Monday, September 29, 2008

Glancing Backward - August 1908 and 1958

by Beth Flory

August 1908

Of great local interest were the preparations for the State Fair in
mid-September in Syracuse. New large and lavish permanent structures
were among $2,000,000 worth of improvements. “Stars of the Turf” from
“every stable of prominence” were expected on the trotting course.
Alfred G. Vanderbilt was slated to come with his four-in-hand coach.
The hope was to outshine the fairgrounds in other states.

The grape harvest was a good one and berries were selling for 18
cents a pound. From M.H. Tenney’s four rows came 380 quarts of

A “clairvoyant doctor” was coming to town for two days. If you did
not have a satisfactory physician, you were urged to come early for an
instant diagnosis, free advice and cure. His medical credentials: he
was “the 7th son of a 7th son and born with a double caul.”

The town Poormaster was authorized to take a woman and her son to
the county farm in Bath where the son was rejected and “brought back to
remain a county charge until further notice.”

August 1958

Mildew and black rot were attacking an otherwise good quality grape
harvest. Fifteen tons of watermelons were dumped in Dansville when a
truck swerved and upset coming down Wayland Hill.

Just south of the rock cut on Route 21 a speeding car plunged 60
feet down the steep and wooded bank, instantly killing the three
Rochester-area occupants. The crash was heard by cottagers from
Walton, Grangers and Coye Points who hurried to the scene to offer
assistance. Music could be heard from far below the road; the car’s
radio had survived undamaged.

What would be the last of the Nundawaga Society pageants was partly
rained out for the first time in five years of performances and
rescheduled for the following weekend. While rehearsing by lantern
light one night (and battling mosquitos), the actors looked up to
witness the silent flight of Sputnik. A new era had begun.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Fred and Billy

1830 New York, no one-horse town

Fred Niblo, son of a Civil War veteran, put his horses up on the screen. On the eve of New Year’s Eve in 1925 the fifty-year-old director’s silent adaptation of a biblical novel by another Civil War veteran, Lew Wallace, premiered at New York’s George M. Cohan Theatre, on Broadway and 43rd Street. He may have gotten a good deal on the theater, by the way; he had been Cohan’s brother-in-law, until his wife died. The spectacular set piece of all versions of “Ben Hur” has been the chariot race. Audiences watched enraptured as Ramon Novarro and Francis X. Bushman guided their plunging vehicles at breakneck speed around Rome’s Circus Maximus. The sound of thundering hoof beats, of course were only in the viewer’s mind.

Which may have been the case ninety-five years previously with another Niblo. According to Charles H. Haswell, writing as The Octogenarian back in 1830, “In July a trotting course was opened on the ground in front of the "Kensington House" of William Niblo, on the east side of the Old Boston Road at Seventieth Street, which he had opened several years before.”

We met William “Billy” Niblo on our last visit to Manhattan, when the entrepreneur re-opened his renovated Niblo’s Garden at Broadway and Prince Street, in today’s SoHo neighborhood. If Haswell was correct Niblo’s flier on the ponies was a rip-roaring non-success. First; none of the readily-available sources make mention of the project, and there’s only a brief mention in one, of a Kensington House, described as being on the East River. No connection is made there with Niblo. Even the location is suspect. In 1830 Prince Street was considered as being practically in the country. Seventieth Street, had it existed, would have been way “out of town”. Even if the transcription misread Seventeenth Street, as I suspect, there’s no further mention of a trotting track, run by anyone, anywhere near the spot. Haswell never mentions it again in the thirty further years he kept an account of the city’s history. So we can probably score one equine success and one failure for the Niblos.

And, in case you’re wondering, no, they were not related. Fred Niblo’s real name was Frederick Liedtke. It’s most likely he took his stage name from the producer. History can be messy.

The 1830s’ sporting crowd would have to travel over to Long Island to watch racing steeds or the newly-popular trotters. But there was plenty else to do in Manhattan, especially if the theater was your pleasure. And here Haswell is a fine guide. Even though James Stuart returns from his travels at the beginning of June he mentions attending the theater only once. But diarist and former mayor Philip Hone can help us fill in some of the blanks.

About the time Stuart was heading for South Carolina lower Manhattan’s Chatham Garden Theatre, which had failed last year, then been briefly reborn as the American Opera House (for a limited run of three months), opened once again, this time as Blanchard's Amphitheatre. “Under this style very good equestrian performances, with rope-dancing and the like, were offered.” So, if you couldn’t bet on the horses in Manhattan you could at least watch them prance around a ring.

© 2006 David Minor / Eagles Byte

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Bury Them Not

New York City Continues Transforming in 1830

By David Minor

Apart from the stone water tower being erected on 13th Street now in 1830, few major construction projects were under way but, as usual, the layout of lower Manhattan was undergoing constant change. Settlement of the affairs of the late (29 years ago) property owner Captain Robert Richard Randall finally drew to a close when the U. S. Supreme Court cleared his land title to the area around today’s Washington Square. The original will, by the way, had been drawn up by no other than Alexander Hamilton. The freed funds will be used to purchase land on Staten Island for construction of Sailors’ Snug Harbor, a retirement home for, “aged, decrepit, and worn-out sailors”, and to provide for its maintenance.

As for the Square itself, it had at one time been a potter’s field, where the city’s poor were buried in unmarked graves. Which made it a handy repository for criminals hanged on a nearby gibbet. But in New York, real estate rules and over the last four years the poor were reburied elsewhere and expensive homes constructed around the perimeter. New graveyards, especially for the poor will, of necessity have to be located away from lower Manhattan as the Common Council this year bans them from all land south of Canal Street. Meanwhile street construction goes on between 13th Street and Canal Street. Eleventh Street is laid out except for the two-block section between Broadway and the Bowery, construction there blocked by the apple orchard of council member Henry Brevoort, a buddy of Washington Irving’s. The second incarnation of Grace Church will rise on the site in 1843. Four blocks to the south, on lower Third Avenue one of the city’s many public markets will be laid out this year and named for the previous owner of the land, the late former governor and U. S. vice-president Daniel D. Tompkins. More changes to the city’s infrastructure are in the works this year as incorporation papers are filed for the Manhattan Gas Light Company, which will soon be providing gas street lights for the new neighborhoods.

Part of the impetus for the move of old money further uptown is the deteriorating condition of the area known as Five Points on the east side of the city a few short blocks northeast of City Hall. Here, where Park and Baxter streets intersect and Anthony Street thrusts its way into the crossing, buildings erected on formerly filled-in swamp land, the old Collect Pond, have begun to collapse in on themselves, driving out all but the most destitute. And there are over 13,000 of these unfortunates, existing in streets of flophouses and taverns, precursor of the tenements of the Lower East Side and the Bowery of future decades. Letters are beginning to appear in the New York Sun, complaining that these slums are not being demolished.

Across town (in today’s Triangle Below Canal Street, or Tribeca neighborhood), sits St. John’s Park, one of the city’s more exclusive neighborhoods. Now, in 1830, the residents have erected an iron replacement for the wooden fence that had surrounded the park they all face. As in a latter-day Gramercy Park, the gates are kept locked, the property owners all having their own keys. After the U. S. Civil War our budding millionaire Cornelius Vanderbilt will knock down the fence, level the park’s greenery and convert the area into a stable for new toys, the iron steeds of his New York Central & Hudson River Rail Road.

© 2006 David Minor/Eagles Byte

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Life Was Hard for Boys on the Erie Canal

(Anyone familiar with the history of the Erie Canal is well aware of the fact that it was exactly a fun place to be for boys. Thousands of them toiled for countless hours driving horses and mules back and forth across the state for little or no pay, and only a corner of a stall with some straw and a blanket to call their own. At some point in time the name "hoggie" was applied to this class of people young people.
They were frequently beaten by boat owners and cheated out of what little money they rightfully earned. The following article from the Troy Whig, Thursday, Jan. 10, 1873, is just one example of this chronic problem on the canal. Submitted by Richard Palmer).

A young lad, poorly clad in a starving condition, wondered into the first precinct station house yesterday afternoon in search of something to eat and a place to rest his weary frame. Captain Quigley interrogated the unfortunate stranger, and gleaned the following facts in regard to his past life and adventures. The lad is seventeen years of age and his name is Wolcott Tier.
Two years ago he lived happily at his home in Oswego, but his father died and his mother married a man by the name of Andrew View. His stepfather had no sooner taken possession of the house than he laid all kinds of plans to get rid of the boy.
For scarcely any cause whatever, he would whip him, notwithstanding the earnest protestations of the mother, who was also abused by him for interfering in her son's behalf. He stood the treatment for two months and then resolved to leave the house and earn a living at some other place.
He informed his stepfather of his intentions and the latter encouraged his resolution and told him never to enter the house again. He accordingly left one cold night in December, 1871, after bidding his broken hearted mother farewell, promising her he would return sometime, in better circumstances. But his expectations have not been realized, as his career since that time has been attended with a series of misfortunes.
He first went to Syracuse where he worked until the canal opened, then obtaining a position as driver he remained on the tow path until he became tired of the drudgery of his vocation knowing well that he was capable of better work.
Finally he concluded that he would return once more to his home. His mother entreated her husband to let him remain, as he promised to use every endeavor to make himself useful in the future, but her appeal was in vain. He stayed in Oswego for some time and was often in sight of his mother's house, but never after that time did he enter it.
When the canal was opened last spring, necessity, not choice, compelled him to return again, as driver for a canal boat. He procured a position in that capacity on the boat "A.D. Hoyt," and was promised $15 a month and his board. The captain,
however, took advantage of his condition, and only at times could he obtain money, and then in small quantities.
The summer passed and his boat was among the last that came down the Erie Canal from Buffalo. On reaching New York the captain decamped and the employees, Tier among the rest, were left in a strange city without a cent. He has managed, since that time, barely to keep himself alive, and yesterday arrived in Troy exhausted and discouraged.
Captain Quigley kindly gave him a place to sleep and afterward had him taken to the county house. He is willing to work, but ever since he left home, which now has a "serpent on the hearth," he has been running again running against the stream until at last he has been obliged to give up.

Boonville has new canal museum

By Richard Palmer
BOONVILLE - This village is rapidly becoming a tourist destination, thanks to a local effort called the Boonville Black River Canal Museum, which had more than 1,000 visitors during the summer of 2008.

Latest addition is a replica of an authentic Black River Canal boat called the "Walter C. Pratt," in honor of one of the founders of the Pratt Northam Foundation, a philanthropic organization. Grant money from the foundation funded the building of the replica. Another Foundation grant of $20,000 will help create a new archives building on the museum’s grounds. 

