Historical Society of the Tonawandas

Historical Society of the Tonawandas Our mission is to collect, preserve, interpret, exhibit, and publish the history of the Cities of Tonawanda and North Tonawanda
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Alicia Dziak from the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo stopped at the museum looking for information about and p...
05/15/2019

Alicia Dziak from the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo stopped at the museum looking for information about and photos of George F. Rand. The Foundation is planning a commemorative booklet for the 100th anniversary of the foundation featuring an article about George who was the founder. George is the grandson of Benjamin Long of the Long Homestead.

The attached photos are from the Long Family Reunion held in the summer of 1898 in Niagara Falls, NY. George Sr., his wife Vina, and son George Jr. are shown in the enlarged detail.

We thought some of our more senior readers might enjoy seeing this photo of the control tower on the old bascule bridge....
03/03/2019

We thought some of our more senior readers might enjoy seeing this photo of the control tower on the old bascule bridge. The operator (who may or may not be the individual leaving the tower in the photo) controlled the lift mechanism, raising the bridge deck and allowing boats to pass below. We have also included a photo of the not-so-high-tech control panel within. The lift bridge operated from 1919 until 1978. The photo was taken between 1976 and 1978.

Here's another great photograph. Taken during the construction of the Jack-Knife Bridge over the canal.  The photographe...
02/28/2019

Here's another great photograph. Taken during the construction of the Jack-Knife Bridge over the canal. The photographer was a transplant from Pennsylvania who was working at the Van Raalte Silk Mill on Sweeney St for 3 years - 1917 to 1920. Being a visitor, he took a lot of photographs of his home-away-from-home to send back to his family. The photos were all recently sent back to the Tonawandas and donated to the Historical Society.

Here's the back of the photo we posted last week - giving the names of the outing attendees.  Enjoy!
02/27/2019

Here's the back of the photo we posted last week - giving the names of the outing attendees. Enjoy!

Another great photo just in from a former T-NT resident!  This group of North Tonawanda youngsters is ready to climb abo...
02/23/2019

Another great photo just in from a former T-NT resident! This group of North Tonawanda youngsters is ready to climb aboard for a trip on the Great Gorge Scenic Railway at Niagara Falls. Family names (all identified!) include familiar NT names like Ziehl, Lorenz, Demler, Miller, Kopp, Nablo, Fritz, Dornfeld, Fehrman and Hermann.

The mail continues to bring great surprises!  We just received a dozen old photos in the mail including these two - one ...
02/07/2019

The mail continues to bring great surprises! We just received a dozen old photos in the mail including these two - one of the 1907 wedding of Paul Markovich and Anna Mye. The second photo shows the old Mye homestead at 219 Robinson Street in about 1888. The bride (Anna) is the smallest of the three little girls standing at the front door.

Jerry “Ranger Jerry” Krajna, a Park Ranger with Erie County who is assigned to Ellicott Creek Park, came to the muse...
02/06/2019

Jerry “Ranger Jerry” Krajna, a Park Ranger with Erie County who is assigned to Ellicott Creek Park, came to the museum to check out our files and photographs of his “stomping grounds”. Jerry is preparing to give a Walking Tour of Ellicott Creek Park on Saturday morning, February 9th. We found this from the Erie County website: Join Ranger Jerry as we explore Ellicott Creek Park and learn about the history of one of Erie County's Heritage Parks. We will talk about what a heritage park is, how it came to be and what the future may hold. This will be an outdoor presentation, please dress accordingly. Registration is required and is limited to the first 25 people who sign up. You must register as individuals and not as a group/family. Meet at the Casino. You must register for this tour at the Erie County website: www.erie.gov/parks. We especially enjoyed Jerry’s remarks about our collection, “You folks have better material and photos on the park than what I found at the Buffalo/Erie County Library”. Wow -- high praise indeed! (Attached are two of the photos Jerry copied from our collection)

We recently received this 2x3 inch New York Central and Hudson River RR commutation pass book - containing enough ticket...
02/06/2019

We recently received this 2x3 inch New York Central and Hudson River RR commutation pass book - containing enough tickets for three months of railroad trips between Tonawanda and Buffalo - dated 1888. The original owner of the commutation book was Miss Myra Glen Myers of North Tonawanda. Miss Myers spent much of her life pursuing higher education but ended up a recluse living in her old family homestead on Christiana Street until her death in 1951.

