Thursday, September 12, 2013

Mr. Freeman's Pictures

By Douglas H. Shepard


            The Darwin R. Barker Historical Museum has an extensive collection of photographs covering from the 1840s to the present. The collection was featured in the Museum's "Photographers of Fredonia" exhibit in the early 21st century, and it includes local scenes, individuals, and groups. In the last category are a set of seven group photos of young boys and girls in what are probably classes used for practice teachers at the Fredonia Normal School. Someone has labeled the photos, "Mr. Freeman's pictures of classes 1883-1890," and for each has provided a typed identification key for most of the pupils.

            Mr. Freeman was Andrew Y. Freeman, who joined the Fredonia Normal School faculty in the Fall of 1880. It is not clear if he was the photographer — he is in the first photo of 1883 — or just arranged to have the photos taken. Whoever provided the identifications, also assigned dates — some of them conjectural —  for each photo. They are I=1883, II=1884, III=1885, IV=1886, V=1887, VI= 1888, VII=1889. The names are given below in alphabetical order and the group photo number is added. The names are given exactly as in the original, including names in parentheses. A few additional comments are in square brackets.


 Frank Davis (Adams) I

Hattie Adams VI

Daisy Annis I

Minnie Annis VII


Frank Ball I

Louis Ball II

Will Barker IV

Minnie Bartholomew II

Frances Beckwith IV

Jessie Beckwith II

Violetta (Lettie) Beckwith I

Charlie Benjamin V

Cora Benton II

Fred Bickers VII

Birta Blackman VII

Lesley Blackman VII

______ Blodgett [Female] V

Gertie Blood V

Belle Borojer (Boyea?) V

Lyda Bor yer (Boyea?) V

Willie Brickley VII

Kate Briggs VI

Kate Brown I

Margaret Brown IV

Ned Buck III

Lillian Burke II

Nettie Burr IV

Kate Burritt I


Ward Cadwill VII

Bird Camp II

Sarah Canty V

Lilla Cobb III

Anna Colburn II

Harry Colburn IV

Ella Cooper VI

Charlie Couch III

Bessie Crouch IV

Edith Curtis III

Marie Cushing VI


Mary Dagenais V

Walter Daniel II

Frank Davis I

Anna Delvin III

Lila Doolittle VII

Lulu Douglas IV

Orton Douglas V

Kate Dunkley IV

Mammie Dunning V

Nina Durfre I


Eddie Easton V

Minnie Easton III

Will Edmonds IV

Homer Ellis V

Grace Ensign (?) V


Eddie Foster II

Emily Foster VI

Gnna  Foster IV

John Foster II

Mable Foster V

Gene Fraser III

Mr.Freeman I


Ella Gates V

Jennie Glenn V

Florence Grant IV

Arthur Guest II


Theodore Hamilton II

Emma Hart V

Jan Harti VI

Katie Hendee I

Luttie (?) Higgins I

Charlie Hopkins IV

Lollie Houser III

Mary Houser II

Maud Hughes V

(Anna?) Mary Hull I


Frank Irwin II


Alice Kennedy I

Ida Kesner III






James Lake III

Bob Landers III

Charlie Landers IV

Will Lester IV

Raymond Lewis VII

John Luke VII

Carrie Lynn V


Roy Marsh VII

Kittie Martin V

Parthina Martin III

Grace McClanathan VI

Kate McDonald II

Grace McKinstry III

Helen McPherson II

Herbert (Bert) Miner I

John Mixer VI

Frank Moir III

George Morgan VI

Mary Morgan VI

Jessie Morian V


Harry Newton III

James Normand V


Ernest Palmer II

Nelson Palmer V

Waldo Parker II

Louis Paschke IV

Flora Pemberton V

Mable Pemberton VI

Ruth Perrin V

Alvan Perry V

Jessie Plater V

Grace Porrel (?) V

Alice Putnam II

Charlotte Putnam IV


Albert Richardson VII

Matie Robert III, IV

Theodore Roberts II

Bessie Rodenough VI

Norman Roose V




Nettie Slone V

Alice Smith II

Louise Smith II

Louis Starr VI

Bessie Stevens II

Ned Stevens V

_____ Straight [Male] III

Lillian Straight VII

Fannie Sweet I


