K is for KILLERS

More Wyoming County, NY History


Auburn Weekly News
May 23, 1878

AN ATROCIOUS PAIR OF MURDERERS FOR AUBURN PRISON.---William Brown and Jacob Eller were yesterday sentenced to Auburn prison for life, by the Wyoming county Circuit Court, for killing Mrs. George Minkle in December last, in the town of Bennington. The story of the murder is to the effect tat at midnight of December 22nd Mr. Minkle was awakened by some one violently rapping upon his door. He asked what was wanted, and a voice from outside demanded admittance, which was refused. He looked from the window and beheld three persons, two of whom he recognized as the prisoners now under trial. They threatened to kill him if he would not admit them, and when he again refused they beat in the door. Having gained admittance, they attacked Mr. Minkle with clubs and he was felled to the floor and rendered insensible.

Upon regaining his senses Mr. Minkle first realized the fact that the fiends were dragging his wife from the house. The woman screamed piteously, but the husband could offer no assistance, as he feared they would take his life. He accordingly ran to a neighbor's to procure help.

Upon his return his wife and the brutal wretches were nowhere to be found, and it was not until about daybreak that Mrs. Minkle's cold and lifeless body was discovered under an apple tree, a few rods distant from the house. The only clothing she had on her was her night-robe, and this was badly torn. There was evidence of a terrible struggle; locks of her hair were found on the ground near by. The Coroner's inquest, subsequently held, gave as it's verdict, "That the deceased, Mrs. George Minkle, came to her death at the hands of William Brown and Jacob Eller, and that her death was caused by strangulation and violence."

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J is for JAIL

The brick building behind the monument to the left is the
clerk’s office. To the left of that (white building)  is the
jail. The illustration is from F. W. Beers, History of
Wyoming County (1880).
Sheriff Day entered the cell on Sunday, November 20, 1892, expecting to see James Collins. The sheriff had made arrangements to move Collins the next day to Auburn Prison, but he wasn’t to be found. The sheriff had originally planned to move him Saturday but decided to wait because the prisoner was allegedly not feeling well. After his court appearance the previous Thursday he felt faint and complained of heart pain. He was given some medicine which he said made him feel better and Collins said he hoped he would feel better by Monday. Because of his alleged weakened condition Sheriff Day postponed his transport to Auburn Prison. Collins escaped alone in the wee hours of the morning.
Village of Warsaw, NY 1861
A push broom that had been lying outside his cell on Saturday morning came up missing. With the use of his makeshift tools he pried up the floor boards underneath his cot. It was either luck or knowledge from former jail guests that this was an area that had been worked before and never fixed properly. A previous prisoner had made extensive headway cutting through joists of 12” x 12” timbers to make a larger crawl area. Nothing was done to fix that other than to replace the floor boards over top. This is an entirely different side of the lower floor of the jail than Robinson and Redner began cutting through in January of the same year.

Collins then tunneled nine feet and dug through the foundation wall which the newspapers described as, “seven feet of poorly constructed concrete masonry.” He stored the rubble under his cot and mattress which hadn’t been checked since Tuesday when they gave him a new mattress.  All of this he managed in only four days.



A year passed and on December 13, 1893 during the Board of Supervisors Annual Meeting, Mr. Matthews moved, “… that the county assume the responsibility and liability of the payment of the reward offered by E. A. Day sheriff, for the apprehension of James Collins, who escaped from the Wyoming County Jail, Nov. 19th, 1892.” The motion was carried. The man who called himself James Collins was never caught. Of course, clever and charming as he was, he no doubt reinvented himself with a new name and a new identity, as many of them did. 



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I is for Inventor

FRANK M. FOOTE - Arcade, Wyoming County, NY


Castilian
Oct. 24, 1918
Frank M. Foote Granted Patent

   Frank M. Foote of Arcade has been granted a patent on a devise for unloading amesite from railroad cars, especially from cars of the two pocket variety.
   This patent makes possible a savings of about $50 in unloading one car.
   It seems that amesite comes in a hardened condition in the car and must be heated in order to get it out. This has always been a troublesome job.
   Mr. Foote had a large amount of the material to put on the road he built in Castile and hit upon the plan of putting perforated pipes into the bottom of each pocket of the car before it was loaded. Into these pipes he turned steam and in a short time he had the material so that it would run out.
   While he was engaged on the Castile contract State officials from all parts of the State came to see his device for unloading the material and were much impressed with the ease with which the work could be done.
   As soon as road building operations are resumed in this country the device will be in great demand.—Arcade Herald.

