A state investigating commission recommends abandoning the Chemung Canal.

Jan 8
Deep snow in Rochester forces the suspension of street car traffic.

The New York Central, the Erie Railroad, the Pennsylvania Railroad and the Baltimore Railroad announce an end to their rate war and a 10% reduction in wages.

Jun 14
Saratoga's Grand Union Hotel refuses accommodations to influential financier Joseph Seligman and his family because they are Jews. Public indignation is aroused.

Sep 26
The Republican State Convention is held in Rochester's City Hall.

French operetta composer Jacques Offenbach visits the U. S. 50,000 people show up for a reception at the Fifth Avenue Hotel. ** James (later Diamond Jim) Brady is promoted from general office clerk at the New York Central to chief clerk, earning $50 a week.

Adirondacks photographer Seneca Ray Stoddard takes a portrait of promoter-builder William West Durant at his Camp Pine Knot. ** The New York State Reformatory at Elmira opens. It's the first to result from the prison reform movement. ** The Lancaster Bee is established. ** Avon poet-lawyer William Howe Cuyler Hosmer dies there, in his early 60s. ** Lucius Robinson Alonzo is elected governor. ** Llewellyn Brown assumes ownership of the Hammondsport Herald. ** Jacob Schoellkopf buys Niagara Falls's Hydraulic Canal for $71,000.

Socialite Huibertje Pruyn (Hamlin) is born at 19 Elk Street.

The Connewango Creamery in Cattaraugus County receives 1,310,066 pounds of milk, producing 38,491 pounds of butter and 106,263 pounds of cheese. ** Connewango orchards produce over 50,000 bushels of apples.

School principal Anna Galbraith moves to Lafayette Street.


The Long Island Historical Society launches a competition to chose an architect for its new home at Pierrepont and Clinton in Brooklyn. George B. Post will win.

Jan 22
Edward Collins, founder of the Collins steamship line, dies in New York City.

Feb 9
New York's Italian-American Amateur Theatre Club gives its first performance.

Mar 14
The phonograph and the telephone are both exhibited in Rochester's Corinthian Hall.

Mar 21
Sarah Bigelow, widow of Geneseo teacher Epaphroditus Bigelow, dies at the age of 82.

Mar 25
Temperatures in New York City drop to 13 degrees F, lowest here for this date.

Apr 12
Former Tammany boss William Marcy Tweed dies of pneumonia in jail, at the age of 55.

May 19
The Rochester Gas Light Company (later Rochester Gas and Electric) is formed.

May 21
Aviation pioneer Glenn Curtiss is born in Hammondsport.

Jul 11
President Rutherford B. Hayes removes Chester A. Arthur as Collector of Customs of the Port of New York and Naval Officer Alonzo B. Cornell, in defiance of New York City bosses.

Sep 28
The first horse car is run the entire length of Rochester's St. Paul line.

Sep 30
The Genesee Valley Canal close down permanently.

Oct 24
The Long Island Historical Society breaks ground for its new headquarters.

Oct 27
Bank robber "Western George" L. Leslie pulls off his greatest heist, stealing $3,000,000 from the Manhattan Savings Institution.

Nov 7
A section of rock 100 feet by twenty plunges into the gorge at the Middle Falls of the Genesee in Rochester.

Nov 13
The first telephone on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange is installed.

Nov 17
Author-teacher-bacteriologist Hans Zinsser is born in New York City.

Nov 23
Rochester's Democrat & Chronicle carries its first classified "want" ads.

Dec 7
The Harpers Brothers publishing company throws a breakfast for their illustrator Edwin Austin Abbey at Delmonico's in New York City.