Among some documents recently received from the Tonawanda City Clerk’s office are a register of Tonawanda men who serv...
02/05/2019

Among some documents recently received from the Tonawanda City Clerk’s office are a register of Tonawanda men who served in World War I, a listing of volunteer firemen from the late 1800s, an early 20th century map of Tonawanda, and a register of “Physicians, Midwives, and Undertakers” covering the period 1914-1964. Our favorite is a small booklet documenting the city’s inspection of both outhouses and grocery store bottled milk sales from 1916.

We recently received a large quantity of photographs found in the City of Tonawanda Clerk’s office and forwarded to us...
01/22/2019

We recently received a large quantity of photographs found in the City of Tonawanda Clerk’s office and forwarded to us by them. Included are views of Downtown Main and Niagara Streets from the 1970s through the early 1990s. These photos show scenes of the Niagara Street reconstruction done in the 1970s as well as Main Street during and after Urban Renewal. Also, photos of City Officials’ swearing-in ceremonies from 1974 were included as well as numerous photos from the Tonawanda Boxboard Division of Robert Gair Company (later Continental Can) from 1954. Attached a few of the stores on Main Street.

Tonawanda native Paul Nussbaum stopped by looking for information on Civil War veterans from the Tonawandas.  Paul now l...
01/21/2019

Tonawanda native Paul Nussbaum stopped by looking for information on Civil War veterans from the Tonawandas. Paul now lives near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and has been in training to become a docent at the Gettysburg cemetery there. Attached photos show one of our recent displays at the N. T. Library concerning local Civil War veterans.

01/16/2019

The Society recently received a thank you note as follows: "Thank you for sharing photos from your (HSOT) Arcadia book. Here’s a copy (of my book) for your shelves. Local Historians Rock! Regards, Gretchen Knapp." Gretchen visited our museum a while back, searching for photos that would help document the Buffalo area’s contribution to World War II defense efforts in the 1940s. Some of our photos, along with others, are included in her book titled World War II: Buffalo, available on Amazon.

We’re kicking off the holiday season with Christmas celebrations at the Long Homestead this weekend!Come join us for a...
11/30/2018

We’re kicking off the holiday season with Christmas celebrations at the Long Homestead this weekend!

Come join us for a special open house at the Benjamin Long Homestead on Saturday, December 1st from 11:00-3:00 PM. The Garden Club of the Tonawandas has graciously decorated the historic building in accordance with the Christmas spirit. Come and see it admission free!

The following day we begin our Sunday tours. The Long Homestead will be open for tours each Sunday from 1-4 PM, beginning this Sunday, December 2 through December 23. Admission $4.
🎄🎄🎄
Visit our page for more info about these events.

It was 120 years ago today that Tonawandans were heading out to examine the damage done from a cyclone that hit the area...
09/27/2018

It was 120 years ago today that Tonawandans were heading out to examine the damage done from a cyclone that hit the area the night before. With the threat of Tornadoes in WNY in recent weeks as well as the interest shown in the post we put out a few weeks ago regarding this same cyclone that hit Tonawanda on Sept 26th 1898, we spent some time and drew up the attached map showing the path of the 1898 storm as well as the 40-plus homes and businesses that were damaged. Damages ranged from blown out walls to several totally destroyed homes. We are posting a couple other photos from the disaster.

09/19/2018

HSOT is looking for metal bookends to use in our resource center. If you have any that you'd like to donate to us, please stop in at the Museum.

09/12/2018

Our final Historic Boat Cruise on the Canal and River for the season is tomorrow - Thursday Sept 13th! Make your reservations now to save a seat. Come join us for an informative trip around Tonawanda Harbor and crossing over to the old ferry landing on Grand Island - and a lot more in between! Niagara River Cruises provides the boat, we provide the narration. Check out niagararivercruises website for more information on tickets and reservations. Hope to see you there!

In our collection of old postcards are two showing the North Tonawanda Post Office built in 1913.  One shows the structu...
08/22/2018

In our collection of old postcards are two showing the North Tonawanda Post Office built in 1913. One shows the structure in red brick, the other in cream brick. Since the original image was in black and white, the postcard artist could choose any color they wanted. We had always thought that the red was just an ‘oops’ by the postcard artist, but a recently found article from the 1912 Tonawanda Evening News shows that “energetic protests” by North Tonawanda residents convinced US Treasury Dept. officials to change the proposed construction material from red brick to cream. One wonders if the postcard artist knew all along

We had a recent request from a researcher who is making a documentary on the life of nationally known journalist Dorothy...
08/17/2018

We had a recent request from a researcher who is making a documentary on the life of nationally known journalist Dorothy Thompson. Dorothy was an important source of information from inside Nazi Germany before the war. She was also married to author Sinclair Lewis. Dorothy was a Western New Yorker who lived for several years in Tonawanda during her early youth. Of particular interest is the fact that during her time here, Dorothy experienced the 1898 cyclone that tore a swath through Tonawanda. We were able to provide the researcher with quite a bit of material on both Dorothy’s father - pastor of the Grace Methodist Church - as well as some great images of the cyclone’s aftermath.