Application filed May 26, 1917.
Serial No. 171,145.

   Mr Foote states, “My invention relates to freight cars, and more particularly to means for heating the contents of the cars and for controlling the discharge of the contents therefrom. ...The primary object of my invention is the provision of means for heating the contents of a car and associating such means with controlling mechanism whereby the discharge of the contents from the car may be controlled.”

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H is for Historical Wyoming


Historical Wyoming began in 1947 with the first Wyoming County Historian, Harry Douglass. As the title suggests it is about the history of Wyoming County, NY. We are the only county historian's office in the state to publish a quarterly magazine.

It was originally printed by Arcade School for free and more than four issues a year. It was only out of print for a few years in the 70s after losing the school printing department. It began operations again under a different historian using a commercial printer and has run since then as a quarterly. Click here for a free issue (shown above) in PDF format.


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G is for Ganondagan


Image from http://www.ilovethefingerlakes.com/
A 300+year old Seneca village near Victor NY is the perfect place to hike and find peace on a beautiful summer day. In July of 2015 they will be opening the Seneca Arts & Cultural Center. A brand new building I can't wait to walk through. The village was destroyed in 1687.

They also sponsor the Iroquois White Corn Project
You can find more information about  Ganondagan at http://www.ganondagan.org/

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F is for Polly FRISCH, murderess

In 1856, in the rural town of Alabama, NY one woman's family suffered from multiple unexplained deaths. The town folk grew suspicious of the now remarried Polly Frisch. An investigation commenced, bodies were exhumed, an affair—exposed. Polly would be arrested for the murders of her first husband and daughters. Her fourteen-year-old son would testify against her. If found guilty, the punishment for such a crime was the gallows. Would Polly be the first woman in Genesee County history to be hanged for murder? Bread & Butter is the true story of Polly Frisch who poisoned her family with arsenic and the five trials it took to convict her.

 

By Cindy Amrhein &Ellen Lea Bachorski 

 

NOW AVAILABLE AT:

Lulu in Hardcover
Amazon in Softcover and Kindle Edition 

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E is for ED Don George, Wrestler


When Wyoming County, NY discusses its mark on the world of wrestling, Ed “Don” George often comes to mind, a World Heavyweight title holder during the 1920's and 30s. We have two more often overlooked title holders—brothers Conrad and John Albright, wrestlers from the early 1900s. When they began their wrestling careers they took on the names of “Con” and “Jack” Albright, respectively. In fact, it was Jack who “discovered” Ed Don George.

During the later part of 1929 Jack Albright wrestled a few bouts himself at the Boston Gardens, although training other fighters seemed to be his focus at this point in his career. He trained Gus Sonnenberg for the match against Ed “Strangler” Lewis in January of 1929 at the Boston Gardens. Sonnenberg beat Lewis securing the World Heavyweight title. Bout records show Jack was Sonnenberg’s trainer throughout the year, but he would soon discover and train another future champion this year as well—Ed Don George, of Java, NY.

In December of 1930 Ed Don George would come home from California to visit his family having just won the World Heavyweight title from Gus Sonnenberg. The following article about Mr. George is also a reflection on Jack Albright’s skill as a trainer.