Elevated railway tracks are built on Third and Sixth Avenues. ** Brooklyn printer J. H. Wehman begins publishing song sheets. ** Wealthy businessman William C. Rhinelander dies, freeing the family estate, held in trust, for distribution to his heirs. ** Industrialist Edward Cooper, running on the Republican ticket, defeats Democrat August Schell to become mayor, serving 1879-1880. ** Theodore N. Vail is named general manager of the American Bell Telephone Company. ** Mount Sinai Hospital describes Tay-Sachs disease for the first time in the U. S. ** Philanthropist Mrs. William Choate founds the New York Exchange for Woman's Work to enable women, especially Civil War widows, to sell homemade goods and earn money.. ** Suffragist Cynthia Leonard and her daughter Helen (soon to become Lillian Russell) arrive to pursue a stage career for Helen, settle in a Brooklyn apartment. ** Lawyer Smith Edward Lane is appointed Commissioner of Public Parks. ** John Starin sells his patent medicine business on Barclay Street to become a freight forwarder. He buys four steamboats of the People's Line, the Castleton, D. R. Martin, Pomona and Thomas Hunt, at a foreclosure sale. He also buys the estate of the line's late owner William T. Garner on an island in Long Island Sound, as well as the Staten Island clubhouse of the New York Yacht Club, which he will move to Alpine, New Jersey, for an excursion barge destination.

A building is erected at Charlotte to house life saving crews. ** Hamilton College confers an honorary LL.D degree on canal builder John B. Jervis. ** A contractor for the Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh (State Line) Railway hurries through a track- crossing-track project before he can be halted by the crews of the established Erie and Central Railroad, in Le Roy. The line reaches Pavilion. ** Rochester's Vacuum Oil Company, drilling in Middlebury, strikes salt on the Hayden farm, founding a local industry. ** East Gainesville (today's Silver Springs) loses its attempt to take the Wyoming county seat away from Warsaw. ** Bigelow & Gardner build the Highland Creamery, between Axeville and Rutledge. ** The Chenango Canal ceases operations. ** A replica of a pioneer cabin is built on the grounds of the Silver Lake Assembly. ** The state closes the Genesee Valley Canal branch to Dansville because of falling revenues. ** Michigan physician and nutritionist Dr. John Harvey Kellogg travels to Dansville to study the methods used at the Jackson Health Resort. ** The U. S. Post Office in Corning takes in $719,414 in stamp purchases and sells 2,161 moneyorders worth a total of $17,631.06.

The Prospect Hill Pumping Station reaches a capacity of 10,000,000 gallons of water per day.

Two Italians are fined $50 apiece for using the child of one to play in the saloon band of the other. ** George Eastman begins manufacturing the photographic dry plate.

Construction begins on Joseph Lyman Silsbee's Dutch Reformed Church.

( Updated 11 / 28 / 2004 )

Jan 2
A severe snowstorm immobilizes western New York.

Jan 3
Temperatures in New York City plunge to 4 degrees below 0 F, lowest here for this date.

Jan 10
A Rochester area snowstorm ends, after causing several deaths.

Jan 13
Albany businessman Erastus Corning marries Grace Fitz-Randolph Schenck, daughter of Brooklyn minister the Reverend Noah Schenck.

Jan 16
New York City gets 13 inches of snow, setting a record for the month that will not be broken until 1996.

Jan 29
Rochester's City Hall is illuminated by electricity, the first in the city.

Feb 22
Frank Winfield Woolworth opens his first five-cent store, in Utica. It will fail.

Workers reopening an entrance to an Ellenville lead mine discover the bones of David M. Smith, a telegrapher for the local D & H Canal office, who had disappeared 13 years previously.

Mar 26
New York City bridge designer Othmar Herman Ammann is born in Schaffhausen, Switzerland.

Mar 31
Rochester architect brothers Harvey and Charles Ellis present their invoice for Professor Asahel Kendrick's residence.

Apr 8
Entomologist Asa Fitch dies at his home in Salem, New York, at the age of 70.

Apr 10
Additions are made to Lewiston's Oakwood Cemetery.

Apr 17
Orville P. Taylor begins drilling for oil at the Triangle Well near Wellsville.

May 1
Philadelphia bibliographer Samuel Austin Allibone begins his new duties as head of New York City's Lenox Library.

May 8
Rochester inventor George B. Selden applies for a patent on a gasoline-powered vehicle.

