History From America's Most Famous Valleys
Little Falls, Chartered 1811
150 Years of Progress, 1961
Excerpts will be used from this book.
Map of the City of Little Falls, 1961 use your back button to return to this page.
From earliest times waterways have provided an easy means of transportation as has been shown. The first mention of a canal at Little Falls is found in a letter written in 1768 by Governor Henry Moore, describing a survey he had made at the little falls and at Fort Stanwix.
In 1788 Elbanah Watson offered a resolution in the Legislature and eventually a survey was made for $149.00. (Note: David Minor wrote and said the name should be spelled Elkanah Watson. Canal Society of New York )
On March 30, 1792, the Western Inland Lock and Navigation Company was incorporated, with General Philip Schuyler as president. Work was begun the following year by a force of three hundred men, but the money soon gave out. This canal, and one at South Hadley, Mass., were the first in the U.S.A. The Inland Canal started with the present Gilbert Company raceway and there were two guard locks west of Lock Street. There was a long level with a varying width, north of Mill Street to beyond Second Street, where there was a lock. There was another lock about where Cherry-Burrell's plant is located, then a cut in the rocks, with three locks descending through the Burrows raceway, to join the Mohawk below the falls. There was a short canal at Fort Herkimer and one at what is now Rome; otherwise the Mohawk river was used as in the present Barge Canal.
The canal was three feet deep, 35 feet wide at the top and 26 feet wide at the bottom. It was opened in November, 1795, and John Porteus was the collector of tolls at Little Falls. This canal increased the commercial importance of Little Falls. The locks were first built of wood, and later of brick and stone. The canal terminal was located under the present east approach of the overhead crossing.
The boats on the river and canal were propelled by sails, oars and poles. They were 40 to 50 feet long and made 18 to 25 miles a day upstream. Just as President Washington had said, the canal was a necessity during the War of 1812 and in one day 300 boats passed through Little Falls, those at night bearing pitch torches, which was described as a weird sight. On November 3, 1813, Commodore Perry passed through Little Falls on a packet after his victory at Lake Erie.
Two photos of early transportation. Use your back button to return to this page.
Explanation of photos. AT THE TOP-The arrival of the first trolley
car in Little Falls, April 19, 1903.
AT THE BOTTOM -The old New York Central Railroad Depot, which stood east of Second Sheet and north of the tracks. It was built around 1833 and was torn down in 1899 after the present passenger station was placed in operation. Four buses, which carried passengers to the local hotels, are shown in the picture.
<- The Barge Canal from Lover's Leap Area, directly opposite Lock 17.
With the growth of the Mohawk Valley and the expansion of the Western frontiers, better means of transportation became necessary. In 1808 James Geddes made a preliminary survey, but the war delayed the Erie Canal project until 1817, when DeWitt Clinton procured the passage of an act creating a commission to take up the work. The first excavation was started at Rome on July 4, 1817. The Erie was to be four feet deep, 40 feet wide at the top, and 28 feet wide at the bottom. When the Ellice Estate heard that the new canal was to be entirely on the south side they were worried about the future of Little Falls. Barent Bleeker, agent for the Ellices in Albany, was treasurer of the old Inland Canal, which was sold to the state and used as a feeder for the Erie. An acqueduct was built, part of which is still standing, and was used to carry boats over the Mohawk to the north side where a basin, or harbor, 225 x 120 feet was constructed on the site of the present Clinton Park parking lot.
Even before the official opening of the Erie, the Marquis LaFayette passed through Little Falls on June 11, 1825. He was welcomed by a bonfire on the aqueduct, a band and a throng of citizens, many carrying torches. The time was just after midnight, and the crowd had waited all day.
The Erie Canal was officially opened on October 26, when Governor Clinton and party left Buffalo. Celebrations were held in all communities along the canal. On October 31, at ten in the morning, the flotilla of boats bearing Governor Clinton and party was sighted approaching Little Falls, and a gun was fired which started off the day-long celebration. The boat, "Seneca Chief," was towed over the aqueduct, a parade followed and a banquet was held at McKinster's Tavern, which was on the site of the present Chickering Tavern.
On the Erie Canal horses drew the boats, replacing the brawn or wind of the Inland Canal. The Erie was enlarged from time to time and all the original aqueducts were torn out and rebuilt, except the one at Little Falls which, not being on the line of travel, was left as it was, the only one of the original "Clinton's Ditch," or Grand Canal.
