Benjamin Whitman.

Nelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the county also portraits and biographies of the governor's since 1790, and of numerous r online

. (page 70 of 192)
Online LibraryBenjamin WhitmanNelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the county also portraits and biographies of the governor's since 1790, and of numerous r → online text (page 70 of 192)
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age of an act by the Legislature prohibiting
pound-net fishing in the waters of Pennsyl-
vania, and no nets of this description were set
for eight or nine years, until Captain M. E.

Dunlap engaged in the business in 1883. He
was prosecuted for violating the fish law, and
a running legal fight of three years' duration
was the result, culminating in a victory for the

" The catch for April, Maj^, November and
December comprises principally blue-pike,
herring and perch, with a few white fish ; the
latter being caught almost exclusively from
June to October."

Introduction of Steam Fishing- Boats.

"Although several steam fish-boats were in
the business, none were owned at this port
until 1882, when Captain M. Maher built
and launched the steamer Frank Mattison.
Gill-net fishing before the advent of steamers
was an extremely hazardous business. The
fishing grounds extend all the way from a
half-mile off shore to a distance of ten or fif-
teen miles out. As the fish run in " schools "
the nets are placed indifferent localities, with
varying success until a school is " struck," when
big hauls are made. Every boat has a range
of its own, which by common consent must not
be trespassed on by other boats.

" A complete history of the fishing indus-
try at the port of Erie would chronicle a long
list of disasters and an appalling loss of life.
Sunda)-, September 17, 1876, five well-known
Erie fishermen were drowned almost within
reach of help. A tremendous sea was run-
ning at the time, and when less than half a
mile from the harbor entrance the boats
swamped, while hundreds of horror-stricken
citizens stood on the shore unable to render
any assistance.

" The wholesale dealers at Erie generally
make a contract with tlie fishermen for the
season's catch.

" The product of the Erie fisheries com-
mands a ready sale in all the cities on the
Atlantic coast, as well as in Pittsburg, Cincin-
nati, Louisville, St Louis and other markets
in the southern and western states."

Local Amateurs.
" Erie has had and still possesses many
enthusiastic anglers, who seldom went out
without returning with good strings. Among
them may be mentioned the following : Rev.
Wm. Flint, Dr. H. A. Spencer, John Ban-
yard, Tom Crowley, Wm. L. Scott, Tim
Lynch, Alfred King, John P. Vincent, J.


Ross Thompson, Jake Graham, John C. Hil-
ton, J. H. McCracken, Sam Woods, Frank
Grant, John Dodge and Fred. Knobloch.
All of the resident fishermen have favorite
spots for fishing, the secret of which they
guard jealously."


'■e JJocr/s.

The ba)' is a great resort for pleasure seek-
ers, and there are few points where so many
sail and row boats are owned by private
parties or kept for hire. On a pleasant day
in the summer the water is fairly covered
with these boats, and the enjoyment of a sail
or a row on the bay is only equalled by its
cheapness and healthfulness.

The Erie Yacht Club, which was organ-
ized in the fall of 1894, and has built a roomy
and handsome club house near the water
works, which was formally opened July 18,
1895, promises to still further popularize the
pastime of sailing. Its members own some of
the fastest and staunchest boats on the lakes.
The club took part in the yacht races at Put-
in-Bay in the early part of August, 1895.

(For a list of the Collectors and Deputy
Collectors of the port, an account of the light
houses, life saving service, and weather and
signal stations, with a list of the parties in
charge thereof, and other matter relating to
the bay, harbor and peninsula, see General
History of Erie county).


Public Pleasure Resorts — The Parks, The Head, Tracy Point, The Cedars, Grc
House, Fair Grounds, Etc.

WITHIN the city limits ai'e two
squares, designed in the original
plan of Erie for public parks — one
at the intersection of State and
Sixth streets, the other at the junc-
tion of Sixth and Liberty. The first, by city
ordinance, has been given the name of Cen-
tral Park, and the second that of Cascade
Park. With the exception of some grading
and the setting out of a number of trees in 1890,
the latter remains unimproved. In addition to
these, there is Lakeside Park, on the bay
front, between Holland and Sassafras streets,
and the park surrounding the water works, at
the foot of Chestnut street. Work on Lake-
side Park, which is handsomely laid out and
Cjuite attractive, was commenced in 1890,
under the direction of Citj- Councils. Char-
les H. Nunn has been its keeper from the
start. The improvement of the grounds at
the water works was begun by the Commis-
sioners in oftice in 1883, and the plan then
adopted has been carried out in a creditable
manner by their successors.

central park.

