Lake Shore News
Price 10c. Silver Creek, N.Y., June 3, 1948 VOL. 42. NO. 21 [Photo Page]
Village Historical High Lights
One who delves into the past history of Silver Creek and its people can not avoid being impressed with the transitory nature of all things human. At the time Silver Creek was incorporated in 1848, James K. Polk, whose election apparently committed the United States to a thrid war with England, was rounding out his first and only term as president. Daniel Webster and Henry Clay were popular candidates for the Whig nomination for the presidency, but were doomed to lose out to Gen. Zachary Taylor, otherwise known as "Old Rough and Ready." John Young of Geneseo was governor of New York. We had just concluded a victorious war with Mexicoand side-stepped a third war with England. Gold had been discovered in California and the "gold rush" of '49 was in the making.
On the other side of the Atlantic Camillo Cavour was just beginning his brilliant career as an Italian statesman. Cavour and Garabaldi were beginning the movement which was to eventually succeed in separating the church from the state in Italy and to build up a unified nation.
Here at home, the Indians of the Reservation were a powerful factor in the local commerce of that period. Cornplanter, the great Indian statesman and sage of his time, had been dead for only twelve short years and many Indians and palefaces of that period had enjoyed a personal acquaintance with the outstanding chief of this area. Handsome Lake and Red Jacket ahd also only recently passed to the "Happy Hunting Ground" and there were no doubt many then living who had listened to the eloquence of these colorful Indian orators. The Indians of the present genreation have no outstanding leaders to compare with Cornplanter, Handsome Lake or Red Jacket.
Our reservatoin Indians have not attained to any degree of affluence or fame. The reason for this is that most of the ambitious and promising young Indians of recent generations have voluntarily left the reservations and have lost their racial identity. Many of them have been eminently successful in various walks of life, but no one ever alludes to them as Indians. They are just plain "Americans." The amalgamation of the Indians with the white race ahs been going on quietly and unobtrusively for more than a hundred years. There is without doubt ten times as much Indian blood in the United States today as when Columbus discovered America, but most of the increase is to be found outside the reservations.
It is amazing how few "footsteps on the sands of time" are left by the men who effected the incorporation of Silver Creek. Only three short generations have passed since these men were active in shaping the destinies of the village and yet "time's wasting hand" has very nearly effaced all records of their personalities. Dilligent search has failed to produce a single photo of any of the founders of the village, save only that of Charles H. Lee, whose likeness we are able to produce in this connection. It so happens that Mr. Lee was the moving spirit behind the movement for incorporation a hundred years ago.
We are indebted to many sources for the data upon which the matter in these columns are based -- particularly to four very interesting historical numbers of the Silver Creek News, compiled by Miss Edith Z. Bowerman.
Oldest View of Lake Front
As seen from vicinity where Motor Boat Club building now stands. Note the old light house at the point.
Above cut was reproduced from a colored painting owned by Miss Francella Swift.
Prior to 1848
The Village of Silver Creek, which celebrates the 100th anniversary of its incorporation as a village, this week, was the site of an Indian village long before white men inhabited the Western New York section. The land itself was owned by the Holland Land Company, which iin 1802 or 1803 found ready buyers in David Dickinson, Abel Cleveland, and John E. Howard, all of Massachusetts, who with their families moved to the new region along the shores of Lake Erie.
Although the exact date of this first settlement is not known, by 1805 Cleveland and Dickinson had built a sawmill and Mr. Howard had established an Inn for the weary westbound travelers. During that year Cleveland and Dickinson added a mortar and pestle to their saw mill for ginding corn.
In 1806 the two sawmill operators, sensing that a war with Great Britain was imminent, left John E. Howard as the only white settler in Silver Creek, then called Fayette. Other settlers, however, joined Mr. Howard in Fayette the next year and the first Christian marriage was performed when Elizabeth Mack and Judge Richard Smith were joined.