Perfectionist John Humphrey Noyes, warned of an attempt by James William Towner to depose him, flees his colony at Oneida and crosses into Canada.

Jun 12
Oil is struck at the Triangle Well.

Jun 14
The Triangle Well begins steady production.

Jun 15
Crowds begin gathering at the Triangle Well site and the settlement of Triangle City comes into being.

Jul 20
Rochester's Democrat and Chronicle publishes its first Sunday newspaper.

Aug 20
Noyes sends his followers in Oneida a message, partially renouncing "complex marriage".

Missionaries the Reverend Allen James Maxwell and Ellen Blackmar are married in Lucknow, India. They will become the maternal grandparent of Albany mayor Erastus Corning, 2nd.

Sep 1
Further additions to the Oakwood Cemetery are made.

Oct 5
Writer-educator-musician John Erskine is born in New York City.

Membership in the New York Stock Exchange reaches the allotted upper limit of 1100.

Nov 6
Temperatures in New York City hit a record low for the date of 27 degrees F.

Nov 12
The temperature in New York City reaches 76 degrees F, a record high there for this date.

Nov 21
Temperatures in New York City drop to 16 degrees F, the lowest for the date.

Dec 10
New York state businessmen John S. Kennedy, Samuel Thorne, and William Walter Phelps acquire 5,500,000 acres of Texas land (including parts of 51 counties) from the International-Great Northern Railroad Company and form the New York and Texas Land Company.

Dec 11
Temperatures in New York City reach 64 degrees F, setting a record here for the date.

Dec 31
William S. Gilbert and Arthur S. Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance, or The Slave of Duty has its U. S. debut at New York's Fifth Avenue Theatre, the day after its London premiere..

Scots author Robert Louis Stevenson travels by train from New York City to San Francisco. ** The U. S. production of Gilbert and Sullivan's HMS Pinafore, with Helen Leonard (name soon changed to Lillian Russell) in the chorus, ends its tour at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Leonard marries the pit orchestra leader Harry Brahm. ** The price of a seat on the New York Stock Exchange goes from $10,000 to $20,000. ** Charles Gage opens a restaurant on Brooklyn's Fulton Street. ** The Fidelity and Casualty Company of New York is organized, with offices at 187 Broadway, the first fidelity business (a bonding agency) in the U. S. ** Actor-playwright Steele Mackaye, backed by minister brothers George and Marshall Mallory, purchases the Fifth Avenue Theatre from Augustin Daly, remodels it and names it the Madison Square Theatre. ** The Trinity Church Association is formed to do charitable work in lower Manhattan.

Spiritualism's Lily Dale Assembly is founded, in Chautauqua County. ** Wayne County peppermint farmer Peter Hill dies, leaving his land to his son Edmund, a lawyer. ** Le Roy's first salt well is drilled. ** General John S. Clark of Auburn draws a map of the Groveland Ambuscade of 1779 (the Boyd-Parker murders). ** The state now has approximately 5360 miles of railroad track. ** W. H. Vanderbilt begins selling some of his holdings in the New York Central Railroad, in London, England, through the offices of Morgan and Company. ** A steamboat company, The Hudson River Line, is incorporated by Van Santvoord and Associates. ** Levi Valentine builds a market building near Victor. It's later named Valentown. ** Montauk Indian and Civil War veteran Stephen (Talkhouse) Pharaoh dies on Long Island at Montauk Point. ** Erie County's Amherst Bee begins publication. ** The Corning Glass Company develops the glass for Edison's light bulb. ** Historian Frank H. Severance graduates from Cornell University. He becomes a reporter and city editor of the Erie, Pennsylvania, Gazette. ** Charles W. Simmons is named East Bloomfield postmaster at Allen's Hill. ** Canandaigua's Baptist Church on Main Street is rebuilt and a steeple added. ** Hop production in the state peaks.

Local architect Henry Homelius designs the Victorian Gothic home at 39 Ellicott Avenue. ** Alva M. Colt develops a clamp while working in the wagon manufacturing shop of John L. Foster on State Street.