Previous to 1841 Rosecrans, or Seely's Island, was in the center of the Mohawk river, but that year the Erie was enlarged through Little Falls, and dykes were built at each end of the island, turning the Mohawk into the northern channel and using the southern channel for the canal. All work on the enlargement was stopped by the Civil War and by that time the official depth had been increased to seven feet, and the width to 40 feet. Later, in 1884, the locks were lengthened to take in two canal boats at one time.
Only a small percentage of the canal boats carried passengers, but as early as May, 1829, a steam driven passenger boat passed through Little Falls.
In the early years there was much pleasure boating on the Erie, but it all ended when the steamer, "Titus Sheard," blew up on June 18, 1896, injuring many and causing the death of twelve.
In June, 1881, the wall of the old aqueduct burst, draining the basin forever. It was then converted into a park and the old Inland channel was gradually filled in. In 1882 Arphaxed Loomis deeded the basin to the village, so it is probable that he had the title all those years, from Richard Ray Ward.
On September 8, 1908, a contract was awarded to Casey and Murray to construct the Barge Canal through Little Falls. The Barge Canal followed the line of the Erie through Little Falls, but east and west of here, the Mohawk river was used. One large lock, with a lift of 40 1/2feet, replaced the four locks of the old Erie. A celebration and a pageant were held June 30 and July 1, 1916, at Little Tails, commemorating the opening of the "Highest Single Lift Lock in America."
The Barge Canal was twelve feet deep and in March, 1939, a contract was awarded to Steve Scullen to enlarge and deepen the channel through Little Falls to 14 feet. At this time the old Rockton Mill and many other buildings were torn down. The Mohawk river was also deepened by a contract with Dunbar and Sullivan, who operated drill boats and blasted out a deeper channel, bringing up much rock with "Little Falls diamonds" in them. When the old Inland Canal was abandoned in 1882 the state declared that the channel west of Lock Street was a State Park. In 1940 the old lock caved in and it was necessary to rebuild it with the original stone.
In 1952 Lock 17 was lined with steel, and in recent years new gates have been installed.
Soon after the Erie Canal had been completed a competitor in transportation appeared. In April, 1826, a charter was granted to build a railroad between Albany and Schenectady, and the work was completed in 1831. Local citizens heard of the owonders of the iron horse and hoped that the railroad would be extended up the valley. To this end, on April 11, 1831, a meeting was held at the McKinster Hotel in Little Falls and George Feeter was appointed to attend a meeting at Sprakers.
THE GULF CURVE on the New York Central Railroad, before and
after the straightening project.
On April 29, 1833, the Utica and Schenectady Railroad was incorporated. Because of competition with the Erie Canal no property of any description, except the baggage of the passengers, was to be carried. The railroad also had to purchase the stock of the Mohawk Turnpike road, which amounted to $62,500. The rails were of wood, with an iron strap 2 1/2inches wide on the top. Six Baldwin locostage coaches. Not much faith was placed in the locomotives, and a place for stabling horses to assit them was provided at Little Falls. Wood was burned to produce steam, and a wood storage house was also built in this village. Property of Richard Ray Ward in Little Falls was, condemned, and a law suit resulted in 1834. The track line through Little Falls followed the contour of the rocky promontories resulting in many curves.
On August 1, 1836, the Utica and Schenectady Railroad was opened and the local townspeople flocked to the tracks to see the ten-car trains. The following day passengers were carried at the rate of four cents a mile. Twelve miles an hour was the safety limit and there being no cab the engineer was exposed to the wind. In 1837 a law was passed to carry the U.S. mails by railroad, and Sunday trains became necessary. In 1846 a telegraph line was put up along the track line and by 1844 the road was allowed to carry freight but only during the cold months when the Erie was closed. In 1846 steel rails replaced the wooden rails.
No account of the early railroad would be complete without mentioning Major Zenas Priest who, born in Fairfield in 1806, came to Little Falls and operated a chain of bakeries. He is credited with being the originator of the soda cracker and operated a fleet of boats selling these crackers and groceries on the Erie. In 1836 he became one of the first three conductors and in 1840 was superintendent of the western division of the Utica & Schenectady Railroad. When the New York Central Railroad consolidated all the various roads, in 1853, he was superintendent of the Mohawk Division. Major Priest acquired his title by being on the staff of Herkimer County Militia. He was also a Presidential Elector, president of the village, and president of the Herkimer County Bank. Major Priest lived in a large building east of Second Street, north of the tracks, which was at one time a tavern, a ticket office, and a polling place since elections were held there.
