 the company was purchased by Ranks, Hovis, McDougall Ltd., a British firm. After a good deal of internal discussion, in 1992 Red Wing abandoned the seasonal processing of local fresh tomatoes in favor of year-round use of California tomato paste in making catsup.
The ownership and management history of Red Wing is a complicated one. The Cudahy Co. of Chicago began the Puritan Food Products Co. in 1912 with the main offices in Chicago overseeing the local management. Around 1922, Leon C. Steele was brought in from a Cudahy plant in Charlotte NC to try to improve production and profits. He was successful enough that the Cudahy family acquired Red Wing from the Cudahy Co. and Steele became a minority stockholder. Steele was head of Red Wing until 1938 when he became Vice President at the Cudahy Co. and was replaced as general manager by Louis F. Long. Steele died in1945 and, when Long was named President of Cudahy in 1952, Steele’s son, Edward C. Steele, who had been a salesman at Red Wing since 1947 and sales manager from 1950-1952, became general manager.
In 1961 Steele and his sisters acquired a controlling interest in Red Wing and he became its President. Ranks, Hovis McDougall Ltd bought Steele out in 1976, at which point Douglas H. Manly became President and CEO until his retirement in 1989. The company was sold to Tomkins Industries PLC of the United Kingdom in 1990, who sold to the United States food processing division of Ralcorp Inc. in 1998 and renamed the local operation Carriage House Foods, changing the name but continuing the industry that had begun here in 1912.
In 1913, shortly after Red Wing’s beginning, Mark L. Woodcock, who had a general store at 187-189 West Main Street, started a cider and vinegar manufacturing operation at 252 Water Street which he named the Apple Products Co., later moving to 150 Cushing Street, a building he put up at that time. He continued the business through 1916.
The Fredonia Salsina Canning Co. was begun in 1916 by Tony A. Gugino at 178 Prospect Street. This was the site of an old planing mill which had the machinery removed and was refurbished for food processing. As the name indicates, the firm first concentrated on making tomato paste, although in later years they processed strawberries, cherries, raspberries, beans and apples. A new warehouse was built on Prospect Street, near Orchard across from the factory. Then the old warehouse was acquired by Fredonia Products Co. in 1943. Finally, in 1963, they bought the rest of the site and buildings. In 1971 the “Stanwill Corporation” gave the land to the Village.
In September 1917 Thomas Fitzgerald formed the Fredonia Fruit Juice Co., Inc. with himself as President; A. R. Maytum, Secretary; Ira Watson, Treasurer; and Mark L. Woodcock as manager at the 150 Cushing Street location. The stockholders dissolved the corporation in January 1920 and Woodcock returned to his Apple Products operation until 1924, after which the building stood vacant for some years. Fitzgerald tried manufacturing concentrated fruit juices for soda fountains and table use at his cement warehouse at 89 Glisan (now Newton) St. but soon abandoned the effort.
For some reason, 1917 was a start-up year for a number of food processing ventures. One that began as a small winery was that of Meyer Star.
Meyer Star was born in Russian Poland in 1869 or 1870. He married in 1891 and the couple immediately left for the United States. They lived primarily in Bradford PA where Meyer worked as a house painter, and served as a cantor in the local synagogue. He also traveled, selling kosher food and wine to the congregations he served as a visiting cantor. In 1916 he formed the Star Wine Co. of New York, and by 1917 he had leased a winery building about at 214 Central Avenue, Fredonia, (in front of today’s Fenton Hall) from H. T. Wilbur, who had been the grape purchasing agent for Red Wing and a wine manufacturer from 1902 at 214 Central Avenue.
In 1920 Meyer Star bought a small winery at 200 Water Street. It had been operating as the Fredonia Wine Co., the business that had been H. T. Wilbur’s until he leased his Central Avenue winery to the Stars. They continued to produce sacramental wine, permitted under the Volstead Act, (Prohibition) until 1926 when they switched to making catsup. (The original winery is now the rear portion of the present food processing building.)
The family, operating as Fredonia Products Co., got back into the wine business in 1933. In 1943 they took over the old warehouse of the Fredonia Salsina Co. at 178 Prospect Street.  The Cliffstar Corp. was formed in 1971, adding a grocery division to pack fruit juices, catsup, etc. under private labels. As the Ralco Development Co. they bought a 57 acre site in Dunkirk in 1977. They have since added other food lines, acquired other food processing businesses and added manufacturing facilities in other states.
Although the record is not entirely clear, it is said that Charles and Russell Gervas began a small canning factory at Fort Hill (Lakeview Avenue) in 1917. Charles had already built greenhouses near his home at 138 Cushing Street, just opposite the United States Canning Co. location. When Russell died in the influenza epidemic in October 1918, Charles invited his two brothers-in-law to come into the business to take over the greenhouse operation. Early in 1919 he bought the old canning company property and built a new factory building for his Gervas Canning Co. of 180 Eagle Sreet. (That was the office address, with the processing plant itself about at 144 Cushing Street) In 1924 he stepped down to become Vice President, while Stanley J. Drago, Treasurer, became President with M. E. Drago as Secretary. They were Gervas’s wife Mary’s brothers.
