Once peace was made, life slowed down considerably in the outlying area that was the Flint Hill/Parkside area; still 4-and-a-half miles north of the action of the village of Buffalo. And plenty of action there was. Through much political wrangling, the Village of Buffalo was selected as the terminus of the Erie Canal in 1825, bypassing the village of Black Rock, and sealing Buffalo’s fate as a major player in trade for the next century.
North Street (as the name implies) was the city’s northern border when it incorporated as a city in 1832. And even after Main Street was Macadamized, a rudimentary form of paving, in 1839, the ride along “the Main Road” between Buffalo and Williamsville, through the Parkside area, was still a bumpy ride through “the country.”
Just as today, it was thought one way to solve the city’s problems was through taxes. The collection of tolls paid for the improvements to the Buffalo-Williamsville Road; dozens of toll gates were erected from Buffalo to Albany long the stretch, including one adjacent to Schardt’s tavern at Main and Steele Streets.
Steele was later to be renamed Kensington Avenue, and later Humboldt Parkway would cut through the corner, meaning Buffalo’s first toll booth was roughly at the corner of what is now Main and Humboldt.
Many of the men who first came to occupy what is now Parkside were well into middle age when they came here in the first decade of the 1800s. Therefore, by the 1820s and 1830s, many of the original pioneers were giving way to a new generation, many of whom knew Flint Hill and the Buffalo Plains as their only home.
Judge Erastus Granger would retire most of his public offices, and live out his final years at Flint Hill; his 700 acres scattered with homes for friends and family members. He remained a firm Republican, and a close friend of New York Governor DeWitt Clinton. He was one of many Buffalonians who pushed for the building of the Erie Canal, and pushed for its western terminus to be located in Buffalo.
His friendship with Red Jacket also grew. Granger was buried on Christmas Day, 1826. Following the funeral, as the casket was about to be lowered into the grave, Red Jacket stood forward, and stared intently upon the face of the deceased. The great Indian Chief then delivered in his native Seneca tongue a final eulogy and prayer for his close friend. Those who heard it and understood it, said it was one of Red Jacket’s finest oratories, in a career of fine oratory. The men’s friendship was legendary enough to be etched on the façade of City Hall.
In 1845, Erastus’s son Warren Granger built for himself a great stone mansion on the site of the ancient Councils in the Oaks of the Senecas. Again, this place is now marked at Forest Lawn Cemetery by a large sundial, easily visible from Main Street.
The Gothic Structure was designed by Calvin Otis, built by John Ambrose, and made of stone quarried from the estate. It was destined to become the center of the Buffalo social scene, despite it’s out of the way location. Like his father before him, Warren was a staunch Republican. His home saw parties during the Hard Cider campaign of William Henry Harrison, and actually played host to then-former President John Quincy Adams in 1848. And there is scarcely a doubt that Granger was in attendance when Abraham Lincoln stopped in Buffalo in February 1861 on his way to Washington to take the oath of office as President.
The Granger’s property was considered among the most beautiful on the Niagara Frontier, and, in 1850, the Granger Family sold most of its vast tracts of rolling green acreage to the City of Buffalo. Some of it, 80 acres worth, was destined to become Forest Lawn Cemetery. But the rest of the land, including Granger’s quarry and his meadow, would be reserved by the City for future use as a park. It would be over a quarter of a century, however, before Frederick Law Olmsted would unveil plans to transform the areas raw, natural beauty into the Delaware Park we know today.
Washington Adams Russell
Captain Rowland Cotton was one of the original Plains Rangers, and was the Revolutionary War veteran who helped Daniel Chapin exhume and re-inter the 300 souls who died at the Flint Hill camp in 1813. He moved to the village of Lancaster in 1826, and as those Parksiders who live between Jewett Parkway and Russell Avenue will note on their property deeds, Cotton sold his farm to Washington Adams Russell.
Russell was the son of James Russell, a Revolutionary War Captain who happened to be well acquainted with the Commander-In-Chief of the Continental Army, George Washington. When Russell’s son was born in 1801, he named him after the first two Presidents of the United States—George Washington and John Adams.
Washington Adams Russell left central Pennsylvania in 1825 with his young family, driving a team of oxen towards Buffalo. He ran the Cold Springs Tavern at what is now Main and Ferry Streets for a year, before buying the 200-acre Cotton estate. In 1841, he built the area’s first brick home, a home which still stands today at 2540 Main Street (seen below in the 1880s).
Now painted white, the building houses “The Church in Buffalo,” marked today by a sign proclaiming “Taste and See!” on the Main Street lawn. But for years, it was the McKendry-Dengler then Roberts-Dengler Funeral Home. It remains the oldest home still standing in Parkside.
Washington Adams Russell died in the home in 1877, but his name lived on famously in Parkside. Russell’s son Washington Russell II went to California during the Gold Rush of 1849. His grandson, Washington Russell III was another prominent figure in local history, famous as an eccentric renaissance man.
Aside from having built the oldest building still in Parkside, the eldest Russell is also remembered as having been the source of four street names in Parkside. Deeded to the city in 1889, Russell Avenue was the cow path by which the family brought their cattle to drink from a spring in the Delaware Park meadow. Fairfield and Greenfield were the names of pastures on the Russell farm, located about where those streets are today. Orchard Place was the site of the Russell fruit tree orchard.
Col. William Chapin and Elam Jewett
Col. William Whitney Chapin stayed on at his father Dr. Daniel Chapin’s home on Main Street following the doctor’s death in 1821. Over the years, William built out from the somewhat rustic frontier cabin his father called home, eventually enveloping it completely. In doing so, with an eye towards aesthetics, he’d built what was considered one of Buffalo’s most beautiful mansions. Willowlawn, he named it, for the willow trees surrounding the home. It was from one of these trees that Daniel Chapin took clippings to plant on either side of the grave in the Park Meadow. It is also from this estate that Willow Lawn, the small street between Crescent Avenue and Main Street, takes its name. Before Willowlawn Avenue was deeded to the city in 1905, it was the site of an expansive garden just to the south of the home.
The Willowlawn Estate, as it appeared in 1901 after a great storm which toppled a willow on the front lawn. An apartment complex now stands at the site, at Main & Jewett.
Col. Chapin died in 1852. Eight years later, in 1864, Elam Jewett, the publisher of Buffalo newspaper The Commercial Advertiser, purchased the Willowlawn Estate. It was Jewett’s wealth, philanthropy, and keen eye as a developer that would help change the serene Buffalo Plains and Flint Hill area into the Parkside known today.
Elam Jewett was raised on his father’s farm in Vermont, and wrote for several newspapers in that state. He grew restless however, and looked to the western frontier, “where great opportunities awaited him.” He purchased a newspaper, The Buffalo Journal from Judge Samuel Wilkeson in 1838, and merged it with the Advertiser the next year. Having become a prominent Buffalonian in his own right, Jewett became a close friend of another prominent Buffalonian– Millard Fillmore. The two traveled in Europe together in 1856.
Jewett had “retired” to Willow-lawn to live the life of a “gentle-man farmer” on the massive acreage, but he did have several publicly-minded plans for his sprawling property.