The boat replica allows visitors to travel back in time and see the life of a canal boat family. The boat was built from original construction plans. It is complete with a cabin area, cargo area and a resting space for mules. 

The replica also will have a display devoted to the history of the canal boats that includes photographs and scale models. 
The museum also has plans to expand with the completion of a children’s activity area in a refurbished original canal warehouse that already was on site. The area will include a miniature working canal in which children can learn how canal boats moved through the canal locks, a mule in its stall and a display that teaches how a pulley system was used to lift nail kegs. 

“Kids should get a kick out of it and learn something. I can’t wait to get my hands wet,” said trustee Walt Schriber. 
The interactive nature of the museum and its displays fulfills the educational mission of the museum “to collect, preserve and interpret objects related to the Black River Canal; and, to research, document and disseminate information about the Black River Canal,” according to a news release. 

“We want to preserve the Black River Canal and Boonville history for future generations,” said trustee Dick Ulrich said.
Goal of the museum is to is to educate, maintain, and preserve the artifacts and culture associated with the Black River Canal in a permanent exhibit on its banks.

The Hemlock Mercantile Building, constructed entirely by volunteers, was opened on June 2, 2007. It includes many displays of historic photographs and original canal artifacts. This building also serves as the visitor center and gift shop. The warehouse located behind the Mercantile Building, has been restored. It is an original mule barn and storage warehouse used during canal days. This building houses a children's activity center and several large displays.
There are plans for another building between the Mercantile Building and the warehouse. It will house a mini theater, the archives and offices.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The 76th Regimental Association Held Annual Reunions

By Richard Palmer

After the Civil War, most major units held annual reunions. Aside from these there were also annual reunions of the local Grand Army of the Republic Posts. Starting in 1869 when it was formed, the 76th Regimental Association, remnant of the 76th Regiment, New York Volunteers, held an official reunion annually, (with the exception of 1876, 1888 and 1892) until 1922 when the organization was disbanded. Even the few members still living continued to hold informal reunions for another three years in Cortland.

These reunions were always a great time of camaraderie as they served to reunite old friends who had fought and marched together. Although the majority of the reunions centered in Cortland, they were occasionally held in other communities where veterans of the 76th Regiment resided. These included Cazenovia, Cherry Valley, Dryden, Groton, Ithaca, Marathon, McGraw, McLean, Montour Falls, Newark Valley, Sherburne, Truxton, and Worcester (Otsego County).

Generally, the reunions were held during the first week of October, coinciding as closely as possible to the date the unit was organized in 1861. The association was officially formed at a meeting in September, 1869, largely through the efforts of A.P. Smith, the unit's official historian. At that meeting it was decided to hold the first reunion in Cortland on Oct. 6, 1869. Former unit members learned of the upcoming event by letter and through local newspapers.

Col. William P. Wainwright, one of the early unit commanders, then living in Rhinebeck, was among those invited to attend. At noon on Oct. 6 the first reunion got underway at Taylor Hall in downtown Cortland. Major Aaron Sager was chosen as chairman. At this time the association was formally organized with officers. These included Col. Wainwright as president, Lt. Col. J.D. Shaul of Springfield, Otsego County, first vice president; Col. John E. Cook of Yates county, second vice president; Major Sager of Cortland, third vice president; Capt. E.A. Mead of Cayuga County, fourth vice president; Capt. William H. Myers, treasurer; A. P. Smith, corresponding secretary and quartermaster; and William J. Mantanye of Marathon, recording secretary. The executive committee consisted of P.W. Chatey, Capt. J.C. Hatch of McLean, Capt. Albert J. Jarvis, B.F. Taylor and Scepta Ringe of Cortland, Capt. James L. Goddard of Truxton, Capt. S.M. Byram of Virgil.

When Col. Wainwright was nominated as president, everyone present arose to their feet and gave three cheers of acclamation and a spontaneous applause followed. Due to problems caused by a storm, Col. Wainwright was unable to attend due to train delays. During the proceedings, 76 veterans signed the association constitution. Mantanye read the official report of the Battle of Gettysburg and several others gave addresses and discussed the numerous battles in which the 76th was engaged.

The unit was then formed and the veterans marched to the Messenger House, a local hotel, where dinner was served at 2:30 p.m.

The Cortland Standard of Oct. 12, 1869 recorded:

The old flag was placed in the center of the room, and as it met the eyes of the boys who had followed it to glory, there was a spontaneous "three cheers for the old flag," which was "truly cheering."

After dinner the veterans reformed and marched through the village, led by the Cortland Brass Band. On returning to Taylor Hall, they were greeted by a large group of citizens who had assembled to pay their respects to the regiment . Then another meeting was called to order by Col Shaul. Mantanye then read the official report of General Lysander Cutler of the Battle of Gettysburg in which the 76th lost 80 percent of its number in killed, wounded, missing and taken prisoner. The report spoke in the highest terms and praise of the gallantry of Major Andrew J. Grover who was killed early in the action on July 1, 1863. Horatio Ballard, a prominent Cortland resident, alluded to the 27 important battles in which the regiment had engaged.

The Cortland Standard recorded:

"As the speaker portrayed the the heroism of the brave men before him, he was at times almost overwhelmed with emotion, until at last, in the enthusiasm of the hour, he seized the tattered flag of so many battles, and shaking it before the assemblage, declared it spoke with greater eloquence than human tongue could utter. This was the signal for a general rush to their feet, and the 'three cheers and a tiger,' while they interrupted the speaker, could but satisfy him that he had touched the chord of their sympathies."

There were several other speakers who gave stirring and patriotic speeches. They included Dr. Miles Goodyear, a noted surgeon from Cortland who carved his way through army hospitals and battlefields during the war; and a Sgt. Bailey, one of the first volunteers from Cortland who joined when the 23rd N.Y. Volunteers was called out. A.P. Smith then read letters from those unable to attend the reunion. Later, unit veterans again formed and marched to the Messenger House for a reception.

The Cortland Standard remarked that : "Altogether we are free to say, without disparagement to any other organization, that there has been no more successful reunion in this county since the war." It was resolved to hold the next reunion in Cortland on Oct. 4, 1870.

1902 Reunion - Groton, NY

From the Cortland Democrat, October 29, 1902

The thirty-fourth annual re-union of the Seventy-Sixth Regiment N.Y.S.Vols., which is known in history as "the Fighting 76th" was held at Groton, Saturday, Oct. 11.

The ranks of this famous old regiment, which opened the battle of Gettysburg, have been greatly thinned in the years since the war. Less than forty met at this re-union, although some of the survivors were prevented from attending.

A business meeting of the regimental association was held in the forenoon and routine business transacted, and the following officers elected:

President - Dr. Geo. M. Post, Montour Falls, N.Y.

1st Vice President - Hon. H.C. St. Pierre, Montreal, Canada

2nd Vice President - U. A. Burnham, Duluth, Minn.

3rd Vice President - D. R. Montgomery, Dryden, N.Y.

4th Vice President - Alfred Foland, Worcester, N.Y.

Secretary - Lucius Davis, Cortland, N.Y.

Treasurer - Martin Edgcomb, Cortland, N.Y.

Montour Falls was selected as the next place of meeting.

Following the morning session, a very delicious chicken-pie dinner was served by the ladies of Groton to the veterans and their wives.

A public meeting was held at the Opera House at 2 p.m., at which Amos Avery presided.

After the invocation by Rev. Burr of Groton, Mr. and Mrs. H. G. Moe sang a military selection.

The address of welcome was delivered by Capt. Wm. E. Mount of Groton. This was followed by a song from the Groton quartet.

Judge H.C. St. Pierre of Montreal, Canada, responded to the address of welcome and delivered the principal address of the day. Judge St. Pierre was a lad of eighteen at the time of the battle of Gettysburg, and became inspired with the martial spirit and ran away from his Canadian home and friends to enlist in the 76th under the name of Louis Henry. An account of his being taken prisoner and the escape will soon be given at length.

Rev. W. Smith of Groton, who delivered the address twenty-five years before at Groton, made a short speech.

The program closed with another song by the quartet, folled by remarks by Geo. B. Davis, Esq., of Ithaca. The benediction was pronounced by Rev. Mr. Andrews of Groton.

The members who were present at the re-union were: Orville Dickinson, Robert Davidson, Daniel Younge, Almond M. Kibbe, Chs. W. Hutchings, George Thornton, Edwin Hulbert, B. Howard, Wm. J. Mantanye, U. A. Burnham, Geo. M. Post, Geo. Smith, E.H. Teeter, N. W. Smith, E. A. Meade, D. R. Montgomery, Amos Avery, Francis Brace, H. Zele, Martin Northrup, I. Bennet, C.M. Perrigo, Melvin H. Reade, Judge H.C. Saint Pierre, Benjamin Taylor, S. E. Sanders, Henry C. Stilson, Martin Edgcomb, Lucius Davis, D. C. MacGregor, Oren Button*, Solomon Reneff, L. Stebbins

* probably Sgt. Orrin Burton

Last reunion of the 76th Regiment

(From the Cortland Democrat, Sept. 18, 1925)

Eight Veterans of 76th Meet at Last Reunion of Regiment

Eight veterans of the 76th Regiment, every man past 80 years old, met at their final reunion in Cortland last Thursday, and after a day spent in recounting events of their active service in the Cortland county regiment, with tear-dimmed eyes they bade each other farewell forever, for it is unlikely that these eight of the few survivors of the gallant regiment will ever be together again. Veterans of other regiments, women of the Relief Corps and a few friends met with the aged men of the 76th.

Dr. George M. Post of Montour Falls was chairman of the final reunion. The mortuary report included the names of William M. Sweet, who died Feb. 23, 1925, A.D. Brown, May 3, 1925, and a letter from daughter told of the death of John Nugent at Albany on April 3, 1925. The death of Mrs. Miles last December was also reported. The veterans present were Lieut. Homer D. Call, 82, Syracuse; Lieut. Uberto A. Burnham, 86, Cortland; Dr. George M. Post, 80, Montour Falls; Eli A. Berry, 87, Washington; George W. Smith, 86, Marathon; L.C. Durkee, 82, Preble; George Keech, 82, Titusville, Pa.; and Clinton D. Bouton, 83, Ithaca. Fifteen charter members of the Women's Relief Corps attended. Rev. S.S. Bradford of Cortland and Rev. F.A. Hassold of Preble acted as chaplains.

