Elmira HistoryForge

Elmira HistoryForge Elmira HistoryForge is part of a larger project run by The History Center in Tompkins County.

Our volunteers at HistoryForge have been working hard, but we could always use an extra hand!  Learn how you can help cr...
01/07/2024

Our volunteers at HistoryForge have been working hard, but we could always use an extra hand! Learn how you can help create a map of our past.

Looking to connect with local history? Join our HistoryForge volunteers at another session on Wednesday, January 10th from 6 - 8 pm at the West Elmira Community Center as they unlock local history. Contact coordinator Andrea Renshaw at [email protected] for more details.

We are always looking for more local volunteers!
12/04/2023

We are always looking for more local volunteers!

Ready to unlock secrets? Join our History Forge volunteers this Wednesday, December 6th from 6 - 8 pm at the West Elmira Community Center as they unlock local history. Contact coordinator Andrea Renshaw at [email protected] for more details.

11/23/2023
Happy Thanksgiving from Elmira HistoryForge!Check out how people were getting ready for Thanksgiving in 1910.  Here is w...
11/23/2023

Happy Thanksgiving from Elmira HistoryForge!

Check out how people were getting ready for Thanksgiving in 1910. Here is where they were headed; Izards, Bundy & Secor, FL Jennings, Knapp Brothers, and many more.

See what you can learn about the everyday citizens of our past!
10/30/2023

See what you can learn about the everyday citizens of our past!

Are you good at detective work? Join our History Forge volunteers this Wednesday, November 1st from 6 - 8 pm at the West Elmira Community Center as they uncover and document local history for this amazing project! Contact coordinator Andrea Renshaw at [email protected] for more details.

Join us tomorrow night!
10/17/2023

Join us tomorrow night!

Want to get involved in documenting the county? Join us this Wednesday for another HistoryForge session, October 18th from 6-8 pm at the West Elmira Community Center. Contact Project Coordinator Andrea Renshaw at [email protected] for more details.

Lewis LawesOur latest census entries have brought us to the Elmira Reformatory.  A whole district of the census incorpor...
10/09/2023

Lewis Lawes

Our latest census entries have brought us to the Elmira Reformatory. A whole district of the census incorporates the approximately 1,300 inmates and residents of the Elmira Reformatory. In 1910, Elmira Reformatory was still a home of reform for young first time offenders. This being said, most of the records we are seeing are for men between the ages of 19 and 23.

This post however is not so much about the Reformatory and its inmates as it is about the enumerator, Lewis Lawes. Lewis Lawes was a guard, living on Walnut street (across from Arnot hospital) with his wife and two daughters.

This name will probably not be familiar for very many, but we were able to find an impressive life for yet another extraordinary everyday citizen of our 1910 census.

Lewis Lawes was born here in Elmira September 8th 1883. In 1901, Lawes, aged 17, joined the Army and served three years, discharging as a “very good” soldier. Lawes returned to Elmira, and not long after, decided on a career in New York’s prisons.

When we meet Lewis Lawes in the 1910 census, he was a recording clerk at Elmira Reformatory. This explains why he was the one to be in charge of filling out the census details.

Lawes eventually went on to become the most well known, and longest acting warden of Sing Sing Prison.

Lewis Lawes took charge of Sing Sing on January 1st, 1920. He was well known for his ideals in prison reform, and spent time educating others on the benefits of reform.

One of the changes he brought to Sing Sing was sports. During his time at Sing Sing, Lawes introduced highly popular leagues of football, baseball, and basketball. They competed against outside teams, and at one point the general public was invited to spectate. Guests included Babe Ruth (who is said to have hit his longest homerun out of the Sing Sing walls), and the New York Giants football team (that visited to coach and play against the “Black Sheep”).

He wrote several books and pamphlets on the subject of reform, and was a staunch objector to the death penalty. Some of his works became widely read by the public, like “20,000 years in Sing Sing”. Many of these works even became movies starring famous actors like Humphrey Bogart and Bette Davis.

In 1941 he retired as the longest running warden of Sing Sing at 21 years. This was an impressive feat, since the 10-12 wardens before him averaged an 11 month stay.
Lewis Lawes’ home in 1910: https://elmira.historyforge.net/buildings/4793

Link to a digital copy of: “20,000 Years in Sing Sing” https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.34197/mode/2up

It's not too late to join! Come learn about our history through the records.
10/03/2023

It's not too late to join! Come learn about our history through the records.

Thirsting to get involved? Consider joining HistoryForge this Wednesday for another volunteer work session. October 4th from 6-8 pm at the West Elmira Community Center. Contact Project Coordinator Andrea Renshaw at [email protected] for more details.