Albert Tambling IV

Dolly Tambling IV

Clinton Tarbox IV

Flora Tarr II

Jessie Tarr VI

Diane Tate II

Nora Tate I

Ira Terrill III

Sarah Terrill II

Harry Thayer I

Belle Tiffany VI

Fannie Topliffe V

Anna Tremaine II,V

Monti Tyler V


Jessie VanLeuren V


Minnie Wallace VI

Nellie Warren V

Jennie Weaver V

Charlie Webster( (?) VII

Anna Wheelock I

Wm. White II

Carrie Wiggen V

Louise Wilcox I

Katie Wiley V

Belle Wilson III

Jennie Wilson VII

Mary Wilson II

_____ Woods [Female] V

Blanche Woods VII

Will Woods III


Harry Zehnder VI

The Barker Historical Museum Building

By Douglas H. Shepard, 2013


                Leverett Barker, no relation to Hezekiah, came to Fredonia in 1809. He was a tanner by trade and built a small home and a tannery behind it at 23 East Main Street. In 1811 he married one of Hezekiah’s daughters, Desire Barker. They had eight children, one of whom was Darwin R. Barker.

                In 1821 Leverett built the first brick home in the village, a stone corbel is marked “May  1821.” No architect is known. The house originally had stepped gables at front and rear, which were removed to bring the building up to date in the 1850s. Inside, there were the entry hall and stairs to the second floor. To the left of the hall were a small parlor and behind it two rooms. Later additions were the east wing, a frame rear portion and probably a kitchen/pantry area. Upstairs there were two rooms leading off the hall at the head of the stairs.

                An apprentice to Leverett Barker, Rosell Greene, married the Barkers’ daughter Eliza. Although Darwin Barker and Rosell Greene and their families also lived in Versailles, NY, the Barkers and then the Greenes lived in the home for many years before and after their time in Versailles. In 1882, Darwin R. Barker began the process of buying it from the other heirs and then donating it for a Fredonia Library building.

                Once the Library was in its permanent home, a small Historical Collection began. It was first housed in the downstairs parlor, then in the upstairs meeting room, which had been made by taking out the partition walls from the earlier bedrooms. The collection gradually grew, and when the new Library addition was built in 1984, the Historical Museum expanded into the Leverett Barker home.

The Family Medicine Chest

By Douglas H. Shepard, 2013


                The Family Medicine Chest was a product of Frederick M. Southwick’s Family Medicine Co. in the 1920s. Southwick, the son of Erastus and Samantha (Cole) Southwick, was born near Van Buren Bay around 1853. On 25 March 1874 he married Laura Woodworth. He first appears in Fredonia records in the 1920 Census at 7 Free Street (Lambert Avenue) as a Manufacturer of Medicine. The 1921 Directory describes it as the Fredonia Medicine Co. By the 1923 Directory it is the Family Medicine Co. at the same location. The 1925 Census lists him as still at 7 Free Street, 72, a Salesman, but the 1925 Directory shows him to have left Fredonia. His wife died in 1926 and he died at his daughter’s home in Lakewood OH in January 1928.

The Fredonia Academy

By Douglas H. Shepard, 2013


                Petitions were circulated in 1821 for pledges to help put up an Academy building in Fredonia. The Academy was a kind of early prep school. The construction was begun in October 1821 and completed by 1823. It was a large framed building, 36 x 50 feet standing about where the rear portion of Village Hall is today. It reached about 30 feet in height with a stairway/bell-tower at the front facing the Common.