The chairman, Dr. Post, called for brief talks by each of the veterans and the regiment's claim to the honor of firing the first shots at Gettysburg was substantiated by the testimony of men who knew because they were there. Justice Rowland L. Davis, son of Capt. Lucius Davis of the 76th, spoke for a few minutes and promised that some time he will write a history of the part taken by the regiment at Gettysburg. Eugene Powers of Cortland, who as a boy of 17 was drummer for the regiment while in training on Cortland Fairgrounds spent the afternoon with the veterans and was greeted as a comrade.

Organized in 1861

When the disaster at Bull Run, 1861, convinced the North that the rebellion meant real war there was a meeting in a Cortland law office to consider the raising of forces for the Union army. One man alone thought a regiment could be recruited, Nelson Winch Green, afterwards colonel of the 76th. Governor Morgan authorized Mr. Green to proceed and a notice was sent to every community, over the signatures of 36 leading citizens, dated Sept. 2, 1861. So quickly did the young men of the county respond that on Sept. 26 the regiment was assembled on the Cortland Fairground under the command of Colonel Green.

Colonel Green had been educated at West Point and was in the same class as General Grant. In his last year he was injured by accident while at artillery drill and was discharged from the military academy without graduation. He was an excellent organizer and the regiment was well drilled when it moved to Albany on Dec. 18, 1861, with about 800 men. A regiment recruited in Otsego county, was ordered to Albany at about the same time with 500 men, and three companies were added to the 76th.

Original Officers of the 76th

Field and staff officers of the regiment when it left Albany for New York to proceed to Washington were: Col. N.W. Green of Cortland; Lt. Col. John D. Shaul of Springfield; Major C.E. Livingstone of New York City; Surgeon J.C. Nelson of Truxton; Asst. Surgeon George W. Metcalfe of Otsego county; Chaplain H. Stone Richardson of New York Mills; Adjutant Heman F. Robinson of Cortland; Quartermaster A.P. Smith of Cortland; Quartermaster-Sergeant Albert J. Jarvis of Cortland; Commissary Sergeant William Storrs of Allegany. During the time that the regiment was in camp at Cortland, Captain Andrew J. McNett of Allegany county joined with 70 men and Captain McNett expected to be the regiment's major. Disappointed, he disobeyed Colonel Green's orders and went to Albany when he asked for a furlough to go to Syracuse. For this he was ordered under arrest and confined to his quarters and was shot but not seriously injured by Colonel Green when he refused to obey an order to retire to his tent. At Albany, Governor Morgan transferred Captain McNett and his company to the 93d New York Regiment.

Colonel Green was relieved of his command and ordered he was ordered back to Cortland in February, 1862. Military courts exonerated him for shooting McNett, and when he was tried in this county for assault, after the war, the jury disagreed and the indictment was dismissed.

The Regiment's Commanders

Lt. Col. John D. Shaul was in command of the 76th until June, 1862, when Col. William P. Wainwright of New York City was appointed to command. he had studied military science in Germany and made his regiment one of the best in the Union army. Colonel Wainwright's health failed in June, 1863, and he was relieved of his command when the army was moving north toward Gettysburg. He was succeeded by Major Andrew J. Grover, a native of West Dryden, who was pastor of the Methodist Church in Cortland when he joined the regiment. He was killed the first day at Gettysburg.

Major John E. Cook assumed command after Major Grover's death and continued as commanding officer until Oct. 7, 1864/ He was wounded several times and in his absences in hospitals the command devolved upon Major John W. Young. The latter was wounded and taken prisoner at the battle of Wilderness, May 5, 1864. At different times the command fell upon Captain Byram of Company D, Captain Hatch of Company C. and Captain Cochrane.

The regiment was first under fire at Rappahannock State, Va., Aug. 21, 1862. Subsequent battles in which it fought were: Warrenton, Sulphur Springs, Gainesville, Second Bull Run, South Mountain, Antietam, Snicker's Gap, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Mine Run, Wilderness, Laurel Hill, Spotsylvania, Jericho Ford, Tolopotomy, Cold Harbor, Petersburg, Weldon Railroad, Poplar Grove Church, First Hatcher's Run, Hicksford Ron, Second Hatcher's Run, Five Forks, and Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House, April 9, 1865. The 76th, or what was left of it, was consolidated with the 147th Regiment on January 25, 1865.

The 76th fired the first shot at Gettysburg, and in the first half hour 18 officers and 151 were killed or wounded. General Reynolds, killed at Gettysburg, was commanding the division of which the 76th was a part. In less than a year three generals, Reynolds, Wadsworth and Rice, were killed leading the 76th.

Erie Railroad Scrapped the 'Broad Gauge'

By Richard F. Palmer

It is generally known among railroad historians that the Erie Railroad was originally constructed to six-foot gauge, and it has been chronicled many times in various histories. Less known is the long-term project to convert it to standard gauge.
Starting in the late 1860s, a third rail, as finances would permit, was gradually laid the length of the system to accommodate standard-gauge rolling stock and to permit interchange with other railroads. It is recorded that the Lehigh Valley Railroad advanced the money to the Erie to lay a third rail west from Waverly, N.Y. so it could operate standard-gauge coal trains to Buffalo. This arrangement was continued until the 1890s when the Lehigh Valley built its own main line from Sayre to Buffalo.
This eliminated the complicated operation in which railroad officials had to sometimes resort to peculiar methods of coping with the different gauges. For example, Erie locomotives were equipped with offset couplers to handle both wide and standard-gauge cars. Dual-gauge yards could be nightmares when snow covered the tracks only experienced trackmen could contend with.
Virtually the only source of information for this interesting chapter in railroad history is the local newspapers of the day. They reveal fascinating details of how this massive slimming of the rails was accomplished. Although the actual changeover may in many cases have been done in a matter of hours, months of preparation went into this. The newspapers hailed the changeover as a miracle of technology.
Following are two richly detailed newspaper articles that tell us how this was actually accomplished. It wasn’t until 1882 and the investment of some $22 million that the Erie management finally corrected this extremely costly mistake of not going to standard gauge in the first place. It all but drove the Erie into bankruptcy because it also necessitated the standard-gauging of thousands of pieces of rolling stock, including locomotives, coaches and freight equipment.
American Railroad Journal, April 10, 1852

Gauge of Railroad from Buffalo to Cleveland.
From Cleveland, Ohio, to Erie, Pennsylvania, the Ohio gauge of four feet ten inches is used. Upon the Erie and Northeast railroad, extending from Erie to the New York State line, a distance f some 18 miles, the wide, or six feet gauge has been adopted. From the state line to Buffalo, the four feet ten inch gauge prevails.
To whom this arrangement is owing we are not informed, but the genius of all evil himself could not have framed a a more inconvenient, or one better adapted to obstruct business and travel. With the exception of the Buffalo and State-line road, the only gauges known in this State are the 4 feet 8 1/2 inches, and the 6 feet.
Common sense would seem to dictate that one of these should have been taken by the Lake Shore road. As it is, there must now be transshipments at Buffalo, Dunkirk, the Pennsylvania state line, and at Erie; making tour where there should have been but two at most.
Either the wide or the narrow gauge should have been carried to Erie. That would have been a convenient place of transshipment, and would probably have been selected as such, had there been no break of gauge even thee. There must be a limit to the distance to be run by freight and passenger cars. It is found to be more economical and convenient to transship freight from one train to another, than to run the train over given distance, on account of the difficulty of preserving order in the arrangement and distribution of the cars.
We presume that under no circumstances whatever, would cars loaded at Cleveland be run through to this city. A break of gauge at some point upon the line between the above cities is not objectionable, provided it occurs at the most convenient point. But where there are three or four interruptions to the transit of merchandise and travel, within short distances, and at the most inconvenient places, they will be found to work a serious injury to traffic of all kinds.
We predict that evil will be in a short time become unbearable, as to work out its own cure. What the Erie people were about, when an arrangement was completed, that completely prevented them from moving in any direction, is more than we can opine. At the lake their road comes to a dead halt, and all through business has to be tumbled out of their own cars upon those of other companies. All these blunders must be remedied, and the sooner the better.

(This is one of the most incredible articles I've ever read on this topic).

Cincinnati Commercial, Jan. 4, 1879

Erie's Narrow Gauge
The Laying of the Third Rail.
Advantages of the New Gauge.
   New York Tribune. - In April last of the Erie Railway reorganized,  and under the new management the familiar name was changed to New York, Lake Erie and Western Railroad. But the new management made other changes besides that of name. The most important of these has been change of the gauge of the road, which has been accomplished by the laying of a third rail. This work was begun in 1876, when the alteration was made on the Buffalo, and a part of the Susquehanna Division, so that narrow-guage cars of the Lehigh Valley Line were run from Philadelphia through  to Buffalo on the Erie Road from  Waverly.
    Last summer the laying of the third rail was continued to Binghamton, connection being there made with Albany by the Susquehanna Railroad. The work was completed last when the additional rail was finally laid to Jersey City, and yesterday the first train passed over to Port Jervis, the end of the Eastern Division. Hereafter it will be in constant use.
    Octave Chanute, Assistant Superintendent of the railroad, yesterday gave the following account of the adoption of the old gauge, and its change:
    "When Stephenson built the first railroad the gauge adopted was five feet between the centers of the rails. The rails were then U-shaped, they had a trough in  the center about three inches in width, for the wheel to run in. But this form was soon abandoned, because the dirt collected in it, and the edge, or T-shaped rail was adopted. In order to adapt this to the rolling stock then in use, it was found necessary to measure the gauge on the inside of the rails, and this four-feet eight and one half inches, which thus became the standard gauge.
    The managers of the Great Western  Railway of England believed that more power could be gained by having a broad base to the boiler, and that greater security would be insured by a broader gauge. So they adopted seven feet. When the Erie was built three ideas prevailed, and the six-foot or broad gauge was chosen. But these principles have since been proved to be fallacious; no advantage has been gained by the extra width, and the cost of rolling-stock has been much increased."
    "What will be the advantage to the road of the new rail?"
     "The great saving will be in running freight through without breaking bulk. Time and money will be saved by not having to change the loads of cars when they come on our line. We have saved the unloading of through cars by changing trucks at Buffalo,  but this cost forty cents for each car and took considerable time. The way it has been done is this: Two cars, one on broad-gauge trucks and the other on narrow, were run in side by side. By hoisting machines the cars were raised and the trucks changed; one car went on west by the narrow gauge track and the other ran to this city on the broad-gauge. By the new regulations, cars of both  gauges may be run on the same train. We have been doing that on portions of the road already provided with three rails. No difficulty is found, as we use a patent coupler, which causes a direct draft between the two widths. Much care is necessary at the switches, however, and extra caution is enjoined upon all employees. To simplify matters as much as possible, we try to keep all cars of the same width together."
     "Has the company purchased any new rolling-stock for the narrow-gauge?"
     "We have ordered thirty new engines, which are being made in Patterson, and 3,000 new freight cars. The present rolling-stock will not be altered but will be replaced as fast as worn out by those of narrower gauge. It would cost only about half a million to change all the cars, but more than three times that mount would be necessary to alter new locomotives, as new boilers would be required. No change has been made in connections with other lines. It is quite probable that some arrangements may be made  with other lines, such as the Midland, which meets us at Middletown, but so far the only change has been with the Montclair and Greenwood Lake Road. Of this road's stock we bought a large share at its recent sale, and the third rail will permit the running of their trains to our depot in Jersey City. 
The trains of that road have been running to the depot of the Pennsylvania Central, but tomorrow the change will be made, and hereafter all passenger and freight trains of the road will run to and from our depot only. A general notice to that effect has just been printed. All business on that line will be noted at our offices."
John N. Abbott, General  Passenger Agent, was asked if the completion of the new gauge would make any change in he running of passenger trains. "Our broad-gauge passenger and sleeping coaches," he said, "give us an advantage over other lines in the comfort of passenger. We have quite a reputation in this respect between here and Buffalo, and we expect to keep it. Through trains of broad-gauge cars will be continued over our own line and our broad-gauge connection, the Atlantic and Great Western Railroad, o Rochester, Niagara Falls, Buffalo, Cleveland and Cincinnati. 
     "To points which we  don't reach by broad-gauge we shall run narrow-gauge cars, as to Chicago, St. Louis and Detroit. The fast St. Louis express, leaving here at 6 P.M., will be made up of narrow-gauge cars, to run through. We had fifty new narrow cars built for us in the Centennial year, and placed on broad trucks, these we can change to use on the narrow gauge, if we wish. Of course, we shall build no new broad-gauge coaches, although they  are pleasanter to ride in from their roominess, and run more steadily, from heir broader base."