We recently received this hand-colored, original map of the single Village of Tonawanda, located in the Counties of Erie...
08/16/2018

We recently received this hand-colored, original map of the single Village of Tonawanda, located in the Counties of Erie and Niagara, drawn by civil engineer Tobias Witmer in 1855. The map was donated by a direct descendent of Mr. Witmer. Unfortunately for Mr. Witmer, the northern ward of the village (i.e. North Tonawanda) seceded from the joint village in 1857 and the map became rather unwanted and Mr. Witmer had some difficulty getting paid for what he had agreed to do for the Village.

We just received another donation of some old photographs, one of which is this one taken immediately after the City of ...
07/26/2018

We just received another donation of some old photographs, one of which is this one taken immediately after the City of Tonawanda’s original High School burned in December 1896. The school was immediately rebuilt and is now what we know as Central School on Clinton Park (It is no longer used as a school). Also included in the photos were a number of early shots of the new houses going up in ELmwood Park in the 1920s.

Tonawanda High School alum (THS Class of 1960) Tom Butler stopped by while visiting here from Florida.  His grandfather ...
07/21/2018

Tonawanda High School alum (THS Class of 1960) Tom Butler stopped by while visiting here from Florida. His grandfather was George Houck, a prominent bicyclist in the area during the late 1800s/early 1900s in Tonawanda. He was manager of the Echo Motor Boat and Bicycle Shop, which was located on Young and Broad Streets (where Consumer Beverage is now). Like most bicycle shops of that era, it eventually morphed into the sale of automobiles, and became Echo Motors. This dealer sold Studebaker, Maxwell, Reo, Peerless, and other makes of early 20th century automobiles. He was also a well-known athlete who was one of the original members of the Eldredge Bicycle Club (makes sense - since he operated the local bicycle shop!). Later, the site became home to Wolf Motors, which also sold Studebakers as well as Packard and Mercedes-Benz brands of cars. We had earlier provided Tom with some photos of his grandfather, as well as some pictures of Echo Motors from circa 1915 (such as the one shown here).

Long-time member Doreen Bowen of Charlotte, NC stopped by with several interesting photographs and newspaper clippings t...
07/20/2018

Long-time member Doreen Bowen of Charlotte, NC stopped by with several interesting photographs and newspaper clippings to add to our collection. We were particularly fascinated with the photo shown here of Adam’s Bakery, with its employees and horse drawn wagons. The Bakery had two addresses, one on Main Street and the other at 31 Delaware Street. We believe this photo was taken at the Delaware Street location (where Burger King is now), and dates back to the very early 1900s. Doreen herself has contributed to a bit of Tonawanda history. She was married to Lee Bowen, and they - along with Lee’s parents (Charles and Florence) - operated Bowen’s Delicatessen at the corner of Main and Minerva (across from the Kibler High/Junior High) from 1954 until 1978. It was good to see her back in Tonawanda and we thank her for thinking of us with this great donation.

In a follow up to our post from earlier this year regarding Civil War veteran Augustus Rosseau / Rossow buried at Tonawa...
07/19/2018

In a follow up to our post from earlier this year regarding Civil War veteran Augustus Rosseau / Rossow buried at Tonawanda City Cemetery in 1939, a large group of his descendents gathered at his gravesite this morning to admire the newly placed gravestone which now marks his final resting place for the first time. The family was able to have the U.S. Military marker placed with the help of Fred Hamp and Ned Schimminger. Fred led the group in a short prayer during the gathering. The photos show the day of the funeral in 1939 and the gathering today.

Come one, come all to the flea market in Clinton Park this weekend, Saturday from 9-4 and Sunday from 10-3, where 35 ven...
07/18/2018

Come one, come all to the flea market in Clinton Park this weekend, Saturday from 9-4 and Sunday from 10-3, where 35 vendors will set up shop, sponsored by the one and only Historical Society of the Tonawandas!

