1894 Article on Havana, NY
Generously provided by the Montour Falls Library,
from their collection of newspaper clippings.
Typed by Linda Z. O'Halloran for the website.
The village, which now contains a reported population of 2,000, is pleasantly and romantically situated, three miles south of Watkins, and the head waters of the beautiful Seneca Lake, on the Northern Central Railway, about 19 miles north of the city of Elmira, and is surrounded by very attractive Glen and highland scenery, many of the lowering hills on either side, and at the southern extreme of Catharine Valley, in which it is located, giving the widely-extended and really magnificent landscape views of the adjacent country, and the above mentioned Lake.
The site of the village, and its surroundings, abound in early historical and legendary associations of the times when this region of the State of New York was in possession of the Seneca Indians; and here was the home of Queen Catharine Montour, whose husband, a noted chief of that tribe, is supposed to have been slain in battle during the French and Indian war, which closed but a few years before the commencement of the American Revolution. Queen Catharine's village, long known as Catharinestown, which was situated a short distance south of the present Havana, on rising ground, both sides of Catharine Creek, was utterly destroyed by the Sullivan Expedition, on the 2d of September 1779, shortly after the defeat of the British and Indians under Butler, and Brandt, August 29th, at Newtown, near the present site of Elmira; and Queen Catharine fled northward, toward Geneva and Canada with her terror-stricken people, only a few hours before the torch was applied, which reduced their thirty or forty comfortable homes to cinders and ashes - with all that pertained to them in the way of civilization which was of the highest type known at that time, in the Seneca Nation.
The first white settlement, within the corporate limits of Havana, was made in 1788 by Silas WOLCOTT, and another pioneer named WILSON. "Uncle George MILLS", as he was familiarly called for many years in his old age--had passed through here previously, the same year, but did not become a settler until 1790--though he subsequently became one of the most prominent, influential and enterprising men among the early inhabitants and it was at his humble little [house /inn] in the village that Louis Phillipe, then an exile in this country, and then soon after became the King of France, found food and shelter, with his companions for a day and night, while on the way from Buffalo to Philadelphia on horseback -- their route, at the time, having been a great portion of the way through the dense wilderness, with no better roads than Indian trails and bridle paths.
After the first settlement was made the pioneers began to arrive,
and Catharinestown progressed well, and became a place of much note, and
[venerable] business, being in [situated] at the head of Seneca Lake, [allowing]
navigation by flat boats through the Inlet, and [in case] of high water,
often over Catharine marsh. The first sloop, launched on the Lake,
was built by Col. Charles WATKINSON in 1799, to ply between Geneva and
Catharinestown (Havana) which, strange as it may now seem, had no
difficultly in passing up and down Catharine Creek, -- now navigable for
nothing larger than row boats. We have no account, however, of the
first steamboat on the Lake, the "Seneca Chief" whose first trip was on
the 4th of July, 1828, attempting to steam up the Inlet as she drew too
much water, even then, for such an experiment.
[a couple of unreadable sentences]
[The village] continued to grow, and prosper, and men of means, energy, business sagacity and enterprise, began to make it their home and cast their lot and fortune into the scale of its future destiny. In 1827 Minor T. BRODRICK became a resident; in 1829 Charles COOK, the most important and influential factor of progress and prosperity ever identified with the village, arrived; in 1830 Hiram W. JACKSON; in 1831 or 1832, Peter TRACY; in 1836 Adam G. CAMPBELL, and many others of its early years - none of whom now survive - whose honored and sterling names our limits will not permit us to give.
It has been well observed that the advent of Charles COOK marked the commencement of a most important and salutary era in the history of Havana and that his energy, enterprise and indefatigable industry, accomplished wonders of the village, and did much toward making it the pleasant and prosperous place that it became during his lifetime still is, and promises permanently to be.
It has also been well said that no historical sketch of Havana would
be at all complete that did not embrace a biography of this remarkable
man. This even we cannot give in this article; but the following,
written by an author who seems to have comprehended his character correctly,
so well expresses our sentiments in regard to him, that we quote it, as
it relates almost entirely to his efforts in behalf of the village.
"On his arrival at Havana he began a long and earnest struggle to build up a flourishing and commanding village. He bought village lots and built upon them; he erected mills and set them in operation; he built hotels and opened them to the public; built a church (St. Paul's Episcopal) and gave its use for worship; made a new County (Schuyler) from parts of other counties, and located its buildings at Havana, and retained them there as long as he lived; established a bank and conducted its business successfully; erected a magnificent building for People's College, gave it and a hundred acre farm to a corporation for educational purposes, and largely aided in procuring the land grant legislation by Congress and the New York State Legislature, which gave the "People's College" scrip for 990,000 acres of public lands, which subsequently reverted (and most unjustly) to Cornell University."