Most of the rolling stock conversion took place at company shops such as Susquehanna, Pa. and Hornell, N.Y., while some was done at smaller facilities for convenience.

Cattaraugus Republican, Salamanca, N.Y., Thursday, June 24, 1880:

The Erie Narrowed Standard Gauge--A Day Without A Railroad Train--Waiting Passengers--Quick Work--An Ovation--Again On Time.

Never was the enterprise and push characteristic of our age more fully exemplified than in narrowing the gauge of the Erie last Tuesday. For the last few weeks extra gangs of men had been busily at work preparing the track and switches for the change, and getting everything in readiness for the moment when the order should be given to move one rail fifteen and a half inches nearer the other.
Moving the rail, however, did not constitute the greatest amount of work to be done. The handling of the vast amount of rolling stock was one of the largest jobs in connection with the work. Monday morning the yards all along the division were full of broad gauge cars, and these had to be sent to Hornellsvile on that day. During the day 300 cars were shipped out of Salamanca, and at night the yard on the Erie side looked desolate and deserted. The old switch engines, 304, 36 and 73, which had so long pulled in and out on the labyrinth of switches, were likewise sent away. As these old switch engines left the yard the Atlantic (and Great Western) engines and engines in the shops gave them a parting salute. The departing locomotives gave a long good-bye blast, which had in it some little tinge of sadness, and the whistles which had become familiar to all were heard for the last time on the Reservation. At 6 o'clock Monday evening there were but three broad gauge cars in the Erie yard -- the tool car and two gondolas, which were to be narrow-gauged here.

The passenger trains ran regular Monday forenoon, but in the afternoon there was a general abandonment after train 9 had passed over the road. The last broad gauge train over the road was a wildcat from Dunkirk to Hornellsville, run by conductor Kimball, and passed Salamanca at 9:30 P.M.

Monday night was a remarkable one in the history of the Erie road. After Kimball's "wildcat" reached Hornellsville, the shriek of no engine broke the stillness between Dunkirk and Hornellsville. The moon shone down upon a stretch of 198 miles of track upon which stood not a single car. Excepting a few cars in the shops at Salamanca, there was not a car on the Western division from 12 M until 9 o'clock on Tuesday morning.

The work of moving the rail began at 4:30 Tuesday morning, and at 8 A.M. intelligence was flashed over the wires to Superintendent Beggs that the work was completed on the main line. About 800 men were employed in the great enterprise, which was carried through without accident in just three hours and a half from the time the first spike was pulled. The Little Valley section was first to report its work finished. In just two hours from the time of beginning Foreman Carroll sent in his report that his section was ready for the narrow gauge trains. Track Foreman Wyman telegraphed to Superintendent Beggs that the Salamanca section was ready at 7:30. A number of sections were completed at almost the same moment.

Shortly after the news that the line was reduced to standard gauge, an inspection train, with Wm. Wilcox as conductor and containing Division Superintendent Beggs and other railroad officials was started out of Dunkirk. The train was pulled by an engine from the Dunkirk & Allegany Valley Railroad, "The Conewango, No. 3"--with engineer Tibbits at the throttle. The engine and cars were decorated with flags and the train was greeted with continuous ovation as it passed over the road. As it reached Salamanca, at 11:45, there was such a screeching of engines as is seldom heard. The "wildcat" inspection train proceeded to Olean where it was met by a similar train from Hornellsville. The Dunkirk train returned to Salamanca and was closely followed by the Homellsville inspection train, under the direction of Conductor Langworthy. The train was pulled by engine 574 and reached here at 2:30 P.M. and was greeted with an enthusiastic reception. M.W. Coburn, one of the most reliable engineers on the road, has the distinction of driving the first Erie engine over the narrow gauge track. Engine 574 is nearly new, having been used on the Buffalo Division for a few weeks. It is a 60 ton Mogul, built at the Grant Locomotive Works at Paterson.

The inspection trains having passed over the road, the track was pronounced in good condition, and train three was dispatched from Homellsville as "wildcat." The train, run by Conductor Martin, came into Salarnanca at 2:50 P.M., being about three hours behind its regular time. David Cary, one of the oldest men on the line, pulled the train with engine No. 57. Thus with comparatively little inconvenience to the traveling public the Erie was reduced to standard gauge, and again the trains are speeding over the road nearly on time.


The gauge of the New York, Pennsylvania & Ohio Railroad between Leavittsburg, Pa., and Dayton, Ohio, was changed Tuesday from broad to standard. Two thousand five hundred men were placed along the line from Dayton to Leavittsburg, 325 miles. The work began at 3 a.m. and ended at 9 a.m. the shortest piece of work of this kind on record.

The trains on the Eastern Division of the NYP&O, with few exceptions, ran on about their usual time Monday and Tuesday.

Twenty new consolidated 60-ton moguls from the Grant Locomotive Works are to pull the freight on the westem division of the Erie. Their power seems almost limitless, and the boys say they will draw everything that can be hitched to them. One of them took about eighty log fed cars out of Salamanca yesterday morning.

On Monday a special order was issued by Superintendent Beggs, enjoining engineers and conductors to use the utmost care in running trains. The order was faithfully obeyed and the great amount of rolling stock moved to the east terminus of the division without delay or accident. The same care was enjoined and complied with in moving the train after the road had been reduced to standard gauge. About 70 cars have been narrow gauged at the Erie shops since the 15th of May. They are stamped "N.G. Salamanca, May (or June) 1880." "N.G." doesn't always stand for "no good."

The new bob-tail switch engine No. 515, to be used in the yard here, reached Salamanca Tuesday. Two more of the same pattern are expected to do the same work by the old switch engines. Train 12 on the N.Y. P.& 0. came into Salamanca Tuesday with narrow gauge coaches. 1,600 cars from the N.Y.P.& 0. road were sent east over the Erie between Monday and Monday night. Since the "embargo has been raised," freight traffic has been lively.

Rochester (N.Y) Union and Advertiser, Saturday, July 30, 1881

"The Battle of the Gauges" Last of the Broad Gauge--The New York, Lake Erie & Western Railroad Conforms to the Standard

The broad gauge of the New York, Lake Erie & Western Railroad is no more. In the bright light of this beautiful summer morning with each moving rail a change was wrought and in a few short hours the diligent hands of experienced workmen had transformed the Erie road from a broad gauge route to one of standard gauge. It was a matter of expediency, nothing more. A few years ago this fact was fully appreciated by the directors and managers of the road, and a third rail -- allowing means of passage for both broad and standard cars -- was placed on the main line. To-day an important step has been taken by the company. The road between this city and Coming has been narrowed from a width of six feet between the rails, to one of 4 feet 8-1/2 inches, the standard gauge.

How It Was Done

As the Erie was the last railroad to submit to the "battle of the gauges," some little interest may be excited as to the manner in which the change was made. For several months past extensive preparations leading to a rapid narrowing of the road have been going on. All along the line between Coming and Rochester, a distance of 94 miles, the measurements for the new gauge have been made. In fact the line had already once been laid before work was commenced this morning. The east rail was the one to be moved, and just 15-1/2 inches from the inside of this rail spikes had been set, throughout the entire distance, at intervals of time throughout the past two months.

Mr. Canfield of Buffalo, Road-master, and Thomas Conners, Supervisor of Tracks, had thoughtfully and carefully made preliminary arrangements and G. E. Butterfield, stationmaster in this city, had changed the switches in and about the yard, thus completing the preparations for successful and speedy changing of the gauge. Last night the rolling stock of the road was all transferred to Corning.

The Last train running on the broad gauge, drawn by engine number 11, B. Rogers, engineer, and A.S. Alexander, conductor, arrived in this city at thirty minutes past eleven and almost immediately returned to Coming. Between two and four o'clock this morning about 500 experienced workmen, employees of the Rochester, Buffalo, Susquehanna and Western Divisions, were distributed in gangs of six or eight each at equal intervals along the line of the road between this city and Coming. Strict orders were given to begin the work promptly at four o'clock and at that hour, all being in readiness, almost simultaneously each separate force of workmen began their allotted task. It was an interesting sight to one walking along the line of the railroad to see these men busy as beavers tearing up and rapidly replacing the rails. In each division the work was so arranged that it was carried on in the most systematic manner possible.

