Search billions of records on

Atwell's 1928 Cazenovia, Past & Present
A Descriptive and Historical Record of the Village
Chapter VII      Culture
pages 61 to 64
Daniel H. Weiskotten
Click here to go back to the Cazenovia, Fenner, and Nelson RootsWeb Main Page
 Click here to go back to the History Texts Main Page

Atwell, Christine O., 1928, Cazenovia, Past & Present, A Descriptive and Historical Record of the Village. Florida Press, Inc., Orlando, FL
Some spelling corrections have been made and a few notes to update or clarify the text are added in square [  ] parentheses.  Atwell's Footnotes follow at the end of the text.  I had no comments or notes for this section.

            I Founding & Settlement
            II Roadways
            III Waterways
            IV Industries and Institutions
            V Religion
            VI Education
            VII Culture


Chapter VII      Culture

pages 61 to 64

        <:61> Culture, intellectual or social, is a source of enjoyment and happiness its possessor.  In whatever sphere in life a man may move, the higher the degree of his culture, the greater are the sources of his enjoyment and the better prepared is he for the discharge of any duties, private or public, that he may be called upon to perform.
        Cazenovia, once called "The Newport of New York State," has been said to be a seat of wealth, culture and refinement, and these combined with its natural attractions, and eligible location, make it a favorite summer resort.  It has all the alluring features which entice travelers across the ocean, for seclusion and rest.  As a retreat, it is a "Mecca" to the weary one; in easy access to all main lines of traffic, it is a part of the world, yet not of it, and untrammeled by the electric car with its rush and roar which breaks the tranquility of many other summer resorts.
        People prominent in official as well as social life of Washington came to spend the warm months here with ten times the pleasure and at one-tenth the cost that would be obtained and incurred at a fashionable watering place.  Families from Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and other place were counted among the visitors who made up the cottage colony.  In order to take care of these people, boarding houses were established, each catering to a certain number.  As time elapsed, some families built their own homes near the lake shores, while others returned to the cottages year after year.  There were handsome horses and carriages, tallyhos, tandems, four- in-hands and saddle mounts, while on the lake were seen any number of boats.  The evening dinner hour brought out the women in beautiful long trained gowns and the men in full dress.  The children were always accompanied by maids, sometimes a colored "mammy."  Daniel Webster, after visiting Cazenovia at one time remarked it was the "handsomest town he ever set his two feet in."
        Today finds a few boarding houses left, a few of the "old school"; homes on the lake shore occupied by the younger generation.  Motors have replaced the horses and carriages, the lake is mostly deserted except for an occasional bathing party; however interest in sailboat racing is being revived.  Mild tennis with afternoon tea is indulged in at the club house while the more energetically inclined pursue the golf balls over the links.   Although the town does not progress rapidly it still is an attractive place with all its natural scenery.  Looking down from the hill crests upon the village, we can say with Shakespeare "How green you are and fresh in this old world."  ("King John," Act 3, Scene 4) <:62>  Grand and stately old trees line the streets on either side - and as we walk under their shadowy branches, we say - "trees shall be my books, and in their barks, my thoughts I'll character."  (Shakespeare, "As You Like It" Act 3, Scene 2)  Improved roads make the neighboring towns and cities quickly accessible.  The villagers are privileged to enjoy the movies the year round; the Redpath Chautauqua each summer.  In the winter, there are horse races on the lake, also picnic, skating, coasting and skating parties.  The young people attending the Seminary give a little life to the town during the dark winter months.  Nearly all the town children go from grammar school to the Seminary and many are fortunate to be afforded a college education after completing the work there.  Many of those not so fortunate leave town to secure employment, though at present a machine shop and diepress company, year-round industries, are giving employment to a great many.

An old scrapbook contributes the following:


"To the Editor of the Courier:
        "Reading the interesting notes on ‘Summer People and Pleasures in Cazenovia,' contained in the Syracuse Standard of August 8, has brought to mind ‘Sainted Memories,' and indeed,