First, with the War of 1812 still fresh in the minds of Buffalo, Jewett wanted to build a proper stone memorial to the hundreds buried in what was essentially now his backyard by Dr. Chapin and Captain Cotton. The Mound in The Meadow didn’t look much different than it did 40 years earlier when the 300 soldiers were buried the spring following that “dreadful contagion” in 1813. It remained marked only by the pair of willow trees planted by Dr. Chapin, though the saplings had grown to full mature trees marking either side of the ghoulish reminder of the area’s war history.
But it was ultimately through Dr. Chapin’s previously mentioned efforts to keep and enhance the area’s natural beauty that Mr. Jewett’s patriotic intentions to build the monument were frustrated. The city took that majestic part of Jewett’s land, and added it to the land also purchased from the Granger family, to make up the bulk of what is now Delaware Park. The mass grave remains to this day, underneath the Delaware Park Golf course, marked only by a large boulder placed by the Historical Society in 1896.
The wealthy publishing magnate also planned to give to his church in his retirement. Though his various plans were frustrated and also met with stops and starts through the years, Jewett eventually created a church that became the center from which the Parkside neighborhood would be built.
A devout Episcopalian, Jewett was rebuffed when he offered land to the Episcopal Church charity foundation to build a home and chapel for infants and the elderly on his land off of Main Street. Ellen Parisi talks about it in her book A Century in the Fold: A History of the Church of the Good Shepherd (1988), in part quoting Rev. Thomas Berry. Keep in mind, the outlying area referred to here is today the corner of Jewett Parkway and Summit Avenue:
It was felt unwise to leave the elderly and orphans stranded “miles from civilization” when the snowdrifts in winter would make walking anywhere impossible. “Here, the citizen dwelling below Ferry St. came out for a ‘day in the country’… and here along the ‘Main Street’ the Williamsville stage rumbled in its daily trips to and from Buffalo. We were missionaries in those days, and tried to convince city merchants, who objected to delivering goods ‘so far out,’ that it as no farther out than it was in to make our purchases.”
But while Jewett’s overtures were being rejected by his church because of the area’s remoteness; it was just that feeling of “miles from civilization” that some in the bustling city were trying to capture. In 1858, the City of Buffalo was growing to a point where it looked like green space and nature was soon to be at premium. A group of “public-spirited gentleman” began plans to build a public park system in Buffalo. At private expense, Frederick Law Olmsted, the celebrated architect of the Central Park system in New York, was brought to Buffalo to “examine the situation and recommend a desirable park scheme.”
Erastus Granger had been at Flint Hill less than a decade; the Plains Rangers less than five years when the War of 1812 broke out. The Parkside/Flint Hill area played several prominent roles in that conflict. Flint Hill was an encampment and training ground for soldiers preparing to invade Canada. It was also a sanctuary when the village of Buffalo was burned to the ground. Given the nature of war and brutal Buffalo winters, the area also served as a burial ground for hundreds who never made it home.
Throughout much of the documentation about the War of 1812, the Flint Hill Camp was described as “Camp near Buffalo.” This was explained in Peace Episodes on the Niagara (Buffalo Historical Society, 1914). “In 1812, the Army of the Frontier went into winter quarters at Flint Hill, with Scajaquada creek as a convenient water supply.” Barton Atkins, the great chronicler of history of this period, wrote about the encampment in Modern Antiquities:
The camp extended on Main Street from the present Humboldt Parkway northerly to the lands of Dr. Daniel Chapin… and westerly to the head of the Park Lake, on lands belonging to Erastus Granger. On the Main-street front of this old camp-ground stand several venerable oaks, relics of the old camp. The one directly opposite the Deaf and Dumb Asylum is distinguished as the one under which a row of soliders kneeled when shot for desertion in the spring of 1813.
The camp spread from what is now Forest Lawn to near Jewett Parkway along Main Street, and stretched as far back as the Delaware Park Lake. The shooting mentioned was Buffalo’s first execution. As of 1914, one of the old trees that bore witness to the capital punishment still remained in the backyard of 24 Florence Avenue (corner of Crescent.)
Flint Hill, along with the rest of the Niagara Frontier, was a hotbed of activity early in the war as a planned launching point for the invasion of British Canada, and as it was Indian Agent Granger’s job to keep the Native Americans neutral. The Buffalo Gazette of June 2nd, 1812, reports Granger met with the chiefs of the Six Nations, at which time they acknowledged no desire to enter conflict between the US and Canada.
By early August however, after the rumor spread of the British and their Indian Allies gaining control of Seneca-owned Grand Island, Seneca chief Red Jacket told Granger that the Seneca Warriors wished to join the conflict against the British and “drive off those bad people from our land.” As his correspondence from the time shows, Granger spent much of the ensuing year walking a tightrope, trying to make both the Indians and the powers in Washington happy.
The most complete meetings of chiefs in many years was held again on Main Street at the Granger farm in September, and this time the Senecas, the Onondagas, and the Cayugas voted to “take up the hatchet on behalf of the United States.” Those who volunteered their services at the council agreed that they “would go home as soon as the council fire was extinguished, arm and equip themselves for battle, and return to Buffalo.”
Though it was the continued hope to keep the young men of the Six Nations neutral, given the fact that “within a fortnight, between two and four hundred savages” would be in Buffalo ready to fight, President James Madison was forced to allow Granger to accept the services and organize the warriors of the Six Nations.
Still, there were many stops and starts in the Iroquois joining the war effort. Several times, after being asked to assemble, native warriors weren’t used. After nearly a year of “dancing” between native chiefs and Washington bureaucrats, the two sides kept in alliance by the constant work of Granger, it was Granger’s safety that ultimately had the Indians take to arms in combat.
They finally entered the conflict when their friend, Erastus Granger, was in peril. The Canadian British put a price on his head, and had Flint Hill… yes, modern day Parkside… marked for destruction.
Judge Granger received word of this on July 10, 1813, and sent word to the greatest Seneca warrior of his time, the old chief Farmer’s Brother. Granger’s longtime compatriot, who fought in both the French and Indian War of the 1760s, and the American War of Independence, had received a medal from George Washington for his service. It was also “from Washington’s lips” that came the name “Farmer’s Brother,” by which the chief would be known for the rest of his days.
A man of at least 80 years old in 1813, Farmer’s Brother traveled from his hut in the Indian village in today’s South Buffalo, to what’s now the Parkside neighborhood, with warriors in tow, ready to fight. The Indians readied for war at the Granger home on Main Street. James Granger wrote an account of the night in his 1893 book Granger Genealogy.
The chief and his followers arrived at 11 o’clock, and the night was spent preparing for the coming fray. Bullets were molded by the great fire in the kitchen (of the Granger Homestead), messengers hurried into the neighboring village for arms and ammunition, and the Indians were banqueted on unlimited salt pork prepared by Mrs. Granger’s own hands.
After over a year of waiting to join the conflict, the Senecas would finally join the war. Granger, led by Farmer’s Brother and the Senecas followed Guide Board Road (North Street today) to Black Rock. There, they met with General Porter, who decided to initiate an offensive against the British along the shores of the Niagara River.
The Senecas prepared for battle in a ritual never seen by the American troops assembled at the spot. They took of all of their clothes– stripped down to their breechcloths. Granger and the Senecas were on the right side of the line, regulars in the middle, white volunteers to the left, ready to take on the British. At the order of General Porter, the Indians leapt forward with a yell that startled both their enemy… and their allies.