The foregoing embraces but a tithe of this great man's deeds for the futherance of the interests of Havana; and whatever may have been the mistakes and indiscretion of others bearing the family name, and mainly succeeded to his estate, the name of Charles COOK will long be held in respectful and grateful remembrance by the people of Havana. Mr. COOK died in 1866, at the age of 66 years; and sleeps in a little cemetery, a short distance south of the village center, on a rise of ground east of N. C. Railway, whose passengers, as they rush onward in the land of the living, can plainly read on his modest monument the one word "COOK" -- which to those who knew him in this transitory world, evokes a thronging host of recollections from departed days and years. "He rests from his labors" (as says an ancient writer) "and his works do follow him." To Be Continued.
Having, in our first article, briefly disposed of the introductory, or historical number of this series, we now take up the educational, as next in order.
This is not only the leading institution of learning in the village of Havana and County of Schuyler, but is one of the most noted Academies in the State. It was founded in the year 1872 by the late Col. E.W. COOK, and enjoys a wide reputation for its admirable management, and its excellent educational facilities and advantages. The building, which (as incidentally stated in No. 1, was erected by Hon. Charles COOK for the People's College), is a large and substantial brick structure, complete in all its appointments and arrangements for the purposes of the school, and lacking nothing whatever in its sanitary conditions deemed conducive to the comfort and health of its students.
The Institution is under the general management of a Board of Trustees, composed of 24 members, most of whom are non-residents, and men of character, education and distinction--the President of the Board being Prof. Norman FOX, D.D., of New York City; and the Secretary and Treasurer, Rev. Albert COIT, D.D., former pastor of the Baptist Church at Wellsville, NY (1870-1888) and at Hornellsville, NY (1888-1890) since which last year he has been a resident of Havana, and has most industriously, ably and successfully discharged the onerous duties of the position. The present Faculty - as we learn from the Catalogue of 1894 - is as follows: Roger W. SWETLAND, A.B., Principal, Latin; George B. WAKEMAN, A.B., Greek & History; Ernest J. WOODLAND, B.S., Sciences; Herbert M. BURCHARD, A.B., Mathematics; Emma L. BUSH, A.B. Lady Principal, German & English Literature; Lillian O. SPRAGUE, English & Methods of Teaching; Mary A. SMITH, English; [Alice L. SIMPSON was English teacher in 1893], Rev. Geo. W. STRUTT, Bible Dept.; Lillian G. HALLOCK, Music Dept.; Lucy J. WILCOX, Painting & Drawing; Mabel RANDOLPH, Stenography; Grace COOK, Librarian. [In 1893, additional staff was listed as Henry S. LUER, steward; Mary F. LUER, stewardess; William LYNCH, Fireman; Miss Mary GREENE, in charge of laundry; Anna WHITING, pastry cook; and Leroy T. SMITH.] It may be safely averred that no Academic institution in the State has a more competent and accomplished Faculty than that embraced in the foregoing names, all of whom are deserving of the highest confidence and commendations.
The Principal is a new man in that very important capacity, so long and so creditably filled by Prof. A.C. HILL; but he comes with the most unequivocal indorsements of the press, where he is well known - one influential journal, of May 3d, 1894, using the following language in announcing his acceptance of the place, and its great responsibilities: "Mr. SWETLAND possesses, in a remarkable degree, the rare combination of qualities which are required for the highest success in so important and responsible a position. He is 32 years of age, of fine presence, an excellent speaker, a broad-minded, sympathetic and active Christian. He has had 10 years experience as a teacher, five as a principal of academics, mostly in this State, and during this time has personally given instruction in all branches of secondary education. He is the master of the art of college preparatory training, knowing exactly what to teach and how to teach it, and producing results, which, in the experience of very competent judges, have never been surpassed. He is a graduate of the Central Normal School of Lock Haven, PA, where he received a thorough professional training and stood at the head of a class of 78 pupils." We may add to the above that the Principal graduated in June of this year from the Univ. of Rochester, with a full classical course, and with high honors. That he will prove a worthy and able successor to one who is almost entitled to be called his "illustrious predecessor", there is no reason to doubt.