        "Twenty, twenty-five, yes, thirty years and more memory goes back to those long summer days in Cazenovia, days beautiful then as now, with a quiet and a restfulness all their own, Dear old Cazenovia; then no steam-boat whistle ever pierced the air or tried the nerves with its shriek, or foul, black smoke rushed upward to make impure the clear fresh air on the ‘lake of the silver perch,' beautiful Owahgena.  On the quiet waters the only sound was the splashing of an oar, or sweet note of song, or ripple of laughter as the dwellers by the lake would paddle along unmolested, and at any point could anchor or pulling the boat upon a bank, quietly read or dream away the hours the whole day long.  Many times and oft have we been lulled to sleep by the music of frogs, and music indeed it was, the deep bass, the tenor, even the baritone and the contralto, and speaking of this a story is called to mind: A certain clergyman, who was an early riser and who delighted in the singing of the frog, boarded at the same house with a gentleman well known to old Cazenovians, who liked to indulge in a <:63> morning nap occasionally.  On a certain morning, when he had been asleep rather later than usual and came in to breakfast when the rest of the family were about through, the clergyman who had been out as usual said to him, ‘My dear friend, I have been out listening to the frogs this morning and what do you suppose they said?'  ‘Well,' replied the gentleman whose name by the way was Guiteau, ‘I'm sure I cannot tell.'  ‘They said,' continued the other, ‘Guiteau get up. Guiteau get up.'  No fashionable city life had as yet crept into this beautiful town and the ‘natives' as the Standard article calls them, went about with an exclusiveness and a dignity all their own.  Never gay city life could have moulded the characters of those whose homes were the center of all that was lovely, all that was beautiful and of good report.  Let us look for a moment into the dear old Presbyterian church of times gone by.  High up it stood on steps that were many, many times trodden by those who are now indeed saints in that ‘land which is very far off,' steps where childish feet delighted to romp up and down, playing at ‘catch,' ‘Dickey's Land,' etc., shocking the dignity of our elders.  Does not the memory of that church as it was in the old days still linger with those of us who are left?  The pulpit up the long stairs where stood the sainted (Joshua) Leonard and Kollock (this person is not known) of many long years ago, and later the austere but dearly beloved Doctor (Eleazer) Barrows, a (E.J.) Gillette and later on our own Doctor (George S.) Boardman, to whose sermons as children we listened and wondered if the big cobweb in the upper comer toward which he often pointed, had anything to do with the heaven of which he told us.  With loving hands he blessed those whom he married and with tender words of comfort to the mourner he laid away our dear ones.  The long galleries running way round the church, toward which as the years went on, shy glances would be cast to see the occasional seminary student who might be in one of the front seats.  Down below we can well recall almost every face, as Sunday after Sunday it would be seen in the old familiar place.  Sunday, too, was the busiest day in all the week, with its morning service, Sabbath school at noon, service in the afternoon with a sermon, and again in the evening.  Three sermons in one day, what would pastor and people think of that nowadays.  Often and often have we eaten lunch standing in order to be back in season for afternoon service, when in spite of all resolves to the contrary we sometimes would go to sleep, and not only ourselves but we well remember certain dignitaries of the church sitting back with handkerchiefs over the head to keep off the flies and sound asleep.  But the Presbyterian church was not all of Cazenovia.  The stone church of the Methodists stood where now it does, in different dress, its bell then called its worshipers together and the town clock then struck the hours and told us many times that we were late for chapel or recitation.  Neither have we forgotten how, in an ‘Upper chamber', the first services of the Episcopal church, now the prosperous St. Peters, were started.  Does not memory also take us back to the ‘training <:64> days,' looked forward to the whole year through?  When the town would be in holiday dress and the militia, gay with gilt and feathers, would march about keeping step to the music of drum and fife, and then mass on the square where they would rest and buy ginger bread from the little stands scattered about.  What days were those; how we loved the sound of that fife and drum, and with doll in arms would sit on the steps and watch the intricate maneuvering of the wonderful soldiers.  Then the walks, the botanizing expeditions down the plank road past the paper mill, down past the big red mills, near which lived a dearly loved Sabbath school teacher, on to Shelter Valley, where grew and bloomed Sweet Williams and where we always found good things to eat; the drives to the springs, where congregated the fashion and gaiety of the city.  Beautiful long drives around the lake, down through Pig City (Rippleton), where even now thought loves to dwell on the fat porkers taking solid comfort in the puddles along the streets of that city.  The winter sleigh rides through the fields, over the fences and on the lake, where there was no ice cutting and no ice houses on the shore, but all was white and clear and silent.  How long and sunny were the days in that olden time; how memory loves to recall them now.  Beautiful and bright and gay as Cazenovia now is, it cannot be happier than when in those dear old days, we romped and roamed together, and were taught always to be courteous and dignified.  Then it was said ‘there never were any poor people in Cazenovia,' for how could there be when every one knew and loved his neighbor, and no one ‘passed by on the other side,' or waited for the one ‘good Samaritan.'  Beautiful for situation is Cazenovia, beautiful now, beautiful then in its quiet and peaceful living.  Many, many have been the changes, yes and improvements, but though
"Like a wreath of scented flowerets,
Close intertwined each heart,
Though time and change in concert,
Have blown the wreath apart.
Yet sainted, sainted memories,
Like angel troops they come,
When I fold my arms and ponder
On the old, old home.'

        Rev. H.D. Stebbins said, "Truly, Cazenovia's children can be pardoned if they be proud of her; for beautiful as she is, her comeliness is not merely that of blue skies, rolling hills, fresh verdure and bright waters, but the better beauty of refinement, hospitality, intelligence, fairness and Christian virtue and good will."