The plant burned early in 1934, but by March a new building was begun, which was completed during the summer. Charles Gervas died in April and his wife continued the greenhouses until 1937, when her daughter Mae and husband Cosmo Trippe took it over. Trippe added two more greenhouses, renaming it the Trippe Greenhouses. He retired in 1973, demolished the three greenhouses, and “planted a lawn.”
The canning company continued under the Dragos. During World War II, along with other canning companies in the area, they obtained military contracts for green and wax beans. After Stanley Drago died in March 1951, his daughter Katherine became President. (In 1953 she married James B. McAbee.) The Stanley Packing Co. of Forestville was part of the business, which Mrs. McAbee maintained through the 1960s, but she finally closed it down.
In the same year that the Gervas Canning Co. began (1919), two other food processing companies started up. One was Grape-Ola, a grape juice processing company with headquarters in New York City, which opened a plant at 112 West Main Street. In 1919, taking the plant over from Henry Card & Co., new machinery was installed, but the company did not do well. W. J. Lowrie, local manager, stockholder and one of the directors, retired from his Fredonia position in February 1920. By the following year, the plant was auctioned off at a bankruptcy sale. It was bid in by Henry Card and Reuben Wright, acting for the reorganized company. Wright transferred his share of the ownership to his daughter and son-in-law Charles and Manta W. Ellis. The company sold Grape-Ola and Card’s Grape Juice. In 1926 Henry Card doubled the size of the plant again, and in 1928 he sold the business to the Welch Grape Juice Co., who operated as the United Grape Products Co. at 112 West Main Street through the early 1930s.
The second company to begin in 1919 was the Excelsior Canning Co. at 214-220 Eagle Street, but almost immediately they changed their name to the Eagle Canning Co. “as a matter of business convenience.”  Formed to can fruits and vegetables, the company advertised for tomatoes and berries
The partners were Nicholas J. Gugino, Charles Leone, Frank J. Gugino, Anthony Battaglia and Joseph Christina. Ground was broken on 15 March 1920 for a plant on Eagle Street, on a lot adjoining the old Electric Light Plant on the north. The factory buildings, which consisted of a large wooden main building, 50’ x 100’ containing the canning machinery, a concrete block and frame warehouse, 30’x 100’ a power house 24’ x 40’ and a loading platform 50’ x 80’ were all destroyed by fire on 19 June 1931, along with a large supply of tomato hampers and $20,000 in lost produce. The enterprise was only partly covered by insurance and the buildings were never replaced.
In 1919 the Colonial Wine Co. began at 109 Eagle Street. With the advent of Prohibition, it became the Colonial Grape Products Co. with William M. Mehl, President; H. O. Lanza, Secretary/Treasurer. (This is not to be confused with the Colonial Grape Products Co. of California, which began in 1920, a combination of California wineries.) By 1923 A. W. Russo became President, continuing to produce grape products until Prohibition was abandoned, at which point Russo revived the Colonial Wine Co. in 1933. The Censor of 19 May 1933 reported the Colonial Wine Co. was to start production soon, as was the Star winery on Water Street. The article added, “In New York city there are several wineries making the new drink [3.2% wine], including Colonial Grape Products company.” In 1947 Russo moved the business to Dunkirk.
In 1921 Louis Gennuso began a grape juice manufacturing business at 100 Eagle Street. By 1923 it had become Gennuso & Son (Louis and Frank Gennuso) catsup manufacturers. The business closed down by 1925.
Joseph L. Lazarony was listed as a cider manufacturer at 130 Eagle Street in the 1921 Directory, but from 1923 on he is described as a wine manufacturer.
The Fredonia Macaroni Co. was started by Anthony, Casimer, and Rose Ware of Dunkirk in 1923 in a two-story brick building at 123-127 Cushing Street. The business was taken over by Anthony Guarino and C. G. Pfluger in 1930, but the building burned in March 1931 and the company ceased to operate. The property itself was taken by the Farm King Co. in 1935.
Anthony F. Drago, who had worked at the Gervas Canning Co. from its beginnings in 1919, left Gervas early in 1927 and formed the Bison Canning Co. with James Drago of Buffalo and Joseph A. and Frank Drago of Fredonia. They leased a small abandoned factory at Brant and put up a small number of cans. In 1928 they moved to a new, large plant in Angola. The company doubled its manufacturing facilities and its output with the packing operation at the Angola facility, while the office remained in Fredonia at the Russo Building (1 Park Place) through 1940. In 1941 Drago had taken over as President of the Empire Seed Co. from Polvino and the canning company was apparently closed down.
Nathan Preston Taft had been the manager of Henry Card & Co., at least as early as 1921, through 1927. In 1928, apparently with the backing of A. F. French and C. F. Shumaker (of Silver Creek), he formed the American Grape Juice Corporation at 180-182 East Main Street, that is, the location of French’s Fredonia Preserving Co. The company continued at that location with Taft as President and, by 1938, with his son Richard M. Taft as Vice President. In 1946 they traded positions and continued through 1948. The company was sold off in 1948 to Bedford Products Corp. who took over the entire property as a warehouse. In 1951 Red Wing took the building, also as a warehouse and dormitory. N. P. Taft died in June 1951.