Back in 1910, Elmira was ramping up for fall fashion this week!  Take a look at the ads from local stores downtown; Rose...
10/01/2023

Back in 1910, Elmira was ramping up for fall fashion this week!

Take a look at the ads from local stores downtown; Rosenbaum's, Izard's, Sheehan, Dean & Co., F. E. Doolittle, Gorman & Howard, and many others.

Local stores provided everything you needed to be at the peak of fashion; dresses, suits, coats, gloves, boots, and hats.

Join us!  Come learn just how amazing our local history is.
09/19/2023

Join us! Come learn just how amazing our local history is.

It takes team work! Consider joining us this Wednesday for another HistoryForge session, September 20th from 6-8 pm at the West Elmira Community Center. Contact Project Coordinator Andrea Renshaw at [email protected] for more details on how to get involved in this amazing volunteer project. Photo: Willys-Morrow Workers, ca 1930s

Hopefully we will be getting some  new HistoryForge towns!
09/19/2023

Hopefully we will be getting some new HistoryForge towns!

Learning about History Forge. What a great tool!

09/09/2023

Lindenwald Haus

Elmira HistoryForge has decided to jump out of sequence to discover more about the historic Lindenwald Haus in 1910, when it served as a Home for the Aged.

In 1910 we found a small staff and 30 “inmates” residing at the newly expanded home. The residents of the home range from ages 63 to 92 years old, and are predominantly women. https://elmira.historyforge.net/buildings/1636

The Home for the Aged was a product of much community care. Several newspaper articles from the time list the donations and fundraising efforts of the community.
My favorite article from this time describes the combined 94th birthday party of the home’s two oldest residents; Thomas Moore and Susan Wiswell (both listed in the 1910 census).

Labor DaySo it's Labor Day 1910 how will you spend your day?In the early 1900s Americans started enjoying more leisure t...
09/04/2023

Labor Day

So it's Labor Day 1910 how will you spend your day?

In the early 1900s Americans started enjoying more leisure time, they typically had Saturdays and Sundays free and had paid days off. There were many new technologies that were making life easier, some had phones in their home, there were phonographs, electric trolleys, cameras, the model T, the Ferris wheel and talking pictures were the newest entertainment.

The Star Gazette advertised an assortment of fun family activities.

We could spend the entire day at Eldridge Park, participating in or watching boat & bicycle races, a baseball game,a band, fireworks, fancy rifle shooting show or a moving picture show. Interestingly, the fireworks were shot from a flat boat in the middle of the lake. I'm not sure I'd want that job!

Maple Ave Park offered an Amateur Athletic Carnival and a long list of competitive races: mile runs, relays, high jump, pole vault, shot put and even several motorcycle races. Children and adults were encouraged to come and show off their talents and win ribbons and prizes.

The City typically held an annual parade that the residents attended but the parade had been canceled in 1910 due to the local labor organizations using the celebration funds to establish a needed tuberculosis shack at the local hospital.

Roricks Glen was offering a special opera called "Martha", theater shows, dinners and picnicking along the beautiful views of the Chemung River. New improvements were made earlier in the year by The Elmira Water Light & Railroad. They added new lines to the trolley rails extending from the City to Roricks Glen so they could now carry up to 2,000 passengers from the Glen after the shows without a long wait. They also created a new lane for automobiles to easily park near the bridge. Wow, 2,000 people I never realized what a large facility the Glen had!

The Family Theatre of E Market Street was reopening after a fire and thet were offering up to 3 shows a day with vaudeville acts & motion pictures.

If we wanted to venture a little further we could take the excursion train to Watkins Glen for the day, trains also toured back and forth from Waverly NY.

There certainly were plenty of fun activities for family and friends to attend for the last hoorah of the summer season in 1910.

We hope you all enjoy our trip back in time and have a wonderful Labor Day.

LABOR DAYLabor Day became a federal holiday back in the 1894, it was created to recognize the many contributions workers...
09/03/2023

LABOR DAY

Labor Day became a federal holiday back in the 1894, it was created to recognize the many contributions workers made to America's strength, prosperity and well-being. So we thought we'd talk about a few of the jobs women held back then.
The most common job in the time period was dressmaking, there were over 260 employed in this industry. Some worked from home on their own account and others worked for shops. A similar occupation of the time was a milliner (Hat makers). With over 65 milliners in just the City of Elmira it seems that everyone must have had many beautiful hats.

Teaching jobs were abundant with over 225 jobs displayed in the data. They taught students in public schools, parochial schools, business schools, hospitals and colleges and for private families. The teachers spread their knowledge in regular studies, music, dance, language, piano and painting.