Up to the year 1808 the ground embraced
in Central Park was covered with forest trees,
as the site of nearly the entire city was origi-
nally. A deep ravine ran across the park,
from the city hall to the old Brown's Hotel or
Ellsworth House, and continued from there to
the bay, on a line slightly east of State street.
This ravine can yet be seen at Second and
Third streets. People passed from one side
of the town to the other by going into the
ravine and crossing a foot bridge that spanned
the stream which ran down to the bay. It
was gradually filled up with the growth of
the town, and the old court house was built
over it, where the west park intersects State
street, opposite the Exchange building. By
one of those strange freaks that affect the
human mind, it was decided in 1808, to cut
down the forest growth, and the park was
cleared of trees at an expense to the town of
$42. The park remained bare until 1846,
when it was resolved at a public meeting to



replant it with trees. B. B. Vincent, Elijah
Babbitt, W. C. Lester and Clark McSparren
were appointed a committee to co-operate
with the town authorities. The project was
carried out, and June 2d of that year a meet-
ing of congratulation over the event was held
in front of the Reed House. The square had
been previously known as the "Diamond,"
but at this meeting it was proposed to call it
"Perry Square," in honor of the victor of
Lake Erie. It was also suggested to erect a
monument to Commodore Perry, but this and
all other efforts in that direction came to

For a number of years the parks were sur-
rounded by a fence, which was removed in
1881. The walks were covered with asphaltum
in 1881 and 188i'.


In the west park and facing State street,
is the monument erected " In memory of the
soldiers and sailors from Erie county who gave
their lives to save the Union." The bronze
group consists of a soldier and sailor, standing
side by side, mutually supporting the National
flag, which hangs in graceful folds between
them, the foot of the staff resting upon the
ground, the right hand of the soldier grasping
it, while his left is holding his rifle en trailc.
The sailor has his left foot upon a coil of rope ;
his right hand is on the pommel of his sword,
the point of whicii is placed upon the ground,
while his left hand carelessly rests upon the
right. The scene represents the mutual rela-
tion of these forces in sustaining the one flag.
This group occupies a granite pedestal, eight
feet square by twelve feet high, from the no-
ted works at Hallowell, Me. The statuary
was executed by the Ames Company, of Chi-
copee, Mass., after a design by Martin Mil-
more, of Boston. On the west side of the
pedestal is inscribed the memorable quotation
from Lincoln's speech at Gettysbuig : " We
here highly resolve that these dead shall not
have died in vain ; that this nation, under God,
shall have a new birth of freedom ; and that
the government of the people, by the people,
and for the people, shall not perish from the
earth." The monument was erected in 1872,
at a cost of about 110,500, mainly collected by
the persistent efforts of Miss Helen Ball, Miss
Sarah Reed and Mrs. Isaac Moorhead. The

foundation, which cost i)!r500, was contributed
by the city.

Immediately south of the monument is a
handsome drinking fountain, presented to the
city in 1883 by George D. Selden. The or-
namental fountains — one in the center of each
park— were erected in 1868. They cost $3,-
237.18, exclusive of the water connections,
which were supplied by the water department,
free of charge against the city. The drinking
fountain in the west park was placed there in
1894 by the Water Commissioners.

Thirty to forty years ago the vicinity of
the parks was the business center of Erie, and
the stores on North and South Park Rows and
along " Cheapside," as the blocks on the
French street side were known, were the
largest and finest in the city, with perhaps a
few exceptions.

The keepers of the parks have been, in the
order named, Cornelius O'Hearn, Michael Ti-
mon, Michael Gallagher, Stephen Gallagher
and Patrick Donahue.