Perfect System

First came the men who skillfully and quickly withdrew the spikes, then followed swiftly those who moved the rail from its old position to the one destined for it alongside of the spikes already set, snd last of all in quick succession came those who drive the spikes about the rail in its new place. The work progressed far more rapidly than one would readily believe, the rate of taking up and relaying the rails being about one mile in four hours as performed by each gang.
By eight o'clock the whole distance of ninety-four miles had been transformed from a broad gauge to the standard measurement and the last victory of the standard width, 4 feet 8-1/2 inches, in the battle of the gauges in this country has been won. The first arrival this morning over the newly laid track was the "wild cat" train from Avon, drawn by engine 60, Frank Marsh engineer, and A.S. Alexander conductor. This train left Avon at 8:15 and reached this city at 11:45, being detained about an hour and a half at the Henrietta section; the only place along the route where the men laying the track had not done all that was expected of them. At a quarter before twelve o'clock the train from Corning, drawn by engine 35, in charge of Augustus Johnson engineer, and G.H. Brown conductor, reached its destination, thus proving the complete transformation of the road.
Although this train was an hour and forty minutes late running time had been made, the delay being occasioned by waiting at various stations for orders, the passengers on this train report a gala day all along the line. At each station crowds were assembled to welcome the train and great enthusiasm prevailed. Hats were thrown in the air, handkerchiefs were waved and cheers burst from the lips of many. The change is completed and general satisfaction prevails and great credit is due to both managers and men for the highly creditable manner in which this work has been accomplished.

Fish Plates and Spikes
--J.E. Butterfield and his men did some hard work yesterday. John Wieman is the Boss man to "fix" switches.--The Hog (switch engine) left on Thursday morning at 5 o'clock never to return. The porcine locomotive, almost a historical machine, has done its duty.
--John English began at this end of the branch, with twenty men.
--Thirty men from Avon to Attica breakfasted at Mrs. Kelly's hotel at half-past two o'clock this morning.
--V. Rogers, the well-known engineer, enjoyed the distinction of driving the last locomotive over the broad gauge. He "made the old gal scream" before leaving the city.
--Frank Marsh is the first engineer over the narrow gauge on the Rochester branch.
--Tom Ford wants a little more practice before he can draw a spike properly. --It as amusing to see Dan Turner handle a crow bar yesterday.
--It was a big surprise to some of the boys on this end of the division to see themselves in the agony of perspiration. --Joseph Bradt was out with his rail gang this morning and did splendid service.
--Tom Connors, the supervisor of the tracks, tough obliged to forego the pleasure of helping in the narrowing, on account of indisposibility, followed the work of the men in his mind and was almost well when he heard the scream of the last engine out on the broad.

History of the Rochester Branch, Pennsylvania Railroad

By Richard Palmer
 This line was opened as the Genesee Valley Canal Railroad in 1882 from Rochester to Hinsdale, near Olean, where it connected to the Buffalo, New York and Philadelphia Railway. Much of the right of way was on the old Genesee Valley Canal, abandoned in 1878. The canal right of way from Hinsdale to Olean was not used as it closely paralleled the BNY&P. The Genesee Valley Canal Railroad was immediately leased to the BNY&P.  
Also, the old 12-mile branch of the canal from Mt. Morris to Dansville was not used by the railroad, as these places were already served by the Erie and Genesee Valley Railroad and the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad. 
Previously, the Rochester, Nunda and Pennsylvania Railroad had built a line roughly parallel to the canal between Mount Morris and Nunda, turning southeast to Swain's. In 1881 the part north of Nunda was abandoned, and on July 11 of that year, the company was consolidated into the Rochester, New York and Pennsylvania Railroad. 
That company opened a new line in 1882 from Nunda northeast to the new Genesee Valley Canal Railroad at Nunda Junction, and the Buffalo, New York and Philadelphia Railway leased it that year.
At the north end, the Genesee Valley Terminal Railroad was incorporated August 14, 1882, and in 1883 opened a branch from the Genesee Valley Railroad southwest of Rochester north to a junction with the New York Central Railroad main line at Lincoln Park, near 
the city limits. 
On September 1887 the Western New York and Pennsylvania Railway acquired the Buffalo, New York and Philadelphia Railroad and with it the Genesee Valley Canal Railroad. In 1900 the Pennsylvania Railroad leased the WNY&P. A short branch from Scottsville west to Garbutt on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad's Rochester and State Line Railroad opened on September 16, 1907. 
On November 15, 1912 the Genesee Valley Canal Railroad and Genesee Valley Terminal Railroad merged to form the Pennsylvania and Rochester Railroad. That company was absorbed on February 28, 1916 into the Western New York and Pennsylvania Railway, still leased by the Pennsylvania Railroad. Passenger service between Rochester and Olean was discontinued in 1941. The line between Wadsworth Junction, south of Rochester, to Hinsdale, a distance of 84 miles; and between Nunda and Nunda Junction, was abandoned in 1963, but it was some years before the rails were all removed. An earlier portion of the line which had been three-foot narrow gauge was abandoned between Nunda and Swains, a distance of 11 miles, in 1910. A three-mile branch from Scottsville to Garbut was abandoned in 1944.
 Other abandonments on the connecting Allegany branch:
Olean-Allegany, 3 miles, 1972
Allegany - West Salamanca, 20 miles, 1975
West Salamanca - Struthers, Pa., 37 miles, 1962

Further Notes 
Cuba Patriot, Friday, June 11, 1882
      Genesee Valley Canal Railroad
   From the Rochester Express we clip the following: "A construction train is now running on the Genesee Valley Canal. from this city to Fowlerville, or Spencer's Basin. within 10 miles of Mt. Morris. Between Mt. Morris and Fowlerville the grading is completed for the distance of six miles, and the iron will be laid as fast as possible.
   " The remaining four miles is very heavy work, and will require a few weeks to grade. The ballasting is nearly finished between  here and Fowlerville. The bridge at Ross crossing over the Erie road will be completed within about 10 days. Another postponement is necessary relative to running of trains to Swains and Mt. Morris, owing to some delay on the Allegany Central. There are now six construction trains on the line of the G.V.C. R.R., and eight new locomotives have been ordered by the Buffalo, New York & Philadelphia road, which is to operate the line."
Cuba Evening Review,  June 24, 1882
     The people of Belfast were quite excited when the smoking engine on the Genesee Valley railroad arrived in their town for the first time. The Press says: "There was no little  anxiety among our people as the tracklaying approached the Hughes street crossing followed closely by the engine.
    "The weather was not favorable but the work went on . Norm. Holden took  couple  of kegs of lager to the track layers in order to counteract the moisture outside with internal moisture. People watched and counted the rails, and when the work was finally done, the men marched into Main street, where powder was burned, and three hearty cheers were given.
     "The ladies had prepared a bountiful supper to be served in the park, but the rain prevented; and it was served in the large room of the Renwick store. It was well served and well relished by the goodly number who partook of it. Mr. Daily of the Exchange, also gave a dinner to a number of railroad friends and invited guests, which passed off pleasantly."
Cuba Evening Review, Tues., Oct. 31, 1882

Rochester Division, B., N.Y. & P.

     According to announcement the Rochester Division of the Buffalo, New York & Philadelphia road, heretofore known as the Genesee Valley Canal railroad, was opened yesterday. The time-table gives the schedule time for two trains, of the second class, which run northward Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and southward Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The trains are local freight and passenger.

     The time of the northward train at the most important stations is as follows: Cuba 7:25 a.m.; Black Creek 8:01; Belfast 9:00; Fillmore 10:18; Nunda 12:40 p.m.; Mt. Morris 2:38; Rochester 7:05 p.m.

     The southward trains are as follows: Rochester 6:15 a.m.; Mt. Morris 11:05; Nunda 12:40 p.m.; Fillmore 2:55; Belfast 4:20; Black Creek 5:21; Cuba 6:00 p.m.

     The time is necessarily slow at first, especially with local traffic. Fast trains will undoubtedly be put on soon. The telegraph line along the route is fast nearing completion.
Cuba Patriot, Feb.. 9, 1883
               Along the Line.
    The Livingston Republican of last week contained an interesting article on the Genesee Valley Canal Railroad, by  a writer who signs himself "Robert Morris," of Mt. Morris, in which various towns along the route taken by the recent press excursion are taken note of. A few of the historical points of some of the towns named are copied, as follows:
   Caneadea. - This town, in Allegany county, is famous as the spot where the Seneca Indians had their council house, now removed to Glen Iris. Here Mary Jemison settled after a journey of 600 miles on foot with her papoose on her way from  Fort Duquesne, now Pittsburgh, to Little Beardstown.
     This place, history says, was the spot where Captain Horatio Jones was taken prisoner by the Indians, and successfully ran the gauntlet. The town was first settled in 1803 by parties from Pennsylvania. Widow Brady kept the first inn in 1810. James Hoyt built the first saw mill in 1816.
     Angelica. - This old township is widely known as the home of the Church family, so intimately connected with the early settlement of Allegany county. The ancestral residence of this family is about two miles from town.
     The first settlement was made here in 1802 by Philip Church. He erected the first saw and grist mill in 1803. Joseph Taylor kept the pioneer inn in 1804. Angelica took its name from the wife of John B. Church and daughter of General Philip Schuyler.
      Angelica was formed from the town of Leicester, then in Genesee county, in 1805. Before 1805 the residents of that town had to travel to old Leicester to attend town meeting, and at that early period Angelica had her mail from Bath, forty miles distant, and only once a month. At that time Angelica paid $2.50 bounty for every wolf caught in the town. This place has an ancient court house built in 1818.
     Belfast - This town was formed in 1824, but there were early settlements on the river in 1803, by three brothers, Chamberlain, from Pennsylvania. Joseph and Raymond opened the first hotel, David Sanford the first saw and gristmill in 1809. The first religious meeting was held at the residence of N. Reynolds.
      Friendship.  - This is a flourishing lumber town. Its early settlers came in 1806 and 1807. The first child born in the town was Sherman Haskins, in a sugar camp;  S. Gates had the first inn; James Sanford and Sally Harrison, the pioneer married couple, in 1809;  Pelatiah Morgan, the pioneer schoolmaster, in 1810.
     Cuba. - The Indian oil creek reservation is in this town. The Oil Creek Reservoir,  built by the State for  the Genesee Valley Canal, costing about $150,000 and covering 1,500 acres, is also in this town. Th first settlers in Cuba came i n 1817 from Connecticut, viz: Abbott, Hall, Frier, Bennett, Cole, Hawley. S. Cole was the pioneer inn keeper in 1814. David Row taught the early school in 1822.
     Olean. - Around the town are about 200 oil tanks, and also some manufacturing interests, and has a population of about 6,000. The first settlers of this town came about 1804. The road to this place from Angelica was surveyed by Major Moses VanCampen, of Revolutionary War memory. The first lumber rafted down the Allegany river was by Dr. Bradley,  Follett and Jedediah Strong in 1807. Sylvanus Russell kept the first tavern in 1808, Levi Gregory the pioneer store in 1814.