Among the early settlers of this vicinity were Artemus Clothier, who arrived here in 1809 after their weddin trip from Massacusetts. They made the perilous journey with one horse, which carried Mrs. Clothier and as many of their belongings as the horse could carry. Artemus walked at the horse's side carrying a gun at his side. The home that the two pioneers built still stands at the corner of Jackson and Arch streets.
By 1811 Silver Creek's first physician, Dr. Jacob Burgess settled here with his bride, Mary Taylor, a sister of Mrs. Clothier. They spent the first winter with Artemus Clothier and after purchasing land, where Burgess street now runs, from Mr. Clothier, he commenced to clear the land and build a cabin, while carrying on his medical practice.
The chief occupation of these pre-war of 1812 pioneers was the raising of vegetables and grain on the newly cleared land. Prevailing prices at that time were corn, 50c per bushel; wheat, $1.00; pork, $8.00 per hundred weight; beef, $6.00 per hundred weight; and cows at 22 and 30 dollars each.
War of 1812 Stirs Settlers
In 1812 the war with Great Britain broke out with the entire Lake Erie coast in danger of British naval attacks from bases in Canada. The men of Silver Creek then formed a military company for protection lest the British should decide to raid the village. Although inexperienced in soldiering, the group organized diligently. Often during the war the settlers had their belongings packed and ready to move if it shoud become necessary.
It was during this three year period of anxiety that the first school was established, that coming in the summer of 1812. The same year Methodist church services were set up.
In the following year a Jocob Morrison opened a tannery in the village. Also in 1813 the first vote for member of the State Assembly was taken in the Township of Hanover, which then included the present Towns of Sheridan and Villenova. 112 votes were cast.
About this time a road connecting Buffalo and Erie was completed, although it was some time before a plank turnpike was laid through the swamps then existing where the old stage coach road now runs.
Silver Creek's first town meeting, the only type of government in the early history here, was held in 1814. Some sources place the date as April 5th, although definite confirmation of that date is lacking.
With the signing of peace with England in 1815 the villagers breathed sighs of relief and went to work building up the small community. Several more pioneers came to settle here with the end of hostilities and in 1817 Stephen Clark opened the first store. Definite data as to what Mr. Clark handled is missing although it can be safely presumed that his wares consisted of everything from "soup to nuts."
Silver Creek's famous shipyards launched thier first ship in 1816. From then until 1852 the ship building industry was to play a big part in the history of the village.
It was in 1825 that Silver Creek, still called Fayette, began to blossom out. Ezra Convis became the postmaster of the first Post Office established here that year. Luther Heaton began another store in the village and a Mr. Wheeler erected a lime-kiln. The first Sunday School was also started in 1825.
Becoming prominent in village affairs about this time was a settler named Oliver Lee. It is credited mainly to him that the village was renamed Silver Creek on February 14, 1826. Mr. Lee opened a store here in 1827 and became a leading merchant. His business sgacity was soon turned to the great possibilities in shipping and he became prominent in local shipping circles.
In 1839 Oliver Lee established the Bank of Silver Creek and became its first president.
Early in the Spring of 1826 the village enjoyed its first
dramatic entertainment when three professional actors stoped at
James Harris' tavern. The trio were on their way to Albany
and were picking up traveling money by putting on shows in
various small communities. The "play" was on the
order of "Ten Nights in a Barroom."
The First Presbyterian Church of Silver Creek was esablished in the year 1831.
Presbyterian Church Choir of One
Hundred Years Ago
Left to Right: Men, Henry Montgomery, Allen Howard, George Tew, Farnham Howard. Ladies, Mrs. George Tew (seated), Mrs. Henry Montgomery, Mrs. James Madison (nee Eliza Ann Swift), Mrs. Travis, Mrs. Chauncey Talcott, Laura Whitney.
The Above photo believed to have been taken some time between 1848 and 1860.
Silver Creek's first bakery was opened by W.H. Stevens in the
year 1835 and in 1839 the first village library and the Bank of
Silver Creek opened their doors.
It was not until the Spring of 1835 that Silver Creek enjoyed another dramatic performance. Through the efforts of William Brannon, the leading tailor in the village, a dramatic club was formed which presented the play "Damon and Pythias" at the Silver Creek House. Although not successful financially, the paly did offer the village wholesome and enjoyable entertainment.