This, for half a century, the favorite resort
of the people of Erie, is located, as the name
indicates, at the head of the bay, where the
peninsula connects with the main land, about
four miles west of the city, in Mill Creek
township. It is claimed by some of the old
residents that the bay does not extend as far
west as when the town was laid out, the pen-
insula at the neck having gradually receded
toward the east. They allege that a narrow
sand beach commenced at the mouth of the
run one mile above " The Head," and ex-
tended down the lake a similar distance, from
which the peninsula jutted out. Much higher
up than is now enclosed by the sand beach was
a long, narrow pond, entirely cut off from the
lake, into which scows frequently ran from
the bay, as late as 1840, to gather wood for

In 1796, some twenty or thirty Indian
families resided at the head of the bay. The
beach was larger then than it is to-day, and a
heavy forest covered the low land nearest the
shore. The Indians had corn-fields southwest
on the farms owned by J. C. Marshall and
the estate of E. J. Kelso. This was the last
Indian village in Erie county. The Indians
gradually disappeared, and after their depart-
ure the site was occupied for awhile by a half-



breed necrio named McKinney, who lived by
fishing. T?he Indians were of the Massassauga
tribe, from which comes the title, Massassauga

It is due to the truth of history to add that
some of the original settlers claimed that the
Indians were not Massassaugas, and that the
name sprang from a species of rattlesnake
known as the Massassaugas — short, thick
reptiles that were numerous when Captain
Bissell erected the forts in 1795-96.

" The Head" was first taken up under the
laws of the State, in 1800, by Eliphalet Beebe,
a ship carpenter, who looked upon the site as
an available one for a ship-yard. In the course
of a few years, it passed into the hands of
Thomas Laird, who died in April, 1833, and
by whose heirs it was held until its pur-
chase by William L. Scott at SheriflF's sale.

The first hotel at " The Head," a small
frame structure, was built by Wilson Laird, a
son of the original owner, in 1874. After
Mr. Scott obtained possession of the property
he made extensive improvements. A large
hotel was erected in 1879, a better roadway
built, the wharf extended, the grounds graded
and beautified, and a gas well put down that
proved to be one of the best in Erie county.
The hotel burned December 1, 1882, while
under the charge of Wm. B. Graham. It was
replaced in 1885 by the present structure,
which has been recently overhauled and made
more attractive. There is a large dancing
hall on the grounds, with other opportunities
for enjoyment, and the place is pronounced by
all strangers who visit it, one of the choicest
summer resorts in the country. The motor
cars from the city run almost to the door of
the hotel, and the drive to "The Head" is
over a broad, level road, lined with an almost
continuous double row of trees, and past a
series of farms that have few superiors.

In 1832, a bed of bog iron ore was discov-
ered on the south line of the Laird farm, which
was used at the blast furnace of Vincent, Him-
rod & Co. for several years. A furnace at Con-
neaut, Ohio, fell short of ore about this time
and sent an agent to quarry the ore and ship
it at " The Head." The scow schooners Jack
Downing and Olive Branch ran in the iron-ore
trade for three seasons, or until the supply be-
came exhausted. The road from the Lake
road to the shore of the bay, which ran
through the woods and down the side of the

bank, was laid out for the purpose of hauling
the ore to the vessels. The Jack Downing
wintered in 1834-85 about fifty rods above
where the Massassauga Hotel was built, and
there tied up to a sycamore tree, where now
the sand and sediment render the approach of
a vessel impossible.


The locality now known as Tracy Point,
long went by the name of the " Lone Fisher-
man's Inn." As originally started, it con-
sisted of a cheap frame building on the Tracy
farm, at the mouth of a picturesque glen,
down which tumbled a sparkling little stream
of water. The only way to reach it was by
boat or by a path through the woods or along
the sand beach from the Head. In 1870, or
thereabouts, " Jake" Graham, a hotel man of
long experience and a favorite with the sport-
ing fraternity, secured a long lease of the
grounds and lauilt a shanty in the then almost
inaccessible ravine, appropriately naming the
place " Lone Fisherman's Inn." The resort
became popular from its inception, and was
constantly crowded with guests, who enjoyed
fishing and shooting, or were fond of a " fish
supper," for which the "Inn'" soon became
famous. Mr. Graham served as "mine host"
until 1875, when he sold out his interest to
Louis Schumacher, who at once commenced
the improvement of the premises. Among
other work, he caused a carriage road, of easy
grade, to be made from the Lake road
to the mouth of the ravine, affording a
safe " overland route " to the place in
inclement weather. Owing to impaired
health, he disposed of the premises to John
Schaffer, who continued some time. The
buildings were destroyed by fire in January,
1892. During the winter of 1892-3, Mr.
Tracy, owner of the property, erected a fine
new hotel, strengthened the wharf, and added
other improvements which better adapted the
place for the use of the general public. The
property was run from the spring of 1893 by
Max Raedisch, as lessee under Mr. Tracy, un-
til April 1, 1895, when the latter gentleman
leased it to the Sommerheim Association, a
German social club, which now conducts it
as a private resort for the families thereof and
their friends. It was opened by |he associa-
tion on T""e 5, 1895.