                To help with the financing, the second floor was sold to the Presbyterian Church and, in April 1825, a room on the first floor was leased to School District No. 8. Finally, a bill was passed in Albany to help with paying for a Preceptor (Principal). The first floor interior was finished by Lathrop Drake in March 1826 and in October 1826, Austin Smith arrived and organized the first class of the Fredonia Academy.

In 1850 John Jones was hired to enlarge the building. He was the local architect/builder responsible for 20 Central Avenue, the Risley mansions, the Baptist and Episcopal church buildings, and his own home formerly at 135 West Main (now 403 East Main). The Academy building was doubled in size toward the Common with two square corner towers at its front. (Barker Museum has some pictures of that version of the building.) In 1867 the Fredonia Normal School was built and took over the Academy’s function. The Academy building was then used as a multi-purpose Village Hall including offices, meeting rooms and the Fire Dept.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Who Was Martha Aldrich?

By Douglas H. Shepard, 2011


                In July 2010, the D. R. Barker Historical Museum received a generous gift from Mary B. Sippel. It was a ‘Friendships Album’ kept by Miss Martha Aldrich. The album is a sumptuously bound volume of blank pages on which friends and relatives were supposed to write expressions of love and caring. Martha kept the album up, beginning in 1865 and extending into 1889. Luckily the large majority of entries are dated, so that even though people skipped around through the volume, it is possible to put most of the entries into chronological order. By doing that, we are able to learn where she was at a particular date, what activities she was involved in and even what she may have been thinking about issues of the day important to her.

                Martha Aldrich was born on 26 April 1846 in Hamburg, NY, the second daughter of Scott Aldrich and his second wife, Anna Meal. Eventually she had some thirteen brothers and sisters and half-brothers and half-sisters. In addition, Scotts’ third wife, Lydia A. Snell, added step-daughters Rhetta, 19, and Lottie, 15, to the family at least for the 1860 Census. Lottie (Charlotte) was still in the Aldrich family for the 1865 Census.

                Scott Aldrich moved his family to Fredonia in 1857. One of the motivating factors may have been to allow son Nathan to attend the Fredonia Academy which he did in 1859-1860. Martha followed him for two terms in 1864 and 1865. Her more significant membership in Fredonia was in what was then known as the Methodist Episcopal Church. There is a list of members dated 1860-61 with the annotation that Mrs. Lydia A. Aldrich had joined by letter on 26 September 1858 and that Martha Aldrich, who had been a probationer, was baptized into full membership on 1 June 1862. Other records note that she had “Removed by letter” on 7 April 1863 and returned by letter in August. (When a member was to move, the pastor could grant a request to provide a letter or certificate stating the individual was a member in good standing. That letter then served to admit the individual to the Methodist church in the new location.)

                Martha continued as an active member of the Methodist Church while she attended the Fredonia Academy in 1864 and in 1865. It seems obvious that the album was a gift as she was finishing up at the Academy. The earliest signers, on 23 February 1865, were E. S. Wright and Lucia E. Wright. He was the Rev. Dr. Edwin S. Wright, pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Fredonia, and he and  Mrs. Wright were the parents of Martha’s young schoolmate, Ormand Wright. Five days later she had H. T. Fuller, Principal of the Academy, sign, and on 2 March it was Silas M. Weaver, a fellow student (1861-1866) as well as a Math instructor in 1864 and 1865. In the following September, she added Felicia A. Low, a member of her church and W. D. Archibold, her neighbor on Central Avenue.  In October, a Helen Eddy of Hamburg, NY signed, perhaps a friend from the family’s time in Hamburg.

                The following March 1866 yielded Rachel Wright of Charlotte Center and Ada M. Aldrich of Portland. Towards the end of 1866 three more acquaintances, then nothing for five years. In March 1871 Laura Tagg, wife of the then Methodist Minister in Fredonia signed at the Parsonage.