Perry Herald
December 24, 1930

WYOMING BOY NOW WORLD’S CHAMPION
---------
Ed George of North Java Traveled Across Continent To Beat Sonnenberg
------------
COUNTY BOASTS CHAMPS
----------
George’s Victory Recalls Days of Con And Jack Albright, Pike Wrestlers
--------------
    Two of the smallest places in Wyoming county, Pike and North Java, boast of three world wrestling championships. When Ed George, University of Michigan graduate, came home from California Saturday night to spend a few days with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Edward George at North Java, while on his way to Providence, R.I., he brought back the world’s championship in defeating Gus Sonnenberg. Journeying across the continent to meet Sonnenberg at Los Angeles, George surprised the wrestling world by his clean cut victory and for the next few weeks he will be busy defending his title.
     By a rather odd co-incidence George was discovered by Jack Albright of Pike, who won the world’s middleweight title in 1913 and it was Con Albright who in 1911 won the world’s welterweight championship, thus bringing to Pike and the Albright brothers double championship honors.
     There may be no gold in “them there hills” as the Californians would say, but everyone in Wyoming county knows that there are enough problems to wrestle with in the Pike and North Java hills to give any wrestler the proper background to defeat a Sonnenberg, Strangler Lewis or Farmer Bailey. So when Jack Albright began training George it was not long before Canisus college in Buffalo recognized his prowess and later he went to the University of Michigan where he became an intercollegiate champion and now world’s champion. ...

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D is for Diary of Matie Cole

 January, Friday 1. 1875.


When I was young and had no sense,
I bought a fiddle worth fifteen Pense.
And all the tunes that I could play,
was Me Me dolly and drive away.


A gentleman from LeRoy, came into our office carrying with him an “Excelsior Diary,” not much larger than the size of a credit card. It’s black wrap-around leather cover, has a tab that comes around to the front, and slides under a thin strap to hold it closed. It showed the usual signs of wear expected for its age, but otherwise it is in very good shape for 1875.
  
The diary was among items the gentleman had purchased at an auction.  Normally when he comes across such personal mementos he attempts to track down a descendant in order to return it to the family. He had success doing this in the past, but in this case, no such luck with the diary of Matie E. Cole. Since I live in Perry, and my boss was busy with a Revolutionary War veteran’s project, she thought I might enjoy researching to solve the Cole diary mystery. Of course she was right.
    

Being careful not to open it all the way as I turned the pages, I noticed that Matie documented some marriages, deaths and birthdays—including her own. Matie was a teenager when she wrote her diary. It was the year she turned 14. This is like gold. It is rare to come across a diary written by a teenager and have it survive for this long. Usually the diaries we come across are written by adults. This is a small glimpse into teenage life 138 years ago. If you think that back then they rolled up the streets and dragged their teens in by 9 p.m. you would be mistaken.

Jan 28. Thurs. Universalist Church had a festival and for the first time I danced and stayed until ½ past 4 in the morning.

April 27, Tues. Fred G. Cole. Alvira Hathaway and myself went a riding to Castile at 8 o’clock at night and got home at 10 min to ten in the evening. M. Cole Perry, N.Y.

 September 7, Tues. Fred Cole and Charlie Calkins got up a dance at Saxtons hall. I went with Fred Cole, and we danced all night and the last thing we danced was Mrs ____ and when we promenaded I got Fred Botsford every time. He is splendid.

The above entries are good examples of what we assume about life in the 1870s is not always accurate. Teenagers appeared to have an active social life.

Train at Silver Lake, NY (Pre-1900.)
September 11, Sat. Fanny Keeton and [I] walked up to the lake in the eve and was walking along and I saw Fred Botsford & he bowed & so did I and then he came along with us and took us on a boat riding, in the moon light eve. There was a dance up there from Wethersfield, and so Fred and I and Mary & Fanny got up in one corner and had half a dance. We had piles of fun, and then Mary went off, and Fred got Will Calkins to dance with Fanny, and Fred & myself, and we was just going to have a good time and the 9 o’clock train come, so we had to go and we promenaded down the station and we went in the car. The boys went in to see if we got a seat–and we had and when and when red went out of the car, he took off his hat, and said good evening and threw a kiss.
Matie did all right for herself, as they say. If you are a local, her husband’s name will most likely be familiar. On January 12, 1896 she married William D. Page, who would become the president of the National Bank in Perry. Matie herself would serve on the board of directors for 60 years.

According to a booklet done by the bank in 1955 titled First National Bank One Hundred Years in Perry 1855-1955, as well as obituaries and information in our family files, Matie would not be the first woman in the bank’s history to hold a prestigious position in its lifetime.

If  you are interested in women’s history, the bank holds a little known secret. By every known source, Maggie L. Walker of Virginia is said to be the first woman bank president. To take nothing away from her prestigious career, she is undoubtedly the first African American woman to become president of a bank when she became the first woman to charter a bank in 1903, but not the first woman to own a bank or be president of a bank. I believe that now goes to two women in Perry, NY.