In 1847, in order to compete with the Erie Canal, a second track was laid and a cut in the rocks was made west of the Gulf Bridge. In blasting, the new Catholic Church was damaged and a lady, Mrs. Patrick Sweeney, was killed in front of her doorstep.
Just after the Civil War a freight house was built, where the present passenger station is located. This was when Little Falls was the center of the cheese trade. In 1874 two additional freight tracks were added to the New York Central and at this time the old Alexander mansion, built in 1804 on South Ann Street, was torn down.
Back in those days railroad excursions were popular and special trains for any occasion could be arranged with Major Priest. Two thousand tickets were sold July 3-4-5, 1876, for those wishing to attend the Centennial Celebration in Herkimer. On August 14, 1884, Protection Fire Company had two special trains to take excursionists to Albany, where they boarded a boat for Catskill. About 2,500 paid two dollars each for the round trip. They reached home between three and four o'clock the following morning.
The New York Central was so prosperous that a rival line, the West Shore, was incorporated in 1880. It was a difficult task to blast a cut through the rocks at Little Falls but the work was completed in October, 1883. Electric lights for the first time allowed the construction to be carried on all night. On December 11, 1885, the New York Central secured a 99-year lease of the West Shore.
In 1887 the New York Central made an important improvement in their trains by steam heating the coaches from the engine. This eliminated the danger of fires from stoves. In 1891 work was begun on the Little Falls and Dolgeville Railroad, a difficult task that is reputed to have bankrupted Alfred Dolge. The first train passed over the road on December 14, 1892, and there were many excursions to High Falls Park held the following summer. Open cars, made from flat cars were used, and the fare, round trip, was twenty-five cents.
The location of the freight house, between Ann and Second Streets, caused the crossings to be blocked whenever switching was to be done, so in 1894-95 the freight house was torn down, the present passenger station replacing it, and a freight house was built between Fifth and Sixth Streets. The old passenger station, east of Second, was torn down in 1899.
On April 11, 1902, a franchise was granted to construct a trolley line to Utica to the Mohawk Valley Railway. Two tracks were laid and the first trolley arrived here April 29. 1903. The trolley line was a great convenience and enabled local people to work in the up'valley towns, especially during World War I. Freight was also carried by the trolley line and there was a freight house where the Little Falls Felt Shoe warehouse stands today. Finally, competition from the auto caused the trolley line to cease operations on July 1, 1933.
The Central was also feeling the competition from the auto and in the summer of 1931 the West Shore began running gasoline electric cars but soon withdrew them. On April 30, 1933, the Dolgeville Railroad stopped carrying passengers and in December of the same year, the West Shore cut their service to four a day, and dismantled the gates at the crossings.
On April 28, 1934, the first diesel electric train passed through Little Falls, with streamlined coaches. Today the steam engine is a thing of the past.
A long-sought civic improvement was realized on September 21, 1938, when the Overhead Crossing was opened.
On the night of April 19, 1940, a passenger train jumped the track at the Gulf Bridge, resulting in the death of 31 persons. As a result the New York Central decided to reduce the angle of the curve, a stupendous task which included changing the course of the Mohawk river. The work was completed November 19, 1947, at a reputed cost of $2,500,000.
When the trolley line suspended operations on July 1. 1933, buses began to transport passengers up and down the valley between Little Falls and Utica. At one time the Rainbow buses stopped here, and they were followed by the Greyhound, which today operates on the Thruway, stopping at Utica.
The decline in rail transportation is shown by the closing of the local Armour warehouse in 1928. After that time local stores were serviced by motor truck.
In 1932 the Little Falls dairy plant began to ship milk to New York by truck instead of by rail.
In April, 1960, the local freight house was closed and trucks now bring the freight and express from Utica, except in carload lots. Only two trains stop here daily, one eastbound and one westbound, and the ticket office is closed weekends.
Little Falls Schools. Use your back button to return to this page.
After the close of the Revolution new settlers moved into Little
Falls and a school became a necessity. In 1796 a wooden school building was
built on the road to Newport (on the site of the present Adelaide Vincent
house on Church Street). Elijah Case, Jr., was the school teacher and he would
summon the pupils by blowing on a long coach horn. He was also a teacher of
instrumental music and a surveyor. He was listed as a member of the local
volunteer fire department in 1830 and his father at that time had several
teams of oxen and brought firewood to town for
<- The Old Academy, replaced by the present High School. (1961, not the current one.)