In 1933 Fred W. Bedford began Bedford Products in the cellar of his Westfield home. As the business expanded, he moved to a packing house on the Wilson Rood farm in Westfield, the Huntley packing plant in Brocton (1934), and then the old Dotterweich Brewery in Dunkirk (1938). In 1945 he bought Valley Juices Inc., then sold it, in 1947, to a Chicago company. In 1948 Bedford Products bought the Lake Shore ice house in Dunkirk and the American Grape Juice Co. at 180-182 East Main Street in Fredonia. Bedford was said to be the first local processor to manufacture and market frozen juice concentrate (ca. 1949). He sold the processing and storage plant to Red Wing soon after, and sold the Bedford Co. itself to Red Wing in 1954.
In 1935 the Brocton Preserving Co., Inc. Plant No.2 was being operated by the Spotos at 186 East Main Street. Despite fires in October 1937 and November 1943, the canning plant and warehouse continued to function until 1946. However, in an interview, Mr. Sam Drayo, Sr., said that after the second fire, in 1943, the Spotos went into bankruptcy, so the company must have been taken over by others at that time. In 1946 the building was occupied by the B & F Canners Co-Op Inc. with Peter Pero of Brant as President. Later Charles Winters, also of Brant, became President, after which the building was taken over by Buffalo Frosted Foods.
Also in 1935 Nicholas G. Heary, who had been a purchasing agent for Red Wing, formed his own competing company. With Nicholas H. Smith, Robert T. Logan and Alfred Jefferson, he began the Farm King Packing Co. The Fredonia Censor of 29 March 1935 announced that construction on the plant at 123-127 Cushing Street was under way on the site of the Fredonia Macaroni Co. which had burned in 1931. They intended to specialize in tomato products: catsup, chili sauce, tomato juice and tomato puree. Eventually the company went into bankruptcy and was purchased by Red Wing in August 1938.
The Old Chautauqua Packing Co. was formed in January 1937 by Walter Gloor, John McCraith and Donald Guest, using the R. C. White building (18 Cleveland Avenue) for their factory. They began bottling horseradish, planned to raise their own and to market it more widely if there was a demand. Apparently there was not, because they were replaced by 1938 by the Fowler Heating Co at the Cleveland Avenue address. 
Barone & Co. was begun in 1946 by George O. (or Orazio G.) Barone at 31 Prospect Street (his home) with the factory at 22 Prospect Street. The 1949/50 Directory lists it under “Nut Shellers.” In 1950 the Fredonia Seed Co. bought the 22 Prospect Street lot, but the Barone enterprise continued at 31 Prospect Street. (After 1949 the company is always referred to as “Nut Roasters.”) George Barone died on 19 January 1952 and the business was continued under Mrs. Barone’s ownership until 1964 when it was closed down.
Following the B & F Canners Co-Op Inc at 186 East Main Street, Joseph and Louis Catalano and Louis DeMarco began their Buffalo Frosted Foods company in 1949. However, they suffered a series of fires (18 July 1950, 2 February 1951 and 5 July 1952). The 1952 fire leveled their processing plant and they moved temporarily to the former American Grape Juice Co. buildings at 180 East Main Street and planned to rebuild. However, their loss of machinery worth $65,000 plus thousands of cans of fruits and vegetables apparently was too much and the company never reopened.
Another frozen food company was begun by Frank S. Mitchell in 1949 at 152 West Main Street. (The site had been a dairy before that.) Mitchell Foods Inc. processed frozen foods through the 1950s, adding a line of whipped toppings. However, in 1966, the Supreme Court refused to review the finding of an earlier Federal court that Mitchell had infringed on the patent of Rich Products Corp. for a non-dairy creamer. The company closed down in the early 1980s.
Shortly after Mitchell began, the Domenicos at 47 Lakeview Avenue started Sunset Frozen Foods Inc., in 1952 packing frozen fruits and vegetables. The company lasted into the mid-1960s.
In the same year that Sunset Frozen Foods began (1952) Frank Gennuso started Gennuso Food Products Inc. at 47 Liberty Street, making frozen pizzas. He then moved to the rear of 238 East Main Street, then to 230 Porter Avenue. In 1957 he expanded to include 109 Eagle Street. In February 1958, Food Specialties Inc. of Worcester MA bought the Gennuso business. They made the Appian Way pizza mix, frozen pizzas, etc., with Gennuso remaining as manager of the Fredonia operation.
After that purchase, the business was moved to the old American Grape Juice Co. building in 1959 at 180 East Main Street, the building which had been owned for a time by Red Wing and used as a warehouse, plus other land acquired from D. C. Topliffe in April 1959. Operations began in the refurbished building early in 1960. In September 1961, Armour & Co. of Chicago bought Food Specialties, including the former Gennuso business. Gennuso continued as plant manager for a number of years. The business was taken over by W. R. Grace & Co., who closed down the plant at 180 East Main Street in 1974.
Anthony L. Barone had a frozen foods operation at 33 Orchard Street in 1955, but by 1961 it was replaced by Fredonia Aluminum.
In 1958 Frank (Scotty) and Marjorie Ferrington and Samuel Mancuso formed the Fredonia Pickle Co. at 22 Union Street, where the Farm King operation had been located, at the northwest corner of Union and Cushing streets. The business lasted only one or two years.
Anthony F. DeMarco had been a worker at Red Wing through 1963. He then took over the old Gervas Canning Co. site at 180 Eagle Street and ran it for a short time. By 1968 the property was standing vacant and was later acquired by the Village.
At this writing (2009) only two food processors remain: Carriage House, where Red Wing had been, and Cliffstar, primarily in Dunkirk but still using the 200 Water Street facility.