It is but just to say, in regard to the retiring Principal - Prof. HILL - now connected with the Department of Public Instruction at Albany, that, during his long connection with the Academy of over 20 years, and as Principal from 1879 to 1894, he was untiring in his efforts and labors for its advancement and permanent prosperity. It has been said by a writer in one of the County papers, that when he bacame its Principal, the Academy was seriously embarassed and $25,000 in debt. This has all been paid; and it now has a well invested endowment fund of nearly or quite $10,000, and is on a good, solid and continuously improving financial foundation. Very many and great improvements have been made during the past 15 years - students' rooms having been put in excellent condition and all the modern sanitary inventions introduced; and the school has always presented a remarkable health record since it was founded, 22 years ago - good air and pure water, being two of the vital elements that have insured such gratifying results. Cook Academy is, indeed an educational institution of which all the people of Havana have a good reason to feel proud. Its fame has gone far abroad over the land, and its past history is one of most creditable interest and success while its still greater development in the future seems fully assured. (see postcard photo of the Academy) The list of graduates, from its 20 classes - 1874 to 1893 - is 255; and many of them have made, and are making, honorable and useful men and women in the varied avocations of professional life. For full particulars and all needful information in regard to details, that cannot here be given - the Library, Courses of Study, Methods of Instruction, Geological Cabinet, Text Books, Students Expenses, Tuition Fees of Day Pupils &c, &c., send for copy of Catalogue and Circular for 1893-4 - the latter just issued - to the Principal, Prof. R. W. SWETLAND, or the Secretary and Treasurer, Rev. Albert COIT, D.D., Havana, NY. To Be Continued.
The Union School.
The Havana Union School, which for a term of years past, has been under the competent and careful supervision of Prof. H.C. JEFFERS, as its Principal, is graded and well and successfully conducted. It has a good and commodious building, apparatus, &c., which answers all present practical purposes and uses; and the school as a whole, is a credit to the village. A well qualified Board of Education is vested with its management and control, which is organized as follows: Hon. Baxter T. SMELZER (member of the State Senate), President; Myron H. WEAVER, William CRONK, Edwin WELLER, Dr. Charles D. CLAWSON and Mrs. A.M. DEAN; Chas. R. WATKINS, Clerk. The school is in a prosperous condition - yet, with Cook Academy located here, all necessity of an academic department is obviated - but it nicely fits students, male and female, for entering upon the higher courses of study in that institution; and it can, therefore, be said that the educational opportunities of Havana are unsurpassed by those of any other village in the State.
Next in order (as indicated by the general head of these articles) are the sanitarian interests of Havana, and chief and prominent among these is connected with the famous "Montour Springs", near the center of the village, the principal one of the group being known as the "Cole Magnetic Spring", after a former citizen, by whom it was discovered, in sinking a driven well, some 20 years ago (1874). The Sanitarium was established by Dr. C.D. CLAWSON in the year 1878 and was greatly enlarged and improved in 1889. It is now owned by the Bethesda Sanitarium Company, of which Dr. CLAWSON is a prominent member, and the resident Director and Manager, with an able corps of experienced assisstants. It is open the year around, for the treatment of chronic diseases, and in the warm months, receives summer resort guests, with or without treatment, who find in it a most charming, healthful and agreeable place of recreation and rest. As "Bethesda" is heated by steam, lighted by an electric plant of its own, and protected by its favorable location from high winds, it is a desirable and welcome retreat for invalids, and all other guests, in winter, as well as during the other seasons of the year. The waters of these perpetually flowing springs are freely used by patients and visitors for drinking, as well as for bathing, and are sprightly and agreeable in taste, exhilerating in their effects, possessing remarkable medicinal virtues, which have resulted in numerous and wonderful cures, having been found very efficatious in cases of partial paralysis, kidney & bladder complaints, rheumatism, neuralgia, nervousness, insomnia, loss of appetite, indigestion, general debility, skin diseases, female weaknesses, etc. In the language of a writer (who gave a description of the institution, 2 years ago), "all the varied baths approved by modern medical science, are in use in this carefully and systematically managed care (cure?). Massage and electricity are applied in accordance with the most approved methods of the day, from which only the most salutary results ensue; and all remedial influences and conditions are employed that science and practical experience have demonstrated to be conducive to returning health, including such mental influences, cheerfulness and pleasant pastimes, as inspire hope and confidence, and lead the afflicted toward restoration." The locations, buildings and surroundings of this Sanitarium are very attractive. The grounds are beautiful and are kept in excellent order, the air pure and invigorating, the drives into the adjacent country, in all directions, delightful in summer, the matchless scenery of the Havana and Watkins Glens, and Seneca Lake, within easy distances; and hence, there is not a more inviting, quiet and pleasurable health resort in the Lake and Glen region of the State. A handsome modern style [unreadable] ...Railway trains and the Lehigh Valley Transfer Bus connects with the morning and evening trains on that great through trunk line at the Odessa Station - thus giving the best of facilities for reaching the Sanitarium from all points of the compass. Bethesda Sanitarium is one of the creditable and well conducted institutions of Havana - a marked feature of the place - is worthy of high appreciation by all the people of the Village, and may be properly regarded as an important and permanent element in its progress and prosperity.