In 1814 the wood school was in a rundown condition and a meeting was held on January 8, at which time a resolution was passed to build a new building of stone on the same site. This is the building now standing and occupied by Miss Vincent. When the building was completed classes for girls were held on the second floor, which Mr. Case also taught. Church services were held in this stone school Sunday mornings, afternoons and evenings, especially during the cold months, as many denominations preferred the warm school to the drafty Octagon church. Elections were held in the school and Judge Nathaniel Benton was elected first village president in an election held there on May 29, 1827.
<-First School House in Little Falls, now the Adelaide Vincent home.
In 1842 the Free School bill was passed in New York State and a larger school became necessary. The same year the Octagon church was torn down, and in 1847 John Ward transferred the title of land to the school trustee. The following year work was begun on a large brick Church Street school on the site of the present building. It was a gabled affair, facing the angle formed by Church and Prospect Streets. William Chase did the carpenter work for $1,800 and Robert Stewart, the mason work for $2,100. The first teachers were: Susan Otis, Ann Wright, Catherine Harter and Sarah Steward. This school building was used until 1888, when a contract was awarded to C. D. West to build a new school, the present one, for $22,000. The land in front of the school, formerly the site of the Octagon church, became a city park.
Before the Free School bill was passed a group of local citizens decided that the village should have a school for higher education, and land was secured on the east side of the Eastern Park. Nathaniel Benton was president of the Association; Frederick Lansing, secretary; Albert Story, treasurer. There was considerable delay and it was September, 1844, before the school was opened. The Academy, as it was known, faced south and was on the site of the old section of the present high school. Merrit McKoon was the principal, and the teachers were: Daniel Washburn, Joshua Stark, Katherine Whitney, Sophia Barnard and Elizabeth Shoemaker. Tuition in the Primary Department was $2.50; in the Academic Department, $3.50; Latin, Greek, French, Algebra, Chemistry and Natural Philosophy were $5.50. In the Primary Department were 28 males and 33 females; in the Academic Department, 158 "Young Gentlemen" and 142 "Young Ladies." Rooms were rented for two dollars a term, for those residing out of town, and firewood was furnished for an additional fifty cents a winter. In 1868, the year before Judge Benton died, a second building was built to the east, containing many rooms for students, and when it was opened it was called Benton Hall in honor of Judge Benton.
A third school stood on the site of the Jefferson Street School of today. This was a frame building containing four rooms, built in 1846. This building was damaged by a blast when the West Shore Railroad was being built in 1882, and a new brick building which is part of the lower floors of the present Jefferson Street School, replaced it. It was enlarged after the fires of 1908 and 1917.
A description of the school system of March, 1872, is of interest. In the Church Street School there were 330 pupils and 6 teachers, one of whom was J. K. Abrahams, the principal. In the South Side School there were 190 pupils with four teachers and the principal, Mr. H. E. Piper. In addition to the Academy there were other private schools in town. At a meeting of the Board of Education on October 14, 1873, a resolution was passed that "A free School System with Academical Department be established in this school district." On January 5, the following year, the new Free Schools were opened and on September 2, 1879, the Graded School System went into effect. W. S. Hall was appointed the first Superintendent. The grade schools were Church Street, Jefferson Street and Benton Hall, while the Academical Department was located in the old Academy building.
On June 29, 1898, a contract was signed by the Board with William Dove for the erection of a new Grade and High School on the site of the Academy and Benton Hall. Work progressed during the winter of 1898-1899 and classes were held in Quackenbush Hall. In August, 1899, the architect rejected the interior wood work and it was torn out. Finally, or. August 31, 1900, the school was completed and the grade school was called Benton Hall.
On November 1, 1919, the Board of Education purchased the Maher property on West Monroe Street and the present school was completed there in September, 1921. This was the first school building to have a gymnasium, as earlier physical education classes were held in the Y.M.C.A. Last summer an addition was added to the original building. On May 2, 1929, an election was held, at which a motion was approved, 1108 to 152, to build an addition east of the High School. Welch Brothers were the contractors and the price was $290,000 for the present gymnasium, auditorium and class rooms. The building was dedicated on June 9, 1931, and one of the speakers was Professor Warfield, who had been Superintendent of Schools here thirty years before. After this time the basketball games were held in the school building instead of at the Y.M.C.A.