The Early Streets and Roads of Fredonia NY
By Douglas H. Shepard, 2011

            It is almost impossible for us today to imagine what the earliest trails, paths and roads were like when the first white settlers began coming to this remote area of western New York. One clear indicator of what they faced is that the first people  to contract for lots from the Holland Land Co. in Canadaway (later Fredonia), that is Thomas McClintock, David Eason and Low Minigar, came here by boat and built their log cabins as close to Canadaway Creek as they could get.

            In 1802, when they made their first exploratory visits, they found ancient Indian trails and one notoriously bad road more-or-less marked out by a General Edward Paine. By 1801 the Connecticut Land Co. needed an access road through the western New York forests to the land they were trying to have settled and developed in Ohio, later known as the Western Reserve. Paine was hired to lead a company of men to open such a road. How he did it is best described by the accounts of Joseph Ellicott, at the time, and many travelers in later years.

            Ellicott, the agent at the Batavia NY office, was required to submit an annual report to his superior summarizing all aspects of the Holland Land Company’s activities in western New York during the previous year. In his January 1802 report, in the section dealing with roads during 1801, he wrote “While on the subject of Roads it will be proper to mention that I apprised you of the Desire of the New Connecticut Company to have a Road opened from New Amsterdam [Buffalo] up Lake Erie passing through the [Holland Land] Company Lands to the Triangle or Population lands [roughly Erie PA], who solicited the aid of the Holland Company.”  Ellicott had passed this request on and received instructions to prevent it. Although he tried to delay any road-building action, he was unsuccessful. Knowing the road-building was going on, he deliberately turned a blind eye because, he explained, if he had formally objected, the Connecticut Land Company would have appealed to the Road Commissioners of the Towns where the road was to go. Each would certainly have agreed to such an improvement to his Town that cost it nothing, and then would have required the Holland Land Co. to pay an extra tax because its land-holdings had been “improved.”  “It was conceived most proper to suffer them [the Connecticut Co.] to proceed. However it is effected in such an indifferent Manner that unless sleighing is very good it will be found of little or no Benefit, as it [the road] is not opened sufficiently for wheel Carriages to pass.”

            Another contemporary who commented on Paine’s road was the Rev.Joseph Badger. He had been to the Western Reserve under the auspices of the Connecticut Missionary Society taking the “southern route” in November 1800, crossing the Alleghany mountains to Pittsburgh then on to Youngstown, Ohio, and every other small community he could find. He ended up in Detroit, then returned to Hudson, Ohio. “The next morning, October 25th [1801] he took his departure from the Reserve and returned by way of Buffalo to his family in New England.  In his Journal, which he quoted from in his Memoir, he notes that he got as far as Erie, preached there in the afternoon then “Rode on a few miles to Mr.Morehead’s. . . here we lodged.”

            By the 28th he and his companion crossed “the Pennsylvania line, entered the unbroken forest;  following the Indian path, our progress was slow” but they reached Cattaraugus before dark. “Put up with a family living but little above the Indian habits, by the name of Skinner.”  They remained there through October 30th. “At evening General Payne and two or three hands came in from pretending to cut and open a road through from Buffalo to Pennsylvania line.”

            In all fairness to Paine, we should point out first, that Ellicott’s standards for road building were often impossibly high. Paul D.Evans’ The Holland Land Company notes that “He [Ellicott] required that all the main roads should be opened forty feet wide, all trees and saplings to be cut level with the ground if twelve inches or less in diameter; if more than that, they might be cut at the usual height unless standing within eight feet of the center of the road in which case they too were to be cut level with the ground.” A footnote adds that for roads two rods wide [33 feet] a mile of road cleared equaled four acres. Smaller cross roads were opened to a width of fourteen to sixteen feet.

            In addition, when the Rev.Badger saw General Paine, it was in the midst of a very difficult period. With his son, Edward Paine,Jr.,  in the fall of 1796 he had sailed from Buffalo to the mouth the of  the Cuyahoga River to look over the Western Reserve land. Leaving his son to continue the exploration, he returned on foot along the ancient Indian trail to Buffalo. In 1798 he bought 1,000 acres, now Painesville, Ohio. The next step was to gather a large company along with his family to become settlers, ultimately some 66 people who left Aurora NY on 5 March 1801. Their intention was to go by sleighs on frozen Lake Erie but when they had gone 30 miles west of Buffalo the ice failed and they were forced to stop at Cattaraugus until spring, putting up log cabins while a few of the men drove their cattle and horses on to Ohio. It was not until 1 May 1801 that the large company was able to make it to Ohio. (The Lake County, Ohio History notes that Paine and his group arrived at the mouth of the Grand River in June 1801.)
            In other words, after surviving a difficult winter at Cattaraugus Creek and making the arduous journey to Ohio, Paine agreed to return in the fall and clear the old Indian trail, which he did to a limited extent as far as Chautauqua Creek near Westfield.

            Although the Holland Land Co. then surveyed and improved the “Buffalo to Erie” road, it continued to be a source of complaints. When a bridge was finally put across Canadaway Creek in 1809 — the bridge was there by 12 August 1809, the date of a letter in which Joseph Ellicott mentioned that “the Road crosses Canadaway Creek” —  the road was rerouted through Fredonia, but Levi Risley, writing in 1880 about what the village was like in 1821 could say of the road east of 47 East Main St. “From this to the hill the ground was low and wet, and [it was] all timber from the hill standing on that side to the corporation line.” No wonder Hezekiah Barker was willing to allow that easternmost part of his 360 acres to be given for a burial ground, or that Fredonia’s first water works came from springs on the west side of Prospect Street.