Belfast Blaze,  May 22, 1952
If You Look  Younger With Your Hat  On, You May Remember Some of These Old-Timers
By J. L. Murphy
      The Rochester Branch of the  Pennsylvania Railroad (old Buffalo, New York  & Philadelphia Railroad) was built on the towpath of the Genesee Valley Canal wherever possible. Much of the ballast taken from the gravel pit on the old Doherty farm at the west end of the Erie Railroad's bridge north of Belfast and stone for culverts and bridges was obtained from the old canal locks; the canal was abandoned in 1878.
      Main track was built through Belfast in the summer of 1882. First locomotive to reach Belfast was on the construction train No. 46, with diamond smokestack, red stripes on the drivers and shiny brass bands around the boiler - she sure was a beauty. Engineer had a 
large St. Bernard dog that used to carry a big dinner pail to and from the job, for his master, passed where I lived, and the dog rode in the engine cab most of the time.
    The steam shovel in the Doherty gravel pit was operated by John Fitzgibbons. his regular job was freight conductor on the River Division, Olean to Oil City.
      Division offices were at Olean and the following are the names 
of some of the old-timers -pioneers on the Rochester Branch:
 J.W. Watson, Division Superintendent.
Frank J. Martin, chief  dispatcher and trainmaster
A.D. Peck, chief dispatcher and trainmaster
M.A. Miller, dispatcher
George P. Jackson, dispatcher
J.F. Grant, dispatcher
W. A. Gessee, extra dispatcher
E. A. Fisher, division engineer, Rochester
Charles Ellis, master carpenter, Rochester
Robert Wright, yardmaster, Rochester
Bill Passmore, lineman, Olean
Matt Hart, yardmaster, Olean
Cooney Derx, fence gang foreman, Olean
Jim Lang, mason foreman, Belfast
Rob Lang, mason foreman, Belfast
Pat Bracker, division superintendent, Cuba
Passenger conductors - William Byers, - VanSickle, Pete Keefe, 
William Godfrey.
Passenger engineers - John Hamilton, Ed Clark, Al Goold.
Freight conductors - Dan Shafer, Pat Savage, Pat Devitt, Tom Devitt, 
Mike McGannon, Bill Troan, *Frank Ingram, Pete Hotchkiss, Jack 
Kingman, Charle Coilegrove, L.M. "Lett" Forrest,  Big Joh Andrews,  
and"Moxie" Mauch.
Firemen- Archie Battles, Gus  Marth*, Bill Collopy.
Sectionforemen - John McGraw, Cuba; Tom  McCarthy, Black  Creek; Jack 
Williams, Belfast;  Martin McMahon, Belfast; Bill Sherman, Caneadea; 
John Burgie, Fillmore; Tom McNulty, floating  gang; John O'Leary, Mt. 
Freight engineers - *Jim Warner, *W.D. Penny, Ed Simmons, 
JohnStimlinger, Fred Battles, Billy Breckle, *Johnnie Stout, Pat 
O'Brien, Charlie Anderson, Charlie Miller, Charlie Quinlan, *Lee 
Ingram, Frank "Pie" Steels, Gus Frey,  Billy Gannon, Bill Jacquett.
      *Mr. Fisher was made division superintendent at Oil City in 
1892, and about two years later returned to Rochester and was city 
engineer there until he died a few years ago at the age of 100 years.
Passenger brakemen- Bernie May, Fred Dempsey
Freight brakemen - Ed Lapp, Billy Weldy, bob Milliken, Tom Milliken  
Jr., *John Murphy, *Pete Murphy, John Loftus, Clarence Gilman and 
Frank Burleson.
Station Agents
W. A. Rapp, Olean
W.G. Conschafter, Hinsdale
P.N. Mallison, Cuba
W.A. Gere, Black Creek
C.M. Stedwell, Belfast
T. F. "Tom" Downs, Belfast
Mort Brooks, Oramel,
Mont Bartlett, Caneadea
Flatch Thompson, Houghton
Jim Waldorf, Fillmore
Charley Keenan, Portageville
L.P. Higgins, West Nunda
W. A. Gessee, Scottsville
W. B. Tracey, Genesee  Junction
Telegraph Operators
*R,E. Wright, Olean
Shorty Prior, Olean
Pete Small, Olean
Billy Bowen, Hinsdale
John M. Lynch, Hinsdale
Mike Conners, Cuba
"Kern" Conners, L&P Jct.
Tom O'Neil, L&P Jct.
"Yank" Stewart, L&PJct.
'Sandy" Bremer, Belfast
Wesley Hauenstein, Balfast
Will Murphy, Belfast
Dell Dye, Belfast
Martin Dwyer, Belfast
Jim Lane, Belfast
Pat O'Gorman, Genesee Jct.
Bill Metcalf, Terminal
Jay Eastland, Rochester freighthouse
*Charles N. Poulson, Rossburg
*Charles "Pickey" Poulson became nationally known as a cornet player 
and in the early 1900s he played both the 65th and 74th Regiment 
bands in Buffalo at their summer concerts as soloist.
*Operator R. E. Enright  became police commissioner in New York City.
*Brakeman John Murphy was killed in a wreck at Scottsville in 1887, 
and his brother Pete was killed in Belfast, switching cars on the local freight in 1894. William, who  worked as  operator at Belfast for a short  time, was killed in 18th Street  yard in Pittsburgh in February, 1889 while dropping cars.
*L & P Junction was located one mile south of Belfast;  rails taken up for scrap about 1891.
*Engineer Jim  Warner often gave me a lecture about the use of tobacco and its evil effects, one of which was:
"Tobacco is a filthy weed,
And from the devil it doth  proceed.
It lightens your pocketbook,
burdens your clothes,
And makes a chimney
out of your nose."
      However I failed to heed his good advice, for I still smoke and 
fear I will - hereafter.
     *Hogeye W. D. Penney (on local freight) southbound, chased a 
bunch of Jim Fox's horses up the track from Oramel  one day, trying  to get by them, but he caught them all at the  bottleneck on the town line crossing killing four of the five.
       Penney layed off about 60 days - afraid to  go through Oramel. 
Fox was looking  for him with a gun.
      *Johnnie Stout and Fireman Gun Marth were killed in a 
derailment at Tuscarora.
      * Conductor Frank Ingram, a brother Engineer Lee Ingram, was killed in a rear-end collision here, just about in front of the present steel mill office.
        The first section of No. 288 had stopped to take water at the tank across the canal from the Chet Greene  bungalow.  The flagman  failed in his duty and Engineer Pat O'Brien of the second section said he "saw him  jump off, wade the canal, and take  to the tall timbers just before he hit the rear end." He never was heard from since.  Probably he joined up with the BR&P under another name.