Students at Hobart College start a monthly newspaper, the Hobart Herald . ** The Village Civic Improvement Association competes its rejuvenation work at the area around the original village square, which is renamed Pulteney Park.

William Reynolds sells Corinthian Hall to Samuel Wilder, who remodels it as the Academy of Music. ** The library of the Rochester Theological Seminary on East Avenue opens. ** Charlotte import revenue drops to $148,000, from an 1855 peak of $1,534,000. ** Dreamland Park on Lake Ontario opens. It will later become Seabreeze. ** Brown's millrace generates 3,670 horsepower. The Johnson and Seymour Race generates 1,300; the Rochester, Fitzhugh and Carroll race 1,085. ** The city's Executive Board is divided into two, two-man boards, an elected Executive Board and a Waterworks and Fire Board, appointed by the Mayor, who loses the right to veto board resolutions.

A patient named Gorman (real name Jerry Casey), dying of consumption at St. Stephen's Hospital in St. Louis, confesses to Dr. Neal that he was responsible for the murder of a Mr. Wright (actual name Harris), a fellow worker at William Gere's tannery in Alexander, New York, in 1856.

New Jersey
A newly-formed tile company in Perth Amboy manufactures terra-cotta tiles for the headquarters of Brooklyn's Long Island Historical Society.

Charles Follen McKim, William Rutherford Mead and Stanford White go into partnership.


( Updated 11 / 28 / 2004 )

An 1818 ship-building shed at Sacket's Harbor blows down, leaving the New Orleans, an uncompleted warship from the War of 1812, exposed.

Feb 4
New York City's Madison Square Theater opens - featuring a double stage for fast scenery changes, an orchestra mounted over the proscenium, and cooling by "iced air" - with Steele Mackaye's Hazel Kirke.

Feb 16
Mechanical engineers Alexander Lyman Holley, Henry Rossiter Worthington, and John Edson Sweet meet in the New York City editorial offices of the American Machinist to discuss the formation of an American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

Feb 19
A revised Rochester city charter incorporates all changes and amendments to the 1861 charter. It recombines the Executive Board with the Waterworks and Fire Board, with a three-man membership, elected for three-year overlapping terms.

Feb 27
Temperatures in New York City rise to 68 degrees F, highest here for this date.

Mar 4
The New York Daily Graphic publishes the first half-tone engraving, produced by S. H. Horgan.

Mar 5
Temperatures in New York City rise to 72 degrees F, highest here for this date.

Mar 10
Salvation Army commissioner George Scott Raiton and seven women officers arrive at New York City's Battery Park to begin the group's official American activities.

Mar 13
Temperatures in New York City drop to 6 degrees F, lowest here for this date.

Mar 20
A further amendment is made to the Rochester city charter.

Jun 15
Excursion boat operator John Starin invites over 800 guests to a preview of Glen Island, his new resort on Long Island Sound offshore of New Rochelle, throws a giant clambake.

Jun 19
Starin throws a party at his Alpine, New Jersey, picnic grounds for New York City veterans of the Civil War and their families, transporting them in his boats. Between 6,000 and 7500 attend.

July 1
The Fort Orange Club is organized in Albany. Co-founder Erastus Corning, Jr., is made its first president, a position he will hold for the next dozen years.

Jul 20
The Cleopatra's Needle obelisk arrives in New York from London.

Oct 7
Businessman James Roosevelt marries his second wife Sara Delano, in Algonac.

Oct 9
New York City's Masons march to Central Park for a ceremony laying the cornerstone (actually to go in the center) of the base for Cleopatra's Needle.

Oct 15
Ruth Bryan, daughter of the woman who used Batavia's Holland Land Office building for a dance studio, deeds the property to the Batavia Free Methodist Church, which uses the building for holding services and as a church residence.

Oct 27
General Ulysses S. Grant and Senator Roscoe Conkling attend a Republican Rally in Rochester.

Nov 10
Cemetery workers moving bones in Tonawanda's Niagara River Burying Grounds uncover those of cholera 1852 victim Mrs. Michael Anguish and find that most of them have become petrified.