Today there are 1833 pupils, with 88 teachers, a superintendent, 4 principals, 6 office clerks and 8 custodial employees.
Mr. Joseph Horton is Superintendent of Schools, with offices at East Main and Alexander Streets. George Cummings is principal of the Junior and Senior High School, which is located at East Main and Alexander Streets, and has 762 pupils and 44 teachers. Alton Millen is principal of West Monroe School, with 373 pupils and 13 teachers, and Benton Hall School, with 206 pupils and 7 teachers. John Frazier is principal of Jefferson Street School, with 273 pupils and 9 teachers, and Church Street School, with 219 pupils and 7 teachers.
ST. MARY'S ACADEMY
The first Catholic school was built on John Street, where St. Mary's School stands, in 1850. There were 2 rooms and 2 lay teachers employed. When the Rev. Anthony P. Ludden was pastor it was decided to build a larger school and in 1889 work was begun on a two'story building, which today is the eastern half of the two lower floors of the present school. Native stone was used, Thomas Kearney was the stone contractor, and Charles Eagan the interior contractor. When the school was opened, in 1880, the Sisters of St. Joseph were placed in charge and lived in the old parish house until the lower floors of the present convent were built. While the Rev. Edmund A. O'Connor was pastor, in 1911, the school was doubled in size and a third floor with a parish hall was added.
Since 1898, when St. Mary's School secured a charter from the New York State Board of Regents, it has been known as St. Mary's Academy. St. Mary's has 475 students in the elementary department and 140 in the high school. There are eight nuns who are teachers and one lay teacher in the elementary department, and seven nuns in the high school. Physical Education and Music teachers are also employed.
Little Falls' first doctor was Dr. James Kennedy, who must have come here around 1797, as he was on the building committee of the Octagon church. In 1808 he leased lots two and three on Church Street and built the house now owned by Mr. and Mrs. William Babinec. The same year he was admitted to the Herkimer County Medical Society and in 1815 was listed as the owner of two slaves, valued at $300. On May 12, 1824, Dr. Kennedy sold his property to Dr. Hosea Hamilton and John Dygert and moved away. Other early doctors were John Holmes, Calvin Smith, Lester Green, Milton Grey, Silas Ingram, Nelson Isham, John Sharer, and Daniel and Orrin Belknap, all of whom resided here previous to 1850.
Patients were treated at home, or in the local hotels, and operations were performed on the patient's kitchen table. There was much agitation for the establishment of a hospital, but it was in 1892 that the first movement was started at a meeting held by Mrs. E. B. Waite and Mrs. Alice Bushnell. At the next meeting Mrs. Alonzo Green was made chair man and the ladies succeeded in raising $1,800, with which they rented a house at 14 North Ann Street, and prepared it for hospital purposes. There were four rooms for patients and it was opened in November, 1893. The first patient had typhoid fever, so the opening was delayed.
On March 20, 1894, the Little Falls Hospital was incorporated with 61 members in the group. A committeeof three members was appointed each month, and it was the duty of one member to visit the hospital daily. In May, 1896, the Training School for Nurses was incorporated and placed in operation the following year. For thirty years nurses were trained and graduated at the local hospital.
On January 26, 1898, the committee leased the Ackerman house, still standing at 610 East Monroe Street, and moved the hospital to that location. There were accommodate for twelve patients and the house boasted of a central heating system. Soon this building proved too small so in 1904 a parcel of land, at the corner of Burwell and Whited; Streets, was purchased and on October 23 the cornerstone of the original hospital was laid.
Charles Cronk, of Herkimer, was the achitect and Charles Bagan, the building contractor. The hospital had two large owards and nine private rooms.
In 1908 the dormer roof was removed and a third floor which included the operating room was added, and an elevator installed.
At a meeting held on June 4, 1923, it was announced that Mrs. D. H. Burrell, Sr., was planning the erection of a home for the nurses on Whited Street. Mrs. Burrell passed away in 1924 before the nurses' residence was completed. Alterations were made in the hospital at this same time, joining the two buildings.