            If we fast forward to 1826, we find young Austin Smith, just graduated from the Hamilton NY Academy traveling to Fredonia to become the first Principal of the Fredonia Academy. The first leg of his journey was by canal boat to Buffalo on the newly constructed Erie Canal. From there he boarded the steamship Superior bound for Dunkirk. That was on a Wednesday. Unfortunately, a storm intervened and by Saturday night he had gotten as far as Black Rock. Debarking, he then took the stage coach for Fredonia. In his diary he commented “A man should be iron-bound to ride from Buffalo over the Cattaraugus road.” In fact, he got as far as Roberts’ tavern, West Sheridan, and “was advised to go round by way of Dunkirk. It was awful muddy” he noted “and such a road!”

            Twenty some years after Paine had done his best — or worst — and the road was still awful. An account by Levi Risley gives further insight into what road openings and maintenance meant in those days. This took place in 1816. Because cash was hard to come by, an individual’s taxes were usually paid by doing road work. Levi’s father compromised by offering two days work by two of his sons in lieu of one day of his own, so Levi and brother William joined a six-man crew out on a road leading off West Main Street. “The work was to plow and scrape and turnpike [make level and firm] a few rods of low ground and fill up a ‘slough of despond’ that had been a terror to all wagons that were ‘bound for Ohio.’” To our modern ears, startling enough is the explanation that “the road had been paved with hemlock brush, to keep the wagons from sinking out of sight.”

            This lengthy preamble should give some insight into the efforts that lay behind those laconic entries found in local records such as “a road was opened from the Erie Road down to the mill on the Canadaway.” 

From the day the Town of Pomfret was established by the Legislature, 11 March 1808, until 2 May 1829, when the Village of Fredonia was incorporated and a Charter adopted, all local matters were under the jurisdiction of the Town of Pomfret. Unfortunately, in the Town records only the road’s official designation was used, and that was always a brief description of where it started, or ended, or what it passed by, not the name by which the locals referred to it.

A good example is the survey done by Samuel Berry on 16 April 1822 of a road across or through private property: “Survey of a private Road from the village of Fredonia on the East side of the Creek down the same to a little below the House of Hezekiah Turner on the west side of the creek. This Road . . . [runs] to the Eastwardly end of the Bridge that crosseth the Creek near Mr.H.Turners thence . . . to the public Road on the Westwardly side of the Creek.” The road’s measurements begin “25 links North East of the North East corner of Capt.C.Burritt’s village lot.”

That northeast corner was the intersection of the center line of Main Street with the new street being laid out. The “Bridge that crosseth the Creek” near Mr.Turner’s is what we now call the Risley Street bridge. The “public Road on the Westwardly side of the Creek” is today’s Chestnut Street. The survey itself is of Mechanic Street (today’s Forest Place). It cannot be that someone referring to the road in conversation would use the cumbersome surveyor’s formula of “the road that runs from . . . .” Surely the locals had some kind of shorthand, such as the Turner Road for Chestnut Street or, perhaps, Burritt Lane or Mechanics Lane for Forest Place.

There are some small bits of evidence that that was the case. In an advertisement of 2 July 1827, J.Crane, Esq. of Fredonia and S.Russell, Esq. of Buffalo offered for sale a two-story house “corner of Cushing and Main Streets.” That is, East Main Street and Eagle Street (where Zattu Cushing lived). Obviously, then, the surveyor might call it “the road from Buffalo to Erie,” but the locals just said “the Main street.” We can imagine this was true of most if not all of the other roads in or passing through the village, that is, those which were there before official naming began.

For more than twenty years, what are now village streets were merely segments of Town roads. This continued to be so until 16 March 1866 when the Village was enlarged to include the area it occupies today. In 1829 the Village meant a strip of land ¼ mile wide on either side of Main Street from just east of Chestnut Street to just east of Newton Street. This was enlarged, on 12 May 1837, to a square, 1½ miles on each side, oriented North-South and East-West, with its center at 1 Park Place.

            These measurements tell us something rather odd. Between 1829 and 1837 the Risleys, to call up a familiar local family name, living on Chestnut Street and West Main Street, were not Fredonians. After Zattu Cushing farmed for his first two years here at Point Gratiot, he made his home on today’s Eagle Street, which put him firmly outside of Fredonia for some thirty years until 12 May 1837, two years before he died. That explains why so many of the familiar pioneer names do not appear in the lists of Village of Fredonia officials.

            Another oddity caused by the various “bounds” that were adopted over the years is how little the Village had to say about what are now important Village streets. When the Village was incorporated in 1829, a Charter was adopted and the first officials named. It was not until 1830 that the Trustees got around to officially recognizing its own streets by giving them names. There were, in fact, a grand total of eight: Main, Hamlet, Mechanic, Temple, Eagle, Water, Factory, and Lake. There are three interesting aspects to this list. First, that we have little information about whether these were the names by which the streets had always been known; second, how utilitarian the names are, reflecting their location or function. A cultural anthropologist might find it revealing that although the village began with this kind of naming, it soon began to re-envision itself as living on streets named Forest Place, Garden, Chestnut, and Maple and later Park and Birchwood. Indeed, there is a whole study to be done about the commemorative names such as Barker, Leverett, Cushing, Clinton, Lambert, Curtis, Risley, Seymour, Hart, Howard, Dunn, Forbes, Newton, Green, Glisan and Berry or the patriotic ones such as Free, Union, Washington, and Liberty. Third, that the original eight were not streets created by the village but, rather, inherited when the act of incorporation defined the outlines of the new village, and the parts of the roads within those new bounds became our streets. But this is taking us far away from the 1830 list.