Two years previous to the "home talent" play the Nichols Bros. Circus became the first circus to play in the village. Unlice circuses of today, the Nichols Bros. had no animals and no side shows.
Charles H. Lee, son of Oliver Lee, circulated the petition for the incorporation of Silver Creek and was a member of the first Board of Trustees. Mr. Lee was for years a leading merchant and business man in Silver Creek and had a large part in the activities of the village during his lifetime.
Promoter of Incorporation
CHARLES H. LEE
Subsequent to 1848
The initial move to Incorporate the Village of Silver Creek was begun by Charles H. Lee in 1848, who began the petition for an election to decide upon the important matter. The election, which was undoubtedly discussed thoroughly beside the cracker barrels in Silver Creek's several stores, was held in June of 1848. 47 of the 51 voters favored the plan to incorporate Silver Creek and with this support the incorporation took place.
On July 7 the first village election took place with a sparse vote of 26 being recorded. Elected to the first board of trustees were Noah D. Snow, Abiatha Gates, Charles H. Lee, George W. Tew, and Austin Clark. From this board Noah D. Snow was selected Silver Creek's first president. Other first officers of the village were assessors, Lyscom Mixer, C. Lockwood, and W.D. Talcott; collector, John Tilton; clerk, John R. McDonald; and treasurer, Amos Dow.
Soon after the election local villagers began to wonder if they had selected the right officials when they saw the report of the extravagant outlay by the board of trustees. Over $100 was spent at once by the board, including $21 for incorporation, $20 for the construction of the village pond, $30 for the building of crosswalks, $6 for a desk, and $25 in officers fees.
On August 1, 1848 the village board passed Silver Creek's first set of by-laws which took effect on Sept. 30 the same year.
By-Laws Passed by the Trustees of the Village of Silver Creek, August 1, 1848
Below in condensed form, is the first set of by-laws enacted by the original board of trustees.
Noah D. Snow, President
of the Board
Charles H. Lee
George W. Tew
The year 1848 not only marked the beginning of Silver Creek as an incorporated village. The same year also gave birth to Silver Creek Mail, our first newspaper. So far as is known there are no copies of this publication in existence, nor is there any available data to show when or why the paper ceased publication, nor what became of its founder, John C. Van Duzen.
Silver Creek Since 1848
In the early 1850's transportation conditions were immeasurably improved. By 1851 the Buffalo and State Line Railroad (later the Buffalo and Erie Railroad) was being laid through Silver Creek and Dunkirk and in the next year the first train went through the village. A report by the ocunty in 1852 showed that there were about 100 miles of plank roads in the county.
Important Industry Started
In January of 1864 the first grain cleaning machinery shop was
set up in Silver Creek and even now remains as one of the
village's chief industries. At that time Alpheus and Norman
Babcock began manufacturing grain cleaning machinery and in the
following year were joined by Simeon Howes. The firm name
then became Howes, Babcock &Company and in that year they
manufactured and sold 200 machines.
Late in 1865 Albert Horton became a partner in the company and three years later sold his interest to Carlos Ewell. In 1888 Simeon Howes became the sole proprietor of the company which still bears his name.
The famous Skew Arch, erected in Silver Creek, was built in 1869 and still stands over Jackson Street. It was one of two of its kind built in the world and was notable for its unusual screw-like structure stones.
The Old Lamplighter
The first lights to shine upon the streets of Silver Creek were the oil burning type which had to be lit by hand each night. Through the 1880's and up until about 1891 or '92 when arc lamps were installed, N.P. Colberg, father of L.W. colberg of Silver Creek, was the village lamplighter. Each day Mr. Colberg would go around town with a ladder and wheelbarrow and fill the oil containers of the lamps.
Arc lights were installed and operated by a community stock company, which had a power plant at the foot bridge on North Main street. William Weir was in charge of the plant and his brother, Jack replaced the burned out carbons in the arc lamps. Seldomly did an arc lamp carbon last more than a few days.