In 1936 the contract for enlarging the hospital awarded to John J. Turner & Son. On October 8, 1938, it was completed and opened for inspection. On April 19, 1940, the Lake Shore Limited train jumped the tracks in Little Falls, and the hospital, doctors and nurses were called upon to care for the 138 injured. Dr. Vickers made a report to the Medical Society, which stated that patients were admitted to the hospital; twenty-four left upon examination and spent the night in local homes or hotels. Twenty more patients left the next day, but thirty-nine remained as serious cases.
In 1959 a modernization plan was adopted, and a new wing was planned. Ground was broken on May 11, with a chrome plated shovel which is now in Dr. Sabin's museum. Mr. William Mylchreest, the first male administrator of the hospital, served as master of ceremonies. When the addition is completed this year, there will be 110 beds
and 15 bassinetts, and many modern improvements. Assisting Mr. Mylchreest are 36 registered nurses, 12 practical nurses, 8 aids and 75 administrative and service personnel, Members of the Medical Staff are: Dr. Mary Irving, Dr. Fred Sabin, Dr. H. Dan Vickers, Dr. Joseph Conrad, Dr. Robert Ashley, Dr. Bernard Burke, Dr. George Burgin, Dr. Oscar Muller, Dr. Gustav Loewenstein, all of Little Falls; Dr. Harold Buckbee and Dr. Howard Livingston of Dolgeville, Dr. Raymond Wytrwal of St. Johnsville, and Dr. Stanley Potter of Fort Plain. Dr. William Jarrett is the roentgenologist.
The first newspaper published in Little Falls was the "People's Friend," which was started by Edward Griffing in September, 1821. It was first printed in Mechanic's Hall on what is now Main Street, and later in a house on Garden Street at the head of Mary Street. Fortunately the local papers dating back to January, 1824, are available on microfilm at the local library.
About ten years later Charles S. Benton took over the paper and changed the name to the "Mohawk Courier," but Mr. Griffing continued to contribute articles. The paper continued, under various owners, until January 1, 1864, when it was sold to Jean Stebbins, who consolidated it with hi' Herkimer County Journal as the "Journal and Courier." The old Journal was a Herkimer paper brought to Little Falls in 1849 by Orlando Squires. In 1866 George Stebbins purchased an interest and in 1883 Ivan T. Burney became a partner. Stebbins and Burney were the proprietors many, years and when it suspended publication at the end of December, 1924, George Stebbins, the editor, retired.
Another early weekly published in Little Falls was the "Herkimer County News." This started in Mohawk, N. Y., in 1868, and was moved to Little Falls in 1870. In 1871 William Chappie, the father of Mrs. John Tanker, bought the paper and edited it until his death in 1908. When the paper ceased publication on November 29, 1932, it was being published by Mrs. Schmidt, but beginning in 1910, Norman Olmstead and Harry Ruby printed it for many years. Other weekly Little Falls papers were the "Rockton Enterprise" of Edward Griffing, and his "Mohawk Mirror," the "Asterogan Enterprise," "Little Falls Gazette" and the "Mirror and Chronicle." Before the Civil War there was the "Dairyman's Record," the "Herkimer Freeman," the "Herkimer County Whig," the "Republican Farmer," the "Catholic Telegram" of 1878, and the "Inquirer and Enterprise."
The first daily paper was the "Evening Times," which first appeared on May 10, 1886, and is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. It was started by the Cooperative Printing Company, a group of local printers, and John F. Devlin was the first editor. In February 1888 John Crowley became associated with the paper and after July 2, 1891, served as editor and publisher until his retirement June 3, 1940, when he was succeeded by John B. McGuire, the present editor. The paper is now owned by William E. Foster, with William F. Wright as publisher. Augustus Maiorana is general manager, Guy Schaff advertising manager, Ralph F. Weir city editor, Gloria Lawrence society editor, Robert Stack sports editor, Howard Moore com posing room foreman and Robert Holmberg press room foreman.
There have been other daily papers in Little Falls, but they were short lived. "The Evening Herald" was published in 1889-90 and "The Evening Sun" in 1894-95.
In the winter of 1913-1914 a group of local boys. Allen Levee, Russell O'Neill, Clifford McDonald, Fred Stebbins, Wheeler Hagaman, Earl Jacox and others, became interested in "Wireless" and a club, which met at the Y.M.C.A., was was formed. They built their own crystal sets which used ear phones. Parts were purchased of Thomas McTiernan, who in 1916 with Howard Coffee, opened the Electric Shop and Garage. When World War I came along these amateurs were order to dismantle their sets..After the war the loudspeaker was developed and McTiernan's had the first radio in town with a speaker outside. Between 1922 and 1924 they operated a fifty-watt broadcasting station, which was the first in this locality. In 1924 the Federal Communication System set up rules and regulations, and the local station ceased operations.