            The name for Main Street hardly needs any comment. It was the really big one  —. H.C.Taylor’s Historical Sketches says the road was laid 6 rods (99 feet) wide — and the only one to run from the village limits on one side to the village limits on the other. Hamlet came from the huge one-stop shopping place known as the Cascade Hamlet at today’s 100 West Main Street. “Cascade” was the early name for Canadaway Creek referring to the natural falls at today’s Laona. In an 1804 letter to Joseph Ellicott, McClintock referred to his location as on “Caskade Creek.” “Hamlet” meant, not a Shakespeare play but the small settlement being built in 1818.The idea was to make the Cascade Hamlet accessible to the folks at Bull’s Mills (Laona), so the narrow alley was “improved” to become Hamlet Street, one of the few street names we know of before 1830.

            Mechanic was called that because it was the location of a large foundry and a blacksmith shop both of which employed what Franklin Burritt in 1899 called “artisans and craftsmen,” that is, in the language of 1830, “mechanics.”  Burritt also tells us that the name originally used was “Tin-Pot-Alley” because the lane, as it was at first, had a “rambling rail fence” running from the corner of Main Street to William A.Hart’s home, the building at today’s 50 Forest Place at the corner of Hart Street.  “The deep rail fence corners were receptacles for old pots and rejected tin pans and stove pipe” and the clippings discarded by the tinsmiths.

            Temple Street seems to have been named in reference to the Baptist Church building which had gone up in 1823 where that village street began. It seems odd that it wasn’t called Church Street. Apparently the local version had been “Chapel Street” since that is the name still being used in some property deeds of 1835 and 1842 and in ads for D.D.Franklin’s “Cabinet and Chair Shop” in 1841 through 1843.

            The Eagle Street name is a mystery. The road, of which the village street had been a short segment, was known as the Cushing Road as late as the 24 September 1828 issue of the Censor since it ran through the 353-acre lot and the 130 acres just below it belonging to, and past the home of, Zattu Cushing. Was the village decision to choose another name a slight directed at him? What is more likely is that the village fathers didn’t want to honor one local pioneer to the exclusion of all the others. “Eagle” may have been meant to be patriotic, although that is an impulse that shows up somewhat later. Perhaps a large eagle was spotted there, or, more likely, shot there.

            Water Street is almost as easy to explain as Main Street. This was a stub of a lane leading down from Main Street to the water’s edge, Canadaway Creek, where horses and other livestock could be watered. A bridge was not built there until 1833. Factory Street, which is the name that could have been used for Mechanic Street, referred to the wool-carding factory or mill of Abel Griswold and Eliakim Crosby on Canadaway Creek where Norton Place now runs. In 1818 it was purchased by Jared Risley and later by James Norton. The street remained “Factory” at least until the Trustees’ Minutes of 18 June 1849, but became “Mill Street” by the time of the 1851 map of the Village of Fredonia.

            The last of the eight village streets to be named was Lake Street. That is, today’s Central Avenue. If you started out at the Temple Street intersection and made your way north on that street in 1830 you would travel a few feet and then find yourself on the Town Road that had been surveyed in 1808 and again in 1817, although the road was almost never used until the railroad arrived in Dunkirk in 1851 because it was virtually impassable. The Observer in January 1886 had a series of articles about the history of Dunkirk. At the time Dr.Ezra Williams first came to Dunkirk, around 1817, “Central avenue was then a continuous forest from Third street to Fredonia. The only road for teams [of horses] to the latter village, was westerly to near the mouth of the Canadaway creek, thence by what is known as the Creek road.” An 1886 reminiscence by George Rood, then 86, describes his logging opposite today’s 108 Central Avenue and how “From the bend in the road where Dr.Williams’ residence now stands [in Dunkirk], down through and far beyond, what is now Dunkirk, was nothing but a continuous mud hole.”

            It was another two years before any new streets were officially added to the list. It was 15 November 1832 when the first street created by the village appeared. That was Canadaway Street. The most significant fact about this street was that it led nowhere: there was, as yet, no Water Street bridge. Isaac Saxton and Alanson Buckingham had petitioned the Trustees to lay out the street through their property solely so that they could sell off building lots to prospective home owners, a notable “first” in the history of the village, but a practice that was to become the norm. Three years later the next street was recorded (18 May 1835), Barker Street. Since Hezekiah Barker had died on 5 July 1834, it would seem this was the first opportunity to honor one of Fredonia’s pioneers who was safely departed.