Havana has four churches, with present pastors, as follows:
Presbyterian - Rev. Hiram H. KELLOGG, Pastor.
Methodist - Rev. Harsey KING, Pastor.
Baptist - Rev. Geo. W. STRUTT, Pastor.
Episcopal (St. Paul's) - Rev. Arthur DAVIES, Rector.
These churches are all in a prosperous condition, own their houses of worship, and are but little, if any, burdened with debt. The Baptist, which is the largest and costliest church edifice in the village, was built by the late Col. E. W. COOK, and presented, as a free gift, to the congregation. To Be Continued.
The four leading and most important manufacturing interests of Havana are the Cronk Door Hanger Co's Works, the Shepard & Sons' Bridge Works, the Cutlery Works (connected with the Cronk Hanger Works, and soon to be in operation), and the VanVleet Wood Works, the last named formerly conducted by L. WHITNEY and F.L. VanVLEET, under the name of the "Havana Manufacturing Co." These manufacturing plants are of great consequence and benefit to the village, employ a large amount of capital, and also many men. Of course it cannot be expected that they will be quite as flourishing and prosperous at the present time, as they would be, were the country in its normal condition; but they have been no more adversely influenced by the stringency and wide-spread depression of the past 2 years, than have all the manufacturing interests of the country; and when a better state of things returns (as return it must) we doubt not that these manufactories will be full of business, and as permanent in their prosperity as those in any other section of the State or country.
The CRONK Hanger Works.
The business of this now very prosperous Company was started at Havana in 1885 by William CRONK, who has been rightly pronounced a "mechanical genius of a high order", and it has grown, with increasing strength and development, to its present grand proportions and is a great and successful manufacturing Company - the stock of which is far above par, and not for sale. The officers of the Company are: Chas. R. PRATT, President; C.F. CARRIER, Secretary & Treasurer - both of Elmira - and William CRONK of Havana, Superintendent and resident Manager. The general office is on Baldwin street, in Elmira, but all the manufacturing (and an immense amount) is done at the Factory,west side of the Railroad, in Havana; and Mr. CRONK is the originator of nearly all the patents connected with the business. The great specialty of the Company is the manufacture of "Cronk's Patent Steel Anti-Friction Door Hanger", embracing, among the latest and valuable devices, a "Steel Hood", or covering of the Hanger, giving additional strength as well as protection of the running gear from rain, ice or snow; and this most useful and practical patent cannot be used by other manufacturers without the payment of royalties. The Company also manufacture various other patents, among which is "Carrier's Anti-Friction Barn Door Hanger", together with track, stay-rollers, &c., connected with the use of all varieties. They also manufacture, largely, several sizes of excellent Pliers, known as "Cronk's Patent Wire Cutter and Bender", "Carrier's Wire Cutter & Plier", "Cronk Pruning Shears", "Cronk's Garden Mattock", and "Cronk's Patent Steel Garden Rake" - the finest wrought steel Rake ever made in this or any other State. -- All of the above named articles are of superior quality and perfection, and command an enormous sale in all sections of the American Union, and many shipments are made to foreign lands.
For several years past these works consumed 750 to 800 tons of steel annually, of any desired length, thickness and width, for the purposes desired, from the Steel Rolling Mills of Pennsylvania, all for the Door Hanger and Tracks. They have also manufactured, yearly, not less than 5,000 to 6,000 dozen Pliers, a vast amount of garden Rakes, &c., and turned out 130 to 150 tons of castings for a heavy Vice manufactory in New York, in which Gen. Mulford has long been interested, and of which he is President. The amount of lumber used for packing boxes alone, in the course of a year, has been over 100,000 feet; and all the rails, for the Hangers, have been shipped in open wired packages, and many of them in carload lots, to all the great trade centers of the Union.