                Martha’s younger sister Maria had married Jasper A. Aldrich, a very distant relation, on 11 February 1872. They were living in Edwardsburg, MI where Martha visited them more than once. She had album entries from Guinevere M. Jackson in Chicago in July 1873 and George S. Hicks, the Methodist Minister in Edwardsburg on 8 April 1876. By December she had returned home, adding C. Z. Wilner of Williamsville to her album. In August 1877 it was John W. Armstrong and A. B. Armstrong, and in November, Elizabeth Richardson, all members of the Methodist Church in Fredonia.

                By 1878, a pivotal year for her, Martha was teaching advanced class No.16 at her church and very involved in some religious issues that had arisen in the community. The local W.C.T.U. had invited a “gospel Temperance lecturer” named O. D. Bacon to speak at a union meeting to be held in the Baptist Church. Bacon was himself a reformed alcoholic who often provided lurid descriptions of his own and others dissipation and ruin. He claimed to be, said the Clerk of the Baptist Church A.Z. Madison, “under the immediate control and guidance of the Lord Jesus Christ,” so that no matter what he said it actually came directly from God. Although he shared the platform with the pastors of the Fredonia Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian churches, “Few, if any, in the audience, but what were shocked from the first, with the harsh declamatory & denunciatory manner of the speaker.”

                Bacon continued here, on and off, for ten weeks, causing greater and greater dissension in the community, with past officers of the W.C.T.U., the local clergy, and many temperance advocates withdrawing their support. Most of those who remained Bacon’s supporters were women, and one was Martha Aldrich.

                The Clerk, A. Z. Madison, took notes of a 7 March 1878 meeting of the Trustees of the Baptist Church including Chairman Alva Colburn. “The Chairman stated the object of this meeting to consider the application of women, represented by his sister Miss Colburn & Miss Aldrich, to have the Baptist Church opened for lectures by Dr. O. D. Bacon.” The Trustees moved that no action be taken then and on 13 March the Trustees of all three churches declined to have Bacon meetings continue in their buildings. Union Hall (at 9 East Main Street) had to be hired for the purpose.

                On 7 June 1878, Bacon signed Martha’s album. He wrote in part “Miss Martha ‘My Dear Sister’ A stranger to you but a few weeks ago. Now a sister led by the same ‘Father.’” He signed it “Your Brother Dr. O. D. Bacon.” It is not surprising then to find in the Record of the Members of the Fredonia Methodist Church several notations next to her name. “Removed by Certificate 9-2-1878.” “Supposed to have joined the Free Methodists.” She was not alone in rejecting the church that had rejected her champion. James and Lucy Brooks “withdrew 5-18-1878 over Baconism,” Samuel Bradley “withdrawn over Trustees shutting church agst Dr. Bacon,” Ella Barrows “withdrew over Baconism 6-15-1878,” and Frinde Babcock “withdrew over Baconism 7-8-1878.”

                Although there is no record of exactly when Martha joined the Free Methodists, she must have been a member for a while before she was appointed to a committee on 10 October 1879. In these early days for the denomination, which called itself the “First Free Methodist Church of Dunkirk , N.Y.” the group included adherents from Forestville and Fredonia. When they met in Forestville on 28 August 1880, Martha was elected a Steward. The minutes of the society mention a meeting of the “Dunkirk and Fredonia charge” held in the church in Fredonia on 17 September 1881. That church building was a house at 27 Day Street owned by Melissa D. Woodward, a long-time member of the Dunkirk church. On 11 May 1880, members of the Fredonia church met there and agreed to incorporate, and one day later Melissa D. Woodward deeded the building and lot to the Trustees of the Free Methodist Church of Fredonia for $475.00. The deed stipulated that the building, or one built later, was to be used only by the Free Methodist Church, and that pews should always be free of charge. Added was the stipulation that must have seemed perfectly natural to her, but is quite unexpected to the reader:  that if the trustees did not live up to these guidelines “the property in whole shall fall back to Miss Martha Aldrich the party who furnished the purchase money or to her heirs or assigns.”