Within minutes, the enemy had retreated. The Indians had even rushed into the water to pull soldiers from their boats as they paddled in retreat for the safety of the Canadian shore. The victory was complete. Buffalo, Black Rock, and Granger’s Flint Hill Estate were safe, for now, due mostly to the tenacity of Farmer’s Brother’s men.
Because of its location, both high in elevation, and a relatively safe-yet-close-enough distance to Black Rock, Flint Hill had become an important meeting place for the military leaders both the United States and of the Six Nations (now Five Nations, with the Mohawks fighting along side the British.) Captain George Howard of the 25th Infantry spent some time at the Granger place recovering his strength and health. He wrote home to Connecticut on June 6, 1813, that he had met many of the famous chiefs of the Six Nations, including Red Jacket, Parrot Nose, Bill Johnson, Young King, Farmer’s Brother, and Silver Heels.
The Burning of Buffalo
Five months after that first battle, in December, 1813, by now Col. Granger and 83 Seneca Warriors under his command again responded to a British attack on Black Rock, but this time, they were forced to retreat when so many other soldiers fled from the line. Granger returned to his home, several miles away, to relative safety. As hoards of men retreated, and the lines of protection broke apart, the British marched up Niagara Street from Black Rock to Buffalo, and over the course of the coming days, laid torch to all but a handful of buildings in the village of Buffalo.
As the British and their Indian allies made their way towards Buffalo, the women and children of the village moved north up Main Street in an obviously harried fashion. Though many fled as far as Clarence Hollow and Williamsville, many dozens sought refuge and stayed safe in the home of Judge Granger on Flint Hill, and in the homes of the Buffalo Plains.
As mentioned in the previous chapter, it is noted in several histories, including Studies of the Niagara Frontier, that homes on the Buffalo Plains, like that of Zachary Griffin, were not burned because, “the Indians in their course of destruction with musket and firebrand were too much overcome with liquor before they reached this house to do any further damage.”
In fact, none of the buildings as far north as current day Parkside were burned as the British and their Indian allies left Buffalo a pile of smoldering timber. It made the area, especially Granger’s place, a location where many women and children took up semi-permanent residence, while the men who weren’t taking to arms took to rebuilding the village.
Encampment at Buffalo
Picture Delaware Park, all along the Scajaquada Expressway, over the Park Meadow and golf course, all the way up to Main Street filled with tents, bonfires, and soldiers milling about. As early as September 1812, over a year before the burning of Buffalo, General Alexander Smythe had planned to use Buffalo and Black Rock as a staging ground for an invasion of Canada; many of his troops, particularly Pennsylvania volunteers under the command of General Adamson Tannehill, were camped and drilling at Flint Hill.
Smythe was an interesting character, if not an effective General, or even a buffoon. His actions (and inactions) make it apparent that he felt that inspirational writing and speeches could surmount instilling discipline and training his men, many of whom were not professional soldiers, but volunteers; signing up only as the Union was in peril. Smythe was written of by Frank Severance in Episodes of Peace on the Niagara (1914):
He was… often ridiculous, and has been remembered… chiefly because of certain bombastic proclamations which he issued during his short career in Buffalo and vicinity. Historians… have written of him only in a vein of amused contempt…. calling him “supercilious, dictatorial, impertinent.” (and) “indecisive, puerile and cowardly.”
The folly and incompetence of General Smythe made his troops rambunctious. During the fall and winter of 1812, many citizens of the Buffalo area were alarmed to find their fields and barns being plundered by Smythe’s hungry or simply bored soldiers. William Hodge, Jr. wrote about one series of incidents in Recalling Pioneer Days:
Once several fat sheep were put into a horse stable, among the horses, just at night to be dressed the next morning; but when morning came they were gone. They had been taken a short distance into the orchard, and dressed, or butchered and carried off to camp. At last some of the soldiers were caught at this work. They were taken to their camp, and delivered up to the officers for punishment; but to this the officers were not disposed. This rather exasperated some of the inhabitants, who asked the commanding officer what they should do to the soldiers if they were caught at any more of these depredations. He said, “Shoot them, shoot them down the rascals.”
After this a number of the young men of the town kept watch at night. Of this group Velorus Hodge was one and they kept watch one night at the bridge of Granger’s creek, Main street. (This is roughly the intersection of Main Street and Jefferson Avenue.) After a while the one on guard outside discovered eight soldiers crossing the bridge, and hailed them. They answered, “What businesses have you to stop soldiers on the march?” and then a pistol was fired by one of them. The guard returned the fire. This started out those in the house; they sallied forth and all fired at the soldiers giving them an effectual peppering with shot.
Five of the soldiers fell to the ground and three making their escape. Of the five four were wounded by the shot; the fifth fell to save himself from being shot. These five were marched into camp the next morning and delivered over to the commanding officer, who approved of the course taken by the citizens. This put a check upon the stealing and plundering for quite a while.
Granger’s Creek is today Scajaquada Creek. The bridge talked about, though well hidden, still goes over Main Street near Jefferson.
Plans to Invade Canada Hatched in Parkside
Plainly, his troops hated him. General Smythe wrote many verbose and bombastic proclamations to his troops, and verbally delivered several more, most of which won him “the derision of friend and foe.” He was known as “Alexander the Great” and “Napoleon the Second.” Plenty of his hot air was blown in preparation for his plans to invade Canada.
Those plans were set into motion on November 28, 1812. Smythe had as many as 8,000 men champing at the bit. He had been building, collecting, and fixing boats by the dozen for crossing the Niagara River at Black Rock. At this point, Smythe’s rhetoric had worked, whipping his men into a frenzy, ready to spill across the river at Black Rock for the glory of the union. Trumpets played Yankee Doodle Dandy, further lighting the fires under the men on a cold winter day, with wind and snow blowing off the Niagara River. An early morning crossing of 420 men in 21 boats were met with musket fire as they approached the shore to the south of Fort Erie. What happened next was the final straw for Smythe’s men. What happened… was nothing. Wrote Frank Severance in Episodes of Peace on the Niagara (1914):
From sunrise to late afternoon, his army was embarking- the enemy on the other side of the river, in constantly-increasing numbers, looking on at the show. General Smythe did not appear at all, leaving the details to his subordinates. For hours the troops shivered in the boats, some of which, stranded on shore, filled with snow and ice. Late in the day, when at length everything seemed ready for a grand movement across the stream, General Smythe issued an amazing order: “Disembark and dine!” Disgusted and angered, the whole force was at the point of rebellion.
Two more days of similar commands to climb aboard boats… spend the day in the tiny wooden craft, freezing along the Niagara River shore in late November Buffalo weather, and then never leaving that snow and ice- filled shore.
After having been “whipped into a frenzy” days before, some men smashed their muskets against trees in disgust, and many of those who didn’t ruin their guns made mutinous use of them, firing in the direction of Smythe himself. Legend has it that musket ball holes filled General Smythe’s Flint Hill tent by the end of that third night. Of the 1700 Pennsylvania volunteers camped at Flint Hill, 600 deserted in a 24 hour period. General Peter Porter wrote an article in the Buffalo Gazette calling Smythe a coward for refusing to move forward with the planned invasion. The two fought a duel with pistols, but both shots were errant, neither hitting the other.