The 'Sommerheim was organized in the



fall of 1894, and has the following officers :
President, F. Brevilier ; Vice President, P.
Henrichs; Secretarj', P. A. Meyer; Treas-
urer, E. C. Siegel ; Board of Governors, F.
Brevilier, Chas. S. Marks, Wm. Reifel,E. C.
Siegel, Wm. B. Flickinger, P. A. Meyer,
P. Henrichs.


In 1891 an organization was effected for the
purpose of buying a tract of land which would
enable a park to be established on a more ex-
tensive scale than had yet been undertaken.
The active men in the movement were W. H.
Nicholson, F. F. Adams and J. F. Downing.
These gentlemen secured subscriptions for the
purpose to the amount of $27,000. With this
sum in hand, a body of land was purchased in
Mill Creek township, just south of the city
limits, embracing about 105 acres. The tract
includes the Evans place and portions of the
John Eliot and H. C. Shannon farms. Prob-
ably no better site for a park could be chosen,
being convenient of access, and combining
every variety of stream, cascade, hill, ravine and
meadow that is essential for the purpose. The
Peach street motor line runs part way to the
park and will undoubtedly be extended as the
public demand warrants. Considerable im-
provement has been made on the park, and it
is already a favorite resort. It is understood
to be the object of the organization, as soon as
their plans are completed, to present the tract
to the city, on condition that it shall lay out
the grounds as a public park and maintain it


The Grove House property, at the mouth
of Four-Mile creek, embracing thirteen acres
of the Crowley farm, was purchased early in
the spring of 1887 by J. J. Lang and C. Rabe,
with the object of building up a new summer
resort. The place contained a large apple or-
chard, planted by Mr. Crowley in 1820. The
shade afforded by the orchard, the fine outlook
and the excellent fishing grounds off the mouth
of the creek, had long made the site a resort for
picnic and camping parties. After the pur-
chase b}' Messrs. Lang and Rabe, a force of
workmen was employed and a broad avenue
was graded frouA the Lake road, along the east
bank of the creek, to the lake ; a pier was built
from the shore northward into deep water, and

the bank was cut down so as to afford access
for visitors by boat. A dancing hall and a re-
freshment hall were built, and the place was
opened to the public in June, 1887. The pat-
ronage given encouraged the building of a
large hotel in the winter of 1887-8, which has
since been in successful operation. The pres-
ent manager is A. P. Lang, who has made a
number of additions to the premises.


The resort known as The Cedars, on the
bluff overlooking the sandbeach, in the north-
eastern portion of the city, has been a public
pleasure ground for many years. The prop-
erty was bought of the Kelso estate about
1880 by William Newman, who built the
house which is still occupied, and lived in it
for a quarter of a century. He gave it the
name of the Cedars, from the large number
of trees of that species that grew on the prem-
ises. The fine shade and the beautiful pros-
pect made it a popular picnic place, and Mr.
Newman encouraged its use for that purpose.
The property was bought by Rev. J. H.
Whallon, in connection with his outside dock
scheme, some time in the sixties, and through
him it fell into the hands of Wm. L. Scott and
Joseph McCarter, in whom the title still re-
mains. Mr. McCarter owns three-fifths and
the Scott estate two fifths of the premises.
The resort has been managed for some vears
by Joseph Hennian.

Cochran's grove,

Once a great picnic place, adjoins the city
reservoir on the south. It was part of the
John Cochran farm, and has been owned by
members of the family for nearly a century.
The grove once contained a large number of
very fine trees, but many of them have disap-
peared. It is often used for church and
society picnics.


Is the pretty name of a new summer resort for
the public at Twenty-sixth and Poplar streets,
on the premises which long went by the name
of Uncle Sam's Garden. The place was re-
fitted during the winter of 1894 and spring of
1895, and opened the same year, under the
charge of S. E. Wilder. The building stands
in a splendid maple grove, and affords a
grand view of the city, bay and lake.