This Company -- so well established and popular have their firm name and goods become in the public mind -- make no efforts to undersell competitors, but simply fix their prices, for a fair margin of profit, and have no trouble in selling all they can turn out, their orders often being far ahead, and waiting their turn to be filled; and for a term of years past, their business has increased at least 100 per cent annually.
The Company's buildings cover a large space of ground, are conveniently connected, by switches, with the Northern Central Railway, to give easy and rapid shipments - incoming of materials and outgoing of the various manufactured good - and small hand railways, with little trucks run through the Factory to facilitate the rapid handling of heavy materials and products.
The labor-saving machinery, and ingenious inventions for the rapid and accurate dispatch of all work and process (much of it invented by Mr. Cronk and made on the spot) is marvelous and most effective in its operations. As a descriptive writer has concisely said: "It's admirable adaption to the varied processes required for the great amount and variety of parts and pieces, produced with the exactness of clock-work, is a "revelation" to all who for the first time go through the large establishment and see it for themselves."
The buildings are heated by steam and lighted by an electric plant located on the premises; and improvement, enlargements, &c., may be looked for as fast as required. This is a manufacturing interest of great magnitude, which is to continue for all coming time, as it is above all competition, and h as the unlimited markets, not only of this great Republic - stretching across the western hemisphere from ocean to ocean - but of all the civilized world.
All the people of Havana have a right to feel proud, (as they do of Cook Academy and Bethesda Sanitarium) that such a great and eminently successful manufactory - whose future promises to excel its past - is located in their village; and it may be added that this and other great industries, when once successfully established in a community as favorably located for coal and steel supply as is our village, will lead to the location of others of various kinds, until, with good times as a prerequisite, it will become a manufacturing center which will insure future growth and permanent prosperity.
1893 Business Directory entry for the company has the following information:
Cronk Hanger Company, manufacturers of steel barn door hangers, track stays, pliers, rakes, &c.
Charles R. PRATT, President, Elmira;
C.F. CARRIER, secretary & treasurer, Elmira;
William CRONK, superintendent, Havana;
Office, Baldwin St., Elmira;
Chemung co. works, Railroad St., Havana;
Elmer E. CRONK, foreman; William D. BOWLBY, marker and shipping clerk; Edward G. CRONK, shipping clerk; Harry STOTENBUR, steel polisher; Alfred BARDO, watchman; Otis Ellsworth AUSTIN, Michael CALLAHAN Jr., Clark P. HOLMES, Thomas JONES, Freeman J. KNIFFIN, George L. KNIFFIN, William MACK, John McCLELLAN, Fred G. SWICK, Dwight E. WEAVER, and Alfred WOODWORTH, machinists; and William ADAMY, George F. BOWLBY, C. Emmett BRINK, Joseph FITZPATRICK, George E. HAYDEN, Charles KENDALL, Alfred O. KILBOURN, William KIMBALL, Charles V. MILLER, Lyman J. MILLER, Nicholas POWERS, and Jesse STODDARD Jr.
To Be Continued.
The Shepard Bridge Works.
Under the present suspended condition of operations in the W.H. Shepard & Sons Bridge Works Co., we pass them by in these papers until such time as existing complications shall be ended, and a reorganization or resumption shall take place, when we shall be happy to give them an elaborate notice in our column. The Works are on a grand scale; and the fact that they were started just as the great financial depression of three years ago (c.1891) commenced in the country may mainly account for their temporary embarassment.
1893 Business Directory entry for the company has the following information:
W.H. Shepard & Sons Bridge Company, manufacturers of iron bridges, vices, boilers, roofs, and structural iron work of all kinds, Railroad street.
Frank Van DUZER, president;
William H. SHEPARD, vice-president;
Fred M. HOLMES, treasurer;
James A. SHEPARD, secretary;
Charles A. SLOANE, general superintendent;
Employees: Fred H. BUCK, traveling salesman; Jennie CRAMER, book keeper; George H. CRAMER, engineer; Charles M. BATES, foreman machinist; Francis S. BEERS, Arthur S. CRAMER, and Ansel ROBERTS, machinists; Charles Frederick HUNT, iron moulder; William WEAVER, moulder; Elmer E. D ENSON and Charles MORGAN, blacksmiths; and Hiram COLE, Martin COLE, Henry CROUCH, Frank JAMES, Byron RITTENHOUSE, Albert SAILOR and Frank WOODWORTH.