Between his officer colleague and the angry soldiers under his command, Smythe had survived perhaps dozens attempts on his life over a two week period, and had had enough. On December 17, 1812, within days of his three failed attempts at invading Canada, and, fresh on the heels of gun fire pointed in his direction from both a fellow general and his own men, Smythe would leave Buffalo and Flint Hill for his native Virginia. The Army Register states that he was “disbanded.”
But the soldiers who lived through the rest of the winter of 1813 on Flint Hill had not yet seen the worst of it all. A horrific lasting monument to the war, still in Parkside, but little known, had yet to be created.
Buffalo’s Tomb of the Unknowns
Enlist your imagination once again. Picture living in Buffalo, in November and December, in open-ended tents, wearing linen uniforms, and having only very few, if any, blankets, coats, socks and boots. It was these conditions in Parkside in 1813 that yielded the mass, virtually unmarked grave that thousands of Western New Yorkers unknowingly drive by each day as they commute by Delaware Park on Route 198.
Up until the time of Smythe’s abortive campaign to invade, the mostly Southern soldiers all lived in mere pup tents. In Buffalo. In the winter. Once the offensive proved a failure, they were ordered to build huts for the winter, but most were slow to comply. The troops stationed on Flint Hill were mostly from Pennsylvania, and even further south, and showed up to Buffalo, in autumn, in their linen uniforms. Now winter had arrived, but more appropriate uniforms had not. Many Buffalo, Flint Hill, and Buffalo Plains families took in soldiers, but the village was just too small to accommodate the great number of troops wintering here.
Food supplies were unreliable to the front in Buffalo, and food that arrived was often rancid. Colonel Widner, Smythe’s second in command, stationed at Fort Niagara, had been experiencing the same conditions to the north. He reported in a letter to his commander in at Flint Hill, “We’re starving at this end of the line for bread.” The conditions were same at the camp that ran through what is now Forest Lawn Cemetery, along Main Street to the north, and into Delaware Park.
It is among these demoralized, starving, freezing troops that a “Camp Distemper,” described as a “dreadful contagion” broke out. The following account comes from an American prisoner of the British, and pays eyewitness account to what the winter of 1812-13 was like in Parkside:
That the enemy have about 3,000 troops one mile and a half in rear of Black Rock, under camp at a place called Judge Granger’s, where the General (Smythe), his aide-de-camp and several officers of rank live.. their camp is unhealthy… they die from eight to nine daily… the dead.. are put into holes two or three of which are made every day, and into each put two to four dead men. The doctors say the disease is as bad as the plague. The patients are first taken with a pain in the head, and in an hour-and-a-half or two hours they invariably die. Besides this disease he mentions their being afflicted with pleurisy, dysentery, and measles.
The Buffalo newspapers of the day daily listed the names of the dead, until the numbers became too great; eventually the Army stopped releasing the names. The home towns, listed next to the names, show, once again, that these men, from places like Baltimore, southern Pennsylvania, and Virginia, would have likely had a difficult time acclimating to Buffalo’s winter climate, even without the starvation and disease that was present. From the Buffalo Gazette, on December 22, 1812:
The FEVER, which has made such dreadful havoc among our soldiers and citizens, continues to rage. The Physicians are taking unwearied pains to ascertain the character of the disease and to prescribe an effective remedy for it. Bloodletting is generally fatal in violent cases.
It wasn’t just soldiers who contracted this illness. While the causes of many of their deaths are lost to history, it’s a fact that many residents of the Buffalo Plains and Flint Hill died during this time. Among those who passed that winter were Samuel Atkins, the first Plains Ranger, and Parthenia Chapin, the wife of Dr. Daniel Chapin.
Whether Mrs. Chapin died from one of the many illnesses sweeping through the camp or not, it is certain that she knew of the suffering first hand. It was on the outskirts of the Chapin property that the several daily shallow graves mentioned above were dug. As any gardener in Parkside knows, Flint Hill derives its name from the rocky soil abundant in the area. This is also apparent to anyone who drives the Kensington Expressway; and sees the solid rock that was blasted through near the Scajaquada Expressway interchange.
While digging graves by hand would be a challenge in good weather, these graves, again two or three per day, were being dug in the difficult frozen ground of winter. Often times, they were no more than a foot deep. Dr. Chapin offered his land for the burial, and tavern owner William Hodge was pressed into service to make coffins for the dead. Records say he crafted 300 pine coffins to be used for burying the soldiers who died while encamped on Flint Hill. Written in Buffalo Cemeteries (1879):
The troops of General Smythe remained at Flint Hill until the following spring. During this time there prevailed among them a typhoid epidemic. Deprived as they were of comfortable hospitals, and a sufficient supply of medical agents, it carried off about three hundred of them. They were put into plain pine board coffins, furnished by William Hodge Sr., and temporarily buried near the south line of the Chapin place; but the rock came so near to the surface that their graves could not be more than about a foot in depth.
The ensuing spring they were removed some distance, to the north side of the farm, where the ground was a sandy loam and easily dug. Leave to bury them there being given by the respective owners of the farms, Capt. Rowland Cotton and Doctor Daniel Chapin, they were deposited directly on the dividing line between these farms, in one common grave. Doctor Chapin planted two yellow willows, one at each end of the grave, which have become large trees, and are yet growing. The grave itself remaining undisturbed to this day.
The grave was to be known in coming years as “The Mound in the Meadow,” with those willows coming from clippings of a yellow willow taken from Daniel Chapin’s yard. The willows lasted on the site until at least 1896, when on July 4th; a boulder was placed on the site of the grave, with a marker attached.
It’s worthy to note that among those dead might not only be US soldiers, but perhaps servants who died while attending to the sick, and perhaps even prisoners of war- Canadian and British being held captive who met the same horrible fate as the Americans.
Aside from the boulder in the middle of the golf course, the mass grave of 300 American Soldiers, fallen in wartime service, goes unmarked, and unremembered, having been largely ignored for the last 100 years. Plans to properly mark the spot and honor the dead have come and gone over the last two centuries; you’ll read of those plans as the story continues.
As the spring of 1813 broke, and Chapin and Cotton were giving proper burial to the dead, some of those soldiers who had survived the horrible winter began to think pacifist thoughts, and wanted to leave while the getting was good. The commanding officers made an example of several soldiers who tried to desert. As a previously included account spells out, these deserters were knelt in a row and shot in front of several oak trees along Main Street near, generally near what is today Florence Avenue. Their bodies were then hanged from the trees to dissuade any further desertion from the ranks at Flint Hill.
Troops Return to Flint Hill
As the War of 1812 raged on into 1813, and then 1814, a much more well-organized effort to invade British Canada was hatched. A year after the bungled attempts just outlined, some of the soldiers poised to invade Fort Erie made their pre-attack camp once again in what is now Forest Lawn Cemetery, Delaware Park, and the Parkside neighborhood.