The first ground regularly laid out in Erie
county for fair purposes was part of the Eber-
sole tract, now owned b}- the H. C. Shannon
estate, on the Buffalo road, a short distance
west of Wesleyville. The premises were
fitted up with a race track and a building for
exhibiting agricultural products in a small
way. County fairs were held there in 1859
and 1860. The excitement of the war caused
the fair to be postponed in 1861, and none
were held on the premises afterward.

On the organization of the Erie County
Agricultural Society, in 1869, a large plot of
high ground at the western terminus of
Twelfth street, belonging to the Reed estate,
was secured for its use, and continued to be
occupied as long as county fairs were kept up.
The State fair was held on the premises in
1872 and '73, and 1877 and '78. Some of the
best races ever seen in Northwestern Pennsyl-
vania have taken place on these grounds.

The fair grounds, last spoken of, were also
long used as a base ball park, and have wit-
nessed many interesting matches of this popu-
lar game. For some reason, the base ball
managers changed their location a number of

years ago, and the scene of their games is now
in an inclosed space at Ninth and Cascade

In 1893 and '94 Charles M. Reed laid out
a private race track on the Reed farm, lying
north of the Lake road, between the city
and Four-Mile creek. Upon the organization
of the Erie Fair Association in January, 1895,
Mr. Reed tendered it the use of the grounds.
It was the intention to hold a summer meet-
ing in July, 1895, which, however, was post-
poned, and the place has not yet been opened
to the general public as a race course. The
track and conveniences are said to be unusual-
ly good.


It being the object of this chapter to de-
scribe only resorts of a public nature, no men-
tion will be made of the various club houses in
the vicinity of the city — which are referred
to elsewhere — nor of the numerous summer
houses and camping places that line the bank
of the bay and lake, both east and west. These
are maintained specially for private enjoy-
ment, do not depend upon general patronage
for their support, and, as a rule, are carefully
guarded against the intrusion of the public.


City Buildings — Soldiers' and Sailors' Home — Charitable Institutions and Socie-
ties. — [For United States, County and State Buildings, not described below, see Ciiapter
XIX, General History.]

THE most important structure owned by
the municipality is the City Hall, a
large and handsome building at the
southwest corner of Central Park, and
having a frontage each on the Park,
Peach street and Seventh street. Its dimen-
sions are 124 feet on Peach street, and it has
a width of sixty-four feet. The building is of
pressed brick, three stories high, with a base-
ment partially above ground. The main

tower is 156 feet from the foundation to the
top, and the main building is eighty-eight feet
in height to the ridge of the roof. The base-
ment is occupied by the police station, the
health officer and the street and sidewalk
superintendents. On the first floor, above the
basement, are the offices of the mayor, city
treasurer, city solicitor, controller and water
and fire commissioners. On the second floor
are the council chambers, the city clerks'



offices and the engineer's department. The
third floor contains two halls, one 56x56, and
the other 32x38 feet in dimensions, and a num-
ber of committee rooms. The plans of the
building were drawn by D. K. Dean, formerly
a well-known Erie architect, and all, or nearly
all of the work was done by home contractors
and mechanics. The cost of the edifice has
been in the neighborhood of $200,000. It may
be mentioned, in passing, that the first and
second stories are trimmed with brown-stone
from Twinsburg, O. This stone is of superior
quality, and the quarry from which it was ob-
tained has been exhausted.

The corner stone of the City Hall was laid
with Masonic ceremonies on July 31, 1884,
during the administration of Mayor Becker,
with whom the erection of a suitable munici-
pal building had long been a pet project. The
upper stories remained unfinished for a long
time, until the crowded and inconvenient
condition of the lower rooms became actually
unbearable. A contract for the completion of
the second floor rooms was made in the fall of
1894, and the building was formally dedicated
to the public use on the 22d of February, 1895.
It is safe to say that few cities of the size
possess a handsomer or more convenient City
Hall than Erie does.

The bell which hung in the Court House
for many years was placed in the tower of the
City Hall on September 6, 1895. It was
cast in 1854.


A small building for the care and treat-
ment of persons suffering with contagious
diseases was put up on the bluff forming part
of the Garrison grounds in 1870. It was
placed under the care of Dr. E. W. Germer,
who continued in charge until he died. When

Online LibraryBenjamin WhitmanNelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the county also portraits and biographies of the governor's since 1790, and of numerous r → online text (page 70 of 192)