We had a couple waiting for the museum doors to open Saturday morning.  They were interested in anything we had on their...
07/15/2018

We had a couple waiting for the museum doors to open Saturday morning. They were interested in anything we had on their ancestor Daivd Karr who was one of the earliest settlers in the Tonawandas - dying here in 1824. There aren’t a lot of records that far back, but they were very happy when we were able to show them this 1822 / 1823 page out of the ledger of local blacksmith Robert Simson. The ledger shows the simple but necessary tasks the blacksmith performed for these earliest pioneers - like making buckles and sharpening shears.

In filing some recently donated newspaper clippings about late NT Mayor Bill Wittkosky, we spotted this ‘historic’ p...
07/12/2018

In filing some recently donated newspaper clippings about late NT Mayor Bill Wittkosky, we spotted this ‘historic’ photo of the Mayor with his campaign manager - current NT Mayor Art Pappas. Date: 1977.

We found this fantastic photo in a pack of other local snapshots recently donated to the Historical Society.   An old no...
07/09/2018

We found this fantastic photo in a pack of other local snapshots recently donated to the Historical Society. An old notation on the photo indicates that the boy at center ‘might’ be former N.T. Mayor Bill Wittkowsky. So far, we have not been able to find any record of this "San Francisco to New York" cross-country trek.

Our nine new interpretive historic signs are beginning to be installed!  The first one was on the Webster-Main St bridge...
07/03/2018

Our nine new interpretive historic signs are beginning to be installed! The first one was on the Webster-Main St bridge near the flagpole. Eight more are scheduled to be installed this week - three at Gratwick Park, two at Fisherman’s Park and three along the Sweeney St bike path. These will compliment the eight signs we had installed along the bike path in Niawanda Park two years ago.

07/02/2018

Our next Historic Boat Cruise on the Canal and River is next week - Thursday July 12th! Make your reservations now to save a seat. Come join us for an informative trip around Tonawanda Harbor and crossing over to the old ferry landing on Grand Island - and a lot more in between! Niagara River Cruises provides the boat, we provide the narration. Check out niagararivercruises website for more information on tickets and reservations. Hope to see you there!

07/02/2018

A couple from California stopped in 15 minutes before closing looking to find the burial location of his gr-gr-gr-gr-grandfather Andrew True or Drue or Trew. We were able to find his family plot in Sweeney Cemetery, adjacent to the Family plot of Mr True’s wife’s family - that of Rufus Fanning. We also located the homestead of the Fannings on Goose Island on several of our late 19th Century maps.

07/02/2018

Tab Hauser, a freelance photographer and journalist is in town after finishing a 500 mile journey on the Erie Canal from his home on Long Island. He is working up several travel articles for the likes of Boating World. We provided him with a tour of the Long Homestead and a walking tour (in 93 deg heat) around the downtown / harbor area. Tab scooped up a gallon of Niagara River water to take back and pour into the Hudson River - ala DeWitt Clinton 200 years ago.

Mark Kovel, who is the current owner of the 100-plus-yr-old Humphrey & Vandervoort Company from the Tonawandas stopped i...
07/02/2018

Mark Kovel, who is the current owner of the 100-plus-yr-old Humphrey & Vandervoort Company from the Tonawandas stopped in and donated the company’s 1910 vintage insurance maps of the Twin Cities. He and his wife have lugged the massive 5”-thick volume across the country several times. The maps contain somewhat detailed drawings of every business, industry and residence in the Twin Cities as well as parts of Kenmore and Wheatfield.

06/28/2018

Gene Foels just dropped off several copies of his latest book: "Greatest Athletes in THS History - The 1940s - Part One." This comprehensive volume covers the sports careers of local Tonawanda athletes Ben Kish, James ‘Mike’ Niland and Tom Niland. This is Gene’s third book - following his earlier works: "Greatest Athletes in THS History - The 1930s" and "The Story of T-NT Football, 100 Years of Dynamite." All three books are available at our museum.

Fred and Cindy Adcock stopped in to donate a copy of their recently published book: "The Ganson Street Tigers Go to War....
06/24/2018

Fred and Cindy Adcock stopped in to donate a copy of their recently published book: "The Ganson Street Tigers Go to War." The product of ten years of research, interviews and masterful compilation chronicles the stories of 41 residents of the one-block-long Ganson St in North Tonawanda as they shift from friends and playmates to men who helped win WW II. Full of interesting details from the battlefront to life in the Tonawandas during the war, it’s an emotional and fascinating read. (Copies are available at our museum.)

Address

113 Main Street
Tonawanda, NY
14150

Opening Hours

Tuesday 10:00 - 18:00
Wednesday 12:00 - 16:30
Saturday 10:00 - 14:00

Telephone

(716) 694-7406

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