In the spring of 1814, the more successful plan to invade Upper Canada was devised by a man, unlike General Smythe, who was a master tactician. Brigadier General Winfield Scott would lead his men to victory just over the Niagara River in the Battle of Chippawa; many joining the battle from their home base on Flint Hill. Scott, known to his men as Ol’ Fuss and Feathers, on account of his insistence upon military appearance and discipline, later wrote books on infantry tactics, exercises, and maneuvers that are still used by the US Army to this day. Many of these formation schemes and tactics were first devised as Scott prepared for battles such as the one at Chippawa. It’s therefore natural to assume the drills and discipline that would emerge as the foundation for the teaching done at West Point were first practiced by “the man who wrote the book,” in staging grounds and base camps like the Delaware Park Meadow.
Just north of Granger’s place (now Forest Lawn cemetery) along Main Street was the area known as “The Buffalo Plains;” its inhabitants known as “The Plains Rangers.” This wily group of frontiersmen– most of them veterans of the Revolutionary War– and their families settled and built farms along Main Street. Their homes were generally close to the Buffalo-Williamsville Road, or the main street, but like Granger, their farmlands extended as much as a mile or more to the east or west off Main Street.
These hard working, rough and tumble men cut from the wilderness the area that would become Parkside, Central Park, and the University District, and were the first white men to physically live within the current boundaries of those districts. They were respected, but also somewhat feared by the residents of the village several miles to the south. Barton Atkins described them this way in his 1898 book Modern Antiquities: Sketches of Early Buffalo, “On Buffalo Plains were resident a band of stalwart men noted for their prowess and of their proneness to assert it when the occasion offered.”
The son of an original “Ranger,” Atkins wrote of the initial settlement by the Rangers:
The Plains were originally settled by a colony of farmers from the lake region of Central New York. First to come on a tour of inspection was Samuel Atkins, in 1806, on horseback, traversing Indian trails through a dense forest to Buffalo — not to speculate in village lots, but to purchase farm lands for himself and others who desired to settle near unto the site of the great city that was to arise at the foot of Lake Erie.
Samuel Atkins built a log home and a tavern on the land he purchased, on Main Street north of Hertel Avenue, roughly where the LaSalle Metro Rail station stands today. Again writes Atkins:
On this property, in 1807, Mr. Atkins erected a majestic structure of logs, consisting of three separate buildings, made so by two dividing passages through the lower story, while the upper story and roof remained intact. The building entire was eighteen by eighty feet on the ground with side thirteen feet high — quite an imposing frontier establishment. Here Mr. Atkins kept a tavern, a house of entertainment for travelers and pilgrims journeying to the new West. Many veterans of the war of the Revolution had settled on the Niagara frontier, and the old log tavern was their headquarters– was where they held their camp-fires and fought their battles anew.
Atkins was joined in 1807 by eight Cayuga County neighbors and their families, including Rowland Cotton, Ephraim Brown and Roswell Hosford. In 1808, the families of Zachary Griffin and Dr. Daniel Chapin also came to Buffalo. All of these men and their families settled along Main between Granger and what is now the UB area, both on the east and west sides of Main Street.
Ephraim Brown was the oldest of the new settlers of the Buffalo Plains. The war-worn veteran of the Revolution, cane in hand, was a favorite of the youngsters on the Plains. He’d limp along with school children, as the youngsters would gather at his knee– a knee shattered by a musket ball at the Battle of Trenton. They’d hear “Old Mr. Brown” sing, tell stories of his battles, and chant army rhymes from colonial times. Brown’s homestead and farm where described by Barton Atkins as “opposite the County Almshouse.” The Erie County Almshouse moved in 1909, and the University of Buffalo was built on the land.
Zachary Griffin’s home survived well into the 20th century, and would have been known to the earliest residents of Parkside- as we know it today- as a part of their neighborhood. The following was written in Peace Episodes on the Niagara (Buffalo Historical Society, 1914), about the home on the east side of Main Street.
In January, 1915, the oldest house in Buffalo was torn down. This was a little one-story structure at No. 2485 Main street, which according to such credible witnesses as the late Washington Russell and Barton Atkins, was built in 1809 by Zachary Griffin. When the New York Central Belt Line Tracks were laid through the district the house as moved about 100 feet northerly from its original site. Probably all of the original structure that endured was the frame of heavy hewn timbers. The story goes that it was spared at the burning of Buffalo, in 1813, because the Indians, by the time they had got as far out as this on the Williamsville road (Main Street), were too much overcome by firewater to do any further harm.
The original site of the house was about opposite Greenfield Street, and when moved, it was about where the Central Park Grill is located. The frontage of the property was split roughly in half when the New York Railroad Beltline tracks were installed in the 1870s. Next door, was the home of the widow Anna Atkins. She moved closer to the Modern Parkside area in 1817 after the death of her husband Samuel. That means that Barton Atkins, whose works are quoted throughout this history, was among the first children to be born and grow up in the current confines of Parkside.
Captain Rowland Cotton is the other Plains Ranger who owned a large portion of what is today Parkside. He owned the farm just to the north of present Jewett Parkway, and the homestead of Daniel Chapin. Cotton, too, was a Revolutionary War veteran, and was one of only three of the original Plains Rangers who did not make Buffalo home until their death. Cotton sold his plot in 1826, and settled in the Town of Lancaster. His name appears the deeds of those in the northern half of Parkside.
Dr. Daniel Chapin
The most notable Plains Rangers to the people of modern Parkside are the ones who once owned the land upon which they now live. Dr. Daniel Chapin was a veteran of the Revolution, and lived in a log cabin which was built at what is now the corner of Main Street and Jewett Parkway. His property bordered Erastus Granger and was still considered part of the Flint Hill area. His property stretched along Main Street from what is now roughly West Oakwood Place to Jewett Parkway. It stretched back to encompass the southern half of the Delaware Park Meadow, and reached to the fringes of the Park (now Hoyt) Lake.
In the early years, Chapin was one of a very few medical doctors anywhere on the Niagara Frontier and like his neighbor Granger, he was an early pillar of the community. An obituary was published in the Rochester Telegraph December 4, 1821:
He was formerly from Salisbury, Ct. He represented the county of Ontario in the legislature of this state, very soon after that county was settled; and was an early settler of this county. He had held the office of judge of common pleas for Niagara county (that is, Buffalo, before Erie County was split off); and various public trusts, with benefit to the community. His reputation as a physician, during a long course of practice has been of honorable standing; and he lived and died an honest man.
Chapin can also be thanked for much of the natural beauty today enjoyed in Delaware Park. His love of nature was written about in the Historical Society’s First Volume on Buffalo History:
The people of this city are much indebted to the Doctor, who was one of the pioneers of Buffalo, for the good taste and judgment exercised in clearing up his farm. Coming on to it in 1806, and ever having an eye to the beauty of native scenery and landscape, he left and always preserved with care, groups and scattered trees of various sizes and kinds, where it would add to its beauty; and we in our park enjoy the benefit of his sentiment and forbearance. He was imbued with the idea of the poet who says, “Woodman, spare that tree;’ and when he could, he always had trees left untouched by the ruthless axe, in order that man and beast should benefit by their shade, and they with their primitive grace ornament his beautiful farm. His son, the late Col. William W. Chapin, always protected and preserved those trees with truly reverential and pious care, in memory of and respect for his honored father, who left the inheritance of the whole farm to him on his decease. Without that inherited taste, he, like most of the early settlers, would have denuded the land of every tree; and that portion of our park would have been a barren expanse of mere farming land; for a large portion of this old farm now constitutes the most interesting part of our beautiful park. As one rides through it, especially that portion I speak of, he cannot help noticing those groups of trees and scattered monarchs of the forest within and on the borders of the extensive Park Meadow; beautiful reminders of those thoughtful and tasteful former proprietors.