A few of the more common occupations listed were: Houseworkers (189 workers), Bookkeepers(123), Cooks (111), Clerk's(98), Boarding-house Keepers(73), Laundress (125), Machine Operators (46) and an assortment of Laborers at the local mills and manufacturers.

And some not as common but a bit more interesting occupations found are an acrobat, 5 doctors, 10 artists, 4 actresses, a chocolate dipper and a Hello Girl. Don't know what a "Hello Girl" is? See our post from earlier this week.

Almost all of these jobs are still in existence today although some have changed tremendously with new technologies. Today it's a little harder to find a seamstress when you'd like your dress shortened and most of us don't buy hand made hats very often but they are still available. We might even still have our own chocolate dippers right in town at the Big Flats DeMets candy company.

We find a lot of occupations in the 1910 census that no longer exist, and even some that we have never heard of.One that...
08/31/2023

We find a lot of occupations in the 1910 census that no longer exist, and even some that we have never heard of.

One that stood out recently was the “Hello Girl”, Adelaide Soules. I had never heard the term, but automatically realized she was a telephone operator, you know the one who says “hello” when you pick up the phone.

So off we went, to learn more about these “Hello Girls”.

This term was well used before the days of automatic dialing systems, when the only way to place your call was through the local switchboard. It was not always a term operators were fond of, others embraced the nickname.

Our Elmira operators were all single women between the ages of 17 and 35. By the time of our census almost all telephone operators were women.

*This term gathered a new meaning when the United States entered WWI, and Hello Girls were sent to keep the phone lines going between units in France.

Why send women to war to operate telephones?
Almost all telephone operators of the age were women. If you wanted experienced workers, current civilian operators were your obvious choice. The men recruited to run the Army telephones could only connect one call every 60 seconds. When experienced “Hello Girls” arrived in France, the connection time went down to 10 seconds per call.

08/14/2023
07/25/2023

Hop on board HistoryForge! This Wednesday is another HistoryForge session, July 26th from 6-8 pm at the West Elmira Community Center. Contact Project Coordinator Andrea Renshaw at [email protected] for more details this amazing project and how you can get involved. Photo: Lake Street, CCHS collection.

Elmira HistoryForge will be at Chemung County Historical Society's Out to Lunch event noon till 1pm on Wednesday July 19...
07/14/2023

Elmira HistoryForge will be at Chemung County Historical Society's Out to Lunch event noon till 1pm on Wednesday July 19th!
We will be discussing how to use the HistoryForge site, and how to use it to answer your historical and genealogical questions.
Come meet our Project Coordinator and some of the volunteers that have been running Elmira HistoryForge.
https://chemungvalleymuseum.org/event/out-to-lunch-meet-the-staff/

Have you checked out our website lately?  Elmira HistoryForge volunteers have been hard at work!  We are nearly finished...
07/03/2023

Have you checked out our website lately?

Elmira HistoryForge volunteers have been hard at work! We are nearly finished with the 1910 census records north of the river (every dot on the map is an address).

Have we recorded your home or relatives yet?

https://elmira.historyforge.net/

At our Elmira HistoryForge meeting Wednesday we found an interesting 1910 Census data entry that caught our attention.Th...
06/16/2023

At our Elmira HistoryForge meeting Wednesday we found an interesting 1910 Census data entry that caught our attention.

The entry was 955 College Ave, and there were over 40 women & girls from age 13 to 25 living in the home. We found that this address housed The Anchorage Home for girls also later called The Helen L Bullock Training School. It housed & rescued girls who had gotten themselves in trouble with the law, had problems at home or sometimes pregnant. It sounds like they ran a strict schedule and they had a high success rate at helping the girls.

The home was enormous with almost 50 bedrooms, 25 classrooms, 2 laundry rooms. A matron and 2 assistants lived at the home with the girls.

We found it very interesting that they only listed the girls first names on the census. I'm sure they were protecting the girls but this sure would make it tough to find your missing relative if your searching for them.

The home was eventually torn down in 2011 after a fire.