[Typist's note: Ironically, in spite of the early troubles
mentioned here, the Shepard Company employed a large proportion of the
people living in Montour Falls through the 20th century. The Company was
also known as the Shepard Electric Company & the Shepard Niles Hoist
& Crane Company, or Shepard Niles Inc. They had a 100-year history
in the overhead crane business, and were in business for 124 years overall.
The Company filed for bankruptcy in early 2002, and it was purchased in
March 2002 by an international company KCI Konecranes. But the Shepard
Niles factory in Montour Falls was closed in March 2002 and 150 jobs lost.]
The Van VLEET Wood Works
These works, which occupy the old Catharine Hotel building, on the west side of the Northern Central Railway - a little south of the Station - with a connecting switch, are now owned and managed by F.L. Van VLEET, successor to "The Havana Manufacturing Company"; and they are operated with efficiency and energy - and with every indication of decided and permanent success.
These Works, which are provided with abundant power, the best and most effective machinery, and have a saw mill annex, manufacture a large amount of Wheelbarrows, having a producing capacity for 5,000 to 6,000 annually, and of superior quality. They also turn out large numbers of celebrated "Nivison Grain Cradles" - formerly made at Mecklenburg in this County. Also, the "Grapevine", "Morgan", and "Turkey Wing" Cradles - having a capacity for making 3,500 to 4,000 a year. They also bring out various wood work "novelties and specialties"; and can furnish 20,000 apple barrels, annually, when they are needed - which will be to only a limited extent this season.
The Van VLEET Wood Works involve the use of considerable capital, purchase a good deal of material in the log, employ several hands, and the yearly products may be stated at $15,000 or more with a working capacity to make it $20,000. They are the only wood work manufactory in Schuyler County, and are ready to produce almost any kind of work promptly to order, and in any quantity, of excellent material and finish, and at very reasonable prices. As their lumber supply runs out (if it ever does) they will have to get their material in more compact shape, (as they now do for apple barrels) from the West; but they promise to be a permanent industry - with "staying qualities" equal to those of the present Proprietor and Manager, and hence a great and lasting benefit to the village - as he is a man wh o surmounts all difficulties, rises above all obstacles - is undismayed by hard times, and "knows no such word as fail".
1893 Business Directory entry for the company has the following information:
Havana Manufacturing Company,
Luther WHITNEY and Frank L. Van VLEET, proprietors.
Manufacturers of boxes for the Cronk Hanger Co., Richardson Shoe Co. of Elmira, also manufacturers of wheel-barrows, grain cradles, apple barrels, capacity 20,000 a year, 10,000 dozen Cronk Hanger Co. rake handles for 1893. Robertson wall paper exhibitors, also dealers in lumber. Near the Northern Central RR depot. Among those employed are Daniel E. McCARTHY, stationery engineer;
Nathaniel OVERHISER and Stewart C. SNYDER.
The Phenix [Phoenix] Flouring Mills [MEEKS Bros.]
These mills, known in former years as the "Decker Mills", and later as the "Dunham Mills", are now owned and operated, under the above name, by the Meeks Brothers (Chauncey N. Meeks and Coral S. Meeks) and, being the only flouring mills in the village, are an important element in its well-being and prosperity.
They were burned in 1886 [with considerable loss to the Meeks Bros.],
and rebuilt, in better and more modern style, in 1887-8 - [other sources
say burned on the 5th Oct. 1887 & re-opened for business on 19 Apr.
1888] - and have since been provided with the best roller process machinery,
and are now able to compete, in the production of the best wheat flour,
and all other mill products, with any and all of the first class flouring,
feed and buckwheat mills in this section of the State. They do a
large business, and their proprietors are purchasers of all kinds of grain
raised in the surrounding towns of the County, and furnish a reliable cash
market to the farmers - making buckwheat, in its season, a specialty, and
shipping large quantities of that kind of flour to many distant cities
The Phenix Mills have a capacity for turning out fifty barrels of first quality flour a day, and actually sell several hundred barrels a week, besides a great amount of other flours, feed, &c.; and the annual amount of their business, which before the roller process machinery was put in, ranged from $18,000 to $20,000, will probably now amount to nearly or quite $25,000 a year. They sell largely of their roller process flour, (and also of buckwheat in the fall and winter) at Watkins, weekly in large wagon loads, and supply much to other adjacent villages, (besides Havana,) and send many car loads over the N.C. Railway [Northern Central RR] to more distant localities. Such a village industry, managed by prudent, industrious and enterprising men, is worthy of all possibly local encouragement, and appreciation by the whole community."