Early Locomotive on the Ithaca & Owego Railroad

By Richard Palmer
Plagued with financial difficulties, many of the early railroads in upstate New York were compelled to use horses for motive power until they could afford the "luxury" of a steam locomotive. It wasn't until 180 that the Ithaca & Owego, the second railroad chartered in New York State, secured a small locomotive which was built by Walter McQueen at his machine shop in Albany.
The engine was built to the specifications of its actual owner, Richard Varick DeWitt, who was treasurer of the Ithaca & Owego at the time, who was "somewhat of a mechanic." Although officially known as the "Pioneer," it was dubbed "Old Puff" by those who operated it.
"Old Puff" closely resembled models built by major locomotive manufacturers such as Norris, Baldwin and Rogers. It was transported by canal boat to Ithaca and hauled up the incline planes to the summit of South Hill. From there the railroad ran on fairly level ground the rest of the distance to Owego.
One day, Superintendent Daniel L. Bishop told the crew to leave the horses in the barn. "We will hitch up the engine and have some fun by trying her today." Railroading at this tine was still in its infancy and was rather informal as far as operations were concerned. Alvin Merrill, who worked on the line as a boy, recalled: "We were greatly please at the much-talked-of change from horsepower to steampower, and were very curious about it."
Accounts conflict as to the size of this locomotive. One states the weight of the locomotive with water and wood was 10 tons. Another says it was nine tons. One account states the driving wheels were 54 inches in diameter and the cylinders had a 14-inch bore and an 18-inch stroke. The other states the cylinders had a nine inch bore and 16-inch stroke.
The cylinders were attached to the frame instead of on the boiler. The connecting rod was outside (without a crank axle) and the pumps were operated through eccentrics on the driving wheel axle, independent of the pistons.
The driving wheels had cast-iron hubs and wrought-iron spokes and tires with a diameter of 48 inches. The diameter of the boiler was 30 inches; height of the stack, from the rail, 12 feet; the overall length of the engine was 17 feet.. The frames were of wood, 6 by 4 inches, to which were bolted cast iron pedestals for the driving wheels. It had a hook motion of the Norris type. The steam pipes came out at the sides of the smoke-box, and were bolted to the valve chest covers.
Recalling the trial run, which was sometime during the spring of 1840, Alvin Merrill said there was no "bonnet" or spark arrester on the smokestack, " and when we started the fire flew up, we thought, to the sky. It was exciting to us. Merrill continues:
But what a sight for the country people! Their horses quit their quiet grazing as we passed through the fields and forests, bellowed and pawed the earth and took to their heels as fast as they could until they and we parted sight of one another. They must have thought that our locomotive an animal-decvouing monster that emitted smoke and flame and fire from his nostrils. We traveled very fast then - five miles an hour.
When we arrived at Lucky's, where we had been in the habit of stopping the trains to water our horses at a bubbling spring, we stopped our fiery steed and filled his tender with that boiling spring water. We then moved on for two miles and slowly, four our steam had gone down to nearly zero. Before we stopped again, while going that two miles, an old gentleman jumped off the train and exclaimed: "Go to hell with your locomotive, and I'll go on, for I'm in a hurry!" We thought him a lunatic for not having patience with our first trip with steam power.
We fired up and got to Wilseyville, where we were stalled completely. Superintendent Bishop sent me for a barrel of tar and I got it from Dolly, Hurd & Whitcomb, local merchants. It was poured on our wood (we did not use any coal for many years afterward) and soon had steam enough to take it up to Gridleyville, our horse-changing station.
We hitched on a big steed and it hauled our engine and tender back to Ithaca, where we arrived at midnight, and where the locomotive was laid up for repairs and improvements.
Mr. Merrill's son, Jason, said that when the locomotive was shipped to ithaca, it was accompanied by an "expert engineer." According to Jason, "his attempt to put it into commission failed. Its construction was thought to be too light, and it was sent back to Schenectady, and its weight and power were increased so much that new complications arose. The additional weight proved to be too much for the strap rails, and the idea of operating the road by steam was abandoned for a short time."
According to existing accounts, the locomotive lost steam because of leaky joints where the steam pipes were bolted to the valve chest covers. Also, the safety valve was checked by a weight instead of a spring. Alvin Merrill continued:
When the three months has passed she was in fine shape and trip. A gala day was announced, a free ride was offered to all the world from Ithaca to Owego and return. It was called a grand celebration; and such it was. Our train of 16 flat cars stopped at every crossing for passengers. We made the round-trip under Conductor Hatch with only one accident; John Haviland was crowded off or fell off the train and was killed.
There were no fences along the railroad. The cattle and horses became accustomed to the fire, smoke, steam and noise of our monster, and became too familiar with us. They grazed on the track between the rails, and the train hands were obliged every little distance to jump off, run ahead and drive them off the track, which delayed us every time until it became monotonous and annoying.
Conductor Hatch's genius arose to the necessities of the occasion. He secured an old banded flintlock musket, and a bag of dried peas. One of us train hands always sat on the front of the locomotive and shot peas at the cattle and drove them from our pathway.
Railroad historian Herbert T. Walker wrote that the engine on the whole was poorly designed and cheaply constructed. The tank was a cask mounted in a small tender. A second tender carried wood.
He had it on good authority that the railroad experienced problems with the engine. Oldtimers told him it had poor traction and was "slow" to steam. He said these defects "rendered the engine almost useless in bad weather; in fact, it only ran in summer, horse cars taking its place in winter time, or when it was laid up for repairs." About all it could pull were eight four-wheel cars with a maximum load of 30 tons. Alvin Merrill, as well as official reports confirm the fact that the locomotive was not operated during the winter. Operations usually resumed in April.
The daily routine for "Old Puff" was to leave from the summit of South Hill at Ithaca at 7 a.m. and arrive at Owego at 11 a.m. Returning, it left Owego at 5 p.m. and arrived back at South Hill at 9 p.m. "This speed," Walker noted, "gave passengers ample time to view the beautiful scenery of Tompkins and Tioga counties."
"Old Puff" and its little train of cars was far from being a "flyer." Once a horse trader sat in the last car holding the reins of his horse, which trotted along on the track behind. Others recalled that the engine gained such an evil reputation that good walkers declined to take passage in the cars because they couldn't wait. On one occasion a load of passengers bound for a political meeting at Owego arrived there with the train - but on foot and pushing the cars!
As time passed, the public began to clamor for improved rail service, and the engine was sent back to the shop once more to be overhauled. John Aldrich, who was claimed to be a "mechanical genius," was called in. He lived near Mott's Corners, now known as Brooktondale. After looking over the machine he said he believed he could improve its efficiency by adding even more weight to it. But this only raised havoc with the primitive wooden track structure. The strap rails would roll up and puncture the bottoms of the cars in "snakehead" fashion.
Track hands would then follow the train and respike the strap rails on the stringers. Alvin Merrill was one of those section men. he said "My main duty was to follow the locomotive a spike down snakeheads, and put in new ribbons wherever needed. Snakeheads were the ends of three-quarter-inch-thick iron strap rails, turned up by the weight of the locomotive. The ribbons were made of oak, fastened with a wooden plug, three feet apart, one to a tie."
Owego historian Roy O. Kingman gives some additional details about "Old Puff." He wrote:
"Its smokestack was similar in shape to a piece of stovepipe. Its frame was of wood. Its boiler was painted drab. The boiler was supplied with water by a hand pump through a hose. The water was kept in a large hogshead (barrel) on a flat car.
"The engine was a failure. The steam chamber was too large for the boiler, and steam could not be made fast enough. The chamber was subsequently altered. The locomotive was afterward reconstructed and the wooden frame was replaced with an iron one.
" The locomotive was a slow affair. It ran only about as a fast as a horse could trot. On its first trip from Ithaca it ran all right until it reached a point a little north of Candor, when it could run no further, as the engineer could not obtain sufficient steam. It had to be hauled back to Ithaca by horses. Frequently the steam would run down, causing the train to stop running entirely. Then, while the fireman was getting up more steam the passengers would sit on the bank at the side of the track and pass away the time playing cards or pick berries along the way. This is said to have been the origin of the term 'huckleberry train.' Later a more competent engineer was found and no further difficulty was experienced."
It is related that in 1844 a mass meeting of the Whig Party was held in Ithaca. That day a load of Owego Whigs rode up to Ithaca to attend the convention. At Candor the track was so slippery with oil that the locomotive could not proceed until the rails had been covered with sand. The story circulated that the Democrats had greased the track, but an investigation revealed that the cause of the incident was a leaky barrel of oil being transported on the train.
On this same day, Philip Mosher of Owego decided to leave Ithaca on the railroad track with his horse pulling an improvised passenger coach. It had previously been the custom to allow practically anyone to operate their contrivances over the tracks. Growing impatient, he said if the steam train did not leave in 10 minutes, he would start out, which he did.
Kingman wrote:
" He had hardly got out of sight when the train started. Some idea of the speed of the train can be gathered from the fact that after Mr. Mosher had reached the Half Way house and had stopped to water his horse, the locomotive came in sight just as he drove on. While the iron horse took water Mr. Mosher obtained another good start. When he drove into the park in this village (Owego) the train was behind him, about where Temple Street is now. he made the trip in a few minutes more than three hours."
While this locomotive was in use it was not allowed to run any further in the village of Owego than the south end of the village park. Previously, horse cars operated through the streets and down to the north bank of the Susquehanna River. It was feared that the commercial wooden buildings along Front Street would catch fire from the sparks of the locomotive.
A small rectangular enginehouse stood on what was later the southwest corner of Central Avenue and Temple Street. It was weather-beaten and unpainted and was just large enough to shelter the locomotive and a car or two. A small armstrong turntable stood just south of the enginehouse. The line into the village through the streets was abandoned when the New York & Erie Railroad was completed to Owego in 1849.
A comical experience relating to this railroad is related in the "Tompkins Volunteer," a local Ithaca newspaper, on May 3, 1842:
"We were amused the other day while coming from Owego on the railroad by a simple expression made by a fellow passenger. A spark of fire had accidentally fallen under the cushion of one of the seats, and was well underway before it was discovered. A lady was in the apartment alone and seeing the smoke gave the alarm of fire. After considerable ado the whole train was stopped, by the hallowing of our friend, who was much agitated, by seeing the lady somewhat alarmed, and who was making preparations to leap from the car while yet underway, exclaiming to her, in a bustling way, 'Oh, don't be alarmed, madam, a little cold water will put it out.' Three cheers for the Temperance reformation."
John Aldrich, the mechanic spoken of earlier, acted as engineer on "Old Puff" until he became apprehensive about the safety of the wooden bridges. He said he felt they were too light to safely sustain the weight of the engine and cars. The management, however, failed to heed his warnings. Finally, Aldrich quit and a man by the name of Eddy took over.
On the evening of May 21, 1847, "Old Puff" was heading north with a train. Mr. Eddy had gone back into the train and Daniel C. Hatch, the conductor, was spelling him on the engine. About six miles north of Owego, at 6 p.m., the locomotive crashed through a bridge over Catatonk Creek at a place called Woodbridge's, instantly killing both Hatch and his fireman, Al Dickinson of Danby. Hatch fell under the locomotive and was crushed.
Samuel Parker of Ithaca recalled that the engine lay in the creek for three weeks before it was pulled out and placed back on the rails. Alvin Merrill said "We brought her to Ithaca and returned to horsepower again." For some time afterwards before the bridge was rebuilt, horse-drawn cars would exchange passengers at that point.
Frustrated with steam locomotion, the railroad company relegated "Old Puff" to storage. In its annual report for 1847, the railroad, now called the Cayuga & Susquehanna, reported the locomotive was " not in use" and employed 40 horses, five passenger cars and 55 freight cars.
"Old Puff" never again saw service on this railroad. Kingman said for a time it stood on a switch just west of North Avenue in Owego. During this time some dramatic changes occurred and the line was reconstructed. By 1850, the incline planes had been replaced by a switchback on the north end. The old strap rails were discarded. Alvin Merrill said he helped lay the new "T" rail with his team of horses. "I bossed a lot of men while tamping the new roadbed; our tamping bars being made of oak planks nearly a foot wide."
Basically, the Cayuga & Susquehanna had become a segment of the burgeoning Delaware, Lackawanna & Western which was in the process of being built from Scranton Great Bend, Pa. under the guise of the Leggett's Gap Railroad. At the latter place it connected with the New York & Erie Railroad. The Leggett's Gap Railroad had a trackage rights agreement with the Erie to transport anthracite coal to Ithaca.
A locomotive to power construction trains was needed so it was decided to resurrect "Old Puff," or "Pioneer" and somehow get it to Scranton. The story is it was loaded on a raft in Owego and floated down the Susquehanna River to Pittston, Pa.
This is plausible, since slack water navigation had existed on this river for generations. In 1849, some 2,243 rafts were counted floating down the river by Wilkes Barre.
"Old Puff" was then unloaded at Pittston and transported over the Pennsylvania Coal Company's gravity railroad to Scranton and transferred to the D.L.& W. at Plane No. 6. The engine was taken to the shops where the axles of the engine were pieced out. The frames were widened, and a saddle cast installed to conform to the D.L.& W.'s six-foot gauge.
In the order book of Rogers, Ketchum & Grosevenor there is an entry under date of April 15, 1851 stating that George W. Scranton, general agent for the Leggett's Gap Railroad, had ordered a new smoke pipe, scale and lever for the safety valve and "one good steam whistle" for this locomotive.
The engine was fitted out and went into service on the work train in April, 1851 and had the distinction of being the first locomotive to operate between Scranton and Great Bend. But it continued to be a problem to operate even after being rebuilt several times. It is said its cylinders were mounted too far apart and the boiler was too small to generate sufficient steam.
The D.L.& W.'s "List of Locomotive Engines" for 1854 shows the "Pioneer" in the "fourth class" category and "useless." The 1855 list states that it had been on the road for four years and seven months and was "useless as a locomotive; now used as a stationary engine for pumping water from the new well at Scranton.'