The Great Flood of 1881
Very few residents can recall the great flood of 1881. It was the biggest recorded summer flood in the community's history. On June 24th of that year a major cloudburst in the hills overlooking the village turned Walnut Creek wild. Although the flood was not of a long duration it damaged homes and industries to a report extent of $50,000. It was believed by many at the time that a waterspout (the water counterpart of a tornado) was the main cause of the flood. This, however, was never officially confirmed and seems highly improbable.
Silver Creek Schools
In the year 1882 the first class was gradu-ated from the Silver Creek Schools, then a union school. Previous to that initial commencement there was a long tedious struggle for the estab-lishment and progress of the local schools. Pre-vious to the erection of a two story school build-ing where the Fire Hall now stands, about 1860, the school sessions were held in various privately owned buildings.
On May 2, 1867, $3,500 was appropriated to build two wings on the two story school to care for the increased attendance.
A proposition to build a badly needed new building was defeated at the polls by a 73-57 vote. Part of the fight for a better school system in the village was won on April 8, 1879 when it was voted to change tile district into a Union Free School, with a seven man Board of Educa-tion, consisting of George P. Gaston, Norman Babcock, A. Heine, Smith Clark, Charles N. Howes, A. P. Holcomb and James M. Beman.
Finally on May 27, 1879, a new building was accepted by the voters of Silver Creek. The new building was to be built on the old site and not to exceed $12,000. The two wings of the old build-ing were sold and moved to Lincoln avenue as dwellings.
Even the new building proved too small and the old building, which had been sold to John Tilton, was rented from him to accomodate the increased school attendance,
It was from this school that the first high school class was graduated. The class of 1882 consisted of four members, these being: Miss Dal-ryrnple, Mr. Eaker, Miss Grover and Mr. Stebbins.
Miss Dairymple, Lyman Eaker and Gertrude Grover later taught school for some time, while Verne Stebbins died shortly after her graduation. This class had no officers, no class pins, yells, or motto which today are considered an important part of school life.
In 1887 the Silver Creek High School Build-ing was completed on the site where the Fire Hall now stands. Several local people graduated from this school, which was torn down in 1930. In the spring of 1897 it was voted to purchase the Babcock avenue site for $1600 and build a school house for the grades at a cost of $7000.
Greatest Day in Silver Creek
On August 20, 1890, the Village of Silver Creek had its greatest day in history for a Firemens celebration. Over 600 uniformed Fire-men took part in the festivities and the village was swamped with 10,000 visitors. The day was complete with parades and fireworks.
C. G. Talcott made big news on the night of December 2, 1891 when he wounded a burglar in his Silver Creek home. The burglar, it was re-ported, was confused by the layout of the house and was delayed in his escape when he heard Mr. Talcott arising. Talcott fired on the burglar as he was leaving the house and succeeded in wound-ing him.
The State Bank of Silver Creek, now known as the First National Bank of Silver Greek, was established in 1899 with Ralph S. Quale as its first president.
Another Big Flood1904
The almost yearly overflowing of Walnut and Silver Creek hit one of their all time peaks in March, 1904, when ice and water hit probable high peaks all along the banks of the two streams. The area where the Mt. Carmel Church now stands was a raging torrent and the Silver Greek Preserving Company was surrounded by ice and water.
The Smiths Mills reservoir, which supplies the entire Village of Silver Creek, was first built in 1905. Frank Rrotz, who is still active in the Water Department, supervised the work on the original Smiths Mills reservoir.
Old Home Week 1909
The Village of Silver Creek held its first Old Home Week
celebration during the week of August 16-21, 1909. The
celebration was a highly successful endeavor with several
thousands of people taking part. The calendar of events was as
Aug. 16Reception Day
Aug. 17Old Settlers Day
Aug. 18Fraternal Day
Aug. 19Firemens flay, which was heralded by the fire alarm at 9 a. m.
Aug. 20Farmers Day
Aug. 21Childrens Day
The biggest day of the big week was the Farmers Day when a parade a mile and a halt long marched through the streets of Silver Creek.