                There is very little on the record about Martha Aldrich in the next few years. Without question she continued her involvement with her church. There are few entries in her album until a really significant one in March, 1889. It is a rather inept poem called “Life Sculpture” by W. C. Doane, and John Joseph Kelly either deliberately changed some of the wording, or, more likely, he was writing from memory. This is his version:


                                                Chisel in hand stood the Sculptor boy,

                                                With his marble block before him: -

                                                And his face lit up with a Smile of joy

                                                As an angel dream passed o’er him.


                                                He carved that dream on the yeilding [sic] Stone

                                                With many a Sharp incision;

                                                In heaven’s own light the Sculpter Shone

                                                He had caught that angel vision.


                                                Sculptors of life are we, as we stand,

                                                With our lives uncarved before us;

                                                Waiting the hours when, at God’s command,

                                                Out life dream passes O’er us.


Let us carve it then on the yielding[sic] Stone,

                                                With many a Sharp incision: -

                                                Its heavenly beauty Shall be our own –

                                                Our lives that Angel vision.


                Although we might fault the statement as poetry, Martha apparently did not. On 22 April 1891 she married him. John Joseph Kelly was born in Ireland in October, 1852 and emigrated to the U.S. in 1880. A laconic sentence in the “Genealogical Report on the Family of Scott Aldrich” states that “Joseph Kelly studied to be a priest, but changed to become a Free Methodist minister.” Nothing more seems to be known about his conversion, nor when it took place. However, there is no question that it did. He is listed as a farmer in the 1891 Directory at 12 West Main Street, which is about at today’s 71 West Main Street. The 1892 Census has them still on West Main Street with Joseph as a farmer. The next entry is in the 1900 Directory for the Rev. J. J. Kelly and his wife Martha on “East Main n[ea]r limits.” They are also listed there in the 1900 Census between the families of Sayles Aldrich and Seth Aldrich. The census-taker identified Kelly as a “Baptist Minister,” which we might appropriately call a clerical error. In the 1904 Directory they are still located on East Main Street near the village limits. The 1905 Census lists the Sayles and Seth Aldrich families on East Main Street, but by then the Kellys had gone. That may be when they moved to Forestville. However, the Minutes of the Annual Conferences of the Free Methodist Church of North America in its 1906 Conference Roll of Preachers note J. J. Kelly’s “Year of admission into full connection” as 1905, so their move from East Main Street might have been connected to that event.

                The Kellys remained in Forestville until Martha’s death on 15 April 1909. Her funeral service was held at the Free Methodist Church she had been instrumental in founding in Fredonia. As far as the records go, her husband disappeared as mysteriously as he had arrived. Indeed, we could have said the same kind of thing about Martha had we not had the gift of her Friendships Album.

Francis H. Ruggles

By Douglas H. Shepard, 2013


            Andrew Young, History of Chautauqua County, New York (1875), p.657 lists Ruggles as the Board of Supervisors' Clerk in 1834.     The Town of Pomfret Assessment Roll for 1836 lists him (for the first time) as holding ½ acre assessed at $275. (A note at the beginning says the roll was in the collector’s hands in December 1836.) The house and lot were on Mechanic Street, today's Forest Place.

            The Fredonia Censor of 1 June 1836, 3:1, reported that FHR, Esq., of Fredonia had been appointed a delegate to the State Convention. The issue of 2 May 1838 reported that he was a member of the Board of Excise of Pomfret meeting at Asa Peirce's home on the 7th. The 25 July 1838 issue reported he had been admitted an Attorney at the Supreme Court. Probably late in 1838, he acquired a two-acre lot, probably with a house already on it, on Temple Street. The Censor of 2 January 1839, reported his late house and lot were for sale, but the 1839 Assessment Roll (dated 21 August 1839) shows him still holding both properties.