            It should be pointed out that there is almost no record of the deliberations that must have gone into choosing each street’s name. Except for an extended article such as the one by Burritt or chance remarks in other sources, we have no way of being sure what the namers had in mind. We are forced to guess. On the same day as Barker Street arrived, two others were added to the list. Nassau and Green. (“Green” for a local family? We don’t know.)
            For Nassau Street we are told the source. In the 12 April 1899 article in the Censor in which Franklin Burritt objected to changing Mechanic Street to Forest Place, he mentioned, in passing, that Nassau Street “had been suggested by the Risleys in honor of a great historical personage and a street in New York city.” Nassau Street in lower Manhattan was named in honor of Maurice of Nassau, prince of Orange (1567-1625) who first freed the Netherlands from Spanish rule. However, that doesn’t really explain why either a short New York City street or a Dutch prince was something a short Fredonia street needed to honor. (Our Nassau Street only ran as far as Barker Street.) For that matter, why the English chose to change Pye-Woman Lane, its name at least until 1696, to honor a Dutch prince is equally mystifying. Nevertheless they did and the Risleys did. Where Nassau Street was to  be run had been an alleyway from Main Street giving access to the rear of the large, wooden hotel building — in 1835 it was Abell’s Hotel — where the trash bins, outhouses and horse stables were located. No wonder when Nassau Street was opened, the local wags referred to it as Nasty Street. Unfortunately, there were other unpleasant aspects to the street yet to come, as we will see.

            In May 1837 the Village of Fredonia enlarged its bounds to the square
1½ miles on each side. That meant the eastern bounds along Main Street moved from today’s Newton Street out to Clinton Street, and the north bounds from Terrace Street to today’s Cottage Street. And what that meant was more roads within the village’s jurisdiction. So by March 1839 the Board of Trustees was ready to name the roads and paths it had recently acquired: Ridge, Chautauque, Chesnut (it was frequently spelled that way), Garden (the “street from Mechanic to Temple.” i.e. Risley Street), and Berry (where Samuel Berry’s home stood).

            In 1846 Ridge Street was changed to Seymour and in 1847 the Nassau Street troubles began. The three Risley brothers had built their packet seed business into the largest enterprise in Fredonia at the time. To put things in perspective, in 1847 when each Risley field worker earned $6.00 per month, property taxes ranged from $1.00 to $4.00 and up to $10.00 for those with homes and businesses. Charles Burritt the druggist, Franklin’s father, paid a respectable $11.86 that year, and Henry Frisbee, former owner of the Censor, $11.87. The Risleys paid a total of $71.01! Their closest competitor was Leverett Barker for whose brick home (the Barker Historical Museum) and tannery he paid $53.57. Clearly, the Risleys were very important. Another sign of their standing in the community was having the architect John Jones design and build their three Greek Revival mansions at the northern edge of their seed gardens. The three were spaced out along Garden Street, Elijah,Jr.’s near the creek, William’s in the middle and Levi’s near Temple Street. It was William Risley who took the next step.

            On 7 April 1847, he presented an “Application to the Village Trustees proposing that Nassau Street be “extended across Barker Street to Garden Street.” A two-man committee, appointed to go with a surveyor to look into the matter consisted of Suel H.Dickinson and Thomas Warren. Warren had married a Risley sister, Philena, in 1810 and, in the 1840s, with a small seed company of his own, had used the Risley Seed Co. wagons to distribute his seeds country-wide. We could not call him entirely disinterested, so it is not surprising that the committee returned at 7 p.m. that same day with a report in favor of extending Nassau Street according to a survey already completed.

            The survey itself is a very peculiar document. Made on 7 April while the committee looked on, the center line of the proposed street began at Main street, ran northwest 1,160 feet to today’s Terrace Street. There it stopped abruptly, made a right angle turn some 60 feet, turned left 97 feet, left again 60 feet and then northwest on its original course some 1,115 feet to Garden Street. The odd jog was to avoid running Nassau Street through a building that happened to be standing in the way, a building owned by the other local power, General Leverett Barker. So the evening meeting concluded with instructions to the Clerk to “draw [up] a notice & serve [it] on L.Barker tomorrow that the street is laid according to the same [the survey].”

            In May 1847 Barker took his case to the Court of Common Pleas, claiming that the extension crossed his land, which had been improved and cultivated. The court found for Barker and declared the Trustees’ actions reversed and annulled. (At the same time, Barker had a street, Terrace, surveyed through his own land, although it was not officially opened until August 1851.)

            The Trustees — Thomas Warren was the one to make the motion — agreed that no work was to be done on the stretch of road between  “Garden Street & the South line of Gen.Barker’s land” and that nothing was to be paid to William Risley for work on that section. Risley, for his part, appealed the decision, lost his appeal, and then requested and was granted permission by the Board “to bring a Writ of Certiorari in the name of the Corporation” provided he execute a bond of $500 “to save and keep harmless the said President [Mayor] & trustees & their successors in office from all costs and expenses in the prosecution and determination of said suit.” The writ of Certiorari was to ask a superior court to review the lower court’s decision. The Trustees had said “You’re on your own” and Risley had answered “I haven’t given up.”

            There is no further record in the Trustees’ Minutes of the outcome of all this, except that Nassau Street did go through. Perhaps the issue became moot when General Barker died on 11 May 1848. The next mention of the street, on 5 April 1851, is that its name was to be changed to Center Street.

            That too raised a fuss, according to Franklin Burritt. “I remember distinctly the clamor that was raised over the changing of the name . . . . It was a question for some time whether the name, Center, should stick or that of Nassau be restored . . .  The questions were pertinently asked, “Why Center Street? Center of what?”

            Of course, the answer, as Burritt knew perfectly well, was the center of William Risley’s Greek Revival mansion. No longer would one have to go down Mechanic or Temple streets and then in on Garden.There was now a single, grand avenue going directly from William Risley’s store on Main Street to his own front door.