The veterans of the Civil War living in Sil-ver Creek decided that a G. A. R. Post could and should organize and be maintained here. William H. Bartlett, Ira D. Rowley and Gilbert W. Smith obtained transfer cards from James Ayer Post W. Angola in September, 1884. A charter was asked for from New York State headquarters and granted November 18, 1884.
This G. A. R. Post No. 523 was named after a veteran, Roselle M. Starring, who enlisted in Irving in August, 1861, honorably discharged and mustered out of service October 11, 1864 return-ing to Irving, his adopted home town. He died by drowning on Sept. 1, 1871 at or near the mouth of Cattaraugus Creek in Lake Erie.
Disaster at Civil War Celebration
Following the surrender of General Robert E. Lee on April 9,
1865 it was decided to cerebrate the occasion in Silver Creek on
the 10th of April. A six pound mounted brass muzzle loader cannon
was placed on the triangle on Howard street, Buffalo street and
Lake avenue and pointed toward the Shofner and Heine Hardware
Store (now Tildens Variety Store). Using the powder charges only
the cannon was fired and reloaded as quickly as possible. The
booming of the gun brought citizens from the surrounding area
into town for the celebration.
It was then that disaster struck the operators of the artillery piece, in their haste to keep the gun firing, a charge of powder was rammed into me gun before the barrel had been allowed to cool on. As a result there was a premature explo-sion which resulted in one death and two injured men. Leroy Andrus lost a hand above the wrist, Leonard Adsitt an arm and his eyesight and the ramrod hit Lee ODonaghy in the chest and shoulder, killing him instantly..
The six pound cannon was then put out of operation until the Independence Day celebration of 1876 when it was fired under the direction of U. P. Brown, an experienced artillery man. Shortly after that the gun was dismantled and sold as old brass.
Silver Creek National Bank Established
The Silver Creek National Bank was estab-lished in the year 1912 with J. D. Denny as president. They chose the corner of Main street and Central avenue as their site and erected the present bank building there.
The Great War
When the United States entered the World War in 1917 several
local boys were inducted into various branches of the armed
forces. Three Silver Creek boys never came back.
Don Martin died in France of Spanish influ-enza, while pursuing the duties of war corres-pondent for the New York Herald. Don was born and educated in Silver Creek. He started his jour-nalistic career in Buffalo and was a member of the Buffalo Express when President McKinley was assassinated. His work on this story earned him a regular spot on the New York Herald.
Two American Legion Posts, the local post and one in New York City, were named in honor of Martin.
While Don Martin was not a resident of Silver Creek at the time of his death, two other boys who died during the great conflict were. John Verdi, the only Silver Greek boy killed in action, and Henry Titus, both failed to come back.
A Tribute to Silver Creeks Don Martin
During the presidential campaign of 1916 Charles Evans Hughes stopped in Silver Creek. In the opening of his speech he remarked I am in-deed glad to come to Silver Creek and greet you, because of many pleasant recollections and also for another reason. An honest newspaper man is the noblest work of God and this is Don Martins home town. I have a great regard for Don Martin and am glad to come to his home town.
The Big Fire of 1921
On June 23, 1921, one of the most destructive fires in the
history of Silver Creek resulted in $60,000 damage to buildings
along Main street.
The fire began on the west side of Main street between 6:00 and 7:30 p.m., when exploding firecrackers set fire to the Lucas barn. The flames soon turned the barn into a blazing inferno. The Lucas residence soon caught fire and the flames moved unchecked through the old ball park grand-stand (then situated in back of the present Post Office Building) and into the trolley station (where Fosters Dairy now stands). The old Park Avenue Hotel was also enveloped in flames.
The fire leaped across the street and de-stroyed the Methodist Church before the several fire companies could bring it under control. Most of the buildings in the path of the fire were burned to the ground.
Out-of-town fire departments called in when the fire got out of control of the local department were Dunkirk, Fredonia, Forestville and Angola.