Below is a link to a blog that the Chemung County Historical Society wrote a few years ago.

http://chemungcountyhistoricalsociety.blogspot.com/2017/11/the-anchorage.html?m=1

06/12/2023

Have you heard!? HistoryForge is meeting up this Wednesday 6/14 for another session, from 6-8 pm at the West Elmira Community Center. Contact Project Coordinator Andrea Renshaw at [email protected] for more details on how to get involved. Psst...pass the word

05/29/2023

We will be remembering the many men and women that have died in service to our country this Memorial Day. If you choose to visit our local cemeteries, I will be sharing the stories of 3 of our local heroes.
All three servicemen we have already come across in our transcription at HistoryForge. We have entered around 11,000 records, of those records I was able to confirm the identity of three boys from the 1910 census. The 1910 Federal Census catches these men just 7 years before the war when they were ages 14, 15, and 16.
Charles L. Ruddick is 14 in 1910, living with his parents at 655 E Church St. He is the only child of James and Ella Ruddick. Charles was a 1914 graduate of Elmira Free Academy. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps on May 2, 1918, he was sent to Parris Island, and then on to MCB Quantico before leaving for the war in France. Pvt. Charles Lawrence Ruddick was killed in action September 17, 1918 in France, four months after enlisting.

Algernon D. Gorman is 15 when we meet him in the 1910 Census. He lives with his parents at 518 W Third St. He is the only child of Frank and Martha Gorman. Sergeant Algernon D. Gorman died in the Spanish Flu epidemic as it swept through Washington D.C. where Gorman was stationed. At the time of his death Sergeant Gorman was working with chemicals of war at the American University.

David Rubin is 16 at the time of the 1910 Census. David is one of 7 children born to Nathan and Tina Rubin of 158 Harriet St. Pvt David Nathan Rubin of the Seventh Infantry was killed going “over the top” of the trenches in France.

All of these men can be visited in our local cemeteries:
Franklin Street Cemetery-
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/149021487/david-rubin

Woodlawn Cemetery-
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/99737363/algernon-d-gorman
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/153349674/charles-lawrence-ruddick

Please check back tomorrow to learn more about Charles Ruddick.


Join us, and learn about the citizens of Elmira in 1910!
05/14/2023

Join us, and learn about the citizens of Elmira in 1910!

Not to bug you, just to let you know that this Wednesday is another HistoryForge session, May 17th from 6-8 pm at the West Elmira Community Center. Contact Project Coordinator Andrea Renshaw at [email protected] for more details on how to get involved.

Happy mothers day to all of the mothers present and past!  Elmira HistoryForge would like to highlight a recently shared...
05/14/2023

Happy mothers day to all of the mothers present and past!

Elmira HistoryForge would like to highlight a recently shared and digitized collection from the Chemung County Historical Society.

The Chemung County Historical Society recently digitized the Rose Spadaccino papers in their collection. Rose (Spadaccino) Muccigrosso was a midwife to the mainly Italian immigrant community around her home.

A mother of five herself, Rose helped deliver babies in her community for over 20 years.

The Rose Spadaccino collection includes her ledger. Her ledger documents the births she attended between 1915 and 1935. It details the baby’s name, the names of the parents and the date and address of the birth. Many of the records are for the births of her own grandchildren, including the last record for Nick Muccigrosso, her grandson born in 1935.

Records like this give us a look into the interconnectedness of lives in the past. We can picture Rose at the side of these women as they bring their children into the world, and become mothers.

Check out this amazing collection that is now available on the NYheritage site: https://nyheritage.org/collections/rose-spadaccino-papers

See Rose and her family at Elmira HistoryForge (living at 107 W Fifth street (across from Lib's Supper Club): https://elmira.historyforge.net/buildings/3219

Don't forget to join us! Contact the Project Coordinator to learn more.
05/03/2023

Don't forget to join us! Contact the Project Coordinator to learn more.

Help us carry the load! Join us for another HistoryForge session this Wednesday, May 3rd from 6-8 pm at the West Elmira Community Center. Contact Project Coordinator Andrea Renshaw at [email protected] for more details on how to get involved.

Our sponsor, the Chemung County Historical Society, shared this earlier this week.  Serving Women is, as you would imagi...
04/16/2023

Our sponsor, the Chemung County Historical Society, shared this earlier this week. Serving Women is, as you would imagine, a book describing the circumstances of serving women in the late 19th century.

What was the domestic servant industry like in Elmira?

Elmira in 1910 had a large number of women working for private families. Filtering through the records we have currently transcribed, there are 479 women working for private families at the time, over 15% of approximately 2,700 working women of the time. These women are ages 13-82; they worked as housekeepers, cooks, maids, nurses, seamstresses, laundresses, and even a governess.

Thank you Chemung County Historical Society for helping our community get involved in local history!
04/10/2023

Thank you Chemung County Historical Society for helping our community get involved in local history!

Celebrating the work our History Forge volunteers do, here's a blog repost from our HistoryForge coordinator Andrea whom we first met four years ago as a volunteer http://bit.ly/3zxq9O3
If you want to get involved with history, contact Andrea at [email protected] for details.

03/09/2021

Elmira HistoryForge

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415 East Water Street
Elmira, NY
14901

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