            However, there is a deed of 10 June 1841 from Zena Bliss of Burlington VT to Henry J. Ruggles of Rutland which is for the property F.H. Ruggles was occupying and paying taxes on in 1839. Henry J. (S.?) Ruggles of Poultney, Rutland County, VT deeded it to Francis H. Ruggles on 24 August 1843 for the same $1,000 he had paid Bliss.

            The Censor of 20 November 1839 announced that Francis H. Ruggles, Esq., of Fredonia, would be an Associate Editor of the paper. The editor, Ebenezer Winchester, was planning to issue The Settler for six months from April 1840. It was a political advocacy paper supporting William Henry Harrison for President. Winchester gave up the Censor in April 1841. There is a 16 June 1841 announcement that he was leaving his accounts with Ruggles. In a subsequent issue, 21 July 1841, Ruggles had an ad that as "Attorney & Counselor at Law and Solicitor in Chancery" he would "henceforth give his undivided attention to professional business."

            In 1842, Benjamin F. Greene studied law with Ruggles (Young, p.636). A retrospective column in the Censor of 13 January 1892 referring to 1842 stated "F.H. Ruggles had an office in the rear of the Post Office in the Johnson House [roughly today's 1 Park Place], on Center street, where the late Judge B.F. Greene studied law." In an ad in the Censor of 27 July 1842 Ruggles added "Commissioner in Bankruptcy" to his other functions.

            Young, p.649, states that Ruggles was a Judge in 1843 and there is a passing reference to him as "Judge Ruggles" in the Censor of 18 November 1845. It was in an ad for L.S. Watkins, portrait painter "at the residence of Judge Ruggles" and at the Johnson House for a short time. The ad ran into 1846.

            The Censor passed from Ebenezer Winchester to Robert Cunnington in April 1841 and one year later from Cunnington to [Willard]. McKinstry & Co [Levi L. Pratt].  On 10 April 1844 McKinstry announced that Ruggles and Benjamin F. Greene, Esqs., would have charge of the political department of the paper "as Editors till after the Presidential election."

            Ruggles is included in the 1845 New York State Census for Pomfret. His household included three males, five females, one male subject to military duty and one person entitled to vote. In October 1846 he was nominated to represent the 8th District of New York (the Fredonia Censor 6 October 1846). Young, p.653, lists him as a Senator from the 8th District. (He adds a description of what was included in that district at various times.)

            Although the assessment rolls for 1847 through 1851 show Ruggles still owning his Temple Street house and lot, the 1850 Roll does add "M.S. Woodford, Agent" next to Ruggles' name, and when he sold the property to a John Smith, the deed of 1 August 1851 described him as "of Albany."

Dr. Dods Writes to the Censor

By Douglas H. Shepard


Fredonia has been home to a number of talented writers, including Grace Richmond and Jean Webster. One writer however, a poet, has been little noted, so we wanted to correct the record.   On 21 January 1920, the Fredonia Censor ran an editorial speaking to the matter of thrift. It was part of a nation-wide program which divided the week into “Thrift in Industry Day,” “Family Budget Day,” etc. Saturday 24 January, was to be “Pay Your Bills Day” and it was pointed out that “The CENSOR Office will be open for the convenience of those who have thus far neglected to pay their CENSOR SUBSCRIPTION for 1920 in advance.”

            That editorial nudge received an unexpectedly poetic response, which was reported in the Censor of 28 January. Included with a check for a renewed subscription was the following:


                                    If you would feel happy and snappy and snug,

                                    Like the dear little buggie that lived in a rug,

                                    Avoid editorials written on thrift,

                                    For as soon as you catch, of their meaning, the drift,

                                    You’ll awake with a start to find it is true,

                                    That that paragraph, pointed, is pointed at YOU!


            The editor added that the poem was written on stationery from 66 East Main Street. In other words, it came from Dr. Abraham Wilson Dods (of today’s Dods Hall fame) just another star in Fredonia’s galaxy of literary talent.