An important historical figure in the Finger Lakes area as well as Parkside, he is written about by the Bloomfield Historical Society:
Dr. Daniel came to Buffalo village in 1807 from Bloomfield, put up a log house on the outskirts of the village, and established a large practice, visiting his patients on foot, with a dog and a gun, often traveling trails as far as Niagara Falls. Dr. Chapin died in 1821 at 60, his death due to exposure in visiting a patient.
The varied accounts of Chapin’s death all point to the difficult life on the frontier north of Buffalo. The obituary from the Rochester Telegraph, which states it was reprinted from a Buffalo paper, says Chapin was 61 and died of “a lingering disease.” Another source, A Biographical Sketch of Josiah Trowbridge (1869), he another early Buffalo doctor, states that Chapin’s death was “partly induced by the many and continued exposures incident to the practice of his profession in times when it required an amount of personal courage, self-denial, and hardship but little understood by us of the present day.”
Long before European men tread through what is today known as Parkside, portions of the area were sacred to the Seneca Nation and their fellow members of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) League of Indian Nations.
Judging by the archaeological evidence, even long before the Senecas arrived in this part of Western New York, the Erie tribe and others lived near what we now think of as Parkside.
One legend passed down through the family of early resident Erastus Granger spins the tale that native chieftains would convene “Councils in the Oaks” on ancient battlefield here, destined to become part of the Granger property.
When Granger became the area’s first permanent resident in 1804, vast wilderness was all the eye could see. Later, his son Warren built a magnificent home, what generations of Parksiders called “The Castle,” on the spot where native chiefs had met long before the scribes of modern history were there to record them.
Today, the area is Forest Lawn Cemetery, and this specific plot is marked with a large sundial, easily visible from Main Street. Warren’s daughter Anna Granger wrote of it:
When Warren Granger selected the situation to build his home, he fixed upon the spot where the “Six Nations” held their counsels, the elevation was crowned by a grand old oak. This part of Flint Hill was sacred to the Indians, for here many, many, many moons beyond the memory of the oldest chief, a fierce battle had been fought. The plow shares continually turned up skulls, arrow heads and tomahawks of ancient design.
There are also many early accounts of children finding bone fragments and arrowheads in massive quantities as they played in the woods along what is now Main Street. It was from the “Old Iroquois Forest,” as the woods along Main Street in the Parkside area were known, that many of the logs were hewn to build the early structures of Buffalo; many more were used after the village was burned by the British in 1813.
In the 1790’s, Western New York was bought from Massachusetts by Oliver Phelps and Nathaniel Gorham, defaulted on, and then purchased by Robert Morris. He was the financier of the American Revolution and, at the time of the purchase in 1791, the richest man in America.
Over the next two years, he sold the land to The Holland Land Company. Before that transaction could be completed, however, peace had to be made with the Six Nations, the Indians who actually inhabited the area. That peace was accomplished with the 1797 Treaty of Big Tree, which called for 1,300,000 acres of Native land to be sold for $100,000– leaving the Seneca Nation with a 200,000 acre reservation, to the south of the tiny village of Buffalo. Seneca Chief Red Jacket was paid a $600 bonus at the signing, and was guaranteed $100 a year for the rest of his life.
The Holland Land Company, under Joseph Elliott, began surveying the area today known as Western New York. It is this survey that is the starting point for most property deeds in the area, including in Parkside.
The first traces of modern Parkside are etched onto the map in 1797 when what is now Main Street is cut through the wilderness, connecting outposts in Clarence and Williamsville with the burgeoning village at the mouth of the Buffalo Creek. That village was officially known as New Amsterdam, but almost from the beginning known to locals as Buffaloe (yes, with an “e” in the early years).
While many of the earliest residents of Parkside may have been Native Americans with names long forgotten to history– the names of the earliest white settlers still live on in file cabinets and safety deposit boxes. Many of the following names will be familiar to any Parkside homeowner who has read his or her property deed.
Erastus Granger was a central figure in the founding of Buffalo. He was among Buffalo’s first permanent residents, and also the first Parkside Landowner who actually lived here as well. Having spent the early part of his life as a land speculator in Ohio, Kentucky and Western Virginia, he was to become an active supporter of the Democratic-Republican Party, and specifically of Thomas Jefferson.
It was upon Jefferson’s appointment Granger came to Buffalo in 1804. He purchased a vast tract of land along Main Street that stretched from what is now Forest Lawn Cemetery, north to the Delaware Park Meadow; and as far west as what is now the H.H. Richardson State Hospital Complex on Forest Avenue.
His homestead was built along Conjockety’s (now Scajaquada) Creek near Main Street. The area where his home stood is now the northern-most portion of Forest Lawn Cemetery, near the Canisius College campus.
Granger’s life was written about at great length in the Buffalo Sunday Express, November 24, 1912. He was born January 17, 1765, in Suffield, Connecticut. As a boy, he spent part of the winter of 1777-78 encamped with the Continental Army with his father at Valley Forge. As a young man, eager for adventure, he became a surveyor of frontier lands. It was on his travels in Western Virginia in 1798-99 that he became acquainted with Thomas Jefferson, who prevailed upon Granger and his brother Gideon to campaign for him for President in their native Connecticut. Once Jefferson was elected, Gideon was named Postmaster General. Erastus was named Indian Agent for the Six Nations, and was also confirmed by the United States Senate as the “surveyor of the port of Buffalo creek.”
He reached Buffalo Creek on horseback March 30, 1804, finding a frontier village of 16 huts, and the streets strewn with tree stumps. He quickly organized a post office. This handled the incoming mail, once a week, as a single horseman “came from Canandaigua with a pair of saddlebags and the trifling mail,” and once a week he returned from Fort Niagara. Within three years of his arrival, in 1807, he was appointed as the outpost’s first Judge.
Granger’s most important work came, though, as Indian Agent. He met often with the great chiefs of the Six Nations, shared his harvests with them, and allowed them to continue to use his land on Flint Hill for their councils in the oaks.
“Flint Hill” was the name given to the Granger property and its immediate environs; well outside the boundaries of the then small village of Buffalo, about 4 miles to the north. Granger himself used the name “Flint Hill” to describe his home, but, by 1914, the name had so long fallen out of use that readers of Peace Episodes on the Niagara (Buffalo Historical Society) needed an explanation of the location of the place:
“Flint Hill” is a name little known to the present generation; but their elders in Buffalo knew it as the region mostly west of Main street and north of Humboldt Parkway, embracing most of the Parkside district and the adjacent portion of Delaware Park.
The first book ever published in Buffalo was a collection of public speeches given by Granger and his great friend, the Seneca Chief Red Jacket, made as war was declared between Great Britain and the United States. Both men spoke of the desire to keep the Six Nations neutral in the conflict which would become known to history as the War of 1812.