Laura Page Smith, president, 1866-1886
Eliza D. Page, president, 1894-1907
Mary (Matie) C. Page, director, 1896-1956

I will leave you with this fitting poem from her diary, that over 100 years later, describes the feeling of looking at it. If she only knew...

 1875 January 23, Sat.

Forget me not,
forget me never.
Till thy blue eyes
shall close forever.

Remember me
when this you see
and think that I
remember thee.


(The full story I wrote, titled "The Diary of an 1870s Teenager: Matie E. Cole," appeared in the January 2013 issue of Historical Wyoming.)

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C is for John Card, Inventor

Our ancestors were quite prolific inventors. Seems everyone was trying to come up with the latestes new gadget. If you ever want to look up any patents, skip the unwieldy, archaic search engine at the government site and go straight to Google Patents.

I searched for all the inventors from the county where I am Assistant County Historian and found quite a few. The fun thing is you can easily download the design.

The following patent was filed by John Card in 1835 from the town of Gainesville. At that time the town was still a part of Genesee County until Wyoming County was formed in 1842. Prior to his residence in Gainesville, John owned the first mill on Lot 40 in the town of Perry in 1820 along with his partner, Sylvester Lathrop. His Patent was for a Smut Mill.

I'd tell you to get that dirty thought out of your head, but, it's probably where it came from. A smut mill was a way to clean the grain from ... well... from the smut. Said smut being a fungus with foul smelling spores---which could very well be where we get the slang meaning for the word. Below is the picture of John's patent.

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B is for Boy Scouts


February 8, 2010 marked the 100th anniversary of Boy Scouts of America. In 2008, then President Bush, signed into law The Boy Scouts of America Centennial Commemorative Coin Act (H.R. 5872). On BSA's anniversary date, 350,000 silver dollar coins began to be minted and continued until January 1, 2011. The $10 surcharge on each coin was donated to scouting and the funds set up to become available to Boy Scout councils across the country in the form of grants. If you would like to find out more about what BSA National planned for the celebration, and on scouting in general visit http://www.scouting.org.
Designed by Donna Weaver and engraved by Charles Vickers.

During 2010 and 2011  I wrote a series of articles in our county historian office's quarterly, Historical Wyoming, on scouting within our county. I will be combining all these articles as a short sometime later this year.

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A is for Akwesasne

 
http://akwehsg.org/ahaaboutus.asp
I visited here (on both sides of the border) over this last weekend in researching for my book on Indian Land Title in New York to be released this year by The History Press. Right now I am in the process of getting all my images for the book ready.

Below is the map of "St. Regis Reservation" from the 1890 Indian census. The triangle in red is the current land claim area. This area is covered extensively in my book with new information. It is a legitimate claim that this land was fraudulently taken.


St. Regis River

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Bringing in the New Year

Office of the Wyoming County, NY Historian (My day job)

So here it is another new year. At the moment I am figuring out a blogging app so I can blog on the go from my phone. Now all I need to do is figure out how to save as draft so it doesn't post until I am ready. The smart phone is one of the many new things to add to my "what have I accomplished" list for 2014.  I must say I did pretty well.


I reissued a book in April that I published with my friend back in 2001---a historical true  crime set in the 1850s. Sort of brought it into the new world of publishing. Big learning curve to learn how to format correctly. It can be found in the usual formats at the usual places. It is doing really well. As long as it sells a few everyday I'm happy. You can find it at on Amazon in paperback and Kindle edition, and at Barnes & Noble in paperback and  NookBook formats, as well as on Smashwords (ePub only). You can download a free sample (mobi, epub or PDF) at Noisetrade books.

I also signed a contract with The History Press to publish my book on Indian Land Title in New York State. I am quite excited about this as it's not always easy to find a publisher for local non-fiction. They have some wonderful local history books depicting just about everywhere in the USA. My book will be out sometime after May in 2015 based on my deadlines.


The other big accomplishment of last year was that I quit smoking. Yep, I've been ciggy free since September 25th. Toss in the birth of another grandchild and the marriage of my daughter, and all in all, it's been a good year!