            There is another set of village streets that came about through a lawsuit. Hezekiah Barker’s son Charles died intestate on 7 July 1840. The estate was probate but a dispute between some of the heirs caused the whole matter to end up in the courts. Ultimately, William Barker brought suit against his brother Samuel Barker “and others.” The outcome was that three Commissioners in Partition were appointed to settle the matter. They determined that the property, a large rectangle on the east side of Central Avenue should be surveyed into building lots which would be auctioned off with the proceeds divided among the heirs. The formal survey was dated 18 October 1852. (It had taken twelve years to settle the matter.)

            The lots along Central Avenue were immediately  accessible, but to reach into the rest of the land required laying out some new streets. Therefore Day Street was run from today’s Church Street northwest to Dunkirk Street (Central Avenue), while Free Street (Lambert Avenue) was laid from Temple northeast to a corner, then north parallel to Central Avenue. Those two streets gave access to the lots on the south and east. To do the same for interior lots, another street was laid across the middle of the land dividing it roughly into two halves, so it was called Division Street (today’s Curtis Place).

            Day, Division and Free were officially admitted as public streets in November 1852. The fact that Day Street began at Church Street calls for some explanation. The 1851 map of Fredonia shows Barker Common with Day Street running from East Main Street to Church Street and Church Street from Day almost to Center Street. However, both are outlined with dotted lines meaning they were proposed streets, not yet officially accepted by the village. The reason for that is that the village didn’t own the land. On 18 April 1825 Hezekiah Barker had finally deeded the Common he had long promised to the Town of Pomfret. In November 1852, it still belonged to the Town which meant that village residents could freely walk along the paths they called Day Street and Church Street, but legally they were walking on the edges of the Town Common. For the same reason, the village’s Day Street as laid out in 1852 could only begin at the edge of the Common and run down to Central Avenue.

            It was not until some twenty years later that a transfer was made. On 6 May 1878 “M.M.Fenner Supervisor of the Town of Pomfret appeared before the Board and stated that he did not feel authorized to expend the sum usually ordered by the Board of trustees for Care and Keeping of the Parks [the two halves of the Common].”

            “He therefore offered on behalf of the Town of Pomfret to place the custody of the Parks in the hands of the Board of Trustees — until the Voters of said Town at the next annual meeting shall have an opportunity to take action.” The offer was accepted, and on 17 March 1879 “The following communication was ordered on file and the proposition accepted.

                                                                                    Fredonia N.Y. March 17, 1879

To the President and Board of Trustees of the Village of Fredonia.


                                                                                    The following is a correct copy of a
Resolution adopted by the electors of the Town of Pomfret at noon of Tuesday February 18, 1879 in town Meeting assembled.

            Resolved  — That the Public Parks belonging to the Town of Pomfret but located in the Village of Fredonia be placed in the custody of the President [Mayor] and Board of Trustees of said village.
            I have the honor as present custodian of the public property of the town, to tender you the custody of the public parks, in accordance with this Resolution.
                                                                                                            Respectfully yours,

                                                                                                            Milton M.Fenner”
            And that is when Fredonia’s Day Street was finally allowed to begin at Main Street. Church Street had a similar history that adds to our understanding of how Fredonia’s streets developed. Its presence on the 1851 map makes clear that there was, de facto, a street named “Church” long before it became official. The name Free Street appears first in the survey of Charles Barker’s estate in 1852 and must be related to the furious debates then raging over the Fugitive Slave Act and all the other free vs. slave states issues. The same is probably true for Liberty and Union streets, which appear, like Church and Day, within dotted lines, as proposed streets on the 1851 map.

            It seems odd that in as self-consciously patriotic a place as Fredonia there are so few “patriotic” street names other than Washington Avenue (1891). There was a Ludovici Street in February 1904 (changed to Link in 1914) and a Pulaski Street in 1947, both apparently honoring foreigners of note, but otherwise no Adams, Jefferson, Franklin or even Lincoln.

            By far the most frequently used source has been personal names, either to honor those who were gone or commemorate the owners through whose lands the streets were laid. We have already noted Berry, Seymour, Hart (for a while, then renamed Davis, then Hart again) Barker, Leverett, Day, and Lambert. To these we could add Risley, Newton, Forbes, Glisan, (the original name of part of Newton Street), Gillis, Clinton (originally Ball Street), Cushing, Norton, Dunn, Howard, Kapple, and many more.

            There is one other class of streets we should touch on, and that is Fredonia streets of record that never existed. The compilers of certain kinds of reference books, such as biographical dictionaries like a Who’s Who or city directories, work very hard gathering and verifying the accuracy of their listings, so to prevent an unscrupulous competitor from copying all or segments and publishing it as his own, compilers build in fake biographies and, more important for us, fake streets, to use as evidence in court cases. They call them “burglar alarms.”

            Fredonia residents in 1972 were probably quite surprised to find their village streets included Dresden Avenue, which ran from Nellie Lane southerly to Pasture Street. Or that Griffin Way reached from La Bonte Avenue to McCormick Lane, and Pepper Road went from Nellie Lane to Emily Street, at least according to Manning’s Dunkirk and Fredonia Directory of 1972. By the time of the 1979 Directory, Nellie ran from Dresden to Hill Road, while Hill Road didn’t run anywhere.

            Griffin Way survived into 1983 as did Nellie, Pepper and Emily. In addition Sand Hill Drive was added, running from “Gansett easterly:” although, according to this listing Gansett didn’t run anywhere either.

It is not too much to say that a study of our village’s streets leads us into a multitude of interesting byways.