Red Jacket, Cornplanter, Farmer’s Brother and other brilliant chiefs of the Seneca, Onondaga, Cayuga, Tuscarora and Oneida tribes were present on July 6, 1812, just days after word of war had reached Buffalo, when Judge Granger first offered a message of goodwill and friendship to the Indians, then spoke these words to the assembled council of Native Chiefs:
Your great father, the president of the 17 fires (James Madison), now gives his red children the same advice which he gave you at the beginning of the last war (the Revolution); that is you take no part in the quarrels of the white people. He stands in no need of your assistance. His warriors are numerous, like sands on the shore of the great lake which cannot be counted. He is able to fight his own battles, and requests you stay home.
The Six Nations would stay out of the conflict until the Mohawks, who had fled to Canada after the Revolution, joined on the side of the British.
Did you ever win a Glick University T-shirt? Are you a Glicknick?
My fascination with the Glick Program started when my family spent three years in Holliston, Massachusetts in the mid 80s, when Larry was doing afternoon drive on WBZ.
I was a pint-sized Glicknick and just mesmerized by the show. After Larry had left WBZ for WHDH, I had the chance to visit the WHDH studios, and wistfully remember seeing LARRY GLICK’S DESK– a great moment in a young life.
It might have been Larry’s multi-lingual sign-off as he went into the Peter Meade Show which encouraged me to study three foreign languages in high school and college. And of course, there was that whistle and singing of the phone numbers (both of which you can hear at the 13:54 portion of the Glick Show below.)
No need to call 254-5678… Just click for LARRY!
Larry’s Bio as it appeared on the WMEX website when he worked at the station briefly in 2000:
Larry Glick is a Nationally known Radio Personality and a well known Boston area night club performer, especially for his hypnosis performances. Larry has been heard in 38 states as a radio personality, and he was a part of WMEX from 1964 to 1968. Larry was also a part of WBZ from 1968 to 1988, and a part of WHDH from 1989 to 1993. As well as the owner of an All Girl AM Station, Larry was a pioneer in becoming an owner of an FM station in Florida during the 1950s. He was also a major night time personality at WIOD (CBS) in Miami for several years before moving to the Boston Market. Larry is followed nationwide by all his GlickNick’s, and his popular show is a great addition to WMEX.
The Commander’s death was announced on WBZ’s website Friday, March 27, 2009.
Boston (WBZ Newsroom) — A Boston radio legend has died.
Longtime WBZ radio host Larry Glick died Thursday night in Florida after undergoing 10 hours of open heart surgery. He was 87.
Glick graced WBZ’s airwaves for 20 years, building up a faithful group of fans known as “Glicknics.”
Larry and WBZ-TV’s Jack Williams (right) had been close friends since 1975. Jack made frequent appearances on Larry’s talk show on WBZ.
Larry retired to Florida, where he most recently worked as a greeter at Legal Sea Foods in Boca Raton.
Glick leaves his wife Lisa and a daughter Tali, both in Florida, and a daughter, Nannette in the Boston area. Rest in Peace, Larry!
By Steve Cichon | email@example.com | @stevebuffalo
Originally posted on Facebook February 8, 2009
This is not the order I thought of these things. I didn’t number them either.
My Name: Steven Julius Cichon. Despite the fact that my dad’s name is Steven, I was named after my mom’s grandfather, Stephen Julius Wargo. Steven is spelled like my dad, though, so there you go. Cichon is a Polish name, and is pronounced CHEEhoyn in Polish. It means quiet person, hermit.
I think my basic purpose in life is to use my gift of seeing the absurd, ironic, and silly in most situations to make people smile. I love to do it. On the rare occasion when something I say hurts people, it really cuts me deep, and stays with me forever. Thinking about those times right now is giving me a stomach ache.
I am writing a book on the History of the Parkside Neighborhood. It’s been a tiring, but absolutely amazing experience.
Saving junk is in my blood. Great Grandpa Wargo, Grandma& Grandpa Coyle, Grandma Cichon, and my mom are all savers. Of crap. Just crap. Grandma Cichon started taking me to the Salvation Army and garbage picking before I could spell “Thrift Store.” But I think the biggest reason I save crap: My dad doesn’t save ANYTHING. When I was little, he’d always start stories with, “I wish I had it to show to you…” That stuck.
I had the best childhood anyone could ask for. We had very little money, but I have two great parents, and 5 wonderful grandparents (including Great Grandpa Wargo.) I never heard any of them really speak ill of any of the others. I now know some of them kept a smile on for the kids, and withheld some maybe snippy comments (even ones that I make now.) That makes it all the more special in retrospect.
I include my in-laws in my family. There is no “in law.” I was welcomed into my wife’s family, and extended family, I love each of them as if we all had the same blood running through our veins. I’m bowled over with the luck I have in both the family that came with the package, and the one I picked.
I met my wife, in the hallways of WBEN Radio, probably right around 5:30 on a Sunday morning in 1993. I was behind the controls, she was reading the news. She didn’t speak to me that morning, because she was painfully shy. Now she never shuts up. Just kidding, but I am thankful and happy for her that she has pretty much gotten over that.
WARNING: Have an air sickness bag handy… My wife is my best friend, and in many ways, my only friend. This isn’t to say we live in some fairy tale… We do well together, even though we know how to press each others buttons and do frequently. I think that makes our relationship all the stronger, though.
I have Celiac Disease, which means I can’t eat wheat, barley, or rye. No beer. No pizza. No fast food or processed food. It forces me to eat healthier, but I loved fast food. Not lots, but I could have a small hamburger and an order of chicken nuggets everyday, really enjoy it, and then eat properly the rest of the day. Now I eat a lot more, just trying to find something as tasty and satisfying as a Wendy’s 89 cent hamburger.
I also have Psoriatic Arthritis. Sometimes my legs hurt so bad by the end of the day, they almost stop working, but I’m about to go on a medication that wipes out the disease, almost entirely, in 80% of people who take it. The sad thing is, while I’m excited about the prospect of seeing the arthritis go away, I’m secretly.. almost equally… excited that my disgusting psoriasis fingernails might grow into normal looking nails.
In November, my wife and I began eating better, and working out at least 4 or 5 times a week… Intense cardio. I feel much better, and wish that I had begun doing it years ago. The YMCA on Delaware Ave in Buffalo is cheap and wonderful.
I frequently step back from my own life, and normal human life, and realize how silly and random so many things we do are on the face of it. Why do I have an animal living in my house? My job is to take information that almost anyone can track down, re-write it, and speak it into a microphone so it can fly through the air into your car. Trying to explain these things to an Martian might be tough.
I have very realistic and vivid dreams. On occasion, I remember something somewhat sketchy, and I’m not sure if I happened or I dreamed it. I’ll think about it and if Ed Little is on a horse in my living room, it was probably a dream.
I work better under deadline pressure, especially with projects in my personal life, or volunteer projects. I abhor being late. If I say I’ll get something done, I do. And I don’t appreciate those whose own lack of caring about deadlines makes me late.
I love church music, and I love to sing it loud. Even though I can’t sing. Even out of church. On Eagles Wings. And yes, “make me a channel of your peace,” (The Prayer of St Francis).
I’m a lector a St. Mark’s…. 9:30 mass… every 3rd Sunday. I’m sometimes afraid I might be singing too loudly too close to the microphone.
I like to build stuff, sew stuff, design stuff. But I’m not very good at it. Or maybe I just don’t have the patience to take the time to do those things right.
I am my own worst critic on everything.
I still think this is stupid, but it was cathartic. And have read every single word of each of my friend’s lists, so fair is fair.