Nov 22
Helen Louise Leonard, under the assumed name of Lillian Russell, opens at Tony Pastor's Casino Theater on New York City's 14th Street, billed as an English Ballad Singer. Her mother, suffragist Cynthia Leonard is surprised by the appearance but approves. ** Temperatures in New York City drop to 13 degrees F, lowest temperature here for this date.

Nov 23
New York City sets another record, for this date, when the thermometer drops to 14 degrees F.

Nov 24
Another daily record is broken when temperatures in New York City drop to 14 degrees F.

Dec 11
Temperatures in New York City plunge to 6 degrees F, setting a record low here for the date.

Dec 20
Broadway is first lit by electricity.


The Rhinelander family builds Charles W. Clinton's Manhattan Apartment House. Clinton's 66th Street and Park Avenue armory is also completed. Co-op apartments become popular in the city. ** Democrat businessman William R. Grace defeats Republican William Dowd to become mayor, serving 1881-1882. ** Congregationalist minister the Reverend Edwin H. Chapin of the Fifth Avenue Church dies. ** The Cedar Grove estate of Gerard and Mary Morris, that runs in the Bronx along the Harlem River, is sold and subdivided. ** John Starin has his sidewheel towboat Blackbird rebuilt as an excursion steamer. ** Alexander Henriques is named Vice Chairman of the New York Stock Exchange. ** The city has more than 11,000 factories employing 227,342 people, whose wages amount to $97,030,121 a year. The companies are capitalized at $181,206,356. ** The approximate date the Illinois-born con artist Reed Waddell first pulls off his gold brick swindle.

The approximate date the Empire Stove Foundry is built, in Troy. ** Corning's population nears 5,000. ** Rochester's Bausch & Lomb Company opens a sales office in New York City. ** The approximate date salt deposits are found in the Warsaw area. ** The defunct Genesee Valley Canal is sold to the Genesee Valley Canal Railway Company. ** The Erie Canal system contains 4,350 boats. ** Workmen excavating for a chimney for the Bullard Paper Mill off Broad Street in Schuylerville, uncover the remains of a Revolutionary War soldier and his horse. ** The Canandaigua Lake Steam Navigation Company is formed, inaugurates regularly scheduled service on the lake. ** Former governor Lucius Robinson Alonzo dies in Elmira about the age of 70. ** Voters in Tonawanda ratify an appropriation for a dyke to protect the Niagara River Burying Ground (River Cemetery) from erosion. The contract is awarded to E. W. Betts, who bills 60¢ per lineal foot. ** Gunsmith Mike Tucker moves to Honeoye Falls. ** First and second generation Americans make up almost half of Poughkeepsie's population. ** Buffalo newspaper publisher Edward H. Butler founds the Evening News. ** Writer Nessmuk (George Washington Sears) travels the lakes of the central Adirondacks by canoe, submitting the resulting articles to Forest and Stream magazine. ** Syracuse has 724 factories, all locally owned.

Sacred Heart Church is completed. ** City Hall is destroyed by fire.

A monument is erected in Batavia Cemetery to lapsed Mason William Morgan, by the National Christian Association Opposed to All Secret Societies. ** Buffalo lawyer Grover Cleveland tries a case here. ** A fire destroys 11 buildings on the east side of State Street. The Pioneer Sheds will be erected on the site, as a livery stable. ** The approximate date Alva M. Colt dissolves his partnership with wagon maker John L. Foster, and launches his own shop, manufacturing clamps of his own design in a corner of Seaver Place's Mogridge Wagon Shop.

Improvements are made to the Beard's Stores warehouse pier at the Erie Basin. ** William Halsey Wood's Queen Anne-style house at 112 Willow Street in Brooklyn Height is completed.

The Rochester Electric Light Company is organized. ** Irondequoit Bay's Glen Haven Hotel is built. ** The approximate date Joseph Shatz opens a wholesale millinery store at 80 State Street.

© 2001 David Minor / Eagles Byte