More Recent History 1923-33
John B. Webster, President of the Village of Silver Creek,
died suddenly at home, on Sept. 17, 1923. He had attended a
meeting of the Village Board earlier that evening. Born in Eden,
N. Y., on April 1, 1860, Mr. Webster moved to Silver Creek about
1885 to become prominent in village affairs.
Lee F. Dickinson was named by the Village Board as President of the village, filling the va-cancy caused by the death of President John B. Webster. Mr. Dickinson had previously been presi-dent of the village.
On October 1st, 1923 Allen J. Diefendort be-came president of the First National Bank of Silver Creek.
The Village of Silver Greek and vicinity were alarmed on the night of November 8, 1923 when groups of masked men, believed to be members of the Ku Klux Klan, burned a cross about a half mile from Irving. On the following night a simi-lar procedure was reported from Smiths Mills.
The plans for a new 200,000,000 gallon reservoir estimated at a cost of $200,000 were passed by a general election on December 28, 1923 by a five to one majority.
Lee Library Established
The Lee Library was formally presented to the public at a
reception on February 2, 1924 at which Mrs. Helen A. Denny, donor
of the library, addressed the large gathering.
On March 20, 1924 the village was excited over the installation of a radio receiving set at the offices of the Silver Creek Times. At that time when radio was in its infancy several local villagers would gather around the front of the Times office to listen to the marvelous new de-velopment in communication. (The recent arrival of television was heralded much in the same way in various spots around town not so long ago.)
On October 7, 1924 the St. Columbans Semi-nary, five miles west of the village, was officially -opened to give young men preparatory training for priesthood in China.
The March elections of 1926 were significant in the villages history as a proposition of great importance was passed by the voters. The question of raising $2000 to erect a village jail was answered in the affirmative, 269-183. Also at this election Lee F. Dickinson was returned to the office of Village President and both Peoples Party trustees were elected by substantial majorities over their democratic opponents.
In November, 1926 It. A. Greeman of Medina, N. Y. announced the aquisition of the larger portion of the Huntley property and the development of a $500,000 corporation to be known as the Silver Creek Furniture Corporation. Mr. Greernan predicted an employment of 500 men at the peak.
Miscellaneous Events of Interest
The late Frank H. Clement became the successor of Jesse D.
Denny as President of the Silver Creek National Bank on January
11, 1926. Mr. Denny had been President of the White Bank from its
institution in 1912 until his retirement in 1926.
The Silver Creek High School graduating class of 1927 was the last class to he graduated from the historic high school building on Central avenue as the new building on Main street was completed. The old building stood until 1930 when it was torn down to make room for the Municipal Bldg.
In 1929 the Silver Creek Airport was established at the present site on Ward avenue.
On February 20, 1931, the new Municipal Building was officially dedicated. It was constructed on the site of the old school building torn down the year before. Over 1500 people passed through the building on that day.
On October 18, 1930, Silver Creek was hit by one of the earliest snow storms to arrive in this vicinity. The abnormal snowfall caused a general breakdown in the transportation facilities of the locality.
During the storm snow fell to a depth of two and a half to three feet.
Sunday, November 29, 1931 will be remembered as an eventful day in the history of the Presbyterian Church for on that day former members, present members, and friends from near and far gathered to observe the one hundredth anniversary of the organization of that church.
The new Church of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel of Silver Creek was dedicated on May 29, 1932 by Rt. Reverend William Turner of Buffalo. Construction was begun in the Spring of 1930 and the cornerstone was laid on July 19.
In July, 1932 Postal Telegraph was established in Silver Creek with Clark L. Smith as local manager.
On the night of January 27, 1933 the last trolley ran through Silver Creek and on the morn-ing of the 28th the Buffalo and Erie Coach Cor-poration took over the route formerly served by the trolley lines.
Work began in April, 1935 for the present Post Office Building which was finished in the summer of that year. The accompanying photos show representatives of the Village Board, the Hanover Town Board and the Silver Creek Water Board who were present when the work began.
