HOMETOWN HISTORY, October 4, 2013
125 Years Ago
The Local News: Miss Minnie Wilbur of Portland, Connecticut lost her pocketbook containing $15 in cash and valuable papers, upon the Oneonta fairground the last day of the fair. She had very little hopes of ever seeing it again, but advertised her loss and the pocketbook was returned by a Mrs. Hotaling who found it.
The old “Indian Mound” on Walling’s Island, a mile above the village, the wonder for generations of small boys who have imagined “hundreds of Indians to be buried there,” has been shorn of its ill-deserved reputation. The mound was recently dug into and was found to be a natural deposit of earth.
100 Years Ago
Educational and legislative measures to correct the dangerous practice of walking on railroad tracks is advocated in an article titled “A Nation’s Neglect,” by Marcus A. Dow, general safety agent of the New York Central Railroad. Statistics show that for the decade ending in 1910, 103,452 trespassers were killed or injured upon railways in the United States. In the same time, 5,754 trespassers were killed and injured on the railroads in Great Britain and Ireland. One large factor that made for the difference in the figures is that in Europe the laws against trespassing upon the railroad tracks are very severe. During the year ending June 30, 1912, the number of trespassers killed on the railroads in this country was 5,284. Mr. Dow believes that most of this slaughter is needless and due entirely to carelessness.
80 Years Ago
Expenditures amounting to several thousand dollars are being made in changing the Sheffield Farm Company on lower River Street from a manufacturing to a bottling plant. The Sheffield Company has charge of the alterations and about 15 men, many of whom are residents of Oneonta, have been given employment. New machinery will include bottling machines of double units, two bottle washers and two fillers, according to John A. Lambrecht, superintendent. The new automatic filling machines are each said to fill and cap 80 bottles of milk per minute.
60 Years Ago
Arthur Lee Shelley, age 19, of Maple Grove, was driving along Walnut Street about 8:15 a.m. yesterday when police officer Roy Turner stopped him to investigate a noisy muffler. An hour later, Shelley pleaded guilty in City Court to a charge of driving with inadequate brakes. City Judge John L. Van Woert gave him a choice of $25 fine or 25 days in jail. The youth paid the fine. In his information, Officer Turner told how he got into the car, rolled it along at 20 miles per hour and then applied the brakes. The car stopped after some 135 feet, he said.
40 Years Ago
History of Buildings – Every structure on the south side of Main Street from Broad to Chestnut was erected following a fire which destroyed a building which had previously occupied the site. Such was not the case on the other side of the street from Dietz to Chestnut Street. The brick structures on those sites are older, in most cases, than their neighbors across the street. The block on the northeast corner of Dietz and Main is the oldest brick structure in the city. Jacob Dietz came to the tiny hamlet in 1812 and built a small store and a fine residence on the site of Bresee’s. Some of the out buildings occupied the land on what is now the corner of Dietz and Main Streets. In 1850, these were razed and Turner McCall built a home there. This was gone by 1866 when George C. Saunders and William D. Bissell built the present two-store, three-story brick block there, carting the brick in from Fort Plain. The corner store (currently owned and operated as the History Center of the Greater Oneonta Historical Society) was first occupied by the hardware business of G.Z. Saunders, one of the builders. In 1868, he was succeeded by Edwards and Liddle and that firm by M.L. and D.A. Van Wie. David Wilber brought his private bank from Milford to Oneonta in 1873 and until 1875 it, and its successor, the Wilber National Bank, occupied the rear portion of the store. In 1872, Walter L. Brown, lured by the building of railroad shops, came to Oneonta from Albany and, with Romeyne Brown, bought out the Van Wie interests in the hardware store which became Brown & Brown. In 1919, the block was sold to John Laskaris who remodeled it extensively and moved his confectionary business there from across the street. Laskaris operated the premises as a popular restaurant until 1949.
30 Years Ago
Cozy Avenue is just what it sounds like – a snug little residential dead-end lane off of Oneonta’s Dietz Street. But at times Cozy Avenue is not easily found for those unfamiliar with the area. It seems that some people take such a fancy to the Cozy Avenue sign that they just have to have it. The thieves take the sign off the pole and walk away. “They just love the name,” said Fourth Ward Alderman James Sheff. The latest replacement for the missing sign was stolen three days after its installation. According to Ted Christman, city parks and streets superintendent, street sign theft is more common in Oneonta when the colleges are in session.
20 Years Ago
After more than a year in the planning stages, a new day care center for senior citizens is almost ready to open its doors in Oneonta. Senior Daybreak, Inc. recently leased the house at 16 Ford Avenue and plans to begin its program by the end of December. “We’ve come a long way in a year – everybody told us we couldn’t do it,” said Penny Brewer, the program’s executive director. The program aims to offer a stable environment for senior citizens in Otsego, Delaware and Chenango counties who require supervision.