[It is believed by family members that the Deckertown /Phoenix Flouring Mills burned down again between the writing of this article, in 1894, and the 1900 census, when the Meeks Bros. were working elsewhere.]
[More history on these mills was from an 1880 article: The
Decker Flouring Mills were erected about 1802 or 1803, by Bowers &
Kimball. The mill, as at first built, was 30 feet square, one &
a half stories in height, and was included in the later structure.
After a few years, Mr. Kimball retired, and Mr. Bowers continued as sole
proprietor for a time. Afterwards a man by the name of Wood purchased
a half-interest in the property, and the name was changed to Bowers &
Wood. This continued until 1835, when William T. Jackson purchased
the entire property, improved it materially, and 3 years thereafter sold
it to Simon Decker. In 1840, Mr. Decker altered and improved the
property and in 1852 - 1853 erected the mills, which he operated until
1866, when he sold to E.A. Dunham and Brother. The mills contain
4 runs of stone, with an annual product of about 25,000 bushels per annum,
and a plaster-mill connected, grinding 250 tons a year. The Woolen-Mill,
erected near the flouring mills, and using the same water-power, was built
by William T. Jackson in 1836, and by him sold to Simon Decker and Sydney
S. Decker in 1838. It was originally used as a linseed-oil manufactory,
subsequently converted into a sash-, door-, and blind manufactory, and
conducted as such by Henry Lybolt and others until 1867, when Mr. Decker
put in the necessary machinery to engage in the manufacture of wool, but
the Woolen Mill was idle by 1880.]
The Banking House
E.A. DUNHAM & Co's Banking House is the only on in the village, and one of the important institutions of Havana, on which much of its present rests, and much of its future depends. The Company is composed of E.A. DUNHAM, President; James M. DUNHAM; and Fred J. DUNHAM, Cashier. A general banking business is done - deposits received, collections made, drafts sold, and letters of credit issued on the leading banks of the world. It also deals in National securities, discounts safe commercial and other business paper.
The DUNHAM family also own large real estate interests - several hundred acres - in the town of Montour, and are engaged to some considerable extent in stock raising - the breeding of horses, cattle, sheep, &c., and are closely identified with the village and all things pertaining to its progress and development - their banking house enjoying the good will and entire confidence of our business men and the people of the whole surrounding country.
E.A. DUNHAM, President of the Bank, has been Supervisor of the town of Montour for a term of years past - is the present incumbent of that office - and his discharge of its duties and responsibilities has ever met the approval of the electors and tax payers of the town.
The McKeg Opera House
The Opera House of Joseph T. McKEG is one of the marked and comparatively new features of the village, and has a remarkable history. As has already been said in print, it is a decided advance in the progressive development of Havana - a thoughtful and ingenious transformation of the well-built rink, erected when the "skating craze" prevailed some years ago, and whose projectors "builded better than they knew".
It has been carefully remodeled and provided with all things needful, a good and roomy stage, gallery, etc., fine scenery and accessories, and all conveniences, makes a pleasant, comfortable and popular Opera House, is on the ground floor and will seat 1,000 people, without crowding. As it has an excellent floor, it is a grand place for large parties, festivals, etc., and its dancing facilities are unexcelled; and one great consideration and advantage is that it occupies the first floor, making it easy of access for theatrical baggage and large audiences, and much safer than second or third floor Opera Houses, in case of fire, or other causes of alarm.
Mr. McKEG is to be congratulated on the production of this fine Opera House for the accomodation and amusement of the people of the village and vicinity; and his successful management of it, thus far, during one of th worst financial depressions ever known in all the past history of the country. All the people of the village owe him a debt of gratitude, which they should not fail to pay, on the installment plan, by their liberal patronage whenever he gives them a good opportunity - and he rarely gives them any other.
To Be Continued.
The Post Office.
The Havana Post Office is centrally and conveniently located, and Wm. V. DOLPH - brother of U.S. Senator DOLPH, of Oregon - is at the time of this writing (1894), the Postmaster. Notwithstanding that his term of four years expired "some time ago", for certain reasons that need not here be stated, he has been permitted to thus far hold the office, which has been well and nicely conducted, to the entire satisfaction of the community.