(Newspapers cited)
New York State Assembly Document 314, April 14, 1840; Letter of Daniel L. Bishop.
Gerstner, F.A. Ritter von: Die Innerten Communicationen des Vereingten Staaten von Nord Amerika (Vienna) 1842 Vol. 1 p. 197.
Walker, Herbert T., History of the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad and its Locomotives. Railroad Gazette, May 30, 1902 pp.388-9.
Merrill, Alvin, The Third Passenger Railway in America, ca. 1910 unpublished manuscript.
Merrill, Jason P., History of the Development of the Early Railroad System of Tompkins County, Ithaca Journal Centennial Edition, Aug. 28, 1915.
Kingman, Roy O., Early Owego (1907)
Parker, Samuel J., A picture of Ithaca as I Saw It in Childhood. , unpublished manuscript, Cornell University Special Collections.
Hollister, H., History of the Lackawanna Valley, 1857. The Pennsylvania Coal Co. gravity railroad extended from Pittston to Hawley, where it connected with the Delaware & Hudson Canal.

Where Did the Term "Hojack" Originate?

By Richard Palmer
Although the rail lines north of Syracuse, both abandoned and existing, have passed ownership from Rome, Watertown & Ogdensburg to New York Central, to Penn Central, to Conrail and finally CSX, this railroad has from time immemorial, been known as the "Hojack." The origin of this title seems to be lost in the mists of antiquity.
Attempts have been made to determine the origin of this nickname, but without much success - until recently. The term applied to the entire system, stretching from Massena to Lewiston, Rome to Cape Vincent via Watertown, Sackets Harbor to Utica via Carthage; and from Richland to Syracuse. The portion of the line from Oswego to Lewiston, running parallel to the shore of Lake Ontario, was always known as the "West Hojack." Joseph Hughes, an oldtime New York Central conductor on the St. Lawrence Division of the New York Central, said he was told the term "Hojack" originated when one man standing on the main track for some eason waved his hand to the another man on a siding and hollered-- in derision--”Ho, Jack.”
Still another story was that men on the division were in the habit of saying “Hello, Jack” to each other. One often quoted story is that the term Hojack originated from the engineer of the first train in 1851 between Rome and Cape Vincent, who was named Jack Welch (often called "Big Jack"). Welch used to be a farmer and was more familiar with horses than steam locomotives. When he stopped the trains he would shout "Whoa Jack!". This supposedly evolved into "Hojack" over time. Even more unbelievable is this quotation taken from a history of the R., W. & O. written by Dick Batzing, Town of Webster (N.Y.) Historian:
"Many people fondly called the R.W.& 0. by its nickname, "Hojack." It seems that in the early days of the railroad, a farmer in his buckboard drawn by a bulky mule was caught on a crossing at train time. When the mule was halfway across the tracks, he simply stopped. The train was fast approaching and the farmer naturally got excited and began shouting, "Ho-Jack, Ho-Jack." Amused by the incident, the trainmen began calling their line the "Ho-Jack."
The Syracuse Post-Standard of Jan. 12, 1906 carried this brief article:
Central Employees Ordered to Drop the Nickname.
Henceforth in the lexicon of the New York Central Railroad there is to be no such word as "hojack" if the authorities of that road can render the use of the word obsolete. An order, it was said last night, has been privately issued to the employees of the R.,W.&O. division prohibiting them from using the objectionable nickname.
The question then arose as to why the term would be objectionable. Obvious the edict did not work as "Hojack" has continued to prevail right to this day. It soon became obvious that the term meant something completely different than people have concocted over the years, which tend to be unsubstantiated folklore.
An article was finally discovered in the Syracuse Herald of May 11, 1926 that sheds more light on this subject. This was a feature article about the work of the New York Central police force in Syracuse. Of course this was during Prohibition, and vagrants were riding the rails. The article states these people were classified by railroad men into three categories - the hobo, the hojack and the tramp. "The hobo," according to Inspector F.E. Welch of he Second Railroad Police District, "is a person who will not work, but will steal. It is custom to pillage and rob stores in small towns and hop a freight to the next town or village, there to repeat the procedure. A hojack works now and then, dresses fairly well and although always with some funds, will not pay for railroad transportation. The tramp is a harmless sort of a person who, through laziness alone, will not work. However, he is honest and generally carefree and happy. He spends most of the winters in jail and in the summers roaming the country."
It was also discovered that the term Hojack applied to the RW&O division at least as far back as the early 1900s and probably before, as n newspaper articles refer to trains being late late due to bad weather on the Hojack.
Still further evidence shows that the term "Hojack" was by no means confined to the RW&O. Even the Erie used the term. The Port Jervis Evening Gazette of Feb. 5, 1880 claimed it assigned this name to the way freight.

Watertown Daily Times, Sept. 2, 1903

The Origin of The Word "Hojack"
The name "Hojack" was the name given in derision at one time to the Rome, Watertown & Ogdensburg Division of the New York Central. It was applied in the yards at Suspension Bridge. When the Oswego train over the R.W. & O. road was about to leave each day one of the employees would stand on the platform and call out to the man in the roundhouse whose name was Jack Donohue, "hojack," and the Oswego crew made its appearance simultaneously and the road was thus christened, "Hojack."
And it was a sure enough hojack road in those days, too. The power was light and the cars small. One of the old type of engines if seen today would make a railroad man feel like putting it in a shawl strap and carrying it off. There have been many improvements since the line was first known ad the Hojack, but thee are many more necessary, including a better roadbed and two tracks the entire length of the pike.

Ogdensburg News, Wed., Feb. 24, 1904

Snowplows Over Northern Roads
Employees Must Refrain From Referring to R.W.& O. as the "Hojack"
Syracuse - Feb. 23 - While the railroad officials were feeling so warm yesterday at the New York Central station that they were obliged to open their office window, two snow plows were running at full steam northwards on the Rome, Watertown and Ogdensburg to a place called "Sour Apple Cut," near Richland to help out two trains which had become stalled there. A severe snowstorm prevailed all along the northern road yesterday and No. 8, the train which made the R., W.& O. famous, due here at 9:25 o'clock, did not come in until nearly midnight.
At "Sour Apple Cut" the snow was so dense and deep that the snowplows were still plugging away at 10 o'clock last night and would continue working today, it was said by railroad men last night.
It has been rumored in railroad circles for the past few days that an order has been issued to all New York Central Employees to refrain from using the name "Hojack" in speaking of the Rome, Watertown and Ogdensburg Railroad. It is said that the only real reason for the objection to the word is that it conveys a sort of phonetic reflection of the road. It is an unusual combination of letters, but how it originated nobody connected with the road seems to be able to tell.
One railroad man said yesterday: "It sounds so like a word of Norway, where they have perpetual winter, and we have been up against it so hard this winter that it sounds like rubbing it in to call the road the "Hojack," so I hope they will cut it out. It is to be known hereafter as the Rome, Watertown and Ogdensburg branch of the New York Central railroad, and if that is good enough for Chauncey M. Depew it ought to be good enough for the public."

Syracuse Telegram, Nov. 26, 1904

Get Ready for Hard Winter
Central Officers Prepare for Coming Battle with the Snow.
"YS" on the Hojack
Operating officials of the Rome & Watertown division of the New York Central are already preparing for the rigors of winter. Efforts to keep this division open last winter cost of the New York Central several hundred thousand dollars and the company is not desirous of repeating the experience if it can be avoided.
Last winter snow plows were run oftener than trains and when it became necessary to turn one of the plows it had to be taken to a turntable in this city, Oswego or Watertown.
To meet this difficulty two "Ys" are being constructed, one at Pulaski and one at Woodard, near Syracuse. it is believed that this work will greatly expedite the operation of plows when necessary and it will aid not a little in keeping things moving. Railroad men do not believe, however, that the coming winter will be anywhere near so severe as the last one.
The Central is well equipped for fighting snow. New plows have been placed on the R., W. & O. and there is an abundant supply of apparatus in the yards in this city. The equipment here includes four sweepers, six different sized plows for use on different divisions, one rotary for cleaning out cuts and a Russell plow for use on the West Shore and Auburn roads.
The Auburn & Syracuse electric road suffered more than any of the other trolley lines in this vicinity last winter. To prevent a repetition of their experiences a series of snow fences several miles in length will be erected along the more exposed sections of the road. These fences have already been built and the work of setting them up will take only a few days.
The Rapid Transit company has purchased some additional apparatus during the summer and will now have no trouble in operating its cars unless there are some phenomenal storms.

Watertown Daily Times, Sept. 4, 1908

The Passing of the R.W.& O. Division

In another month the Rome, Watertown & Ogdensburg division of the New York Central will no longer officially be known as such. The main line, running from Suspension Bridge on the west, along the shore of Lake Ontario to Massena Springs on the north, with its numerous branches, will then be known as the Ontario division and the St. Lawrence division: the point of bisection being at the west end of the Watertown yards.
It will, however, be many a day before the public will forget the road as the "R., W. & O." That is an euphonious name and, while it does not fittingly locate the line, there being other and larger cities touched by it than those enumerated in its corporate title, people will be prone to hang on to it.
In the old days, when railroads were sometimes given nom-de-plumes, the Rome, Watertown & Ogdensburg Railroad was referred to throughout its serpentine length as "Rotten Wood and Old Rusty Rails." That was in a time when the appellation was most fitting. The past decade or two, however, has seen much improvement in conditions on the line, and the rather unpleasant (to officials) reference has not been heard in that time to any extent.
Then, too, there is the "Hojack," a name given to the line by some one, no one knows who. Where the name originated no one knows either. Even the "stovepipe committee" says it has no knowledge of its origin and what the "stovepipe committee" does not know is hardly worth while. One old railroader, however, says "Hojack" is a western word and means "two streaks of rust and the right of way." Be this as it may, one thing is certain, the officials of the R., W. & O. hate the word "Hojack," and wax warm and sore whenever they hear it used.
It would seem that in the selection of names for the new divisions, the selector has exercised pretty fair judgment. At least no better name for that portion of the road from the Bridge to Watertown could be chosen. "Ontario" division at once suggests the lake and it is along the lake's south shore that the road runs.
So, too, in the other name, St. Lawrence, a fitting title was selected. the portion of the line to carry that name is the road that leads to the big river and its Thousand Islands and, too, much of it within the county of St. Lawrence.
But, as we said in the first place, the people will be a long time forgetting to call the line the "R., W. & O."