This was originally published in Forever Young Magazine
One of the original superstars of Buffalo Radio in the 20s and 30s for the Buffalo Broadcasting Corporation on WGR and WKBW, Baker was the Queen City’s first definitive sportscaster.
Those who remember him in the sports booth remember the ultimate professional– no focus on personality, so much as the product on the air. Calling Bisons games in the 30s from Offermann Stadium, he was straight, and by the book.
After being tapped by Baseball Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis to call the 1933 World Series to a nationwide audience on CBS, Baker landed a job in Cincinnati calling the National League Reds on WLW.
After the war, Baker returned to Buffalo, reading news on WKBW Radio, but eventually moving into the General Manager’s office at the short-lived Buffalo UHF pioneer WBES-TV–where he also read news.
Along with Bill Mazer, Baker was also an original member of the WGR-TV sports team when the station signed-on in 1954. Baker moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico for health reasons, continuing his broadcast at KOB for several more years.
John entered his first TV studio as a boy with his grandma in Philly to watch a taping of the Mike Douglas Show. It was the most fun he’d seen adults have, ever, and he was hooked. A decade later, his early mentor Dave Thomas (A TV icon in both Buffalo and Philly), sent the fresh out of college DiSciullo up to his hometown for an interview at his old stopping grounds, Channel 7. That was 1982.
Save a few weeks since then when he tried his hand at producing TV in New York in 1988, he’s been at 7 Broadcast Plaza as a driving force behind AM Buffalo and The Variety Club Telethon, while keeping busy with everything from news, to promotions, to programming. In an age where telethons and locally originated TV talk shows might seem like a vestige of the past for some, DiSciullo points to his two pet projects as examples of how, with plenty of pure passion and a lot of fighting and kicking along the way, doing the right thing on television can continue to have a positive impact on the community.
The Goodyear Award is named in honor of George Goodyear, the Buffalo philanthropist who co-founded WGR-TV, and is awarded each year to those in Broadcasting’s front office who have made a career of advancing the ideals of the Buffalo Broadcasters
The name would leave most wondering, but the smooth, consistent voice is one you’re unable to escape in Buffalo. From Channel 2’s promo pieces to Valu Home Centers and Paddock Chevrolet, on on-hold messages, to the national Time/Life commercials, for a quarter century, Pat Feldballe has been Western New York’s go-to independent voice-over king.
In 1970s we all heard him at WBUF, WGR, WGRQ, and WUWU playing rock ’n’ roll and hosting a magazine program (and working with Terry Gross) at WBFO. He eventually got the point when he’d show up for his jock shift and find a handful of production orders taped to the console for him to do.
Figuring it was his destiny, he did a stint as a radio production director, but quickly decided, in 1982, that he could do production on his own. He hasn’t looked back.
In an industry where many production guys will try to sell clients on the latest and greatest gadget, Feldballe has used the same microphone since 1986. It’s a part of all his success.
“I’m the most consistent guy I know. I always sound the same, and I take pride in making sure reads time out,” says Feldballe. He’s the best at showing up and doing the work, doing it well, and making it easy for whoever is using his work. “I just hung out the shingle 27 years ago, and here I am.”
His fate at the man who’d become the “The Polish Rifle” was sealed just before his senior year at Lackawanna High School. Drafted to play baseball at 17, he wanted to forget college to have a shot to play with Bob Gibson and the St. Louis Cardinals. But two weeks of a real Buffalo summer job of bending rods in a steel mill was enough motivation to get an education.
A standout at Youngstown State, Jaws played 17 years in the NFL for 4 teams, including the Philadelphia Eagles, where he was he 1980 NFL MVP. He also backed up Dan Marino for 2 seasons with the Miami Dolphins. But no matter where he played, and now, no matter from which city he analyzes Monday Night Football, Ron hasn’t forgotten his years as a season ticket holder at the Rock Pile, and certainly hasn’t forgotten his friends and family in Lackawanna.
His compatriots on the ESPN MNF staff are just glad he hasn’t forgotten where the good wing joints are.
Named after one of Buffalo’s most famous sons, the Buffalo Bob Smith Award is given to broadcasters with local roots who made his or her mark away from the Niagara Frontier, but is still a Buffalonian at heart.
Always wearing a smile like no other, Barry’s best known for his 20 years (1976-96) in front of WGRZ-TV weather maps. But that earnest grin, and the personality that went along with it, also made Barry a natural as the local host for annual the MDA telethon, and well as the Kids Escaping Drugs Campaign, which Barry himself named in 1987.
Just before Barry left the air in 1994, he was ordained an Orthodox Catholic Priest. To this day, much of his ministry involves counseling those battling drug and alcohol dependence. Its a challenging and rewarding vocation, which is often helped along by those thousands of weather forecasts where Barry made it feel like he was trying to make just you smile.
Often someone will say they remember the time he wore a t-shirt promoting their scout troop’s soup dinner on TV. People love to share memories of Barry’s zany overnight presentation of poorly lipsynched movies on Barry’s Cats Pajamas. But for Fr. Barry, it means so much more; maybe opening a door to help someone else along in life. It makes his career in broadcasting one of Buffalo’s most special ever.
Bill’s love of electronics growing up led him to broadcasting in college, where he was the college station’s chief engineer. That, he thought, was the end of radio business for him, which he lived and breathed as a kid. He started a business that did use his engineering background, however, selling and installing two-way and CB radio equipment for companies around WNY.
His voyage back into radio started with a tour of WPHD in 1979, where PD Harv Moore decided he was the right fit to fill an open engineering job. Since taking that job, Bill’s run his own broadcast engineering firm, building studios and performing maintenance all over New York state and all over the country, often explaining to someone hundreds of miles away over the phone how to fix what’s wrong.
Its a story made more incredible when you find out he did all of that without sight. Bill is blind. “I realize I have limitations, but made my mind up to live like everyone else. I was scared when all the sudden I was responsible for two stations (in 1979), but I rely on memory a lot, and I’ve had the help of a lot of great people over the years.” And a lot of people have relied on, and rarely been disappointed with Bill.
The Behind the Scenes Award celebrates the many people who make any broadcast possible, but don’t usually get the credit: The directors, producers, photographers, writers, engineers and office staff.
Those of you who know the him as “Artie Baby Boo-Boo, The Tiny Tot of the Kilowatt,” as Art might say: Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute! As a kid growing up on Buffalo’s East Side, Art would ditch school to watch Foster Brooks and Buffalo Bob Smith do their WGR show live from Grant’s Department Store.
After a stint in the Navy, Art was the Radio Director for the VA Hospital, before landing at WKBW in 1956, where he eventually joined the news staff as a Pulsebeat Newsman under the direction of Irv Weinstein. By the late 1960’s, Art had programmed radio stations all around the country, including WOR-FM in New York, where he met the Beatles and became close with their manager Brian Epstein. Its this work done in music radio where Art feels more accomplished.
He’d return to Buffalo in the early 80s, first to program, but then to talk sports on 1400-AM. After Bills General Manager Bill Polian told Art to “get out of town,” he was picked up by WGR and later Empire Sports Network to talk sports. He always pictured his show as guys in a barroom. And opinions could be right, wrong, or indifferent, so long as they were entertaining.