The Montour House - Chester GILES, Lesse and Manager - he having recently sold the property - is the largest and finest hotel in the village. It was built by Hon. Charles COOK during the active period of his manhood, and is a costly, commodious and most substantial brick structure of good plan and style, with the capacity for a large number of guests. The "Montour" - which takes its name from Catharine Montour, the famous Queen - has for years past, during the time it was owned by Mr. GILES, been splendidly managed by its proprietor, assisted by his son, Joseph GILES, as Clerk, and is being thus conducted now. He has given it a wide reputation and popularity as a first class and model village hotel; and the people of Havana earnestly desire and hope that the present arrangement may continue for many years to come - as Mr. GILES owns much valuable property in the village, and does not seem at all anxious to change his place of residence. He was a soldier in the War of the Union, and a member of Co. B, 141st Regiment, NY Infantry; and the number of his friends is legion, not only in the ranks of the Grand Army of the Republic, but in all the walks of life.
The Webster House - Merrick J. WEAVER, Proprietor - is a nicely, neatly and pleasantly kept hotel, and enjoys a goodly amount of patronage and popularity, all through and beyond the limits of the County. He has been in the hotel business 30 years, and is a native of the County, having been born in the town of Reading. He is a man of numerous acquaintance and many friends; and all who become callers, or guests, at "The Webster" always find a pleasant and agreeable welcome, and carry away with them pleasurable recollections, whetherr their stay has been for hours, days, weeks or months.
Central House - Emmett DeWITT, proprietor. Like the
other two hotels, named above, this house is on the south side of Main
Street, a short distance west of "The Webster", and does considerable
General Business Interests
The general, or mercantile interests of Havana, are numerous and also varied in their character, for a village of its population. From the time of its pioneer settlement, over 100 years ago, it has always been a notable business locality; and, until 12 or 15 years after the organization of Schuyler, under the energetic and fostering influences exerted by Hon. Charles COOK, it was the most important village of the County. Its merchants now represent nearly, or quite, every branch of trade; and have felt the late [and still continuing] depression in all sections of the country, apparently less than those of most other locations in Central New York - and the number of failures, during the past three years, has been remarkably small - indicating that our business men, generally, are on solid financial ground, and safely prosperous - though, like all others, ardently desirous of better times. The following is a brief synopsis of the business men of the village, and the different branches of trade in which they are engaged - with occasional pertinent and personal observations:
M.N. WEED & Son - "Havana Cash Store" - Dealers in all kinds of Staple and Fancy Dry Goods, Carpets, Clothing, Boots and Shoes, Notions, Trunks, &c., &c. Have a large, heavily stocked double store, and do a large business, which extends far around in the adjacent country.
Havana Shoe and Clothing Store - J.M. WEED, Manager - Deals in Clothing, Gents Furnishing Goods, Boots and Shoes, &c., &c. A pleasant and inviting place of trade, and very nicely conducted. Also engaged in merchant tailoring.
Edwin WHEELER - All descriptions of Dry Goods, Fancy Goods, Boots and Shoes, &c. Been in business 27 years. Has a fine and attractive store, excellently managed, and has a large and increasing patronage - the result of business capacity and popularity.
Myron H. WEAVER - Groceries and Provisions - large and well stocked store and good business. Mr. WEAVER has been Clerk of Schuyler County three years; was Presidential elector, chosen on the Republican ticket, in 1864; has been Postmaster at Havana four years; Supervisor of Montour three years, and Chairman of the Board two years. A prominent and influential citizen.
David L. SHELTON - Extensive dealer in Groceries, Provisions and kindred lines of trade. Has a large heavily stocked store, and has had great experience, having been in trade over 40 years and always successful. Has been one of the Trustees of Havana, three years, Town Clerk of Catharine (before the formation of Montour) a term of years; and owns valuable real estate in the village of which he has long been one of the leading business men.
Col. Chas. W. CLAUHARTY - Groceries and Provisions, wholesale
and retail - has been successfully in the business nearly all the time
since the close of the Rebellion, during which he honorable won his military
title in the field. He recruited a full Company of 100 men, and entered
the U.S. Service Sept. 10th, 1862, as Captain of Co. "A", 141st Reg. NY
Vol. Infantry; was four times wounded in battle, and not mustered out until
the close of the war; is a prominent member of the Grand Army of the Republic,
and of the "Boys in Blue"; has been Sheriff, for three years, of the County
of Schuyler; is a man of ardent and patriotic impulses, and a highly esteemed
citizen, for his social and affable traits of character.