21 Made Supreme Sacrifice
When the United States entered the 2nd World War on December
7, 1941, some Silver Creek boys were already in the service of
their country. Before the conflict ended a great number of local
boys had been in the uniform of Uncle Sams armed forces.
Twenty-one boys from Silver Creek and vicinity gave their lives
during the last war.
A large stone monument has been erected in the village park to honor those who made the supreme sacrifice. The long list includes:
Samuel Cimino (for whom the local V. F. W. Post is named)
Samuel S. Ark
Carl L. Kuell
John J. Noto
The Famous Walnut Tree
When the first settlers came to Silver Creek the famous walnut
tree, said to be the largest tree east of the Rocky Mountains,
had already been standing for several years. The tree played a
big part in the early history of the village, being one of the
sight seeing attractions of the area.
The tree stood near the junction of Ward avenue and Main street where now stands a monu-ment honoring both the tree and the first mill wheel in Silver Creek. It measured 31 feet in circumference and over 10 feet in diameter. About 1884 Luther Heaton started a grocery store and conceived the idea of using part of the tree as an annex. Three years previous the tree had blown down and a large section of the tree was worked on for Mr. Heatons annex. A roof was built, a floor laid and a door cut into the shell of the great tree. A seat running around the circular waIls was built and is said to have had the seating capacity of 20.
At that time a large number of weary travelers took refreshment and rest within the remodeled tree trunk. It soon acquired the name of A grocery store kept within a tree.
In September of 1825 Mr. Heaton sold the tree to a Mr. Roberts of Fredonia and a Mr. Stearns of Hanover and moved it to Buffalo and exhibited it there. In the Spring of 1826 the new owners decided to exhibit the tree in New York City. It was necessary to saw the tree in half to take it down the Erie Canal but upon arrival in New York it was expertly rejoined. The tree drew immense crowds in New York, soon becom-ing the great attraction in the city. It was sold three times during its stay in New York and the last American owners paid $1500 for it.
In 1827 the tree was sold for $2,000 and taken to London. It was exhibited at several places in London and was finally purchased by a museum Company who were compelled to take out part of the side or their building to get it inside. The tree remained there until the building with the tree inside was destroyed by fire.
The bronze tablet mounted on the old mill wheel which marks the site of the tree was un-veiled June 23, 1928 by the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
A Glorious Baseball Past
The Village of Silver Creek has had its share of baseball
glories, perhaps more than its share for a small town. Reports of
a local town baseball team go back as far as the Independence Day
celebration of 1876 when they played a team worn Angola. During
the 1909 Old Home Week The Silver Creek Horseshoes, as they were
known even then, played before probably the largest baseball
crowd ever assembled at the local park, over 1700 people.
Good teams have been a habit with Silver Creek as many old time fans will testify.
Several local ball players have tried their hand at the professional game. Only two, Howard Bob Ehmke and George Mohart, ever reached the major leagues. Others such as Lyle Cook, Harry Montgomery, Newt Jackie, Ed Mohart and more recently Rod and Jack Griewisch hooked up with minor league clubs.
The most famous of Silver Creeks long line of ball players was Bob Ehmke, who started in 1914 at the age of 19 with the Los Angeles Angels and climaxed his career in the 1929 World Series. Ehmke won his first eight straight with the Los Angeles nine that year and was traded to the Washington Senators, which club he jumped for the ill fated Federal League. In 1916 he came back into the organized leagues and won 30 games for the Syracuse club in the old New York State League. Detroit grabbed him near the end of that season and he remained in the majors with De-troit, Boston and Philadelphia until 1930.
The story has been told and retold about how Bob near the end of the big league trail was named as a surprise starter by Connie Mack in the opening game of the 1929 World Series. He more than justified Macks faith in him by beat-ing the Chicago Cubs, 3-1 and hanging up a World Series strike-out record of 13 which still stands today.
On January 10, 1930 a large banquet in Silver Creek with over 175 present, paid tribute to their hero.
At this banquet Ehmke stated My ambition was to be a big leaguer, then a World Series hero and some day come back to Silver Creek and be greeted the way I am tonight.