On September 8, 1922, Leon Dussault's Orchestra and a group of local people, under the auspices of the American Legion, broadcast from WGY in Schenectady. There were so few radios in Little Falls that groups gathered at places where there were machines, such as the Y.M.C.A., to hear the local talent.
Allen Levee and Clifford McDonald brought the first portable radio to town, and it was such a novelty that Judge Zoller and John Crowley were invited to take a ride in their car, which had a radio operating in the rear seat.
The first local radio station after 1924 was planned by Arthur Feldman, a former local boy who had worked in radio for a number of years and, during World War II, had been in London with the British Broadcasting System. A station and tower was built on South Second Street and on June 21, 1952, visitors were entertained in an open house program at the station. The following day the station, WLFH, began operation and Little Falls area residents were able to hear the latest news while it was actually happening. The Feldman brothers, Arthur and Robert, were the original owners and operators of Station WLFH, but in 1956 Walter Gaines purchased the station and is the present operator.
HERKIMER COUNTY TRUST COMPANY
In early times much of the commerce was carried on by barter. Farmers had their grain ground and their lumber sawed in the Porteus mills and paid for the service in lumber or grain. The products were shipped down the Mohawk in Porteus' boats, which returned with hardware, cloth goods, gunpowder or lead for his store.
In 1806 the Aqueduct Association was formed to build a water supply system from springs to local subscribers by means of pump logs. Paper money was printed and the laborers were paid in this script, which was redeemable at the Ellice store. This was the first type of banking in Little Falls.
The first bank in Herkimer County, as well as Little Falls, was the Herkimer County Bank, which was incorporated March 14, 1833, with a capital of $200,000. In 1865 the bank was converted into the Herkimer County National Bank. In 1878 the name was changed to the National Herkimer County Bank and in 1917 the bank was re-incorporated as the Herkimer County Trust Company, which is the present name.
The first president was Colonel Standish Barry, whose descendant, Fred Teall III, is now vice president of the Little Falls National Bank. The bank opened on August 30, 1833, in the west parlor of the building at the southwest corner of Main and William Streets, as their new bank building at the northeast corner of Ann and Albany wasn't completed until the following December. At the end of the day A. G. Storey and Dudley Burwell took the contents of the bank cash drawers to their bedroom upstairs in a bushel basket and placed it under the bed for safekeeping. The Burrell building, at the corner of Ann and Main Streets, was built in 1916-1917 and the Herkimer County Trust Company opened on the ground floor on April 30, 1917. The quarters were rebuilt and enlarged in 1951 and the store to the north was added and now houses the Loan Department.
Loomis Burrell is Chairman of the Board; Arthur M. Roberts, President; Gordon D. Little, Vice-President; Squire Kaye, Executive Vice-president and Treasurer; Francis J. Kiley, Senior Vice-president and Secretary; William Cotter, Vice-president; Wentworth Brown, Assistant Treasurer; Nelson Senne, Assistant Treasurer; and Rita Coleman, Assistant Secretary
LITTLE FALLS NATIONAL BANK
The second bank to open in Little Falls was the private bank of Burke and Healey, which started in business around 1870 in the Skinner Opera House block on the site of the present Lurie store.
In April 1872 they purchased the old Alexander block, at the southwest corner of Main and Ann Streets, and built a brick block with quarters for their bank, known later as the Cronkhite Opera House block. The bank moved into this block in 1874 and the following year, on November 15, 1875, suspended payment and in December commenced proceedings in bankruptcy.
The Little Falls National Bank was organised in December, 1878, and began business the following January in the Burke and Healey building. The president was Seth Richmond; the cashier, Eleazer Rice and the teller, Amos Bradley. On the first Armistice Day, November 11, 1918, fire damaged the building and the bank was moved to the old Herkimer County Bank building on South Ann Street, guarded by the local Home Guard Regiment. The present building was then built and opened on June 19, 1921. The present officers of the bank are: Frederick L. Teall, President; Austin C. Chase, Vice-president; Frederick G. Teall, Vice-president and Trust Officer; Kenneth C. Waldvogel, Cashier; John C. Valuck, Assistant Cashier and Assistant Trust Officer.
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