Although the 1929 Series stands out as Ehmkes greatest accomplishment he also won other glories in baseball. His record of 18 innings allowing one hit still stands as an American League record.
George Mohart, who won most of his baseball glories in the International League and the South-ern Association, pitched for the National League champion Brooklyn Dodgers of 1920.
Wrestling Hoax Nipped Creekers
(As told to Thomas Connell by Frank Brotz and Charles Barnes)
Most local residents remember old timer Billy Mack, who passed away a few years ago, but only the real old timers can recall when Billy was one of Silver Creeks finest wrestlers. In-deed it has been a long time since wrestling was a major sport of this village.
About the year 1896 Billy Mack was in his heyday as a local wrestler and Silver Creek sport-ing fans were proud of Billys matwork.
At this time Bobby Riggs, a famous wrestling sensation in national circles, moved into Silver Creek as a barber, which was his normal trade. After being in business only a short while, Mr. Riggs gained the confidence and friendship of the sports minded populace. One day he told the gang, which usually hung around his shop, that they could make a good sum of money on the wrestling prowess of their own Billy Mack. He told them that he would arrange a match with a wrestler in Buffalo which Billy could easily throw. The idea went over well with the Creekers and the match was scheduled.
A large group of local villagers followed Billy Mack to Buffalo and bet heavily on the out-come of the match.
It seemed obvious that Silver Creeks Billy Mack was head and shoulders above the Buffalo matman in ability as he took command from the start of the match to the end. The Creekers went back to their home town with plenty. of money in their pockets as a result of Macks easy victory.
A few days later Bobby Riggs suggested that they could really clean up in a return bout and again the gang was enthusiastic. Some local fans went as far as mortgaging their homes to scrape up betting money for the return match. Once again the large group of Silver Creek sporting fans accompanied Billy Mack to the Buffalo wrestling arena.
The return match went well in the early min-utes with both wrestlers showing well. However, the Buffalo wrestler soon decided to make short work of the Silver Creek boy and practically mopped the floor with him. The Silver Creek boys lost so heavily on this return match that they had to send home for money to get home from Buf-falo.
Bobby Riggs, the barber, was never seen again in Silver Creek and the plot was then obvious to the Silver Creek fans. Bobby Riggs and his wrestling friend of Buffalo had taken the local boys hook, line and sinker.
There were many at that time who believed that Billy Mack was also in on the plot but that is highly improbable. Billy Mack was as surprised and shocked as the rest of the Silver Creek gang.
Journalism in the Village
The first newspaper established in Silver Creek was the Silver
Creek Mail, published by John C. VanDuzen in 1848. In 1852 J.
Long took over the newspaper and called it the Home Register. Two
years later Samuel Wilson purchased the paper and changed the
name to the Silver Creek Gazette. The Gazette was discontinued in
1856 but was revived in August of that year by H. M. Morgan, who
renamed the paper the Lake Shore Mirror.
Next in the line of Silver Creek newspapers was the Silver Creek Local, started by John R. Spears and later published by C. E. Brown.
The name Gazette was revived some time later and operated by Frederick W. Thomas. Still well remembered is the name of Charles F. Stacy, who was publisher of the Gazette for several years.
In 1906 Arthur J. Salisbury founded the Silver Creek News, which was the direct forerunner of the Lake Shore News and Times. The News was operated in turn by M. E. Cook, John W. Shaw, Braman and Newton, C. S. Bellinger and Miss Edith Z. Bowerman.
The Silver Creek Times was established in 1923 and continued as a separate newspaper un-til the News-Times merger on May 2, 1935.
Effective January 14 1946, Miss Bowerman sold the Silver Creek News and Times to Avery D. Piersons and Kenneth E. Schlosser. Hubert W. Sheffer acquired the interest of Mr. Schlosser on August 1, 1946. The paper was re-named Lake Shore News and Times in May of 1946 and the paper is now published under the firm name of Co-Operative Printing Co., Ltd., with Avery Piersons as editor and Mr. Sheffer as business manager.